29 April 2006

Playing Musical Big Chairs with Tears For Fears

The number of editions of Tears for Fears 'Songs for the Big Chair' continues to increase. 2006 saw the release of a deluxe edition. After a nice dinner and coffee with June at NYDC at the Heeren last night, I dropped by HMV and saw the new deluxe edition. Needless to say, I was astonished. I am tempted to get it just for the those two particular remixes of 'Everybody wants to rule the World' and 'Head over Heels'. However, I have already got the first three CDs here. Do I really need to another CD of 'Songs from the Big Chair'? Maybe, I can display them!

Is this exploitative or what? Is this clever merchandising?

'Songs from the Big Chair'

1. Shout
2. The Working Hour
3. Everybody Wants To Rule The World
4. Mothers Talk
5. I Believe
6. Broken
7. Head Over Heels/Broken (Live)
8. Listen

'Songs from the Big Chair' [Original Gold Master Recording]

1. Shout
2. Working Hour
3. Everybody Wants To Rule The World
4. Mother's Talk
5. I Believe
6. Broken
7. Head Over Heels/Broken
8. Listen
9. Shout - (Extended mix)
10. Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Extended Mix)


1. Shout
2. The Working Hour
3. Everybody Wants To Rule The World
4. Mothers Talk
5. I Believe
6. Broken
7. Head Over Heels/Broken (Live)
8. Listen
9. The Big Chair
10. Empire Building
11. The Marauders
12. Broken Revisited
13. The Conflict
14. Mothers Talk (U.S. Remix)
15. Shout (U.S. Remix)

'Songs from the Big Chair' [Deluxe Edition]

Disc: 1
1. Shout
2. Working Hour
3. Everybody Wants To Rule The World
4. Mother's Talk
5. I Believe
6. Broken
7. Head Over Heels/Broken
8. Listen

Disc: 2
1. Broken
2. Empire Building
3. Everybody Wants To Rule The World (7-Inch Version)
4. Everybody Wants To Rule The World ( Urban Mix)
5. Head Over Heals (? Mix)
6. I Believe (7-Inch Version)
7. Mother's Talk (7-Inch Version)
8. Pharaohs
9. Sea Song
10. Shout (7-Inch Version)
11. Big Chair
12. Conflict
13. Marauders
14. When In Love With A Blind Man

Note: I will get the exact tracklisting for this right soon. Borders doesn't list it. HMV does but it does not specify the remixes. The fan sites are not updated yet. I'm working from memory here.

Near Dark

Last night, I was drawing and listening to this 1987 soundtrack of an obscure proto-Vampire killfest flick that is so common these days. 'Near Dark' pre-dates 'Underworld', 'Underworld: Evolution', 'Buffy', 'From Dusk till Dawn' and others of that irk.

This Tangerine Dream soundtrack is not particularly distinguished. It's alright. Not bad , just nothing really special.

Oh, the guy on the cover looks like one of my friends.
M on the Bund

When I was in Shanghai, I did visit one great restaurant. This exclusive restaurant, M on the Bund, is located at No.5, a building housing some bank and it offers an excellent view of the Bund. The prices are easily ten times that of normal cafes and restaurants.

The Australian beef is splendid, easily comparable with some of the better steaks I have eaten in the Asia Pacific region.

I observe that the cliente consisted mainly of the Chinese business elite and Caucasian business people, likely British, Americans and other Europeans.

Do I recommend this place? Well, it really depends on what you like. After all, if you were in Shanghai and you enjoy Shanghainese crusine, I suppose you should go for that rather than Western fare.

No. I don't have photos of the place. I'm not a blogger-journalist and I have no desire to be one. Heh.

28 April 2006

Bill O'Reilly on Shanghai cable TV

When I was in Shanghai more than a month back, I switched on cable TV and to my surprise, I saw Bill O'Reilly on Fox News. There was the usual CNN, Hallmark, HBO and many many other channels, almost sixty channels in all!

I thought Bill O'Reilly that is a somewhat jingotistic conservative talk show host, what on earth is he doing on Chinese TV?*

*I didn't stay in a hotel. I stayed in an apartment built in the eighties where many the common Shanghainese live.

The Hidden Port

This was originally inspired by the cover of a Robert Charles Wilson book 'Darwinia'. The piece was started a few years back but was unfinished due to a mistake in perspective. And this unfinished piece was dormant for years. Friends and acquaintances have seen the unfinished state and they liked it. A few nights ago, I decided to finish it. First, the second half of the image with the bad perspective was cropped (it lies to the base of this picture and does not appear as such). Subsequently, an image of a towering city in the mists in the game Guild Wars provided yet another idea. And I drew that in. Two hours later, presto. The port is completed. A throwaway piece really.

Pens used: Pilot, Faber-Castell, Rotring, Copic marker. Sizes used: 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5.

27 April 2006

Runs with the new Brooks running shoes

I went for a run this evening at Toa Payoh Stadium and managed a 15 second improvement over 2.4 km. Late last night, I ran along Bukit Timah Road as it was raining in the evening.

The new SAF-issued Brooks shoes are comfortable. I like them.
Hotel Site at Novena

It would appear that there may be a hotel at Novena. Hmm.. It will almost certainly be on the large piece of empty land between Novena Square and Tan Tock Seng Hospital

(Business Times, 26th April 2006) "The URA has made available for application a 99-year leasehold reserve list hotel site next to Novena MRT Station. URA estimates that the 62,310 sq ft site, which can be developed up to 261,703 sq ft of gross floor area, could yield about 400 hotel rooms."

That should be interesting.
The Kitten and the Ping Pong Ball

Hey, what's this?

I must have it!

Grr.... It's swinging all over! Grrr.... Meooow!

26 April 2006

Old Shanghai

Shanghai is not a futuristic city of the 21st century. Old Shanghai exists in large areas of
of the city. They are quite a sight. There are thousands and thousands of folks living in close proximity in these narrow alleys.

A lot of the buildings were once houses and manors built for the British, French and other colonials in the 1920s. Today, there are old Chinese families living there. And there are many families to a single building.

In terms of demographics, young people prefer new towering blocks of glass-clad condominiums with numerous facilities. Thus, it is the old that live in these old haunted structures.

And there are also some that resist moving until a developer comes knocking. New developers and restorationists will pay a lot for these wonderful old manors. Prices have increased more than tenfold. Property prices here are beginning to resemble that of other world cities.

25 April 2006

Pergamon, Logos, Hyperborea

Due to Andrew Glazebrook* mentioning Logos earlier, I pulled out three Tangerine Dream albums from that period and started listening to them again.

  • Pergamon: Live at the Palast Der Repubik GDR 1980
  • Logos: Live at the Dominion London 1982
  • Hyperborea 1983

This is, of course, the period where Tangerine Dream comprised of Edgar Froese, Chris Franke and Johannes Schmoelling. The Tangerine Dream of the early eighties. 'Pergamon' is my favourite from this period.

*Do visit Mr.Glazebrook's blog. He has created an amazing collection of spaceships, planetary surfaces, aliens and more. Breathtaking work.

Calamity at Toa Payoh!

Well, in reality, nothing much. Heh. I was making good time on round 6 when my SAF-issued* New Balance running shoes finally gave way after years of good service. I guess the pounding of the first round which I completed in 1:37 really did it.

The sole came off. Oh well. Pity about the run. I had 7.75 more rounds to go.

This is either the second or third pair. I can't remember anymore.

On a related note, I have won out more than three pairs of combat boots throughout the years.

*SAF - Singapore Armed Forces

Shanghai Museum

Shanghai may not be Beijing with its vast palaces, gardens and its history, but Shanghai does have a museum with seals, coins, bronze artifacts, stone artifacts, costumes of the minorities, Ming porcelain, Ming and Qing Dynasty furniture. Some of the bronze artifacts displayed date back to several thousand years.

Don't be fooled by the sombre, grey external facade. The museum is lavish on the inside. It is a thoroughly modern structure, not likely to be something from the Commie era.

Here I am, in the People's Square in front of the museum in Shanghai. I think it is well-worth a visit though some of the galleries were closed for a variety of reasons*.

* Loans to other museusm, renovations, etc.

24 April 2006

Strange Telephone Calls from Taiwan

Lately, I have received several strange telephone calls supposedly from Taiwan. The first incident took place last year when I received a call from a formal sounding lady with an American accent. She claimed to be calling from a court in Taiwan and she had something to convey to my uncle. I informed my uncle who asked me to question her on the matter, but she refused to divulge anything, claiming that it was for his ears only. Then, she hung up!

Earlier this month, the same woman called. This time, she wanted to speak to my mother. She probably could not remember the conversation we had previously. When I received the call, I asked her what it was about again. She repeated the line that she was calling from a court in Taiwan and she would only speak to my mother. Since my mother was not available, she offered to send this information via electronic mail which she claimed was addressed to my mother and was for my mother's eyes only.

This afternoon, she called again asking if I had received the email. I told her either to reveal the object of the call or I would hang up. And she parroted the same line about not divulging information. BAM!

Well, I guess these swindlers are now fishing through phone lines hoping someone will bite. Where Nigerian swindlers once resorted to emails and faxes, now that IDD calls are inexpensive, swindlers probably fish names from trade journals, business listings and so forth.

Wei Yi recommended 'Britannia'. So, on Saturday night, I picked up the FFG remake of 'Britannia' after reading remarks from the original designer that the remake has not been heavily changed or mangled.

The set is lavish! The finish and graphics are splendid. I'm impressed. FFG appears to have done an excellent job on this.

Let's hope FFG will see fit to reprint some of the older Avalon Hill titles. This bodes well.

Dr. Lewis Pulsipher is the designer of Britannia.

The designer's website: http://www.pulsipher.net/britannia/index.htm

The rules: http://www.pulsipher.net/britannia/britanniafaq.pdf

The designer's blog: http://pulsiphergamedesign.blogspot.com/
Books I am reading and have read this week

I have just finished 'Collapse: How Societies choose to fail or succeed' by Jared Diamond and 'The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the United States Marines' by Bing West and Ray Smith, 'V for Vendetta' by Alan Moore and David Lloyd* and 'Modesty Blaise: The Puppet Master' by Peter O'Donnell and Enric Badia Romero* and a title on a German artillery unit of World War II earlier this week.

I am currently reading 'Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats are hijacking the Global Economy' by Moises Naim, the editor of Foreign Policy, 'In the Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat' by Rick Atkinson, 'Self-Discovery' by Vladimir Savchenko, and a couple of others.

What are you reading at this moment?

*The artist of that respective comic.
Nanjing Road, Shanghai

More images of Nanjing Road. I took them when I was in Shanghai a month or so ago. The glitter of the citylights. The multitudes on the streets at night. It's astonishing.

Singapore feels like a backwater compared to Shanghai. This is a world city, akin to London, Paris or New York.

There are huge bookstores like the seven-storey one along Nanjing Street. If only they carry books in English.

Strangely enough, as I typed this entry, a woman from Beijing called. She was from a government business bureau and she wanted to confirm my company's information. She was able to speak Mandarin and English well. How times have changed. If Mao Zedong were still alive, I wonder how he would have regarded the vast changes sweeping China. From a strict communist, 'egalitarian' state to a free-wheeling capitalist state.*

The New World building. Look at the Samsung sign there. Amazing.

*Of course, by many standards, it is still authoritarian.

23 April 2006

A brisk pace

Today, I set off at a brisk pace at the track at Toa Payoh Stadium. I was able to maintain that punishing pace for about two to three rounds. I ran six rounds in thirty seconds less time than I did last week.

Afterwards, I continued with a slow four rounds. I'm dead beat.

My current statistics in DuneMud. Ranking: 69. The level cap was 49 a decade ago. It's 200 now. I need to raise my statistics to match my guild level.
The Silk and Cloth Market in Shanghai

These are photos from the vast silk and cloth market in Shanghai. I see many many foreigners here. Americans, Brits, and what have you? They were all over the place haggling with the clothiers specifying the various cuts and designs wanted. I saw an American young man speaking Mandarin in a monotone voice, haggling over bales of silk. (He can't quite master the pronunciation of Mandarin as it is a tonal language. He reminded me of those corny Cylons in Battlestar Galactica.)

Yes, it was freezing cloth. The complex is a various labyrinthine place. Corridors upon corridors of such shops. I was staggered.

It's unbelievable. One has to see it to believe it.