Monday, August 30, 2010

Young Justice Reincarnated

After Legion of Superheroes, the next DC team to get animated is Young Justice, a team composed mostly of superhero sidekicks. Peter David, who wrote the comic book several years ago, is reportedly writing some episodes of the new series. And according to some articles, the Robin and Kid Flash versions here are Dick Grayson and Wally West, not Tim Drake and Bart Allen. As for newer characters, there’s Artemis, who looks a lot like the archer Arrowette, and Aqualad, the son of a super-villain. The Justice League will also be appearing, so it looks real interesting. That group shot below makes me miss the excellent Justice League series that ended four years ago.

Rainbow Ranger

I just read about this last night. David Yost, who played Billy a.k.a the Blue Ranger for three years in “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” revealed that he left the show because he was repeatedly taunted for being gay.

A week before leaving the show, Yost promised himself, “If I get called ‘faggot’ one more time, I’m walking because I can’t handle it anymore,” he said in the article. He tried to “Pray the Gay Away” before suffering a nervous breakdown. He called prayer hotlines like the “700 Club,” and instead “was condemned over the phone.” Yost was hospitalized for five weeks but has recovered and eventually worked behind the scenes as a TV producer.

In the moving YouTube interview by No Pink Spandex, 41-year-old Yost said, “I had just heard that (“faggot”) several times while working on the show from creators, producers, writers, directors… Basically, I just felt like I was continually being told I was not worthy of being where I am because I’m a gay person. And I’m not supposed to be an actor; and I’m not a superhero.”

You’re a real hero, Mr. Yost. Thank you for being strong and brave.

‘Jersey Shore’ shameless, shallow – but quite addictive

(Published Aug. 29, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

In the initial season of the hit reality series “Jersey Shore,” eight attractive housemates spend the summer in a beach house, where they become buddies, bicker, and hang out with people they meet in nearby bars.The twentysomethings have to work in shifts for the guy who owns the Jersey Shore house, so they sell shirts at his shop before club-hopping. The partying happens almost nightly; the group is accompanied by cameras documenting shallow and serious drama whenever it manifests.

The cast members are now celebrities because of their good looks, hot bods, or some surrounding controversies. Most of them are vain, self-assured, and vocal about not-so-cerebral matters. Some have trouble fitting in, or are just unabashedly self-centered.

Former stripper Mike a.k.a. “The Situation” flaunts his abs, and routinely goes to the gym and the tanning salon with hairstyle-conscious Pauly, the tattooed DJ. They bring back girls to the house, to the annoyance of some housemates.

The diminutive Snooki, or “Snickers,” is free-spirited and admits to “trashy” behavior when she’s drunk. Her housemates become protective of her after she is punched in the face by a drunk guy in one bar.

Romance blossoms between Sammi “Sweetheart” and bodybuilder Ronnie. The cute couple argue several times about flirting with others, but often end up talking about their issues, and then make up. It gets pretty repetitive.

Occasional verbal tussles, cussing, fist fights, and continuous partying make “Jersey Shore” a curious social experiment. Whether the viewer lives vicariously through these hot young things, identifies with them, or just finds some cast members appealing, it’s reality TV at its most junk food-like: It lacks nutritional value, but gets quite addicting.

“Jersey Shore” recently aired on MTV Asia. Season 1 episodes can be viewed on

Dazzlingly Odd

This really happened. Near the end of Dazzler # 2 (1981), Alison Blaire’s superhero friends pressure her future agent.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Costume Drama

I’ve been watching music videos again between researching for work and other projects. I’m glad that video is still a medium where musicians can express themselves artistically. Madonna, Bjork, and other women have a number of visually striking ones; lately, it’s Lady Gaga’s videos that have been inspiring repeat views.

It’s great that she’s not a boring artist, and that her videos showcase hypnotic choreography, flashy imagery and offbeat costumes. I find her rifle-bra (below) cool. Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” vid, which appeared a few months later, has the wacky singer attaching whipped cream-blasting cans to her bra. Not as cool, but still attention-grabbing.

Anyway, pictured below Gaga are Florence Welch from Florence the Machine (an incredible artist with a strong, Sinead O’Connor-ish voice), and Natalie Merchant, formerly of 10,000 Maniacs. Welch gets to look outlandish in “The Dog Days are Over” 2010 video, while Merchant, no stranger to costumes since she created and portrayed characters for her “Ophelia” album, sports an Asia-inspired look in “The King of China’s Daughter” video. Nice to see these women enjoying themselves by looking different.

Dead Avengers Rise

These deceased Avengers will be starring in their own miniseries in a few months as part of Marvel’s Chaos War event. Dead Avengers will be written by Fred Van Lente, co-writer of Greg Pak on Incredible Hercules. During the event, the dead Alpha Flight members will also be starring in a one-shot written by Jim McCann (Hawkeye and Mockingbird). Stuff to look forward to, if you’re a fan of the departed characters or the acclaimed writers.

I’m currently reading the unpredictable Y the Last Man and Chew, and rereading old comic books. And yeah, I’m waiting for the Scott Pilgrim movie, which, according to some people, won’t be in local cinemas till November. Guh.

‘Vampires' sucky

If you’re familiar with genre-spoofing movies like “Scary Movie,” Meet the Spartans,” and “Superhero Movie,” then you already know what you’re in for. “Vampires Suck” is basically the same thing; this one pokes fun at the “Twilight” craze while referencing recently relevant pop culture figures.

As with the previously mentioned parody flicks, “Vampire Sucks” is crammed with obvious and grating jokes, their punchlines often involving name-dropped popular celebrities or films. Barack Obama, Taylor Swift, “True Blood” and “Alice in Wonderland,” among others, “appear” or are mentioned throughout the movie. Save perhaps for the Volturi-Fox News comparison, the jokes fail, or baffle in their senselessness. Oh, they’re not all attempts to connect by using what’s hip or in the shared pop consciousness; there are fart and butt jokes as well.

Eye-rolling aside, the actress playing teenage monster-magnet Becca, Jenn Proske, emulates Kristen Stewart’s acting, body language and tics impressively. Meanwhile, Ken Jeong from “The Hangover,” appears as one of the villain vampires, but he gets stuck in a number of unfunny scenes.

“Vampires Suck” opens Aug. 25 in Metro Manila.

Babies for Barney and Scooter

Actually, the How I Met Your Mother actors playing them, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, are expecting twins via a surrogate in two months. Aww. Congratulations to the couple.

Harris has been busy; aside from his regular Barney Stinson role in HIMYM, he also appeared a few months ago in the Joss Whedon-directed Glee episode, and directed a production of Rent starring Vanessa Hudgens and Nicole Scherzinger.

(Image from

And speaking of gay couples, we take a look at a fictional one, from Marvel’s X-Factor. Peter David mentioned some time ago that he won’t be killing off Shatterstar and Rictor while he’s writing them, but he did say that he’s gonna keep giving the bisexual lovers challenges. Here are panels from X-Factor 207. How sweet.

Film industry lauds law vs. camcording

(Published Aug. 18, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


Nine percent of all secretly camcorded films in 2009 were traced to Southeast Asia, and almost all of these originated from the Philippines, according to Mike Robinson, chief operations officer of the Motion Picture Association (MPA).

“We have found copies of movies illegally recorded in the Philippines in the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Europe and other Asian countries,” said Robinson during a recent press briefing on the implementation of Republic Act 10088, or the Anti-Camcording Law of 2010, organized by the MPA, an international trade organization for the film industry. Robinson said the member-companies of the content-protecting MPA are “pleased” and proud about “the first law of its kind in Southeast Asia.

Also present during the event were the MPA’s local industry partners—the National Cinema Association of the Philippines (NCAP), the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council (MPAFPC) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

During the event held at Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club, a Memorandum of Understanding among the industry parties was signed to “ignite stronger initiatives to curtail if not fully eradicate the problem of unauthorized camcording (sic) activities in the Philippines.”

“It really sends the message that the Philippines is serious about intellectual property protection,” Robinson said. “There was a training seminar earlier that really brought together the local law enforcement authorities and the theater owners. They talked about how to implement this and what to do when they spot a camcorder.”

Robinson stressed that camcording isn’t a “casual, victimless” crime—camcorders face a minimum of six months to six years in jail.

“It’s not just Hollywood titles; they’re doing it to virtually every movie that is produced in the Philippines,” he said. “They lose it all so quickly to someone making an illegal copy in the theater. It’s shameful.”

Robinson expressed optimism, however, when he compared the current situation to another country’s problems with camcorder-related piracy.

“This is exactly the pattern of behavior we learned about in Canada,” Robinson explained. “They had reached a point where 40 percent of all camcords were coming out of Canada; the law was passed two and a half years ago and we have all but stopped camcording there. We hope that the Anti-Camcording Law will be a deterrent. We hope the message gets out.”

Lawyer Joji Alonso, Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council legal counsel, echoed Robinson’s statements, adding that Republic Act 10088 would certainly be helpful to the Filipino movie industry.

“We are down to making less than 50 films a year,” Alonso said. “The bulk of these are independent films, which really don’t make much money, or probably lose more in the process of production. One of the main culprits is piracy. Producers have been trying their best to stop it but it seems that nothing could really be done. We’re hoping that with this law, piracy will be diminished, and perhaps more producers will be encouraged to make films.”

During the ’80s and ’90s, Regal Films produced 30 to 40 movies a year, according to Regal Entertainment’s “Mother” Lily Monteverde.

“That number has gone down,” she said. “I’m sure my fellow movie producers will agree that movie production in this country has been a victim of piracy for a long time now.”

Monteverde lamented that the producer, instead of earning a substantial profit, loses money because the public chooses to patronize pirated copies.

“It is very sad to know that the proliferation of fake DVDs highly stems from the movie illegally camcorded inside the theater,” said Monteverde. “We encourage the public to report camcording.”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Spirited Sidekicks

The Boy and Girl Wonders of Gotham, and the court magician of Eternia.

SIX ROBINS. Carrie Kelly, Tim Drake, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Damian Wayne, Stephanie Brown.

ORKO OF TROLLA. When I was a kid, I imagined his face as something with catlike features. But now, I’m thinking he probably has a snout and huge, jagged teeth, like an orc. Hmm, I remember his people covered themselves the same way, so the secrecy’s probably a cultural thing, and not meant to cover up a hideous face like Yukk’s. Or, maybe their genitals are located on their faces.

‘Always Sunny’ often funny

(Published Aug. 16, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


One of the funniest shows on TV, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” has idiotic and crude characters, pub owners constantly cooking up inane schemes that sometimes backfire on them. But they’re often unaware of their immaturity, and their misadventures elicit hearty laughs.

Clueless Mac (Rob McElhenney), Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Dee (Kaitlin Olson), Charlie (Charlie Day) and Frank (Danny DeVito) keep every half-hour episode of the weekly sitcom lively with boorish behavior. The series, created by McElhenney, has been around for five seasons. The gang’s exploits can be satirical, lewd, or gross, depending on the theme of the week. Sometimes, it’s all of the above.

This latest season is especially uproarious, as the petty, disrespectful characters come up with more hare-brained plots. Sometimes, the personalities are interchangeable and it doesn’t matter; this supposedly unlikable bunch is very watchable, thanks to the gang’s mostly unpredictable nature.

Their current shenanigans are characteristically chaotic. In one of the episodes, Frank’s excessive drinking and unruly conduct start affecting the rest of the Philadelphians, so they stage an intervention. But they’re really unprepared for one, much to the chagrin of an outsider witness.

In another episode, Dee runs into an ex she dumped in high school. But he’s now engaged to someone she knows, and she finds herself attracted to the guy, now that his acne has cleared up. She soon plans to ruin the relationship and win him back, unaware that he’s out to break the hearts of the exes that dumped him.

Another riotous story line pits the gang against rowdy frat boys. Humiliated and mocked, the pub owners hatch a scheme that, they believe, will teach the similarly ill-mannered college boys a lesson they’ll never forget.

DeVito, who joined the cast belatedly, is a great addition to the group; his boozing character Frank’s jackass antics tremendously enhance the already ill-behaved gathering of morons. And while their escapades are usually pointless or mean-spirited, the show crosses lines that regular sitcoms won’t, easily inspiring real and long chuckles.

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” airs Saturdays, 8:30 p.m., on JackTV.

Cooperative ‘Cats and Dogs’

“Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” is a sequel, but it’s been years since the first one that many may have forgotten about it already. Be that as it may, “Revenge of Kitty Galore” stands on its own, can easily be understood by kids, and isn’t just for pet lovers. That said, it’s not exactly a thrilling romp; this live-action animal caper with extra-cartoony situations is pretty average.

Cats and dogs, secretly smart and organized, must team up to stop Kitty Galore, a diabolical feline threatening not only both groups of animals, but mankind as well. There are talking animals galore, nicely voiced by actors Bette Midler, James Marsden, Neil Patrick Harris, Michael Clark Duncan, and Sean Hayes, to name a few.

The effects are okay; they’re not shoddily or overly done, just enough to help suspend disbelief in this cartoon-like reality. Story-wise, it’s very simple; the truce in “Revenge of Kitty Galore” could’ve been explored in more ways than just the uncomplicated adventure of the cute pet protagonists. Still, it straightforwardly illustrates the message of cooperation for younger children, even when the animals-with-human personalities’ predicaments get pretty droning for adult viewers.

“Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” opens Aug. 18 in Metro Manila.

Invisible Coins

That’s me, handing out imaginary money, many, many years ago. My hair almost looks that way again.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Marvel-DC: Ape War!

Or, Prelude to Primate-Punching! My thanks to my DeviantArt contact Lordwormm for suggesting this “crossover.” Fun, fun.

Marvel Monkeys: Gorr, Speedball of Ape-Verse, Igor, Miklho, Gort the Ape-Man, Gorilla Girl, Hit Monkey, Gibbon, Peotor, Mandrill, Gorilla-Man, Ape X (Xina), Ape X (Roy Reyna)

DC Simians: Titano, Detective Chimp, Gleek, Ultra-Humanite, Congorilla, Beppo the Super-Monkey, Gorilla Grodd, Monsieur Mallah, Grunt, Solovar, Sam Simeon, Koko, Gorbul Mammit

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Cryptic ‘Ghost Writer’

Answers to a mysterious puzzle are mostly hidden in plain sight in Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer,” starring Ewan McGregor as the titular character. Initially hesitant with continuing his deceased predecessor’s work, the new writer must finish the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). But clues surface, indicating that there was foul play involved in the first writer’s death.

Inspiring uneasiness, and at times necessarily eerie, “The Ghost Writer” is steadily paced and weaves a solid mystery. Brosnan’s smarmy, controversial politician believably elicits suspicion and discomfort, while McGregor approaches the inquisitive writer with subtlety. Also, Olivia Williams’ nearly manic-depressive Ruth Lang impresses. However, it’s a little difficult to see Kim Cattrall playing someone less demanding (and way more conservative) than Samantha Jones. Still, she’s a somewhat imposing presence.

“The Ghost Writer” follows a more traditional narrative, revealing crucial hints at expected junctures. The complicated nature of the ghost writer’s job, and his ill-timed induction into the politician’s entourage, keep matters busy and interesting. Thinly veiled analogues to real-life political figures, issues and controversies add a dash of welcome familiarity. And “The Ghost Writer” offers an inveigling puzzle, answers its queries satisfyingly, and makes the viewer appreciate the hints scattered throughout the film.

“The Ghost Writer” is an Ayala Cinemas exclusive opening on Aug. 4.

Sword, sorcery, and ‘The Seeker’

(Published Aug. 2, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


A sword-wielding hero inspires a rebellion against a powerful tyrant in “Legend of the Seeker,” inspired by Terry Goodkind’s “Sword of Truth” fantasy books. Like many archetypal heroes, humble Richard Cypher (Craig Horner) is unaware of his importance until he finds himself in a life-changing encounter with the despot’s henchmen. Accepting his destiny and duties as the Seeker of Truth, Richard rallies freedom-fighters to overthrow the merciless ruler Darken Rahl (Craig Parker).

The fantasy drama introduces a realm visually influenced by medieval Europe, with fictitious locales like farming villages, wild woodlands, and cities marked by castles and fortresses.

However, it’s not always a believable, tangible world because of some unconvincing effects or simplistic designs. Still, every episode soon becomes accessible when the human element is introduced; Richard and his allies meet townsfolk and other figures during their travels and get more dramatic perspectives of the strife affecting regular people.

The two-season “Legend of the Seeker” is mostly serious. Richard’s adventures get dark and violent occasionally, but it’s not entirely humorless. And while the main villain is pretty two-dimensional, the fleshed-out Seeker and his band of dedicated, sometimes-volatile rebels more than make up for it.

Richard Cypher is a generic hero—noble and selfless—but throughout the series, different sides to the character are explored. He sometimes falters and succumbs to temptations caused by magic. But his most trusted allies, the corset-wearing warrior-woman Kahlan (Bridget Regan) and the wise sorcerer Zeddicus (Bruce Spence) keep him in line.

The fight sequences are tightly choreographed and consistently awe-inspiring. Almost every episode, the small group is shown fighting together: the Seeker expertly swings his Sword of Truth, Kahlan gracefully defeats foes using a pair of daggers, and Zeddicus blasts his attackers with mighty mystic bolts.

That roster gets better with the inclusion of Cara (Tabrett Bethell), a warrior-dominatrix from the all-female Mord-Sith order, in the second season.

“Legend of the Seeker” airs Wednesdays, 8 p.m. on Studio 23 and Fridays, 9 p.m. on Sci Fi.

‘Second Coming’: Recycled villains, mutant epic

The X-Men crossover event Second Coming reintroduces the mutant child from “Messiah Complex,” Hope Summers, now 17 and hunted by all types of mutant-haters led by old robot foe Bastion. The 14-chapter story runs through four regular X-books, and is written by the titles’ respective scribes (Fraction, Carey, Yost, Kyle and Wells). It’s one big slugfest after another, as the X-Men fight recycled villains Cameron Hodge, William Stryker, and Donald Pierce, among others. There are major deaths, which don’t necessarily feel final, but they’re nicely done. There are three tie-ins: X-Factor is simple but satisfying; X-Men: Hellbound brings back N’astirh and Gambit’s Horseman persona (groan); the one-shot Blind Science starring the X-Club of scientists is competently written and drawn. Second Coming’s art teams, while having different styles, complement the darker and faster-paced story; it doesn’t have the messy, cartoony look of Messiah Complex. The event could have been shorter and tighter, but the changes introduced to the mutant universe are intriguing.

When You Think That You Have Won

An old favorite, The Smithereens’ Blue Period. I just discovered that Belinda Carlisle is the female singer. The song list of the old tape (yup, tape, it was 1991) didn’t have that information. Anyway, thanks to the person who originally posted this.

Clutter Island

Rearranging furniture and cleaning up my room turned into a three-hour trip down memory lane. I discovered receipts of some items, and remembered where I bought them, and who I was with. I rifled through things long untouched, and discovered old books, notes, freebies and gifts, and with them, thoughts long forgotten. I disposed of the clutter, and kept things that still have value. I can’t relate to some memories anymore; sure, I remember stuff but the feelings have long dissipated. Okay, scratch that. Maybe for a few fleeting seconds, I recall how things were, things that made me feel, think, get off, and smile. And then the feelings are gone, and I’m just thinking of buying more cabinets, and getting rid of the thick dust bunnies.