Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The whole thing runneth over with utter ludicrousness.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

We just got home from watching one of the Metro Manila Film Festival entries titled Sabel. It was originally recommended by a friend to me so I jumped at the chance to see it when my mom asked if I'd like to go with her and my brother. The story's not bad but it could use some patches to cover the holes every now and then. The principal actors did a good job with their characters but the secondary ones, ugh, the acting was so wooden they looked like talking statues. Director Joel Lamangan should have done better with the material provided to him.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The 2004 Philippine Toy Convention was convened and I had the time of my life. The place was already filled to the rafters when I got in sometime after 11 a.m. Almost all my friends from the Artists' Den were there at the booth with their goodies spread (which was behind the booth of Culture Crash Comics which was totally cool!). Lyndon was ready with his strip compilations and shirts, Syeri, Joanah and Marius were already set with their stickers and indie comics. I was disturbed by the sight of Marius' latest gimmick with his indies and asked him about it. He told me it had something to do with the story inside of his latest comic. As I was browsing the inside pages I thought of other artists whom I read would go to some extremes for their art. Sort of a delayed performance art, the results of which stand alongside their work. So it was that attracted most people to his work.

It was great to see a lot of old friends, acquaintances, and fellow artists again like Gabe, Camy and Elbert, Jac, Derrick, Nelz, Fluxx, Ryan, Aish (the biggest fan of one of the characters in the CLASS strip), Reno, Carver (thank you for those signed sketches you gave away), Jonas, my college classmate J'mee, some of the people of Star Wars Philippines, Matrix Philippines, and Via Atris hanging around. Plus some new faces like my fellow deviantARTist Melchman. I stayed mostly in the booth and chatting up a storm with the others and watching them sell their work. People were coming and going and some stopped long enough to look at the indie comics being sold. I also bought a CD sampler of guest indie performer Drip which I also got them to autograph. They were one of the two coolest performers on stage at the time. The group is composed of three members, Beng Calma (vocalist), Rann Golamco (electric guitar), and Malek Lopez (synthesizers and programming) who are into electronica music, which was my absolute first love back in high school. Sampled beats and synthesizers really got me to notice them some days back when Az first told me about their music. The second group after them, 7 Shots made me decide even more to go for more OPM music in my CD player. Here are some pictures from the event:

The Artists' Den booth at the con: (l-r) Lyndon's arm (sorry dude), Marius, Syeri, and Joanah.

Lady Gabe makes her presence known once again. Duhn-dun-dun!!!

This Doc Ock cosplayer was the talk of the town when he first arrived.

Aish Ashlar and friend were all smiles when they visited the booth

Drip: local techno music at one of its absolute best!

Seven Shots of Wisdom hiphopping the house once again

Carlo Vergara doing on-the-spot pencilled collectibles

Wilson Tortosa doing lightning quick sketches. Look at him go!

Ghimli takes a breather from his mission to join the convention

Doctor Doom and the Executioner squares off for domination of the Con

The Witchking and Sauron meet up again, of all places, at the ToyCon stage

Cosplayers' Top 8 Winners (click to enlarge)

The organizers behind the event, Vic Yap, Albert Lee, Cholo Mallillin, Jojo Dy, Lou, Azrael Coladilla and another as-yet unnamed individual, did a smashing job in holding a Live Action Figure Cosplay Contest so instead of seeing anime and manga inspired characters on stage, we were treated to a different showcase this time featuring characters inspired by The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Spider-man 2, other movies, cartoons, and toys that are out there in the market. The cosplayers seemed to have spared no expense in building their costumes. The details were almost exact as those seen in the characters they are portraying. By the time of the competition the whole place was filled to the rafters and there were many more outside the venue waiting for their chance to come in. I had a hard time going around choosing a toy I could buy. I tried looking for some models and action figures I thought wasn't custom made but after going around and combing through almost all the shelves and baskets in every booth I had to conceded and go back to the booth. The event ended sometime before 9 p.m. and even then, it seems, a lot of customers weren't ready to disperse. By the look of things, I guess the organizers have once again underestimated the number of people going to the convention this year and it's safe to say that next year we'll be looking forward to a bigger venue than this one.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Coffee and Friends (left to right): Az, me, Jon, and Syeri

We had a fun meet again last night at the Den. Everyone had a lot of laughs and stories to tell, we also discussed the upcoming Toy Convention for a bit. It would have been a lot more fun if the other regular members were there. If you want to see more of our mugs then haul on off to Az's blog and start clicking.

This is today's Foxtrot comic strip which I find really funny. I've only got one more page to do an d I'll be scanning and coloring the whole thing. The illustrations I'm doing for this one is more on the serious side since that's what the story's calling for, quite different from the usual stuff I'm posting here and there. Tomorrow's the opening of the one-day-event Philippine Toy Convention 2004 and I'm planning to do some buttons for that later.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Still finishing the stuff. I'm actually making more headway this time and the pace of the work is really no that bad as I initially thougt it would be. I still got time to go out and eat before burying myself in more work. Well actually, I was drawing in a nearby café for a change of scenery. The good thing about it is that there aren't that much people there and I also have all the reference materials with the magazines they're providing for their dine-in customers. And I get to watch people pass by whenever I have those small breaks in between. I don't wonder much about what goes on in their minds whenever I look at their faces. I myself was lost inside my thoughts. Time seems to go on a slower pace inside the café where I'm in. Rain drizzles down a bit and I just watch their reactions whether they're shielding their heads from the falling drops of rain or would they be walking on a much faster pace in hopes of evading it. Who knows? As for me, I just sat there and enjoyed the relative peace and quiet with the right amount of white noise going on in the background.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I had a good laugh after I finished the whole thing. Also, if you're meticulous enough to dig up one of the old strips where this girl first came out in the series you'd be asking some pretty interesting questions about the big gap in between that time and this one.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I've been commissioned to do a full page comic for an up and coming hip magazine called Live the Life. It's gonna be different and it's planned out to be something edgy and alternative like the original MTV. My friend, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Ganns Dean gave me enough space to do with that one page as I pleased (with the condition that I keep the magazine's thrust and target audience in mind). So I thought, okay, that's nothing out the ordinary. I did have a bit of a struggle with the given lead time of two weeks, but everything turned out great! Who woulda thought that the first guy on Earth, Adam, could be pictured as a clueless brawny bruiser with lots of chest hair, sideburns, and a goatee? Eh? Initial fears that I won't be able to churn out something feasible turned out to be unfounded and all expectations were surpassed! Wow.

Anyhow, here's a preview of that comic page that I did and one of them things to look forward to in that magazine come September:

Monday, June 21, 2004

Nothing makes much sense in a typical artists' life. Like right now, I've just started on a bunch of commissioned artworks and I still have lots of assignments from other people that I have yet to put down on paper. I haven't got the foggiest notion why I'm like that or why it's common among artists to do so. Perhaps the almost sedentary lifestyle leads us to commit something so death defying as rushing a deadline? It never fails. The adrenaline rush pumping through the blood gets the juices flowing. No matter how much lead one gives, artists will always do commissioned works at the last possible minute. Surprisingly, 99% of those works surpass everyone's expectations, including the artist himself. That in itself is another mystery that's yet to be solved.

Hey cool! I've got speaking lines now! Hehehe...

Sunday, June 20, 2004

We just got back from our dinner at KFC to celebrate Father's Day. Call me shallow or anything but we ate there because of my request to get a special Spider-man bucket of chicken with four different tumbler designs. The chicken was just incidental. I only got 2 1/2 pieces of the breast part and two servings of rice and that's it. The dining out thing is also incidental to us getting together to celebrate something more meaningful to us which started specially these past few months. Happy Father's Day dad!

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Ironing some details (left-right): me, Brian, Ganns, & Harold.

The contributing writers and artists of the up and coming magazine, Live the Life had its first meeting earlier today at Mister Donut in Greenbelt, Makati City after a long time planning. It was a first time for most of us to meet each other (except for Ganns whom I'm very acquainted with) and there was a small amount of awkwardness hanging in the air but everything went smoothly. We were briefed on the vision of the mag, what it's all about, who the target audiences are (16-21 year olds), plans for the next issues were brought up (pop culture and the alternative scene), volunteers and ideas for articles were tossed around, and other what-have-yous. I'm also set to do some caricatures for some of the articles and most of the staff people. Before we finished the discussion everyone seemed hyped up and raring to go and write their assignments. They're targetting a September release for the magazine (which also coincides with another "secret" project that I have. Mwahahaha!!!). After the others have left, Ganns, his friend Harold, and me had lunch at Popeye's Fried Chicken afterwards and checked out the Tech-Mobile convention upstairs in one of the transformed cinemas. The whole place was somewhat packed and the music was groovin' but it was just "dead". As in dead serious. I thought that with all these gadgets going around the young set the least thing the organizers could have done was to liven the whole thing a bit more. We left after going around the place and having our 'passports' stamped in hopes of winning one of those notebook computers they're giving up for grabs in their grand raffle. I hung around Powerbooks for a couple of hours going through the books. Good thing they have all these couches where you can just lounge around with a pile of books. There was a children's hour halfway through the afternoon and the girl who was doing the narrating was really good. I could only hear what was going on from behind the shelves surrounding the main floor area and she was going though these whole range of sound effects with much gusto. She was doing so much of a good job that she had to remind some of the parents and guardians to stand at the sidelines and give the kids more room. I left the place a little past 7 p.m. I'll start on the comic strip for Wednesday maybe tomorrow. I already have everything planned and it's not going to be that much work.

* Domo arigato gozaimashita to Ricky Manzano for the photograph.

Friday, June 18, 2004

We just ate out to celebrate mama's birthday. Her birthday's tomorrow but she and her friends already made plans to go out of town to celeberate and afterwards they have a meeting at night. My sister didn't get to go with us since he also had plans to go out with her friends but we sent her a text message telling her where we are just in case she's coming. I already have the idea for next week's comic strip but I haven't got the mood to start on it. I'll start on it maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

One might notice some miniscule difference between this one and the one printed in this week's issue. In any case, please accept my apologies for being so indecisive about all these. Also, the issue with the previous strip being late worked for the advantage of this strip in time for Sunday's Father's Day celebration.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The front row ticket was totally worth it! Linkin Park rocks!!! I arrived at the venue a little past 8 pm and a lot of people were still lining up to get in. Some were waiting outside hoping to catch the music at least from a distance. But before I went to the gate I hid my camera and tried my best to be calm lest I'd be found out. The venue was huge and I forgot that I was supposed to proceed to the right side when I went left and wasted precious minutes looking for the right gate written on my ticket. Halfway through the journey on my way to the right side, the music started and at the time I thought it was the front act doing their stuff so I didn't hurry. When I got the biggest surprise of my life when I got in: they were already on stage! Actually at first I didn't it was them. Even when I got into position at the edge of the crowd, I still didn't think it was them. Realization only began to sink in when I saw the image of drummer Rob Bourdon projected on one of the 2 big screens beside the stage. I thought... Oh wow! I also saw some of the people holding up digital cameras and mobile phones trying to get decent pictures from their positions. I got my camera ready and started snapping pictures. I initially didn't use the flash on the camera hoping I could get better lighting conditions using available light inside the venue and those coming from the stage. But with the guys moving around the stage the first set of pictures I got were all blurred. I started inching a lot closer to the middle of the venue and I only stopped when the people stood their ground and wouldn't let me pass. The crowd was composed of different people from all walks of life. Some even brought their kids to the concert, some were way past the middle age, and some were college-level Caucasians enjoying the show. The audience's energy knew no end as they jumped and sang along with most of the songs.

Chester Bennington was dressed funnily enough with his hair parted on one side, white collars sticking out of his black shirt emblazoned with a red cross and skull making him look like a little Hitler (no offense). Mike Shinoda was all smiles all throughout and even played up to the crowd by saying "How do you say thank you? (refers to his guide written on a piece of paper) Salamat!" and "Itaas ang kamay (Put your hands up in the air)!"* among other things. That last one, everyone held their hands up high in almost perfect unison before the song started. Guitarist Brad Delson was now sporting a full beard and an afro, a far cry from his image from their videos where he sports a goatee and semi-bald look. He looked real creepy whenever he played to the crowed by waving his hands mechanically and staring hard at the audience. Bassist Phoenix Farrell looked serious all throughout the concert and didn't seem to smile at all although he was singing along to them songs.

This was, I think, the third song. Mike totally owned the stage when he rapped.

I wish I could remember what they performing in this one.

This is the only solo shot that I got of drummer Rob Bourdon.

Props to lead vocalist Chester Bennington for pushing his vocal chords beyond their limits.

Phoenix stood there watching the crowd.

They were performing my favorite song "Faint" in this shot. I think.

Brad was one of the really cool ones.

This was during the song "Somewhere I Belong".

So was this one.

Joe Hahn throwing away his towels to the crowd.

Wet with sweat but happy, happy, happy!

Me, Jac, her younger sister, Wan-wan, and Az outside the gates.

I got a list of songs they performed as posted by cropper from PinoyExchange.com in no particular order: Dont Stay, Somewhere I Belong, Lying from You, Faint, Breaking the Habit, From the Inside, Numb, Paper Cut, One Step Closer, With You, Points of Authority, Runaway, In the End, A place for my head, Wish (an original by Nine Inch Nails), Crawling, and a mix of songs composed of Step Up, Its Going Down, and Nobody's Listening. Half the time I was in a daze watching them and taking pictures but the other times when they performed familiar songs I would be jumping up and down singing along with the crowd. Chester threw 2 water bottles to the crowd, making sure they would be caught safely. Then there was this time when they picked one fan from the audience to sing along with them (during the song "A Place for My Head"). Brad pointed one they thought was the craziest of them all ,i>(front row crowd) and they waited for him to get up on stage. They relaxed a bit while waiting, Chester remarked that Rob was the only one who gets drum solo so Mike took one drumstick from him and started making his own beat to Rob's drumming. When the fan finally got on stage he ran to Chester and hugged him tightly. Then he was asked if he knew the lyrics to the song so they could sing together. When they started playing again, the fan started dancing crazy around the stage so Mike guided him back to the front and started singing with him. Everybody was really envious of the treatment that he got. I tried taking a picture of them at that part but they were moving around so much that getting a clear picture was next to impossible. I don't think there's enough words for me to express what we all felt in last night's concert. When they announced their last song, the reaction of the crowd was all mixed up but most of us couldn't believe that it would all end so soon (around 9:30 pm).

After Chester finished singing, the band members stood up to the edge of the stage and waved goodbye. Joseph Hahn threw away his towels to the crowd, Brad and Phoenix threw guitar picks, while Rob got a handful of drumsticks and threw them one by one. He was also the first one to go off-stage but before he did he took his own time waving and saying goodbye to the people. Then he exited right, then Chester, then Mike went off stage near the center of the stage, then Phoenix got off too while Brad and Mr. Hahn remained on till they turned out the lights. Still, everyone in the audience stood their ground in denial that the concert was over. Even when the lights were turned on they milled around wondering what just happened, wishing that it was a false ending and the guys would go on stage again and perform more songs. When the crew went up and started dismantling the set everyone got the cue and started off to the nearest exits. I called up my brother to tell him that the concert was over and thankfully he and the others were just on their to Starbucks so he told me to hang out and wait for them. I also called Az on the phone and asked him the exact spot where we could meet along with the others. Jac was also there with her sister. We all talked about the concert for a while and even bought some buttons before going our separate ways. That time I was still in denial and I was still wondering what had happened. Reality set in some minutes later on the road with my brother and the family to Greenhills. I wanted more! More!! MORE!!! I had an extremely hard time picking out the best of the best pictures I got from the concert (believe me I have a LOT) but hopefully these pics convey the best parts of it. I don't regret blowing almost all my money for that concert ever. For it was one the best ones I've ever attended and something that will stay with me for a very long time!

* Check out the other reactions to last night's concert in the Linkin Park Message Board.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Click to open another page.

Surreal, "Twilight Zone"-ish even for comic strips but very funny!

I'm goin' goin' goin' goin' to watch tonight!!! This is the first major foreign act I'm watching after more than 10 years of being out of the concert loop (the last one was Duran Duran if I'm not mistaken). This is also the first front row ticket that I bought with my own money. This one of them things I want to do while I'm still single and I'm so HAPPY!!!

Monday, June 14, 2004

I just figured something... in going for a German Shepherd Dog, I'm basically going against the unspoken rule that the only dog cartoonists should ever have is a Basset Hound. My main man Berke Breathed had a hound an d even web-comic meister extraordinairre, Scott Kurtz had a hound. Will my creative license be revoked for going against the rule? Hmmm...

Sunday, June 13, 2004

About the last post about getting a dog and choosing which breed I'm supposed to get, well I finlly did it and chose one of them. It was a very close race between the two breeds and I do appreciate all the feedbacks I got from that, but in the end I only had room for one and that's the German Shepherd. I've looked through every website and read all the books I could get my hands on related to the breeds and, personality wise, nothing beats the GSD. It's very personable, eager to please, easy to train, has a very balanced temperament, very loyal and protective of its owner (that's why they're called "Canis familiaris"). On the other hand, Basset Hounds, I found out, have a world all their own just like a cat. They always eat, sleep, they interact with people on their own terms, they're harder to train, always following its nose and thus having a great chance of getting lost, trusts strangers easily as long as they get food and lodging, can't be a good guard dog, and they can't be picked up very easily. And if there's any thing I learned from all this is that looks can be deceiving. I might get the hound sometime in the future when the lifestyle warrants it but at this time I'm going for the big dog.
We're back from an overnight R&R with the family at the Manila Hotel. The overnight stay was a freebie thing since my mom was one of the main organizers of their high school's golden anniversary reunion held at the hotel earlier this year and her classmates gave the gift certificate to her in gratitude for her work. The date for the booking was my brother's idea.

We almost didn't make it yesterday on our way to the hotel since the government people and parade organizers had already closed off almost all the roads leading to the grandstand (which was almost beside the hotel). Good thing my dad persisted and told the police manning the roads that we had already booked a room and there would be no way we're backing out on this one. Sometime later it began to rain hard and by the time we got to the hotel all these participants in the parade - soldiers, parade guards, NGO reps, people arrayed in Filipiniana costumes, etc. - were huddling under the big canopy in front of the entrance. Still some time later we managed to get in and settle inside the room assigned to us. It was situated at the back of the hotel fronting the Manila Bay. Days before this my mom predicted we would be stuck inside the hotel room again for periods of time glued to the boob tube and, we were. We watched the interview with Black Eyed Peas at Channel 23 (they had a concert here last May 29) then we watched the latter half of Dekada '70 (which only two us at that time had seen). Then we went down to eat merienda downstairs at the cafe, took a walk around the swimming pool beside the bay and watched the parade go by. After the last group of participants had passed by we went back upstairs to watch more TV. Half an hour after that, when the ceremonies were finally finished, we were pleasantly surprised by the fireworks show by the bay right outside our window which lasted for around 30 minutes at least. After that we went down again and ate our dinner before going up to watch more TV. We finally slept past 10 p.m.

Old charm from a now floating restaurant.

Hotel lobby in a moment of peace.

Multiple heralds for WWII veterans.

This is part of the float promoting tourism.

Great view outside our window.

Fireworks display over the bay.

The following morning, my mom, brother, and me woke up early to walk around Luneta. It was our big chance to be able to walk around that area at that time of the morning before breakfast. I think the last time were there was when we were still kids. I took pictures of the different plaques and markers dotting the place (the park was a favorite execution place for the Spaniards back then). There's also a plaque at the foot of a large flagpole in front of the Rizal Monument which most people take for granted except on days when there are visiting dignitaries, which marks the spot where Philippine independence was finally granted by the American government to their former colony.

Memorial marker at the foot of the flag pole.

National hero, Jose Rizal's grave monument.

This execution was the spark that led to the Philippine Revolution.

The exact spot where Jose Rizal stood when he was shot.

Topmost part of the monument to Legaspi and Urdaneta.

Some other interesting discoveries about the relevant execution sites in the park include the exact site where Padres Mariano Gomez, Jose Apolonio Burgos and Jacinto Zamora were slowly executed using the garrote (click here for the picture). Then there's the plaque marking the exact spot where Jose Rizal stood when he was shot by firing squad (click here for the picture). The hidden and forgotten monument for the Thirteen Martyrs of Cavite inside the Japanese garden of the park. After making our rounds on the way back to the hotel I asked for a moment to take some quick snapshots of the also-taken-for-granted monument of Captain General Miguel López de Legaspi and Padre Andrés de Urdaneta near the wall of Intramuros (those conquistadores who founded the City of Manila and the Roman Catholic faith in this country; heck out an interesting site regarding the place where they launched their ship). After taking some pictures we went back to the hotel and ate our breakfast, rested and took a bath before packing our bags and checking out of the hotel at 11 a.m. Before going home we checked out this new shopping place which the same guys of CostCo has established in the developing reclamation area near EDSA. Then we ate our lunch (by now we were filled to bursting from all those all-you-can-eat things) before finally going home.

Friday, June 11, 2004

What's that you say? "Hit me baby one more time"?

Me and the family just finished watching Lady Killers and while it garnered mixed reactions from the audience, I myself enjoyed it very much. This is a big deal for me since I normally don't enjoy watching black comedy although there have been some rare exceptions in the past like Jawbreaker. Because the deal with black comedy usually is that you don't know whether you should be enjoying or cringing. Way too much thinking for such a light fare. Bleh.

The movie's story starts out rather uneventfully for a few minutes before Professor G.H. Dorr (Tom Hanks) comes a-knockin' on Marva Munson (Irma P. Hall)'s door. He's looking for lodging as well as a venue where he and his small group could hold their band practice (they specialize in Renaissance music, he tells her). The sweet little old lady was anything but sweet and outright she was suspicious of strangers letting her cat out the door. But the Professor was such a sweet talker he managed to get past her defenses without any hitch. He and his posse of characters moved in to the basement and set up shop for their real business. Those in that group were Gawain MacSam (Marlon Wayans), a young man with a short fuse working for the floating casino they were about to rob; Garth Pancake (J.K. Simmons), a weapons expert also working as an animal trainer working for television commercials; The General (Tzi Ma), an assassin Chinese immigrant who also manages a small donut shop in a mall; and, last but not least, Lump Hudson (Ryan Hurst), the muscle of the group who's also playing in College football.

Their plan to dig a tunnel from the old lady's basement to the casino's underground vault was foolproof all the way, they just a little problem with unforeseen accidents and some unfavorable circumstances brought about by short-end temperaments. There were also some times when they were almost caught digging by the old lady Munson, who was also starting to get suspicious about a few things she noticed about them. Like the time she saw them all dirty and sweaty when all they were supposed to be doing was practicing their music, or the time Professor Dorr was uppity with and avoiding altogether meeting the town sheriff, Sheriff Wyner (George Wallace) or the unexplained sound of explosions coming from her basement. But in each and every time they would just be smiling like nothing was wrong and escort her back upstairs. But providence, it seems, wasn't on their side after all. It was just waiting for an opportune time till they managed to pull off the heist and cover up their crime. Mrs. Munson caught them red handed and no matter how many excuses or how much Prof. Dorr would sweet talk her, she just wouldn't budge. Finally, she gave them an ultimatum - either they return the money and go to church with her next Sunday or spend the rest of their lives behind bars. Supposing they had no recourse but to silence her, they drew straws to know who would get to off her. The lot fell on MacSam and when he tried to get into position to shoot her, flashbacks of his Mamy beating him up and talking down to him began to flash through his head reducing him to a crumpled bawling little kid all over again. Mrs. Munson, who never suspected anything, smacked him back down to the basement. The others were flabbergasted at his ineptitude and during a gun scuffle with Garth, the trigger was accidentally pulled, killing him on the spot. It was bad enough they got caught stealing and it was worse when they lost one of their members, but it was hell when they caught Garth trying to get away with the loot after they got back from dumping MacSam's body on a passing river barge. They killed him along with his cohort and fiancee, Mountain Girl (Diane Delano). After dumping their bodies down the bridge on another passing river barge, the trio went home and drew straws. The lot fell on The General and he almost succeeded in killing off the old lady if he didn't get killed first after a series of unfortunate accidents. Lump and Prof. Dorr took the body and dumped it on another passing barge on its way to a garbage dump outside the town. The Professor then handed Lump a gun and told him it was his turn to kill the old lady. Lump refused to kill an innocent life and they had an argument about the whole thing. But, unfortunately Lump was killed on the spot due to some stupid mistake and promptly fell on another passing barge. Professor Dorr looked on and pondered on what he was about to do. He was now alone. When he saw a raven perch on one of the statues watching over the bridge he began to laugh to himself. The aptness of it all (he being a fan of the late great Edgar Allan Poe), the impending stain of the old lady blood on his hands, struck him funny. But it wasn't all that struck him that moment, a piece of that same statue broke off and hit him on the head. He fell headlong and before he hit the river, the hem of his coat was caught on the bridge and broke his neck. His body hung there for a moment before falling down on another passing barge. When the sun came up, the old lady got up from bed and discovered her guests gone leaving the pile of money on the table. Being a faithful churchgoer she reported the news of the missing casino money to the Sheriff's office. The officers told her to keep it (since in the casino was working on a loophole through the law and, in their reasoning, served them right by being robbed). She didn't keep it though and donated the whole lot to her favorite charity, the Bob Jones University.

It's been such a long time since I liked a movie that works on so many levels. Tom Hanks is really engaging and though his character has mannerisms that can be off-putting at times (his goofy laugh for one) and his Southern gentleman countenance does seem to be a bit extreme, he does manage to come up with one heck of an unforgettable character. It may come as a surprise that there are those who complain because of the caricature treatment of the characters. Well those characters were intended. The villains were meant to stand out in contrast to a little old lady from a small town community down South. There are also interesting references to Edgar Allan Poe like Professor Dorr's fondness for reciting the poem "To Helen" and, of course, the appearance of a Raven, the aptness of which, didn't escape his eye. The cast of the original 1955 movie included Alec "Ben Kenobi" Guiness and Peter "Inspector Clouseau" Sellers, and instead of having them rob a floating casino the original idea had them plotting and successfully mounting a train heist. It was also intended to be a dark comedy by the Coen Brothers took it a bit closer to black in this one. Not everyone likes it, although I do rave and applaud its story, again, for the lessons learned. The general theme, of course, is getting back what one deserves when you least expect it. But I must say that I didn't like the liberal use of such a strong language in the movie, particularly Mr. Wayan's character who peppered just about every other line with the F-word. I'm thinking the Coen Brothers must have done that purpose to fill people's ears until they've had enough or prolly because they had a quota. Whatever. There are some who rightly call it a morality tale of bad people getting their due for their evil deeds and good people being rewarded for standing up for what they know is right (check out the transcript of the hilarious sermon). The idea of the gang dumping bodies on a passing barge hauling garbage to a great heap outside the city walls bears a great similarity to the ancient practice of the early citizens of Jerusalem did with their trash and bodies of dead criminals that nobody wanted. This is what Jesus compared hell to during one of his talks. If you put two and two together you'd pretty much get the idea why the camera's almost always trained on those stone gargoyles too. I won't be complaining at all about the pacing of the movie in light of all these wonderful nuggets that I found. In line with all these, doesn't that line from an Alanis Morissette song, Ironic, seem appropriate to you?
Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything's okay and everything's going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face

Funny indeed. Heh.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

I apologize to all the readers of Philippine News for submitting, in my opinion, such a sucky strip. The computer crashed prior to scanning the original strip (see June 7 post for details) that pretty much ruined the whole thing. Took me quite a while before I got in the mood to rework the whole thing. So... what do you guys think?

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

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