Saturday, April 26

TechTV Farewells

WAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!! My favorite show on TechTV, Extended Play, is over. It's being retired. It's gone. This gaming reviews, previews and news show, hosted by game-guru Adam Sessler was so entertaining for me... I could watch episodes again and again. And I did, since they rotated episodes and showed them daily, slipping in reviews and features like lego bricks to make up a show. Yes, new reviews and nuggest of updated info came few and far between, but the show was funny and cool. It will be missed.
The good news though is that it will be replaced by X-Play (heh), a late night show that will feature edgier content. Described as a 'level up' from before, XP will feature more cutting-edge game reviews, news and previews. Adam will continue to give his prickly comments, hatred for cut scenes and other quirks, together with a new co-host, Morgan Webb (from The Screensavers).
On a less happy note, I finally found out that resident geek Chris Pirillo has indeed left Call For Help for some reason. I actually realized this when I saw the animated intro of the show feature a cartoon of Leo Laporte (The Screensavers) rather than the bespectacled gnome. Oh well. Things change, I guess.

Friday, April 25

Coming Soon

Yeah, X2 aka X-Men United is coming within the next couple of weeks, but there are a lot of films coming that have me excited. This is aside from Return of The King and The Matrix sequels, mind you.
There's Identity, a whodunit-murder mystery thriller set in a secluded inn/motel cut off by rain and flood. By what first seems coincidence a large group of strangers congregates, coinciding with the approaching execution of a serial killer. Soon though, people start dying in morbid ways and it soon becomes apparent that nothing was coincidental, nothing random, nothing is what it seems. A killer is among them, and his... or her... identity will only be revealed after more blood and chills are let loose. This puzzling thriller stars John Cusack and Ray Liotta.

Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a period fantasy film where a cursed, undead band of cutthroats (led by Geoffrey 'It's Captain Amazink' Rush) is seeking the many pieces of Inca gold that turned them into skeletal ghouls. Orlando 'Legolas' Bloom plays a young blacksmith whose fiancee was kidnapped by the undead pirates. To save her, Bloom teams up with a scruffy Johnny 'You've bewitched me' Depp, who plays Captain Sparrow, a pirate himself who seems to have a link with Rush and his mates. Lots of swashbuckling, swordfighting, musket-firing, skeleton fighting action here.

The Real Cancun is a big-screen version of The Real World; the first reality-TV show to make it to movie screens. Basically it's what you'd expect of a Spring Break movie... lots of T&A from various young, attractive nobodies, drinking and implied sex. I've read some reviews that this movie is pretty much crap, but hey... It's crap with lots of T&A! Heh-heh... Umm... Yeeeesss....

Sinbad: Legends of the Seven Seas is the next animated film from Dreamworks/SKG. It's animation style is similar to that of Road to El Dorado and Prince of Egypt, predictably. Besides that though, the material gives to tons of swashbuckling action, CG sea monsters that are either intentionally made rough (to emulate the classic Harryhausen stop-motion stuff) or just plain bad. Anyway, Brad 'What's in the box...?' Pitt voices Sinbad, and there are reportedly some pretty BAD (as in, not good) lines like 'Who's BAD? SinBAD!'. Groan. On the good side, there's a sexy femme fatale love interest and a slinky villainess, so this may not be too bad. Heh.

Check out the trailers for these films and more at the Apple Movie Trailers page.
Vampire in Outer Space

Just watched an episode of Andromeda, the sci-fi action series on AXN starring Kevin 'Hercules' Sorbo. While I usually don't watch this series (not particularly because it's bad or anything... just never really got into it), the Buffy fan in me found it neat that James 'Spike' Marsters was a guest star. Marsters' character was a powerful official named Charlemagne Bolivar whom Captain Dylan Hunt (Sorbo) has to convince to join the Commonwealth of Worlds (an alliance of good planets Hunt is trying to rebuild). When a mysterious enemy attacks, Bolivar takes up arms alongside Hunt, and in the end joins the Commonwealth.
Sadly though, we probably won't be seeing Spike back in Andromeda; this episode was apparently Marsters' only appearance in the series. Despite the reported popularity of the kick-ass character of Charlemagne, apparently the producers wouldn't pay Marsters' price to reprise the role. Oh well.
What's funny though is that despite being galaxies away from Sunnydale, he STILL looks like Spike. I guess slicked-back blonde hair and long leather overcoats are universally cool. Heh.
Local Comic Gems

The catch of the night: Grafic and Culture Crash 10

I picked up a copy of the Atenean student comic anthology, Grafic. Dean recommended this gem to me and I agree... there's good stuff between them covers. There are interesting articles and editorials on the comic medium, a look at the finalists of Likha, a comic-making contest held on campus, and some really engaging pages of sequential art. Andrew Drilon's White, the winner of the comic contest, is a spooky yet beautifully-told tale that really deserves the win. Then there are some other wonderful panels, including a story about the battle between Ferdinand Magellan and Lapu-Lapu.
The art styles vary a lot; there are quite a few manga artists in the book, though more experimental art styles are on feature. There's a whole lot of promise, raw talent and enthusiasm in the young people who made this book... These are the next generation of artists and writers, hopefully. Makes me kinda wince that I didn't have an org like that way back in my college days. Back then, comics were all superheroes and kidstuff. How the world has changed since then; today, comics and art is a viable option for employment for the ambitious and skilled, and it's being taught in colleges (albeit still rarely). Great!
Grafic: Words-Pictures-Comics is available at Comic Quest branches. Forgot how much it is, but it's worth every peso. Get it and read it! Who knows... you might be inspired to do comics too!

On a sidenote, I also got a copy of Culture Crash 10, which was promptly scooped up by Angel. Check out her thoughts on it at her blog, Straight from the Angel's Mouth.

Thursday, April 24

Angel has a blog!

When she's not sitting on ledges, Angel watches lots of anime.

I've decided to revamp my anime blog, MAD About Anime and wouldn't you know it... Angel volunteered to write it. Before I knew it, she made it totally her own! Heh. I guess she got bored watching TechTV (She likes Cris Purillo for some reason)and playing Xbox games with Rip. For the best anime news, reviews and views this side of Newhaven City, visit Straight From the Angel's Mouth!
Forceful Billboard

Near White Plains there's a spot where a billboard for Kamiseta is usually found. Well, today I saw that the Mandy Moore (Want Moore?) board's gone, replaced by a black teaser billboard with copy that goes: "Kamiseta is reaching for the Stars. May the Force be with you."
Okay, since Carrie Fisher is probably too old to be a Kamiseta girl, I'm probably guessing a certain former Queen of Naboo-turned Galactic Senator who was a professional hitman's little sidekick in another life is going to start modelling for Kamiseta. Just a guess.

Wednesday, April 23

Brand New Ride

The new MRT is big, sleek and new, with a purple-yellow color scheme.

I was finally able to snap pics of the brand new MRT that runs from East to West in Metro Manila. At present, the trains only have a limited range and running time; basically from the Santolan station to Cubao, and only during rush hours (6-9 AM and 5-8 PM). The ride costs 12 pesos, which is worth it if you're going for speed and avoiding traffic.
The MRT stations are spiffy new, and, blank. People probably don't know much about the MRT, or as yet don't consider it worth the effort given the limited range. They're big places, and pretty cool. The trains themselves are large, maybe 25% larger, wider and a whole lot longer than the Edsa MRT cars. I simply cannot picture these big trains filled to capacity since they're so large. Eventually the trains will be fully operational and hopefully make commuting a whole lot easier.

The cars are spacious and cool... for now.
Dark Angels

More kick-ass girlpower manga from the Angel Ace guy.

I’m not just into Angel Ace. I’m thinking of doing this series someday. Perhaps sooner than anyone may think. It’s still in the design stage though. I may post designs and sketches soon. What do you think, guys?

Genre: Fantasy/Action

The Concept: In an arid, Arabian fantasy world, the Ninjinn are powerful female spirits whose life forces are bound to magical rings. Whomever holds one of these rare mystical artifacts gains the services of these magical assassins without peer. Be careful of what you wish of the Ninjinn… for all they can grant is a lingering, tortuous death.
The Ninjinn series will be an anthology of different stories of Ninjinn serving various masters; from helping an young slavegirl free her tribe to carrying out a vile warlord’s bloody purges. The only thing that is constant are the Ninjinn’s beauty and lethal prowess. In the course of the various stories, we learn the origins of the mist-cloaked assassins and their own super-secret, hidden agenda.

This series should be close to my heart since it's all about sexy kick-butt girls, cloak and dagger stuff, secret plans and long-term plots, fancy magic and swordplay. It's also a LOT darker than Angel Ace or anything I've done so far, so it should be a challenge. We'll see about getting deeper into this idea soon; at least after I get the next Angel Ace issue behind me.
Fantasy Film Ranting

I love Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies. Love them to death. For the first time ever, a filmmaker was actually able to pluck the images of epic, high fantasy right from the synapses of my brain and onto celluloid. DAMN that prologue battle scene between Gil-Galad, Elrond, Isildur and company and Freaking Sauron was awesome. I remember when I first saw it, my mind was screaming COOLNESS. I yelped with each swing of that elf-hurling mace. A chill went up my spine seeing that line of elite Elf footmen with those double-headed polearms blunt that orcish mob. DAMN.
And to think that just a scant couple of years ago, the high fantasy epic film was basically non-existent. Dragonslayer was great with wonderful effects (for the time) and atmosphere, but it was about a waning world with one last dragon (reflected many years later by that dodgy Dragonheart farce with Sean Connery). We wanted a fantasy world in its prime. There was Willow, but while I love that film (I know a lot of people don’t, some of my friends included) I recognize that it is far from being an epic fantasy. It was more action fantasy, a buddy-movie that could have been titled Two Men and a Baby and the Evil Empire. Heh.
Remember Wizards and Warriors? It was a somewhat short TV series which was based on the Dungeons and Dragons game (though apparently the producers weren’t able to afford the license, so they just made their own generic world). I can’t recall all the cast members, but I do remember that Duncan Regehr was there as the charismatic but evil Prince Dirk Blackpoole. Strong-jawed TV series actress Randi Brooks (she appeared in Last Precinct; Police Academy on TV) played the evil sorceress Bethel. Other characters include the good guys Prince Eric Greystone, his portly but mighty sidekick Marco (heh), the evil wizard Vector and a Dumbledore-ish mentor wizard.
Wizards and Warriors was pretty strong and ambitious in the action part of the fantasy genre, with swordfights and deathtraps, monsters and spells. Reportedly each episode cost about a million dollars to produce, but still the limitations showed. Well, it was done before the time of the Herculeses and Xenases of the world, so that made it a pioneer. It didn’t last long, but you have to love it at least for having chapter breaks similar to The Wild Wild West.
And then there’s the much abhorred, infamous and totally horrible Dungeons and Dragons movie. Let me say that an episode of Wizards and Warriors is preferable to this turdpile. It has the distinction of having an infinite well of heroes, settings, mythologies, storylines and other treasures to dip into… but ignoring all that in favor of a script that an orc with an intelligence of 4 could have written better.
DRAGONLANCE would have been better. Anything in the Forgotten Realms would have been better. Or Greyhawk. Or Athas (but did anyone ever really PLAY Dark Sun?). But noooo... the producer/director has this story he thought up while in the crapper...
The wonders of this film experience include a party of ‘heroes’ which include a Wesley Crusher lookalike, a Wayans brother (whose death in the film was one of the few joys), an elf whose natural skills are limited to spouting out cryptic lines and looking prissy, a dwarf whom Ghimli (in LOTR) would not mourn if he got skewered by an orc, and a magic user who can’t cast a single spell without a bag of ‘magic powder’.
Ranged against them… a ranting Jeremy Irons as the evil archmage who is lacking a curled moustache to complete his image and a bald, BLUE-lipsticked warlord (played by the same guy who played the villain in the Wesley Snipes’s thriller Passenger 57) who speaks at the rate of one word per second (That is painfully slow, mind you).

SEE! A Beholder appear (Audience squeals in delight) and then be distracted by a thrown rock (so I guess all those eyestalks can’t actually see) to disappear forever despite the alarm being rung some minutes later (Audience groans).
SEE! A whole sequence that would have explained a lot of the hole-ridden plot and drive the heroes’ quest be totally passed over as an unseen event.
SEE! A funny sequence where an army of armoured soldiers in flaming red stand right outside a bar and NOT be noticed at all.
SEE! Two professional thieves sneak after someone like they are sneaking after someone.
SEE! A perilous, unending, legendary labyrinth (overseen by Crystal Maze’s Richard O’Brien no less) that consists of a couple of rooms in a straight line.
SEE! Our low-level thief hero defeat an obviously high-level fighter despite not having levelled-up any (maybe his sword was +20).
HEAR! D&D terms being forcefit into regular conversation. ("You're so dumb, you must have had a feeblemind spell on you!").
SEE! A crappy CG dragon finale battle with Thora Birch (who is playing a childlike Empress… maybe she wandered off from Neverending Story).
REALIZE! That if the heroes didn’t go on their stupid quest in the first place, everything would be a whole lot better.
Ah. There is so much more to appreciate in the horrors of the Dungeons and Dragons movie, but suffice to say that you have to see it for yourself to get the whole experience. Seek it out, and then bask in the glory of LOTR after.

Ah, the Lord of the Rings films. Bliss. Thanks be. Thanks be.

Thus enduth the rant. Heh.

Tuesday, April 22

Train of Thought

Advertising on tracks.

Advertising is getting everywhere. I arrived at the Cubao MRT station train platform to suddenly find myself staring at a very green MRT car. I blinked once, twice... the green color didn't come off. Several cars of the train had been painted over to look like a big, moving billboard. I've seen advertising all over the MRT station but never before on the actual trains; Buses have been used in this way, and now I guess even the MRT is now fair game for media spending. I guess it makes sense; the trains are seen by thousands of people everyday, and by a definite market/kind of consumer. Pretty smooth marketing. Not that I am outraged or anything; actually it might be pretty neat to see what the art directors can think of to best use the space.

After work I went to Comic Quest and showed the latest pages of Angel Ace to Vinnie and Carl. For dinner I tried out a new pizza stand called Papa Heinz's. Now, it labelled itself as 'The German Pizza'. How did it taste? Well, the pizza crust was bread-like, soft and spongy; the cheese was plentiful but there was only ONE slice of pepperoni on each slice. Sorry to say, it didn't have the pizza taste that I crave. I guess there's a reason why the best pizzas come from Italy...
Anyway, as Cams, Carl and I were headed home, Vinnie pulled a fast one and drew blood from me a day before the traditional bloodletting day. He sold the latest issue of New X-men to Carl. I scanned through the pages and was immediately hooked. DAMN! Now I have to buy the rest of this 5-issue arc. Oh well.

Gotta finish the latest Angel issue. Gotta find the money to fund it. Gotta release soon. Lots of stuff to do. Gotta do it! Heh.
Death By Chocolate

I was finally able to try out recently the sweet, guilty pleasures of Bizzu, a fancy coffee/dessert place at the new Greenbelt mall in Makati.
I entered it one afternoon upon the recommendation of a friend that the place served the absolute BEST hot chocolate ever. I went alone, ready to spend a bit since the ambience boded a pricey stay. Readily, I ordered the regular cup of hot chocolate. Though that was the only thing I actually wanted at first, I eventually decided to try one of the simply gorgeous-looking cakes. After troubling over the things (each of which looked like a mini sculpture) a couple of minutes, I finally decided on the Samba, a mousse made with a variety of chocolates.
The hot chocolate passed through my lips and down my throat like liquid love (which chocolate is, supposedly). DAMN. Literally like a melted chocolate bar. DAAAAAMMMN. As for the cake, it was cool and creamy and the milk chocolate blended with the dark perfectly. My Gosh. I ate bites of Samba between gulps of hot chocolate. Wow. After a while, the richness got to me, and I was having difficulty finishing the cup. The cake eventually went down, but I ultimately surrendered and left a drop or two of liquid love in the cup. Too... much... sweetness... Aaaah...

Anyway, the cake cost about P90, and the hot chocolate P75. Pricey, but the richness was worth it. Hard to finish by any measure for one person; perfect for couples. Caution... Death by Chocolate is a very real possibility. Heh. Visit Bizzu at the new Greenbelt Mall, on the side fronting Coronado Lanes. Bring a friend.

Monday, April 21

Throttling Angels

The first Charlie's Angels movie was fun. Yes, it ripped off Matrix fight scenes and had lots of embarrasing wirework, but it was fun. The girls' characters were engaging and the action was pretty fast and furious. Yeah, US films still have a ways to go before they really do decent martial arts movies, but this was just too energetic and bubbly to feel bad about. So it was that I am looking forward to the sequel, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, this summer. Hey, I really like kick-butt girl movies.
Once again, the new Angels get together: Rebellious wildchild Dylan (Drew Barrymore), ultracompetent Alex (Lucy Liu) and ditzy but superbrain and superbod Natalie (Cameron Diaz). They are joined by a new Bosley (played by comedian Bernie Mac, who replaced Bill Murray from the first film).
The plot this time around seems to concern some ultrasecret weapons system that is in danger of falling into the wrong hands (again), and only the invincible trio can stop the baddies. This time around, hot momma Demi Moore plays the Big Bad, apparently a former Charlie's Angel herself. Returning from the first film is Crispin Glover AKA The Creepy Thin Man whom I didn't see in the trailer but will probably be aching to get back at the Angels for kicking his scrawny butt the last time.
You can check out the hot, bikini girl surfing, extreme sports riding, martial arts kicking, fiery explosion blasting action in the trailer here.

Sunday, April 20

Emerging into Easter

Ah! It's nice to emerge from the Biosphere Sanctum. I've been cooped up inside since Thursday. Food supplies were running low, though I learned that cable power pretty much ran the place without need to resorting to anime or dvd supplies. I actually wasn't able to reduce my vcd and dvd backlog too much; I did have a marathon of sorts of the adventure/comedy series Groove Adventure Rave, and finally watched the Cowboy Bebop movie.
For the most part though, I was able to draw a lot of pages for my comic. As of this writing I have pencilled about fifteen pages for the new issue. It takes place right after the first story arc, and comes back to our heroes in Newhaven City. Angel has decided to stay with Mike and Rip for a while, but not all is well with the world as a certain masked psychopathic villain returns for a little retribution. Yep, Sorcerer's back and he's got himself some new toys to even the odds with Angel...
This short story may run for about 30 or so pages, and I hope to ink, render and finish it in the next few weeks. Then it's off to the harder part... publishing it. I am still in a deadlock on whether I should actually treat it as a real issue, publishing house and all, or as a smaller 'ashcan' book? If it's the former, I have to start bringing together funds immediately. Well, it looks great... not the Anthology I was hoping for, but if I put together some pinups and art along with the main story and add a nice fan-made comic with it, this should be a nice one-shot issue. It's been awhile since the last Angel Ace, so this should be special.
Well, that's that. Easter Sunday's here. Gotta enjoy it while it lasts... back to the salt mines tomorrow. Oh well.