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.

Where was I last Friday?

I’ll tell you where I wasn’t. In the movies. Watching Resident Evil: Extinction.

<Rant Rant Rant> You’d think when you have this much free time, finding time to see a movie would be a cake walk. But nooooooo. Wife playing badminton. Friends out of reach/touch for one reason or another. I know, this shouldn’t have been an issue since it has always been my style (except when Cathy’s around) to see a movie alone, but this usually works only if I’m seeing one of those fairly complex flicks where I need to focus and think. Not in this one. I mean, come on, who’s going to jump off the seat and grab my arm when an icky zombie suddenly leaps into the scene? Mike? That would be kinda weird… </Rant Rant Rant>

Irony: Grizzled video gamers normally AVOID movies based on video games. Why? Because they almost always SUCK. Street Fighter (Jeanne Claude Van Damme), too campy. Mario Brothers (Bob Hoskins), overall unworkable. Tekken the Movie (animated), said to be enjoyable only for Tekken players. Who the hell said that? We almost puked out the whole VCR out the window from the sheer painfulness of the experience of watching that crap.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Huge, at least in theory. Reality bit back viciously, revealing how the movie was crippled beyond imagination, being utterly unable to satisfy both those who know the game (Final Fantasy simply doesn’t work as a 2-hour movie) and those who don’t (left with hardly a thought except a lingering “What the hell just happened?”). Mortal Kombat? Decent, to say the least, a welcome treat for those who suffered waiting along the long and arduous line of mediocre video game-based movies. But they should have quit while they’re ahead. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation? Could anything decimate a good start more effectively than this? I think not.

Then here comes RE: Extinction. Third installment of a so far above-passable series (at least compared to The Matrix trilogy). I’ve seen the first two films, and at this point I’m relieved that it didn’t require the RE gaming experience and ShadowLeggy‘s wit to convince me to like them out of pure sentimentalism. The first two Resident Evil movies were good, despite what those ignorant reviewers at Rottentomatoes say. The third one? I don’t know. But what does “grabbing no. 1 spot at the box office on its first week” tend to mean in layman’s term?  For me, well, I lived in the U.S. for six years and in all that time, I haven’t seen a box office hit that isn’t good.

So where was I last Friday?

Never mind that. Suffice it to say that rectification will be made before the week ends. With or without you.

Why does Nathan Petrelli fly?

Because in another life (um… movie), he was a pilot.

(Pic: Adrian Pasdar as “Chipper”, sitting behind Anthony Edwards)

Come on! If this joke hasn’t already proliferated, it should!

(Truth is, from episode 1 I’ve already recognized “Nathan Petrelli” - Adrian Pasdar – as one of the bit role actors in the 1986 blockbuster Top Gun, the film that made Tom Cruise famous. But coining jokes from superficial stuff like this could be dangerous to someone’s health, which is why it took me this long to deliver the punch. Now I gotta get outta here before I’m the one who gets punched  )

I can wait forever… but I’d rather not

What is that one one thing that is common to all people of all classes, ages, denominations, nationalities, ethnic groups and races?Â

We all like to eat.

There is one thing, however, that we all hate to eat. Our own words. In the human psychological make-up, the revulsion to swallowing one’s pride and retracting on self-imposed dogmatic principle is basic and elemental.

(Why am I talking like a college textbook publisher? I don’t know, must be bcos of teh sexy gal in dat pic :p )

This morning someone called me about a job opening in an ABS-CBN-owned company. ABS-CBN.  I told my wife about it and she started laughing. Why wouldn’t she? My intense dislike for that TV station is almost legendary owing to the sheer inanity of many… no… MOST of its programs (Kokey, anyone?). But hey, I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. A job prospect is always a blessing and an opportunity. Even if it is with a company that we dislike for whatever personal reasons we have. In this case, if it does come to a point when circumstances dictate that I work in ABS-CBN, what the hell else could I do?

For one thing, I could laugh. At myself. After all the times I bad-mouthed said broadcasting company, I’d end up working there after all. Wahaha. My wife is still laughing – it’s not often she sees me eating my own words. Which is fine, humiliating but fine. So what? It’s not gonna kill me. Who knows, this prospect might just lead to better things for us.

So yeah, I guess that’s the point I’m driving at. Pride notwithstanding, if you know retracting a sweeping statement that you previously declared dogma would result in things getting better, don’t hesitate. It won’t kill you. I’ve met a lot of people who won’t budge in their adherence to principles that they know had been leading them away from better opportunities just because they don’t have the balls to swallow their pride. Traditionalists. Cultured music aficionado wannabes who wouldn’t admit that they like alternative rock. “I can only work with this kind of people” pseudo-professionals. Subscribers to the people-in-a-relationship-should-stick-with-it-come-hell-or-high-water thought school.

Sometimes the opportunity one allows to pass just because of some pointless principle that really doesn’t serve any purpose other than give someone a false sense of “I’m a man of my word” honor is so huge that the waste is almost categorically criminal. Like shredding a 1000-peso note.

I’m posting this knowing full well that to practice what I’m preaching, I have to welcome the prospect of working in an ABS-CBN company. I still don’t like the idea, but now I’m keeping an open mind, lest my wife starts cackling like a hyena all over again. No big deal, really. It only hurts a little. Kind of like birthing pains. Or breaking a few eggs to make an omelet. Or winning a Fear Factor contest. None of which would kill me, to say the least

Good morning, heartache

WEEEEE!

One of the perks of being on “extended” vacation is being able to do something I’ve always wanted to do – drive around town early in the morning just to enjoy the morning sun and closely pay attention to and observe the things that you normally pass by obliviously in the blur of your everyday trek to work. It’s quite enlightening, really.

– McDo at Quezon Avenue, at the same intersection where you could find National Bookstore, Jollibee and Mercury Drug (I could never remember the street name) is jam-packed during breakfast. Yes, much more than McDo El Pueblo. Which is a little surprising since the locale isn’t exactly the bustling commercial spot-type that Ortigas Center is.

– You could really only enjoy an eat-all-you-can breakfast buffet when you don’t have anything else to do for the rest of the day. This is so true at least for me because I tend to get my money’s worth on buffets (is why I try to limit my binges to a max of twice every six months). This case particularly I’m talking about the breakfast buffet at Grills & Sizzles at the corner of Times and Examiner. Which is good, but not as good as that breakfast buffet served by Something Fishy over at Eastwood City (you get to try a lot of breakfast treats when your work routinely takes you to the wee hours of the morning, like mine did).

– You know what fitness gurus say about warming up first before going back to your workout regimen if you’re coming back from a long lull (in my case, two months). It is true – don’t ever see it as nothing more than popular fitness blabber for selling Men’s Health magazines – if you don’t, it WILL hurt in the morning, and in the following two mornings at the least. Well, that’s exactly what I had in mind when, before hitting the boxing gym again I decided to loosen up first on my Orbitrek cross-trainer. Lesson learned: just because it’s a home exercise equipment doesn’t mean it’s light enough for loosening up after an extended sedentary hiatus. Hell no. My legs hurt like hell the next day, and my ribs were strained to near-fracture point. Next time (though I hope there won’t be a next time), I’ll settle for the simpler push-up.

– Even after all these years, there are still a good number of pasaway drivers who think they could get away with ignoring the number-coding rule (trivia: the Philippine road rule on number-coding was once listed in some website as among the stupidest government laws enacted).

– It pays to be a morning person, I discovered. I think I’ll start calling it in much earlier so I could enjoy more eventful mornings like these before I eventually go back to work (which I suspect is approaching real fast).

Good morning, everyone

Why I stopped reading DC Comics

I hate DC Comics for turning one of my favorite sources of entertainment into a principle-bereft money-making machine. No more Batman, no more Ion, no more Justice League. Sad. But I’m not going to put up with this sleaze-ball act. Another prime example of the pull of money compromising the distinguished accomplishments of past luminaries of the trade.

This is from a Wiki article on the controversial character Maxwell Lord:***************

“How Lord recovered his original human body and received a different variation of his telepathic powers has not been revealed, and fans have criticized this reboot of the character, especially after interviews where prominent DC comics administrators revealed they knew about the continuity problems but decided to ignore them (see next paragraph). In-story, it is possible to explain the various continuity errors as one of the side-effects of Superboy Prime “punching” the universe and changing history (see Continuity changes during Infinite Crisis for more details); this may also explain his character change from hero to villain, as might influence by Alexander Luthor and/or the Psycho-Pirate. While it is was probably the writer’s intent to suggest that Lord’s previous ‘heroic behavior’ was simply a part he played to ingratiate himself with the heroes before his intended plan of betrayal, this is contradicted by his various thought-bubbles over the years.

At the “Crisis Counseling” panel at Wizard World Chicago, Dan DiDio explained DC’s reasoning in using Lord’s character in Infinite Crisis. After going through several possible characters who could be the “new leader for the offshoot of Checkmate”, Maxwell Lord was suggested. Many of the editors thought that the idea made sense, as Lord had been shown to have a mean streak and to have killed previously. The idea was dropped due to the continuity errors, such as him being a cyborg, but they went back to it later after deciding none of the other possible characters were suitable. “We thought about that aspect of the story [where Maxwell was turned into a cyborg] some more,” DiDio explained. “And then asked, ‘Did anyone read it?’ No. ‘Did anyone like the idea?’ No. So we moved ahead with Max as being a human, and having been a human, and not letting that small part of the past stand in the way of this story. We wanted what was best for Countdown [to Infinite Crisis], and for us, that meant that Max had to be a human.”[1]

***************

So the legendary Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire run of the 80s Justice League, including all its spin-offs that covered almost a decade, plus this highly entertaining sequel storyline, suddenly never happened?

The sleaze that media money grubbers are willing to commit never fails to astound me. In a bad way

VDU Awards?

YouTube rocks! Yeah! Thanks to them, I could now catch up on old trailers, old commercials, music videos and other cool stuff that I used to only hope to chance on while watching TV. Add to these all the cool stuff that could be found there that I never thought existed – fan-made videos made by people who got genuine movie-making talent and loads of free time. If I’d been a movie mogul, I’d hire them on the spot!

Anyways, here’s a short list of the best of the best – my favorite among My Favorite compiled videos.

1) Best Car/Car maker commercial – first aired, if I remember it right, during Superbowl XXXII, a little under 10 years ago. Notorious pigeons lock on their helpless target, and then find out later on that it’s anything but helpless.

2) Best official game trailer – No, it’s not a Final Fantasy, but the trailer for Shadow Hearts: Covenant (subtitled “At last Midway did something right” =p ).

3) Best Fan-made trailer – A piece made from Final Fantasy VIII FMV shots. Simply awesome. I wish I could figure out where they got the music (because I know for a fact that it’s not from FFVIII)

4) Best Fan-made theme video – a collection of scenes from Final Fantasy VIII, IX and X, with music from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Wheel of Fortune). Simply too good to be categorized as amateur video

5) Best commodity commercial that never saw the light of day – Xbox 360 TV ad that allegedly was banned apparently for promotion of violence. Which IMO is ridiculous. This would have tripled the sales of the 360 if it had aired.

6) Video award for the angst-riddled – a feature article from the Discovery channel where a pissed off adventurer perforates his custom-made car with a chain gun.

7) Best music video – TIE BETWEEN: MJ and MJ! Michael Jackson joins forces with Michael Jordan in the music video “Jam”! AND This thought-provoking music video, “Woman In Chains” performed by – coincidentally – another collaboration. Oleta Adams side by side with Tears For Fears

8) My personal favorite sports moment – a piece of “documentary” of the last 28 seconds of the 1997 NBA Finals Game 6 between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz.

9) “I just have to capture this” Moment – awesome 2 part ending of Final Fantasy XII. Like, the immense epic cinematic feel is there even if you haven’t played the game yet.

10) Favorite “Cavalry” moment caught on video – Attack of the Silver Dragons, from Final Fantasy IX

11) Speaking of video game endings, Best overall Ending movie from – you guessed it – Final Fantasy VIII

12) From endings to beginnings – or intros, hehe. Best Game Intro – Gran Turismo 3, awesomely accompanied by Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way”

13) Best Game-based music video – Red Jumpsuit Apparatus song “You’re Guardian Angel” with scenes from FFVII: Advent Children

More to come!

Scarred to death

I discovered this morning that sometimes you do know when you’re talking in your sleep. It was probably because I was already half-awake that I remembered this dream I had. About my ex, Grace, and how we bumped into each other at an East Bay town situated about an hour away from San Francisco. We become sort of friends again. Then one day I was looking for her at her house and couldn’t find her. When I ran into her later that day she said she went to drive a “friend” of hers (a Chinese-Fil-Am who had been flirting with her) to the airport, and then saw a movie. Knowing her, alarm signals immediately went off in my head, which was confirmed when I saw that Chinese-Fil-Am guy still later that day – turns out they never went to the airport. She said she saw a movie alone to account for the hours she was gone. I said “I don’t buy it” after which she gave me a treatment of her patented guilty silence.

Here’s where I knew I was talking in my sleep, when I told her “Eto ka na naman. After all these years hindi pa rin natatapos ‘yang kalokohan mo. Bahala ka na nga. Buhay mo naman saka pamilya mo ang sinisira mo. Siguro kaya hindi tayo nagkatuluyan para hindi ako ang mamroblema sa ‘yo.”

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Disclaimer: the above were all just a dream. Grace and I didn’t end up with each other because she two-timed me. Three times (yeah, making me one of the dumbest guys on the planet, I know). But I haven’t heard from her in two years so I really don’t know where she is or what she’s been doing with her life. No idea whatsoever.

The point is this: it’s been years and I still sporadically find myself thinking or having dreams about her, particularly about her unfaithfulness. The issue of a girl’s infidelity delivers a particularly staggering impact because of the hard times I’ve had to go through brought about by her repeated two-timing (I suspect at least 4 guys she had slept with in the 6 years we were together – one of the 4 is confirmed. That was how dumb I was then).

So, does this mean I still love her? Or I still have feelings for her of some sort? Or I’m still hurting?

Nope. If any of the above were true, I wouldn’t be able to speak openly about this in a medium where my wife could see. I wouldn’t be able to speak openly about this to her at all. But I could, and I do. So no, no leftover feelings, no leftover hurt.

But “it left a scar”, so said Sara Milas, Eva Mendes‘ character in the movie Hitch.

Yeah. Sometimes the wound cuts so deep that although you’ve already healed, it still leaves a scar. The painful experience becomes something that you will always remember for the rest of your life.

Is it a bad thing? No, not necessarily. Scars of past “war wounds” only become a bad thing when we misinterpret in entirely. Case in point: a friend of mine, when speaking about his ex, always wonders if maybe he still loves her. I wouldn’t know for sure, but all indications tell me that it’s a scar he’s mistaking for something else.

A scar is nothing more than a mark where a serious injury used to be. We should never play the romantic by seeing it as something else – as some sort of a link in the past that maybe we should never have left behind, and that maybe we should at least catch up with. Some hurts are so serious that you never forget. Remembering the boy and remembering the feelings are two different things (Joey Albert, wahahaha ), and we should learn to discern which is which in order for us to get on with our lives.

So it’s okay to remember, really. Just don’t misconstrue it as “having something left over”. You can breathe a sigh of relief now because it’s done. Kaput. Finished. You just have a scar. You’re fine. No problem.