Friday, August 29, 2008

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

It looks promising. Certainly promising enough to give MMORPGs (Massively Multiple Online Role Playing Game) another shot after a hiatus of a year and a half from WoW, discounting the brief month long stint I returned to WoW for a short while, earlier this year. So I went ahead and pre-ordered it. Even if it was a hefty $129. For one, Warhammer promises to be more varied and less gear oriented than WoW which unfortunately requires one to be in a guild and a serious raider to get the top end gear and maximise your character's full potential.

Not something I have the time or energy for with my current job cum profession and the demands on my time. Grinding for money in real life is tiring enough, having to come back and grind for gear on a game isn't exactly my cup of tea. It's funny how one's perspectives change when one starts working. But for better or worse, it does. So gone are the days and/or nights when I could stay up for 10 hours straight grinding instances or battlegrounds just to get a particular piece of phat lewt. After all, real moola beats bits of pixel anytime.

But Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning promises to be fun and unhurried, no need to join guilds and show up daily at strange times for co-ordinated raids. Just some fun with friends. In terms of variety, there's more classes, all of which are specific to the different races in the two conflicting factions, Order and Destruction.

I did the little quiz which purports to match one with the race best suited for one based on one's answers, even though I was already set on a particular race or two. And the answer wasn't in the least surprising. Nothing like wanton destruction and bloody mayhem to get the blood going.

Chaos Badge- Prima Games Warhammer Online Class Quiz

Monday, August 25, 2008

Of Demons and Fairies

When one watches anime, you don't expect stellar plots or character development. You expect to be entertained either via slapstick jokes or flashy totally out of this world maneuvers or tricks that preferably lead to multiple explosions and entire buildings being levelled. And the respective characters always emerging relatively unscathed other than a few scrapes and superficial cuts who then proceed to level the rest of the city, base, etc. Either that or they're horribly wounded but still find the strength to pull off a spectacular KO move that usually destroys everything in sight.

Anyone who has watched a decent amount of anime, at least of the shounen variety, will be able to confirm the aforesaid. Sure you get the usual 'I'm strong cause I fight for my nakama (friend)' theme and the occasional relationship between different characters where love inevitably blossoms. But nothing more substantial and often nothing very realistic. Though then again many of the activities we do, anime watching included, is often a welcome escape from reality.

You don't expect anti-heroes, a gripping plot and characters who while strong remain vulnerable in that they remain plagued by their inner demons. Or a believable plot where characters are killed or obliterated on an wholly unexpected basis. Code Geass and the sequel, Code Geass R2 - Lelouch of the Rebellion has all that.

In a way, Code Geass is probably in terms of suspense, plot and character development, hands down the best anime I've watched so far. Death note coming in a close second. The characters are not your typical heroes, everyone has their inner demon or motives which drives and torments them. The interaction of the main character, Lelouch, his persona as Zero and his interaction with the characters sets the groundwork for this series which is as captivating as it is unpredictable.

Code Geass is a mecha type of anime, I've never been the mecha sort of anime fan, preferring by far the flashier abilities/magic/jutsu kind of anime which tends towards fantasy. But I never regretted trying out Geass, I'm still not a mecha fan but Geass is just on a whole different level.

I shall be sad after it ends in 5 episodes.

On the manga front, I've demolished Ubel Blatt and started on Fairy Tail which looked very promising and hasn't disappointed so far. Style wise, it's rather similar to One Piece, it even has the occasional over the top slap stick moment but it's flashier and revolves around magic.

Pity it hasn't been adapted into an anime series yet. I like the drawing style which again reminds me of One Piece, cute guys (with the kind of killer abs you'd only find in manga) and hot girls who are highly expressive. A couple of whom (the girls) are dominatrix who make She-Ra look like little Miss Muffet.

Which is probably how most hen pecked husbands view their wives. Though I suspect there's an inner Valkyrie in everyone of us.

On an wholly unrelated note before I run off to catch this week's Geass, I realised to my mild consternation that my dad has taken to watching weepy Korean love dramas with startling alacrity. Which might possibly explain his entirely off the cuff remark when the mother was proclaiming how one could spot young couples a mile off from their 'lovey-dovey ways'; "but old couples can also be lovey dovey what". Dead silence.

Oh that poor man.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Move

If there's one thing I dislike more than packing, it's moving. Especially when it involves having to uproot oneself from a relatively spacious and decently pleasant surroundings and move to decidedly cramped quarters. Not to mention the fact that it also involves a lot of packing.

We're moving office, the top management says it isn't a downgrade but no matter how you look at it, it is a downgrade. Cramped quarters. Check. Further away from mrt. Check. Old building. Check. Single to shared room. Check. I could go on but at the end of the day we're moving and we're stuck there for the next couple of years or so. No point griping about the inevitable.

Moving office along with the furniture is highly disruptive, which does not bode well when you have a crazy amount of work to be done and a number of upcoming trials and hearings. The doors were the first to go, to be reused for the 'new' workplace. It was a little surreal to be able to stare right across the corridor and into a partner's room. So much so that a colleague joked that for once the firm's 'open door' policy was truly being practiced.

The cupboards and pedestals will be carted out on Monday with the workstations and computers the day before the actual move. In the meantime, all the files have been packed into boxes which means piles of boxes all over the office and the need to dig through boxes for files that we are still working on. Which is a pain in the ass and I'm not talking about the pleasurable kind that involves romping in bed with a hottie. So the entire place is mess, the seccies are still packing while it's supposed to be business as usual. All in all not a very conducive working environment.

On an wholly unrelated note, I've started reading Ubel Blatt , since I've run out of manga to read and waiting for the weekly dosage of Naruto, Bleach, D Gray man, Hitman Reborn and the monthly ones of Claymore and Full Metal Alchemist can be more than a little tiresome. Ubel Blatt is slightly different from the rest so far in that it's catered for men (seinen) rather than for the usual male teenager (Shounen) and there's a whole lot more boobs and gore (because boys will always be boys).

'Pornographic' wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration. But apart from the occasional explicit sex scene and the very graphic gore (more so than claymore), the manga has a decent plot even if it does have a little too many boobs and taut nipples for my liking. The plot certainly fleshes out what would have been mindless slaughter. Though sometimes, some brainless gut spilling gore is appreciated. Especially when one mentally envisages certain individuals at the receiving end.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to Reality.

5 days later and it's back to sobering reality, the mundane hustle and bustle of hectic life, of deadlines to meet and affidavits to rush. Back to the wearisome rat race but the one that brings in the bacon, pays the bills and lets one go for such blissful escapades temporal though it may be.

Bangkok certainly lives up to its reputation of cheap and good. The shopping, especially if one is a hard nosed bargain hunter, is good, the food, even better. Where else can you have a complete meal of roast duck, rice, veggies and a drink for 50 bhat (slightly over $2)? And the sheer variety of food and snacks, all of which were ridiculously cheap by local (Singapore) standards, available at the multitude of food stores lining the road proved to be a culinary temptation i was unable to resist.

But short of a brief stomachache on Sunday (which I attribute to the glorious phad thai, tasty but oily with bits of what I took to be char siew but later realised to my abject horror was hardened fat of some sort) and perhaps a few extra kilos, I emerged unscathed from the relentless culinary expedition. Which in a way I guess, is rather surprising, given the stuff I ate. Bugs were however still a big no no.

On the limo ride back to the airport, the sky was overcast, clouds looming omniously, I fancied a hint of rain in the air just before stepping in. Similar to when I first arrived. And that fleeting sense of Deja Vu, that all good things must come to an end just like this short reprieve. Bangkok was good and I shall be back someday. Soon.

First day - on the way from the airport.

The Room- better than I expected.

Where I had most of my Breakfast 'in bed'.

One of the few road side snacks I remembered to take a shot of before demolishing. This one was some grilled spareribs with rice. I just did an awful lot of pointing.

Another lovely tidbit, they were selling this at Siam Paragon, some crisp pancake with doughy batter and corn in the middle. It's not like the crip pancake with cream and coconut. Whatever it was,it was great.

Dick's Cafe. An oasis in the hustle and bustle of neon lights.

Dinner at the still very Decent Fuji Restaurant. Negitoro (chopped up fatty tuna)don, lightly grilled fatty salmon (which was damn good) and some enoki with pork rolls. All for 420 bhat inclusive of green tea. $17 bucks for a decent jap meal like that in a restaurant. Not something you'll ever find here.

On the way back.

Heading back to Singapore. Sun setting over the fluffy cloudscape.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

888 in Bangkok.

Today was eventful. Eventful in the sense that it largely involved a concerted shopping blitz of an hour, another couple of hours just strolling round the humongous food section at Siam Paragon, buying various tidbits before settling on what turned out to be disappointingly average Japanese lunch. The delightfully crafted cakes from Visage Patissere more than made up for it though.

Bogged down with the buys and the very perishable cakes, I decided to give MBK a miss for today, which meant the latter half of the afternoon was spent inspecting the buys, demolishing the cakes cum tidbits while surfing the net. In short, a leisurely lazy friday, a luxury that is now sorely missed and all the more cherished. And the best thing, is everything's OTOT, no need to have to accommodate another's idea of a holiday (which we all know varies greatly for different people) and certainly no need to compromise on yours.

To cut to the chase, because it is 3am and I'm waiting for my hair to dry, after an excellent 'normal' traditional Thai massage (which incidentally always involves an awful amount of creaking and body twisting), I went off for my first sojourn at Boy Town after an equally blah dinner at a Thai franchise chain.

Crossing the street is always a hazardous affair, traffic lights (of the pedestrian variety) seem to be relatively rare at Surawong and getting over unscathed to the next side involves a finely timed dash that the most brazen ah ma at ang mo kio would usually not hazard.

So it was when I saw a group of youngsters, either from Singapore or Malaysia from the accent of their Chinese, crossing the road, I followed suit. Besides they certainly looked like they were checking Boys Town out and would serve as a useful distraction from the touting and physical assaults that invariably follows once you step into the zone.

True enough, they were set upon once they stepped in, gawking about at the neon signs and various sights. The touts and doormen closed in for the kill, snapping off their rapid machine gun fire accented chinese, cajoling and pulling various members of the group in different directions. They didn't even last me past the third bar whereupon some hapless sod let himself get dragged into some bar and a panicky member of the group yelled in alarm that so and so had gone into XX bar. And they were led like lambs to the slaughter.

Because the bar I had in mind was still some distance down the street, I had to go through the gauntlet of cajoling, insistent tugging at the arms, sometimes in two different directions and the odd pinch on the butt or nipple. Still I managed to reach Dick's cafe, an oasis in the desert and just opposite Dream Boys, a little tender perhaps but none the worse for the wear.

The cafes are like your glass enclosures in the zoo, you get to observe the action from the relative security of the cafe replete with a cozy ambiance as the entire cafe faces the street but at the same time you get to see others have their turn at being hassled.

Dick's Cafe was nice, dimly lit with a mixed clientele that included Asians and your western men with the smattering of Thai boys. It's always interesting to observe how the other parties interact, something I did while sipping the pleasantly piquant Earl Grey.

Time to end here, off to bed and breakfast at 1.00pm. I love this place where else can you have breakfast 24 hours a day. Perfect for slobs like me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Break - Sawadee Krup

So much for the out by office at 6pm plan. The day before the break and just rushing to clear enough work so that I can go for the break without having to worry about everything erupting in my absence meant an extremely hectic Wednesday replete with a drama mama hearing at court with that ridiculously unreasonable woman who wanted free work. Thankfully we're officially rid of her.

Leaving at an otherwise decent 8-ish required hours of vein throbbing non-stop work. Which still leaves me with an unpacked bag, unprinted plane tickets and other tedious but necessary admin work to undertake before one flies off anywhere. I never liked having to pack my bag for a trip. Some people find it exciting, like it builds whatever unseen excitement adding momentum to the thrill and exhilaration of just going on a ho li ho li day.

I find it a tedious chore. I'm the kind of person who wishes my bag just magically gets automatically backed and all that boring admin stuff is all done and prepared for. All one needs to do is get on the cab, check in and get on the plane viola. Which probably explains why I'm here blogging instead of packing my bag as I should be doing.

I usually get around to it eventually, sometime around the witching hour, ponder what the hell I should put in. Invariably end up packing too much, throw out some stuff and by the time I'm done it's like 3 or 4am in the morning. It's a bloody affliction. Close friends and others often attribute this sloppiness to the inability to decide just what to bring. "Bring the whole cupboard la." they say. Which is besides the point.

I don't need variety, I'm probably just factoring in what happens if I suddenly get unexpectedly drenched for some unforeseen reason or a wardrobe malfunction occurs and a particular piece starts disintegrating. Such as when one goes clubbing and a happy/sad/mad drunk comes along and mistakes your Zara Tee for a rag and lets you know so in no uncertain terms.

But all that is probably an excuse to cover the perennial affliction, I just fucking hate to pack. And the ironic thing is despite all the hours spent on that chore, all the plodding from the bag to do some unrelated activity back to the bag again, I almost always end up not bringing something I wanted to bring. Some like toothpaste and lube are easily replaceable, others like the comfy pair of slippers from Raffles, less so. Or perhaps it is isn't so ironic after all given the modus operandi of packing and the effort put in.

I shall get down to packing, in an hour or so. People always ask me why I'm returning to Bangkok after just having gone 2 months ago. Other than the very obvious reason that the last trip was an utter disaster and total bore, the more mundane reason being I need to do some shopping for work wear and shoes in particular. Out of the three pairs of shoes, one went from black to brown, the other's peeling and the third is well still normal for now.

I did contemplate Bali but I wasn't in a spa mood, the shopping ain't half as good and I think I think when I finally decided on going back to Bangkok, that vicious part of me did it out of spite. Just to prove to myself that a trip without him would be a whole lot more enjoyable. Childish I know (and here I am counselling angsty men and women to think about "the welfare of the children and work together as parents even if your role has husband and wife is over" Good lord I can write a damn aunt aggy column soon.) but still I don't doubt this trip would definitely be a lot more fun.

It's hard to have a worse trip than rooming with a erstwhile lover who pretends his way of caring, which happens to include informing one about his escapades in bed with a pot bellied colleague, is the best and you're better off sharing a room with a total stranger (whom you can at least start with on a clean slate). Anyway, if you ever think of rooming with an ex like I did, please go shoot yourself or spend that money on toto or 4d or something.

There is something about Bangkok which makes people believe the worst. From remarks like " Aiya go Bangkok again do what ah? See Tiger is it?" to the mother's more blatant " Cannot go those red light district and find gers you know? Cannot do anything stupid later get Aids." while I was having dinner. Which damn near made the noodles exit from the wrong orfice.

I should have just told her I'm going to all the big agogo bars and hire all the boys I fancy and have a personal harem with free for all orgy at patpong just to see her reaction. But the fallout thereafter would be too much hassle cause trust me when I say she'll take it hook line and sinker.

And you get people like my seccie who went, you going to that place you were telling me (Chatuchak market)? Chatupong? Flustered as I was rushing a Defence I couldn't help laughing. Silly woman.

I won't deny that I'll check 'Boys Town' again, this time without a dead fish of a chaperone and in particular probably that gay club we walked by, contemplated going to and ended up rotting at the room, staring at the TV instead. I'll probably pass on the flesh merchandise parade. Nice to see, nice to touch but like the village bicycle, everyone's rode it. Though in this case, it's more like the City bike with cosmopolitan passengers.

Remember to read the reports, you have one day to prepare and file the affidavits when you return, my affable seccie went before telling me to have a good trip. It'll go somewhere in my luggage but I doubt I'll do more than give it a cursory glance. Time to unwind, relax and recharge. Preferably with a couple of cute guys on hand but purely purely optional. ^^

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tinkle Twinkle

It's occasional, unexplainable and downright inevitable. Nope I'm not talking about the mountains of files/documents that turn up unannounced on your desk. God knows they turn up on a regular basis as it is. It, rather refers to the unavoidable mental block that afflicts every blogger from time to time, 'bloggers' block' I prefer to call it.

Bloggers' block is akin to creative constipation. You know you have to go but you can't. So your shit remains stuck inside instead of staying on your blog where it rightfully belongs and you feel constipated cause well you're full of shit and no one wants to be full of shit do they? So we find other avenues of getting the shit out: more work, friends, activities, sex, you get my drift. Or we just be stubborn fucks and sit and stew in front of the comp till we expel it all, almost always with the help of some laxatives.

Said laxatives ranging from the tried and tested 'talk about others' to the peculiar remedy idiosyncratic to the individual blogger. For yours truly, it happens to be that delightful thing called incoherency where the lack of need to write in proper prose or cohesive coherent topics does wonders for unclogging the work weary constipated system. Six day weeks, the sheer volume of work and staying back regularly past nine for the past 2.5 months is starting to take its toll.

And in the usual tradition of things when bloggers' block strike, you talk about others. Which unfortunately (or otherwise) happens to be my clients due to the fact that statistically speaking at least, a large portion of my life revolves around my work. Sometimes I don't know whether I should laugh, console or scold clients when they tell me the things they do. Take Mr A, vengeful and bitter, who wants to fight every single step of the way.

Mr A: She's been sleeping around ever since I was overseas, they even went out on my birthday! Can you believe it!

moi: Ok and how did you find out she was sleeping around?

Mr A: I have records of all her msn conversations with that guy. She told him, "You're really hot you know that?" What kind of married woman goes about saying that to other men when her husband is overseas?!

Moi: So you believe she slept around because she told a guy he's really hot?

Mr A: Yes!

Moi:.... That's hardly very conclusive..

Mr A: *Interjects while staring at my unadorned ring finger* You married?

Moi: No...

Mr A: Ah see that's where I must explain to you, you might not understand otherwise since you're not married. You don't go round telling a member of the opposite sex you're hot when you're married! It's almost sexual!


Which is where I did all three and had to go through the usual "must be pragmatic, cannot be so acrimonious but yet of course she wasn't very reasonable" crap. For the record, Mr A did sufficiently justify his otherwise ludicrous position later when he recounted to me in vivid detail just what his wife said she would do to Mr X, stuff that didn't involve giving a piece of her mind to said Mr X but rather her whole body and in particular various naughty bits in prolonged contact with his.

But of course since it's a sensitive private matter between husband and wife and invariably mundane, I shan't bore you with the details. If it included sordid details about a husband and his male lover caught in the act by an aghast wife, now that would be quite different.

On a wholly unrelated note, I like the piano piece that Allen plays in episode 93 of D Gray Man. It's beautiful, haunting, hypnotic and for some reason it's like a song that never ends. I can't quite decide whether I like the arrangement by itself or as the song with the surreal vocals. I quite suspect the unadulterated vocal piece without the voice overs from the actors will be quite stunning.

But till then this eerie haunting tune keeps floating in my head. And I am thankful that the much needed break is almost here, where I will be travelling back to where it all ended or perhaps really started. More enjoyable than before for sure. Alone, a first of sorts but then again solace in solitude, for now at least.

Musician's Song