Saturday, February 28, 2004

If you'd have told me back in high school, or even in early college, that I would end up with someone so wonderful, and that she would even tolerate me for four years, I would've laughed in your face.


Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Assorted things:

Neil Gaiman's case against McFarlane is finally put to rest. Well, this one, anyway. And I find out something that is, to me at least, incredibly cool: that The Lone Ranger is The Green Hornet's uncle. :)

I can't for the life of me imagine how I missed pointing you all in Jean Snow's direction-- he's one of my favorite bloggers, and one of the blogs I've been going to for the longest time. He's a tech-boy in Tokyo, and you'd be surprised how much of his blog is made away from his PC: he could be the poster boy for moblogging (mobile blogging), with his wireless gizmos and cameras we haven't even heard of. He IS in Tokyo, after all, and is privy to all these lovely toys maybe two generations ahead of what we have readily available here. His pictures are great, and it's fascinating to see Tokyo through his lenses. So there-- go, and bookmark, and visit every so often.

Disney bought the Muppets. :( Not even all of them-- well, just take a look at the article. I don't like it, but apparently it's been in the works since Henson was still alive. But what I don't like is, if you're going to buy the Muppets, why not just buy all of them? What happens to the ones left to the Henson Company when their most famous compatriots are in the belly of the beast? Will they wallow into obscurity? The poor guys. :( I don't know why but I keep thinking of the Muppets as living things with individual personalities, and it's been an orphanage since Henson died, and now the famous kids are being sent to some other foster home.

Here's an interesting article by Jason Little about something I would really love to attend someday-- The Festival International de la Bande Dessinee, or the Angolueme Festival in France. It's the world's biggest comics festival held in a small town where the streets are named after cartoonists (Tintin's creator Herge is their main street, I think) and they have murals on walls depicting famous characters. Of course, most of the works on display are unreadable to me, but still-- to be able to walk through a crowd of people who just love comics as an art form, and not just as entertainment, would be an enormously validating feeling indeed. And as the article mentions, these are not geeks dressed in costume or teenaged fanboys or single men who haven't had dates in years and still live in their parents' basements: these are everyday people, of all ages and social classes and sexes and religions. Read the descriptions of the museum exhibits; I burn bright green with envy. Jason Little, by the way, is the author of Shutterbug Follies, a book whose coloring was assisted on by a blockmate of mine at Ateneo, Tintin Pantoja, who now studies in the School of Visual Arts under people like Klaus Janson, inker of The Dark Knight Returns & current illustrator of Batman: Death and the Maidens, Howard Cruse, author of Stuck Rubber Baby, and Will Eisner, godfather of the American graphic novel.

And may I also say that it's nice to see Indy Magazine back online, and under the editorship of Bill Kartalopolous, no less. He runs the Egon website, and was looking for a job a while ago, so this is just great. I was scared Egon might have to go under. It was through Egon that I found out about the Adrian Tomine signing in NY that Mich could go to.

Which reminds me that I never wrote about the Mars Ravelo exhibit at the Vargas museum. Forgot about it, sorry. I went with Gabby. It was certainly interesting, and informative. I realized that Ravelo, based on the works on display, had leanings more towards a cartoonist/caricaturist than an illustrator. A LOT of his comics have been turned into TV shows and movies, and not just the superhero ones, either. He was very prolific, and some of his stories were even adapted into prose by Lualhati Bautista. These books, old editions, were even on sale at the exhibit, for 65 pesos each. The thing I really loved was this picture of one of Mars's lesser-known works: This Is It!, an adult comic. The cover was a naked woman, (me: "Are those nipples!?") in a pose taken right out of Marilyn Monroe's spread in the first-ever issue of Playboy. Man, I'd love to see a copy of that! I got a nice pin with a '50s depiction of Darna.

It's incredibly depressing to think that so little material remains of Mars Ravelo's work. Ravelo, who is already one of our most important, most famous cartoonists, and who was very prolific. There's not a lot left, and the original art on display was all yellowed, and torn in most cases. I wish someone would publish a coffee-table book collecting his works. One that would examine the works in the context of the decade they were made, taking into account his biography, etc. Not just for Ravelo, too, but for Francisco Coching, and Nestor Redondo, etc. It's all interesting, and important touchstones for popular culture, but none of it is really recorded, and it's all fading from view.

Friday, February 20, 2004

I was surprisingly busy this week, too, and not because of work. I got called for Thursday but had to turn it down because I had a pitch of sorts. Anyway, let's try to do this in order:

Neva gave me a bottle of Bailey's for Valentine's. I may not be a beer drinker, but I do likes me Irish Cream. :) It was a kind of gift set that came with two glasses and a shot glass. She has a new template now, by the way. Check it out. And a new website for when she's bored at work. :)

Last Saturday's Ciudad Album Launch was not just the best Ciudad gig I have ever seen (a fact that the members themselves admit to), it became one of the Top 5 Gigs I Have Ever Been To, which includes Pearl Jam, Elliott Smith, Sleater-Kinney (2nd night), and Yo La Tengo. It was amazing! The opening bands were Narda, Wild Mood Swings and 7 Foot Jr, who all turned in great performances as well. I wasn't familiar with Wild Mood Swings but they were pretty damn good, and their drummer is Mitch's younger sister. Finally Ciudad came onstage and they played I think 16 songs, including ones I'd never seen them perform before ("That Guy From Nirvana Is Now With The Foo Fighters," "The Telephone & The Radio"), and changed the arrangement in a number of songs so that they were surprising and exciting. Number One Fan Kathy Gener got to sing along to Radio Guy and won the nifty lunchbox, beating out Genie and I think Jovan in the process. There were some cool buttons for sale, too. And RA Rivera's video for "Make It Slow" was great, hilarious fun. More than once it occurred to me while watching them perform that the first time I saw them play, we were all in high school. Which means I've been watching them play, have been listening to their songs, for about 7 years (shit). But the night really reminded me why they're my favorite Pinoy band. Just sheer good vibes throughout, capped off by a meal at Mr. Kabab. I pity those who didn't go. But if you would like to redeem your damned souls, grab the chance to catch the second Album Launch at Milenia, Kamuning on the 27th. Your eternal rest hangs in the balance.

The next night was the Fatal Posporos Farewell gig, which was also fantastic, albeit tinged with a bittersweet tone as it was, after all, the last time Annette Ortiz would be playing with her band of several years. They pretty much went through their entire repertoire, and it was sad to think that this may be the last time I hear these songs live. Hopefully their second album, which is due soon, will help salve that situation. The emotional high point for me was when they got Annette to sing "Inay Pinay" while someone else played drums, and it was a treat seeing them all shouting and jumping and just playing their hearts out; you didn't want it to stop, and suspected they didn't either. They were taking requests since they didn't have a formal set list, and friends and guests took turns going onstage and performing/singing with them, including Quark who sang along to Juliana Hatfield's "Spin the Bottle," and Jazz from the Itchyworms and Edsel and more (belting out some Bon Jovi and G'nR tunes). I was also thinking of the first time I saw them perform, which would've been freshman college, and now they have a 4th member (Aia from Imago), and two of the original 3 members were now married (Kris Gorra-now-Dancel and Donna Macalino-now-Diez). The scene is a little less interesting now for their departure. Still, here's to Annette and the best of luck to her over in the US.

Mich got back on Tuesday from her 2-month holiday vacation/jaunt, and she got us some sweet swag: a signed copy of Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve # 9. Yeaaaahhh. There was also a bookmark. She made sure to mention that she missed a Modest Mouse gig to get us the gifts, and we made sure to mention that the signature looks nothing like Adrian Tomine, just some indeterminate scrawl that was probably Mich herself. I keed, Dulce, I keed. She showed us her Nick Zinner photos and the ones at the Tomine signing as well. Also some orgies she neglected to mention on her blog. She met Peter Kuper and thought he was "baduy." She also got me my Ultimate Quad Cam, which I haven't yet had time to play around with (or read the instructions of). Yeaaaahhh.

Now. The pitch. Got a call for a meeting on Tuesday night for a meeting the next morning. I show up, get the gist: pitch for a narrative commercial for a beverage. I had a day. Called Chris up so we could collaborate, which we do until midnight, and we have two sets of 3 stories each that we're happy with. Then we pitch yesterday, along with Quark who came up with concepts of his own, and the "agency" like them. Always nice to hear. They ask if we'd like to pitch to the client directly, right now, since he's just across the street. Okay, why not, we say, we're here already anyhow. Client comes in, and he's younger than us. Apparently the child of the owner of the company, who just graduated last year. We pitch. His expression doesn't change. Then he proceeds to shoot each concept down, but with words that don't really make sense to me because it doesn't sound like he heard the pitches properly. Anyway, the point is I was reminded why I didn't want to go into advertising immediately after college. I fully expected the client wouldn't be able to fully articulate what they want; that's almost a given. People in the ad industry seem to be continually surprised when this happens but I'm not; I know lots of people who don't know what they want, but know what they don't want. The problem here was that it didn't seem like the client could fully articulate what he didn't like about the concepts either. Which of course leaves us in a quandary: what the hell do we do? We have to come up with concepts where the beverage, and I think this is what the client wants, saves the soul of the character. We have until tomorrow. La dee da.

At least after that Neva and I met up with Harvey and She, and Harvey and I were able to talk a little bit more about a project we're doing that has me very excited, at the least. I showed him my pathetic piece-of-shit designs, he took them, and five minutes later came back with better ones, including reasons and functions for each part. That excitement, of seeing a great artist drawing stuff you asked him to; I'll never get tired of it.


Why the hell is Gonuts Donuts selling so well? I've tried it, upon Ate Cyn's recommendation, and they're alright-- they still don't hold a candle to Krispy Kreme, but they're probably the closest we've got. However, I get tired of the taste (especially the ones with flavored frosting) after the second. Poor Neva was asked to buy a box for her mother and brother, and waited in line A FULL GODDAMN HOUR. That's insane!

Apple featured Dave McKean recently, and it had a MirrorMask picture I haven't seen anywhere else before:

Another film I can't wait to see. It's almost done, so they say.

Did you know that South Korean scientists have successfully cloned a human embryo?

Books For Less seem to be doing well. I've noticed they have 2 new branches in Makati. How many is that now, 5 or 6 branches? Like Libris, it looks like they get remaindered books from large bookchains in the US and libraries, and sell them at bargain prices. Booktopia seem to be doing the same thing (I was finally able to check them out last month), but the books are priced higher. They do have an interesting selection and focus on science fiction/fantasy novels, though. Worth checking out.

Kevin Smith will write and direct the film adaptation of The Green Hornet. I don't think this is particularly good news.

Do you know Utada Hikaru? Anyway, super-famous J-pop singer, but one of the good ones. I remember a Time article mentioning she was the one who could actually sing, and who had good songs. I wouldn't really know, I've only seen like 3 of her music videos. Anyway, her music videos tend to be good. The first time I encountered her, I was just flipping channels until I came across this image of her, trapped in a kind of human aquarium, singing to herself, or rather another Utada Hikaru, trapped in another human aquarium beside her. Needless to say, I was intrigued. It looked like an Alex Proyas/Tim Burton collaboration. The song wasn't bad, too, even if I didn't understand Japanese. I remembered the artist's name. Utada Hikaru. Not bad. Then I saw another video of hers: "Traveling." Which had her as a kind of conductor on a flying train filled with this colorful cast of characters that looked like they came out of Final Fantasy. Bright day-glo colors. Cool, I note. Then another video a few months later. A single-shot video of her singing a song as she washes dishes. No special-effects, no fancy costumes, no nothing. The chorus comes on whenever she turns on the faucet, and during this section without vocals she goes off-camera and then returns with a washcloth in time to start singing again, this time drying dishes. So now I'm a fan of her videos. She takes risks, and they pay off. They're interesting. So I'm delighted to find out one man produces/directs these videos: Kazuaki Kiriya, whose background is in fashion photography. Not only that, he married Utada when she was 19, despite their 14-year gap. She's now 20 and is still in Columbia studying, I think. Anyway, this long paragraph/introduction is simply to point the way to this link. Where you will find the trailer of Casshern, Kazuaki Kiriya's first feature-length film. It's an adaptation of some sort, and the story could stink, but it looks fabulous. Some shots remind me of Jean-Pierre Jeunet when he was still partnered with Marc Caro. Go watch it. Now. And check out the 3rd pic in the Gallery under Goodies. Magnificently creepy.

UPDATE (Saturday noon, 2/21): The Casshern trailer I linked to above is different from the trailer that's in the official website (also linked above), so if you loved it and want to see more watch both trailers! :)

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Man! Just the other week I was telling some friends that it was my busiest week yet, but this week has been really busy, as in I've been to work every damn day, and just finished a full schedule today. This is exacerbated by the fact that immediately after work I've been rushing to Megamall to catch what I could of a) The 1st Philippine [no longer International] Animation Festival, and b) Pelikula at Lipunan. Which is why I've been sleeping an average of 3-5 hours a night.

The Animation Festival suffered from no promotional support. Barely anyone knew about it. And it was free! Neva and I lined up really early (too early, really) for the French Shorts screening, and we were first in line. I asked the ticket girl if the line for the previous screenings were long (which I couldn't attend because I was still at work), and she said, while looking at a piece of paper "22, 51." I asked her if that's how many people lined up, and she said that's how many people watched. Sad. But it gets worse. There were two afternoons that were Nickelodeon blocks, and I assumed they'd be showing the Nickelodeon films. Neva and I went in to kill the time waiting for Zamboanga, and we discovered that they were just showing taped episodes on a projector, with horribly muted sound. And the fact that it's free attracted just the types I hate, sadly: for the French Shorts screening, there were a bunch of drivers to the left talking about FPJ non-stop, without even lowering their voices. At the Nick screening, two huge groups of teens were noisy and rowdy, cursing and making bad jokes. I felt bad for the few kids who were there to watch. They also suffered from the bane of most festivals: schedule changes/cancellations. In this case, no Corto Maltese (thank you, fucking MTRCB), and a repeat of the thankless Nick episodes marathon. I don't think they had a website either, where they could have updated the schedule changes more quickly.

But, we did get to watch the French Shorts, like I said, and another film I'll get into later. Going into the French shorts, I was excited to see Transatlantique again. It was the only film I was familiar with; never heard of the others. But to my surprise, the first film was this 1979 stop-motion animated short by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet! Sweet! It's called The Carousel, and it was the best of the bunch (for a reason to be revealed), really moody and atmospheric and, as expected, dark. It was a joy to see the types of faces and expressions Caro/Jeunet love realized with clay. The second film was a surreal one called Child of the High Seas about this ghostly girl trapped in a ghost town, the sole occupant, except the town seems to be floating in the middle of the ocean. It was really freaky, but the art style and music were lovely. Last was Transatlantique, and it WASN'T the one I knew and loved! It was an entirely different piece. Also surreal, but a little too long for my taste.

We also got to see Belleville Rendezvous, which was excellent! Almost dialogue-free, it didn't matter at all that there weren't any subtitles. The music was rapturous, the exaggerated features and odd camera angles were a remarkable breath of fresh air. The humor and plot were decidedly French, and the animation was terrific, a lovely mix of hand-drawn and computer-assisted. It had so much personality and wit about it, and it really felt like an auteur's film. Hats off to Sylvain Chomet, who lovingly dedicated the film to his parents. The design was magnificent (I especially loved the super-tall, super-thin ocean liners), and it reminded me that I really need to watch more international animation. Most of what we've all seen is American, if not Japanese in origin.

Pelikula at Lipunan still, unfortunately, falls victim to not planning their events properly, or not getting their guests to the venue on time. I know that premieres are always late, but I wish the ceremonial opening numbers for Zamboanga were announced because a LOT of people were waiting in line, for a film that was late by a WHOLE HOUR. So we were in line for an hour and a half, for a movie that's 65 minutes long. And a surprising lot of people there to watch the film were really old, and weren't used to waiting in line that long, and started grumbling and complaining loudly. People were even shouting at one point. Anyway, because of the delay none of us had time to eat dinner before the next film, which we already had tickets to. Once we got out of the theater we lined up. I wish they'd learned something from last year's horrendous The Crime of Padre Amaro screening, which was also the opening film, was also a full hour late, wasn't that good after all, and the fucking airconditioning shut off 30 minutes before the end, in a theater packed full of people. By the end we were all fanning ourselves and sweating, but not wanting to miss out on a hoped-for denouement that would somehow redeem the film (it didn't come).

Zamboanga was a lot of fun, actually. I was kinda sleepy but that was from being tired, not because the film was boring. Being from the mid-'30s, it was understandably dated (we're all referred to as "the natives") and at times politically incorrect, but still, as a document it was riveting. There were some breathtaking scenes like the underwater footage, the flotilla of boats going to and fro shore, the battle scenes. There was also a cool scene using dramatic juxtaposition: as the village's men were out diving for pearls a neighbouring tribe pillaged their home and raped their women. Also, a rousing fight with a shark, where they cut away at the last possible frame, giving the scene a very violent feel.

But last night we got to watch Big Fish, and it was great! Whew. I'm SO glad it's so much better than I thought it would be. The trailer was a little scary with its Robert Zemeckis-feel-good-treacle treatment, but it maintains director Tim Burton's sensibility and sense of humor. Perfectly cast, every character. Crudup was good, Albert Finney was excellent ("A MAMMOTH!"), Jessica Lange did so much with just her eyes, and Alison Lohman displayed a surprising range. Ewan was charming, Buscemi was his perfect self, and so was Bonham Carter. Danny Elfman's score is the only one I'll let Howard Shore lose to (but Shore should still win). And it's really rare that I cry at a film at the exact point that I know the film wants me to cry. But the ending has this graceful inevitability to it, you don't know how it'll be executed exactly, but when it unfolds it's like there's no other way it could've been done. Someone asked me after the movie if I liked it better than Edward Scissorhands, but I don't like thinking like that right after I've seen something good. I want to bask in the glow of a great story told splendidly, not immediately compare it to his previous works and then place it in the order of my favorites. But being asked the question, what I said was that it felt like the work of the same man who directed Scissorhands, at a different point of his life. Where Scissorhands was the work of a young man at odds with the world, Big Life was obviously the work of a new father (Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter recently became parents).

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Dammit, it looks like Corto Maltese was taken off the lineup at the Animation Festival, and they have a new schedule (as of Feb. 4), which completely fucks up my plans. Oh well. At least Transatlantique's still in there. And The Triplets of Belleville. Here's the trailer for that, by the way.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Because I Love You

Ciudad have gigs at Rock Radio Alabang and Big Sky Mind tomorrow.

The 1st Philippine International Animation Festival, sadly without much promotional and marketing muscle, begins tomorrow at Megamall Cinema 12. As I understand it, admission is free. Which is both good and bad. Good because it's free, bad because you're likely to be in a long line filled with otaku and/or drivers killing time. But! It's a surprising lineup, including the French adaptation of Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese (2/7, 4PM; 2/9, 630PM). I saw the trailer when Neva was still at Flip and it was magnificent; I can't believe we have a chance to see it in a theater. They're also showing Transatlantique, which, if it's the Transatlantique I remember, is one of my favorite short films EVER, animated or not. Also, I now have a chance to see Oscar nominee The Triplets of Belleville (2/10, 650PM)! Yay! I think they're showing the Hey, Arnold! movie on Sunday, too.

Pelikula at Lipunan begins Feb. 11, featuring Lino Brocka's Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang @ 3PM & Tim Burton's Big Fish @ 9 PM. Cold Mountain will be shown on Feb. 14, but I'll be at the Ciudad Album Launch @ Freedom Bar (as you should be, too). Ditsi Carolino's Riles will be shown on Feb. 15, 3 PM & Eduardo De Castro's Zamboanga, one of the earliest films in existence, will be shown on Feb. 11 (630PM) and Feb. 15 (9PM). I think Trinka Lat's Anna Banana will be shown either on 2/14, 3PM, which says Short Films, or 2/15, 10AM, which says Short Fiction Works. I'll get confirmation on that.

If anybody knows the official websites to these events, or any site where the schedule is up, tell me and I'll put up a link so it's easier.

Kill Bill's gone from Makati, so if you want to watch it (again), you'll have to go to places like Megamall. Check Click The City's Movie Guide. Return of the King is amazingly still out, and fortunately, some places are still showing A Tale of Two Sisters so you still have a chance to watch it! Go!



I was riding a cab home late the other night, and it's really frustrating but they recently set up some kind of checkpoint near the gate of my village so that right before I'm home, traffic slows to a mild crawl. Plus, there was road repair going on so the road became one lane only at certain points and cars had to take turns. Anyway, I'm in the cab in a long line, sleepy and bored, when suddenly I hear a loud "WHUMP" and a flash of light goes off behind us. The cab driver, looking at the rearview mirror, lets out a yelping "NAKU!" and his eyes widen, so I of course look out the back window, and the car directly behind us, an expensive-looking BMW (is there any other kind? I should say it looked new) has a POOL OF FIRE DIRECTLY BENEATH IT. The two passengers leap out of the car, the guy on the passenger side doesn't know whether to make a run for it (probably expecting the car to explode at any second, as I was) or help, and the other guy is more calm and cool, but still a bit rattled. He pops the hood, and goes to the front, sidestepping the growing pool of fire at his feet, and lifts the hood up, right, and a ROARING FIRE POPS UP TALLER THAN HIM. It takes him by surprise (I would imagine his eyebrows were singed), and he lets go. The hood slams back on the car and the fire disappears a little but everyone can see it now through the grill in the front. He opens it up again, the fire doesn't pop up this time but it's still there and it's still tall. Meanwhile, the bus directly beside the BMW, on the opposite lane, frantically tries to swerve away from the car and get some distance, but this is hampered by the traffic. Amusingly, the passengers of the bus began filing out. I guess everyone was expecting the car to explode. Even my cab driver was inching forward as much as he could, trying to gain as much distance as possible.

I remember being told in school that rarely, if ever, do cars explode when they catch fire. It's an instinct in us to run for cover when we see something like that because in every film and TV show, once a car catches fire you haul ass, and hopefully leap away from the fireball at the last moment, preferably in slow motion with a kickass grimace on your face. But I also remember this one time when I was watching one of those reality TV shows, and a car on fire actually DID explode, so now I'm not as confident.


Since when did Belle & Sebastian's "Step Into My Office, Baby" become the new song of the Sexbomb Girls?!


American citizens! Read. Well, actually everyone can read it, but then forward it to your American citizen family/friends.


I will leave off by quoting the entire post of Neil Gaiman on Feb. 1, Sunday:

Or dead again, anyway
You know, in a world in which Bush and Blair can be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, "for having dared to take the necessary decision to launch a war on Iraq without having the support of the UN" I find myself agreeing with Tom Lehrer: satire is dead.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Just saw Lost in Translation, which is terrific. And different from what I expected. :) It's very subdued, and it would be great if Murray won for Best Actor. Scarlett was excellent; there was always this quality to her face that seemed to put every look and gesture in a light of... uneasiness. It's almost Noh-ish in its lack of dialogue. Kevin Shields was the perfect choice for the music. I think what I like most is that there's an interesting balance of detail and vague ambiguity that makes the characters even more relatable. We have snippets of information about the two leads' lives, and it's up to us to imagine what they're thinking of during those scenes where they have far-away looks on their faces lost in the Tokyo metropolis. We provide the meaning for Bob's whispered message. I almost broke my neck laughing when he made a move to catch the stripper. You'll have to watch it to understand.

Neva and I also caught A Tale of Two Sisters last night. It's very scary. Not as traumatizing as Ringu, but it's got its agonizingly twisty moments. There were scenes where my knuckles started hurting from squeezing my hands tight together, and Neva would put a hand up to cover her eyes (but peer through her fingers). Amazing cinematography, the colors are exceptional, and I loved the production design: clothing, wallpaper, the look of the house, everything. Acting was terrific, too. I don't quite fully understand the story, unfortunately. There's a general gist I get but there are a few details left in the lurch, including this very Lynchian scene toward the end. Still, a nice disturbing film for a lazy Sunday night. :)

I keep forgetting to mention that Oz has a bar on Emerald Ave., Ortigas called 90 Proof. Drop by if you're in the area.

Oh, and Cadbury Peppermint is the bee's knees! :) A bit pricey, but readily available mint chocolate is a godsend!


Are there any great (or even good) 24-hour places in Metro Manila? If you are bored at 230 in the morning, where can you go?

Please let me know by commenting.