Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Harry Potter Film Wizardry (Revised and Expanded)

Seriously I did not see this coming at all. I never expect that Harry Potter Film Wizardry book, which was released in 2010 before all the movies were released, would ever be reproduced again with additional materials from the 8th movie. That was why I eagerly bought the book last year :( Anyway, the book was released again with the title Harry Potter Film Wizardry (Revised and Expanded). Basically, it is almost the identical. The only differences are the obvious advertisement "belt" on the cover, the 6 last pages about the last movie (return to Gringotts, Battle of Hogwards, the Deathly Hallows, and the Tales of the Three Brother) and additional bonus of Film Photo Diary. As good as the name sounds, it is only a book with a few photos from each film and each film only gets a page. So yeah, actually nothing much.

Last year I had not used Amazon yet. So I still bought books from Kinokuniya. Amazon typically slashed 40-50% off the book price and charges about USD 10 for the shipping. Only know I realised that despite the additional shipping fee, the total cost from Amazon can still be cheaper than from Kinokuniya even with 20% members off. Oh well, what's done is done, no point for me comparing prices for items I purchased in the past, like how Harry Potter from Page to Screen is being sold for $100+ at Kinokuniya here vs USD 45 in Amazon currently :p

While on the topic of Harry Potter from Page to Screen, they are releasing the collector edition which will be called Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Film Making Journey, Collector's Edition. On top of the from Page to Screen book, this set comes 6 other books which cover the costumes, the arts, the props, the environments, the creatures, bla bla bla used in the movie. It also comes with replica of The Monster Book of Monsters. Sounds cool yeah? But I will give it a miss. The price is ridiculous USD 1000! I am not joking. It is not one zero to many but it is indeed one THOUSAND bucks! Even with 40% off from Amazon, I am still not interested. Haha. Greedy publisher.. I think even with saying "Collector's Edition" and "only 3000 copies available" will make people be interested if the price is this ridiculous.. Aaah.. just like the Harry Potter Wizard Collection which is also ridiculously priced and only produced in limited quantity, it is still not sold out until now :p Haha
Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Film Making Journey
Darn! It looks damn good!

I bought this together with Avengers: The Art of Marvel's The Avengers. I have always wanted to get the book after I watched the movie but I have always been keeping it on hold. After more than 6 months, the price did not go down further and since I am buying the Harry Potter book, I might as well buy this together to save on the shipping. I have not opened and read it so I can't really comment on this.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Update about my problem with Shopping Mall Japan

Wew.. Now I can very confidently advise people NEVER EVER use the service of this Shopping Mall Japan/SMJ. It seems that our discussion reached a stalemate and SMJ finally resorted to name calling. They called me "borderline fraud" for opening up a PayPal dispute as it "froze" that particular transaction. I actually do not intend on doing so as I am not aware that opening a PayPal dispute means freezing the funds on the disputed transaction. On top of that, now SMJ accused me of buying a damaged item and making claims for it. Utter rubbish. The item description only states "loss of colours in several places". I am not making claims for this. I am making claim for "broken base" and "broken gunblade" which is nowhere in item description.

I paid the problematic item with the non problematic ones so the "frozen" transaction is actually more than what I disputed. I just find it ironic how the guy is so angry to have his funds "frozen" and not to think about me at all: I am also at risk of wasting that amount of money because of the damage. Selfish greedy human being.

Original seller -> SMJ -> Postal Service -> Me

Obviously, the three points where damage may occur is original seller, SMJ, and postal service. I doubt that seller was trying to lie. As promised here are the pictures. If seller obviously pointed out Rinoa & Siren crack which is very difficult to spot, how can he possibly lie about Squall's Gunblade and Bahamut base which I posted yesterday??
I still give the benefit of doubt and ask SMJ to contact the seller about Squall being damaged. SMJ is too lazy to contact the original seller and there is nothing I can do about it. So yeah, original seller has been decided as a non guilty party.

Moving on the next party, the Postal Service. I made report on my side. I don't know whether SMJ made report on their side because right from the start their tone has always been negative. Initially they said "must be shipping damage" but after I sent them the pictures, their stand changed too "looks like they will refuse the claim as the box did not seem to be damage.. but still, the damage is done by postal service". Contradictory? Hell yes!

So now who is the weakest link? Am I being fraudulent for having SMJ being irresponsible for the damage? They had no proof that they did not mishandle it, they did not attempt to contact the seller about the damage, they did not attempt to fight for the claim from postal service if they think postal service is at fault. Who is being fraudulent here? Anyway, the only proof that I have for SMJ being the culprit is that they send the item with the box "lying down" instead of "standing up". As such, Bahamut is actually resting on top of Squall's gunblade. Considering Bahamut is about 2kg heavy, it is likely that this stupid packaging caused the damage.

And here are the 2 options they gave me:
1) Take the waiver of US$20+ service fee for the incurred damage to me of close US$800
2) Waste my US$200-300 for shipping and they will refund me the item cost only i.e I simply wasted US$200-300 for nothing.

Why should I be paying for the damage done by someone else?

Grrh I shall wait for the confirmation from Singapore Post and after that I will just escalate the dispute and let PayPal decide. So be it if in the end I did not get anything back. Perhaps that is a wake up call for me to stop all this online shopping.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bad experience with Shopping Mall Japan (

Have you heard of a Japan deputy service? It is actually sort of a middleman to help people around the world purchase items from Japan (or Japanese website) where international shipping is not available. So basically the deputy service will help us bid, buy, and pay for the item and then ship the item to us. I am new to this service and I was considering it becaues I grew desperate to complete my Final Fantasy VIII Transcendent Artist's Collection. I managed to get Rinoa & Siren when I went back home a few weeks ago so I am left with Squall & Bahamut. I have been keeping an eye on one which is available in Yahoo! Japan for months as it is being auctioned with starting bid of 40000+ yen. Too expensive. So I was excited when there was an auction for both Rinoa & Siren and Squall & Bahamut as a set. Rinoa & Siren was damaged but it did not bother me so much as I already have 1 undamaged one at home. What I really wanted was Squall & Bahamut. My consideration was if this set were to be 40000+ yen, then it will be better than the 40000+ yen for Squall & Bahamut alone.

There are many deputy service out there and there is no concensus regarding which is good and which is bad. I tried my luck with a few but I ultimately used Shopping Mall Japan ( Firstly, in everything, there are always pros and cons. Lets start with the pros first. To be honest, the website looks convincing, it has SMJ Guarantee, terms and policies, etc in good English. Okay, so I thought in case anything happen, I will more or less get my butt covered and communication should not be a problem. Secondly, instead of having to leave a deposit with them, they allow credit authorisation for the bidding. This simpler as I actually do not need to send anything before I win/buy something. Thirdly, it features auto sniper for auctions.

First impression looks good but unless you use something, you won't know how shitty and rotten things can be. This is where the nightmare begins. Firstly, the communication is awful. It takes them 24 hours (or more) to reply to enquiries. I have tried other deputy service whose response is around the clock except for the offline time which they designate. Now if you have experiences doing online auction, 24 hours is a long time. Worse, for every function that I do with the website, I do not actually have any notification. So I don't know whether what I request is accepted or not. And upon asking for clarification, I only got the reply 1 day later. And according to them "No, normally they do not give notification". Wow.. I am speechless.

Secondly, the cost is outrageous. I am not talking about "service fee" which I think is fair. It's their payment policy. They convert everything to US$ and payment has to made in US$, with their own conversion rate! How cunning and dishonest. Their conversion rate is always -5 yen than the current rate. So assuming 1 US$ = 80 yen, they will convert at the rate 1 US$ = 75 yen. Do the maths and that is already about 6.25% more expensive. I think it's a scam to get their income while claiming to have a "low/reasonable service fee".

Thirdly, they are irresponsible for any shipping damage. Yup, this is the worst possible attitude of a deputy service. They claimed that they do not lower value declaration. My first package cost me 18500 yen and in the value declaration, it was declared as 6100 yen only. Is that a big deal? Yes, because if something gets damaged, the insurance will only cover up to the declared value. For my second package, I requested to be declared a certain value because I do not want to take risk that my Squall arrived damage and I got nothing. Squall & Bahamut was declared properly but Rinoa & Siren was declared for 14500 yen even though I requested for US$ 200. You may wonder why such number but I won the auction for 41500 so when the boxes were shipped separately, I wanted to declare them about 50% each and that is how I came with US$200. Rinoa & Siren came okay so I don't care about it being declared lower value but Squall & Bahamut were damaged and this is the reason of my fallout with SMJ.

I immediately took photos of the damage and sent it to them. Rinoa & Siren came with damage as described by seller so I do not think seller is a scammer or something and sell a damaged Squall without documenting it. After all, seller pointed out the crack in Rinoa & Siren very honestly. So why lie about Squall & Bahamut? Another reason for me to think that seller is not lying is that the broken pieces are all there. The broken pieces are very small. If it was damaged from the start, I do not expect that seller still kept the broken pieces and shipped them to me. The broken pieces may look big in the photo but in the actual thing, the 2 gunblade pieces are about 3mm x 1mm in dimension. Ya, THAT tiny! These damages are more glaring than the crack on Siren's hair. If seller pointed out the hair crack, how could she/he miss out these major damages to Squall? I will show the crack on Siren's hair when I post about the statue, then you can see how "minor" that damage was as compared to these.

Thus the damage is likely due to shipping or due to SMJ. SMJ did not send the item using the original packaging from the sender. SMJ actually repacked every package before they send it to me. I don't know how but the possibility of them damaging/mishandling is there. SMJ, however, is being unhelpful and irresponsible. After looking at the photos, the reply was something like "Hmm.. the external packaging was not damaged so I don't think it was damaged due to shipping. I will let Japan Post know about it but I think they won't accept the claim". The moment I heard this, I immediately was like: Fuck you! It totally ruined all the trust I had. Not only they are unapologetic about it, they sound indifferent and unhelpful. EMS is insured for a reason and upon knowing something is damaged, the simplest thing that sender could do is to help with claiming for insurance. Until now, I don't know whether they bother to contact Japan Post or simply cannot be bothered about it.

So I asked them: if it was not damaged due to shipping, then either you damaged it when you repacked it or the seller was lying. SMJ conveniently thinks seller would not be lying (for the same reason as I have) and is not bothered to contact the seller. So what is left? SMJ damaged it right? No, they claimed they could not possibly damage it. So yeah, here we have a fantastic deputy service with the various Guarantee, Terms, and Policies which are mere bullshit. I bought an item which was advertised not damaged but I received it damaged. I don't care who damaged it what I wanted is a compensation be it from the seller, SMJ, or from the post office as they are the possible suspects who handled and could possibly damage the item. If SMJ, as one of the possibly guilty party, is not taking responsibility, the least that they can do is to prove otherwise. Contact the seller or the post office. That is what deputy service is supposed to do because that is what their service is about.

The story does not end here. This is where the story gets more interesting. After always maintaining the stand that they cound not possibly damage it, as a service recovery, they offered me their SMJ Guarantee provided that I returned the item to them for inspection. Lets do some maths. I spent close to US$ 600 for the item+ (lousy) service and another US$ 150 for EMS shipping to me. Assuming I returned the item and the fee is the same as how they sent it to me, I will fork out another US$150. And how much can I get from their stupid Guarantee? Only the item cost of 41500 yen or about US$ 500. So basically, I will be losing US$ 400 for nothing. Come on! Am I an idiot?

I do not know what else they want to inspect when I already sent them the pictures. Clear enough to show all the damages. Do they think I will deliberately damage a limited and out-of-production item simply for fraud?  That's really low of them if they think that way.

So I declined their Guarantee offer. And their reply was: okay then we will waive the service fee, I hope that lighten up your burden. US$ 21 for US$ 750 loss?? Hell yea -__- I consider a wasted US$ 750 because if I knew Squall & Bahamut was damaged from the start, I would not even bother bidding for the set. I already have Rinoa & Siren after all.

My last hope is with PayPal.. Crossing my fingers now.. Sigh.. I feel very helpless and hopeless because I am using a middleman. And the middleman is not helpful and may even be the culprit of the damage. Anyway, even if I cannot get any single thing, I cannot do anything about it :( I only hope that when people google Shopping Mall Japan online, they will come across this and think twice before using their service. In summary: poor communication, unfavourable payment rate, and if there is a problem with your items, you can just say bye bye to your money. SMJ is not bothered to help you (not gonna contact the seller, not gonna contact the shipper, but claimed that they could not do the damage while it is possible that they damaged it as they are also one of handler of the goods).To me, SMJ is only interested in getting your money. After they get your money, they will not be bothered with anything else.. Yeah.. talk about after service.. And if someone knows of a better deputy service, please let me know. I'm done with this crap.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rise of the Guardians

Jack Frost is more than a myth
Santa Claus is more than a legend
The Easter Bunny is more than a fable
The Tooth Fairy is more than a fairy tale
The Sandman is more than a dream 

Truthfully, from the poster alone, initially I had no idea and no interest in the movie. The trailers do not really invoke any interest or excitement (lucky I saw the trailers only AFTER I watched the movie) However, everything changed when I found out that the story features famous fairy tales characters such as Santa Claus, Jack Frost, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Sandman. My interest shot up higher when I read that it was made by the group which produced How to Train Your Dragon. I remember watching it in the airplane and perhaps it is the only cartoon movie which managed to made me cry thus far.

I was quite embarassed to watch this alone as most of the crowds were children. The adults were mostly parents who accompanied their kids.. Oh well, there is a child within everyone, isn't it? Anyway, I am no longer a kid, and I think it will be unfair to judge the movie based on adults' standards. Oh ya, just a warning: spoilers ahead!

I thought the story is rather shallow, simplistic, and predictable: the goodies (the Guardians) vs the baddie (only one: the Pitch aka the Boogeyman). Children believe in fairy tales and this gives strength to the Guardians. Boogeyman is tired being alone and "invisible" as children do not believe in him. Thus Boogeyman wants to take over these children's heart and make them no longer believe in Santa Claus and friends and the Guardians must prevent that. Now, Jack Frost is the center of the movie. He is carefree, mischievous, and only wants to have fun. He has been chosen to beome a Guardian but he is not interested in having a duty and commitment to protect the kids. Jack's adventure made him realise that he also likes to protect children and eventually fight the Pitch. In the end, he agrees to officially become a Guardian.

The plot, the climax, and the resolution are abrupt and are not really coherent. The action scenes are cool but the action tend to be very quick and all I can follow is just light and bang here and bang there. Sandman, Jack Frost, and Easter Bunny are kinda cool but Santa (with 2 swords) and Tooth Fairy (I don't know how she fights) are kinda lame.

Each character has different personalities which stand out among one another. Although I think it is unfortunate that the only girl character (Tooth Fairy) has the most unmemorable personality. And I personally dislike Santa's personality here as it does not fit into typical Santa fatherly character at all. Jack Frost suits his traits commonly believed in fairy tales and Easter Bunny is the typical strict-on-the-outside-soft-in-the-inside and serves as the comic relief. I thought Sandman is the most memorable one and this is ironic because he is a non-speaking character!! Haha.. He does not speak as he does not want to "wake people up from their dream" and communicates with sand images above his head. His superpower is also the most gorgeous with all the golden streaks against the pitch black sky.

Having said that, the kid in me actually enjoyed the show. They stayed true to the fairy tales with Easter Bunny to paint and distribute Easter Eggs, Santa running the North Pole, Tooth Fairy collecting teeth, Sandman spreading dream sand, and Jack Frost causing snow, frost on the window, and nipping the nose. Having a visualisation of these fairy tales characters is surely a great experience. There are plenty light hearted and funny moments (although I don't find anything particularly moving, touching, or made me cry.. hmm.. an exception will be the scene where Jack gave proof to Jamie that Easter Bunny exists).

And who says cartoon are for kids and useless? I honestly was not familiar with Sandman, Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost. This movie introduced me to the folk lore about them. Perhaps it is useless information but I value knowing general knowledge like this. And I am not sure whether kids are able to understand some of the jokes such as "Haha.. the ones who build the toys in North Pole are Yetis, not elves as what people believe".

It may not be the best movie but it is still a good movie. I consider this as the box office of 2012 end of the year and 2012 Christmas/Holiday movie. Hmm.. the last time I had cartoon Holiday movie was the Polar Express a few years back.. Perhaps it was my last cartoon movie prior to this too. Well, movies which invoke Christmassy feeling will always tug the strings in my heart ba.. (Haha.. but I still think the Polar Express was more impactful than this). Oh and gosh, the movie really awakens the kid in me. I am now tempted to collect McDonalds' Happy Meal toys and to buy book: the Art of Rise of the Guardians.
Am I on the Naughty List?
Naughty List? You hold the record.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


666 is associated with bad omen and it seems appropriate that I post something negative for my 666th blog post. I had an awful today. Firstly, I almost came late for work today. It was not a big deal if not that I was supposed to open the shop. Usually it takes about 10-15 minutes to prepare the shop for opening so coming 3 minutes before opening time today was considered late.

It all began with my damaged Squall & Bahamut statue which arrived yesterday. The gunblade broke into 4 pieces :( I got agitated as I had to take photos and claim for insurance again. Considering the disastrous insurance claiming process previously, just the thought of having to make claim again made me shudder. To avoid customs, I did not declare the value properly so even if I get a full refund, I would still lose money. And I don't know whether I can get a refund for the shipping. To waste USD 55 for shipping a broken item seems too much :( Of course my biggest irritation was the fact that the item was damaged. After all it was a limited edition and an out-of-production item.. Bleah..

Anyway, I was not late because of that. I did not wake up late and I left at the same time as usual. It was just a bad luck that I missed the bus right in front of my eyes!! Zz.. Usually I still can make it on time even when I take train and then bus. But guess what happened today.. 238 was delayed at the interchange. Damn! After that, I realised that I forgot to attend a talk, which I signed up for, yesterday. Oh well, I was prepared to pay the penalty liao.. The series of unfortunate events affected my mood. I checked CPRS wrongly.. Sigh.. I mistook a prescription from 2011 as this year's prescription.. Bleah..

Thank God for being merciful to me as my luck seems to improve after that. This time I am able to make insurance claim simply by sending the pictures. Yup.. no need to go to post office or arrange for inspector to come to my place. Fiuh.. lucky I still keep the email address of the customer service person who managed to solve my previous insurance claim problems. I simply lose faith with the stupid people behind the email and the customer service hotline.

I would also need not to pay the penalty for the missed talk yesterday. The organiser would not be billing for participants who did not attend. Thank God for the $10 savings which I then used to watch movie: Rise of the Guardians. Since it is past midnite now, I will write more about the movie tomorrow. I should sleep early and not to come late again tomorrow sia..

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

one Sexy Zone

Sexy Zone released their first album last week (14 November). The title of the album is one Sexy Zone. I am lucky enough to be able to get it (albeit illegally) 2 days after the release. As I have mentioned previously, I like good songs and singers are secondary. That is why I don't consider myself a fan of "a singer or a band" but a fan of good songs. Having said that, I have to say that I am disappointed with this album.

I have high expectations because I think their previous 3 singles (which were all number 1) are pretty good. The songs in this album, unfortunately, seem to be moving away from the cute and fun tunes/images from their previous singles. Tune-wise, I don't find any new song which is memorable, even after listening to the album for few times.

I know it isn't fair to compare but I think Hey Say JUMP! and NEWS albums which I have are much better than this one. They are better because they have more nice songs which were not previously released as singles. To me, this album is somewhat similar to KATTUN albums which I don't quite like for similar reason.

Anyway, who cares about my opinion right? one Sexy Zone still reached number 1 in last week's Oricon chart! Apparently they also broke the record as the youngest group whose album topped the chart. Congrats to them for that.

"Lady Diamond". Their second single which I think is the best out of their 3 singles. Quite a bad live version here but I could not find the PV in Youtube :( Johnny's Entertainment is quite shiong when it comes to closing videos with copyright infringement.


"Babies" is a hot topic at my work place recently as my boss just delivered her second child last Friday. One of my colleagues randomly asked me about my future family plans. She asked me what age I am planning to get married. I told her 25. The second question obviously would be how old I am this year. I told her I am 25. LMAO. It is always my childhood dream to get married at 25 and to have 4 kids (2 boys and 2 girls) by the time my wife is 30 years old. We should do it fast and close the factory and then focus on raising kids. Lol.. Of course dream is always contrary to reality. I am nowhere near to marriage as I am still single. And I don't plan to start a family before I can afford a house.. So yah.. long way to go.

Today I visited my boss. Her first child is about 2 years old and she is already very active: running around and making incorrigible noises, exactly the same as my landlord's grandchild who often spends time in my house. Woah.. Looks like I gotta think twice of my plan. I cannot imagine having 4 rascals running around noisily..

"Babies" is also a hot topic in Singapore due to the mixed up case in KKH. You know, it is human nature to always blame others when a mistake happen. How about we think the other way around for once? If parents cannot even recognise (or check) their own babies, how do they expect strangers to do so? Especially since these strangers deal with many similar-looking newborns day in day out.. Haiz.. Seriously.. people should stop complaining and start thinking whether they are playing their part. It is similar with medications. Many people cannot be bothered about their own medications, do not want to listen to counselling, do not even want to verify whether they are given the correct ones. But when something goes wrong, they blame others for not checking properly.. Hello, if you yourself are not bothered about your own health and medications, how do you expect strangers, who handle the same medications thousands of times day in day out to different people, to be bothered about you?

And time indeed flies. I knew that I started blogging in November a few years ago but I did not expect that my first post was on 20th November 2006. That means that today is the 6th birthday of my blog. Wow.. I certainly never expect that I will last this long. Thank goodness that I still blog until now.. And I am glad that my intention has never changed all these years. Blogging is like writing a digital diary to me and I don't expect that other people will read. Of course I am glad that sometimes I receive comments from readers. But I never wish to have people following the blog or making this blog "big" or "famous". And I also do not want to reveal my identity here because internet is an unsafe place. So pardon me if sometimes my posts can be "cryptic". One thing which I always wish to do but I have never done: to re-read my blog from the beginning. It will be interesting to see what my life was like back then, to see whether my English has improved (I find that my initial posts are insulting to English language), to see whether my writing style has changed, etc. Hmm..

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mass at Cathedral

I went for mass at Cathedral of the Good Shepherd for the first time yesterday. Yup that is after 4 over years of being a Catholic. Of course I had a visit prior to that but the overall feeling to be there as a visitor and as a mass-goer is vastly different.

 It also felt like travelling back to the past before the modern era. The high ceiling, the yellow lights (which resembles lights from candles), the old creaky pews (no cushion for the knees ouch!), rectangular rather than a squarish worship area, the church pipe organ, fans and many other things simply evoke the feeling of being in a holy place.

2 things which stood out the most for me is the music and the painting behind the altar. It is nice to have the organist playing worship music while the people who come early wait for the mass to start. It is definitely nicer than having the rosary and people chit chatting as in other churches usually. With the nice soothing music, it provides a more condusive atmosphere for me to pray and prepare for the mass. The pipe organ itself is capable of making fantastic sounds. The counter melody (which sounds like a bell!) during Sanctus sounded heavenly to me. Too bad the Gloria was recited. I imagined how great it would be if it was sung as usually Gloria is another "high" point during Mass.

The painting behind the altar is simple: a crucified Jesus on a blue background. The blue background has gradient from light to darker blue on the outside. Despite the simplicity, I thought the painting was impressive, more impressive than typical church stained glasses.

However, there is one thing which kinda shocked me and that happened during Holy Communion. I had no idea that "queueing" culture is something modern. I was kinda lost when suddenly everyone just literally rushed to form a line during Communion. Was it the culture there? Am I supposed to wait for my pew turn or should I follow suit and just rushed? Some people were actually waiting for their pew turn too so I am still not sure what was going on.

It is a beautiful place which unfortunately is a bit dilapidated. The walls are yellowing and some parts are flaking off. I see wires on the wall which is an eyesore. I know that there is a plan to renovate the building and so far only about $7m collected from a target of $30m. Seeing how little the crowd for Sunday morning mass and that quite a large percentage are actually visitors and tourists, I wonder how long it will take to reach the targetted $30m. I think the local Catholic community should do something about this. There are rich people out there in various parishes. I find it ironic when many parishes have nicer buildings than the Cathedral which is supposedly the "main" Church of the Archdiocese. At each parish, there are tonnes of fund raising activities for respective parish projects so why is it so difficult to get $30m for the Cathedral??

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy Boxed Set

Yoshitaka Amano is one of the world's foremost fantasy artists, and the limited-edition The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy boxed set is a giant-sized, signed collection of five books plus bonus items that showcase Amano's ethereal illustrations for the first ten Final Fantasy games! The 12'" high, 11" wide, and 3 1/2" deep box that encloses The Sky has a hinged lid featuring artwork from Amano inside and out. Its contents include:
* Three 11 3/4" x 10 1/2" hardcover books, printed on high-quality stock. Volume 1 (144 pages) contains Amano's work for Final Fantasy I-III. Volume 2 (276 pages) contains his contributions for Final Fantasy IV-VI, and volume 3 (156 pages) features his art for Final Fantasy VII-X.
* All About Yoshitaka Amano, an 8 1/4" x 8 1/4" 128-page softcover full of photographs and images, the most extensive look ever in English at the artist, including an interview with Amano, a timeline of his career, a glimpse into his studio in SoHo, his favorite places in New York, a visual index of each illustration that appears in the three The Sky hardcover art books, and more!
* A 2 1/4" x 4 3/4" Final Fantasy animation flip book designed by Amano, containing two different "movies."
* A 10 1/4" x 11" acetate print with silver ink.
* Two 5 3/4" x 8 1/4" postcards featuring the interior and exterior artwork used on the box.
* And finally, a 5 3/4" x 8 1/4" card signed by Yoshitaka Amano!
-from the publisher-

I first came across the news of the existence of this masterpiece sometime in August. I found out that this is an English version of the set of the same name which was initially released in Japan back in 2001. The original retail price for the Japanese version is about US$ 600 and nowadays people are selling it at US$800-1000 on eBay. That is why it is a super duper good news when Dark Horse will release an English version for only US$ 139.99. It became a super duper better news when Amazon was having pre-order for this for $89.19. Without thinking twice, I immediately placed a pre-order.

However, the joy turns into a nightmare.. A big nightmare. On 31 October (the supposed release date), I was notified by Amazon that there was a delay due to Sandy storm. But today, I was terribly upset and angry when I received the news from Amazon that the order had been cancelled as the item is no longer available from supplier. Fuck!

After googling around, apparently Dark Horse only produced 1000 sets. A lot of people are angry, in fact, damn angry at the stupid publisher. I don't understand what's their fucking problem of only making 1000 sets. Firstly, the price is not that expensive. It were a US$ 600 set, I can understand if they ae making it limited because not many people would be forking out so much money for this. But no, the price is relatively cheap. Secondly, they "opened" the pre-order for so long. They knew that there were more than 1000 people were interested in this so why couldn't they make more? Or if right from the start they wanted to have it limited, they should say so. I personally feel very angry and cheated. I made pre-order and I have the assumption that I will get it.

I think the people behind is just dumb. There is so much money to be made and they just gave out the opportunities. What made me even angrier is the fact that some people are reselling the set for US$400+. That is about 3x of the original retail price or about 5x from what I would be paying initially when I pre-ordered through Amazon. I know the item is cool shit but I don't think it is wise to spend so much on books. I don't mind spending that amount for large scale toys but for books, no.. I am actually more interested in the 3 illustration art books. The bonuses are.. well.. bonuses which I can live without. And the reason why this English version is appealing is because of the book on Yoshitaka Amano (with the interview etc). Thus, no point buying the Japanese version as I can't read Japanese.

Now there is rumour that the stupid publisher will be releasing only the 3 artbooks somewhere in Spring 2013. Seeing the poor track record, I am sceptical.. And I am also sceptical about the price. Comparing the boxed set (5 books, tonnes of bonuses, a card signed personally by Yoshitaka Amano) with the future "set", the price of the future "set" should be US$ 20-30. I doubt it would be that cheap. Anything more expensive, it will be a rip off from the dumb fuck company. If they want to make money, the should have produced more of the boxed set.. or sell a boxed set for US$ 500+ if they really want to make it limited edition of size 1000.

Stupid shit horse! Pfft...

I am also equally pissed with Amazon. It took them more than 2 weeks to inform me that the book is no longer available. By now, it's too late even to buy it from resellers. Sigh.. I found that there are those being sold for US$ 160 somewhere near late October.. But nowadays, it is all US$450+++. For the inconvenience, Amazon gave me US$10 compensation. Wow great.. Very touching (sarcastic!)

I am still praying and crossing my fingers that I will find a reasonable offer. I mean I don't mind paying more than the original price as long as it is reasonable.. 3x or 5x more than the original is simply too much.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Yume no Kawa

I managed to sell my second item on eBay: the KFC Marvel Avengers' set. I am a bad businessman and I don't buy things only to sell it later on. I actually intended on collecting this but as I am running out of space for my Final Fantasy collections, I have to let them go as I am a bigger fan of Final Fantasy. I sold them for $20 or $5 each. I "made a profit" if I consider that it cost me $3.80 to top up my meals to get the toys. However, I actually "made a loss" if I consider that I would not even get the meal if not for the toys. Whatever.. at least I get more space now.

This is totally unrelated but I thought I would share Yume no Kawa by AKB48. This is the last song with Atsuko Maeda as a member. No official video clip uploaded in youtube yet but this fan-made video is the quite excellent to share the song as well as Acchan's high moments with AKB48. It is quite touching actually.. The song itself is also pretty nice. Firstly, it is seldom to see AKB48 members get solo parts on their hit songs. Although I think their voices are so-so to sing solo, their voices sound very emotional here and that nicely delivers the "goodbye" feeling. Anyway, only 9 other members, other than Accahn, are involved for this song: Kojima Haruna, Takahashi Minami, Itano Tomomi, Minegishi Minami, Shinoda Mariko, Oshima Yuko, Kashiwagi Yuki, Watanabe Mayu and Matsui Jurina.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

No AFA this year :(

I gave Anime Festival Asia (AFA) a miss this year :( Although I had been waiting for it eagerly, the location was a let down. Expo is very far and out of the place.. On top of that, I am not feeling well today. I did not know why I suddenly fall sick. I felt alright on Friday night but I woke up with runny nose and sore throat yesterday morning. I had difficulty sleeping last night even though I never switched on my aircon. Usually that is a sign of incoming fever. And the last reason is I just spent money on Rinoa-Siren and Squall-Bahamut statues. Yeah!! That means my Final Fantasy VIII Transcendent Artists' Collection is completed!! Yeaaaah!!!

Anyway, I am on MC tomorrow. A bit angry about it because the clinic opposite where I stay was not open today. I decided to go another clinic down the road and I forked out $54!! Seriously a rip off! Usually I felt much better after getting the MC but this time I think I am really sick!! Even with the MC, I am still feeling unwell. Grrah.. anyway, I ban this lousy clinic and should just stick with the one opposite my place. I know I could have waited and go to the usual clinic tomorrow morning. But I hate to see doctor in the morning as I would be too nervous whether I would be granted MC or not. If I am really sick, I also need a long good night rest, so waking up sickly in the morning is not too appealing. And the last reason is that I do not want to wake up tomorrow and realise that I am already fine and hence I need to work -_- This MC system sucks!! Seriously I know when I am sick enough and when I am not sick enough for me to decide whether or not I should report for work!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

First public talk

Today is another milestone for me: I did my first public talk :) The audience was about 15 people from the Care Managers Support Group. Well 15 is not a big number so it is not really "public" per se. I am glad that it turned out better than what I expected. I am happy to find that these people voluntarily signed up and thus were genuinely interested in learning more. Some of them even took down notes and I find that to be amazing o_0 They also asked relevant questions. The best part is of course they all understand English. If only majority of people behave this way.. or I wonder whether these people are usually in their best behaviour when they were down in the pharmacy too.

Actually this morning I woke up with sore throat and runny nose. I thought it was the usual "morning runny nose" so I did not take runny nose medication. My nose was still runny even at work so I decided to buy and take medicine. I guess it was worth it. The nurses told me that generally the feedback was good and the audience learnt new useful things. In addition, the nurses requested for my slides and said that they alse learnt something new. Hearing these positive feedback is very very encouraging :)

It was not perfect as someone actually fell asleep and snored pretty loudly. It could be quite discouraging actually.. but perhaps the topics were too "cheem". During the Q&A, the snoring guy actually asked questions so I think he came for a purpose. Perhaps he was too tired or I was too boring that he fell asleep.

It seems that I slowly get an idea on what I like to do.. I like to teach and share knowledge with other people, I like to collaborate and work with other departments, and I have a bit of liking for projects. The big question is: what's next?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Black cat meow meow

The black cat is back! Nope, I am not talking about Train Heartnet but about the black cat outside my workplace. I saw it for the first time two weeks ago and I found it cute. Today it followed me from the gate to the bus stop :) with its bells ding dong-ing as it walked. Hehe.. As I was waiting for the bus, it rubbed its fur against my pants (you know.. it's a cat thing). It circled around me and when I spaced my legs apart, it even moved in between my legs. It also kept meowing at me :)

I don't think someone dumps the cat as I only see it after working hours. My feeling is that the owner does not want the rest of his/her household know about the cat so the owner dumps it there in the late afternoon and picks it up again in the morning.. The reason for me to feel this way is that I noticed that the cat was wearing pink necklace today. I am very sure it was not pink 2 weeks ago.

To be honest, I don't normally like cats. I hate it when they rub against me as I hate to have some of their hair stuck onto my pants. But for this cat, I make an exception. In fact, people normally associate black cats to bad omen. But I don't care.. This black cat is cute and it's very friendly. I am very touched with the fact that it was not scared of me and rubbed itself against my legs. It did not do so to the other people who passed by or stood around the bus stop. Usually cats would just meow to strangers but they won't straight away dare to approach and rub its fur against strangers.

I felt sad to say bye bye and boarded the bus. Will I ever see it again? Haha.. This sounds retarded but I felt like crying when I said bye bye. Yeah.. I am lonely.. and I find it ironic that I have more care and concern to a cat than to fellow human beings whom I see day in day out. If I have my own house here, perhaps I would pick the cat. If my parents are here, I am sure they will be glad to keep it.

I wanted to take a good photo of it but looks like it was too shy on camera. Haha.. I was also to embarassed to squat down and take a good photo of it. I also felt like squatting down to pat its head but I am a bit of cleanliness-freak so I was a bit reluctant to "dirty" my hand..

The next time I see it, I will try to squat down and take a better picture of it. I will try to see whether it is willing to let me pat its head. Hehe.. I just hope it does not get scared and scratch me instead :( Anyway, the cat is a male so perhaps I should say "he" rather than "it".

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rainy days

Rainy season is here and the weather becomes unpredictable. Last Sunday was an example. The sun was up high in the sky in the morning and it was stormy in the late afternoon. I had to u-turn and skip lunch because I was already drenched halfway through my journey to the hawker centre which is only about 200m away. My self-consciousness made me feel uncomfortable if people were to see my wet beige-colour bermuda. That made me decide to stock up some instant noodles in case the weather does not allow me to go out to get my meals in the coming weeks. Today was another example. It was raining pretty heavily at lunch time and 2 hours later, the sun was already scorching hot.

The unpredictable weather ruins my exercise plan as I do not like to jog when the environment is wet. I am thinking of gym of something but I feel paiseh if there is someone who can see me exercising. Oh well =x I actually prefer sport games like badminton as a form of exercise. Too bad that I don't even have a friend whom I can ask to spar with. It is difficult to do any kind of exercise alone. A friend will be a great encouragement but again, I have no friend.

Anyway, I have given up the idea of friendship since many years ago. And welcome to working world in which friendship is even faker than friendship among school/classmates. Perhaps it is just my personality.. I am very objective and I think something personal like close friendship with my colleagues will compromise  working relationship and workplace dynamics. 
I am a bit pissed with my project.. What's the point of having someone in the group when I am almost doing everything on my own! Jeez.. it is not a matter of "your name is there so why don't you contribute too" or something.. If I can do everything alone, I will gladly do everything myself. But I have weaknesses in terms of visual as I am more of a "wordy" person. I really need help in this department. Oh well.. what to do.. the moment I heard "I also have my own things to do", that shattered everything about teamwork etc. I also have my own things to do. Everyone also have his/her own things to do. Do you think I will even bother to ask for your help if your name is not in the team in the first place?

I am also a bit of perfectionist when it comes to data collection and I am very irritated when people cannot even contribute to 100% accuracy in data collection. Sigh.. I know that sometimes I don't need to be 100% perfect as nobody would be checking the data anyways.. But still, it is just the part of me which sometimes feel like screaming "Just a simple thing like this also so difficult to do meh!!".

Aiya, just the thoughts of these made me agitated until I don't know what else to write sia.. Anyway, even though I mentioned that I am more of a "wordy" person, my command of English language is pretty atrocious actually. I went to read my old posts and I could not get past the first page of my blog. My writing was.. atrocious. I was trying to edit some yesterday, at least to make them grammatically correct, but it was challenging. The writing was so atrocious that I could not even recall or guess what I was writing about at that time. This was my second attempt to try "fixing" my old posts. Seems like the outcome will be the same as my first attempt: just let them be. Lol.. I don't know about now but I think my writing is not much better as compared to many years ago HAHAHA..

Oh ya, USA presidential election is over and congratulations to Barack Obama! It always amazes me how people around the world are so excited with USA presidential election even though the outcome may matter little to them. China will be having its once-in-a-decade leadership transition tomorrow but I don't think the world even cares about that. No wonder that USA is considered a superpower..

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Another Zumba post..

Zumba class today made me realise that aging is indeed an evil process. I can't imagine myself living until 40.. 50.. 60.. 70.. 80.. what would be left with my body by then? I am not a dancer.. and I am not an exercise freak. But hearing and "feeling" the crackling sound for vigorous movements which involved my knees were pretty scary. I had no such problem 5 years ago.. Similarly with all the stretchings.. I had no problem doing that in my primary and secondary school times. In fact, last time it felt rather "shiok" to force myself to do the stretching.. but now, the moment I felt the pull, I would immediately bend my knees a bit to prevent the stretching. Still, I don't know whether it is due to aging.. or simply because I do not use these muscles that much anymore.

It was the 6th session today and I found that some of the routines are getting more complicated and difficult to follow. My eye-hand-foot coordination could not make it =x I think it will be cool to watch someone doing all these things but doing these is another thing. Haha.. While doing one of the shaking movements, I felt an akward sensation: I felt that my whole body was hollow and my spine and pelvic bones shook inside.. Am I being to skinny that I have nothing to insulate my bones from such shaking? Or was I wrong and it was actually the sensation of my blubber of fats shaking?? Lol.. So am I too skinny or too fat?? Come to think of it now, it was quite freaky.

If after the first Zumba class I was impressed with those male celebrities who could dance well, today's experience made me feel that those celebs above 20 years old are really something. Dancing is one thing but it is nothing compared to overcoming the aging bones and joints which are no longer that flexible.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Final Fantasy VIII Scale 1/6 Kotobukiya

Here is another Final Fantasy VIII collection which was released in 1999, not too long after the release of the game in the same year. I consider them as rather ancient and they are proofs that action figure technology has improved greatly. They also show that Kotobukiya is indeed one of the finest action figure manufacturers since back then. Even nowadays, most action figures are in the scale 1/8 or 1/7. Having scale 1/6 figures in 1999 was certainly something extraordinary and hence explains the extraordinary price tags too (6800 Yen each).

It is unfair to comment how "bad" these figures are by today standards. Firstly they are made of hollow vinyl materials, instead of the commonly used PVC nowadays. Vinyl is harder but more brittle. It is difficult to squeeze the weapons into the grips and too much force will result in breaking the figure at the point where force is exerted. To illustrate how brittle vinyl is: even forcing the figures out of its plastic packaging may result in breakages. Yup, it is THAT brittle. They also do not withstand impact as good as PVC and some parts may break or snap when the figures fall. Secondly, bleeding paint and glue jobs are common. Not sure whether aging also plays a part on this. The paint may also scratch off very easily. Thirdly, manufacturing "defects" are pretty common as many of the figures are unable to stand on their own.

However, I have to admit that Kotobukiya did a terrific job with the facial expression. I have to admit that the faces are even better than Final Fantasy VIII Play Arts from Square Enix (although I don't know whether mine are original or bootleg). Except for Quistis, I think the rest are very similar to the in-game illustration. Oh ya, these figures come with a card and serial number too even though nobody knew how many were ever produced.

Squall Leonhart - Sleeping Lion Heart
The first one in the series, he looks much kinder and friendlier than he is in the game. My serial number for Squall is #14509. I like the details like the yellow inner side of his leather jacket, the Griever engraving on his Gunblade, as well as the metal chain at the end of the Gunblade. It is quite difficult to squeeze in the gunblade to his grip but it is possible. However, I dislike his stance. The hand position is in a masturbating position o_0 if he is displayed without his gunblade. With his gunblade, the metal chain often gets stuck between his crotch. And  it is difficult to take a nice picture of him because the gunblade is outstretched so far. Sigh.. Interestingly, he is unable to stand properly without holding his gunblade. Don't know it's manufacturing defects.. or simply aging.

Rinoa Heartilly - Wing Heart
So far, no Rinoa action figure in existence whose face is similar to the in-game illustration. However, as compared to other figures, Rinoa from this set is perhaps the most similar. She looks pretty (other Rinoa action figures looks atrociously ugly) but her standing position is also quite akward. She can stand well on her own although I don't think anybody will stand with this pose in real life. Oh ya, my serial number is #6013.

Seifer Almassy - Cross Sword
Seifer is the heaviest among all, perhaps due to his overcoat. I love his stance. The air of arrogance is there without making him look evil. In fact, he is quite handsome here. However, I can't have him hold his Hyperion. That sucks.. I tried forcing it to his grip and I "tore" his grip. Bleah.. Vinyl sucks.. Hard and brittle. Lucky I never forced harder or else the grip would totally come off from the rest of the body :( A very small part of his Hyperion broke and I did not take notice of that :( By the time I realised it, it was too late to ask for some compensation from the seller. Bleah.. He is also unable to stand.. I don't know if he is supposed to be like Squall: unable to balance on his own without the gunblade. His serial number is #5631.

Selphie Tilmitt - Illusory
Selphie is my least favourite character but I have to admit that she looks pretty here. Her face gives a more mature look rather than the playful and mischievous in-game Selphie. She looks better without the nunchunks as it is quite weird to hold the nunchunks that way and I expect a more animated pose while holding the nunchunks. I have 2 Selphies: 1 without serial card and with one part of her hair snapped and 1 undamaged one with serial number #6676. Both are unable to stand, with or without her nunchunks. Sucks!

Laguna Loire
Terrible.. looks like Kotobukiya runs out of idea to give a nickname for Laguna. Could have called him "Man with Machine Gun" or something mah.. Laguna is the first one which I own. I found it during Anime Festival Asia last year for $50. I brought him home.. and just brought him back to Singapore last week to meet the other 5. Hehe.. Laguna can stand with or without his weapon and there is little problem with making him holding the gun. However, the face is rather ugly as it is too "long". He looks chubbier in the game. His hair has more volume than his face making his head rather disproportionate. Bleah.. Perhaps that's why Laguna is the most commonly on sale and the cheapest too. Poor guy.. He is not really the main character in the game so it is quite rare to have an action figure of him. What a waste to make him this ugly :(

Quistis Trepe
Again, Kotobukiya runs out of idea to give her a nickname. My favourite character in the game so her face here is a disappointment. She does not look pretty.. Sigh.. She looks stern and angry here.. Aaargh.. Her grip is too small for the whip to go in so I am unable to display her with her weapon. I bought 2 of her (serial number #3496 and #3731) simply because she is my favourite character. She tends to be quite expensive so when I found 2 which were rather cheaper, I bought them. Unfortunately, 1 shared the same fate as Selphie, a tip of her hair broke.. And I realised it too late to get some compensation. GRRRR!! Anyway, good thing that she is able to stand and her stance is quite sexy as a whip holder :) if only the bloody whip could go inside her grip.

If only Kotobukiya made Zell and Irvine, this collection would be complete and perhaps would simply be the best of all FF VIII action figures out there.. Hoho.. Cost-wise, I got them for not more than their original retail price, and some are lower.

Okay just some more pictures bah...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

This is my only free Saturday in November as I have to work on the rest of the Saturdays in this month. Sian.. Plus there is some dumb event after work next Saturday which coincides with Anime Festival Asia. I want to go.. but I am not sure that I will be going :( Firstly is because I am too tired that I can only go on Sunday. And secondly is because it will be held in Expo this year. That is very far.. Why can't just they have it in Suntec like the previous years :(

As the year is coming to an end, it is time for year end blockbusters as well. With the end of Harry Potter last year and with the absence of superheroes movies, I thought it would be a boring year end for the cinemas. I was wrong.. As I was flipping through local movie magazine yesterday, I was like "Shit.. this one looks interesting..".. flip to next page "Damn this is also interesting..", and so on. Haha..

I am never interested in James Bond movies as I am not into action movies. But hmm.. with 4.5 stars, it looks pretty interesting lol.. Cartoon-wise, there are Rise of the Guardians (which features children's fairy tales mash-up: Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost), Wreck-it Ralph (which features video games characters: Sonic the Hedgehog, Bowser from Super Mario, and Street Fighter gank such as Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Cammy, Zangief, M Bison), and Frankenweenie (by Tim Burton). The synopsis for Life of Pi does not interest me but considering that it is based from a best-selling book, it should be quite interesting.. And of course there is the expected best box-office of the year: Twilight Breaking Dawn part II. Upon checking the net, I find that Rurouni Kenshin Live Action will be out here in late November.. And there is Pitch Perfect which has a pretty interesting trailer (based on the trailer when I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower).

To prepare for Twilight, I watched New Moon which had been sitting in my desktop for a year. Bleah.. frankly, I have no idea why people are so crazy about this series. I find New Moon to be as boring as the first Twilight.. I fell asleep half-way.. I am in the midst of Eclipse (which my sister gave me) and after 30 minutes, I still do not find it interesting -_-

I ended up taking photos of my Final Fantasy VIII Kotobukiya Scale 1/6 collection. Bought it a few months back but I have yet to blog it because I just brought Laguna from Indonesia last week. Hoho.. Tomorrow I shall update the photos..

Friday, November 2, 2012

Post-holiday blues

I felt so exhausted throughout the whole week. I don't know whether it was because my delayed flight on Sunday which screwed up my sleeping plan on that day. I worked opening shift this week in which I always have less sleep. After work, my body could not adjust to 2 hours nap. I always overslept up to past 12am and by then it was too late to take a shower or brush teeth. Eeek.. ya non-hygienic I know!! -_- By the time I slept again, it was always close to 2am and waking up at 6am was rather hellish.

I started to feel overwhelmed by work too. My manager is on leave since last week. Since I hate patient contact, I self-sabotaged myself to attend monthly meeting to represent my manager. As a result, I needed to type notes for her and type roll call notes to brief the rest of the staff. On top of that, I had outstanding minutes from my workgroup meeting from the previous week too. I hate minutes-taking lah!! Grr.. In addition, I still had my sub-workgroup work, had to follow up on my project, and had to discuss for the new paperless nursing voucher workflow. Bleah.. tiring but I actually don't hate them so much so that kinda helped. I like medication safety and I like to colaborate with other departments. Yup.. better than customer service -__-.. Oh ya.. I almost forget something important: my slides for presentation next Saturday are still not done yet!! Oh God!!

Before I went home, I was tidying up my wallet and threw away some receipts. I usually kept the receipts for card payments and threw them once I got the statements and verified the information. I also threw my dental receipt. Sigh.. I forgot that I could claim $130 yearly for dental purposes from the company. Now what I have is only the copy of the receipt (I requested from the dental clinic) and I don't know whether that would be accepted. Haiz.. I would just lie and say that the original voucher was drenched in the rain or something :( Sad.. $130 means at least 1 toy leh :(

I went to Orchard Road yesterday to collect the copy of the dental receipt. The Christmas decoration is up! I initially mistook the red heart-shaped ornaments Valentine's day or Chinese New Year ornaments.. Haha.. The theme for this year is red and white/silver. I have not seen them after the sunset so I can't comment. One thing for sure, as the Heeren is being renovated, there is nothing on the Heeren - Somerset junction this year. My Christmas mood was only invoked by Takashimaya Christmas tree!! Woo.. I am sure it is the same tree from previous years but this time the colour of the lights is white, unlike yellow from previous years. I~~~m dreaming of a whi~~~~te Christmas~~...