31 May 2006
As Mister Paradox proclaimed his Technocratic Manifest, the world trembles for he has arrived. Mister Paradox is a friend on DuneMUD and he is a scribe of impossible visions:
Transmissions received over the conscious lines display the crux of our future. Translucent bits betraying prophetic visions of ominous proverbs yet to come. The once inert empire of mankind brought to its knees by the proliferation of an unstoppable technocratic manifest. The dawn of a new age of religion; the beauty of the baud fueling transformations. The law of man becomes archaic, circumvented by the undeniable truth of the machine.
Fearing reprisal we built the power to deny the gods dominion of our souls. Now morality squandered, Ragnarök labours towards unforgiving, scarcely held back by the monoliths of glass and steel, cable and wire. We find ourselves derelict and naked in the beginnings of the end.
He could easily be writing lyrics for a Front Line Assembly album or other industrial/ebm albums. It's great fun to read his prose.
Do you remember the old Sands House at Clemeaneau Avenue? The non-descript concrete block which used to house the headquarters of the boy scouts and girl guides in Singapore? I recall visiting it in the seventies when I was still in primary school. I wonder when the building was torn down. It was probably when I was out of the country in the mid to late eighties.
Things change. The landscape changes with it. The Singapore of the seventies and eighties was a heady place of great changes and great development.
'John The Revelator / Lilian' Depeche Mode
1. John the Revelator
Track listing limited edition:
1. John The Revelator - Dave Is In The Disco Tiefschwarz Remix
2. John The Revelator - Murk Mode Remix
3. John The Revelator - UNKLE Re Construction
4. John The Revelator - Boosta Club Remix
5. John The Revelator - Tiefschwarz Dub
The last double A-side single from 'Playing the Angel' will be released in a week's time. 'John the Revelator' is the weakest track on the CD with its horrid blues-tint. Ack. If only Gore would get over his horrid blues fixation.
Naming this a double A-side is pointless as there are no remixes for 'Lilian'.
And the cover. The cover design is simply atrocious. It's unmemorable. It's not striking. It's gaudy yet dull...
The cover design for the singles and the album of 'Playing the Angel' is up there with the worst of Depeche Mode covers, namely 'Ultra' and the singles.
It's really too bad.
30 May 2006
German Games for Sale
I have too little time to play some of the games I bought over the years. As such, I will be selling them off. Here are some of the titles. I will be pricing them soon.
Fearsome Floors (Finstere Flure) (German edition)
Carcarssonne: The Castle (German edition)
Too many Cooks
Wings of War
Employee of the Month
Wyatt Earp (German edition)*
Most of them were played once or twice. Condition? They should be excellent.I have way too many unplayed games and way too many games which I have only touched once.
I will also be selling my set of Dungeon & Dragons Online (DDO) soon.
Darth Birdy has turned completely weird as evidenced on his blog entry. Heheh.
Here is an exerpt:
"Manipulates another screen showing Wolverine having sex with Jean Grey
* soft moans and groans can be heard in the background *
The Architect muttters to himself, “Now that would be a much satisfying outcome. She would probably not be the vengeful Phoenix had Wolverine given her a good one!”
“Just who the hell are you?!” Frodo finally managed. "
Muhammed Bilal did his M.A in Diplomacy and Strategic Studies, securing a position in Punjab University Lahore. He offers an interesting anti-Israeli and anti-Indian worldview in his blog. His views of the Arab-Israeli Wars and Indo-Pakistani Wars are expressed in a set of blog (Lost Identity) entries in his blog:
One may not agree with his views but they do make for interesting reading and also understanding the mindset in the Pakistani elite. Possibly even that of the strategic studies group there.
29 May 2006
I have done some research. The prices of wargames and German games in London and for that matter, the UK, are impossible.
The prices are already high in Singapore. With the VAT in the UK, the prices would be astronomical.
Once upon a time, in 1993-1996, we had an online community involving 1200-28800 baud modems. Hayes, US Robotics, etc.
It was a community of door games, forums and more.
The Lothlorien BBS* was one such forum where I made many friends. It arose from the migration of people from another, Sheikinah Rivendell which was governed by a self-righteous Morgan de Tyrant. This new forum, hosted by the odd Mister Marc Tan (aka Celeborn, Elrond, Well-Preserved Elf) who started it for not so obvious reasons, had a theme based on the forest kingdom of the elves in the Lord of the Rings.
Lothlorien soon thrived. Friendships were made. The numbers increased. People came and went and there were some interesting discourses.
Rivalries abound through petty politics After a few years, through the efforts of one silly and petty individual, Lothlorien soon fell in flames. Most of the denizens of the place left and maintained their friendships, meeting in real life, organising many gaming and dinner events. The sad individual who wronged many and instigated this was left to his own devices. He thought he had triumphed but he never did have the whole picture, living in his well and instead losing all his friends. Anyway, no one really cares about him now.
Now, Mister Darth Grievous has kindly restarted Lothlorien. There were several previous sad and lame attempts at revival but they died prematurely. Perhaps, this new start may be different.
Anyway, if you were formerly from Lothlorien BBS, or you were not, but are interested in discourses of a different nature, you are welcomed to join our little forum, our little community.
Do join us.
28 May 2006
Both Wei Yi and Brian (Grand Admiral) are very well-informed. Wei Yi pointed out Red Orchestra a few weeks back. Brian mentioned it last night.
An extract from the website:
Fight in the theatre of war that changed the world forever. Battle alongside your compatriots on some of the most inhospitable environments of the Eastern Front in Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 RO places you in the most realistic WWII first-person multi-player combat to date on the PC, allowing the player to fight through some of the most intense combat of the war. You can play as infantry, using a wide range of infantry weapons, or crew one of the many armoured combat vehicles available in the game, from half-tracks all the way through to the most famous German and Soviet heavy tanks. You can engage the enemy with everything from your bayonet at close quarters up to the massive 122mm cannon on the Soviet IS-2. And if that isn't enough, find an officer and a radio to call in thunderous artillery strikes to shake the enemy loose.
-Fight intense battles on 13 authentic Eastern Front combat environments
-Crew 14 fully realized vehicles with highly detailed exterior and interior models
-Choose from 28 authentic infantry weapons
-Full 32 player online Multiplayer Support
-Unique Setting – the only FPS to focus on the WWII Russian Front
-Engage enemy tanks at 800 metres and more with the Simulation-level armored vehicle combat
-Fight the full range of combined arms infantry and vehicle combat in detailed environments based on real-world data, from city-centre to deeply rural settings
-Realistic bullet and projectile ballistics will make you duck for cover
-Coordinate strategies with your team-mates via Voice Over IP
-Authentic Immersive Sound FX and 3d Positional Sound System
-3d “Iron Sights” and unique 3d scope system
-True weapon deployment system including resting rifles on support
-Historically accurate artillery system
-Distance-based sound system dynamically creates the battle ambiance
-Advanced player movement system featuring diving over obstacles and leaning
-Custom 8 way animation system for highly realistic player animations
They have gotten me interested. They are most evil. I saw the game at Sim Lim Square a week ago. WOW.
After picking up a huge stack of Warhammer novels and short stories, the Renegade Anarchist and I received a communique from Admiral Nippon.
The Renegade Anarchist Wilson and I made first contact with the Admiral at the Starbucks Cantina last evening and were later at Mr Bean's* later. In the pow-wow that followed, Mister Anarchist spoke of his bullpup weapon and his blackpowder guns. Insults were hurled, the Doctor of Liverpool slandered and more.
Following that, we were given a demonstration of the Admiral's prowess later when we were cruising in his Landspeeder 280 later. Thankfully, no jawas, bengs, lians were harmed. Only the dispensing of a huge amount of white smoke or fumes.
We kissed the ground, and observed the sanctity of human life at Wheelock Place later. We were at Borders to pore over ancient secrets while the Admiral made a jump to Geylang Centauri or some other system.
Then, the Anarchist and I had drinks at Blanga King at Liat Towers before calling it a night.
*Good choice of establishment. There were a few cute chicks at neighbouring tables. WOO!
27 May 2006
I had a great time last night chatting with Colin, June and Siu Hean at NYDC at the Heeren. Insults were hurled (June was told that she can't be seen when we all keep our chins up), compliments were paid (Siu Hean was complimented on his well-preserved state and his certainty in attaining the world number one spot in Scrabble), the state of the nation was commented upon (ie we need gas ovens!), and more zany and silly topics...
All in all, a great night for conversation.
I bought Pet Shop Boys' 'Fundamentalism'* at HMV and Kelvin has told me that the people in his office loved it.
*Fundamental - S$18.95
Fundamentalism - S$20.95
US$1.00 = S$1.7
Hmmm... This has been released. It is a parallel to the Age of Mythology game. This game encompassed a mythological element for the Rise of Nations series, much akin with the Age of Mythology in the Age of Empires series.
A lot depended on the execution. In a lot of Real Time Strategy (RTS) games, a mythological unit often merely meant that the unit was a powerful unit, not unlike Tiger I tanks amidst hordes of M4 Shermans. In essence, one could question what differentiates these powerful mythological units from other powerful units in other games? In a poorly executed and imagined RTS, nothing!
Why would mythological units be willing to be subjugated by mortal kings and serve their whim? Would there be a element where the rulers must offer to the Gods? Should mythical elements not be added then? Otherwise, why even bother with mythological units? Could the powers of mythological units not be unique and special? Not merely a more powerful attack? Not merely greatly durability?
Are mythological units merely akin to Tiger I tanks? Spearheading a phalanx of hoplites? Like Tiger Is spearing Pzkw IVs? If they were, the game would not be convincing.
I am not curious and not particularly interested.
26 May 2006
Ken is kindly organising the next Singapore Open Gaming. As usual, if you like boardgames, card games, wargames or even roleplaying games, feel free to come and join us! Surely you can take your eyes off that football for a bit? The World Cup is one month long!
Time: 1pm - 6pm
Date: June 10, 2006
Venue: Blk 3 Queen's Rd, #01-139 (Just off Farrer Rd, one level below Westlake Restaurant)
There is also an MSN site for this. Comments, photos and more!
The Malaysia authorities have announced a requirement for ninety-eight 8x8 vehicles, which will be sufficient to equip one cavalry regiment.
The competing vehicles include:
• the Finnish Patria Vehicles Armoured Modular Vehicle (AMV), fitted with an Oto Melara two-person turret and armed with ATK GunSystems Company 30 mm MK 44 cannon
• the Swiss Mowag Piranha IIIC, also fitted with an Oto Melara two-person turret
• the Turkish FNSS Pars, fitted with a one-person Sharpshooter turret armed with an ATK Gun Systems Company 25 mm M242 cannon.
The Malaysian army is already equipped with several hundred Turkish AFVs armed with the Sharpshooter turret and M242 gun and it is not unlikely that they will select the Turkish 8x8 in the name of Islamic solidarity again.
Source: Janes Defence Weekly. 3rd May2006
The Malaysian army has announced a requirement for eight self-propelled mortars. These mortars are likely to be providing organic firepower for units equipped with the Turkish FNSS
armoured combat vehicle (ACV).
According to Janes Defence Weekly, the two contenders that meet this requirement are the French TDA 120 mm 120R 2M rifled system and the Swiss Ruag Land Systems Bighorn 120 mm recoiling mortar system.
It would be likely that the Malaysian army would seek to mount the mortars on existing FNSS vehicles.
Source: Janes Defence Weekly, 3rd May 2006
It is reported that the Malaysian Army has taken delivery of five Augusta Westland
A 109 light observation helicopters (LOH) and the remaining deliveries of six are expected to take place by the end of 2006. The A 109s were ordered in 2003 by the Mahathir regime.
According to Janes Defence Weekly, the aircraft are used by the Army Aviation Regiment’s 881 Squadron based at Keluang.
Source: Janes Defence Weekly, 3rd May 2006
25 May 2006
Joseph pointed out this report from the Times.
"Professor Lynn, who caused controversy last year by claiming that men were more intelligent than women by about five IQ points on average, said that populations in the colder, more challenging environments of Northern Europe had developed larger brains than those in warmer climates further south. The average brain size in Northern and Central Europe is 1,320cc and in southeast Europe it is 1,312cc."
I notice Russia has an average of 99 on this chart. Isn't Russia a challenging environment? Simiarly, Finland and Norway?
Of course, if a chart of Asia were to be composed and publish, this will fuel jingoistic and nationalistic sentiments... Imagine the uproar.
An additional note, this chart is ranked in terms of nationalities. Not race.
Professor Lynn ascribes the differences between British and French intelligence levels to the results of military conflict. He described it as “a hitherto unrecognised law of history” that “the side with the higher IQ normally wins, unless they are hugely outnumbered, as Germany was after 1942”.
A unrecognised law of history?
In the Defence Services Asia exhibition held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia annouced the award of five defence contracts worth US$210 million. These include communications equipment, the Diving Control and Platform Simulator for the Scorpene submarines, two TRM-L 3D survelliance and target acquisition radars, 155mm ammunition for the G5 artillery and 108 3-tonne cargo trucks.
Source: Janes Defence Weekly. 3rd May 2006
24 May 2006
'Fundamental' has been released. The reviews of the mainstream press are positive. Synthpop in this day and age of rap, metal and r&b? Amazing. Normally, there's a bias in most music presses against electronic music, especially synthpop but this is amazing.
The Independent review - 5/5 stars
Guardian review - 4/5 stars
The Daily Mirror review - 4/4 stars
Playlouder.com review - 4.5/5 stars
The amount of hype over the 'Da Vinci Code' movie and book is unbelievable. It's expected that religious freaks are going to maul this movie (and give it controvesy and help sell several million tickets), and just as unbelievable is the amount of people who lap up the awfully written book and movie.* I mean, c'mon, read some real books for once! Enough of ranting for now. Heheheh. Anyway, I guess if the masses enjoy it, who am I to say anything? Let them enjoy their narcotic. After all, John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon and others sold millions of books too.
Here is a humourous take of the movie and book described Tom Hanks' amazing hairstyle as:
Some SONY studio executives had worried over Hanks' decision to grow his hair out into a bizarre topiary shape prior to filming, but oddly enough this is the one detail fans appreciate.
"The quasi-mullet is perfectly in keeping with Dan's original vision," said Howard. "You can't take your eyes off the thing. It's magnificent. In a way it's a sweet tribute to the Dan Brown fan, a discerning intellectual who purchases all their reading material at Wal-Mart."
Another statement within that satirising piece:
Unlike the tome of the same name, the big screen version of The DaVinci Code is somewhat coherent and preserves only a smattering of the moronic expository dialogue that made the original so special.
It's ironic. Simply ironic.
*The facts or fiction in the novel or movie doesn't offend or mean much to me, I have read stuff that is far more blasphemous to Christian extremists in my opinion. It is just that the book is a badly written piece of trash with vanilla prose, paper characterisations, lousy plotting, what else? And the movie, well... Oh yes, 'Digital Fortress' is pretty bad as well.
Avalanche Press is due to publish a wargame on the Fall of Singapore in 1942 titled 'The Tiger of Malaya'.
I am hesitant when it comes to pre-ordering this game. Avalanche Press has some vocal detractors and these detractors have made their views known in a number of reviews. Justified? I don't know. I own a few of their wargames but I haven't gotten down to playing them yet.
I am interested. I suppose I can wait.
Note: Sample counters are from the Avalanche Press website.
23 May 2006
Self-consciously indulgent, and yet at the same time pretentious (in black and white, see? And a jazz singer to boot too!), this award-winning film may be a timely reminder in view of the recent anti-terrorism laws passed under the Homeland Security aegis to combat the ever present global Islamic terror. This chronicling of the McCarthy era hysteria was supported by fine performances from the thespians but somehow, the overrated depiction lacked spirit and fire. Everything, the scenes, just seemed to flow swiftly through, as if ultimately, there was little of consequence, though that was, of course, not the case.
Utterly forgettable. Overrated.
*This is not a full-fledged review, this is a short commentary, my reaction, my impressions. Nothing more.
22 May 2006
Die Siedler von Nurnberg (The Settlers of Nuremberg)
I bought a set of the Settlers of Nuremberg some years ago but I haven't got down to playing it. I will do so one of these days. Probably very soon. If you are interested in playing a game of this, do let me know.
I have a list of unplayed German games that includes 'Die Macher', 'Die Handler', 'San Juan' and more.
C.V.Wedgwood's classic narrative on the Thirty Years War has finally been re-issued in a softcover format by the New York Review Books Classics in 2005.
This 544-page volume is priced at US$12.32 at Amazon and should provide a good introduction to that war. Recommended.
Momma and me lyin' in bed,
Momma turns to me and Momma says,
Gimme gimme p.t.
Good for you and good for me.
Exerpt from 'In the Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat' , Rick Atkinson
21 May 2006
Silly names for real people. As if you cut open a rag doll and found inside:Real Intestines, real lungs, a beating heart, blood. A lot of hot sticky blood.
Exerpt from 'Haunted'
Some writers utilise various certain plot devices to facilitate the employment of myriad concurrent plots a single work when a simple narrative form would be inadequate or inappropriate. Chuck Palahniuk, of the 'Fight Club' fame, is the latest in a long line of authors.
In 'Haunted' (2005), he created a premise where writers who replied to an advertisement are led to believe that they will be given a creative environment in seclusion in a writers' retreat to assist in creating their masterpiece. Instead, these people are caged in a 'cavernous and ornate old theatre' and put in a situation where 'heat, power and, most importantly, food are in increasing short supply'. Given these cirumstances, these artists are forced to be creative. Thus, Palahnuik had created the opportunity to create twenty-three tales in within a novel!
Beside him sits Mrs. Clark, her breasts so big they almost rest in her lap.
Eyeing them, Comrade Snarky leans into the grat flannel sleeve of the Earl of Slander. She says, "Purely ornamental, I assume. And of no nutritive value..."
Exerpt from 'Haunted'
Italo Calvino had earlier in his own shrewd way, written a novel that incorporated ten plots. His novel began with 'If on a winter's night, a traveller..' And he proceeded to toy with the reader, diffusing the distinction between the reader and 'the reader'... It is difficult to describe how Calvino manipulated and led the reader throughout, weaving from a plot to another. There is a consistent theme in that manipulation.
Stanislaw Lem was responsible for two of the most imaginative works employing the device of book reviews of books that are nonexistent. In that he could create impossible novels and works that are not humanly possible to write or create. He could describe these works from a distance and yet, envisage the possibilities of what such a work would entail. 'A Perfect Vacuum' and 'One Human Minute' are formidable intellectual exercises and I expected no less from Lem.
As for Palahniuk's novel, I wonder how it would differ from a collection of short stories and if his adoption of various personas in writing 'Haunted' is effective. Is he able to speak in a different voice.
To Mr Whittier, we were lab animals, an experiment.
Exerpt from 'Haunted'
Note: What I write on the blogs are not reviews per se. They are simply short commentaries. If you want reviews, you should look elsewhere. Proper reviews from, say, the New York Times, are more incisive, informative and critical. I read the Calvino and Lem books in the late eighties and early nineties, it has been a long time.
In Strict Confidence is one of my favourite bands for the last two years. Here is a video from their new album 'Exile Paradise'.
20 May 2006
I was browsing at Borders last night (as usual... Friday nights, I'm such a creature of habit) when I stumbled upon this visually striking cover. It is, of course, an imaginery vision of a city of India in the future.
The book description of Ian McDonald's 'River of Gods':
"As Mother India approaches her centenary, nine people are going about their business—a gangster, a cop, his wife, a politician, a stand-up comic, a set designer, a journalist, a scientist, and a dropout. And so is Aj—the waif, the mind reader, the prophet—when she one day finds a man who wants to stay hidden.
In the next few weeks, they will all be swept together to decide the fate of the nation.
River of Gods teems with the life of a country choked with peoples and cultures—one and a half billion people, twelve semi-independent nations, nine million gods. Ian McDonald has written the great Indian novel of the new millennium, in which a war is fought, a love betrayed, a message from a different world decoded, as the great river Ganges flows on."
How is the book? I don't know. I didn't browse. I didn't buy it either.
I was browsing through 'The Wars of German Unification' by Dennis Showalter at Borders last night. It is a detailed account of the unification wars including the bid to unite the states of the North German Confederation and the eventual wars against Denmark, Austria and France.
I was looking for details of the military campaign of the Schleswig-Holstein conflict of 1864 against Denmark. This book describes the political machinations of Bismarck and the different policies adopted. It clearly wasn't what I was seeking.
I read a post on the Consimworld forum describing a book that has the order of battle, campaign details and more. 'Bismarck's First War: The Campaign of Schleswig and Jutland 1864 by Michael Embree. This book is published by Helion & Company. This book would, of course, be more promising.
Here are a series of after action reports for our wargames. I wrote some of them while Tim wrote the others. I wrote only for the game sessions which I was present and I was a participant.
08.10.2005 - Thirty Years War Quad - Nordlingen
22.10.2005 - Thirty Years War Quad - Rocroi
29.10.2005- Thirty Years War Quad - Nordlingen
05.11.2005- 'Sword of Rome'
01.04.2006- 'Friedrich' (Tim's report)
13.05.2006- 'Here I stand' (Tim's report)
"And in the fury of this darkest hour we will be your light
You've asked me for my sacrifice and I am Winter born
Without denying, a faith is come that I have never known
I hear the angels call my name and I am Winter born"
'Winterborn' The Cruxshadows
19 May 2006
Here are some images from someone* I know on DuneMUD. She said that the Danube had flooded many villages in Romania. Breathtaking images. I can't imagine the power of the Danube.
Flood? What flood? I think these images demonstrated her superpowers. She's a vampire. She flies at night! And she's powerful! Don't mess with her!
*Alma the Evil Fremen Vampire. Okay okay, she's Virginia, the teenaged adolescent boy masquerading as a girl like all girls on the internet.
I watched the movie last night at Lido. I would say that it is relatively faithful to the book and fans of the book would likely enjoy the movie.
I can't say that I'm impressed. It's fairly watchable. However, it is two and a half hours long. Two and a half hours is quite a bit for something this trashy.
At the end of it, my verdict? Highly forgettable. (Both book and movie)
I had read the book some time ago when I was in camp for my reservist training. I was bored and someone had the book. So, I borrowed it and finished it swiftly. The prose was pedestrian and the plot convoluted, not unlike a Robert Ludlum novel. The conspiracy theories in it are fairly standard fare. And like my friend would describe it, 'it is a conspiracy theory novel for people who don't read books'. I think his description is fairly apt.
As for the religious angle, it is obviously lifted from that other book, 'Holy Blood and Holy Grail', nothing new really. I think it is not unlike the many crackpot theories of Jesus Christ out there, for instance, one that Jesus was an alien. Nothing interesting really. It's like something out of News of the World or National Enquirer. I am surprised that people would get bothered by this.
People will always seek out a cause. Any book, any movie, whatever. And they will rage.
Life's too short. Like Big Brian was saying, you can only read so much before you die. Likewise for movies, you can only watch so much. Frankly, I think one can spend or waste one's time on more enjoyable or fruitful pursuits.
I put up this unfinished piece to give everyone an idea of how I would construct a piece. Sometimes, I start with an idea, sometimes, I don't. When I don't, the idea will be developed as I put ink on paper. For instance, this piece is started without an image in mind.
Like all decent compositions, there should be a central focus, a foreground and a background though there need not be. There can be an indirect means of focus. For a panoramic scene, the entire span can be the focus.
This piece has the path as a central focus. Then, I work backwards by drawing a tree in the background to give an illusion of depth. On the right side, I added steps and a path. This creates a foreground.
The path in the foreground then leads to a small waterfall and a pond. I place objects as I go along.
To begin, one can start by focusing on a single object. The path. This is followed by two trees that frames the path by being there.
It helps if one has a spatial sense. In other words, one places objects three-dimensionally in one's mind. So, I place one object after another, further creating depth.
Details can be added as needed.
18 May 2006
A box of CDs just arrived from Amazon, CDs from Negative Format and God Module. Time to change some stuff in my Creative Muvo Player. Here is what is in it now:
Clan of Xymox - Weak in my Knees MCD
Covenant - Ritual Noise MCD
Covenant - Skyshaper
God Module - Artificial CD1
God Module - Artificial CD2
God Module - Perception
God Module - Victims among Friends
God Module - Viscera
In Strict Confidence - Where the Sun and Moon unite
In Strict Confidence - Seven Lives
Negative Format - Moving past the Boundaries
Negative Format - Static
Negative Format - Cipher Method
Xymox - Twist of Shadows
The latest in the series based on the Europa Universalis game system. Hearts of Iron II: Doomsday is a game based on a hypothetical scenario of a war between the Western Allies of World War II and the Soviet Union after the defeat of the Axis powers.
This, of course, is a real-time strategic level treatment of the subject.
17 May 2006
16 May 2006
'I'm with Stupid'
1. I'm With Stupid
2. Resurrectionist (Goetz B. Extended Mix)
3. Girls Don't Cry
The new Pet Shop Boys single 'I'm with Stupid', heralding the release of the new album 'Fundamental', is out in the UK! Woo. The three track single is an Australian pressing and is available from Amazon. The normal single is two-track. From what I have heard from the talk on the internet, this is a return to form. A return to high-NRG disco/synthpop, hopefully, there will be no more of those Beatle-esque rubbish found in the last album.
The limited edition album 'Fundamental/Fundamentalism' will have a lot more additional tracks.
2. Sodom & Gomorrah Show
3. I Made My Excuses & Left
6. God Willing
7. Luna Park
8. I'm With Stupid
9. Casanova In Hell
10. Twentieth Century
11. Indefinite Leave To Remain
13. Fugitive (Richard X Extended Mix)
14. Sodom (Trentmoller Mix)
15. Psychological (Alter Ego Remix)
16. Flamboyant (Michael Mayer Kompakt Mix)
17. I'm With Stupid (Melnyk Heavy Petting Mix)
18. In Private (Stuart Crichton Club Mix)
19. Minimal (Lobe Mix)
20. Gomorrah (Dettinger Remix)
The single and album were leaked and have been around on the internet for months. I haven't heard them though. I will eventually. The reviews have been great.
The second single in 'Fundamental' will be 'Minimal'.
"Fundamental’s political content is coming under scrutiny. Their current single, I’m with Stupid, addresses the relationship between Bush and Blair, and the track Indefinite Leave to Remain uses a phrase from current political terminology and fashions from it a song that is about ID cards and asylum-seekers, and is also a love story. Very PSB, again. But they’re wary of being labelled too narrowly."
I finally heard 'I'm with Stupid' on the Pet Shop Boys website. It's a pop gem! A fantastic 4-minutes of pop.
William Friedkin simply seems to have lost it since 'The Exorcist' and 'The French Connection'. This is a run of the mill kind of fluff that Hollywood regularly churns out. Highly predictable.
Badly framed and unimaginative shots. Yes, he's using his little handcam again.
It's yet another honourable men kinda of flick.
What a waste of time.
15 May 2006
Taegukgi is supposedly the all-time box office hit in Korean box office history. I have high expectations as I have watched several entertaining Korean films previously like 'Shiri', 'Joint Security Area' and a few others.
These Korean films are not art films in any sense of the word. They are highly commercial affairs, not unlike the Michael Bay vehicles. In fact, I think they out-do a lot of Hollywood action films.
'Taegukgi' is a war movie about two brothers who were drafted. The elder attempted to win a medal by volunteering for dangerous and suicidal missions as to see the younger released from service. His love for his brother would see him put everything else after it. His love was boundless.
The movie had the initial communist invasion in 1950 as a backdrop, followed by the US marines landing at Inchon, the advance up Pyongyang, the Chinese offensive and finally the stalemate at the 38th Parallel.
In short, 'Taegukgi' was full of cheap sentimentalism, not unlike those often seen in Spielberg films, except here, it was clumsily executed. The script was linear and unsubtle. The drama was flat with the additional of pointless hysterics. The direction was like that of TV serials or soaps. Hardly inspiring fare despite the addition of grown men crying, people in agony with blown limbs, blood-splattered soldiers engaged in hand to hand combat (this happens a lot for dramatic reasons) and other over the top emotional scenes.
The film only started to get interesting when the South Koreans began purging communists and civilians indiscrimately when they found that the communists have slaughtered people indiscrimately. This had the protagonists, being the two brothers, fighting the Anti-Communist Federation. What an interesting bit of moralising, seen from a safe distance of half a century! That was about to get interesting but somehow, the war caught up with those two again and the elder switched sides believing that the younger had died!
All in all, an overly long drama with little to recommend.
I guess this popular movie, catering to the lowest common denominator had actually connected with the Korean psyche, thus filling the cash registers in Korea. It is not hard to see why. Themes like brotherhood above patriotism, the love of the Korean nation, ideological fanatics (anti-communists and communists), love of family, abound... Pretty much universal themes.
Regarding realism, as a disclaimer, I have never seen any action in war or otherwise. However, I have seen gunfire, MG fire, grenade explosions (I was hidden in a hilltop near the grenade range and I have seen the effects and shockwave generated by a grenade.), and I have heard mortars and stuff. I have been in field exercises and so forth. Now, the scenes of military action in this movie is not realistic at all. Not that 'Saving Private Ryan' is that accurate either.
The grenades blew up like petrol bombs, setting stuff on fire, the artillery bombardment hardly affected people unless a shell landed on them, Chinese human waves (doh!) and more. Ridiculous. The only bit was the chaotic feel that could be the result of incompetent direction or a real desire to create such a feel.
Equipment spotting. Now, that is interesting. On the communist or North Korean side, I thought I spotted Japanese Type 99 MGs, Maxim M1910 MGs, possibly Degtyarev DP MG, PP Sh SMGs (Burp Gun), a Mauser C96 pistol. On the South Korean side, I spotted M8 Greyhound armoured cars, M4 Shermans, a M10 (An open-topped tank), F-4U Corsairs, M1 Garands, a M1 Carbine, a M3 SMG (Grease gun), and possibly M3 75mm howitzers.
For those who like war movies (I don't at all), this may just be their cup of tea. Similarly, for those who suffer from war lust, there is gore aplenty, hand-to-hand combat, large explosions and other effects. Bah.
I am waiting to watch the Japanese film on the battleship Yamato which was supposedly a box office success.
14 May 2006
The new card-driven wargame from GMT Games. This Ed Beach-designed wargame came in the mail a few weeks ago.
A quote from Ed Beach's website:
"Here I Stand: Wars of the Reformation 1517-1555 is the first game in over 25 years to cover the political and religious conflicts of early 16th Century Europe. Few realize that the greatest feats of Martin Luther, Jean Calvin, Ignatius Loyola, Henry VIII, Charles V, Francis I, Suleiman the Magnificent, Ferdinand Magellan, Hernando Cortes, and Nicolaus Copernicus all fall within this narrow 40-year period of history. This game covers all the action of the period using a unique card-driven game system that models both the political and religious conflicts of the period on a single point-to-point map.Here I Stand! is an innovative game system, being the first to integrate religion, politics, economics and diplomacy in a card-driven design. There are six main powers in the game, each with a unique path to victory."
13 May 2006
12 May 2006
All the hard work paid off. I passed my fitness test yesterday. I am elated.
However, running with a bunch of guys ten to thirteen years younger is sobering. In the first round, I trailed them by a few hundred metres. In the second round, most of them were out of sight. By the last round, I was running alone! HOO!
11 May 2006
10 May 2006
Ever you ever known a kind of friend who smiles and listens? A kind of friend who answers in non-committal platitudes. A kind of friend who has no opinions in front of you. A kind of friend who you assume is your friend?
I have known 'inoffensive' people like these. 'Friends' like them to be precise. They have opinions, but just not in front of you. They only ever listen because everything they do is measured by gains and benefits. And if the action does not benefit them in any way, they will remain quiet. They are supposedly 'good' listeners. The inaction.
They are non-confrontational. They are inoffensive. And best of all, they are insincere, having passed secret judgement on you when they first placed their eyes on you a long time ago. They have placed you.
I wonder about these 'friends', these people. They will appear and disappear from one's life just like that. You know very well, in times of crisis, they will not be there for you. They will ask in their own insincere, inoffensive way but they will not care.
Sadly, there are so many of these in Singapore.
The nature of societies in Asia. Asia just seems to be teeming with these sorts. I have had my encounters with them.
Are there any REAL people left? I wonder sometimes.