Sunday, July 29, 2007

of tearjerkers and crybabies

Sometimes a good cry at the movies is like a great workout. You come out of the cinema feeling tired and spent yet strangely purged of stress – like you just finished a 60-minute aerobic session. For me, the five best Kleenex movies of all time are:
1. Terms of Endearment
2. Schindler's List
3. Dead Poets Society
4. Brokeback Mountain
5. Bridges of Madison County

Terms of Endearment tops my list because of Shirley MacLaine's unforgettable comic relief. Downright hilarious though never contrived, it is reminiscent of real life dramedy as I've experienced it – peppered with pain, sweetened with laughter.

The Crybaby Bearbrick of Series 8 (above, left) was designed by Umino Chica, an award- winning mangaka (comic book artist) from Tokyo. Her most famous work to date is Honey and Clover, a manga and anime series about the intertwined lives and loves of five art students (above, right). Before this series, anime catered mostly to male viewers and featured action-packed story lines with beautiful young heroines. Female fans soon increased due to this animated version of a modern day soap opera.

Info from Wikipedia. Honey and Clover pic from

Sunday, July 22, 2007

designer toy/pop art/collectible bear

Series 5's green/white TV Club Be@rbrick (right) was designed by a famous Japanese TV host/ actor/ comedian/ singer/ writer/ illustrator/ digital animation star/ bike & car collector.

He is known as George Tokoro/ Tokoro Jyoji/ Tokoro Joji – a fun/ intelligent/ stylish guy whose real name is Haga Takayuki. One of NHK's Top 10 Most Popular Male Stars for years, he became a Mr. Donuts/ Kirin Beer/ Toyota Commercial Endorser.

The 'slash' career of Tokoro (the bespectacled guy on the left) is remarkable, given his successful crossover from the music industry to television/ movies/ graphic arts.

Today, more people are discovering/ experiencing/ loving the joy of having multiple jobs/ interests/ specialties. With the world/ society/ life becoming more complex, the need to diversify/ adapt/ expand seems inevitable.

I, myself, am an advertising creative director/ graphic designer/ photographer/ songwriter/ toy collector/ blogger. Sometimes, my problem is how to cram everything I want/ have/ need to do into 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week/ 365 days a year.

One person/ multiple passions. It's an exciting/ unpredictable/ wonderful life!

(Info from / Tokoro pic from

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

a sex lesson & a sexy show

When my brother and I were kids, our mother enrolled us in piano class. It was a dreaded weekly ritual – our teacher was an evil woman who held fang-sharp pencils under our palms while we did the drills. "That's it, THAT'S it!," she would yell. "Keep your hands ABOVE the keys! KEEP THEM UP! UP! UP!"

Mother said with a laugh, "Don't mind her, boys, she's just a bit grouchy 'cause she's a spinster. You'll get used to her."

That's how I learned of the theory that spinsterhood = grumpiness. So when I got to college, I then made it a point to enroll in classes taught only by married teachers. My best friend during freshman year explained it to me: People get cranky when they don't get enough sex!

Thus the equation became: sexlessness = grumpiness.

Haha! I snickered then, though today I consider that pronouncement as wisdom. Whenever I realize that I've been mean to people, I tell myself: Get. Some. Sex! :-)

Unfortunately, the subject of sex is often regarded as taboo by many, and much of its portrayal in the media aggravates this perception. Sexual acts are sanitized or censored. Porn is viewed as cheap. Prurient literature or movies are dismissed as lacking artistry. Good thing, there are those who continue to elevate the status of erotica. The trick is to inject a certain amount of artistic value – oftentimes an intellectual concept – to the erotic material or work.

I'm taking part in such an endeavor. From July 24 to September 22, I will join 14 other artists in an exhibition entitled 'ARS EROTICA'. It will be at the Sison Art Gallery on Taft Avenue corner Remedios Street in Manila, Philippines. I've included some samples of the works here: 'Strap-On' mohair penis by Riza Manalo (above, right), 'Vu-l-va' by Gerardo Tan (left) and one of my own photoworks entitled 'Flaccid' (below, right).

Gallery hours are from 2pm to 6pm, Thursdays and Saturdays. If you find yourself in the area, drop by for some sex. It'll do you good. :-)

The Sun Sex Be@rbrick is by Madsaki, a Japanese artist who graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York City. After 25 years in the US, he moved back to Tokyo and now is part of the artist group, Barnstormers. He has exhibited in New York City, Paris and Tokyo, and has made films, worked for publications, and collaborated with brands such as Levis, Clot, Isetan, XBox, and Commes De Garcons.

Info from

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

bears, bricks & unwanted babies

A long time ago, a friend came to me to borrow some money. He said his girlfriend (who had been pregnant for only a month) had a miscarriage, and he was going to bring her to a hospital for a 'D and C' procedure. (In layman's terms, that meant a surgical clean-up of the uterus). I felt obliged to help him because he was a friend. And because his girl's condition could very well lead to a fatal infection.

It did cross my mind, however, that he was lying to me and was actually going to use the money for an abortion. Perhaps they were both scared shitless that their parents would find out she was pregnant.

Imagine my dilemma at the time: by lending him the money, would I be helping his girlfriend get immediate medical attention or would I be financing a pro-choice decision? In short, would I be saving a life or ending another?

Looking back, the song 'Brick' by Ben Folds Five (left) came to mind. It was an autobiographical song about how Folds and his girl had their unborn child aborted. In the end, they were left with an emptiness that even their love for one another couldn't fill. (Watch the YouTube video here.) The chorus went, 'She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly' over and over. How horrible it must have been – to be unable to swim back to the surface and gasp for air after a tragedy like that.

Did I lend my friend the money? Yes, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

The BWWT 5 Brick Bearbrick is by Kam Tang (right), a London-based graphic designer and illustrator who has worked for many editorial publications such as The Guardian, Wired, Arena, and Wallpaper. He was also involved in advertising campaigns for Adidas, Nike and Sony. Recently, Tam's designs were applied to the commercial spaces of Quick restaurants (France), Burberry (Milan) and London's Design Museum.

(Ben Folds pic by Erin Russell at / Info & Kam Tang pic from

Saturday, July 7, 2007

keiichi tanaami's playful art

I love surrealism, the school of art dedicated to expressing the imagination – free of reason and convention – like in a dream.

I marvel at how the artist can piece together unrelated images, and in the end, c
reate a picture so beautifully absurd that every element seems to be in the right place.

While surrealists Salvador Dali and Giorgio de Chirico come to mind first, I am featuring the works of the contemporary Japanese artist Keiichi Tanaami.

Tanaami is well-known in the field of graphic design and publishing, and is popularly referred to as the Asian Peter Max. In 1975, he became artistic director of Playboy Japan and was responsible for infusing it with fresh and daring artistic content. His art is characterized by sexy and colorful pop art combined with an exuberant, avant-garde slant.

The surrealistic influence is apparent in his toy designs featured here – from his BWWT 5 Bearbrick (top, left) to his Rolling 60s bust collection (left & above, right).

Surrealistic toys – what a playful idea!

(Info from Anipages Daily. Tanaami toy busts available at Paul Smith UK)