Friday, June 30

Up in the Air

The new Superman Returns movie is in theaters now. Some people, like Vin, have already gone and watched the flick, but I'll be seeing it over the weekend, probably. I have to say that while I do want to watch it, I'm not a big Superman fan. In fact, I never really liked the old movies. The original Superman movie by Richard Donner with Christopher Reeve was, for me, one of the most boring and slow-paced superhero movies ever. Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) was more con man than genius, there was no big super fight (save for multiple disaster scenarios and saving stunts) and the finale was... turning back time? I'd go as far as saying I put the original Superman along with the Hulk movie in terms of superhero movie popularity in my book.
Now, here comes Superman Returns, which director Bryan Singer has unequivocably stated as following the mythos of the first two Superman flicks. It's a 'requel', ret-conning the ludicrously bad Superman III and IV into non-existence (and good riddance) and re-starting the stage for a new direction. Unfortunately, from all that I've read, Superman Returns also seems to be re-treading the events from the original Superman film- same Luthor plot, same revisiting of the boring times at the Kent farm in Kansas, blah blah blah. So you can understand why I'm not exactly shaking in my boots to see it. In fact, I'm more excited at watching Dead Man's Chest.

Anyway I will be seeing the film in any case over the weekend so I can blog about it. I am looking forward to seeing Kevin Spacey's turn at bringing the bald blackguard to life, though I still feel the animated version in Justice League Unlimited can kick both Hackman's and Spacey's baddies into the vastness of space with ease. Review to come soon after.

Thursday, June 29

Fighting the Good Fight

For the past several weeks, things have been a storm of overtime at The Salt Mines, particularly because of a product pitch. FYI, pitches are held when a client/company needs get a new ad agency to do the advertising for their product. Agencies are selected and butt heads, pitching their stuff to win the account (in much the same way that lawyers battle in court). It usually involves hours and hours of brainstorming, pouring over research and the inevitable overnight stays at the office to produce the winning materials that will impress the clients enough to award the disputed account.

This particular pitch has been incredibly fierce... we were initially in the running with at least five other agencies. After the first round of presentations was over, the field was narrowed down to TWO; Us and one of Manila's leading ad agencies today.

With not much time and quite a bit of pressure, the crew threw stuff into the breach to win round 2. Somehow, someway, we went into the second presentation confident in our position and our materials.

It was a weekend before we would be told the results... There was going to be a ROUND THREE.

That's what's been keeping us all busy this week, as we made one last big push to make our mark. It's also where everything seemed bleakest, when we reached a crossroads where, to quote a line from Harry Potter, we had a choice between doing something that was 'right', or doing something that was easy.

In the end though, we all went with what we felt was right and steeled ourselves. Win or lose, we were going down swinging.

Just some time ago, I was informed that, unfortunately, we didn't get the account.

HOWEVER, apparently the final fight was pretty close to the very end, and we apparently impressed the clients enough that they awarded us a different account.

So, somehow, after all was said and done, we fought and lost but kinda won too. A hard-fought loss that ended with a little victory. But then again, maybe we had already won the night before.

It's these kinds of things that make advertising such a weird and colorful place. And why, in a strange way, that I know I'm in the right field of work.

Time to get some rest now. Life goes on at Salt Mines tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 28

Shock Advertising

One of the controversial 'Executed' print ads of the Hitman: Blood Money game.

If you buy imported gaming magazines regularly, you're sure to have come upon at least one of the eye-catching advertisments for Hitman: Blood Money. Playing with various puns or sayings with the word 'Executed', the ads portray victims of assassination... or some would say, just plain murder. In "Beautifully Executed", a lingerie-clad woman is lying provocatively on satin sheets, a small bullet wound on her forehead. In "Coldly Executed", an old man's corpse is hunched inside a walk-in freezer, with a little dog sitting and staring at the body from the outside. "Classically Executed" features a cellist seated on his chair in an opera theater, his neck slit. And of course, the "Shockingly Executed" ad is the one featured above.
Apparently, these ads haven't escaped the attention of various groups and individuals whose comments range from the ads being mysoginistic, inspiring violence towards women or glorifying murder. A big hubbub is going on right now. They're ads for a mature game, with a bald-headed assassin taking out targets in various, often brutal and imaginative, ways. What do you expect? IMO, the ads are clever and quite attention-grabbing, to say the least. They look quite nice too, murder simulated images notwithstanding. I think it's just another scapegoat for US politicians to blame with videogames for all the crime and violence they have. Feh.

I still don't believe that staring at ads featuring beautiful naked women will turn you into a murderer if you aren't one already. I do, however, get the urge to kill whenever I read about politicians in the local newspaper. Oh well.
Batugan (Translation: Lazybones)

At present, I'm a habitual taxi rider. I've always been a commuter (thanks to my feeling that road rage would make me into a mass murderer behind the wheel), but these days I just want to dispense with crowding into sweat-smelling crowded MRTs and buses that make hour-long stops. Taxis get you to where you want to go, fast. It's not cheap, but I can afford it. In the past several months, I've seen good taxi drivers and bad taxi drivers. I curse them, praise them, damn them to hell or lift them up as saviours of the race. Ah, taxi drivers.
Well, early today I got another memorable taxi experience. I was heading to work, standing at Katipunan to hail a cab. The sixth or so taxi that passed finally stopped and when I mentioned my destination, he nodded. I hopped in and we were off. Seconds later, he asked me again where we were headed. Apparently, the guy was only now realizing he was headed for Makati.

Anyway,, some minutes later, as we were on C-5 Highway, in the middle of nowhere, the cab starts to slow. The guy stops at the sidewalk, and then starts trying to 'restart' the engine. "There seems to be something wrong with the starter," he says, trying several times to bring the engine to life. Of course, to no avail. He blames the owner of the cab for replacing the starter with some cheap part. As he apologizes to me for the inconvenience, saying that this is as far as he can go. I respond with "I'm sorry too." At which point, I get out of the cab and start walking away.
The grungy cabbie (he's not even in uniform- just a t-shirt and 'puruntong' shorts, showing he's a colorum driver) calls my attention and asks for payment. I angrily respond with a negative. "YOU LEAVE ME OUT HERE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE AND YOU HAVE THE GALL TO ASK ME FOR PAYMENT??" He says something about the starter, but I don't even bother to listen. I keep walking. You could argue that I could have paid him for the distance I came, but I knew what the real score was. I hated being conned.
Another cab came and I hailed it. It stopped and I jumped in. "Makati," I said, and the old driver nodded. I looked ahead at where the other cabbie, with his supposedly stalled taxi, should have been.

Of course, he had driven off by then. That was fast for a cab that wouldn't start.

Monday, June 26


Today I found out on the local news that the final casting of the movie adaptation of Carl Vergara's Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah has been announced. Regal Films held a press conference with the actors involved, as part of the film's inclusion in the upcoming Metro Manila Film Festival.
Playing the title role of superheroine Zsa Zsa is Zsa Zsa Padilla, whom I believe is a far better choice than the other names touted to be in the running for the part. To play the alter-ego of ZZZ, gay beautician Ada, will be controversial actor Rustom Padilla (another better choice IMO than the former rumoured actor for the part). Playing the villainess Femina will be Pops Fernandez, while comedian Chocoleit of TV's Marina will be playing the loveable sidekick Didi.

How great will the ZZZ Movie be compared to the sublime musical play? We'll just have to see later this year.
Eye Candy

Over the weekend, I and my friend Pot went off through the rain to Greenhills to get upgrades for The Sanctum's PC. Apparently the thing that had been plaguing me all these months was a faulty, underpowered power supply, so that was my primary goal. Another thing on my list was a new monitor.
I got what I was told was a 'branded' power supply, which the shopkeeper and his tech guy recommended as the best I could get. It was a bit more expensive than the usual (and supposedly low quality) component, but I shelled out the cash just the same. With that out of the way, I looked for the next item on my list.

Looking around the swanky shops in V-Mall, it was easy to get enamoured with the large LCD Monitors now making the rounds in the computer sections. Such a thing was beyond my budget though, so I made do with a LG Flatron Monitor, which boasted a flatscreen at about half the price of an equivalent LCD. Not bad! Before we finally called it a day and left the mall, I had the fortune of finding an Asian version of Oblivion at one of the new game/anime shops. FYI, Oblivion is the first first-person RPG on the Xbox360, and it's gotten rave reviews for the incredible graphics, redone fighting system, open-ended gaming world and lush story. I've been wanting this game for a while (the US version is unplayable on my Japanese system), so I scooped it up. Fortunately, the Asian version is cheaper than the US game by quite a bit.

It was a hard day of malling, and I'm feeling quite a bit under the weather right now... but seeing my lovely new monitor (and the crisp colors) as well as a lovely new addition to my Xbox360 library (review to come), makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. Good stuff.