Friday, November 30, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown to Final Crisis #22- After two weeks of seeing Superman Prime swooping in and destroying worlds and characters left, right & centre, the writers suddenly dropped him off the radar and go back to the plotlines that had largely been driving the book. Why? No one knows, but we get to see Jimmy Olsen's captivity on Apokolips, unfortunately he is still NOT dead. His story is easily the worst of the bunch (Holly Robinson don't count because we haven't seen that story in over a month), but at least the story seems to be moving. If this means the guy is moving closer to his 'death date', I'm all for it. The rest of the plots, Mary Marvel & the Rogues, feel a little tack on, but I am very interest to see what will happen next week after the last page in this issue. That I guess count for something.

Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood #2- What do nuns do in a cult that worship crime? You get to see that here as the Question, Renee Montoya, goes undercover to explore the criminal empire that's growing around Intergang's Crime Bible. The buildup is slow, introducing us to everyone in the cell, from the low level minions (prostitutes) to the higher ups, and showcasing that even heroes has weakness. As expected, the writers just can't stop showing off Renee's sexual orientation (in case anyone don't know, she's gay) by having her shack up with a deranged prostitute. But it's the way it is done. Everything is in the details as Renee slowly, hesitantly, against her better judgement, gives in to her natural urges during her stakeout. It's expertly written and makes me love Renee as the Question even more. Take that, all you Vic Sage fans!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Maplestory Trading Card Game

After the anime, the onslaught of Maplestory continue as they now have a Trading Card Game. Released by card game kings Wizards of the Coast, Inc; in partnership with Nexon America Inc. (never heard of them), the MapleStory Trading Card Game was to be released in the US and Canada this November.

The TCG is supposed to comprise of real-world cards with codes redeemable for exclusive in-game content in the MapleStory world, similar to what was done in the Neopets trading card game Wotc released in 2003. The codes will unlock exclusive online rewards and game experiences such as sought-after artifacts, rare virtual pets, all-new quests etc.

Why did they released the game in America but not Asia is something I don't understand. 70% of the players in the game are from Asia isn't it? No word yet if the TCG will come to Singapore.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

SEA Games

For some reason, I just can't get my head around the fact that The SEA Games are on this year. So imagine my surprise when I heard that Singapore had already got its first medal of the 24th SEA Games in Bangkok.

Singapore got a bronze in the men’s team 10m air pistol event on the opening day of the shooting programme. The SEA Games officially opens only next week but no one in Singapore is really that interested in it.

Why? I think the most obvious reason is the lack of media coverage. You open the sports page in the Straits Times and you will see pages after pages of English football, even after the team was kicked from the Euro. Pages and pages of why it happen, who will take over as manager etc, but nothing on a competition Singapore is taking part in.

To be fair, the media is only giving people what they want to read. But if Singaporeans are to be proud of their national team, there must be at least some coverage from the media. Singaporeans can't be supportive of their team in a competition they don't even know is on right?

More media coverage for our national team please!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dragon Boat Accident

First I would like to give my sympathies to the families of the 5 men who died in the sad accident in Phnom Pehn. For those people who do not know, Singapore sent a Dragon Boat team to Cambodia but an accident caused the boat to capsized and the loss of 5 members.

The remaining 17 members of the team had returned to Singapore. In Singapore, a lot fingers are pointing at the lack of safety in the race. Most are accusing the organisers of the race of ignoring safety by not requiring the teams to have life-jackets on.

I personally don't think this is fair for the following reasons.
1) There's no requirements internationally for life jackets.
2) The dragon boat racers are all strong swimmers (I believe one of them is a navy diver), if they cannot get out of the current on their own, no one can be sure a life jacket will definitely save them.
3) This is an unforeseen accident; in the Singapore Dragon Boat Association’s 20 years history, there's never been a single fatality.

Is it truly fair to blame the Cambodians organisers for such an unfortunate and unforeseeable accident? I don't think so.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A re-open hospital

Jurong Hospital opened its' doors again after a year of renovations, only it isn't Jurong Hospital anymore. It has re-opened its' doors as West Point Hospital.

In Singapore once a property go under new owners, a name change is very common. The one most people remember was when DBS tried to change POSB's name after taking over the bank. Only after a public outcry did they wisely decided not to change the name. Which bring me to my rant; why do we Singaporeans love name change so much? I mean it's not like the hospital changed its' location. Hell, the 60-bed private hospital is still going to serve the households in Jurong. So why change name? It just confused people. At least with Jurong Hospital, you know it's somewhere in Jurong. West Coast Hospital? That could be anywhere in the west of Singapore!

Let's stop these senseless name change.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Amazing Race Asia 2

Ok, The Amazing Race Asia 2 is finally on-air. The second season of the show still follow the same format; teams of two, in a pre-existing relationship, in a race around the world to win US$100,000. Hey, if it's not broken, why fix it?

Good thing is that this season, the show WILL go around the world. However, there's still the problem of ASIANS! There's a French woman in the show, as well as an American. At least they were interesting; after the first episode, I have to say the American with his bickering wife makes good television. Which is more than what you can say for the else.

As the producers went for racers who were actors and models (handsome, beautiful devils all), I had problems telling them apart.Really, outside the American couple and the Japanese brother-sister team; the other teams were a bloody blur. I was kind of hoping the HongKong dating team get kick last night for finishing last because that means less teams to confuse me.

M&M where are you?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown to Final Crisis #23- What the hell happen? Last week Superman Prime destroyed a whole planet, okay fine. This week shows more of him, I'm okay with that. It was even interesting. But what the hell happen at the end? Didn't Lord Havok say NO to Monarch? Didn't they had a big fight on the matter? Since when did Havok becomes Monarch's second in command? Plots jumped for no reason again on Countdown. What the hell happened?

Countdown: The Search for Ray Palmer - Gotham by Gaslight- Another beloved Elseworld Batman get his own world. As one of the 52 Earths, this is one choice I agreed with. Hey it's a Batman in Victorian times; what's there not to like? The story is so-so at best; though I liked the fact we get to see the Victorian Blue Beetle. Eagerly awaiting the appearance of Victorian Hawkman, Aquaman, JLA etc. Just no more Superman; we got enough of those.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

G.I. Joe movie looks like a laugh

Now it seems the long drawn-out saga of the G.I. Joe movie is finally over. The movie is on and casting has already began.

And it does not look good.

British actress Sienna Miller is was reported to have snagged the role of the film's female lead, the femme fatale superspy, the "Baroness". Unbelievable, isn't it? Now I had no problem with Miller, in fact I think she's kind of under-rated (watch the recent Stardust if you don't believe me), but the Baroness? Outside the fact, Millar is blond; she doesn't remotely come across as either cold-blood, ruthless, power-hungry or all of the above!

The movie is suppose to follow operatives of the Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity (G.I. Joe see?) as they battle Cobra, an organisation led by a Scottish arms dealer. Yes, Cobra Commander will be Scottish!

Boy, does is look bad or what!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Price for defending Myanmar

Damm if you do, damm if you don't. I have written several times already on why I support Singapore's decision not to join in the talks for sanctions against Myanmar. Like most Singaporeans, money counts and Singapore has a lot of money invested in Myanmar at the moment.

However defending Myanmar against world opinion has a price as it shows now. The United States has criticised the ASEAN group of Southeast Asian nations over the handling of Myanmar and a free trade deal between Washington and the ASEAN is now unlikely because "ASEAN credibility" had been called into question. This is just a few weeks after The United States had expanded its sanctions against Myanmar. Things are so bad free trade talks between ASEAN and the European Union could also stall. Together, the United States and EU account for 27 percent of ASEAN's exports and a third of its inward direct investment.

It seems that the U.S and EU has hit on something here. In Singapore, money is king and between the West or Myanmar; the choice is clear. We will (and should) dump Myanmar in a moment notice if they hurt our business with the West.

Say what you will, I'm a Singaporean and I'm practical.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling.

The fourth novel in the Harry Potter series, one of the first thing you will noticed about the book is how much thick it is compare to the earlier books in the series. But is bigger better? Not really.

The book starts off with a murder of a nobody caretaker by Lord Voldemort and Wormtail. It then showcase Harry's annual escape from the his uncle. The better part of the early going take place at the Quidditch World Cup. Following the finals, a group of Death Eaters, Lord Voldemort's servants, storm the venue, creating panic and mayhem. Then the Dark Mark, Lord Voldemort's sign, shot into the night sky. Upon investigating, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement Barty Crouch's house elf Winky, is accused of conjuring the mark. Crouch is furious and fires Winky on the spot.

During the Welcoming Feast, Professor Dumbledore announced that Hogwarts will host the recently revived Triwizard Tournament. The tournament involves three difficult tasks which the competitors must complete. The competitors are chosen by The Goblet of Fire. A magical goblet that will chooses one student from each competing school. Only students 17 years old and above are allowed to enter. Cedric Diggory is chosen as Hogwarts' champion, Fleur Delacour is selected for Beauxbatons Academy and Durmstrang Institute is represented by Viktor Krum. As expected, The Goblet unexpectedly selects a fourth champion, Harry Potter.

Harry is helped throughout the tournament by Professor Alastor Moody, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. In the first task, the champions must retrieve a golden egg from a dragon. With advice from Hagrid and Moody, Harry decided to use his broom and outfly the dragon. The second task requires retrieving something important to each champion that is hidden in Hogwarts' lake. Dobby the house-elf gave Harry gillyweed so he can breathe underwater. Harry rescued Ron. He however waits for Fleur to show up and save her little sister Gabrielle, but when she does not, Harry rescues Gabrielle, losing time but awarding him additional points for "moral fiber". For the third task, the champions must navigate through a large maze filled with dangerous obstacles. Shortly before the event, Harry and Viktor Krum are startled when a dishevelled Mr. Crouch emerges from the forest, demanding to see Dumbledore. Harry runs for help, but when he returns with Dumbledore, they find Krum unconscious and Crouch missing. While waiting in Dumbledore's office, Harry peers inside a pensieve containing the professor's memories. In one, Harry sees a wizarding trial in which Barty Crouch, Jr., a Death Eater, is sentenced to Azkaban by his father, Crouch Sr. Harry also hears testimony that Severus Snape was once a Death Eater.

During the third task, Harry and Cedric successfully navigate the maze and, because they had helped each other earlier, they agreed to grab the Cup simultaneously. Unknown to them, the Cup is actually a portkey. Awaiting them is Peter Pettigrew carrying what appears to be a deformed infant, but is actually Lord Voldemort who orders Pettigrew to "kill the spare". Pettigrew kills Diggory with the Avada Kedavra curse and then ties Harry to a tombstone. He then uses Harry's blood, a bone from Voldemort's long-dead father, and his own severed hand in a bizarre ritual that restores Lord Voldemort to his full body and power. Voldemort now carries Harry's blood within him and is no longer affected by the magic that has protected the boy since infancy. Voldemort then reveals that his servant at Hogwarts ensured Harry would win the tournament and be brought to the graveyard. As their spells interlock, a Magic effect occurs, causing the spirit echoes of Voldemort's victims, including Cedric Diggory, James and Lily Potter, and others to spill out from his wand. The echoes momentarily distracted Voldemort, allowing Harry to grab the portkey and escape to Hogwarts with Diggory's body.

After Harry returns to the school grounds through the portkey, Moody takes Harry to his office immediately. He reveals that he was the servant the Dark Lord was talking about and had been helping Harry throughout all of the tournament's events. After the explanation, Mad-Eye attempts to attack Harry but is stopped by Dumbledore, Snape and Minerva McGonagall. When Snape feeds Moody a bottle of Veritaserum, Moody is exposed as Barty Crouch, Jr. who escaped Azkaban and used a Polyjuice Potion to impersonate the real Alastor Moody, trapped in a magical trunk. Crouch Jr. murdered his father and entered Harry's name into the Goblet of Fire, covertly ensuring that Harry completed each task. Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, arrives at Hogwarts accompanied by a Dementor. Fudge denies Dumbledore's claim that Voldemort has returned and before Crouch can repeat his confession his soul is sucked out by the Dementor.

At the end, Dumbledore urgently revives the Order of the Phoenix and against the Ministry's orders, tells students the truth about Cedric's death and that Voldemort has returned. Harry was crowned the Triwizard Tournament champion but felt that Cedric should have been champion. He then gave the one-thousand Galleons prize to Ron's twin brothers, Fred and George, telling them to use it to open their own joke shop, their life-long ambition.

Yes a lot of things happened in this book. However bigger is not better. When you need to set aside a whole chapter at the end for the villain to explain all that has happened, usually that's not good. Another thing is that the main villain came out of left field. Rowling likes to give us red herrings in the books, but overdid it this time. There were like 4-5 different people who could be the main villain, but none of them were it. I also find the Quidditch World Cup overly long and a tad unnecessary. The great thing was the fact that Rowling expanded the world Harry is in. Small little things that were dropped here and there (flying carpets trade disagreement) were most fun to read.

I can't help but think that a good editor is needed for this book. Parts of it work, other don't; usually because they went on too long. A good editor would and should have cut off parts of the book. The book could lose about 50-100 pages and would have been better off for it. Reports say that Rowling admitted that the fourth book was the most difficult to write as she noticed a giant plot hole half-way through writing. She rewrote the ninth chapter 13 times. It showed.

Friday, November 16, 2007

No More 'Ho'

"Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!" The famous Santa Claus greeting is heard around the world every Christmas...expect Australia!

Why, you asked? Because Australia have been told not to use the traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women. Instead been instructed to say "ha ha ha".

They're right. Ha ha ha! What a joke. I thought this was a joke at first but it's for real. What's next; every Chinese in Australia with the surname 'Ho' must change their name?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown to Final Crisis #24- Earth 15 sure didn't last long. After all the work that went into bringing back the multiverse, DC went and destroy one of the Earth. You know, the one with General Zod as Superman we saw a few months ago. A black-costumed Superman Prime showed up and the whole planet was destroy. Yes, destroyed just like that! Why bring back the multiverse if you are going to destroy them in less than a year? A good point was the little duel between Black Mary and Darkseid. Outside that, why did they destroy Earth 15?

Black Adam: The Dark Age #4- After a remarkable run during 52, Black Adam had his own comics. The Dark Age has been ultraviolent up to this point, but writer Peter Tomasi tone it down this issue. And it still work! Everything in the book is still dark but there's no in-your-face tearing up of bodies. Maybe this is a good thing as it prove there's no need for massive body count for a issue of Black Adam to work. Still a must buy.

Avengers: The Initiative #7- After the last miserable issue, I am glad to say Initiative is back on track. As usual the book keep jumping from characters and plotlines to characters and plotlines. But hey, it worked! Most of the issue is on the new Scarlet Spiders and a cameo by the real Spider-Man (yes I know, twice in seven issues). However there's a surprise at the end that made it worthwhile. Who knows, maybe the Scarlet Spiders may even get off my least favorite characters list. There's also a brewing storyline on Justice and his quest for info on the dead MVP. Now that's a interesting storyline.

Nova #8- Okay, Nova will not be in the Annihilation: Conquest storyline. After escaping from the clutches of the Phalanx, Richard Rider is now at the edge of the universe. I'm glad Worldmind is back; the backtalk between the almost clueless Richard and the too-much info Worldmind is the best thing about the book. Another plus; the telepathic Russian dog. I'm not sure how, but writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning successfully put the dog into the story. To take such a corny character and be successful with it. Brilliant! An entertaining storyline, a telepathic Russian dog and the severed head of a Celestial; crazy but highly entertaining.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Maplestory Anime

Whether you like it or not, most gaming fans in Singapore have heard of Maplestory. The massive free MMO is without question the most played MMO in Singapore. Now anyone who had played the game will tell you there isn't really a story behind all the button bashing; that's not stopping them from making an anime about it.

Yes, Maplestory now has its' own anime. Now this is truly called making it big. Follow the link to the wikipedia write-up if you don't believe me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Iraq Inspectors Close Shop

After all the pretense, the UN is finally shutting the door. The United Nations Security Council has finally closed the door on the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, admitting that there really wasn't any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

If you can remember, the weapons were the main reason/excuse the U.S used to invade Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein. No weapons were found after years of fruitless searching and the UN, especially the U.S, has finally admitted defeat.

I know, I'm surprised they're still working too. It's been 4 years since the U.S invaded and all the talk of yellowcake and nuclear devise had long been dismissed by everyone. And the Iraq inspection teams were still working? Don't the UN had better things to do with the money than to waste it on a fruitless search that no one believe in? How about more money on refugees or something?

I never quite understand all the talk of UN reform before but if this is what the UN is wasting money on, I've changed my mind. Reform is a must for them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

No Cooling for the Property Market

The red-hot property market of Singapore is in the news again. Worried that the property markets has become too hot for foreigners, Singapore has taken some steps these few months to try to cool it down.

No more. The Singapore government has came out to say that that's it. No further steps to cool down the booming property market is forthcoming. Too bad because I don't think enough has been done on the matter. Property prices in Singapore is still at their highest levels in about 10 years, there's still a strong demand and some very liberal payment schemes that allow buyers to make only a 10% deposit. Also, inflation just hit a 12-year high of 2.9 percent in August and consumer prices could potentially surge up to 5 percent in the first quarter of next year.

Put all these factors together and I do feel that more should be done to lower property prices. Afterall Singapore home prices rose more than 21 percent since the start of the year, and it hasn't come down yet. For most Singaporeans, upgrading has went from being an ambition to being a dream. And that I think is something the government must fix.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown to Final Crisis #25- After weeks of mostly crap, Countdown is finally moving. With the title's name-change last week to Countdown to Final Crisis, the writers has finally decided that there's no more need to put the title in neutral. Not a moment too soon I say. There's still the problem of 2 page cameos, but at least we can see that the story is going somewhere. Even more amazingly, this week's pages are mostly taken up by Karate Kid's quest in Bludhaven and it's even enjoyable! A real leg up as most of the Kid's story were unreadable up to this point. Another good point is that the villain finally show up. Darkseid and his dark gods of Apokolips are finally making their move (like this book) and are gathering forces. Mary Marvel siding with Darkseid? Can't wait to see what happen there.

Countdown: The Search for Ray Palmer - Red Rain #1- I will admit I do not understand why so many people loved the Elseworld Batmen is a vampire story. It's good, but hardly a classic. And I can never get over the fact it's a story with a hook and nothing more.
However, DC listen to the majority vote and put the Red Rain Universe as one of the 52 Earths. As much as I dislike the world, this story is pretty good. The story is mostly about the Dick Grayson of Red Rain and how as a vampire-hunter, his hunt for the biggest, baddest vampire in the world, Bat-man! Like the entertaining Jokester's origin story in the Crime Society installment, this is a character driven story. Dick Grayson's quest to hunt down and kill the Bat-man that murdered his parents is the glue of the story and show more potential in the Red Rain Universe than I thought possible. Another solid look at a 52 world.

Annihilation: Conquest #1- Annihilation was THE sleeper hit that came out of nowhere. The original Annihilation retool the cosmic wing of the Marvel Universe and with the hit, came the sequel.
Conquest has a lot to live up to, and mostly it a success. Like the original, you can feel the effect of the war. The battles in this issue are brutal and very dangerous. This is where the book succeeded. The sheer scope of the war is amazing. You can see and feel that this is a galaxy-wide war and the people who are fighting in it take no prisoners and gives no quarter. Also, I like the fact Adam Warlock made a return. The bad thing of the issue is the main villain that showed up at the end. Him? That's the...guy that made the Phalanx into a threat that conquered the Kree? Annihilus and his forces I can understand, this guy...I have my doubts. Another problem I foresee is the amount of characters the writers are trying to squeeze in. The amount of characters involved means that even characters like Nova, Star-Lord and Drax the Destroyer can't even make an appearance. However, this is a good start and I'll be there for issue 2.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Elder Scrolls Online

Travelling from Daggerfall to Morrowind, take a portal to Oblivion, sail to the Summer Isle; fans of the Elder Scrolls series are drooling like me at a piece of news that came out last week.

Bethesda Softworks, owner of the Elder Scrolls series, has registered the domain name It seems the ZeniMax, who owns Bethesda, has just created a new division called ZeniMax Online Studios, dedicated to the development of massively-multiplayer online games.

I love this idea! Elder Scrolls: Oblivion is a huge game, so I can't wait to see what Bethesda Softworks will do. It could be better than big. However they just registered the name, so it'll be a while. Here's for waiting patiently for the next MMO smash!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

There's an island called Pedra Branca?

Singapore papers are filled with Pedra Branca. The island is 40km from Singapore and both Singapore and Malaysia claim the island.

Most Singaporeans I know have the same reaction I did; Where the hell is Pedra Branca? The island is 40km from Singapore and...we can claim an island 40km away? I know it's in a strategic position but it is 40km away! Only a lawyer can figure this one out. The International Court of Justice will determine which country has the sovereign right to the island. Hopefully after this, we will never hear of the island again.

Let's not relations between Malaysia and Singapore be damaged by an island no Singaporeans has ever heard of.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Review of Stardust

There are fanboys who worship at the alter of Neil Gaiman. I loved the man's work on the classic Sandman series, but I am NOT one of them!

Although I love Sandman; to me the series seems a one-off for Neil Gaiman. A fluke if you will. Nothing he has done before or since has quite reached the amazing bar Sandman has set. There have been a few close calls (American Gods coming to mind), but while Gaiman's stories has loads of imagination, lack of execution has been his fatal flaw at times. At times it almost seems that he has too much imagination for his own good.

The movie Stardust is based on a novel Neil Gaiman wrote, does NOT have this problem. For this, thank God for Matthew Vaughn. The British film producer-turned-director might be better known as Mr Claudia Schiffer, but does the man have talent or what!

Vaughn streamlines the book to give off a charming movie that's both funny and fun. The casting director need a pay raise as well because the film is amazing well-casted. How the hell did he managed to get Robert De Niro (having a ball of a time), Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes and Sienna Miller all into Stardust? Whoever he is, the pay raise is richly deserved.

I won't go into detail about the movie as I probably won't be able to do it justice, let just say that I understand why the film remind people of The Princess Bride. Like that classic film, Stardust is destined for classic status. DO NOT READ THE BOOK FIRST! The film is good in that you are never quite sure what's going to happen next.

Also, Charlie Cox is a breakout star as the main character Tristan Thorne. Cox is believable as the bumbling, naive boy as the start of the movie; and is believable as the heroic man at the end. A superb performance!

Take a look at Stardust; it's one of the best film of the year!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Confusing! That's what I thought after reading the third Harry Potter book. That's the main trouble with time travel. If you want to have a time travel story, you need to make sure everything make sense while the action is happening and in the end.

That's the main problem with the time travel parts of this book. It makes sense in the end...only if you are willing to make a leap of faith in the midst of the story.

To be fair, the story was pretty good till the time travel started. J.K. Rowling's third book in the Harry Potter series opens with Harry Potter enduring yet another unhappy summer at the Dursleys'. Then Uncle Vernon's visiting sister, Marge, viciously insults Harry, Harry's anger snap and magically causes her to inflate and float to the ceiling. Harry runs away but the Knight Bus soon find him and takes him to the Leaky Cauldron.

During the trip, Harry learns that a supporter of Lord Voldemort, Sirius Black, has escaped from the magic prison of Azkaban. Black murdered thirteen people with one curse and is a strong supporter of Lord Voldemort. Harry met with the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, who surprising told Harry that he will NOT be expelled from Hogwarts for using under-age magic. While staying at the Leaky Cauldron, Harry hears Mr. and Mrs. Weasley arguing over whether he should be warned about Black.

As Harry begins his third year, there are two new wizards joining the staff: Professor Remus J. Lupin for Defence Against the Dark Arts and Rubeus Hagrid for Care of Magical Creatures. While Lupin's lessons are enjoyable, Hagrid's soon become dreary. The hippogriff Buckbeak, a half-horse, half-bird creature, was provoked into attacking Draco Malfoy whose father, Lucius Malfoy, immediately files a complaint against Hagrid.

Because Black is still at large, Dementors, the inhuman Azkaban prison guards now patrol the school. Dementors drain happiness from anything they approach and Harry find that he is particularly affected by them.

Shortly before Christmas, the Weasley twins give Harry their Marauder's Map, a magical document that shows every person's location within Hogwarts as well as secret passageways in and out of the castle. Harry uses a tunnel to sneak into Hogsmeade village where he overhears a disturbing conversation that Black was his parents' best friend and is his godfather and legal guardian. He was also the one who betrayed the Potters whereabouts to Lord Voldemort and murdered their friend Peter Pettigrew.

A large dog then attacks Ron and drags him and his rat Scabbers into a hole at the base of Whomping Willow. Harry and Hermione follow, finding a tunnel leading to the Shrieking Shack. Inside, Harry confronts Sirius Black, who is an Animagus, a mage who can transform into an animal at will. Lupin suddenly bursts in and embraces his old friend Black. Confronted by Hermione, Lupin admits to being a werewolf and also the Map's creator, along with Black, Pettigrew, and James Potter. Lupin and Black explain that Scabbers is actually Peter Pettigrew in his Animagus form. He is Voldemort's servant, and he betrayed the Potters, framing Black for the crimes. Harry is skeptical until Black and Lupin force Pettigrew back into his human form. Black explains he discovered that Pettigrew was still alive and escaped Azkaban to seek revenge.

As the group heads back, the full moon rises, causing Lupin to turn into a werewolf. During the ensuing commotion, Pettigrew escapes. Black turns into his dog form to protect the others from Werewolf Lupin. Lupin flees, leaving Black badly injured. As Dementors move in to attack Black, Harry and Hermione see a mysterious figure in the distance cast a powerful stag-shaped Patronus, a guardian spirit spell. The stag scattered the Dementors. Black is then captured and taken to the castle where the Dementors intend to suck out his soul.

Hermione then reveals to Harry that she was entrusted with a time-traveling device. Prompted by Headmaster Dumbledore, she and Harry travel three hours into the past, watching themselves go through the night's previous events.

This is where the story start losing sense. Harry and Hermione set Buckbeak free and return to the Whomping Willow. As the dementors are about to attack the "other" Harry and Black, Harry realises that the mysterious figure he saw earlier was actually himself. He casts the powerful Patronus that repels the dementors. Harry and Hermione free Black, who escapes on Buckbeak as the timeline restores itself to normal.

Does the last part make sense to you? It sure didn't to me as I was reading it. Hermione just happen to be entrusted with a time travel device, which is a big thing in the magic world. Harry just happen to learn the Patronus spell which save Black. They then managed to free Buckbeak who flies Black to safety.

Coincidence? No such thing, magic time travel! A good book that tries so hard to find a good ending, it suffers. That's my view.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sherwood Forest going, going...

We might not like to hear this, but climate change is mostly a man-made problem. We had, and still are, destroyed the trees and forests needed to keep the world cool. The Amazon rainforest is only about 70% of what it once was and getting smaller by the day.

Sherwood Forest is joining the rainforest. Yes, the famous forest in England that housed the legendary Robin Hood is in danger of being extinct. The forest once covered about 100,000 acres; today it is about 450 acres. If Robin Hood was alive today, he'll be stealing from the rich and giving to the forest.

It tell you how bad things are getting when even a national icon like Sherwood Forest is under threat from extincted. Unless man decided to destroy less forests...there goes the neighbourhood.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown #26- A title change this week. The newly named Countdown to Final Crisis #26 is a sad, sad effort to remind people to buy the new upcoming, supposedly last Final Crisis. The DC event new year. I rather wish DC would concentrate less on marketing and more on getting this series to live up to the level set by 52. To be fair, this is a good issue. A Monitor basically gave a show and tell to clue readers in on how there's a plan for everything. Mary Marvel's temper tantrums, Jimmy Olsen fight on Apokolips, the Jason Todd/Donna Troy/Kyle Rayner search for Ray Palmer, even Karate Kid's quest for a cure. The only one missing is Holly Robinson; I knew that story was useless! A improved book is good, marketing...not so good.

Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood #1- Of all the stories in 52, the Crime Bible story was, in my view, the weak link. I love the fact Renee Montoya is the new the Question (yes, I'm one of the few), but the the Crime Bible segments of 52 were just too drawn-out. This series however start with a bang. A series showing how the students of the Bible are spreading their religion. What's there not to like? Keep this up and DC will have a winner.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A few cents worth

There's a big wave in Singapore these few days on those 3 British morons who cheated an old trishaw rider of his hard earned money after taking a trip on his trishaw; and then put the whole incident on Youtube.

My view on this; Why are you surprise by this? Service staffs all over the island had always complained about rude, unreasonable tourists (mostly Westerns). These 3 idiots from the U.K are hardly the first, or last, of their kind. Hell, in the Singapore "West is good" thinking, Singaporeans are beginning to ape those Western morons. Remember the papers a few months ago when they reported a woman (a Singaporean) who refused to pay her taxi fare unless the taxi drop her off at the other side of the road. Which is all of 5 metres away! How is the woman any different from these British cheats?

Before we Singaporeans start showing our rightness fury, let us take a good look in the mirror first.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Legend Falls!

Success make people do funny things; even successful people; even legends. That can be the only reason when someone like Switzerland's Martina Hingis announced her retirement from tennis after admitting she is under investigation for a positive test for cocaine.

Shockwaves were felt in the tennis world when reports said that Hingis failed a drugs test during this year's Wimbledon. Now she say that she is innocent but will retire rather than fight the doping charge. Hingis, winner of five Grand Slams, is on a comeback after retiring in 2003 due to persistent ankle injury problems. She only returned to the top flight in 2006, but despite showing her potential by getting to 7th in the world at one point, she has struggled to recover her old form.

Maybe she is innocent; maybe it's a bad test; but I feel Hingis should stay and fight the charge. By retiring like this...well, it's had to accept she is innocent isn't it? And after her outstanding career to boot! A champion and a fan favorite well respected by everyone; what made her do it?

Like I said; The desire to have success make people do funny things.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

EPL this month

Who's hot in October

Top Teams this month
Arsenal- Forget Brazil, the beautiful game has a new savior; his name: Arsene Wenger. The manager of Arsenal has the team playing a brand of football which is bewitching to the eye. And they are fearless! Who else would dare go to Anfield and attack Liverpool? Cesc Fabregas is so good now that no one even notice the absent Robin van Persie. Arsenal are on a roll!

Manchester United- Last month they were winning even when they were playing badly. No longer a problem. Wayne Rooney's return to scoring form was badly needed and the defence is still great. Still not sure about the Rooney/Tevez attack, but you can't argue with results. Sir Alex Ferguson still has the magic touch.

Surprise Team this month
Chelsea- Chelsea putting Man City to the sword? Attacking and scoring goals for fun? Avram Grant has proven that he is different from ex-manager Jose Mourinho and the team is responding to the changes. The team is exactly exciting to watch now. Jose who?

Disappointing Teams this month
Tottenham Hotspur- I disagree with those people who say Martin Jol didn't have a chance. Martin Jol had over 10 games and Spurs are in the bottom 3 instead of the top 3 of the EPL. He had to go. Maybe now Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane and gang can get going and put some results together.

Liverpool- Why is Fernando Torres so important to Liverpool? Because Xabi Alonso is injured! Without Alonso, there's no creator in the Liverpool midfield and that's what make Torres so important. He is the only striker Liverpool has that can create! Dirk Kuyt, Peter Crouch and Andriy Voronin are good strikers that bring different things to the table...but they are not creators. Liverpool need Alonso back in a hurry.