Time to Rejoice

I finished playing Max Payne 2 in TWO DAYS! Whoopee doo yay!

I played the first Max Payne 5 years and a couple of months ago. Started playing the game on a junior’s new computer. One that I helped buy, convincing the boy to spend some money on a 4.1 Creative Speaker set and an extra graphics card, and later set up in his room, installing the drivers, benchmarking out the PC by playing a game I had bought on the strength of its previews. And this was right after I was done with my 2-day 5-interview session with a company based out of Hyderabad.

I stopped playing the game the next evening, at the last level. I was supposed to shoot at some wires and topple a tower onto a helicopter, and I had no ammo left or something like that, I don’t remember too clearly. I stopped playing and went out to the local PCO ( this was a time when cellphones were around, but calls to Hyderabad would cost about 6 Rs per minute) to call the company. The nice HR lady told me I could come join in two days. I walked back to the hostel, finished the game and went back to my room to pick up my train tickets to Guwahati. It was eight by the time I got back from the railway station, having cancelled the train tickets and booked bus tickets to Hyderabad.

I am still employed with the same company, and apparently I can still finish a game in 2 days if I put my mind to it.


Does not really deserve a title.

Junji Ito is messing with my head.

Junji Ito who? A horror creator from Japan. Known primarily for a series called Uzumaki (Spiral in English, also made into a not-so-good movie) and for Tomie. Tomie. I read scans of this series a couple of years back. Fairly gruesome story about a drop-dead beautiful girl (heh heh heh) named Tomie, who has the power to make people obsess over her, and ultimately, kill her.

Except, Tomie does not stay dead easily. She regenerates, inspite of having been hacked and slashed and dismembered and, in one mega-sicko sequence, being ground to a paste and mixed with Sake. She regenerates, and sometimes, most of the time, actually, she comes back in ways that are extremely distressing to an unsuspecting manga fan who is having his dinner. Take my word for it.

The scans I had read before were from this defunct company called Comicsone, and the translations weren’t too good. Dark Horse comics has taken to reprinting all of Junji Ito’s works in a series called Museum of Horror, and I recently bought volume 2. Excellent stuff, more so because in this volume Ito’s art seems much more polished than the early Tomie stories. Now to find volumes 1 and 3.

You can read a complete Junji Ito horror story right here.

* * *

Gaurav got a bunch of my stuff back from the States. A Sergio Aragones Groo pin-up, a Harry Roland Vampirella painting, a Tony Harris Starman page, and a 2-page Kevin Maguire splash page from Gen-13/Fantastic Four( my first double-page splash! Woo Hoo!). The splash page had some of the most detailed inking I have ever seen, I spent a good half an hour just looking at the intricacies. Apart from the artwork, he got back the complete Hellboy collection, the first three volumes of Lady Snowblood, quite a bit of Ellis – all of which were part of Brady’s collection that I had purchased this year, most of which is still at 2fargon‘s place in the States. I finished the Hellboy volumes sometimes yesterday – started them in the airport the day before. Yes, I was travelling.

* * *

How was the last year for me? Very trippy. Right from Jan 1st, 2006, half of which I spent in Bangalore airport, I seem to have been travelling like mad. I cannot remember more than one or two weekends in the first three months of this year when I was in Hyderabad. None of these trips were too restful, except for a Mumbai trip in April, where I spent three and a half days in invigorating company, and the last week of the year, which was my Back To Basics trip. I nearly ended up spending half of 31st December in an airport too, but I didn’t mind it one bit, nosirreebob.

In case you haven’t been following the LJ too obviously, last year was also the year of Original Art. ( 2004 was the year of The Comic Book, 2005 the year of The DVD ) Technically, I bought my first pieces on 25th December 2005, but in 2006, the acquisition of my first Quitely page broke the 200$-eBay-barrier. I slacked off sometime in the middle of the year, but then I had this life-altering conversation with a friend, sometime in September, about why he is going to collect original comicbook art, and only original art, after he graduates. There was a flash of light, in which I realised how right he was. And from then, there was no looking back.

It was also, in a slighter degree, the year of a near-complete comicbook collection. I bought out a collection from someone in the US, and effectively that has put an end to fervent searches and snipes on eBay. I am contented. For now.

A depressing year, as far as new music goes. Apart from the fact that my sister gifted me an iPod shuffle, there has not been any hallelujah-worthy moment in music for me, this year. (Yes, that’s right, I have become a jaded old fucker. Rape me, my friends. Which reminds me that I waded through Nirvana’s discography sometime back. Excellent rush of happy memories that was. ) No, hold on, let me remember some music-worthy moments from last year…

– The live Zero-7 video that Vasu showed me, that made me go and listen to all of Zero-7 for a couple of days.
– Listening to this band from Nepal called Nepathya, who do rock versions of traditional songs from around the Himalayas. Infectious!
– Rediscovering DJ Krush, who I had heard a little bit of in 2005.
– Siddharth singing ‘Appudo Ippudo’ from Bommarilu, Shreya Ghoshal on the songs of Anukakonda Oka Roju, and, most important of all, ‘Dole Dole’ from Pokiri.
– All the adgy mixes.
– Kailash Kher’s Kailasa, the live DVD as well as the CD.

Hmm, seems like there might be a mixtape in the offing after all…

The first half of the year, I took this rather drastic measure of choosing to ignore ALL blockbuster movies that are released. It was meant to be a one-year abstinence from all things corporate-Hollywood-and-Bollywood-ish, but the idea got chucked somewhere along the way. I did not watch too many movies either ways – probably the fact that Sympathy For Lady Vengeance did not impress me as much early this year has something to do with it. The ones I saw were reruns of the ones I saw before. Repeat viewings rock, don’t they?

About the rest of what went on in my life, well, all of you who know me already know about what’s going on, so do I really need to write it all down? The rest of you will have to make do, I guess.

* * *

Right now, I have in front of me the following – Pride of Baghdad and Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, both hardcover. Genshiken volume 3 – I had bought volumes 4 and 5 yesterday on the last day of the Odyssey sale. DVDs of Pitamaghan, Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu, Anjali, and Jillanu Oru Kaadhal. A neat Hitman page, drawn by John McCrea and inked by Gary Leach, featuring the last appearance of Sixpack, that I picked up from the post office today morning. Ramesh Menon’s Mahabharata is occupying my nightly hours.

Ain’t life grand?


Odds and ends.

My friend Vasu was in the States last year, and I ordered some comics off a site – crazyeli.com, in case you are wondering – pretty decent collection with prices low enough so that one can order fill-in issues without too much of a strain in one’s pocket. I got a pretty bunch, but unfortunately, the comics reached Vasu a little late. And the seller had to resend them to an alternate address. Where the bunch remained, alone and friendless, for about eleven months. They landed in my lap yesterday, after much fed-exing and address-coordination between friends of friends of friends.

The loot?

  • Watchmen 2-12 ( I already had issue 1, which was bought in a shady bookstore in Assam sometime in 2001),
  • Four issues of V For Vendetta that I didn’t have,
  • Elektra Assassin 5-8 ( I had gotten 1-4 in Magazines, Bangalore),
  • Frank Miller and Dave Gibbon’s Martha Washington Saves the World – one of my favourite Miller works.
  • 300 issues 1-4 – issue 5 got out of stock just before I could buy it.
  • What If 35, by Frank Miller – the storyline being What if Elektra had lived, a nice little story from 1982 which was one of the first Miller works I ever read in my life. I believe there is a dilapidated copy of that issue still somewhere among my books in Guwahati – the darn thing nearly fell apart with all the multiple rereadings I subjected it to.
  • Garth Ennis and Amanda Conner’s The Pro, a throwaway yet hilarious story about a prostitute who gets superpowers.
  • Punisher: The End, the only Ennis Punisher book I didn’t have.

And, the most important of the lot – Miracleman 1-3, 5 by Alan Moore, and 17, by Neil Gaiman. My Miracleman collection gets nearer to completion. This is one of the rarest series available, and I think the day I get a copy of Miracleman 15 and 16 at decent prices will be a Seriously Important Day in my life. How decent is decent? Copies of Miracleman 15 sell on eBay for anything between 90-250$, depending on the condition. So far, I have 1-3,5,10,17, 20-24 and the trade paperback of volume 4 and Miracleman: Apocrypha.

I finished reading The Filth (by Grant Morrison, Chris Weston and Gary Erskine) recently. I thinking shooting myself in the head would have been slightly less masochistic an experience.

Planning to re-read the Morrison run on New X-Men. Mostly to get a feel of the Quitely-Kordey-Jiminez-Bachalo-Van Sciver-Silvestri artwork throughout the series.

JLU makes me want to set up a shrine to the Bruce Timm-Eric Radomsky-Glenn Murakami-Alan Burnett team. The ending ( and epilogue ) to the fourth season made life seem more worthwhile. What a show!

There was a sale going on at Odyssey. Buy three books and get the cheapest of them for free. Picked up Ramesh Menon’s recent translation of The Mahabharata. The opening chapters are really inviting, just the right amount of risqueness required to hook a reader onto the volumes. But the packaging is really unmanageable – it took a great deal of struggling for me to pull out one of the volumes, and the slipcase is slightly damaged now. Bah!


New Comics Day

This year, I shook myself off eBay a bit. Just a teeny-weeny bit, mind you. Part of it was because of dumb luck – I am a member of this community called , and some LJ user put up a post sometime in the middle of the year that a friend of his was selling off a couple of comics. Out of curiousity, more than anything else, I clicked on the link to his LJ, where he had listed the comics and the prices down, and discovered that the guy was selling the complete Liberty Meadows for 15$. Bargain time! I shot off an email, and got a reply pretty soon, with a price breakdown. But goddarnit, someone beat me to Liberty Meadows. But Brady, the seller managed to coerce me with a fresh list of comics. Nice combination of trade paperbacks and single issues for enticing prices. And he even promised discounts.

So I got cracking. Tried ordering a small bunch at first, and got them very soon through some colleagues in the States. And then me and Brady began to break down the payments into time-based amounts. At the end of it, I was about 800 dollars lighter, and a back-breakingly heavy bunch of comics wound their way to 2fargon‘s place. Including complete runs of Hellboy, Cerebus, Tom Strong, Conan ( The Dark Horse series), a near-complete Warren Ellis bibliography.

A month or so later, Brady came back with a new list. He was liquidating his entire comicbook collection – with the exception of two series, Starman and Usagi Yojimbo, both of which I was looking for desperately, and was giving me first crack at it. The stuff that he was selling included quite a bit of Warren Ellis again, all his indie work, complete runs of Ex Machina, Essential Spiderman, Bendis’s Daredevil run, quite a bit of which I already had, Hellblazer – and loads of other great swag.

I bought out his entire collection.

The explanation I offered myself was that I could very easily sell off my existing duplicate copies. Also, with a complete haul, it makes it easier for us to come up with a consolidated amount. Plus, he was offering free international shipping. After the first two months of the payment, he sent off the first package. The package was supposed to take two months to arrive, and I eagerly waited for those two months to pass. By the time it was October 19th, I was practically salivating with glee. I made it a point to cheerily greet the postman every morning when he landed at the office. All the office guards knew I was expecting a package, and the moment it arrived, they were to call me, regardless of how busy I was.

It didn’t arrive. No problem, my stoic self told my foaming-at-the-mouth-and-at-the-brink-of-tears persona, give it three months, and then we’ll see. After all, trackable packages don’t get lost, they do get misplaced sometimes.

By the time November 19th came around, I was on my way to completely losing it. More so because November 19th was a Sunday, so I had to wait until Monday before I knew whether the parcel was here or not. Nope. No go. Went to the Post office on Tuesday , to verify if the package was there. Nope. No go. Went to the customs office on Wednesday, with The Flatmate, and then the post office at the airport to ask around. Extremely polite bunch of people, but they had no clue of how to track a USPS number. Came back and wrote off a mail to Brady to start tracking the package at his end. It would take 60 days to find out its whereabouts.

And today, it arrived. Flatmate is away in Bangalore, so had a gala time hauling 25-odd kilos up three flights of stairs. Spent a happy half an hour ogling at the contents.

The Loot, with annotations