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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Technical update

The computer in exam room and the computer my secretary uses finally ground down to a halt (both within a week). The monitor on the former simultaneously fizzled (more like sizzled at the moment of demise) while I was with a patient.

So it was a week of shopping for two new hard drive and a rapid update on the state of computer technology. Who knew there was a Core 2 Quad now? New 1Gb RAMs were installed into the remaining office computers as well. How exciting it is to be working at warp speed again.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Some good meal out and in

I tend to eat most of my meals at home (lunch, dinner and breakfast, if I remember of course). One of the perks of living with your parents and about 2 minutes from work. My honey, my mother and I all love to cook. My honey hippo is the master of the BBQ. My mother cooks the best of Asian and Asian fusion stuff. I tend to do a mix of Asian and Western dishes. However, I do take in a few restaurants.

Last week, for Dad's birthday, we went to The Host, an Indian Restaurant. Between the goat curry, Tandoori chicken and prawns, aloo gobi, butter chicken, and the spiced and garlic nan, it was a feast to behold and to savour. Still salivating about the memories.
Then the second best meal was at the Owl of Minerva, a Korean restaurant which has nothing to do with the Greek goddess of wisdom. The highlight was the pork bone soup which was a warm,spicy, and hearty dish that warmed me down to my boots. Great recommendation from Ms. Crowded House and her husband!
Recently I did make two more dishes from Supper works: the tomato cream basa and coconut crusted chicken fingers. Both were delicious as well as being quick and simple to make...a testimony to the Supper works mantra. Tonight, I am trying my hand at a prime rib roast with red wine porcine mushroom sauce.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Med School Reunion

It snuck up on me. This anniversary was coming around and I could feel its shadow looming. The surprise of its arrival however, is really an incredulous form of denial. 10 years had passed since I graduated from medical school. 10 years since the class of Meds 98 were swearing the Hippocratic oath together on that humid day in May.

Thankfully, my biggest worry that I would not be able to recognize someone in the class did not come to pass. There was a little more snow of the roof for some and a somewhat portly disposition for others. We all looked a reasonable semblance of our younger selves.

No difference was this experience from other reunions I have had with memories relived and stories exchanged. The re acquaintance of old friends may have been touched with some sadness of the lost years but this was matched by the delightful rediscovery of old friendships. We have matured well...look how far we've come.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

TIFF: Easy Virtue

This was a lovely and "easy" film to watch. The Noel Coward script had been reworked but the story held true. Colin Firth and Kirsten Scott Thomas were the anchors of the cast and it was a fine effort on the part of Jessica Biel. Catchy Cole Porter (and the like) tunes matched with gorgeous period costumes add to the fun. The director announced Mr. Firth's arrival on stage with "Ladies do you have you underpants ready....." (so British and so Cheeky).

Sunday, September 07, 2008

TIFF 2008

Movies seen today: Burn after Reading, Blindness, Rain, Ghost Town, Miracle of St. Anna

Movies recommend to date: all in the above list.

Movies highly recommend: Blindness. The movie was dramatically re-edited from its previous screening at Cannes (where is was poorly received). However, now that the voice over has been lifted from the movie, and other scenes more tightly woven, the movie comes together well. Strong performances from Julianna Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Gael Garcia Bernal, Danny Glover and stellar cast. The movie captures the essence of the book: the descent into hell of a nameless society loses its sight literally and metaphorically (morally). The graphic nature (murder, rape) of many scenes were portrayed with restraint. There is really too much to content to be adequately portrayed on film by Don McKellar's script does a respectable job.

More reviews to follow in the coming days.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I took a look at my cousin's blog and found this very interesting meme which came from The Omnivore's Hundred (which originates at Very Good Taste).

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you've eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich (stable for breakfast still today)
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (apple, strawberry, gooseberry)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries (strawberries literally in a field in Newfoundland)
23. Foie gras (thanks to my sister)
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi (mango not salted alas)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (Med school graduation party)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (eaten in Bangkok and paid for this later that night)
43. Phaal (also paid for this later)
44. Goat's milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth US$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S'mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs' legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (absolutely not....not sure if I would even if I was dying of hunger)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

I have eaten/drank 71 of the items which is not really surprising as I am food obsessed, willing to try anything once (except Roadkill), grew up on two continents and love to travel. The best thing is I have another 28 items to try!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lucky number 8

Michael Phelps has now won eight gold medals at this year's Olympic games. 8 is a lucky number in Chinese as it is a homonym for prosperity. The Beijing Olympics commenced at 8am on the 8th day of the 8th month of 2008. At Milton Hospital, there was a new record set in 2008: 8 deliveries in a 24 hours period. Not bad for a hospital who average is 3 per day and has only 11 postpartum beds. Unfortunately, unlike Phelps, there won't be a million dollar pay cheque for Milton.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The night the lights went out....

Our first time at Supperworks was a lot more fun than I anticipated. Red and I were somewhat apprehensive but after "assembling" a few meals, we both relaxed and got into the swing of it. Her choice of the Kid's Mac and Cheese dish was however the most challenging to assemble as it required use of a microwave to heat the milk and cheeses followed by some serious blending!

The Pulled Chicken was the easiest to assemble by far (and I did two full meals). The best smelling pre-cooked dish was the Korean Orange Spice Flatiron steaks. As a wicked thunderstorm raged outside, we sipped on our glasses of wine and snacked on shrimp dip as we put together our meals. Then, the inevitable happened, the lights went out and did not come back on.
This led to measuring ingredients by flashlight before the staff of Supperworks lit the towers of candles which I suspect had been use primarily for decoration until this night.
Checking to see if the ground beef was properly mixed as the greatest challenge even by candlelight. Of course, the proof of the meal quality is in the eating which I'll be checking out (and reporting on) in the next few weeks.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Babu goes to the happy hunting grounds....


I have done mostly what men do,
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can't forget, if I wanted to,
Four-Feet trotting behind.

Day after day, the whole day through--
Wherever my road inclined--
Four-Feet said, 'I am coming with you!'
And trotted along behind.

Now I must go by some other round--
Which I shall never find--
Some where that does not carry the sound
Of Four-Feet trotting behind.

--- Rudyard Kipling ---

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another fallen tree story

My cousin's recent post about cutting down a tree in her neighbourhood: gave me cause to reminisce about a dark and stormy night nearly 9 years ago when the Great Oak in front of my house apartment in Hamilton finally came to a end.

It had been raining for most of the month of April and most of us who lived in the apartments of this old 100 year old house noticed that there were a few green leaves and twigs on the Great Oak in the front yard. The rest of the neighbour trees appeared to springing to life with light green foliage or flowers. On this dark and very rainy night, I returned to my home after dinner with some friends to find that the streetlights on my street were off and the police had block off the road.

I parked on an adjacent street and as I approached my home, I saw the fallen tree which crushed one of my house neighbours. They were a couple from Argentina who were doing their PhDs at McMaster university. I learnt later that they had just returned home as well and as they entered the front door of the house, there was a loud crack. The couple turned around to witness the crush of their car by the dying oak. It was naturally quite fortunate that they were not in the car itself.
At about 11 pm, the city of Hamilton municipal crew came along and started the clean up. One crew chain-sawed the branches while another crew fed the pieces into a wood chipper. The noise was horrendous and lasted well into the early morning hours. Since we could not sleep, most of my house neighbours came out to watch the clean up with a few glasses of wine.
By morning, this was all that remained of the Great Oak and later, another truck came to take the trunk away as well.
The Argentina couple stared in disbelief at the state of their car. There was significant structural damage that the car was deemed a write-off by the insurance. In fact, they used copies of these pictures to get their full claim.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


A: Hey, I can fill that in about 10 minutes.
B: Really, well the last time I was here, the bag was done in 5.

A: Squeezing or no squeezing
B: No squeezing

A: Let's get the nurse to watch the timers today.
B: You're on.

A: Who would think blood donation could be a competitive sport?
B: You realize we're talking about how fast we could exsanguinate, eh?

A&B are both health care professionals too.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Western Skies

It was a great idea having the SOGC conference in Calgary this year but I was thinking it would have even been better if it was in Banff! However, with scenery like this, everyone may be staring at the outdoors and no one would be at the lectures and workshops.
Another benefit of the conference was catching up with old friends from residency, medical school and other conferences. With the absent provincial sales tax, there was plenty of incentive for shopping (and plenty of success too). There were some splendid meals at "Catch" and the Belvedre. These oysters at "Catch" were quite yummy as was the steamed snow crab and Dungeness crab legs drenched in chilli butter which I had for the main course.
Calgary itself was also in prep mode for the upcoming stampede. Faux rodeo stalls and straw on 8th Avenue as well as the ever increasing number of men and women in cowboy garb. We got out of town just in time before the madness was to begin. A quick but relaxing trip out west.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I've got Tiger Woods' injury

It had to happen of course on my vacation but thankfully on the last day of diving in the Red Sea. With my full scuba gear on, I stepped from the MY Fraser into the Zodiac. Poof! That was it, the last remaining shreds of my right ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) were gone as my right knee collapsed. A moment of brief pain followed by a few hours of numbness and swelling.

As I suspected and confirmed by my orthopedic surgeon and my MRI last Wednesday, I have completely torn my ACL ligament. There are some strain on the collateral ligaments but no fractures. After two weeks of physiotherapy, I can walk reasonably well but limp a little after long hours of ambulation especially after call.

What awaits me, possible surgery to reconstruction of the knee particularly if the mensical tears worsen (manifested by increased pain and grinding in the knee) and if the knee becomes more unstable over time. Arthritis is more likely in the right knee over time.

As I hobble about last Thursday night during a 3am delivery, the husband of one of my patients asked me what was the matter with my knee. I pondered about the extent of my answer....ACL tear, how it happened, prognosis but my immediate answer was "I've got Tiger Woods' injury." Of course, Tiger is a world class golfer and I am at best an avid diver. My injury was sustained after a relatively minor and low impact activity (walking into a Zodiac) as oppose to repetitive high velocity drives that probably left Tiger with his injury.

This husband replied "So, do you get to take the rest of the year off too?"
My retort was "No, sadly, I'd be lucky to get a month off to rest after the surgery!".

Thus perhaps illustrating the greatest difference between Tiger and myself.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Red Sea Diving...

This was my second liveaboard dive trip to the Red Sea. This time I was accompanied by my Honey Hippo and we were going to the middle part of the Red Sea (as oppose to the Northern segment). The tour was called "Simply the Best" because quite simply the wildlife on these reefs is the best (for now). The sites are quite remote and accessibly only by safari boats after a 6-8 hour trip. The three most famous reefs are the Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstoun. And they did not disappoint. Everything from the very small wonders to the biggest creatures were seen. This above picture was of an octopus who crawled as far back in to its hole as it could go. It was quite upset as it turned several vibrant purple and blue shades too.
I love the clownfish/anemonefish too. At Daedalus reef, we chanced upon a cluster of anemones at about 15-17m at one particular spot dubbed "Anemone City". Loads of the residents were about as well as few of their babies.
Daedalus reef is known for its large pelgaic creatures and at this time of the year, the hammerheads were in full swing. In fact, at Daedalus reef, we saw sharks on almost every dive and one day, on all four dives. This ranged from the oceanic white tip sharks (accompanied by their pilot fish) to Gray fin reef sharks to a rare thresher to the famous hammerheads (which are quite often seen at this reef at this time of the year). The above (and video clips on next posting) are from the first day of diving at Daedalus. This began with a 5am wake up call to our dive briefing on this day and we were in the water just after 6am which quite a feat for a non-morning person like myself. As we hovered in the ocean blue a few metres away from the sight of the reef, we saw our first hammerheads swimming ABOVE us bathed in the glow of the morning sun. Now that's a site with waking up for! This was just the start of a glorious day of diving.
The Brothers are two islands in the Red Sea which are so named for their similarity in shape. The large of the two, Big Brother has a lighthouse it. Both are renowed for their fabulous soft and hard corals, marine life (large and small) and clear waters...simply the best diving anywhere with the concentration of things to see! Big Brother also has two wrecks on it: The Aida and the Numidia.
This shot was taken at Little Brother. It is of several masked butterfly fish and as one of my friends has commented, it appears to have been taken in an aquarium. The reef that day was indeed awash in radiant beams. This is what much of the diving was the fish bowl presay with the other marine life.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

London Calling

London welcomed us with a blustery and rainy day. After a safe arrival (with our luggage too), we slept our jet lag for a few hours in the deluge at the hotel. Then, we decided to brave the weather and explore the great indoors. This was greatly facilitated by London Tube. In this case, the great indoors was the fabulous collection of the British Museum. From the halls of Mesopotamia to Rosetta Stone, to the chessmen of Kent, to the controversial Lord Elgin Marbles (the Greeks are still sore and want them back), to the fabulous mummy room (including a few cats), to the reconstruction Temple of Nereid, and then to a fake Crystal skull (which in no way resembles the elongated one seen in Indy IV) but likely one of the sources of inspiration for Lucas' new movie.

Today, as if we weren't mummied out, it was off to a special King Tut exhibit at the new O2 venue out near Canary Wharf. Less is more is the theme here and thankfully so. Choice pieces of the boy king's tomb were on display with excellent presentation marks. Gorgeous jewellery, be welled daggers, very rare portable chests, an engraved car touche chest and so many incredible treasures made this exhibit a highlight of the trip. Strangely, the elongated skulls of Nefertiti and other members of Ahkaten's family (King Tut's alleged father), resembled the crystal skull of the new Indy IV movie.

It was off to explore the sites of Westminster city including the Abbey, Parliament buildings, Jewel tower and the views from the Embankment. The meal of the day was a traditional greasy fish and chip lunch (delicious from Fryer's Delight) To walk off this meal, we headed down from Inns and Temples of the Law courts to the South Bank. Taking the Tate Museum (newly graffiti ed by design), the Shakespeare Globe and then a few ales/Guinness at The George (an inn which was entertained Shakespeare and Darwin).

Dinner on our first night was a thali meal at a local curry house (actually a good restaurant) called Marsala Zone. The meal consisted of butter chicken, chicken Marsala, chapattis, two curried veggies, Dal and a yogurt dessert....delicious washed down with a splendid mango lassi.

Now it is off to the land of ancient Pharaohs!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Good bye Mr. Lee

The Main Course
Originally uploaded by divinemissladybird
It was a fine night for our last meal at Susur. It was fine tasting menu of his favourite dishes. There was wild sable wrapped in prosciutto with uni lobster bisque, braised morel and oyster mushrooms with white asparagus and enoki in blue cheese sauce and a mordern sashmi with tender kobe beef. Others had roasted venison witih coffee foie gras sauce or peppercorn crusted bison loin with home made BBQ sauce (served with a side of eggplant and polenta tart). It started with oysters (as all good meals should) and ended with sweet dim sum (mini desserts including forms of chocolate). Everyone was satisfied if not a little surprised by the meal and the fullness of it. So until we dine on Mr. Lee's delicious creatures in the big apple, I must satisfy myself by digesting this meal for a few months.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Going back to HIGH school

Well it has been along time since I walked the halls of any high school. Certain things seems familiar, girls hanging out waiting for their friends, boys with their bikes playing in the parking lot, teachers calling out instructions, the intrusive PA system announcing nonsensical information and in general, a hive of activity. More so on this day because E.C. Drury, the high school I speak of, was host of :The Strength Within Conference". Dedicated to teenage girls, the conference topics ranged from bullying, eating disorders, box-on (physical exercise), financial planning, amazing stories told by motivational speakers and of course, the usual health topics for teens. This last area was covered by me. In a mere 50 minutes, I managed to cover a range of topics from STDs, teenage pregnancy, birth control, painful and other problem periods and this year, very topically, HPV and the Gardasil vaccine.
As terrifying as these medical topics were to some of these girls (yes I did include a few "graphic" pictures), I found something more frightening posted on the walls of the Health room where my session was held: The Lock down/Lockout procedure kit which is likely a result from Columbine and other gun incidents at schools. The lock down procedure goes something like this. Instead of leaving the building(s) in an orderly and calm fashion as in a fire alarm, the students remain in their classrooms. This kit (see above) provides you with a suction cup and two happy faces. If your classroom is secure, you are instructed to hang one of the happy faces via the suction cup to the window and the second "all secure" happy face is to be slid under the door to the classroom or hung over the door of the classroom. The police are called out to the lock down school and proceed room by room, building by building until the "subject" is apprehended or the school is deemed safe. Wow, remember the good ole days when all you had to worry about was fire. Yet another development marking a generation gap.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Beer Can Chicken

Well another Jane Austen movie has come and gone. We celebrated with a new recipe for Chicken that is in fact a bit of a BBQ tradition in Canada: Beer Can Chicken. Beer in the can (with various herbs, garlic, rosemary) stuffed into an chicken. It is placed upright on the BBQ and roasted. Very tasty and made an excellent addition to the lamb chops and homemade hamburger patties. A happy birthday to Ms. Crowded House and a belated birthday to her husband. And a hearty homecoming meal for the "Return of the King" after a nearly six months stay in Singapore....and so well timed as the snow is finally melting.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

178 cm

Where did the path to my front door go?

Can you see Mr. Hippo's hand in this photo?

About the only thing the ice is good for!

This is the cumulative snowfall for this winter season to date. To give you some perspective on this figure, it is about 29cm from breaking the all time record for a single winter season of 207cm. Incidentally, this record was set back in last great winter of 1938-39. What a difference a year makes. Last year, the total accumulation was a mere 63 cm (yes, a near all time low). In fact, I have blogged more about snow this winter than about anything else. With the official start of spring next week, many view the chance of breaking this record with mixed feelings. Perhaps it will provide this generation of Torontonians with a new badge of courage and help us to gain some credibility with being really Canadians to rest of the nation. After all, what do we have to whine about in the "tropics" of Canada. The all time greatest accumulation was set out east in St. John's, Newfoundland in the winter of 2000-1 when 634cm fell! Bring on that 29cm!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

And when last did you see my backyard?

Is this really what winter was like? The answer is yes. I remember (through the aid of pictures) that the snow was really that high and everyone had to wear the snow pants. However, it has now been more than 45 days since I saw the grass, the other plants and the fountain the backyard. In fact, I can't really how the lawn must have looked like six months. For now it seem I am snow blinded and snow blanketed.

It seems I will need to borrow my neighbour's snow blower again this week as another winter storm is predicted and I can't throw the snow off my driveway any higher with the shovel. How in the world did we think it was safe to play in the snow drifts? One consolation, there must more days of winter behind as by now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Family Day Weekend

After a very very busy Friday night at work, it was a good thing that there was an extra day to this weekend. However the weekend marked with delicious dinners. Firstly, my mother prepared a Canadian style Yu Sheng dish, a staple of the Singaporean reunion dinners on Saturday night. Ms. Crowded House was our only guest which was her great fortune as she enjoyed the Yu Sheng (and hence could have many portions). By the height of the ingredients tossed, it looks to be a very prosperous year.
The following night was the inaugural Jane Austen Movie club meeting. Despite delays due to injuries (see post on backaches) and technical difficulties (disc errors on DVD recordings), the first film, Mansfield Park, was viewed and appreciated. Ms. Noel, Ms. Crowded House and I revisited this classic which we had all seen before but long forgetten the details of. A splendid rediscovery. Tech Boy joined us for dinner at this local Korean restaurant where I had the hot pot dish. It is here that I came to the revelation: Yu Sheng and Hot Pot have very similar visual arrangements. Food is chopped, sliced, cooked, arranged and served as separate ingredients and then tossed together at the dining table. The joy is final moments when the meal is completed by the diner. So simple and so pleasurable are these visual as well as auditory and gustatory feasts.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Ground Hog Day

The snowstorm on Friday last seems to brought in lots of ice, snow, sleet and labouring patients. After a long and labourious night at the hospital (no pun intended), my backache returned again. Shovelling the nearly 20cm that fell probably was a contributing factor too. So here I am on Sunday again, lying flat on my back. My neighbour could barely get into his driveway when he returned that evening as our little side street had yet to be plowed. Now the forecast for Monday and Tuesday this week is for spring like conditions. The temperature is to climb to 10 degrees. Wiarton Willie may be on to something.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Flat on my back

Eek, can there be no worse sign of aging that the bad back. After an attempt at real bowling the past Saturday, I sent my back into terrific turmoil. I then spent the remainder of the weekend laid up on my bed trying not to move. This is naturally a lot harder than it sounds. With each leg extension, head twist, sneeze, cough or laugh, or attempts to get to the bathroom, my lower back would be sent into unceasing spasms. Expletives flowed until the pain ebbed.

Thankfully, there was Trimacet, an excellent analgesia which was coupled with warm and loving back massages from Mr. Hippo and cold compresses. Mom provided the requisite comfort food of rice porridge/congee with pork, chicken and preserved pickled vegetables.

I did get a lot of movie watching done.....Brick, Air Guitar Nation, Eastern Promises, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Assassination of Jesse James and Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet well as finish more than half of Bel Canto. Alas, as with all illnesses, the end the start of Monday, the beginning of the work week.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Hollywood writers' strike

The first week of January has passed and many are feeling the effects of the on-going TV/Movie screenwriters' strike. No new episodes of Heroes, CSI, Criminal Minds, Lost and other TV series are in sight and the entire season of 24 is likely gone. Only the reality TV shows persist which shows you how much actual production goes into them. All is not lost however, as this "lost" TV season has given me the opportunity to explore my other favourite pastime: the movies.

During this past holiday season, I finally completed Deepta Mehta's trilogy. Having seen Fire on CBC a few times and renting Water last year, I have had to find Earth. But it was in Rogers' Video this week and what a movie. Unconventional and complicated in its depiction of love and betrayal amongst a group of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim friends during the last days of pre-partition Pakistan's Lahore. The only film where I dislike Aamir Khan's role but what a grand performance. Then there was Wong Kar Wai's masterpiece, In the Mood for Love. The music, camera angles, costume and dialogue were in vocative of a time and place that is lost and almost forgotten....Hong Kong in the 1950s. Maggie Cheung's hair and cheongsams were so meticulously constructed, it was not surprising to learn that her makeup, hair and costume took hours. The plot slowly evolved in quiet, pensive and simple scenes. His last film was 2046 that I found far more abstract as 2046 may have been a time or a place or both. His trilogy started with Days of Being Wild which I have yet to see.

Of course, January is the run up to the awards season. So I have been catching up on loads of great movies. The Romanian film, 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days, depicted a gritty and bleak world of terminating a pregnancy. This films seeks not to be pro-choice or pro-life but focuses on a totalitarian world run by a heartless bureaucracy where only the work of a true friendship saves the day at a huge price. Filmed with a hand held camera to convey a near documentary style, it brings home the fear and urgency of the plight of the protaganists. Not surprising that it won the Palme d'Or this year.

Against my better judgement, I did see Charlie Wilson's war. The true story of a Congressman who managed to raise the budget for the largest covert CIA operation in history. Charlie Wilson raised money to buy and train the mujahideen against the Soviets. I had mixed feelings about this storyline for as we now know, the defeat of the Soviets and the fall of the Cold War, has brought more problems out from the rise of capitalism in the former soviet republics and of course, the rise of the Taliban. Anyway, the only good reason to see the movie is the fabulous scene stealing Philip Seymour Hoffman as the CIA agent with a name that sounds like a fruit.

I'll skip over Atonement altogether save to comment on the gorgeous performance from James McAvoy. I found, however, the relationship between he and Keira Knightley's character lacking well passion. My favourite pick of movies though is No country for old men. This Coen Brothers film delivers award winning performances from both Javier Bardiem and Josh Brolin. The tense interplay between the two lead characters is the key to this film. Quirky like Fargo but accompanied by a sharper and surprisingly funny dialogue, the film's tense and suspenseful direction leads to its unexpected and unconventional end. However, all this talk of award season but be for nought. Neither the Globe Globes or the Academy Awards may see these award shows needs writers too and well, you see the screenwriters are on strike.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Strange New Year's Weather

It looks like the weathermen are in for it in 2008. The weather is becoming more unpredictable. First, 10cm of snow fell on New Year's Eve. Now, the deep freeze is upon us....minus 11 degrees celsius and with the wind chill, it feels like minus 20. Next week, rain is predicted with a midweek high of 13 degrees. I won't be surprised if the rocks start showing their cracks.....