Monday, January 13, 2020

Cavalock and The Spontaneous Solo Dinner Date

How spontaneous am I? Well, I was on the bus on my way to a game of Beastgrave in Katong thinking bout what to have for dinner and the bus passed Plaza Singapura, I can see from my seat that there's no queue for Five Guys, immediately leapt off the bus and was in line faster than you can say 'fast food'.

Wasn't planning to have burgers that evening but there I was. Well, the Baker-at-Home and I ate at Five Guys when we were in London. The burgers were alright, didn't really blew us away so we weren't exactly in a rush to head to Five Guys when they opened here last year. So it was up to Spontaneous Me to make a spontaneous solo trip to Five Guys back home here.

I had the Bacon Cheese Hot Dog with mushrooms, onions and ketchup. Ordered the small fries and there were a lot of fries in that little overflowing cup. Yah, been ages since I had a hot dog so why not. I dare say I like the hot dog a lot more than the burger I had in London. Loved the fries, just like in London. Only thing that's gonna prevent me from heading to Five Guys anytime soon is the crazy a$$ price tag. Hmmm... $26 is kinda pricy for a hot dog, fries and soft drink.

Hey, I just remembered when we were having our burgers in London Five Guys, we had just finished shopping at a Warhammer shop cos we had our hands full with Warhammer shopping bags filled with miniatures. And now I was on my way to a Warhammer shop with my bag full of miniatures for Beastgrave. Spontaneous or something more cosmic in play?

Anyway it was a casual match between my pack of ghouls the Grymwatch against a buncha of armoured dwarfs Thundrik's Profiteers over at the Warhammer shop.  Changed my strategy to controlling objectives instead of trying to kill my opponent. My objective deck contained cards that scored me points for having my ghouls at certain places on the board instead of scoring massive points for killing opponent's guys. It worked. Won my game with a last turn slew of objective grabbing around the game board. Glad I returned to playing Beastgrave around the end of last year. Always looking for an excuse to paint more figures!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Cavalock and The Brown Sugar Lovin'

Every once in awhile, I do love me some good ol' chendol. As I stumbled upon this little hawker stall over at Clementi central that dreary day, I knew the time has come for some cool brown sugar lovin'. Nothing terribly fancy, as a matter of fact, it came in a throwaway paper container. But damn, what she had on don't mean nothing to me, I just needed me a taste of that sweet brown sugar lovin' that evening. 

After three gruelling months, our wooden dining table has finally emerged from deep within Gifu Forest, crossed the Pacific Ocean, climbed up over a dozen flights of stairs and into our tiny little apartment. It's a little longer in length and slightly narrower in width. But as long as I can still game over it, that ain't a problem. Took out my terrain boards and they fit nicely.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Cavalock and The Top 10 Boardgames Lookback

As I'm blogging this, it's the last day and night of the decade and as much as I would like to do a Top 10 boardgames of the decade, I'm just too lazy for that. So here's the Top 10 boardgames I played in 2019 instead. Couple of caveats first, most of the games were released in 2019 with a couple of exceptions such as older games that I only got to play recently. I don't own all the games here, only a few but I have played all of them. And the cover art of the nine games below aren't exactly in Top 10 order either.

Alright, let's start with number 10. Star Wars: Outer Rim. One of the more thematic Star Wars games out there where you play a smuggler, bounty hunter or any one of the unsavoury Star Wars underworld characters. In a series of turns, you'll be hanging out in that part of the Star Wars universe known as the Outer Rim, taking hunting bounties, smuggling goods or upgrading your ship, all in service of gaining fame points. First player to earn 10 fame points wins the game. The game is full of familiar Star Wars characters and like I said ,very thematic and fun. It's number 10 on the list cos it played a little too long for my liking and not much interaction at most turns.

Number 9 is New Bedford. An older game that was released in 2016 but I found it cheap cheap on our Amazon Prime early this year. Imagine Moby Dick as a strategy worker-placement game. Every player only has two workers and two ships to build the town of New Bedford and sail out to catch whales. Lots of thinking and planning as to where to send your workers. Easy to teach and play too.

Number 8 is Awkward Guests. If you watched the whodunit movie Knives Out, think of this as the boardgame version of it. I played the updated 2019 Kickstarter version of this 2016 game and had a blast. This is a very cool deduction boardgame where you get to question the other players (guests), exchange clues and see if you can determine the killer, his or her weapon and motive.

Number 7 is Nine Tiles Panic. Very quick and fun Japanese game. Everyone has 90 seconds to assemble their  9 tiles in a particular fashion or grid so as to maximise the number of points that they hope to gain. Love the cute zany art and aesthetics, and the theme of little aliens eating humburgers is too funny.

Number 6 is the most recent game I played, Letter Jam. It's a word game which means there are lots of folks out there who will either love or hate it. Gameplay's a little difficult to describe so I'll just paste this description instead.

Letter Jam is a 2-6 player cooperative word game where players assist each other in composing meaningful words from letters around the table. The trick is holding the letter card so that it’s only visible to other players and not to you.
At the start of the game, each player receives a set of face-down letter cards that can be arranged to form an existing word. Each player then puts their first card in their stand facing the other players without looking at it, and the game begins.The clue giver spells out their clue by putting numbered tokens in front of the other players. Number one goes to the player whose letter comes first in the clue, number two to the second letter etc. They can always use a wild card which can be any letter, but they cannot tell others which letter it represents.

Played it twice and it was crazy fun, as the clue giver you are always cracking your brain trying to come up with all them words. But everyone else will be cracking their brains trying to decipher your word but it'll be missing at least one letter. If you think you got a strong vocabulary, give this a shot. Remember it's a cooperative game, so if your vocabulary sucks, everyone loses.

Number 5 is Res Arcana. Card game with gameplay that reminds one of Magic: The Gathering but faster and more satisfying. You got eight cards, play them to you cast spells, summon dragons and other creatures and earn points. Lots of combos once you figure them out. Beautiful, vibrant fantasy-themed art too.

Number 4 is Trails of Tucana. A flip-and-write game where players each have their own sheet of map to draw in. The villages are randomised so every game will provide a unique puzzle. Every turn, two terrain cards are revealed and everyone draws on their own map a trail connecting the shown terrains. As more trails are drawn, players will be connecting places on their maps and scoring points.

Number 3 is AuZtralia. It's an adventure exploration game for one to four players, set in an alternate reality 1930s Australia. Prepare to protect old Australia by building train lines and building your military units before the Old Ones awake with an army of zombies and nightmarish Eldritch monsters. To be honest, I have been playing the solo mode and enjoying every minute of it. It's quite a pain to set up through, huge board, lots of components but looks mighty grand when it's done.

Number 2 is In Front of The Elevators. Probably the one with the quirkiest theme in the list. Little Japanese card game in which you compete to get more of your family members in front of the elevator line at a department store than the other players can. You score points when you get them in the elevators and you can play cards to mess with other players' families. Fast fun game that possesses a ton of depth. The rules are really simple but there is quite a bit of strategy involved.

My favourite number 1 game of the year has to be Empires of the North. It's a strategy card game where players take on the role of a leader of a different faction of tribesmen living in the North, Scots, Inuits or Vikings. Then start developing your economy and there isn't much conflict involved, it's more of a race to gather resources, build stuff and start a combo going to reap them points. The game comes with six different factions to choose from and they all play differently. All in all,  the best engine-building games I played this year.

Couple of honourable mentions, I'm back to playing Magic: The Gathering ever since Wizards of the Coast introduced a new format called Pioneer that lets you play your older cards. The guys are all back into playing so naturally if they are playing, so am I. I'm also back into playing Warhammer: Underworlds cos of the new expansion Beastgrave. There are more folks playing in the shops now and I do enjoy the game after all. Reason I stopped back then was no one I knew was playing it regularly.

It was certainly a week of rare and strange sights. Wasn't planning to observe the eclipse but walked right into a crowd looking at it in Orchard Road and thanks to the tinted roof of a shopping mall, we all got a pretty decent shot at it after lunch. And just when you thought you have seen everything, the Baker-at-Home spotted this through our window. Yup, them be Chinese cabbages on a wash pole, not to be confused with my other neighbour the Washpole Patriot.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Cavalock and The December Brisket Bulletin

Happy Holidays!!!

A little post Christmas post and I know I'm late. Well, the home renovations are almost done except for the mirror and wooden dining table delivery. Fortunately we hardly do any year-end entertaining, hopefully both items will arrive before the middle of January. Another reason why I haven't blog much this month (besides the renovations and falling sick) is me journaling old-school style in me Traveler's Notebook.

So I got to put together this little habit tracker for the month of December in me Traveler's Notebook. It lists my experiences and notable activities for the month and once again, cos of the renovations and falling ill, I only went to the gym three times so far. Also, only four nights of boozing. Memorable new experiences include sitting through three December movies, namely Knives Out, Jumaji: The Next Level and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. Let's see what else, hmmm... only dined at two new restaurants this month, Ippoh Tempura Bar and Osaka Yakiniku DonDon. Binged watched Netflix's The Witcher, finished listening to BBC Radio's radio drama podcast of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and am following couple of lessons on the MasterClass app. The only new boardgame I played was Marvel Champions, just one new game! That's bloody sad.

Christmas Eve dinner was at our friend's home, yah, the one that always reminds me of southern plantation living during the antebellum era. And this time, the experience was enhanced with a generous serving of an entire brisket from the one and only Franklin Barbecue all the way from Texas. Yes, our hosts were in the Lone Star state and actually queued for several hours to get their hands on a couple of frozen slabs last month. Nicely smoked by our host and it's every bite deserving of a James Beard award.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Cavalock and The Marina Bay Kaiju Hugfest

Now when you have two individuals cooped up in a tiny room for almost a month, it's no surprise that when one falls sick the other would also be out of action real soon. Yup, we are both down with a nasty cough, sore throats and all. Home renovations not done yet. Fortunately we managed to enjoy some grilled beef one rainy night last week. First time at Osaka Yakiniku DonDon along Tanjong Pagar Road. You kinda know it's a good choice when the place is already full of Japanese customers when you step in.

Reminded me a lot of one of our favourite yakiniku joints in Tokyo, Futago Yakiniku at Yoyogi. Although we do our own grilling instead of someone else doing it for us like in Tokyo. Heh. In a surprising twist, our favourite dish in a grill beef joint turned out to be the above coriander salad with nut dressing. Who knew? Well, the raw wagyu beef with salmon roe and sea urchin came in as a close second. Gotta also give a shoutout to the funky frozen ice towels that they handed to us. These were frozen freakin' solid! And nicely scented too!

Some old pix from a couple months back by me 85-year-old Dad. These big bad critters at Garden by the Bay are as close to any real kaiju action as we are ever going to get in real life.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Cavalock and The Traveler's Notebook Peek

Fingers crossed, as I'm typing this it's two more weeks of renovations to go. It has gotten to a point where I would be stumbling out of the apartment with a face full of zits and not know it cos we still have no mirrors! Far as I can tell, NOT a vampire yet.

Had lunch at Ippoh Tempura Bar earlier this week and that was the second time we ever had Tempura omakase. Small and intimate joint with a 12-seater counter. Amazing food with more than a couple of show stealers. The tasty little shrimp toast is something we could have eaten by the boatload.

Another of the Baker-at-Home's favourite was the unforgettable sea urchin tempura with caviar. Once again, we could have chucked down a dozen more. A fantastic lunch, wish it was cheaper so we could have it on a regular basis. Hah! Well, after that we headed to town to catch Knives Out at the theatre, so a very good afternoon it was.

So one of the reasons why I haven't been blogging online much these days is I have gone back to blogging old-school style or journaling for some of you artsy folks. Bought my Traveler's Notebook two Tokyo trips ago and I have been filling it up very slowly. Reminds me of me media advertising days, designing page layouts and all that. Been awhile since I flexed that little creative muscle.

The cool thing bout Traveler's Notebook is it lets you slot in different sets of pages, it's kinda like mini-booklets. And you strapped them all into your leather bound Notebook. So right now I got three separate page sets or booklets in mine. The first is daily random stuff like I'm trying some bullet journaling with fancy doodles here and there. The second is the least utilised one as it's me trying out some watercoloring but since the renovations started, my little craftwork table where I do my miniatures painting is stacked with boxes a mile high. The third section is me gaming journal where I sometimes spin a yarn or two about the fantasy battles I play. I would turn it into a (very!) short story if I play (and win!) a game like Warhammer or Magic.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Cavalock and The Tale of The Mirrorless Mansion

Three weeks in, the apartment is still under renovations which leaves me and the Baker-at-Home still huddled together like a couple of squatters in a tiny little bedroom. Mattress on the floor, no online access, open toilets, etc. Actually for all we know, we could have evolved into a couple of vampires on account that there are no mirrors anywhere in the home and we have not seen our own reflections for over a week now. I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before we staying picking lint from our hair, like a couple of apes grooming themselves on Nat Geo.

Thank goodness for friends who invite us over to their homes for amazing meals like these. A beautifully smoked ramp steak for lunch. They also did open their house to us and that we could stay over during our renovations but we declined. It's the home that makes me feel like I'm visiting an old cotton plantation in the deep south, if you know what I mean. Hah!

Here we have the neighbour's cat taking a liking to our new bathroom tiles. Other wildlife pix Got our some me 85-year-old Dad took last month. He's getting old now and doesn't have much strength these days but he still tries to head out on his own every other day.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Cavalock and The Home Reno Blues

Spotted this at Meidi-Ya Liang Court supermarket a couple days back. The Blue Bottle coffee joint at Shinjuku is a familiar hangout place whenever we are Tokyo. Yah, that's pretty pricey for a little can of cold brewed coffee. And that's why we can't buy one. Hah!

Been a crazy past week as the Baker-at-Home and me start our massive 'tiny apartment' renovations. No proper toilet facilities, the kitchen is a complete no-go zone and the little study room is now a giant storeroom hence the lack of blogging or online presence. As I'm typing this, I'm trying to catch up on whole buncha online stuff. And we also got many weeks of huddling together in a tiny bedroom to look forward to.

Another spanner-in-the-works this renovation threw at us is our breakfasts are all kinda messed up. For better or worse, it's gonna be kopi tiam prata, carrot cake, kaya toast, well, you get the idea. Since the entire kitchen (including the fridge) is out-of-bounds, we can't prepare our own breakfast so no more overnight oats or toasted sandwiches for at least a month. I should definitely be hitting the gym three times a week now. We can't stay home cos of all the dust and noise so hey, if anyone wants to meet up, let me know.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Cavalock and The New Traveler's Notebook Journey

An excellent little and I do mean 'little' oden joint that we had dinner was at Nakameguro. Toridashioden Samon is located just under the next to Nakameguro train station, next to Meguro River and it's pretty good idea to have dinner there after visiting the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo which is just about 15 minutes walk away.

Lots of choices and reasonably priced too. Get ready to stand in line as it's pretty popular. Love the daikon. The two big chicken balls are nice too as the tiny bits of cartilage in them give them that little extra crunch and texture. Also first time having yakitori oden-style instead of the usual grilled. Go if you want great and affordable street food.

It's something I have had my eye on for awhile now and finally decided to put it up during my Tokyo vacation with the guys a couple months ago. Yup, so I bought a Traveler's Notebook. It's a writing journal and more. I have been using a Moleskin journal for couple years now and did the switch after reading how versatile the Japanese Traveler's Notebook is.

The options to customise and personalise the Traveler's Notebook was what first drew me to it. Then I saw all them millions and millions of YouTube videos about it, read the articles bout it and I kinda fell in love with the whole concept or idea behind it. Like most Japanese products, it's also cheaper to get it in Japan than in Singapore.

So like I said, I bought during my trip with the guys but I only opened it when I got back home then a week after that, me and the Baker-at-Home headed back to Japan and that's when I went crazy with it.
My old day job as a writer provided me with many writing opportunities and so does the Traveler's Notebook. It's kinda hard to explain since there really shouldn't be anything stopping me from writing what I want as and when I like, if you know what I mean.

Well, becos of me Traveler's Notebook, I have also gotten back to dipping my toe in fountain pen calligraphy as well as picking up some very basic water-colour painting. I have always enjoyed using me fountain pen ever since I first used it back when it was part of the primary school curriculum. Yah, it's no longer part of it and you guys don't know what you are missing! I still remember how one day I forgot to cap my pen and the ink just leaked out right through me school uniform's breast pocket. Today I'm using a German Lamy fountain pen. Was planning to purchase a Japanese fountain pen but the sleek and ergonomically-designed German pen made its no-brainer choice for me.

Well, if there's anyone out there who's also into Traveler's Notebook and journaling, let me know!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Cavalock and The Unexpected Lucy Schroeder Hook-Up

There's just so much amazing food that I just gotta sneaked in another entry bout what we had in Otaru, Hokkaido. I love me some ice-cream and when I saw this, I took it as a challenge. Unfortunately I could only manage three tiers! Was before lunch and I told myself I didn't wanna ruin that! From fresh fruits like melons to delicious dairy produce ice-cream, the dessert choices here were overwhelming to say the least.

Just when you thought you have seen all the weird gashapon machines around Japan, you see something like this and you wonder...

It took them 70 years but it seems like Schroeder finally caved in and hooked up with Lucy?!? I saw this! This here was part of a giant Peanuts anniversary poster in Tokyo Station. Hey, I'm a huge Peanuts fan and I'm kinda surprised yet happy for them. Persistence really pays off? Hmmm... but I'm thinking in today's PC world, Lucy would probably be classified as a stalker?