30 April 2006

The Subway in Shanghai

The subway in Shanghai is clean and modern. It was obviously very new. Built in the last decade or less. The subway does resemble that of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) in Singapore.

When I was queuing at the booth, I saw a bunch of youths leaping over the barriers to avoid payment. Wow! It seems that this happens everywhere except for Singapore...

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.

22 April 2006

Last Night

Last night, I was at NYDC at the Heeren, writing my diary. And I had some ideas for a series of small illustrations. Hmm...

Later, I took a look at one books on the Russian front at Borders. 'Tank Rider', 'Thunder on the Dnepr' and so forth.

On another note, I also looked at 'The Black Prince and the Sea Devils: The Story of Prince Valerio Borghese and the Elite Units of the Ecima Mas'. Amazing stuff. I guess English language publications will have an Anglo-Saxon orientation in them. This is a little known aspect of the Second World War.

And what do you know, the Admiral was in Black Angus, feasting as usual. He will make Nero proud. He came by and browsed and bought two more volumes. Later, he summoned his NTUC Comfort battlewagon which towed him home.

On posts, what follows will be a series of blog entries on Shanghai. I should get them posted before they get irrelevant. Hopefully, I can get some illustrations posted too in the coming weeks. Kitten pictures too.
Nanjing Road, Shanghai

Nanjing Road is the equivalent of Orchard Road in Singapore, Oxford Street in London and Fifth Avenue in New York City. It is much much more and different of course.

These are photos from my trip a month or so earlier.

Has capitalism and consumerism descended in China? Yes. With a vengeance. It's amazing.

There are old majestic European buildings dating back to the 1920s. Relics of the International Settlements of that period.

Multi-storey shopping complexes. One strange thing. I see relatively few internet cafes. I have read of them in China. Strangely enough, I spotted two at Nanjing Street.

This is, of course, not the upscale section where the Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci shops are located. It's much further.

21 April 2006


I have so many draft entries. It will probably take almost two months to publish them all... Forty more entries.

Anyway, it's a nice rainy Friday! WOO HOO! The weekend is here! I will probably head down to Borders to comb for books. I was at Kinokuniya at Bugis Junction last night but there wasn't anything interesting.
A Voyage Beyond Nippon

After running 13 rounds at Toa Payoh Stadium last night, I took a bus to Ajisen, which was some popular Jap eating establishment at the Bugis Junction, where I met Brian aka The Grand Admiral of Japan and Amelia. Brian, as usual, had finished a 15-course meal eons ago while Amelia was just finishing up. Amelia had just sent her mid-range Canon scanner for repairs. Later, we went to an electronics shop where Brian was drooling over an x-Box 360 and a Toshiba plasma TV. He also wanted Ghost Recon. I was looking at the different packages of Auto Assault. After which, we were at Kinokuniya where the Admiral of Japan bought several hundred bucks of books on his fetishes while he regaled us with his pearls of Nipponese wisdom. How could we not be impressed with his munificence and wondrous tales? Then, we went to Absolute Comics where he again indulged himself.

Then, we were in the Admiral's territory again, a MOS Burger joint for a quick drink.

Such is the life of Nippon Greatest* Admiral who when asked about his friend in the UK could only stammered, 'Which friend?'

*In stature of course...

A Wreckage of a Metropolis

2002 saw the release of the turgid 'Metropolis' which is based on a 1949 comic from Osamu Tezuka who was best known for being the creator of the cultural icon, Astroboy.

This tedious and derivative effort directed by Rintaro, based on a screenplay by Katsuhiro Ôtomo, included cliches and obvious elements from Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis', 'Bladerunner', and many other movies. How tired could this be? Gunfights, chases, detective in trenchcoats, evil leader, innocent girl with powers, falling masonry, bad dialogue coupled with a horrid half-dead discordant jazz soundtrack. Familiar?

The final cliched attempt at poetry through a jazz or big band soundtrack which was, of course, set against the destruciton of the tower at the climax was simply trite. How much unoriginal could this get?

I watched this a month back and was disappointed.

20 April 2006

'Mars Polaris' Tangerine Dream

I have been listening to Tangerine Dream's 'Mars Polaris' CD when I wake up every morning.

I don't know why but it seems right.
Depeche Mode Limited Edition Live Recordings

There will be concert CDs available for the Depeche Mode 'Touring the Angel' world tour.

The website: http://www.depechemodelive.com/ is offering limited edition live recordings of the North American tour including Mountain View, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Toronto and more. More will probably be available later.

Of course, this is from the same people which operates http://www.liveherenow.co.uk/ which also has live recordings of the Erasure, Goldfrapp, Client, Heaven 17 tours.

This was taken a week ago. I will put a more recent one up soon. She's grown quite a bit plumper.

19 April 2006

The stadium lights went off

Last night, I just hit the 3.6 km mark when the stadium lights went off. Oh well. I will have to go earlier this evening.

My timing has improved somewhat over 2.4 km but it is simply not enough.

'Tactics of the Crescent Moon: Militant Muslim Combat Methods', H. John Poole, Ray L. Smith

Yes, Islamic terror must be defeated. It is clearly the biggest single danger facing the world besides environmental problems. How?

Massed firepower may not provide the solution for now. Instead, it can be counterproductive due to collateral damage. This book examines the methods and tactics* used by extremists, from ambushes to suicide bombings in various conflicts including the Palestinian terror campaign to the Iraqi insurgency. This book states the obvious for those who are familiar with the Islamic terror operations. Narratives and accounts. Nothing very difficult. However, it serves as a useful reminder for the men on the ground. It also serves as a single collation of the tactics used. A useful volume.

Given the fickle public opinion today, it is hard to envisage a long term plan in Iraq that will satisfy them. Realistically, it will take years before Iraq can be reformed. The occupation of Japan and Germany after the Second World War had shown that a not inconsiderable period of time is needed.

Hopefully, people worldwide, especially Europeans, will awaken to the threat of Iran and realise that pre-emptive strikes are necessary to remove this growing threat. Iran is run by madmen. Remove the leadership.

Similarly, unless Hamas reforms, there may eventually be a need to remove them.

*Islamic terrorists generally employ tactics involving squad level or individuals. They are not organised for high level operations.
"Butt-stroke them," Johnson said. "Use your E-tool. You're trained in hand-to-hand stuff. Or are you afraid of those fedayeen in their ninja pajamas?"

Exerpt from 'The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the United States Marines' Bing West and Major General Ray L. Smith
My Pre-Orders

GMT Games

Games Charging Now

Gustav Adolf the Great $45 1 825 In Final Development
Mamluk $14 1 912 In Final Development
Pax Romana $42 1 866 In Final Development
Simple GBoH Battle Manual $22 1 772 In Final Development

Games That Have “Made the Cut” But Not Yet Charging

Onward Christian Soldiers $46 1 702 In Final Development
Prussia's Glory II $42 1 619 In Final Development
RAN (Samurai II) $45 1 699 In Final Development
Sword of Rome Expansion $14 1 610 In Final Development
The Conqueror: Alexander the Great $38 1 736 In Final Development
Unhappy King Charles $46 1 665 In Final Development
Winds of Plunder $31 1 581 In Final Development

Games That Have Not Yet “Made the Cut”

DIF Sqdrn Pack 2: Bombers (New!!) $14 0
Gergovia (New!!) $14 0
Great Campaigns of the 30YW (New!!) $38 0

New Card Decks for 2006 Editions

WWII Barb to Berlin 2006 Cards $11 0 NEW!!
For the People 2006 Cards $11 0 NEW!!

Deluxe Maps

Empire of the Sun $14 1 0
For the People $14 1 0
Sword of Rome $14 1 0

Decision Games

To be listed


To be listed

Columbia Games

None for now.

18 April 2006

Dungeon & Dragons Online Cancelled!

Yes, I have cancelled my Dungeons & Dragons Online subscription due basically to boredom. Good riddance! I have better ways of spending my time.

The letter:


Hello Shyue Chou,

Your DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE(TM): Stormreach(TM) : "Primary Subscription" subscription has been deactivated.

To manage your account or resume this subscription, please visit

To manage your Turbine Account, login with your username, "xxxx" (without quotes), at: https://billing.turbine.com/

Thank you,

Turbine Account Team

Copyright (c) 2005-2006 Turbine, Inc. DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE, Eberron, Stormreach, Dungeons & Dragons and D&D are trademarks or registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast Inc. in the U.S. and/or other jurisdictions, and are used with permission. Turbine, Asheron's Call, Asheron's Call: Dark Majesty, Asheron's Call: Throne of Destiny and Throne of Destiny are trademarks or registered trademarks of Turbine, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other jurisdictions. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

I need to increase my pace. I ran 2.4 km last night with a good pace in the initial three rounds. The final three took much too long.

I need to also do sprints and pull-ups. Groan...
Kitten in Ambush

The kitten awaits patiently...

Growl.... she pounces!

17 April 2006

Initial Impressions of Erasure's 'Union Street'

Erasure's 'Union Street' is the latest release from Erasure following the mellow and excellent 'Nightbird'. However, after the very self-indulgent and audacious failure, 'Other People's Songs', and the badly produced* and again indulgent, 'Loveboat', Erasure appeared not to have learned their lessons and instead released yet another self-indulgent album. It is obvious that Andy Bell is in love with his voice as this uninteresting accoustic release sees him singing old Erasure songs to the accompaniment of a guitar. Vince Clarke is reduced to doing the production of a lacklustre vocal and guitar performance. While a few tracks worked well in a raw accoustic form like 'Spiralling', the others just sees Bell droning on and on, singing by numbers. Given his myriad experience in many concert performances, it is puzzling to see such a performance.

Previously, Erasure had released accoustic tracks on singles that were a lot more interesting than this set found in 'Union Street'.

'Union Street' is worth a spin but it is not particularly memorable given the vocal performances and the choice of tracks. What happened to that Erasure of yesteryear, with its glittering pop gems?**

*It seems that Flood would rather produce another U2 album and despite their long association, the production values of 'Loveboat' is appalling. Was Flood drunk when he produced that? It is hard to tell. 'Loveboat' was undistinguished with poor singles but the bad production made it impossible.
** Erasure's 2003 release 'Nightbird' is excellent. I can't understand why they are bothering with this...


After listening to it a few more times, 'Union Street' is decent, definitely worth a listen if you like Erasure's work, I do. There are some highlights. However, it does not mean that this is not a self-indulgent work.

16 April 2006

My Kitten

A rare moment where the kitten is not running around, playing with something or climbing. A moment of introspection? Naaaah...

15 April 2006

In Strict Confidence - 'Exile Paradise'

Good news! The new In Strict Confidence album 'Exile Paradise' is due out in May!


01. The harder they come...
02. Promised Land
03. Forbidden Fruit
04. Fading Light
05. Wintermoon
06. Manchmal redest du im Schlaf
07. Regicide
08. Der Teufel
09. Away from here
10. In Favilla
11. Something to remember
12. ...the harder they fall.

01. Samael
02. A Single Touch
03. Blind Spot

The 'Where Sun & Moon unite' EP is excellent and this should bode well for the album.

Hello America

J. G. Ballard's ability to conjure surrealistic imagery of abandoned landscapes juxtapositioned by pop culture icons is unsurpassed. 'Hello America' is a journey by dreamers and idealists into an abandoned America, where petroleum, coal and other forms of energy had ran out a hundred years ago. How very apt. Especially in these times wheb every society is held hostage through oil by rigid fundamentalist Islamic regimes in the form of Saudi Arabia and Iran. These theocratic states pander to modern society's addiction to oil and wield tremendous power. And at the same time, they have been havens for the current form of Islamic terror sweeping the world. Too bad, I see little evidence of a moderate Islamic counter movement towards Islamic extremism though I am aware of one.

In this imaginery abandoned America, American society had utterly collapsed through the lack of energy sources. Most of the population hads completed a form of reverse migration back to the Old World. And an environmental diaster had transformed the North American continent. The Eastern Seaboard and Mid-West had transformed into a desert wasteland while the West was threatened by constant storms.

And into this forbidden landscape saw an expedition consisting of a party of scientists with obsessions. These dreamers would be so intoxicated by their dreams that they had abandoned all pragmatism and good sense including fundamental ones such as survival and ventured into the heartlands of America. Embarking from a haunted New York landscape of skyscrapers half buried by the sands of an inhospitable landscape, the party journeyed through surrealistic scenes after another to Las Vegas, ultimately, confronting the self-declared President of the United States, Charles Manson. A meeting with destiny. And the imagery is simply precious. Androids of the past American presidents. Teenaged Mexican youths wielding automatic weapons. Animatons/Automatons of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and more. Titan ICBMs. Mysterious Earthquakes. Lost nomadic tribes of Americans each conforming to an ideal, The Gamblers, the Executives, the Bureaucrats. Tropical rainforests in Nevada. Robotic Helicopter gunships. Self-powered microlights. Environmental disasters.

Simply delightful.

14 April 2006


That's right. My new MMORPG. Heh.

Kitty is about a week to two weeks old.

I fed it specially formulated milk this morning. I was hunting around town late last night for milk for kittens.
Steady Pace

I ran 5.2 km at Toa Payoh Stadium last night. The timing was still up to what I want. At least, my pace is steady.
Future Retro

I have been meaning to get this compilation but have put it off for half a year or so. Then, I spotted it in Borders a few hours ago. Thus, I bought it.

1. Walk (Infusion Mix) -- Cure
2. Situation (Richard X Remix) -- Yaz
3. Lips Like Sugar (Way Out West Remix Edit) -- Echo and the Bunnymen
4. Need You Tonight (Static Revenger Mix Edit) -- INXS
5. Shake the Disease (Tiga Remix) -- Depeche Mode
6. Little Respect (Jaded Alliance 'Electrospect' Remix) -- Erasure
7. New Song (Peter Black & Hadrock Striker Mix Edit) -- Howard Jones
8. Forever Young (Hamel Album Mix) -- Alphaville
9. Bizarre Love Triangle (Crystal Method Extended Mix) -- New Order
10. White Lines (Don't Don't Do It, Elite Force Mix) -- Grandmaster & Melle Mel
11. Girl U Want (Black Light Odyssey Mix) -- Devo
12. NoWhere Girl (Adam Freeland Mix) -- B-Movie
13. Boy (DJ Irene Rockstar Mix) -- Book of Love
14. Suedehead (Sparks Remix) -- Morrissey

Initial impressions? Well, I will only speak for the singles that I care for, namely, tracks 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 13. The remix of Yazoo's 'Situation' is alright, nothing extraordinary. The vocal track has been preserved. Likewise, the vocals of Depeche Mode's 'Shake the Disease' is preserved though the mix seemed somewhat disjointed. Erasure's 'A little Respect' has a slow bouncy repetitive beat beneath the intact vocals. These three remixes are just okay. Passable.

Like the previous mix, Howard Jones' 'New Song' incorporates a bouncy, stumbling repetitive beat which seems to sap some of the original vitality of Jones' simpler beat. However, this mix is somewhat better than the precious one which is some sort of a house mix. At least, it clocks at 3:26 rather than 6:31 of the previous one. The mix of Alphaville's 'Forever Young' is by far the one of the most promising of the bunch preserving the melody with thumping background. And no, it is not merely a speeded up mix. There is additional production work. Excellent. The Crystal Method is a big name and their remix of New Order's 'Bizarre Love Triangle' is on par with the Hamel one of 'Forever Young'. It's hard to describe as it is made of many disparate elements. Finally, the remix of Book of Love's 'Boy' has added production work incorporating guitar work, giving it an edgier feel instead of the original candy pop feel.

There has been suggestion of a second volume which I hope to see. All in all, this is an alright collection but I would advise one not to pay too much for it.

13 April 2006

Burger King Far East Plaza

In 1984-85, this was the hang-out place for teens. It was a period when Wendy's, then the third largest hamburger chain in the world, occupied this spot. I could remember that they served 'Frosties', a thick milkshare of sorts, and three-decker hamburgers!

Today, Wendy's is no more, being replaced by a Burger King joint. It didn't last long in Singapore, like Hardees, Jack in the Box, and a few others. Strangely enough, A&W, which was the first fast food joint to make it to our shores in the early seventies, ceased operations recently.

Today, Far East Plaza appears to have re-captured its former allure for teens. I think it is the leading shopping place for the younger set again.

12 April 2006


I tried a brisk 2.4 km this evening. I need to keep my pace. The first round was fast. The subsequent five weren't. The final timing wasn't good at all.

After Action Report: Friedrich 01.04.2006

Game: Friedrich
Designer: Richard Sivèl
Publisher: Histogame

01.04.2006 - Saturday

Game 1

Prussia/Hanover: David
French: Timothy
Austria/Imperial: Chris
Russia/Sweden: Shyue Chou

Another after action report of the same game. This time, Tim wrote the report.


*Image taken from boardgamegeek, contributed by the famous Lawrence Hung.

'Wayne, lying down there, can you see?' Wayne felt Anne Summers seize his arm. 'There's a sleeping mermaid!'

Wayne peered into the water. The Apollo's propeller had stopped, and the mass of churning bubbles dissolved in the water that swilled against the hull. Lying on her back, like its drowned bride, was the statue of an immense reclining woman. Almost as long as the Apollo, she rested on a bed of concrete blocks, the ruins of an underwater plinth. Her classical features were only a few feet below the surface. Washed by the waves, her gray face reminded Wayne of his dead mother's when he gazed into her open coffin in the asylum mortuary.

'Wayne, who is she?' Anne Summers stared at the impassive face. A colony of lobsters had taken up residence in the woman's nostrils. As they emerged from their domain peering up at the dripping bulk of the Apollo, Anne held her handsome nose. 'Wayne, she must be some kind of goddess...'

Paul Ricci squeezed between them. 'A local marine deity,' he suavely informed them. 'The Americans of the eastern seaboard worshipped a pantheon of underwater creatures - you'll remember Moby Dick, Hemmingway's Old Man and the Sea, even the great white shark affectionately christened "Jaws".'

Exerpt from 'Hello America' (1981) J.G.Ballard

11 April 2006

5.2 km Run completed!

My first 5.2 km run in three years. I made it though I was significantly slower. I read that George W. Bush can complete that distance in half my time. Whoa!

I came back, read two chapters of J.G. Ballard's surrealistic 'Hello America' before falling asleep for a short while.

A skyline of Singapore as seen from the Esplanade. This was taken some time in the evening. A year? Two years? I can't remember.

10 April 2006

Run II

I went for a light jog at Toa Payoh Stadium this evening. On the third round, I felt a pain in my left calf and the pain was not receding. I stopped on the fifth round as the pain was an impedance.

I shall have to step up my tempo tomorrow.

My joints are sore. My calves hurt too. That will teach me.

I need to run more rather than swim. I'll probably go run again today.

09 April 2006


I went running at Toa Payoh Stadium earlier. Needless to say, I was out of shape, managing to walk and run 3.6 km instead of running the usual 13 rounds (5.2 km). I should really run more often...

Bah. I need to go back to Kinokuniya tonight to change a book I bought yesterday. The seams of the spine in 'The Art of the World of Warcraft' is badly glued and is coming apart.
"Even if China's people had no connection through trade and travel with people elsewhere, China's large territory and population would guarantee effects on other peples merely because China is releasing its wastes and gases into the same ocean and atmosphere."

'Collapse: How Societies choose to fail or succeed' Jared Diamond

08 April 2006


I slept through the whole game session. Oh well, it's 5:26 pm. No sense in rushing down.

Singapore Open Gaming II

Just a reminder. SOG II is today! Ken Lee has organised this gaming session for everyone. It's an open gaming session. Bring your own games. German games, collectible card games, family games, roleplaying games, wargames, whatever you like.

Date: 8 April 2006
Time: 1pm-6pm
Venue: Blk 3, Queen's Rd #01-139
After Action Report: Friedrich 01.04.2006

Game: Friedrich
Designer: Richard Sivèl
Publisher: Histogame

Instead of 'Hammer of the Scots', we chose to play Friedrich. Wow! It was an experience.
01.04.2006 - Saturday

Game 1

Prussia/Hanover: David
French: Timothy
Austria/Imperial: Chris
Russia/Sweden: Shyue Chou

The game started with the dastardly Prussians advancing south with three armies. In the northern front, an army was allocated to watch over the Swedes while another guarded the eastern borders.

Three ponderous Russian armies approached the single Prussian army but were stalled. At that point, I simply did not have the right hand. I had only one of that card in hand (Spade). This impasse was to continue throughout the game. I had divided my armies into the following:

Army 1: strength = 2
Army 2: strength = 6
Army 3: strength = 2
Army 4: strength = 6

Meanwhile, the French armies steadily advanced while the Hanoverians staged a careful retrograde movement.

By turns 2-5, in South Prussia, the Austrians finally met and engaged the Prussians in a few indecisive battles that resulted in the Austrian armies reeling with minor casualties. The armies involved were engaged in a war of manouvre threatening their respective supply trains.

In East Prussia, the ravaging Russians captured three cities but were unable to take the last one for the lack of a card to destroy the opposing lone Prussian force. The two small Russian armies had to contend with a holding role. The other Russian armies approached Prussia proper but was again strangled by the lack of a particular type of card. I had gone through the whole game missing two types of cards, I received them once in the whole game! I was quite passive and didn't accomplish anything which suited me fine as I was quite lethargic that hot afternoon.

The Swedish army was practically fixed for want of the correct card type.

The inconsequential battles in South Prussia did not avail to much beyond holding the unyielding Austrians in place. At that point in time, around turn 6, the aggressive French armies finally engaged the Hanoverians in a large bloody decisive battle which largely wiped out the Hanoverians. That was followed by a quite occupation of all the victory point spots, thus resulting in a shattering French victory.

Congratulations Timothy!

Game 2

Prussia/Hanover: DavidFrench: TimothyAustria/Imperial: ChrisRussia/Sweden: Shyue Chou
David, in his little dingy palace in Potsdam demanded a re-match after that swift crushing game.
Thus, we took up the same roles again.

The opening of the second game is not dissimilar to the first.

The Prussians led by their insidious leader began by committing the bulk of the armies against the Austrians and Imperial armies. The Austrians responded by advancing north. In the east, in a few uncharacteristic moves, the Russians quickly sent four armies into East Prussian. I had the same army dispositions. And the initial card draw was a card of each type. And I began drawing spades which was what I needed. And I wanted to force battles.

Army 1: strength = 2
Army 2: strength = 6
Army 3: strength = 2
Army 4: strength = 6

I engaged the Prussians in a large battle until I ran out of cards and I was forced to do a retreat with minor casualties (strength 1 or 2 lost). However, I had depleted a large number of cards and so had David. He was definitely weakened. I was able to use two armies to fix his lone army later when I had one card of that type. Of course, he was rather happy to hold my two armies. It had accomplished his objectives.

Meanwhile, the Austrians had engaged the Prussians in a series of indecisive and inconsequential battles while in Hanover, the Hanoverians were cleverly denying the French battle while retreating.

Turns 1-6 were a series of manoevres. However, when it came to the event card draw after turn 6, the first card reduced the Prussian hand by two cards. That immediately forced a change in the Prussian strategy. The interminable battles against the Austrians had depleted the daunting Prussian hand. Suddenly, the Prussians were forced to avoid battle totally. And even in unavoidable battles, the previously strong Prussians were forced to retreat.

Turns 7-10 saw advances made into virign Prussian and Hanoverian territory. Thus, the Austrian advance in south Prussia became one of titanic clashes between the large armies that resulted in heavy attrition. The Prussians could not afford that and lost a few battles. Soon, there were four Austrian armies facing one Prussian army.

In East Prussia, the sole Prussian army was finally eliminated after being constantly engaged and reduced. Strength, 4, 3, 2, 1.. The Prussians had thrown in the towel. I had started shifting two of my armies west after losing a battle there with minor casualties. I bluffed with one card and David simply gave up letting his army go. He decided that he could not afford the distraction. Again, I had one of one type of card. And I have a lot of Diamonds and Hearts cards for some reason. I could bluff and I did. Most of my game was bluff, some of which were effective while others were inconsequential. David had managed my armies well.

In Brandenberg, the Swedish supply train occupied Berlin while a Swedish army rampaged before it was eliminated. A turn later, a reconstituted Swedish army invaded Brandenberg again.

In the mean time, the Hanoverians were cleverly retreating and then threatening the French supply lines by reoccupying territory. The French armies could not advance and hold at the same time.

Turns 11 and so forth. In Hanover, the French finally eliminated a small Hanoverian army while pursuing a larger one. The French army was also holding off one or two Prussian armies. Timothy had a fabulous hand of cards with four reserve cards! There was one victory point spot left to occupy. This could only be occupied if that remaining Hanoverian army was destroyed.

The four Russian armies had managed to occupy all the victory point spots with the exception of one.

The Swedish army attacked a Prussian army near Berlin and was repulsed.
Things were looking grim for Frederick and his Prussians. (Hey, it's like history.) At that point, an event card draw saw the Imperial army switch over to the Prussian side. And that area was practically deserted. The Imperials could win in three to four turns. An Austrian army promptly came over and prevented that.

In south Prussia, four Austrian armies eliminated the sole surviving Prussian army and thus ensuring the occupation of all objectives. Victory for the Austrians!

Well played Chris! Good aggressive play with great manoeuvring. Good play, David. Pity about the event card draws.

Observations: There were quite a few clever touches in the game design. The turn sequence has the Russians move after the Prussians. Through that, it will ensure that the Prussian hand is usually not depleted and the Prussian armies will nearly full-strength assuming that the Prussians don't lose. This can make for very bloody battles which actually happened in battles (for instance, Zorndorf) between the Prussians and Russians. We thought that this was a clever touch on the part of the designer. Another clever design touch was the card types and supply train that allows battle to be shattering and yet restrictive. This has forced armies to be circumspect at times. All in all, the wargame did capture a field of Frederick the Great's campaigns. The eventual depletion of the Prussian card hand also reflected the exhaustion of the Prussian armies in the later years. Again, a clever historical touch.

The Prussian player, obviously had the hardest task the game. Historically, the Hanoverians were able to manage the French well. And after Rossbach, the French were essentially out of the picture. In this game, there appeared to be a constant crisis in Hanover.
Sadly, I didn't take any photos of the positions which is a pity.

I recommend 'Friedrich'.

Note: If you spot any mistakes here, factual or grammatical, please let me know, I'll correct them. My memory is rather hazy as I was sleepy throughout that afternoon and I was pretty much a shadow of my usual self.


Richard S. has kindly pointed out two rules mistakes regarding the Imperials and the armies of
allies blocking. We also made another two rules mistakes in our games, one of the nature of retreat and another of the nature of reinforcement.

Regarding this report, I put it up to share with everyone. Please freely quote or re-use in full in other instances (ie print, review, website, blog, etc) if required. You do not have to ask me or notify me.