Wednesday, 31 October 2007

On Leave For the Week! Whee!

I'm on leave from work for the week.
Which naturally means I'm gonna be at home lepaking the entire week.
Which also means I'll be too busy watching Transformers cartoons to blog.
But somehow...
I now find myself in the office at 10pm.
Don't ask me.
It's a mystery.

Monday, 29 October 2007

To Singapore and Back With Transformers DVD Goodness

Woohoo! Look what I got in Singapore!

The Transformers movie 2-disc special edition DVD, babeh!

Now I can watch those nifty transformations over and over again, and skip all those annoying Sector Seven scenes! Woohoo!

Oooh, but this is not the best thing I got. I also got the best early Xmas present evar from a certain lovable but cold and royal deity...

Behold.... a shoe box.

Ok, a shoe box with an Autobot logo on it. Now, it's not that Nike shoe Prime.

Open the shoe box, and you get this coooool metal box:

Now, open the metal box, and you get all sorts of cool Transformers goodies:

Yup, inside the box, there is a free keychain, a 2008 calender, a TF movie postcard, and also a very cool, black envelope with the words 'Freedom is the Right of All Sentient Beings' embossed on it.

Open that up, and you get a whole bunch of postcards with artwork from the now defunct Dreamwave's comicbooks!

But wait. That's not the best part. The best part, is of course the DVDs themselves, which come in this blue box.

Open it up, and you'll get this cool booklet like thing:

that contains with FOURTEEN (yes, count 'em, FOURTEEN!) DVDs, containing EVERY SINGLE Generation One Transformers episode ever made - spanning the pilot episode "More Than Meets The Eye" to "The Return of Optimus Prime" AND INCLUDING the 1986 animated movie as well!


Check out the episode list!

Not just that, the 'booklet' itself is crammed full of Transformers goodness. Each page features a cover from Dreamwave's Transformers comics, which means Pat Lee and gang's artwork grace the pages of the booklet as well.

AND there is also synopsis on the Transformers history and biodata of individual Transformers as well!

Sure, it's all in Chinese (it's made for the China market, I think), but heck who cares? I already know the history and biodata anyway. I just think it's cool that they could come up with an almost perfect package of Transformers goodness like this.

Now excuse me, I'm off to relive my childhood!!! WHEEE!

Friday, 26 October 2007

Singapore, Singapore, From You I Must Flee

Singapore, Singapore, how do I love thee?
To tell the truth, not that much really.
I like to make fun of your fines and your HDBs,
And that tomato sauce in your wantan mee.
I like your FHM because the chicks wear bikinis.
But sometimes they tend to be rather fugly.
Every time I come here I spend so much money,
Eat one burger also cost me RM twenty.
I love your Borders, Kinokuniya and HMVs,
Oh, and your toyshops and those convenient MRTs.
But woe is me who is tempted so easily,
Especially when I see a rare deluxe Bumblebee,
When I see the price I always very happy,
But when convert back to ringgit I sakit hati.
So Singapore, tomorrow from you I must flee,
If I stayed longer I'd be broke as can be.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Stardust, Starlust... Watch This Movie You Must.

Not a review.
Starlight, starbright,
First star I see tonight.
Stardust, starlust,
Watch this movie you must.
Sure, it ain't EXACTLY like the book,
But what it leaves, it does well.
And what it omits, is not felt at all.
And what it adds, makes it more fun.
Heck, it's one of my favorite movies this year.
And I think I like it more than Transformers.

If all stars looked like Claire Danes,
Then I wish they'd fall on us more.
Because we'd be doing a lot more than wishing upon them
And Michelle Pffeifer is scary.
Quite hot too.
But only when her character is young.
When she's old, it's very scary.
That Charlie Cox dude is not bad either.
Just like the book - blur, but endearing.
And that Septimus dude.
I liked the ghosts too.
And that dude from The Office who is not Steve Carrel.
And there's Bobby De Niro.
Who rocks.
And dances.
And pirouettes.
Don't ask.
He has a reputation to maintain.

Stardust is a fantasy.
But it's not LOTR.
It's not Harry Potter.
And it sure as hell ain't The Stinker.
It's a fairy tale.
As sweet and fairy-tale like as can be.
And heck, it's NEIL GAIMAN.
That alone should be enough to convince you.
Because Neil Gaiman rocks.
Thank god he didn't take the Alan Moore route,
And just let bloody stupid directors ruin his stories.
Oh, and go read the book too.
Don't worry, it won't spoil the movie for you.
Or vice versa.
I watched this with two die-hard Gaiman fans,
And they both approved.
As do I.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Guns, Carrots and Monica Belucci's Boobs

Not a review!
SEX! (Somewhat censored!)


You know what I hate?
Movies like this.
Where everything is so absurd,
Where the nudity is so gratuitious,
And the violence is so in your face,
And the dialogue is so corny,
And the story is non-existent,
But you have so much fun,
That you don't give a damn.
Kinda like 300, but with GUNS.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Harry Potter and The Death of Imagination

You've finished your 'epic' fantasy series, all seven books.
You've made tons of money off 'em, a lucrative movie deal, and have captured the imagination of kids all over the world.
What do you do next?

Simple, try to make MORE money capturing the attention of the gay community by announcing that one of your most revered characters is a homosexual, of course.

JK Rowling outs Dumbledore as gay

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has revealed that one of her characters, Hogwarts school headmaster Albus Dumbledore, is gay.

She made her revelation to a packed house in New York's Carnegie Hall on Friday, as part of her US book tour. She took audience questions and was asked if Dumbledore found "true love". "Dumbledore is gay," she said, adding he was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, who he beat in a battle between good and bad wizards long ago.

The audience gasped, then applauded. "I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy," she said.

"Falling in love can blind us to an extent," she added, saying Dumbledore was
"horribly, terribly let down" and his love for Grindelwald was his "great tragedy".

"Oh, my god," Rowling, 42, concluded with a laugh, "the fan fiction".

Oh yer gods. It's not just the fan fiction that Rowling should be worrying about. One thing is for sure, one can never look at the books in the same way again.

IMHO, Rowling should have bloody kept a dignified silence on the whole subject, not because it's 'bad' to have your character be gay, but because it just spoils the fun for readers who like making up their own conclusions and imagining what certain characters are like in the books they read (of course, I don't even see why the question of Dumbledore's sexuality should be relevant at all in the first place. Not like it adds anything extra to the story after all, it's a bloody children's fantasy novel, fer gawds sake).

You see, the impression one has of a character plays a BIG role in the enjoyment of a book. The magic of books is that you don't really need to EXPLAIN everything in detail - you just sort of made things up in your head, guessed and imagined your way through the books. You could sort of guess that Aslan is something like Jesus in The Chronicles of Narnia, but it was up to you whether to actually take that view of the character and stories. If you did, fine, but that doesn't mean that everyone who read that book took the same views as well.

This is exactly why I think that although the LOTR movies were awesome, they also took a lot of imagination out of the books, because people would be reading about Legolas and instead of imagining in their minds what the elf looked like, they would see Orlando Bloom instead.

Same thing there. With this announcement, Rowling has changed the entire perception of future readers of her book regarding Dumbledore. Where before, fans could imagine whatever they wanted of Dumbledore, whether he was gay or not, whether he and Professor McGonagall had a 'thing' going on, or heck, just dispense with the whole sexuality thing and take him as an omnipresent Gandalf/Obi-Wan type father-figure; now they only have one possibility.

And armed with this new knowledge, possibly the only imagining that readers will be doing is stuff like:
  • "Hmmm, so is that why Dumbledore is so protective of Harry all along?"
  • "Is that why Dumbledore likes to be alone with Harry so much?"
  • "Should Michael Gambon act more effeminate in the next movie?"
  • "So THAT'S why Dumbledore wanted those socks!"
  • "Is that why he is so good with his wand?"
  • "Could something that happened in the past be the reason that Tom Riddle hates Dumbledore so much?"
  • "If Dumbledore was smittened with the 'bad wizard' type, does it mean he likes it rough?
  • "If Dumbledore is gay, could Professor McGonagall be a lesbian too? She IS single and always hugging Professor Trelawney after all..."
  • "Was Dumbledore 'fond' of Snape as well?"
  • "So is Dumbledore the receiver or the receivee in a relationship?"


Sunday, 21 October 2007

Book Review: Temeraire, Throne of Jade & Black Powder War (Naomi Novik)

Title: The Temeraire series, Books 1-3 (Temeraire, Throne 0f Jade & Black Powder War)
Author: Naomi Novik

Set during the Napoleanic Wars, the Temeraire series tells the story of Captain Will Laurence, originally from the Navy, whose world falls apart when his ship picks up a dragon egg from a French vessel. The dragon hatches on board his ship, and to Laurence's horror, decides to choose him as its partner. He now has to forsake his life as a Navy officer, and become the aviation captain of the fighting dragon Temeraire. Over the course of the three books, Laurence not only has to deal with being out of depth in his new world of aviation war, but also with the fact that Temeraire is no ordinary dragon...

What I Liked:
  • I love the idea of each country or region having their own breeds of dragons
  • I like how she makes it so that dragons are so taken for granted in her world, and in a real life historical period as well.
  • I also like how dragons in different regions are treated differently, according to the country's cultures and the myths concerning dragons.
  • I like how Novik treats dragons NOT as being dumb killing machines, but rather, being treated like the human characters as well.
  • Very good pace throughout the three books
  • It's interesting to see how Laurence and Temeraire interact, and how they both learn and educate each other at the same time.
  • Battle scenes were quite exciting

What I Didn't Like:
  • By the third book, the banter between Laurence and Temeraire was losing its novelty and becoming a little stale. Just a little.
  • I finished the books too fast. :-(

I wouldn't have discovered this serise if not for the fact that Kinokuniya had a 20% discount on them at the time, and the cool covers attracted my attention in more ways than one.

It's been ages since I've read a set of books that have captivated me as much as these. The last series where I've read all three books in one go was... gee, I really can't remember the last time I read the entire series in one shot so quickly.

Yeah, I actually finished the books really quickly (the last one, I finished in just under a day); but that's really not because they were short or too easy to read. It's because they were so fun to read.

Although like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell it combines the elements of fantasy and real life history together, Novil's world has slightly detail in it, and a lot more action as well. but what she may lack in details while fleshing out her fantasy world, she more than makes up for with her treatment of dragons.

Dragons here are not mre creatures, but characters worthy of the human ones as well. In fact, compared to the human characters, the dragons make the story a whole lot more interesting. She also introduces a lot of cool concepts about the relationships between man and dragon, and adds a nice element of intrigue by having different breeds of dragons from different countries, and illustrating cultural differences between countries in the way they treat dragons (see book 2, which is set mostly in China).

She also adds in a couple of great action sequences as well, and the battle scenes involving the naval fleet in book one, and the ground sorties in book three are especially cool to imagine.

This a great little fantasy series that I'm grateful to have found. A great combination of great characters, fast paced plot and action, and very few parts that were boring. Now I can't wait for the next book - Empire of Ivory.

Where to Get It:
The only place I've seen the books with the covers shown above is Kinokuniya, though I've seen the books with different covers in MPH as well. Alternatively, you can also get the books in HARDCOVER from BooksXcess in Amcorp Mall, for less than RM20 (but the covers aren't as nice as the new paperbacks though...)

Friday, 19 October 2007

Revoltech Smackdown Series #1: Macross one-on-one, with special guest referee, Optimus Prime!

PS: This post actually started off as a kinda retrospective look at the world of Gundam, Robotech and Macross, and my thoughts on those shows. But after going through the Wikipedia for those anime and getting confused by all the different types, versions, characters and weird mechs; I decided to sod it for a lark and just fool around with my BRAND NEW Macross VF-1J and VF-1S posable Revoltech action figures instead! Woohoo!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

A Brief History of Jimmy Eating The World

It's been an exciting week in music for me personally (kinda shows eh, with so many music-related posts this past week), and it just keeps getting better, now with the release of a new album by my favorite band - Jimmy Eat World.

Anyway, yesterday, while others were still celebrating Hari Raya (even after the holidays were over), I 'celebrated' the release of Chase This Light - by loading my iPod with every single Jimmy Eat World (I refuse to use the acronym for the band) song I could find, and listened to them in order of the year they were released.

The result? I actually got to hear how the band has progressed from its early days as one of the pioneers of the now maligned 'emo-rock' music movement (Static Prevails was apparently one of the earliest ever 'emo' records to be released by a major label, though they didn't know it at the time...), to the band they are today.

So, I hereby declare yesterday Jimmy Eat World Day, and I shall now offer a short (ok, maybe not so short) history of the band.

Comprising of Jim Adkins (lead vocals, guitar), Tom Linton (guitar, vocals), Rick Burch (bass) & Zach Lind (drums); the band was formed in 1993 (yes, almost 15 years ago!!!), and are regarded as one of the 'pioneers' of 'emo rock', a genre that has now been hijacked by crap-ass bands like Fall Out Boy (PTUI!) and Good Charlotte (PTOOOI!) and has sadly, lost all credibility.

Anyway, way before they hit the big time or even signed to a major label, Jimmy Eat World released a self-titled LP that sounded a lot more like a punk rock album than an emo-rock one, though they did show signs of the direction their music was headed to. For instance, the opener for the album, er.. Opener, has a glorious, almost plaintive-sounding guitar section that showed more than an inkling of the melody they were capable of.

Static Prevails, which is their 'official' debut album, also sounds 'harder' and rougher, and is probably my least favorite of their albums, despite the presence of one of my favorite Jimmy Eat World songs - Call It In The Air (I love the duelling vocals in the chorus). But then came Clarity in 1999.

Clarity was in some sense THE album that established them as masters of their 'emo' style, and also established their sound as the template' for people to associate 'emo rock' to.

Listening to the album immedietely after Jimmy Eat World and Static Prevails, I found it to be much more melodious and more er... emotional than the first two albums.

While songs like Table for Glasses and Lucky Denver Mint made it to my list of favorite Jimmy Eat World songs, and other songs like Clarity and Goodbye Sky Harbour also nice (though IMHO the latter could have been AT LEAST five minutes SHORTER!); nothing else on that album can beat the delicate tinkling at the beginning and the end of A Sunday, which is naturally MY favorite song on the album.

Oh, but wait till you hear this. Apparently, after making Clarity, the band was dropped by their label (SUCKERS!) and guess what those stupid money-whoring major label suits missed out on? Bleed American.

This is probably the album that helped the band go mainstream. Heck, even if you'd never heard of the band before, you'd probably have heard songs like The Middle (it just takes some time, little girl you're in the middle...) or Sweetness (I love screaming this song in the car, and headbanging to the pounding drums)

It's not just the popular songs that are great in this album. Other songs like Hear You Me and My Sundown are awesome, emotional ballads; and the band's knack for melody shines through in other songs like Your House, If You Don't, Don't and A Praise Chorus. Somehow, the title track doesn't grab me just as much though. Maybe because it's a lot more punk than emo. Not that it's a bad song though, I just don't prefer it all that much to the rest of the album...

Riding the tailcoats of Bleed American's success, the band released Futures, which to date is my favorite Jimmy Eat World album, despite having a lot more 'skipped songs' (meaning songs I would usually skip, not that the CD skips) than Bleed American.

So, if I skip so many songs, why do I say it's my favorite then? Well, because the album also has the most number of 'most-repeated' songs on my list. I can listen tothe following songs - Futures, Work, Kill, Polaris and 23 - over and over again without getting tired of the songs, and I can also sing them over and over and over again without getting ever getting bored of the lyrics.

23 especially is my favorite Jimmy Eat World song OF ALL TIME. Not only is the song brillianly emotional yet melodic, the guitars and harmony are just simply awesome, the soaring bits of the song just blows me away; and best of all, it runs an awesome seven minutes long, with nary a boring bit throughout the song. All the ingredients for my perfect kind of song.

Make no mistake about it, if this song had been released 7 years ago, it would have been THE SOUNDTRACK to my 23-year-old life. Unfortunately, it wasn't, but it still remains one of my favorite songs of all time.

So, you can see why after the high of Futures and in particular 23, why the band's subsequent releases - the EP Stay on My side Tonight and the current Chase The Light) were slightly disappointing to me. Sure, Stay on My Side Tonight had the awesome Disintegration and a great cover of Heatmiser's Half-Right, but the other two songs were just blah, and the remix of Drugs and Me was plain awful.

As for Chase The Light, I'm still trying to get into the album, and though there are no glorious moments like A Sunday on Clarity, Sweetness on Bleed American, and (of course) 23 on Futures; it's still a decent sounding-album. So far, I like the title track, the lead single Big Casino, and Carry You.

But somehow, somewhere, the album sounds a little too bland, IMHO. And just a little TOO polished. Oh, it's still got the classic Jimmy Eat World sound, but somehow the band sounds like it's just rehashing its ideas somewhat.

Oh well, I guess you can't always expect your favorite bands to deliver ALL THE TIME, right? Besides, if their future albums suck, I can always listen to 23 over and over again...

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Commercial Pop is Dead, All Hail the Internet Indie Revolution

Foreword: This post started out as a list of my favorite Radiohead songs. But I got a little sidetracked...

I've mentioned before that what you think of Radiohead could differ in many ways, but really, one cannot deny that the whole 'experiment' of releasing In Rainbows on their own instead of through a music label is a stroke of genius (or idiocy, which ever you prefer. Fine line and all etc. etc.).

Since more and more people are listening to their music on mp3 players while on the go (seriously, who wants to carry CD players or (good grief) cassette Walkmans around anymore?), it's no surprise to see that CD sales are dropping. So why bother making CDs anymore?

Frankly, I don't even buy CDs anymore, unless the band is one that I really really like. In fact, out of the mere four CDs I've bought this year, only one - Foo Fighters' Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace - was bought without first listening to the entire downloaded version first.

The rest - Neon Bible (Arcade Fire), Sky Blue Sky (Wilco), Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer (Of Montreal) - were purchased after I'd listened to them online and decided that they WERE worth forking out RM50 for; and I've practically worn those CDs out playing them on loop in the car stereo (anyone who is a passenger in my car often enough would notice that I seem to be playing the same songs over and over again all the time). AND that's not all - after buying the CDs, the first thing I do is always to rip them into the PC so I can play them in my iPod as well.

So, with less and less need for CDs this days, it makes sense that Radiohead should decide to screw all that CD printing shit and release their damn album on the Internet. Let people pay whatever they want for it, decide whether they want to fork out money for the physical copy of the album (in this case, the Discbox set), AND THEN ONLY go and bloody make the CDs on demand, based on the number of orders.

And with so many music blogs and websites feverishly promoting the album and the news all over the Internet, and downloads of the songs already available everywhere (go check out, it's an indie music lover's dream); who needs to spend money on advertising, promotions or marketing, eh?

Of course, not every musical act can pull off this sort of shit. New bands in particular would probably still need the help of record labels; and most people probably wouldn't even bother paying a dime for the new Britney Spears album if given a choice. And don't even get me started on the mass production conveyor belt of albums that is the Chinese Music Industry.

Anyway, it's nice to see that a band as big as Radiohead, with nothing to lose (it's not like they need the money anyways, right?) is game for such an experiment. And here's hoping that this isn't the first and the last of such unconventional independant music-marketing methods from the big names of music.

Yes, Internet is Killing the Popstar. All hail the Internet Indie Revolution.

External links:
The Telegraph: Radiohead Album Experiment 'Paying Off'
Pitchfork: Jonny Greenwood Talks In Rainbows

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Wrapping My Radiohead Around My Rainbow iPod

Opened my email an hour ago and saw this:

In Rainbows!
Can download oledi!!!
Immedietely clicked on the link to save the file onto my PC...
And aited impatiently for 20 minutes for whole file to download.
While waiting, decided to make my own album cover:

Download complete!
Immedietely erased all songs in iPod and replaced them with the ten songs.
Am currently on second rotation of the album.
So far, so good.
I like it more than Hail To The Thief.
Favorite so far after first loop is Jigsaw Falling Into Place.
Need to listen to it more to wrap my head around it.
Want to know how it sounds?
Go download it yourself lar.
It's up to you how much you wanna pay for it after all...