Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Girl Gamers

Some years ago, the local newspaper covered the Counterstrike amateur teams who were participating in the WCG. There were one or two groups of pretty hot girls who dressed up to the nines to sit in front of the pc to play games. Quite amazing huh? I found it very impressive that they actually wore such sexy outfits and uncomfortably high heels to play the game. But then again, it could be because they train outside, not within the comfortable confines of their homes.

I do know some WOW chicks who play a lot. My own personal favourite remains Company of Heroes (previously Neverwinter Nights), because (in both games) I take a nice backseat role and just merely direct my men (or avatar and henchmen) to do the dirty gritty fighting. However I don't seem to pick up on any female playing the game. Usually you can, they are the ones who chat a lot throughout the game (like myself, dead giveaway), unless they are kiddies. The guys tend to play quietly and merely use the indicators to direct the strategy, unless you are good friends and/or you are playing a slower-paced game. Even if they do chat, they prefer to talk outside the game, either in the chatroom or while waiting for the game to start.

Last week my friend and I were playing an Assault game versus another buddy, his friend and this person who used the nick "Jenny" something. He was definitely a boy, and a young one at that, because he kept trying to convince everyone he is female throughout the game. He said he was using his older brother's CoH game, that's why his profile is new. My friend replied sarcastically that 99% of the people in this game are male, and (rightly so) no woman will be so stupid to out herself. I almost died laughing (because he didn't know how ironically funny his statement was).

Personally I don't see the biggie, but it is definitely easier if you portray yourself as a dude. Because you can get away with saying bad words, which is such a stress reliever *haha* and you won't get those weirdoes who just because they see you have a feminine nick, declare they love you *ewww* (this happened before). But definitely this makes for a lot of inconvenience when you want to remain in contact outside the game (so that you can sync your playing times, esp when everyone lives in different time zones) but you don't want to let them know you are a chick. That's the problem with transient online relationships, everyone gets bored with a game after a while, and they either get a new profile or leave the game. And I do want to keep some of the friendships with the other gamers.

Once in a while I forget that I am supposed to be a guy and expose myself accidentally. But thankfully no one has called me out on it. I do think some of them think I am very gay guy, esp since that time I said blond women are very beautiful (which they agreed) then stupidly added that so are blond men (they were ...). 

It's a bit tiring sometimes. To be a girl who pretends to be a guy. (Maybe I should pretend to be a guy who is pretending to be a girl on the game??)

Otherwise it's pretty fun, and so far only two persons who play CoH know who I really am (well technically more like one, i.e. B1. Because I don't have Facebook and limit online photos of me, my friend cannot verify I am who I am, which is kind of sad but I intend to stick to this modus operandi).

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Man and His Instrument

I always like to ask my friends this question, rank who you think is most sexy to least sexy, a man (or woman, whichever context best applies to the person being asked) who plays:
(1) Violin
(2) Piano
(3) Chinese Drums
(4) Rock Guitar
(5) Flute
The Teletubby and the Tiger-killer both said Violin, Piano, Flute, Chinese Drums and Rock Guitar. Miss Piggy said Piano, Violin, Rock Guitar, Flute and Chinese Drums.
I think that a man who plays a violin is very sexy (I also think I have mentioned this in my blog before but I cannot find the article so I wiederhole). A man who can play you like a violin with his expert fingers ^^! In addition, I think that a lot of women think the same way? When we used to take the MRT home from violin class, I could see women studying him out on the train out of the corner of their eyes while he reads quietly with the violin case leaning against his leg. Contrast it with when we take the MRT violin-less, I don't see women checking him out. At all.
So guys, you want girls to notice you? Carry a violin case on public transport.
The Teletubby interjected that maybe they stare because they think you are carrying a suspicious article *roll eyes*

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant - I was channeling Diablo

Remember Diablo?

The game was super hot when I was in my JC days. Esp the Butcher with the "Fresh Meat". Hahah. I was instally reminded of it when I looked into the bamboo steamer and saw the words.

We went to Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant, intending to have an indolent, languid dim sum lunch. I asked for one of the nice rattan booths at the window, because I tend to order a lot. But the waitress said that we could only have the table after 2.30pm. So we were given a small table and I had the lovely experience of two hot steamers placed right next to my right hand. It's times like these I am glad that I am ambidextrous.
We ordered Set 2C, which was Jajangmyeon noodles (Zhajiangmian 炸酱面), fried rice (炒饭), xiaolongbao (fresh meat dumplings 鲜肉小笼包), vegetable buns (菜包), as well as clam chawanmushi (蛤蜊蒸蛋), fried dumplings (锅贴) and crab meat fresh meat xiaolongbao (蟹肉小笼包).

Their xiaolongbao is bad. Broken skins, the meat is overcooked, and the soup is salty. The crab meat version is worse, and doesn't have any seafood flavour. The vegetable buns were delicate and soft. Fried rice had the "wok" fragrance but no seasoning. The jajangmyeon's noodles was excellently QQ in texture and had a beguiling shallot oil fragrance, but the meat mixture is very salty. The guotie was moist but was ein bischen tough. We had finished but the the chawanmushi had still not arrived.

We told the waitress who frantically kept clearing the dishes from our table. She said oh, and rushed to tell the kitchen. Suddenly the manager appeared at our side and said urgently "Sorry, it's coming" in mandarin. I am wondering if she even knew what we ordered.
I was kind of mad when it finally appeared. On the poster outside the restaurant, the dish is shown with lala clams on top of the chawanmushi.
It came with clams embedded within the chawanmushi like badly concealed landmines.
I wondered if they were cleaned properly, esp the shells. B1 chewed one thoughtfully, only to hear a nasty crunching sound. Eh... There were eight clams in the dish and we had to dig around the egg to find the clam meat that fell out. But it was fun though unappetising to watch us suck the chawanmushi from the shells.

I did not like having lunch there.

As a dimsum restaurant, they should understand that most people who eat there have the intention to relax and chat over lunch, instead of dumping them on tiny tables where they are forced to eat like "Coney Island" contestants to avoid having more and more dishes stacked on the tiny table. I did not like having the hot steamer next to my hand and suffered indigestion thereafter. If they want to force people to sit at tiny tables, then they should stagger the timing of dishes delivered to the tables properly.
In a nutshell:
Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant
200 Victoria St #02-53 Bugis Junction
Tel : 68357877
Food: Skip their dumplings, which is sad, weil that is what they are supposed to be famous for.
Price: More expensive than Taste Paradise
Service: Abrupt.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Romantic things a guy can do for his girl

Some guys will buy a dog for their girlfriends as a sign of commitment. I get very irritated by that. I feel sorry for the dog. Also putting her photo in your wallet or as handphone/laptop wallpaper is expected but cliched. Always holding her hand in yours is a MUST!!!
(1) Serenade her over the phone when she is tired or ill with a lullaby. ^.^ Make her nourishing broths, accompany her to the doctor's and look after her until she recovers.
(2) Cook her something for no special reason, and make a MOE message (remember the Zettai Kareshi *drool*)
(3) Make something special from scratch to commemorate a special event. I have a anniversary card that looks more like a kidnap note. But I cherish it very much.
(4) SMS her with 1 special love message every day. Please be creative and not forward from somewhere.
(5) Do something with her that she likes but you may not like. E.g. buy a puzzle to do together on a rainy day.
(6) Surprise her with flowers at her office, with a stupid reason like "I was just thinking of you". If you are doing this, do not repeat at Valentine's Day, it's so lame, and it diminishes the pleasure she would get from your surprises.
(7) Insist on buying the item she keeps eyeing covetously in the shop even if she complains that it is expensive or that she does not need it. She wants it. So get it. Even if she doesn't really want it, she will think you are so sweet.
(8) Fetch her to and fro wherever she is, whatever time it is. If it rains, bring an umbrella, get out of the car and shield her (no 2 umbrellas) from the rain. Make sure she gets into the car first, then get in, and wipe her face dry with the tons of tissue you have already prepared for this eventuality. (Suggested by Mommy dearest)
(9) The housework is already done when she comes back, and dinner is set for two (Suggested by Mommy dearest).
(10) Never sleep without her, don't let her eat alone (if you have already eaten, accompany her when she eats), stop surfing/playing with your iPhone/Android phone when you are with her.
(11) Carry her in your arms over a muddy or dirty path (Suggested by Mommy dearest).
(12) Bake her a cake on her birthday.
(13) Sense when she is sad and comfort her with the right words at the right time. Don't give her advice unless she asks for it. Console her by distracting her with her favourite foods and fun unless she forgets her troubles. Don't joke, don't laugh unless your girlfriend has a great sense of humor.
Miss Piggy suggestions :)
(1) Set the bath water for her when she comes home.
(2) Volunteer to carry her stuff immediately.
(3) Walk in the rain to deliver her favourite food that cannot be bought easily.
(4) Pack meals for her to eat if she is OTing.
(5) Surprise her with a packed pinic and bring her to a lovely spot to make some special memories.
(6) Even if you suck in drawing, draw a portrait of her. If you suck at singing, sing her a song. If you suck in cooking, make her a lovu-lovu bento. If she doesn't die from your cooking, you'd have touched her with your effort.

So damn Cute!

I was doing my usual blog surfing when I came across this blog, which incidentally led me to the original website where this guy draws cute images to send to his girlfriend via sms. He made it into a personal blog to surprise her, and then his friends went to twitter about it, making it very popular.

I think his art is super cute. Have a look!~

I wish I have the talent and the patience to draw like that.

I liked this image the most, even if it didn't happen to B1. Sigh.

Monday, November 22, 2010

20 things I learned about Browsers and the Web

This is an online book that Google came up with to teach people about the Internet and other fun geeky facts when they were showcasing Chrome, with illustrations from Christoph Niemann.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang

I have been reading Leslie Chang's book "Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China". It has been a truly engrossing read, evidenced by the deliberated slow pace I took in reading it. I always had some perverse interest in that even Chinese people in the towns and cities shared the sentiment towards migration is similar to ours when facing the thousands of young Chinese peasants moving to nearby factories to work.

What I didn't like about the book was the interlapsing of her grandfather's story with that of the factory girls whom she befriended while researching the book. It was very confusing and I felt that it would have been better addressed in another book. After all, her grandfather was the martyr of the nation, which strangely I had not read about in other books about China.

I interpreted the author's intention as her wanting to contrast the motives between her grandfather who travelled to USA to study then returned to China to improve the lives and prosperity of his people, versus that of the girls who leave their homes to improve their and their families' lives.

What I found fascinating about these girls who travelled miles from their villages to go to factories where they are trapped like battery chickens, producing endless products for worldwide consumption, is their outlook on life being reshaped from their parents' after becoming self-sufficient and more streetsmart. Upwards mobility is a must because of the terrible conditions they undergo and factories are reluctant to keep people above 30.

Honesty is no longer the best policy, and the migrants tended to hedge the truth when applying for jobs or in love. Earning lends them the strength to make voice their concerns and suggestions in their parents' decisions. Their ambition despite their poorly educated backgrounds, drives them to study English (assembly line English, you have to read the book yourself to believe it) or executive classes, lie and cheat to get better jobs, and even start their own companies, failing then retrying. They are always moving forwards, and living in thr present. One of the weirdest anecdotes of the book is that when a migrant loses the phone, he/she loses contact with everyone (what's wrong with storing the numbers somewhere else?). It was quite an inspirational read. I would say that it is something very few of us cloistered Singaporeans would dare to ourselves.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Loveless in Singapore

I was playing online with some of my CoH buddies, when one of them, a Singaporean, tells me that Vietnamese girls are very popular in Singapore. Unless he has reason to lie (like me hedging the truth that I am a very violent chick who loves strategy games), he is pretty representative of the general Singaporean male population.

As my age and that of my peers approach the dreaded 30s (where you sit down and make that dreaded consideration of whether you like the way your life is shaping up to be so far, and most of the time, not liking it), the single ones among us all start to either give up on finding true love or evolve their standards just by a tiny bit to find jemand to love. Or they can be like my classmates and still sit around hoping for Prince Charming to ride his horse into town.

I was walking with my neighbour's daughter to the MRT one day when I was very late for work. She told me that she wanted to buy her colleague's flat just above our train station, and that she had teasingly asked him to wait for her for 5 years.

I looked at her.

She is a svelte and pretty lady of just 30 who did very well in school and has a secure and probably well-paying job. If I were a dude, I would chase her myself. I had once considered introducing her to my uni buddy (who is now in a relationship with a foreign girl) but because we had crashed out a previous time when I introduced him one of my Prince-Charming-awaiting classmates, I was too scared to do so (also her mom is my mom's friend and the fortune-teller said this lady would have 2 opportunities in love. Since she fried one on her own, I wasn't about to help her fry the other one).

And she was already waiting for herself to turn 35 when the government allows her to buy a flat of her own. I was stunned. That was also the reason why I later asked my colleagues in the day, when they would give up on love.

My neighbour's daughter is representative of the Singaporean girl. In her 20s, she sets her standards for Mr Right and waits for him to show up, and when those with lesser credentials appear, they are either turned away or tried and tested but to no avail. When she reaches her 30s, she either has to tune her standards so that now a younger man will do, as long as he looks mature (I have noticed that the women tune them by only a tiny bit and not alot) or she just forgets it and waits to turn 35. I have met other girls around my age who have tried and loved but in the meantime are also thinking of that flat at 35.

I asked B1 what would he have done if he had turned 30 and still remained single. Would he have gone for a foreign bride? He replied that he would have gone for a Singaporean chick in her 20s and then if all else failed, then a foreign bride. When men around us reach 30 and start giving up on looking for local girls their age or younger because they think we have too high standards and yet don't try to meet them ourselves, what chances do a woman in her 30s have in love?

I find it very sad that a man at 30 (I have seen younger men tell me that too!) that a foreign bride is not a bad idea. For him to even consider it, it's like better to have a bride than no bride at all. A Singaporean man is more pragmatic than his female counterpart, for him, a woman who has poorer qualifications and background might even be better because she might demand lesser of him and deliver more. But most Singaporean women would rather wait for The One or the Other One then marry someone who does not meet most of her expectations. After all, she is usually a career girl or at least self-sufficient. If it does not happen, then it does not happen.

Mosaic fun reveals disturbing relevations

B1 and I had a neck-breaking session to do the mosaic art kits. For the first half of the process, where you stick the tiles onto the cardboard, you will definitely need tweezers, a long rule and sharp long scissors/shears to cut the tiles and stick them on the board. It was during this part that I realised that I was much much slower than B1 in doing the art, even though his was more complicated. The lady who (conned) sold me the kits said it would take 45min, plus drying, but he took 2hrs and I took 3 hours to do them, before even applying the grout.

It was very late by the time we finished so we did the grouting on Saturday instead. I was very paranoid about the grouting process, so checked online where they advised using sandpaper, old toothbrushes, rags and even a sharpened stick to help rub off the excess grout from the tiles. I mixed the polyethene and water together at a 2:1 ratio and applied liberally all over the tiles. Unfortunately I was too eager with the toothbrush and didn't wait for the grout to dry. In the end I used the stick to roll the grout over the tiles and then waited for two hours before it finally died. Yes, it is important to let the grout dry naturally so that it remains strong. Then you rub the excess off.

Schokolade und Belgische Bonbons

B1 hat Schokolade bonbons mir gekauft. Die Schokolade hab wie wenig Kühe geformt. Sie sind sehr süß und bezaubernd!

Als wir Company of Heroes spielen, Meine Belgische freund sagt er jetzt esste "Dracula's teeth". Ich frage, wie sieht es aus? Er emails das Bild zur mir. Hier es ist:


Interessant, richtig?

South Park's Best Product Ever - The Shake Weight

Monday, November 15, 2010

Geisha of Gion

[image source: bookapex.com]

When I was eighteen, one of the General Paper teachers lent her copy of Memoirs of a Geisha to my friend. I "sub-borrowed" the book from her, and swiftly finished the book. My impression of the book was not positive, I recall, as I felt that Golden had dumbed the entire Geisha industry into some kind of ostentatious yet sordid form of prostitution. Reading about the "love" between Sayuri (yes I still remember) and the Chairman was disgusting and distasteful. And also the deflowering bidding. If you consider that after 10 years, that is all I can remember of that book, you can imagine what kind of imagery it imprinted on my still impressionable mind.

Never take a foreigner's word when it comes to understanding someone else's culture. What you have is a reshaping, and distortion of the original by the perception and interpretation of an outsider. You can read it for fun, but you must never take it seriously. (probably the reason why I like to read Chinese cookbooks written by Caucasians, for amusement).

I came upon this book during my crazy bid to borrow 24 books from the library in one afternoon. Chucking it into the basket, I wondered to myself if it were to be the continued degradation of the elegant geisha in prose. I decided to give it a chance and am glad I did.

Geisha of Gion is by Mineko Iwasaki, formerly Masako Takanaminamoto of Japanese aristocracy. She was the legendary Geiko who halted her career in her prime and retreated to marriage and art. She believed in promoting and explaining Geisha to outsiders and media and had attempted to drive modern changes in her industry when she was the top Geiko of her time, because she felt that if things don't change, Geisha will just fade away . Unfortunately she was spurned by the stubborn agencies that govern Geisha, and then she was in turn cheated by Arthur Golden, then a penniless dude who wanted to write a book on this closed off world. I "wiki"ed the lady after I was done reading the book because I wanted to know how is she right now. Imagine my shock when I realised that she was the geisha that Golden based Sayuri on. I can only vaguely guess how pissed she must be after she found out that Golden painted the Geisha as a high-class whore, and then thanked her for her contribution to the book.

I am sure a lot of people who read both books draw comparison between Geisha of Gion and Memoirs of a Geisha. Don't. The two books are different. One is non-fictional autobiography while the other, a hot-selling fiction (let's face it, sex sells).

The former is dignified and proud, reflective of Mineko's upper class background and upbringing by the Iwasakis. Her aristocratic family fell onto hard times when her (silly) great grandfather decided to denounce his dukedom and become a commoner. Losing the luxuries overnight so affected her immediate family deeply, that (as usual in Asian societies) her parents traded four daughters out to the karyuki to become geisha, so that they could become self-sufficient and still live in relative luxury (Mineko's polite way of excusing her family for being biased against the girls and keeping the boys. Personally I think it is very fucked up. Why don't they try selling the boys for a change?). Her oldest sister Yaeko reacted badly, destroying her own life in her hatred against her parents. She knew her parents wanted to keep their youngest Masako, and yet while vilifying them for selling her out, she promised Masako to Auntie Oima, proprietress of Iwasaki okiya, who wanted the latter as her successor (atotori).

Mineko, a unbelievably, very serious 5 year old decided to leave her family home and join the Iwasakis though she missed her parents deeply and was sick on the two occasions when she was asked to accept her adoption into the Iwasakis in Family Court. She was conscious of their love but in her bid to harden her heart and lessen their pain of losing her, she pretended to not acknowledge them. She became the Iwasaki atotori and fulfilled the dying Auntie Oima's wish in passing the Maiko exam before the old lady passed away. Her responsibilities weighed heavily on her and she strove to be the top Maiko, then Geiko of her time.

However she did not like being one, so she did not accept new girls into the okiya. Instead she continued to work too hard to support the entire household, fell in love with a married man, made many wrong choices before closing down the okiya at the height of her career.

Mineko described the nuances and intricate details of the Geisha culture that no outsider would know (which of course, Arthur Golden would cover broadly), like the delicate beauty of her painstakingly crafted kinomo, the ritualistic application of her makeup and her hair ornaments matching the exact season of the year. Even the color of the silk gauze or crepe collars that is handsewn into her white blouse (hadajuban) have significant meaning.

Yet she also covered the nitty gritty of the every day life in the okiya, the accounting of yesterday's hanadai, cleaning of the front of the house, preparation of the kinomo and dresses, steps and procedures to dressing a geiko, etc, as well as the rules, rituals and limitations that people in the Gion face.

The amount of work that goes into each Geisha' s and their fellow colleagues in the okiya is very impressive, e.g. studying in the afternoon their customer's preferences and industry so that they could make intelligent, witty conversation later in the night, going to each ochaya and paying their respects to the ochaya proprietors and their senior Geiko and Maiko, wearing elegant but heavy outfit and gear that outweighed themselves.

The autobiography is mostly elegant (I detest the part about her admitted affair with the married Toshio) and captured the beauty and sophistication of the dying Geisha culture for generations to read. I was extremely affected by the death of wise and loving Auntie Oima and Mineko's horrendous, incestuous attempted rape by her nephew.

If you want to read about the Geisha culture, this is the book (don't read too deeply into Mineko's life). Don't read Arthur Golden's book unless you are just looking for a quick read.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Anime Festival Asia Cosplayer Babes (AFA 2010)

Some were at least.

What you see here thus far are those from my shitty camera and B1's iPhone. It is times like this I wish I wasn't so tight and would save up for a DSLR. At least I would have some magnificent photos on this blog, and people wouldn't jossle me out of a shot position just because their cameras are bigger and more expensive. The anpanman and the other character shot really annoyed me 'cos this girl with a big SLR kept swinging into my shot and now I have to capture her nasty hand in my photo. Twice. I ended up having to use Photoshop to cut her out. Annoying.

I'd have to admit, I only watch certain animes, and those people who know me, will be sniggering when they read this. So I don't have much clue on what some of these cosplayers are emulating. Say for example, the cute girl in the pink costume. When asked what anime she was supposed to be from, B1 said, probably hentai. I probably like the vacuum cleaner shot the most because I see housework that way. Evil.

I didn't get many photos again this year, because we went in the late afternoon. Had to play a few rounds of CoH before we left.


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