moving on to squonks

Posted: April 9th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Sukjong | 8 Comments »

It was a dark and stormy night.
On an unlit road…
On a small island in the Philippines…

I can’t explain it exactly, but the setting involves rain, volcanoes, darkness, and being stuck on a road in the back of a truck in the Visayas region of the Philippines. This is when someone told me about the manananggal.

Beautiful woman by day, half-bodied, bat-winged, fetus-sucking apparition by night, the manananggal lands on the roof of a house, sticks her hollow tongue through the thatched grass and into the room until it reaches the belly of a pregnant woman who is, of course, fast asleep, and sucks up her innards. The other half of her body is hidden somewhere for safekeeping, so that in the pre-dawn hours she can fuse back together and resume life as that beautiful older woman who lives down the road.

I wanted to know what the manananggal looked like. But I had no internet, and nothing was open. So I drew the manananggal myself. I asked the storytellers if I was anywhere near the truth. They made some encouraging sounds. But who knows? Drawing a mythical creature was much harder than I thought it would be.

The manananggal plays off some familiar archetypal anxieties. But however familiar, this did not take away from my visceral thrill at the fact that one body becomes two, or that one of them was a torso-less bottom half waiting in the dark.

Then I heard that there was a 2005 illustrated reprint of Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings (the Manual de zoología fantástica). Someone borrowed the book for me from a library. But my edition had no pictures!

Now I feel condemned to draw them all.
But first, I got lost in all the prefaces. Borges explains (Figure A)*:

That is, Read the rest of this entry »

the donk-shaped hole in your heart

Posted: March 20th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Sukjong | 1 Comment »

Forget the time capsule, the cryogenic seed bank — If I were in charge of the next wave of post-apocalyptic memorializing I would just make sure that this sale on was preserved for public viewing.

Unveiling the…. Badonkadonk. Not that badonkadonk (which until recently I had no idea was shorthand for ‘big ass’). No, this is the Badonkadonk Land Cruiser, on sale for only $19,999.95! (shipping not included)

A personal battle tank for the off-road enthusiast, sheathed in the aesthetic of the future-past (‘rust patina’), and tagged under ‘donk’ and ‘fresh whole rabbit,’ I have to agree, yes, there is something about the combination of big wheels, big guns, and big money that starts up the salivary glands.

184 customers reviewed this product. The Badonkadonk is clearly a hit with homicidal soccer moms, vigilantes, separatists, Jesse Helms, people who like to grill, and those cruising for Star Wars fan badonkadonk. Not surprisingly, it is also seen as the heartier alternative to the FEMA trailer on the mean streets of New Orleans. But it has its drawbacks, of course: 2 miles to the gallon, guns cost extra, and why doesn’t it come in Candy Red?

Really, when I think about it — the subprime mortgage crisis, the rise in home security systems, the precipitous drop in bowling league memberships across America — it is all too clear that we’ve been under the spell of the Badonkadonk for a long time. I’m just glad that now I have a single word for it. All the hours I’ve wasted rambling on about “the single-family house, car, backyard, 2.3 kids” when I could have simply used “badonkadonk.” And “sprawl” sounds so bland in comparison, a dry and colorless word for spatial cannibalism. But “badonkadonk” evokes an entire way of life and the premium sound system that goes with it. When people talk about “saving up for badonkadonk” I would know they are not just talking one unforgettable night with a trafficked person.

And here it is, in its natural habitat:

But for those of us who believe in comparison shopping, there are also dealers of baddboyz and Soviet-era Urals, Zils, Tatras, and Pragas. Bringing the war home means bringing it IN STYLE.