31 October 2005

Marlborough, Crescent and Cross

I am currently reading John Hussey's 'Marlborough: John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, Hero of Blenheim' and Hugh Bicheno's 'Crescent and Cross: The Battle of Lepanto 1571' and of course a couple of others.

"I got on Fox News and said, "I know where he is, tell him to stay there for 15 minutes and I will come get him" because we were right outside the Ministry of Information."
Lieutenant Colonel Eric Schwartz, commander, TF 1-65, 2nd BCT (at the presidential palace, Baghdad)
Colour Pencils

My colour pencils. I have a combination of Derwent, Berol Karisma and a single Caran D'Ache Supracolour II Soft . I have bad experiences with the Derwent ones and would avoid them. The Berol Karisma colour pencils are my preferred pencils.

"They are sick in their minds. They say they brought 65 tanks into center of city. I say to you this talk is not true. This is part of their sick mind."
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf (Baghdad Bob)

30 October 2005

After Action Report (29.10.2005): 'Thirty Years War Quad - Nordlingen 1634'

We had two tables set up this time. Seow Buay would be playing two games of Nordlingen simultaneously.

This was the second time this month I was playing 'Nordlingen'. This time, I would be taking the Imperial forces.

Seow Buay would be playing the Swedes. He would also be taking on Wei Yi on the other table. (Image of Seow Buay pitted against Wei Yi in a battle of wits)

Seow Buay (Swedes) versus Shyue Chou (Imperialist forces)

Seow Buay opening moves were utilising Horn's powerful infantry and cavalry (a mix of 13-4, 15-4, 7-8, 4-8 units) to decimate my four infantry units (5-3 units). He also brought up strong infantry units (8-4, 12-4 units) from his main army and shifted them towards his right flank. He sent strong cavalry reinforcements (4-8 units mainly). Meanwhile, I moved strong forces (5-3, 4-6, 9-3 units) towards my left flank, attempting to rescue those beleaguered units.

I had also sent units up the right flank of the Swedish army, hoping to present a threat. (See Image 2)

My guns were unable to disrupt a single attacking infantry at point blank range (turn 1) until much later (turn 2). By then, the guns were surrounded and I had only one disrupted unit left. I launched six attacks and moved up a lot of my forces. My numerous flanking attacks at 1:1 odds failed badly and Seow Buay was able to build a line, taking the guns and bringing up reinforcements. He had destroyed nine units (easily 60+ VP) by turn 4 and captured two guns (20 VP). I haven't yet destroyed a unit.

At that point, I withdrew my largely intact army to strong positions. Seow Buay had enough a victory points for a decision victory and he occupied strong positions. As no one would advance their army, we ended the game at this point. (See image 3)

Wei Yi (Imperialists) versus Seow Buay (Swedes)

Seow Buay essentially did the same thing in this game. He attacked with Horn's forces and destroyed Wei Yi's positions by turn 2, securing the hill and the guns. He moved strong reinforcements forward.

Wei Yi was very aggressive. (See image 4)

He moved his Swedish army forwarded, attempting to prevent the Imperialists from reinforcing Horn. There was a large cavalry melee where the Imperialists took heavy casualties. It was to no avail as the hill was lost to Wei Yi. The position was formidable and the Imperialist forces cannot take high ground with a 15-4 infantry unit securing it. Meanwhile, Wei Yi managed to penetrate the Imperialist left flank, destroying three units while suffering heavy losses. Wei Yi's Imperialist Army was disintegrating. Seow Buay had managed to accummulate sufficient VP for a decisive victory. The battle was lost by turn 6.

Next week

We will be playing GMT Games' 'Sword of Rome' next week.

"Our armed forces, according to their tactics, are already leaving the way open to the capital, especially the commandos, are getting ready to wipe them out."
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf (Baghdad Bob)

Great Photo Reference Sites for Artists and Illustrators

As many would already know, the Kohrman Report is an excellent site by one David Kohrman in his odyssey in chronicling the majestic old decaying buildings of Detroit and the surrounding areas.

His other site, Forgotten Detroit, is another masterpiece in the same vein.

The blog and website have an excellent collection of photos which can make splendid references for comic book artists (yes, especially if you have a penchant for dark futures, dystopian worlds and so forth), illustrators and artists (Perspectives anyone?).

I highly recommend the blog and the website. I also applaud his effort.

"They fled. The American louts fled. Indeed, concerning the fighting waged by the heroes of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party yesterday, one amazing thing really is the cowardice of the American soldiers. We had not anticipated this."
Iraq Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf (Baghdad Bob)
The Sun always shines on TV

In Strict Confidence and Melotron has released a great re-make of A-Ha's pop gem from 1985 'The Sun always shines on TV'. Time really flies. It has been two decades since A-Ha's second single release.

2000 copies of this single has been released in a strange limited edition package including a small little plastic TV set (how very apt) and 3-inch CD.

Excellent re-make. Highly recommended.

"There are no Americans infidels in Baghdad. Never!"
Mohammed Saeed al Sahhaf (Baghdad Bob)

29 October 2005

The Forgotten Hall

This ink piece is inspired by a photo of a ballroom in a decrepit hotel somewhere in one of the American inner cities. I changed the arrangements, removed a lot of elements and added some in.

I scheduled this to be posted next a month from now. Since it fits the Illustration Friday theme, here it is.

Illustration Friday theme: Broken

"A quantum leap forward
Full OCP binary cyborg technology
State of the art destructive capabilities
Commanded by a unique combination of software and organic systems
Jesus...had days like this"
'Mindphaser' Front Line Assembly
Faber-Castell Grip 2001 Pencils

These are Faber-Castell Grip 2001 2B pencils. When these first came out in 2000, they won five or six major product design awards and were a finalist for another.

I have tried them and they are excellent. I used a lot of generic pencils in the past and I thought that there will be no difference. Wrong, these pencils maintain a certain consistency and sharpness when it is used. Splendid pencils.

28 October 2005

A History of Civilizations

These are my thoughts after reading this hefty volume. A review? No, just some thoughts. This is a rather dated (Braudel died in 1985) , though for its day, unique history of civilisations. The history offers the following:
  • The history of world civilisations through a Gallic rather than the predominant Anglo-Saxon perspective. That is in itself worthy of a read.
  • The history is examined through a civilisational point of view rather than the usual chronological approach as found in conventional histories. Thus, this is not a world history.

The history includes a study of societies in each civilisation over a period of time. For instance, it examined the British origins of the United States and noted that "the Anglo-Saxon side has absorbed everything". It also noted the Protestantism of the nation despite the inflex of Catholics over a period of time and most importantly, the society being religious.

Other points of note includes dated information or inaccuracies such as the stated 'solidarity' shown by the Indians or Mexicans against the Hernan Cortes and his Conquistadors. The fact is that the surrounding Indian states were only too glad to throw off the yoke of Aztec domination (which included periodic human sacrifices in significant numbers) and they were allied with the Conquistadors. There is also a strong anti-British favour throughout about British exploitation For instance, Braudel curiously omitted to mention the French exploitation and colonisation of Indo-China and Algiers in the same context. In another example, Braudel wondered wistfully what might have happened if French people had dominated the North American continent after the French and Indian War rather than the Thirteen Colonies. A Gallic perspective doubtless. Not wrong but interesting. "One of American's more important reasons for intervention in the war in 1917 had no doubt been to safeguard Briain's world position, which suited the United States, if only because it helped guarantee the future of the Anglo-Saxon civilisation - their civilisation." Other omissions would include the many Italian, English, Spanish, German achievements in the fields of humanism, scientiful inquiry and more. Of course, many Anglo-Saxon histories are often if not just as myopic.

There are certain presumptions that Braudel has made. "Even a visitor from France realises, once in the United States, how valuable the French social security system is. For all America's wealth, it has nothing equivalent to offer."

At the same times, there are certain valuable insights. "Its own conquests by land simply enlarged its territory; others' conquests by sea were appalling colonial adventures." Again, a reference to the United States.

There are numerous other points of course.

As a textbook, I think this book would have serious shortcomings in the assumption that students would already have some knowledge of history. As a commentary, it is somewhat lengthy despite not being comprehensive. Lastly, it assumes much prior grounding in history.

"My strip is about private realities, the magic of imagination, and the specialness of certain friendships. Who would believe in the innocence of a little kid and his tiger if they cashed in on their popularity to sell overpriced knickknacks that nobody needs?"
Bill Watterson on his comic strip 'Calvin and Hobbes'

27 October 2005

Copic Markers

I use Copic Markers for a lot of my drawings. Clean, fast drying and simple to use, these markers are extremely versatile and portable. I could sketch just about anywhere with them.

"And in our Dying
We're more alive-than we have ever been
I've lived for these few seconds
For I am Winter born"
'Winterborn' The Cruxshadows

26 October 2005


A simple piece done using pencils on Painter IX.

"We're damaged people
Drawn together
By subtleties that we are not aware of
Disturbed souls
Playing out forever
These games that we once thought we would be scared of "
'Damaged People' Depeche Mode
Drawing Requests

I will draw if I am interested in the subject matter. I don't draw portraits, caricatures, pictures of your babies, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your children and pets. I don't do design either.

I will draw AFVs, aircraft, landscapes, scenery, demons, dragons, historical figures, buildings and more!

Do drop me email or a comment if you want to see me draw something.

"You’ve got this strange effect on me
And I like it
You’ve got this strange effect on me
And I like it
You make my world in white
You make my darkness bright, oh yes
You’ve got this strange effect on me
And I like it, and I like it"
'This strange effect' Hooverphonic

25 October 2005


There's my cat, Meow, looking guilty. He's usually like that after he has done something bad, like scratching me. Bad Meow scratched me last night when he happily jumped at me and then swiped at me with his claws!

"A white house, a white room
The program of today
Lights on, switch on
Your eyes are far away
The map represents you
And the tape is your voice
Follow all along you
Till you recognize the choice"
'Photographic' Depeche Mode
Memories of Orchard Road in the 1970s and 1980s

The landscape of the Orchard Road of the late 1970s and 1980s has changed greatly. Sparkling upmarket malls have now replaced the shophouses and other older buildings. The crowded street scene filled with young trendy people in urbanwear today seems so different from the McDonald Kids* and Centrepoint Kids** of yesteryear. Gone are the orderly row of shophouses at Koek Road. Gone is the old dank Koek Road Market. Gone are the silent stone graveyards on the largely empty Teochew Cemetary at Ngee Ann City and Orchard MRT station.

I can still remember visiting Metro Grand, the most upscale of all department stores in those days in the then trendy and spanking new Lucky Plaza with my parents and the weekly visits to the old grey Cold Storage building for groceries before they built Centrepoint. I can remember many childhood haircuts at the perennially crowded Modern Youth barber which was housed in a row of shophouses behind Specialists Centre. That stretch of shophouses also housed the wondrous Orchard Store, a long-lived toy and modelling shop. I recall marvelling at the range of Airfix models on display at the display window.

I fondly remember the Magnolia Milkbar with its wooden panels and the Mont 'Dor cafe at Ngee Ann Building which was once the most luxurious of apartments in the city. And across the street was the outdoor Trivoli Cafe with its umbrellas beside the Fritzpatrick Supermarket and old C.K. Tangs. My mother would visit the Fritzpatrick Supermarket while I would be upstairs with my sister, browsing at books at an Indian newstand and bookstore (Newstand?). I recall my mother buying Tintin books for us.

The transience of that landscape striking. Singapore was growing at an extraordinary rate in those days and the future was blindingly bright. There was the domes of the Indonesian embassy and Orchard Police Station**** along the same stretch as the Ngee Ann Building. Not much from that period remain standing today.

I also remember the old Cairnhill Steakhouse*** and Emerald Hill Steakhouse off Orchard Road. Such memories! I also recall the Szechuan restuarant at the Singapura Hotel which was a favourite of my parents.

If only I had photos of those days. If I could chronicle the bustling street scenes of those days in photos or in pictorial form, I would.

How times change.

*McDonald Kids. These hang around McDonald's at Liat Towers.
**Centrepoint Kids. These only came later after the demolition of the old Cold Storage building and the construction of the new Centrepoint in 1982-83.
***Cairnhill Steakhouse shifted to Orchard Point for some years before disappearing altogether.
****Orchard Police Station. This was situated at the junction of Scotts Road and Orchard Road where the MRT station is now standing. A cemetary once stood there (where the Filipino picnickers are today).

Digital Tool

This is what I am using for my digital drawings. I have kinda retired the other Wacom pad for now. It's only a 15-inch screen though the 17-inch and larger versions are available. Those are more pressure-sensitive than this model.

The screen does get hotter after several hours of use. One can feel it as one draws.

"Bright light
Dark room
Bright light
Dark room"
'Photographic' Depeche Mode

24 October 2005

After Action Report (22.10.2005): 'Thirty Years War Quad - Rocroi 1643'

This was played on a Saturday afternoon. Before the game, we rolled for sides with Seow Buay taking the French while I took the Spanish forces. The battlefield was clear with no significant terrain features of note.

Each unit has a strength factor and a movement allowance. (Str - MA) Artillery was a fixed piece with the French deploying two in the centre and the Spanish deploying three in three widely separated locations.

The turn sequence was basic and familiar.

Turn Sequence:
1. Disruption Removal
2. Artillery Fire
3. Movement Phase
4. Combat Phase

The French forces were greater numerically with generally swifter infantry with values of 8-3, 9-3 and 10-3. There was a single French 15-3 infantry unit. French cavalry was of generally greater strength factors, ranging from 2-6, 4-6, 6-6 and 8-6. The Spanish had a large number of high strength infantry which had an movement allowance of 2, representing the large and unwieldy tercios. The values ranged from 10-2, 12-2 and 15-2. Spanish cavalry ranged from 2-6, 3-6, 4-6 and 6-6. There were only two 6-6 Spanish cavalry.

Leaders were about three or four aside.

The battle started with Seow Buay moving his Spanish cavalry in a furious charge towards my left flank which was my weaker flank.The charge was supported by French infantry. Meanwhile, he moved his weaker left flank away from me. I started shifting my slow Spanish 10-2, 12-2 infantry units towards my left and meanwhile, my cavalry wheeled back. I had decided to anchor my flank with my artillery piece (and this was defended at the moment by a 4-6 cavalry) on my left. I also sent out two sacrificial 3-6 cavalry units to buy time. These were deployed two hexes ahead of my main line.

Meanwhile, on my right, I started shifting back to Seow Buay's surprise. He had imagined that I would advance and try to threaten that weaker left flank of his. The formation of my Spanish forces begin to resemble an inverted U with both my flanks refused. (See first image)

Thus, Seow Buay engaged the two cavalry units, disrupting them on the second turn. He also managed to disrupt a 10-2 infantry unit which was on its way to reinforcing my artillery unit. Clearly, this was vital. Seow Buay had a few 8-6 cavalry units which could break this weak flank. However, my two 3-6 units retreated and shielded that 4-6 cavalry, leader and artillery unit. I managed to finally secure my line by Turn 3. The French then destroyed the two Spanish cavalry units for a total of 6 VPs.

My 10-2, 12-2 and 15-2 infantry units had arrived and they reinforced the line. Seow Buay feinted deep to my left with 2-6 cavalry units facing my deep flank. I suppose he was tempting me to aggressively attempt to 'pinch off' this 'bulge'. On the other flank, Seow Buay had also moved his forces forward.

The centre was clear of units. Seow Buay's French army was in a formation that resembled a large pincer at this point while mine was that of a fortified line anchored by two powerful infantry units (Tercios) on two artillery pieces with leaders and cavalry reserves behind it. It was both an anchor as well as a weak point. However, any attack on those position would involve great risk which Seow Buay was

As Seow Buay shifted his French army laterally, I shifted my powerful Spanish 15-2 infantry units and scattered them throughout the line. At one point, I identified an opportunity. His 15-3 infantry unit was leading a lateral shift to my right. My artillery units bombarded the luckless unit and disrupted it. At that moment, I charged with a single 4-6 unit. That was enough for a 1-1 odds attack. I rolled and the 15-3 unit was destroyed. That was 15 VPs. That is a perfect illustration of what one would call a 'cheap shot'.

Following that Seow Buay manoeuvred his French forces but he unwilling to commit to a risky attack on the gun line. I was unwilling to to attack with my generally slower and numerically inferior Spanish forces despite having generally more powerful infantry units. We agreed to a draw.

Other Games

On the other table, Chris and Chew Ming played 'White Mountain' (another battle from the Thirty Years War Quad). Chris took the Bohemians while Chew Ming took the Imperial army. It was a fascinating battle to watch as the Star Palace was holding while the Imperial forces charged the powerful Bohemian line, penetrating in two areas. There were numerous casualties on both sides with almost equal VPs scored. Finally, the Bohemian army reached breaking point. (See second image)

Seow Buay and I also tried the Battle of the Pyramids scenerio in Decision Games' 'Napoleon's First Battles'. We tried two turns and noted that this game is going to be bloody and also very different from the 'Thirty Years War Quad'.

There was also a question regarding the deployment of the Mamelukes. The Mamelukes had more units than it could deploy on Embabeth without violating stacking limits. Strange. The Combat Results Table (CRT) was rather weird.

A list of wargamers in Singapore can be found at http://singapore-wargames.tripod.com

"Father worked in industry
Now the work has moved on
And the factory's gone
See them sell your history
Where once you were strong
And you used to belong"
'The Circus' Erasure

Super Extra Gravity

The Cardigans new release 'Super extra Gravity' is in the same vein as the dismal previous release 'Long gone before Midnight'. The Cardigans seems to be unable to reach the same heights of 'Gran Turismo'. The Cardigans appears to be cruise control with regards to songwriting. The solo release from the vocalist under the mantle of A Camp is not remarkable either.

Oh well.

I bought the limited edition CD with a bonus DVD. The bonus DVD is pretty worthless. A marketing gimmick with little to recommend.

The first single from this album, 'I need some fine Wine, you need to be nicer', is bland and forgettable.

23 October 2005


Who are the urban planners who planned and approved this eyesore behind the city hall? A visual atrocity. Simply unbelievable.

22 October 2005

Solitude II:

This piece was meant to be put up in the middle of next month. Since, it is particularly apt for this week's Illustration Friday's theme, here it is.

Illustration Friday theme: Remote.

"There was once a future
For a working man
There was once a lifetime
For a skillful hand yesterday"
'The Circus' Erasure

21 October 2005


The stronghold protects.

"Artillery towers had other design weaknesses - flaws even, from the point of view of engineers searching out the perfect fortification design. An artillery tower was intended as a massive, self-defending strongpoint radiating defensive fire; to maximise that fire the tendency was to pile up the tiers of gunrooms."
'The Renaissance at War' Thomas Arnold
Figures, Characters, and Faces

The links to previously posted drawings of figures:

Teutonic Knight, Samurai, Handgunner, Byzantine Heavy Footsoldier, Ottoman Heavy Infantry, French Archer, Japanese Infantry I, Japanese Infantry II, German Infantry I, German Infantry II, Byzantine Cavalryman, Roman Legionary

The Keymaster, The Flower-Seller, Little Floating Man, Neil, Damien, Traveller, The awaiting Man

Figure I, Figure II, Figure III, Figure IV, Figure V, Figure VI, Figure VII, Figure VIII, Figure IX

Poet, I must scream

This page will be updated from time to time.

"Your dreams are turning real
You feel so alive
Like you've never felt before
A life beyond reality"

'Subspace' Funker Vogt

20 October 2005

In a Lonely Place

Amidst the silent rooms, she stumbled upon a place of unease...

"The lies you tell
Aren't meant to deceive
They're not there
For me to believe
I've heard
Your vicious words
You know by now
It takes alot to see me hurt"
'Dangerous' Depeche Mode

19 October 2005

The Renaissance at War

I just finished reading "History of Warfare: The Renaissance at War" by Thomas Arnold. Interesting topics covered include new forms of military architecture (the artillery tower and the angle bastion), infantry reform (and the return of the primacy of infantry), cavalry reform (reiters, pistoleers and the caracole), the global struggle between Christiandom and Islam, the Italian Wars, the dynastic struggle for primacy between the Habsburg and Valois, the wars of Reformation (including the French Religious Wars, the German Peasants' Revolt, the Anabaptist kingdom of Munster, the Pilgrimage of Grace, the Schmalkaldic War and the Dutch Revolt). This is one of the most informative books I have read this year.

I will probably explore this area in depth inthe near future.

I would be interested in playing 3W's 'Crossbows and Cannon I' and 'Crossbows and Cannon II'.

I was just thinking of the pop concerts I have been to over the years. I realised that I have been to quite a number. They include the following:

Children of the Bong
Banco de Gaia
Renegade Soundwave
Astralasia (twice)
Chemical Brothers (twice)
Cocteau Twins
Depeche Mode
Pet Shop Boys
Alphaville (twice)
Spandau Ballet (at least what was left)
Belinda Carlisle
Fem2Fem (Voyeuz the Musical)

I am pretty sure that I have missed a few. I didn't put any DJ performances like Paul Oakenfold, Michael Dog, and others. I also did not list musicals, plays, classical performances that I have attended. There are probably a couple more. Of late, I haven't been to any. The musical scene here seems rather devoid of anything interesting.

The Orbital concert was one of the most memorable of the lot, as was the Cocteau Twins concert.

Concerts I regretted missing include Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark in 1993, Bjork in the mid-nineties, Marc Almond, Dead can Dance in 1996. Oh well, one can't watch them all.

I have seen Marc Almond perform in a store-signing once. He could carry a tune very well despite singing with only an accoustic guitar accompaniement.

Presently, I know a lot of bands like Imperative Reaction, Assemblage 23, The Cruxshadows, In Strict Confidence, and others are touring the USA. VNV Nation, Clan of Xymox and Covenant did tours there previously. I would loved to have attended those concerts. Of course, if there is a Front Line Assembly concert, I would attend. I would also love to attend a Clan of Xymox concert.

"Machines with living human tissue and programmed to destroy
The silence is deafening
Regression hangs in the air
A motionless world sits waiting
For new codes"
'Mindphaser' Front Line Assembly

18 October 2005

The Poet

He was one with the world. He had written paeans for martyrs of the oppression. He had written for the people. He was beloved by the people and the world. However, he had lied, for he had written fiction in verse. Thus, began the revolution.
Electric Blue

The last time I heard an album with a title of 'Electric Blue' and has 'Crazy' as the first single was sometime in the eighties with Icehouse.

Twenty years later, Andy Bell has released an album titled 'Electric Blue' and it has 'Crazy' as the first single. What an album. Claudia Brucken from Propaganda appears in two tracks and assisted in the writing of one of them. Glorious Hi-NRG disco tracks! What a contrast to the current Erasure album. Fun. Delightful!

First impressions are good.

"Cause my desire
Is running down a city street
Pulled me up to the wire
I'm driven by a heavy beat"
'Crazy' Andy Bell

Playing the Angel

I went to pick up the regular CD of 'Playing the Angel'. Unfortunately, HMV and Sembawang Music haven't got the SACD edition with the DVD (look below for tracklisting).

I settled for the regular CD.

Depeche Mode 'Playing the Angel'

Super Audio CD Album with DVD Disc Released Mon 17 Oct 2005

Disc: 1 (SACD)
1. A Pain That I’m Used To
2. John The Revelator
3. Suffer Well
4. The Sinner In Me
5. Precious
6. Macro
7. I Want It All
8. Nothing's Impossible
9. Introspectre
10. Damaged People
11. Lilian
12. The Darkest Star

Disc: 2 (DVD)
1. Playing The Angel in 5.1 and Stereo -DTS 5.1 (24bit) -Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (24bit)-PCM Stereo (24bit)
2. Making The Angel -PCM Stereo
3. Precious (Video) -PCM Stereo
4. Clean (Bare)-PCM Stereo
5. Photo Gallery - Candid Studio Photos taken by Ben Hillier at the Santa Barbara/New York/London Recording Sessions

From first impressions, the album is a lot less sedate than 'Exciter' and 'Ultra'. From an interview on the Depeche Mode site, they have focused on analogue synthesizers instead of the soft synths in 'Exciter' and 'Ultra'. They have also opted for a more electronic approach.

The tracks feel like an evolution of the Depeche Mode sound but the use of harsh electronics have given this a mature yet dark edgy feel. The album is cold but it is tempered with Gahan's fragile vocals which is just only alright. The Gahan written track 'Nothing's impossible' and Gahan's 'Precious' are standouts for me so far.

Good dark album. Great? It is too early to assess. Definitely a superior album as compared to the two previous ones. A return to form? Hmm.. I can't tell. I would have to listen to this a few more times.

At the same time, I bought Andy Bell's new album 'Electric Blue'. This disco album is promising from a quick listen.

On an unrelated note, Gramaphone at Specialists' Centre appeared to have moved out. Pity.

"See the Microcosm
In macro vision
Our bodies moving
With pure precision
One universal celebration
One evolution
One creation"
'Macro' Depeche Mode

17 October 2005

Goth Ethereal

There is a sub-branch of goth music which features ethereal female vocals. Here are my favourites in this sub-genre.

Love Spiral Downwards - Idylls
Love Spiral Downwards - Ardor
Chandeen - Spacerider: Love at first sight
Chandeen - Jutland

The first two Love Spiral Downwards albums are, in my opinion, the best that they have ever created, subsequently, their later work veered off towards a languid lounge-cum-jazz direction. Abysmal really. Love Spiral Downwards eventually renamed itself as Love Spirals.

Chandeen has broken up. One of the vocalist has contributed vocals to a recent In Strict Confidence release.

There are five great collections featuring gothic ethereal vocals titled:

Heavenly Voices Volume 1
Heavenly Voices Volume 2
Heavenly Voices Volume 3
Heavenly Voices Volume 4
The Best of Heavenly Voices

The Heavenly Voices series is a good collection if one were to want to explore the ethereal goth music scene.

No Irish folk please.

To put it in words
To write it down
That is walking on hallowed ground"
'Sacred' Depeche Mode

A Verdant World Revisited

As the Demiurge approached, she came to the realisation that He needed worshippers. She was the raison d'etre for His existence.

"Above the air there is no despair
We are waiting for the moment"
'Everything must perish' Front Line Assembly

Session Report: '7 Ages'

'7 Ages' is a lengthy world conquest and civilisation-building game from an Australian design house. Augustine who was hosting this session and game has typed out this report:

David, Andreas, Augustine, Weiyi and Wayne are currently playing 7 ages, from Age 1 :) Here's the report for the first session. Enjoy...

7 Ages Session Report

At the dawn of recorded history, the Chinese have first claim to the title of the world’s oldest civilisation. Yet the Zhou dynasty was but the first among equals. In the fertile plains of the Middle East, men thrived and grew in numbers, expanding their territory and making great advances. The Phoenicians were the first to discover waterborne trade, with the Minoans close on their heels. Trading on dangerously stormy seas and built ever expanding fleets of triremes, their fleets ranged the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Meanwhile, in the heart of Europe, the Amazons and the Gauls multiplied, prospered and spread across the land, encircling their smaller neighbour, the Cimmerians. Yet no great conflict raged between these expanding peoples, as each sought to fill the niche they had sprung from. Great cities were built by the Etruscans and the Carthaginians (who else built cities? I think there was one more civ)

The Egyptians, under the brilliant leadership of insert age 1 leader name here, drove relentlessly southward and created an empire that spanned the east coast of Africa, encompassing an area that made it one of the biggest empires of its time. The philosopher queen Zena of the Amazons exhibited her keen edge over her neighbours, even as they strove to compete in terms of glorious achievements.

The first signs of serious human conflict began in China. Convinced that the Zhou dynasty was decadent and weak, the Qin and Shang made their bid for power one after the other. The resulting three way contest saw the surprising defeat of these rebel movements, as the Zhou showed more resilience than expected. Mobilising more manpower than anyone had given them credit for (Weiyi played 2 cards in sequence to increase production or something), the Zhou maintained their hold over China for a little time longer. The subsequent volcanic eruption (or was it an earthquake? Think I was away from the table or wasn’t paying attention then) devastated key areas in China, leading to widespread disorder and chaos. Chinese civilization entered a dark age as the governments, legitimate and rebel alike, collapsed in the wake of the disaster. They would not recover till the Han dynasty several centuries later. (Historical note: There has been some debate about the exclusion from official Chinese historical records of the Japanese colonization of the fertile wheat areas of Shantung and Hopei in the years preceding the Han dynasty)

Euro-African civilization continued blissfully unaware of the disasters, manmade and natural, happening to their Chinese cousins. The rise of the Assyrians as a military power was to change the status quo of the Middle East completely. The first power to fall to the sleek Assyrian war machine was the Sumerians (I think?). The short lived Babylonian empire was the next to follow, after their ill-fated attempt to destroy the Assyrians through treachery backfired as a result of a spy who turned out to be a double-agent. The Assyrians swept south next and took the capital of the hapless Egyptian empire, which had stagnated in the years after the initial expansion and was facing severe disorder in the southern mountainous provinces after an earthquake (is it just me, or do earthquakes like happen ever so often in this version of history :P ) The loss of the capital proved to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The Egyptian empire collapsed. The Phoenicians lost land to the Assyrian aggressors too, but did not meet the fate of the other empires (at this time of writing, they have not, that is )

The origin of the Huns remains steeped in myth and hearsay. Some scholars accept the Bucklandi explanation that they were the male slaves of the matriachial Amazonian society who rose up against the latter while others contend that the Huns, like all other civilizations, simply sprang into existence. Whatever their origins, the first act of the Hunnish hordes was to pillage the newly rebuilt Amazonian capital (the old one had been destroyed by, you’ve guessed it, an earthquake), knocking the Amazonians back an ages in the process. They then headed southwest, where the largest concentration of cities was. The name of Attila the Hun would strike fear in the hearts of the Etruscan society.

The scarcely populated Americas took yet another hit when a volcano wiped out the budding Inca civilization. Recent findings surmise that if the Incas had spread themselves out ever so slightly, they might have avoided the civilization destroying cataclysm which left the plains dwelling native Americans the sole survivors in the Americas.

India was relatively peaceful as the Harrapans co-existed with the Tamils with the former taking the north and the latter the south.

It was also around this period that the Javanese trading kingdom came into being.

End of report for Session 1.


Recent scholarship (Weiyi, the patron god of the Zhou told me over MSN) has convincingly shown that the battle of Schechuan was won as a result of a Zhou spy in the Qin high command and the rapid dispatch of reinforcements from neighbouring provinces (In game terms, Weiyi played ‘High Command’ that forced Wayne to commit 1-3 units per battle as well as another card that allowed him to shift units from an adjacent province to join the battle). It was not, as was erroneously believed, the result of more manpower on the part of the Zhou but rather the application of that said force that led the Zhou to triumph over the other dynastic pretenders.

16 October 2005

A Traveller trudging through a wintry Landscape

Illustration Friday Theme: Cold

"Complicating, circulating
New life, new life
Operating, generating
New life, new life"
'New Life' Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode new single 'Precious'

In my opinion, 'Precious' is the best single released since 1993's 'In your Room'. 'Precious' is somewhat reminiscent of 'Enjoy the Silence' and could easily have been 'Enjoy the Silence Redux' due to the structure and arrangements. After that horrid venture into electro-blues with 'Ultra' and 'Exciter', Depeche Mode appears to have returned to their roots with this one single. Thanks goodness, no more of that 'It's no good' electronic valium. 'It's no good' is an extremely overrated single and it's simply no good!

I find 'Ultra' to be the worst album ever released by Depeche Mode. Strangely enough, several of Alan Wilder's Recoil albums explored this electro-blues territory a few years before 'Ultra' and 'Exciter'.

I think one only tell if Depeche Mode has truly returned to the sounds of 'Violator' and 'Music for the Masses' after listening to the new album which is to be released on Monday.

'Precious' features Gahan singing without accompaniement and it lacks the commanding voice in previous singles like 'Strangelove' and 'Enjoy the Silence'. 'Precious' could be better. I feel that Gahan singing alone or singing without other member of the band backing him up lack something. And please, no more of those two backup singers from 'Condemnation'. Depeche Mode is not an electro-blues... hopefully.

The myriad singles released for 'Precious'. The Sasha remixes are so-so, undistinguished and while retaining most of the vocals and they have a faster bpm. I don't quite like the remixes.

Depeche Mode "Precious" (UK part 1 MCD)
1. Precious - Album Version
2. Precious - Sasha's Spooky Mix (Edit)

Depeche Mode "Precious" (UK part 2 MCD)
1. Precious - Sasha's Gargantuan Vocal Mix (Edit)
2. Precious - Misc. Full Vocal Mix
3. Free

Depeche Mode "Precious" (UK DVD single)
1. Precious - Video
2. Precious - Motor Remix
3. Precious - Michael Mayer Ambient Mix

Depeche Mode "Precious" (US single)
1. Precious - Sasha's Spooky Mix
2. Precious - Sasha's Gargantuan Vocal Mix
3. Precious - Michael Mayer Balearic Mix
4. Precious - Misc Full Vocal Mix
5. Precious - Misc Crunch Mix
6. Precious - Motor Mix

All the singles here are available from A Different Drum's online store.

'Precious' is excellent synthpop.

The way you leave me wanting more
That's what I want you for
When I am in your arms
Know I won't come to harm"
'Dangerous' Depeche Mode
Moon over Malaya

'Moon over Malaya' is a composite of many narratives and individual accounts of the Argylls and the Marines in the Malayan campaign.

The cover of the books shows a Lanchester armoured car. It is mentioned that the armoured cars used were of two types. The Marmon and the Lanchester armoured cars were obsolete types and the armour mounted were easily penetrated by anti-tank rifles, anti-tank guns and possibly machine gun fire. There was mention of engagements where Japanese tanks accounted for the few British armoured cars.

The Japanese fielded about 200 tanks in the Malayan campaign.

Lanchester Mark I, II Armoured Car
Armament: 3 x 0.303in (7.7mm) MGs
Armour: 8mm
Crew: 3
Dimensions: Length 4.9m; Width: 1.93m; Height: 2.99m
Weight: 7820kg
Powerplant: Lanchester 6-cylinder petrol, 115.2kW (86bhp)
Speed: 88km/h
Range: 320km

The book described fierce engagements at Upper Bukit Timah resulting in the destruction of armoured cars and a large column of over fifty Japanese tanks and armoured vehicles that could not be stopped. Road blocks, mines, anti-tank rifles and guns had accounted for a few Japanese tanks.

An interesting point to make is the mention of the Tyersall Park camp which is across the Road from the Tanglin Barracks. Today, Tyersall Road is just behind the Botanic Gardens.

'Tyersall Park Camp, the 2nd Argylls' home since December 1939 lay south of Bukit Timah Road and north of Tanglin Barracks. On the west side of the beautiful Botanical Gardens, the site reverted to jungle after the war. The land is still the property of the Sultan of Johore but remains overgrown , undeveloped and inaccessible. 200 yards from Napier Road is the rusted remains of Argyll Gate and further on the side entrance...'

Today, bordering the road is a large forested area where one can find attap huts inside. This forested area is bound by the Tyersall Road, Holland Road, Sommerville Park (apartments). Does this land still belong to the Sultan of Johor? I am curious. I guess one can do a check with the strata titles.

The account also described artillery bombardment of the camp as well as sniper fire.

The volume includes interesting photos of the campaign.

On a related note, I saw a new book 'Did Singapore Have to Fall?: Churchill and the Impregnable Fortress' at Borders. This book by Karl Hack and Kevin Blackburn includes quite a lot of details and raw information include naval artillery and more.

An interesting chapter also included the locations of two mass graves or massacre sites in Bedok and Changi. The first was at the site of the present Temasek Junior College which the second is at the soon to be completed Changi Airport Terminal 3.

"Now the work has moved on
And the factory's gone
See them sell your history
Where once you were strong
And you used to belong"
'The Circus' Erasure

15 October 2005

Figure VI: Waaaah!

He leapt out of bed with a bound, full of zest and life, looking forward to a life of toil! He is the corporate wage slave, the archetypal salaryman.

"The look in your eye
The pressure, you kill with a knife
Toxins and games
You - you vow to win"
'Resist' Front Line Assembly
Comments, Replies and Email

I generally reply to most comments. It may take me a day or a week, but I will reply. Regarding email, if you do want to, feel free to send email too. No spam or product introductions please.

I am on MSN Messenger and Friendster. I have more or less dropped out of ICQ. Feel free to add me to your list.

14 October 2005

The Tower of the Queen

A tribute to Terry Gilliam's work of genius 'The Brothers Grimm'.

"Don't upset the teacher
Though we know he lied to you
Don't upset the preacher
He's gonna close his eyes for you"
'The Circus' Erasure

Building with Art Decor features

There are many buildings with Art Decor stylings scattered throughout Singapore. Here is one of them, not the most inspiring sight but nevertheless, an interesting one.

13 October 2005

Five Overlooked Synthpop Albums

Certain synthpop albums lack the visibility of their more illustrious compatriots. These are some gems which I feel were overlooked by the synthpop and electronic music community when they were first released:

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Liberator
John Foxx and Louis Gordon - Crash and Burn
Hubert KaH - Hubert KaH
Merge -Lost Heroes
Wave in Head - Time to speak

"A war of technology
Threatens to ignite
Digital murder
The language of machines"
'Mindphaser' Front Line Assembly

12 October 2005

A Verdant World

In the stillness, she could hear the approach of the Demiurge. Is it a portent of the End?

'The rather dour young man on the Ducal Throne, who could not yet have been thirty, leaned forward with one hand on the arm of it, and stared at Ash with eyes so dark as to be black. A faint colour touched his pale cheeks. "You tried to kill me!"'
'The Book of Ash Volume 2: Carthage Ascendant' Mary Gentle

11 October 2005

After Action Report (08.10.2005): 'Thirty Years War Quad - Nordlingen 1634'

Seow Buay and I rolled a die for sides, giving me the Swedes and him the Imperialists. We quickly set up given the limited number of units. We were all set to go!

Nordlingen, as everyone knows (well..), is a pivotal battle in the Thirty Years War which broke the back of Swedish power and restored the advantage to the Imperialists. The Swedes did manage a revival late in the war.

On the armies, the Imperialist army was larger but more coherent while the Swedish army generally had higher unit strengths but were divided. Given the state of the fatigued Swedish forces, the demoralisation level for this battle is set at 100 and 75 for infantry and cavalry while that of the Imperial forces is set at 125 and 100 respectively.

A examination of the battlefield showed a central division by rough terrain and impassable woods into two parts. For both the Swedish army and Imperialist army, the majority of their armies would be deployed on side closer to Nordlingen. It would be difficult for the armies to support the minor elements on other side of the divide. It was much more difficult for the Swedes actually.

The initial deployment was a curious one. An advance Swedish detachment under Horn stood poised to attack an isolated imperialist hill with cannons while the two armies stood facing each other on a plain. The Imperialist cannons were mostly placed on high ground.

Given the tripling of factors given to Swedish infantry in turn 1, I attacked with most of Horn's forces, demolishing three out of four infantry units (5-3 or 5-4 units). Unfortunately, the two cannons units disrupted my powerful infantry units. Seow Buay swiftly moved substantial forces to counterattack. He did not waver and neither was he half-hearted. My tactical mistake from this point basically doomed the enterprise. I failed to position my 15-4 infantry units properly and thus did not rally them. I did a silly suicidal attack with a powerful unit. It was going to be a matter of time before the Horn detachment was lost. I had lost a wing there! It was obvious.

At turn 2, I moved my entire army forward, forsaking my artillery and attempting to threaten Seow Buay's army. However, Seow Buay was unconcerned. He simply denied his flank and deployed on high ground behind his artillery.

At that point at turn 3 to 4, I had to make a strategic decision. I could withdraw and await him, essentially waiting at my lines from a position of strength. This would also definitely end the game at this point as Seow Buay would not forsake his powerful position despite his superior numbers and the destruction of Horn's detachment (That would draw off about 30% of his forces up to turn 4-5). Seow Buay would end with a substantive victory at the minimum. I would have about 20VP and he would need 30 or more which he could more than easily have gotten from the destruction of the two 15-4, 13-4 infantry units, and not to mention the cavalry units.

Anyhow, I decided to throw caution to the winds. I would try to force a decision. Either, I claw out a draw or lose my army. Using my 12-4 infantry units, I proceeded to try to punch through his centre. I managed to disrupt a few units but in turn, more than six of my units were disrupted by a combination of cannon fire and die rolls. Risky attacks. I managed to eliminate a few units but lost substantially more.

By turn 7, my line was beginning to collapse. Seow Buay had managed to reduce the Horn detachment to two disrupted units.

I started withdrawing to my gun line while Seow Buay's maruadering cavalry came around my short flanks. Through carelessness, I lost an artillery piece. At turn 9, my army was on its last legs, and the infantry was just short of demoralisation. At that point, we ended the game. Seow Buay had won a complete victory.

In hindsight, there were two major approaches for the Swedes to consider.

1. The withdrawal of Horn's units and the re-joining of the detachment with the main body. If this was chosen, the Swedish army could actually wait in a secure position for the larger Imperialist army. This was never the obvious choice as almost everyone would have attacked with Horn.

2. Attacking with Horn and then holding the hill with the two cannons for a prolonged period while the main Swedish army attempt to attack left. (ie Imperialist right wing). This strategy appears viable. Again, the risk is not inconsiderable.

For the Imperialists, it would be mostly be the employment of a reactive strategy. Should option 1 be chosen, the Imperialists would have to decide whether it is worth advacing and abandoning a position of strength. The Imperialists have a preponderance of artillery on high ground. The Imperialists have numerical superiority despite lower strength units. And lastly, greater staying power through a higher demoralisation value.


I think this is a worthwhile battle to play and I would love to play this again. We will likely be trying Rocroi next.

"Scientists have proof without certainty; Creationists have certainty without proof"
Ashley Montagu

The Distant Bridge

A little sketch done when I was sipping an ice lemon tea at Burger King on a Friday night. Fairly enjoyable sketch. Nothing more.

"Synthetic conspiracy
Masters of the human race
The mind now knows
New levels of fear"

'Mindphaser' Front Line Assembly

10 October 2005


A charging Roman centurion and a legionary. A sketch based on a rather small blurred photo. The motion blur filter was likely used in that photo. I had to reconstruct some details.

"A war of technology
Threatens to ignite
Digital murder
The language of machines"

'Mindphaser' Front Line Assembly

09 October 2005

The Labyrinth

Illustration Friday Theme: Lost

I drew most of this while I was at Spinelli's at the Heeren tonight and I finished the details when I got home. The buildings in the background are of a variety of styles, with elements of Moscovite churches, Eastern Orthrodox churches and a Dutch gable. A mish-mash really. I am hoping for a feel of the fantastical.

"Everybody’s looking for a new sensation
Everybody’s talking about the state of the nation
Everybody’s looking for a promised land
Everybody’s failing to understand"
'Pleasure Little Treasure' Depeche Mode


For him, it was a moment of lucidity. He reminisced of times passed, the hopes and the regrets and how he used sit in this spot, pondering on a promising future.

"Mesmerised by a decade of faith
Flowers and remorse
A fading vision lost in time
Tragedy on course"

'Mindphaser' Front Line Assembly

08 October 2005


HURRAH! I finally located Noise Unit's 'Voyeur'. That took long enough. It would appear that Borders is the only music outlet in Singapore that carries this particular CD.

I am still hoping to locate the soundtrack the Pet Shop Boys created for the Sergei Eisenstein's classic 'Battleship Potemkin'. So far, I haven't seen it on our fair shores yet. It would be a most interesting exposition.

"Mesmerised by a decade of faith
Flowers and remorse
A fading vision lost in time
Tragedy on course"
'Mindphaser' Front Line Assembly


In the darkness, she glimpsed a clearing in the shadows.

"Through the smoke I see the trees
No one left for us to please
A perfect world where no one dies
Go to heaven with your lies"

'Everything must perish' Front Line Assembly

07 October 2005

Drawing Pens

Today, I was at Faber-Castell Singapore. They are housed at the Lian Tong Building at Tannery Lane. The nice people there, namely Gary, gave me some Faber Castell drawing pens to draw.

Over the years, I have used many types including the titanium-tipped Radiograph pen.

In the image above, from left to right, Faber-Castell, Artline, Pilot, Copic and Rotring. I have used Pilot extensively for the last ten years, however, my favourite is the Artline ones.

Copic is unique in that they do have a 0.05 width in their range and that has proven to be useful despite being extremely fragile. The nib is easily ruined. For ultra-fine work, there is only one.

Rotring has smooth ink flow but it seems to lack character.

I have yet to try the Faber-Castell ones but having tried their products in the past, I have high expectations.


I have tried the Faber-Castell pens last night and have drawn a delightful little piece which I am pleased with. The pens are fabulous. I think I won't be purchasing anymore Pilot and Copic technical pens except for the occasional 0.05 Copic ones. For Rotring, I can't see much of a reason either.

Artline and Faber-Castell pens have a certain flow and feel that agree with me.
Clock Towers

Ruined clock towers standing sombre amidst the ruins.

06 October 2005

The Brothers Grimm

I have finally caught Terry Gilliam's 'The Brothers Grimm' last night. FABULOUS! BRILLIANT!

How can I describe this madcap visual feast?

The Bridge of Sighs

As he observed down the span of the old wooden bridge, his trepidation notwithstanding, he thought of the former times where he would wander through the sunny meadows, carefree and joyful. With a heavy heart, he came to the realisation that he must cross the Rubicon. Nothing would ever be the same again.

'Veni, Vidi Vici' Julius Caesar