Saturday, December 14

Anime Overload

Was looking through Virra Mall's anime shops and I saw DVDs of anime series such as Aquarian Age, Witchhunter Robin and quite a lot of hentai DVDs. I eventually just turned them all down and bought Chobits. Hmm. Not too much in an anime buying mood ever since I spent a bundle getting stuff from Comic Alley. Anyway, it's fine since I have a backload of anime at home that I have yet to watch: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Tenchi Muyo Galaxy Police Transporter, The 4th Inu Yasha Box Set, Fushigi Yuugi OAV, Love Hina Again (VCDs though), the whole Full Metal Panic series (VCD as well) and more. Sheesh. Now that I look at it, I have enough anime to last me throughout the holiday till the new year. Still, it would be perfect if I got my hands on the second half of Gatekeepers 21. That eludes me. Grrrr.
Hits and Misses

Not everything went as planned this afternoon. Getting a cab was a maddeningly frustrating experience, so I wasn't able to meet Dean at Greenhills. Instead, I talked him through the cell to the gameshop where he could get his PS2. Everything apparently went smoothly, except for the fact that they will have to wait a bit to play Suikoden III since their copy is with me. Anyway, I got to Virra Mall at about 3:30 pm and proceeded to go about my usual Saturday ritual. I was finally able to start my Christmas shopping by buying a DVD set of Band of Brothers for... my brother. Yep, I am sure he won't be seeing this blog, and even if he does, he already knows what I am getting him anyway. Heh. I also got some discs for myself; a Japanese movie entitled The Phone which seems eerily similar in theme to The Ringu, except... this time, it's all about a phone. Hmm. Also, I finally got myself a copy of Volcano High, so I'm happy for that.
I passed through some anime shops and got myself a copy of the cutesy romance/sci-fi anime, Chobits, which is supposed to be very popular in Japan. It's all about a time when in Japan, guys can buy themselves a 'girl', which is in this case a robot or computer in humanoid form. The hero in Chobits finds himself one such computer girl in a junk heap, and takes it home. Later, he finds out that the girl isn't the ordinary robot that she seems to be. Hmm. Robotic girlfriends. This is probably set in a future Japan. Say, about three years from now. Heh.
I finally got tired of the crowded alleys of Greenhills and decided to bail. A long line at the FX terminal headed for Megamall made me just take a straight jeepney to Robinson's Galleria. The Ringu is showing at the theaters, so I got myself a ticket. I'll give a review as soon as I am able. Right now I am killing time before I plunge into the film that my friend Carl called "freaky". Cool.
Game Monger

Today I accompany Dean to Greenhills where we hope to get him a Playstation 2. The Alfars finally gave in when their favorite RPG, Suikoden, finally came out with an installment on the console. Along the way I hope to pick up some anime and games myself. Since it's kinda early, maybe I can try to watch The Ringu at Megamall later.
After the customary Saturday Lunch with the family, my brother showed me his tiny Umax digital camera. It was pretty handy and cool since you could just snap away. Of course, it was just a quickie camera, not one of those megapixel things... it may not be great for hi-res, serious photography, but at the very least with it I can take fast pics that I can post online and stuff. I am still deciding whether it's worth the 3000+ pesos to spend for it. Or maybe I should just hold off on spending too much. Well, whatever. I like these kind of problems. Heh.

Friday, December 13

Weekend Prospects

It's the end of the second-to-the-last working week of the year 2002. With pitches, print ads, TV commercial concept design and all the rest of the work pretty much done, I expect only light stuff before our inevitable Christmas party and the long break till the new year. My boss, our creative director, has already left for her much-deserved vacation. I won't be seeing her till 2003. I intend to put in for vacation leave so I'll have a solid 2 weeks of vacation time. That's time I ought to use to finish up all my requirements, including writing gigs, artworks and new pages for several comic projects. I also have to finish Suikoden III, which I put off due to the high amount of work.
Oh gosh... I also have to start my Christmas shopping. My priorities are my family, and then the barkada, and then close officemates. Darn. Have to start on that... pronto.
Have to start taking vitamins so I don't waste any of my holiday just stuck in bed. Have to do some serious fun and productive stuff.
Look what mom brought home...

No home should be without the Croc-o-rock.

My mom showed me last night this hilarious little gift she got from one of her amigas. At first it appears to be a painted statuette of a crocodile, standing on top of a flat rock. It's kinda painted dark green, with white teeth. Looks a bit menacing, actually... until you press a button and it starts SINGING. Yep. A jazzy song with lyrics about how the croc wouldn't like to go into a hot pot start blaring out... and during the refrain, the croc actually moves and opens its mouth to sing the words, swishing its tail along with the tune.
In a word... freaky. But funny. And according to my mom, my sister got a similar singing toy... except hers is a fish. Yes.... Freaky...
An Impending War of Boobs and Balls

DOAX's Tina versus Outlaw Volleyball's Summer. Anime perfection versus Offbeat sluttiness.

Next year, not one but two beach volleyball games are hitting the Microsoft Xbox. One is the massively-hyped Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, while the other is the irreverent Outlaw Volleyball.
DOAX features graphical beauty and expertise from Tecmo of Japan's star development team, Team Ninja. These programmers have fashioned games that have consistently pushed the capabilities of every platform they've worked on, from the original Playstation to the Xbox. They've always produced graphically-superior games and gameplay, but unfortunately they are most famous (or infamous) for the Dead or Alive series' bouncing breast animations. If they ever really tried to conceal their use of sex and skin to spice up and sell their games, they've dropped every pretense of it in DOAX. Set entirely in a place called Zack Island, DOAX stars the women of the DOA fighting game series as they take an impromptu vacation, earn money by playing volleyball and other minigames on the island, make friends, form a killer volleyball team, get a tan, and fill up their closets with as many of the estimated 300+ swimsuits and accessories available in the game.
DOAX will require players to find a partner for their main girl, and then 'build a relationship' with that girl to make the team stronger. This means buying gifts and lots of them (a lot like real life), which gives DOAX aspects of dating simulations (another popular genre in Japan). Of course, the teammates are both girls, so don't expect anything more than close, huggy and affectionate friendships. Aside from the main volleyball game, DOAX will feature tons of other activities and minigames to do, including gambling at a casino. It also features the ability to watch certain animated situations wherein the girls 'relax'... of course, the voyeuristic camera will be yours to control. Yes, this is a Japanese game through and through.
The US-original Outlaw Volleyball reflects its more occidental roots.The visual style is more western and realistic as opposed to the idealized anime-esque characters in DOAX. A volleyball game through and through, OV will feature at least 18 players, which consist of an equal number of males and females (as opposed to the sparse 8 all-female playables in DOAX). In contrast to the idyllic island setting of DOAX, OV will send players to such colorful venues like a women's prison, an oil rig and a sewer. The playable characters match the surroundings; they will include strippers, tattooed bikers, British punkers, Elvis impersonators, hillbillies, trailer trash and more pleasant folk. As with the developer Hypnotix's previous game, Outlaw Golf, you will be able to initiate fights during a volleyball match, letting you steal momentum from a winning opponent.
Anyway, I have to say that both games are pretty intriguing, and I'll be sure to check them out. My money's on DOAX, of course, since I'm a longtime DOA fan. Still, slutty biker chicks in thongs are strangely appealing. Don't know why, though... Heh.

Thursday, December 12

Live-action Anime

Last week I was able to watch the recent Korean film, Volcano High, which is quite simply, an anime with real people. It's all about Kim(Jang Hyuk) a transferee to the school, and how he mixes in with the local faculty and students... which is quite a blast since everyone seems to have either super-powers or super martial arts skills. What you have are people flying across hallways ala Matrix, blows sending opponents through walls, psychic powers that can change the weather and control the very molecules of water and other cool stuff.
In order to re-establish order in the chaotic campus, the evil vice-principal is seeking a certain codex or mystic book that will give him ultimate power. With a group of powerful, evil teachers/masters of death on his side (including a totally awesome dude in a cool flowing trenchcoat), he's out to crush everyone who dares resist his rule.
Of course, Kim won't stand for that, and along with his rival Jyang (Kim Soo-roh) and the icy-cold kendo mistress Chai-I (played by the quietly beautiful Min-a-Shin), he's going to win back the rights of the students to rumble in Volcano High.
This film is hilarious. There isn't really as much action as there is attitude and posing, but when things start flying, you can't take your eyes off the screen. The plot really is inconsequential to the style, fun and special effects, so don't try to reason or rationalize this wacky but masterfully-done film by director Kim Tae-Kyun. The cast and crew just look like they're having so much fun. And this is one of those HK-type films... the stars often do their own stunts. Just watch it and laugh your head off.
Had the chance to get the DVD of this last week. I should make it a point to really just pick up a copy the next time I have the chance.

Kendo queen Chai-I (Min-a-Shin) strikes a pose.

On a side note, Director Kim's next movie will be titled Fist of Chosun (Chosun is the old name for Korea) and will start filming in February 2003.
Prepaid Internet

On my jaunt around Glorietta, I bought a Blast Internet prepaid card. I haven't really tried too many cards; I just started with Blast and just got used to the fast, sure log-ins and the relatively brisk connection speed. I get 9 hours of internet for 100 pesos, which is not bad; and far more affordable than the thousand-plus I spent on an internet subscription. I also occasionally buy I-Tipid, which gives you no less than 20 hours of browsing time. However, the flaw is that it's often HELL to connect (lines are always busy). I have found out though that there are certain times when connecting is a lot easier, so I got used to using it. However, there were no I-Tipid cards at the stall I went to, so it's Blast for now. There. Now I can surf (and blog) again at home. Cool.
A Short Break

After a somewhat productive morning, I went out to have lunch and a walk. After a little deliberation I finally decided on a simple but satisfying barbecue pork chop at Sizzler Glorietta. The meal was made exceptional by its speed; I had just sat down on my chair when lo, my order was already before me! Talk about fast food. Maybe there was another person who ordered the same thing but left without claiming it before me. Or maybe I blacked out into a time warp without knowing it. Who knows? Anyway, after that I walked around and revisited the stall where the rainsticks were being sold. I resolved to buy one soon; I just had to decide whether it was as a gift or as a neat knick-knack at the office or sanctum.
Walked a bit more, getting myself several VCDs of The Breed and De Sade at Tower Records. Hmm. Feeling R-rated today. Heh. After that, I walked back to the office, resisting the urge to just take a cab. I passed by the underpass and noticed that the stink of dead cat had grown stronger and had spread over a wider area. There were some maintenance men checking out the grates at the side. I hope they find it and get rid of the thing. The place smells like it really needs a good fumigating. And speaking of bad smells, I passed by a couple of foreign backpackers on the way back, and they... phew... well, they weren't as bad as the dead cat, but... Mmm.

Anyway... am back in the safety of the office. Week's almost done, so things are just peachy.
A Nice Coaster!

I went to Comic Quest yesterday for my weekly bloodletting. I got the latest issue of Official Xbox Magazine, which comes with a DVD full of game demos. I also got the latest issue of Elektra, which still comes with the customarily excellent Greg Horn cover. Luckily, the interior art isn't bad and the story seems to be getting interesting. But the pick of the night has got to be an image CD specially-made for Comic Book Artists, which features over 650 varied poses. All I can say is... WHAT A LEMON! The poses are limited and pretty useless, consisting of a few dozen shots of a white-trash couple drinking, smoking or acting weird. Along with that are some random pics of cities and... RUBBLE. WOW! I guess I can use them if I need to have references for my comic set in a city with rubble starring a girl with boots looking scared as she smokes and drinks and smooches with some guy. Woohoo! I will treasure this CD always.
Hmph. I know. I'll give it away as a Christmas present for the guys at the office studio. Reference material. BAH.

Wednesday, December 11

Hard Times

Today, I rode a bus to Cubao going to work. A while later, a man got on and started passing out envelopes. He dropped one on my knee, which promptly fell off. I just kept staring, knowing that it was another one of those people asking for contributions, or love offerings. To my surprise, the guy said that he was asking money for Christmas ("namamasko"). He then started singing what seemed to be a Christmas song, complete with a rattle or cymbals he had. He sang for about a minute or two, then collected the envelopes and was off.
Everyone from religious groups to workers' unions and poor families beg on buses. There's also this spot at Santolan, near Camp Crame, where the attendants at the Minute Burger stand actually board buses, selling hamburgers (2 for ten pesos). Talk about taking your product to the consumer.
It kinda depresses me to see these things. Have to not let if affect me too much though. Times are just hard. You do what you can to get a little more money. As long as you don't steal.

Tuesday, December 10

A Spooky Stowy!
(Based on real, and recent, events. Like, just now!)

It was after normal working hours, and I left the almost-empty office to go to the comfort room. I passed by the elevators on my way. All I could hear were my own footsteps, and the distant hum of the elevators going up or down the shafts. Mmmmm- up... Mmmmm- down... Mmmmm.
Anyway, I got to the Men's Room and answered the call of nature. I then headed for the sinks, where I proceeded to wash my hands. Now, the building being a modern facility, the water faucets don't have handles you turn or flip. The water is activated by placing your hands directly in front of the infra-red sensor beneath the faucet. Then, and only then, will the water run. Cool, eh?
Well, as I finished washing my hands... the faucet next to mine started running. It started RUNNING. There was NOONE there!!! It could only mean... A presence was... present! It was a brush with the supernatural. At long last, I looked into the spirit world, and it stared right back at me with its own baleful gaze...

Well, admittedly, it might have been just a simple malfunction, or the sensor being activated by the vibrations of the passing elevators. Or one of a thousand, thousand other reasons.

But the ghost story is the reason that's FUN. Heh.

Damn. Maybe I can get interviewed on that spook show, Verum Est. Or start my own cult. Haha. This is great.
I can feel it in the air...

It's DONE!!! Hahahahaha! Our secret project has finally borne fruit. Can't reveal it in full, but it's a website filled with tons of neat stuff from our little group. It will be launched during the upcoming Philippine Comics and Manga Convention this December 21-22. Anyway, the Immacolata comic I've been working on is part of this, along with a lot of other creative works from a bunch of fun-loving, creative individuals. Soon. SOON! HAHAHAHAHAHA!
Death and Taxis

I AM beginning to be totally dependent on taxis. Today I took no less than four taxi rides. One from home to work, another from Greenbelt to Makati Cinema Square, another from Greenbelt to Glorietta, and finally a taxi from Glorietta back to the office. Damn. It's addicting to just relax and sit back in an airconditioned space you've paid for, letting someone else trouble himself to get you where you want to go. Dangerously addictive... and expensive. But at least it gets me places, unlike some other addictions. Anyway, it's still not as pricey as maintaining your own car and parking space in Makati, I guess. I tell myself I hate driving and could probably never get used to it. I'd probably make a bad-tempered driver too, with road-rage just wanting to spill out at the slightest opportunity. Then, out comes the rocket launcher...!
Hmm. I think I'll stay as a commuter. Till the day I can afford my own car. And driver/lackey/bodyguard. But who can I trust?
Maybe I could get myself cloned. Have my own little Driver-Me to take me around town. And I'll pay him with Xbox games. Nice deal, I think. Yes. That's an idea...
City Hunter

I went out at lunch to find a couple of... um... esoteric objects. Blood sample slides and particular music CD. Don't ask why... I am not at liberty to tell. Let me just say that they're for some agency purposes. That's how weird some ideas can be, requiring some pretty unusual things to become ads or merchanising materials.
Anyway it wouldn't have been too bad if the stuff were easy to find. As it was, I got strange looks from the pharmacist at one store when I asked for the blood sample slides. I had lunch at Pancake House Makati Cinema Square and got absolutely HORRIBLE service. The pancakes weren't as fresh-hot as they should have, the waiters didn't set or clean my table until they actually had the food served to me, and irritatingly, the waiter brought the bill to my table as I was eating. THE HELL?! Good thing it only took a venomous look from me that the guy took a hint and withdrew the offensive thing. FIRED. ALL OF YOU. If I had any say in it. You can't really expect great service from any place in Makati Cinema Square though... it's pretty much a basement warehouse dockyard de-militarized zone trying to pass for a mall. Bah.
Anyway, I had to ride all the way to Glorietta to find the blood sample slides, which turned out to be called Microscope Sample Slides. Ah. Well, apparently you can't buy them in singles, so I had to buy a box. As for the music CD, I actually had the option of getting either a Frank Sinatra or a Louie Armstrong CD... as long as the song we were looking for was there. I scoured the Jazz section of Tower Record to find only ONE CD to have the song. It was a Louie Armstrong compilation that cost almost a thousand pesos. GAH. I called my Creative Director on the cell, asking if we needed it that badly. She eventually said yes. I would have bought it there and then if not for a tiny voice that said, WAIT!!!
So I balked and took a bit of a walk to the only other music store in the area, Odyssey at Park Square. Lo and behold, it only took me a few minutes to find not one, but several Frank Sinatra CDs that had our needed song. And the cheapest only cost 200 pesos. YAHOO!
With my weird stash in had, I took a taxi once again back to the office. My deed was done. I hope it was all worth it though. Walking kilometers in city traffic, spending on taxi rides, putting up with bad service all take its toll on you. I might lose my belief in my fellow man.
Burning the Midnight Brain Cells

It's already a new day and I'm still at the office. Darn, I hate overtime. Anyway, we're doing a final sprint towards the finish since we have not one, but two pitches to handle. FYI for non-advertising types, a 'pitch' is an agency's attempt to win a business. This involves producing grade-A ads that are supposed to blow your prospective clients' socks off, and the opposing agencies' campaigns out of the water. Well, we're hoping to do just that and have a merry Christmas. The office is pretty empty, dark and kinda creepy at night, despite there being a cheery tree and blinking lights on the doorway. Hopefully I'll be on a cab headed home in a while. At least before daylight starts creeping up the skyline.

Monday, December 9

A Quiet Despedida

Tonight we had a little office get-together to say goodbye (kinda ironic, I guess) to one of the writers from the Creative department. We gathered at Frescano restaurant behind the office (chosen so we could easily walk back after since we had overtime) and had a simple eat and drink party. Anyway, the air was kinda subdued but everyone was glad that the guy seemed to be doing well as he already had a job as a deejay in a popular radio station. Apparently, aside from getting paid more, he also worked for only 3 hours a day. Whoa. Nice deal. Well, if you're willing to put up with the wild life of a radio jock, calling people, getting weird calls from all types of psychotics and whatever, and being able to work a turntable. Sounds like fun... but not my bag.
Well, after dinner we said goodbye and went back to the office. Life goes on.
Almost Too Good To Eat

Last night, just before I admitted defeat to the Sandman, I caught several minutes of a special about Shanghai on Discovery Channel. It centered mainly on Shanghainese cooking, particularly dimsum. I have to say that my mouth was watering at the imagined taste of real, Chinese dumplings... but I was really pleased at the beauty of the things. We've got dumplings here in Manila, from Chinese restaurants. But to get the really beautiful, delicious stuff you would probably have to go to some really expensive places (nope, Luk Yuen won't have them). I really doubt that even the best, most authentic Chinese eateries here will have the incredibly beautiful and exquisite dumplings I saw; little green dumplings that emulated Chinese cabbage, made green by real cabbage juices... an almost transparent 'purse' dumpling with a seaweed cord around the top... cute little 'piglet' dumplings... a dumpling made of glutinous rice with sesame seeds wrapped in dried leaved tied 13 times... Works of art, all.
I wonder if I'd eat them. They looked too good to eat.
Bah, who am I kidding. Of course I would have. Heh.
Spooky Surveillance Video

A short segment in TechTV's 'Cool Stuff' caught my attention a few days ago. A wrecking yard in Oklahoma City is claiming that it caught a ghost on camera. This creepy story made the local news and features a few seconds of the video surveillance tape showing a spectral, humanoid figure circling the yard, as if looking for something. According to some paranormal investigators, there were several cars in the yard involved in fatal accidents; the 'ghost' may be from one of these tragic events...
Hmm. Just goes to show that even in the US, they believe in white ladies.

Click here for a report and the spooky video! Realplayer required.

Sobering Realities

On my way to work, I'd always pass by an overpass to the highway. This morning, as I stepped down the stairs, there was an old woman there, sitting on the lowest step. She was dishevelled and looked a bit like a beggar, and frankly, was probably not in her right mind. She was talking to the air, gesturing with her hands. As I stepped down, she looked up at me and said, "Good morning, anak." (Anak is Filipino for 'child'). What could I do or say? I just kept walking. I could hear her still talking to the air behind me. It got me thinking how some people here in the country have dozens of cars and houses to spare while others have to live under overpasses and in trash heaps. The reason for much of this is because our government officials suck out millions for their own pockets, stealing from projects which should give our country's poor at the very least a roof over their heads and a hot meal every day. DAMN. Now that's really something that you can call MAD. Goddamn fricking MAD.
Weekend Roundup

Overall, my 'long weekend' wasn't all that bad despite a slight invasion by workload on Friday. We weren't able to catch a film as we did usually on Saturday, but at least we were able to spend a nice Chinese dinner at North Park with Dean and Gig. The choice of cuisine was inspired when Carl and I watched the Korean film Volcano High at Comic Quest. Okay, it was Korean... we didn't know any good Korean restaurants nearby, so we settled for Chinese. It was a nice meal, but after it seemed to affect us since we all went home immediately after.
Yesterday, Sunday, I stayed at home. I busied myself with finishing page contributions for the C3Con or Philippine Anime and Comics Convention that's being sponsored by Culture Crash. I did a spread for both my own comic, Angel Ace, and for our group's special website project. James Palabay, CC's head honcho and writer/creator of One Day, Isang Diwa, came to the house himself to pick up the CD with the images.
Anyway, after that I just basically chilled for the rest of the day and night. I was able to watch the third Austin Powers film, Goldmember, on DVD. All I can say is... DAMN it must be so easy to sell crap when you establish a franchise. The first two Powers movies were okay... but this third one was just a bit too much scraping the bottom of the toilet bowl. The new character, Goldmember, played by Mike Myers as well (he plays Austin Powers, Doctor Evil and the returning Fat Bastard as well), is simply not funny... just disgusting and odd. I wonder what people from Holland think of that character? Oh well. Die Hard Power freaks may dig it, but I just watched with a blank stare for most of it. Even the MOLE joke didn't get to me. Though the cameos of various stars was kinda neat.
If anything, I got to recharge a bit, which is always good. Still, I am looking forward to finishing off the whole advertising plate in the next couple of weeks for the Christmas vacation.