Saturday, September 29, 2007

Blast from the Past.

Today was like any other Saturday Sojourn, cherished and immensely enjoyable but oh too short. I did snag myself a good buy (other than a new pair of studs) from while we were walking about Marina Square tonight.


I'm usually a sucker for compilations unless it's a band/group/singer I really really like. That value for money mentality is still hard to shake off in certain areas, plus the fact that this was basically 10 bucks per CD first caught my eye. But more importantly, a quick scan revealed that I knew and adored most if not all the titles, classic hits by female artistes from the late 70s to the early 90s. Songs I'd heard and bopped to since I was a tyke, stuff like Belinda Carlisle's Heaven is a Place on Earth, The Pointer Sister's I'm So Excited, Bananarama's Venus, Tiffany's I Think We're Alone now, Gloria Gaynor's I will Survive, Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna have Fun, Jane Weidlin's Rush Hour... the list goes on.

Back when lyrics were meaningful, the rhythm was infectious and the singing stellar. They were selling some High Society series of CDs with different compilations to reflect the different mood like Lust, Love, Watching the Girls go by and from what I heard it sounded good so that'll probably be next. But for now I'll be happy with this unexpected gem.

About the Kumar the Queen flyer, they slipped it into the bag with the purchase but we'll be catching that next Saturday with Gavin and Edwin and from the way Kumar's past performances at the now defunct Boom Boom Boom went, I expect the show to be an utter blast. I'd only caught one of his cabaret performances before but it was so amusing. Kumar's really in your face, with his witty wisecracks and sharp tongue that cajoles but never offends. And of course his over the top costumes. ^^ So that and the thought of another Saturday to look forward to is certainly incentive enough to get through the hellish week of tutorials and FMS crap.

Sing along now..

I'm so Excited - The Pointer Sisters.


Tonight's the night we're gonna make it happen
Tonight we'll put all other things aside
Get in this time and show me some affection
We're goin' for those pleasures in the night

I want to love you, feel you, wrap myself around you
I want to squeeze you, please you, I just can't get enough
And if you move real slow I let it go

I'm so excited and I just can't hide it
I'm about to lose control and I think I like it
I'm so excited and I just can't hide it
And I know I know I know I know I know I want you

We shouldn't even think about tomorrow
Sweet memories will last for long long time
We'll have a good time, Baby, don't do worry
And if we're still playin' around boy that's just fine

Let's get excited, we just can't hide it
I'm about to lose control and I think I like it
I'm so excited and I just can't hide it
I know I know I know I know I know I want you, I want you

I want to love you, feel you, wrap myself around you
I want to squeeze you, please you, I just can't get enough
And if you move real slow I let it go

I'm so excited, I just can't hide it
I'm about to lose control and I think I like it
I'm so excited and I just can't hide it
I know I know I know I know I know I want you

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Little Things.

I was reading 'Stars' by Keiko Konno, one of the two new yaoi manga I bought the other day. I'm glad I did, even though the cover work didn't look very attractive initially. It dealt with the complexities of a working relationship rather nicely and the main characters and their reactions were something any gay guy could relate to. To sum it up shortly, not your usual Yaoi fluff but a more in depth look at the problems two gay guys would face in their relationship as it progresses and how they handle it.

But the last two pages at the end really did hit home the axiom that in a relationship, the little things are what make up the whole and it so nailed the 'Morning After Sleep In' situation, it's a snapshot almost. We've done that too, in some of those rare sleepovers together, repeated almost the exact same words ( well except about the BO part) : your breath stinks, I'm so hot - move a bit, your bristles hurt and yes let me sleep a little longer.

(Snapshot from 2nd Last page of Stars by Keiko Konno- Read from Top right to bottom left in the typical manga style) Click to enlarge.

But inspite of the complains, to wake up beside the one you love is a simple but beautiful thing. A comfort sometimes taken for granted, even if only in the bleary-eyed mildly grumpy moments of half-awakeness.

(Snapshot from last page)


And the mangaka sums it up nicely, we do what we can for each other (something all lovers gay, straight or bi would), doing the little things together to pass the time while enjoying the other's company. Then when I realised I was happy, I knew surely that I could call this bleary eyed man beside me, tousled hair and prickly bristles, my one true love.

Spell by Fujiyama Hyouta

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Magnet for Madness.


I don't know why but I seem to have a lot of encounters with the mentally unsound, ranging from the dotty to the stark, raving mad ones. They just gravitate towards me like moths to a flame as if I'm wearing some billboard sign declaring in bold print "Come Talk to Me if you're MAD." Probably cause deep down, you're a little mad yourself, Anthony declared when I asked him this question. Right, very insightful.

I know, they're really ill and they can't help their actions or what they do. We shouldn't blame or overtly ostracise them. But it's always easy to analyse it dispassionately from a distance but when you're actually caught up in the situation or worse still, the focus of their attention, all you're thinking at that moment is "OHSHITOHSHITOHSHIT, MAD PERSON XIAAAAAM! SHOO!" while desperately looking for potential avenues of escape should he/she go berserk and in the absence of any object on hand to clobber the person should he/she go ballistic.

I've had tons of experience but the 'oh shit' feeling never goes away, especially if their attention is focused on me. I've never been very emphatic as a person and when in such a situation, the welfare of the said mentally unstable person who is addressing me isn't my top priority, mine is. So I've experienced a lot (thankfully none that ended up in physical violence of some sort being inflicted), from the usual ramblings and incoherent but insistent mumbles directed at me by the _____(insert rough age and sex) on/at the ______( place: train, bus stop, etc) to violent yet comical outbursts against inanimate objects by the mentally unstable to the threat of real damage to personal property by a mad woman.

The most memorable and sustained display of insanity was a very very public one by a young indian man way back in Secondary 3 ( I remember cause I was doing my homework for Chemistry on the MRT when the noise roused me from my reverie). This chap suddenly started raising his voice like one would in a heated quarrel. Annoyed (because I could hear it over my enya), I looked up only to see other gawking passengers and an otherwise perfectly normal indian man yelling and shouting, wagging his finger at.... the metal post. You know the vertical metal pole in your average train, this guy was yelling at it and cursing it with great gusto.

Getting over my shock, I rapidly settled into Spectator mode (cause thankfully this was one of those 'Free Show' kind of displays where you are (very thankfully) not the protagonist) and picked up what he was yelling. Because his english wasn't too terok, it was quite easy. The cursing basically amounted to a fight over telling the 'Pole' to stop staring at him and that if it was not happy it (the pole) should get 'the motherfucking hole' out of the train and 'never to let me see your motherfucking face' again. Whereupon he started kicking the pole quite viciously.

I'm sure someone (perhaps) was quite ready to call the train driver (but then again maybe not, it was pre-911 then and that chap was obviously a looney, and being Singaporeans we just think 'Oh free show, watch lo.' and we do.) Then the guy suddenly stopped and lowered his voice while bending close to the pole as if listening attentively. 'Huh, what did you say? No money to go home?' He growled. Before bellowing, "I don't care, don't give me this kind of fucking excuse. You think I'm stupid!!?" Vicious kick to the pole. "Stop crying!" Kick. "You better stop crying!" Kick.

Pausing he continued smoothly. "I don't care! Next stop you're getting off and getting the fuck out of here!" "No Money? I have!" Fishing about in his pocket, he digged out twenty cents which he whacked the pole with a resounding thunk. "Here! Twenty Cents! Go take Taxi home! Go GO!!!" That loony yelled whacking the pole even harder. It was just at this time that the train pulled into Toa Payoh station and the doors opened. The guy stomped to the entrance of the door and waving his twenty cents menacingly out of the train, yelled," And don't you ever come back again you mother fucker cheebye. I see you I will whack you!" A lady who had been waiting outside the very same door turned green and scooted away faster than you can say xiam. Not that I blamed her. The mad guy got off at the next stop ( and everyone in that carriage studiously avoided looking at him during the remainder of his journey) and that was that.

But the worst by far, probably because on hindsight there was a very real chance that the mad lady would have smashed my laptop, was the relatively recent incident at Funan Delifrance. I was waiting for Sean for dinner, so since I was a little peckish I figured Delifrance would be a cheaper even if less pleasant alternative than TCC. Which proved to be a bad choice. So I ordered my crossiant, sat down and since I had the laptop with me, made good use of the free wireless internet.

Shortly after, this fat puffy bleary eyed woman, her hair grey and dishevelled came up to me and said, "Can I have $2.50?". I barely spared her a glance, took it all in one look and uttered the standard, "No, sorry." and went back to surfing, imagining she would obediently disappear like all the unwanted hawkers usually do. She didn't. "Can, I have $2.50 please ?" She asked again, rigid and immobile, the particular emphasis on please like it was some magic password. " No, sorry" I replied, emphasis on the word sorry just to show her 'please' had been considered and rejected within the space of 1 nanosecond. She didn't react, but only repeated the question with the exact same emphasis.

Which bothered me somewhat, this didn't seem to be the average harmless dotty potty. I didn't bother replying this time and studiously avoided making any form of eye contact. "But I already said PLEASE, why won't you give me?" that mad fat woman raised her voice and slammed her hands down on the table giving the laptop (and me) a jolt. Annoyed and aware that silence didn't seem to have the usual deterrence effect, I looked firmly into those flashing twin orbs and said NO in the firmest voice I could muster, all the whole looking out from the corner of my eyes, wondering why the hell the Delifrance staff was blissfully ignorant to this unfolding drama.

"But I said please already and you still say no. How can you be so bad!" She continued angrily while muttering some incomprehensible mumbo jumbo under her breath. At this point, I decided that firmly ignoring her was the best option because switching tables didn't sound so good as I hadn't finished my crossiant yet and god knows what she would have done had I stood up and turned my back if even for a while. So I did, focusing hard on my yahoo mail while she hovered menacingly over my laptop screen. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she muttered what sounded like dialect profanities and moved away to harass other people.

On hindsight, there was the very real possibility that she might have gone berserk or simply just smacked the laptop screen with the same force she slammed the table. Which would mean $2k plus down the drain. I guess I should be thankful that she didn't, though if she really whacked my laptop, I would have gone berserk and probably bitch slapped that woman to the high heavens, mad, mentally unstable or not. No one messes with my laptop.

So yes, sad to say mad people seem to have some particular affinity for me, either that or I'm just unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time too many times. From the harmless: the shrunken middle aged guy pointing to the milo offer in the bill board outside Shop n Save and laughing uncontrollably in a wheezy asthmatic kind of way, to the bizarre: this fat (yes another one or possibly just pregnant) lady in white bursting into church during the worship session and shouting Devil be gone! Demons be gone! as she advanced to the pulpit before being subdued by panicky ushers and pronounced to be 'possessed' by the pastor, to the comical: that indian chap and the pole on the train, to the scary: being the focus of attention of a mad fat lady who thinks please is a magic word and with the potential to go berserk.

Hmmm with all this exposure, maybe 50 years down the road, you'll see a blabbering idiot seated in the park, drawing signs in the air who offers imaginary coffee to you and that could be me. Choy! Hammers wooden table violently.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Eternal Sunshine

For the Other Half, who has always stood by and never given up on me even though I have been a veritable and absolute jerk at times. And yes Dear, I promise to check my phone to see if its on silent mode or the battery is flat in the future. ^^

The fog clung tenaciously, gloomy and clammy, its oppressive presence like some malevolent entity. Tis quiet, the muffled rustle of crushed leafs underfoot the only disturbance in this souless place.

Walking between the barely visible symmetrical rows of oaks in a sea of damp grey is strangely normal, as if it has always been done. Mind numbingly resigned, echoes a disembodied voice. Yet neither turning left nor right seems to be an attractive option.

After all, these perfectly aligned trees seem to extend in all directions into the deepening gloom. So inertia reigns and moving forward remains the direction of choice.

And there you were. Like an oasis in this grey desert. Waiting, receptive. My ever reliable but cruelly overlooked succour in times of need. Eternal sunshine of the clouded mind. For sunshine and its warmth is most sorely missed and appreciated when absent in this cold dank world.

Unwavering in its steadfastness amidst the brief flares of distraction. My eternal sunshine. Forgive me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

City of Villains

I started playing City of Villains again at the behest of Anthony and Kevin but mainly because the entertainment value of DOTA is really short-lived, a couple of games a day and one gets bored. Plus if you have retarded allies who buy the wrong stuff for their heroes and keep 'feeding' the opponents, it's basically game over.

Which is why sometimes MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) offer so much more bang for the buck. They entertain for longer, game concepts are certainly more complex and interesting plus it provides a level of game play simply not found in your average RTS (real time strategy) games. City of Villains is basically the evil nemesis twin (it's like a different game, not a mere expansion) of City of Heroes, where instead of running about dispensing justice and saving the innocent from thugs; you create and customize your very own Villain after choosing a class from 5 archetypes and then proceed to wreck havoc on citizens, robbing banks and kidnapping people in missions as you claw your way to supremacy and infamy.

Which is immensely fun, if anything beats being a hero (which was really fun), it's being able to run amok, wrecking mayhem and terror, doing all the things you'll never be able to do in our sanitized city state. Forget chewing gum, kidnapping politicians for ransom, ripping through police squadron cars to rob the bank, blowing up other thug's bases is the norm. You even get to slug it out against enemy human Heroes in special PvP zones or conduct large coalition raids on enemy's bases.

The graphics is excellent, City of Heroes was the first MMORPG game I played and till this date, it remains unsurpassed in terms of lush graphics and realistic effects, World of Warcraft does not even come close in this aspect. The price you pay for this though is the need for a decently suitable video card, preferably at least 64 MB. And there's one other thing that still attracts me to City of Villains and City of Heroes (basically if you have CoV, you have access to CoH), the sheer unparalleled ability to customize your villain and hero, from his or her look right down to the different powers and the craft able enhancements and special powers.

You will literally never ever find two lookalike characters in City of Villains(unless the players themselves agree amongst themselves to do so), everyone is unique; the different powers chosen and the kinds of enhancements slotted to the powers only serve to reinforce this fact. And this is totally unlike WoW where customization is nearly non-existent, it's like Blizzard wanted everyone to look the same. Basically in WoW, as long as you have the same gear and spec your talents in the same way, you'll be identical to the other person. A 0/41/10 Fire-Frost speced Mage in full Netherwind regalia was virtually a sight you'd see everywhere throughout the game. And we all looked the same. Your name was literally the only distinguishing factor.

So anyway, I'm just having a blast while it lasts. Which should be till the exams come round, I did after all grind Sister Spite to level 50 2 years ago, back when levelling was a pain and debt xp was horrific after the two of them abandoned the game for a long while. And because I'm lazy and the server's coming up I'll just post some pics.


What's a Villain if he/she doesn't look like one? Introducing Butchia the Butch-er. All that's missing is a pair of bone wings, that can wait for now.



Left to Right: Kevin as Chlorophyillis the psychedelic mamasan (dominator), Anthony as Seraphim Raphael the unholy angel (corruptor) and of course yours truly as Butchia the resident butch succubus (corruptor).


Robbing the bank and slaughtering the backup SWAT team and hero sent to stop your team.



Another common past time, walloping bodyguards/other thugs to kidnap hostages.


For the latest game update, the alien Rikti invasion started, hordes of Rikti Motherships appearing with scant warning on the different cities (zones) with multiple bombing runs and aliens warping out of thin air, which naturally means a gangbang of sorts.


Big, Fat, Ugly. Villains banding together to repel the aliens.



Take that! Power Blast. Close Range head shot.



And That! Laying the hurt: The Orgy in full swing.

Which certainly reminds me of the good old times spent playing the level 50 and currently semi-retired Dark Defender, Sister Spite.



On one of those beloved portal missions, back when mission XP sucked and the experience debt upon death was horrific. We'd basically dig ourselves in against endless waves of demons for a couple of hours. It was in all senses of the word, truly epic.

Hmmm so if I seem a little pre-occupied these days (other than the upcoming deadlines), you'll know why...


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Coffee and Cupcakes

There is something about a small select demographic group more commonly known as Older Sisters born in 1979. They are at the best of times, mercurial, because they can be saccharine sweet one minute and the resident queen bitch from hell the next. Like walking time bombs, they're primed to blow up in your face anytime, usually when you least expect it. Most of the time though, they remain painfully annoying, though these days as siblings grow up, the physical pain diminishes, replaced instead by a healthy dose of annoyance.

Alright before the brickbats come out, let me just say that this is an extremely broad generalization, even when confined amongst the already restricted subset of qualifiers (ie: Women, Older Sisters, Born in 1979). I'm sure there are nice wonderful Older Sisters born in good ole' 1979 who are like angels to their younger sibling(s) and treat them decently. And they never attempted to whack/smack/hack at their younger more vulnerable siblings back when both were still kids. I'm sure there are. But, this observation about Older Sisters born in 1979 has been backed by personal experience (duh) and an impromptu snap poll I did on my friends who have Older Sisters born in '79.

The experiences were rather similar albeit in a disheartening way. We came to the sad but true conclusion that we were terrorised and quite possibly traumatised by the queen bees in our lives as little tykes. A. got kicked by her sister and was sent flying across the room in a trip that ended in hospital to stitch up the wound, L. got walloped by his lovely sis with her hairbrush when she accused him of touching her stuff, I got scratched and smacked frequently for a variety of reasons that ranged from the petty (making too much noise) to the downright illogical (never follow me- WHACK!).

Then by the time we grew big enough to fight back, they resorted to subterfuge, sabotage and other disingenuous means of carrying on the vendetta. It's an art, they've refined it so well, they can still annoy today and do it so effortlessly. That's how far they've advanced. ^^. Plus they've had more years of practice at it than we'll ever have. It probably started at the crib ( 'Hey look Mommy's not watching, I'm going to pinch him and see how loud he squeals.') but hey they're still our Sisters.

So anyway, the Sister in another of her stunning displays of wealth came home the other day with a KRUPS espresso and cappuccino making machine, which she then proudly showed off with great aplomb.


Her Preciousss.

And she paid $550 plus for it. Just for good coffee in the morning. I was quite used to the UCC Instant Coffee for my before-work-morning fix after hauling myself out of bed but since she's obviously quite loaded, I'll make good use of the contraption when I get back to work. After all, who needs coffee now, when you get up at Noon. But the Sister does pride herself on being a coffee connoisseur. So she was going on an on about how easy it was to use and how she quizzed the salesman and how he could answer everything.

For a moment, just for a moment I was impressed. The contraption after all didn't look very user friendly and prior experience with the superb coffee machine back at the office taught me that effective usage didn't merely entail the pressing of a couple of buttons. But she insisted on doing a demo, saying "You'll love the Cappuccino!" She assembled the thing with great difficulty, even though the manual was just beside her, cleaned the stuff and commenced.

Which didn't turn out very well, apart from inserting the tube too quickly into the milk container which forced out a stream of milk right unto her dress and a corresponding shriek, the milk came out thin with barely any froth. Frowning dismally at it, the Sister complained, "Huh why is it like that one? When the guy did it, it was frothy!" The instruction sheet with pictures and numbered steps still lay beside the box, forlorn and forgotten.

"Did you preheat it first?", I asked pointing at the blatantly obvious Step 1 instruction. Press Steam Button to preheat. "Huh? How? " "Read the instructions.." "You do for me can..." So I did, and ok la it looked and tasted like good Cappuccino. On a side note though, I've never really understood why girls buy all this techie stuff and appliances, refuse to read the manual provided and complain about how difficult it is to use the electrical widget or appliance they just bought. That is till a female friend did that to me one day, taking out her newly bought digital camera then after attempting and failing to perform some function without even glancing at the manual, asked me for help.

"Read the manual la. Instructions are over there." (me)
"Help me la. It's so complicated, I won't understand it (manual) anyway." (her)
"Really, after spending money on something so expensive, shouldn't you at least read the manual and figure out how to use all the functions yourself?" (me)
"No, that's what guys are for what. *titter*" (her)

So guys (the straight ones at least), now you know what else the ladies want you for. That's right, reading manuals and road maps. And as the friend added, apparently if you teach them and they still don't get it, it's your fault that you suck at teaching. ^^

Back to the Sister, if there's one thing we share in common and agree upon, it's our absolute passion for desserts and good, dark chocolate in particular. And she just happens to be good at baking. So everytime she bakes, especially her brownies, chocolate fudge cakes and the scrumptious carrot cake I am always thrilled. Even though the way to a man's heart may not be through his stomach, it certainly makes him a happy (aka sated) man.

This time round, she tried something different, basically making some cup caked version of the usual brownie, filled with chopped roasted walnuts and topped with more chocolate fudge and sprinkled with almond flakes, all done with that 85% cocoa butter based Valhrona dark chocolate. Which for a Chocolate junkie like me is the dessert equivalent of an orgasmic high. None of that crappy 'chocolate' you find so often outside.


The Result... alas gone all too soon.

The Sister unfortunately continues to remain mercurial, it's a fact I've resigned myself to and one she readily reinforces shortly after churning out such heavenly cupcakes, ranting about how the game I installed two years ago on the desktop (City of Heroes) is slowing down the system (when she's been installing all the rubbishy programs which run in the background, along with her 4 GB worth of pictures and movies).

She still pisses me off by washing and hanging her stinky thongs in our bathroom. And I respond by studiously leaving the toilet seat cover up every time I visit the loo. Ah the joys of sibling love and affection.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Being Gay: Myths & Facts.

I've always found it strange why I need to explain or write to justify my sexuality in particular and the strange, alien concept that homosexuality appears to be to a sizeable number of heterosexuals in general. After all, no one goes up to another person and asks so why are you straight anymore than one would ask why the sun rises in the east. But when a person's choice or perceived lifestyle is different from the norm, it is perhaps then that questions arise. Still sometimes the questions raised either display astounding naivety or stupidity or sometimes they just can't be answered. Take Sir Ian McKellan's (best known as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings triology) response when a reporter asked him when he first knew he was gay, "About the same time you knew you were straight."

So I am still unable to fathom the purported interest the fact that I am gay has aroused in law school both amongst juniors I never knew and amongst the same classmates. Perhaps a little background information is necessary for the non-law school readers. I studied law in NUS, enjoyed the life of a free-wheeling tertiary student where time was flexible and bountiful, graduated from law in 2007, started one month of pupillage at a respectable firm and now currently studying the compulsory post-grad PLC course. And I'm gay, but so what.

Nothing remarkable, nothing sensational. So what attracts such interest as to my identity or the need to confirm my sexuality? The fact that I'm gay? Like I said earlier, I'm not the only one in my year who is. The fact that I studied law and am studying to qualify as a lawyer? Can't be. The fact that you never suspected I'd be gay? Too bad. Or the fact that I happen to talk about sex when I feel like it? Couldn't care less. I suspect it's a little of everything where being different (in the law fraternity at least) is a news worthy item in itself and every little bit of 'difference' are viewed as juicy titbits and eagerly seized upon. Come on la, if you can gossip about a person's hairdo you can gossip about anything.

And like all juicy bits of gossips go, people normally want to ascertain the veracity of the fact for themselves. In an indirect manner of course. So now apparently some friends have been repeatedly hounded as to my sexuality and which way I swing. Which is unpleasant to put it very mildly. I know the feeling myself, being badgered as to whether X had done this or if it was true whether Y really slept around with Z, and not knowing what to say. I thought I'd settled this in the Smut Cut entry. Apparently not.

So I'll just state it once again for the record. Those visitors from law school should either strongly suspect if not already know my identity. I'm gay, it's fucking obvious from my blog unless you're totally blind. If for some obscure reason, you are still gripped by this burning desire to confirm my sexuality, ASK ME, NOT my friends. Not Aileen, not CS, not anyone else. If you have the guts to do so, come to me personally and ask. And if you aren't a bastard, I'll let you know.

On to the meat of the matter. It still never fails to surprise me whenever I learn of the absurdly wrong ideas and stereotypical mindsets that a majority of heterosexuals possess about homosexuals or gays in particular (you can be sure our lesbian friends are equally misunderstood, though I'm obviously less qualified to correct certain misconceptions about them). I read with some interest some time ago, a post on Jiahao's blog where he linked to me and wrote about his perspective on homosexuality. Sad to say, I have no recollection who he is even though according to him we did Reinsurance together. Though given the fact that I spent way more time out of school than in it probably didn't help either. If we did Regulating the Corporation together too, I might have an inkling, not that it really matters though.

His post was interesting in that while he certainly tried to adopt a fair and objective approach on the subject and gave his personal outlook, there were alas some misconceptions (no ill-intent whatsoever) which deserve to be mentioned and corrected here. The first very commonly held misconception is that gays are generally across the board effeminate in nature. That is about as true as saying that every male heterosexual is macho with decidedly manly hobbies and oozing sex appeal. Which is obviously crap.

While we certainly have our Queens, Sisters and Macho Marys who are more effeminate and like being that way which is perfectly fine, not all gays are effeminate. A sizeable majority are in fact what is ironically termed as 'Straight Acting'. Dan Savage, a queer sex columnist who gives advice to straights and gays alike in a weekly newspaper column, explains it best in this excerpt from his book 'Straight Answers from A Queer Sex Columnist' :" ...Once we(gay boys) become aware that we are different, we start observing straight people - gay people walk many miles in straight shoes; how many straights can say the same about gay shoes? Few straights were raised by gay couples, spend years believing they're gay, their adolescence praying to be gay, walking gay and talking gay, observe their moves for signs of 'straightness' that might give them away, and have gay sex, all in an absurd effort to make themselves gay. Well, gay boys do the reverse of all that to play it straight; we observe and mimic straights, try to pass ourselves off as straights, are hyperaware of what it means to be straight because we are so painfully aware that we are not straight, and will never be, and that this not-being-straight has serious consequences for us..."

Which is what 'Straight Acting' really is in a nutshell, so sometimes, somewhere in our journey we have tried very hard to blend in and 'be straight'. The baseline is, no one likes to be strait jacketed or cast into a particular role or character (unless they actually want to) any more than you, a straight guy, would like to be cast as macho, insensitive and totally clueless. So get that misconception out of your head.

Jiahao made a partially correct observation in that I would not tell my family that I am gay and choose to hide it. Believe me when I say that if I could 'come out' to the Family, I would. Sadly, the entire family are devout charismatic (the class, not any particular characteristic) Christians with a totally analistic outlook on homosexuality. They would sooner attempt to exorcise me or commit me to IMH (Institute of Mental Health) than ever willingly accept the fact that I am gay. So for the sake of my sanity, I have no intention of telling them even though it might eventually come to light after Sean and I get a place and we move out. For now, like CS puts it, it's good to be Zen about the whole affair.

Jiahao's other observation though was mistaken. Just because I don't let my family know that I'm gay or go around announcing it to every Tom, Dick or Harry I meet, doesn't mean I can't and don't express the 'real me' in real life, having instead to resort to the cyber world to open up as it were. Apart from the fact that it certainly makes me sound like some sad introverted nutcase, which thankfully I'm not, the fact that I'm gay, while an integral part of my life, has no bearing whatsoever on my character or my ability to express myself. I still express myself the same way both to friends who know I'm gay and to people who don't. My character doesn't change. True I might have less to offer and talk about on the subject of boobs and soccer balls but that's simply because I don't know much about them. Simply put, my sexuality does not affect my character nor my ability to express myself.

Regarding Jiahao's take on Christianity the religion, those are his views and my own are very clear on this matter. No offense meant to any Christians reading this and any taken will be disregarded. I remain totally apathetic to religion. It's hard not to become disillusioned with a religion and totally reject it when it totally rejects you and regards your lifestyle and very person as an abominable sin with nowhere to go but hellfire and eternal damnation. And no don't bother trying to get me back, as far as I'm concerned, religion and christianity in particular is something I can do without.

Third misconception: Gays are the reason why AIDS is so prevalent and gays are making out everywhere. Ok, the first one is really more of a social issue, while it is true the HIV virus and aids was first transmitted from human to human by male homosexuals, blaming gays for the spread of AIDS today is like the bogeyman everyone loves to whack. HIV transmission between heterosexuals far far outstrips homosexual HIV transmission rates and there's been a lot of studies on this. At the end of the day, better education and greater access to affordable medication should be focused upon and not blaming gays for spreading AIDS.

But it is really the second misconception that puzzles me more. Gays are making out everywhere? Hello where? You show me ok. Everyday you get on the train or walk around the mall, you see heterosexual couples snogging and making out like nobody's business. But no one complains. Why? Normal what. Have two homosexuals do it (for some strange reason, we gays envy our lesbian friends, two girls can make out and no one bats an eyelid, even holding hands and strolling down the street is acceptable, you'll never find two Singaporean gay guys strolling down Orchard road on a normal day at a normal time, holding hands. Never.) and it 'threatens the moral fibre of our society'. People write in to the forums and newspapers to complain.

Hey we live in Singapore, we know the kind of society it is and we adapt accordingly even if we aren't thrilled. So you'll be extremely hard pressed to find gays making out in public. Those cases of the sorry sods that get caught in public be it in the public toilets or other innovative locations are not the norm, they let their dicks get the better of them for a variety of reasons. And if they do get caught in public, they deserve it, just like any straight couple making out in public would too.

Fourth misconception: The environment and 'Nurture' idea that gays can become gays as a result of the environment they are placed in and other external factors. I am sad to tell you that really, this has always been the biggest crapload of utter bullshit I've ever heard. We don't turn gay because of some external factor being present or whatnot. We've always been gay, it's just that some of us seem to take a very much longer time to be aware that we are gay. After all, we do live in a decidedly straight culture where we are constantly indoctrinated with the idea that straight= normal and good. We don't become gay as a result of certain factors being introduced to us at an impressionable age, it's just a matter of when we become aware. And such external factors may serve to awaken the slower ones amongst us who haven't already realised they are gay.

Unconvinced? Take a simple example: You dump a straight guy, like yourself, into a boys only school, you only interact with guys, no girls (assuming you're a total dork without irc, etc). What are the chances of you suddenly turning gay, of your heart and mind changing, simply because of your external environment and perceived impressions? Zilch. Let's ramp it up even more. Assume you, a straight guy, only got provided with barbies and polly pocket play sets when young, get dumped into a all boys school where there are surreptitious displays of boys making out, would that make you a straight guy suddenly feel like joining in the making out sessions and deciding you like guys or would you junk those barbies in favour of Transformers and get turned off by the displays, wishing you had a girl/woman instead? Much more likely the second.

So just as you a straight guy would not turn gay because of the environment, I, a gay guy would not have become gay due to the environment I was in or other external factors. Sexuality, unlike what some would love to have us believe, is not something you can turn on and off. Unless you happen to be bisexual which is totally different. So no, the fact that I was in an all boys school really had absolutely nothing to do with me being gay today. I would have looked at guys and probably lusted after a select few in a co-ed (mixed) school all the same, my biggest crush was definitely in NJC. Army was certainly no instigating or encouraging factor too.

It's strange isn't it, one would think being surrounded by guys in army, gays would be in seventh heaven. Well for the overwhelming majority of time (ie: 99.99%), we aren't. Half the time, you're too shag from the exercises when training to give a damn about naked guys in the shower. The other half, the guys you're in contact with are generally bunk or campmates who are totally unattractive and people you see every day (and night as most NSFs are stay ins). But this army and environment thing does seem to be a widely held misconception.

Over MSN, I showed the Beng, my bunkmate buddy who slept in the bed beside mine in camp, Jiahao's post and asked him what he thought about the becoming gay due to the environment and perhaps being in an all boys school and army part. To which he replied in his usual manner, "Ya Fuck, when you first told me you were gay after army, I thought it must be all the nights that I mount you and humped you that made you gay. Ha ha kns must be my big dick right!" So it is a common misconception. A little explanation is necessary in order to correct any misconception arising from the Beng's statement.

The Beng is a true blue beng with the credentials to back it up. That said, while he is a very jiang yi qi kind of guy (loosely translated as one who values honour and will stick with friends) he can be very different and brash in a unique way. He's infinitely proud of his manhood, that curved phallus he would expose in all its extended glory after waking up or after returning from the shower. He'd then proceed to strut around the bunk, cigarette in hand, buck naked without a care in the world. Which naturally shocked some of the xinjiao ('new birds' - term for junior soldiers) in our bunk who would stare, mouths agape before hurriedly looking away. William would groan and ask him to put something on for god's sake, while the card players (Tim, Envin and I) would usually sigh and curse at him to hurry up and play his hand, instead of shaking his snake.

So anyway regarding the night 'humping' sessions, the Beng would sometimes for the kick of it, while I was already sound asleep, nicely snuggled under that discoloured SAF shit green blanket, mini fan on the cabinet set at high; mount me while clad in nothing but his underwear and hump me while clutching me tightly and making panting noises. Upon which I'd cuss and try to shove him off, usually after some violent struggling cause he's a strong one. And no in case, you were wondering, he's as straight as an arrow. I had great difficulty turning down his offers to bring me to those KTV nightclubs for a night of girls and booze with extra service, plus his girlfriend (then) was a cute waif type Ah-lian, though everytime I saw her, I just couldn't get the mental picture of the Beng screwing her on her window sill, her upper body hanging out, thanks to the very vivid recounting of his sexcapade with her to us, his poor listeners.

Only straight guys (and I am totally serious) would be able to mount such hanky panky and not bat an eyelid about it. Gay guys would never for the life of them, do something like that, simply because while to straight guys, it's just horseplay, to us it's a whole shit load more. That's akin to like wanting to get it on with the other person. (IE: Think of you grabbing a woman's ass or horror of horrors, attempting to mount her like the Beng did me, same thing, same effect.) As with regards to his 'big dick' I think I can safely say (without him murdering me cause he doesn't read my blog or any blog for that matter) that it was 'average', I've certainly seen my fair share to recognise a whammer when I see one. ^^.

Alright, a bit of a digression there but to sum up. Being Gay only means our sexuality and choice of the sex of our partners is different from Straights. We remain the same in so many other ways, we think, we laugh, we love, we hurt too. Being Gay, unfortunately also means being different in the sense that we are not straight. And being in the minority, it appears unfortunately to be up to us to correct certain misconceptions the straight majority perceive to be true for your average gay guy.

Not all gays are effeminate, being Gay does not affect our ability to express ourselves nor does it mean that we indulge/engage in sex to 'express' ourselves (we do it cause we like/want to - dun need to analyse so much, it's exactly the same reason why straights do it), Gay guys don't make out everywhere in public, those who do (in terms of sex) deserve to get caught and lastly 'Nuture' and environmental influences are a load of crap, we don't become gay as a result of our environment or upbringing, we are gay, it's just a matter of when we become aware that we are gay.

And that in a nutshell is what being Gay is about.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Yaoi Heaven!

An interest that was first jump started in January this year and rapidly ballooned to fill the gaping void left by the erstwhile all consuming obsession that was World of Warcraft; Yaoi continues to remain a keen interest to this day. While it no longer commands an intensive compulsion as it once did during the zenith of the obsession back in March where I was searching the various yaoi forums for new offerings on a daily basis as well as translating full time for two scanlation groups (Obsession and Bliss), often finishing an entire book (translating) in a couple of days; it remains a pleasurable past time.

Those translation days are gone, Sean was right that I'd be too lazy to keep it up for long but it was good while it lasted, which was about 3-4 months. I genuinely enjoyed translating and giving back to the community as part of a scanlation group. My free time these days is split between Yaoi, Anime and the occasional gaming session. Once in a while I even manage to spare some time for the PLC stuff. I still trawl the forums, just not so regularly and more selectively, finding my favourite mangakas then making a mental note to get the english release when and if it has been licensed.

The one bad thing about living in Singapore is that your english manga is normally damn expensive, about 15-25 bucks A book, and it's usually available only some time after the mangas are already released by the licensed US companies in US. One can always e-bay from Amazon but I did the math, unless one is buying 10 books or more, it's still cheaper to buy from here. Aileen usually screams at me for not buying the cheap Chuang Yi Chinese version ones but it doesn't really bother me because

  1. some of the titles from my favourite mangakas like PlayBoy Blue by Shiuko Kano are not available, usually the more explicit ones. Censoring also tends to be prevalent for the Chinese copies. Which bloody sucks.
  2. My Chinese is not fantastic, when translating I had the help of a dictionary for the more complicated terms. And the complex Chinese as opposed to the simplified Chinese Singaporeans learn is even worse. I'm sure I can scrape through while reading the manga and comprehend what it's saying with some difficulty but the whole point of reading manga is to have a light and enjoyable read. Scrutinising every other sentence and deciphering it, isn't enjoyable.
So I was particularly thrilled today to find that the store I frequent had stocked up with a lot of new titles since I'd last visited a month back and more importantly, that they were from my favourite mangakas and series that I've been following (Kizuna, Level C, Love Mode). They even had the tantalising 'Love Pistols' vol 2 by Tarako Kotobuki (which incidentally is known as Sex Pistols in Japan, the US company which bought the license probably thought love has a nicer ring to it). Like they always say, a picture says a thousand words.

Yaoi Fanboy's new haul (Clockwise from top left): Kizuna Vol 8 :) , Spell by Hyouta Fujiyama :P, Love Mode Vol 6 by Yuki Shimizu, Hate to Love you by Makato Tateno of 'Yellow' fame and Love Pistols (Sex Pistols) Vol 2 by Tarako Kotobuki. Which left him a hundred bucks poorer - if only the bill was as nice.

Sorting through the buys, I realised that I hadn't unwrapped the previous month's purchase for some reason, choosing to stow them away instead. Which in effect means it's like a second haul. Double the entertainment value. ^^

Last month's stash (clockwise from top left): Alcohol, Shirt & Kiss by Yuko Kuwabara, Picnic by the yaoi mangaka queen Yamada Yugi, A King's Lesson! by Aoi Futaba & Kurenai Mitsuba and Delivery Cupid by CJ Michalski.

A few of my favourite titles I have in my current stash of 50+ hardcopy mangas (as opposed to the softcopy scanlations).....

Select All-time Favourites (clockwise from top left): Gakuen Heaven by You Higuri, Little Butterfly (1-3) by Hinako Takanaga, Desire by Yukine Honami (I love this one - this reviewer reviews it nicely) and last but certainly not least the fantastic yaoi classic, Close the Last Door by Yamada Yugi (one i can read and re-read again.)

Of course what decent semi-otaku would be without his plushie? I saw the seated Ichigo a month ago at the store and just couldn't resist not getting him. Plus he looked so much better than the ones you find at the vivocity shop where the head is disproportionate and the features just don't look right.

Ichigo and his Number 1 favourite yaoi title by the mangaka he absolutely adores for her drama, hot guys, anatomically correct bodies and pure smut, Play Boy Blues by Shiuko Kano. All hail the Queen!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Salute.


To the one very special woman in my life.
That spunky, obstinate and cheeky woman who does everything with gusto be it cooking up a storm or just sitting down and joining me for a marathon Bleach watching session.
The warmth and affection apparent in every little action.
Happy 88th Birthday Mama!

Love ya to bits.

Friday, September 7, 2007

DOTA Reloaded.

If you don't already know what DOTA is, it's that immensely popular custom map in Warcraft 3 that surprisingly till today boasts a huge following of avid gamers and remains extremely popular. More so than the actual game itself. Defense of the Ancients or Dota as it is commonly known is basically a fast paced action game where two opposing teams of up to five players each pick a side (either The Sentinels or The Scourge) and battle it out for supremacy. What follows next is typically an hour long game where players focus on levelling up and getting gold by killing creeps (computer spawned mobs) or other heroes, all in an attempt to save up enough to buy the leet weapons and eradicate the opposition.

It's fast, furious and basically an orgy of action and bloodlust, a race to see who can kill more opponent heroes and top the charts; a race that is given more verve by the inbuilt voice over declarations of " Holy shit! XXX is unstoppable...Triple Kill! ..Godlike!.." everytime you kill an opponent after having surpassed a total number of kills. Which isn't as easy as it sounds because you need to remain alive (ie: no deaths) for the orgasmic oral declarations to climb the hierarchy of 'godliness'.

I suspect one reason why it remains so immensely popular is that it's fast, no need to level to lvl 60 (or level 70 now) like in WoW for pwnage, it's got loads of action, killing people is always fun, plus you get a sense of accomplishment when you get decked out and win the game. Which only ends when you destroy the main building in the opponent's base.

I haven't played Dota for ages. I think the last verson I played was Version 6.01 which was buggy and had very strange heroes, kind of like a works in progress thing. My favourite remained version 5.84c, the classic old hat version and I'd always use the same few heroes cause the playing styles appealed to me. Rylai the frost maiden and Lina Inverse the slayer for Sentinels and Kel thuzad the Lich and Rotund the Necrolyte for the Scourge. Intell heroes always appealed to me, though endgame, they certainly pale in comparison to a decked out agility based hero like the Gorgon or Drow ranger.

Clinkz was about the only agility hero I played regularly and I soon grew to appreciate just how cheap he was. Let him farm, get a few items and he's quite unstoppable. Nothing like backstabbing a half dead hero. ^^ Anyhow I decided to start on DOTA again after the Blog Master informed me that the maps could be played with decent and sometimes brutal (if you choose Insane computers) AI. Previously, one of the sticking points with Dota was that you needed actual human players to play the map and you could never be sure unless one was playing with friends that your team mates wouldn't be total retards. And if you happened to be in a LAN shop, one faced the additional difficulty of getting the correct number of people to play, etc.

AI certainly isn't as fun as playing against human players though the insane AI certainly gives you an awful run for your money, they buy the correct items quickly, come in a group to gang bang you, hit weak areas with startling alacrity; you could even say they're much better than a lousy poorly coordinated team of human players. So, I reinstalled the whole Warcraft 3 stuff and downloaded the necessary maps. I must say Dota now has really evolved, so many items and so many new heroes, some of which have really strange abilities.

My first attempt at a new hero, the Dark Seer for the scourge was so miserable, it's pathetic. The second attempt at the Shadow Fiend wasn't too fantastic, I still haven't quite figured out how to use his ultimate, Requiem of souls, effectively. So I just ended up playing the Lich again and didn't do too badly, 19 kills 0 deaths by the time the game ended. I must admit the 'Holy shit..somebody kill him!' exclamations did spur me on. After all with Dark Ritual and mana that never runs out, spamming frost nova and unleashing a chain frost on enemy hero gangbangs make for happy days.. and multiple kills.

Toss in Aghanim's Sceptre and an upgraded Dagon, they basically didn't stand a chance. Which left me (omgNOOB) 'beyond GODLIKE' sometime before the game ended, which was sadly just when I had enough for my Eye of Skadi. Boo. Dota is fun but I'm not sure I can bring myself to play on Battlenet anytime soon, still too rusty and I'm pretty sure there's a ton of pros out there. But for now, it remains a pleasant past time.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Odex: A Welcome Reprieve?


In what appears to be a stunning reversal of position and possibly an acknowledgement of just how much ill-will the ongoing saga has generated for the company, Odex has announced that it will no longer take action against anime downloaders who stopped downloading anime with effect from 3rd September 2007. This means that the previous, very pertinent complaints of Odex being unfair in issuing letters to those who had downloaded in March and April but whom had stopped by the time the Odex saga first went public in June, will be addressed, partially.

Is this a welcome reprieve? It would be unwise to assume that this signals the end of the Odex saga or even that Odex has finally seen the light. But it certainly is a reprieve. One must admit that this move is probably the smartest and shrewdest that they ever made throughout the whole Odex fiasco. Like I raised earlier, it largely addresses the complaints that Odex was unfair in issuing the letters when no widely available public warning or media coverage was announced. Pacnet and Starhub users may now rest easy and Singnet users who haven't already been Odexed should be safe too as it appears that Odex has already sent out all the letters to the Singnet subscribers.

Thus anime downloaders are effectively given the warning that they have been clamouring for and everyone (who hasn't been Odexed yet) is effectively given a clean slate till 3rd September 2007. Download after 3rd September 2007 and Odex will go after you. That much certainly sounds fair, you have to be a total blithering idiot to continue bit torrenting anime after all the glaringly obvious media coverage the Odex saga has received. What isn't so nice and rosy though is for the Singnet anime downloaders like Shi hao who have already settled or have received the dreaded Odex letter but not settled yet.

For those who have settled, there's certainly no talk of re compensation and after signing a letter of undertaking that admits your liability and relinquishes a lot of your rights, attempting to reclaim the sum paid to Odex will be well nigh impossible. To put it simply, for those who have paid, all they can do is to suck thumb. For those who have received the dreaded letter but have not paid or settled yet, the situation is murkier but not much more promising.

In the Straits Times article, it does not appear that the 'olive branch extended to anime downloaders' is similarly extended to the Odexed anime downloaders. After all, Stephen Sing even says that Odex will continue to negotiate with those who have not settled yet or take action if instructed to by the Jap companies. And in the Odex lingo, negotiate normally means negotiating as to the sum to be paid and not whether the Odexed people still need to pay or not.

It's much like being the last batch of say students studying the old syllabus, they have the misfortune (or luxury) of being the last batch and are not affected by the requirements or benefits of the new syllabus. Similarly, the Odexed people who have not paid yet are like the last batch of students, still subject to the pain and trauma of having to settle and not privy to the new 'olive branch' or clean slate offered to other un-Odexed anime downloaders.

So you still do have a little unfairness in that a small minority, the Odexed Singnet anime downloaders in no way benefit from this 'olive branch'. In fact, I suspect many would be embittered by the fact that they had settled or were simply unfortunate enough to be caught. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be much that can be done about that. For the majority though, this piece of news certainly comes as a welcome reprieve. This doesn't absolve Odex of the numerous faults and faux-pas it committed.

But it is a step in the right direction.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Survival

Exposition:
I've started playing the old classic games lately, Diablo 2 and Warcraft 3. Yes, not World of Warcraft but Warcraft 3 of the infinitely popular DOTA (Defense of the Ancients) fame. That custom map where players run around slaughtering mobs and other players alike in an attempt to gain godly items and pwn all the other players on the opposing team. It still brings back memories of sitting in a darkened LAN shop filled with youngsters as young as 7 or 8 screaming at the top of their lungs, strident screeches of rage replete with a steady stream of vulgarities that involve various portions of the female anatomy.

If anything, I noticed how playing DOTA almost inevitably leads to rising tempers. Shouts and curses of retarded teammates and/or opponents or loud accusations of failing to 'back one up'. Which naturally invites more colourful cussing. But I wasn't playing DOTA, much too rusty for that, just dicking around with the other custom maps and kicking ass on Diablo.

But I digress, as with so many great addictions (even erstwhile ones), I am often motivated to talk about it and once in a while, it even inspires a little yarn spinning, especially when I'm bored. Which I was today, negotiation was so fucking boring. Which made some of us feel like throwing up our hands in despair and going ,"Ah ok, never mind you win, let's go". Especially when the tutorial stretches for almost 30 mins past the scheduled time. I'll leave you with this Warcraft 3 inspired piece, hastily thought up, awfully clich├ęd but something that helped to while away the time.

Survival

They thundered across the vast plains, their steeds, specks of foam on their lips, churning up the ground beneath their hoofs, infected by the urgency which possessed their owners. It was spring, the time of regrowth and regeneration, when life burst forth and was manifested in the numerous forms of nature. Instead everywhere they looked, there was death and decay. From the brown withered grass and diseased trees to the murky lifeless waters of the lakes they passed.

" The corruption of nature and the rot these Undead and their demonic overlords bring to Azeroth sicken me to the core!" Antaral the archmage shouted, his disgust plain on his face. "Father, we must resolve to fight them and we need Tyrandre's and the Night Elves's aid if Azeroth is to survive. Our only hope is to reach Farla and get passage to Kalimdor."
Jaana his petite daughter, a budding mage herself, yelled back.

"I know that!" Antaral snapped. Then softening, he cried "If but only I had been at Dalaran with Jeriam to fight off those abominable Undead and their demons!" Tears filled Jaana's eyes. She was there at Dalaran, stronghold and enclave of the mages, when the Undead masses and their demonic masters assaulted the city.

The battle has been horrific, the mages hurling their arsenal of offensive spells at the intruders only to see them rise up again, an army of skeletons, as the demons fielded a whole range of horrific creatures. She was there when the city's defences were overwhelmed and failed, when the battle stopped and the slaughter started. She could still remember upon fleeing the city at the orders of her mentor, Jeriam, on the pain of death, the screams of the dying and the sight of her mentor being cut down.

"It would not have made a difference, I..." Jaana began and was abruptly cut off as a green meteorite streaked across the overcast sky and landed to their south with a reverbation that shook the ground. "Itaraal! Those cursed creatures of destruction are getting closer by the minute!" Antaral swore. "What are they father?" Jaana queried as another distant reverbation shook the ground.

"Mindless creatures of the void, they are summoned by the nefarious Dreadlords. They exist only to destroy everything they see which they do exceedingly well. Setaph has undoubtly fallen to them as has Lordareon to that traitor Arthas and his Undead army."Jaana craned her neck around and caught a glimpse of the burning city on the horizon, she fancied she could hear the cries of the innocents as they fell.

"But enough of that! Behold Farla, our hope! Never has it been so pleasant to see the city, rife with corruption, but unravaged or untainted by the demons and their Undead minions... as of yet "he concluded. They rushed down to the port, the bracing sea breeze in their faces, their trusty steeds nearly spent. Both breathed a sigh of relief as they saw the Cut-throat, the vessel due to take them across to Kalimdor, waiting. People were already boarding. Father and daughter moved forward.

It started with a low pitch whistling which rapidly ascended in frequency and magnitude till it became a deafening roar. The green meteorite crashed into the Cut-throat, cleaving it in half, creating a mini tidal wave in the process. The ensuing shockwave threw them off their steeds, flinging people like skittles. Wiping stinging sea water from their eyes, they were treated to the sight of a massive rock unfurling its limbs and glaring malevolently at its surroundings, its eyes twin pits of flame.

A hundred feet tall and enveloped in ethereal green flames, it batted aside a squad of soldiers foolhardy enough to charge it as one would an irritating fly; its flames immolating hapless people in its vicinity, their cries piteous and jarring.

"Ashaa'Rag!" Antaral whispered awed and horrified as the colour drained from his face. Jaana knew what he meant, The Burning Ones, in the Old Tongue which he always reverted to when extremely agitated. "Go!! Go!! Go to Pithom in the east! It is our last and only hope! You are my only hope! GO! I will handle it!!!" Antaral yelled, pushing Jaana away as the Infernal advanced, a sneer on that rocky, evil countenance.

"But Father! You cannot hold him alone! You won't make it!" Jaana pleaded. "Neither will we both!! He is immune to all but the strongest spells! You are my last hope, Azeroth's last hope! Better I die than you! GO!!!" he shrieked and with a flick of his hand propelled Jaana onto her stead and set it off galloping in the direction of Pithom away from the unholy terror.

"NO!!!!" Jaana screamed, wanting to stop the horse and go back to his aid but deep down, she knew that he was right. She resigned herself, torn between duty: the greater good, and emotions: the kinship.

A shriek and strangled cry she recognised all too well floated above the chaotic sounds of the dying city. Tears blinding her eyes, she dug her boots into her steed willing it to ride to Pithom with all speed. The knowledge that both her mentor and father, two men she loved deeply, had died so senselessly because of the mechanisms of these foreign intruders, consumed her totally.

Willing her heart to be cold and unforgiving, she swore vengeance against those who had destroyed her world and in a white hot fury, rode on to Pithom.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Odex: Bringing in the Big Boys.

Odex certainly hasn't wasted any time in bringing out the big guns since they announced that they would be appealing against the Pacnet judgement by District Judge Earnest Lau as was expected. What did come as a bit of surprise was the sheer speed and lengths to which Odex has gone to demonstrate that they have the authority to do whatever they have been doing (sending out the letters, etc), were justified in doing so and have every intention of continuing.

The flying in of Mark Ishikawa, the CEO of BayTSP, the company that Odex hired to track down the IP addresses of illegal anime downloaders was expected. After all, it was merely an evidentiary issue and I don't think it was ever really doubted that Odex had hired BayTSP to do the job. So to make sure that aspect was settled, they flew in the CEO himself, most likely to testify and settle once and for all any issues with regards to evidence on how the IP addresses were obtained. A little overkill perhaps but one wouldn't blame them for wanting to play it safe though.

But Odex certainly wasn't content to leave things lying the way they were. By flying in representatives from four of the Japanese companies that own the copyrights for the various animes and calling a public press conference, Odex was setting the stage for the showdown appeal in the High Court and pulling out all stops, determined to win. The message was clear and unequivocal: that Odex had been authorized by them to take action to protect their copyrights and should the Singapore Courts hold that Odex is not entitled to take any action, the Japanese companies would not hesitate to go to court directly and take legal action against the downloaders themselves.

The explicit backing by the Jap companies and copyright owners certainly lend great weight to Odex's case and bolster its 'moral authority' that it was justified in taking action and will be seen as implicit backing of Odex's intentions to continue. After all, even if Odex is not recognised as the correct legal party to bring a civil action, the Jap companies themselves would proceed. And you can be very sure that there'd be no impediments to obstruct their suit then. To put it simply, either way they win.

Perhaps because the future certainly seems a lot rosier for Odex or possibly in an attempt to foster goodwill and repair their already shattered image, Odex announced that they would hire an independent auditor to go through their accounts at the end of the case and any 'extras' would be donated to charity. Which is really nothing more than a PR move that rings hollow and raises a few issues.

  1. They'll hire an independent auditor to go through the accounts at the end of the case. Now since they'd already mentioned previously that the ongoing saga would be precisely just that, ongoing. When exactly does the case end? If Odex will be continuing to monitor illegal downloads and send out the letters on a continuous basis from now on, just when is the case ending? If there's no end in sight, when is the auditor going to come in and when will the findings be made public, etc?
  2. Like the anonymous commentor who left a comment with the http link to the Online Today article commented, donating money to charitable causes is all very nice and dandy. A slick PR move. BUT it isn't even Odex's money to donate in the first place. True the sums were paid in settlement but only because Odex mentioned that $3000-$5000 was roughly the sum needed to cover their expenses.
    It remains pretentious to donate other people's money to charity when those who settled were under the impression that it was solely to cover costs and settled for that reason. And of course it is very easy to donate money which wasn't even yours in the first place. IF Odex really wants to show its sincerity, it should either return the excess to those who settled or provide some free value added service for the community.
After an extremely long hiatus, the Odex website is finally up. To their credit, they have included a Video on Demand section where one can pay for an episode and download it, legally. A short exploration of their site however leaves much to be desired. For one, their Video on Demand only has a grand total of TWO series, Tokyo Majin Gakuen and Seto no Hanayome. None of the more popular series like Bleach, etc. And no information on when more series will be added to the VOD section.

Second, the issue about the quality of subs hasn't been addressed yet but it appears that it isn't much better ( any more information on this would be appreciated). I noted with some amusement that some guy called ashe001 had registered on the Odex Community forum and spammed the forum list with a thread titled 'Download 1000+ Full Animes from these Sites!!!' Some people will never learn^^. The moderators were efficient though, an hour later after I returned, the threads were removed, eliminated. Just to prove I'm not fibbing, here's the screenshot of one of the threads.

Looks like even if Odex wins the war against illegal downloaders, it's already lost the battle for the hearts of anime fans in Singapore.

Update: Odex offers an olive branch to anime downloaders. No action taken for downloads before 3rd September 2007. A welcome reprieve?