Saturday, April 19, 2003

Double Take

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Thursday, April 17, 2003

The Human Edge

When Fight School was still airing last week, there's this show on National Geographic I wanted to watch but was in conflict with the schedule. Now that Fight School's over, I totally forgot about it and luckily stumbled onto it awhile ago.


A few years ago, when Joseph Estrada wasn't elected as president yet, Raul Roco dropped by our school to give a speech about journalism. The participants were mostly grade school students and staff but being news editor has its privileges (one being that I get excused for class to attend the talk).

Mr. Roco began the talk by giving a puzzle. He asked what one thing could change the face of the entire room. And to encourage people to participate, he offered P500 as a prize (yes, Xaverians are easily bribed). I told Filbert, managing editor at the time, that the answer was light. He told me to raise my hand say the answer but I didn't. For one thing, I wanted to give the grade school students a chance. For another, if I was wrong, well, it's quite embarassing to be one of the few high school students in the room and make a mistake. Apparently, my answer was correct.

So what does light have to do? Well, one theory proposed in The Human Edge is that the factor that determines whether we can distinguish whether an object is real or not (such as a computer-generated image) is due to light. There are times when we can something is real or not, even if we can't pinpoint exactly why we come to that conclusion. Well, apparently, that thing we can't pinpoint is actually light.

This guy developed software just to accomplish that. For objects, he had a device that captured light from all the angles hitting the object. For human beings, it's actually more complicated but works on the same principle.

An application of this is when he took the light of an area (a catherdral) and a person. The person's image was then placed into the cathedral so that she actually "fitted" there.

Think of it as an improved blue/green screen. With such techniques, we usually know that there's a blue screen behind the person, mainly because the light hitting the people isn't right (the light we see hitting them is from the studio rather than the location depicted by the blue screen). In this case, however, the location's lighting fits the person's. If I were to be placed in a forest setting, for example, you'd see shades of green and yellow on different parts of my body to mimic me actually being present there.

Of course so far, this application is only for stationary objects/people. The guy is currently working on one for film.

Mechanical Surgery

There was this other feature on cyborg apparel (well, I'm sure Sacha would appreciate this) and clothing (keyboards on cloth!), but I've heard about it several months ago. The one that really caught my attention was the surgery being made via computer.

While surgery attempts to heal the person, it usually comes at the cost of injuring the person (making incisions, having the wounds heal, stopping the heart, etc.). Robotic surgery minimizes that. In the case of heart surgery (yes, I am thrilled at this since I'm one of those people who have respiratory diseases), the doctor doesn't need to cut open your chest to perform on your heart. They just make three holes (the size of a pencil they say), one for the camera and two for the mechanical arms.

The camera magnifies the picture a hundred times so that the doctor can see it better. And with a joystick, he can operate with the mechanical arms. And since it's a joystick, there's much more precision as a result. No more jittery hands causing mistakes (or leaving a watch inside the person).

And the other practical application of this is that it can be done far away. Your doctor might be in another continent but still able to perform the procedure.

Itching to Game

Now that my RPG gaming group has been scattered around the world (Franco and Jobert are in the US, for example), I have no outlet for games I want to play. But oh well, I guess I'll start making the D&D campaign so that when Jobert arrives here by June, the game will be ready with minimum preparation.

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Work Almost Complete

Pending the unsent music files and images, I'm nearly done with my work. Of course because of the added voice overs, the file jumped from 10 MB to 81 MB...

Holy Week

I guess today's the start of Holy Week. Shops are closed, not much to watch on local TV, and there's probably some processions and pasyons being recited in various parts of the country.

Saw Elvin at church last Sunday and he did make a statement about Holy Week before and Holy Week now. He described the time in the 80s as B.C., Before Cable. During that time, people had the choice of watching either Christ get crucified, or the cartoon/anime Super Book and Flying House on TV. Now, with the advent of cable, there are actually other shows you can watch during Holy Week.

I also remembered what Ambeth Ocampo told us about the pasyon. During the Spanish colonial era, well, Filipinos didn't exactly have a lot to do aside from work. There's no TV (no telenovelas), no radio, and people didn't travel a lot. The only thing they had to look forward to was the pasyon. That's probably the highlight of the year excluding Christmas. In comparison to today where Holy Week is one of the most boring of times (at least to those who don't reflect, pray, and fast) or probably an opportunity for people to leave their homes (or go back to their provinces, depending on how you see it).


Eat, sleep, work, TV... that's basically my routine for today. I guess what shocked me today was the Evolution cartoon... yes, I'm talking about the one based on the movie a few years back. The fire truck gets an overhaul, the protagonists are kids, they get advanced armor (kinda like the Power Rangers redux in the Avengers cartoon), and they get a three-eyed yellow creature as a mascot. Oh yeah, Justice League is back on Cartoon Network again.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2003

My Job is Never Done

Oh wow. Now they give us a script. Spent the last half hour editing the text so that it would fit the script.

Also, I had to edit the voice overs. And well, my computer isn't exactly optimized for that. Fortunately the Windows Sound Recorder was up to the task. But I'm doing stuff I wasn't meant to do...

Anyway, I have tomorrow since today was unproductive in terms of Flash, since I only spent the last half hour working on it during the entire day. Did spend the morning increasing my knowledge of Flash as I figured out how to make a pop-up menu.


Finally managed to update this blog and added some links. Just in case you didn't notice the left sidebar.


Good news is that I'm finally on ADB/Ink & Stone's mailing list. Which means I get to find out what their new stock is. I'm interested in acquiring the Races of Faerun book but I still owe Gio money so that he can buy me stuff when he goes to the US as well as Arcina who's planning on buying a PS2.

And Powerbooks is on sale until May 15. Not the general type (that's on September) but rather the one where you have to sort through the bins.

Here's ADB and Ink and Stone's contact numbers:

A Different Bookstore (Bridgeway, Glorietta 3, Ayala Center, Makati - 632-8935918)

The Ink & Stone Bookshop (G/F, The Podium, 18 ADB Ave., Ortigas Center - 632-6378221)

Here's the one for the Quezon City branch of Books for Less:

Drop by Korben Place at 91 Roces Ave. QC, email or call 371-4539 for details.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2003

To Save A Few Pesos

I didn't commute from Guadalupe to Rockwell but rather I got off at Buendia and started walking. All for a CD inside a brown envelope.

And of course, had to walk back to Buendia and got dropped off at Ortigas. Had to walk to Robinsons Galleria to meet Krizelle. Apparently, there are two McDonalds at that mall (but thankfully, one's on top of the other).

A Half Hour I'll Never Get Back

Well, met up with Krizelle and her friend, John Say (a Xaverian), who was pitching me to invest in MIB (Millionaires in Business). I didn't buy it for several reasons.

For one thing, John's technique is too familiar and doesn't suit me. I've heard other sales pitches before (from Xaverians also) and well, the approach they took was the same. Even the opening line was the same. I don't know if that's the result of the training, that he also studied in Xavier, or some bizarre coincidence.

Of course his manner of presenting the product is showing the brochure and telling me what it says. At least he's not reading from the brochure but well, if you're saying nothing new, why bother with the dialogue and not just give me the brochure and let me read it?

I guess he was also talking down on me, explaining each and every detail. While I understand there's a need for this approach when talking to some people, that's not the case for me. He doesn't need to explain the geometric progression (in contrast to arithmetic progression) if income that arises from the venture... provided that you acquire other people to invest.

Meshing of Hobbies

It also amazes me at how anime has managed to find itself in other hobbies. I mean several years back, anime wasn't yet mainstream. It's like a taboo hobby that only few people knew about and it cost you an arm and a leg to obtain related merchandise.

Nowadays, it's blended with other icons of pop culture.

I mean anime and manga (or comics/graphic novels) go hand in hand. Of course before, the number of titles being translated were few (at least to American and Filipino audiences since manga is being translated in a number of Asian and European countries). Now, there's a lot of cheaper (but still expensive) manga being translated into English, and Filipinos for the past few years are doing pirate-translations of popular titles. And then there's the Internet, and the concept of "scanlations".

Personally, I got into anime hanging out at the local shop that sells Magic: The Gathering cards. It's strange at how the transition came about and at one point, I had to choose between the two. Anime won, and not too soon, because a few months after I quit, the main distributor, Novelty Entertainment, closed down.

Of course one of the reasons Novelty closed down (but M:TG distribution survived under Neutral Grounds [formerly known as Hobby Cafe/Gamer's HQ]) is because of Pokemon. And well, the Pokemon Collectible Card Game (CCG) is based on the game of the same name, which in turn eventually got adapted into its own manga and anime series. Anime is no stranger to the CCG market, at least in Japan. There are a lot of anime-related CCGs like Yugi-Oh, Gundam, Super Robot Wars, etc.

And if we're just talking about games, especially video games, anime has dominated that scene in Japan. Big computer companies like Sega have investments in popular anime (e.g. Evangelion, Sakura Taisen) and many best-selling games have been adapted into anime and vice versa.

Of course consumers around the world would fall in love with these video games and people (at least Filipinos) now link it with anime. Games like Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, the various dating sims and (ugh!) hentai games are usually paired with anime. I mean fangirls equate Squall or Cloud as bishonen (pretty boy, or biseinen as Vern would later tell me), a term commonly used by anime fans.

I can't also stress that many of these games are RPGs, a genre that was popular in Japan since the 80s, compared to America where it only caught on in the mid 1990s. Naturally, a number of anime would have RPG games and would be inspired by RPG-related fiction, storytelling, and approach. Record of the Lodoss War is a direct anime adaptation of D&D, but few people realize that other anime like Legend of the Galactic Heroes (using the Traveller RPG rules) and Slayers, Ruin Explorers, and Shadow Skill (all serialized from the same magazine which is known for its fantasy fiction) have its roots in RPGs. I guess right now we have the anime/game HackSign, where the protagonists are assuming video game RPG identities and they know it.

Let's not forget the marketing tool anime has played. Aside from all your Voltes V die-cast toys and Gundam model kits, anime is famous among modelers. I mean robots are the norm but there are other model kits to assemble. For example, the anime Your Under Arrest has a model kit line featuring the vehicles (like the police car or motorcycle) the cast is using. Battery-operated toys like Zoids also has an anime influence. And well, Tamiya as a modeling company (since they do have a diverse set of paints and tools) is now best known for its foray into mini-4WD, especially with the debut of Let's & Go a few years back. And let's not go to the numerous Beyblades and Crushgears starting to show up. But I like to add that while a lot of these seem new, there are old similar-minded marketing tactics. For example, there's this old anime, Zillion, which clearly featured Lazer-Tag equipment (and it's cooler than the cartoon Lazer-Tag).

In the Philippines, pop culture conventions usually have a taint of anime. I mean back in the days of Novelty, there was the Collectibles Convention which featured various icons like Star Wars, Star Trek, South Park, etc. as well as anime. Nowadays, anime conventions are the norm with other pop culture on the side.

That's not to say that there aren't conventions that specifically target those pop culture icons (we did have that SF&F convention, after all). But on those conventions, there's usually an anime presence. For example, a bulk of those who participated in Via Astris con were anime cosplayers. And in last Halloween's costume contest in Ayala by (ugh!) Tim Yap, a number of the participants were anime cosplayers and the grand prize winner was an anime cosplayer.

I also did get to visit animation companies, not necessarily ones that produce anime, and among their staff, there are a lot of people influenced by anime. I see posters, model kits, and plushies on their desktop. And with the release of the movie The Matrix, even anime has had an effect on film (although nothing so huge as of yet).

And for the rumor corner, Level-Up games (OzWorld) might soon be acquiring the online game Ragnarok (Korean title). I think they'll be having a booth on Anime Quest featuring this title, but only time will tell if it'll push through, since it's just a tentative plan.

Wow... this apparently turned into a full-length article on what should have been a few paragraphs...

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History Repeats Itself

April 15, 2002

It was my mom's birthday and that evening, she wanted to go to this fancy restaurant (I forgot the name) in Tomas Morato. It took us thirty minutes to get there and when we finally arrived, the lights of the restaurant were closed. When my mom got out of the car to check, she discovered that it was closed, since it was a Monday, and that restaurant was always closed on Monday.

We ended up going to Le Souffle in Ortigas to have dinner.

Interesting event for the night was that it was probably on that evening that it dawned on Arcina that I really am a stalker. For the one and a half hours we were eating there, Arcina never noticed me, even though our tables were right next to each other. I did try to contact her, but Arcina didn't look at her phone until we finally left.

April 15, 2003

I thought it was going to be a quick evening. My dad brought the car to Virra Mall... and then we passed by Gloria Maris. Suddenly, I realized that we weren't going to eat at Greenhills, which is where we usually dine on special occassions. I then asked where we were eating. Mom answered that it was a restaurant in Tomas Morato. I then suddenly started thinking if it was the same restaurant as last year.

Again, spent thirty minutes going there only to find out that the restaurant is again closed. This time, because it's Holy Week.

Half an hour of my life wasted, mom decides to go to Le Soufflet. On the way there, my dad then comments that it was just like last year, that the restaurant mom wanted to go to was closed. Then he asked me where we ate last year. I told him Le Soufflet (it's amazing this memory I have... too bad it doesn't work with names). So it is deja vu.

No Arcina just a long meal. Lost something like two and a half hours of my life, especially going home since the Ortigas area is following a new traffic scheme (I usually walk, so I don't really mind).


Well, my work with Flash is soemthing like 80% done. I just have to finish the final scenes and then I'm done. That and I have to get the material which my employers haven't given to me yet. Will drop by their office tomorrow morning to get the dubs and some pictures, but they still owe me the music loop and a few more pictures, which they'll hopefully give to me sometime during Holy Week.

Tomorrow I also have a meeting with Dice since she has a business proposition (which means soliciting me for money... told her I was broke but she replied that I don't have to pay now... and who am I to decline a cute girl?). So I have to time it right so that I get to Rockwell on time and still manage to meet Dice at Robinsons Galleria by 1 pm. Last time I met her, she told me to meet her at Jollibee... which unfortunately has three branches in Robinsons Galleria (we were at the wrong places at the wrong times).


One of the many contradictions in my life, while I consider myself to be a writer, I seem to be doing anything but that. Fortunately, Elbert the manager/pimp/commercial whore/comic,graphic,layout-artist/writer/"porn star"/editor/student/consultant/occasional guest speaker/history buff got me to do this article on "books to read for children and adults over the summer" for a certain magazine (again, I forgot the name of the magazine... but trust me, it's not a mag I've read or seen in the past). Whether it'll actually be published or not, I'll know next week (but I have a track record of publications going broke before my stuff actually sees print). Managed to find the time to work on that article amidst working on Flash. Suffice to say, here are the books I recommended (if you want to know why, read the article).

The Little Prince (Ang Munting Prinsipe in Filipino) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (yes, I don't like the series, but this book is probably the best among the lot, especially since there wouldn't be a "Narnia Chronicles" if it weren't for this book), His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. le Guin, The Belgariad by David Eddings, and Lois Lowry's The Giver.

I wish I had more books to dig up but quite frankly, that's the only "children's books" I've read (and just because it's aimed at children doesn't mean adults can't appreciate it). The last time I recommended a book I haven't read, well, let's just say I was disappointed when I finally managed to read it (the book, FYI, was Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which didn't strike me as funny as I expected... I really prefer Terry Pratchett more than Douglas Adams). I wish I had the time to read other children's books like those written by Brian Jacques or Susan Cooper, but perhaps in the future. When someone loans me a copy or buys me one (there's also that series, "a series of unfortunate events" I think is the title). *hint* *hint*

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Monday, April 14, 2003

K-Zone vs TeleSuccess

As I was watching Ippo (by the way, the artist of that series seems to have an awkward way of drawing people's ears), one of the ads-during-the-show (uck, the TV screen of GMA's anime line-up is being muddled up by numerous ads and mobile phone gimmicks) posted that K-Zone is having an event at Rockwell on the 26th. Unfortunately, it so happens that TeleSuccess's Anime Quest falls on the 25th-27th.

Then it got me that K-Zone's audience is slightly different from Anime Quest. After all, the former caters to kids in general. The latter focusing on anime.

And again, I saw the ad. It said "K-Zone first anime event on the 26th". Uh oh. It's like Star Trek: Nemesis competing with The Two Towers on opening night. But there's hope for K-Zone. It'll depend on Anime Quest's lineup for the day and as far as I know, the interesting events usually occur on Sunday, the 27th. And if it's the parents who are in charge of choosing the place, they might opt for K-Zone's event in Rockwell than the crowded place that is Megamall. Then again, Rockwell isn't exactly the easiest of places to go to, especially in contrast to Megamall, which is where Anime Quest is going to be held.

Soap Operas and Telenovellas

Honestly, I have nothing against these shows. It is a valid genre (although I really feel Filipinos adhere to it too much). I mean it's one of the two pop culture shows that is pervasive among the masses (the other one being anime... thank God Filipinos haven't tried their hand at making their own anime, although I might add a lot of Filipinos are involved in the anime you're watching). But well, in one commercial break as I was watching Ippo, GMA 7 just threw a barrage of soap opera ads in a span of a few minutes. Around six or seven soap operas were advertised, half of those domestically made and the others are dubbed imports. Isn't just that too much (then again, I'm also fed up with all the repeated ads of anime and the like).

Translation vs. Dubbing

Since we're on the topic of anime and soap operas, it occured to me to write (actually editing this and can't believe I initially wrote "right" instead of write) an article on translation vs. dubbing. It might seem the same to some but the two have differences worth mentioning. The perfect situation would to be to have anime (or telenovellas) with good translation and good dubbing but lately, it's either one or the other, or sometimes, not even either of them. And the latter is more obvious, even if the show had good translations. But I'll reserve the topic for the future...

Crush Gear Turbo... on ABS-CBN

Apparently in a subsequent attempt to cash in on the anime Cartoon Network keeps on acquiring, ABS-CBN has already started showing ads for Crush Gear Turbo. Maybe it'll replace their Beyblade anime, which is on its third rerun.

In my opinion though, Crush Gear Turbo isn't as sellable as Beyblade, or even Let's & Go (Tamiya mini-4WD), but clearly, the fact that ABS-CBN is going to air it is going to affect sales. I guess I should brace myself to face tiangges selling fake Crush Gear toys. Or accidentally stepping on one (I nearly stepped on a Beyblade the other day...).

Home Sweet Home

I actually got out of the house today. Had to meet Dean as I gave him a copy of Grafic (courtesy of the Comic Collective) and showed to him the work with Flash I've done so far.

I forgot to mention to Dean that a bulk of the time spent was on the transition scenes (so that your screen just doesn't flicker and show you the next panel) like the curtains in the version 1 draft. My employers wanted to take out the transition scenes, which was perfectly fine with me, since that reduced 75% of my workload. Right now, in the span of two days (and it's not even 8 hour days), I've managed to reach halfway of what originally took me half a week in the first draft, all because I didn't have to worry about transition endings (although there are opening transitions, which isn't too much of a problem really).

My apologies to the people who don't know what I'm talking about (but I know Elbert does), but when you start working on Flash (not the animation part), you'll understand what I mean. =)

It was also great of Dean to understand that my fanzines were catered towards an audience (well, that and it's a few years old... my writing has hopefully improved since then), hence work not exactly readable by non-fans (of anime).

On a side note, I don't know if Dean remembers, but we initially met a couple of years ago when he was still head judge of Novelty Entertainment, the suppliers of Magic: The Gathering back then. I used to frequent Comic Alley at the time (and eventually worked there) and my friend Timothy/Jansen mentioned him and his wife (Nikki, who's one of the few female M:TG players). There was this one tournament and there were something like four female players out of a hundred plus participants (then the minimum number of players in a tournament) and one of them was Nikki.

First time I talked to Dean was when the expansion Homelands was recently released and a tournament was held in Virra Mall, in front of National Bookstore (that area would then be the venue for singing contests, masses, and the like). Before the tournament began, Dean entertained rules questions and I came forward and asked him to clarify a certain rule.

Another time was when Novelty was promoting the release of the latest edition of Magic, the "Classic Edition". Dean came to Comic Alley and I think it was my day off at the time. He offered to play a game of sealed deck with anyone, best two out of three matches. Winners would automatically qualify for the tournament being held at Saturday that week, since there was a Collectibles Convention going to held that weekend and the tournament was only open to people that managed to obtain a certain rank.

Dean got a not-so-optimal deck, since there was a card that gave white (or was it black?) creatures -1/-1, and then another card that gave them +1/+1 (Crusades, I think... if not, it's probably Bad Moon). Anyway, I was one of the people that played sealed deck with him, and won. Unfortunately, I couldn't join the tournament since I had work on that day.

Of course several months later, Novelty would close down and I'd see Dean occasionally at Comic Quest, or at the annual Philippine Bookfair, browsing through books and stuff. And later, Elbert would pave the way for re-introducing me to him since Elbert asked me to drop off his 24-Hour comic at Dean's office... which happens to be near my house.

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