Saturday, December 18

It's early morning...

... and unfortunately, the Sanctum's not totally done.

Actually, it's ALMOST done. The ceiling's whole, and painted. The smell of it is strong in the air. Dust all about. Everything's still a mess. They'll be painting the walls and stuff tomorrow. I may have to move out ALL the stuff inside the room to make way.

Thinking of having the carpenters add some more shelf space. That would be neat. The Christmas break's started for me- four day weekend before I go to my last one and a half workdays of this year. Then it's all clear to Christmas and New Year. Should use part of that time to fix up the homestead. Then the rest to enjoy the bounty of the past year, and to finish up the last traces of 2004's plate.

It's been a long year.

It's about time.


Friday, December 17

Sanctum Sacrilege

Crash, crash. Crumble, crumble.

Early this morning, workmen came in and started tearing down the rafters. Don't worry, it was intentional... the Sanctum's being renovated. All month long my mom has had the house's old 'dirty' kitchen totally redone, extended and rebuilt (now it looks like a restaurant-sized kitchen). On the tail end of the construction, she had my room built as well. On the agenda was the ceiling, the creaky and cracked wood of which was to be replaced with new wooden beams, and the entertainment center area, which would be rebuilt to accomodate the new TV. The whole place would also be repainted, to do away with the unsightly tape-smears (and so, down with the anime posters...).

Well, I had to go sleep in my parents' room for the morning, I had to unplug all the equipment and move out some stuff, and the dust is going to cover EVERYTHING. But in the end, the Sanctum will be gorgeous and at the very least, dead cat-proof! WOOHOO!!!

Hopefully, all the construction would be done by tonight and tomorrow. If all goes well, I'll be coming home to a brand new Sanctum. Inconceivable!
Christmas Bash

Last night, the office had it's annual Christmas party at one of our officemates' residences in the south. As with our previous year's celebration, there was a theme which involves costumes, and this year it was famous pairs, or couples.

Well, I have a history with crappy costumes (pretty much since I prepare for them only about, oh, several hours before the event). Last year, with a 'carnival' theme, I came as a fortune teller using ANYTHING I could find in the house- tablecloths, a black armwarmer and some crystal globe I swiped from the living room. Well, this year I upheld that tradition.

My partner and I came as Crispin and Basilio, the ill-fated brothers from the Jose Rizal novel, Noli Me Tangere. Well, of course we had this grand idea of not coming in as your usual little kids in camiso de tsinos and tsinelas (old-style white undershirt and slippers). We had this whole concept of coming in as grownup versions of the two characters. I counselled coming in full barong tagalogs, but eventually my partner convinced me that a better storyline would be having Crispin and Basilio converted to Islam due to their persecution at the hands of the Spanish friars (which was their fate). So, we came wearing muslim attire (malong) and carrying deebeedees (dvds).

Suffice to say, we missed the whole point that you have to be recognized immediately on sight as who your 'pair' is supposed to be. And I guess it was quite obvious that two Muslim dvd pirates are worlds away from two urchins from the nation's most famous novel. So we WON Worst Costume of the night. But we got a cash prize!!!! YEEEEEAAAAAAHHH!!!!

Anyway, the night was nice with lots of food, music and laughter despite the overall melancholy feel of this year's Christmas. We're all hopeful of a better celebration next year. And a better cosutme, I guess. Heh.

Thursday, December 16

Phone Folks

I've finally gone on and moved forward with my decision to get my parents both new cellphones for Christmas. Now, while I would have wanted to get them spiffy hi-tech convergence devices like myself, I don't have the funds, nor do they have the like for such things. No, I'm getting them some nice, all-around phones to enjoy for the new year. I've pretty much decided on either Nokia 3100 or 3120 units, which have color screens, MMS, clear polyphonic ringtones and good, compact form factor. They're inexpensive, easy to use and very nice... perfect! I'll probably try and get the gifts this weekend, and give them in advance... better to avoid the last minute crush. Perhaps next year, if business is a lot better, I'll get my mom a phone with a camera. She'd love that. Heh.

Wednesday, December 15

Lastik Fantastik

That's gotta hurt.

Mars Ravelo's stretchable hero Lastikman gets an update for the times with the Mango Comics release. The 56-page, full color prestige format book (Php150) was worked on by two of local comics' most popular names- Wasted creator Gerry Alanguilan reaches into the side of his psyche that spawned his own wacky Crest Hut Butt Shop for the wacky, action-packed story, while After Eden's Arnold Arre stretches even his distinctive skills to the limit (heh) to come up with some spectacular panels. All this with colors by Edgar Tadeo and Ryan Orosco to make everything come alive from the page.

Anyway, haven't gotten my copy yet, but I will asap. I've heard good things, and I can't wait to see how it came out. The Mango Comic version, by the way, has no relation to the upcoming local movie of the same name. Lastikman the comic should be available in comic stores and bookstores in the Metro right by next week or so, thanks to some issues with printing. Grab a copy on sight!

Tuesday, December 14

Mini Stop

This morning I got to have some time to myself at a Mini-Stop, and I discovered a Choco-Nut flavored ice drop from Selecta Ice Cream. It totally captures the classic flavor of the 'masa' chocolate. YUMMY! I also got to taste the new Krispy Pao, which makes for a nice savoury meal along with the usual krispy wonton. I also saw, but was not able to try, the somewhat disturbing new combo sandwiches- SPAGHETTI sandwiches! As in, there's spaghetti noodles and sauce stuffed into a hot dog bun along with chicken or hot dog strips. Yeah, I eat pasta with bread alll the time... but for someone to actually sell a pasta sandwich is kinda new, I think. Something to try the next time I pass by our friendly neighborhood Korean convenience store.
What Could Have Been

Last night, despite having to do a bit of overtime, I was able to pop in a Features disc from the ROTK Extended Edition DVD Set into my new Sparkle DVD player for a bit of LOTR goodness. I watched several featurettes, all of which were quite interesting along the topic of bringing the Tolkien novels from the page to the script.

The coolest part involved an alternative yet ultimately abandoned scene which had the Dark Lord, Sauron actually taking to the field and battling Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) in combat. This was of course not in the books, though it was felt by the filmmakers at the time that they needed a suitable act of valor for Aragorn to accomplish on the battlefield before the Black Gate (since the creepy Mouth of Sauron character really wasn't a fighter).

So it was that they had this whole thing with Sauron appearing before the outnumbered Men of the West, first materializing as an angelic being of dazzling beauty. The apparition is supposedly that of Anatar, which was Sauron's guise thousands of years before when he tricked the races and created the One Ring. As the scene goes, Aragorn soon sees through the holy light, and Sauron reveals himself (pretty much as he was in the Battle of Golgoroth at the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring). There are actual scenes showing Aragorn and the warriors of Gondor and Rohan battling a gigantic armored Sauron (though we don't see soldiers getting knocked into the air as in the FOTR battle) which was kinda neat.

In the end though, Peter Jackson and the writers felt that the whole thing just wasn't right, since it took the focus of the story and the weight of the problem to Aragorn, instead of to Frodo the ringbearer. So, the whole thing was eventually scrapped, with Aragorn's personal opponent being changed from Sauron to an Armored Battle Troll with CG, and the roles of the armies of men being relegated to fighting to distract the Eye and its forces from the real threat of the ringbearer.

Personally, I kinda liked the whole Sauron vs Aragorn thing. In the end though, I guess ROTK is better with what was eventually used. Just another cool little detail and footnote in this wonderful series of films. Can't wait to get deeper into the EE dvds and see what else I can discover.

Monday, December 13

Beyond Soccer

I loved the wild martial arts comedy Kung Fu Soccer with Stephen Chow. Fans of Mr. Chow are no doubt waiting for his next work, and I am too after seeing the hilarious trailer to Kung Fu Hustle.

Stephen plays Sing, a wannabee gangster who is somewhat hampered in his efforts to become a member of the dreaded Ax Gang because of his general incompetence. The Axe Gang in the meantime is continually being stymied in its goal to conquer and control a sacred street where almost everyone is a martial artist or has super powers. Sing finds himself trying first to take over the street himself, but later he finds out that he has an even greater destiny to fulfill.

The trailer to this movie is being shown often on AXN, and it's hilarious. There's super-powered martial arts stunts, slapstick humor and the wonderfully flashyl CG effects as only the Hong Kong filmmakers do. I'll be sure to check this one out when it becomes available here in our parts, by late December or early 2005.

The end of an age is right here.

With this final acquisition, I have completed my Lord of the Rings Extended DVD Set Collection. The final film was the biggest of the series, with the most special effects shots and the longest additional scenes- almost a whole hour of new footage to further complement the already glorious story.
I'm looking to start watching the documentaries and featurettes tonight. Soon, very soon, I hope to hold a LOTR Marathon, watching all three extended cuts in a row. When? When I have time to, of course. Perhaps on a weekend or over the Christmas break. That's my LOTR event of this year, the last one before we all move on and the films make for the Grey Havens of movie history.

Will we see another film trilogy or series to match LOTR, as Star Wars (the original films) did for the previous generation? We'll see.

Sunday, December 12

Mutant DVD Player

It's not a name you'd normally associate with DVD players, but that didn't keep me from snagging a Sparkle DVD player with that very name just a couple of hours ago. My old DVD player-component set is about three to five years old, and it's been acting up lately. So I decided to enter the new year with a new player. And at just 2,500 pesos, it's a great package! Not only does the Sparkle player play any region DVDs, it can play either PAL or NTSC discs and has scads of options and output options. Best of all, unlike the more popular Next Base players, even if the remote gets busted, you won't have to go through life without being able to navigate through DVD menus since there are controls on the player itself. Great!

I'll still be keeping the components installed, and perhaps use the speakers to augment the new player's performance. And of course, the ol' Promac VCD players staying as well for episodic anime watches.

Speaking of anime, I picked up several new series to check out. Bleach is all about a hotheaded guy who suddenly finds out one day that invisible demons and demon hunters are battling it out in modern day Japan. He soon gets involved in this secret conflict when he suddenly finds himself wielding the powers of one of the demon hunters. Grenadier is a western-fantasy adventure, starring a busty blonde heroine who wields a mean gun. Slayers meets six-shooters? Looks like it. Finally, Beet the Vandel Buster looks like a swords-and-sorcery action title starring some young adventurers, led of course by the titular hero.
On the DVD movie front, picked up Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, an Asian film entitled City of Lost Children, and Mulan 2 for the kiddies. I'll be getting my copy of the extended cut set of Return of the King tomorrow, so that's something to look forward to. Yay!
The PSP has landed

... at least in Japan. Sales of Sony's first handheld, portable console have been brisk, and the initial stock of 200,000 units is expected to sell out pretty fast. Available along with the unit are several accessories and 6 launch games.

Haven't seen it yet here, though I am told that the new mini-Playstation is already available, selling at about 12,000 pesos (which is a great price for such a new kit). I'm fully intending on getting myself a PSP, if not this Christmas perhaps in early 2005. We'll see...
Christmas Quest

Last night was the Comic Quest Christmas Party. The gang got together in a rented condo with chips and dip, lots of drinks and then later, a feast of KFC chicken, savoury and spicy pasta courtesy of Andrew, barbecue and White Chocolate Mousse from me and balikbayan Camille.
The majority of the night was taken up by a series of trivia games on the subject of Marvel, DC, Indie/Local Comics and Anime. Later, during the wee hours of the morning, the group got to playing rounds of the drinking games Deprivation and Specialist, sans the liquor. It was still pretty fun despite us all being sober (though a bit sleepy). Let's do it again next year!