GORGEOUS

Once I tried my hand at computer-aided artwork.  Once only, because I immediately discovered that unlike my good buddy Jie, computer artwork is a field where I will forevermore suck the big one.  Still, that doesn’t take away my appreciation for those who are talented as heck.  And once in a while, I encounter an artwork that stops me cold because of the sheer beauty and emotion delivered in the masterpiece.


This is one of those.


Photobucket


 (Would say they’re Squall of Final Fantasy VIII and Aeris of Final Fantasy VII. But context-wise it’s more appropriate to call them Leon and Aeris of Kingdom Hearts)


 

Burning someont to death isn’t fun

My streak of the world’s weirdest dreams continues.

There’s this girl who suddenly starts paying too much attention to me, and one day she invites me to her house, where her friends were having a get-together. Cutting a long story short, I was elated at first but then I realized there was something sinister about the gathering. Having brought some of my friends along, I was gripped by the shock of my life when they all died one by one, victims of traps where blades either suddenly shot out of drinking glasses and walls which sliced their necks or chopped their heads clean off. Horrified, I decided to do what any sensible person in the throes of a nightmare would do, I woke up.

Here’s the kickass part. I only partially woke up and then went back to sleep, with the conscious thought that the carnage has to be undone. So what happens is I went into the dream again, starting at the point when my friends and I were just arriving at this girl’s house. This time, though, I know what’s about to happen (you could say I went back in time, wahaha), so when the blade traps started springing, I somehow was able to protect my friends, save one (don’t really know him IRL). Then I began beating the crap out of this girl and her friends, who were in on her scheme. The story unfolded that in the past my dad had a brief romantic liaison with her mom, after which my dad abandoned her, pushing her to madness and then suicide. So this villain mastermind-ish plot of hers was to get revenge on me.

In the rewind, though, turns out she didn’t realize who it is she was really dealing with. At first I don’t know how I managed to protect my friends. But after realizing she could not win against me, she decided to take her own life by drinking water from another glass that shot a bladed weapon through her skull. But she didn’t die immediately. Somehow she got hold of a device that when activated would release similar bladed traps that would kill everyone I cared about.

So what did I do? I heat-visioned her ass, until nothing was left of her but ash (that’s what I meant when I said she didn’t realize who she was really dealing with).

No, I have no aspirations of being Superman. That’s not even the point of this post. I’m just wondering how come I always get the weirdest dreams. Is this normal? I don’t know. If this is, as I suspect, just a harmless manifestation of my imagination struggling to be unleashed, then I suppose I’m in the wrong line of work.

Why thinking about you makes me crazy

One for the road. Those who have time enough to burn to read my blog may have noticed my fondness for writing (fondness, not talent – I leave it to other people to declare if I do have talent). I’ve been thinking about writing a book. Fiction. But my 3-month hiatus aside, I don’t have the time to fully devote to the craft (wish I have 39 million dollars so I could afford to not have a day job). But I still dabble, once in a while.

Also, obvious is the fact that I have taken a liking for Persona 3, and you may have noticed me rambling randomly about it in the form of quotes and posted Youtube videos here and there. What most non-gaming muggles don’t realize is hardcore gamers normally set aside short-timers like Tekken, Need For Speed and other non-story based games. Hardcores indulge in the more immersing genre, for example, RPGs (short for Role-Playing Games), those massive masterpieces that usually take at least two weeks to finish one run. Notable luminaries of the genre are the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series. Shin Megami Tensei is a fast-rising title that threatens to dislodge most of these old favorites. I won’t go into detail, suffice it to say that Persona 3 is one of the newest rages, owing mainly to its unforgettable characters. Like Akihiko and Mitsuru (pictured).

So, when a person combines his penchant for writing and love for these fictional characters, what usually results is a fan fiction.

Now don’t scoff. Many fan fiction writers are better than most published writers. And from my experience, some of the best fanfic writers in the internet have strutted their wares in a site called Final Fantasy Online, specifically its fan fiction forum. Now I don’t say this because I post my writings there too, I’m just stating the facts.

So, one for the road, my Persona 3 fanfic featuring Akihiko and Mitsuru (and a song most of you probably know).

Just saying it…

I think it’s safe to say it here since no one reads this blog anyway.

My dad has cancer. Funny, I’ve always felt sorry for people who had expressed that a loved one has cancer. I know it is difficult for them, and my heart always went out for them. But to me it has always been like knowing that a broken bone is painful. I know it is, but I have no idea just how much. I have no graphic description of the pain since I’ve never had my bones broken.

 Now I know. Words can’t describe. Even though my dad and I had never been super-close (I’ve always been closer to my mom), it’s still indescribably hard.

Helpless. Hopeless. Impotent. Alone. Those words seem meaningless next to this.

All other problems seem so inane and insignificant.

And God seems so far away.

I know He’s here. His words say so. My wife says so. But I just couldn’t feel his care and protection right now.

Right now, I feel exposed, unsafe, undefended, and alone. Right now, I feel that my enemies have won.

Coffee lovers have no place in a paranoid society?

I was reading Joy’s blog post on why women like flowers, encountered this that reminded me of something.

What’s more, the female respondents are loud and clear on the point that men do not need to be madly in love to send a woman a spontaneous gift of flowers — any form of fondness, including friendship and fraternal, is appropriate.”

I think the need for mentioning the sentence I quoted above represents a small indication of a bigger problem. While in a discussion with some friends, I was told that society in general considers

“Wanna go for coffee?”

as a pick-up line.

My reaction: WHAT?!?

So if the aforementioned flower article blogger asks me to go out for coffee, or vice versa (which we did a few times in the past, though none actually pushed through), does that mean she or I wants something else to happen between us?

Stupid, diba? I’m a coffee lover, she’s a coffee lover. Heck, millions of Filipinos are coffee lovers. So where does that leave people like us when the most straightforward way of expressing one’s intent to enjoy a steaming cup of brew at the nearest Starbucks with a friend is regarded as something that carries a deeper (and to some, more sinister) meaning?

I think today’s society has adapted a more profound and, might I add, totally unnecessary sense of paranoia. And that’s a very bad thing.

Doomsday itinerary

What is it with me and nightmares?

I mean, most people have bad dreams about going out half-naked, being attacked by a horde of vampires, or seeing themselves in a casket. I get some of that too, particularly the horde of vampires variety. But in my case, it isn’t exactly a nightmare since in my dream, I’m a legendary vampire slayer, and I always manage to obliterate the thousands of vampires I fight (don’t ask me how – there’s a reason it’s called “dream”, wahaha).

Sometimes I have nightmares not of the terrifying type, but those that are so sad they’re debilitating, where I’d wake up almost to the point of tears. Usually about certain people that are dear to me but I haven’t been speaking to because of some conflict beyond my control.

But lately, I’ve been having the apocalyptic type. Like asteroids crashing down to earth. There was this one where I saw a weird pattern of clouds in the sky – weird because the clouds are arranged in a neat row stretching from horizon to horizon, moving perpendicular to its length. And everything on the ground freezes instantaneously as they pass overhead. I remember frantically running to the nearest McDonalds shop and turning on all stoves and ovens to prevent myself from freezing.

Last night, every building in Makati was toppling over to its side while radios scream of the worst terrorist hit ever. I was running like mad trying to avoid a storm of debris heading my way. At first the debris were small pieces of metal and glass which somehow I was able to dodge. But then they turned into large chunks of concrete. No way avoiding them. I was faced with certain death.

So I woke up, with my heart racing twice as fast and my stomach burning with the mother of all indigestion pain. Was the nightmare so lucid and terrifying that my body manifested the horror physically?Â

Could be. At first I wanted to call Mike, Markku, Pao, Leia or Hana and ask them if they were also suffering from indigestion from last night’s Meatshop sisig, but eventually decided off it when the furnace in my stomach died down after a few minutes.

It was the nightmare, no doubt about it.

I wonder what’s next in my nocturnal apocalyptic itinerary…

My own personal grace

Cold shoulder, silent treatment do more harm than good

Ostracism is more powerful now than ever because people have fewer strong family and friend support systems to fall back on when faced with exclusion in relationships, the workplace or even Internet chat rooms, says a Purdue University social psychologist. “The effects of ostracism are a health concern,” says Kipling Williams, professor of psychological sciences who researches ostracism. “Excluding and ignoring people, such as giving them the cold shoulder or silent treatment, are used to punish or manipulate, and people may not realize the emotional or physical harm that is being done. Some purposely hurt others by not inviting them to a party or ignoring them at work, and others may not even realize they are ostracizing someone when they ignore a new temporary employee or a friend after a disagreement.

“In the past, people who were ostracized at work or by a friend could seek support and control through another significant relationship. But because people report growing more distant from extended family and relying on fewer close friendships, they might lack the support to deal with ostracism.”

“Ostracism is one of the most widely used forms of social punishment, and some see it as more humane than corporal punishment, as when used in a time-out, but there is a deeper psychological impact that needs to be taken seriously,” he says. “We know that when people are ostracized, it can affect their perceptions, physiological conditions, attitude and behavior – all of which sometimes can lead to aggression.”

Ostracism, like the silent treatment and cold shoulder, are very common for two reasons, Williams says.

“First, they’re powerful,” Williams says. “And second, you can get away with them. If people are physically or verbally abusive, they can be punished. But it’s hard to punish someone for not making eye contact or ignoring another person. If the person is confronted by asking, ‘Why are you not talking to me?,’ the person can easily deny the accusation.”

Sometimes ostracism is unintentional. Temporary employees, for example, report that they are frequently ostracized.

“They feel invisible,” Williams says. “Other workers don’t want to make friends or even introduce themselves because that person is not expected to remain with the company for long. Temporary workers feel ignored and excluded, and this can affect their performance in the office.”

“Ostracism is present in the animal kingdom and is often used to increase a group’s chance for survival by basically excluding the weakest link,” Williams says. “For example, if a lion is hurt and holding the pride up, then that lion may be pushed away.”

However, humans use ostracism for more complex reasons. The people who are ostracizing often feel a strong sense of belonging with each other, as well as feeling empowered, Williams says. People who are excluded react one of two ways. The most common reaction is to try to improve a person’s characteristics or behavior so they are included or fit in. Or, people who are excluded frequently become destructive and vindictive.

Many people also use ostracism as a tool to gain control of a situation.

The silent treatment also can be an asset when you are trying to argue with someone who is more articulate.

From “The Social Outcast: Ostracism, Social Exclusion, Rejection and Bullying.” by Kipling Williams

Unfinished business

There was this joke that became popular right after the Gulf War ended. A CNN news correspondent reporting live from the battlefield was describing the U.S. led forces attack against Saddam’s Air Force and the difficulties they were having. First was how the U.S. sent a fleet of 1,000 F-15 Eagle fighter jets but they were still having a hard time winning against Saddam’s planes. Then the British sent 1,000 Eurofighter Typhoons, but they were still having a hard time. The French followed suit and deployed 1,000 Mirage fighters, and that didn’t help either. The Allied forces were becoming desperate because Saddam’s Air Force was too powerful.

Then a report came that Japan has entered the battle. Everyone was hopeful at first, but their hearts sank in despair when they saw that Japan sent only five fighter jets. Five. What the heck are mere five fighters supposed to accomplish when 3,000 planes have already failed?

Then a voice was overheard through the radio, coming from the five Japanese fighters.

“LET’S VOLT IN!!!”

That corny joke aside (though it made me laugh when I first heard it), I guess that for our generation, nothing defines “Unfinished business” more clearly and meaningfully than that old anime series Voltes V. Flashback some 30 years ago when we still resided in Bulacan and I was nothing more than a rubber band-bearing, spider-fight watching snot who couldn’t go home from school until the tricycle my mom paid to ferry me home arrived. The routine was play time after school, every day, when my playmates and I would clutter the dirt roads of St. Martin’s Subdivision (beside present-day SM Marilao) with our cheap and “classless” toys and playthings like wooden guns, “tex” and the aforementioned rubber bands.

And when it strikes 6 p.m., we’d all zip home, like clockwork, leaving the streets emptier than a proverbial ghost town. We did it so efficiently that a visitor could mistake it for a scene from a John Carpenter movie. Eerie.

Why? Voltes V is on. “He” and “his” contemporaries. It was the time when Voltes and gang – Daimos (Tuesday), Mazinger Z (Wednesday), U.F.O. Grendaizer (Thursday) and Mekanda (Monday) – lorded over prime time TV to provide us kids of our generation with 30 minutes of utter TV-viewing bliss. Unbridled TV heaven at 6 p.m. every school day, amen.

You probably know how it all went down. The series (not just Voltes but all of the Super Robot series) was cancelled by order of the late President Marcos allegedly because it was too violent. Well, no arguments there, as I’ve compared this with other subsequent similar Sentai format shows that came out, like Star Rangers (the “template” of the Power Rangers) and Voltron, and it was clear how they toned the violence down - for example showing only streaks of bright light instead of the whole graphic enchilada of Voltes slicing through the beast fighter’s body with his Laser sword. But then again, a side story ran rampant of how such shows carried heavy revolutionary undertones that could have endangered the despot’s regime. Still, one has to have a great deal of imagination and paranoia to even consider the possibility of a cartoon… er… anime show provoking an entire nation to rebellion (besides, we all know that the Edsa revolution was triggered by an entirely different event. But I digress).Â

We didn’t give a flying chicken of course. All we cared about was THEY CANCELLED OUR FAVORITE SHOW, just when it was leading to the final episodes! WAAAA! And we were left with nothing but a harrowing question – of how the series eventually ended – that lingered through the years, despite Voltes V and his contemporaries being revived dozens of times in its original home (GMA 7) and its bitter rival (duh). Nostalgia aside, none of the reshowings gave us the closure that we’d been longing for since the original program’s cancellation on March 25, 1978.

Unfinished Business. Over and over and over again.

Happily, that’s over and done with. Thanks to the outfit that sponsored the showing of Voltes V: The Liberation in theaters back in 1999, we’ve finally resolved this unfinished business that lasted for more than 20 years. Ivan Chen maintains a fantastic Voltes V shrine and, being the incorrigible softie that I am, I couldn’t resist swooning out my personal sentiment after witnessing the resolution of this most classic anime treasure.

You have to understand, The animation technology may pale compared to the likes of today’s Gundam series, but my generation lived for Voltes V. The original showing may have lasted for only a little under a year, but the mark it left on us was indelible. And really, how many other anime series merited the number of reshowings that Voltes V had (notwithstanding that shoddy ‘Voltes V Evolution’ over at Hero TV)?

This video is an excerpt from Episode 2, the very first show on TV that made me cry (I’m not ashamed to admit this because my brothers and sister were crying with me the first time we saw this). To my contemporaries, enjoy this brief trip down memory lane (“you have not seen an angry-as-hell robot until you’ve seen this”). To everyone else, discover why Voltes V is also sometimes called ‘a universe-spanning animated soap’ =)

This knocked me off my feet

Sometime around 2005 I realized that Final Fantasy does not have a monopoly to thought-provoking and emotionally charged stories in video games. Just now, my wife and I are enjoying Persona 3 – this is immersive-RPG-experience-outside-of-Final-Fantasy #2 for us. #1 was two years ago when we played Shadow Hearts: Covenant.

This scene in particular staggered me. Karin’s pronouncement came as a total surprise following Yuri’s expression of his resolve despite the personal crisis he faced.

Sometimes it’s just enough to say it out. When the situation doesn’t provide for any other possibility and you face a dead end, with no other option but to turn around, sometimes the hopelessness can be alleviated by simply expressing how you feel without any expectations. Just say your piece and then move on.