Friday, February 7


I wanted to scream this out loud today as I spent over THREE HOURS sitting in a bus on the way to work. The traffic today from my house in Marikina to Cubao was thicker, more viscous and unmoving than Rugby rubber cement. A couple of times I really just wanted to quit and go home, but duty called. Luckily I actually was able to make it to a presentation just in time. Oh well. Looks like I have to finish some stuff before the work this week ends, but I am glad this cycle is pretty much over. Been a short but paradoxically LONG week.

Thursday, February 6

Late to Dinner, Early to Bed

Today was a long, hard day. I spent most of the day writing radio commercials and thinking up creative ideas to sell very mundane items and promotions. My eyes and head hurt but I stayed into the night to finish stuff. When I finally was on my way home, I realized how hungry I was. On the bus, images of fried chicken floated in my mind. I thought of the safe choice for such a meal in Cubao- Jollibee. There were two branches of Jollibee, but for some reason I opted to have a meal at Chowking.
Chowking is the country's Chinese fast food place. The menu is odd, and whenever I eat there I get the general mood of mismatching in the selection. There are rice meals, pseudo-Pinoy-slash Chinese meals and other odds and ends. They don't normally have congee, or rice porridge; what they have to pass for it STINKS. Their dimsum are all bland, cheap, charbroiled imitations; edible crumpled origami dumplings which have no taste. BLAH. Despite this, what I can say is that they serve the food piping-hot since they cook only when ordered to.
Anyway, I ordered fried chicken, which is really a food that is hard to get wrong. As far as I know, the crispiness of fast food is achievable only by special, industrial-strength ovens (I learned that from a client in advertising), and cannot normally be done in home kitchens. Anyway, the chicken was good but not Chickenjoy-great; and the side dish I ordered with it- wanton soup- was just wrong. Bad choices, I guess, but it went with the mismatching atmosphere of the place.
After the unspectacular but filling dinner I walked over to Aurora Boulevard to catch a ride home. It's pretty irritating though to see a bus, with lots of empty seats, to be just pulling away while you're hopelessly too far away to catch up. Happens a lot to me. Heh. Anyway, I got on another bus and soon was home.
Finally, the week's over again. I only worked for a little over half the week, but I am dead tired. Need rest to recharge. Don't think I even have the strength to watch the DOA girls lounge by the poolside. Sigh. What's on TV... ah, a classic stinker: Steven Seagal's On Deadly Ground. Wonderful. To bed then.
The Animatrix in online!

The first animated short based on the world of The Matrix is now online and available for free download at The first online episode, The Second Renaissance Part 1, is directed by Mahiro Maeda of Blue Submarine No. 6 fame. This first Matrix anime delves into the Zion archives and reveals for the first time the beginnings of the war between Man and Machines which started the whole Matrix nightmare. It's a hard-hitting feature, and pulls no punches for graphic violence several times during the show; pretty mature stuff.
It's all well and good, but what I am actually waiting for is Final Flight of the Osiris, the Square-produced CG feature that stars a hottie named Jue, which takes place apparently some time after the first Matrix movie. It also has a 'training room/dojo' sequence between Jue and her mentor which supplies skin and sex appeal where the original scene with Neo and Morpheus did not (gladly). Heh.
The Matrix anime episodes will fill in the months leading up to Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions. All will eventually make it onto The Animatrix dvd, which will be released on June 3. Mmm. Nice birthday present for me. Heh.

Today I finally got out of my term of captivity and returned to active service. I went back to the office in a cloud of Job Orders and pending requirements. Ah, life. Anyway, I was able tor fulfill the most urgent stuff with little problem. I was actually able to get out of the office just a little past six to try and catch up to a Hinirang interview being conducted by a local magazine. On the way to Megamall, I saw a sight that amused me; a bus with a TV inside was playing an anime. I saw it from another bus, and I strained to see what the series/feature being shown was. I eventually saw it was an episode of the sci-fi gender war series, Vandread. I doubt that the bus had cable, so it was probably a tape... wow. That bus has class to show anime. Heh.
I arrived to catch the tail end of the interview, which looked like it went well. However, now I am pressured to move faster with updates and pages for the Immacolata online comic. Aeeei. Oh, well. I work best under pressure.
Oh right... along after the interview and a nice after-dinner chat at Country Waffles with the Hinirang gang, I took home a stash of loot from the weekly bloodletting at Comic Quest; the latest issues of Official Xbox Magazine (with their review of DOAX; they gave it an 8.4/10), Mystic and Xin. I also got the latest Electronic Gaming Monthly and a copy of the new PS2 action game sequel, Devil May Cry 2. The crowning piece of the lot is the 2nd DVD of the Ghost In The Shell TV series. Should make sure to get a taste of it all before I go off to the sunny beaches next week.
Yep, and when I mean beaches, I don't mean having an overdose of playtime with DOAX... I actually AM going to a real beach next week. I am going on a company outing to Boracay with my whole department over the Valentine weekend, so expect SRM to go dormant from February 14 to the 16th... that is, unless I find a good internet cafe on the island.
That's for next week though. The rest of this week looks to be busy both on and off work. Ah, 'tis good to be back in the loop again. I think.

Tuesday, February 4

Kim Possible EXISTS!

Buffy meets Bond in Kim Possible.

YES! Thanks to another day of being downed by a stomach flu, I was finally able to watch an episode of Kim Possible, the hit Disney spy girl series. I've been missing the joy of seeing this action-packed series for so long, I almost thought it didn't really exist... well, I'm a believer now!
I really enjoyed the animation, the snappy dialogue and the cool martial-artsy action. Everything was perfect, even down to the character of Kim herself, whom I found really likeable. I actually prefer KP more than the blatantly anime-ish Totally Spies, which I find more heavy-handed. The only trouble is, now I KNOW what I am missing every day. ARGH. Oh well, I guess I will just have to make sure I catch episodes on the weekend for my Kim fix... There just has to be a DVD or VCD of this series somewhere...

Monday, February 3

Cartoons of my Youth

Music-loving teen cyborg heroine Megan AKA Rock-One from The Bionic Six captured many a youth's heart in the 80s.

Speaking of cartoons, I remember years ago my favorite cartoons on TV. They weren't anime either... these were all from Hanna Barbera, Ruby Spears, Filmation and Rankin Bass. I liked mostly adventure cartoons, with human characters rather than humanized animals and creatures. I remember the many Superfriends cartoons, based on the DC Comics' characters. My personal favorite was the Challenge of the Superfriends, which pitted the Justice League against the Legion of Doom. This was really an excellent series with lots of action and the cool DC heroes fighting it out with their nemesis archvillains. Where else would you see obscure villains like Solomon Grundy, Bizarro, Giganta and Captain Cold animated? The best episode just has to be the one where the heroes all get 'killed' when the Legion of Doom finds a special crystal that contains all their weaknesses. It had a pretty funny and overly-simple resolution (they were all robots!), but the drama of seeing Batman's headstone in the cemetery just made this one a classic. Heh.
The other Superfriends' cartoons were also cool; There were the episodes with Zan and Jana (and their space monkey, Gleek), and the one with Marvin, Wendy and their 'wonder dog'. The Exxor twins' episodes were always against real villains and aliens, while the human sidekicks' adventures were always against some benign genius-turned rogue, and always seemed to involve some real-life principle or scientific phenomenon (like the White Dwarf or the Jetstream). Cool stuff all around.
Then there were the rarer cartoons, like adventures from Filmation that were actually GOOD! There was Super Seven, Web Woman and Super Stretch and Micro Woman, all of which had excellent adventures and character designs. And who could forget The Adventures of John Blackstar? The Power Sword and the Star Sword (put together to form... the POWER STAR! Genius!!!). Heh. These were the best of afternoon/morning cartoon fare. Simply classic.
Later series I came to love were of course GI Joe and Transformers. Briefly the excellently-animated and very anime-like Bionic Six ruled my world (Spiky-haired sprite Rock-One was the crush of all my classmates). Then came Visionaries and Inhumanoids, which were all the more memorable due to their catchy spells/poems and the fact that they were translated into tagalog. HAAHAHAHHAAA!!! Oh my. So many good cartoons.
These days, I can't identify with most of the stuff on the tube. It's mostly anime now, dubbed in tagalog, or some few exceptions and stuff on the Disney Channel. I kinda feel sorry for kids today for missing the coolness of Saturday Fun Machine (a whole morning of cartoons! Can you imagine?!), but if you don't know it, you won't miss it. I'd pay a lot for DVDs or tapes of all these classic cartoons of my youth... and actually I will be soon. A Challenge of the Superfriends DVD is available for order, and I jumped for a copy. Perhaps in a couple of months, the Superfriends and the Legion of Doom will battle it out on my TV once again. Sigh. Makes me feel all tingly. Heh.
Sick like a Dog

I stayed at home today, experiencing a weird stomach bug early this morning. For a while I had to work like mad over text and e-mail to fix up some office work that required my attention. Thankfully everything was under control (I hope) after lunch. Anyway, I took the time to just lie down. Couldn't draw crap, so I just watched TV and the odd DVD. Funny thing... I once again missed seeing the much-talked about Kim Possible on the Disney Channel. I've missed it almost every week, and now I am doubting this series actually exists. Heh. I hope a DVD or VCDs of this spy cartoon eventually show up somewhere. Anyway, for dinner I was planning to have something delivered, but for some reason I could not- I was pretty much tired of Shakey's and the number for the nearby branch of Jollibee was nowhere to be found. Plus, the Domino's number was unresponsive. Oh well, at least I guess I was able to save money by making do with canned sausages and some Campbell's soup.
I hope to get back to work again tomorrow. Being forced to stay indoors sucks, no matter what anyone thinks. Later then.

Sunday, February 2

Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball Review

A vacation with the ladies of Dead or Alive? Count me in!

Anyone who has been reading my blog will probably know that I am a humongous fan of the Dead or Alive fighting game series, so it should come with no surprise that I have been waiting for the bizarre, sexy spin-off ever since it was first announced last year. Much of the fame (and infamy) of the DOA series stems from it’s cast of lovely lady fighters, and of course their bouncy breast action. So it was only natural for a game that exclusively stars the DOA babes to appear. The odd thing is that DOAX is not a fighting game, but a volleyball game. Scratch that- it’s a volleyball sim/dating sim /RPG/girlwatching game… something that I think has NEVER appeared before in the history of gaming. Leave it to the DOA series to start a trend, eh?
The story behind DOAX is pretty far out; Zack, one of the male DOA fighters, breaks the bank at a casino after Dead or Alive 3. He uses his newfound wealth to buy himself an island paradise, naming the place Zack Island. He then presumptuously declares it the setting for the next DOA fighting tournament. Invitations are sent out and soon, the competitors start arriving. Two things become apparent; one, only the women were invited, and two, there isn’t any tournament at all. So now, the beautiful ladies of DOA are stuck on a remote island paradise with Zack obviously watching them pleasurably from the sidelines. So, what do the girls do? They start wearing their sexiest swimsuits and get down to having some serious RnR, of course! Soon, heated matches of beach volleyball begin, with Zack supplying tons of cash for the winners. Teams start coming together between the normally-hostile rivals, and a new round of battles- this time on the volleyball courts- begin.

The funny thing is, while the game may be called DOA Volleyball, the actual sport element isn’t the only thing you can do in the game. In fact, the bulk of what will occupy players (at least in the main single-player Go To Zack Island mode) will be seeing their chosen DOA girl through her two week vacation, making friends among the other DOA girls, shopping for new bikinis, accessories and other items at the island stores for herself or for others, gambling at the casino and generally playing virtual swimsuit model for the player.
Adding color to the relationships is that several of the girls hate each others' guts, and are more used to striking each others' faces than volleyballs. The relationship-management game, where you try to overcome the girls’ natural hostility to each other, is quite compelling and entertaining, though it is really just a glorified “match an item to the correct girl” kind of thing. However, the presentation is nicely done, with well-acted voice samples (in Japanese with English subtitles) communicating the girls’ personalities quite excellently.
And you will have to master the relationship game since only a strong, closely-bonded team will perform well on the volleyball court. You only have direct control over your chosen main character, while your partner is CPU controlled. If your partner isn’t at her happiest, she will be prone to letting balls pass her by without nary a care. To remedy this, you will have to continually give her presents such as her favorite dessert, swimsuits and accessories in her favorite colors and so forth. Talk about high maintenace.
Anyway, DOAX’s volleyball engine is simple enough to pick up and play, but is fast, fun and addictive. It really helps that the animation and physics are quite good, with reactions to the ball and the various spikes, digs and dives looking quite excellent. Ambient animations like the girls’ adjusting their bikinis or limbering up before and after a match add to the game’s visual charm.

Of course, visual charm is what this game is all about. Frequently you will be given chances to just observe (okay, ogle would be the better word) the DOA girls as they lounge around the poolside, practice their martial arts, exercise or just plain hang around Zack Island’s venues. During these exquisitely-animated sequences, you have extensive control over the camera, so you can look over the girls’ physiques more… um… intimately. As testament to Team Ninja’s mastery of the female form, DOAX’s character models are some of the most gorgeous yet seen in videogames. Fans of eye candy, this game may give you diabetes.
For all this, DOAX is really just harmless, juvenile fun; more Baywatch and Swimsuit Illustrated in videogame form rather than anything else. There is no real nudity or sex; just tons of cheesecake, fan service and innuendo which, thanks to outstanding graphics, production values and addictive gameplay, lets the game retain class where other titles just devolve into crass. In particular, fans of the series get to see their favorite videogame vixens interact in a wholly new and different genre, giving welcome depth to some well-known but enigmatic characters.
Any flaws? The volleyball engine may be too simplistic for hardcore sports enthusiasts, along with the lack of alternate play modes, tournaments or even four-player modes. The animations of the girls, while many, may get repetitive eventually, with only changes in swimwear to add something new (though there are literally hundreds of bikinis to unlock). The soundtrack, which is a cheesy mix of Pop and Reggae, may have you squealing… good thing you can substitute your own CD music thanks to the Xbox CD ripper option.

So what do we have in the end? A simple, easy-to-play but solid volleyball game with gorgeous character models. A collection game with literally hundreds of alternate swimsuits, accessories and items to unlock. An oddly compelling relationship-dating sim game that will bring to mind ‘Temptation Island’ crossed with Victoria Secret. And of course, there are some gambling minigames to squander your hard-earned cash to round things off nicely.
Perhaps DOA Xtreme Beach Vacation or DOA Xtreme Babe Voyeurism would be more apt for this game. As a whole though, DOAX is an entertaining, inexplicably addictive bit of relaxing, juvenile fun that Xbox owners will want to take a peek at.
And it’s probably the sexiest and cheapest beach vacation with gorgeous babes you’ll ever find. Heh.

Mmmm I feel sooo relaxed... if only I could get rid of that nagging feeling that I'm being watched...
The Carver's House now open for business.

Speaking of new blogs, my good friend and compatriot in the comics field, Carl Vergara, finally has a blog! Check out The Carver's House for a look into the life and mind of a very talented artist and multi-faceted personality. Go, Carl!
Wow! I have a blog!

Heh. Checked's homepage and saw STARK RAVING MAD on the list of recently-published blogs. Wow. Haven't I been doing this thing since September last year? Wow. Holy Backlog, Batman... Heh.
The Weekender Report

After a long week of work, I thankfully sank into the bliss of a restful weekend. Friday night I had dinner with the Mike, Dean, Gig and Carl at a restaurant named Basilique near Pearl Drive. Mike’s been recommending that place forever but we’ve always resisted going there… until tonight. We were all apparently quite tired so we just went along without resistance. That was a mistake, of course, since the food turned out to be not special and exceptionally expensive. I ordered something called Chicken Nikolai; basically fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy which cost about two hundred pesos. I would have been better off buying a two-piece chicken meal at KFC. BAH.
The next day I spent most of the daylight hours hard playing my new Xbox acquisition, Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. I’ll post my review on this sexy sports/dating sim/girlwatching videogame very soon. Was it worth all the wait and posts here on the blog? Well, suffice to say that when I finally realized I had to go out, it was already six in the evening. I had to forego my weekly trek to Greenhills and go straight to Megamall. There, we idled away our time as we waited for the store to close so we could meet up with Dean and Gig later. Along with us was Noel ‘Flim’ Lim who had a bit of déjà vu since he and Mike went out a lot years ago. After closing Comic Quest, we decided on having dinner at North Park. We had our usual orders: salted fish fried rice, spareribs, garlic squid and of course, my favorite ‘gwailo’ food, sweet and sour pork. Heh. Along with the good food came good conversation and lots of laughs as Dean regaled us with his experiences and travails as an artist dealing with ‘artistes’.
We eventually transplanted to Country Waffles and stayed there until the staff pretty much threw us out at 2 AM. Apparently, the no longer operate 24 hours. Hard times. Oh well.
Today, I finally went out to Greenhills and came back with some picks: DVDs of Shaolin Soccer, Femme Fatale (the questionable thriller starring Rebecca Romjin-Stamos and Antonio Banderas) and Simone (the Al Pacino-starrer about a virtual actress). Lastly, I was able to get a copy of the new Xbox shooter, Panzer Dragoon Orta, which looks great. I almost got a copy of Jet Li’s Hero, but not quite. The film’s showing this week, so maybe I’ll catch it with Mike and Dean at the theaters before getting a home copy.

That’s that. I should end the day by trying to draw some more art and pages for several comic projects, then finish it all up by trying to write my DOAX review. The weekend’s over once again and I hit the salt mines early tomorrow. Ah, life. Nothing like it. Heh.