Friday, January 31, 2014

Faces of the Fantastic

Haven't drawn in weeks, so I did a few exercises. Portraits of heroes from contemporary/ongoing fantasy shows.

Mother of Dragons. Liberator. Daenerys Targaryen.

Time Lord. Explorer of space and time. The Eleventh Doctor.

Survivor. Walker-slayer. Michonne.

Exploring the colorful vastness of 'Coral Triangle'

(Jan. 31, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“I first went there in 1973, saw that it was an exceptional place, but I didn’t realize just how exceptional,” said underwater explorer Valerie Taylor, discussing the docu series “The Coral Triangle” in a recent phone interview with Asian journalists. The project focuses on the area dubbed “the ocean’s Amazon.”

In the three-part Animal Planet docu, the titular territory is revealed to be a vast (six million square kilometers) haven for diverse marine creatures. To the north is the Philippines; to the west, Indonesia and Malaysia; and to the east, the Solomon Islands.

“Right back then, I was sure it should be protected. It’s the center of all the marine life in the tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean,” Taylor, 78, said. “It’s a gift from nature.”

One challenge while filming, Taylor said, involved unexpected external activity. “[We worked] in the shallow water with the above-water and underwater cameramen. We didn’t go much deeper than, say, 20 to 30 meters… concentrating on unusual animals, of which there were many,” she recounted. “Unfortunately, an Indonesian fisherman came along and used cyanide to kill quite a few fish. That was a bit of a blow.”

The endeavor required patience in other aspects as well. “When you’re filming, you go to the same place several times, because at different times of the day different marine creatures come out,” Taylor said. “I kept telling the cameramen, ‘Try and get color—colored fish, colored corals.’ You attract viewers with something that they notice immediately, then you can tell your story. And the story that we’re trying to tell is that man and sea animals can live and survive together.”

(The third part of “The Coral Triangle” will air on Sunday, 6 p.m. on Animal Planet.)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

London Fridge, Two

Whovian geekfood. In my head, I was shrieking; when I saw a couple of Doctor Who items being sold at the Waterstones bookstore in Piccadilly, I just got really excited. I mean, London is/was home to the heroic, time-traveling Doctor's companions. And there were a couple of adventures in the city. So it's just fitting that I got them there. I bought the two books from Waterstones, and I found the two magazines while buying food at Heathrow Airport. Awesome, informative reads.

Room service! The fries were thicker than Pentel Pen markers. And they weren't called wedges or fries, but chips. I actually expected potato chips, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is the Piccadilly Burger, the hotel's specialty sandwich. It was topped with a huge onion ring. I jammed those veggies into it, too. The guy who brought it to my room looked like a young European actor, with a shock of twirly light hair. 

After the roundtables at Soho Hotel. That's the reason I was there. We weren't allowed to take pictures, sadly. But the interviews were fine, just the same. I enjoyed listening to Lena Dunham a lot; she really is a smart, perceptive young woman. When I asked her if this new season was about recovery, she said, "That's a great way of putting it! I'm gonna steal that from you!"

Untouched minibar, Jan. 2014 edition. I take pictures of the contents of mini-fridges every time I'm in a hotel. It's just an odd habit, I suppose. I didn't feel tempted to drink the whole time I was there, by the way. I needed to be sober. I was alone, it was my first trip by myself, and I needed to be more conscious of my surroundings. Anyway, I wish I had more time to visit the museums and the landmarks. I hope to have a traveling buddy or two for a long holiday, eventually. Perhaps I'll check out some pubs next time as well. Knock on wood and fingers crossed.

I will be back someday, London. I will explore you intimately. Then leave you with fond memories.

Further Developments

Profile pic last month. Need to exercise more; the gym membership expired a few weeks ago. I miss a couple of the gym machines and my workout routine.

London Fridge, One

Jan. 15 and 16. Temperature ranged between 9º and 11º in the few days I was there. It really was cold outside. It rained a bit but it was mostly cloudy. Love London weather. And it's a great-looking, energetic city. I vow to visit again. My thanks, HBO Asia and Virtusio.
My room. It was comfy. I particularly liked that I had enough space to move. Left the radio on so it wasn't too quiet when I was asleep. Speaking of music, glad I was able to listen to the albums of Bastille, The 1975, Lorde and Lady Gaga via in-flight entertainment. I also watched episodes of Carrie Diaries, 30 Rock, and Ray Donovan. Oh, one thing I learned during the flight to London: Do not sit between two people. It's difficult to leave for the washroom. Thankfully, I was seated at the aisle next time. 

I stayed there. it's a busy, interesting neighborhood. The hotel was in the middle of everything. What I didn't like was the long wait for a room that my sponsor actually reserved prior to my trip. I was asked to wait for an hour when I got there. Then it became two hours. I ate my crackers and peanuts while waiting, seated near the reception area. Then I was told the room would be ready in 30 minutes. 30 minutes later, nothing. I complained; I said I spent almost 20 hours in the air and I'd just like to rest. I wish I told them about the number of people that had checked in while I waited for two and a half hours, but the lady at the area apologized for the inconvenience and gave me a room already. Finally. Anyway, employees like Alix, the concierge guys and the doormen were nice to me.

My "transporter": Nik from Kosovo. He thought I was Singaporean, but I explained to him that the connecting flight was in Singapore and I'm from Manila. He shared stuff about leaving his country and getting a job in London as a chauffeur. He pointed at Harrod's en route to the hotel, and I responded with, "Oh, that's for rich people." He smiled and concurred, "Exactly." A few days later, his coworker Blair drove me to the airport; he was just as nice and chatty. He was bald too, and dressed just like Nik. He's from Albania, he said, and he wants to visit the Philippines, among other countries, someday. 

Piccadilly bus stop. Walked around a bit. The weather was wonderful. Well, it was a bit rainy but I didn't get to experience a downpour until when I was headed to the airport, days later. It was really chilly; everybody at the sidewalks were appropriately covered up. I love the cold. I'll miss it, especially when it gets hotter here in the next few months. Before I entered the airport, I could see my breath misting up every time I exhaled. 
 Red velvet cake, mince pie, chips and caramel waffles (under the paper bag). This was my only meal on my second day. But it made me full. There were complimentary packets of coffee and cookies, too. And I expected a lot of airplane meals the next day, so I didn't really eat much before I left.

DC Vs. Marvel, 2001

DC Vs. Marvel 2001. Ancient stuff. Drawn on two 11" X 17" sheets of vellum.

New 'Girls' season to focus on recovery

(Jan. 17,
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

LONDON – The sex-comedy HBO series “Girls” will explore a more optimistic tone, said creator-actor Lena Dunham.

“There were so many personal stories that were so meaningful to tell,” Dunham said during a roundtable interview in London Thursday morning. A red carpet launch of the third season was held the previous night.

“Everyone’s really gone through a lot of dark things,” she added on the second season, but assured that the new one will allow its struggling 20something characters to recover.

“I think it’s about moving on,” she said.

“Girls,” 2012 Emmy winner for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series, will be back for a fourth season, Dunham confirmed.

“We’re starting to think about it, make a clear sense of the arc,” she said.

In the Philippines, the new season of “Girls” will premiere on Jan. 19, 10 p.m. , on HBO Signature.

New Day for You

Status updates and tuh-weets.

Dec. 29. My best friend is watching Doctor Who. Finally! #yaytimelord
Jan. 2. Doctor Who Season 7. Took some time, but I really like Matt Smith/11 and the Ponds now. #happycrying #drwhomarathon
Jan. 2. Smaug yesterday. Really intense action scenes. Tauriel and Legolas kicked a$$. Lee Pace elf was creepy. Spiders too.
Jan. 2. Done really early. Yay! Next up, weekend stuff... maybe draw, drink or watch. #hmmmm
Jan. 4. Ice cream and leche flan. Yum. #sweettoothsurrender
Jan. 4. Happy that exes are happy. Very Wilson Phillips-y but I really am glad for 'em. #noillwill #lifeissweet
Jan. 7. I need a new desk calendar. Maybe two.
Jan. 7. Catching my breath. #rollercoasterdays
Jan. 8. Insane day yesterday. I should be sleeping but I can't. #visainterview #edeskmeeting #workworkwork #love
Jan. 9. Glad for some things we don't and won't share hereabouts.
Jan. 10. Second new calendar in 24 hours.
Jan. 11. Sad to see Young Avengers go. Solid and relevant series. Issue 15, gayest issue ever.
Jan. 11. So. Doctor Who season 7. Just finished the part where the Ponds... argh!
Jan. 13. Done with Girls Season 2. Skintastic.
Jan. 20. New issue done. Doctor Who thon next!
Jan. 22. Hit the ground running a few days ago, and easily adjusted to the time zone change, but I've yet to really get some rest. Day off, I will just lie down and catch some z's.
Jan.22. Craving ice cream, of all things.
Jan. 22. I was asked--quite nicely--if I wanted to draw in response to that "I'm in" meme. I replied reflexively, "For free? Can you imagine how difficult it was to get illustrating jobs years ago?"
But I get it; it's cute. It's just not my thing.
Jan. 23. Inulam ang KFC Double Down sa kanin.

Objectifixation, Ten

 Finally, a new calendar! Thanks, HBO.

Pyro and Iceman.
"Hah! Kitty Pryde dumped you!"
"That's okay. You're still dead!"

Cheese craving satisfied, at long last.

UXM 199, 1985. Rachel Summers becomes the new Phoenix. The Brotherhood becomes the government strike team Freedom Force and captures Magneto, now an ally of the X-Men. By Chris Claremont, John Romita, Jr. and Dan Green.

Capital Cities CD. Met the duo. Talented and clever pair. 

Girls DVD, second season. OMG, Shiri Appleby! Love the Patrick Wilson episode.

Those pretzel donuts were too salty. Loved the strawberry swastika, though. 

From writer Joe Kelly's short X-run; he made Maggott, Marrow and Dr. Reyes really interesting. And Carlos Pacheco's art was really good!

Christmas presents from the Entertainment team. Marinel gave me a cool shirt. Post it another time. Thanks, guys. And thanks to friends and loved ones who gave presents during the holiday season.

Buff Geoff cool with posing in the buff

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
(Jan. 19, PDI-Entertainment)

“Yes, I got a ‘fat memo,’” actor Geoff Eigenmann said, confirming reports that circulated in social networking sites last summer.

“That basically suspended me from working,” the latest Men’s Health cover celeb told the Inquirer at the recent launch of the fitness magazine’s January issue. The former “Rosalinda” leading man revealed that his home network GMA 7 had gently reminded him for a whole year about his considerable weight gain.

Despite being repeatedly asked “to do something about it,” Geoff said, he didn’t feel pressured.

Photo by Pau Guevarra
“When I got that memo, I was actually happy that it finally arrived,” he said. That was the impetus for self-improvement, Geoff explained. “I decided to hit the gym and have been doing it basically every day before I start working [again]. In three months, I lost 40 pounds.”

He started doing the body-weight course “Fight Form,” which combines movements and positions from various martial arts such as wrestling, jiu jitsu and Muay Thai. “You can burn up to 400-800 calories in 30 minutes,” he said.

Two months after the lifting of the suspension, he is appearing in the fantasy series “Adarna.” Geoff hopes to improve his physique further, as he has yet to reach his goal. “I gained a little weight over the holidays. But a few weeks back in the gym and it’ll be gone.”

As for baring all in a movie or a more risqué photo shoot, it wouldn’t be a problem at all. “I’ve never had qualms about taking my clothes off.”
Photo by Oliver Pulumbarit

The other celebrity at the launch, Bianca Gonzalez, is the featured model of the latest issue of Women’s Health, her second time to grace its cover. The “social media darling” and “Umagang Kay Ganda” host, who swims and does Pilates, said that being in the public eye entailed certain “responsibilities.”

“On a superficial level, there is this responsibility to look good. Pinoys are very frank,” she told the Inquirer.

“[They would say], ‘Ang liit mo pala.’ But I’ve always been active. And it helps my overall wellbeing when my body stays that way. I’m happier; I’m feeling less stress,” she said. Bianca added that she and cager boyfriend JC Intal were “thankfully going strong,” and that dating an athlete admittedly added “pressure” to be likewise fit.

Team Taray

The Inquirer Entertainment team with actress Marian Rivera. She was surprisingly pleasant because of her candidness. Photo by Drew Tadalan. 

Here there be dragon

"The Desolation of Smaug" is a big, exceedingly thunderous sequel that brings the noble adventurers of "The Hobbit" to unexpected, beautifully rendered paths. The first part of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" prequel previously introduced the saga's earlier heroes, including Gandalf the wizard (Ian McKellen) and Bilbo the Hobbit (Martin Freeman), going off on a quest with a number of underdog companions. But the journey is fraught with savage perils, made even more evident in this action-heavy sequel.

What the first part may miss in terms of character development, "Smaug" more than makes up for it; we see many of the characters finally getting focus, helping make their personalities and identities more discernible. As for the bits and pieces that connect with the previous trilogy, the film gives more than enough to make longtime fans happy. Watch out for the naming of Bilbo's blade, the appearance of some familiar arachnids, and the re-introduction of warrior-elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom). Another elf, the agile Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), also makes her grand, monster-slaying entrance.

Comparisons to the first "LOTR" sequel is inevitable; while it isn't as exciting or as sturdy as "Two Towers," "Desolation of Smaug" nevertheless has its own merits. And even when we know that this part ends with a cliffhanger as well, it still gets perplexing when the film ends, at that exact point where things get really interesting. Regardless, the titular dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) is quite the monstrous sight to behold; it would be interesting to see it finally unleashed and rampaging in the final installment, to be shown in December.

Human ‘tribes’ clash in new ‘Walking Dead’ season

(Jan. 14, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

After the third season’s letdown of a finale, “The Walking Dead” returns for a fourth season, reminding viewers why it is a compelling horror-drama series.

The previous season ended with two communities of survivors merging, following the ruthless Governor’s (David Morrissey) botched attempt at decimating former cop Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his tight-knit group. Rick’s group converted a prison into their home, a “fortress” from zombie attacks and, subsequently, from the Governor’s armed, if hesitant, henchmen.

Devotees of the seminal comic book knew that the prison showdown was inevitable, as it was a pivotal, momentous point in the monthly series. The TV show, however, smartly stretched the Governor’s “reign,” defining and redefining him in Season Four. As usual, Morrissey is spectacular as the charismatic leader who hides his unrepentant, murderous side.

There’s a reiteration of Rick’s taxing leadership duties, as he struggles to keep his camp alive amid the zombie apocalypse. The new season’s first pressing threat is a fast-spreading illness that sends the prison community reeling, with some of them succumbing to it. A couple of episodes are devoted to this somewhat grueling but character-enhancing story line.

The Governor is given two episodes, which help re-establish his dichotomy; he’s a genuinely caring family man one minute, and a horrific executioner the next. He’s a different monster from the original comic book character (which was equally reprehensible for its exceedingly brutal ways).

Rick, meanwhile, is still effectively and piercingly played by Lincoln, whose unwavering portrayal is deserving of acting awards and other tokens of acclaim. Rick has recovered from his wife Lori’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) tragic death last season, and is constantly provoked and challenged in new ways this time. Until the mid-season finale, Rick is put through the proverbial wringer, and Lincoln manages to consistently imbue the character with authenticity.

Change is constant as well. Among the most evolved mainstays are Rick’s son Carl (Chandler Riggs), now a proven gunman; Carol (Melissa McBride), now a no-nonsense survivalist; and Michonne (Danai Gurira), who has become a generous team player.

Going back to the mid-season finale, it’s a powerfully acted episode, a fitting climax to the Governor’s drawn-out arc. It should have happened in the last season-ender, but the long-anticipated confrontation between the two factions brings major changes and introduces new scenarios to the perpetually embattled survivors.

It’s a grim cliffhanger—not surprisingly—that will keep loyal viewers aptly perplexed until the show resumes in February.

“The Walking Dead” airs Saturdays, 8:55 p.m. on Fox.)

Northern Exposure Trip

1993. Summer weekend in Baguio. The family went to La Union too. That stain on my pants, white acrylic paint.

‘Unforgettable’ actress returns to ‘very physical’ cop role

(Published Jan. 6, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“The biggest challenge is that it’s a very physical role—it has a lot of action and stunts,” related actress Poppy Montgomery, who talked to Asian journalists about her “Unforgettable” cop character Carrie Wells during a recent teleconference.

“Especially in season two,” she continued, “because I went back to work three weeks after I had my daughter (Violet). I was still recovering from that!”

Montgomery, 38, elaborated on Carrie’s uncanny ability to vividly remember the details of events—a real mental syndrome called hyperthymesia.

She said: “I think people really identify with Carrie and her gift and they’re really intrigued by the fact that her memory ability is a real thing. And people love that because it’s a real-life superpower.”

She admitted that her own memory is currently erratic. “I’m really good at remembering lines. [But] I find myself walking around with my sunglasses on my head, looking for them for 45 minutes. My memory, it’s definitely in and out especially after I had Violet.”

The Australian actress, who moved to the United States in her teens, declared that this “most action-based role” in her career was a pleasant surprise. “It’s just got a lot more stunts now so that’s definitely the new skill I learned as an actress. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would and now I want to do all-action stuff.”

 Playing the detective didn’t require much training, Montgomery revealed. “I played an FBI agent in ‘Without a Trace’ for seven years so I kind of already had a good background  [to playing a cop].”

To enhance Carrie’s gift of precise recollection, “Taxi” actress Marilu Henner was consulted. “She has this memory ability in real life; she actually guest-starred in the first season. So that was really helpful because she told us how it feels, how to work it into each script.”

Montgomery had guest appearances in 1990s shows “Party of Five” and “NYPD Blue.” She eventually played the late Marilyn Monroe in the miniseries “Blonde” (2001) and author J.K. Rowling in the TV movie “Magic Beyond Words” (2011).

Her artistic influences, she enthused, included people dear to her, as well as entertainment icons: “My mother has been a huge influence, probably the strongest in my life. She taught me to be independent and strong. My closest friends and the people I’ve worked with have all influenced me … And I love Nora Ephron; I love Marilyn Monroe. They’re amazing.”

She added that the entertainment cultures of Australia and the US had significant similarities. “They’re very easy-going and very liberal,” Montgomery said. “The US is much bigger than anything I’ve experienced; everything is 24 hours and you have access to everything …  I think I have the best of both worlds.”

(The new season of “Unforgettable” debuts Monday, 9 p.m., on Lifetime.)