Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Hello. It’s been a while.

It’s been a little difficult to put into words the barrage of emotions and imagery that came with Saturday and Sunday. Parts of the metropolis are still reeling from the typhoon’s floods; most did not expect a calamity of this magnitude.

I worried about a friend and his family, who went incommunicado when flood waters rose and submerged parts of their street. Thankfully, they survived it unscathed, and were even able to help out neighbors who needed temporary shelter.

Rescue and relief operations are ongoing. I hope the government is working on preventive measures already. This must not happen again. And I hope the 2010 presidentiables are doing something concrete about helping out and not taking advantage of the situation for photo ops. It’s inevitable that pictures will be snapped, but still. Don’t be opportunistic sleazebags.

Still ‘Desperate’ after five years

(Published Sept. 28, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

The fifth season of “Desperate Housewives” still utilizes its unique formula, which is equal parts drama and comedy, and a requisite dose of crime mystery. While previous seasons may just be pale, drawn-out versions of the initial one, it’s always been about the eventful, sometimes scandalous lives of the women of Wisteria Lane.

And to keep it from stagnating, the show makes a desperate but welcome jump at the end of season four. We see how the characters fare five years later in the subsequent season, the show revitalized with new ideas and situations focusing on far-from-perfect family bonds and romantic relationships.

Bree (Marcia Cross) is now a successful cookbook author but her marriage and friendships are deteriorating. Susan (Teri Hatcher) is raising a young son, and is dating a younger man. Gabby (Eva Longoria-Parker), previously unable to bear children, is now the mother of two girls. Lynette (Felicity Huffman) is dealing with her husband’s midlife crisis, and later discovers an illicit affair between her teen son and a married woman. And Edie (Nicollette Sheridan) returns with a new husband, David (Neal McDonough), whose secret revenge plan affects a number of their neighbors.

The multiple characters still keep the viewer busy, and separate storylines still help the women evolve further. Some of the repetitive stories, however, center on Gabby’s financial woes, and Susan’s complicated relationships with her new beau and exes.

Vengeful David’s initial machinations keep many of the episodes lively, his complicated ruse and the character’s resourcefulness appropriately grating. David’s schemes and uncanny ability to adapt to his changing situations are engaging, but his arc builds up to an unspectacular climax.

The untimely demise of Sheridan’s character is a loss, and strong-willed Edie leaves a void that must be filled. Still, there’s a moving sendoff episode that examines her place in the lives of the other housewives, who were mostly former rivals.

While some of the women’s storylines rehash problems they already hurdled, the new concepts provide much-needed reinvigoration. The “five years later” gimmick is an experiment that succeeded, providing the mother-spouse characters new hopes and, yes, some interesting new flaws and insecurities.

“Desperate Housewives” season five reruns air on Studio 23, Thursdays at 9 p.m.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Faces, Phases

Or, "Pals, Pens, Portraits 2." A few new drawings of contacts. I used gel pens and a B pencil (for the Cams sketch). Will post the complete set at the art blog eventually.

WIL. Gummy bear.

MARGE. Rock star by night.

JAYCEE. Gossip girl.

Mighty ‘Mythologica’

Marvel’s various pantheons are enumerated and expounded on in the illuminating Thor and Hercules: Encyclopaedia Mythologica handbook. The 64-page compendium has informative entries on the popular Asgardians and Olympians, and new or lesser-known gods, including the Philippines’ Diwatas. The group illustrations are new, and some notable figures are given half-page profiles. The book also explains rarely mentioned connections between the cosmic beings and their coexistence in the Marvel Universe.

My Life According to Heather Nova

Arris tagged me some time ago. Tag yourselves, friends, if you wanna do this.

Using only song titles from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. You can't use the band/artist I used. Do not repeat song titles. It's a lot harder than you think! Repost as "My Life According to (BAND/ARTIST NAME)."

Pick Your Artist:
Heather Nova

Are you male or female?
Every Soldier Is A Mother’s Son

Describe yourself:
I Have The Touch

How do you feel?
Doubled Up

Describe where you currently live:
Walk This World

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
River Of Life

Your favorite form of transportation:

Your best friends are:
Truth and Bone

Your favorite color is:

What's the weather like?
London Rain

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called?
Valley Of Sound

What is life to you?
Throwing Fire At The Sun

Your current relationship:
We Can Work It Out

Breaking up:

Looking for:
Looking For The Light

Wouldn’t mind:

Your fear:

What is the best advice you have to give?
Follow Me In Grace

If you could change your name, you would change it to:
Maybe An Angel

Thought for the Day:
Say Something

How I would like to die:
Stayin’ Alive

My motto:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Earth’s Mightiest

Three new drawings. The first two are the current “real” Avengers, and the third shows part of the classic Busiek roster. And in the “Assembled!” image, I included the Avengers Resistance team, which I drew and posted a few weeks ago.

New Avengers

Mighty Avengers

Classic Avengers


Uprooting ‘Utopia’

The X-Men and the dwindling mutant population’s San Francisco haven are threatened by supporters of Proposition X (aimed at prohibiting mutant births), resulting in violent riots. Norman Osborn, a.k.a. Iron Patriot, sends his cronies to take control of the situation.

“Utopia,” a Dark Avengers-Uncanny X-Men crossover written by Matt Fraction, is a pivotal part of Marvel’s Dark Reign phase. Osborn’s secret Cabal makes its move; Emma Frost and Namor form a new X-Men team to police unruly mutants and humans alike.

While Fraction’s early Uncanny issues lacked an edge that’s easily apparent in Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run, and even in the revived X-Force title, his recent stories have become focused and entertaining. Utopia, despite some characterization gripes (Daken should be erudite, etc.), is Fraction finally taking control of X-mythology. And just like his consistent rendition of Cyclops, the writer confidently makes the underdog mutants’ presence felt in the shared universe. Just as tight are X-Men: Legacy writer Mike Carey’s two tie-in issues, focusing on Rogue’s return to the X-Men (and her memorable tussles with Moonstone and Ares).

One thing we don’t get to see is a promised Dark X-Men-Dark Avengers fight; that was a bit disappointing, especially since there was a panel showing the teams about to attack each other. All we get is Daken versus Bullseye.

Still, there’s a lot to savor. The Dark Avengers are as despicable and overconfident as ever, and it’s good to see them pitted against a team other than the real Avengers. It’s a crossover that works, and a fan-friendly story that introduces some important changes to the mutant books.

Ongoing Leap Film Fest tackles social issues

(Published Sept. 13, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


The ongoing Leap Film Fest 2009, screening a week each at different Robinsons Movieworld theaters, brings together a number of socially relevant documentaries.

Topics such as child abuse, volunteerism, and human rights, among others, are discussed in the films from different countries. The documentaries will eventually be screened in various campuses.

The month-long festival aims to “use film as a medium to express, inform, uplift, and encourage people to be part of every solution.” Leap will have its Philippine Campus Tour in November, and will also be exhibiting in China and Vietnam in October and December, respectively.

Two documentaries produced by VSO Bahaginan, a development organization tapping volunteers for global antipoverty programs, were featured during the opening of the festival.

Ray Defante Gibraltar’s “Panudlak (Welcoming the Dawn)” focuses on education adviser Debbie Satentes’ stint in Cambodia, parts of her off-country efforts documented alongside those of project management adviser Manuel Reyes’. Running at a little over an hour, “Panudlak” (an old Hiligaynon term referring to rituals for good harvests) creatively presents the analogy between the volunteers’ endeavors and fruitful harvests.

The comparison is forgotten occasionally because of the film’s length. Still, while it could’ve been more compressed, “Panudlak” manages to elaborate on the benefits of volunteerism. The challenges that Debbie had to surmount during her time in a foreign country (from the language barrier to traveling through inhospitable weather conditions) are mentioned. But her eventual transition and impassioned personality are captured effectively. Snippets of Debbie acclimating and teaching Cambodian children solidify the “harvest” metaphor.

Milo Alto Paz’ “RV Diaries” is likewise over an hour long, centering on six RVs or “returned volunteers” who elucidate on their life-altering sojourns. In separate segments, they talk in detail about being transplanted to mostly rural areas in different parts of the world, the initial homesickness, and being changed by the experience. Like “Panudlak,” “RV Diaries” offers moving personal accounts that speak of the universality of unfavorable conditions and repeatedly reminds its viewers that there’s a continued need for selfless individuals.

The Leap Film Fest recently concluded at Robinsons Movieworld Galleria, and is currently being held at Robinsons Movieworld Ermita until Sept. 15. Subsequent screenings will be at Robinsons Bacolod and Iloilo (Sept. 16 to 22), and Greenbelt 3 Makati and Ayala Cinema Cebu (Sept. 23 to 29). Visit www.leapfilmfest.org for screening schedules.

Weathering the ‘Whiteout’

Years before Greg Rucka wrote archetypal comic book females Wonder Woman and Elektra, he told the tale of Carrie Stetko, a strong-willed but guilt-ridden US Marshal investigating a mysterious death in the icy terrains of Antarctica. “Whiteout” is solidly written and studiously illustrated, a miniseries that inspired the new movie starring Kate Beckinsale.

Rucka’s original vision conjures up an altogether different atmosphere especially since a female character from the comic book is replaced by a man in the movie translation, for some reason. There’s a subtly implied lesbian attraction between Carrie and her fellow law enforcer, a dimension that gives the book part of its uniqueness. The polar environment is a palpable entity; Steve Lieber’s black and white art complements Rucka’s words and concepts and aptly co-creates a cold, textured world.

(Thanks to Jay and Sionee for the compilation.)

Matters of life and ‘Beth’

Nerdy nobody Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) announces his love for blonde cheerleader Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettier) and mostly ends up attracting the wrong kind of attention. Beth’s dolt boyfriend threatens with violent retaliation, while Beth reveals herself as someone who doesn’t entirely resemble Denis’ version of the dream girl.

“I Love You Beth Cooper” tries to be funny, but recycled gags and prolonged situations keep it from succeeding; most of the funny bits are in the trailer already. You feel disconnected whenever supposedly big turning points happen. And it just feels awkward when the unsympathetic, mostly unlikable characters try to win you over.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Average ‘Avengers-Invaders’

The 12-issue Avengers-Invaders series, co-plotted by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger, ordinarily pits the two teams against each other, then unites them against an old foe brandishing a coveted weapon. The post-Civil War Avengers teams, the registered and the rebels, unite as well; it just doesn’t feel too relevant, given the timing (the Marvel U’s already experiencing a different status quo). It’s not bad, but it’s not an exceptional series, either. And while it reintroduces the Invaders to new readers, it’s hard to really care for them. As for the Avengers, well, it’s a pretty average adventure, and the appearances of some classic villains, while obvious and perfunctory, are still tolerable). Two artists, Steven Sadowski and Patrick Berkenkotter, illustrate well; however, the dissimilar styles sometimes clash. Overall, Avengers-Invaders is quite padded and isn’t always smoothly told, but it’s still an okay read.

Cut to College

One of my Facebook contacts, an old classmate, posted a forgotten group picture on my Wall. This (cropped) pic was taken back when I was a third year Fine Arts-Advertising student. If I remember correctly, we were really busy with assignments, including a group illustration thesis, a fashion design project, and a paper animation video. But it was still bearable, and quite fun, thanks to a few dear friends. I played REM’s Automatic for the People and U2’s Achtung Baby in my walkman. And I liked growing out my thick hair, after two years of ROTC.

‘Shorts’ circuitous

It’s got enough shallow and icky situations to keep the excitable tween or younger kid busy. A giant booger monster, bipedal crocodiles, and a huge, destructive robot are just some of the things that young bullied student Toe Thompson (Jimmy Bennett) and his friends face after discovering a reality-twisting rock. Adult viewers might tune out from time to time, understandably, but they should appreciate the non-linear, multi-perspective storytelling structure of the film and some running gags (like the Blinkers’ staring duel). “Shorts” has a few interesting messages to espouse, but they’re overwhelmed by the effects-glazed punchlines. Even so, versatile Robert Rodriguez has gotten adept at making kid-centric movies; its unreal, cartoon-like trappings make it easy for children to get into it.