Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Create A Legend

29th October 2009, Wednesday

A supposedly substantial 4 days break from work just concludes before I would say I am fully relishing from it...more can be expected at the end of the year (with loathsome veering from my missus and perhaps my sister who were perturbed each time I told them I am on off or leave).

My parents were gone for this long weekend, basking in the sunlight of Hainan dao, seemingly known as the Hawaii of the East... As alluring as it's alias, I doubt I would ever want to go to the land where my ancestors hailed anytime soon.

Got to spend a great amount of time with the missus over the course of the 4 days as well as she tried to take care of the 29 year old baby in the absence of his biological parents.
Really enjoyed the way she cooked her pasta which kept my appetite going for a couple of evenings.

The main feature though was the long overdue hang-out with my buddies on Sunday.
Top on our agenda for this gaming session was perhaps the European edition of Winning Eleven, PES2009.
Foo was perhaps the one man machine getting all hyped up about the game since he had such jolly time with the older editions on his PS2.
This led to that sudden urge to join the PS3 club in order to play the game (well we all know the future of the Sony game console is limitless)
That urge materialized on Sunday when we made Funz Center our rendezvous point (as usual) and we made quite a massive purchase including one copy of PES 2009 each for me, Foo and CS.
We did made some saving through my connection but whatever matters was how satisfied we would be by the end of it.
After stocking up on snacks and beverages, we hit the Pepsiman's Pad and was quick to get the game started as we got a feel of the game as we took the unfancied CFR Cluj in the Champions League (one of the licensed sparkling update of this edition).
As usual we chose "amateur", 'cos there's no point if we can't score and get humiliated.
It didn't took us long to really grew into the game as we did with previous incarnations... This Konami-made game distinct itself froom other competitor simulation soccer game (most prominently FIFA from EA Sports) is the realism of the gameplay. The fact that you ran around the pitch and happen to bump into another player regardless is it your team mate or opponent, you will lose your balance and fall.
We had so much fun when TW came and join the 4 men co-op play as we narrowly lost 6-5 to Barcelona, satisfying cruise past Real Madrid before succumbing to the midfield dynamos of Roma.
For the remaining of the night, we took the highly-talented Spain to win the World Cup and the hot team in Premier League now, Hull City and won a round robin competition, replaying the final against Argentina after my fault led to the equalizer before the likes of Dean WIndass and Bryan Hughes who were so brilliant under our control got tired and we lost it in extra time.
After being so immersed in it that we even forgotten the names of our other halves, we had to call it a night by around 1 plus, not before we tried the "Create A Legend" mode which got Howe Chern thoroughly addicted.
You basically create a young talent and like Lionel Messi, the spokesperson of the game, you have the capability to take the world by storm.
I sampled it out as a blonde dreadlock Thai guy by CS' alter ego, Tempest Dawn (which didn't impress him much) and basically just work it out in training matches as a winger.

The next day I created my personal legend, a 17 year olf Dutch striker by the name of Krystof, using my own photograph uploaded via a thumbdrive...talk about ego trip...
I began my journey by notching a brace in a amatuer football game before Real Betis was the club of my choice.
After impressing in 4 training matches which I scored in almost all the games, I finally made the bench of the first team.
Having granted like the most 25 minutes of playing time, I couldn't make my mark until I played a full 2nd half in an European tie against Chievo Verona which I put on a Man of the Match award.
Another goal as substitute and Krystof assumed first team striker position in place or more seasoned strikers like Xisco, Jose Mari and Pavone and he took his chance by his mouth and put in more swashbuckling appearances including 5 goals against highly-fancied Villareal, a crucial winner away at Santiago Bernabau and a hat-trick at Arsenal.
Although I must say I did not get to groom my overall skill in the game like astute passing or fancy moves, I had really groom to be a fearsome goal poacher and I truly relish it... it is little wonder one will be addicted to it.
I begin to take the foresight of a professional footballer where your career hangs on how many goals you scored and how disappointing it was to be to see you being replaced from the 1st team.
Really looking forward how far this legend of mine would be as the game carries on.
Meanwhile CS moaned about how his Chinese winger persona had problem finding the back of the net while Foo's Peter Crouch lookalike didn't seem to mix well with his team mates at Nantes.

The game had so much more to explore with secret legends to unlock plus full ability to customize to your pleasing..I must really wax lyricals of this new PES...well one major turn off would be the online Legends game though...as reflected by others it was tedious to register the Konami ID and even when I got it the game was laggy and totally killed the game for me. Hope they would come out with a patch or something....
But doesn't matter I want to spend more time with Krystof anyway....

Oh yeah by the way, TW annouced his proposal to his lass was successful and the wedding should be a go come a year and a half later... Time to help my buddy plan his casual wedding affair.. as he said he wants it to be...watch this space...

Japanese word of the day: 伝説(Legend) The only legend we know so far is that uncle in JCS

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kenji-kun, Asobimassho?

21st October 2008, Tuesday

Being a well-professed fan of akihabara@deep dorama, I had always kept tabs of the various characters Daruma had cosplayed.
Most are pretty recognizable including Maetel and Tetsuro from "Galaxy Express 999", Cobra from the "Space Adventure Cobra" and even Nobita from "Doraemon" (though we needed a strong hint from the man himself).
One character stood up with him in a grey suit with his head covered with a T-shirt with a logo of a hand within an eye.
Everyone was puzzled by the exact identity of that specific character, and perhaps you need to be a walking manga encyclopedia to know.
However all was unveiled when I was surfing for upcoming movies for the year 2008.... and "20th Century Boys" stood out.

Based on the manga series by Urasawa Naoki, who did the highly-rated "Monster" together with this series; it tells a tale which span a good 60 years or so, starting from 1969 or the booming Showa era where the protaganist of the story Kenji formed a clique with his buddies from school, creating their own grassy hut base, reading soft porn publications, and burying their own time capsule.
The group headed by the typical hot-headed shounen, Kenji and was assisted by the imaginative Otcho. They created their own book of prophecy which foretold what would happen to Japan and the world in the future. Otcho even created their eye-catching emblem (which Daruma proudly displayed) and that logo would haunt you throughout the tale for sure.
Like many kids who grew out their age, they buried their memories in their playground and fast forward 2 decades later, we saw Kenji a reformed rocker who had to shoulder the burden as the breadwinner of the family after inherited a liqour retailing shop which he converted into a konbini (convenience shop...naturally) and had to look after his niece, left to her tenure mysteriously one day by his elder sister.
What was to be unraveled was a deadly viral plague which hit various locations of the earth.... More and more people joining a cult headed by a masked dubious leader, Friend... and seemingly it all linked to that book of prophecy they wrote when they were young...which also led to the death of a childhood friend Donkey, bombing of Haneda airport and a giant robot romping the street of Tokyo with dealy viral spray on the final day of the 20th century.
Kenji who suffered alot of personal setbacks because of the cult was tagged a notorious terrorist in Japan since 1997 when the Friend cult infiltrated into the politics world; decided to enlist help from his childhood friends to undo those innocent prophecies he had coined as well as unveiling the true identity of Friend...

The director of the film was Tsutsumi Yukihiko who gave us the Trick series as well as other dorama I have watched like I.W.G.P. and Stand Up!
He tried to stick very closely to how Urasawa had envisioned in his manga.
I especially love the showa scenes which I believe older audience, even though not living in Japan, should have a good nostalgic tiime.
Various important events during that time like Armstrong landed on the moon and Expo 70 in Osaka were highlighted.
However a general viewer might find the constant switching of era to be a be overbearing..started with 2015 with the imprisoned mangaka to 1997 with the present Kenji with some flashes of the past then forward to 2000 where armaggeddon awaits.
There was a strong overtone of heroism which I felt was a bit cheesy and I highly doubt anyone really associate with Kenji as the leader of the pack.
In the end there were only 7 of them which seems like the magic number in Japanese heroic legends (i.e. Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai").
There was pretty little characterization of the rest of the gang and Otcho who was first suspected to be Friend only appeared suddenly halfway through the movie, fighting drug cartels in Thailand.
Others like Fukebe and Mon-chan whom we saw in the early part of the movie at the school reunion, were supposedly aloof to Kenji but agreed to join his heroic quest too easily.
I do like the mystery shrouding Friend and his brain-washing cult with the eerie screeching BGM worked perfectly everytime the cult were in the scene.

This movie was supposed to be part of a trilogy with the 2nd part coming early next year and part 3 late next year.
It boasts an ensemble cast of 300 actors, unrivaled in other productions seen before.
If you are an avid viewer of Japanese dorama and had a think for colorful background characters, you shouldn't had problem identifying most of the cast.
The clas reunion scene was really very much who's who in the Japan acting world... especially when ex-Checkers leader Fuji Fumiya was a charismatic student, Ikekami who was well received by the ladies in the reunion.
Versatile actor Karasawa Toshiaki did a great reprise of the unwilling hero Kenji, though his hard rocking days need a bit more of convincing.
It's been a while since we saw Tokiwa Takako, and like Karasawa oozes her years of experience as the no-nonsense narcotics polic inspector, Yujiki.
The other male lead Otcho was portrayed by Toyokawa Etsusuhi, a smileless hardman perhaps should be more well-known as Nakayama Miho's lover in "Love Letter".
Of the star-studded co-cast, those that really perked my interest due to their former stellar performances elsewhere were either dead or so transient....
Namese Katsuhisa, the toupee-wearing inspector in Trick was the tragic character Donkey, and somehow Tsutsumi managed to unearth a kid who looked exactly like him.
Takenaka Naoto aka the most flair uncle in the J entertainment scene or simply the eccentric maestro Franz von Stresemann in "Nodame Cantabile" was up to his antics for almost 10 seconds as a rival spiritual leader to Friend before assasinated by one of Friend's disciple.
Flamboyant singer/actor, Oikawa Mitsuhiro (or more affectionately known to us as Michi) was the lead vocal of a rock band in a cult concert with popular visual kei band, Nightmare as his backup; before Kenji came to hold them hostage with a prototype laser beam gun.
One of my favorite comedian, Fujii Takashi appeared for like 3 seconds as the emcee of a show promoting the political group linked with the cult with usual partner in crime, Yamada Hanako.
Last but not least ageless beauty (with Takarazuka broadway in her CV), Kuroki Hitomi was Kenji's elder sister who holds the key to unravel the true identity of Friend.
The actor that plays Friend is unknown constantly hiding under his masked disguise or under a mask of Ninja Hattori-kun, with doctored voice and famous line include "Kenji-kun, assobimassho? (Shall we play, Kenji?)".

The ending has a link to the next part of the trilogy...although the poster seen here in several MRT stations months before the movie was shown billed it as the next biggest manga-based film after "Death Note", I think this film didn't received that much affection compared to the popular Shounen Jump series.
When I watched with EK and Tay-chan at 12 pm showing at Bishan Junction 8, there were merely 20 odd audience on show...but I did heard near full house from others who had watched it.
Despite not in the same wavelength of a trilogy as "Lord of the Rings" or "Matrix", I think I am still hype enough for the 2nd part come next year...

Japanese word of the day: 洗脳 (Brain wash) Well people tend to be brain wash or merely jumping on the bandwagon..especially us naive Singaporean

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Live Japan TV

16th October 2008, Thursday

Japanophiles Alert!

Now there is a Windows P2PTV application which allow you to watch live streaming from most major Japanese broadcasting nation anytime, anywhere (as long as you have a Windows-running computer with stable network connection).
KeyHoleTV seems to be out for a while now and it is such a light Linux program which even a computer illiterate can download and install and stream the live TV across the Pacific Ocean in the matter of seconds.

Foo and myself were contemplating the availability of a live stream for the World Cup Qualifying 3rd round group game between Japan and Uzbekistan and I happened to stumbled to this with the magic of Google.
Although in doubt that there could be spyware attached to the application, Foo suggested "no venture no gain"... so waa laa, we now had pretty good quality live Japanese TV beset the slight lagging & negligible synchronization problem.

Imagine having the luxury of TV programs from the likes of TV Asahi, TBS, Fuji Terebi and NTV just on our LCD monitor with a touch of a button...
Not that we are in such dire need of Japanese anime, dorama and variety programs which are so readily available now on the net, but sometime you just wanna have the feel of being in Japan as I would just switch on the TV in the hotel room when I am in my 2nd homeland, even though I have no idea what ridiculous documentary was on or when every single channel is talking about long beans tainted with unknown chemical over and over again.
I am also a big fan of Japanese CM (advertisements) and marveled at how ridiculous (creative) they could be to advertise on sanitary pads, summer lagers or eye drops.

Sure had come a long way from the days when I had to rent VCDs of random episodes of "Music Station" or "Hey Hey Hey Music Champ" from Vision Anime in Adelphi and religiously record it on videotapes, so as to hope I can watch it when I am 90 years old.

Another good use of the software would be to catch J League which we had grew a slight interest in lately after watching how majestic Urawa Red Diamonds had become.
We just refuse to pay that obscene amount to Starhub who provide the footages on their sports tier (cos they couldn't afford Champions League next season).

There were a few AM digital radio stations registered to KeyHoleTv as well inclduing one at the bottom of the list called "Japanese Pop Songs" or something.
While expecting to listen to contemporary Oricon chart hits which would become ear worms like when you are just walking from shopping malls to shopping malls in Japan, you would be pleasantly surprised to listen to some true classics from many years back...some might even date back to the pre-Showa era...
Just let the music play while you relax around...perhaps "Watashi no Kare wa Hidari Kiki" would comes next up the playlist....

Actually I think this is the same program Yuu-kun introduced me weeks back but I never bothered to try...

Speaking of Yuu-kun, one of his ultimate goddess, Leah Dizon, the mixed-blood model and singer and the prime suspect to many hot-blooded Japanese's wet dream, came out to admit she is pregnant out of wedlock.
The guy who banged him seemingly is a dashing 20 something stylist or something and like Sarah Palin's underaged daughter's child's father seemingly willing to take full responsibility.
That surely is a shot to the heart to fragile Yuu-kun who was just about recovering from the devastation of finding out that young Miyazaki Aoi is already married.

Well Leah Dizon is a slut to begin with and you should not bear any illusion that she is going to stay chaste till she is married at the age of 35 or something.
Then again she sure has the quality to make a feeble man go rock hard down below...if you know what I mean.

So I am now ready to see Koda Kumi endorsing for a bust enhancing cream made from the placenta of over 35 years-old aunties....

Japanese word of the day: リア・ディゾン(Slut) Wonder did the same stylist screw my precious Takako Uehara

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Work Appraisal 2008

15th October 2008, Wednesday

Today marks the deadline for the submission of the biannual performance appraisal which was mandatory here.
However being as anti-authoritarian as my pompous American boss is, he didn't even flinch a sign of doing the appraisal with any of us as he went R Kellying into his degenerative pedophilic ways (citation needed)... He was also seen in a rather seclusive "emo" mood of late...

Wonder how would an appraisal session would him be like... *shudders at the thought of it*
It seems like it could end up being a hush hush session since he likes to do it at the eleventh hour and just appraise what you have graded yourself to be...
Or it could be a gruelling face off when you defended your proposal for perhaps a legitimate "Efficient" grade while he started striking off items on the list as if he was packing for yet another Southeast Asian child sex trip.

Though not the most passionate guy at work, I am at least proficient enough for all my working years thus far as verified by the previous 2 female supervisors (no...no under table Lewinsky service for them to win their favour)
I started being very modest to thread the water for my earlier editions of appraisals and were always graded much better than expected.
So I had decided then on to grade myself without an ounce of utter modesty...we are after all trying to sell ourselves only twice a work year to get substantial performance bonus or even a promotion.
In the past, I always managed to get away with it though I was still not thick enough to put the tick for the box beside RM or Role Model unlike a certain Beautiness who was famous to ornate his shamelessly in the past.
On the other end of the spectrum, P or Proficient is the minimum threshold I would grade myself and if more than half the categories, you got yourself a P, it's like you can kiss perhaps even a month's worth of bonus goodbye...it's the onus for the bonus, if you know what I mean.

So for this mid year one (which constitute maybe 0.3% to the actual grading come end of the work year in March which will determine whether May will be a fantastic or faded month), this is how I grade myself:

1) Teamwork: Excellent.... Hey I am a big fan of soccer and teamwork is one of the most important trait of a successful team, so I am all on for teamwork...doesn't really take into account how other think of me though.

2) Excellence in Work:
Excellent... Since jumping ship to the more routine platform, I was fighting for limelight woth the other 3 which usually was hogged by His Beautiness anyway. With the unfortunate sequence of delays due to the equipments, we still try to produce the results as fast as we could (though never fast enough). Even to the point of sacrificing our weekends... Still I doubt it look like I am that efficient enough

3) Creativity: Proficient...We are not in advertising like the guys in "Mad Men" (of course less hooking around with buxomy women at work as well) So when comes to creatvity, especially with our routine work, it really boils to how you can increase your throughput with half the time given. Which at this point is almost impossible.

4) Commitment:
Excellent.. I am willing to stay with the group through weals and woes...ok that's loyalty but can't fault my commitment though I don't lose sleep over bad results usually.

5) Interpersonal Skills: Excellent... I am great to interact with people and have a wholesome personality to mingle with everyone...just that I choose not to.

6) Expanding your Knowledge: Excellent... Shoot me for not downloading scientific papers and printing them to hard copy so as to fall into slumber just reading the first letter of the title. I am as interested in the world of molecular science as I am with multi-layer marketing. I do try to get myself interested with the know-how of my trade but to me my profession is just the avenue for cash and benefits and nothing more..sadly

I do have some other secondary roles to back me up but as aloof as he is, Shitty Green is not oblivious to how we had performed over the course of time.
Time and again people had mentioned how he was intimidated by my stern expression at work; perhaps that I could use to my advantage to get a decent appraisal.
Anyway I just got promoted this year,so zero chance for a 2nd year straight...
I am just glad to get an average level of bonus come next May which is likely to be a mere month under such economic climate...

Today also marked my 2nd wedding aniversary.
The missus and myself tend to align ourselves more to the day we were a couple (alas 25th November) and intend to celebrate by then.
Therefore she was kind of embarrassed when it was a colleague of hers who reminded her of the anniversary...As of myself, I just hope it will be end of the week soon

Japanese word of the day: 性能(Performance) I might be an average/proficient worker as well as husband at best...that's the sad truth

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Windfall or Major Loss?

14th October 2008, Tuesday

Had a ball of a day with the La Tendo gang on Saturday...
It began with another badminton session at the Nexus in Toa Payoh when for the inaugural time, the combination of myself and the missus actually convincingly beat a rather lackluster pair of Ferris and Tay-chan (the former looked like he hasn't slept for days as usual).
However Ferris was well and alive when searching for the trailer for the upcoming 20th Century Fox production of the Dragonball movie on his iPhone which the rest unaminously agreed that it scarred them soundly as it did to me.
Went back in the afternoon to pack for the next day's clearance sale at CSC then left for Coronation Plaza at Bukit Timah Road for another birthday celebration..this time it's the christened duo of Miyano and Tay-chan.

We arrived right on time but the likes of EK decided to drop in as late as we did for the missus' birthday dinner...
Slightly famished, Vincent (who else would you suspect otherwise) would politely beckon the waitress to serve the course.
We had a truly hearty time savoring the sumptous vegetarian affair this restaurant had been famous to produce which can be vividly indicated by the probability of the joint been loaded by famished diners each time we patronised it.
We finished off with the walnut carrot cake Bryan had volunteered to buy which was straight up my alley with cinnamon and all...if only there was raisin as well and I could just devour the entire cake by myself.
We did a re-selection of our secret gift partner as Chan had lost Karen's partner's name but in the end the latter didn't make it for the dinner once again but she did chosen hers in the morning.
After an unlikely bout which see 3 of us picking our own names (scary in fact..I was one of them), we finally stuck with the name for us to work our brain cells for till 24th December.
We then listened about Miyano's dismeanour with her Sims and Zoo Tycoon when she can't cheat for the former while trying hard to be rooted to infidelity in the game throughout while rearing a unicorn (with for a while got me choke to whatever I was eating at that moment when she mentioned "unicorn") in the latter.
We sent Chan and Bryan back and I would meet the 2 within hours at CSC on Sunday.

They were abnout 3/.4 through with the setting up when I arrived but there was no buzz at our table whatsoever even when I was emptying my share of sales items.
Business was bleak till 12 and I was dejected when this time last week the duo were already barely had enough time to breath.
I then decided to let fate takes it course while starting to hook up my NDS for my Final Fantasy 4 adventure while the missus frowned over my negative approach to it all.
Ferris came and lent a small space on the table for a pair of Valkyries he had customised from that awful looking Macross Archive series, hoping sell at $25 each.
This is also the set the others were dying to get off their hand a day after they bought it amid their unwillingless (since they had pre-ordered).
Bryan managed to sell his to an unknowing customer last week and Chan managed to do so this time with that usual gleeful grin illuminating from his face from the end of the transaction.
Business did managed to pick up just after 1 or 2 as our strategic location once show.
I managed to sell a couple of old trading figures I had been hoping to get off my collection since the very first time I set up booth with Chan.
The strategy of clumping all the loose figurines into the $2 box for Bryan and the gashapon sets in the $10 box from Chan worked splendidly as it was much more alluring to rummage through the mess to perhaps find some sort of "treasure" rather than seeing the items nicely displayed on the table...After the Singaporean spirit persist with the inclination for shopping center sales phenomenon.
With Chan's help, I managed to sell a recently acquired Alter Saber from "Fate/hollow ataraxia" figurine at a nice fraction of the price I paid.
There was a middle-aged lady who spent quite a sum at our table, with all 3 of us benefiting from her massive haul; but I was also the only one giving her discounts up to $7.
A scrawny bemustached guy with his younger brother kept hassling me to cut the price of my Revoltech Alter Saber which was already a steal at $15; pointing out how paint had scraped off from the sword handle or how unsightly the manufacturer error was for a joint (as if I was to blame).
But being so malevolent that afternoon with the notion to clear whatever I can since I will only be there for 2 weeks, I gave him $3 discount.
Another sales of a gashapon set I had spent like $30 over for just for one of the figurine but only sold at $20 when I should had jacked up the price by $5 if I knew there was another variant of the figurine I want in it making it an almost complete set...bummer.
The ultimate steal was this group of suspected Taiwanese who had their eyes on the Bleach Characters collection (like many before them but were put off by the price) at the stroke of us closing the stall for the day.
After some consideration and knowing there was not much time to ponder, they decided to clear it all from me at the price I quoted $180 for 19 figurines surely is a steal considering Part 1 could easily cost them almost half that price.
They were so infatuated with Bleach they also went for a complete Vol. 2 of the Daizen series which I let go at the cut-throat offer of $20 (cost me twice that previously).
But once again their bargaining tactic from multiple sources worked and I cut $10 off that price since they had made the single most extravagant purchase we have for our history at CSC.
Then the rotund sister even made off a nice Hitsugaya figure with his Bankai ice dragon from Vol. 3 Daizen as a gift which I was reluctant to let go but they knew I was easy meat and wouldn't take no as an answer.
So by the end of the day, staring at the wad of cash in my pocket,surely it had been a fulfilling day of sales much exceeding what I had anticipated but at the same time when I realize how much loss I had made with those incredible low price, I couldn't help but felt a tinge of regret at the same time...

Japanese word of the day:販売(Sales) After the great showing, I literally left with a handful to sell this week...

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Worrying Times Ahead

10th October 2008, Friday

While reaching home yesterday, caught abit of news snippets on how local restaurants and car dealers are reeling from the alarming increase in Japanese Yen rate.
I went on a check and it seemed like by the end of today's trading, it ended at around $1.50 for 100 yen which is the highest for about 3 years.
The entire subprime and credit crunch crisis at the US surely is taking its toll on the rest of the world in devastating fashion.
The reason for the hike of the yen rate seems like Aso's government refuse to cut the interest rate of several central banks.

This surely had a rippling effect on my life style especially my figure collecting hobby as almost everything comes straight from my 2nd homeland; I am sure the people at La Tendo would be well fumbled by how they are going to relay the higher cost due to the stronger yen rate to their customers who are used to buying at reasonable rates (though most still regard La Tendo as a retailer who jack their prices unreasonably).
I would surely need to cut back on my extravagance in figurines, manga, games or whatever tools of my hobby indulgence from Japan for a while till the rate drops back to what it supposed to be but it seems highly unlikely to be anytime soon.

Just 5 years back, the rate was at around $1.60 which stifled the spending power in Japan greatly and we found solace a few years on when it dropped to $1.25 at one point!
Seems like it would be back to those times when you have to think twice about changing too much as it would adds up to a few hundreds more.
Now our pending onsen trip to Akita in February seems to be jeopardize as the JR pass and lodging would cost so much more now and I certainly can't change that amount that I want to bring over unless I save up intensively for the next few months.
The missus isn't too please but was hapless to look on the fringe, hoping that the rate will fall back a few decimals over the next few months.

As our nations are coping with the backlash of the financial crisis, the government is advising everyone to tighten their purse string for the imminent future and brace for a period where unemployment will be on the rise when company might freeze their employment and even slash manpower... It would be back to the early 2000s when I first join the workforce again, gleefully take whatever measly bonus package offered to us and generally just glad to be employed.

Rumors were spreading like bonfire at work that Shitty Green would spend 50% of his time next year back in the States, officially transferring authority and power to another PI.
While we have had amicable interaction with him over the years, it seems like he did had a reputation on scringing on rewarding his staff (an exodus since last year was seen and he had yet recovered from the massive loss of manpower) as well as well known to pressure people for results.
The 2nd point was highly doubtful as he used to have one of the girls from the Tea Break clique who had been just sitting around, chatting over the phone and planning for her wedding which drew the indignance of BY and co.
Additionally, when come to pressurizing for results, none could be as blatant and vociferous as Shitty Green himself.

However senior guys like His Beautiness and JO were now worried about the transition, perhaps it certainly is an issue to fret about and not taken lightly.

Another I am expecting the bonus package to be significantly decimated for next year due to the whole financial shenanigans and just glad I had 2 good years in terms of bonus and wage increment.
Although it never can be too greedy when comes to pay, I am just glad to stay put and collect the same amount for the time being on monthly basis.... But nevertheless the future surely looks bleak.

Japanese word of the day: 円 ~en~(Yen) Poor Beautiness, his spending power for the forthcoming Japan trip had been significantly stifled overnight

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Last Straw

8th October 2009, Wednesday

I doubt I will watch another live S League match for now...highly doubtful for the new season as well unless I change my club allegiance or there's a major overhaul of personnel to Sengkang Punggol.

Too many times we had thought the team is on the mend and producing results, yet in the end we left bitterly disappointed by the woeful aftermath left by the despondent performance of a limited team.

The last straw was on Monday when we face perhaps the only team we can and should comfortably beat...Balestier Khalsa, the team etched at the bottom of the table with a run of 10 consecutive losses.

Sengkang was buoyed by an encouraging 1-1 home draw against the on-form Tampines squad (whom we witnessed an impressive victory over SAFFC) which came after a respectable defeat against SAF in a televised match which we should had carved out a draw if not for a wretched own goal.
The writing is on the wall for our 3rd league victory at home in Hougang Stadium against the very young and inexperience Tigers... Foo had been inculcating the winning notion for 2 weeks before this tie; we even took a day off from work to witness perhaps the most comprehensive victory (with more than one goal scored since that 3-1 success against the Young Lions).
But we had counted the eggs too early before they hatch, especially when the team in question is Sengkang Punggol.

The signs were ominous prior to the game when interim coach for a while, Mirko Grabovac who inspired the team for gritty display since the uber-defensive Sawsadimata Dasuki was ousted decided to leave Singapore, citing the need to be with his family as the sole reason.
Although we have a new competent gaffer in Swandi Ahmad, Mirko was really in the main reason we are now not bottom-dweller.

The sky was overcast and heavy downpour duly followed in the afternoon, putting the match in jeopardy.
Fortunately the rain subsided as fast as it arrived and by early evening the whole island was cool, the perfect remedy for a great game.

But I wasn't too please to listen to our starting line-up when I arrived at the stadium.
Our main marksman, Reginaldo (who only score one petty penalty so far btw) is out through suspension and we do not really have much attacking option on the bench except for youngsters like Kato, Duncan David Elias or Ben Low.
Swandi felt we need the experience, so he drafted in 2 players like Sufyandi Naib and Sobrie Maselan to lead the attack when neither are orthodox strikers.

We took our seats at the open terrace like we did at Tampines hoping for a change of luck and what we witnessed in the first half was an insipid display by the Dolphins who lack imagination up front with Haris Sumri looked set for a torrid night missing some passes and commiting schoolboy mistakes.
However he was the one with the best chance in the 1st half but could only head meekly towards the Tigers' custodian.
We knew that the keeper is the Archilles' heel of our opposition yet we could not conjure a proper shot on goal.

On the contrary, we allow the Tigers to come attack at us and our defense don't look sound at all when you have a pacey Saruta doing his typical mazy runs all night long.
Onyekachi could had put the cellar team one up if not for the woodworks and Ratna Suffian was non existent for most of the game, you might not notice he was playing at all.

Except for a reprieve in the closing minutes in the 1st half and the beginning 10 minutes of the 2nd, we were always on the back foot as we lack someone in the center as Hicks was out of position as the holding midfielder while skipper Simic was pushed too up front.
Sometime the 5 players up front love to cluster together with Tigers' captain, Seto marshalling his defense well but they had not much to do as well.
The best opportunity for a goal was when leftback, Ali Imran Lomri broke free into the Tiger's penalty area and picked out Haris Sumri who had 2 chances to an open goal one on one with the Tigers' custodian, Daniel Ong but can't execute a finish which explains why we had only 11 goals in 27 games.

I knew it would bite back on us and true indeed within 10 minutes or so, a poorrly defended corner resulted in young, lanky midfielder Rai to thump in the opening goal for the visitors.
The lead was extended when Yamamoto brought down the Tigers' attacker and Bekombo convert an easy penalty (seriously you can put anyone, and you'll convert you penalty against our keeper) to add more misery for his former club.

For the remaining 18 minutes or so, we were just chasing shadows and Bekombo should had score a sitter to put the final nail in our coffin.
Most players including the skipper were playing with shoulders down, doomed to lose and the odds of them scoring evaporated there and then.
The punter uncles at our terrace were cheering hard for the Tigers while for seasoned (pretty foolish if you are one anyway) Dolphins fan just deemed it as another night at Hougang.

Seriously losing to a team as raw as Balestier is blasphamous, to me even a draw is not good enough... The limited potential this team possess is truly saddening...
The abject performance once again proves to be the last straw for us as we looked forward to a new season but highly unlikely much will change....

Over at the English Premier League, one majestic club mirrors the fate of Sengkang Punggol... Tottenham Hotspurs.
By losing at home to newly-promoted Hull City, Spurs is now etched in the bottom with their inability to score haunting them much like our Dolphins...
They are experiencing their worse start since 1918 when Titanic sank...perhaps they would sank to the nether divison too... too bad Sengkang wouldn't experience the pain of relegation...

This weekend hasn't been too jolly for the missus as well...
Had a bad fall while we heading for badminton on Saturday mornin, badly sprained her ankle and palm... Then lost control of her drinking limit when she doused herself with red wine at her cousin's wedding till she regurgitated the 2004 harvest into a plastic bag on the trip bag in his Dad's bus.

Japanese word of the day: わら ~wa-ra~(Straw)I wonder how many Sengkang fans remain loyal to the club after Monday

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Escalating Cost of Living!

3rd October 2008, Friday

Back to work after a day break and was surprised to find a couple of familiar new faces.
A former course mate from my University days who had been with my former company for the past 6 years finally jumped ship to one of the group leaders here.
It was a long process when he kept negotiating for an astronomical hike in his current pay which the HR is resistant to pay. I guess in the end, he just back off from his request and took the job just as his former lab was closed down.
Meanwhile there was another lady whom I had seen from my work out session in the office from time to time and supposedly hailed from my previous employers as well who had came for interview with Shitty Green weeks back.
Aftering enquiring from His Beautiness about the boss and environment, she finally joined as the 9th member of our group...what a bulging sum when it was almost half that number before I joined 2 years back.
Suddenly my current workplace had became a refugee camp for those from my old workplace...

Didn't notice the hike in fare during my MRT trip to work and supposedly every trip now had increased by 3-4 cents.
Our nation now surely is feeling the brunt of the oil prices as well as the precarious global economy...
Some financial analysts are fearing a repeat of the 1920s Great Depression after the bankruptcy of big financial houses like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. The domino effect is alrealy in motion with some European banks in major debts and in need of assistance from their governments while the stock market are in an endless bear run.

In Singapore, the government and associated organisation like MAS are trying their best to curb the rot to be spread here but it's inevitable.
Companies may start to tighten their purse-string; I am surely expecting much decimated bonus by next May.
The situation is worsen with the price hike of various common amenities and services we need day in day out.
The price hike in public transport is always prompt with the world trend and unlikely to reduce when the oil situation subside.
Then Singapore Powers staked a claim to increase utilities prices especially the electrical bill by a good 20% or more.
The utilities bill for my household has always been hefty as we had been addicted to sleep in air conditioned rooms every night... It's a habit that is hard to give up on. So as long as we are able to foot the bill, we just will stick to our routine and stare at the alarming sum at the end of each bill.

Newspaper is an important nourishment to the mind, keeping you up to date with what is happening around in the world.
Shunning it will make you trapped in your own world and unable to hold any solid conversation about current affairs.
For me I had my daily dosage of tabloid size paper from SPH which is free (which is the plus point)
However SPH did increased the price of all their papers to keep in line with the high production costs.
What happen to those days when a copy of Straits Times is 50 cents?

So now in this oxymoronic predicament, you have to save on transport fee by cooping yourself at home. But you cannot turn on the light, or PC or TV to save on electrical bill.
You can't watch the news on TV but newspaper had become too hefty to buy...
Perhaps the best solution is to walk to your nearby Mac Donald's, buy a cup of coffee and sit in the air conditioned restaurant the whole day, hogging on to their newspaper. You can even watch TV at those branches with the LCD screens.

Joke aside, surely I have to start going back to that ultra frugal lifestyle (as if I have one).
But no more spending $100 odd on a stand up comedy...no more few hundreds on a high end ear phone...no more buffet dinner at Raffles Hotel (but that's once in a very blue moon, so still fine)
Ultimately might have to cut back on my hobby like figurines, DVDs, manga, games which I am trying to, but resistance to temptations so far had proven futile.
Meanwhile the missus and myself still have the cheek to plan a long vacation to Japan which will cost us thousands of dollars.
I do have money set aside for that while not depleting the bank account which seems possible at this juncture.

It's truly hard to acclimatise to hardship after enjoying such a wild time financially... But as long as we do not incur huge debts by taking loan or unable if pay off my child's education (if I have one), I think things should remain status quo....

Japanese word of the day:増やしなさい(Escalate) What goes up must come down...well not cost of living though

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I wanna be a Picasso band member!

1st October 2008, Wednesday

After a great night walking down the nostalgic memory lane with TW on Sunday, he seems to be on the roll to seek some more material to relish those good old days.

Our love for Takahashi Rumiko's "Maison Ikkoku (
めぞん一刻)" is well documented as it was the endearing love story which we were addicted to during our puberty.
The uphill task of Godai to win the heart if Kyoko-san as well as finding a path he should lead after graduation was a storyline most people can relate to regardless which decade you are in when you watch the series (the series was referance from the mid 1980s).
The opening and ending themes of the series were as equally endearing to rabid fans like ourselves. Tracks like Anzenchitai's "Sukisa", Gilbert O' Sullivan's "Alone Again" and Matsuo Kiyomori's "Sunny Shining Morning" really builds the mood of the series.
However if we were to throw in the vote for our favorite themes of the series, it surely has to be the various songs done by the 3 men band, Picasso.
In total Picasso contributed 4 songs to the series all of which are melodic ending themes. The direction of "ci.ne.ma", "Fantasy" and "Begin the Night" was so well done, it was almost unparallel even till this day.

With the magic of youtube, you can often find the themes for your viewing pleasure but it seems like some kind sould out there even uploaded the original music videos from Picasso.
Though we had listened to their songs for the past 10 years or so, we never really know how the musicians look like, untile TW sent me the link to the video yesterday....now our lives surely is complete...

This is the original ending sequence for the anime series for "Begin the Night", a song we memorized by heart with the romanji lyrics back in those days:

This is the original music video:

The synopsis of the MV seems to be a romantic rendezvous between a caretaker of a observatory and Ugly Betty (maybe not that ugly at the time this was shot).
The scene began as the final show of the theater and the crowd departs; the lonely bespectacled caretaker portrayed by the lead vocals, Tsujihata was clearing up the rubbish the inconsiderate crowd left behind (seriously do you eat popcorns just to look at the sky?) when his love interest came in behind him, removing her jacket, revealing 7 layers of clothing within.
The actress is actually quite cute you must give it to her...
While singing about beginning a great night with her, he dimmed the light and taking full advantage of his position to put on an extra sky-gazing showing for her alone (itself may have cost her 500yen).
However to ruin a wonderful observation of the constellation and Milky Way, Tsujihata jumped in the foreground for his love confession.
Anyway you can just see the sillouette of Tsujihata which makes him much better looking without the face of course.
So where do the other 2 band members feature in this MV as you might say, they seemed to take on the role of security guards who dropped by the theater for their rounds then quietly leave, as not to disturb a romantic session between the 2...
Wow just when the geeky-looking lead vocals is about to get laid after 35 years of fruitless searching for a mate, the other members have to accept their fate and just watch from afar...
Man I am really aspired to be one of the background member now...'cos they are truly the ultimate losers in this loser band!

Just when you think things couldn't get even worse, I managed to find the MV of another song we really like from Picasso... "ci.ne.ma".
Below is the original animated sequence which truly is a piece of art that deserves the cult following:

Don't you just love the synchronized chime with the water doplet hitting on the brass key? Anyway here is the actual music video..be afraid...be very afraid:

Instead of the key, the chime now is synchronized with the poor little girl who dropped her kitten.
She was genuinely scared stiff when she saw the apparitions of the band in total fashion disaster running towards her. Hope she made enough money from the video to allow her a comprehensive therapy session to mend her mental wound.
For the rest of the video you see the trio of dorks doing their trade from the secluded dirt track to the grass field to even a scary cave; with the damsel in distress now severely wrecked from the ordeal especially witnessing how Tsujihata pull the poor effort to conjure what he think is a dance while the wretched background members listlessly play their accordion and bass respectively.
There is no relation to the cinema-themed love story as the song implies...
This video has no plot or whatsoever and truly has to be one of the worst (if not the worst) music video ever made... This was justified when the band had their eyes twinkled in the most horrendously primitive way.
In the end they wrapped our scarred heroine in their trenchcoat in a manner only Michael Jackson can relate to...

Sometime ignorance is a blessing... "Begin the Night" and "ci.ne.ma" will continue to be two of my favorite songs ever...but hopefully I would not be reminded of those awful videos...
Japanese word of the day: ひどい ~hi-do-i~(awful)Maybe Tsujihata and guys should do a Milli Vanilli and find some pretty boys to masquerade as them, so as to hide their awfulness

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