Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In Love With Your Ghost

Archangel Lexy, Queen Nance, and The Great Argus


‘Tis the season for spooks, scares and, of course, dressing up and role-playing, once again. I drew the picture above two nights ago. Actually, I wanted Argus to dress up as a billboard. I sketched it; it could’ve worked, but it felt right and much easier to draw him as a trendy prestidigitator, instead. That's a magician, but you already knew that. Drawing these old “friends” again felt nice.

I like the candy-and-costumes season, even when I’m not into attending masquerade parties or creating costumes. The idea of designing (and maybe constructing) masks and accessories is interesting, though. I think I can do that, and maybe I will, if time and money allow it some day. Back in high school, I had to create papier mache masks for the entire class. Those were for our Speech and Drama subject. In that special group project, we had to, you know, perform an excerpt of a literary piece on stage. The masks looked crude and hideous; they were supposedly tribal, but I felt good doing them. I hand-painted each, and… waitasec, I did that all by myself, if I remember correctly. My classmates didn’t help me. Crap. Maybe I wanted the work all for myself, but I dunno now for sure. We had fun while performing during the play, anyway. At least, I think so.

Well, back to Halloween. I’ve always loved the short vacation season. I’m not an active participant of the revelries; I’m just fascinated with the whole thing: trick or treaters, the scary stories, the festive atmosphere, the crazy costumes. Over the years, the different holiday customs have meshed and mutated, and it’s quite a spectacle that people are celebrating it, and quite creatively.

Anyway, be safe, everyone, and have fun! By the way, to those who texted, messaged and called about you-know-what, thank you so much. :)

What’s In Your Head?

Yup, some of the scariest things on earth are people. Take Rep. Bienvenido Abante, congressman of the 6th District of Manila, for instance. This ultra-conservative pastor turned politician is one of the most homophobic people I’ve had the displeasure of seeing and hearing on TV. He’s likened homosexuality to pedophilia on different occasions. He overzealously cites damning verses from Leviticus (the one that says, to paraphrase, no man shall shtup his fellow man, yadda yadda, or something), and deliberately ignores verses in the same book that are sexist, cruel, and similarly discriminatory. And guess what? He’s the Chairperson of the House Committee on Human Rights, for crying out loud.

He believes that gay people are, get this, “morally reprehensible.” Abante, contrary to his duties as committee chairperson, is also bent on blocking the Anti-Discrimination Bill, which was designed to protect the GLBT community. Well, the guy’s got issues, like a certain aging bigot newspaper columnist. How sad. Not to mention, idiotic and horrifying.

Please read Fullman’s post about the issue, and Lagablab’s report. They have the congressman’s contact numbers and email address; please protest his lack of sensitivity, among other things. Also, Speaker Jose De Venecia’s contact information is in those posts as well. Please find time to call or write, even just a short note, and express your dismay over Abante's self-righteousness and hatemongering. It’s just wrong on so many levels.

Candy, Candy, Candy, I Can’t Let You Go

“Missing You Like Candy” (Mixed Media, March 2006)

Got to Bogey

Here are a few of my favorite TV, comics and film bogeymen, monsters and villains. They’re some of the fantastic, shocking menaces that I genuinely dreaded these past couple of years.

Cassandra Nova- She’s relentless, insane and genocidal. She killed millions of mutants residing in the island nation of Genosha using some old, unused Sentinels. She's Professor X's evil twin.

Kang- I hate his extra-muddled time-traveling history, but his villainy was defined when he mercilessly destroyed Washington, DC. The attack killed thousands and forced the Avengers, and the rest of the world, to surrender. He actually ruled Earth 616 for a few weeks, if I remember correctly.

Angelus- Perhaps Buffy Summers’ greatest enemy is her murderous ex-lover, a centuries-old vampire who caused much damage when he lost his heroic soul. Season 2, where he cuts loose, is the best, in my opinion.

Nina- Jack Bauer’s ruthless arch-enemy was one of 24’s most unpredictable, most evil characters.

Gamemnae- The JLA villainess, a sorceress from the past, hatched a plan that killed the Big Seven heavy-hitters.

Palpatine- He’s patient, duplicitous, and he knew just how to manipulate the love-struck and whiny Chosen One. Plus, he can give Yoda a proper beatdown.

Ozymandias- His schemes were broad, diabolical, and almost perfect. Loved it when he was explaining them to the Watchmen.

TAO- WildCATs combat strategist TAO is another of Alan Moore’s smart, calculating and forearmed bad guys. Loved that issue when he was being chased by the team, and he was outsmarting them all.

Bullseye- He killed two of Daredevil's ex-girlfriends. Really horrible guy.

Bob- Twin Peaks’ mysterious entity looked creepy, and was involved with a number of heinous crimes, including the murder of Laura Palmer.

Ultima- She’s a super-powerful junkie. And she’s openly racist, too. Good thing the Top Ten cops exposed and beat her. Too bad for one of them, though.

Ghostface- Probably the only slasher flick villain I consider intriguing. Secret motives and shared histories with the Scream series’ protagonist have always been tricky puzzles to solve.

The Marauders- Mr. Sinister’s superpowered assassins were unrepentantly evil. They took pleasure in killing, as shown in the X-Men’s Morlock Massacre event.

Dire Wraiths- The female Wraiths were violent. They spooked me as a child, but I couldn’t look away whenever they attacked. Loved those dark and moody issues of Rom.

Drusilla- Crazy psychic vampire lady. You just don’t know what she’ll do next. One of Buffy and Angel’s toughest, most entertaining foes.

T-1000- Unstoppable robot. Almost. Cutting-edge effects helped a lot.

Magneto- Ironically, the Holocaust survivor became a mutant extremist that wants regular humans enslaved. He was a mass-murderer, too, if you count the Xorn-Magneto issues of New X-Men.

The Governor- This guy is a damn creep. Just read recent issues of Walking Dead. He makes me sick.

Joker- He’s interesting, but only when he’s written right. He’s humiliated a lot of Gotham City’s protectors, and he’s still around.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sweet Madness

They are family (pic from wikipedia)

I'm finally finished with the last season of Queer As Folk. I miss the series already; very few shows have had such an impact on me. It was a treat to see these disparate gay people grow and change through several seasons. It’s always been a smart, uncompromising and honest examination of gender identity and gay relationship topics, even when certain storylines’ conflicts were easy to predict and figure out sometimes. But it consistently showed that gay people can be as flawed and as human as straights. If you haven’t seen it, and plan on watching it one of these days, I’m gonna be talking about spoilerish stuff, so kindly skip the next two paragraphs.

The series finale (episode 13) was quite toned down compared to the episodes that preceded it, but it’s still meaningful. Episode 10 of season 5 was a big surprise; that was when I realized, even after considering each of them interesting in different ways before, that the characters meant a lot to me. When the unexpected happened at Babylon, I stopped, put down my food (I was eating leftover cake at that point), and got teary eyed. That was the impetus for every plot point in the final three episodes. Each of them had a different reaction to the tragedy, and it became the wakeup call for newer characters like Hunter and Drew, as well as older ones like good ol’ Brian Kinney. Also, I can sympathize with “Zen” Ben’s reaction during the vigil. It was great to see most of them recover from such a despicable attack, eventually. Good thing that Cyndi Lauper survived the ordeal, too. Whew.

These characters were like friends and family, and it was hard to see them suffer. But it’s reassuring that, in the course of the series, those who’ve made grave mistakes were able to turn their lives around. It was rewarding to see those that desired to start their own family were able to finally get that by the last season. It was defiant too, that another family had to leave their country to start afresh in a gay-friendlier one. I felt happy for a character when he finally ended up with someone that loves him unconditionally. It was tough seeing others move on, but it was also true to their natures that they do so. Justin, Mikey, Brian, Em, Ted, Hunter, Deb, Ben, Linz, Mel, Vic, Carl, Drew, Blake… they’re great people. Each has heroically sacrificed much at one point or another, and I’ve learned much from their exploits, victories and tribulations.

Glorious Sadness

Gale Harold as promiscuous, hesitantly heroic Brian Kinney

He’s sarcastic and seemingly heartless, but he’s actually the most truthful and secretly the noblest among the Liberty Avenue gay boys. There are times while watching QAF’s later seasons that I just had to write down some of Peter Pan-ish Brian Kinney’s best lines:

1. We fuck who we want to, when we want to. That is our God-given right.

2. Fags are no different than people. You tell them you can’t have something and it’s all they want. And they won’t give up until they get it.

3. They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but in this particular instance, it’s a dish best served hot, hard, and as many times as possible!

4. Fags and dykes can fuck up their lives just like the rest of the world.

5. Nothing will kill a marriage faster than monogamy.

6. Whoever told you that was dead wrong. I’m the most successful gay businessman.

7. The way gay men are obsessed with youth and beauty! An entire subculture convinced that the meaning of happiness is no love handles. How pathetic. How tragic. How profitable.

8. He’s a big boy. He should be allowed to make his own mistakes.

9. Despite these conservative times, it’s still all about sex. And it always will be.

10. I’m queer! And to anyone who takes pity or offense… I say, judge yourself.

Drum Beats Out of Time

Ow, my body hurts. But it hurts so good. Benedict gave me his Fitness First gym guest pass, which he won in the Amazing Race-Mall of Asia series of contests last month, and I was finally able to use it yesterday afternoon. As I haven’t really gotten any gym membership, and relied solely on my exercise regimen these past few years, it felt really great to use some fancy schmancy equipment that I’ve only seen in brochure photos or in infomercials. It’s a far cry from the old and semi-rusty dumbbells, and that el cheapo arm exerciser pulley thing that no one else was using at the house.

I spent some time lifting weights. For fear of overly straining myself, I kept to lifting the lighter ones. It was okay, because I did several repetitions anyway. It wasn’t long before my arms and shoulders felt leaden. I was able to use the pull-up chord thingie with the rectangular weights. Heh, I dunno what they’re called but I tried equipment that looked and felt safe enough. Spent an hour and several minutes at the treadmill too; the hi-tech readings on it say I burnt a few hundred calories, or at least that’s what I think it’s saying, and that I walked about a few kilometers during that span.

They had twelve TV screens at the treadmill area that were showing six cable channels (HBO, Animal Planet, AXN, etc.), whose sound was muted by the loud, thumping dance-pop music. Benedict later told me that you can actually ask for headphones for that. Huh. Cool.

Went back to the other area to lift some more, after that. There was a barbell that had a cool-looking handle bar (or whatever you call it). I’m only acquainted with the straight, cylindrical bar, but there were those that looked like Jack Kirby-designed zigzag ones. I think the design was meant for a better grip, and it was kinda strange at first but I took to it in no time at all.

The place had a clean locker area, decent enough shower cubicles (which had gel soap and shampoo dispensers) and other amenities. Maybe I’ll join up one day. It certainly is tempting. I just don’t know when I can fit that into my not-so-stable schedule. And I need to save up for it, if ever. But while the workout yesterday was good, it did build up my appetite soon after. I guess that’s to be expected. Acchh, my arms and thighs hurt.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Batman and Jackman

Bahala na si Batman… at Wolverine (pic from yahoomovies)

You know, talking with celebrities is pretty cool, but it’s always been a job for me. I don’t really get excited or nervous about doing it, as I’ve mentioned here before. I just need to squeeze out stuff from them and I’ll be on my merry way. Soon after, I think about sentence and paragraph structures that should fit the subject, and how the piece will be readable, coherent and interesting enough. But there are a few people that, I have to admit, I’m intrigued by, and I do feel a little excited and/or nervous prior to doing certain interviews with them sometimes.

It’s actually great to be able to talk to showbiz people I admire, who have, somehow, however briefly or minutely, affected me positively through their performances on-screen. Thanks to Warner Bros., especially Jay and Sionee, for arranging a special pair of surprise interviews in the last few days. I didn’t expect them last week, but I was able to speak recently with Wolverine and Batman in two separate phoners.

Well, make that Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. I interviewed Mr. Jackman last Sunday morning, and Mr. Bale early Tuesday. The exclusive phoners were short (but fun to do!), so I actually had to ask the most important questions, or at least, those that mattered most to me. It felt like I had less than ten minutes each time, but I was able to get generous enough responses from them. Actually, they’re together in a movie called The Prestige, where they play two rival magicians. Saw that awesome Christopher Nolan-directed film last Saturday at MyCinema, thanks again to the Warner people. I think I’ll watch another preview screening again.

So there I was, waiting for the phone calls, dressed in swaddling, hungry artist’s clothes, my head slumped on my scrawly notebook both times. The nice lady from Warner’s Burbank office rang me up a few times to see if I was up and, soon enough, helped connect the calls. They were quick but painless. Taking down quotes has gotten easier, but I sometimes wish that my brain didn’t dump the shorthand writing lessons that we were taught back in second year high school. There was even a point when my hand felt numb and stiff after writing so fast. But doing it is still fun (yeah, there’s that word again). I just talked to two guys who helped bring two of my childhood comics heroes to life. Giddy, giddy.

Pool’s Gold

Just finished the nice Joe Kelly-penned Deadpool run from the late ‘90s that I borrowed. That’s about 37 issues (including special one-shots). When the character first appeared in Rob Liefeld-Fabian Nicieza’s X-Force run, I thought he was one of the most uninteresting, disposable ones that I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen plenty of ‘em). Now that I think about it, he was like a Bizarro Spider-Man to me back then, in that he was very yappy and the red tights looked like a parody of the hero’s costume design. The “merc with a mouth” looked pretty generic, especially back then, when heavy guns, belt pouches, and kickass attitudes were all the rage.

Kelly’s nearly three-year run redefined him, and actually made him a funny anti-hero. This panel is from issue # 11, where Deadpool and his old housekeeper-hostage Blind Al accidentally went to the past, and disguised themselves as Peter Parker and Aunt May, respectively. Check the panel out. Pete Woods redrew some figures in John Romita Sr.’s style, as the issue largely parodied existing material from Amazing Spider-Man # 47. Exceptionally hilarious issue, that.

Kelly has impressively done monthly runs on Action Comics, Superboy, JLA, and Justice League Elite. I’ve read a few issues of Cable and Deadpool (the Civil War tie-ins), and his (Deadpool/ Wade Wilson's) monologues have grown on me, because Nicieza has improved, too. ‘Pool continues to be a rare, funny character, joking around and speaking his thoughts while bashing some heads in.

I think I’ll be looking for a loose old Marvel Legends figure of him now.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Razor Wire Shrine

While typing this entry, John texted to tell me to watch Tyra Banks’ talk show over at ETC, as the episode was about hate crimes. Tyra was talking to a guy whom I thought was drag queen RuPaul at first, but I found out soon enough that it was Kevin Aviance, the trannie who got beaten up by four men a few months back. After his interview segment, three openly homophobic women—an aging lawyer and her two young adult daughters—talked about their happiness (!) over the 9/11 attacks, the devastating tsunami and hurricane Katrina calamities, and why their family proudly carries “God Hates Fags” placards. One of the young women called the puzzled Tyra a “fag-enabler,” because the model-host openly sides with gay people and “the agenda.”

And the mother kind of wondered aloud why they have no friends. Jeez. It was frightening to actually see and hear people who are proud of their gay-hating ways.

“Language incites violence,” Tyra told the lady, who was adamant in the belief that God hates homosexuals and those who side with them, and is punishing them for their “evil.” There was an ex-racist guest after them, who very briefly talked about his discriminatory “hunts” when he was young, but his epiphany wasn’t elaborated on (unless they talked to him earlier, but it sounded like it was the first time he was introduced). He did say that the previously interviewed mother and her daughters aren’t evil people, per se; but what they’re preaching is, indeed, evil.

The Blue Sky to the Deepest Ocean

I haven’t been busy with real estate and pesticide-related work these past few weeks. Took a break from that for a while, but I’ve been preoccupied with other things. I was only able to catch up on sleep early today.

The past week or so, I was able to watch Talladega Nights, The Banquet, Barnyard, and World Trade Center. I’m now watching the third season of Queer As Folk (good god, I felt sorry for Brian in the first few eps, but that didn’t last because he later proves that he’s still a creep). I also saw the first episode of the new drama Heroes, about seemingly random humans who discover that they have super-powers. That looks really interesting. Was able to catch part of Harold and Kumar on cable (I really enjoyed the part where they stole some skater-boy bullies’ car, played a mix tape that, whoa!, contained a dance remake of “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” Amy Grant’s “Baby Baby” and Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On.” Hehehe…).

Finally read the Secret Wars compilation, the ‘80s Marvel series, and was disappointed by several things (maybe I’ll talk about it later). Wrote stuff. Drew something (more on that below). Thought about the future. Ate like mad. Had orgasms. Typical busy week, yeah.

Hell Hath No Fury Like Alexandra Trese Thorned

Pencil and ink drawing. Budjette Tan asked me and a few others to do pinups of his magic crime-solving character, protagonist of his ongoing horror-adventure comic book Trese. Drew this early this week. She’s a promising character in a promising series, and I hope Budj and Ka-jo keep making it for a long time.

By the way, thanks for resizing this, Benedickie!

Visions Dancing

I’m fascinated by a number of visual artists, mostly by a couple of fantasy-inclined ones. This isn’t a complete list of my favorites at all, as I can’t name every talented illustrator that influenced or entertained me at one point or another. But here are a few awe-inspiring ones off the bat. Will name more in future blog posts. For now, in no particular order:

Bernie Wrightson- His popular Frankenstein book from three decades back remains a striking and indelible collection of finely illustrated fantastical pieces. I was in college when I first saw that, and after graduating, it was one of the books that I just had to own. His consistently strong linework and use of sharp light-and-shadow contrasts make the black and white drawings some of the more memorable images that I’ve ever seen.

Travis Charest- After ditching a Jim Lee-Art Adams hybrid look, Charest adapted a penciling style that’s fresher, that explored his own aesthetic capabilities. He’s not necessarily a great storyteller, but this later style, which possesses a more static mix of realism and stylized imagery, became a widely imitated one. Without him and his brief but influential comics runs, it’s possible that today’s mainstream comics stars like Steve McNiven and Jim Cheung wouldn’t have been as popular. The former Wildstorm artist is also an excellent painter with an eye for intricate detail and composition.

Nick Manabat- Late great Nick Manabat had some of the most solid, most viscerally attuned character designs that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing; his published work and conceptual sketches are mostly dark and dreary but still very enticing to look at. But he was also very capable of doing cute designs, like the Santa Claus head he sculpted and painted for his family’s business, among other things.

Carlos Pacheco- While I wasn’t a fan of his early Marvel work (circa 1994), he’s improved a lot in the Kurt Busiek-written Avengers Forever in the late ‘90s. His anatomical structures have become more fluid, his characters more dynamic in their movements, and his uncluttered layouts (well, those that don’t require massive lineups running around) are easy and enjoyable to look at.

Albrecht Durer- This German artist’s meticulous religious illustrations and portraits have an almost mystical quality to them. I discovered this 15th century artist in the family’s old art history encyclopedia. It’s easy to see the hard work in his engravings and versatile use of different media.

Bill Sienkiewicz- His New Mutants work is still very impressive. He knows anatomy and clear storytelling, but he’s created an offbeat look that broke many rules and spawned a legion of imitators. He’s an exceptionally talented painter too, and has embraced digital artistry for some colored pieces in recent years.

George Perez- Crisis on Infinite Earths and JLA-Avengers. Good, good stuff.

Gene Ha- I like his consistently detailed, distinct art in Green Lantern, Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, Askanison, Top Ten, and Forty Niners. Looking forward to his Authority issues, with writer Grant Morrison.

David Mack- Now this guy can really tell a damn good story (and he can write them, too!). His Kabuki compilations show a deep understanding of the comics medium, his concepts and techniques coalescing into some of the more hard-hitting yet poetic tales that have their own cultural flavor. His transition and symbolism techniques--and his nice repetitive photocopying of his own work to advance his plots—display cinematic sensibilities, and a propensity to explore his work’s deeper sides.

Frank Frazetta- He’s one of the most imaginative fantasy artists ever. Frazetta’s exhibited mastery over different subjects and materials in his many paintings, pencil sketches and inked drawings throughout the decades. I got into his art, again, back in college, when I saw his trading card series. It documented his career, and compiled some of his most energetic and most sensual sword-and-sorcery imagery.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Talk About Folk Music

Suffering Sapphos: Lindsay, Gus, Melanie

Just finished Queer As Folk season 2. Still pretty good, but it did resort to some shark-jumping in some parts, especially near the end. It was, however, good to see the Brian-Justin relationship evolve, and the Michael-Brian friendship grow deeper and more intimate (without getting really groiny). But Brian is still an ass. It’s a weird triangle of sorts after Michael and Justin became closer friends because of their comic book project. Emmett and Ted’s separate arcs were okay too, although their shared cliffhanger felt rushed and came out of left field. The lesbians, Mel and Lindsay… I love them. They’re still hot, and still some of the smartest-written people on the show. The new love interests… among the six or so recently introduced characters, I find the violinist kid (I forget his name right now) the most interesting.

It’s great to hear songs by The Cure (“Love Song”), Abba (“Chiquitita”), Sarah McLachlan (“Touch” and “Plenty”) and EMF (“Unbelievable”) during key scenes. They stand out among the more generic-sounding, electronica-dominated soundtrack, mostly played during the hot-‘n’-heavy club and sex scenes. I wish I knew the titles of the lesser-known ballads; they enhance some of the more tender moments. Its eclectic soundscape is still very integral to the senses-overloading series, which, while not as powerful as the first season, still makes me tear up a little whenever its characters go through the wringer.

Six Deep in the Grave

Saw the first two eps of Six Feet Under last week in a preview screening organized by the firm handling the HBO-Asia account. Well, it’s still damn depressing! Don’t get me wrong, I love the show, it’s brilliantly bleak, but I’m glad that it’s finally ending. People have written about how this last season is more meaningful and tragic (and I have read spoilers, as well), so I’m looking forward to how the series’ final storylines unravel. I really feel for Ruth Fisher, this time. Two episodes will air on Tuesday, Oct 10, 10 p.m., to be followed by single episodes in subsequent weeks.

Anyway, digression: Benedict says that David Fisher (Michael C. Hall) reminds him of me, minus the bulk. Well, I kinda see it, sometimes… wide forehead and clenched brow… okay. But Camille P. says I remind her of CSI Miami’s Rory Cochrane (he used to be a skinny guy, the goofy cashier kid in Empire Records). Hee hee. Cool.

Darkness and Light

As of this writing, some parts of Metro Manila have yet to get their power back. Hope this massive electricity problem gets solved soon, and never, ever happens again.

Was able to get the Marvel Select Cloak and Dagger last Saturday (Cloak is sculpted and painted impressively, but the figure is so hollow!) from the electricity-less DK. Watched The Departed with John after. Also that day, Benedict, after failing to convince us to join him as partners for the Mall of Asia’s Amazing Race-Asia games, tag-teamed with a stranger and won himself eight prizes (including a shirt, a free gym session certificate, a bandana, a keychain, a Men’s Health magazine, and I forget what else). Congrats, you. Glad that your persistence paid off.

Tickle Me Padre

This photo was taken in Batangas when I was twelve, I think. I’m really not sure. Anyway, months before this picture, a nice old priest, during one of the breaks of the retreat that he was officiating, kept tickling my neck, almost hugging me from behind. In front of the other kids! Nah, he was just being playful. That was just funny and innocent. Although, come to think of it, he wasn’t that touchy-feely with the other students.