Fuyoh! by Gobi

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Friday, February 28, 2003

9:55 PM - Heart of Sword ... again

I know, I know.

I did say I had done my last version of that Himura Kenshin picture. But I just couldn't help myself.

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7:11 PM - Fergie's up for it

I suggested Manchester United aren't going to be as motivated as Liverpool for the League Cup Final in an earlier entry but Soccernet reports:

"Ferguson almost choked when it was suggested Liverpool might have more incentive to win the trophy than his own side, who stamped their class on the Champions League in Turin this week, even if the Premiership title seems to be floating out of reach.

'The last time we went two years without winning a trophy was 1989 and doing it again is not something I want to think about,' he said. 'This is a piece of silverware and we want to win it.'"

That's reassuring.

But Sir Alex still has problems. It looks like Scholes and Giggs might not make the squad for the Final. Silvestre has resumed training, however.

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5:37 PM - More DD doo-doo

The Star reports today (page 3, fact fans) the Film Censorship Board has rejected 21st Century Fox's appeal to overturn the ban on the Daredevil movie.

The board secretary, Haji Lukeman, is quoted as saying: "The portions that require censorship were just too much. Watching it with the cuts will only make it meaningless. So, it's best the film is banned."

The only things "too much" and "meaningless" are the reasons given for banning the movie, Tuan Haji.

Incredibly, Haji Lukeman goes on to say, "Hero-worshipping someone with a devil-sounding name like Daredevil is just a no-no."

Tongue firmly in cheek, I theorised in a previous entry this was one of the rejected reasons for banning the movie on the grounds that it was just too stupid.

Can someone hand this guy a dictionary and show him what the term "daredevil" refers to? I'm afraid he's going to try banning Manchester United next on the grounds too many local football fans worship the Red Devils.

Who would've thought the people on the Film Censorship Board were indeed capable of such patently absurd statements? Just think about it: These are the same people who currently decide what's safe for you to watch.

I've said it once and I'll say it again: These people are the reason why I haven't seen a movie in the cinemas for over 6 years.

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1:44 AM - Die Hard on TV

"Hi! I'm Bruce Willis, a major movie star who earns 20 million per movie. Even if it's a bad movie. *smirk* I'm authoring this blog entry for Gobi, who's got an eye infection ..."

I've just watched Letterman. Or rather I've just not watched Letterman. Or I've just watched Rather. Uh ...

An amazingly thin Bruce Willis filled-in for Letterman on today's show. (The Wahoo Gazette has a recap.) It's not often you see a major movie star dying on television. (Question: Willis still qualifies as a major movie star these days, right?) The poor guy was clearly out of his depth. Where did all that David Addison cocky charm go?

It's a pity. The Late Show had a great line-up with Dan Rather, who had just interviewed Saddam Hussein, and Carmen Electra, who might not have had just interviewed Saddam but did trump Rather because Rather -- thankfully -- has never been a nude Playboy centrefold.

On the plus side, Letterman (or "Dave" as I like to call him) can use a tape of Willis's stint as host for leverage the next time he asks CBS for a raise.

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Thursday, February 27, 2003

10:25 PM - More Transitions

Apparently, I wasn't the only one wondering about that parroting habit of Malaysiankini blogger, Oon Yeoh, who responds:

"Some people have e-mailed to ask why I keep quoting other columnists and providing links to these stories. That's what a blog is supposed to be. By definition, a blog is a collection of extracts from other web pages, coupled with opinions by the person maintaining the blog."

That's fair enough.

Except ...

Take a look at my previous comparison of James Taranto's column and Oon Yeoh's blog entries.

Oon Yeoh's Susan Sontag entry is almost certainly taken from this James Taranto column but the source isn't even acknowledged.

Now wouldn't it be more appropriate for Oon Yeoh to simply link to James Taranto instead of reproducing a large chunk of Taranto's column? It wouldn't be so exasperating if Oon Yeoh had an original spin on it but even his opinion pretty much mirrors James Taranto's.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2003

11:32 PM - Snap!

A digi-doodle from last December. I'll complete it one of these days. No, I mean it this time. No, really.

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6:18 PM - The Italian job

There are bad days. There are calamitous days. Then there are days like the one Juventus had last night in the Stadium Delle Alpi. We're talking so bad that it's comically good.

United came, saw, giggled and conquered the Italian champions 3-0 with a brace from Giggs and inevitably, a goal from van Nistelrooy. All three goals resulted from errors by the Italians. Wonder if they'll blame this week's humiliation on the whooping cough. (They were flu-hit last week, you see.)

To be fair, it wasn't all one way traffic. Juventus did have their chances. But thanks to a combination of Trezeguet's amazing catalogue of misses, Barthez's incredible shot-stopping and the woodwork, United managed to keep a clean sheet.

It's probably United's best performance in Europe this season and a splendid way to qualify for the Champions League q-finals.

However, it's not all good. Forlan and Giggs are injured. The luckless Forlan's probably going to miss the League Cup final and I'm not sure Ferguson would want to risk Giggs's hamstrings on Sunday even in a Cup final against the auld enemy, Liverpool.

But Ferguson has other selection problems. Will he opt to play Keane in the centreback position again? It would give the hungrier Butt and Phil Neville places in the starting eleven.

Ruud in front, Giggs left and drifting in behind the Dutch master, Veron in the middle with Butt and Phil Nevillle behind him mopping up, Becks out right and the back four consisting of O'Shea, Keane, Ferdinand and Gary Neville.

It worked against Juventus and I'm sure Ferguson is contemplating using it against the Scousers.

The wild card here is Veron. He put in a superb performance against Juventus but he does tend to reserve his best for European matches. Will he be similarly masterful against Liverpool?

And if Giggs is indeed unavailable, what then? Solskjaer on the right with Becks in a more central position and Veron out left? Or will Keane revert back to his usual position in central midfield?

My biggest fear is that Liverpool will definitely be the more motivated of the two teams. This is probably their best shot at silverware this season.

Now I don't really care about the League Cup but defeat against Liverpool is never an option. I have too many bad memories of the Eighties when Liverpool were winning everything in sight and their fans took obnoxiousness to new levels.

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2:26 AM - Jauhi diri dari ads

I've downloaded the latest version of Ad-Aware ("the morning-after pill for the internet"), Nullsoft's anti-spyware utility. The new version, Ad-Aware 6.0, includes a sexier interface as an easier way of updating Ad-Aware's reference file. Unlike the previous version which required the user to manually download, unzip and install a reference file, Ad-Aware 6.0 updates its reference file with a simple click.

Upon scanning my system, it turned out I had two data mining cookies on my PC: one from Doubleclick and another from Bravenet. Removing them took another click. Couldn't be simpler.

Highly recommended.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2003

9:53 PM - Blog 7.1

Fahim A. Farook is about to release a new version of Blog. The new version, Blog 7.1, is mostly a patch job but it does have a new streamlined UI that does away with seldom-used panes.

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Monday, February 24, 2003

2:38 PM - Transformers: Tall and short

Japanese Transformers fan, Snakas, has pictures from Wonder Festival 2003.

The highlight has to be a picture of a kyoukudai (which according to my amateurish translation attempts is either "maximum" or "large") scale Convoy (a.k.a Optimus Prime). The non-transforming figure is human-sized! The price tag? A whopping 298,000 yen!

Then there are the kyokushou henkei (I'm translating it as "microscopic transformation") Transformers. These are really small versions of G1 toys that actually transform. Pictured were Optimus Prime, Cliffjumper, Skywarp, Soundwave, Starscream, Sideswipe and Bumblebee and they really look a lot like their G1 versions.

Other upcoming TF goods include model kits (which are bundled with food items ... gum, I think) by Kabaya, TF Myclones (Kubrick-style non-transforming figures) and Q-Robo (small SD-style robots that come in ball-shaped containers).

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2:12 PM - When all over Saddam

Malaysiakini ("only the news that matters") has a blog called Transitions ("a blog about Malaysia in transition").

Transitions (at least currently) heavily features content relating to the Saddam situation. Y'know, because there just aren't enough blogs devoted to that. (Why, yes, that is sarcasm.)

The author, Oon Yeah, is stridently pro-war. I don't mind that one bit. What I do mind is that he reuses links and arguments from Best of the Web by James Taranto.

Compare James Taranto's Susan Sontag hip-hip-hypocrite piece with Oon Yeoh's. Compare James Taranto's Last Chance piece with Oon Yeoh's.

Now I read Best of the Web as well as InstaPundit, Kausfiles and the Daily Dish so I think have enough input from the "Baghdad or bust" crowd.

But I like the fact that we do get to read opinions from locals that would otherwise be hardly heard in local mainstream media.

My own stance on this umpteenth Iraqi standoff? (Y'know, because there just aren't enough blogger opinions on the issue ... heh.)

I ... don't know.

I honestly can't find a position I'm comfortable with. I read everything I can (or at least, everything I can stand ... the antagonistic approach to debunking opposing arguments and ad hominem attacks get real annoying real fast) but I'm still ambivalent about the situation.

Yeah, Saddam's a thug. Yeah, he should be ousted. But a war? Now? Aren't there more pressing concerns?

For the pro-war crowd: Why so eager for war in Iraq and yet so silent on North Korea? Everything you write about Iraq, is equally applicable to North Korea. Which really is the more dangerous and unpredicable threat right now? Saddam or Jong-il? Saddam's been contained for several years now. Jong-il is still very much a loose cannon. So why Saddam now and why not Jong-il?

For the no-war crowd: Wouldn't getting rid of Saddam be great news for the Iraqi people over the long term? Wouldn't the price paid by the Iraqi people in a war be smaller than another decade or two of Saddam?

Also, he wears a beret, for goodness' sake!

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12:18 PM - Penis alert!

Reuters reported that more than 250 men staged a full frontal nude protest in Sydney against Australia's potential involvement in a war against Iraq. (Published in today's edition of the The Star ... page 39, fact fans!)

Meanwhile ...

Andrew Sullivan reports that feminists in Harvard have destroyed a giant snow phallus. Amy E. Keel, one of the Snow-Bobbiters, said: "No one should have to be subjected to an erect penis without his or her express permission or consent."

Anyone else think we should put the Snow-Bobbiters in a room together with the the nekkid protesting men and air it on pay-per-view?

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Sunday, February 23, 2003

4:51 PM - Web Diver

Amazingly, TV2 has started airing Web Diver at 4pm on Sunday. Who would've thunk it? An actual animated mecha show on local TV again.

I caught the first episode but I can't say I was too impressed. First strike, it's dubbed in Cantonese. I would have prefered the original voices with subtitles. Anyway, I muted the sound.

The anime series is notable for its extensive use CGI. Unfortunately the CGI is nowhere near the standards Mainframe set with Beast Machines. Furthermore, the CGI sequences -- poorly animated as they are -- are repeated far too many times for my liking.

On the plus side, the main robot's transformation sequence is incredibly long and detailed. It just seems to go on forever. Since the tranform sequence is the money shot of any series featuring transforming robots, this is a good thing.

The storyline? Well, it's the future and the cyber world is under threat. One kid joins forces with the heroic Gladion -- yes, it's Gladion and not Gradion or Guradion, and I'm guessing it's derived from "gladiator" -- to battle the dastardly virii and locate his missing younger brother.

The show is based on Takara's line of high-tech tranforming robots. The piece de resistance of the line, Gladion, is a large action figure that transforms into a futuristic train. But that's not all. The toy also has a built-in video game which is activated when you connect the figure to your TV set. Furthermore, the toy can interact with other figures in the line via infrared signals.

I'll probably watch the show for a few more episodes but I doubt it's going to improve dramatically. I suspect the animation studio badly hamstrung themselves by opting to use CGI, which is costly in terms of both time and money.

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2:24 PM - And I quote

Juventus coach Marcelo Lippi on Bootgate:

"'What happened in that changing room has happened to me 50 times in my career. I have kicked bottles of mineral water, bags and shoes but I never hit a player. It's a question of technique, and the Scots must have a better technique.'"

Taken from a good read by "The Insider."

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2:08 PM - Solomon II

I did some additional work on my digi-doodle of *takes a deep breath* Microman LED Powers Perfect Shining Tector L-28 Shining Solomon (or as he's known to close friends, "Microman LED Powers Perfect Shining Tector L-28 Shining Sol"). I mostly added details to the original digi-doodle.

In other Microman news, according to HobbyLink Japan, the release of the new series, Microforce, has been put off until May. I welcome the delay as it will give Takara additional time to work on the figures -- I fervently hope the series is free of any QA issues -- as well as give me additional time to scrounge up money for the figures.

The delay means barring any unfortunate circumstances -- like any further hardware problems -- I should be able to free up funds for Medieval: Total War in two or three weeks.

Good thing, too. I'm jonesing for some medieval mayhem.

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Saturday, February 22, 2003

7:53 PM - Snip, snip, snip

This Daredevil hoo-ha reminded me of other bizarre moments in Malaysian censorship.

F'rinstance, local male artists with long hair were once banned from appearing on television. The reasons for this was ... well, I can't quite remember the rationale for it but I'm certain it was bizarre and stupid.

The ruling mainly affected hair band rockers. Amy, the lead singer for the rock band, Search, eventually gave in and in a photo-op moment, had his hair cut by the then-Information Minister.

The same Information Minister also threatened to ban Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. The reason for this was so stupid I can feel my brain cells killing themselves as I type this out.

Apparently "morphin'" -- short for "morphing" which is how the teenagers changed into Heroes-in-Tights -- sounds a lot like "morphine." By that Minister's way of thinking, the title of the series alone would cause Malaysian kids to turn to drugs.

Did I not mention the fact it was a stupid reason?

The title was later amended to simply Power Rangers and I suspect most rational Malaysians hurt their necks by repeatedly shaking their heads at the sheer absurdity of it all.

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4:08 PM - Same difference

Got this link off Metafilter. It's an online comic entitled "Same Difference" by Derek Kirk Kim. It's funny, moving and you will enjoy it.

Serpentor: "This I command."

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1:49 PM - Wackiness abounds

I got the weirdest e-mail yesteday.

The e-mail title: "Your character".

My reaction: Eh?

I scan the From field. It's from someone with a Swedish name.

My reaction: Huh?

I read the e-mail. The body had nothing but a link to a JPG file.

My reaction: Wha-?

So I'm deliberating whether to click on the link to see what it is. Caution and Curiosity wrestle. Curiosity wins with a choke-hold so I click on the link.

An image of someone's passport pops up and written above it is "Why I am emgee, and you are not." There's a big large red arrow pointing to the name written on the passport and sure enough, the guy's middle name (or more accurately one of his middle names) is Emgee.

Apparently, this guy had seen the bio of Emgee Obie-Nathan, one of my Neverwinter Nights player characters (which I had never actually used in a multiplayer game), and decided -- for no discernible reason other than the shared name -- to send me that e-mail.

It must have been a really dull day in Sweden.

I thought of sending him a reply pointing out that my initials are M. G and so I am actually an "Emgee" after a fashion.

But I decided to let things slide.

Still, it made me wonder about the thinking behind his e-mail.

(Yes, weisenheimer, it was a really dull day in Malaysia.)

My guess is it went as follows:

  • He sees the character bio.

  • He sees the name of the character.

  • He thinks, "Hey, I have the same name as this character."

  • He thinks, "I'd better e-mail this guy and tell him that my name is actually Emgee!"

  • He thinks, "But wait, I'd better send him proof in case he doubts me."

  • He scans his passport and labels the picture, "Why I am emgee, and you are not."

  • He draws a big red arrow pointing to his name to emphasise that he is actually named "Emgee."

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. Which would be fine except you don't actually play baseball.

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12:42 PM - Say you, say me

Thanks to Lena's recommendation, I've signed up with enetation ("annotation for all things web"). It's compatible with both Blog and my host Tripod and most importantly, it's free.

Incorporating the comments system into my Blog-powered site was simplicity itself. All I had to do was CTRL+C, CTRL+V two blocks of code and replace the Blogger variables -- enetation provides the code for most popular blogging software -- with the Blog equivalent. It took me all of five minutes to set things up.

As an admin, I have the ability to delete comments or block IPs, which hopefully I won't ever need.

I also appreciate the fact that readers are able to post comments even if they don't have Javascript or cookies enabled on their browsers. It works just fine with OB1.

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12:26 AM - Survivor 6.2: Idol talk

Just watched Survivor 6.2. My thoughts:

  • Janet, whatserface from my earlier entry, was indeed the first woman voted out of Jaburu. Word to the wise: Moaning "it's so much more difficult than I thought" is an invitation to get votes at Tribal Council.

  • The women won the reward challenge and got some disgusting-looking fish bait. Unfortunately, their attempts at fishing weren't successful even with the bait. Perhaps they'll resort to eating the fish bait instead. Must-See TV!

  • Lots of shots of the men looking dejected. Heh.

  • The women started tearing into each other. Christy went off on tribe members for slacking. JoAnna went off on Christy for belittling her goofy beliefs. (Idols are vewwy bad in JoAnna's books.) I expect some cool cat fights in future episodes.

  • There was almost a witchhunt after Jaburu discovered that someone had smuggled in a granola bar. Nobody fessed up ownership of the bar so the tribe took the high road and threw the bar into the fire. I wonder what they would have done had there not been a camera crew at camp.

  • Jeanne accused Janet of smuggling in the bar. Janet denied it. Watch Jeanne. She's an instigator.

  • Christy started the I'm-being-excluded-because-I'm-deaf moan (again) at the Tribal Council. Did she not expect problems lip-reading at night in the pitch-dark of the Amazon? Or was this a ploy to get sympathy?

  • Bossy Roger and Alex had an animated discussion about homosexuality and it turns out Roger is homophobic. Things should get interesting over at Tambaqui in future episodes.

  • Thankfully Rob didn't get that much air time to do his little skits. The less seen of his Magic 8 ball, the better.

  • Dave's a rocket scientist? Seriously? The aerospace kind or the firecracker kind? NASA? Seriously?

  • NTV7 cut a shot of pigs. This ridiculous hypersensitivity has being going on for a few years now and I just wonder how long before local TV stations start cutting shots of dogs?

  • Jenna, Jeanne, Janet, JoAnna ... jeez, so many J-names in Jaburu. Will the holdouts be forced to change their names to Jeena, Jhawna, Jeidi and Jhristy?

Predictions for next episode: Roger to go if the men lose the immunity challenge while Christy takes the long lonely walk if the women lose.

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Friday, February 21, 2003

10:29 PM - Sienkiewicz on TFs

Comics Continuum reports that one of my favourite comic book artists, Bill Sienkiewicz, will be doing a cover for the Dreamwave TF comic series. There's a preview of the piece here.

I haven't got a single issue of any of the Dreamwave TF series -- I think TFs are best seen animated -- but I'm looking forward to the Sienkiewicz cover. Dare I hope someone will make a scanned version of the cover available online?

Interestingly, the report mentions that this will be the first piece of TF art Sienkiewicz has done in 20 years. Now the only piece of TF art that resembles Sienkiewicz's style is the cover of issue 5, "The Transformers Are All Dead." (There's a scanned version on Fabián Borges's page.). The TF FAQ v 6.0 attributes the cover to Mark Bright but I had always thought the cover was Sienkiewicz's work.

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8:09 PM - Survivor 6.2

Survivor's on in a couple of hours. As usual, I've steered clear of all Survivor-related sites until I've seen the latest episode.

My predictions? If the guys lose the immunity challenge, expect Daniel to be tossed out. The buff, cocky Asian-American cost the men the immunity challenge last week by repeatedly falling off a log he had to get across and also had the misfortune of associating with Ryan who ended up being the first guy out.

If the women lose the immunity challenge, I expect whatserface, the middle-aged woman was moaning about how everything was difficult in the first episode, to go. (I'd get whastserface's name from the one of the Survivor sites but I don't want to be spoiled with details of today's episode.)

If there's one thing you don't do in Survivor, it's show signs of weakness.

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7:51 PM - Automatic entries

Tired of racking your brains for inspiration for a blog entry? Michal Zalewski has a tongue-in-cheek solution. The Blog Drone generates ersatz blog entries by taking user-input and finding related phrases from various online blog entries.

Here's an excerpt of what I got when I entered "why is life so difficult":

"You should be glad that im a very easy-going person... That isnt to say that you should let yourself go to seed and be a slob who takes an annual bath and doesnt brush his teeth or use toilet-paper. Although i dont believe that you should depend on horoscopes to direct your life-thats gods job ;> My other tip is that you should apply mascara first. All i ask is that you take good care of the little guy and if you have a camera take a picture or two to document his big adventures while hes with you."

Yeah, the results are often incoherent but then so are a lot of blog entries.

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7:39 PM - The Ferguson factor

Sir Alex Ferguson's at it again. Not content with playing mind games with opposing managers, he's now trying to needle the England manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson.

"I think Sven Eriksson would have been a nice easy choice for the United board in terms of nothing really happens, does it?

"He doesn't change anything. He sails along, nobody falls out with him. He comes out and says 'the first half we were good, second half we were not so good. I am very pleased with the result'."

The Scotsman manages to slip in a dig at Becks as well:

"The press make a suggestion about something, he seems to follow it a bit. Making David Beckham captain for instance. In fairness, there wasn't many options."

I'm not sure why the United boss would opt to irritate Eriksson but it's possible the club-versus-country row might have something to do with it.

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Thursday, February 20, 2003

9:45 PM - Banned!

For background on this picture, read my earlier entry.

I doubt the movie is all that great. But that's beside the point, really. The decision to ban the movie is so monumentally stupid that it -- and by extension, the Censorship Board -- just needs to be mocked on a regular basis.

Side note: Do you suppose the Censorship Board members get to keep all the bits of celluloid that is cut from movies? Wouldn't it be neat if they spliced all the censored bits together to make a movie? Hours upon hours of tits and ass with a soundtrack filled with expletives.

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6:53 PM - The Old Lady done in

United beat a depleted Juventus side early this morning with goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy and -- incredibly -- Wes Brown. Juventus pulled one back late on but United hung on for all three points. The win put the Red Devils in pole position in group D needing only a single point to qualify for the Champions League quarterfinals. They face Juventus away next week and might be able to get that point there.

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12:26 PM - Dave on /.

Slashdot has a question and answer session with Dave Barry which includes Dave's suggestion on how we should deal with spammers:

"Maybe the solution is for us to stop being so negative. Maybe we should actually buy all the spammers' products -- their low-interest mortgages, and their penis enlargers -- so they will become rich and happy and mellow, and they will decide voluntarily to stop hassling us.

Just kidding! I favor castration."

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12:12 PM - Budiansky speaks

The Hub has an interview with Bob Budiansky, a former editor and writer of the original US Transformers comic. For the uninformed, Budiansky named and wrote the bios for almost all the Transformers in the first five or six years of the series.

While the interview does confirm a lot of fan speculation about Budiansky's role in the early years, there aren't that many new revelations. "Remembering precisely what inspired me almost twenty years ago is a challenge" or variations of that line tends to be the most common answer to questions involving specific characters or storylines.

However, we do learn that Denny O'Neill was responsible for naming and writing the bio for Optimus Prime.

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12:09 PM - Superman's sex life

Ever wonder about Kryptonian-human reproduction? Larry Niven did. Favourite sentence:

"Meanwhile, tens of millions of sperm swarm in the air over Metropolis."

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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

10:12 PM - Moving pictures

I've got a slight problem playing DVD movies.

I can't take advantage of my GeForce2 MX400's hardware motion compensating features. PowerDVD keeps giving me an error message -- something about my current display mode being incompatible. I've tried the obvious remedy which is switching resolutions but no cigar.

It might be driver-related -- I'm using Detonator 30.82 drivers -- but I have a feeling it's because I'm using an older version of Powerlink (2.55, fact fans). It isn't a major issue by any means as I can still watch movies with only minimal shaking and what-not. But I'm such a fussy bastard.

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10:06 PM - Passing comments

I intend to remove the Bravenet forum and institute some form of commenting system for my blog entries soon.

Blog 7.0 does have a commenting system built-in but I think it's e-mail-based, which I'm not keen on. I'd rather have readers post their comments directly to the site and have the comments displayed under the entries for posterity.

Or something.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. There's no point in having a comments system if there's no one reading the site. Thus, I've made my first major attempt to promote the site. I submitted the site to the Great Malaysian Blog List and it has been listed along with 190-plus other Malaysian blogs.

I don't expect to be inundated with visitors overnight but hey, who knows, perhaps someone out there will find this stuff fascinating.

Or something.

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8:47 AM - And I quote

From Damian Lanigan's funny article:

"After many years of threats, the blotchy maniac has this past weekend launched a vicious attack on his own people with a WPMD (Weapon of Post-Match Destruction), possibly 'Nike-lear'."

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Tuesday, February 18, 2003

11:42 PM - Can you filter love tonight?

Impressed with one of Gurima's pictures -- it's as if the picture, "living in a fishbowl2", was done with coloured pencils on paper -- I enquired about the technique she used. It turns out it was done with the Bump effect in Gonta's filter plug-in sets for Pixia.

Eager to try it out myself, I quickly downloaded and installed Gonta filter sets. Installation of the filter plug-in has to be done manually but it's no more difficult than creating a sub-directory and unzipping the installation files. The filters will then be available when you launch Pixia.

I've been testing it out and the effects possible are quite remarkable. I might start incorporating them in my digi-doodles soon.

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Monday, February 17, 2003

6:48 PM - LotR by other writers

From the Straight Dope boards, Lord of the Rings as written by other writers. Fish42 wrote my favourite:

"At the end of the Council of Elrond, everyone concluded that 'Shards of Narsil' would be a great name for a band."

Guess which writer the poster was parodying.

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2:28 PM - This just in!

HobbyLink Japan has tits for sale.

Booby, redbreast, blue tit, bush tit, wren tit ... ornithologists must get pretty lonely out there in the field.

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Sunday, February 16, 2003

8:57 AM - Toys, toys, toys

The Toy Industry Association has released its list of the most memorable and creative toys and games of the past 100 years.

Unsurprisingly, Transformers made the list and unlike a lot of the figures and games on the list, Transformers, introduced in the US in 1984, is still selling well.

It's a shame the list is US-centric but whaddayagonnado? I would have liked to have seen Takara's Microman line make the list. Micronauts isn't recognised either.

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1:50 AM - Gunned down

United were bundled out of the FA Cup by Arsenal yesterday. Goals from Edu and Wiltord killed off any laughable hopes of a United quadruple. Sadly, Giggs will only be remembered in this FA Cup campaign for his unbelievable miss.

Juve are next. Do United have the moxie to regroup and salvage what they can from this season?

And what if they do finish empty-handed at the end of this season? Will Ferguson continue to be loyal to the current team or will wholesale changes be made?

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1:45 AM - And I quote

"She and Daredevil are powerfully attracted to each other, and even share some PG-13 sex, which is a relief because when superheroes have sex at the R level, I am always afraid someone will get hurt." -- from Roger Ebert's review of Daredevil. There's another grin-causer later on in the review as well. The movie received 3 stars.

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Saturday, February 15, 2003

6:59 PM - Shining Solomon

A quick sketch of the Takara action figure *takes deep breath* Microman LED Powers Perfect Shining Tector L-28 Shining Solomon. Still needs a lot of work but I like how it looks so far. I have no idea how to pull off the translucent plastic look. I'll fudge it later.

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4:48 PM - I spy

A coloured version of this earlier picture of the Takara Microman action figure.

I need to create more elaborate backdrops. The problem is I tend to lose interest even before I've completed painting the figure itself. I need to find a collaborator -- someone with colouring skills and patience.

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10:15 AM - Gagaku

Another work in progress. I like the sketch-y, ink-y look of this one.

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10:04 AM - Gunning for the Cup

United play Arsenal in the FA Cup Fifth Round in about 10 hours. It doesn't look like Giggs and Veron will be playing.

I suppose Ferguson will have Scholes play on the left but who'll take the vacant central midfield role? Will the manager opt for Phil Neville who had an outstanding game against Arsenal in the league? Or will it be Butt? Will Ferdinand be able to cope with Thierry Henry? Will Silvestre be able to deal with Pires?

This is definitely crunch time for United now. They play Juventus next. Del Piero is out injured but United will still be in for another toughie.

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9:24 AM - Jungle Fever

Brief Survivor thoughts:

  • Ryan, a male model, had the dishonour of being the first survivor kicked out. He won't be missed.

  • The men were very, very cocky at the outset, going so far as bragging they would never be going to Tribal Council because they, being manly men, would never lose a challenge. They lost the first one after blowing a humongous lead. Ha ha.

  • The women are going to have trouble with the environment -- they had no shelter at the end of the first episode -- but they'll pull through when it matters most, I think.

  • Is anyone else hoping an anaconda would crush Rob? Preferably as he's trying to crack a joke. Preferably before he gets to the punchline. The frat boy is annoying and he can only get worse.

  • Ditto the chauvinistic Daniel. In the extremely unlikely event he makes it to the merger, he is going to be toast.

  • Deena looks like she might be in the wrong tribe. Lady looks like a dude.

  • Gotta feel for deaf Christy when she had trouble socialising -- she couldn't lip-read her tribe-members' lips in the dark -- but she must've known this would happen.

  • Every time a player claims he has integrity, he eventually turns out to be hypocritical. Watch Dave. Watching this allegedly fine, upstanding person get dirty is going to be delicious fun.

  • Jenna's a swimsuit model? Seriously?

  • Probst was snarkier at both the Council and the pre-Challenge talk. Good.

  • I can't decide if Heidi or Shawna is my favourite in the hottie category. I need more info about their personalities.

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Friday, February 14, 2003

7:16 AM - ****-ing censors!

Sometimes people come up with such extraordinarily stupid justifications for their stupid actions that you cannot help but be awestruck.

The Star reported today the Malaysian Film Censorship Board has banned the movie Daredevil. Five reasons were given:

  • The movie focused on the dealings of a secret society.

  • The movie contains violence including fighting scenes using weapons and hands.

  • The movie features the vigilante acts of a lawyer by day and a killer by night.

  • The movie focuses on the mafia world.

  • The movie has a character who's a hired killer.

Those reasons are both ridiculous and hypocritical as movies containing those exact same elements have been released in Malaysia before.

The movie's distributor, 21st Century Fox, is appealing the ruling. I expect there'll be a storm in a teacup, some politicians will get involved, the distributors will make some cuts to the movie and the Film Censorship Board, after being ceaselessly mocked for two weeks, will approve the cut version.

But that got me thinking. If those were the reasons for banning Daredevil, what were the rejected reasons, bearing in mind the rejected reasons would have to be even dumber than the actual reasons that were given? My guesses:

  • Satanic influences. Daredevil works in Hell's Kitchen. Next thing you know impressionable young children will be sacrificing virgins and tattooing 666 on their foreheads.

  • Bad influence. Children might exposed themselves to radioactive material in order to get superpowers.

  • The race card. The Kingpin's supposed to be white.

  • Ben Affleck's head is too big.

  • Jennifer Garner is slightly cross-eyed.

  • No nude scenes for the Censorship Board to review repeatedly before cutting.

Need I mention the Malaysian Film Censorship Board is one of the reasons why I don't watch movies in the cinema?

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Thursday, February 13, 2003

12:36 PM - Getting my drive

I got the DVD-ROM drive -- a Sony DDU1621, firmware version S3.1 -- for RM160 from Exzee Computer on Tuesday evening.

Installation was simple. I just reconnected the cables -- the drive comes with all the necessary cables but I opted to use my old ones -- and the BIOS and the OS detected the drive automatically upon boot up.

But my PC wouldn't be my PC if it didn't produce some strange unexplainable behaviour every time I introduced it to some new piece of hardware.

(See here and here for details of previous snafus.)

The problem? I couldn't watch the Fellowship of the Ring DVD. I was anxious to watch the movie so -- the universe being the wretched, cruel place it is -- naturally, I would have trouble watching it.

Cyberlink's PowerDVD 2.55, the DVD decoder/player that shipped with the Sony drive, produced an error message saying a DVD with an unsupported format was in the drive.

What was weird is that the featurettes -- the various "making of" documentaries -- played beautifully. However, the movie itself can't be played. I tested it out on a standalone DVD player at the shop and all four DVDs played fine. So the problem was definitely either PowerDVD or the DVD-ROM drive itself.


I initially thought it was a region coding issue but even after switching regions I received same error message.


After googling about it, I gathered the Samsung DVD-ROM drive had a problem with the extended version of the Fellowship of the Ring movie as well. The remedy is to flash the drive with the latest firmware.

So the movie should play just fine after I've updated my Sony's firmware, right? Unfortunately, Sony hasn't made any firmware updates for the drive available on its site.


I did test out a Three Kings DVD which I also got and it played flawlessly. Encouraged, I then bought Black Hawk Down yesterday for further testing but wasn't able to play that movie.


I had almost reconciled myself to being unable to watch Fellowship of the Ring and Black Hawk Down when I decided to try out a suggestion by a poster on the Firmware page fora.

I disabled the UDF file system (the option can be found in the Advanced section of msconfig) and what do you know, the solution worked! All DVDs played nicely. No firmware update needed. No updated version of PowerDVD needed

The fix apparently solves the problem of proprietary DVD movie players having trouble with the UDF files system. I'm guessing PowerDVD 2.55 is one such player.

I still need to test out a few things, though. I need to make sure that the system has no trouble reading from the drive after booting from an emergency boot floppy disk as well as ensure the drive reads my Win 98SE installation CD-ROM disk.

I intend to format my hard disk in a couple of weeks to revert back to a single-boot Win 98SE system. (I'm currently running a dual-boot Win 98SE/Windows 2000 system.) It would be aggravating to discover problems reading system critical CD-ROMs after I had executed the "format c:/s" command.

But so far, I'm very satisfied with the drive. It's quieter than my late TeraDrive 52x and the DVD-ROM drive has no trouble reading CD-ROMs.

The quality of DVD movies leaves me in awe. After decades of watching movies on VHS and VCDs, the clarity of DVD movies leaves me slack-jawed. Oh yeah, that was RM160 well-spent.

Gotta get more DVD movies.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

7:54 AM - Micronauts upgraded

Series 1.5 of Palisades's Micronauts line will be released in about a month's time. The upcoming figures were produced a factory with better QA than the factory for Series 1.

As an added bonus, the figures have got nice paint schemes. Acroyear 1.5, for instance, has a colour scheme faithful to the comic character. It's quite striking.

The only possible problem with the new series is its availability. The figures will only be made available through Palisades's web site. I hope the company accepts international orders and payment in the form of a bank draft.

I want a Space Glider, darn it.

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7:51 AM - Losing my drive

My 52x CD-ROM drive bit the dust last night. I can't read any CD-ROMs. The drive spins up but nada, nothing, zilch.

Of course, this would happen just as I'm really getting into System Shock 2 which of course requires the CD-ROM in the drive when launching the game.

But glass being half-full, this isn't a problem as much as it is an opportunity. I had been considering getting a DVD-ROM drive for some time now. There a lot of nice anime boxsets out there both on eBay and in Imbi. So this is as good a time to get a DVD-ROM drive as any. It should set me back RM165 or so. It would be cheaper getting the drive from Imbi but only if I don't factor in the time and travelling expense.

The region encoding thing worries me a little, though. I gather the Sony DVD-ROM drives only allow up to five changes to the DVD region settings.

Most of the DVDs available locally are of the region-free variety so it should be okay. Hopefully.

Medieval: Total War will just have to wait until next month.

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7:40 AM - Giving the finger

The kitten has a new fetish. I previously wrote about his foot fetish, but Asimo now has one for fingers. He suckles them. The fact the fingers don't produce milk doesn't faze him at all. I indulge the kinky rascal. It's one way to get the otherwise hyperactive feline to quieten down.

Last night, Asimo made a leap four feet into the air onto a narrow ledge. It was incredible to see. He's growing up fast. It's only a matter of time before he ends up the size of his sire, a stray who's probably the largest cat I've ever seen.

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Monday, February 10, 2003

10:22 PM - Cosmo-naut

A quicky of the eponymous character of the Saint Seiya series. And yes, I do know my rendition is not anime-accurate. Don't bug me about it because I just might unleash the power of my seventh sense and then pop the top of a can of Pegasus Meteor Punch.

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2:36 AM - Kawaii-Spidey

A haphazardly-coloured version of the Spider-Man picture I previously uploaded. I like how this one is turning out. The head's too large and I might change the angle of the right foot but overall, yeah, I like it. I'll add in the costume details and the webbing later. I might even put in a cityscape background.

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12:07 AM - Goater goal gets Devils' goat

Ugh. United could only manage a draw against rivals City. Ruud got his 27th goal of the season but Goater equalised for City late on. Fortunately, Arsenal could only manage a draw as well at Newcastle after Robert cancelled out Henry's early strike. Arsenal still lead by three.

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Saturday, February 08, 2003

8:20 AM - Colour me bad

A coloured version of the Serpentor picture I drew. I like how this one turned out. The background looks too computer-y, though.

My biggest problems at the moment are impatience and ennui. I grow quickly tired of the drudgery involved in finishing my digi-doodles. Must learn discipline.

I'm going to continue working on this one.

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5:25 AM - Lepak-ing killers

Lockheed Martin has developed missiles that lepak. The 5-foot-long Loitering Attack Missile, once launched, can loiter aimlessly over an area for up to 45 minutes and homes in on targets acquired automatically.

We'll never have something like that in Malaysia's arsenal thanks to our anti-lepak authorities.

(And for my non-Malaysian readership -- like I actually have a readership -- lepak is the Malay word for loiter.)

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3:23 AM - Getting medieval

I'm thinking of getting Medieval: Total War, a strategy game by Activision. It was developed by Creative Assembly, the same folks who produced the critically acclaimed Shogun: Total War. M:TW is like S:TW except M:TW is set in Europe rather than Japan.

I'm not one for spur-of-the-moment purchases when it comes to computer games so I went on my usual pre-purchase fact-finding and opinion-gathering mission before plonking down RM150-plus for the game.

My favourites sites for getting the low-down happen to be Gone Gold (for its links to reviews written by pros) and pcgamereview.com (for user-written reviews).

You'd expect the reviews written by pros to be more useful (not to mention much better written) than those by Joe Gamer but the latter often pick up on details the pros leave out.

It irritates me that most professional reviews tend to assume that everyone has a state-of-the-art gaming machine. Some game review sites even neglect to include the system requirements for the game.

Now I've got a mere Celeron 900 with 256MB of RAM and I'd like to have some idea how the game is going to run on my rig. Thus, I find those reviews written by users running systems comparable to mine very useful.

In addition, the pros tend to rush their reviews out and rarely do follow-up pieces to take into account elements changed after the inevitable patches are released.

However, reading user-written reviews can be tough. There are some real gems to be found but for the most part it's a mixture of goofy fanboyism and unwarranted or irrational hypercriticism.

Here are some, ah, fascinating user comments about Medieval: Total War from pcgamereview.com:

  • "Oh one thing ... I read somewhere about an RPG element to this game ... NO, there is nothing like that. There is unit development for your generals, captains, and King but thats it. They die when they die, they are named what they are named. So, really thats not RPG. Oh and its all real world here, no orcs or goblins." - Rob from NY, who has a strange definition of role-playing and a poor sense of history. They didn't have orcs and goblins in Medieval Europe, Rob.

  • "It is the first game I have seen that uses Morale into the computation of wargaming!" -- Chris Andrews from San Diego. Apparently, Chris hasn't been playing that many computer wargames.

  • "Another additional feature is after a battle you get the choice of releasing or executing the prisoners, I dont think it affects gameplay other than make you feel all powerful, or merciful, and you can always save execution for those who just piss you off (French)." -- wolfbiscuits who's from (surprise, surprise) the UK.

  • "the ai plays well(with a couple of picadillos)" -- Casaubon Eco from Houston. What exactly is a "picadillo"? A modified piccolo? A rare species of armadillo that's barely a picometre in length?

  • "The joy of crushing the frenchies beneath an English boot." -- Lee from (surprise, surprise) England.


Anyway, I still haven't decided whether to get M:TW. I'm monitoring several eBay auctions at the moment and I need to set aside some funds for that in case I decide to bid.

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12:50 AM - Spidey and spy

Two new works in progress. First up, Spider-Man. I need to fill in the details and try colouring it.

Next, another rendition of the Takara action figure, Microman M141 Henry.

Both images have been reduced in size to conserve space.

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12:47 AM - Tripod blogs

Tripod's started a blog program. Unfortunately, it's for subscribers only. Regardless, I'm sticking with Fahim A. Farook's Blog 7.0. The freeware app is simple and to the point and crucially, it allows me to draft my entries offline.

Besides, I've got my blog set up the way I want it and it would be a pain attempting to transfer templates and archives to a new blog application.

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Thursday, February 06, 2003

2:29 AM - Again with Kenshin

Another week, another version of that Kenshin picture. This is the last one, I swear.

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1:17 AM - PC-speak-challenged

Ah, the perils of political correctness. The writer of this Survivor 6 preview had trouble deciding what to call a particular disability.

"Christy Smith, 24, a children's adventure guide for the deaf (incidentally, she is hearing-challenged) ..."

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1:12 AM - Boys and girls

I was a big fan of the first three Survivor seasons but I completely lost interest in Survivor: Thailand after several episodes. I didn't even catch the finale.

I'm looking forward to Survivor 6: Amazon though. The locale is one attraction but the tinkering of the format is another. The initial tribes are now gender-based.

NTV7 has already been running promos for the series and I must say I can't wait to see how it plays out.

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1:11 AM - Closer, getting closer

The gap between Manchester United and Arsenal has been reduced to three after United beat Birmingham City 1-0 early this morning thanks to a Ruud van Nistelrooy goal.

United take on Manchester City next in what should be "a right cracker" of a match. The Red Devils will be out to avenge their 0-3 drubbing at their hands of their neighbours while doing the double over United would no doubt be the highlight of Kevin Keegan's season. Hopefully, Newcastle will aid United's cause by beating Arsenal later that afternoon.

Here's hoping anyway.

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Wednesday, February 05, 2003

3:17 AM - Take it from a pro

From the bio of new Aston Villa player, Joey Gudjonsson:

Gudjonsson claims to have a good understanding of the English game due to his addiction to computer game Championship Manager - and straight away praised Villa captain Gareth Barry.

He explained: 'I know almost every player by name already. I play a lot of Championship Manager and Gareth Barry is always a good buy. Hopefully he is just as good in real life.'


Championship Manager 4 ought to be released within the next few weeks. The new 2D engine promises to add a lot to the tactical aspect of the game as it makes easier to keep track of off the ball movement during matches.

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Tuesday, February 04, 2003

7:42 PM - A good name for a rock band

I call myself a Dave Barry fan yet I am the last to know about his web log. I am ashamed.

I've often thought that writing those hilarious articles would be excruciatingly difficult and yet someone has come up with a rather convincing Dave Barry column generator. One wonders what the man himself thinks about it.

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1:19 AM - A little bit of Jazz

A rather sketchy doodle of Jazz from the Transformers series. Voiced by the late Scatman Crothers, he was a 'Bot with style. I hope to work on this one a bit more in the future. He's one of my favourite characters from that series and I hope to do him justice.

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Monday, February 03, 2003

5:36 PM - Face it

Quicky. I still need practice. I installed Pixia back in August 2002 but I've barely scratched the surface of what I can do with the program. I haven't touched some of its high-end features (e.g. masks, transparencies) as I'm concentrating on learning to draw/sketch first.

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10:45 AM - Spy Magician

My rendition of Microman Spy Magician M141 Henry. And yes, he's both a spy and a magician. It might be a difficult career path -- "Bond, James Bond ... pick a card, any card ..." -- but Henry somehow manages to pull it off.

What a guy.

The Takara repro is still available for 1500 yen at HobbyLink Japan.

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Sunday, February 02, 2003

10:25 AM - To-ran-su-fo-maa!

There's a nice article on Transformers on TFormers.com. It's a not-particularly-brilliant translation of an interview with Takara executive vice president Nobuyuki Okude (who's been with the company for 36 years!) published in the June 2002 issue of Hobby Japan.

Someone ought to tell the translator that "transformation cyborg" refers to the Henshin Cyborg line.

Some nifty nuggets:

  • Takara combined figures from Microman and Diaclone to create a new series at Hasbro's suggestion. I had previously assumed Hasbro simply picked and chose which figures from both lines to release as Transformers.

  • Takara discontinued the Microman and Diaclone lines despite their popularity when the Transformers animation proved to be popular overseas. So Transformers was directly responsible for the deaths of Microman and Diaclone. I had assumed that Microman in particular was dying off during its New Microman phase.

  • Takara and Hasbro would have arguments over colours. Hasbro wanted more colours while Takara would tend to limit itself to three. There was also some disagreement over the use of bright colours like orange and purple but the article isn't too clear on which side was for and against it. "Then we had big arguments with the Japanese side when we decided to use shocking orange, purple, and deep green." Was the first "we" supposed to be a "they"? Or was it Takara that objected to those colours?

  • Hasbro was particular about production costs and thus US figures would have less die-cast parts, use plastic instead of rubber and be simpler to transform.

The article isn't as deep as I would have liked but it's still nice to get some background info on one of my favourite toy lines.

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Saturday, February 01, 2003

8:20 PM - All thumbs

I've created a new page on the site to showcase my digi-doodles. Rather than forcing my non-existent readership to suffer through Bravenet's pop-ups, I opted to create a thumbnail page right here on Tripod. So my non-existent readership willl be facing Tripod pop-ups instead. Heh.

But seriously, if the Tripod pop-ups are a problem, either disable Javascript or get a browser that has zero Javascript support (e.g. OB1) or get a pop-up-killing browser (e.g. Phoenix 0.5) or get a pop-up killer utility.

By the bye, the thumbnails were generated by the incredible Irfanview. I had actually downloaded two thumbnail generator utilities before I checked out Pricelessware's homepage and found out Irfanview had a thumbnail page generator built-in.

Irfanview rocks. Fast, packed with features and it's free.

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5:29 PM - And I quote

From Roger Ebert's review of "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind":

Having been involved in a weekly television show myself, I know for a melancholy fact that there is just not enough time between tapings to fly off to Helsinki and kill for my government.

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1:05 AM - Ah, irony

I wrote that my connection blues were a thing of the past so naturally, I had trouble getting online again. I got that misleading "check your password" error message earlier but fortunately, it was only temporary. Probably brought about by network congestion.

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1:04 AM - Arise, Serpentor, arise

Here's one of the drawings I'm still working on sporadically. This is the Cobra Emperor, Serpentor, from the GI Joe: A Real American Hero series.

As much as I loved his introduction in the comic book, I think his toy card bio (which I assume like most GI Joe bios from the 80s was the work of Larry Hama) is nothing short of inspiring:

His eyes have seen the legions of Rome trample the Gauls and Nervii into the dust. His hand lifted the horse hair baton that signalled the first charge of the Carthagian armored elephant phalanx. His ears have heard the rattle of French cuirassiers on the streets of Moscow. But it is his mind we must fear the most. The thoughts of the Cobra Emperor have not drifted from global conquest since the reign of King Solomon ...


How's that for flavour text calculated to get the reader to buy the action figure?

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