Monday, March 26, 2007

Summer Hatin' Happens Too Fast

Yesiree, it’s too damn hot in the Philippines again. Getting by with summer lovin', though.

Lez, Get Crazy

Shane Shines (pic from YahooTV)

Just found out that Katherine Moennig, above, who plays Shane in The L Word, used to be the androgynous kid character in the old show Young Americans. Wow. I like her deep voice, and her promiscuous lesbian character is honest and really a nice person. Just finished the first season, and I must say that it took me long to like it. But after about seven eps, I got into it, and just had to see several episodes in succession. There are some storylines that I don’t really like, such as the longtime couple's breakup, and Alice and Dana’s secret hookup. That one reminds me too much of Queer As Folk’s pairing of Ted and Emmett. This may have preceded that or it may be a weird coincidence, I don’t know. Still, I really like sexy Shane, and I really want her and newbie bi girl Jenny (Mia Kirshner from 24!) to hook up. They’re sharing a house as roommates already, so that’s a start. They’re both dark-haired and blue-eyed, as a new character pointed out. They look great together.

That Broken Marvel Family

Assembling again. New cover art by Art Adams (pic from Newsarama)

Before I ever read X-Men as a kid, the first super-team that I really liked was the Avengers. I must be four or five, and I remember really liking a reprinted hardbound edition that had the Circus of Crime gatecrashing the wedding of Wasp and Yellowjacket. It had an unrelated backup story that starred Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja, which was okay, I thought, but I liked the grouping of such colorfully costumed heroes better. I favored the Avengers title among those National Bookstore-reprinted versions, too. I liked Iron Man best, followed by Vision, Thor and Scarlet Witch. The Black Panther too, was interesting, as he seemed mysterious to me back then. When comics-reading shifted to the non-reprints, Avengers was the first comic book I bought, specifically # 105, which had Vision battling Yellow Claw on the cover.

I didn’t read it regularly as I was growing up, as I’ve been interested in other comic books, but I was there to witness some of my favorite superhero stories ever. I liked Roger Stern’s stuff most of all, which included the Masters of Evil arc, back in ’86. I remember it fondly because I thought that those villains, although they didn’t rival the meanness of the Marauders, who debuted in the X-books that same year, they were still quite badass. I also liked some of Steve Englehart’s and John Byrne’s West Coast Avengers stories, especially the time travel/Mockingbird’s secret arc, and Wanda’s first breakdown, respectively.

About nine years ago, I got into it again, with Kurt Busiek’s long stint. I also dug his Avengers Forever, which, while it has alienated non-fans, was mighty helpful in resolving some continuity and plot gaffes in the years that preceded it. This was followed by a new direction by Geoff Johns, whose UN-sanctioned status change had real potential, but wasn’t explored by subsequent writers.

I was there, mostly complaining, when "Disassembled" and House of M happened. The New Avengers series was strictly hit and miss. I was disappointed with the execution of Wanda’s second breakdown, Hawkeye’s deaths and resurrection, and the under-utilization of Sentry. I hope Brian Bendis does better with the new Mighty Avengers, starring the superhero police team, which feels like a more focused effort, dialogue quirks aside. Post-Civil War, the new NA team has gotten interesting with a new roster (Wolvie, Cage, Spider-Woman, Spidey, Echo, new Ronin, Iron Fist and Dr. Strange!), a new direction (they’re outlaws now, like the X-Men back in the ‘80s), and a new artist (I mostly like Leinil Yu’s fully penciled work here). I really loathe how Iron Man has transformed into a villain now, but I must admit that I like hating him. He seems to be hitting a new low every new issue (he baited the outlaw team with a fake Cap corpse recently!).

The Avengers are interesting again, but I’m most excited for Dan Slott’s new ongoing, Avengers- The Initiative, which starts next month. I’ve seen six pages of Initiative # 1, and I’m real excited with Slott’s handling of older members War Machine, Yellowjacket, She-Hulk, and Justice. I’m looking forward to the new young recruits, as well. I wonder how this affects the Young Avengers. The Gauntlet character is annoying, however, and is just asking for a beatdown.

Captain America just before his death, Iron Man pre- and post-CW, and Scarlet Witch since 2004 may have been “ruined,” but we all know that such things are canon only until someone rewrites or retcons their out-of-character tragedies. Well, by June, there’ll be another title, Avengers Classics, which, like the old Classic X-Men comics, will feature reprints with new backup features. Art Adams did that cover above (Yay, Genis-Vell’s there, he was a member of the Destiny War Avengers!). That’s a whole lot of avenging this year. I’m still hoping that there will be more memorable superhero stories and the new exploits will add to the characters’ complex, unending mythologies.

More Than Meets the Eye

Bumblepiglet (thanks to the Cybertron member who took the pic)

To be honest, I didn’t know Benedict would pull it off, but he did. He took long enough to finish his Bumblebee costume, which was made of different, thick box boards and house paint, velcroed together over loose black pants and a long-sleeved shirt. But again, the effort and last-minute touches paid off. It’s like he’s another person in that getup, which is a good thing, and he enjoyed being the mascot for that eyeball party thingie event weeks ago. Other people dug it, too, so he’s now encouraged to make more costumes for himself. I suggested that he wear a Jamie Braddock costume next time, for other comics-related events, but he’s kinda shy. And he might get escorted out by security if he pushes through with that.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Knew That It Was Now or Never

Glenn tagged me with this music meme, so here goes:

“If your life was a movie, what would the soundtrack be?

So here’s how it works.

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc.)

2. Put it on shuffle.

3. Press play.

4. For every question, type the song that’s playing.

5. When you go to the next question, press the next button.

6. Don’t lie and pretend you’re cool.

7. When you’re finished, tag some other people to do it!”

Opening credits?

Soraya, “Love in Your Eyes”- Wow. This is mellow, but kinda fitting.

Waking up?

Jeff Buckley, “Last Goodbye”- Hmm. It’s a great song, so it still works. The lyrical content’s a mite bittersweet for that part of the day, though.

First Day of School?

Nine Days, “If I Am”- Hah, how Dawson’s Creek-y. “So you’re standing on the ledge/ It looks like you might fall!”

Falling in love?

Dream Academy, “Life in a Northern Town”- It isn’t a love song, but sure, it’s breezy and anthemic enough that it can accompany sweet and sappy imagery.

First song?

Lightning Seeds, “Tingle Tangle”- “A tingle when you first look in those eyes/ leads to a tangle that hurts the more you try.” Kinda heavy for a first song, but, well…

Breaking up?

Innocence Mission, “Bright as Yellow”- And yet another song that contradicts the question. It’s optimistic, actually: “Even if I’m shattered…”


Peter Gabriel, “In Your Eyes”- Oh, yeah. Now this is more like it. “The light, the heat/ I am complete.” It’s the part of the movie where there’s smooching and implied nakedness.


Hall and Oates, “So Close”- Uhm, “life”? That’s too broad a period. Anyway, “Living so close/ so close, but so far away” is a line from the song that fits that part aptly.

Mental breakdown?

Belly, “Feed the Tree”- Geez, “mental breakdown”?! But anyway, the song rocks, and is mighty cathartic, too. It has bite.


U2, “Ultraviolet”- Love this song. Actually, any upbeat U2 song does the job. You feel like you own the road with Bono and the gang playing loudly in the background.


Escape Club, “I’ll Be There”- It’s a touching song about a person who just died, right? Maybe the flashback has something that pertains to loss, so I guess the metaphor can be appropriate.

Getting back together?

Sheryl Crow, “The First Cut is the Deepest”- That’s nice. It speaks of heartbreak and loving again, so “Baby I’ll try to love again but I know” sounds meaningful.


Smithereens, “Blue Period”- Now this is a little baffling. Well, the meme is supposed to generate unexpected answers, anyway. But again, let’s see. It’s a regret-filled breakup song, so maybe this is one of those indie, arty- farty movies where the music contradicts the visuals. Which, yeah, sometimes works.

Birth of a child?

Madonna, “Dear Jessie”- Okay, this one fits perfectly. This unusual Madonna song is playful and has lyrics that could fit in an illustrated book for kids. “Sugarplum fingertips/ kissing your honey lips/ Close your eyes sleepyhead/ is it time for your bed?”

Final battle?

Eve 6, “Here’s to the Night”- Wow, my life is an epic. Yeah, right. Well, this song fits the scene, if only for the lines “Are you the now or never kind?” and “Here’s to goodbye, tomorrow’s gonna come too soon.”

Death scene?

Cardigans, “You’re the Storm”- Well, I dunno how dramatic that scene will be, but maybe it’ll fade to black just at the exact moment of my expiration, to be followed by the song’s ending line, “And if you want me, I’m your country.”

Funeral song?

Heather Nova, “Doubled Up”- Oh, oh, this is strangely apropos. It’s beautiful. “Look at the sky/ Lift off like an aeroplane, yeah/ Watch the ground come up to meet you/ Big sky above me/ a river inside me/ and I’m doubled up in love.”

End credits?

Rod Stewart, “Downtown Train”- Well, that’s the only Rod Stewart song I like. Okay, that and “Forever Young.”

Alrighty! Sky, Pam, Mark G, Gibbs, Max, and Jac, tag, you’re it! If you haven’t done this before, that is. But tag yourselves, dear people, if you wanna do it. Kill some time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I Don't Have to Run Day

That’s Cinnamon, That’s Hollywood

These are some of my complimentary movie tickets that have accumulated in a span of over four years. I think there are still some that I haven’t found. I’ve seen just about as many movies—free and paid--in that time that didn’t have tickets, though. But the first that started the unexpected collection was the Attack of the Clones preview ticket. I won that from an E! Philippines contest. It was shortly followed by a Spider-Man ticket, which was given to me in exchange for a Spider-Man drawing. Long story.

I like that many of these tickets were creatively done. Some of them have gimmicks like die-cut covers or envelopes (King Kong, X-Men 3, etc.) or are shaped like vinyl records (Dreamgirls and Down with Love). Some have exclusive images, while others have covers that are repros of existing movie posters. Some of these tickets are even more likeable than the movies themselves. Together, they look real interesting. I can’t help but stare at this wall from time to time.

Air Outside So Soft, Confessing Everything

Here's a rare group shot of the writer peeps in Tagaytay.

Oh, in that health resort we stayed in, Donita Rose was taping interview segments for her show. It was at the garden area, only a few meters from where our room/cottage was located. You can actually hear her voice from the bathroom.

She later entered the resort’s dining area with her toddler kid for lunch. She greeted us, and introduced her son. The boy was like a wind-up toy; his mom would say some words and he’d do funny stuff. When Donita said “Gigil!” the boy would grit his teeth and clench his fists. He’d do a scared expression for “Scaredy Cow!” because, as Donita explained later, those tractor-cows in Cars frightened him.

Funny kid. He just might have a future in show biz some day.

Blame it on the Brain

He’s now a super-cop and the director of SHIELD. But Civil War and Civil War Frontline recently revealed that Tony Stark’s hardly a real hero anymore. He’s become one of the most arrogant, most untrustworthy Marvel characters ever.

But, boy, his action figures look good. I especially like the original fat armor, the silver one with the mask that looks like a carved pumpkin. The others look equally fine in toy form. In the comics, he can send his armors into combat missions at the same time now, via some sort of psionic-cybernetic control (I think). So basically, he now has his own army of Iron Men. He rarely uses them, though.

Anyway. Hey, Iron Man! The new, evil, celebrity Thunderbolts are mercilessly disabling rogue superheroes. Look into that, fool.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Non-Celebrity Skin

Last Thursday, I joined an overnight planning session with some of the paper’s staffers. There were seven of us who went to a health resort in Tagaytay, and we were joined briefly by another regular writer a few hours later. It was quite enlightening to talk to (and be around) one of the editors I submit my work to, Ma'am Emmie. The others were writers who have bylines every now and then, but they also work behind the scenes at the office. They were nice to hang out with, too, as they shared interesting tidbits about themselves, and of course, other people. It was good to have them together in one place like that.

I soon found out that most of them are health buffs. That was pretty evident from the food they ordered. I hope that their health-conscious ways rub off on me. They loved their veggies and their salad dressing. The other regular contributor who attended was Poch, who turned out to be much younger than I expected, and yes, he’s a vegetarian who closely monitored his blood pressure (he had his testing kit with him). I told him that I always thought of an old, bearded, skinny man when I see his name on his articles. He laughed when I told him that.

Anyway, after some serious discussions about the section’s concerns in the coming months—and the occasional gossip interjection—we got on with the real highlight of the day, which was the body massage. I’ve never had one before, so I didn’t know what to expect. So there I was, freshly bathed. I was told to lie face-down on the table by the lady assigned to me. I had my better-looking underwear on (I was shy, or maybe, modest?), but it didn’t really matter, I guess, ‘cause the masseuse wasn’t really saying anything about articles of clothing. She did tuck the towel under my waistband, when I was on my tummy. Felt a little uncomfortable as she slid the garter down a bit to do that. So I was screaming inside, “Noooo!!!! Stooooppp!!!” Don’t fugging touch my butt crack!”

I kid but, well, to be honest, I’d rather be nekkid on my say-so, and with someone I wanna be nekkid with. Wink. No offense, miss masseuse.

The lady was real professional and good at her job, though; she kneaded, jabbed, and karate-chopped through my flab and, er, muscles. It felt real good. She asked periodically if her new technique felt uncomfortable. I had to stop myself from chuckling when she did get to the more ticklish areas of my body, though. I was biting my lip, my hands clenched, as I tried hard not to laugh out loud. But the experience was good, nevertheless.

The next day, we had facials. Okay, that sounded porny. Whatever. We had different edible stuff on our faces, like honey, crushed almonds, cucumbers, the works. We got scalp massaged, too, which felt quite relaxing. The treatment went back to the face; this time the focus was on my brow. Later, my eyes and upper portion of the face were covered with pipino. I felt a little restless because I wanted to move my head and look around. One of those who brought cameras, Jaycee, took pictures of those covered with slices, of course. After some rubbing, scrubbing and wiping, we were finally free. I didn’t feel anything different, but our editor said that my face was as pink as a baby’s bottom. Poch added that I look like Dan Aykroyd. Heh.

After that, I was dropped off where I could catch a bus en route to the usual jeep terminal. Hello, fumes, dust and heat. The people had to get back to the office to start working on a new issue. Well, they really are on a tight schedule, and they do take their jobs seriously. I’m glad I was invited to be with them for the occasion. I had a great time. I hope to have a picture they took posted next time.

Now, I just need to buy a pore strip for my nose. I don’t think the facial was designed to remove them pesky blackheads and whiteheads, specifically. But that’s okay. I can stare at a removed pore strip for many minutes. It’s just fascinating.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Marching In

X as a Weapon

Mike Carey’s ongoing adjectiveless X-Men run has been exciting so far. I’m liking it, see, but I do have problems with Chris Bachalo’s art from time to time. I preferred his style back in the ‘90s, during his first year or so of Generation X. Now, I dunno, his figures seem to be extra-cartoony and the shapes of figures are hard to distinguish sometimes. So that really keeps me from enjoying and appreciating the story. He still does certain pinup shots well, though, as this particular panel shows:

Anyway, I love this lineup. Rogue’s the leader, and this strike force isn’t tasked with teaching at the Xavier Institute. It’s an interesting, diverse mix with Cable, Cannonball, Mystique, Iceman, Lady Mastermind, Karima Shapandar, and Sabretooth. I’m really not into the idea of having unrepentant villains coerced into service, as in the Thunderbolts post-Civil War, but somehow, Sabretooth as the team’s loose cannon feels more naturally done. Also, as many on it can be counted as reformed villains or have different backgrounds, it’s good to see that this team’s fighting approach is different from the other X-teams’.

I do hope that there’d be really memorable villains in the coming issues (the Children of the Vault and Pandemic characters were just okay), and that Carey’s promising team lasts for some time. May this tough X-group's adventures be bigger and illustrated better.

Zack Snyder!

Oh, here’s my article on filmmaker Zack Snyder, published last Saturday (thank you editors!). I did that phoner about a month back, shortly after watching 300 (thank you Warner publicists!). That interview went well. The guy sounded energetic from the start; instead of just saying “hello,” his first words were a loud “Zack Snyder!!!” So that was smooth from the get-go. He did a great job on Frank Miller’s work, and he’s now doing Alan Moore’s Watchmen, too, so let’s all cross our fingers.

300 opens today in the Philippines, I believe.

Like Toy Soldiers

Was able to get some of the Marvel Legends/X-Men/Spidey figures I’ve been fancying for quite some time. I hope I can still find a Mad Jack or Toxin figure though. Or a white costume repaint of Storm. But, yeah, am quite happy with what I have right now.

One thing I wasn’t too satisfied with, however, was the Iron Man-Mandarin Face-Off set. It took some time to get a decently painted one, because many were disappointingly, shoddily done. And, once I opened the one I bought, I was kinda dismayed to discover that Mandarin wasn’t poseable, since he’s wearing a thick rubber robe. Yargh.

Oh, and the comic book? Iron Fist. The same that came with the Iron Fist figure in early 2006. Yeek.