Thursday, March 31, 2005

These are a couple of the Narra trees lining the main street near ours. With Spring in the air the formerly skeletal trees sprout bright green leaves to be followed by these small yellow flowers whose scent fills the air with its overpowering sweet smell. You'd know when these would have bloomed because of the way it litters the ground with its confetti-like petals. Reminds me of the trees in my high school alma mater. This event lasts for only a week or so and only a couple of them in bloom it's safe to say today looks to be the last day to catch these trees in bloom.

Pictures were taken with my phone. The photos would have turned up a lot better if the download program for my camera wasn't buggy with some unknown error.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

This one was one of the most enjoyable strips I ever did although it still took some time to edit since I can't settle on a few things like the design on the nameless girl's blouse. Also, original plans for the third panel calls for it to be painted but I didn't have the time nor much of the capabilities so back to line-art it went. And yeah, guys beware of those googly anime eyes that could manipulate you to submission. Better men have fallen because of it.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Eddie Campbell's work Alec: How To Be An Artist, brought a new idea to mind with regards to posts about being a cartoonist: An illustrated how-to create comics in comic book format. Not very original and probably done a hundred times before but the concept of doing one is still staggering. I'll probably come up with one someday, I'm not exactly sure when but I'll do get to it. Now I'm supposed to post an advise regarding cartooning but since I haven't yet finished composing what it is I'm planning to say I decided to put that off till next time and instead point you to a point by point advice on how to be cartoonist by one of the most, if no THE most successful web cartoonist, Scott Kurtz.

Monday, March 28, 2005

More than a couple of works are on the table right now waiting for their chance to the read and the need to announce its creation would hopefully stir curiosity and interest in these titles spurring me to work on its final creation and immediate release:

One proposed scene from the comic featuring then Spanish Gov. Gen. Ramon Blanco

1. Revolucionario - the oldest project I have ever planned spanning almost 10 years now. Inspired by the newspaper articles of local historian and NHI President, Ambeth Ocampo I came up with the idea of doing an entire series on the Philippine Revolution (1896-1898) and Filipino-American War (1898-1901). Loosely based on the diaries of an ilustrado turned General in Aguinaldo's army it's filled with pages upon pages of thrills, chills, and excitement while (hopefully) laughing your guts out! With celebrity guest appearances by Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Juan Luna, Pio Valenzuela, Emilio Jacinto and others you'll get a low-down on what happened during one of the most exciting moments in our country's history! I have no idea yet how many issues it will take to tell the stories but the initial draft for the first issue came up to a total of 76 pages. This is the biggest and most ambitious project I have so far.

Some of Mr. Jones' wacky illustrations

2. His Story - a fairly recent project inspired by Dennis Jones' gouache illustrations in The Super Heroes Bible and Mike Thaler's writing in the Heaven and Mirth series of books. Initially the plans for this title was to create a series of one page comics like this one scene from the Garden of Eden and Noah's Ark (the former saw print in the teen mag, LIVEtheLIFE). Then while watching the movie, The Gospel of John, the thought occurred to me why not do the whole in comic book format? Originally I wanted to start with the story of Moses but right now I'm leaning towards the direction of the Gospels.

A peek at their family's history

3. West Side Stories - Similarity with the title of the famous play be damned, I like the title! This one will be much easier to do and will be seen a lot earlier than the other two titles. This project is composed of a series of short stories told from the viewpoint of each of the four main charaters of the comic strip, West Side. These tales will deviate entirely from the comicality found in the strips and serves to delve deep into their personalities to show their wants, wishes, hopes and prayers as they try to cope with the changes in their lives. The first story will be included in the first issue compilation of the strip.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

I'm thinking of creating a blog for one of the characters in West Side. That means staying in character all throughout the duration of its existence. I'll have no problem with that after all there aren't any pressures in updating it everyday unlike this blog where I have to record everything of interest everyday for the sake of posterity. Having a blog for one of the characters also means that I can use these posts for story ideas and tie up the stories in the comic strips in return. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to sustain though, maybe I'll employ the assistance of a ghost writer later on. Or maybe not.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I finally finished my work for next week! Thanks to Starbucks, the only place in town where I could find a quiet nook with just the right amount of white noise, bright lights, and sights for those moments I need a distraction when I can't get the drawings right, and most especially for their good 'ol tasty orange juice. Can't tell you much about this piece except the rough sketch above stops at the second panel and the last two figures are rough studies for BJ's strong objection to his companion's request to go ice skating.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Thank God we got out of the house for the better part of the day. My aunt and uncle from California are here for a visit and my mom and dad it would be good to take them around the city to relieve them of their boredom. The plan to get out of the house was met with derisions at first. My brother was arguing that an earlier announcement about these plans would have been nice. Our sister sided with him and refused to get off the couch pouting her lips while watching episodes of Meteor Garden on DVD. I have no problem with the announcement. Although I still have lots of strips to work on, going out of the house with two relatives would be good. My brother finally relents and agrees to drive us.

Our first stop was the old water filtering place in Quezon City. The place dates back to the early forties or maybe earlier and while there are still some remnants from that period scattered here and there the whole place was really non-descript. Meanwhile our parents and relatives reminisce on the time when they used to go and swim in this place when they were kids. We ate some of the Japanese sweet corn my brother bought from the vendors lining up in front of Ateneo University. After finishing our snack we went around UP for a short tour before heading out to Baywalk in Manila but not before stopping to eat our lunch at NorthPark along Macapagal Avenue. Lots of families in that place with grandfathers and grandmothers in tow. Now the lot of us not being Roman Catholics and all, we had no problem ordering meat laden dishes. We stayed there for a good hour or so trying to cram everything we ordered down the hatch. Afterwards my dad suggested we go out for coffee somewhere, we agreed with the suggestion but not after making a couple more stops to my brother's new office and around what's reputedly going to be the biggest mall in the whole of Asia. Then we went straight to Baywalk and watched some fishermen diligently cast their line on the not-exactly-clean, Manila Bay. While the others wondered how they could think of catching any fish in that area, my aunt, mom and dad talked about my dad's condition and his need to discipline himself so as not to have any repeat episodes of his stroke. I was sitted on the breakwater watching these different sized insect-like creatures slide in and out of the rocks when I caught a glimpse of the fishes jumping out of the water in the distance. So these fishes can survive in these parts. After that we drove off to the nearest Starbucks to continue our conversations and talk about other mundane things. Chinese-filipino families comprised the majority of the place, thankful that there are open establishments today. I'm thinking that those others left in the metro will making a mad dash to the malls tomorrow to relieve their boredom. I just hope it won't be too crowded.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

With the long holy weekend looming over the horizon I finally cracked and bought the Arkham Asylum Anniversary Edition last night. Owing to my dad's condition and the cost of hospitalization making a huge dent on my parents' account we didn't bother to make plans to get out of town. Today's the start of the only two days in a year when time seems to stand still in this town. With the malls and establishments closed in observance of the holiest days of the year, everyone heads out of town to hit the beach or visit their relatives in the province. Good thing we still have my books, our cable TV and internet connection to tide us over. I stayed out late in the mall savoring the hours until they forced us out. I already have an idea what I'm going to do for next week's strip but I'm still not in the mood to start with it. There are still a lot of strips I have to color and post online. I'll probably stay here in the front of the computer for the duration of the day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Betcha didn't know about this other Santa edging on the Easter Bunny's turf at this time of the year don'cha? Me too.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The internet connection at home's acting up for the nth time in two days so I thought it best to surf the web outside the house. Found this new place inside the MRT station where I can spend time reading through the posts from different mailing lists threatening to clog my mailbox (the most notable of which was this link Jonas got from an online forum somewhere) and update this blog. Being under a strict budget I followed the deadline of one hour and moved out to my usual haunts in the mall. Walking is good so the feeling of restlessness lessens with every sight and new faces that passes me by. There were slim pickings in Powerbooks especially in the arts section. And is it just me or the graphic titles in the arts section are really getting scarce compared to architecture and interior designs? Even books related to movies and theater are encroaching on their spot. Highly disappointed by these discoveries I headed over to the comics section to drool over the Batman: Arkham Asylum Anniversary Edition and Violent Cases. Artist Dave McKean's work has that effect on me as I held the graphic novels in my hands and thought of the wonderful things contained within its covers. A long weekend's coming and I'm seriously considering buying one of the two books to keep me company whilst I plan for future projects and such. After that I had my dinner in a quiet nook upstairs and doodled while pondering the storyline for next week's strip.

Monday, March 21, 2005

I like this half-page newspaper ad by local conservationist group, Haribon that came out about a week ago in the newspapers. It sort of pays tribute to a line in Joyce Kilmer's famous poem (they both belong the same set of limbs) and also the gnarly hand-like tree reminds me of the kind of art photos that graphic artist, Dave McKean featured in his book, Option: Click.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Oooooo... Aaaaaaa!

I know a lot of people are probably not going to see Robots because of the possibility of their expectations not being met by Pixar's rival studios (who could blame them after seeing the ginormous disappointment called "Shark's Tale"?). It could also be because this movie lacks the soft, furry, cute, cuddly and curvy characters other 3D animated movies have. But that shouldn't be the case to miss out on this great, great movie that, for a lack of better comparison, does rival that of Pixar's works. The story revolves around a young robot, Rodney Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan McGregor), whose dreams of growing up and working for the great robot inventor, Bigweld (voiced by Mel Brooks), was dashed to pieces when a shiny upstart robot, Ratchet (voiced by Greg Kinnear) took over as head of the company's board of directors. It turns out the kindly and fun loving Bigweld was slowly eased out to retirement a couple of years prior and the new boss has now issued a decree declaring that starting immediately their company would stop issuing spare parts and instead force everyone to upgrade or else face extinction in the smelting factory run by his domineering mother, Madame Gasket (voiced by Jim Broadbent). On his way out of being booted from the building, Rodney meets an assortment of oddball characters led by Fender (voiced by Robin Williams), his adopted younger sister, Piper (voiced by Amanda Bynes), Crank (voiced by Drew Carey), Aunt Fanny (voiced by Jennifer Coolidge), and a couple of others who represent the majority of the run down citizens of the city who are badly in need of repair (which Rodney does to the eternal gratitude of its citizens). He also got to go on his mission to talk with the formerly missing Bigweld with the help of the beautiful and curvaceous secretary of Ratchet, Cappy (voiced by Halle Berry), who took pity on him. But it seems that Bigweld isn't anymore interested in running his company and would rather spend all his time setting up a grand domino display which he would play over and over again. Disheartened with his discovery and moreso with the recent news from his mom (voiced by Dianne Wiest) that his dad (voiced by Stanley Tucci) is sick and already has one foot in the junkyard, he's more than ready to throw in the towel and go back home in defeat. Of course the movie doesn't end here and it's up to you to find out how the story ends with everyone happy (including the audience who have been laughing out loud for quite some time now).

Although the story of the idealistic small town hero going out to the big city to in a move to fulfill his dreams and conquer a corrupted system has been told a thousand times before (of which the movie, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington is the most notable) what sets this apart from the awe inspiring visuals and details is the abundance of humor both visual and spoken. Leading the pack, of course, is Robin Williams who went back to his old element of delivering one-liners along with other similarly gifted actors like Ms. Amanda Bynes, Drew Carey, Marshall Efron, Jay Leno, Al Roker, Paul Giamatti, and a host of others. You should also keep a tight watch on the voices of A.I. Judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul along with the great big voice himself, James Earl Jones, in some scenes. Me and my brother where laughing non-stop at the jokes, which thankfully weren't heavily based on present cultural references nor adult-themed ones. Contrary to what many others out there think the animation studio that produced this film, Blue Sky Studios, are not the same guys behind Shark Tale (that would be the third big player in the field who also did "Shrek" and "Shrek 2") but the same geniuses who did the hugely successful "Ice Age." And just in their first outing the geniuses behind it are following closely behind the footsteps of Pixar in terms of deftly juggling and mixing the elements of grand visuals, great humor, and big heart to come up with these outstanding movies (something that Michael Eisner and Disney Studios forgot in recent years). While the characters in this movie admittedly doesn't fall in the category of cuddly and cute (in the same way that circles and ovals win over squares and triangles in terms of design anytime) don't let that stop you from plunking your hard earned cash for a ticket because you won't be doing yourself a favor by missing this one out on the big screen. So do yourself and your friends a favor and personally experience for yourselves the grandeur of digital animation while having one heck of a good time, 'cause look out Pixar Studios you got yourselves a new rival!

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

Saturday, March 19, 2005

My friend, Jonas, posted an article about Common Mistakes Made by Aspiring Cartoonists in his blog yesterday and in reply to my short "comment" said that I should post an article about my philosophy on cartooning, as well as ponderables in my experiences as a professional cartoonist. Why not, right? This is going to be a bit tricky though since I never really taught anything to anyone about my experiences in cartooning save for that one short lecture in De La Salle University a couple of months ago. And okay, since I myself didn't got any advice from other professionals when I was starting these things that I picked up along the way are those that I learned through countless mistakes and praises I received (it's a lot like playing hopscotch where you hop around avoiding things and hoping you land on the right spot or something) and it's not in any way THE rules of cartooning but it does comes pretty close to having a succesful career in cartooning and enjoying it.

First thing I learned in cartooning and comic strip making is to ask yourself why you're going into it? You may think it's kooky to think why I would put this down as a matter of priority over all the other matters but if you've been in the business as long as I have you bet you'll putting this one up first too. There's a general perception (and a deceptive one at that) that going into the cartooning business in a cinch. All you have to do is come with a few characters (a boy, his best bud, a girl, and a few authority figures like a boss, a teacher, a coach, etc.), add a few talking animals and a ridiculous situation and Bingo! you have a hit! All you have to do now is lie back basking in the afterglow of adulation of countless fanboys or fangirls screaming your name at the top of their lungs. Right? Ahhh... could be. Probably. Maybe. But if that's the reason you're entering this profession then I suggest you enter one of those talent show contests they show on TV and stay there. If you're entering the comics business thinking you could get stinking rich from the money pouring in from all the plushies, pins, buttons, and other possible merchandise like the Japanese do with their cutie creations then you're in it for the wrong reasons. Bottomline is if you're thinking of going into the cartooning business because you think it's the easiest thing in the world to do then I suggest turn around and walk away. Because cartooning and comic strip making demands tight discipline. Contrary to what other people think, the life of a cartoonist or comic strip artist is one of seriousness where careful research and doing a lot of thinking is the order of the day. That's the deceptive part. Most of the time you'd find cartoonists lounging around reading comic books, magazines, playing video games or with toys, or probably just staring off into space. While others would think this is all a lazy immature excuse to goof off, for us it's a process for the most important and hardest part of all, conceptualizing (more on this in the future). Then of course there are the similarities in situations with authors and comic book artists where rejections and unappreciation of one's work tend to stretch the patience to its limit. But unlike those other two professions I've mentioned, comic strip artists will need to lengthen their patience a bit more while fighting against the potential loss of dignity because it's also one of the most unappreciated careers in the world.

Good comic book artists easily gain sizeable followings primarily because of the opportunities afforded to them by big print companies. Ask any comic enthusiast around these parts and they could easily rattle off dozens of these artists' names from the top of their heads but if you ask them to come up with a list of cartoonists from the top of their heads chances are they'd only be able to come up with some five or six names (most of them are either foreigners, retired, or dead). Like I said before there's this general perception that cartoonists can whip up ideas off the top of their heads to come up with ideas while comic books artists have to labor for days (and nights) on end to come up with their pages. But can we really pull off our materials like rabbits out a hat? I can't claim to speak for all cartoonists but speaking from my experience the task of coming up with an idea or a story that would fit just right in a couple of boxes is no walk in the park. No truer words were said whose description was it that said, comic strip artists have to juggle the roles of being a producer, director, scriptwriter, editor, lightman, cameraman, costume designer, boom operator, dolly grip, best grip, etc. on a regular basis and still come up with a good idea at the end of the day for the next day's performance (cartoon characters fill the role of the actors). It would be a good if the artist's work merits a glance from the reader. It would even be better if the reader takes a little of their time to send a feedback and nothing drives an artist better than to receive a word or two from their audience. It would heartbreaking if the reader passes over it thinking it isn't worth his or her time. Consequently it would be disastrous if the reader thinks it all a futile exercise and nothing of worth could be gleaned from that space. The other wrong idea for going into the cartooning business is the lure of merchandising possibilites or the obsessive idea concerning it. Rather a cartoonist should concern him or herself first with telling a good story, minding the lives of his or her stable of characters, and thoroughly deliberating the kind of message he or she is spreading through their work. If and when they can settle all these with no problem at all then I don't see why that cartoonist can't go into the business of merchandising AFTER the fact. I myself encourage it as it would serve as a good source of financial support to their cartooning business.

One may have varied answers to the primary question why they want to be a cartoonist, but the bottomline to it should first and foremost be because you love your work and the idea of pursuing a career in cartooning is noble rather than novel. You should love it enough to have a real sense of ownership, whether you're an artist or a craftsman you wouldn't be able to survive without this genuine love for your work. Breathe life into your characters like a good author would do. Conceptualize how they would look like as a good artist should. Fame is fleeting and harvesting the adulation and praises should not be your main concern as comic readers are fickle minded and unpredictable. You, as a cartoonist, should realize that you're journeying between these two worlds at the same time and maintaining a good sense of balance between these two worlds should be your goal. These things I've mentioned so far are just of the few things we cartoonists go through. Although there are stragglers getting on board thinking it they could do it without counting what it would cost them, I observed that some of these resort to either two things that happen as they go along: the first is that their work suffers a great deal either in the writing department or the art department. The loss of balance in either one of these two present a potential great loss of audience numbers; the second is that they drop out of the race altogether. Some of those who persist with the ordeal would either learn the tricks of the trade and become great cartoonists by way of strenghtening their writing or drawing skills to compensate for their other weakness or they learn nothing at all and become ludicrous examples that newspaper editors are forced to drop off eventually. I would tackle the matter of the responsibility of the artist through the message they're getting across to their readers in the future but if you read these through and you still think cartooning is the easiest thing in the world to do then I suggest you get it through your head the second time just to be sure then hop on aboard the bandwagon.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The movie, Gospel of John has been promoted for almost half a year in these parts people got complacent about it and conveniently forgot that it was already showing. A comparison with the earlier showing of Mel Gibson's The Passion cannot be avoided since both movies tackle the same subject but to dwell on it will be unfair to the people behind this film. The movie tackles one out of four Gospels, taking its script and story on this alone. Which is fine actually since the film takes a very intimate look at who Jesus is (of all His followers, John was the closest to Jesus) so what we are treated to are more of His teachings and preachings rather than his miracles. If you love talkies films then this one's for you. Another aspect you'd really love about this film is its attention to details. From the authentic costumes to the subtle special effects added to the background to simulate the villages, temples, and buildings some two thousand years ago in Judea. All of these were seamlessly integrated into the scenes. I personally like the way they portayed Jesus here as someone who loves to smile, laugh, and mean business at the same time. As opposed to earlier films (prior to Mr. Gibson's opus) which seemed to relish showing Jesus as a depressed individual who had no humor. Actor, Henry Ian Cusick's portrayal of Jesus was refreshingly different.

About the things I didn't like about this film was how the actors acted their parts. It wasn't convincing and it looked as if majority of them were just reciting their lines without going into character or at least internalizing their parts. They didn't flesh out their characters the way I imagined Peter, Andrew, Matthew, Mary, Martha, Pilate, Ananias, or Caiaphas would go around. It seems as if I was watching a school play, and a very elaborate one at that. In this aspect, Mr. Gibson's movie wins over this film. As I've researched and read on the film's official website, they got theater actors to play the roles. This is the film's weakspot and I think the director should have seen that coming and adjusted the roles properly. There were other details that could finely exist in theaters but looked ridiculous on film, like in one scene where the High Priests' messengers were confronting John the Baptist, the lines and creases on John's face were obviously make up and exaggerated at that. It wasn't present in his other scenes, just that one. But don't get me wrong, I liked this film and would rally behind it if it's wrongly attacked. But since they were on the path to recreating the story of John's Gospel, the least they should have done was to get the small details right. It's exactly those things that spell out the big difference.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Has anyone noticed how disaster and post-apocalyptic movies have been increasing in frequency in filmmaking these days? Whereas before we were treated to films about natural disasters going amuck on a global scale like Armageddon, Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow and/or threats of invasion and hostile domination from non-humans like Mars Attacks, Independence Day, Planet of the Apes, Terminator trilogy, and the upcoming Tom Cruise starrer, War of the Worlds to cite a few. There's also an upsurge of horror films bordering on the supernatural but you get the idea. Have any of you thought about the significance of Hollywood playing on our primal fears about all these? Where do these fears come from? If you're thinking that this is all distasteful then I would suggest that you move on but if your curiosity has been pricked and you want to know more about where this post is headed then please continue reading till the very end. As I was saying, there are times when we think if the possibility of these disasters happening and the very thought of which scare the heck out of us. But what would you think if I tell you that what we see on screen doesn't compare to what's going to happen in the future? I, for one, believe that the purpose of these flicks is to prepare people all over the world of what's going to happen sometime in the future. A dreadful time. A dread so terrible that all the catastrophes brought about by man and by nature combined will seem like a walk in the park. And no, I'm not a conspiracist although I do sound like one. If you've been reading Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' Left Behind series or at least you're familiar with the storyline and if you've heard about the Great Tribulation and is curuious as to what it's all about then The Campaign of Armageddon is for you. There are a lot of websites discussing the last days in light of what's been written in the Bible so the what's going to happen during the first half of the seven-year tribulation, where 2/3 of the earth's population will be killed, more or less around 4 billion people, most probably because of the two reasons I cited earlier. I kid you not and this is a matter of great importance.

The Campaign of Armageddon author, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, discusses at length the events that would most likely happen during the last half of the Tribulation. Focusing on the two major events that would cap that terrible period, the Campaign of Armageddon (not "battle" as will explained below) and the Second Coming of Jesus the Messiah. It's a long read but it's very much worth your while. In it Dr. Fruchtenbaum puts forth the fact that the only basis of the Second Coming of Messiah is Israel's national regeneration. That is, until the whole of Israel repents, recognizes the Messiahship of Jesus and cries out for Him to return, there will be no Second Coming. This is the fascinating part that serves as a background to the understanding the theological foundations of anti-Semitism. "Satan knows that once Jesus returns, his career is over. But he also knows there will be no Second Coming until the Jewish people ask the Messiah to return. Therefore, if Satan could ever succeed in destroying the Jews once and for all before they have a chance to plead for Jesus to return, there would be no Second Coming and his career would then be eternally safe." If you believe that then the history of wars waged by dictators and nations against the Jews will all fall into place. Of course this persecution will not cease and will continue on near the end of the Tribulation where around two thirds of the Jewish population will be killed. The final campaign in Armageddon will be organized by Satan for the purpose of annihilating once and for the remaining Remnant of the Jewish people. If you're curious about the events during the first 3 1/2 years of this terrible period the last four paragraphs before the ennumerated points gives an overview of various social, political, and religious events converging to this finale. The article continues to expound that the Campaign of Armageddon can be divided into eight distinct stages which will in turn to help us understand the sequence of events. Are these works of fiction? The ravings words of a lunatic? Personally, I'd rather not dare you to wait it out and see? Again, I warn you that it is a bit lengthy and you might want to print it out and read it at your own leisure. If these spark an interest in the study of the end times (Eschatology) or if ever the Book of Revelation piqued your interest (like it did when I was a kid because of the images of Dragons and horned beasts) then I definitely recommend that you get these books to start you on your way, Maranatha Our Lord, Come!: A Definitive Study of the Rapture of the Church by Renald E. Showers and The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Revised Edition by Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum (where this article came from) or any of those books discussing the End Times by author Tim LaHaye. I tell you there's not a single moment to lose.
Before cutting my hair the other night my barber suggested to me to try sporting a semi-kal look for summer ("semi-bald" or "semi-kalbo" in the colloquial, leaving around 2-3 millimeters of hair). I begged off and bid for more time to think about it. Although a couple of friends have been suggesting before that I try it (and though the thought did enter my mind) I'm not sure if I do have guts to walk around for a good two months with what could be a huge mistake on my part. I'm hesitating from doing so because of two things, first of all when I first asked my barber his opinion some four or five years ago he told me I probably didn't have a smooth, not lumpy or bumpy, skull so it probably wouldn't be a good idea to have one, and second, I'm not sure if it would be me. I did imagine myself sporting it on the way out of the barber shop and it was sorta good. There was a 50/50 chance that I'd do it, but it was a different story when I put it on paper by sketching myself sporting that haircut. It looked really weird so it's back to zero again. I dunno.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

It's St. Patrick's Day tomorrow and what better way to celebrate it than to start revealing snippets from this Ibarra family's history. And believe you me, there are a lot of interesting stories (suspense and drama galore!) in their history prior to their emmigration to the country of Ben Ibarra Sr.'s birth (do you still have to ask where?). The only thing I'm not sure at this point is if I could put down paper the irrepressible Irish accent. Bits and pieces of their family history will be revealed in the upcoming West Side compilations. Happy St. Paddy's Day to those concerned!

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

It happened again. You'd think that I would have already learned my lesson and stayed away but nooooo... I had to be all optimistic about it and fell right into the pit. AGAIN! You'd also think that the bank tellers would have also learned their lessons from yesterday's disaster and speeded up their service. It was much, much worse this time, the difference between my number and the number they were calling at the time amounted to 75. New people around me grumbled again prompting the manager to offer some weak apologies before standing up and personally checking what the hold up was all about. Normally I would be all patient about this but my sense of humor quickly dried up when one of the three tellers closed for another round of shuffling and stamping of other people's deposit slips and one of the two remaining tellers remained moving in slow motion for the duration of my stay. In my mind I would target specific clients who lingering at the counter making small talk with the tellers behind the glass, these ones I would imagine myself shouting and pointing an accusing finger without ceasing. There was this one particular client who would daintily take her time counting her cash on the counter as if there weren't all these people waiting to be called. The bank teller serving didn't help any as she continued to go on her dainty way, walking and moving in slow motion. I don't how they couuld maintain there poise when the number of waiting clients mounted to alarming numbers. If there's any consolation it's that I got to read a good number of interesting articles in the only newspaper available. I wouldn't have known about these if it wasn't for the torturous waiting time.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Hell happened. Or something like a close preview of it at the bank when we were held against our will for around three hours by sadists posing as bank tellers. I arrived about 11:35 am, got a number (25) before checking out the one they're presently serving at the time: 67. So I thought, ok. There weren't that much people inside the bank, maybe they've gone out to eat their lunch early, I'll just wait my turn and walk out of there in no time. The difference of 58 numbers in between the present one and my number didn't bother me as much. That however was changed when one of the two operating tellers closed to do something we couldn't figure out what. It was bad enough that there weren't much to see inside the bank other than the usual business posters promoting their services, the book I brought didn't help things any. The tone was a philosophical one and I felt brain matter turning to sludge as the clock ticked on. I couldn't concentrate on that so I took the lone newspaper lying around and got through almost all the articles in 30 minutes. There's still no sign of them ever speeding up their services. Some of those folks sitting beside me began to grumble and complain among themselves about what's been happening. The bank manager heard what's being said and offered an excuse for the delay. If it was my first time to transact with the bank then probably, most probably, I would buy that excuse. But no, this has happened before and what they're doing, making their clients wait without any explanations or move to correct an error (one teller = 50+ clients) is horrible. If they persist with this practice, it may prove to be their undoing in the future.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Reminds me of a bit of Scott Kurtz's humor, very witty and extremely funny. Poor bird never knew what hit him.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

A member of a pinoy forum, PinoyExchange.com has posted a plea for kind hearted souls to adopt a puppy from P.A.W.S. instead of buying one. Which does make a lot of sense if you think about it. All you have to do is fill up the adoption form and bring it to the PAWS center. An adoption interview will then be scheduled and if you're approved you get to meet the little bugger. If all goes well you just have to pay a measly amount of P1000 (roughly $18) which includes everything from vaccine shots and deworming plus you get free vet consultation. Two of those puppies that are up for are Constantine and Bo (you can see their pictures here). However it's on a first come, first serve basis so you have to hurry up a bit and submit your adoption form asap or call PAWS.
I chanced on an article on bullying earlier today and as much as I would make fun of those incidents in my past, laughing at it, or generally overlook it I can't deny that most of those wounds I received from those times still haven't healed properly. The way I see it right now the popular adage, "Someday you will look back on all these and laugh" doesn't apply to everything. Some things need to be mourned and corrected before you could move on with your life. Because otherwise you would be denying these didn't have any effect on your fears and and traumas you have right now as an adult. I'm sure most of us have these unpleasant experiences (which is really an understatement in some cases) when we were still in school but have later learned to close this chapter and move on with their lives but there are those who still carry around with them in their thoughts scars that are opened anew with the reminder of taunts and bodily harm. Should I not dare to bring this up? Should I relegate these thoughts down to the depths and pretend that they didn't happen?

In our school there's a sort of hierarchy among the bullies: the topmost part was occupied by the real bullies. There's no middle ground with these guys, you either cooperate with them or they make your days in school a living hell. The second tier was occupied by their hangers on. These were the ones who go with the top dogs in hopes that they would be eventually accepted as equals and as a means of status quo. The third tier was occupied by those who think they're bullies in their own right. They went about with their own groups and stayed away from crossing the paths of the first and second rate bullies. The fourth and last set of bullies are those who were being bullied and in turn are bullying those who wouldn't lift a finger against them. In contrast with the uppermost crust, the last level bullies outnumber the top dogs one to three but they can never or will they ever stand up to those bullying them. I was a quiet kid. I was one of those who tend to blend in the background in hopes of not being caught in the crossfire. I don't bother them, they won't bother me. At least that's what I what thought. Kids can be very nasty for no apparent reason. It could be because they don't like the way they look, the way you act, or just because it makes them feel good about themselves. Parents or teachers would then probably try to excuse these saying it was all innocent fun and they don't know any better. In my case it was a barrage of name calling. Innocent fun? I had a few experiences where they also tried to take my recess and lunch. But it was all the teasing that stayed with me all throughout. Whoever said, "Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words can never hurt me," was never bullied -- or has a very short memory.

Friday, March 11, 2005

An article on the Philippine Star about the movie, The Final Cut drew my attention to its interesting premise. In an alternate world a memory chip is implanted inside the head of an unborn fetus, the operation is simple and doesn't cause any damage to its surroundings. It grows with the brain so its virtually undetectable. It starts operating on the day you're born, recording every moment of your life until the day you die. Then grieving loved ones could then have those recorded memories taken to a Cutter and edited for later viewing.

Alan W. Hakman (Robin Williams) is the best Cutter in the business. There are a lot of them but he stands above the rest for his ability to edit the final movies, or Rememories, to bring out the way the dead would be honored best. He's sullen, emotionless, cold, distant, works alone, and very guarded. He reaches out to a select few, mostly his peers in the business although he has opened a small crack his heart to a former client, Delila (Mira Sorvino). Though their story isn't told in the movie, Delila was a former client who engaged his services to edit a rememory of her deceased ex-boyfriend and though she does care for Alan his guarded stance kept the relationship from growing deeper. His problem is rooted on a tragedy that happened at the age of ten during a trip with his parents to a small town. There he met a kid named Louis Hunt (Liam Ranger) who befriended him but on one of their forays inside an abandoned mill, an accident happened leaving him to believe that he had caused the loss of one life. This incident he kept replaying in his mind until he's left with nothing but a shell of his former self.

Soon after he finished with one client, a new deal was being offered to him. The president of the company that makes those memory chips has died and the family is looking for a Cutter that could do him justice. His fellow cutters rallies him to take the job but while he was deliberating it, an old colleague, Fletcher (Jim Caviezel), enters the picture and offers him a huge amount of money in exchange for the chip. Disturbed by Fletcher's sudden appearance and interest with the deal, Alan went on ahead and took it. In the midst of editing he discovered two things: first the damning evidence critics of the memory chip would be interested in and second, a ghost from his past. The image of what seems to be an adult Louis Hunt (Peter Hall) talking with the deceased man in one party. Could it be that the person he killed wasn't dead? Was this a clever impostor who has somehow manged to manipulate a series of events knowing that this particular scene would play before his intended victim? Or is this a ghost out for revenge after all these years? I'll leave out what happens next, that's your cue to catch the movie while it's still being shown.

While I do like the premise of this movie I have to say that the ending sucked big time. Reminds of the first carbonated water that I drank. It builds up the ante when you first taste it, the fizzy feeling on your tongue seems to promises a lot more only to leave you hanging in the end. I can't of any other suitable metaphors but I hope you do get what I'm talking about. The storytelling is almost non-linear and there are a lot of implied things, things that are left for the audience to figure out while trying to catch up with the complicated labyrinth of the story. Well not really that complicated but it's important for you to hang on to every word that's said. The premise of having your life literally recorded through your eyes is something I want for myself. The possibilities of watching your life on the screen would render literary biographies a thing of the past. Why settle on reading when you can watch it all unfold on the big screen? The downside to this is that you can't view your own rememory while you're still alive without the danger of frying your synapses in the process of doing so. Memories are such fickle things. While some people are content to let these fade, others would give up everything to hold on to these. Or are these people in the latter group romanticizing the past? Are much of what we hold on to with sentimentality products of the subjective or objective part of the brain? For the most part the former holds the key and in this instance we have both taken the role of both the Cutter and their client. To expound on this matter would take another long explanation and that is something I don't have the time for. I may or may not recommend that you watch this movie based on its merits. In fact I'm torn between pushing you towards the mall to watch this movie and pulling against you against shelling your hard earned cash for the tickets. But just in case you already did watch this movie, then please tell me your experiences while viewing it, whether it would be something you'd rather fade away or hold on to.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

I'm finding it hard to write these days which is ridiculous. Or rather, I'm finding it hard to focus these days. I have a lot of empty slots to fill up in this journal and I'm at a loss on what to write. I would have this idea on what to write and I would be surfing the net and reading other blogs the next, making me lose my train of thought in the process. The same goes withthe story ideas I have in mind. I'd really, really want to start on the scriptwriting but I would go stright to the internet and surf. This is so ridiculous I would be laughing if I wasn't so frustrated with all that's happening.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

This is an alternate strip I did to satisfy my artistic cravings since I wasn't satisfied with the original work I turned in to the paper. As I was that much in a hurry to do that one, this one took the longest time to do. You can see the original strip that saw print here. Oh yeah, I may be one of the few cartoonists who mentioned blogs in their strips. Hehe. Hooray for blogs!

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Truth to tell I never really expected much from the movie Hitch. The trailers they showed prior to the showing of the movie was good but I didn't want to get my hopes up just in case it may turn out to be only an "OK" movie. Happy to say I was proven wrong and even if I had my expectations up they'd still be met and more! It's basically about a self-styled "Love Doctor" Alex 'Hitch' Hitchens (Will Smith) helping shy, geeky guys win the hearts of the women they're crushing on by creating situations where they could meet and tutor the client on the fine details so they wouldn't mess it up.

Enter Albert Brenaman (Kevin James) a heavyweight clumsy accountant with a low self-esteem who has a huge crush on the gorgeous young heiress, Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta) whose accounts are being managed by the company Albert's employed in. After reading in a newspaper that she broke up with her current beau he contacted Hitch and employed his services. Hitch was amused at first and tried to brush him off seeing it would be impossible to get these two together, but after seeing how serious Albert was in wanting to be with her he obliged and began his work. Meanwhile he meets a beautiful streetsmart gossip columnist, Sara Miller (Eva Mendes) in a bar and proceeds to engage her on a date with him. Properly impressed with his unconventional though gentlemanly ways of asking her for a date and conducting the date itself, she soon found herself falling for him, and him, her. But when a scoundrel Hitch refused to help prior had his way with her best friend, Sara went on a warpath to find out who exactly it was that helped him and when the nomen Love Doctor came up she was more than determined to expose his "scams". Meanwhile, despite his nerves and his personal quirks threatening to get in the way, huge sparks were flying between Albert and Allegra. But the question of how long this fairytale is going to last with the threat of Sara eventually finding out the truth and blowing the lid off Hitch's business is left for you to find out.

It's great to see Mr. Smith back in his original element making people laugh after a very long time. His team up with Mr. James is something I would like to see again in future movies. They are quite a team and the way their characters' personalities bounce off each other is priceless. I like that one particular scene where Hitch is trying to teach Albert a few points in dancing and the latter would every now and then bounce (literally) back to his old ways prompting Hitch to boot him out. Ms. Valleta's Allegra Cole is endearing and you could sympathize with her for wanting to settle down with someone she could be who she really is with the danger of being laughed at. She also reminds me of a much poised Cameron Diaz. Hehe. As with Ms. Mendes' Sara Miller, well , she's really gorgeous and quite lovable. She's intelligent, witty, self-controlled most of the times, and... I don't know. She's really beautiful. And, yeah, she does remind me a bit of Cindy Crawford too. And before I forget there's this huge blooper on one scene that I can't believe everybody missed, I'm talking about the placement of the swelling on Hitch's face. In the first scenes like the Fish market and drugstore you'd see the swelling going on the right side of Hitch's face and when the scene changes to where Sara and Hitch were wakling in the park goinng home, the swelling has moved on the left side of his face. So far, in any of those reviews and forums I've read, nobody has yet pointed out this obvious error. Hehe. Still, I totally recommend this one because it's clean and mostly because it rah-rahs the good guys who are interested in women to fight the good fight without getting dirty in the process. Guys, check out the movie's website for some tips and clues on how to court women. It's all worth it!

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

Monday, March 07, 2005

Craftstores are rarities around these parts, more so a good one. So it was quite a surprise for me to find this great craftstore cum hobby shop located barely hidden on third floor of a fairly recent wing inside the Powerplant Mall in Rockwell Center. Not only do they have board games and miniature thingamabobs but they also have clay you sculpt and bake in the oven, memorabilia keepers, rare thingamajigs (which is different from a thingamabob), and other insteresting stuff.

The store in its entirety

One third of the front

...and side of the store

I'm thinking of going back there as soon as I figure out what it is exactly that I want to start as a hobby (aside from watching people, writing stories, and drawing comics). I'm thinking that I could probably start on the clay molds and do mini statuettes of my characters that I could sell. Or maybe do some paint art. So right now I have another reason to go back there aside from browsing through the bookstore.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Dave Coverly's work reminds me a lot of this old compilation of one paneled strips from the 50s and 60s in lola's house in Malolos. The characters have the same big pointy noses and disturbing premise that never fails to tickle my funny bones. A friend of mine made a comment about one of my old college strips (a one paneled strip not unlike Gary Larson's "Far Side" but with these huge non-descriptive species) that I should consider reviving it. But I told him I'll think about it I'm not sure if the world's ready for more out-of-this-world weird humor.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Click to see what happens next

Another strip showing Inday in one of her finest moments. This will be part of the storyline that will come out in sequential artform introducing this new character in the planned compilation. another strip about inday in one of her finest moments. another strip about inday in one of her finest moments. The song she's belting out is part of local artist, Kitchie Nadal's accoustic love song "Wag na Wag Mong Sasabihin" (or "Never Ever Say") which I never seem to tire of so far.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Korn Guitarist Finds God, Tells His Testimony to a Crowd of 10,000! This was something learned after mowsying to Daniel's blog earlier. He's the third famous musician I heard that gave over his life to Jesus (the first one was Cheryl 'Salt' James of the hip-hop group Salt 'n' Pepa and rapper Mason "Mase" Betha) although I know there are definitely more of them out there. Brian Welch came to the realization that he would be lost without God after doing a lot of soul searching and almost dying from leukemia. About his departure from the band, he said that he was saddened by all this but he thinks it's just time for him to move on, "I thought they took it too far. It was a little too crude for me." He adds, ""I think it made the guys mad. It confused them. I left at the worst possible time. We got off Sony, and all the money was there, we were going to own all of our songs, but I had to prove to myself that money wasn't my God. I talked to Jonathan [Davis] and he said, 'I don't get it, man, you're all happy and we're sitting here grieving because our band is breaking up. And I wanted to tell him, 'Well, for years, you guys were out partying while I was sitting on the tour bus wanting to die.'" Korn's official website, which as of this writing is under reconstruction, has posted this note on its front page regarding the issue:
Korn has parted ways with guitarist Brian "Head" Welch who has chosen the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior, and will be dedicating his musical pursuits to that end. Korn respects Brian's wishes and hopes he finds the happiness he is searching for.

"Anger is a good thing, and if kids want to listen to Korn, good, but there's happiness after the anger. I'm going to show it through my actions how much I love my fans."

The announcement puts to rest weeks of rumors that Welch was unhappy with Korn's direction. On February 8, he had apparently written a "letter of resignation" to the band's management. In the note, Welch detailed a long list of reasons for leaving the band, including increased moral objections to Korn's music and videos. In particular, he was upset by how he was portrayed in the clip for their cover of Cameo's "Word Up," off their recently released Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 album. In the video, Welch's face was superimposed on a dog patrolling a strip club.

"I can go up there and play those songs and those solos but ... I distanced myself from Korn for probably a year and a half, two years. I just wanted to fade away, it was crazy. I was so gone," Welch told Bakersfield, California, radio station KRAB on Sunday. "But I found my way out and I want to help anyone that wants to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I had to go through the lows to appreciate the highs and it's not perfect but it's damn near."

Head says that one of the reasons he left the band was to set a better example for his six-year-old daughter, according to the Bakersfield Californian. Welch said, "I just grew up a little bit...I've got to think of my kid. I just want to do the right thing." Although Korn's management offered to let Welch bring his daughter on tour with him, the guitarist was not interested: "What parents would want their kids to go on a rock 'n' roll tour, a heavy metal tour?"
He also said that he tried to convince his former bandmates to come to the church with him but so far they have declined his offer. He stills considers them his best friends and even offers to say that "Those guys in the band, they're not bad guys. They're just a bunch of kids getting marketed how these guys in the big corporate firms want to do. It makes us look like bad people, but we're really just a bunch of kids who never had a chance to grow up." He plans to embark on a solo career soon after. MTV.com reports: Welch's solo material — which will be released under the name "Head" — will not be Christian music. Rather, he said, he wants it to be an "extension of the Korn family."

"I always loved that Korn's music helped kids let out aggression. But with my new music, I want kids to know that there's more out there," he said. "I want to show them there's a light at the end of the pain tunnel. That there's more out there than just aggression. I want to say to them, 'Hey kids, come over here. Let's bounce back and forth and have fun.'" Way to go, dude!

* Detailed reports from MTV.com: Brian 'Head' Welch Talks God To 10,000 In California Church, Brian 'Head' Welch Explains Why He Left Korn, and Brian 'Head' Welch Leaves Korn, Citing Moral Objections To Band's Music .
** Photo courtesy of Couleur3.ch

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I watched Constantine last night to satisfy my curiosity after skimming through a couple of Hellblazer issues and also after getting some good reviews from friends and acquaintances who've already watched it. The story of the movie was loosely based on the series' Dangerous Habits storyline where the main character, John Constantine, is dying of lung cancer and the Devil just couldn't wait to get his hands (claws?) on him. The story starts ominously enough with the discovery of the "Spear of Destiny" (the spear used by a Roman soldier to pierce the side of Jesus) in Mexico by a scavenger. He runs away to the desert towards the direction of Los Angeles. Cut to a grimy and decrepit apartment building where an Asian housewife is being haunted by the image of her demon possessed daughter crawling the walls and snarling viciously at her. Constantine (Keanu Reeves) enters and promptly exorcises the demon solider out of her. But the whole exercise leaves him troubled and asking a lot of questions because according to known rules in order to maintain balance between heaven and hell angels and demons cannot directly interfere with the world of man. Somewhere someone is tipping the scales. Meanwhile, Police Detective Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) grieves and grasps for answers while investigating a suicide of her twin sister, Isabel (Weisz). Their paths cross in the course of their search for the answers but it would be some time later before the detective finally turns to Constantine for answers. Constantine shoos her away at first in between smokes but changed his mind right after seeing a whole army of winged demons coming after her. After defeating the army of demons he now tries to make her understand what's going on by giving her a crash course on theology, the occult and giving her an evidence from the other side to show her that her twin sister indeed is in hell. Constantine's two contacts were eliminated soon after prompting him to go ballistic the on the demon he knows murdered his friends, Balthazar (Gavin Rossdale). Angela soon goes flying out the building soon after that prompting Constantine to force voodoo priest Papa Midnite (Djimon Hounsou) to help him find out what's going on. From there he races to the one place where a confrontation between good and evil will take place if he is to postpone the coming of the Anti-Christ.

That last part rubbed me the wrong way among other reasons. It's something like the End of Days all over again where man races against time and the forces of Hell to prevent the birth of the Anti-Christ. I didn't like that movie, not one bit. I'm talking about the story and how everything turns out. To be fair, production wise, Constantine has more things to offer. Their vision of hell is something to behold and thankfully they didn't over saturate the whole movie with spiritual beings which could have brought the movie further down. While they did touch the subject of theology and got some things right on the mark, the fact that the misses far outnumber the hits should be a cause for concern. I've taken down some notes right after the movie so's not to miss out on what they were:

1. A voodoo high priest mediating the balance between heaven and hell? - What's up with that?
2. Angel Gabriel as a free agent (heralded the birth of the Christ, now heralds the birth of the anti-Christ?) - so the angel gets jealous of the easy way out God has provided man with salvation and the fact that man was created higher than the angels. This last part is totally false. And besides, for a mighty angel that gets to dwell in the presence of the Lord what's he jealous about? Shouldn't fallen angels be the jealous ones since they are denied any means of salvation?
3. Gabriel confronting the devil recklessly - even the archangel Michael wouldn't dare to be as bold or careless.

The other things I put on my list but after much thinking decided to drop them from the list and discuss it personally with those who are interested. I do have a lot of questions though like how come the angels they've shown have black wings? This caused some confusion on my part when I first saw the trailers, thinking that it was either the devil or some demon spreading his wings in front of the fireplace before a showdown with Constantine. Creative license? Weird. Oh yeah, that was a family of Filipino immigrants Constantine dealt with at the opening of the film. You could catch the possessed girl screaming, "Papatayin natin sila!"

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

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?