Friday, April 29, 2016

WoT TV Series

After a long legal battle that took forever, a Wheel of Time adaptation is in the works. Harriet McDougal, widow of writer Robert Jordan, announced that Wheel of Time TV series is indeed in the works.

One of the most recognizable and popular fantasy series of all time, Wheel of Time is a massive epic that tells the story of Rand Al’ Thor, the Dragon Reborn, and his quest to stop the Dark One. No word yet on who got the series or when it will be shown, but with a sprawling cast of characters and Rand going mad halfway through the story, I am hopeful it will be as good (if not better) as HBO’s Game of Thrones.

In fact, this announcement coming so soon after it was announced Game of Thrones is ending may be a sign, but that could just be me. I just hope whoever gets it don’t screw it up. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Comics this week

Justice League #49- The "Darkseid War" is one of the best JL story ever and as we are now one issue from its conclusion, writer Geoff Johns is setting things up. As a setup issue, this was one eventful issue. The Justice League and Crime Syndicate come together, Lex Luthor uses his new godlike powers to try to stop Mobius, Mister Miracle and Big Barda has a “moment” that will changed everything in their relationship, Grail return to the battlefield with her mother, and Superwoman’s baby finally arrives. A lot happen in this issue, almost too much, but considering how great this story is, an average issue is to be expected.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #6- I admit; I only intend to collect Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur till the end of the first story arc. Now that it arrived, I have to say I’m in a mind to continue with this series. Writers Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder put together a charming tale of a budding super mad scientist with a pet red dinosaurs, and now they are going to add in the Inhuman element into the story. I don’t know. Wacky inventions, dinosaurs, disapproving parents, and now superpowers. This series is just so promising... 

Ms. Marvel #6- Ms. Marvel has been a fun series, but this issue is just laugh out loud funny. Writer G. Willow Wilson gives artist Nico Leon a lot of chances to tickle our funny bone this issue and he do not disappoint. A page with dinosaurs, a giant Kamala, countless regular-sized Kamala, and Loki on a floating cloud? It was hilarious! More, more, more! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Straight Fight

It is set. The Bukit Batok by-election on 7 May will be a straight fight between People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Murali Pillai and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan. No other candidates will be contesting. 

However I don't think it will make any difference. I know the PAP do not have the best track record in by-elections but I will be very surprise if the PAP lose this one. Before David Ong had to resign due to his affair, he won the Bukit Batok seat handsomely with over 70% of the votes in the 2015 General Election. It's hard to imagined the SDP overcoming that number even with the "by-election effect".

Yes, Chee Soon Juan has a chance but it's a slim one and I think everyone knows it. Guess we'll find out on 7 May. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

For The By-Election

With the by-election of Bukit Batok set, the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) has unveiled their tried-and-tested method of buying getting votes; upgrading! 

To the surprise of no one, PAP candidate Murali Pillai announced the government's upgrading plans for the ward just in time for the by-election. As per usual, the opposition criticized this move by PAP. Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam defended the plans on Tuesday (26 April) saying that the criticism by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) was just “bluster”.

Honestly, I don't know why the PAP even bother. Everyone in Singapore knows the upgrading plans were tried to the by-election. Would there be plans for upgrading for Bukit Batok if there was no by-election? To say "highly unlikely" is being generous. So why bother denying an accepted fact. Especially when there's no need for it! 

Simply put, Singaporeans accept the fact that the PAP will give them "goodies" for their votes. Yes, I agree with the people who say that such a move by the PAP is using public money to forward the PAP agenda but since when has that matter? To most Singaporeans (and almost every member of the PAP), the Singapore government and the PAP is one and the same.

So the PAP is using the upgrading issue to get vote? Get use to it. It's par for course in Singapore.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Death Of A Legend

This is a bad year for music. After the death of David Bowie, another music legend has died. Prince Rogers Nelson, better known to the world as Prince, was found dead at his home on Thursday in Minneapolis. He was 57.

David Bowie was before my time, but Price; he was a genius. "When Doves Cry" is one of my favorite songs of all time and I was firmly in Prince’s camp during the Michael Jackson/Prince debate. The singer was so talented he sometimes played all the instruments in his albums and usually combined rock, funk, soul, and other genres in his music. That’s greatness for you.

Now no news about the cause of death has come out but I have to wonder if Prince knew the end was coming. He has been fiercely protective of his privacy in the past but recently that has changed. He reportedly hosted several late-night jam sessions, had released four albums in the last 18 months, had been touring and recording non-stop right up until his death, announced he was writing a memoir titled "The Beautiful Ones," and even released some tracks from his famed music library "The Vault”.

Much like Bowie, it now looks like Prince wanted to give the world everything he got before going. R.I.P Prince. You will be missed. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Comics this week

Astro City #34- Okay, I will admit it. After the great setup in #33, this issue ended the Steel jack story arc on a whimper instead of a bang. In some ways, I felt that writer Kurt Busiek and artist Brent Anderson were trying too hard for a happy ending for the ex-bruiser but in other ways, I could understand why they did it. You just want to root for the hard lucked Steeljack and the ending will bring a smile to anyone’s lips. Another notch in this great series.

Gutter Magic #4- After 4 issues of running through a gauntlet of opponents, Cinder got an offer from the Morgue that may be too good to pass up. He did however and though I initially thought it wasn’t in keeping with his character, the final page of this miniseries showed me otherwise. That last page also makes me think writer Rich Douek intend to continue the journey of Cinder and Blacktooth in the future. A satisfying conclusion to the series with the promise of more good things to come; there are worse endings. Buy it. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Live-Action Pokémon

Remember Pokémon Apokélypse? A 2010 short film directed by Kial Natale and produced by Dylan Innes and Lee Majdoub, it's a fan-made live-action film based on the Pokémon franchise. Well, it seems that 6 years after the release of that short film, Nintendo is getting into the action.

Entertainment sites had said that Nintendo is trying to get a live Pokémon movie off the ground and several Hollywood studios like Legendary Entertainment, Warner Bros., and Sony were interested. No word yet on whose getting it or even who is the target audience for the live-action movie (would kids with their cartoons want to see a live movie?), but it's an interesting idea to say the least.

Of course the history of turning games to movies is filled with losers and disasters, but with Assassin Creed and Warcraft on the horizon, I guess it make sense for Nintendo to give this a try. I just hope they don't screw it up.

Monday, April 18, 2016

1MDB Default

Sometimes, you just have to give it to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. He just can't catch a break. He had done everything, and I do mean everything, he can to stay in power but the hits just keep on coming. The saga of scandal-ridden Malaysian investment fund 1MDB just refuses to go away for the man.

With all the moving parts of 1MDB, here now comes another one. 1MDB is accused of being in default. Worse, they are accused of being in default to the tune of $1.1 billion!

Under a 2012 agreement, a government-backed investment fund in the United Arab Emirates, Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), guaranteed 1MDB bonds hich were then valued at US$3.5 billion. In return, 1MDB agreed to make payments as collateral to IPIC's subsidiary Aabar.

Then in May 2015, IPIC agreed to provide US$1 billion in cash as well as assume US$3.5 billion of 1MDB debt in exchange for assets which have not been named. The UAE fund was also to forgive an undisclosed amount of debt owed to IPIC by 1MDB. IPIC now claims that the Malaysians has failed obligations including the repayment of just over $1.1 billion plus interest under terms drawn up in that agreement in May 2015.

1MDB had challenged IPIC's position by claiming they had made payment as stated in the agreement. Problem for 1MDB is that no one seems to be able to prove 1MDB's position that the payment had been made. 1MDB says the payment was made to a company in the British Virgin Islands, Aabar Investments PJS Ltd. IPIC says that company does not belong to them and well...all the paperwork shows that they are right. Aabar Investments PJS Ltd does not belong to IPIC. So if 1MDB had been paying; who the hell have they been paying to? Are they lying that they had been paying or have 1MDB been tricked?

Either way, it doesn't look good for Najib. So you have to feel for the man. All his work to stay in power could now go to waste. And you know what's the worst thing about it all? No one will be feeling sorry for him.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Comics this week

Illuminati #6- Color me surprised, this tie-in with Stand-Off is nowhere near as bad as I had feared. Writer Joshua Williamson used the event as a) a way to give us an insight into The Absorbing Man and b) a fun potential pairing between him and Elektra and c) an issue that might give The Hood a way to increase the membership of the Illuminati. Good issue.

Monstress #5- Who are the Ancients? What is an Arcanic? Well, after 5 issues, writer Marjorie Liu finally decides to spill some of the beans. In the last page of this series, the background of the Monstress world is given and it is every bit as interesting and as deep as I suspected. This is a bit of a setup issue but that doesn’t stop it from being interesting. More info about this strange world is a good thing in my view.

Moon Knight #1- Moon Knight was one of those series that should have never been closed. The previous series was great but Marvel with their dumb policy of having a #1 every other years closed it down. So this new series has a lot to live up to and it seems Marvel knows it because they got Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood to helm it. The team got a strong first issue out of the blocks but I’m more interested to see if this series got staying power. It’s getting harder and harder to be excited about all these new #1. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

If you need me to tell you what Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is, then you are obviously a guy I don’t know and someone I have no interest in knowing.

The first feature film to show both Batman and Superman together has been promoted like crazy by Warner Bros. Pictures. The backlash by critics and Marvel fanboys has been just as intense. So in the end, who is right?

I fall strictly on the side that says Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a kick-ass movie that do not deserve half the criticism it has been receiving. Luckily, I’m not alone because fans throughout the world has been flocking to see the movie. At last count, the movie earned over US$750 million and still counting. No matter what they say, this movie is a hit and a richly deserved one.

Directed by Zack Snyder, starring Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill as Superman, the movie begins 18 months after Man of Steel. The destructive attack by General Zod in Metropolis has made Superman a controversial figure. Half the world fear him and the other half worship him. On his part, billionaire Bruce Wayne sees Superman as a potential threat to humanity and aims to find a way to stop him. Superman also has the same view on Batman, seeing the Bat of Gotham as a threat who do more harm than good.

Outside the two, other players are also in the action. LexCorp's mogul Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) tries to convince Senator June Finch (Holly Hunter) to allow him to import Kryptonite retrieved from the Indian Ocean as a "deterrent" against Kryptonians. He also wants access to Zod's body and the Kryptonian scout ship. Gal Gadot appears as a woman named Prince who also has an agenda of her own.

In the end, Lex orchestrates events that force Batman and Superman into conflict and unleashes a monstrous creature called Doomsday. A monster so powerful, it require Superman, Batman and Prince to join forces to defeat it.

Now considering all the criticism the movie has been getting, you must be wondering what I like about the movie. Simply put, I like the fact director Zack Snyder takes so much risk with the movie.

Unlike the recent Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this is a movie that has a vision and is bold enough to implant it. In some way, I think that’s one of the reason why so many people dislike it. This is a movie with its’ own vision of the superheroes and does not care about the previous visions in other movies. Case in point; Batman.

Ben Affleck’s Batman is one that has been operating in Gotham for over 20 years and is jaded by his fight. Forget the vision by Christian Bale, Michael Keaton or Val Kilmer; this is a brand new Batman that has never been seen before in film and that was great.

I also like how the movie refuse to hold your hand. Gal Gadot’s character is clearly Wonder Woman but the name “Wonder Woman” was never mention once in the movie. Ditto for the only characters. Aquaman; Cyborg; The Flash? You don’t know who they are? Too bad. Go Google it. This movie do not serve things up on a plate and I love it!

The ending fight was also very good. When Wonder Woman show up and you could see the Trinity together for the first time; Wow! (You don’t know who are the Trinity? Go Google it).  The performances of the main actors were also very good. Ben Affleck's performance as Batman was excellent and Gal Gadot made good use of her character’s limited screen time.

However, I’m less of a fan with the performances of some of the other characters. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor was strange. So much so that I just can’t take him seriously as a threat to Batman or Superman, much less both of them together.

The movie was also a movie of 2 halves. The first half was a mystery with Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, Lex Luthor, and Prince moving quietly to get an advantage on each other. The second part of the movie was more like a regular superhero movie with fights and destruction the order of the day. The two halves perhaps does not gel as well as they should.

On the whole however, I thought there were way more pluses than minuses in the movie. The critics are wrong about this one, this is a very good movie. See it and judge for yourself. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Lee Family Dispute

When the parents died, quarrels between siblings is not unexpected. However when you are the Lee family and one of you is the Prime Minister of Singapore, the family dispute somehow suddenly becomes national news and of public interest.

The problem began when Dr Lee Wei Lin wrote on her Facebook that there was excessive hero-worshipping of her late father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. She also claimed that she had to publish her post on Facebook because the Straits Times, Singapore’s government owned newspaper, refused to publish the article.

The Straits Times editor Ivan Fernandez defended the newspaper’s decision not to run Dr Lee’s commentary and Dr Lee re-posted their e-mail exchanges on her Facebook. Amid the exchange she wrote:
I and HL are at odds on a matter of principle. HL has no qualms abusing his power to hv a commemoration just one year after LKY died, ‘least we forget’. Let’s be real, last year’s event was so vivid, no one will forget it in one yr. But if the power that be wants to establish a dynasty, LKY’s daughter will not allow LKY’s name to be sullied by a dishonorable son.”

HL is Dr Lee's older brother, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. This forced the Singapore PM to response. Just 5 hours after Singaporeans saw Dr Lee’s post, PM Lee said that he was “deeply saddened” by his sister Dr Lee Wei Ling’s claim that “I have abused my power to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s passing in order to establish a dynasty”.

Looking at the public disagreement, 2 things has come to light to Singaporeans. First; there’s a dispute in the Lee family on how to honor Mr Lee Kuan Yew. As a politician, it probably makes a lot of sense for the PM to go all out to “remind” Singaporeans of his father’s legacy. That’s something some members of his family do not want.

Second; the rules are different for the elites. The Strait Times engaging in censorship? Wow, that’s new. Totally unheard of in Singapore. If you are an elite that comes from the Lee family, that seems to be the case because Dr Lee was very angry about the Strait Times not publishing her article. To the rest of Singapore, that’s par for course.

So what do I think about the whole thing? Nothing! This is a family dispute. Even though this is Lee Kuan Yew, the rest of Singapore (and that includes me) should not say a thing about the whole thing. It’s a domestic situation and none of our bloody business. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Comics this week

Bloodlines #1- This is a miniseries set in the DC Universe where a meteor crashes to Earth, bringing an alien presence to a nearby small town. After reading it, I think writer J. T. Krul and artist: V Kenneth Marion may be fans of Wildstorm because…well, the main character looked a lot like the alien species Maul belongs to. What is surprising to me is the general dark horror tone the debut issue takes. There had been horror and science-fiction mash-ups before but the balance is usually hard to find. Hopefully these guys can find it.

Justice League: Darkseid War Special #1- The epic train called "Darkseid War" continues as writer Geoff Johns shines the light on one of the most mysterious character in the war; Darkseid's daughter, Grail! This is both the origin issue of Grail as well as a setup of her future. Saying this is an excellent issue is kind of beside the point because this is a Darkseid War Special. Of course it will be good; this is a Darkseid War Special! Buy it!

Spider-Women Alpha #1- With the Web Warriors now pretty much an official team, I guess this crossover was inevitable.  Alpha kicks off a crossover that will go through the 3 female Spiders titles currently on the stand; Silk, Spider-Woman and Spider-Gwen. I must say this first issue was surprisingly entertaining. The story basically kicks off from where the regular series ends with each character having their own problems and Jessica Drew trying to playing big-sister/mentor to both Cindy Moon and Gwen Stacey. This issue gives me hope that this 8-part universe hopping crossover is not the money-grabbing exercise I feared when I first heard of it. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


That did not take long. Just days after the leak from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca and we already got our first major casualty. Iceland's Prime Minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, has resigned and Iceland will now have to go to the polls.

Thousands of people has been protesting outside the parliament building in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik on Monday since Mr Gunnlaugsson's name was brought up in the 11.5 million leaked financial and legal records from Mossack Fonseca and an online petition calling for his resignation got 26,000 people's signature. That's 8% of the country's population. Opposition parties in Iceland were tabling a confidence motion. Mr Gunnlaugsson saw the writing on the wall and jumped before he was pushed.

Thing is...he did not do anything illegal. The leaks showed that Mr. Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore company with his wife in 2007. He did not declare an interest in the company when entering parliament in 2009 but sold his 50% of the company to his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, for $1 (£0.70) eight months later. Mr Gunnlaugsson maintains no rules were broken, that his wife did not benefit financially, and most people thinks he is telling the truth.

Unfortunately, that's part of the problem. Mr Gunnlaugsson might not have done anything illegal, but it's what legal that gets people. Mr Gunnlaugsson was clearly concealing his family assets, and while there wasn't any wrongdoing legally, this is something normal people cannot do. Only the rich and powerful are able to hide their assets the way he did and that piss people off because they feel that's not a level playing field. They are right.

People know that the rich and the powerful has ways to hide their assets and avoid taxes. The leak from Mossack Fonseca just prove what we had always known. There's one set of rules for the rich, and another for the rest of the world. That's the injustice shown and proven by the leaks of Mossack Fonseca. That's the problem that got Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Panama Papers

In what could be the biggest leak in the history of banking, 11 million documents held by a Panama-based company, Mossack Fonseca, have been leaked to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. The newspaper, overwhelmed by the number of documents they received, then shared the information with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Now world leaders, sport stars, movie stars and dozens of billionaires are in damage control, scrambling to defend their secret accounts and money. It will not be easy because the ICIJ has about 40 years of emails, financial records and passport details on record. Now the newspaper in the West are proudly saying that aides and relatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have accounts in Mossack Fonseca but in all fairness, people in the West aren’t that innocent.

Among those named in the papers are big names like movie star Jackie Chan, football star Lionel Messi, over 2 dozens billionaires, relatives of British Prime Minister David Cameron and even the current Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. Outside them, there are also the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the king of Saudi Arabia, the children of the president of Azerbaijan, Ponzi schemers, drug kingpins, and tax evaders.

So whether you are from the East, West, North or South, there is no difference. When it comes to dirty money, I guess people are the same everywhere. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Comics this week

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #5- I am convinced that writers Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder read or at least know of "Please don’t tell my parents I'm a supervillain". In this issue, Lunella became...a supervillain. Knowing full well she was the reason Devil Dinosaur is currently locked in a cage, Lunella (once again) went against the wishes of her parents and became Moon Girl to break the dino out of jail. The most fun thing about this issue is artist Natacha Bustos's work on Lunella's inventions. They are mad science inventions that works but at the same time, also definitely a kid's work. It was great. Between that and the setup work by the writers, we may see even more interplay between Lunella and her Devil Dinosaur in the future. This series is that promising.