Peanut Butter & Condensed Milk Thick Toast

From a Hong Kong-style cafe we had a late dinner at tonight. It’s been awhile since I made myself a peanut butter sandwich, and I’ve never plastered on as much as they did here. It makes for a saturated taste sensation, like melting a block of great chocolate in your mouth after a glass of whisky, except this probably had a thousand calories from being finished with lashings of condensed milk. It was like a post-apocalyptic PB landscape turned into a nutty archipelago by tidal waves of artery-clogging dairy effluence. I say that now, as I sit here with heartburn and the weight of a distended belly on my lap, but it was really good at the time.

Kinokuniya Moleskine notebooks

See and download the full gallery on posterous

The Kinokuniya chain of Japanese bookstores seems to have commissioned its own line of Moleskine notebooks. They carry more of those things than any other store in Singapore that I’ve seen, from the graphed sketchbooks to weekly planners. Lots of little things get on my nerves – I’ve just come to accept that this is how my life is much harder than yours – and people pronouncing the name “mohl-skin” is one of them. I don’t even like the damned things. They are the notebook equivalent of Lomo cameras, or tall burgers. The lines often aren’t drawn evenly from top to bottom (a defect that also plagues paper products from the “Prints” chain of stores in Singapore, despite their ridiculously high prices), the covers aren’t even leather (just saying, because many people seem to think they are), and the vertical elastic band isn’t as useful as, say, Ciak’s horizontal bands that can hold pens. I really miss having an Ordning & Reda store here. Those were expensive notebooks that at least came close to justifying their prices.

FM3 Buddha Machines

Download now or watch on posterous

P1010156.mp4 (19942 KB)

Earlier today I posted a link to a New Yorker article by Sasha Frere-Jones over at Blast!, where he talks about his considerable affection for the FM3 Buddha Machine – colorful plastic modern musicboxes, decidedly low-tech and appropriately straight out of China, where their musician/makers are based.

The devices use 2 AA batteries and feature creaky, distortion-prone plastic bodies and cheap speakers, but tend to retail for many times more than what you’d imagine they cost to make. Their designs are reminiscent of little FM radios I coveted as a child, except these only play back nine looping audio tracks of under a minute each. Recently, an iPhone app has become available, bringing the cost of sorta-owning a Buddha Machine down to between SGD$3 and $8 (depending on whether a sale is on). If you want a hi-fi, free, but sadly Buddha-Machineless experience, the soundfiles are available for download at the official site.

While you’ll do just fine with one, as I did for awhile before receiving another as a gift, there’s a lot of fun in getting several to play off each other. In Frere-Jones’ interview with one of the creators, there’s mention of several hour-long “performances” in underground Chinese clubs, where audience members take turns to adjust the settings on their way to the bar. I just bought the iPhone app tonight and listened to the three of them droning on for… I don’t know how long. Both my physical boxes are Version 1.0 models; later Version 2.0 models played nine totally different tracks. The iPhone app contains all 18 sounds.

Here’s a video I took, although the sound isn’t great. Let’s see if my new Posterous account can handle this.

iPhone app review: Paper Toss World Tour

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, Why not have a look?)

Paper Toss World Tour (Game)
Price: $0.99

What it is: Same sheet, different cans.

The original (and free) Paper Toss introduced a new casual game genre so shallow, it threatened its own sequel possibilities. A ball of paper is flicked into a bin. To increase the challenge, the bin could be moved farther back, and a fan provided wind. What more could be done?

Fortunately for the developers at Backflip Studios, that question had already been answered by millions of poncy fat cats who regularly jet around visiting manicured gardens that charge thousands of dollars a year for the privilege of hitting little white balls into holes: change the scenery.

The result is Paper Toss World Tour, an armchair tosser’s dream. Wait, that came out wrong. By virtue of having 8 different cities to visit, the game finally has something that resembles a career mode. You begin in a Japanese Zen garden, and unlock others from there. The distance between paper and bin varies in each city, and you get some nice environmental effects like the sandstorms in Egypt. I only wish they’d included Singapore as the final stage, whereupon missing the trashcan, SWAT teams materialize with shotguns and rottweilers to end your career. Oh well, there’s always the next version.

Confusing New Ratings System: 3/5 and B+

Buy Paper Toss World Tour in the iTunes App Store.
Get the original Paper Toss for free in the iTunes App Store.

Below: The original Paper Toss game.

Below: Paper Toss World Tour

iPhone app review doublebill: Birdhouse & Twitbit

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, Why not have a look?)

Birdhouse / Twitbit – $3.99 & $4.99 respectively

Why Pay? It starts with a free app, Twitterrific or TwitterFon for most people, and for awhile it seems like you’ll never have a need for one of those “Pro” Twitter clients that your geekier friends talk about. Reply a message here, send out a cute quote there, it’s all good. Cut to a couple hundred followers later, and you’re riding the doubt train harder than a doped up pop star with 50 concert dates to deliver. You need a little something extra to keep your edge. You ask your live-in doctor for one of these:

Birdhouse is like a Twitter ninja. A ninja who’s spent his entire life learning to unsheathe his blade, stab a man, and put it away again in under half a second. He can’t climb walls, farts loudly all the time, and is 99% colorblind as well as good ol’ regular blind, but if the man you want assassinating is right there in front of him, there’s no one else you’d sooner hire.

You can’t read tweets or search hashtags in Birdhouse. You can’t see who’s mentioning you, and you sure as hell can’t see anyone’s avatar pictures. You can’t see anyone, period. But what you CAN do is train up a hundred of your best jokes, sharpen them on the stone of Favrd destiny, and then go out to cut some motherfuckers up. The downside: if you don’t have any jokes, it calls up your ex-girlfriends to make fun of your package.

Twitbit almost didn’t make it onto my list. Its first version was a little bit like Rain Man, you know, but I won’t get into specifics because people tend to send me hate mail when I talk about the retard in that movie. Suffice to say, Twitbit showed up a little over a month ago with a single winning trick up its sleeve: Push Notifications.

For example, you could be doing something else on your iPhone, like making a kick-ass playlist of Billy Joel and Air Supply songs, but if someone tweeted “@sangsara your music library sucks, faggot! Btw I’m sitting behind you on the bus”, you’d get it immediately as a pop-up on your screen. The rest of the app was a little behind the curve until a recent update added threaded DMs, a photo browser, saved searches, and many other refinements. The result is one of the best general purpose Twitter apps five bucks could want to buy. Plus, chicks dig the fat bird on a speech bubble-egg icon.

Birdhouse Rating: B
Twitbit Rating: A

Buy Birdhouse on the iTunes App Store.
Buy Twitbit on the iTunes App Store.

Birdhouse media:

Twitbit media:

iPhone app review: iTrade

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, Why not have a look?)

iTrade (Game)

Price: Free

What it is: Capitalist swine simulation

There are two kinds of rich, boring people in the world. With iTrade, you can experience how one half makes its money (surgery games will be covered in a separate review). Players are given $100,000 to lose or multiply, and everything resets at the end of each calendar month. That’s actually the typical lifespan of a stock market beginner, so right away it gets 10 bonus points for realism. Trading occurs in real time alongside the NYSE, with Buy/Sell transactions appropriately delayed.

But where iTrade really excels is in its all-black user interface. The game’s designers skillfully wield the color as a weapon of social commentary, lambasting the wasteful, destructive nature of Wall Street and the ruin it has wreaked on all modern life. It is the color of death and oppression. With a single design decision, they depict the entire Satanic industry as the joyless numerical endeavor that it is. And although buying virtual Apple or Nike stock in the game does not directly force sweatshop workers in China to suicide – or if their constitutions are stronger, just decades of involuntary retirement and poverty due to uninsured repetitive stress injuries – you will damn well feel their despair as you navigate its thoroughly depressing menus.

It’s worth noting that as a side effect, I’ve recently become addicted to martinis.

“My Card Has A Watermark” Rating: A+

Download iTrade on the iTunes App Store.

iPhone app review: WorldView Live

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, Why not have a look?)

Name/Category: WorldView Live / Travel
Price: US$2.99 (free version available)

What it does: Displays live images from thousands of public webcams around the world

If you’re anything like me or Mr. T (that is to say you have travel issues), WorldView Live is a godsend. It costs less than a can of beer on a budget airline – believe me you’ll need more than one to get through the rocky screamfests that are equatorial updrafts, at least when I’m screaming – and gives you pretty much the same results as real travel. In fact, it’s even better. You get all the sights, from the majesty of the Eiffel Tower and Mount Fuji to the soggy streets of London, without having to suffer the French, learn Japanese, or get dragged into a hen night. You won’t have your passport or girlfriend stolen by a charming local, find your luggage switched with a transvestite’s, wander down a dodgy street late at night wearing said transvestite’s wardrobe, wake up in the morning with blood running… ok, you get the idea.

The app lets you search for webcams by city, keywords, as well as GPS/map location. Some are refreshed every 5 minutes or so, while others are live feeds that update every second. WorldView’s free edition lets you see many of the static cameras, while the paid WorldView Live version adds video and other useful features like search suggestions. provides the images, and can be freely accessed from any computer. In essence, WorldView Live is a $2.99 native iPhone viewer for the site, but still one worth having if you care at all for looking out your window.

Rating: A-

Buy WorldView Live on the iTunes App Store.
Get WorldView (Free) on the iTunes App Store.