THE WEB JOURNAL OF JOHN RAY

Letters to Blumentritt: Week Seven

Posted in Books, Comics, Family, Manga, Movies, Photography, Travel by J.R. Bumanglag on May 20, 2009

Casino Pauma

It’s finally come, my final week here in the US. Sunday, Tito Hip came over to the house and had a quick snack with us. Manang Jaz wanted to take me to the casino. Normally, you should be at least 21 years old to enter one. But, they took me to Casino Pauma where the age allowed was at least 18 years old. I’ve always wondered how it felt to be in a casino, after watching too much Ocean’s Eleven and 21. Disappointingly, I couldn’t bring my camera inside. The place was bustling with old people and slot machines, the sound of crackling coins all over. Every aisle and row had its own brand of slot machines. I was a little bit dazed because of the lights and sounds circling around me. It took some getting used to the idea of losing money to gain more money. Before I knew it, I was stuck to 1 cent slots for an hour or so.

Red Dragon

We went to a Japanese restaurant and ordered sushi to-go. I was craving for another round of sashimi and wasabi. At Tito Hip’s house, we feasted sushi along with homemade adobo. As usual, they were all speaking in Ilocano. I enjoyed the Red Dragon Sushi I ordered but found myself full in no time. We discussed whether to watch Wolverine or Star Trek. I was in favour of Star Trek, having no idea what to expect of the space adventure.

That night, we split into two groups. Tito Hip’s family was going to watch Wolverine while we were definitely going Trekkie. It was the day of the premiere so there were a lot of people lined up to see the movie. The clocked ticked away and pretty soon, we were entering the cinema. This time around, the theatre was packed and it was a good thing we found available seats. Lights dimmed. And the film began.

Star Trek

What can I say? The movie was kinetic and action-packed! Not one moment was wasted to ensure total involvement of the audience. For a casual movie-goer like me who has no idea of any Star Trek know-how, the film was in every way understandable and easy to swallow. The characters were lively and deserved every moment they had onscreen. On a particular note, some scenes depicting light flare effects reminded me of Michael Bay’s style of cinematography. The occasional humorous moments effectively balances the drama and struggle of the plot. Overall, this film deserves my praise and hopes for a sequel. May the movie live long and prosper.

Navy

One idea that made me excited was to wear the Navy uniforms my cousin had. One afternoon, Manung Totit ironed all his uniforms for me to wear. Although turning out to be too large for my size, it was fun having a feel to be part of the navy. I also wore his bike driving attire and rode his bike. Well, not to the point of driving it but that idea was very much open to me too.

Ouch!

Wednesday, Manung Totit invited some of his friends over for BBQ and beer. I was already imagining the juicy steaks at the table. At the garage, Tito Hip was busy tattooing his American friend. Just by looking at it, I knew it was very painful and agonizing. Maybe someday I’ll try tattooing as a hobby.

akira

As luck would have it, another day at the Book-Off churned out a great find. I was spending my time at the illustration section, making up my mind to what books to buy. Running out of options, I took the first volumes of Akira and Nausicaa The Valley of Wind. As soon as we were already leaving the store, I noticed that there was an English comic book section right near the entrance. Silly me! All this time, I was looking at the wrong places. It was there that I found volumes 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the Dark Horse release of Akira. Each of them only cost a buck each and I just had to buy them. It was a great find indeed.

Hooters

Hooters

Calamares

Texas BBQ Burger

I remember watching the movie Big Daddy starring Adam Sandler and wondering what it felt like to be in a Hooters Restaurant. Thursday, they took me to eat dinner at Hooters. Yes, I was very excited – no doubts there. The restaurant was very lively and the food was great. I had the Texas BBQ Burger and swirly fries. With all the sexual innuendos around me, nothing could really go wrong that day.

T-bone

And it came to pass, the day of my flight came and had to say goodbye. Friday, we left the house just around lunch time. We ate at Denny’s, a restaurant with breakfast as its specialty. I ordered the T-bone steak, medium well with a side order of onion rings and mashed potatoes. I was definitely stuffed and enjoyed every single bite.

Bikes!

Arriving at LA, we were very early so Manung Totit detoured over at Del Amo Motorsports. His love for bikes really showed when we were there. Time does fly when you’re having fun and a little while later, we were already at the airport. After a little snack at the lounge, gobbling sundaes and apple pies, I was ready to get into the plane. I said my farewells to my cousin and his family and to America. It was now time to come back to reality and face my priorities again.

What a trip it was to the land of the free.

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Letters to Blumentritt: Week Five

Posted in Books, Comics, Family, Manga, Movies, Photography, Sports, Travel by J.R. Bumanglag on May 13, 2009

For the most part of week five, staying in the house and messing around with my laptop or TV was the usual call of the day. I don’t remember much of what happened, maybe because of the tequila or just plain memory loss. What I do remember though are little snippets of a movie, a bookstore, a camera accessory, a nail-biting basketball game and a Filipino icon.

Monsters vs. Aliens

I experienced my first 3D movie with the DreamWorks Animation feature film Monsters vs. Aliens. Manung Totit had gone off early from work one afternoon. He had wanted to take Joshua to watch the movie, knowing that he’ll like it very much. Manang Jaz didn’t want to come with us so you can say it’s a night for two and a half men.

Terminator Salvation

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen

Star Trek

Land of the Lost

Xmen Origins Wolverine

Year One

The Krikorian theatre was fairly typical with only the catchy name setting it apart – it’s called the Krikorian theatre. We each got 3D glasses along with the tickets manung bought. The last time I saw 3D glasses was when I was a kid, and it was still red and blue. Some of the coming soon movies really caught my eye. On the top of my must-watch list are Terminator Salvation, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen, Star Trek, Land of the Lost, Wolverine Origins and Year One. For snacks, we had cheesy nachos, buttered popcorn and sodas. I was excited to devour the nachos although I was disappointed because there wasn’t any sour cream.

So we entered the theatre which was surprisingly still empty. Joshua was acting up again because he was frightened of the dark and the loud audio. Once we found some seats, we waited for the movie to begin. Unlike pre-entertainment from back home where music is played, this theatre plays movie trivia and a lot of ads. A little more waiting and the film finally started. The movie was above par with a strong and potential premise. Overall, I enjoyed it very much. But I still think Kung Fu Panda is better.

Shonen Jump

Manang Jaz was telling me about this bookstore where everything was almost a dollar each. I just had to go there to believe this. On the weekend, we went off to Book-Off, Japan’s largest chain of used bookstore. True enough, almost everything in the bookstore are cheap. He first thing that I saw upon entering was this shelf full of English translated manga. All around the store, there are lots of books from every topic you could probably think about – politics, science, computers, crafts, art, design and etc. But the aisle where I hanged out more than any other place was the anime and illustration aisle. There were a lot of artbooks, magazines and manga anthologies that were almost 90% off the original price. After a lot of browsing, I took 2009 issues 8-13 of Shonen Jump, just so I could know how it feels to read Jump first hand.

Camera Accessories

Next, we visited Ate Riza and her family, Manang Jaz’s best friend when she was in college. They live in a little pad in San Diego. Joshua had a chance to play with Ate Riza’s son Patrick. I was particularly excited because I was going to purchase a polarizing filter and remote trigger for my DLSR camera today. So while waiting for lunch, Manung Totit accompanied me to the Henry’s Camera, photography supplies shop nearby. The trip was relatively quick as we passed by what my manung describes as Ghetto land. A little later, I finally got what I wanted – a Promaster 6 ft. remote trigger , a Hoya 58mm Polarizing filter and Tamrac filter pocket.

Manny Pacquiao Ricky Hatton

After San Diego, we went to the baby shower of Manung Totit’s friend. They had a feast set in the living room with a variety of Filipino and American foods. I enjoyed the pork ribs, chomping every meat on the bone. Aside from that, they also had a little sushi tray which completed my meal. It wasn’t only the baby shower that was important that day. The long-awaited match between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton was about to start that very afternoon. Amazingly, it only lasted two rounds. All of us and probably all pinoys from around the world were celebrating.

Celtics vs Bulls

And a little earlier from the fight, the instant classic Celtics vs. Bulls 1st round playoffs was about to end. I was definitely happy that the Celtics won and are moving on to the next round.

One thing I missed this week was the Free Comic Book Day in Comic Odyssey Robinson’s Galleria. The last time I attended a FCBD was when Planet X was opening a branch in Glorietta.

Art Talk with Alex Niño and Hans Bacher

Posted in Comics, History, Movies, Photography, Seminars by J.R. Bumanglag on February 19, 2009

Check out more photos here!

It was a once in a lifetime chance and I just couldn’t let this moment pass. It was yesterday morning, when after I had arrived home from jogging, that I saw the date and long pondered what special event was supposed to take place. And then it just crashed over my head. This was the day of the Art Talk by Alex Niño and Hans Bacher at the College of St. Benilde SDA campus. I had to decide whether to go or not. Surely enough, I decided to go, since I had nothing better to do (except drawing practice of course).

I have long admired Alex Niño’s work, ever since I first saw his illustrations in the Philippine Comics Museum years ago. There have been no other artist like him, no art style would compare to his kind of vision. His art style completely changed my outlook as an artist, deftly picking off the kind of the one-sightedness in art that I once had. The principle in which he viewed art as a continuous change, an evolving organism, challenged the then standard mainstays of Alcala and Redondo. This time, I was going to see the living legend myself.

I left the house at about 4 pm, since the talk was going to begin at 5 pm. Luckily for me, it was only a 30 minute LRT ride to Vito Cruz, so I had ample time to get there. I also jumped at the chance of finally checking out the College of St. Benilde School of Design and Arts. It was sort of an opportunity to explore the high tech facilities they had for art students. So I arrived and was simply amused of the atmosphere in SDA. It was definitely a portal to another world, compared to Beato Angelico.

Alex and Hans

I entered the SDA Cinema and there he was, Alex Niño, seated beside Hans Bacher – who I had little knowledge about, but I would be interested later on. As I was waiting for the seminar to start, the hosts of the program invited the early birds to take autographs and sketches from the guests. Too bad for me though, I was too excited that I forgot to bring any pens or papers (which I really regret). Instead, I contented myself by observing how Alex drew. And he drew a lot of sketches, at least 10 before the talk began.

Alex Nino

The talk began as Alex and Hans introduced themselves. Hans Bacher is a production designer in the animation industry. He had met Alex in 1996, during the production of Mulan. Taking Alex in as a conceptual artist, along with another French artist (I think), this would culminate into collaboration for other various animation films. During this time, there was a presentation of conceptual artwork by Alex for Mulan in the background (of which I was definitely enjoying). You can check them out here and here (I wish I could post them here, but I can’t – copyright). Mang Alex also worked on Atlantis, Treasure Planet and The Emperor’s New Groove.

Sketch

Mang Alex, before he accepted the job at Disney, requested that he worked at 3am onwards. It was interesting and very relating actually, to know that he wanted to work alone, without distraction in the wee hours of the day. Hans would describe this as amazing because it only took him 9 hours to draw a conceptual board the size of about 2 x 3 feet. And that’s a feat! He would see Mang Alex start at the upper left corner of the board and arrive hours later, catch him finishing the piece at the bottom right corner.

Fans

Mang Alex also described his influences as an artist during the 60’s and 70’s. One of the most memorable moments he reminisced was him drawing on beach sand when he was 7 years old. He had grown up admiring Francisco Coching, Alfredo Alcala and Nestor Redondo. Wanting a piece of the action, he nurtured his art skills, dropping out of pre-med in FEU and pursuing a career in art. Accepting the fact that he couldn’t possibly reach the level of his influences, he created his own style, a whole new level.

Alex B/W

There was break, another sketch session and we moved on to the question and answer portion. I was jittery, trying to catch the write words. It was at this time that my heart beat rose significantly and I thought I was going to die. The first question I threw was about how Mang Alex dealt with rejection during his time showing his work to different editors. It was all about a challenge to him, a motivational factor which he used to drive him further as an artist. The second was about their artworks and projects, if we could see them somewhere online. Mang Alex had none, aside from some collections of his artwork by other artists. But he did give his email address. Thank you po!

It was at this time that the show was almost over. The last line of sketches was slowly cutting itself off. It was at this time that I noticed that Carlo Pagulayan was also there, along with his colleagues (of which would compose of the organizers of Komikon). I overheard some of them, talking about the Komikon, that it was to be held at SM Megamall. There were also urging Mang Alex to exhibit his works and have a grand reunion of his generation of Filipino artists. Mang Alex also brought samples of his artwork, a 14 page spread of his current project Dead Ahead. Yes, you didn’t read it wrong, FOURTEEN PAGE SPREAD! All of us were astounded to the level of composition and rendition that he gave to that work.

Alex and Carlo

Alex Nino and Carlo Pagulayan

All in all, it was a great experience having attended the seminar. I learned a lot of new things. I’m thankful that Liraya of CSB-SDA organized this event. I have no regrets now that I chose to go.

Check out more photos here!

If Reading Was A Sin

Posted in Movies, Novels by J.R. Bumanglag on February 8, 2009

I’d be so dead right now. I have been reading to death these past couple of weeks. At first, it was a way for me to get passed not having my PSP for a while (I lent it to my significant other almost 3 weeks ago). It was a very good idea, learning to my dismay that the PSP was the prime reason why I was so easily distracted (Patapon is very addictive, having control over a tribe of eyes really gets my gut going). So, I took the opportunity to get back on a book I read, I think, about 3 years ago which is Angels and Demons. I chanced upon it when I entered my brother’s room looking for something to eat (or a new issue of FHM or Maxim. Yes, devilish.) I picked it up just as I was supposed to leave and get back to work. It was at that instant that I remembered that there will be a film adaptation this summer, a prequel to The Da Vinci Code with Tom Hanks reprising his role as Robert Langdon. Excited at the idea of hitting the theatres once it was out, I decided to read the novel again.

Overall, it was still an enjoyable read. I seriously dig conspiracy theories, secret organizations and science fiction, couple that with at least a pint of historical fact and fiction and a mystery/thriller approach. Although, in many cases, I knew what was coming next but that did not stop me from reading through the novel.

Through the course of my reading sessions riding the jeepney/LRT on my way to school, I wondered if someone would suddenly approach me and tell me to put the book down immediately as it may have threatened my view on faith. The idea of this probable event never escaped my mind. If it did happen though, I imagined justifying that the book is entirely fictional and is by no means an attack to the Catholic faith. But, anything can happen. I’m glad it never did.