Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It is exactly a year since I joined the workforce as a full-time employee and it does not mean a good thing. The first few people in morning already made my blood boil. It was a blessing for me to collect my passport yesterday which allowed me to take time off at the end of the day. I heard that my colleagues ended work at 7pm. Everyday is just getting more and more ridiculous. Anyway now that the passport is done, I can focus on visa.

I also did my blood donation and I was gladly surprised when I received a birthday present. Lol. That was totally unexpected. It is just a normal handheld fan but what makes it special is the LED light which says Happy Birthday. A bit childish of me but I don't know how it is done so I am impressed about it. Haha..

And I am still feeling sore about Starbucks guy who did not offer me to redeem my birthday cake. Zz.. I don't know whether it did not appear on their screen or the people were just deliberately not asking gullible members. Today I bought another drink and I had to request from the guy about the cake. He did not seem surprised by my request and he did not seem to be clicking things to find out whether I had a free cake so it seemed that the "free cake" was somehow showing on the screen. When I receive a reply to my email, I will just complain. Ridiculous since today was the last day of April already and by tomorrow, the free cake will expire.
My mini emo belated birthday celebration

Interestingly, the happy birthday fan will rotate 360 degree when it is placed on a flat surface. And the red lights are also blinking. Hehe.. The molten chocolate cake is also nice even though it was not heated up. I am sure it will taste even better if heated up. After Asian Dolce Latte on Sunday and this Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappucino, I think I should take a break from Starbucks for awhile. Haha I just dislike coffee and these 2 drinks just happen to be very overpowering in terms of the coffee flavour. Oh well.. Did not buy the Green Tea Red Bean today because I had it last year during the promo with Earl Grey Tea.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Team building

My offday yesterday was wasted for company's team building. I thought the games were purposeless and did not help to build team spirit whatsoever. The performance was not really that fun and the preparation was a waste of time. I did not enjoy the preparation when doing something with uncreative bunch of people. The awards presentation was also promoting a spirit of competition rather than teamwork.. And the worst part is, again, I got nothing for the lucky draw. Bleah.. I always got shit luck during whatever lucky draw. There goes my dream Galaxy Tab and mini iPad.

However, I have to say that I am extremely happy and surprised that my branch won 1st prize for the project competition. As the team leader, I am proud. Hehe.. I think it is nice to do something without expecting to win something. Initially, I was doing the project because it was a part of KPI mah. Victory tastes sweeter this way. However, now that I already won, the spirit of kiasuness is with me and I want to win again next year leh!! Haha.. Another surprise was that my team won the 4th place for the lame games. Gosh, I thought we were just anyhow doing it and did not expect to win anything. The prize was only Ferrero Rocher. Nothing much but I am still happy because it is my favourite brand and again, the winning was unexpected. Looks like when you don't expect or don't really want to win something, you will end up getting it. I was drooling over the lucky draw and I got none.

Recently, I don't know what makes me so impulsive to get a tablet. Ironic because last year I deterred my sister from buying iPad. Actually a part of me still holds the same argument: how will a tablet be useful to me? For gaming, I have enough games in my phone and PSP. For internet surfing, my laptop will still be more convenient (although my laptop is getting laggier day by day). For reading comics, I still prefer reading from physical books. And bla bla bla.. it seems that the only reason I have the urge to buy is that because I have nothing else that I want or can buy at the moment. No more toys for me as I don't have any more space and no more Marvel comics as there is nothing else interesting at the moment. My fingers are just so itchy to spend. Bad.. I know.. But I still can tahan.

Anyway, while I am so thankful to God for my prize yesterday, I did not go to church again today. Sigh.. I think it is already a month :( My faith is officially dead. I don't even have the will to consciously set aside time for prayer. Oh God.. what is happening to me :(

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Black and white cat meow meow

I had been having bad days but unexpectedly, I am feeling good right now due to random encounter with a stray cat. This is a different cat from the one I wrote previously. Today I saw this cat at the large field behind my house. I was half asleep on the bus and alighted 1 stop too early. Thus I decided to walk around the large field.

Halfway there, I saw this cat and I just made random "meow" sounds. Unexpectedly, it responded to me!! Nya!! Haha.. The cat even crossed the road to follow me. After exchanging a few rounds of "meows", I decided to stop to see whether it would come closer. It did come closer but it did not come to rub its body to my legs as expected. But it did something equally cute: it just threw itself leisurely near my feet. Hehe.. I wanted to pat but I was a bit scared leh.. First encounter mah.. Never know if it would scratch me.

Since I "ignored" it after lying down, it also ignored me when I walked away :'( I then decided to walk back and take a picture. Unlike the shy black cat, this one could not be bothered with me taking and remained in its relaxed position. The sun was setting so it was becoming pretty dark. I did not turn on the flash because cats' eyes look ugly due to flash. On my phone I can still see the cat but on my laptop screen, the picture above is just plain black! Haha..

I still find it very strange. 2 stray cats responded to my random cat calls while I hate those cats at home which my parents managed to tame. Haha..

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bad decisions

It haunted me again :( Darn.. I should have sent back the damaged Rinoa & Siren and Squall & Bahamut statue last December. I got Squall & Bahamut in perfect condition a few weeks later while 2 days ago, I saw an undamaged Rinoa & Siren statue for USD 199 on eBay with free US shipping. Even with additional forwarding fee to ship to Singapore, it would still cost less than the damaged ones. Haiz :'(

When I was home, I also saw someone selling Ragnarok from Final Fantasy VIII Guardian Forces ARTFX series. I placed a bid of 10000 yen and I was outbidded by a mere 2 yen. I don't know how the fuck Yahoo! Auctions operate because to be outbidded by 2 yen is just ridiculous! Again it was a bad decision from my part. I knew Ragnarok alone is worth more than what I bidded and I should have bidded more. If I were to get that Ragnarok, I would not need to think of selling my US figures to free up space so that I can buy the Japanese version.

Someone was interested in buying the US versions that I had. He requested that he could buy in 3 lots as he was not willing to fork out a lot of money at one go. I said I would think about it. Haiz.. I would like to let them go at one go. A few days later, I changed my mind and I informed him that I am willing to sell it in 3 lots. He did not reply so an opportunity was busted again. Sigh.. Emo emo emo :'(

As I will be visiting to Disneyland Paris during my trip to Europe this August (if I get the visa :p), my sister and I were like preparing ourselves by checking out what nice things to buy from there. I am tempted to buy Aladdin figurines leh!! It was just a coincidence that I finished watching Aladdin trilogy. Learning from my past mistake, I decide that I will only buy 1 excellent figure and that's it! Preferably one figure with all characters in. Well, none in Disneyland but I found Capodimonte Aladdin figure on eBay.
Laurenz Disney Collection - Aladdin "Group Hug"
Capodimonte figures are made of porcelain and are bloody expensive. Anyway, USD 1500+ is not really a concern for a fantastic piece of art. After all, I spend USD 1250 for Quistis, Selphie, and Leviathan Final Fantasy VIII Transcendent Artists' figure last year. This Aladdin Capodimonte figure is perfect: it is gigantic (13.5inches tall x 17inches wide x 13inches deep) and it has all main characters except for the antagonists! What more can I ask!! The figure is limited to 250 pieces and it was released in 1993! It is out of production because the artist had retired and he destroyed all the moulds so it will never ever be produced again. With all these facts and after reading the process of making these figures, I think the price is reasonable.

Unfortunately, owning it is just a dream. The shipping would cost me USD 800 by UPS!! Gosh.. The package physical weight is actually only about 15kg but the volumetric weight is close to 50kg!! I don't understand how the eventual external packaging will measure 32inches x 23inches x 24inches. Sigh.. There is a cheaper shipping option which would cost me about USD 400 but I had to pick it up from the airport. With the measurement above, the package will be as big as my study table so how on earth will I be able to get it by taxi? Sigh.. If I use this shipper, the additional fee for delivery from airport to my place will be about USD 300!! It would not be far from UPS fee. Sigh.. And that is very ridiculous, isn't it? How can the cost of delivery from airport to my house (~30 minutes by car) be as similarly expensive as the cost of shipping from USA to Singapore? Yeah.. with that, I decided not to buy :( I will dream.. When I can own my own place, I will definitely buy this masterpiece.

Thank God for the World Book Day or something like that. Kinokuniya is having 20% sale right now. Hehe.. I was so glad that I could get xxxHolic artbook. I was disappointed when I saw none of it at Kinokuniya Takashimaya on Friday. Lucky for me, Liang Court still had 1 or 2 copies (thanks to smartphone that I could check!) and it was possible for me to reserve. Fiuuh.. What a great relief.. So I went to collect it on Saturday together with New Prince of Tennis anime book.

It had been a busy weekend to enjoy these 2 artbooks as well as Necrosha (X-men) which I borrowed from library and The Young Avengers Ultimate Collection which only arrived on Friday.

And despite having a sufficient rest, I still feel bloody tired today :( And I skipped mass again. Hell yeah :(

Friday, April 19, 2013

Black label

This is the part 3 of the series of posts about my recent trip home and it will be about PS1 games today. In the era of PS3, PS1 is like ancient, isn't it? Oh well who cares? PS1 filled my teenage years with memories and experiences which play big parts to shape who I am currently. Lol.. okay that is an exaggeration but it is somewhat true. Disclaimer and warning: this post will be very heavy in terms of images.

PS1 games in Indonesia were mostly pirated ones. I heard the existence of "black disc" at the bottom as the original game CDs as compared to the shiny bottom of the pirated CDs. Of course internet was still very new back then and this "black disc" was like a myth which I never saw. I heard that one "black disc" would cost about Rp 200000-300000. Comparing that to pirated CDs which generally costs Rp 8000-10000 (or even Rp 3000-5000 near the end of PS1 era), the "black disc" cost 30-60x more. Simply impossible to buy at that time.

The first game that I wanted to have the "black disc" was Lunar: The Silver Star Story Complete. My mum actually went to Lucky Plaza during her office trip to Singapore and she did not buy me :( I heard it was about $200 so she freaked out. Oh well.. Now that I am in Singapore, perhaps she was tricked by the shops there lor. Oh wait, years ago SGD was not this expensive perhaps. Haha.. I wanted Lunar because of the bonuses which came with the original disc. Of course, the game itself is one of my favourite RPGs and it is the game which I repeated most (2x in PS1, 1x in GBA emulator, 1x in PSP).

Fast forward 1 decade later, I realised that the proper term is black label discs vs silver discs. Black label discs were the ones released initially and considered the original game discs. The silver discs were the re-release versions (or reprint version if we are talking about books). So yeah, silver does not mean pirated in the other part of the world lol. And finally in October 2012, I finally fulfilled another childhood wishes. Hehe..

First is Lunar The Silver Star Story Complete Collector's Edition by Working Designs which cost me $77.67 and its official gameguide by Working Designs which set me back another $27.36.

Lunar: The Silver Star Story Complete Collector's Edition and the quite-in-a-miserable-state official guide
The Collector's Edition consists of: 2 game CDs, 1 original soundtrack CD, 1 "Making of" CD, mini artbook, and Lunar World Map (and it is made of cloth!)

 The front and back cover of CD case

The images within the case
The front cover of the collector box
You can "flip open" the front cover to see this description
The back cover of the collector box
The top and bottom images of the collector box
I found out that Working Designs did the same thing with Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete. So I bought the Collector's Edition and its official game guide for a total of $118.85. The game guide is much better and thicker than the first one! It also came with hard covers. Wow.

Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete Collector's Edition and its official game guide
The Collector's Edition consists of: 3 game CDs, 1 original soundtrack CD, 1 Demo CD, 1 "Making Of" CD, mini artbook and Omake Box
Omake Box consists of Lunar 2 World Map (unfortunately it is made of paper this time), Lucia's pendant replica, and 17 character standees
The other side of the world map is a poster and the other side of the standees' base states Lunar 2 Eternal Blue Complete
 Zoom of Lucia's Pendant. Mine had some rust. Sad :(

Demo CD and original soundtrack CD are inside a separate sleeve. Unfortunately, the CDs were never removed from the sleeve by the owner. The glue sort of melted and the CDs were stuck inside. Managed to pull them out but I don't think both are playable now! Bleah
 The front and the back of the CD case. The right image was edited and thus looks akward here :(

The images within the case
The front cover of the collector box
You can "flip open" the front cover to see this description
The back cover of the collector box
The top and bottom images of the collector box
Due to more content, the box for Lunar 2 is actually much thicker. And thus the pictures for the top and bottom images on the box are bigger.

Sadly, Working Designs went bankrupt and their last Collector's Edition release was for Arc the Lad collection. Not a fan of this game to be honest. I completed Arc the Lad I and thanks to my pirated discs, I was unable to transfer the data to Arc the Lad 2 and thus I stopped playing. I bought this with the delusion that the data transfer with the original and official discs would be successful. Bah! Now I don't even have the time to play. Haha.. Anyway, I bought this was also partly because I like both Lunar Collector's Editions so I expected that Arc the Lad Collector's Edition would be great too. Oh ya, I spent $116.92 for Arc the Lad Collector's Edition and its official game guide.
Arc the Lad Collector's Edition and its game guide. Weirdly, the game guide only covers Arc the Lad I and II.
The Collector's Edition consists of: 1 Arc the Lad game CD, 1 Arc the Lad II game CD, 2 Arc the Lad III game CDs, 1 Arc the Lad Monster Tournament game CD, 1 "Making of" CD, mini artbook, and Omake Box.
Omake Box consists of: memory card case, 4 analog stick covers, and 22 character standees (8-7-7 from Arc the Lad I, II, and III respectively)
The memory card case is random as there are 3 versions: Arc, Elk, and Alec. Bleah.. I hate this kind of marketing leh! Do they expect people to buy 3 sets to get all 3? Pui!! Anyway, I got Elk.

 The front and back of the CD case

The images within the CD case
The front cover of the collector box
You can "flip open" the front cover to see this description
The back cover of the collector box
The top and bottom images of the collector box
I actually also bought the black label of FF Anthology (V-VI), FF VIII and FF IX. But since they are not collector's edition, nothing is really special with them so I did not take pictures. Haha..

Monday, April 15, 2013

Gundam Wing model kits

Here comes the second part of my achievement during my 1 week trip home. I built Deathscythe Hell 1/144 model which completed my Gundam Wing model kits collection! Yay!

The first time I got hooked to Gundam Wing models was during JC times. The first set that I bought was 1/100 HG Endless Waltz. To be honest, I never really like Gundam mecha. I prefer liking the human characters to the robots. But an exception was made for Gundam Wing thanks to the angel (Wing Zero Custom) and demon (Deathscythe Hell Custom) design which remains as my most favourite Gundam models of all times. I also love the box design with the pilots taking quite a large space of the box. Even Relena, who is a non-pilot, appears on the box of Serpent Custom. Cool stuff.
Gundam Wing Endless Waltz HG 1/100
The boxes for Tallgeese III and Serpent Custom are bigger than the rest so the photo looks quite akward. These boxes are arranged based on their serial numbers, EW-1 to EW-7, and I have no idea how they actually come out with the numbering. I thought the proper one should be Heero, Duo, Trowa, Quatre, Wufei, Zechs, and then Serpent Custom (Marimeia and Relena are not pilots for Serpent!)

The first set of Gundam Wing model kit HG 1/144 was released in 1995 and they were at least 10 years old by the time I started collecting. Thus it was not possible to complete this set and I only bought whatever available from the store. I remember having to visit Seiyu everytime there is a sale and I would hope for this "ancient" model kits to go on sale for $5 each. Yes, five bux :)  I only managed to get Altron, Shenlong, Vayeate, and Mercurius. The rest that I have is recent additions after I get addicted to online shopping. Haha.. 

I was still a newbie when building these model and 2 suffered a sad fate. I broke Vayeate's horn/antenna/whatever you want to call the thing which is sticking out from its head and I linked Mercurius' planet defensors wrongly. They do not close together and cannot form a nice defense system like in the anime! Bah!
Gundam Wing HG 1/144
Anyway I don't own the complete set as I already had Wing Gundam Zero, Deathsycthe, and Epyon in the HG 1/100. Not a fan of this set because the pilot is not shown on the box art and they do not come with the resin figure of the pilot!! I am *that* particular about the pilots that I chose the smaller 1/144 than the 1/100 simply due to the box art. Haha.. I mainly bought the HG 1/100 for Epyon which was not in the Endless Waltz HG 1/100 set and already extinct from the HG 1/144 set when I started my collection. I then decided to get Wing Gundam and Deathsycthe too as they look quite different from their respective Endless Waltz style. Deathsycthe Hell actually looks rather different from Deathscythe or the Hell Custome versions but I thought it looked ugly so I chose to only buy the original Deathscythe. Ironically, D-Hell is the last one that I get to complete my Gundam Wing model kits. By complete I mean to have 1 figure for each mecha. Haha..
Gundam Wing HG 1/100
So that's it for my Gundam Wing model kits collection. Unfortunately I am unable to show the actual built kits displayed in my cupboard as my dad has not fixed the lighting T_T I am quite bitter when recently Bandai released Gundam Wing MG 1/100 version. Sigh.. MG is much better in terms of quality and looks stunning. MG kits make my HG kits look like children's plastic toys :'( Plus these HG kits tend to have loose joints which are unable to bear the weight of the weapons. Posing Wing Zero Custom in full glory is only a dream as my HG kit can't even hold the Twin Buster Rifle nicely. Sigh.. Anyway, my consolation to stay happy with my HG collection is that the MG box arts do not include the pilots. In addition, MG kits are more than double the price of the HG. So I am fine with my HG. Haha.. Self-deception mode on.

Although I am already satisfied with my "complete" collection, I don't mind adding another kit: Wing Zero Custom PG 1/60! Haha.. Wing Zero Custom MG 1/100 is tempting because of its costs which is only ~1/5 of its PG's brother. But then I do not want to have so many versions of same robot. So if I have to choose another Wing Zero Custom kit, I might as well have the best i.e PG. Sigh.. If only I have unlimited space to display these things, I would definitely buy this PG 1/60 T_T

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Aladdin trilogy

One of the few things that I managed to achieve during my 1 week trip home is to finish watching Disney's Aladdin Trilogy. It is quite amazing that I have never watched any of Aladdin movies (and this DVD has been sitting in my cupboard for close to 10 years) but Aladdin IS my favourite Disney's cartoon!

Just a little bit of flash back, the original Aladdin was released in 1992 and I was 5 years old. My parents only brought me to cinema once and that was for Beauty and the Beast which was released a year earlier. I could not remember much except that we watched an evening show and perhaps I fell asleep in the cinema. Haha.. Perhaps that was the reason my parents did not bring me to cinemas subsequently. The reason for my liking towards Aladdin was very simple and very childish: I was a boy so of course I prefer a male "hero" character rather than princesses! Lol.. Maybe that is another reason why I am quite fond of the Lion King although unfortunately Simba is a lion. Haha..

I remember playing both Aladdin and the Lion King in SNES. Aladdin was my favourite. I remember keep repeating the stages to achieve perfection in terms of collecting all the jewels. Aladdin is more colourful and imaginative than the Lion King which a bit more realistic. The stages and challenges in Aladdin are more varied and thus more enjoyable. I especially love the part to escape from the Cave of Wonders. I am facing more difficulties with the Lion King and that is why I did not quite enjoy the game. And again, because Simba is not a human! Other than the game, I read 4 Aladdin books as a kid. I still have the books but I can't remember the stories, I believe some Aladdin spin-off. Add the OST and these are the reasons I like Aladdin.

It is not fair to judge the movie when I am an adult now and when the movie was produced more than 2 decades ago. But I can't help but feel that the story is much simpler and childish than Disney's recent productions. Lol. However, I think that Aladdin is quite unique as compared to typical Disney's movie. It is more comical (and sometimes I feel that Genie is being overly comical that it gets corny) and more importantly, it feels more like an adventure rather than a fairy tale. Yes, this is a story about a hero saving the "world" and the princess, not the typical Disney's cartoons where the focus is on the girl singing and waiting to be rescued. For that, another bonus point for Jasmine who is a rebellious princess and not a damsel in distress. Plus she wears green sexy clothes so another bonus point for her! Haha..

Music-wise, I think Aladdin is not as good as the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, the Lion King, or even Tarzan. "A Whole New World" is cool, I agree but generally Disney's main soundtracks are good. I am referring to the other music and songs throughout the movie. Aladdin's songs are rather unimpressive as compared to the other ones I mentioned. I think it is partly because Aladdin's comedy and the songs used mainly emphasize on the comical parts of the show and can't stand on its own. I honestly can't imagine someone singing "Prince Ali" for a concert or something.. Songs from the Little Mermaid ("Under the Sea", "Kiss the Girl"), Beauty and the Beast ("Be Our Guest"), the Lion King (perhaps almost all songs), and even from Disney's classic era are masterpieces right on their own and can be sung separately from the cartoon.

Moving on to the second movie, The Return of Jafar, I thought the title sounds somewhat promising. I thought it is a pretty good sequel and I especially love the characterisation of Iago. One big downside is the music. If the songs in the original Aladdin are unimpressive as compared to other Disney's masterpiece, the songs in the Return of Jafar are unimpressive and forgettable in their own rights! Only "Forget About Love" is bearable but perhaps I am biased because I usually like songs which are sung by more than 1 character.

Aladdin and the King of Thieves is unfortunatelly an utter trash. Yes Robin Williams is back as Genie but that does not save the movie. In fact, I think he is trying to hard and his parts are so corny. It just about time for Aladdin and Jasmine to finally get married but the introduction of the forty thieves, the Hand of Midas, and Aladdin's father plot are just out of nowhere. Despite it being 4 years older than the original, the graphics are more atrocious: the characters look fugly for goodness sake! To complete this crap, the songs are completely rubbish too. The best song is "Arabian Nights". Haha.. Okay slightly different lyrics from the first Aladdin but hey, I thought it was quite nice that the trilogy opens with "Arabian Nights" and also ends with the same tune.

There is a bonus in Aladdin about a song which was dropped from the movie: "Proud of Your Boy". Apparently the final product is very different from the initial plan. Initially, Aladdin was planned to be younger rascal and there is an Aladdin's mom character. I thought the song is very touching both in lyrics and music. I think every kid, or in fact, everyone will be able to relate to the songs. As kids, we used to be little rascals and bastards who constantly cause our parents to be worried. There will be a moment when we were enlightened and we wanted to make our parents proud! I especially thought the last few lines to be very powerful and I always make me tear: 
 Though I can't make myself taller or smarter or handsome or wise
I'll do my best, what else can I do?
Since I wasn't born perfect like dad or you
Mom, I will try to..
Try hard to make you proud of your boy