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

Heartland

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


Guilty!

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



Monstrosity

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