02 June 2007

28 Days Later




I watched this on DVD two days ago and I enjoyed myself quite a bit. This Danny Boyle and Alex Garland effort was in the tradition of 'The Day of the Triffids', 'The Drowned World' and other British diaster SF. The photography, pacing and plot were engrossing though the latter was not exactly original.

I am not a fan of zombie movies like Mister Paradox and Wei Yi, however, I do think highly of an older film from Danny Boyle, namely 'Trainspotting'. Likewise, 'The Beach' and 'A Life less ordinary' were interesting movies.
I am annoyed. Just when I saw that I was receiving an attack on Tribal Wars, the server on World 5 just died. I could not send reinforcements. Damn.

And when I typed out this post, blogger gave me a strange error message and asked me to report! I lost the post! Grr...

Double whammy!

What on earth!

01 June 2007

A nice rainy Friday afternoon. I wish I was out by the seaside, watching the raindrops falling on the open sea.

I wish I was up on balcony a skyscraper, watching the sheets of rain sweep by. Thunder, lightning and pouring rain...
Torture Manual

Another Windows Live Messenger conversation with AK aka Richie Rich:

AK says:
http://www.strategypage.com/military_photos/200753123558.aspx

AK says:
this find was reported in the press already

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Ahhh..

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
I haven't seen it.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Looking now

AK says:
they found some manual for torture in iraq

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Oh dear.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Very gory.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
YUCK!

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
I know they are drawings. But still...

I saw the image of a torture victim of the Islamists in Iraq in a book. He was pretty much a lump of burnt meat. It's really horrifying.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
The image can be found in the Bing West book 'No True Glory'. Not many people have seen that photo.

AK says:
aye
Islamic Terror

As usual, AK, being his usual so-helpful self, had brought to my notice of a roadside bombing in Southern Thailand. It would usually escape me as the bombings had become very commonplace lately but the death toll of this one was somewhat higher than normal. Roadside bomb! It would appear that the separatists-cum-Islamists are adopting the methods of the insurgency in Iraq. Ten Thai soldiers were killed. Another bombing at a market killed four and injured twenty-three more!

Quoting from the Yahoo News report:

"An army pick-up truck carrying 10 soldiers was first hit by a roadside bomb and then ambushed by Islamic rebels in Yala province, said Colonel Acra Tiproach, an army spokesman.

"All 10 soldiers in the truck were killed," Acra told AFP."


This does not bode well. There were previously small bombings and numerous beheadings from the Islamists but do I detect a new and more efficient means of bombing? The death toll seems abnormally high. Better remote triggers? Better or larger explosives? And the fact that it was also an ambush...
It's FRIDAY!!!

YES!
Tree Trunks are falling on my Head, they keep falling...

Tony just sent a link to a report on Yahoo News about a Vietnamese man killed by a falling tree near the Treetop Walk in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

It was just these few weeks when several Singaporeans were killed in Singapore and Malaysia when trees fell on them. Bukit Batok, Mount Ophir.

Quoting from that report:

"Just over two weeks ago a woman was killed and two of her friends injured, when a raintree in the Bukit Batok Nature Reserve collapsed on them.

On the same day, a Singaporean man died in Mount Ophir in Johor, when a tree fell on him.
And five days later, another man died in the same way, also on Mount Ophir."



The chances? Astronomical. However, it will not comfort the bereaved families of the poor victims. And in a unrelated note, there were also three drownings earlier too. Two in Seletar Reservoir and one in Kallang River.

Quoting from that report again:

"SINGAPORE: Another death by a broken tree branch – a Vietnamese man in his 20s was killed when he was struck by a fallen branch on Thursday afternoon.

The incident happened at the exit of the Tree Top Walk trail (Petaling Trail) near MacRitchie Reservoir at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

It was also raining heavily and the wind was strong at the time of the incident. "
Singapore, Singapore

AK, aka Shylock*, just sent a link to an article titled 'Singapore's New Look' on Time about living in Singapore.

Quoting from Time:

"There was something a bit unusual about Lee Kuan Yew's annual Chinese New Year speech this year. The words of Lee, Singapore's former Prime Minister and founding father, are heeded by the public, because they provide a road map for the city-state's economic development. Hewing to custom, Lee spoke dryly of free-trade agreements and strengthening economic ties with the region. But then he started talking about art exhibitions, jazz bands, museums and alfresco dining. In fact, eating outdoors was mentioned no fewer than three times as Lee laid out the government's vision for a multibillion-dollar residential and commercial real estate project located near the downtown core. The Marina Bay development would transform the way people live and work in Singapore, the Minister Mentor said. Electric golf buggies will whiz by diners as they gaze from the water's edge upon the "sailing, boating, windsurfing and fishing." Singapore aspires to be "a tropical version" of New York, Paris and London all in one, Lee said, adding "the Marina will be like the St. Mark's Piazza in Venice." "

When I was in the UK more than a decade ago, I recall that cities like Leeds and Manchester were also improving the quality of life within with outdoor cafes, music festivals and more.

*He is known by many names including Richie Rich, Tyrone, Potato Kuo, Ronnie, Gollum, thieving hobbit, and more.
Wei Yi amazes me. The amount of wargames he has played despite having a family is staggering. He has played 'Shifting Sands', 'von Manstein's Backhand Blow', 'Lost Victories', and 'Ukraine '43' several times each with Tim, David and Augustine.

Simply mindblowing.
I find Greg Bear's 'Dead Lines' to be quite a dismal read. Much ado over so little. I think it would be quite a bit before I pick up another Greg Bear novel.

It was about an ex-soft porn movie director, Peter Russell who found on receiving a new-flangled mobile phone that it accessed forbidden channels and affected the environs by attracting spirits. The descriptions of his sojourns throughout California was a little nostalgic but that was just about the only redeeming feature besides the descriptive prose.

I do have two more unread novels written by Bear somewhere on my shelves. Sigh.
New P500 list from GMT Games

The new GMT Games' P500 list is out! WOO!

The List:

Barbarossa: Kiev to Rostov Retail $85 P500 Price $59 Designed by Vance von Borries
Bataan! Retail $55 P500 Price $38 Designed by Vance von Borries
Blood and Sand Retail $50 P500 Price $35 Designed by Richard Berg
C3i Issue #19 Retail $20 P500 Price $14 Published by Rodger B. MacGowan
Combat Commander Battle Pack #1: Paratroopers Retail $20 P500 Price $14 Designed by Chad Jensen
Commands & Colors Expansion #3: The Roman Civil War Retail $30 P500 Price $21 Designed by Richard Borg
Hellenes Retail $69 P500 Price $48 Designed by Craig Besinque
Leaping Lemmings Retail $35 P500 Price $25 Designed by Rick Young & John Poniske
Pursuit of Glory Retail $55 P500 Price $38 Designed by Brad Stock
Ship of the Line (ziplock) Retail $20 P500 Price $14 Designed by Mike Nagel
The Storm Breaks Retail $45 P500 Price $32 Designed by Jeff Horger
Battle Line (P500 Reprint) Retail $20 P500 Price $14 Designed by Reiner Knizia
Ivanhoe (P500 Reprint) Retail $25 P500 Price $17 Designed by Reiner Knizia
Wilderness War (P500 Reprint) Retail $55 P500 Price $38 Designed by Volko Ruhnke

Live at the Dome




1. Hard Times/Love Action (medley)
2. Mirror Man
3. Louise
4. Snake
5. Darkness
6. All I Ever Wanted
7. Open Your Heart
8. The Lebanon
9. Human
10. Things That Dreams Are Made Of
11. Fascination
12. Don't You Want Me?
13. Together In Electric Dreams



ENHANCED TRACKS:

1. Mirror Man
2. Human
3. Fascination

The first Human League concert CD. Who would have thought?

I got this in London in July last year and I only got down to listening to it this week. Not bad at all. It feels somewhat short. This was apparently one that was recorded in 2005 at the Brighton Dome. However, I think there were better Human League concerts that could have been recorded previously.

Pretty fun disc.
Light at the End of the World


1 Sunday Girl 4:35
2 I Could Fall In Love With You 4:15
3 Sucker For Love 3:58
4 Storm In A Teacup 4:04
5 Fly Away 3:21
6 Golden Heart 3:12
7 How My Eyes Adore You 3:20
8 Darlene 3:38
9 When A Lover Leaves You 3:51
10 Glass Angel 5:03
11 Be My Baby 3:30
12 I Don't Know Why
I picked up the limited edition of Erasure's new album on Wednesday night at HMV. First impressions? Wow! Pure sweet pop! I like 'Sunday Girl', the second single from the album. Other standouts for me will include 'I could fall in Love with You' and 'Sucker for Love'.
The limited edition has two extra tracks in the form of tracks 11 and 12.
A return to form? It's too early to say, I have only heard it once.

30 May 2007

RAN

And this box arrived last night.



Quoting from the GMT Games website:

"SAMURAI WARFARE IN THE SENGOKU JIDAI 16-17th Century Japan.

RAN is the 12th volume in the "Great Battles of History" Series, and the second game on the battles of the Samurai (following GMTs Samurai (Vol. V) . RAN covers several of the less famous of the Sengoku Jidai, the Age of Warring States (more or less), in which powerful Daimyo - Japanese feudal lords - strove to both maintain and extend their power bases while seeking to attain the office of Shogun, the power behind the throne of the Emperor.


RAN simulates the highly personal form of warfare developed by the Japanese samurai, wherein formal battles played out almost as backdrops to individual feats of courage, bravery and devotion much of it outstanding, some of it rather foolhardy, all of it very Homeric. Although political and tactical victory was the bottom line, collecting the severed heads of enemy samurai reigned a very close second in importance. In terms of tactics, this was, as in Europe, the Dawn of Modern Warfare, with the introduction of guns - arquebuses - by the Portuguese. Even with the revelatory effect of musketry, Japanese battles were still pretty much a swirling, non-linear affair."

I would love to find time and summon the energy to actually play the wargames that I have bought some day.

Samurai

This new wargame from GMT Games just arrived in my mailbox a few days back.




Quoting from GMT Games' website:

"Warfare in the Sengoku Jidai, 1560-1600

Samurai is the fifth entry in the award-winning Great Battles of History series and is easily the most exotic and visually stunning. Samurai covers all the major battles of the Sengoku Jidai (the Age of Warring Daimyos). Japan was truly a country at war. Because of the nature of 16th century Japanese warfare, it is also the easiest game in the series to play. The revamped command system simulates the clan-oriented levels of leadership, plus simplified shock and fire mechanics. Also included are individual samurai used to challenge opponents and collect the important severed heads. Ignore the challenge and lose face, or even be forced to commit seppuku on the spot.


Battles include the most unusual Okehazama, complete with burning castles, thunderstorms, and a historically victorious army out-numbered six to one; Anegawa; Kawanakajima; Mikata-ga-Hara; Nagashino, with the famous Takeda cavalry corps charging Oda's volley-firing musketeers; and the most famous battle to take place in Japan, Sekigahara. All the great leaders are there: Obu Nobunaga, Takeda Shingen, Uesugi Kenshin, and of course, Tokugawa Ieyasu."

Exciting! I need to re-read some of the accounts. I had read one on Sekigahara more than a decade ago.

Last week, my sisters were in Japan for a hike through the countryside near Kyoto. Coincidentally, they did visit the battlefield of Sekigahara.

Wanted List

These are the CDs that I may looking to acquire in the near future:

Front Line Assembly - Fallout
Client - Heartland
Assemblage 23 - Meta
VNV Nation - Judgement
Red Flag - Born Again
God Module - Let's go dark
Edge of Dawn - Enjoy the fall
Funker Vogt - Aviator
Clan of Xymox - Heroes
Information Society - Oscillator
John Foxx - Sideways
John Foxx - Cathedral Oceans II
Louis Gordon - Goodbye Walnut Road
Louis Gordon - Tell your mom I saved your Life
Louis Gordon - Closed gone fishing

I have got some on pre-order.

29 May 2007

Concrete
'Concrete' is the Pet Shop Boys' first concert CD released and it featured a performance at Mermaid Theatre for Radio 2 with the BBC Concert Orchestra on Monday on the 8th of May, 2006. The two-CD set featured Robbie Williams (Groan), Frances Barber on two tracks. And it also featured tracks off their latest album 'Fundamental', a track off their soundtrack, 'Battleship Potemkin', a track off their musical 'Closer to Heaven' and more. All in all, this was quite a disparate package and it came across as rather discordant. A full-fledged orchestra, synths and more. It simply didn't work for me.
I had ripped the audio off other Pet Shop Boys concert DVDs like 'Montage', 'Somewhere', 'Performance' and put them on CD-Rs, those worked a lot better than 'Concrete'. Far more listenable.
I just cancelled my British HSBC Mastercard credit card. I didn't need it. There was no annual charges associated with this card though.
Singapore Adopts Hermes 450 UAVs


From an Defence Industry Daily:

"Singapore's Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean recently officiated at a parade to inaugurate the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) new Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Command. UAV Command has been constituted as an integrated entity, with personnel from the Army, Navy & Air Force as well as from the Joint Staff."

and the article also noted:

"The new command will operate Singapore's 2 squadrons of Searcher II UAVs, which were used successfully during the multi-national Exercise Wallaby 2006."

Dead Lines

I picked up this Greg Bear novel at the Popular Bookstore sale last weekend. Greg Bear threading into the horror genre? Interesting. I have started on it and it has so far been an engrossing read with the protagonist venturing throughout California with an urn of his friend's ashes!

I had read 'Blood Music', 'The Forge of God' and a few other of Bear's work a decade or two ago and they were worthwhile reads. 'Engine Summer' was, however, unreadable.
In Search of Sunrise, Vol. 4: Latin America

I was listening to this remixed compilation by DJ Tiesto this morning. My sister had handed it to me a few years ago. Unabashedly commercial and fun! The perfect morning companion.

28 May 2007

Mokhzani Mahathir


Good heavens! He's worth US$220 million! Astonishing! This is from the June 4th issue of Forbes. Racing car driver too. Simply astonishing.
Let's go dark


The new God Module album. I can't wait.

It has been out for quite a bit though.
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets



A few months ago, when I met Brian at Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City, he recommended this volume by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I have only started reading it now.

27 May 2007

Spiderman 3


Too many villains, too much packed in an action movie, and mildly entertaining, Sam Raimi appeared to have taken on too much. Nevertheless, Spiderman 3 will be a massive commercial success given the huge marketing vehicle that is driving it.
Pan's Labyrinth


Despite situating a straight-forward and predictable plot against the political background of an underground struggle against the Fascist Franco regime, 'Pan's Labyrinth' felt very ordinary and with caricatures of, say, the evil Fascist officers, the leftist brave guerillas, etc.

Utterly predictable, utterly mundane with meaningless trials. A waste of a good two hours. Avoid.

Addendum

I suppose as a narrative, 'Pan's Labyrinth' was pretty much devoid of anything interesting being absolutely predictable and linear. As an allegory, there was more to offer. The little girl who eventually died, could symbolise the loss of innocence during the Spanish Civil War and the lapse into a fantastic world of a forgotten Iberian-Celtic past.
The baby brother could, I suppose, could represent the youth of a new Spain. The struggle for the baby between the two factions and the eventually refusal of the victorious Republican guerillas to allow the cruel, Fascist father to be remembered, could also express the yearning for the past to be forgotten. I was probably reading too much into this while I was in bed last night.

The summary executions and the refusal to take prisoners of the two factions was not unexpected. The brutality of it all.

I did have high expectations for this Spanish language effort.