Saturday, July 19


Last night I had dinner with my college friends to celebrate our friend Alex's birthday. We had a nice dinner at Superbowl at the Megastrip, enjoying a feast of braised beef with crispy noodles, beef with oyster sauce, stir-fried vegetables, sweet and sour pork (the Guailo fave!), yang chow fried rice, Superbowl special (which was fried rice with spices, peanuts and duck) and bottomless iced tea. The only dubious thing on the table were the Birthday Noodles, which was basically pancit canton with garnishings of quail eggs and veggies. Anyway, after the dinner the others went off to watch Charlie's Angels Full Throttle while I shuffled back to Comic Quest. Happy birthday, Alex!

Well, we met up and eventually converged in KSP near the Meralco Building. The place was nearly empty and playing old tunes, which made the fact that most of us were dead tired in our seats. Dean had a whole week of wheeling and dealing and going to the Department of Trade and Industry to register his promos. Carl was hard at work with work, pleasure and pleasure-work. I was tired from a long week of stress at the office and some wonderful and potentially spectacular developments that may pay off in the near future. Yep, we were pooped but this was an exceptionally eventful and interesting week.

Glad it's over. Heh-heh...
Dark Clouds

I watch too many sci-fi and fantasy films. I read too much comics. I spend too much time with Vinnie. Here's proof.
I had a dream this morning where Vin and I were in the van and driving along (don't know if it was to or from Mega or any other haunt. I remember we were talking about something when I looked up and saw the blue sky with some wonderfully fluffy white clouds. And there, of course, like a black sheep among aryan lambs, was a jet-black cloud. I remember commenting to Vin that I thought these weird black clouds were stealth aircraft developed by the military. As we watched, the black cloud slowly dematerialized or went to stealth mode, or activated a cloaking device. Heh.
The next thing I knew we were in a dark building, dressed in hospital togas and being told by military guys to report to something or someone. I remember an elevator, a hallway and a military sentry. Weird.

Anyway, whether we had discovered 'The Truth' or were just subjected to an anal probe, I never got to find out (Whew!) since a knock on my door in waking life got me out of there faster than you can say, "Operator, I need an Exit!"

Wonder what all that was about?

Friday, July 18

The Sounds of Nature

The day before yesterday, I was in Astrovision Glorietta, looking for a new game when I saw a rack of bargain CDs entitled The Echoes of Nature. I remembered that there are these CDs with recorded sounds of natural settings, like seashores, forests, mountains, etc. I know it seems pretty weird to play a CD where you hear nothing but water running down a river or birds chirping, but it's actually refreshing to hear it. Couple this with a great stereo system, a nice, cool room and a good book to read or relax with and it doesn't sound so weird at all. In fact... it sounds... natural.

Heh. I bought one CD for Ocean waves (which has about a half hour of waves sloshing against a pebble-rich beach) and one for Mountain Rivers (which has sounds of forest birds singing in the background of a rushing stream). I haven't tried playing it yet to go to sleep since I may NOT wake up the next day on time (I might get used to the noise and not get roused by my TV alarm) for work. But since it's a weekend tomorrow, I may try it tonight.

Ah. Relaxing thought... Heh...
Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah: The Motion Picture!

The megaspectacular local comic Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah by grafictionist Carl Vergara has been picked up by no less than Regal Films for a live-action cinematic release. Yep, Carl met with the legendary Mother Lily herself! Ho ho! It remains to be seen when Zsa Zsa will be sashaying into theaters. Perhaps next year? Let the casting rumours begin!

Congratulations Carl. You're the FIRST comic artist of our generation to have his comic reach the big screen. I think. WOOHOO!!! Let's eat!

Thursday, July 17

The best darned Star Wars adventure yet...

... is NOT a movie. It's a game. And it's on the Xbox.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is making waves and getting rave reviews from gaming sites IGN and Gamespot. From the articles, the reviewers cite a compelling story with open-ended plots and branching dialogue options, the ability to play either as a good or evil character, the presence of classic Star Wars themes (the story though is set several thousand years before the movies), great graphics and compelling gameplay. This does not come as a surprise when you consider that Star Wars KOTOR was developed by Bioware, the same company responsible for the sublime Baldur's Gate PC RPGs.
I have to admit, the recent movies have made me jaded with Star Wars stuff, but this game interests me. We will see if The Force is strong with this one, when we get ourselves a copy.

Wednesday, July 16


I spent a good hour and a half on a regular-fare unairconditioned bus (Yes, they still exist) going northwards to Megamall from Makati. For some reason, the way was clogged and the bus moved at a snail's pace. It's been a long week, and I hovered between consciousness and light sleep all the way, losing salt and moisture with every moment. By the time I reached Mega, my throat was parched. Softdrink went down like liquid love down my rasping throat. I figure I'm still lacking water. Need to consume more into the night to replace what I lost.

Anyway, I arrived at Mega and found the new comic stocks lacking in interesting material for me. Nope. Nothing. Just the same I went home with copies of the Antarctic Press fantasy action manga comic, Dragon Arms, which attracted me with the solid art and action scenes. Heavy armor, BIG ASS swords, Mammoth power blasts and spells, scantily-clad super babes... this series has it and more. Too bad the storytelling's a bit off and many characters look alike. Still, the designs of the various fighters sold this to me if nothing more than reference material.
Also picked up the Domino mini-series, a spin-off title featuring the black and white female assassin/mercenary from the X-titles. Yet another comic that I got simply for the artwork. Really good anatomy, action and clean lines. The story's kinda interesting too... lots of stealth action and femme fatale acrobatics. I'm sold. Heh.

This week's dragging. Hot. Too hot. And humid.
Goblet of Paper

A couple of days ago I learned that the fourth Harry Potter book, Goblet of Fire, is now available at local bookstores in paperback form. I've recently read Prisoner of Azkaban and so I'm pretty ready to get into the next chapter. Or so I thought. The sucker's THICK! That's a sizeable chunk of my life that I am not ready to commit yet. Oh well. Maybe another time. I know a certain fanatical Potterhead hasn't even gotten to unloading his copy of Order of the Pheonix from his van... heh...
Living in Sim

Against all logic and judgement, I went into a computer shop yesterday and bought The Sims, that best-selling, mega-popular people simulator by game god Will Wright. If you’re not one of the millions already smitten by the little people, The Sims is a videogame (not only on PC anymore; console versions for PS2 and Xbox are already available) where you create electronic people and manipulate their daily lives either to ruin or success. The one thing which differentiates this game from any other RPG is that The Sims is all about the mundane, day-to-day grind of life. Yep. Waking up from bed, cooking your meals, taking a crap, finding work… it’s all here. Sound boring? Yep, I thought so too. But somehow, this game just gets under your skin… it’s so DAMN addicting. It’s maddeningly compelling to try and satisfy your little avatars’ every wishes… to get their blasted needs and moods as high as you can (impossible, I think) and as long as you can. Will a nicer bed make them happy? Or that big-screen TV. Or a new bathtub. Should I take that job as a mailroom clerk? Or be a political advisor? Or cat burglar? AAAAARRRGHHHH!!!

And it doesn’t end there. I also got most of the expansion sets: Livin’ Large, House Party, Hot Date and Vacation. All of them adding ever more items, jobs, quirks and more MADDENING elements into this obnoxiously fun game. DAAAAMMMMNNN!!!
Yes… YES! Who needs to save some stupid kingdom when I can get a job as a security guard? Who CARES about some frickin’ Holy Sword +5 when there are greater things to find… like that cool VR Goggle set that will make my Sim go mad with fun. Or that new food processor that will take care of all their kitchen needs, guaranteed! HOHO!!!


Gotta control myself. Still have REAL work to do. A REAL life to live. Comics to write and draw. Places to go. Real food to eat… Haha… or do I?


Tuesday, July 15

Third time's the charm.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines review (Spoilers Ahead)

After staying at the office for a while longer than I intended, I decided to invest the night in the latest Terminator movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which pretty much finishes this man vs. machine epic in suitably heavy metal fashion.
T3 sees 'future hope of mankind' John Connor(Nick Stahl) in his twenties; a young adult living alone (Sarah passed on already) on the fringes of modern society. His experiences in the previous film have made him paranoid, forcing him to live without an address, e-mail, identification... anything that connects him with anyone. The deadline for 'Judgement Day' came and went, and the world still existed. Despite this, Connor still lives with a nagging fear that something is wrong.
Of course, as expected, the traditional time travel effects (spiffier this time) appear, disgorging the latest terminator. This time around, the latest model (heh) is a female (well, the default form is female) killing machine called the T-X (Kristanna Loken), or Terminatrix.
This new robot seems to be a hybrid between the first two terminator variants; it has a relatively destructible mechanical interior structure covered by a layer of liquid metal skin/armor. This is kinda odd since you'd think that a fully-metal terminator would be more preferrable... anyway, aside from the ability to ALWAYS look drop-dead gorgeous no matter what you throw at her, the T-X has a built-in superweapon in it's right arm (a handy plasma cannon/flamethrower). Finally, this minx has the ability to take control of other machines, including other terminators.
Some time after the T-X makes her nubile entrance, Ah-nuld the T-101 also arrives (literally, for the ladies!) to fulfill his countermission for humanity. Then, it's a running battle with the evil Terminatrix, with a LOOOOONNNNGGGG car chase which makes the freeway battle of Matrix Reloaded look like a Sunday drive, and a finale that ends the saga where it all began.


Anyway, I have to say that... I liked it. It's not totally awesome, to say the least... there are some slow spots, and the T-X's design is kinda underwhelming. Aside from that though, I have to say I enjoyed watching this one. I have to admit, Arnold looks incredible here; I've written before that I've thought he was getting too old for this role, but he looked just as formidable here as ever before (CG? Makeup? Wow!). This is a great 'return to form' for him, honestly. Aside from that, the Terminator has some funny moments which both poke fun and pay homage to the earlier films. This movie's Terminator isn't as cuddly as T-2's model ('I know now why you cry...') but he's a bit more likeable. Nick Stahl is a world away from Edward Furlong, but his character gets some nicely-written lines which links him well with the previous chapter. He kinda reminds me a little of the guy who played Paul Atreides from the Dune TV series. Eh. As for Clair Danes... well, she's just there. Kinda looks a bit old. Hmm. Oh well.
As for the T-X, I have to say Kristanna Loken is dynamite. DAMN she looks great. Yep, and she gets the blank, malevolent shark predator glare down pat. Too bad she didn't spend more time in her time-travelling suit. Sigh.

T3 revs up the action up a notch with more advanced SFX, lots of BIG explosions, crashes, glass breaking, walls crumbling and then some. The best stuff comes in the third act, though there are some good bits throughout the almost two-hour film.

The ending is open for another sequel, but I think it can pretty much just end here. Anything else would just be an extra, but given what this chapter has revealed, extras would be welcome. Action fans, watch this in theaters for the great surround sound. Or wait for it on a good dvd with a BIG TV. Arnold's BACK.

One funny thing though... Aside from Arnold, the ONLY other character to appear in all three Terminator films is a minor character (guess who) who ironically gets one over on Linda Hamilton. Oh well.

Monday, July 14

Final Fantasy

Last Saturday, over coffee at Country Waffles, the gang had a RARE talk about anime. Yep, even Dean who usually avoids anime and manga like the plague was in for the ride. I guess it was precipitated by his current reading fave, the Battle Royale manga, the printed comic version of the controversial Japanese film. From talking about high school kids fragging each other on an island we moved to the topic of 'What is the definitive fantasy anime?'

I have to admit I was kinda stumped. When you mean high fantasy you usually have thoughts of castles, dragons, knights, wizards, elves and epic quests. Was there something along the lines of LOTR in Japanese animation? An easy answer would be the old classic Record of Lodoss War, which was of course an actual RPG made into big-eyed anime form. However, I am loathe to make this mediocre series into the end-all, be-all of fantasy in anime. There are, of course other titles but of varying degrees of quality and with a multitude of assorted aspects added to the mix.

Along with Lodoss there are the more traditional D&D-themed series; Fire Emblem is a short-lived fantasy which was apparently culled from a videogame. There's The Heroic Legend of Arslan, which is an epic fantasy about a young prince and his followers battling evil and injustice; this series though is more of a war drama and concentrates more on politics and army battles rather than dragonslaying.

There are several Final Fantasy anime, based on the obscure chapters of the popular videogame RPG series. Legend of the Crystals was a short OAV, while Final Fantasy Unlimited is a longer TV series. Both have the quirkiness of the FF franchise, mixing technology and cute characters with a darker plot and evil to overcome.

There are loads of fantasy-comedies, such as my favorite long-running Slayers series, concentrating on the adventures of fireball-hurling Lina Inverse. Despite the wacky laughs, sight gags, absurd situations and over-the-top spells, Slayers usually has a serious plot in every season and ends with suitably dark and exciting endgames that will thrill action and fantasy fans. Recent additions to the comedy-fantasy genre include the recent Louie the Rune Soldier and Scrapped Princess (thought the latter is more drama).
Several fantasy anime have mecha elements, such as the popular Escaflowne series (and movie). El Hazard has tech and adds in the tried-and-tested 'schoolkids sent to another dimension' formula for good measure. The same goes with the very Japanese-flavored Inu Yasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale.
Ironically, D&D trappings are prevalent in many anime titles of the risque flavor, such as the ecchi all-female Megami Paradise and the fantasies of the hentai genre, which I won't talk about here. Heh.

I am sure I've missed a lot of worthy high fantasy anime series, and much more haven't yet seen the light of day outside of Japan. Maybe someday Gonzo or Studio Bones will come out with a new, updated and excellent D&D anime. Till then, I've got a ton of stuff (and other genres) to watch and take my time with anyway.

And if anyone knows where to get VCDs or DVDs of that old anime Paul in Fantasy Land, please let me know.

Sunday, July 13

Zsa Zsa gets Knowledge Power!

Carl talked about what Zsa Zsa stands for.

The segment also featured some nice animated bits.

Yesterday, the afternoon 'science' magazine show Knowledge Power featured a 4-minute feature on Carl Vergara's comic book, Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah. The segment started off with background information on the original Darna komiks by Mars Ravelo and the classic Darna movies of the 70s and 80s. Carl talked about what inspired Zsa Zsa and what she represented; the Filipinos' uncanny ability to just laugh at our troubles despite how strange things can get sometimes. It also represents of course Carl's own contribution to keeping the comic art form alive in the country. Congratulations, Carl!