Saturday, July 26, 2008

the man behind the menace

In Star Wars Episode 1: the Phantom Menace, there existed a ruthless assassin by the name of Darth Maul (above, left). Mentored by the evil Darth Sidious and powered by the dark side, Maul, for me, was the most malevolent force – and face – in the Star Wars universe.

So who would think that the guy who played him – Ray Park – actually looks like this (below)?

He may appear charming and friendly, but mind you, he and Darth Maul have a lot in common.

Like the deadly Maul, Ray started combat training at a very young age. When he was only seven years old, Glasgow-born Parks trained in Northern Shaolin Kung-Fu. At sixteen, he was the United Kingdom's Martial Arts National Champion. In the 1993 World Wushu Games in Malaysia, he competed as a member of the British Wushu Team.

Like Darth Maul, Ray was trained to kill.

But unlike his sinister Star Wars character, Ray will play the 'good guy' very soon – as the mysterious hero Snake Eyes in the forthcoming movie, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.

Yup, I have two of the same bearbrick and I'm giving one away for free! Just leave your nickname (or pseudonym) and city of residence in the comments section. After a week, I will write down each of the names in small pieces of paper, put them in a box from which a winner will be drawn. Don't worry, I will ask a friend to pick the winner! :-)

I will announce the raffle winner in my next blog entry. The winner should email me his/her postal address so I can send the Darth Maul bearbrick to him/her by registered airmail – absolutely FREE! Simple, isn't it?

Ray Park pics from / Darth Maul head shot from / Info from wikipedia and

Monday, July 21, 2008

who's afraid of the number 13?

In the condominium where I live, there is no 13th floor, just like in most of the buildings that I've been to.

Likewise, you won't find 'row 13' in the majority of airplanes.

In Formula One racing, no car is numbered 13.

It is reported that in Scotland, all airports have no gate 13, only 12B.

After Wordperfect Office 12, Corel named their succeeding software Wordperfect Office X3, conspicuously avoiding the number 13.

Despite this widespread triskaidekaphobia (or fear of the number 13), there are those who have achieved huge success and fame by wearing the number on their uniforms: Basketball greats Wilt Chamberlain of the L.A. Lakers and Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns. Football superstar Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins. And power-hitter Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees.

It seems that the fierce and the fearless can conquer the curse.

(Top, left) Gallery 1950, a design/lifestyle retailer in Tokyo, bravely celebrates its 13th anniversary with this polka-dotted Bearbrick. This bear is available in 100% and 400% sizes.

Info from wikipedia /

Saturday, July 12, 2008

ledger's last laugh

I just the read the early reviews of The Dark Knight, the latest Batman movie starring Heath Ledger and Christian Bale, at and I am thrilled that it earned a very high score. compiles reviews from publications and averages the scores based on the respective 'weights' of the different publications (because some critics/publications are considered more credible and prestigious than others). It's my bible when it comes to deciding which movie, book, CD, DVD or game to spend my money on.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote:

"No fair giving away the mysteries of The Dark Knight. It's enough to marvel at the way Nolan – a world-class filmmaker, be it 'Memento,' 'Insomnia' or 'The Prestige' – brings pop escapism whisper-close to enduring art."

Richard Corliss of Time said:

"Beyond dark. It's as black – and teeming and toxic – as the mind of the Joker. 'Batman Begins,' the 2005 film that launched Nolan's series, was a mere five-finger exercise. This is the full symphony."

And David Ansen of Newsweek only had praises for Heath's performance:

"As played by the late Heath Ledger, with tangled greasy hair, grotesque white makeup, darting mad eyes and an obscene tongue that keeps licking his slashed, painted-on smile, this Joker is an agent of chaos so arbitrarily evil he strikes terror not just in his foes, but in the mobsters who hire him to eliminate Gotham City's caped crusader. It's a stupendously creepy performance, wild but never over the top."

While there has been speculation about a posthumous Oscar, only one thing is sure – Ledger's legendary performances, from gay cowboy to dark villain, will live on.

(Left): Sold out at Toy Square Pre-Selling – Hot Toys 12 inch Joker. It's the best Joker action figure there is. You'll probably find the last few pieces on eBay.

(Top) Joker Bearbrick comes from Medicom's Batman & Joker Set, released in 2008.

Joker background pic from Entertainment Weekly, Free Batman wallpapers from, Hot Toys pic from Toy Square Canada

Sunday, July 6, 2008

the deadly storm

Last June 21, at the height of Typhoon Fengshen, a local ferry called MV Princess of the Stars carrying 849 passengers capsized off Sibuyan Island in the Philippines. Only 56 survived.

26-year-old Jimmy Relativo, a bakeshop employee from Manila, was among the few who were able to climb on a raft to safety. But his 22-year-old pregnant girlfriend, Roselyn Ligan, did not make it.

Below is a snippet of his own account from Tarra Quismundo's Philippine Daily Inquirer article:

' “I was thrown overboard and got separated from her. I saw her climb [up the bow] when the ship started to tilt. I told her to jump, but when I glanced back to the ship, she was gone,” said Relativo." '

The article recounted how the couple boarded the MV Princess of the Stars en route to Negros Island to tell Roselyn's father of their plans to get married.

But just hours before they were scheduled to dock, powerful winds overturned the ship. Jimmy and his co-survivors were washed ashore in the far-flung province of Quezon.

Days after, hopes of saving other trapped survivors died. Search and rescue operations had to stop because the ferry was carrying an acutely toxic cargo called endosulphan, a substance that is already banned in 17 countries. Fishing in the area is now prohibited, and local fishermen were told to find an alternative source of livelihood.

The tragic love story has taken an even deadlier turn.

(Top) Misha Hollenbach's Perks Bearbrick (with the rain clouds pattern) is part of the 2004 Bearbrick Worldwide Tour held at the Shibuya Parco in Tokyo. There are 9 other bears designed by various artists in this exhibit.

(Bottom) Natives of Sibuyan's fishing village stare at the exposed keel of the overturned MV Princess of the Stars ferryboat after the accident.

MV Princess of the stars pic from BBC UK website.