31 December 2005

Wine Bottles

Illustration Friday theme: Flavour

The Brokedown Gate

It has been a while since I worked in this style. So, this is the first in five years. I realised that my style has slightly evolved somehow. This is probably the last one for 2005.

30 December 2005


Walter Jon William's 'Hardwired' is the quintessential pulp cyberpunk of the sort one sees in movies. Wired implants tied to firearms, powerful aircraft in the stratosphere, dangerous women, action-packed and more! It's an entertaining read, though 'Hardwired' isn't a 'Neuromancer' or 'Islands in the Net'.

Cyberpunk fiction can be dated today. The future envisioned in the work of Gibson and Sterling is here in many aspects and more often than not, the future is here in more ways than the cyberpunk could have predicted.

I am presently reading Sterling's 'Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years'. He has adopted a futurist persona, while dropping his journalist and science fiction writer personas. The narrative voice adopted by Sterling in this book is grating. Sterling and Gibson (who has stylistic pretensions I think) can write dreadful, impenetrable prose sometimes. Not difficult but just dull. I will speak more on this volume later. I am also reading 'Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution' and I am also referring to a few of the reference books about the 1890-1914 period. The so-called naval arms race.

In a similar vein, Front Line Assembly's 'Hardwired' (1995) was released after the well-received 'Tactical Neural Implant'. And this release features the hard-hitting 'Circuitry' single.

1. Neologic Spasm
2. Paralyzed
3. Re-Birth
4. Circuitry
5. Mortal
6. Modus Operandi
7. Transparent Species
8. Barcode
9. Condemned
10. Infra Red Combat

Front Line Assembly's music, in my opinion, can easily be a soundtrack to the many dark futures created by the so-called cyberpunk writers. The aural experience and the thematic direction are quite appropriate. Then again, everyone has their personal vision as to what constitutes the near future.

I wonder if anyone remembers those lacklustre Shadowrun* novels of the early nineties. They appeared to have suffered a quiet demise, not missed by most anyhow. The Earthdawn** novels have certainly disappeared.

*A series of cyberpunk mixed with fantasy novels based on a pen and paper roleplaying game.
**A series of fantasy novels based on a pen and paper roleplaying game.


An early sketch of two airships. I shall have to do a more detailed one in future.

28 December 2005

Ocean Liner

An ink sketch based on a 1930s poster.

Illustration Friday theme: Holiday

An ink piece, again, exploring the same style which I was experimenting with. Limited colours but dramatic contrasts.

27 December 2005


Another fast doodle. Again, a fun little sketch of an imaginery landscape.

"If his fatal sentimentality demanded that the promises he had made her and the anguish they had shared should, in some way, unite them, he could see with his own eyes that no union had been achieved. Because they spent so much time in silence, it had always been possible for Lee to deceive himself they shared an unspoken and profound closeness; only when he occasionally spoke to her did the space between them become apparent and sour."
'Love' Angela Carter

26 December 2005


I just made a new CD-R compilation of Front Line Assembly singles. A number of the singles were bought over eBay a few months ago. I have always found Front Line Assembly (for that matter, a lot other industrial bands) to be a lot more inventive with sounds, unconventional structures, use of samples (especially from films!) than the crowd-pleasing Nine Inch Nails with its supposedly themes of teenage angst. Front Line Assembly, and the many incarnations*, has always been building 'soundtracks' for the dystopia, the wasteland and the police state of the near future, cliched in a sense but the soundtracks are aural experiences, sonic journeys.

1. Millennium (1000 Years of Decay Remix)
2. Circuitry (Predator Mix)
3. Plasticity
4. Fatalist (Remix)
5. Iceolate
6. Columbian Necktie (Tongue Fed Edit)
7. Surface Patterns (Surveillance Remix)
8. Prophecy
9. The Blade (Technohead)
10. Vanished (Re-Entry Mix)
11. Virus
12. Mindphaser (Edited Version)
13. Everything must perish (Radio Edit)

Front Line Assembly is the quintessential cyberpunk band according to some. This compilation is to be played LOUD.

*Intermix, Delerium, Equinox, etc.

"Yet, always on the point of disintegrating, he contrived somehow always to hold himself together for he sincerely believed that, since the world was full of a number of things, it was a moral imperative to be happy as a king. This was the final modification of his puritanism; that if he had enough to eat and a roof over his head, he knew he ought to be content even if the king he always thought of in connection with the smiling couplet he repeated to himself every morning was Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria."
'Love' Angela Carter
The Long Walk

On Christmas evening, I headed to Spinelli's at the Heeren. There I met Corrinne whom I have not seen in about two years for coffee, she then departed, returning to her cave. Then, I met Brian. We headed to Sim Lim Square. On the way there, we went to Sunshine Plaza where we met Poon. We visited a few model and toy shops beforea heading to Sim Lim Square where Brian bought the Conflict: Flashpoint set of games and a Sapphire 128MB Radeon videocard.

Subsequently, we had dinner at Mr.Bean's at Selegie Road before embarking on a long walk through the streets.

We started off for the Singapore Management University (SMU) at Bras Barsa Road. The campus is gorgeous. The interior and finish of the place is stunning as is the long underground atriums, passageways and shops. The underground areas are massive.

The night became a walking tour of buildings of various sorts, from the old to the new.

Cathay building
National Library
Parkview Square
Raffles Hospital
Golden Landmark Hotel
North Bridge Road
Arab Street
Alwar Street
Baghdad Street
Pahang Street
Sultan Gate
Istana Kampong Glam (Malay Heritage Centre)
Jalan Sultan
Mjd Haijah Fatimah Mosque
Golden Mile Complex
Golden Mile Tower
St John's Headquarters
The Concourse
Plaza Park Royal
The Gateway
Old police barracks
Straits Settlement Volunteer Force (SSVF) and ex-People Defence Force (PDF) Headquarters
Supreme Court
Boat Quay

Basically, it was closer to a walking tour of history, architecture and more as our discussions range from the Art Decor buildings with their flagpoles to the reflectivity of solar radiation of the twin Gateway buildings.

All in all, a very satisfying walk in the night. Pity we didn't bring our cameras. We shall do this again with cameras in future.

Darth Birdy has managed to capture several of the scenes with the camera built into his mobile phone. The images are posted on his blog.
Approaching Storm

A doodle of an approaching storm with strong headwinds...

25 December 2005

A Strange Sight to behold

I was dozing in bed when a bird through the door! And my sister followed it into my room. It was a surreal sight. The bird had somehow found its way in and was rather at a loss as to how to leave and my sister was trying to assist. For the next minutes I flung the windows wide open and the bird and distressed bird finally flew out!

The fabulous second single from the 'Implode' album. The first mix is by Rhys Fulber and Mike Plotnikoff is one of drama with extreme highs and lows.

The second track is remixed by Front 242. The Haujobb remix of Prophecy as all the hallmarks of the Haujobb song but the vocals are lost. The two Aqualite mixes are extremely strong in the bass department. The first Aqualite remix has an emphasis on screeching metal guitars at various parts.

1. Fatalist [Creatine Mix]
2. Retribution [Ioxin Mix -Front 242]
3. Deception
4. Fatalist [Aqualite Rmx]
5. Prophecy [Haujobb Remix]
6. Fatalist [Tribal Techno - Aqualite]


A secret place in the wilderness. A place of beauty.

Ink sketch, circa 2000.

24 December 2005

Puma IFV

Rheinmetall Landsysteme and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann will be building about 1000 new Puma IFVs which will replace 2000 Marder 1 MICVs in the German army.

The Marder 2 vehicles, which were to succeed the Marder 1s, were cancelled some years ago due to a lack of budget.

Technical data:
maximum design weight: 43 tons
weight (Protection Level A): 31.45 tons
weight (Protection Level C): 40.7 tons
crew: 9 (6+3);
maximum road speed: 70 kilometres per hour
power to weight ratio: 20 kW/t;
length: 7,330 mm
width: 3,430 mm
total height: 3,050 mm

This seems like a very conventional vehicle. Nothing revolutionary about it. Armament fit, protection levels, troop capacity, etc.


A stronghold at the ridge. Ink sketch circa 2000.

23 December 2005

A Load of Rubbish

This series by George R.R. Martin is one of the worst fantasies I have read in years with wooden stock characters that resemble those in a high school drama, horrid prose, soap opera-like plot, cartoon violence, rapes (I guess for the adolescent boys and not so mature men who have a certain mental condition). I wasted enough time ploughing through over 1600 in two books.

This series is ranking with the Dragonlance Chronicles and the Belgariad as the worst books I have ever read.

Yes, the War of the Roses is an interesting period. This fantasy tale, however, is just beyond redemption, truly insipid. Sure, it will sell truckloads, it will make the author money in licensing and merchandising. The collectible card game, the artbook, the boardgames and expansion, the RPG and other associated material are already available. The horror!

Who knows? After the success of the Lord of the Rings, Narnia and Harry Potter...


Angela Carter's work in long form and short form is characterised by the richness of the prose and imagination. 'Love' is no exception and this short novel is that of a bizarre love triangle. Some of the passages and descriptive prose are haunting.

Angela Carter work has always been individual and unique. 'Love' begins with a passage denoting a loss of gravity, a sense of madness:

"One day, Annabel saw the sun and the moon at the same time. The sight filled her with a terror which entire consumed her and did not leave her until the night closed in catastrophe for she had no instinct for self-preservation if she was confronted by ambiguities.'

Duran Duran The Singles 1986-95

The second set of Duran Duran singles consists of 14 CDs.

I was looking at my US CD single of 'Come undone'. I noted that it has a track that the CD single in this collection has not got. Strange. Duran Duran's covers of Velvet Underground's 'Perfect Day' and 'Femme Fatale' are excellent, close to perfection. I have read that Lou Reed had praised it and was very impressed.

The tracklisting are as follows:

1/ Notorious (45 Mix)
2/ Winter Marches On
3/ Notorious (Extended Mix)
4/ Notorious (Latin Rascals Mix)

1/ Skin Trade (Radio Cut)
2/ We Need You
3/ Skin Trade (Stretch Mix)
4/ Skin Trade (Album version)

1/ Meet El Presidente (7" Remix)
2/ Vertigo (Do The Demolition)
3/ Meet El Presidente
4/ Meet El Presidente (Meet El Beat)

1/ I Don't Want Your Love (7" Mix)
2/ I Don't Want Your Love (Album version)
3/ I Don't Want Your Love (Big Mix)

1/ All She Wants Is (45 Mix)
2/ I Believe/All I Need To Know
3/ All She Wants Is (US Master Mix)
4/ All She Wants Is (Euro Dub Mix)
5/ Skin Trade (Parisian Mix)

1/ Do You Believe In Shame?
2/ The Krush Brothers LSD Edit
3/ God (London)
4/ This Is How A Road Gets Made
5/ Palomino (Edit)
6/ Drug (Original Version)
7/ Notorious (live - Ahoy Rotterdam 1987)

1/ Burning The Ground
2/ Decadance
3/ Decadance (2 Risk E Remix 12")

1/ Violence Of Summer (7" Mix)
2/ Violence Of Summer (The Story Mix)
3/ Violence Of Summer (Power Mix)
4/ Violence Of Summer (Album version)
5/ Violence Of Summer (The Rock Mix)
6/ Violence Of Summer (The Dub Sound Of A Powerful Mix)
7/ Violence Of Summer (Power Cutdown)
8/ Throb

1/ Serious (Single version)
2/ Yo Bad Azizi
3/ Water Babies
4/ All Along The Water

1/ Ordinary World (Single version)
2/ My Antarctica
3/ Ordinary World
4/ Save A Prayer (single version)
5/ Skin Trade
6/ The Reflex (7" version)
7/ Hungry Like The Wolf (130 B.P.M. version)
8/ Girls On Film

1/ Come Undone (Edit)
2/ Ordinary World (Acoustic version)
3/ Come Undone (FGI Thumpin' 12")
4/ Come Undone (7" Edit Alternate) (3.57)
5/ Come Undone (La Fin De Siecle)
5/ Come Undone (Album version)
6/ Come Undone (12" Mix Comin' Together) (7.21)
7/ Come Undone (Come Undub) (4.47)
8/ Come Undone (Album version) (4.31)
9/ Rio (Album version)
10/7/ Is There Something I Should Know?
11/8/ A View To A Kill

1/ Too Much Information (Album version)
2/ Come Undone (live)
3/ Notorious (live)
4/ Too Much Information (Ben Chapman 12" Mix)
5/ Drowning Man (D:Ream 12" mix)
6/ Drowning Man (Ambient Mix)
7/ Too Much Information (Deptford Dub)
8/ Too Much Information (Album version edit)
9/ Come Undone (12" Mix Comin' Together)

1/ Perfect Day
2/ Femme Fatale (Alternative Mix)
3/ Love Voodoo (Remix)
4/ The Needle And The Damage Done
5/ 911 Is A Joke (Alternate version)
6/ Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me (Make Me Smile)
7/ Perfect Day (Acoustic version)

1/ White Lines (Album version)
2/ Save A Prayer (Single version)
3/ None Of The Above (Drizabone mix)
4/ White Lines (70's Club Mix)
5/ White Lines (Oakland Fonk Mix)
6/ White Lines (Junior Vasquez Mix)
7/ Ordinary World (Acoustic version - Simon Mayo Show)


A sketch of an imaginery scene. Again, this is done about five years ago.

22 December 2005

New Covenant single 'Ritual Noise' and Snog compilation 'Sixteen Easy Tunes for the End Times'

There are so many new releases slated for Early 2006. The new long-awaited Covenant single 'Ritual Noise' is due at the end of January 2006.

There will be a compilation of Snog singles and tracks titled 'Sixteen Easy Tunes for the End Times'. This brainchild of David Thrussell includes classics such as 'Corporate Slave', 'Hey Christian God', 'The Ballad', 'Real Estate Man', 'Born to be mild'.

Not to be missed. A definite weird industrial classic with nothing sounding like this. Of course, if you are one of those Holy types...

Age of Empires 3: Observations* from online play

From the few games I have played, here are my observations:

1. Preserve a field army at all times. They are an instrument of decision. The field army should be used when possible unless there is a standoff or a balance of power. Of course, the size, relative to the enemy should be considered.

2. Maintain a viable and competitive economy. The players that I have encountered were not very bothered with their economies and were building at a fairly relaxed rate. Some have even outpaced me in reaching the Colonial Age first. (4:00+) but they managed it unrealistically. I only managed it after 6 minutes.

3. Know your enemy's ability. Know what their civilisation can do. The weapons systems available to them.

4. Instead of reading Sun Tzu's 'Art of War' with its ambigious folksy sayings, I would advise that one look up Archer Jones 'The Art of War in the Western World'. The early parts of the book are instructive and has a bearing. The different types of weapons systems and their relativity are discussed in great detail.

5. Tactical-level battles are important. Don't ignore them like I do in those games I lose unless you have a great strategic edge.

6. Economy and the speed of development is all-important. This is the most important aspect of Age of Empires 3. Strategy and economy. Not reflexes. Not speed of reaction.

There is a player who goes by the moniker of El Capitan. He has a blog that discusses advanced strategies that are interesting to say that least. Bruce Shelley, the designer of the Age of Empires 3 also maintains a blog.

*There are too few games for 'lessons'.
**Images taken from http://www.ageofempires3.com

The Great Outdoors

Another piece from the same series of small sketches I did five years or so ago. These images just came to my mind swiftly as I draw.

Sometimes, I have dreams that are crystal clear to the extent that it is frightening. It was in a sense more 'real' than being awake and it can be disorientating when I wake up. Is this merely a shadow world I inhabit?

21 December 2005

Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution

I was flipping through this volume at Borders when Brian urged me to get it. He recommended it heavily being the evil person that he is. So, I picked this up and have started reading it.

As it is, I have quite a few books on naval warfare, policy, shipbuilding, ship design in the First World War.

Anyway, the premise of this book by Nicholas Lambert was that Fisher aims were total naval supremacy using new technology rather than countering the German build-up. Fisher was never the hidebound traditionalist and he espoused new naval technologies. He saw that through new technologies the eventual lack of funding can be countered. He saw the Battlecruiser as the new unit that can take the place of three types.

His revolution was, however, tempered by the traditional navalists after 1910 despite the efforts of Churchill's administration who embraced it.

His was the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) of a century ago.
Duran Duran The Singles 81-85

A box set of Duran Duran singles is certainly long overdue. This set and another set were released a few years ago and features covers which were reproductions of the origins.

1. Planet Earth
2. Late Bar
3. Planet Earth (Night Version)

4. Careless Memories
5. Khanada6. Fame
7. Girls On Film
8. Faster Than Light

9. Girls On Film (Night Version)
10. My Own Way (Single Version)
11. Like An Angel
12. My Own Way (Night Version)

13. Hungry Like The Wolf
14. Careless Memories (Live Version)
15. Hungry Like The Wolf (Night Version)

16. Save A Prayer (7 Inch Edit)
17. Hold Back The Rain (Re Mix)
18. Hold Back The Rain (12 Inch Re Mix)

19. Rio (Part One)
20. The Chauffeur (Blue Silver)
21. Rio (Part Two)
22. My Own Way

23. Is There Something I Should Know
24. Faith In This Colour
25. Is There Something I Should Know (Monster Mix)
26. Faith In This Colour (Alternate Slow Mix)

27. Union Of The Snake
28. Secret Oktober
29. Union Of The Snake (The Monkey Mix)

30. New Moon On Monday (Album Version)
31. Tiger Tiger
32. New Moon On Monday (Dance Mix)

33. The Reflex (7 Inch Version)
34. Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) (Live)
35. The Reflex (Dance Mix)

36. The Wild Boys (45)
37. (Im Looking For) Cracks In The Pavement (84)
38. The Wild Boys (Wilder Than Wild Boys) (Extended Mix)

39. A View To Kill
40 A View To Kill (That Fatal Kiss)

Likewise, Depeche Mode has released six boxsets (with the first one released in 1992), Modern Talking has released one, Rational Youth one, Erasure three... Let's hope Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark will release one as well.

The Tree on the Summit

This is part of a series of sketches I did about five years ago. Again, they are drawing using technical pens and coloured with Copic markers.

20 December 2005

The Strange House

A piece swiftly drawn with technical pigment pens and Copic markers.
Age of Empires 3: Update

Three losses tonight. All were against the French and Ottoman.

Spain versus Ottoman - 24 minutes. I destroyed his town centre. I neglected my large army which destroyed his buildings and was then destroyed. Was beaten twice in battles. My lack of tactical finesse was a major cause of strategic loss. He attacked. My counterattack was very successful. My followup was a failure.

Spain versus French - 25 minutes. Highlights: The game was essentially over by the eighth minute when an army of cavalry and infantry arrived at my town centre. I had five musketeers. Great Lakes map.

Spain versus French - 19 minutes. Highlights: I managed to destroy his army, destroy two of his trading posts and losing my army. His third or fourth wave arrived and the game was over.

In all, the causes were a faster run-up. They built a lot faster, especially the French. The Ottomans could send a very large early army of janissary. The musketeers were of no match. My economy was more fragile and was not fast enough. The keyword is not fast enough.

My record: 4:3. I have problems against French and Ottoman players. They rush earlier than I could.


My next course of action would be to improve my timing. I need to reach Colonial Age within 4:30 to stand a chance and I must do it without fatally weakening my economy. An alternative would be to play the French (or the Ottomans) like many many other players at present. There has been talk about balancing the nations. Esemble Studios may increase the strengths of the weaker ones.
Age of Empires 3: The Online Experience

This is my observation as a relatively new and inexperienced player online. It was with great anticipation and trepidation that I approached the whole online experience. I had read in forums of people with very short times in reaching Colonial and Fortress ages and I wondered if I would be 'rushed' from the onset. I had expected a lot of great, experienced and aggressive players. I did eventually go online and I have fought four different opponents as of last night. I chose 1 versus 1 encounters regardless of my opponent's city level. In my first encounter, I encountered a player playing the Spanish with a level 16 city. After five encounters, I had managed four victories. I had rushed all my opponents crushing them with the following times: 25, 19, 16, 15 minutes.

Spain versus Spain - 25 minutes. Highlights: Opponent built towers to protect his two trading posts which I destroyed. My subsequent attack saw lancers, falconets, pikemen, musketeers and redolero (a kind of sword and buckler infantry) overrun their town centre. I had a fortified outpost, fortress and barracks at the boundary of their base. I also have five fortified outposts protecting my town centre.

Spain versus Russia - 19 minutes. Highlights: Opponent repulsed four waves before I sent an army with two falconets into their town centre. His gold production was utterly shattered. I had a fortified outpost, fortress and barracks at the boundary of their base.

Spain versus Britain - 16 minutes. Highlights: Opponent defeated my first two waves of attack before my third massed attack overwhelmed the remnants of his army. Opponent tried building walls early in the game. Two sections were completed when my attack was launched.

Spain versus Spain - 15 minutes. Highlights: Opponent disabled my explorer twice and destroyed my exploratory first army. Game ended in Colonial Age after my second army arrived in his town centre.

The terrain ranged from Carolina to Texas.

I play Spain because I am comfortable with the units, economy and strategy. Despite a lot of practice playing the Dutch, I could not get a measure of the strategy needed to succeed. After over forty games, I switched to playing the Spanish.

I guess I have been fortunate. The other players that I have encountered are not those formidable ones that one sees about in forums discussing strategies.

From these few games, I think there are many 'normal' players out there. One need not be an expert to go on Esemble Studios servers. There are between 1800 to 2700 opponents online at Esemble Online (ESO) and the vast number are normal players. The online experience is worthwhile and accessible.

Age of Empires 3 is not a game of fast reactions and reflexes. One simply needs to have a strategy in mind before playing. It's a thinking game. And if one can think on one's feet, fine and good but it is not necessary. I find that the strategic elements are ultimately more important than the tactical elements.

I may embark on the 2 versus 2 games one of these days. The problem with that is the need for a reliable partner and an agreed strategy before play. Co-ordination will be paramount.


I finally faced a competent Ottoman player who rushed tonight. Needlness to say, I suffered my first defeat in 28 minutes. My loss came from the lack of tactical finesse. I lost twice with a huge army when I neglected to micro-manage my troops! And they attacked the wrong buildings! I had razed his town centre.

*Image taken from http://www.ageofempires3.com

19 December 2005


As noted earlier, I will scan my sketch book. I have managed a small batch tonight. I will try to put up an image daily if I can.

With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa

Brian 'forced' this book on me when he, Poon and I were at Borders on Saturday night. This is certainly an engrossing read, on par with Guy Sager and a few other infantrymen accounts which I have previously read. I am halfway through it.

This is an infantryman's account of his experiences in the bloody assaults at Peleliu and Okinawa and the sacrifices involved.

Sledge was an mortarman (60mm mortars) with the 5th regiment, 1st Marine Division in both assaults in 1944-45.

1st Cavalry Division 'First Team' in Baghdad

Interesting images in this new volume includes that of a destroyed M6 Linebacker, a destroyed M2A3 Bradley (with all the passive armour boxes) and a destroyed M1A2 Abrams.

It also includes helicopter losses to enemy fire like that of an AH-64D Apache Longbow, two AH-58 Kiowas and a UH-60 Blackhawk. Four other choppers were lost to accidents.

The fighting in the Baghdad and Sunni Triangle area appears to be extremely intense. The area patrolled and covered is large.

In these difficult circumstance, the professionalism and bravery of the troops cannot be understated.

"Got to get you off my conscience by Friday,
On Saturday I'll be wide awake,
On Sunday I'm your new best friend,
On Monday learn it all again"
'Evil' Ladytron
Age of Empires 3: The Art of Early Attacks

I have played about seventy games of Age of Empires 3. The computer opponent on the Hard setting can easily be attacked early in the game. In the parlance of gamers, the early attack is termed as the 'rush'.

Beating the computer at the 'Hard' setting is rather simple. Of late, I have managed to 'rush' the computer opponent at the 'Hard' settings, finishing them off in 23, 23, 21, 26, 23 minutes.

My sister has even managed to beat them early in 18 minutes!

The lessons in these rushes are:

1. Attack the enemy villagers early. Prevent them from mining for gold and hunting or gathering for food. This can be sent by sending creating five musketeers and sending them separately to various areas of the map. After a barracks is built, five soldiers armed with firearms must be sent. Avoid tangling with the enemy outposts. Watch the troops. Do not let them chase the villagers into the enemy town centre.

2. Disable the enemy explorer. Use the outposts and troops. This is not very important but it can be done easily. So, why not?

3. Continue creating villagers. At no point should one ever stop creating villagers. All villagers must be occupied, doing productive things at all times. My rush depends on ruining their economy and eventually outbuilding them.

4. Continue rushing and sending troops piecemeal. (Not in ones or twos. Five or ten harassing troops would be enough). One may lose several initial battles. The idea is to force the enemy to expend resources. Organise defences. Lose villagers and troops. This way, one would hardly need defences for good reason. For exchanges, ensure that the exchange ratios are close to parity. Losing 5 to 4 is alright. Losing 10 to 3 is not.

5. Send two falconets (light artillery) with about ten troops of various types by the Fortress Age. At that point, one should be able to devastate the town centre. A second wave of reinforcing troops would win the game. Oh, destroy their outposts and town centres using your troops. Leave the falconets against villagers and enemy troops.

6. Two barracks should be built. The first may be built near the town centre. The second should be built near the enemy town centre. If possible, site an outpost by the advance barracks. Have reinforcing shipments of troops delivered there.

7. Never forget to exploit victory. Upon winning a battle, do not stand there and cheer. Go in. Do in their villagers! Bring followup forces and mope-up!

These are generally characteristics of my rush against the computer. I will describe them in detail in future.

I have gone online and fought three opponents, two of which were so-called 'clan' members. I rushed the first player and destroyed him in 25 minutes, I rushed the second and destroyed him in 19 minutes and finally tonight, I played a third, rushing him and forcing his resignation in 16 minutes.

I will write on those in great detail in the coming days.

*Image taken from http://www.ageofempires3.com

18 December 2005

Indonesia circa 1930s Part II

I managed to find two more photos taken by my grandfather.

Exact location unknown.

A dwelling? Whatever it is, this building has character.

Drinks with Good Ol' Anthony, Poon and Brian

Anthony is a friend whom I have not seen for over a decade. Then, out of the blue, he spotted my blog. Shortly after he contacted me, he left for Berkeley with his wife. Fortunately, Anthony is back again for a short period of time. We took the opportunity to meet for drinks this afternoon. So, I called up some old friends whom he has not seen for a while too.

I recall that the last time I saw him was when he was just a seventeen year old student who played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons! He was one of the members of the Rivendell BBS and then the Lothlorien BBS.

We had drinks at NYDC at the Heeren. It was crowded!

We had a great time. We spoke of old friends and aquaintances. It has really been a while.

Later, Poon, Brian* and I had dinner at Black Angus at the Orchard Parade Hotel.

I'm tired. Otherwise, there will be snide remarks in this blog entry. Haha!

*Sorry everyone about that photo of Brian. In Call of Cthulhu parlance, please make a insanity check.

Indonesia circa 1930s

My grandfather had visited Indonesia in the 1930s. He had taught in Indonesia for about a year or more before he was forced to leave due to his anti-colonial leanings. This is one of his photos from that period. Subsequently, he was to return to Indonesia under more arduous conditions in 1942. He fled Singapore with his family in a boat (unpowered) before Singapore fell to the brutal Imperial Japanese Army in early 1942. He was to live in the jungles of Sumatra with his family for several years before returning to Singapore in 1945 after the vanquished Japanese departed.

He had originally left China with his family in 1937 when the Imperial Japanese Army invaded China under several false pretexts and the army was engaged in rapine and massacres.

17 December 2005

Front Line Assembly 'Implode'

This is an unusual Dave McKean (of the Sandman comics covers fame) designed cover. The majority of the Front Line Assembly album covers are designed by McKean and are usually of a different nature.

In my eyes, this cover has a lot of elements of Franz Kafka's 'The Metamorphosis'. The transformation into a cockroach...

1. Prophecy
2. Retribution
3. Unknown Dreams
4. Falling
5. Fatalist
6. Synthetic Forms
7. Silent Ceremony
8. Don't Trust Anyone
9. Deception
10. Torched

Two excellent singles were released from this 1999 album. 'Implode' and 'Fatalist'. In my opinion, the best track of this album would be 'Fatalist'.

I met a lot of old friends who were ex-colleagues of mine at Marina Square last night. A few of the girls (which I won't mention who) appeared to have aged considerably since I have last seen them. Their skin had parchment-like textures. Mummies in both senses of the word? (Well, not for all.)
Gunpowder Armies

This volume from Concord Publications is illustrated by several artists including Argus McBride and Robert Hook whose work is simply outstanding.

The volume focuses a lot on British and American troops to the exclusion of combatants from the Thirty Years War, the French Wars of Religion, Seven Years War, etc.

While Hook's illustrations are inspired, Dr. Tim Newark's accounts of each type is somewhat adequate this time. Anyone, one buys these for the illustrations and not the text.

"One - You lock the target
Two - You bait the line
Three- You slowly spread the net
And four - You catch the man"
'Headhunter' Front 242

16 December 2005

Scotts: Impermenance

In any other country, this would be a major commercial building. However, in fast moving Singapore, this decade old building is slated to be demolished in a few years and a new commercial complex will replace it.

Swiftly, our mindscapes or the landscapes of our mind are being replaced by ever taller towering monoliths. Progress. Change. Impermenance.

"The things you do
Aren't good for my health
The moves you make
You make for yourself
The means you use
Aren't meant to confuse
Although they do
They're the one's that I would choose"
'Dangerous' Depeche Mode

15 December 2005


As a reviewer proclaimed, 'The Queens of Hedonism are back', Bananarama is indeed back with a fresh vengeance, an album of exciting new material after a long hiatus. The album includes the fabulous pop gems 'Move in my Direction' and 'Look on the Floor (Hypnotic Tango)'.

The album also includes a splendid not to be missed remix of 'Venus' by none other than the incomparable Marc Almond. There is also a good mix of 'Really saying something'.

1. Move In My Direction
2. Look On The Floor (Hypnotic Tango)
3. Waterfall
4. Frequency
5. Feel For You
6. Don’t Step On My Groove
7. Middle Of Nowhere
8. I Love The Way
9. Lovebite10. Rules Of Attraction
11. Your Love Is Like A Drug
12. Venus (Marc Almonds Hi NRG Showgirls Mix)
13. Really Saying Something (Solasso Mix)
14. Move in my Direction (Bobby Blanco & Miki Moto Vocal Mix)
15. Move in my Direction (Angel City Club Remix)

Forget that recent piece of crap dropped on the unsuspecting public by Madonna. Too bad that the reality is that extensive promotion will ensure that Madonna will outsell Bananarama by a 100 to 1. There is simply no justice.

14 December 2005

Japanese Infantry of World War II

Ink sketch of Japanese infantry of World War II. This is an example of how a small piece can be overworked. Overdone. Adding more shades, detail, textures. Bad idea. I will do a bigger piece with revised poses one day. This way, the details won't be lost.

"Her dreams to give
Her heart away
Like an orphan on a wave"
'Joan of Arc' Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Out of the Blue

Lately, I was listening to the old System F's 'Out of the Blue' CD again. The CD reminded me why I shelved it shortly after purchasing it. In my opinion, this Ferry Corsten effort has little to recommend except the excellent single 'Soul on Soul' featuring Marc Almond on vocals. That is barely the saving grace. I had higher expectations for 'Out of the Blue'. Oh well.

13 December 2005

Here We Are (Back Again)

Finally, a release from Orange Sector after a long hiatus. A compilation with tracks like 'Feel me', 'Yugoslavian Boys', 'Here We are'. Apparently, they are due to release a new album with old school ebm a la Front 242 soon! WOO!

1. Here we are
2. Violent order
3. Kalt wie Stahl
4. Für immer
5. Götter
6. Proximity
7. Flashback
8. Feel me
9. Die Zukunft
10. Bodysmashing
11. Arbeit ist Not
12. Sexomatic (für dich)
13. Yugoslavian boys (Remix)
14. Violent order (Amuck Mix)
15. One day
16. Bitch (Raising Agent Mix)
17. Für immer (F.I.S. Remix)
18. Behind the glass
19. Kalt wie Stahl (W.W.B. Mix)
Duran Duran 'Live from London'

Oh goody. A DVD and concert CD of the recent sellout concert in London has been released.

It seems that every leg of the massively successful sellout concerts in Japan has been released on CD at http://www.themusic.com/encore/duranduran/
Black and White: The Singapore House 1898-1941

Julian Davison, the author of 'Black and White: The Singapore House 1898-1941', noted in his excellent book that there is a scarcity of information on the unique 'black and whites' of Singapore in publications. Another startling point he made was the uniqueness of this form of architecture. It is apparently unique only to Singapore, being an evolution from the colonial bungalows of India.

He has noted that many of the more magnificent specimens of the 'black and whites' were privately built and have been demolished which is a great pity. The gorgeous remainder that we see today were built by the Public Works Department (PWD) for various grades of civil servants.

I have seen a large number of these houses (from the outside) at Mount Pleasant Road, Cluny Road, Nassim Road, Goodwood Park, Chancery Lane, and many many other places. I recall seeing those 'cottages' which used to house New Zealander troops at Nee Soon Camp years ago. I wonder if those 'cottages' are still there.

My grandmother and relatives used to live in a bungalow* that was built before the war but has since been sold and torn down after her passing. Today, there is an apartment there.

I am inspired by the wonderful houses. I am inspired to sketch them. The book would be great photo reference for artists and illustrators.

*It was not strictly a black and white but it incorporated some elements of the black and white. It was a large estate with two houses, badminton court, long windy driveway and huge garden.