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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away

Sadly today's Hoop Fest in Yoyogi park had to be canceled because of rain but here is some hoop action that should make you smile. Mario from Hoop Tokyo shows off his moves and tests out another odd Japanese invention the bean shaped hoop.

Enjoy the rain and watch out for a hoop happening coming to a park near you!

50th Anniversary Wesley Church Programme

Program Schedules & Meal Arrangements for Guests

29/04 Tues Arrival of Guests Mrs. Wong B.S.(321064)(New Capitol)

30/04 Wed Visit to SCAC office (332707) & other Methodist Institutions Lunch at nearby coffee house.
Methodist Message (333021)(/Archives/Museum
Welcoming Dinner at Tanahmas Hotel

01/05 Thurs Trip to see WMC Longhouse ministry Rumah Tuan
Worship service together with residents from Rumah Siba , Rumah Selaban etc. Own Arrangement (Chris Tomlinson w. BB.)

02/05 Fri Visit to SMK Methodist
10:30 am 12:00 pm Lunch at SMK Methodist (330414)
Free Time/High Tea at Judy ‘s house( re-enactment of CNY visit) Praise Night

03/05 Sat Forum: “Reminiscing the Past, Reflecting the Present, Reckoning the Future”
1:00 pm Lunch (Host: John Tiong)
Free Time Inspection of BB Guard-of -Honor
6 p.m.Thanksgiving Dinner

04/05 Sun 50th Anniversary. Thanksgiving Services
5 p.m. service
6:00 Open of WMC Archives center
Dinner at MPI Cafeteria [guests + LCEC + Anniv Committee]
Hospitality CommitteeMrs. Wong B.S. 321064Patrick YekTing Kee Chiong

Update on Wesley Church, Sibu

WMC 50TH Anniversary Celebration
Theme: Wesley Golden Jubilee: To God be the Glory

A series of activities will be held from 30th April to 4th May at Wesley Church, Sibu!!

Watch this space!!

Thank You Gifts

Due to limited resources and unlimited wants and the fact that we can't read each other's minds, a few years ago, my friends and I decided that the best gift to give each other was no gift at all. By canceling each other's presents out, we effectively saved each other the trouble of thinking of what to get and wasting resources on something that we do no want. Instead we can concentrate our resources on what WE want, which makes complete logical and economical sense to us.

But on occasions, gifts to friends are warranted. Thank you gifts for example. More specifically for me, thank-you-for-letting-me-stay-at-your-place-rent-free-while-I-visit-the-city gifts. Getting something for your host in that case seems like the polite thing to do. But what to get? That is always a huge headache. Ideally you want to get them something that they'd want/use. Some of my ideas.

For the two times that I stayed with HG in London in the last two years, I've given her the Benefit Realness of Concealness set (left) and the Caudalie eye cream (right). Do be careful giving away concealment make-up though, because anyone not so close to you may think that you are giving them a hint about their zits and dark circles. HG and I don't have this problem, but I get the feeling that it was fun to try out but not so useful in the long term. I understand. Its hard to beat the YSL touche eclat when it comes to dark circles. Ultimately I think she liked the eye cream better since it is more useful. Something more useful and in the moment, would be just to offer to pay for something that you're doing together. For example, I treated my friend to a day at Six Flags this Thanksgiving when I visited her in San Diego (yes, I went all the way to SD just so we can drive 2 hours away to LA for Six Flags). I thought she appreciated that more than if I'd given her something like face cream- especially when I don't know which one she uses!
Even easier, you can take a page from HG and my friend T's book from when they visited me in Chicago last fall, and just treat to a meal. They treated me to my favourite thing of all- steak. A genius, clean, practical and easy gesture that is MUCH appreciated. If your host is a huge family and treating them all to steak is not economical for you, try breakfast. Any meal is appreciated.

But if you encounter a super super super nice, warm and friendly host/family who would simply never let you pay for a meal (and so probably no point trying), you can always resort to chocolates. When it comes to such a situation and there is more than one host, something that everyone likes and can be shared, like chocolate, is the best one can do. These are from See's (above). Usually I'd say go for Godiva, but their site was acting weird.
Always aspiring to be personal etc, I decided to give the more personalize gift another shot. For my weekend in Boston (this weekend), I got my friend E a black and a white kohl eye liner from Mac. I know, it sounds weird. Here are two pencils, thanks. Not exactly a very present looking present. But I like to think that they will be super useful. Who does not need black eye liner? And HG and I personally think that the Mac kohl pencils are the best (we've already converted so many of our friends to it). They go on so smoothly and it smudges less than other brands that we've tried. And the white eyeliner would be perfect to try out the white eye liner trend from last season and to just subtly open the eyes. Fingers cross she'd like it!

And those are my ideas so far. What do you all generally give as thank you gifts to people? Or am I just thinking too much about this topic?

Image Source:
Sephora, Mac, See's Candies and Ruth's Chris

Lau King Howe Hospital - a brief history

This is an early photo of the Lau King Howe Hospital of Sibu. Later it expanded to become a bigger hospital. But in the 80's the Sibu General Hospital was built in Oya Road and this hospital which saved many lives slowly disappeared into oblivion and disuse. Only a small part of the building is left to become a mini museum. A huge piece of the original land has been used up for urban development of Sibu.

This is a portrait of Lau King Howe who donated a large part of his own money to build a modern for his beloved people of Sibu with the help of Rev. J. Hoover and Rev. Ling Kai Cheng. A few years after his hospital was built he went back to China where he soon departed from this life.

The Methodist Mission has indeed been attributed for a very solid initial development of Sibu since 1901.

It built more than 41 churches and as many schools from 1901 to 1960.

But one of the most significant contributions is the innovative idea of getting a modern western hospital built with money mainly donated by Dr. Lau King Howe. The idea came from none other than Lau King Howe himself.

Dr. Lau King Howe should be considered a legend to all the Foochow settlers and their descendents in Sibu. Obliterating him from our written history can be considered akin to a historical crime. So efforts to commemorate his contribution and the worthiness of a modern first hospital in Sibu should be commended.

Lau King Howe was born in Fuzhou City and studied at the Fuzhou Anglo Chinese College. He was trained at the Manila Teachers' TRaining College, Manila, The Philippines. He soon became the Principal of a Chinese school in Manila. But after a few years he returned to China and was Secretary General of Szechuan Inland Transport Department. Later he was an entrepreneur in Shanghai.

Lau King Howe came to Sibu in 1915 to help develop the rubber plantation activities. He was a very committed Christian and had a father who was a Methodist pastor. Coming from a very Christian family background, he was touched when he saw the great medical needs of the people of Sibu. He was very burdened with the high mortality rate of the Sibu Foochows at that time. So he apporached Rev. Hoover , who was head of the Methodist Mission at that time, to discuss the possibility of setting up a fund for a hospital and to get a grant of land from the Government. Reverend Hoover had the ear of the Rajah. Lau King Howe and Rev Hoover approached the Resident C.D. Adams first. The Resident was happy to forward the appeal and consulted with the Rajah immediately. The Rajah's secretary, T.C. Swayne wrote to the Methodist Mission that the Rajah agreed with the project and the hospital was also to be named "Lau King Howe Hospital".

On 7th March 1931 (in the words of Rev Ling Kai Cheng, "50 Years in Reminiscence" written in Chinese, 1965)

"The Resident of Sibu, Adams, Lau King Howe, Rev. Hoover and Rev Ling Kai Cheng, witnessed laying of the foundation stone for the new hospital. By 1936,the concrete and steel structured hospital was finally declared opened with maternity ward, children's ward, First Class, Second Class and Ordinary Class Wards." There were also outpatient ward, nurses' hostels ,etc. Lau King Howe was indeed a great philanthropist!"

"In May 1936, Lau King Howe returned to China to live the life of a retired gentleman scholar and finally passed away a few years later."

For many years the Sibu community did not do much about the abandoned hospital building after the Sibu hospital was moved to Oya Road. Recently,the local branch of the Malaysian Medical Association has decided to renovate the old and very diminished building as a museum " designed to remember, perpetuate and propogate the spirit of Lau King Howe, his sincerety, benevolence, generosity and his profound love for the sick, poor and disadvantaged."

Like any other person from Sibu, with a love for our ancestry, I definitely wish to support in spirit this new endeavour. Heroic actions, great teachings,legends, great acts of philanthrophy should not ever be erased - these are the basic teachings of the Chinese civilization.

Note: On Aug 31, 1994, when the new government hospital at Oya Road was completed and began operations, Lau King Howe Hospital ceased operations.

The Methodist Mission continued to be instrumental in upgrading the quality of lives of the settlers of Sibu and the people of its vicinity. In the 50's and 60's before the Malaysian Government took over all medical treatments, clinics and hospitals, the Methodist Mission actually operated clinics in Tulai, Bukit Lan, Nanga Mujong,Sg. Teku and a huge hospital in Kapit, called the Christ Hospital at Pantu which started operation in 1960 and had a great reputation as a spiritual and medical healing centre, again a first in Sarawak. The Methodist Mission also sponsored medical scholarships for quite a number of doctors and nurses, sending them to Hong Kong, Australia and the UK.

Friday, April 11, 2008

What's in a name?

A name is probably the only thing a humble person is proud of. What else does he have?

The Malay saying goes like this,

When a tiger dies, he leaves behind his stripes,
when a man dies, he leaves behind his name(or reputation).

As a teacher I have collected some "fantastic names" and in fact went further by asking for the history of their names. Most said that it has been the fault of the "registrar" of births for spelling their names wrongly. I wonder if the clerks of these esteemed offices should have lessons on sensitivy and spelling in English and Bahasa Malaysia.

Although many people can derive a lot of misplaced laughter when calling out these names, my children and I feel great sorrow that these persons have to carry the burden of "bad names" for the rest of their lives, or until they could afford to have a statutory change of name. Some don't bother as an alias would not erase their original name. Some just keep their IC or Birth Certificate and use a pseudonym or non de plume. It is a pity that someone at the beginning of their life did not consider the happiness of the child - he has to have pride to bear a wonderful name.

Here is a list of names you can come across in Sarawak :

1. Anus - for Agnes
2. Vargina - for Virginia
3. Penes - for Payne
4. Chow Chee Bai - ??
5. Suck Fun - for Suk Feng or Suok Hoon
6. Jetli for Jetti (The Ibans do not have Jetli - many years later, this friend of mine said that he is indeed the original Jet Li)
7. Gorila for Gloria
8. Teemoti - Timothy
9. Robiat, Robat for Robert
10. Laman for Rahman
11. Memet - for Mohamad
12. Mek - for Mick or Mack
13. Senapang - Stephanie
14. Spoon for Alphonso (you find him in Kanowit)
15. Chillies - for Charles
16. Chua Sii Lang - for Chua Su Lan (poor spelling)
17. Lim Sii Meh - for Ling Sze Mei ( fourth sister)
18. Timpang - for Timbang ( Ibans like this name but the spelling was wrong giving the child a bad name)
19. X Bo Hong - for X Bao Fen (her classmates used to chant bohong bohong all the time in primary school)
20. Luxi or Lusi, or Lazy for a simple name Lucy.

21. And the latest - the boy is now applying for a place in the Maktab - his father 19 years ago wanted to name him after Arnold Schwarzanagger ( try spelling that too) but the registrar wrote Schanzer anak J......well Schanzer has to live with his name.

He has often times added Samuel which every on can spell....but ... one of his teachers wrote Sam Mu Er......(called him Wooden Ears...), after which he gave up his Samuel too...Life is not treating him fair. He told me that if and when he takes up his course on Remedial Teaching of English or Bahasa Malaysia, he will teach Spelling.

The list can go on an on. Readers I am sure you can contribute too. The poor illiterate father did not know better.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

S/S08 Trend: Translating the Lanvin Ruffles

Lanvin's S/S08 collection was one of my favourite S/S08 shows. I liked the vibrant colours, the ruffles, the way the silk dresses seemed to flow around the models -everything was just so gorgeous. Unfortunately, Lanvin's not exactly the most accessable brand -its designs are admired by the fashion crowd but they don't get copied too much by highstreet stores (compared to other brands like Balenciaga and Miu Miu,) and of course, most people can't afford Lanvin clothes -maybe some people can afford the accessories.

The huge ruffles was one of the main features. It came as part of a one-sided top and dress.

Ruffles sashaying on both vertical sides of the dress.
Ruffles becoming the main feature of the dresses.
The beige, one-sided, ruffled dress by Lanvin is available at a Zara near you! -In linen (or some other rough material) rather than silk though.

So when I first thought of ruffled clothes, the first thing that came to mind was Rebecca Taylor's ruffled camisole -it's one of the most wearable item, and it's kind of affordable yet still looks classy because it's made of silk. If only I had 212usd to dish out.
Rebecca Taylor's also got this tie-dye dress. Normally I am nota fan of all things tie-dyed, but I love this dress! It's got just the right amount of ruffles and the way it 'ruffles' downwards in the direction of the changing colours -it's so pretty! I imagine it would be such a great day or night summer dress -I want!
For something very casual, Ella Moss's Abbey Tank Dress is a daydress candidate -although I'm not too sure about the elastic band in the middle. For something more girly and that can be for both day and night, I like this purple, layered dress by Madison Marcus.
Top Shop's got these one-shouldered, chiffon-like material, girly dresses. I'm always not sure about these dresses because they seem too formal, or black & white for daytime, I'm don't know where I'll wear them to for nighttime either.

I just think they're so pretty!I really like this Top Shop Boutique dress because the colours are so 'now' and the design is so wearable. Too bad I wasn't in London when it was released because they've run out of sizes online, as usual!
This black dress by Ong is from last season, but I like that it's simple and doesn't scream 'girly', yet the fabric on one side makes the dress more interesting.
Always on top of dress trends, AKA already has a one-shouldered, ruffle top and ruffled, strapless dresses available. They do kind of remind me of the Lanvin style!
This is one of Lauren's more interesting dress choices -usually her choices are sort of boring -and I really like it! I think this Geren Ford dress has got just the right amount of ruffles along both sides to liven up the basic dress, but the dress still feels unfussy. The colour is vibrant and it looks young (short dress) and fun -how very The Hills!
PS. Yes, I realise not all ruffled clothes were inspired by Lanvin, and some of these clothes don't look particularly Lanvin-inspired, but it's convenient to group them all here!

Marshmallow Animals and Such

new creations made during craft club :)

Jenna Fischer Sexy Dress

Jenna Fischer Sexy Dress

Jenna Fischer Sexy photo

Jenna Fischer sexy dress with bikini, Jenna Fischer hot photo celebs hollywood show

The story behind this shot

Sunday was just one of those wonderfully memorable days. Hanami, cherry blossom picnic, time for us is one of the most gorgeous times of the year in Japan because it is a time when we can all come together and just chill under the Spring flowers, get all excited about Summer and laugh about times gone by - Sunday was no exception.

Having been away in Australia for what I thought was the peak sakura time I was sad to think that I might have missed hanami season in Japan this year. Perhaps the blossoms were a little less plentiful but that didn't stop the crowds of party goers flocking to Shinjuku park to enjoy the last bursts of the short lived season (I swear there are way more than 4 seasons in Japan.) I was lucky to be a part of Sunday's celebrations.

We packed up the hoops, stuffed our bags with some yummy fruit and headed to meet up with the gang. Shinjuku Park is a gated park for which you need to pay an entry fee. To keep the park gorgeous all year round and ensure everyone's happiness, apparently, there are many rules and signs clearly stating them. One of the rules is " no play things" - that includes hoops. I prewarned Masao that we would be busted at the gates (there is no way to hide 10 colorful hula hoops) Sure enough we were swarmed upon by security guards, one after another. Each time we fended them of with "Oh no we are not going to use the hoops we are just carrying them" They believed us (??) and we were in.

It was not too long before the hoops were cracked open and the groovers came out of the woodwork. It is so cool to watch hooping newbies initial reaction to hoops. It is like each personality type has a different approach to how they tackle the first time hoop moves. Some like to sit back and watch for a long time before attempting, some want to jump right in and get their spin on not giving up until they master it, others come into the spin laden with self doubt and then surprise themselves when they can actually get into the moves quick quickly. It is all such a joy to watch.

Time flew and we were soon heading out of the park towards another local hang when we spotted IT. The ghetto blaster sent from heaven. It twinkled in the sunlight and spoke to Leila and I in very clear terms, saying "turn me on and get your hoop on!"

And so we did!

With the hoards of human traffic flowing out of the gates it wasn't long and we had drawn quite a crowd. The show pony in me took full advantage. Leila and I showed off a few moves, we let the break dance boys do their thing, a funky old man with smoke in mouth popped in for a quick dance off, we passed around a few hoops and then it was time for the grand finale. A little party trick that Bunny taught me that is a true crowd pleaser - the hoop throw on. We only had enough hoops for Leila to throw 5 hoops on me but it was enough for a big cheer, a good tummy workout and a final rock star pose.

It is a revolution!

Bury My Hoot At Wounded Knee

Unknown, alas

The Hoot Is Deceitful Above All Things

Heath Rave

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sing Kong Chui

In the UK children,in the olden days, were given castor oil for tummy upset. In Venezuela,even until today, two tablespoons of olive oil will get rid of a big flu. Some children in the ulu (upriver regions) in Sarawak are given a rub of pure coconut oil with ginger for any simple ailments like headaches,and stomach upsets. Old wives' cures are amazing but they have for some reasons, have indeed brought up generations of healthy children.

In Sarawak,until today, the Foochows probably swear on Sing Kong Chui (literally , the Power Drink of the Gods) more than any other cure.

Every student from Sibu going overseas to study would pack a dozen or two of this liquid into his bag as a cushion against any illness. I took quite a bit to my university and this bottled medicine truly helped friends who had stomach ache in the middle of the night. It used to be 15 cents a bottle. And if we returned the bottles to the drug store, Poh Guan Hong, in Sibu, we could get a discount for the medicine. My family actually painstakingly collected the bottles for the exchange. This reduced quite a bit of our expenditure on this special and delightful medication. Thus Ting Ung Kee, the originator of this potion had a very good marketing strategy even in those days.

Anyone having stomach upset, or headache could be relieved by just one bottle or two of this miracle cure.

I brought my children up to like it and probably saved several expensive trips to the western doctors.

Small ailments? Just look for Sing Kong Chui. What exactly is in the small bottle of wonder potion that can relieve so much discomfort and make a child smile again? What is it that I feel cool and comfortable after taking a bottle or two of it for a nausea or heartburn? Its effects can be almost immediate. Therefore most of us even carry a bottle of it in our handbag.

Ubat Sakit Perut Cap Rusa, Sing Kong Chui was the brain child of Ting Ung Kee, one of the foremost Chinese Traditional Doctors of Sibu days from the 1950's until 1990's.

Today, Dr. Ting's grandchildren are looking after the enterprise. They own a factory in Sungei Antu. The price of each bottle has gone up to RM1.50 from a mere 30 cents in the 60's and 15 cents in the 50's.

Some of its contents:

Radix saussureae (100mg)
Radux Gentianae (100mg)
Cortex cinnamomi
Caryophyllio Flos
Folium Perillae
Herba Agastachis
Myristicae Semen
Fructus Chebulae
Fructus Anise Stellati
Herba Elsholtziae
Radix Glycyrrhizae
Herba Schizonepetae
water (10 ml)

Its instruction on the unique bottle is that this potion is for cold, flu,getting rid of wind, relief pain and relief of simple ailments It is also recommended for stomach ache, indigestion and heartburn.

It is a good cure. I never fail to have stock of it in my first aid kit.

I would like to show our appreciation to Dr. Ting Ung Kee for his contribution to the health of so many Foochows of Sibu.

Pedderazine: Super Natural

Randomly surfing the net today, I came across this really awesome accessory photos (or whatever you call them..) magazine on the On Pedder website. It is called Pedderazine. For those of you who don't know, On Peddar is a very well known group in Asia that specializes in designer accessories. A little like ... the first floor of a department store minus the make-up. They also have more artsy window displays, which are always very cool.Back to the photos. Titled, Super Natural, I love how the cover resembles National Geographic! At a glance, it looks like a feature on oil rigs or construction or something, but looking closer, you see that there is a gorgeous pair of huge Dries van Noten heels. It just casually sits there, as if it belonged to the scene with its muted tone and all, when it so obviously does not. I just love the juxtaposition. Ditto for this one. It feels as if it is just another day on a familiar street, as if giant bags hanging from the sky, sitting on top of buildings is an everyday occurrence.
In the rest of the Pedderazine, they mixed accessories with the human body, with a skeletal feet in those Alaia sandals (left) and a Christian Louboutin handbag in the midst of what appears to be veins and arteries (right).
Then they had these Nicholav Kirkwood heels and Karen Walker shades just floating around in what I think is a culture of bacterias.
They also blended accessories into backgrounds. I love how the Dries van Noten heels and the Erickson Beamon shades just fits in so naturally with its environment. I LOVE the visual effect here. Can you tell that it is made up of lots of white Marni envelop bags and Resin necklaces?
And I thought that this spiraling pair of Givenchy heels was genius!
And lastly the play of these Marni and Jimmy Choo shoes into insect shapes is simply awesome.

Is this Peddarazine cool or is it cool? If you've read this blog for long, you'll know that I'm not usually the one to go on about cool photoshoots etc (thats HG!), because I don't usually know how to appreciate them. But I simply LOVE LOVE LOVE this one! Don't forget to check out the rest of the collection on their site!

Image Source: On Pedder

Martin Amis, Donkey Kong, Pretty Horses, and Bond goes Emo

1.) As I was watching television last night I saw a story on CNN about the new James Bond film entitled Quantum of Solace. The headline was "Bond gets emotional", and that got me thinking on a few things about the newest Bond film:
  • I don't hate the franchise, but they are getting less and less interesting as time goes by, so I was delighted to hear that Marc Forster was directing. He made the interesting and near perfect comedy-drama hybrid Stranger Than Fiction, the criminally underrated uber stylized Stay, and the okay but flawed Finding Neverland and Monster's Ball. I haven't seen The Kite Runner yet, which he also directed, but one thing is clear: Forster is interested in flawed and lonely outsiders. But is Bond so much of an outsider? That's what I am excited to find out. Casino Royale was the sign of the more grizzled Bond; along with suave and the swagger there was a mean streak audiences hadn't seen before, even if the film felt like it was three hours long. If there's one thing Forster can do well it is taking a microscope to characters who are unconventional (Finding Neverland), lonely and sad and slavishly dedicated to work (Stranger Than Fiction), and unlikeable (Monster's Ball), and seeing what makes them who they are and finding the best qualities about those people. So it will be interesting to see his take on Bond as I think the Bond character is a little bit of all those things. Yes, even unlikeable. Would you really want to be friends with James Bond? Think about it.
  • Daniel Craig is the perfect choice for Bond and I like the idea that the sequel takes place one hour after Casino Royale ends. If they are going to go with this more disgruntled Bond who fights with his demons, then Craig is the right choice.
  • I love the line I heard last night on CNN about how Forster said he was going to focus less on the gadgets and more on what makes Bond tick. This is wise seeing how the Bourne films have proven that the gadgets aren't what sell the spy thriller anymore. You need them in there, for sure, but they shouldn't be the focus. We are in an age where those kinds of things are not even as interesting as what kind of suit Bond will wear, where will his newest adventure be located, or what kind of car will he drive. So it's smart to move away from the gizmo's and more into the psyche.
  • I wonder if Daniel Craig will wear black eyeliner and a ratty old Smith's t-shirt?
2.) Also, I finished Martin Amis' House of Meetings last week, and all I can really say is that I am extremely impressed. The book is a classic Russian theme: two half-brothers both in love with the same woman and how the brothers deal with being held in an Arctic gulag while under Stalin's reign. The narrator, and unnamed Russian war hero is writing to his American step-daughter, Venus about what happened between him and his half-brother Lev, and the woman they both loved, as well as the events that took place within the gulag. Eventually (not giving anything away here, since it's actual Russian history) the gulags are abandoned and the prisoners set free and they must become re-acclimated to 'normal' life, and this is why he is writing the letter to Venus.

Becoming re-acclimated is not so easy however, especially after battling with some unique characters and terms that are pure Amis. This is a departure for Amis' fiction (he wrote a non-fiction book about Stalin called Koba the Dread, so he was in familiar territory with this particular novel) as there is less focus on the grotesque caricatures that usually inhabit an Amis novel and more focus put on classical, more formalistic elements. Throughout the novel, Amis (and his narrator) are evoking the grand sweep of a Tolstoy or the detailed family genealogy of a Dostoevsky along with elements of Gogol. Whatever the influence was, this is something that is an amazing feat as the language and the beauty of the words are so distinctly Amis, but the material is not. It just reaffirms that, for my money, Amis is on the shortlist of authors, cozied up with the likes of Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan.

Even if there isn't the usual (and somewhat expected) barrage of hilariously obscene Amis-isms, and even if he isn't being as playful by throwing the reader stylistic curve balls as when he last tackled a major historical moment (the holocaust) in his time tinkering novel Time's Arrow, this is still one of the best Amis novels.

3.) The other night Tieryn and I watched All the Pretty Horses, and I have to say that I was extremely disappointed. I had seen the film when it was released in theaters and I remember watching it once on DVD before, but for some reason it just didn't jive with me the other night. Maybe it was a long day and I wasn't in the mood to existentially cowboy up. I don't know, maybe it's just after seeing No Country For Old Men I was not as impressed with Billy Bob Thornton's Cormac McCarthy adaptation. I love the Western genre, it's probably my favorite genre, so the opening of the film didn't feel long to me, even though the film takes about an hour to really get going dramatically. The first hour primarily consists of some cowboy talk, some discussions about God and the afterlife, and some classic western music accompanied by rugged cowboys riding horses. Although Henry Thomas and Matt Damon don't seem that rugged, especially compared to 16 year Lucas Black who looks and talks likes someone who isn't trying to act like a cowboy.

The film is all set up for some bad goings-on in Mexico and of course a love affair that is forbidden. The plot and themes are as old as the genre itself, but the film still works on a basic emotional level, I just think that for the viewer who is not a fan of the Western genre (Tieryn isn't, she was about an hour into it) the film can drag. The ending is the highlight of the film as Damon's character has a chat with a judge played Bruce Dern. It is in this conversation that redemption for Damon's character can be found. The payoff is not overly emotional, but in typical McCarthy fashion, subtle and poignant. I still like the film, I just remember raving about when it came out, but haven't really talked about it much since, and now after years since first seeing the film, I can see why I have have become lukewarm towards it. Still worth checking out on premium cable or On Demand.

4.) Also, Kyle and I watched King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters the other night. This is one of the better documentaries I have seen as we get a glimpse into the geeky underworld of old school arcade game players. I won't get too much into the story, because too much exposition could ruin the suspense, and yes there is surprisingly a lot of suspense in this documentary, but the basics are this: you have the evil champion who refuses to compete in public and you have the challenger who has broken the record at home and sent in his score via video (the film explains the distinction between video records and live records). The challenger is a family man who has failed in a lot of competitive sports growing up, so naturally we root for him (plus it's pretty obvious who the filmmakers favor). What's fascinating about the film, after you get past laughing at guys that are too geeky for a Judd Apatow film, is that even though you are watching competitive Donkey Kong unfold, you become completely invested in these people. I almost typed 'characters' right there, because after awhile the drama is so real that these people feel like characters in a film. It is an amazing film, and even you don't like documentaries, you have to see this. The emotional investment the viewer put into these peoples lives reminded me a lot of how I feel about American Movie. And you if you have seen American Movie, then you know what I am talking about, and if you haven't, well you owe it to yourself to see both The King of Kong and American Movie.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dr Sketchy's Tokyo Birthday Bash

A message from Leila Chan

It's our BIRTHDAY and everyone is invited! Dr. Sketchy's Tokyo has teamed up with chief&mischief and TokyoMade for Volume 2 of the infamous STITCH fashion party. Of course no Sketchy party is complete without stunning models and hypnotic beats and this birthday bash will feature a bevy of hot models to sink your sketchpads into. Not to mention Tokyo's premiere HoopStar Sushizume who will be sashaying her electro hoop in true raver fashion.

Where: Velours (Aoyama/Ometesando)

When: April 19 From 9pm-4am

¥¥¥ = Men (¥2500 w/flyer ¥2000)

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Bold Umbrellas

A quick look back at our archives revealed that, with the exception of last year, this time each year I have an obsession with umbrellas. It must be the rain. Ironically though, as much as I harp on about cute umbrellas all the time, and despite having a very cute tiny umbrella from Accessorize, I always end up reaching for my sturdy mauve colored foldable umbrella from Walgreens (or when I am at home, whatever I can get my hands on that doesn't have a Mickey Mouse head on it). My cute Accessorize umbrella is just too delicate and cute for practical use. That is probably why I gave up writing about umbrellas last year.

Lately though, after viewing these gorgeously artsy polariods taken by my friend E with her red umbrella, I'm back to obsessing over umbrellas again. Don't you just love them? The red umbrella just "pops" in every picture and makes the picture instantly more interesting. It is the perfect accessory to an otherwise dreary rainy day. I especially LOVE the first picture of the red umbrella against the marble (at least I think its marble) building. The brightness instantly draws attention to the person, who would otherwise be lost in the photo. An artist could not have better composed this picture. (And now I sound like I'm writing an art history paper....).
Since I am always on the pursuit of the perfect picture, these pictures got me back to thinking about umbrellas again. Maybe my previous theory about umbrellas and how we should all get cute small ones was a bit off. Instead, we should get BOLD ones. Like that red umbrella and this colorful stripey one (left) from Accessorize (though again, careful with issues of fragility. You know you're not going to use it if you fear the wind will blow it inside out every other minute). Something bright and bold.

Another thing I am thinking about is long umbrellas. I've always been a practical foldable umbrella kind of girl. But
somehow, somewhere, it got into my head that long umbrellas were cool. I have an image of myself walking down a quaint European street on a cloudy day swinging my long umbrella around on my arm looking cool and sophisticated. Naturally in my imagination, I have conveniently swept away the image of myself struggling with my all my things and finally spilling tea all over myself because one of my hand was too occupied holding an umbrella. I don't know why I think long umbrellas are cool. Perhaps it is the long, thin and elongated quality of the long umbrella, which I hope will reflect upon me and make me look long, thin and elongated as well, by just carrying it around with me? Sorry, art history coming in again.

This black/white long umbrella (right) from Top Shop fits my image perfectly. The simple horizontal stripes and the contrasting black/white color creates a sharp and bold vision that will work just as well as the red umbrella in terms of eye-popping-ness. Plus, there is the added advantage of being black/white and so will literally match all your outfits! Wow, now I REALLY REALLY want this umbrella!
And then there is the long clear umbrellas. I think this idea was sparked by a movie I saw, where in this scene the camera just follows a girl around in a busy city, and she's just holding this completely refreshing clear umbrella, while everyone else were holding black or some other equally somber looking umbrellas. I've been thinking about them ever since, especially this summer when I saw them selling in a local supermarket. Somehow though it just didn't seem right- and you want to make sure that it is right, because a clear umbrella go wrong can just look cheap. I finally realized why the other day. It was the shape. It was just too bland and normal.

These bubble umbrellas (above) on the other hand, from UO, are just right. I love the deep shape and the simple stripe of color outlining it. The shape is just so ... Mary Poppin-esque (I think). So cute! Plus, this will also match all your outfits! And if you still want a bold "pop," the pink/red version is perfect.

Now I think the question is, do I really need another umbrella? And if/when I convince myself that I do need another one, which one??

Image Source: Top Shop, Accessorize and Urban Outfitters

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