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Showing posts from May, 2003
Weekend Plans

I want to catch Comedy Concert Queen Ai-Ai dela Alas' starring pic Ang Tanging Ina. It's been a long time since I caught a Pinoy movie, and I do need a good laugh. Praying that the film delivers the goods in that department.

I will implore the universe to help me find some kind of order in my life, not so much in terms of direction, but more on getting my filing system in place. My mom has been regularly giving my room some semblance of sanity, which frustrates me whenever I need to find something. But my mom's a cool soul, and she means well. I love my mom.

Part of the weekend plans is squeezing my imagination for Vinnie's sci-fi fantasy epic Twilight Empires, which I tackle beginning August. Twilight Empires gives me the opportunity to try something I haven't done before -- interpreting a writer's vision of an alien multiculture. This takes a good amount of planning and research, as I will require myself to do a huge bunch of study plates of loca…
Zsazsa Updates

1) Businessworld - An FAQ article came out in the country's foremost business broadsheet today. The online version, which is only available over the weekend unless you have an account with Business World Online, can be found here. Oozillion thanks to the nice folks at Business World (hello, Gik!) for taking interest in Zsazsa Zaturnnah. (Though the pics show how ugly I can be.) I await the Manila Standard article.

2) Showbiz - The guys at Comic Quest informed me that someone from Star Cinema passed by and asked what the top-selling Filipino comic book was. Said represenatative bought Zsazsa upon recommendation from the guys. Also, John "Sweet" Lapus of The Buzz reportedly mentioned about Zaturnnah in the showbiz talkshow. This was according to the brother of my editor Reby Gaw. I still have to confirm this one.

3) Book Award? - Writer/journalist/lecturer Ruey de Vera intimated that Zsazsa Part One was submitted for consideration to the Manila Critics Circl…
Homebody

Getting my life organized has always been my waterloo. Though at times I come off as having some semblance of order, the reality is clearly evident in my room. It's a mess, a fire hazard, a pit. It's not as bad as some of my other friend's inner sancti, but it still a cause of frustration on my part. While I am still able to find what I need beneath the stacks, I long for the day when I can get everything cleanly labeled and in their place, and have the discipline to keep it that way for a long time.

I long for the day when I could have a place of my own, with a bigger room, so I can start my journey to self-organization from scratch. In my ideal world, I'd have two large rooms. One for work, where I'll have the computer, the drafting table, the office desk, the shelves of references and files, and other related bits; and the other for personal where I'd have my bed, my entertainment center, my home gym, and shelves of books and comics for leisurely rea…
Lintek! Sumasakit nanaman ang ulo ko. Hindi kaya migraine na 'to? Huwag naman sana. Du'n daw nagsisimula ang stroke.

Napakalakas ng ulan sa labas, nagpapalakpak ang tunog sa tenga. Masaya't malungkot na palakpak, kasabay ng paghiyaw ng pabugso-bugsong hangin. Kelangan ko ng kape, kahit na nakailan na ako kahapon. Adik na ako sa kape. Adik pa sa yosi. Okey lang 'yon.

Ganyan kapag mag-isa. Maraming okey.
Storyboarding

Thanks to fab pal Suki, I had a meeting last Saturday with high-profile photographer Raymund Isaac for a quickie project: storyboarding a music video. Now I haven’t done a lot of storyboards – less than five, most prolly – and never one for a music video, so I saw this as another opportunity to explore something new. Related, but new. A storyboard is, after all, sequential art.

The major difference here being, one has to compose each panel in a manner that could be easily translated for a motion-driven visual medium. Not all comics ‘movement’ can be directly replicated on film despite any kind of technological advancement (Text-heavy Claremont-era X-Men, for instance.) and thus, unless the video is blessed with a plump budget, the palette of techniques is severely limited, ‘indie’ sensibilities notwithstanding.

Anyway, I didn’t get any sleep last night finishing the storyboard, accounting for my lack of coordination and balance today. (And being completely taken over by …
Give and Take

I miss watching TV. When people start talking about Buffy and Alias, and even freakin' Fear Factor, I'm stricken with envy. I feel the same way when the family starts talking about any Pinoy or Mexican (and soon Taiwanese) telenovela or teleserye or whatever the term in vogue is. Maybe television doesn't interest me as much anymore, though I still manage to sit through episodes of The Buzz and Startalk when I've nothing better to do. I want my own TV. And a cable connection.

I miss watching movies. Pinoy movies, to be exact. I used to watch Sharon and Maricel bawl up rivers in the late 80s to early 90s. Now I'm supposed to be excited about Xerex and Sex Drive and Punla. Then there's the great videos, particularly anime, that my friends watch and talk about, or the computer games they play. I want my own DVD player. I want my own XBox or GameCube or whatever freakin' electronic game gadget is out there. Heck, I'd settle for a GameBoy Advance…
Hoookay, eMode just revealed to me that my Emotional Quotient (EQ) is an above average 130. Whatever it says.

Creative Drive

All the reading I’ve been doing these past few days has been giving me a headache. Last night I set about immersing myself in the scholarly studies on utopia, and the other nights orienting myself on the societies of ancient civilizations, all part of my prepping for the next book. So much to read, but with each session I could actually sense my brain piecing the bits of information along the plotline, making the story more coherent and logical. There should be room for inferences and assumptions, creative licenses no doubt, but I needed to refer to historical accounts, past and present, to add a level of realism to the piece.

I’d ask myself why I put myself through this, going through this wracking cerebral exercise. Isn’t a simple story enough for me? Can’t I just continue with Zsazsa Zaturnnah and reinforce myself that way?

It’s not that I find simple stories …
Prepping For The Next Project

Yesterday, I confided to our writing sensei Dean the subject of my next book, which is light years away from the amusing Zsazsa Zaturnnah. In the past, when a brainstorm of an idea would hit me, I'd share it with Vinnie, but for some reason those ideas never went further than the idea stage. Maybe they were too raw, or there wasn't that great a push for me to pursue them.

Unlike my previous two works, this new story requires me to do a some research on a wide range of topics, from interactive technology to psychology to mythology, as these elements will be present in what I foresee to be a thick tome, a graphic novel in the real sense of the word. I'm hoping beyond hope that this new idea will have enough fire in it to last me at least through the writing phase. 'Complex' is the word I'd use to describe this new story, which I'd call Deities for now. At its core, Deities has an existentialist bent, about a student's coming t…
Guarded?

In a modified inkblot test at eMode, here's how my unconscious mind works.

Carlo, your unconscious mind is driven most by Resistance

You approach the world with your guard intact because unconsciously, and perhaps consciously, you want to maintain an element of control in your relationships with people. You tend to hold your private experiences just out of reach of others. You're not one to immediately show all your cards, to let people into who you really are until you're ready.

Unfortunately, that sometimes means you also hide things from yourself. You may find that your desire to remain guarded backfires, affecting your self-awareness. Why are you like this? It's possible that you act in this manner because of a deeply-rooted fear of being exposed, or of truly expressing yourself. To protect yourself from this fear, you act in the opposite manner — you are guarded.

There is a certain respect that comes with resistance, an unconscious understanding that the…
A Johnnie Walk In Life

At the finely-prepared lunch held after the baptism (hosted by baby Vaughn's parents, Leo and Beck), I sat with my former co-workers to share what's been going on in our lives, at least career-wise. Sometimes, just sometimes, one needs to take that journey back in order to validate whatever past choices were made. Otherwise, seeing these people after over a year becomes more than just hellos and how-are-yous. It's reconnecting with them in the present, and caring for each others' welfare even if we had crossed our intersection into our own destiny roads.

Leo served a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label, and I couldn't say no the moment I was given a serving. With a glass of Coke as a chaser, I sipped the alcohol, let it slide it over my tongue down my throat. It's more potent than Fundador, which I'm more accustomed to and, given a choice, would rather have. (Not that I drink the stuff in barrels, mind you.) And we were drinking despi…
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Mitch Byrd's full and detailed style has captured my fancy, and I'm a fan. He's famous mostly for his really big nekkid women as you'll see through this link. I'm drawn to his style because there's an innate grace in his lines and composition, a much more fluid version of Adam Hughes and Frank Cho. And the detail is amazing -- simple but full of depth -- which reinforces the importance of knowing the basics before taking leaps forward. I haven't felt this excited over another artist's work since Adam Hughes' run in JLA.

His book Notes To Draw From is part-inspirational, part-instructional, and its evidently not a beginner's guide. It's simplicity is deceiving. While there are primers in perspective and composition written in a language far from technical, I see this book as mainly for those who have a good grasp of illustration basics and would want a fresh view on the craft.

No naked women in this one, but lotsa dinosaurs.
Matrix Reloaded: Filled With Wonder

Most of the time, I watch films with a certain mind-set which is wholly dependent on what the film is in its essence. For instance, I went into X2:X-Men United as a fanboy and enjoyed it. With any Filipino melodrama, I prepare myself for the histrionics and the formal Tagalog and emerge quite satisfied. Then there's those Merchant Ivory films where my system is conditioned to European accents and lengthy conversations over tea, fulfilling myself with its feast of character studies.

Matrix Reloaded is a high-action, effects-strewn, surround-sound summer flick and, knowing that, I trudged into the Greenhills Theater Mall with the gang last Saturday and allowed myself to take in whatever the film had to give. Major passive stance right here. And my verdict is: a great movie. Not as entertaining as X2, but a great movie nonetheless.

Yes, the acting was BAD, the script was BAD, the editing was BAD... there were a good number of thorns in the Wachowski…
Treasure Trove

I splurged a bit these past few days. Got myself Art Spiegelman's highly acclaimed comic book Maus in trade paperback. Then there's the charming Herobear and the Kid by Mike Kunkel. Lastly, I've discovered Mitch Byrd's amazing art and got his Notes To Draw From, a comics illustration guide. Don't know when I can go over them, since I've a baptism to attend tomorrow. Tonight is Matrix Reloaded night for me. I just want my eye candy!








X-Men Day?

After waiting for over an hour under the hot near-noon sun, I managed to get a cab to work. While sweetly readjusting my body temperature to the comforting coolness of the airconditioning, a tidbit from the radio's midday report caught my attention. Ilocos Norte Representative Imee Marcos said in an interview that homosexuals should be acknowledged as important members of society and, in punctuating their contributions to Philippine art and culture, even suggested that they be honored on a special day of the year, which the news reporter (not Marcos) initially tagged as 'X-Men Day.'

X-Men Day?!?!? Ummm.. I DON'T think so.

The way I see it, an LGBT day (that's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered for you) is just icing on a non-existent cake. The LGBT community doesn't need a pat-on-the-back holiday. The crucial cake here involves legislative reforms that grant LGBTs as much civil rights as their straight counterparts. Maybe, just maybe, an LGBT …
What Would You Do...?

A relative asks you to go to another country. Said relative will pay for everything until such time that you land a job and become relatively independent. If things don't pan out, you can come home.

Will you bite?

A few years ago, this was the proposition given to a high school friend of mine. He had a career here and a charming girlfriend, but when his parents offered to support a potentially-life changing stint in Canada, he went for it. He hasn't broken off with his girlfriend and, as far as we know, has become a legitimate part of Canada's workforce. He's not super-successful yet, but he's got his proverbial foot in the door.

Last night, another friend revealed that her relative proposed a long-term all-expense paid stay in London. Said relative's son will be finishing college there and my friend was asked if she could accompany him till he finishes. Because she has a career here and a charming boyfriend, she's currently weighing th…
Seeing Opportunites In Philippine Comics

The stuff below is just me talking. Any innacuracies are just out of my foolish ignorance. So there.

The big question faced by Philippine comics creators is an economic one. Is the demand for comic books big enough to guarantee a business’ longevity? Thus far, there have been no solid indicators on a macro level to give anyone a precise answer. While Culture Crash seems to be enjoying success with their manga/anime market, the fact they don’t have any ads in their publications leads one to wonder if such was a management decision or the result of failed attempts to entice advertisers. Culture Crash is a magazine and, historically, magazines subsist more on advertising revenues than actual sales. (The mere fact that it had already released 10 issues is nothing short of admirable.)

Sales figures and circulation statistics aren’t enough to convince advertisers, especially if the publication is viewed as catering to a tight niche market. In Culture C…
Self-Training

I want to development myself in storycrafting, and here are some of the stuff I've been focusing on to help me take my skills higher up the ladder.

1) Reading - I'm reading. Yes, I'm reading. After assailing myself with reading a few novels (The Alchemist, Vita Brevis, Automated Alice), I've decided to take the easier route by going for short stories. The distance between beginning and end is not that long and can be downed in less than 30 minutes, hence quickly satiating my need for some literature. Right now, I get selections from the site simply called shortstories, and my very limited literature-appreciating sense tells me that they're pretty good. The first one I read was Sarah Salway's Painting the Family Pet, a character study that got a full five stars from the site's editors. I liked it, too, but don't ask me why.

2) Reading Part Two - Non-fiction is still my reading field of choice, though. Before, it's all really for the sake…
Keeping Things Together

Capping a short text exchange, my friend said, "I didn't know you were fatalistic."

I replied, "There are things we can't control. I try to focus on those that I can control."

Though my immediate circumstances may not seem favorable, I'm pretty much clear-headed compared to most of last year. Though I still feel the pangs left by frustration and emotional pain, I'm moving, and I refuse to stop.

I made a vow to begin each year with a personal declaration. "I'm going to make this year my year." I started this habit in 2001, and this sort of mental conditioning has helped me take bigger strides in my career. I forget where I first read it, but there is something about positive thinking that infects one's entire system, and consequently gets carried over to one's surroundings. Positive thinking may not have changed a lot of things in my life (my self-view, for instance, or my bank account), but it has changed…
MWAHAHAH!! I CAN SEE THE FUTURE!!

One of the writing exercises Dean unleashed on us sought to test our ability in writing emotions. This is what I came up with: 11:22 p.m.

Have to finish writing that story oh GOD I have to finish writing that story where are the words where did I put the words the ideas go online soon has Joan emailed me yet I wish there's a new project to do need the money feel really awful is this a cold coming on can't catch cold can't get sick have to write a blog entry a journal entry get sleep sniff body starting to ache how much money do I have left mommy needs money how much was it do I have enough till pay day mustn't be late always late SHIT always late where's that print out gotta read that print out inspiration brain cells recharge headache have to relax update the site new stories don't want to disappoint them new art don't want to disappoint them don't want to disappoint myself FUCK gotta slow down gotta catch up I'm hu…
hmmm....
Grrrr....

The fire alarm sounded off at the office building a while ago. No drill announcement was made of any sort, and everyone on the floor was apparently confused. Even the janitor didn't know what was going on. Bok, Maureen and I had started down the stairwell when a lady from the floor below told us that the admin was testing the alarm system.

Such irresponsibility!

Malady

Went to work mid-afternoon with a very slight fever and aches at the joints. I attribute this to the atmospheric change which my body seems to be very sensitive too. The rainy season has been breathing down the summer's neck recently. The typhoons are coming.

Prepare to get wet.
Dream Dream Dream

Had a weird dream last night, one I'd classify under the Dark Fantasy section. Like all of the dreams I remember, this dream was in color, though the speakers were down. It started out with a letter from a friend of an ex which I had first thought to contain references to my past relationship, but instead issued a warning. It was an archetypal 'beware' letter, typewritten on a sheet of multi-colored lined paper.

Inside a vehicle driving out of the neighborhood. It seemed like I was driving (though in reality I don't really know how). Four women in blue appear in front of the vehicle, blocking its way. I back up and turn a corner. The women appear again.

A dark room, faintly illuminated by light reflecting from an unseen pool. It seemed like I was sitting on a chair, based on the angle. A smooth concrete wall some 10 to 15 feet in front of me with letters forming in a horizontal line on its surface and 'trickling' down to a table surface. I coul…
Mommee

My mom's conservative and traditional in ways, yet open-minded and free-thinking in others. I may be her son, but she treats me more like a friend, and I feel lucky in that regard as I know that not a lot of people have this kind of relationship with any of their parents.

I took my mom out to lunch today, one of the two days in the year when I have a date with her (the other one being her birthday). We taxied to Cravings-Katipunan and had one of 'em special mothers' day promo lunches, the ones that come with a special 'hand massage.' My mom declined the twice-offered promo to have her hands kneaded and cracked. My mom has such soft hands, and I take after her.

The meal wasn't rave-material, and the soup was a bit watered-down, but the ube cheesecake desert was scrumptuous, and I'm not even a big yam fan. Took home four slices for the family. Perfect with coffee and smokes.

When mom and I would dine out, we'd have a wonderful animated discussion a…
hmmm...
Writing Workshop ComtinuedObjective: Describe an action or series of actions
First Sentence: The coin toss decided matters and we began.
The coin toss decided matters and we began. Or at least we tried to begin, for as the golden coin spun clink-clanking on the stone floor, we noticed something odd about it, like it had changed its shape.

"Lookee-see," Peeboo shrieked, pointing at the golden coin. "It has three sides now!"

We slowly bowed at the same time to inspect the coin. It indeed had three sides! What a marvelous thing to have, I thought. A coin with three sides instead of two! But is a three-sided coin, or a many-many-sided coin for that matter, still a coin? I've heard of people from other countries using salt, or feathers, or even the skulls of fallen enemies as money, but not a three-sided coin. It must be pretty rare, and rare things are worth a fortune!

Seeing Peeboo in saucer-wide-eyed astonishment (quite spectacular, really, Peeboo being Chinese an…
The "Date"

I got a text message from a friend last night, asking me if I was interested in having “a date with a fan of Zsazsa.”

The word “date.” In my self-contained Prude World, the word calls up unsavory images and unwanted feelings. I’ve always viewed dates as evaluation sessions, like job applications, where the only resumé you can wave is yourself, the way you talk, the way you dress, the way you think, the way you elucidate an issue. It’s where the only side you present – whether consciously or subconsciously – is what you believe to be your best side, which constitutes less than a measly 10% of everything you are.

If you fail, meaning that you’re not as interesting to your date as you’d like, what does that make of your supposedly “best” side? That it’s not good enough for some people? While we all agree that it’s to each his or her own taste -- your type may not be my type and all that – I’m not one to immediately risk my already diminutized self-esteem in a personal…
Darna Delight

Last night, Dean, Gig, Marco and I coverged at Comic Quest with hopes of finally getting our own copies of Darna #2. This second installment of the Mango Comics' three-part debut title is, in my opinion, better than the first issue.

I've marvelled at Ryan's work in the past, his semi-realist style a balance between the angular and the fluid. Yet his work in Darna #1 feels rushed and uninspired. Lan Medina's softer lines, however, seem more appropriate for the Philippines' foremost super-heroine. His lay-outs are clean and certain, with none of the fancy-schmancy panelling a lot of young artists seem to be drawn to these days.

There's also improvement in the writing, and we get to see more of what's inside Darna's head and heart. Amor/Valentina is also given some meat in this issue. The writing may not be perfect -- there are still some odd splotches here and there -- but it's definitely less jarring. I hope this trend continues and gets…
Vocabulary Blues

Over lunch today, I got a text message from bibliophile friend Mida, asking me to name a person whom I would describe as ‘magnanimous.’

A solid gold dunce cap materialized on my head. I’ve encountered the word many times before, and through context clues deduced it to imply some positive characteristic about a person, but I never went out of my way to find out what it exactly meant. Through Merriam-Webster’s website, I learned that it meant “showing or suggesting a lofty and courageous spirit.” First person that comes to mind would be: my mom.

My verbal vocabulary is far less than my writer-friends, and this lends an ounce of frustration to someone who aspires to be a competent writer. Throughout my career, the language of import has been that of the visual, the way images relate to each other, forming sentences that could be understood on an intuitive level.

I won’t say that I’m gravely wanting in writing skills. In fact, I’ve done a bit of writing alongside my design…
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Delusions of Grandeur

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You are Professor X!

You are a very effective teacher, and you are very committed to those who learn from you. You put your all into everything you do, to some extent because you fear failure more than anything else. You are always seeking self-improvement, even in areas where there is nothing you can do to improve.

Which X-Men character are you most like?
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Or so it says...
Fallen
Evanescence
Wind-Up Records

I got interested in this band after hearing their debut single "Bring Me To Life" over the radio which, as many of you might already know, is part of the soundtrack of that awkward superhero flick Daredevil. There's a thunderous yet ethereal quality to this song, and I had hoped that the rest of their debut album echoed this.

Evanescence's lead vocalist Amy Lee describes their music as 'dark rock,' and I'm gonna have to take her word for it since I don't buy a lot of rock albums to be able to tell one form from another. (The last one I got was Garbage's Beautiful Garbage, which I hardly listen to.) Whatever characterizes 'dark rock,' it's definitely a sound that grabs me by the throat and swings me around. And I don't mean that in a negative way.

This Little Rock, Arkansas band's influences include Tori Amos and Bjork. Though their lyrics aren't as convuluted as their idols', there's…
Another Madonna Bit...

If you've nothing better to do, try out this Madonna's Revenge game. To the uninitiated, this is in response to that fateful day, particularly February 11, 1997, when Maddie failed to make the list of Oscar nominees for Best Actress. This is, of course, after her Golden Globe win for Evita. The objective of the simple game is to help her keep all the other actors and actresses from crossing to the other side of the red carpet to claim their Oscar statuettes -- by throwing pies at them. The game is hosted by E! Online.
Changing Brain Channels

Over the past few weeks, our charmingly outspoken writer-friend Dean has been giving us writing exercises for us to have a better grasp of what is, to me, still a mysterious craft. He starts off with a sentence and an objective, and we're supposed to compose a vignette that he'd critique later on. Here are my takes on the exercises so far:
Objective: Describe a Person
First Sentence: Playing chess frightened her.
Playing chess frightened her. She didn't want to lose her head.

It was the last of her possessions, a lone medal of value where she found brittle traces of beauty despite its engorged roundness. It bathed in the zigzagging falls of her unkempt amber hair and floated with each whisper beat of her wide wing-ears.

Her half-full squinty eyes were always almost forward, slightly avoiding the horizon, but never looking down. She didn't want to. Most of her body had already been consumed by the everyday of 16 years. Days of loss and losing, a …
What's My IQ?

It's been a while since I took an IQ test, so when I chanced upon one at eMode, I took it for a spin. About a decade ago, I took a MENSA IQ test to check if I was eligible for membership in that organization. I passed with an IQ score of, well, above 140.

In this recent test, eMode revealed that I had an IQ of 126. The discrepancy is understandable. The MENSA test I took had questions that didn't require proficiency in a particular language, which the moderator said was a more universal basis for IQ. A lot of the items focused on the visual-spatial aspect of intelligence, while the eMode test was pretty mixed.

But the glory attached to having a high IQ is pretty much passé. Give me an EQ test and I'll miserably fail. *sigh*
American Life
Madonna
Maverick Records

When I first heard a sampling of Maddie’s first single off her 10th studio album American Life, it didn’t have any impact on me at all. It wasn’t the same as Ray of Light’s Frozen nor the title track of Music. And given that I wasn’t too hot about her first collaboration with French musicwiz Mirwais (though Music did have some interesting tracks like Don’t Tell Me), I was all too hesitant to pick up the next product of their team-up. But being the avid supporter of the Material Girl, I succumbed and picked up a copy of her most rebellious work yet.

This rebelliousness is first evident on the jacket design. None of the glitzy-glamour we’re used to seeing from Madonna, but instead we’re faced with bold blotches of black and red reminiscent of those Che Guevarra t-shirts. This treatment should give you an idea of what to expect from American Life, a Madonna reinvention that may not sit well for a lot of her followers.

I’ll admit that American Life need…
Setting Examples

Last Saturday, I hauled myself to the Mater Dolorosa Parish in East Rembo Makati to give an ‘inspirational talk’ to youngsters aged 10 to 16 on the rewards of pursuing the arts. The talk culminated the second day of a three-day arts workshop organized by the Heights literary journal of the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) and co-sponored by the Ayala Foundation.

We were a two-man panel. Beside me Ali Figueroa, AdMU philosophy professor and freelance writer, designer and theater guy. He’s also a member of the Bukas Palad choir, that group of songsters who popularized the song Tanging Yaman. You might have seen him on TV when a certain local channel signs on in the morning.

So there we were, Ali and I, trying to give impressionable youngsters some bit of hope that, despite ourselves, the arts and its disciplines can be viable sources of livelihood. For entertainment purposes, Ali sang while I did a bit of over-the-top acting. (Inspirational talks to young people are ch…