Monday, April 25, 2011

Workout Thoughts

The month-long gym membership expires today. It’s been a fun few weeks; the routine I’ve gotten used to is a consistently energetic one. It’s been very helpful, especially since I changed my diet a few months ago. It’s not obvious to everyone, but I lost around 15 lbs. from October to April. I hope to become a member of a gym again soon, but I’ve yet to decide on which. I’m going to miss some of the nicer employees.

Anyway, just some random thoughts at the gym:

- Man, that guy is hogging the Abdominal Crunch machine. And he’s just texting and talking on the phone! It’s been half an hour. Pull a chair, man. Good thing there’s another machine, but it gets used a lot. About 40 minutes have passed. I’m almost tempted to tell him, “Dude, he doesn’t love you. He’s just using your body!”

- Ooh, the lady obviously likes her buff trainer. I mean, maybe you can shriek and giggle a little louder when you’re on the exercise mat and getting positioned by the guy?

- I’ll stop the exercise. I don’t wanna listen to a sappy love song. I really should create a playlist. The shuffle works when I’m drawing or working, but I can’t pace myself properly when I’m distracted by slower songs that remind me of love, unrequited or otherwise.

- I should’ve brought gloves. I’m getting calluses on my palms. Suck.

- Dude, if we body-switched (or mind-switched) for a day, I’d probably whore your sculpted body to the highest bidder. Yuck, scratch that. I’d probably just sleep around a lot with it. Wait, if I whored your body, I get to keep the money, so I guess that works.

- This locker area is crowded. Last week, I was getting stuff from my locker and my back was grazed by a hairy nipple. The guy was reaching for something, and contact was inevitable.

- Okay. That trainer’s probably bored. He’s just looking at his own reflection. And he just lifted his shirt very quickly, probably to check if his abs are still there.

- Aww, that chubby Korean girl seems to be enjoying the exercise machines now. She looked pretty sad weeks ago, and her dad, who’s been motivating her like her very own trainer, looks more relaxed and isn’t following her as much anymore.

- Oh, the handsome couple, they’re an item. They’re always inches away from each other. They’re inseparable. One goes where the other goes. That’s cute.

- Shit. I gotta work. But working out feels so good. Think I’ll stay for a few more minutes.

Villain in new ‘Hawaii Five-0’ is part-Pinoy

(Published April 25, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


Prior to his star turn in “Iron Chef America,” actor-martial artist Mark Dacascos appeared as the title character in the live-action film adaptation of “Crying Freeman,” as well as the Iroquois warrior Mani in the acclaimed “Brotherhood of the Wolf.”

He considers himself lucky that, aside from diverse film roles, his TV characters are distinctly different. He previously guest-starred in “Stargate Atlantis,” “The Middleman,” and “CSI,” among others.

Now he’s cast as the villain in the modern remake of “Hawaii Five-0.”

In a recent teleconference, Dacsacos, 47, revealed that he’s especially proud of playing Wo Fat, originally played by Khigh Dheigh in the original “Hawaii Five-0” series.

“I was in New York doing a read-through for ‘Iron Chef the Musical,’” he said. “I was completely focused on singing and dancing for a Broadway show that we might do. It came out of the blue. They called my agent. I was ecstatic, to be able to go back to my birthplace and do a show that I was a big fan of!”

Dacascos, who has an eclectic mix of Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Irish heritages, remembers the original “Hawaii Five-O” fondly. “I used to watch it with my grandfather. Being a big fan of the original, I was a little skeptical, but I watched the (new) pilot and was blown away. They did their own take on it; the actors were fantastic.”

Interpreting the arch-foe Wo Fat, he added, was a welcome challenge. “I have to play what I feel comes out of me uniquely. I try to bring my own Wo Fat to the screen. I put the clothes on, I step onto the set, and I feel very comfortable playing him. For good or for bad, that is the truth.”

Dacascos was a martial arts instructor discovered over two decades ago while on his lunch break. He’s thankful for the multiple disciplines that have proven useful in his entertainment career. “Suffice it to say, my parents are kung fu teachers, so I’ve been training since I was four years old,” he said. “In addition to my father’s style of kung fu, I’ve done capoeira, wushu, Northern Shaolin, and I am still practicing Muay Thai.”

Dacascos is very appreciative of the variety of his characters. “I play the antagonist, sometimes the protagonist. I played a half-leopard, half-man character in ‘Island of Dr. Moreau.’ These are crazy characters, and I love that. We all have different sides. So I like tapping into the different colors and shades of who I am.”

He’s gotten used to the different demands of TV and film, and compared their dynamics. “Television shoots are much faster,” Dacascos said. “For example, when I did ‘Brotherhood of the Wolf’ years ago, we shot in 16 different locations in France for almost six months. The opening fight sequence took about 11 days to shoot. A whole TV episode takes nine to 10 days. You have to be a quick study and you have to really be on your game and know what you’re doing; I’m not saying that in a movie you don’t have to be, but we have a lot more prep time and more time to shoot.”

(“Hawaii Five-0” airs Sundays, 8:05 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., on AXN.)

Brotherly war

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules” is a pretty regular sequel to the successful first adaptation, a normal enough family comedy that expounds on the escalating sibling rivalry between its titular characters. Greg’s (Zachary Gordon) dreams of becoming popular get repeatedly dashed by his mean older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick), an aspiring rock musician.

More smoothly executed than the first movie, “Rodrick Rules” benefits from a more comfortable cast, effortlessly reprising and fitting in their roles. Steve Zahn and Rachel Harris’ participation is more memorable, and the brothers’ enmity is magnified amusingly. It does, however, get quite uncreative and unrealistic with some familial situations, but the lighter tone does make it easily digestible by younger viewers. It’s prescriptive enough, and the transmission of generic family-themed messages doesn’t feel forced.

Barely passable

“Hall Pass” is a sometimes-riotous relationship comedy that ponders the possibilities of officially sanctioned infidelity. Given permission to fool around with other women by their spouses, two best buds (Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) explore singlehood again for a few days, and predictably get into all sorts of embarrassing trouble.

The Farrelly Brothers return with their signature gross humor; “Hall Pass” is especially funny during moments that involve poop jokes and similarly juvenile inanities. The relationships themselves have very few likeable qualities, but the immature guys’ wives (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) figure in their own dramatic turning points as well.

But comedy-wise, it doesn’t really exploit potentially hilarious scenarios. It would have been great to see how Joy Behar’s character really makes her semi-open marriage work. Kathy Griffin briefly makes an appearance as herself but doesn’t really say anything jaw-dropping or scandalous. Missed opportunities, sadly. It gets repetitive, and the interesting concept just loses its mystique after the first few scenes of boneheaded behavior.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Born to Survive

Mutant and queer. New drawings.

Gay DC

Some of DC’s GLBT heroes and antiheroes: Comet, Starman, Tasmanian Devil, Josiah Power, Grace, Thunder, Question, Obsidian, Batwoman, Maggie Sawyer, Scandal Savage, Hero Cruz.

Uncanny X-Men ‘86

Children of the atom, feared and revered. Love this particular group of X-Men, which also included Magneto, Rachel Summers and Wolverine. Love their Morlock-inspired threads, circa February 1986.

Gay Marvel

Marvel’s gay superheroes united: Hulkling, Wiccan, Lucy In The Sky, Moondragon, Vivisector, Quasar, Northstar, Anole, Shatterstar, Ultimate Colossus, Rictor, Karma.

Getting Physical

Four hours at the gym. Tried out exercise machines trainer suggested. Observed different interesting characters. Tired but tingly.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Zombie Zest

I want this! It’s a four-issue guide to the Walking Dead comic book universe. The first issue will be out this week.

Star-crossed breakable lovers

Like the toy characters in “Toy Story,” the garden ornaments populating “Gnomeo and Juliet” have secret lives of their own, but they’re not hoping to fulfill some purpose in their owners’ lives. Two neighboring clans are too busy squabbling with each other to concern themselves with other matters, until two of their members unexpectedly fall in love.

Inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the animated film “Gnomeo and Juliet” is a comedic and romantic romp, brightening up the classic tragedy with more kid-friendly variations on the characters and situations. Gnomeo, Juliet, and the feuding lawn décor families replicate scenarios from the source material, but this movie drastically changes its more depressing and pessimistic details.

Quirkily designed ceramic gnomes, plastic flamingos, and other garden fixtures have distinct textures and are animated vividly. While kids will easily understand the story, there are a few risqué jokes (one involving the frog and mushroom characters) that grownups might find funny. And while the threat to the main romance is rarely felt, this simplified and feelgood story satisfies the more escapist cartoon movie fan. It’s cute and predictable, but its consistent and inherent oddness also makes it worth seeing.

"Gnomeo and Juliet” opens April 13 in Metro Manila.


Cool thing about working out on a Sunday? There aren’t a lot of people using the exercise machines. There aren’t many people at the gym, period. I discovered and used the Leg Extension, the Leg Curl and the Lat Machine. Love ‘em.

Gerry and Elmer

Congratulations to my old comic book creator friend Gerry Alanguilan, whose “Elmer” collection was recently nominated in the Eisner Awards’ Best Graphic Album category. Wow, that’s just awesome (or “wizard,” as he’d say).

Okay, this is sort of an “I knew him when” post: Gerry and I belonged to a comic book group called Creative Underground, which included members like Nick Manabat, John Toledo, Marvin Quien, Arnold Arre, Ian Orendain, Budjette Tan, and Chris Bernardo (among many others). We met up weekly back in the early ‘90s, and shared art duties on a book called “Lakan” (which never got published for various reasons). Gerry used to lend me his Frank Miller and Alan Moore-written comics; we’d spend hours just talking about our favorite stories and creators. We went to comic shops a couple of times. The group eventually became co-founders of independent comics movement Alamat, and Gerry started writing and illustrating his projects, titles like Wasted, Crest Hut Butt Shop, and Timawa. He began inking comic books for Image, Marvel, and some American indie companies soon after, and hasn’t stopped working on comic books since.

He eventually became an online komiks historian, helping me out periodically with articles that require his impressive knowledge on the subject. He graciously answers my questions even when he’s busy, so I’m really thankful for that. He’s one of the hardest-working persons I know. And yeah, he’s certainly one of the most opinionated ones, too!

So congrats, brother. Proud of you!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Volt In

This was taken in 1979 at my grandparents’ house in Bulacan. I don’t remember the occasion, but I do remember getting bored after a while so I just played with the Voltes V toy that we brought with us. My siblings and I co-owned it; the Frigate/Little John’s vehicle was mine. Some parts eventually went missing or broke, like the laser sword and other weapons, but the main vehicles remained mostly intact and were played with by the younger kids years later.

Before The Masks

From Detective Comics 859: Kate Kane and Renee Montoya, before they became Batwoman and the Question, respectively. How sweet. Sadly, though, they had their first argument right after the kiss. They’re still among my fave comic book couples, despite their unstable relationship.

Pain, Gain

Seventh day at the gym. Discovered the difference between the Adductor and Abductor machines (one’s for the inner thighs, the other’s for the outer thighs and butt). My thighs and ass hurt so good.

Monday, April 04, 2011

He believes he can’t fly

“Rio” is colorful and polished, a slightly above-average cartoon movie despite its pretty generic characters and plot. While it sometimes feels like “Madagascar” crossed with “Happy Feet” because of its misfit protagonist, the film succeeds in presenting its own vibe. The simple but eventful adventure of the flightless macaw Blu soars just fine, although you’d sometimes wish that they did more lavish visual stuff with the parade scenes. Still, the comedy complements the cuteness, and the consistently and properly paced scenes lead to the expected but quite enjoyable moment of transformation.

"Rio” opens April 7 in Metro Manila.

Invincible Replacement

Robert Kirkman’s Invincible comic book will be undergoing a major change next year. People thought this was an April Fool’s joke because the teaser came out last Friday, but the writer talked about it in an article posted on CBR earlier. No, the main character won’t be changing races soon (it’s happened before in other comics with Psylocke, Mach I and the Punisher, I think). So will original Invincible Mark Grayson retire (temporarily), die (temporarily), or share the identity (temporarily)? Hmm. Invincible continues to be one of the best-written superhero books out today. I do hope people are checking it out.

Gym, Dandy

Sixth day of working out. Arms and upper body hurt in the first few days, but they got used to the routines. The cool thing about going to the gym is I feel stronger and more energetic after every session, and I’m still able to work for a few hours after. And sleep feels much better and fuller.

Unleashed and ‘Unmasked’

(Published April 4, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit, contributor

The History Channel special “Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked” maps out the evolution of US costumed crime fighters, tackling the secrets behind their creation and their cultural impact.

The docu discusses how superheroes reflect the times. Key points in comic book history are discussed, such as the wartime birth of the archetypal characters Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Captain America. What started out as an escapist medium for younger readers evolved to attract the attention of even grownups. Significant changes to the genre are mentioned, including the controversial crackdown on comic books and the creation of the Comics Code Authority in the 1950s.

Filmmakers and former Marvel writers Kevin Smith and Frank Miller share their thoughts on some of the more popular heroes and vigilantes. Original “Spider-Man” and “X-Men” writer Stan Lee talks about how his characters started out and became relevant. Other knowledgeable interviewees are former “Batman” writer Denny O’Neil, erstwhile Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada, “Sandman” author Neil Gaiman, novelist Michael Chabon and “Nick Fury” artist Jim Steranko.

“Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked” airs April 7 at 9 a.m. on History Channel.

Twenty Years Ago

Me, back when I was thin and had thick hair. Was totally digging new wave music back then.


Alien Divas

Katy Perry looks like an amalgamation of Star Wars characters in her new “ET” video. Sweet. It’s cool that some of these new pop videos have been pushing the envelope in terms of costume design and overall visuals. They get trippier and trippier. I guess we have the success of Mother Monster to thank for that.


Old pencil drawings on 11” X 17” vellum cartolina, drawn from 1999-2000.

Ginger Snapps

King Skarabbia

Marleina XXV

The Victorious Bull

This appeared in David Hontiveros’ Pantheon # 5.

‘The Middle’: Funny as Heck

(Published March 27, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


The sitcom “The Middle” paints a pretty accurate portrait of motherhood, astutely depicting the joys and pains of a generous parent addressing her children’s never-ending needs. Facing head-on the challenges of properly raising disparate kids and making a living, Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton) also learns valuable truths about family life stemming from unavoidable but funny missteps.

She’s a car saleswoman who rarely sells anything, sometimes sneaking out office supplies for her kids’ projects, or using cars she test-drives with prospective buyers to pick up her youngest child from school. Frankie has a supportive husband, Mike (Neil Flynn), but their kids find it easier to bother her with their emergencies.

Living in a quiet Indiana town described as the “middle” area flown over by airplanes between two popular destinations, the Hecks are a regular family with typical problems. But no two Heck kids are alike: Axl (Charlie McDermott), 16, is a sarcastic, sluggish jock; Sue (Eden Sher), 13, is awkward and devoid of recognizable talents; Brick (Atticus Shaffer), 9, is a bookworm with weird habits.

Viewers with siblings can certainly identify with the situations. In Frankie’s ongoing quest to understand and teach her kids about survival in the real world, she ultimately discovers redeeming sides to them that she doesn’t often see. Whether it’s Axl’s sensitivity, Sue’s unrelenting spirit, or Brick’s confidence in public speaking, Frankie and Mike feel that their oft-diplomatic parenting approach must be doing something right.

Heaton is especially effective as this TV mom, easily more delightful than her previous “Everybody Loves Raymond” role and enjoying a precious rapport with the three scene-stealing young actors and Flynn.

Chris Kattan is considerably toned-down as her wimpy co-worker, but still contributes sufficiently. Guest star Brooke Shields is memorably outrageous as the trashy mother of four bullies in one episode.

“The Middle” airs Tuesdays, 8 p.m., on JackTV.