Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A spot of photography: Squirtle

Squirt's been with me for quite some time now and I'm just happy that he's still the grumpy, hungry turtle that I bought from Megamall Bio Research after Ryan accidentally dropped him and I cried...gah, it's a long story.

Even though he made me bawl my eyes out once, he's (the vet finally confirmed that Squirtle is indeed a 'he') still my beloved baby turtle. And he's grown a lot <3

Thanks to my bro for lending me his SLR.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Manga Review: Saint Young Men (aka Jesus is a weeaboo)

...or, what if God (and Buddha) was one of us.

If you're still familiar with one-hit wonder Joan Osbourne's If God Was One of Us, then you may have played around with that thought. Did you imagine the earthbound Jesus as the  holier version of King Midas, who turned everything he touched into gold? Did His footsteps turn the hot asphalt He walked on into holy ground? Was He even remotely human, in every sense of the word?

What if He was just chillin' in a rented studio apartment, with Buddha as his roomie?

In Nakamura Hikaru's Saint Young Men, two of the poster men of religion, Jesus Christ and Buddha, decide to take a break from their work and descend into Japan (surprise, surprise) for good old R&R. They rent an apartment, and judging by Buddha's stricken reaction at Jesus' exorbitant purchases, they're also restricted to a certain budget. Will they enjoy their vacation? Maybe, if only their divinity wasn't in the way.

Contrary to the Jesus Christ in every Christian's minds, Nakamura's rendition of the Son of God is incredibly human and a tad carefree, to the point of being a bit out-of-character at first glance. To Japanese highschool girls who catch glimpse of Him buying food in the nearest kombini, He is that Johnny Depp-lookalike who has a penchant for the Shinsen-gumi. He owns a Vaio, and is a J-dorama blogger who makes sure His reviews come out the same day that the episodes get aired - and His blog gets thousands of hits per day.

Tl;dr, Jesus is a weeaboo, just like us.

On the other hand, Buddha of Saint Young Men is truer to the Buddhist doctrine as the man who has discovered the Middle Way (the path between the two extremes of hedonism and self-mortification): he is temperate, scolds Jesus for squandering their limited vacation allowance on needless luxuries like a beginner's clay modeling kit, and a full set of Shinsen-gumi cosplay, and absolutely loathes the extreme sensation of riding the rollercoaster. But he finds it in himself to become a Leah Dizon fan.

As expected of a manga of this genre, Saint Young Men pokes a small jab at its protagonists, putting Christianity and Buddhism in a humorous light. The manga even goes so far as to "reveal" that the fabled Baptism in the Jordan River was not a proof of Jesus' divinity more than a show of John the Baptist's great compassion, and that the white dove that descended from the heavens was the Father Himself, inquiring about the welfare of His slightly aquaphobic Son.

Jesus' addiction to blogging was also explained as a manifestation of his desire for an audience; whether or not this translates to craving attention depends on the readers. I myself know that this isn't always the case.

One of the bigger questions about this manga is whether or not Nakamura's Jesus was too out of character. Is He, really? Jesus of the Bible was capable of playing truant as a kid to show His wits (or youthful presumptuousness?) off to them pesky old men; He certainly was cheeky enough to make His unbelieving disciple to touch his wounds just to show that he was that same person who died on the cross. 

He was also human enough to wreak havoc on the merchants in His Father's temple - but this manga series does not emphasize His righteous anger (an error which will be righted in this particular sidestory).

One of the more obvious reasons why this obscure title shines is its irreverent handling of subject matter, yet never straying far from what could be the entire point of this manga series: Jesus (and Buddha, depending on your beliefs) was once human, just like us. Does it follow, then, that mere humans can transcend humanity and become divine?

Another point being, of course, that people of varying beliefs can hang out with each other and become roomies. It'll be wonderful if that other religious figure (hint: turbans) made an appearance, but we all know what would probably ensue. Denmark knows .

Of course, this seems to be lost in the more orthodox lot of believers and those too narrow-minded to appreciate the message behind the satirical comedy that is practically on the same level as Cromartie High and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (thanks to its tasteful placement of cameos like that one God of the New World).

While the manga has reportedly been received warmly by the Christian and Catholic populations in Japan, the manga a good ice breaker between people of Christianity and Buddhism - and by extension, Shintoism - it's obvious how people from the more fundamental Christian countries will take this gem: all fire and brimstone. And it's sad, really.

For those who missed the scanlation link: Saint Young Men

Monday, May 18, 2009

Guessing game of rage.

People of today's day and age undoubtedly enjoy technological progress that is unprecedented in previous generations. Unfortunately, similar progression in human behavior doesn't necessarily follow.

Back then, reaching out to people and introducing one's self is a highly encouraged act, even if it was done in roundabout, peculiar ways when between adolescents and young adults of opposite sex. There's the employment of mediators, the sending of humiliatingly cheesy love letters, and of course, the subtle throwing of rocks into windows.

Now that the current level of technological progress has enabled communication to ride on zeroes and ones that deliver information on mere fractions of a second, you'd think that human behavior would also become just as practical. But no.

This SMS log is a shining example. Please excuse the vernacular, much of the retardation will be lost in translation, and I can't be bothered to figure out how to encode the following in English txtspk:

[number redacted]: ,h! Uztah kna?
Me: Who's this?
[number redacted]: ,wh0's dis k jan?
Me: Kilala ba kita? Sabihin mo na kasi medyo busy ako.
[number redacted]: ,yup it's me airine?
Me: Nope, don't know you. kthxbai.
[number redacted]: ,gnun ok!! Babusss din
Me: *goes back to browsing awesome items in Saizen, Robinsons Galleria, fitting my boyfriend with fake boobies*

I really don't know if it's the in thing nowadays to prefix each and every SMS with a comma, but one thing's for sure, trying to hook someone into an untimely guessing game, for 1 buck a pop isn't just downright inconsiderate, it's also goddamn retarded and is a discredit to human intelligence.

A short break from the usual stuff.

1. I haven't been doing much outside of work, as always. It's sad, thinking that what transpired last week can be confined to mere bullet points and statistics. A list full of pre-emptive grieving, tears, boredom, paranoia, amusement and nigh miraculous recovery, but a restrictive list nonetheless.

I decided that it was high time to nurse a bottle.

He said that Gilbey's Gin Pineapple has been pulled out from store shelves, my font of college comforts condemned as entry-level alcohol for those too young to remove their lips from their mother's teats.

Just because it was sweet, I suppose.

I'm now left to sucking on lemony lollipops for now. I wish I had someone to drink with tonight.

2. Only recently I've had a few people inquiring if I was still writing. I am, I suppose, working on it. In fact, I have another blog where I'm supposed to post new short stories, but it's currently locked until I have posted four pieces. Hopefully coherent ones.

Thanks for asking.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jesus Christ, it's about time.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

In the meantime, while the cuckoo in my head plots my downfall...

...I am going to the beach. After almost a year since my last beach trip, with the same crowd I'm going with in a few hours, give or take a few people.

I'm glad I'm still able to go to the beach. Simple joys warrant appropriate thanks.