Thursday, April 26, 2007

Love on a Rooftop

I’m tired. I just finished something for work. I so need a drink.

Mozzie Gig!

Pam texted earlier:

“Hi, my band Mozzie will be playing a quick set at Vida de Malate (Nakpil Street) 9 p.m. on Saturday. There will be a lot of other bands as well. Hope to see you there!”

Go watch it, people!

Art Break

Just some drawings. The four-panel thing below is “The Cancer Killer,” something I drew for Comic Conspiracy writer-publisher Doug Miers almost five years ago. Check out the rest of the backup two-pager in my art blog.

I did this ballpen sketch below last week. This is Pearce Curley. He’s got piercings and he’s… curly. Whatev. Had fun doing it. There are other pen sketches, also in me art bloggy. Do check it out.

I’m thirsty.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dancing With My Baby in the Summer Rain

What a week. Heat is just dang unbearable. I hated that those frigging red ants swarmed into my small cotton bud canister. I didn’t know they were into that. Uggh. Weather’s making me wanna eat and drink more. Also, just walking outside even makes your legs sweat inside your pants, so it’s really annoying. Anyway, I got a bunch of other things to post about.

Pam’s Labyrinths

Watched Mozzie’s acoustic performance at The Room Upstairs in Makati last Friday night with Mark P. (who’s introducing me to alcohol), and Benedict (who read all his comics—about 20 of them--in one sitting). Ate some pasta, and drank a few beers with Mark. We were seated at the comfy red couch, with the matching throw pillows, a nice enough spot to watch from and read comics at.

Mozzie (pronounced mot-zee) started playing 9:30-ish. I was pleasantly surprised that Pam Pastor can sing--and rock!--and that the band’s music is something that easily appealed to me. I followed many female-led bands and solo Lilith Fair folk-rockers back in the last decade, so I’m quite familiar with the sound. The band’s musical style reminds me a bit of ‘Til Tuesday, mixed with a bit of Luscious Jackson. But Mozzie’s able to pull off a range of popular songs and still sound unique.

Their covers of songs by Texas, Moonpools and Caterpillars, Alanis Morissette, KT Tunstall, Rachael Yamagata, and Edie Brickell, among other artists, were really good. I’m just as amazed by their original songs, like “Bolgia Six” and “Starf*cker,” which are unusually profound, lyrically. Pam and her bandmates will be releasing their album independently in a few months, and I can’t wait to hear more of their originals.

So maybe, that’s about ten to twelve songs. I hope they do at least two Tagalog tracks (you can’t go wrong with ‘em!), and maybe one cover, something from their sets. Oh, while I’m suggesting stuff, here’s my request list for future gigs: Luscious Jackson’s “Space Diva,” Vienna Teng’s “Shasta,” ‘Til Tuesday’s “Coming Up Close,” A Camp's "Bluest Eyes in Texas," and Dar Williams’ “What Do You Hear in These Sounds.” I’m really curious how they’d interpret them.

After the show, Pam sat down with us and gossiped a bit. She’s just as open and funny as she was on stage, where her revealing anecdotes about petroleum jelly, hypocrites, feminism and exes show just how adept she is at communicating, and telling stories. “I’m not a lesbian, at least not on Fridays,” she amusingly declared in a spiel prior to starting a Yamagata song. Heehee.

To Pam and the band, more power! I’ll buy your CD when it’s out.

Russ Rush

Thank you to Nicole of Solar for the Shooter preview. Watched it with John last Tuesday, and while waiting to enter, we ran into old friend Russell Tomas. We know him from way back; he had us help illustrate for a project back in the ‘90s. We spent many summer days working at his old Antipolo place. He’s a fun, friendly guy who always thought forward, and it now looks like he didn’t age at all from the time we were hanging out with him. He just started a new social networking site, and shared something about doing another new internet-related endeavor.

Anyway (okay, LNA comment, right about… now), he said that he was “surprised” that Lexy, Nance & Argus was “really good,” and that he even “read it four times.” Hey, I had to insert some plugging into this entry somehow, since it's been a while. But I’m thankful for that kind, gushing review, heh. He did ask me what I was currently doing, and if I was still drawing; told him I still do, from time to time. Okay, there’s my cue to mention my art blog.

Nice fella, that Russell. Glad to know that he’s still the way we remember him.

Hills Have Eyesores

Well, the sequel’s still gross and repulsive, but it’s not as sickening as the first The Hills Have Eyes, mostly because you already know what to expect. Spoilers on!

Some soldiers-in-training get picked off one by one by a community of mutant cannibals hidden in some nuclear bomb test site. It’s pretty by-the-numbers; you just wait and guess how grisly each of the good-looking cast members buys the farm. But surprisingly, it gets damn funny by the end, when the uber-freak, who cornered three outmatched and beat-up rookie soldiers in his hideout, gets his just desserts. One character is almost strangled to death, but she retaliates by going for the monster guy’s wounded head and pulls brain matter out with her hand. My friend and I were laughing hard, partly because you can’t help but mock it (the excessive gore was just… er, too much), and also because at that point, those last few scenes were indeed visceral and cathartic.

Hero High

Some comic books I read in the past few weeks:

New Avengers # 29- It’s really hard to like the Mighty Avengers team, because they’re now grade-A jerks. But I liked this issue, especially the part where Dr. Strange’s sanctum was entered by Iron Man and his stormtroopers, and their confrontation with Iron Fist’s lawyer. Nicely done.

Avengers- The Initiative # 1- Yay, Slott! New characters, underused Avengers members, and obscure Marvel characters in one ongoing book. The hero recruitment and training isn’t as simple as the winning side of the Civil War thought. I’m kinda expecting SHIELD-trained, professional heroes to bungle up a mission and create another Stamford in one of the stories one day.

Justice League of America # 7- Nice talky issue, but I believe there’s an error in the sequence of pages. The Roy-Hal talk should’ve segued to the Ollie-Hal page (starting with the “He’ll kill you” caption), but the gatefold pages and the ones near that became quite confusing.

Buffy # 1- Season 8! I’m fine with how they ended the TV series, but since Joss Whedon wanted to continue the story officially, I’m so there. Old friends and foes return! It's also been announced that Brian Vaughan will be doing future arcs. Woohoo! If only this came out weekly…

World War 3- (The last four comics titles listed here lent by Mark P.) Hmm, it was weird that Martian Manhunter took his sweet time to recover from mental trauma. And sadly, his inner monologue-narration throughout the miniseries felt quite dull. The 52 spinoff just showed an extended view of Black Adam’s rampage, and it ended so suddenly and rather weakly.

Omega Men- I kinda like this, mostly because the characters had a fight scene in Manila, specifically the Quiapo area, if I'm not mistaken. Vril Dox briefly speaks Tagalog (but his words are bracketed, not really written in the vernacular). Too bad that's the most I can remember from it. I can’t remember the Omega Men’s names right now.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters- This was a surprise. Didn't really know what to expect from the Palmiotti-Gray collaboration, but it’s actually smart and it reminds me a little of some Civil War subplots, which is cool. The characters were quite memorable, especially the new Ray.

Birds of Prey- The latest issue was great, as usual. Scandal versus Kendra? It’s pretty obvious that the ear-eating lez is more savage, pun intended, but the outcome is no less surprising. Gail Simone… please don’t leave.

Warriors Spree

It would have been great if I posed Thor properly. He kinda looks drunk in this pic. “Verily! Thor doth not handle several flagons of mead that well.”

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Former Infatuation Junkies

Spent last night chatting, eating and drinking with Mark Parlade. Met him before, two years ago, at the Pinoy DC meet at Katips along with some of the Comic Brookers. But we didn’t speak with each other then. Last year, he texted me and I didn’t recognize which Mark it was at first, as most of the comic book guys referred to him as “Ike.” Turns out that he’s a Friendster friend (heheh) and meets up with the Comic Brook people from time to time, but couldn’t relate to the VS card games, like me, so he invited me to hang out with him.

We brought more than 15 comics each and met up at a Greenbelt restaurant. The guy treated me to a big serving of pasta with diced chicken that I couldn’t finish, as well as drinks called mojitos and mojichee (rum with fruits and soda?), which I enjoyed. Mmmm… yeah, they’re yummy, and made me feel a little hot and tingly shortly. Benedict joked later that I got roofied, heheh.

I discovered that Mark’s a friend of some of my friends from the paper for quite some time already, as the firm he works for handles some entertainment-centric accounts. We talked about work, comics, relatives, music, the “My Humps” parody and so on; it was kinda weird but cool to discover that there are a bunch of things I have in common with him (we studied in related schools and knew certain people; we like Alanis’ second album; we agreed that the latest Titans issue resorted to a familiar cliffhanger again, etc.). But the guy is different in many ways, as he’s a very outgoing person, a family guy and dad to the adorable Snow Pop/Noah, among other things. And he wears lense-less eyeglasses that, he admitted, have always been a conversation piece.

We walked to Greenbelt 1, where he was parked, about three and a half hours later. At the restroom upstairs, I brushed my teeth and didn’t quickly notice that a colleague, Jojo Panaligan, who writes for another paper’s entertainment section, was standing nearby. He liked what I did with my hair (I colored it brown), and briefly told me about his plans for the future before leaving for somewhere else. Outside, Mark didn’t recognize him as he walked away, but he remembers contacting him once for some old event. Yep, this guy’s practically met everyone by now. Oh, he did mention inviting old friends Gerry and Whilce Portacio for an interview that aired in channel 7 way back when.

Well, he’s recommending that I go soon to Boracay, his “spiritual home,” where he recently spent the Holy Week holidays (and got harassed in different ways, haha). Told him that I will visit, some day, just to see and experience the place for myself. The self-confessed Mozzie groupie also wants to hang out one of these days to watch Pam Pastor’s band perform. As we pretty much have the same taste in music, I’m gonna have to check them out. Pam’s been inviting me to the gigs but I have yet to see them play (sorry, miz editor!), because my sched’s often conflicted with their show dates. But now that Mark got me curious, will have to find time to watch ‘em, now.

Swell Saturday. Thanks Mark! That was different. The Mojitos made me feel a little buzzed after, which is probably the thing that was missing from my recent work-free, self-imposed holidays. I want some more.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Heat of the Moment

They could be heroes (pic from Yahoo TV)

Whoa, Benedict finished 24 episodes of Veronica Mars in two days. And I thought I was the couch potater.

Been watching eps of Lost season one again, and it’s gotten better, thankfully, from the last time I saw it. Also getting better is Heroes. Its last two episodes were really tense and the most memorable ones for me so far. It only has a few episodes left before the huge season finale, and because these latest eps have been good, I’m wondering how the big prophecies unfold and how some characters will end up.

I’m glad that serial killing freak Sylar is facing Peter Petrelli and that it’s finally pointed out that both of them are multi-powered copycat beings. Hope the ensuing battle is good. It also feels like The X-Files, back when it was good, now that it’s revealed that there’s a not-so-benevolent group keeping tabs on the superpowered humans, as well as a secret alliance that’s protecting Claire the impervious cheerleader. The connections are becoming clearer, and things are finally making sense. I hope the ten or so powered characters interact and organize real soon, as it would be great to have them work on a mission that would really make them heroes.

Summer Sky, Throat Bone Dry

Once in a while, I get a lingering heavy feeling, the kind I get when getting out of bed seems like a serious chore. I don’t normally procrastinate… well, maybe I do sometimes, as some friends will undoubtedly tell me when it comes to certain things. But no, I know my responsibilities. Yesterday, I was just feeling a little bummed out. Perhaps it’s a delayed response to the just-finished holidays; it’s probably my mind and body’s way of telling me that I should stop for a little while and get more rest. I don’t get to enjoy the days off like others may have, because, mainly, I didn’t go somewhere different last week and maybe I’m wishing for a change of scenery. Or maybe I’m just worrying about money. That’s probably it.

I’ve always tried to make the most of the summer season when I was younger. For kids, ten-month schoolyears meant that the remaining months of the year should be spent on just bumming around and enjoying the great outdoors. The thing back then was the family excursion, where relatives from one side would plan a trip together to some Laguna hot springs resort or some beach that wasn’t that far from southern Metro Manila. Those were the times when the famiy members and relatives felt closer, when joining them really wasn’t a question. Sure, I can enjoy time alone at home drawing, reading and watching TV, but those occasions seemed rare enough and I was a kid who didn’t want to be left out.

Nope, I’ve never been to the fabled land of Bora, but one day, I’ll have to visit just to see what it’s all about. I have, however, been to La Union as a boy, and later, as a college student. I’ve been to Baguio, too, right after those short stays at some not-so-swanky beachside resorts. The change of pace did me good every time, though, and getting in touch with nature did have some recuperative effects. It was especially helpful when I was away from the country for a brief vaycay in Hong Kong back in the ‘90s. Not that it was a healthy place to visit or anything, but the change of atmosphere was exciting. But some summers didn’t have to be spent away from home to be memorable.

One summer vacation in high school was kicked off by a farewell party at a classmate’s house. Some guys bought heavy booze, got really drunk, and soon passed out. My other classmates and I--the non-drinkers--were panicking, as our class adviser was about to arrive soon. I think I left really early, as the others were trying their damnedest to sober up the boozed-up guys. It was going to be a serious issue if they get caught that way, and we didn’t want any grief about it either. What a disaster, I thought, but I called up the classmate’s house later to check up on things, out of curiosity. The adviser even talked to me, and she sounded real happy, with nary an inkling of what transpired earlier. Pshew. I know, I’m such a nerd.

I wasn't into sports, but I kept myself busy. I drew a few pages of comics art for a friend’s brother the summer before fourth year high school, when I was 14. I think the guy was so dissatisfied with it that he just shelved it, and I remember that it really looked icky, so I guess it’s for the best that project didn’t continue. Three years later, one summer was spent mostly with new friends and fellow comic book fans, and we enthusiastically started working on a fantasy book. That has yet to be printed, heheh...

About the same time, when I was in my late teens, I took summer classes, not because I failed subjects, but because I wanted to get some of them out of the way. I took up advanced Filipino and Constitution classes with a friend, to free up the upcoming schoolyear somewhat. And I wasn’t gonna spend the season holed up at home. I soon met _________, which led to the end of the relationship with ________. But I’m not at liberty to discuss that, really. I won’t get into how I ________ with ________, either. Or my ________ with ________, some time later.

But back to the present. I need to step on a beach or something. I’m feeling a little tired, but now that I’ve written this, I feel considerably better. I’m just reminded and a bit relieved that I’ve some nice things to look forward to, even when I’m really itching to do something different. Hmmm… I colored my receding Bruce Willis-Diehard 1 hair a brownish hue again, which I haven’t done in about three years (been dyeing it a different color since around 2000, I think). My hair's a tad thicker now than when it was pictured in a post below, and I just felt like doing it. Maybe I’m just incredibly bored. I dunno. Time to pick up a sport or something. Or maybe I’ll just slump back and sleep some more.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Life Ever-lusting

Ziggy Starchilde

Two weeks back, I was able to interview Ziggy Marley, who was in the country to headline the MTV Reggae Fest that same day, as well as to promote his second CD, the indie album “Love Is My Religion.” That is one cool dude. I especially like what he said about that catchy title track: “That is the message that I’m inspired to tell the people, that it is love, and not the ideologies that we have today that must be the way to God, to spirituality, and to peace and happiness for the human race.”

In Heaven, Love Comes First

Here are some lines from a few songs that touch on faith, worship, or doubt. There are different messages, and while some of them don’t necessarily or directly talk about religion or spirituality per se, these lyrics have made me think about them.

“I drive by the homeless sleeping on the cold dark street, like bodies in an open grave, underneath the broken old neon sign that used to read ‘Jesus Saves’.”
Poison, “Something to Believe In”

“If there’s anything good that happens in life, it’s from Jesus.”
Amy Grant
, “Hope Set High”

“Father, if Jesus exists, then how come he never lived here?”
Sting, “All This Time”

“There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us, and it’s a void only He can fill.”
Plumb, “God-Shaped Hole”

“If God had a face, what would it look like? And would you want to see, if seeing meant that you would have to believe in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints, and all the prophets?”
Joan Osborne, “One of Us”

“A teardrop falls from up in the heavens, drowning the sorrow of angels on high, for the least of the helpless, the hopeless, the loveless. Your Jesus, His children, He holds in His arms.”
Jars of Clay, “He”

“Our Lord loves the sinners as long as he don’t sin. He knows the thoughts you’re thinking; He knows with whom you’ve been. And our Lord loves this country. He’s with you at the polls; He knows the lever that you pull.”
Jill Sobule, “Soldiers of Christ”

“We sit outside and argue all night long about a god we’ve never seen but never fails to side with me.”
Primitive Radio Gods, “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth…”

“Think of gentle Jesus. Think of the Buddha underneath his tree. They taught the world about love and how we all can be, how we can all be free. Open our hearts and see love shine.”
Live, “Love Shines”

“Touch the fingers of my hand and tell me that it’s me. Holding on and on to Love, what else is real? A religion that appeals to me: I believe in me.”
K’s Choice, “Believe”

Easter Edge

Everyone knows by now that Captain America’s dead. It’s a big deal for some readers, yes, as he was assassinated not long after his surprise surrender, which ended the superhero Civil War. But no, this isn’t the first time that he was killed. In fact, these superheroes are like your old mythological beings or religious messiahs, in that they have sacrificed their lives, sometimes for the sake of many. But again, death is not the end, and they can’t seem to enjoy eternal rest, long enough, either. Like Osiris, Jesus, and even King Arthur (whose legend foretells his eventual return), your average superhero has at least died once (maybe twice!) and has lived anew, with a renewed sense of purpose. In universes like DC and Marvel, there are Lazarus Pits, cosmic entities, and Hand ninja rituals that don’t let the dearly departed corpses to stay that way for long. Well, here are some formerly deceased characters I can remember right now (apart from Dead Girl, Resurrection Man, and Mister Immortal, because that’s actually their shtick).

Captain America was killed before, first by godlike Michael Korvac, along with members of the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. Later, he was killed, along with 20 other Marvel heroes, in Secret Wars I by Dr. Doom. Fellow Avenger Hawkeye has died three times (SW I, "Disassembled," House of M), as did Wasp (twice in SW I, and later in battle with the Legion of the Unliving in 1987). The thunder god Thor isn’t unkillable either (SW I, Legion of the Unliving, Ragnarok, etc.), but has returned accordingly. Adam Warlock, Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, the Thing and the Silver Surfer have perished in action as well, but they always came back.

The Justice League--Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern—were brutally killed, then impaled, by Atlantis' League of Ancients, several centuries in the past. Those were Superman and Wonder Woman’s second deaths (not sure how Diana previously died, but she ascended to godhood after that, while Superman sacrificed his life to defeat Doomsday). Green Arrow, Batgirl (Cassandra Cain), Troia and Hal Jordan bit the dust in separate occasions, but were revived later.

The X-Men (Storm, Wolverine, Dazzler, Havok, Colossus, Psylocke, Longshot and Rogue) were magically sacrificed by Forge to defeat the Adversary, but were soon restored by the goddess Roma. It’s actually hard to keep track of Wolverine’s mortality. But Colossus? Aside from the Forge thing, there’s Secret Wars I and his Legacy Virus cure suicide/sacrifice. Jean Grey also died twice (both in Grant Morrison’s run), just like Cyclops (SW I and Infinity Gauntlet). The New Mutants were murdered and erased from existence by the Beyonder during Secret Wars II. Northstar was back in fighting form, also, not long after his demise at Wolverine's hands.

In the Whedon-verse, Buffy died twice and walked the earth again, while her vampire ex-beaus Angel and Spike experienced post-undead deaths. It looks like they didn’t survive the Angel finale, either.

Meanwhile, Ripley from the Alien movies was resurrected after her fiery “kamikaze” sacrifice, but was back in tiptop shape in the forth installment. Reviving her wasn’t easy, however, as there were many failed attempts to clone her perfectly.

Many followers of these fantasy exploits have become jaded, and might complain that some of these heroic departures are cheap ploys, were poorly executed, or just insignificant. And let’s not get started on the villains, whose real power or talent seems to be the ability to rise periodically from the grave. It feels pointless and meaningless, sometimes, and not all of the explanations suffice or are convincing.

But many have accepted that for certain heroes, some of them mentioned above, their sagas don’t have to end in death, and conquering that state of finality may lead to more interesting, recharged stories about previously unseen earthly struggles. I suppose part of the resurrected hero’s mystique is that he’s seen and experienced one of the ultimate mysteries, and seeing unusual beings with “cat’s lives” get these second or third chances probably appeals to many of us mere, escapist mortals easily.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cock-Fu Fighting

Back when I was 11, I dreaded the coming of summer because that was the time I was scheduled for circumcision. As a kid, I always heard about how being circumcised is a necessary rite to manhood, and so on. I didn’t think about it too much until one April afternoon, when my mother told me that, along with three other cousins, I was scheduled for it in a matter of days. She was contacted by an aunt, who told her that her male doctor friend was going to do it. I don’t remember which hospital or clinic it was now, but we all went there together in an old van, that second week of April, to get that over with.

My cousins and I were nervous about it, but they didn’t show it too much. I think we were advised to wear loose shorts prior to be comfortable after the procedure. Inside that van, I think I was jittery but distracted, as I was suffering from tonsillitis. It hurt just to swallow, but I only complained about it a few times, since I was more concerned with my impending thingie. We arrived and were welcomed by my smiling aunt (who wasn’t a full-fledged doctor yet during the time), and the male doctor.

I think one of my cousins volunteered to get circumcised first. I don’t remember it clearly now, but I think I waited outside for a bit and paced nervously. But the thought that I wasn’t alone during that time made me feel okay with it, as my mother, and my cousins’mom, were both there to keep us company. When I was outside, the driver quietly shared that back in the province, they had to chew stuff (Leaves? Guava? I forget) to spit on their schlongs, as some kind of old medication practice, soon after some guy worked on them with crude but sterilized instruments. I don’t know how helpful or hygienic that was, but I kinda knew about that old “style” from the tule story of Funny Komiks’ “Niknok.”

When my turn came, my face contorted, and I just trusted that the thing will be over before I knew it. Two cousins were already milling about, as if nothing happened, so I felt assured that it wouldn’t be that big a deal. Still, I was kind of prepared for the worst. I remember biting down on the collar of my shirt, just so that I wouldn’t yelp out when things get painful. The anesthetic injection on my thing was the worst of it, and I didn’t feel much after that, thankfully, except the tugging and squeezing, which were probably the incisions and the sewing. It was weird; my mom and cousins would watch from time to time, ew!, but embarrassment was the farthest thing from my mind. The doctor even seriously commented, in front of the impromptu audience, that my penis was “so masculine.” Heh. I’m not sure what he meant by that, even now, many years later.

I was bandaged up, and after we were all done, we zoomed to a 7-11 to get some snacks. It was really hot outside, so we ordered Slurpees or some kind of slushy flavored drinks. I quickly finished a big one, but it was strange, because the pain in my throat was totally gone at that point. Somehow, and I’m just guessing here, all that straining and serious grimacing at the operating bed must have contributed to its rapid healing. I don’t know. But anyway, I’d be a little cranky and kinda embarrassed for days. I was careful not to accidentally bump my crotch into furniture and stuff. Getting the bandage off the shaft was not easy, but I felt really free once I removed it, when the “wound” totally healed about a week or so later.

Whether or not circumcision gives the penis character (Elaine, in Seinfeld, opined that it does), well, I guess it depends on your perception of aesthetics. It’s such a big deal for some people, but I don’t really think too much about it. Many, many years after that rite, one of the things you hope for is that people will fancy your cock… but no, whoops, I won’t be talking about that. At least for now. Wink. Cock tease.

So that’s my tule story. Nah, I’m not tagging anyone, guys, only the ones who can remember their own civilized mutilations. Just kidding.