Thursday, December 31, 2015

Not As Popular

Today on the radio, some DJ was interviewing a local football official about the state of the game in Singapore right now and what can be done to improve the game. The official gave a surprising fact to the DJ; some schools in Singapore are not offering the game as a CCA anymore.

I was surprised but at the same time, I know I should not be.

The official said the blame for this was due to the fact schools now only offer sports which they can win in. This means the sports they offered and put resources in are sports which they are traditionally good at. As he said, "If you are not going to win, then don't play."

I don't think that's quite right.

Now I won't discount the reason the official gave as totally incorrect but I think there's one more reason the official has not said. Football is just not as popular among the young as it used to be.

I say this because...well, a lot of kids nowadays can no longer watch football on TV. Ever since Singtel got the EPL rights and jacked up the price, I have not subscribed. I don't think I'm the only one who didn't. A lot of people who used to regularly watch football on Saturday night now no longer do so. Their kids who would watch the game with their fathers now would also not be able to watch the game.

Without the exposure of the EPL, it's little wonder football has dropped in popularity in Singapore. Older fans are still fans, but for the young who don't watch the EPL (or watched it irregularly), football is just not as important to them as it was when I was young. It's natural.    

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fault and Recovery

The movie: The Force Awakens
The location: Golden Village Vivocity IMAX
The time: 6.35pm

About a quarter of the movie gone and..."Sorry but we are facing technical difficulties."

That's right. Tonight I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens and a quarter of the movie in, I faced the blue screen of death. At a movie theater! Even after the movie restarted, there was audio problems throughout the movie. Static noise came out, making the movie slow, quiet moments a non-starter. After the movie ends however, Golden Village offered everyone in the theater a full refund with a complimentary pass to another movie which I must use by the end of February 2016.  

The movie was destroyed by the technical problems (and it wasn't very good to begin with) but Golden Village did what they could. Full refund with a free movie ticket? Well, I guess I could withdraw the complaint email I was going to sent to Golden Village.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Comics this week

Jupiter's Circle Vol. 2 #2- t the end of the first volume of Jupiter's Circle, Skyfox left the team and it seems the stage was set for him to turn villain. Writer Mark Millar now set the stage with a surprising portrayal that's far different from his protayal in volume 1. At the start of the issue, Skyfox has retired from the superhero life and is slumping around with 60s counterculture icons. However the 60s is America was a time of great change and whereas Sheldon and gang tow the official superhero line of non-inference, a retired superhero like Skyfox don't feel he has to tow the same line and could do what he thinks is right. You can easily see the murky middle ground between the two sides and it would not really be all that surprising if Skyfox gets into trouble with the U.S government of that time.

Payback #4- If there was any doubts , this issue settled it. Paybacks is a villain book. The members of the team are not a group of villains per say, but they do work for a villain. Money is everything for Mr. Pierce and control is a close second. The ruthless way he ordered the assassination of Skisquatch shown his colors clearly and Bloodpatch's reaction to the (seemingly) death of his partner set things up for the future. The twist in the end of Ms. Adventure was also a nice touch. Things are looking up for the future.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Returning A Skull

Nicholas Cage is a great actor. He is also one hell of a weirdo. However one thing I must say is that he earned my admiration when he made the right decision to return his rare dinosaur skull back to the Mongolian government.

According to reports, Cage won an auction for a Tyrannosaurus bataar skull in 2007. He paid US$276,000 to a gallery for the rare dinosaur skull but last year was informed by the US Department of Homeland Security that the item was stolen from Mongolia. The Mongolian government requested that the actor returned the skull and Cage agreed.

Now, I have no idea why anyone would paid a quarter of a million dollars for a dinosaur skull but for him to just agree to return the item without fighting the matter in court is something worth admiring. According to all reports, Cage was totally unaware the skull had been stolen and bought the item in good faith as the gallery he bought it from had all the right (faked) documents. So he actually had a case, but he choose not to fight it and return the skull to the rightful owner.

He may be strange but he did the right thing here. Good for you Nicholas Cage!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jose Mourinho for Louis van Gaal

When Louis van Gaal was appointed manger of Manchester United, I thought it was a strange choice. The man has a great CV, but I never rate LVG very highly and thought he’ll be a bad fit. Half a season later and that seems to be the case.

Results wise, Man Utd is doing okay. They are fifth in the Premiership but only on goal difference. For a good chunk of the season, they were in the top 4. That’s not good enough for Man Utd fans and pressure is mounting on the embattled Manchester United manager especially regarding the fact that his Man Utd do not attack enough. Speculation is that LVG will be axed and former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will be his replacement.

Wait a minute; What?

Fans are complaining that Louis van Gaal don’t attack enough, and the Man Utd board think that’s something that’s going to change under cynical win-at-all cost Jose Mourinho? Do you guys even watch teams that played under Jose Mourinho? Since when has Jose become a manager whose team “attack”? He’s more likely to put 11 guys behind the ball than come out with an attacking formation.

Like I said earlier, I thought Louis van Gaal was a bad fit for Man Utd. I think the same can be said for Jose Mourinho; only worse! 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Wrong Winner At Miss Universe 2015

WTF? I, like many people throughout the world, had that reaction when I heard that the host of the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant uh...misread the winner? One live TV!

Host Steve Harvey announced Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez, as the winner of the Miss Universe Pageant. Then, a few minutes later, he admitted his misread his cue cards and announced Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach had, in fact, won the crown.

Not to kick a dog while it's down but WTF?

I read that host Steve Harvey is a comedian; well he must have mixed up his work because this was one hell of a joke. Yes, there's pressure but come on. How in the world could you possibly make such a mistake? Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach won't mind too much but you have to feel for Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez. She must be feeling terrible.

For host Steve Harvey; mistakes happen but sorry man, this was a big one. Stick to your day job as a comedian; no more hosting job for you.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Sacking Of Jose Mourinho

The biggest sporting news today is without question the sacking of Jose Mourinho. 7 months after winning the English Premiership for the third time, Mourinho was sacked after a terrible season thus far that left Chelsea FC just a point above the relegation zone.

With results like that, I don’t think anyone can begrudge Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's decision for getting rid of “The Special One”. In fact the question has been why Abramovich took so long before making his decision. After all, the man’s ruthless streak has been well-documented. Carlos Ancelotti was sacked one season after leading Chelsea to the double just because he finished second to Man Utd. Roberto Di Matteo won the Champion League with Chelsea in 2012 and that wasn’t enough to save him from getting the sack in the same year.

Chelsea is now fifth from the bottom of the Premiership and 1 point above relegation. Why did Abramovich took so long before making the decision? In simple terms; money! That’s what stood out for me when I heard that Mourinho had been sacked. The man is going to get a £40m payout from Chelsea after getting the sack. With a payout like that, I have to wonder why in the world did Chelsea sack the man at this moment.

Chelsea is too far down the table to make a run for the Champions League, much less win the title. There’s not too many players available in the January transfer window, and Pep Guardiola’s contract with Bayern Munich only expire at the end of this season.

You can’t win at this moment; can’t buy good players next month; no good replacement for Mourinho; and have to pay him £40m! Sorry Roman, but you got it wrong. You should only sack “The Special One” at the end of the season.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Comics this week

Justice League #46- After the last few issues where almost everything was blown out of the water, I could forgive writer Geoff Johns for a setup issue. After the last issue, many were left wondering about the continuation of this storyline. After all, can there be a “Darkseid War” when Darkseid is dead?  The answer is a big “Yes” as the other players in the game made their moves on the Anti-Monitor. A lot of the credit for this issue falls to artist Francis Manapul who seems to be having fun. Bring forth the next chapter!

Web Warriors #02- Electro-Horse, “It’s a pig!” Spider-Ham, “It’s a horse!” Just like that, Mike Costa sold me on this issue. It’s fun; it’s weird; it’s a blast! I thought of picking this up till the end of the first arc, but if this continues I may have to consider putting this under “ongoing collection”. It’s that fun of a read.  

We Stand On Guard #6- I admit; I thought this was an ongoing series but now found out that it isn't. No matter because if this was the last ever issue of We Stand On Guard, it was one hell of a way to close the story. Sacrifices were made by members of the Two-Four with Amber finally showing us readers why she's the main character thus far. Not only that, the story shows us why war is always a nasty thing to be avoided at all cost. I don't know if writer Brian K. Vaughan intend to keep the series going later but if he do, I'll be there to pick it up.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Expectations of The Force Awakens

One week before the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I will play the devil advocate and say this to Star Wars fans; Guys, lower your expectations. 

Fans in America have already been lining up to see the movie and I have to worry if the movie will ever do justice to the sky high expectations of fans. Forget about the fact that the last 3 films (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith) were the weakness of the six movies, the simple fact is that even if J.J. Abrams do a good job in The Force Awakens, it might still not be enough. 

The original Star Wars movies are now more than just films; they are cultural icons. Fair or not, that's the yardstick that The Force Awakens will be measured against. People are hoping that The Force Awakens will be the new A New Hope. Honestly, I don't think that's fair.

The original trilogy were made between 1977 to 1983; it is now 2015. Times have changed, and I do not think this new or any future Star Wars movies will ever match the original trilogy. In fact, I think it's grossly unfair to even expect the new movies to match the original films.   

Don't get me wrong; I hope it will measure up to the originals but I don't think anyone should expect it to. Guys, lower your expectations and let The Force Awakens stand on it's own. That's the only way to be fair to it.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Tighten The Rules

Every year, shopping centers in Singapore would put up Christmas decorations to celebrate Christmas…and to draw in more customers. I’m not a fan of these decorations because they are put up way too earlier and the shopping centers usually operate on a format of cramping in as many lights as they can in as small as a space as they can.

So it comes as no surprise that for the second time in as many weeks, a Christmas decoration along Orchard Street had caught fire. Last week, a Christmas tree outside Knightsbridge mall caught fire. Yesterday night, a street lamp outside Peranakan Place caught fire. Next week…your guess is as good as mine.

The Singapore government needs to look into ways to restrict all these silly Christmas decorations. I know there is currently an advisory in place for festive season fire safety but come on; considering the number of lights switched on along Orchard Road, it’s a very loose advisory. Let’s not give more work to the people in our Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Comics this week

Earth 2: Society #7- What a finish! You know a show that started poorly but was then saved by a strong finish? (Cough, Netflix’s Daredevil, cough) Well, that’s the case with Earth 2. The series started poorly but I feel writer Daniel H. Wilson may have saved the series with a great finish to the first arc. The various heroes of Earth 2 joined in to stop Doctor Impossible and by the end, you got the definite feeling that this was the beginning of something great. Justice Society; here we come! 

Secret Wars #8- The limp to the finish line continues as writer Jonathan Hickman forgo all pretense of character and plot development and just gave artist Esad Ribic license to deliver nonstop action. Marvel’s decision to delay the finish of this event series now actually make sense as Ribic had a ton of fun with all the heroes, villains, Negative Zone bugs and Marvel Zombies. Considering how poor (or non-existent) the writing is, it’s great news for Marvel they had Ribic on board. Without his work, this issue would be nowhere near as impressive as it was.

The Troop #1- Known for its Assassin Creed adaptation, Titan Comics now venture into superhero territory with The Troop. After reading #1, I think they may have a winner here. Writer Noel Clarke ticked a lot of boxes but in a way that is just different enough to be interesting. Artist J. Cassara compliments the writing beautifully with detail art that’s expresses the characters’ feelings with gusto. I picked this up with no expectations whatsoever, and finished it feeling this could be the sleeper hit of the year. Take a look, it’s well worth it.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Tomb Raider

I’m not a fan of Tomb Raider. In the long history of Lara Croft and Tomb Raider, I think I had played only 1 of the games (forgotten which one) and seen 1 of the movies (mainly due to the then young and still hot Angelina Jolie). So it’s fair to say I’m not a fan.

This game changed that.  

Tomb Raider is a 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise showing a young, green and inexperienced Lara Croft in her first adventure. For that reason, it has been dubbed Tomb Raider: Year 1 by many fans. In many ways, Tomb Raider: Year 1 is correct.

The game begins with Lara setting out on her first expedition aboard the ship Endurance, with the intention of finding the lost kingdom of Yamatai. Against the advice of others, she ordered the expedition to venture into the Dragon's Triangle, an area east of Japan known for its violent storms. The ship was struck by a violent storm and shipwrecked, leaving the survivors stranded on an isolated island.

Lara was one of the survivors and as she tried to locate the other survivors of her ship, she found evidence that the island was inhabited. Strange carvings, dead bodies, animal sacrifices, cultists all proved to her that the island had been inhabited for a long time and that the island she washed up on was the legendary island of Yamatai. Not only that, she became convinced that there was something mystical about the island.

However the story of Tomb Raider takes a backseat to the gameplay and the characterization of Lara. The game emphasized the origins of Lara, showing her development to become the character everyone knows and love. Many people say this was the highlight of the game and I fully agree on that. After playing the game, I finally get it. I finally understand why so many people love Lara Croft so much. Like I said earlier, this game made me a fan.

I especially liked the fact that this Lara Croft was one who bleeds and gets dirty. Good use of cut-scenes shows Lara hurt, injured and desperate. Even when you were in-game playing Lara, you could see the dirt on her and that by itself makes this game better than previous Tomb Raider games.  The game also made sure to show that Lara is no saint. She makes mistakes and has a tendency to believe she knows better than everyone, even when she acknowledges that others were more experience than she was.

Not only that, the gameplay was excellent. The visual of Yamatai was great and the game itself was exciting. Many times during combat, I found myself holding my breath. Some of the puzzles and hidden tomb locations were also very well done.

Of course the game was not perfect. The multiplayer was non-existent because…well, no one’s there. A lot of the achievements in the game are in the multiplayer so if you are one of those who aims for 100% completion; sorry but you’re out of luck.

Also, Lara Croft was emphasized so much in the game the rest of the cast became pretty forgettable. Most of them could be easily be put into generic tropes like dead mentor, insane bad-guy, lovelorn potential boyfriend etc. Tomb Raider was about Lara Croft, Lara is the Tomb Raider. Everyone else was a secondary character that weren't worth remembering.

Overall, Tomb Raider is a game I would highly recommend. It’s an exciting action-adventure game that would not only please old fans of Lara Croft but also bring new fans to the franchise. Bring forth the sequel; Rise of the Tomb Raider!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

38 Oxley Road

Should the bungalow at 38 Oxley Road be torn down?

For those who do not know, this bungalow was the home of the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and his family now want to tear it down as per the wishes of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. However some misty-eyed Singaporeans now want the bungalow to be considered a National Heritage site due to its “deep historical value”.

Sorry but I don’t buy it. Yes, I’ sure there were some momentous decisions made in that house but to me, our wishes is secondary to the wishes of the man himself. Mr. Lee want the house to be demolished and considering what he had done for Singapore, respecting this minor request is the very least we should do.

Honestly, I don’t think there too much to argue about. The man wanted his house tore down. To me, that's should be it. Respect his wishes and do it. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Only In America

Despite a friend of mine always sending me Facebook posts on abuse of animals by Singaporeans, I’m not a big fan of pets and animals. The most I ever had were a couple of fishes and turtles as pets.

However sometimes news come out that just strike me.

One such piece of news comes from America where a man stabbed his dog to death with a samurai sword.  Douglas Joseph Hagler from North Carolina stabbed his dog, 13-month-old Siberian husky Koda, 11 times with his samurai sword and killed it.

For that, he was sentenced to 100 days in jail.

Really? Stabbing a dog, his own dog, to death with a sword and you just get 100 days in jail with 5 years probation. Only in America I guess. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Michelin Star?

Can a hawker stall in Singapore get a Michelin Star? That question is being asked in Singapore after news came out that a ramen stall in Japan got a Michelin Star. 

In the typical kaisu Singapore way, Singaporeans are now wondering if a Singapore hawker stall can do the same. After all, if a ramen stall in Japan with a grand seating capacity of just 9 seats can do it, why not in Singapore?

The answer is simple. In Singapore, we don't have the same food culture as in Japan. Most hawker stalls here sell food that are filling, cheap and quick to make. These are the main criteria for a stall in Singapore. Having great food (which usually means increase prices) is secondary.

Until this culture changes in Singapore, I highly doubt is any hawker stall in Singapore will ever get a Michelin Star. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Comics this week

Plutona #3- When we were kids, everyone dreamt of being a superhero. Now imagine you are in a world with superheroes but you don't have any superpowers. What would you do to get a chance, just a chance, of having those powers? In Plutona, writers Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox show us with 2 kids desecrating the corpse of a beloved superhero just for that chance. When it was revealed what Teddy was going with the corpse, I could not believe it and I sure as hell did not expect it. What a twist!