Friday, December 30, 2016

Cavalock and The Unexpected Year In Writing

Happy Holidays! 

Another new year coming up and it's another restock of New Year Japanese Beer at Meidi-Ya. Yup, it's the same as last year so I'm betting it's good enough to warrant a restock.

This has been a rather extraordinary year for writing. In February, I was most fortunate to receive not one but two overseas letters of acceptance for one of my short horror stories. Yes, I had to turn down one of the offers. Then in May, I got an email from publisher Marshall Cavendish wanting to do a photo book featuring me Dad's wildlife pictures. And just when I thought that's it for the year, along came a royalty cheque and an email from a different publisher interested in another of my pieces. Extremely grateful for this unexpected turn in my writing endeavours. I can only hope for such opportunities next year.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cavalock and The Holiday Balls

Another popular stall that's just a hop and a skip away from my tiny apartment that I only recently made into a regular haunt is the aptly named Beef House, along Syed Alwi Road. Just go for the beef tendon balls, they are great balls. Nice and chewy balls. Delicious balls, not unlike these equally delicious famous balls on YouTube. Ah come on, it's the holiday season and you can't go wrong with a classic! Just watch, you'll thank me later.

So earlier this year, I opened my first and only Instagram account ultron8 as a kinda therapeutic exercise where I try to come up with original Lego vignettes by putting together various Lego pieces. Strangely enough, I'm kinda proud of it as I certainly didn't expect to have that many followers so soon. Back when I was in the creative industry, we were expected to come with creative ideas like a dozen a day, it was mentally exhausting. Right now when I do creative stuff on my "own time and target", it's a lot easier and much more rewarding.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cavalock and The New Old Family Home

Ever since I left the rat race, any subsequent achievements have been more of a personal nature than something work-related. I mean it's no more fancy office projects or work milestones to signify one's life achievements, know what I mean? Instead my accomplishments for the year are extremely minor but more intimate compared to those still working today.

One of the things I'm rather proud of is how the baker-at-home and I finally fixed up my old family home. Transported it from the 1960s to the 21st century! We aren't living there as we got our own little apartment already and yah, if the price is right, who knows? :)

The metal wall ornaments in the above two pictures are or were the backdoor gate and window grills! Our designer/contractor decided to turn them into deco pieces!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Cavalock and The Early Amazon Surprise

While two other famous nasi briyani stalls are trying to literally beat each other up, I'm tucking into my nasi briyani at Block 17 Beach Road. The joint ain't exactly new and they have been there for ages, but I have only recently started patronising the place even though it's like a ten minute walk from my apartment.

Huge serving of really fluffy and fragment basmati rice with nice chunks of moist tender chicken. Expect a queue as early as 11am for lunch and we even saw a guy stuff over a dozen packets of nasi briyani into a large travel luggage, zip it up and roll out with it. I suppose it's that good that you would wanna pack enough for your village back home.

It has been a crazy busy and draining week with few bright spots. One being my Amazon delivery arriving a week earlier than expected. Funny thing is they (the local carrier folks) left it outside my apartment. Apparently this is a common practice. I have heard complaints from friends who were absolutely pissed off to find their precious parcels left for hours outside their homes when they returned home from work. So I was out the entire day and came home to find mine outside door. Fortunately everything was intact. But I was still slightly miffed. No phone call or SMS to inform me of the delivery. Nothing, not a beep. The tracking site said it was due next week. But again, since everything turned out fine why kick up a fuss? I have ordered more than couple times from Amazon and all them times, they arrived on time. Anyone else had such an experience with Amazon?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cavalock and The Friday Flashback

Last Friday was a good day to eat well and play good games. Been too long since I had a hearty lunch at Aoki and I'm glad to say that their popular bara chirashi don is still worth every dollar. An enjoyable meal accompanied by equally delightful conversations with friends who have recently returned from Tokyo. Unfortunately I had to leave the restaurant to host a boardgaming session at my friend's office, well, maybe 'unfortunately' isn't the right word. I could never say 'no' to boardgames and this is something I do once a month for his office staff, like a casual games day thingy.

We cracked opened and played the highly-rated hidden movement game Letters from Whitechapel for the first time. It's not a new game but I have heard so many good things about it that I had to try it plus I don't have a hidden movement game in my collection so why not? In this game, one player is the infamous Jack the Ripper and the rest (up to 5 players) are the police officers trying to apprehend him in this rather historically accurate game. Except for Jack, every other character in the game is based on an actual victim or police officer. The map is an actual grid of Whitechapel and the tension! Geez, I can't begin to describe the stress or mounting tension when you are playing Jack. The other players are searching for you and only you know where you are, so you see them walking just past you on the map and you grit your teeth hoping that they don't "search" that particular spot that you are at. IMHO, this is also a terrific two-player game as you just need one other player to take control of all five police officer then it becomes a really crazy fun cat-and-mouse game.

Great, exciting game and I can see why it was nominated for a couple of awards. If anyone wants to play a session or two, just let me know!

"Get ready to enter the poor and dreary Whitechapel district in London 1888 – the scene of the mysterious Jack the Ripper murders – with its crowded and smelly alleys, hawkers, shouting merchants, dirty children covered in rags who run through the crowd and beg for money, and prostitutes – called "the wretched" – on every street corner.
The board game Letters from Whitechapel, which plays in 90-150 minutes, takes the players right there. One player plays Jack the Ripper, and his goal is to take five victims before being caught. The other players are police detectives who must cooperate to catch Jack the Ripper before the end of the game. The game board represents the Whitechapel area at the time of Jack the Ripper and is marked with 199 numbered circles linked together by dotted lines. During play, Jack the Ripper, the Policemen, and the Wretched are moved along the dotted lines that represent Whitechapel's streets. Jack the Ripper moves stealthily between numbered circles, while policemen move on their patrols between crossings, and the Wretched wander alone between the numbered circles."

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cavalock and The Tamarillo Tidings

If a peach ever got down and dirty with a fig, their love child would probably be a tamarillo. A native fruit of New Zealand, I got my first taste of it last weekend at a New Zealander's birthday party. It's a a little tangy but still tasty with a peachy texture. Should have gone for a tighter close-up photo but that there below is a tray of over a dozen tamarillos, all peeled, cut up and just warm enough to be enjoyed with a delicious scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Pic from Wiki

And now this. So my 83-year-old Dad renewed his senior citizen's zoo visitor's pass and snapped more than a few hundred shots while he was at it. More primates than birds this time. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cavalock and The Game of Thrones Play Pitch

I grew up on Bovril, tons of it. Lunch or dinner at home usually came with it in a hot bowl if there's no soup accompanying the meal. And there's Marmite. It was all right I guess but I'm a Bovril guy, especially if it's the old original beef extract and not today's chicken or vegetarian versions. Well, look what I found at Meidi-Ya supermarket, and it's not just cookies. There were Marmite breadsticks and chocolates too, it's like some freaky Marmite menagerie. Bought it as a birthday gift for a Kiwi friend and I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for a Bovril collection soon.

Highball whiskey in a can?!? A huge mug of highball whiskey was a dinner stable whenever I'm back in Japan. Them booze there are really just too cheap to not order at least one during a meal. I just wish the can I found at Meidi-Ya was as cheap. 

Ate them but never got nekkid with them in the shower. Horse shower products, as in from them and not for them. Hah! Nah, a wee bit too pricy for me although I am extremely curious as to how horse oil smells like. I suppose they'll make sure it all smell nice and floral, like rainbows and unicorns.

Now if you are a fan of the book or TV series Game of Thrones,  I seriously recommend this new game Game of Thrones, Hand of the King. It's real easy, plays in about 15 to 20 minutes with up to four players. First randomly lay out all the character cards like below then on your turn, you control the Varys character card and move him vertically or horizontally. You decide where or who he stops on and grab all the same character house tiles in the row or column as the one he lands on. When you control a majority of the house cards, you get to keep the corresponding banner token. Winner is the one with the most token banners!

It's just simple moving up and down across the board but there's more than a bit of strategy involved as you try not to land on a square that'll give your opponent a serious advantage. One of the coolest things about this game is how the below companion cards make it so thematic. You get one of these cards when you collect the last character of any house. These little cards can really change the outcome of the game. But what I also like about the game is the cute, cartoony art that captures some of the recognisable features of the actors in the TV series. Now if anyone feels like having a game, just let me know. ;)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Cavalock and The Obligatory Cross-Border Food Collage

Well, I do this almost every other trip so here it is again, the patented food collage for this Kuala Lumpur road trip. Different experience from a couple years back when we hung out in the city but this year we headed out to the outskirts for some equally tasty and cheap local dishes.

Guess what, coming home after a weekend of cross-border eating and card gaming I found myself back on a two-day gaming spree again a few days later. I was invited to an overnight boardgame chalet session. Gotta stay, the government chalets these days are a far cry from my old school days. Pretty modern and whole lot cleaner too. No, I didn't stay overnight but I did managed to play several really cool games that I had my sights on for awhile.

Our ongoing game of Risk Legacy continued with my burning my very own Gotham City but I still lost. Busstop is a short and extremely fun Japanese game where each of us are trying to fill our buses with various kinds of passengers, the trick is each bus can only be occupied by one type of passengers.

The below Guilds of London was a hot seller back when I was in Gen Con in August but I didn't get a copy. Played it at the chalet and was pleasantly surprised by how easy and fun it was. I was initially afraid that it was gonna be a very heavy Euro game but it wasn't. Every turn you try to control as many different tiles or guilds as you can, scoring points in the process. Most points wins the game.

Also got to finally play the app-driven Mansions of Maddness 2nd edition. Wonderful Cthulhu-themed adventure co-operative boardgame where you and other players work as a group to explore a mystery mansion filled with monsters. Best part of this is the addition of the app that plays the role of the "dungeon keeper" that directs the players all over the cursed mansion.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Cavalock and The Isolated Twin Lunch Stops

Back to our Kuala Lumpur all-guys road trip, on Sunday our intrepid group of seven merry married men once again Uber-ed and Grab-ed our way to no-man's land for lunch. First stop was Restoran Wei Yi in Kampung Jawa, Klang. Dry bak kut teh was our primary target and we hit it all right. And boy, did we hit it hard.

See what I mean? The restaurant's right in the middle of nowhere! Anyway good food like that, we had to remind ourselves to stop eating before we were all nicely stuffed cos Round 2 was just a ten-minute drive away. Next lunch stop that afternoon was Hing Ket Seafood Grill. From grilled lamb to herbal prawns to grilled sotong, it was all fantastic but everyone agreed that the perfectly grilled crabs were the highlight. A dish that's quite uncommon back home. I mean, we always hear about chilli crabs and black pepper crabs and even cold crabs but not much on them being grilled.

I highly recommend the above two joints for any adventurous food-obsessed individuals daring enough to cross the border in these dark times. They are not that far from each other and definitely worth the trip.