Friday, October 28, 2016

Cavalock and The Arabian Breakfast Bonus

Who knew that I would be a fan of middle eastern breakfasts? Headed to the morning spread at our Sunway Pyramid breakfast buffet in Kuala Lumpur and was pleasantly surprised to spot a selection of my favourite veggies like cauliflower, eggplant and garlic. Plus all-you-can-eat chicken liver and amazing crisps over at the middle eastern corner of the buffet table. Could have taken a better photo but hey, it was too early in the morning. Damn, I reckon this is gonna be another one them overseas food experiences that I'm gonna be hoping to find or replicate back home but to no avail.

Hey, Kinokuniya is having a 20% members sale this weekend so please pick up a copy of me Dad's wildlife photo book Taking Flight if you are there! Thanks!

Oh, and since it's Halloween this weekend, I figured I'll post another short Halloween poem. Wrote this after lunch one lazy afternoon. Too gross? I hope so.

Old Man Fallon

The first bite was the tastiest
Old man Fallon would recall
Only sixteen yet the meatiest
That quivering lad chained to his wall

Back in ’81 when Fallon first savoured a taste
The flesh of one so young and tender
Not an ounce did he waste
As he threw it all in the blender

An annual treat so yummy and delicious
Pick a fella then flick a hammer
One must deal a blow most vicious
Then drag him down the cold dark slammer

Grilled, roasted or boiled in a pot
First cut him into little parts
Serve him cold or hot
It’s always a meal that’s a work of art

Old man Fallon, today eighty-eight of age
A toothless grin he’ll proudly flash
Now he’ll just stick to hot potage
Oh, how he misses his ghoulish goulash

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cavalock and The Biennial Boys' Weekend Getaway

It was time for us guys' biennial event where we head to Kuala Lumpur for a weekend of Magic Grand Prix gaming and feasting. Damn, who knew I would be flying this often this year for gaming events. Flew in on Friday afternoon and all seven of us were so dog hungry when we checked in at Sunway Pyramid new west wing that we immediately chowed down at a nearby ramen joint, Hokkaido Ramen. Yah, our first meal in KL was Japanese ramen?!? Well, it's really just a quick bite to tie us over until ...

... three hours later when we finally had our full-fledged nasi kandar. Same place just across the street from the convention hall as well as exact same table as our last trip. Too much food too soon? Never!!!

Finally got to catch up on the entire run of Netflix's Luke Cage during the trip too. Excellent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's usually during such instances that I get to watch and read all me downloads over the last couple weeks. The series kinda reminded me of back in the old family house when me and my late uncle would watch TV shows and we would refer to all the black actors as negros. Reckon it was fine back then but no longer "permissible" in this age of politically correctness.

We also managed to catch the latest Jack Reacher and Tim's Burton's Miss Peregrine (Yay! Eva Green!) at the local theatre. Yup, neatly censored by the Malaysians as expected. But I guess we didn't really mind since the tickets were almost half the price of what we would be paying back home. Seriously, everything's cheaper there.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cavalock and The Solo Gaming Experience

It's a rare afternoon that I get to set up such a rewarding solo boardgame session in my tiny apartment. The baker-at-home was at one of her regular baking lessons at ABC Cooking Studio and I had a couple of (rare) hours free so why not. Well, you can savour the close-to-perfect culinary result below. Matcha swiss roll just like what you expect to find in one them fancy Japanese patisseries. Anyway, back to analog gaming. So I got my copy of the Elder Sign expansion Omens of Ice earlier this year and haven't had a chance to play it until now.

Based on H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, Elder Sign is a board game that can also be played solo as well as with up to 8 players. It's a co-operative horror boardgame set around the turn of the 20th century where you and other players help each other defeat different ancient horrors from destroying mankind or just your sanity.

"Twenty years ago, during the Klondike Gold Rush, over a hundred thousand prospectors traveled deep into the Alaskan territory. Most of them perished in the ice, a few got rich, and some awoke terrible, ancient evils. Now, down in usually temperate Arkham, the winds are blowing harder and colder than ever before. The Miskatonic has frozen over. Some people complain of insatiable hunger and sometimes the newspapers even report cannibalism. You know all too well that the Ancient Ones are causing the weather and hunger, but this time you cannot fight them from within the Arkham Museum, or even out on Arkham’s streets. You must brave the brutal conditions that killed thousands of prospectors, and fight ferocious creatures from this world and others, or else the cold, hunger, and ice will devastate humanity.
Omens of Ice takes you and your fellow investigators on a treacherous journey into the Alaskan wildernesses, where you must solve the mysteries of three terrible new Ancient Ones. Whether you choose to travel in summer or are forced to go in winter’s dark, at every step you’ll face terrible perils, from the port of Anchorage to the forest paths and mountain passes of the interior. You must constantly fight not only wild animals and ravenous monsters, but frostbite, starvation, and the madness that befalls many who enter this frozen, isolated, white world."

Now as you can see, it's a pretty big set for one-man game and that's cos I was playing three different characters. Each with unique skills and abilities so you got to each one to handle or solve different adventures before it all culminates in the final fight against an Ancient One. 
The beauty of Omens of Ice is that it's the most thematic horror game I have ever played. It's like an hour and a half long. It starts off deceptively easy at as you begin at base camp and in town where small victories are not that difficult to achieve. There are always at least six different adventure cards on the table. Each card sets the mood and there's this ever mounting tension as each turn brings more dangers as well as supplies and weapons that the characters can use later. You replace each adventure card that you successfully solve or defeat. Then once they think are ready, they'll leave the camp and venture through the snow and meet the Ancient One. 

And since I'm controlling three characters, it's quite a lot to manage but it's fun! I have to an eye on each individual stamina and sanity levels and also the group's winter supply. Like I said, It's very thematic, well, I can't say it's realistic since I have never been to the Arctic.

There's so much to be said about playing boardgames by yourself. It's vastly different from playing a video game. This here is a total immersion experience. Everything's tactile. You are moving multiple little pieces, rolling dice and figuring what to do next. Trying to survive. Nothing else matters. You really gotta concentrate and it's almost exhilarating as you lose yourself to the game. 


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Cavalock and The Shameless Photo Book Plug

One project that I have been working for the last few months is finally out of the bag. Published by Marshall Cavendish (big thank you to Justin, Melvin and everyone else who worked on it), it's a photo book featuring wildlife photos taken by my 83-year-old Dad. There are over 250 color photos of birds across Singapore and in addition to pictures, each chapter also offers a candid view of his routines.

I have blogged bout some of his pictures here. He only started taking them about four years ago after me Mom passed away. Well, the book is now available at Kinokuniya at S$26.75 before member discount. If you like looking at some really neat photos of local birds and find out where you can find them in Singapore, do grab a copy! Although according to me Dad some of the birds have deserted several areas already. Like the ducks in our World Heritage Botanic Gardens, me Dad says they are all gone now.

I also wanna thank my friend Imp who wrote a little something about the book. I'm so glad she enjoyed it. What else can I say about the book? It's a labor of love, I learnt a lot putting it together with the wonderful folks at Marshall Cavendish and I hope everyone enjoys it too.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cavalock and The Dinner Party Puzzlement

So on Saturday night, I was at a little intimate dinner party at my friend's apartment and it got me thinking about the idea or 'culture' of dinner parties here. I guess it's something we don't see a lot of, I mean folks here still meet up for dinner but it's usually for a birthday party or watching a football match or some group event like reunions, and it's almost always at a restaurant or zi char joint. I imagine for Singaporeans here there's got to be an important enough reason to meet up otherwise why bother and cooking dinner at home is too much of a hassle? Nothing wrong with that of cos. Most people I know don't really meet up at a friend's place, enjoy a full home-cooked meal together then just sitting at the dinner table and talking about stuff. All right, maybe a lot of people actually do dinner parties and I just don't get invited? Hah!

Anyway, I think dinner parties are fun and the subsequent dinner conversations are often really memorable. Cos usually there'll be dinner guests that you'll be meeting for the first time. Well, our hostess is from the F&B industry and naturally we were treated to a fantastic spread that night. The pesto pasta (or is it pasta pesto?) was amazing. She bought it while in Milan and the Italian chef who recommended it claimed that the handmade pasta was one of the most popular ones in the city. Its twisty little shape makes it ideal for pesto.

We had some devious boozy ice-cream too. Served in these beautiful vintage Babycham glasses. I actually had a set of those from the old family home but I threw them away! You can see from the last picture below (yes, I snapped a pix before tossing them into the trash bag), the logos are quite worn out and I don't think anyone would actually want them. Fortunately my friend got her set from someone else.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Cavalock and The Early Halloween Homage

Ever since that Michelin Star fiasco that denied me my neighbourhood comfort food, I have been on a  little quest scouring nearby eateries for some cheap and good meals. And I believe I found a pretty decent replacement for now. A Thai hawker stall inside Golden Mile Complex serving various Thai dishes including pork collar rice which is slowly growing on me. It's on the first floor between the Thai supermarket and the overhead bridge opening. Stall sells coconut ice-cream too. So if you are into fat chewy porky pork bits, this is good. Yah, that's a very generous serving of white rice. Little too much for me.

Don't celebrate Halloween. Never have but since it's around the corner. I came up with this short poem a couple days ago.

What The Children See 

I remember the warmth, I remember the cold
The seasons come, the seasons go
Who still stands in the shadows?
Only the children know

They pass me in the hall, they never hear my screams
There is no one near when I cry and blaspheme 
They play in the room with the colorful toys, so chaste so carefree
From the corner of their eyes, I know the children can see me

What has become of me, only the darkness remembers
The questions are forgotten, the answers lost in slumber
Nothing left but mere ashes, bones and a tooth
Bless the children for they see not the truth

They hear my whispers, they slither in the dark
The flesh I grasp, they leave a pretty mark
I recite the eldrith vows so ancient, foul and appalling
Under their blanklets they hide, the children all silent and cowering 

Doors open in the dead of the night, stairs creak with no one is sight
It has been too long since they had guests overnight
After the dread comes the chill so wicked and grim 
The time has come for the children to scream

See their lithe bodies fly across the room, little limbs ever flailing
Down the stairs the parents wait, huddled together and loudly wailing
Along comes a man of the cloth, clutching his silver cross
If he knew what the children saw, all his prayers will be at a loss

I wonder whatever could have caused him to abondon all hope
Was it my twenty scratches that sent him fleeing down the slope
It's time for the sun to rise, I believe someone must pay the price
A new day dawns, a parent or a child, who shall make a sacrifice?

Now they see me in every mirror, standing so silent and solemn 
How they beg me to leave, their open pleads I scorn and condemn
All their precious are packed and ready to leave, if only they had time to grieve
Other children will one day come, will they be the ones I finally forgive?

Monday, October 03, 2016

Cavalock and The Cross-Border Coconut Overdose

Since my last escapade across the border a week ago, I realised my SIM card still had a couple of days worth of data plan in it so naturally we decided it's time to head back to Tijuana Johor Bahru! This time, with an active data plan means we get to Google Map our way a little further into the city. Living on the edge!!!

Once in Tijuana Johor Bahru, we left the familiar malls behind, took a walk on the wild side outside and passed some very ugly hookers on the sidewalk (really), crossed the first main road, then headed to their version of Little India. Lunch was all of the above for less than S$7. Really! Two generous bowls of pork noodles, delicious roast pork and roast chicken drumstick. After that extremely satisfying meal, we ventured deeper into the city, cutting through traffic and diving into narrow alleyways.

Good ol' Google Maps soon led us to Jalan Tan Hiok Nee and the back of a very long line of people queuing at the famous Hiap Joo Bakery and Biscuit Factory, with their traditional 100-year-old wood oven. We were't in the mood for any long queues under the blazing sun that Tuesday afternoon so instead of their popular banana cakes, we went for their tasty coconut buns instead. Looking at the queue, I'm always amazed at the number of young and old Singaporeans finding their way to Tijuana Johor Bahru on a busy work day. Seriously people, that's why our productivity is going down the toilet! :P

Still on the subject of coconuts, our next stop was this little hipster coconut-themed cafe called Nuts About Coconuts around the corner. Hey, you just can't go wrong with coconuts right?