about the talking fish

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Writer. Wheelman. Occasional DIY mechanic. Walking collection of hang-ups. Hopeless romantic. Old-school. Analog soul in a digital world. I am all of these things and more.

Friday, December 17, 2004

I'm generally not too happy these days.

Aside from thesis defense being graded so ridiculously low, I also stand the big chance of flunking ECONTRI. This I realized within the two hours of the final exam last Wednesday. I couldn't get a straight answer for most of the questions---most embarrassing of which was a 20-item enumeration part about market structures' advantages and disadvantages that I could have simply copied onto my formula sheet. Because I failed to do that, I lost out on a major opportunity to make up.

My test grades aren't that good, my project grade is questionable. The only assurance I have now is the automatic 12% from never being absent and submitting the project ahead of time. I doubt that's enough though.

Four years of not flunking anything and now this. Sigh.

In the afternoon I went to Glorietta to watch the DLSU Pops Orchestra concert, hoping to take pictures. Blunder number 2: I brought the wrong lens. I had forgotten to bring my usual 55mm Micro-Nikkor and left home with the 20mm wide-angle Nikkor instead. This meant taking pictures with my camera was hard, as I had to get very close to the stage to get any half-decent shots. I should have just brought my heavy 70-210mm Vivitar, but perhaps that would have been too heavy for shooting hand-held pictures. I would need a tripod; I would also need approval from the Glorietta administration.

The concert was fine though. Pops jammed along to recording artists such as Nina, Jed Maddela, Divo Bayer and Sheryn Regis. The latter was my pick of the night: she had a great voice and even though some of her songs fouled up, she carried her mistakes in stride and carried on, even poking fun at herself. Now that's good showmanship.

Note I said "fine," not "great." The concert was plagued with a lot of errors: some from the recording artists, others from our own vocalists, still others from a confused Rhythms section. That can be blamed from lack of practice and bad timing as the concert happens smack dab in the middle of finals week. It was okay though. Mr. Aniceto from PARI still had good words about us, and people still trooped to the Glorietta activity center in droves, so I guess despite the foul-ups it was a successful concert nonetheless.

Because I arrived early, prior to the concert I spent my time looking around. My first stop was Lil's Futaba in Park Square 1, where I saw the same old Gundam model kits being sold (I swear, this shop really has the slowest inventory turnover of any I've been in). Even saw a very old MS-14 Gelgoog kit---straight from the 1980s I believe.

Looked through the Tamiya car model kits and found a couple of old WRC ones: the Lancer Evo VII WRC and the GC8 Impreza WRC. I might spring for those next time when I've built up my workbench materials.

Having done research on paints, panel lines and other preparation tips for plastic model kits, I decided to take a look at their paint shelf. They didn't have primer on sale, although they did have a full selection of acrylic paints. No good as I don't have an airbrush, and I didn't have any idea of where to look for one. I also saw some Gundam Markers, both for panel lines and painting. The paint ones were being sold in groups of 6 at PhP750 each. The thin ones for panel lines I read weren't so good.

I decided to buy an X-Acto knife instead. This little pen-shaped knife is extremely sharp and is ideal for removing "flash" (excess plastic bumps from the trees/sprues/grids that carry the parts of plastic models). The knife cost me PhP210, and replacement blades were PhP150 for 6. Not bad. Besides it's the coolest looking knife I own---it looks like a freaking surgeon's scalpel.

Decided to look for something to test this knife on.

My next stop was Toy Kingdom at SM Makati. This place has changed considerably. In the 1980s it was a straightforward department store for the longest time, but after its recent gentrification (wow, that's a retail marketing term!) it's become a real mall with 4 floors, a basement and an annex to the Ayala MRT station. Not half bad!

Took me a while to look for the Gundam model kit display, only to stupidly miss out on the big RX-78 Gundam standee. (*smacks hand on forehead*) Frustratingly there was still no sign of the MG Aile Strike Gundam, anywhere. More Gundam SEED MSV kits were available though (Dreadnaught Gundam, 105Dagger + Gunbarrel), and the Big Scale 1/60 Freedom Gundam kit was on sale too. Probably not worth the price of PhP4,000, as the newly released MG 1/100 version has a lot more detail and a proper internal mechanical skeleton at PhP700 less. But hey, there's no PG 1/60 Freedom yet, so if you really have to have a 1/60 Freedom...

This was the first place where I saw the 1/400 White Base spaceship model from the original series, Gundam 0079. The box itself is HUGE and very heavy, and you can probably guess the price was HUGE as well (PhP9,000). But I imagine it'll be a blast for serious plastic model-makers, particularly the bigger fans of Gundam 0079.

Toy Kingdom branches seem to carry a huge selection of MG 1/100 kits. Of course the much-maligned MG Zeta Gundam model was there, still at PhP2,200. I swear I'm going to get one of these MGs, even if I have to buy an RGM-79C Space GM kit or an MG-1.5 RX-78-2 Gundam kit to start off cheap. Don't have the money yet though.

I was about to give up the hunt but I decided to look at the HG kits just for curiosity's sake. I saw the HGUC 1/144 Zeta Gundam kit and immediately became curious. I had heard good reviews about this kit---at least it was deemed better than its infamous MG brother, especially with its transformation to the famous Wave Rider (WR) jet mode, where the MG version flopped around incessantly. After the concert I went back to the store and bought it for PhP1,100.

I finished constructing the kit after two days. I used the X-Acto knife liberally for this kit, removing plastic flash and filing the remaining little bumps down with my steel nail file, and that took much of the time of making the HGUC Zeta. The result of all this flash removal and sanding was a cleaner-looking and more realistic model. That X-Acto knife is never going to leave my side.

Here's the thing: Bandai actually did away with the transformation ability with the HGUC Zeta kit. You construct the Zeta Gundam mobile suit and its weapons first, then you construct a "secondary frame" which becomes key to WR mode. You then remove the upper torso/chest, wing binders, rear and side skirt armor and legs and connect them all to the WR secondary frame---with the shield, of course. Technically speaking, you're pillaging parts from the mobile suit and putting them all on the WR frame. The end result however is a solid, wiggle-free Wave Rider, which people say is worth it. At least it's not as flawed as the MG version, where the mobile suit itself is floppy due to all the transformation mechanisms.

The HGUC Zeta is surprisingly restricted in its movement, having been used to the HG Gundam SEED line. Because of this general unyielding nature, it actually feels a lot older than the SEED kits I have, despite the HGUC line being a recent re-issue of the Universal Century model kit line. Personally I think the true knee joints are too stiff to bend properly, and the legs and feet make the kit a bit harder to pose. I've taken to bending the "false" knees instead for poses as they're a lot easier to manipulate. The high-heel feet are too small in my opinion, and look like they've been designed with looks and not vertical stability as a priority.

The rest of the kit is quite good though. Shoulder armor allows some sideward arm movement because it's articulated at appropriate points---a plus in my book. Arms are standard HG fare: 90 degrees of forearm movement. Zeta's head itself seems huge compared to the heads of the SEED kits I own (Strike, Duel, Aegis) but it's proportional to the rest of the model.

The weapons are this kit's party piece: both the beam rifle and hyper mega launcher (that's really what it's called) are HUGE and have extending/retracting barrels, supposedly true to the Z Gundam anime where their barrels retract in Zeta's compact WR form. There's a third hand with an attached unpainted beam saber, its rather large hilt being held by fixed fingers. The "hand grenade" launchers are supplied but they don't open; they're essentially added bulk you can attach to the Zeta's forearms.

The hyper mega launcher is really something special. I suspect this is where Gundam Wing's famous colony-destroying Buster Rifle got its inspiration. It's taller than the Zeta itself even when retracted. It has three grips (two on the sides and a standard one below with the trigger) and all have swinging covers. The upper side of this huge weapon has slots for the WR mode's landing gear. Basically this means the Wave Rider has to have the hyper mega launcher attached to its underside for "landed" stationary poses. The surprising thing is that despite its size, the weapon is very light and the Zeta has no trouble carrying it in its arms in a pose, once you work out the idiosyncrasy of fitting the hands over the grips.

I just took pictures of the HGUC Zeta this afternoon to finish off the roll of film I used for the Glorietta concert. I'll be uploading them soon enough.

If you want a fully transformable, solid all-around Zeta Gundam, you'll have to spend PhP11,000 or so on a 1/60 Perfect Grade kit, and I'm not willing to spend that much. I have seen pictures of a finished PG Zeta, however, and it is AWESOME.

Some Italian dude made his two years ago and he detailed the procedure on this site (just look for the MSZ-006 Zeta Gundam link). He dedicated 8 or so pages to the Zeta and its construction, even featuring sequential photos of its transformation to Wave Rider mode (see page 5 of his Zeta Gundam pages). This was where I finally understood how the Zeta "crunched up on itself" as a plane. The finished kit is simply remarkable.

Right now it's the stuff my dreams are made of. I can't imagine how I'll be able to piece it together though. All I've worked with are rather simple and small 1/144 HG kits. Oh well, if there's a will, there's a way.

Tonight I'm supposed to be at a party at Tara's house: basically a reunion of sorts and a simple affair to celebrate the end of the school year. I noticed we were basically seeing each other in school everyday without talking about much except school work.

Yet I'm at home. I don't know. I've been feeling I probably don't deserve to party especially as my ECONTRI fate is unknown. I also owe my body a huge debt, being out of energy and sleeping late all the time. At the time I was considering asking for my dad's permission, I actually napped out and lost my chance as I woke up pretty before dinner.

Oh well. There will be other times. I'm particularly looking forward to watching "Ocean's Twelve" early next year with the gang when it premieres January 6. I miss them terribly and I just want to be with them without the hassles of school.

I've pretty much had it with school anyway. Let's just say I feel discouraged and have lost all self-confidence in academic matters. At least my marketing major subjects look steady.

Fernando Poe Jr. died recently from a stroke that left him in a permanent coma.

Frankly I don't care whether he lives or dies. I just don't want to see that overplayed postmortem tribute to him all over the evening news. My goodness. There are more pressing matters than that---that's why news is called NEWS. Why does his funeral have to hog the WHOLE HOUR of the primetime news?

KC de Venecia, Congress Speaker Jose de Venecia's youngest daughter, died last night. She got burned alive in her own house because of faulty Christmas lights setting fire to the place and wrecking the whole second floor of their house.

I'll pray for her soul. I know how the de Venecias feel: I myself spotted our own Christmas tree ablaze from faulty Christmas lights.

Tip for all of you reading this: Don't put Christmas lights at all. You'll save on electricity and save the possibility of making yourselves your own unintentional arsonists.

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