Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Masquerade Balls

King Lexy, Captain Nance, Chef Argus


I’m feeling much better. Except for some strange sensation caused by a swollen gum behind a lower molar, I’m recovering quite nicely. I’ve been able to catch up on work this past week--thankfully, some surprise freelance jobs were easy to do--and I also finished drawing Dicky’s story two days ago. I’m quite pleased with it, and I’m hoping that he and other people will like it too.

It’s Halloween once again, so there’s that new LNA drawing up top. I wanted to dress up Argus in a Transformers-inspired costume, but I opted for a less obvious costume choice. I loved Ratatouille; I’m enjoying Kitchen Confidential, and I wish that I was able to watch No Reservations. So I thought that dressing him up as a chef would be timely, and a little cool.

It’s way easier to have these old creations act out some fantasy situations and be my fearless mascots or avatars for All Hallow’s Eve. I’m not into the parties, and I’d probably take a lot of convincing to wear an actual costume. Well, the closest thing to wearing one would be when I had to be in business attire for an assignment last September. I considered wearing something for this year’s Halloween, but as I’ve things to do and no time to really attend events, I’m just gonna celebrate it by buying and eating candy. Yay, candy!

Oh, I just remembered: ten Halloweens ago, Dhampyr, a horror comic book that a friend wrote and I drew, was launched at Synergy in Glorietta. Wow, it’s been a decade! I can remember parts of that fun event. Things were totally different for me then. It was a project that I poured a lot of energy into, but looking at it now, there are many things that I wish I’d done differently. Still, back then, the Halloween launch-costume party was a successful, exciting one. If the graphic novel had a soundtrack, writer Dave H. suggested that Sugar Hiccup’s haunting “Five Years” would be perfect for it.

Anyway. I love this time of the year, also because I get to eat sweet, sweet cake. At least I’m hoping that there’s one for me this year.

Dead Men Walking

Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s The Walking Dead remains one of the most consistently engrossing comics series out there.

Threatened by countless hungry zombies, a small group of survivors do their damnedest to look for fellow humans and fend off the undead predators. But in this world, some people are actually worse than the monsters.

The book’s protagonists, Rick, a former cop, his family and newfound friends start forming some semblance of society from scratch, while constantly evading threats posed by the zombies and other human “tribes.” After 42 issues, the cast has continuously grown and thinned; some characters lived, others perished (often violently), and the harrowing ordeals never seem to end.

Kirkman’s strengths here are his dialogue and characterization. Characters grow on you, and you actually worry for them. The interactions are superbly written, even when the story gets paced rather slowly at times. But some unexpected twists and intensely executed moments keep you glued. Adlard’s art and storytelling skillsr have also improved considerably after the original artist (I forget his name at the moment) established the look of most of the characters and the mood of the series. Cliff Rathburn’s gray tones enhance and texture the illustrations nicely, as well.

The Walking Dead is humorless, bleak and occasionally, genuinely scary. If you’re looking for a funnier Kirkman, his twisted take on superheroes turned monsters in Marvel Zombies (or its sequel) could probably be the title for you. But those Walking Dead trade paperbacks really are worth getting and devouring.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Saturday Stunners

Mash Master

Six or so years ago, I wanted to join the local version of The Weakest Link. I didn’t watch it religiously, but the few times that I tuned in with some family members, I did pretty well in answering some tough questions correctly. I’d get the look a few times. Actually, there were two: the “oh my god, are we related” look, and the “oh, just go and join already” look. But no, I didn’t even try asking about it. Also, I felt that I’d be eliminated quickly for one reason or another if I did join.

Last Saturday, there was a contest, a considerably smaller one that I knew I had to join. I felt that it was just as prestigious, even when very few people knew about it. It was right up my alley, too. The Marvel Mind Mash trivia game was held during the launch of the third Hasbro Marvel Legends set, and the moment I read the announcement less than a week before, I just knew that it’s just going to be perfect for me. Without hesitation, I pre-registered, half-hoping that I’d get the assembled Queen Brood figure or another prize. I know, it’s counting chickens, but if there’s anything that my head hasn’t dumped, it’s useless comic book information.

And that was going to prove useful, maybe for the first time. So I reviewed some of the Marvel Universe Handbooks, sorta cramming the day before the contest. I went there to Toy Palace in Cubao on Saturday noon, confident that there wouldn’t be a lot of hopefuls. Well, no. There were 13 of us, initially, and we answered a mix of easy and tough questions on personal Mickey Mouse whiteboards. Suddenly, I switched off my “eyes on the prize” mode and tried to concentrate on getting a competitive score.

It was tougher than I expected. I didn’t know who debuted in Tales of Suspense! I answered Thor, but the correct answer was Iron Man. Still, I got six out of ten right for the first round, so I was with two other guys with high scores for the next round. I’m still kinda proud that I got “Hammer Bay” (What is the capital of Genosha?), as well as “Homo Mermanus” (What is the scientific name of Marvel’s gill-breathing race?). Some people clapped with that last one. It was fun, and I was a little nervous.

The final round had its share of tough ones, but I felt they were easier than the previous questions. The other guy, Patrick, knew his Marvel trivia too. But I was able to get to ten points more quickly. Yay, nerdiness! After almost 30 questions in those three rounds, I am the Marvel Mind Mash grand winner! I was supposed to get the assembled Brood Queen, but Patrick and I swapped prizes. He’s cool for suggesting and being serious with it, because I fancied the four-figure X-Men set more than the Brood (which looked unimpressive and lacking in articulation… but that’s just me).

So on a Marvel Legends diorama base, I have the winged robot Danger, Daniel Cudmore-inspired Colossus, Astonishing X-Men Cyclops and Rachel Summers-Marvel Girl! Picture-taking ensued, and I was one happy uber-geek.

Marvel Mind Mash winner. I’ll hold on to the title gladly until the next toy launch. I’m still grinning.

Thank you Cybertron Philippines for the pictures!

Motley Mozzie

Against doctor’s orders, I went out Saturday evening. It wasn’t gonna be strenuous; I just wanted to attend Pam Pastor’s birthday bash. I already said yes to her invite a week prior. It’s been a while since I attended a Mozzie gig, too, so I was really looking forward to hear and watch them perform again. The last time I watched was back in May, so I really missed them. I was just crossing my fingers that I wasn’t spreading whatever it was I was sick with.

After my afternoon victory (see previous entry), nothing was gonna stop me from enjoying the day even more. Benedict was kind enough to bring me there to Route 196 in Katipunan, where some attendees were dressed in Halloween costumes, including the band. Benedict, star cosplayer, quickly had costume envy.

The food was awesome; thin-crust pizza, chicken strips with sour cream dip, and nachos were yummy. Didn’t feel like drinking beer, though, so I guzzled diet soda instead. Mozzie performed hot covers of songs by No Doubt (“Excuse Me Mister,” “I’m Just a Girl,” “Spiderwebs”) and Alanis (“Uninvited,” etc.) while people ate and drank. Pam eventually sang the original, crowd fave “Bolgia Six,” and another whose title I forget. I was surprised most by their rocking renditions of E-Heads classics “Toyang” and “Magasin!” Oh man, that was a real treat.

Clad in her Little Red Goth Chick Hood costume, Pam energetically bounced up and down, admittedly another pleasant surprise since I’ve only seen Mozzie perform acoustic sets before.

She’s having the time of her life. Apart from her job as editor, she’s living her dreams and going on adventures right now. Good for her. And good for us, too. She and Mozzie are a fun and awesome band, and they should keep rocking for as long as they’re able.

I’m still waiting for the first record, but I’m confident that it’ll be so worth the wait.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pain and Healing

I wish I could wish it away. But it’s trangkaso, the doctor said, and I have to let it run its course.

Late Sunday, I felt heat around my eye sockets and on my neck, and sure enough, these were followed by headaches and fever, which switched on and off. My sleeping schedule’s disrupted, and most of the last few days were spent just lying down, drinking lots of water, and peeing a number of times every hour that I’m awake. I was able to shoehorn in a little work, but I had to keep stopping because my focus keeps slipping.

I actually tried to ignore it at first. I thought that it would just go away quickly. But I had to refuse a job Pam was assigning me because I wasn’t feeling my usual fast-paced self at one point. She suggested that I have a checkup soon, and so I did. We feared it may be dengue. Also, I don’t know if it’s psychological, but I was feeling itchy all over, even after I’ve scrubbed thoroughly with antibacterial soap.

After two hours of waiting at the couch of a clinic with stabbing cold aircon, the doctor-internist-gastrosomething declared that yeah, it’s nothing truly major, and advised the usual things: rest, plenty of water, paracetamol, mefenamic and ascorbic acid. The illness doesn’t last past a week, but I could still feel sick for the remaining span, I’m told.

Gah, I feel tired from doing nothing. Getting sick sucks.

My ears are still red and warm, and my throat’s a little sore. I can feel swollen lymph nodes behind my ears too. I really need to finish some things already, like the drawings I mentioned previously. And I wanna go out.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Lego Life

This was published last Wednesday. Editor Pam Pastor asked if I wanted to do an article about dreams (wishes and ambitions), so I jumped at the chance. Thank you and belated Happy Birthday, Pam!

- - - - - - - - - -

My Lego life

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
2BU Contributor

Back in first grade, I was into playing with Lego sets. Assembling houses and vehicles, at least those mini-versions, appealed to me, partly because the interlocking parts allowed the freedom to start over and change how they looked. I also wanted to create my own town.

Adults around me, including a visiting teacher (who went to our house to sell an encyclopedia set) assumed, and perhaps hoped, that I’d be an architect one day. And for some time, that’s what I wanted to be, because it looked as if I can actually be good at that.

But in a hospital bed over a year later, after the doctors took out my appendix, all I could think of were colorful comic book covers, displayed side by side in some Greenhills shop I discovered days earlier. Seeing that stunning wall felt like being bombarded with an army of superheroes I knew, and wanted to know over and over.

After my hospital stay, I’d draw countless fight scenes between the champions of good and evil at the back pages of my notebooks, and I’d nag my Mom to buy me more of those adventure titles unceasingly.

A few months back, I discovered an old school journal, where I listed a number of contests that I joined and won in. Yes, after finishing 16 years of schooling, I forgot about how I was the overachieving nerd from time to time. I won in a bunch of slogan-making and poster-making tilts, so I knew even then that words and imagery can be tools at my disposal; I just practiced because I wanted to win more contests back then. I also wanted to make and tell my own epic stories, starring my own superheroes, one day. I was the quiet kid with the sketch pad and pencils.

But by my third year in high school, I wanted to be a radio deejay. I was discovering music, and loved playing vinyl records on our old turntable. It was a time when I was also getting confident with my voice, so I imagined that I can probably do that as a job eventually.

And like some kids in their teens, I wanted to be part of some shared experience. I didn’t know how to play instruments, so that felt close enough. Still, I knew that drawing, designing and ruling the lives of characters in my head was what I wanted to do someday. While I ditched the idea of pursuing a career in introducing, choosing and seamlessly playing songs, I became a more serious music lover.

When you’re young, you feel like you can do anything and everything. I definitely felt that way; I still do, but now, that thought is tempered with knowledge, experience and some foresight.

Growing up teaches you your strengths, especially when you acknowledge and understand your limitations. The thing is, even when you knew and believed that you’d pursue a certain path early on, plans change and self-discoveries happen.

Your job options, love life, and ambitions may merge and shift at certain pivotal points in your life. Your new dreams get lumped with the older ones, and they don’t become a reality overnight.

The world doesn’t end when you fail. Rejection letters, broken hearts, unfulfilled wishes don’t mean that you won’t ever be good at it, or won’t get what you want. I certainly had my share of disappointments, so occasionally I became my own Dr. Phil because I had to survive and get past them.

I used to envy people, those lucky enough to enjoy lucrative careers, and also the free-spirited and worry-free ones. But eventually, I realized my own unique gifts, and I learned how to appreciate them. In the past few years, I’ve undergone phases and transformations, but I’m still me at my core. And that’s always important.

We’re all here sharing space and converging, and we all have our little defeats and victories. We’re all fighting fate, and making ourselves comfortable in our precious little bubbles. But as individuals, we choose our own battles, we discover what we really want to do and say

There comes a point when you look back at your life and ask yourself, “What have I accomplished so far, and am I happy?”

I’ve years of exposure to pop culture, and that’s inspired me to create and appreciate. Unexpected opportunities pop up, but they, along with personal upheavals, can be turned into something visual or tangible, something that other people can relate to. I happily get derailed from some goals sometimes. But I get to relish all these things, especially when I step back and look at these experiences from a distance.

I live with words and imagery. My day job is all about perception. I didn’t expect to be a freelance copywriter, or a reviewer and reporter, for that matter. I devote as much as I can to these jobs, regardless. Almost three years ago, I also released my self-published comic book, which isn’t about superheroes. It’s strange but wonderful to get letters from readers that connect and appreciate it on levels I never expected.

I can also say that I’m happy that I’m living my life as me, without pretensions. Like anyone, I feel humbled, grounded and unsure where my path takes me next. But I keep doing what I do, of course. As a writer-artist, I think in terms of words and pictures (so pardon me if I stare blankly at you, sometimes). But even when I process all these things that I need and want to do, my life is an unending comic book serial. It’s one whose outcome I can’t exactly predict, but the journey, these chapters of my life, are just as important as the destination.

Hmm. Come to think of it, I can compare my life to playing with Lego bricks, too.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Puddle of Grays

Better Than Ice Cream

Last week was better than the one before it. Some highlights include:

- watching a surprise sneak preview of Stardust last Tuesday
- running into Mark Sablan and his girlfriend right after
- eating a free clubhouse sandwich (two huge slices of bread, egg, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and other stuff, held together by a barbecue stick each and served with French fries) after an assignment at a classy hotel
- posing and taking pictures of my action figures (check out the JLA-Avengers album in my Multiply site!)
- talking to John and laughing about stuff
- starting art for Dicky’s short story
- discovering, and hearing from, ahem, a fan of my old comic book

Also, I’m not punching walls, so that’s a plus.

Video Love Parade

Here are some of my all-time favorite music videos. I’ve been rediscovering old ones on YouTube. I can’t find some of my faves, the ones I actually taped a bunch from way back, when the old VHS player still recorded properly. It’s a mix of fun, cheesy, or artsy videos, which don’t always jive with the lyrics of the songs, but in the span of each, stories or collections of images keep me glued, anyway. I can only remember a handful from the hundreds I’ve seen. In no particular order:

I’ll Be There- Escape Club
Love the underwater photography in this one. It’s a song about life after a loved one’s demise, and the video captured the idea perfectly.

Wonderful- Everclear
It’s a song about a kid’s unhappy childhood, lamenting the breakup of his parents. It’s a little literal, visually, but still emotionally binding.

Mr. Jones- Counting Crows
Remember when Adam Duritz was younger and bouncing around? This made me wanna dance and jump around too, every time I saw it.

Galileo- Indigo Girls
Clever and literate, it has a few thought-provoking quotes about individuality.

Bad Day- Daniel Powter
This is cute. Kindred underappreciated twentysomethings find their silver lining during a rainy day.

Me- Paula Cole
Love the rainbow color scheme, where scenes and props are unified by one color at a time.

Stolen- Dashboard Confessional
DC’s always so watchable, but this one stands out for me. It sounds and looks sweet and optimistic.

Rain- Madonna
The creative use of lighting and a blue palette makes this easy to look at. Madonna looks elegant in this one. I can never tire of listening to and looking at this.

Closing Time- Semisonic
Ooh, splitscreen. Nice “real time” technique, where both screens show a bigger view of people in close proximity that wanted to meet, but didn’t.

Nothing Compares 2 U- Sinead O’ Connor
The camera is static on a closeup of the singer’s face, which conveys anguish and heartbreak all throughout the song. Simple but pretty.

Torn- Natalie Imbruglia
Also with an unmoving camera, the singer “looks” at the viewer, while jumping around and emoting in an almost empty apartment. Separate scenes without gaps work effectively here.

Akap- Imago
Christmas lanterns and drama. ‘Nuff said.

Get Down- Groove Armada
This is weird, but the cartoon rabbits can dance!

Come To My Window- Melissa Etheridge
Juliette Lewis is all crazy in it. It gives the song a different but strangely affecting, perspective.

Jumper- Third Eye Blind
I like the way this has effects that involve the camera. Zoom ins and zoom outs on artificial but pretty scenery still illustrate the moving essence of the song.

Even Better Than The Real Thing- U2
Speaking of camera effects, I like how the view spins over Bono. Coolness, really.

Rush Rush- Paula Abdul
Oh, wow. Pre-Matrix Keanu and pre-Idol Paula. Still good to look at after all these years. And nice to see Paula dancing in this, even if it’s a ballad. Sexy, early ‘90s film-esque video.

We Are The World- USA For Africa
It’s always amusing to see all those artists in one place and singing one song. Which brings us to…

Do They Know It’s Christmas- Live Aid
The ‘80s was a great era for those artists… again, it’s great to see ‘em together, and for a good cause. Hmm… I remember the Voices That Care gathering back in the ‘90s… what was that for, again?

Everybody Hurts- REM
Go telepathic while watching and you’ll understand that, yeah, everybody hurts sometimes.

In Demand- Texas
Vocalist Sharleen Spiteri goes dramatic with Professor Snape. Lovely, and easily conveys sadness every time.

Stay- Shakespeare’s Sister
Deliberately campy and kinda spooky, the lyrical content, astounding vocals, and the visuals merge exceptionally well.

The End Of The Innocence- Don Henley
Sad and bittersweet, but still hopeful, and ultimately, timeless.

So Pure- Alanis Morissette
Dancing with Alanis and Dash Mihok. They look like they’re having fun. They “freestyle in trance.”

Voices Carry- ‘Til Tuesday
Aimee Mann with punk-ish hair. Love how she had revenge on the controlling boyfriend by the video’s climax. “Hush, hush!”

All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You- Heart
A woman sleeps with the first hunky stranger she sees on the road. Very risky, yeah, she could’ve ended up dead or ill. But the desperation in the song and the aftermath of the one night stand were artistically rendered.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Believe Is All You Say

Wanna Find Sweetness, Gotta Find Pain

I woke up feeling anxious. It wasn’t because of a bad dream or anything; I slept earlier than usual last night because the lack of rest was taking its toll on me. But it’s one of those times when you start your day worrying, when you feel like you’ll just burst at any second. No, I am not manic-depressive. I’ve just been compartmentalizing lately, and it’s not just easy for me to switch off feelings, sometimes, like I mentioned here before. I realized this some time ago; I’ve often had trouble letting go of grudges and disappointments.

So anyway, when I was feeling bummed out shortly after waking up from a three-hour sleep, I recognized the feeling, and knew that I had to release it quickly. I tried punching the floor, as I was still on my bed, but I decided that I’d do that to the bathroom wall, instead, where I’d throw more effective punches and no one would notice. And so I did. Punched the wall with my knuckles a few times until they hurt. But I was pulling back enough so the tiles wouldn’t break. Still, they were tough tiles. The pain was rerouted into something physical, and despite that, I felt better inside. I dunno. I went back to sleep feeling less bothered. But my knuckles were rattled real good.

I finished a press release talking about well-being hours ago. It’s kinda ironic given my current state, but it’s also a little helpful. I transcribed interviews, which included one with a yoga instructor who talked about how the mind can impose limitations on a person. He talked about learning to let go of anger and regret. How Yoda-ish, but true. I’m still learning to do that. It’s hard, but I’m gonna be good at letting go one day.

A song played in my head even before I transcribed, so I had to listen to it repeatedly shortly after finishing. It was “Crowing” by Toad the Wet Sprocket, from the mid-‘90s “Dulcinea” album. I played the whole thing twice, and that particular song about eight or nine times total. It summed up how I was feeling, as if the song was written just for this moment I’m going through:


Been waiting to find
You could’ve been happier given the time
If he’d make up his mind
You’d give yourself to anybody who would cross that line

And it was never a question
He was crowing for repair
You’d give him love and affection
But you couldn’t keep him there

Get over regret
While you were sleeping with the angels
He was under the bed
And the more skin that you shed
The more that the air in your throat will linger when you call him your friend

And it was never a question
He was crowing for repair
You’d give him love and affection
But you couldn’t keep him there

Staring at a cold little hand
Reading fault lines of a shell of a man
You were waiting for a word from above
Wouldn't you know it, no answer ever did come

And it was never a question…

Sams Rock Well

Friday morning, I spoke with the fellow in this picture. Always admired Mr. Rockwell. So surreal. I remember ten years ago reading a review of a movie he starred in, Lawn Dogs. Seen him in Green Mile, Galaxy Quest, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Matchstick Men, Assassination of Jesse James, and yesterday, in Joshua. Awesome actor.

The next day, I met ETC’s Sam Oh, and interviewed her. I went to Glorietta, and had to cover the event she was in for a copywriting job. She’s excellent, and talks and moves just like she does on TV. Kwela girl. And she has a tongue piercing, if I’m not mistaken. I actually saw her before, last year, during the Village People press con, I think. And I’ve seen her host a show at Glorietta last August, but yesterday was the time I actually met her. Sweet.

I watched Joshua shortly after interviewing her. That was one depressing movie, but those involved were really convincing. Sam R. was excellent, as usual. I keep remembering the part of our conversation, when I asked him about how working with Assassination co-stars Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck was: “They’re very sexy people. I can’t get my hands off of them! They’re very handsome.”

He was kidding, of course. I really tried to keep down my giggles while he was saying it.