Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We interrupt this arc of The Palace to bring you hot lingerie models who run drug gangs

Airport security is a miserable job, unless you get to frisk one of Angie Sanselmente Valencia's hot drug mules.
Not all Colombian drug lords look like Tony Clifton. Greg Rucka's Twitter linked to an odd news story that will likely get this post way more hits than any other post I've written: "Angie Sanselmente Valencia, a former lingerie model, is believed to be heading one of the world's largest drug gangs." (Leverage showrunner John Rogers saw Rucka's tweet and joked to his writers, "Start your engines.")

Colombia's former "Queen of Coffee" dated a Mexican drug lord known as "The Monster" and then broke up with him to start her own gang. She would recruit other lingerie models to smuggle coke. If you pop that balloon on that chick's chest--surprise inside!

I was a fan of Keen Eddie, and this reads like an episode of that show. In the Keen Eddie pilot, the show's hero Eddie Arlette (Human Target's Mark Valley) is trying to bust an oxycodone dealer with the help of a mysterious snitch who looks like a Victoria's Secret model and also happens to be the drug lord's girlfriend. But she tricks Eddie into busting down the doors of an empty warehouse and escapes with her boyfriend. Eddie becomes the laughingstock of the NYPD and follows their trail to London, where, as Scotland Yard's newest employee, he becomes occupied with catching other fish, from casino robbers in Duran Duran masks to crazed stalkers of opera stars. Fox burnt off episodes of Keen Eddie in the summer of 2003 and cancelled it before creator J.H. Wyman could give Eddie the chance to find the "Big Ben" drug ring duo from the pilot.

The mysterious brunette from the Keen Eddie pilot
I always had a hunch that the unseen drug lord was really the girlfriend--a Remington Steele-meets-Ra's al Ghul in Batman Begins twist. Now thanks to the "Queen of Coffee" case, my hunch doesn't look too crazy.

The Palace: Theatre of Crud, Chapter 3

The Palace: Theatre of Crud, Chapter 3 by Jimmy J. Aquino

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Chai Noon" is now also on Wednesdays at noon on A Fistful of Soundtracks (starting March 3)

Don leading ladies Isha Koppikar and Priyanka Chopra groove to 'Aaj Ki Raat.'
A Fistful of Soundtracks is the only film music Internet radio station I know of that devotes a few hours to Bollywood tunes. In 2006, I added to the AFOS schedule a Bollywood block called "Chai Noon" on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon and early Wednesdays and early Fridays at 4am (for British listeners).

Bollywood restores color to the 21 story.
I recently updated the "Chai Noon" playlist after not having done so for two years. There are now tracks from newer Indian movies like De Dana Dan (oh hello, catchy synth line from Usher's "Yeah," didn't expect to run into you here), the heavily-marketed-to-the-West My Name Is Khan and a film that hits theaters in India and Indian American neighborhoods this Friday, Teen Patti (a 21 clone that stars Amitabh Bachchan and Sir Ben Kingsley, but hey, at least this riff on 21 has an all-Asian group of poker whizzes, unlike the whitewashed official 21).

Because I've added so many new tracks to "Chai Noon," I'm giving the block two additional time slots starting the first week of March. The extra slots are Wednesdays at noon and early Thursdays at 4am.

Here's one of my favorite "Chai Noon" tracks, the Giorgio Moroder-esque jam "Aaj Ki Raat" (or "Tonight Is the Night"). Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy wrote it for the 2006 version of Don, which paired up Priyanka Chopra (dig those legs of hers during "Aaj Ki Raat") with Shahrukh Khan (whose aggressive promotion of My Name Is Khan included an amusing appearance on the British "chat show" Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, where he kissed Torchwood star John Barrowman, who did another one of his hilarious fake fainting reactions whenever he kisses other male stars). Sung by Alisha Chinoy, Mahalaxmi Iyer and Sonu Nigam, "Aaj Ki Raat" was also featured in Slumdog Millionaire.

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"Aaj Ki Raat"

Roma:
Night and wine have met we are intoxicated
Body and heart are both ready to melt

Anita:
Celebration surrounds us
but yet I am anxious

Roma:
Why does my heart beat faster?
Why does my heart say...
..."you fools do not know this yet?"

Everyone:
Tonight...
Who knows what will happen?
What will we gain?
What will we lose?
Tonight...
Who knows what will happen?
What will we gain?
What will we lose?

(Instrumental)

Roma:
What will happen in just a few moments?

Anita:
What was always mine will be mine again.

Roma:
The night will decide who resides in whose heart

Anita:
The decision has been made...
...that I will be victorious

Roma:
You fools do not know this yet

Don:
Tonight...
Who knows what will happen?
What will we gain?
What will we lose?

Everyone:
Tonight...
Who knows what will happen?
What will we gain?
What will we lose?

(Instrumental)

Don:
Come, let me tell you something, secretly
Soon, the night is going to change its hue, secretly
Then I will take you away with me, secretly

Anita:
Where will you go?
Look! Here I am.

Roma:
You fools do not know this yet

Everyone:
Tonight...
Who knows what will happen?
What will we gain?
What will we lose?

(Instrumental)

The Palace: Theatre of Crud begins tomorrow and concludes March 7

A sneak peek at The Palace: Theatre of Crud, Chapter 7
Why's it hard for people to call The Palace a webcomic? I've seen it referred to as a "skit"(*) and a "graphic novel," and it's neither. It just goes to show how new to the lexicon "webcomic" is, even though there's like millions of webcomics.

(*) A pet peeve of mine is the misuse of the word "skit." That's the most misused word outside of "socialist." A skit is some lame, amateurish thing kids perform at a summer camp or church. That's why that comedy festival in San Francisco is called SF Sketchfest, not SF Skitfest. Yet people still describe the sketches on shows like Python, Chappelle's Show, Mr. Show, Human Giant and HBO's new Funny or Die Presents as skits (as if the professional comedian/writers who crafted the sketches are still in fifth grade and eating their boogers). Those people are full of skit.

On Javiland, host Javier Hernandez asked me if I planned to compile all the Palace strips for a book. I told him that's always been my plan. I always approached The Palace as if I were drawing it for newspapers or print, except I'm tossing in some language that cartoonists can't get away with in newspaper strips. (I'd like to give the book a really absurd title like either The Palace: The Complete Jazillionth Season Box Set, The Palace: Let's Count How Many Times Bella Touches Her Hair--because if you tack "Bella" or "Edward" onto the name of anything these days, it'll likely make a dime--or The Palace: It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown, which I probably can't use because I don't want Charles M. Schulz's estate on my ass.)

After I took part in that Javiland roundtable, I've realized if you're going to put together a book full of preexisting content that readers can easily see for free on the Web, you ought to add to the book some extra content that's exclusive to the compilation and has never appeared before in your webcomic. This new content would either be the original blog posts that inspired some of the strips (like the post about the racist camera by "jozjozjoz," whom I'd ask permission to reprint), preliminary blue pencil drawings (personally, I think The Palace looks better in blue pencil, before I redraw it in ink on a tracing pad), strips that I scripted or drew but decided to toss into the trash bin or a never-before-posted strip that I'd like to get a special guest illustrator to draw.

I always wanted to get special guest artists to draw The Palace for me like how Greg Rucka enlists different artists to interpret Queen & Country (or how Harvey Pekar does the same thing with American Splendor). I never wanted to draw The Palace. (Sometimes I wish I never chose a movie palace as the webcomic's primary setting. I don't like putting much detail into the background on the panel--I prefer to make The Palace look as minimalist as the single-panel strips I grew up reading--and a movie palace is an ornate setting that calls for all sorts of details in the background.)

But because I don't know any cartoonists around my hood, and I wouldn't have enough coin to pay one to pencil and ink The Palace, I've had to draw the webcomic myself, even though I've had very little drawing experience, and the only art training I've had is some watercolor class that I took at an art supplies store when I was in sixth or seventh grade.

This is the longest and most exhausting arc I've worked on so far. All 14 strips of the Theatre of Crud arc, which would be included in the book if I go through with it, are single-panel. On Javiland, I was asked why I like the single-panel format. I said writing single-panel gags is difficult, yet I prefer that format because I have a habit of overwriting, and with single panels, I have to learn to be succinct. I wish I added to the Javiland discussion that multiple-panel strips are easy to write but hard to draw, while single-panel strips are hard to write but easy to draw.

As with all other arcs of The Palace, I'll be posting one strip per day here on this blog. I don't know how I'll be able to post a strip per day when my cable modem keeps cutting me off from the Internet every few minutes. That cable modem is the crappiest thing Comcast has concocted since Sunset Tan.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Main Hoon Don" from the 2006 Don (translated into English)

Don we now our gang apparel.
Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan's much-hyped latest movie My Name Is Khan opens globally and in select theaters in America this weekend. The Indian-made drama about anti-Muslim discrimination, which filmed a sequence at the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose (a spot that's not too far from where I currently live), is getting a huge push from Fox Searchlight in the States. So because of My Name Is Khan's opening, I'm looking back at an earlier Khan vehicle. I'm posting (for those of us who don't understand Hindi, including myself) the English translation of the Hindi lyrics for "Main Hoon Don," a highlight of Khan's 2006 remake of the classic Amitabh Bachchan cops-vs.-gangsters flick Don. The translation was taken from the English subtitles on UTV's Don DVD. "Main Hoon Don" is called "I'm the Don" in the English subtitles on the Bollywood Entertainment DVD of the 1978 version, while the UTV DVD of the remake prefers "I Am Don."

The updated "Main Hoon Don," sung by Shaan and composed by the trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, is one of several numbers from the Don franchise that can be heard during A Fistful of Soundtracks' "Chai Noon" block on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon and early Wednesdays and early Fridays at 4am.

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"Main Hoon Don"

The people in this world...
have clutched their hearts again!
I have returned...
...bringing back with me
a lot of excitement!
Look who's here.
Back to rule your world.
Who's got you mesmerized?
For whom do you wait with open arms?
(Backup singers) Who is this charming man?
Recognize me.
I am Don.

(Instrumental)

I bid my life...
...and gamble with death.
I have no regret...
...nor do I care...
...who I make my enemy.
No enemy of mine,
will live too long.
I am very dangerous.
I am very dangerous...
...and forever cunning.
(Backup singers) Who is back to win the world over?
Recognize me.
I am Don.

(Instrumental)

Their eyes inviting...
...many women have wanted me for themselves.
But these two eyes
that are glancing into mine...
...have mesmerized me.
These eyes...
...tell me...
that they are hiding an intoxicating secret.
I am getting addicted to them...
I am getting addicted to them...
and my heart is falling under its spell
(Backup singers) Who is here that has fallen under this spell?
Recognize me.
I am Don.

(Instrumental)

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If Fox sends Khan to promote My Name Is Khan on one of its "news" channel's shows, what a train wreck that would be. Khan, who's no stranger to racial profiling in America because of an unfortunate case of life imitating art imitating life, would probably have to be subjected to a cavity search and comments like "Wow, the Star Trek sequel came out sooner than I expected."

I'm in another book: SMITH Magazine's It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure

It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure
I first heard about SMITH Magazine's six-word memoirs on Facebook and wrote a few of my own on SMITH's site. The new SMITH/Harper Perennial collection It All Changed in an Instant used one of them.

I share a page with T.O. I'm on page 198:

Jimmy J. Aquino in It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure
It was inspired by an ancient Tonight Show clip I once saw in which George Gobel asked Johnny Carson if he ever got the feeling that the world's a tuxedo and he's a pair of brown shoes. I wrote those little memoirs a while ago, before I started including my middle initial in everything I do to distinguish myself from other guys with the same name.

I wish the It All Changed in an Instant editors used one of the other memoirs I wrote (like "So broke, can't afford longer sentence" or "Nothing kills boners like yacht rock") instead of the one they chose. But still, I'm honored to be in the same book with the following people whose work I've enjoyed: Andy Borowitz, Andy Richter, Bob Odenkirk, Brian Baumgartner (Kevin!), David Wain, Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes, Eugene Mirman (his heartwarming memoir is "I've fucked at least eight people"), Henry Rollins, Henry Winkler, Joe Queenan, John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants, Kathy Najimy, Leonard Nimoy, Linus Roache, Margaret Cho, Neil Patrick Harris, Rick Parker, Rob Riggle, Shepard Fairey, Tommy Chong and Sound of Young America host Jesse Thorn, who started out at the same radio station where I first deejayed.

Parker, whom I met at San Diego Comic-Con last year, and Fairey submitted a couple of my favorite memoirs, which they drew:

Rick Parker in It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure

Shepard Fairey in It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure
Daily Show alum Riggle's memoir "I love my big, big balls" would probably get him into a heated balls-measuring contest with a certain fellow TDS alum (I bet he'd respond with "But mine are bigger, Rob Riggle").

But my favorite memoir comes from Lalah Hathaway, a singer like her legendary father Donny Hathaway: "So I only get six words?"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sir John Dankworth (1927-2010)

Sir John Dankworth (1927-2010)
Whenever I try to finish drawing an arc of The Palace, like during last week and this week, I avoid logging on to the Web for a few days because I find it to be such a distraction. When I did allow myself to log on earlier today, I learned about the Saturday death of British jazz artist John Dankworth, whom I know best for his theme from the rarely rebroadcast first few seasons of The Avengers (back when the show was shot on videotape and was more serious in tone--Dankworth's theme reflected that harder-edged tone--and Emma Peel wasn't around yet to sex up the joint) and his catchy Modesty Blaise theme...


... which I was first exposed to via the Gorillaz/Del tha Funkee Homosapien collab "Rock the House."


In England, Dankworth is better known for his theme from Tomorrow's World--the show that was spoofed by Peter Serafinowicz's Look Around You--and his jazz albums. A Guardian obit gives a good overview of the career of Dankworth, whose death was announced by his singer wife Cleo Laine onstage at the end of an all-star jazz concert that took place only a few hours after he passed.

One of the greatest compliments a musician can receive is being frequently sampled. Dankworth has been the source of many excellent samples (and what I'm sure are hours of giggles from stoners because of his last name).

Dankworth's 1974 cover of his own theme from the 1965 thriller Return from the Ashes is pretty gangster.


The 1974 re-recording was sampled by Madlib a.k.a. Quasimoto for his 2002 joint "Astronaut" and DJ Premier for Cee-Lo's 2004 cut "Evening News."


UPDATE: Y Society's "Never Off (On & On)" is another track that sampled the '74 recording. (Good looking out, wutangfan85.)