Sunday, November 27, 2005

And In Our World of Plenty

It’s almost December. Coolness. I love seeing the colorful, shimmering Yuletide ornaments and hearing the carols, despite the fact that I don’t recognize the holiday’s origins anymore. The universal message of the celebration still appeals to me though, “peace on earth” and all that, but realistically, it’s an opportunity to rest from our year-long slavish routines and be with those who truly matter. I have nice memories of the holidays, of getting together with relatives and friends during vacations, of being in celebratory mode for weeks and dreading the resumption of the colorless, un-festive atmosphere. I still find the bright imagery and energy of Christmas appealing. But its religious semantics have been lost to me for some time already.

That won’t stop me from buying a small, cheap tree and decorating my room, though. The magical lights and the bright trimmings just transport me elsewhere and elsewhen.

I love this folk-pop song. Its words are wise and very timely, and it sounds really playful. Okay, only five people in this country probably know and like this. But go ahead and read it, anyway. Thanks to Sing 365 for the lyrics.

The Christians and the Pagans
Dar Williams

Amber called her uncle, said "We're up here for the holiday,
Jane and I, were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay."
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree,
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three.
He told his niece, "It's Christmas Eve, I know our life is not your style,"
She said, "Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and it's been awhile,"

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able.

And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said,
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses.

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch,
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, "Is it true that you're a witch?"
His mom jumped up and said, "The pies are burning," and she hit the kitchen,
And it was Jane who spoke, she said, "It's true, your cousin's not a Christian,"
"But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share,
And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere."

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,

And where does magic come from? I think magic's in the learning,
'Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning.

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, "Really, no, don't bother."
Amber's uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father.
He thought about his brother, how they hadn't spoken in a year,
He thought he'd call him up and say, "It's Christmas and your daughter's here."
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve, saying,
"Can I be a Pagan?" Dad said, "We'll discuss it when they leave."

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,

Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old, and
Making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold.

Thanks to fellow Melrose Place-phile (yep, we exist!) Ruel for burning me a CD of great old songs, Benedict for lending me the awesome, AWESOME! Supreme issues by Alan Moore, and everyone else who made the week an okay one for me. You all know who you are. Thankyew!

Hungry Like a Wolf
Ah, it’s past two in the morning and I’m feeling hungry. Just ate a platito of microwave-softened cheese and drank a mugful of cold softdrink. Can’t eat more than that ‘cause it’s late. I'm craving for cake, but we don't have any.


My interpretation of Habagat, a David Hontiveros character. Mixed media, Nov. 2005.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Jesus Surfs

"Hmm… I did what?!

Was walking with John in Glorietta yesterday when we saw a big, disconcerting statue of cyber-savvy Jesus, prominently displayed at Goodwill Bookstore’s second level window. That stopped us in our tracks, but after the initial feeling of getting weirded out, we found the whole thing quite amusing. The smaller statue (below), an SMS-ing Savior, is about three or so feet tall. They kind of remind me of four things, actually: Buddy Jesus from Kevin Smith’s Dogma (a grinning, winking version), paintings of Jesus with a Harley Davidson (or a guitar), a sculpture series of Jesus playing sports (featured years back in Conan O’Brien… Jesus teaches martial arts to children!), and lastly, a breastfeeding Mary statue (we have this in the house… found it a tad strange when I was young). These renditions make the imagery more relevant, and a more conscious departure from the gloomy, centuries-old iconography. They might border on blasphemy or sacrilege for some, but hey, they at least make the Christian pantheon’s central figures seem more accessible… and, oddly enough, fun.

“Phone spam again? Must… turn… the other… cheek…”

Friday, November 18, 2005

Random Super Soundbites

Yeah, I had some free time. Here are 20 quotables from a few fictional people:

1. I gained omnipotence and found it wanting. (Thanos to Adam Warlock, Thanos # 1)
2. I’m not locked up here with you. You’re locked up here with me. (Rorschach, Watchmen)
3. What makes you a god, and me not? Because millions haven’t been slaughtered over the ages in my name by various followers? Because I don’t speak half-assed Shakespearean English? (Captain Marvel to Thor, Captain Marvel # 7)
4. It always ends. That’s what gives it value. (Death, Death: The High Cost of Living # 3)
5. We wish to retire with class and dignity, like the Bangles, not overstay our welcome in shame, like the Go-Gos. (Apu, Simpsons Comics # 68)
6. You’re the first pet I ever had that I didn’t build myself from dead flesh animated by lightning! (Jack B. Quick, Tomorrow Stories # 3)
7. I appreciate your confidence in me, Plastic Man. Of course I have a plan. (Batman, JLA # 26)
8. You had it all—money, fame, women… although the women don’t seem to have interested you overmuch. (Guardian to Northstar, Alpha Flight # 10)
9. Oh man! Not another alternate reality! (Hawkeye, Avengers, Vol. 3 # 2)
10. And every time you hear the words “parsley”, “intractable”, or “longitude”, you will vomit uncontrollably for forty-eight hours. (Emma Frost, Astonishing X-Men #5)
11. It appears the cause of death… was a footprint on his brain. I’d say men’s size 12. Wait… I’m making out some letters here… “eebok”? (Flatman, GLA # 4)
12. Let’s face it, “Superman”… the last time you really inspired anyone—was when you were dead. (Batman, Infinite Crisis # 1)
13. I want you to look at me—look at me like you look at her… look at me like you want to f—k me because I’m the best a third-rate character like you could do. (Purple Man to Ant-Man, Alias # 28)
14. A god, you say. A small god, perhaps… of a small world! (Superman to Thor, JLA-Avengers # 2)
15. You’ve got all this power… and no responsibility. You have no idea how much I envy you. (Peter Parker to Johnny Storm, Spider-Man/Human Torch # 5)
16. Yeah, you’re a villain… and your ringtone is stupid. (Molly to Victor Mancha, Runaways Vol. 2 # 4)
17. Your church is part of the ruling class and has been for centuries, Priest. It fears me—not because of the work I do—but the loss of power I represent. (Thor, Thor Vol 2, # 64)
18. Show me what happened between you and Scott in Hong Kong. Now, Emma… or I’ll make you relive the life of every single child you’ve allowed to die. (Phoenix, New X-Men # 139)
19. The whole “superhero thing” is much more than just wearing a cape and getting famous. What is it with this “American Idol” generation? (Zatanna, Zatanna # 2)
20. Nandiyan na ang siva ulo! Papatayin niya ulo! (unnamed bystander, Kingdom Come # 4)

Yes, that last one was written that way. Heh. "Siva ulo."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Been Downhearted Baby

“Am I alive or thoughts that drift away? Does summer come for everyone? Can humans do as prophets say? And if I die before I learn to speak, can money pay for all the days I lived awake but half asleep?”
--Primitive Radio Gods, “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand”

Saw the video of that excellent old song over at MTV’s VH1 show, which has a cool selection of mostly adult contemporary hits and obscure singles. Been watching that when I can, along with MTV Nights, which nightly shows old new wave (heh, “old new wave”) and recent techno and alternative music videos. Wow. If you can’t stand the channel’s regular programming and rotating bubblegum staples during the day, that late night block, or whatever it is you call it, is worth tuning in to. Pale Fountains, The Cure, Sigor Ros, Chicane, Goldfrapp, Train, Echo and the Bunnymen, Moby … nice mix, overall. I also saw Lightning Seeds' Ian Broudie and noticed that our old glasses looked kinda similar.

I only wore them for a few months. I don't even wear glasses at all now. It's pychosomatic, I guess. Felt that my eyes were occasionally blurry during this period. This was taken about eleven years ago, when the class' paper animation music video won in the (dunno if I remember this right) Film Academy of the Philippines' animation category. Wrote the Tagalog lyrics for that, too. Ah, hectic school days, I don't miss you.

Anyway, back to the PRG song. That felt more bittersweet and ponderous than usual, because those lines above somewhat described an unusually unproductive day. I’m restless. Just felt uninspired today. I just felt lacking in energy and took two naps. I don’t feel like working in the next few days. I just wanna have fun. Being cooped up in my workplace slash bedroom alone can be tiring.

I need contact.

“A life is time, they teach us growing up. The seconds ticking killed us all, a million years before the fall. You ride the waves and don’t ask where they go. You swim like lions through the crest and bathe yourself on zebra flesh…”

Monday, November 14, 2005

Living in Dreamtime

Image hosted by Photobucket.comGods... I'm sleepy. This pic was taken weeks ago, but it sums up how I feel now.

After over a week of just bumming around and waiting, I was suddenly bombarded with work. Pretty average workload, though. Just finished writing (and rewriting) three totally unrelated things earlier. I’m tired, but I just wanna take this time to update the old bloggy. It’s a little scary to know and meet people who actually read this tiny space in cyberspace. But thank you, dear visitors. Check out the linked journals if you haven’t already. They’re interesting and diverse. Am also glad that some people who get introduced to those involving blogs find them enjoyable too, and link them.

Just a few things from the week that was:

1. Loose women figures. Dropped by Festival Mall twice last week and got two loose (unpackaged) female action figures: A Marvel Legends Black Widow and a Marvel Select She-Hulk, both at Black Dragon. Lovely. Also got an unopened Cyclops figure from the latest ML series at the shop for P 20 off the regular price. It looks good, except for the his boots and gloves (hey, Toy Biz, the paint job looks really muddy, like he waded in a marsh or something). Oh, I also got the Jon Stewart Green Lantern (from the new 5-figure JLA set) at the nearby Jae’s Collectibles shop. They were selling the figures separately, fresh off the box. Am slowly building a JLA and an Avengers team. Will take pics of them one day.

2. I.C. Perez. Hmm, George Perez did some uncredited flashback pages in the second issue of Infinite Crisis. His style is easily recognizable. It's much cleaner than penciler Phil Jimenez', who has also improved considerably. Jimenez, whose style once aped Perez’ (his page layouts are still influenced by him, I think), now draws faces and bodies differently. His work looks a little influenced by Phil Winslade; the facial expressions and linework seem busier and darker than his previous comic book works. Nice.

3. Dog milk. Oh my god. I saw probably the most uncomfortably hilarious episode of South Park ever! Cartman and the other boys innocently play with male dogs. They really play with them. As in, they jerk them off until they squirt what the kids assume is milk. The adults are shocked to witness one such act of “milking”, so they demand that the school teach the kids sex education. Even the pre-schoolers. Two of the teachers, though, know zilch about sex. But a third teacher, the guy with the puppet, knows too much. And he’s assigned the pre-school class.

4. Bangled up. “I want to show you the picture I drew when I was on the phone talking to you: I made a heart and I colored it red, 'cause I want you here on my side of the bed… I've been dreaming since I was born, and in my dreams I see eyes like yours. I'll be the pillow where you lay your head. If you'll come and sleep on my side of the bed…”
(Susanna Hoffs, “My Side of the Bed”)

This old favorite has been playing in my head for days already. I first heard it in 1990. I wanna listen to it again, but none of the cassette players work anymore. Hmpf. And yeah, I feel the song ‘cause I miss… stuff. I need stuff. I want stuff. Stuff is good.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

House of Eh?!

Okay, I bought and read the last issue of House of M (# 8). Spoilers ahead.

So that was it? Eight issues, and it doesn’t tell a complete story. The Scarlet Witch is still crazy. She depowered about a million mutants, and there are only 198 left (although that number was never mentioned here; it was announced elsewhere). She’s hiding somewhere in Europe, seemingly happy that she rendered her dad Magneto powerless. Half of Xavier’s school is affected by her reality-altering spell too, including Iceman (ah, he’ll be back) and some New Mutants (I liked Sofia!). Wolverine remembers everything now (he wasn’t depowered, as he appears in five monthly books). There were powerful character moments (i.e. Spidey enraged by his HOM memories; Emma using Cerebra to confirm the loss; Wanda and Pietro’s drama last issue), but the feeling of incompleteness is undeniable. The new status quo presents a lot of new story ideas for months to come, mostly in the mutant books, but that's about it. It feels like another story that inevitably portrays the New Avengers as clueless losers.

So who or what the hell is Layla Miller? What happened to Professor X? What’s the deal with Hawkeye? Why was he blaming Wanda for his death when he practically committed suicide? Why did it take 8 issues, when it could’ve been told in four? Does this mean the mutant titles will significantly be cut down to just a few? No to this last one; HOM # 8 directly leads to the next mega-event, Decimation, and new limited and ongoing series. Oh well.

The art was good (Coipel has improved a lot since Legion), although there were confusing panels (I didn’t notice ‘til much later that the heroes popped out of the party-crashing Sentinel head) and wasted pages (the full-page, glowing white holes in issues 1 and 7!). Attractive designs though, and dynamic action scenes.

But I still feel cheated.

Good thing Runaways isn't affected by this (I hope... one of them's a mutant).

Will be looking forward to something that doesn't involve a massive crossover event in January, like the 544-page Essential Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, reprinting and compiling the classic character sourcebook. There's also the All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z # 1 (that's a mouthful!), an updated monthly series that will be released two months from now, too.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Tomes of Truth

The past few days have been conducive for relaxing and reading. I finally bought myself CDs I’ve been meaning to get since last year or so, too: Sarah McLachlan’s Afterglow (it didn’t have Surfacing-type ballads but was still very listenable), Gin BlossomsOutside Looking In compilation (it didn’t have “29”, my favorite, but eh, it’s still good) and also Isha Abubakar’s new EP Katakataka (only four tracks, but they’re very melodic original songs).

I read and enjoyed borrowed issues of Oni Press' Courtney Crumrin by storyteller Ted Naifeh. I first noticed his work a few months back, a short X-Men Unlimited story starring Emma Frost and Wolverine. He’s good at creating inter-character conflicts and dishing out comeuppances; that's clear from the get-go. He gets to explore his own unique, flawed characters in his magical and eerie comic book. The Eisner-nominated creator drew his stories himself too, using a style that’s clean and cartoony yet very detailed (he seems a bit influenced by P. Craig Russell, Mike Mignola and Kelly Jones).

Courtney, an outcast student and a young witch, is a distinctly vindictive protagonist that has an unquenchable thirst for mystical knowledge. Her adventures are unpredictable, absorbing, and at times, shocking. Fans of Sandman, Buffy, and Bone will find the title a worthwhile and refreshing read.

Speaking of shocking, I recently discovered an eye-opening website about God-inspired atrocities in the Bible. I wonder why Religion and Theology teachers never discussed those specific topics back in school. In any case, there are linked essays and lists that illustrate how vengeful and bloodthirsty the deity was portrayed as. The inconsistencies of several oft-cited passages were highlighted, as well. The message of intolerance is also hard to miss in the Old Testament, as there are numerous written instances that document it.

I had to get the family Bible to confirm if the Second Book of Kings 2: 23-24 was really about 42 kids getting torn to pieces by two bears. Yeah, it was. Apparently, the kids were teasing and calling God’s prophet Elisha “baldhead”, so he “cursed them in the name of the Lord.” So enter a pair of heaven-sanctioned beasts from the woods. Holy crap. Compelling and intriguing info, though; they’re the parts that rarely, if ever, get discussed at church or in class.

Back to more reading… I’ve a few mags, sites, comics and catalogs to absorb before I get swamped with work again.