The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
‘Chemo’, cancer and croaking
“Cancer” is still a word which
induces fear. And in many cases, rightly so. Cancer can be a killer, but not
always so. There are many people who have had cancer and lived to tell the
tale. My dear old Mum had cancer of the womb and ended up having a
hysterectomy before she was 50 years of age. She is now 91, so I think we
can safely say the operation was a success!
The treatment for cancer is classically surgery, chemotherapy and
radiotherapy. Much depends upon the type of cancer, and how long it has been
growing, and how far it has spread. This can be a single modality, or
combined. There is also much work being done with the immune system and
cancers, with a vaccine for some types of cancer on the horizon.
However, I came across an article the other day referring to advanced breast
cancer survival rates and compared two similar kinds of cytotoxic drugs. The
end result of the study was that Drug A was more effective than Drug B, but
had significantly more side effects as well. Reading further, it was
reported that Drug B extended life by 13 point something months, while Drug
A had the sufferer living 15 point something months; however, the downside
to these two extra months included mouth ulcers, infections and low blood
counts. However, the researchers had come to the conclusion that Drug A was
I ask you, best for whom? In my book, it wasn’t the patient! Yes, it’s my
old hobby horse - the Quality of Life. What is the point of saying you can
have Drug A, to give you two extra months of life, when that is a life of
misery? One thing is for sure, I will put my last baht on the fact that none
of the research team took either drug! At least the famous medico John
Hunter gave himself syphilis to try to find the cure. And it wasn’t the
‘fun’ way, but self administered syphilitic pus. You won’t find that kind of
dedication today, even though some people would call it foolishness.
We must never forget that in all our research we are not dealing here with
body cancers - we are dealing with patients that have cancer! We, the
medical profession, must treat the whole person, not the disease.
Now I mentioned breast cancer at the start of this item for a couple of
reasons. One is the fact that screening tests can be done, and I would
suggest that all you ladies over the age of 40 (or over the age of 30 if
your mother or a maternal aunt died of breast cancer) should consider annual
mammograms in addition to your monthly Breast Self Examination.
The second reason I mentioned breast cancer is that it is not, as many
western women think, the greatest killer of women. For many 10 year groups
of women, heart disease is the greatest killer. Yes, heart disease, the
greatest killer of men is now firmly entrenched in women’s medicine.
I’m sorry to say this, but along with your quest for equality and work
opportunities, you also picked up male disease patterns as well. Heart
disease in particular. One of the reasons is of course the western diet high
in animal fats, well documented as a precursor of heart disease. Cholesterol
deposits in the coronary arteries and subsequent coronary artery bypass
grafts are all now women’s diseases too.
So what can you do about this? The simple answer is to take a leaf out of
the Eastern ladies’ handbooks on living. An Asian diet, which is high in
vegetable content and low in animal fats is a good start. More of a Thai
‘jai yen yen’ approach to life’s problems also helps. Use the ‘family’
network to get problems solved, and in fact the family approach to living,
with each member helping when necessary, is another good example from the
Asian book of life. And finally, the Buddhist practice of moderation, the
middle way, applies to the women folk as well the men.
Think well, and stay well.
Heart to Heart
I have a ‘thing’ for women’s underwear. I particularly enjoy taking
upskirt photographs of women’s underwear, which I then post on an adult
website. All the photos are staged, nothing illegal, and I usually get
bar girls to ‘model’ for me after I have purchased the underwear. The
problem I have is that I recently asked my Thai girlfriend to model for
me, all I wanted to do was take some harmless upskirt photos of her
wearing underwear, then post them on the website. Well, after slapping
me, she has left me, and she won’t even return calls or messages I leave
on her phone. She has even left most of her personal possessions in our
unit. I just don’t understand, it’s not as if the photos revealed her
face or anything, just a harmless, upskirt shot of her underwear, which
is a perfectly normal and main stream fetish. Can you please give me
some advice on how to woo her back because I really love the girl.
Are you the large chap in a raincoat and felt hat that was standing next
to me at the underwear counter last week wearing a bandit’s mask and
holding a whip? I think you are going to have some difficulty convincing
me that what you have is a “perfectly normal and main stream fetish.”
The concept of “perfectly normal” and “fetish” are something of an
oxymoron, my Petal. A swift visit to a good dictionary produced “fetish,
a thing abnormally stimulating or attracting sexual desire.” Perhaps
your Thai girlfriend read the same dictionary and decided you definitely
weren’t “normal”. From my scant knowledge of the upskirt subject, I was
led to believe that the fun was in taking shots that the subject did not
know were being taken. Your “staged” photos of bar girls wearing the
undies you have bought for the shoot would seem to indicate that your
problem is fairly deep-rooted. Did you perhaps wear your mother’s
gussies when she was out shopping? That might explain it. No, Stig, your
idea was far from “harmless” and the end result was your girlfriend
grabbing her undies and scampering with her skirt on. You should develop
your photographic interest into “main stream” without the “fetish”.
I picked up one of those tourist magazines the other day and it had
listings of places to go for the tourists. The interesting thing was the
dual pricing which was plainly printed for the tourists to see that they
were going to pay something like twice the price of the Thais. I thought
it was against the policy to have dual pricing. We certainly don’t have
that in the UK. What is the real situation?
Dual pricing is not something I agree with, but it is found in many
countries, not just Thailand. The original concept was to make the
attraction affordable for the Thai tourists, but charge more for the
foreign tourists as they can afford higher prices. In countries like
Thailand where there is a large discrepancy between foreign tourists’
spending power and that of the local people, I can understand why dual
pricing exists. However, instead of publicly doubling the Thai entrance
price, it would be so much better to state one ‘standard’ (foreign)
admission price, but offer a 50 percent reduction for Thais. This idea
of locals getting a 50 percent discount is more understandable than
doubling the price for non-Thais. Of course, there will always be the
problem of resident ex-pats who will not be happy at being asked to pay
foreign tourist prices. For that group, some form of registration of the
fact that they are living here should be enough to convince the girl on
the cashier’s desk, but it may take some sweet talking by a Thai
partner. Best of luck.
Why do Thai women continue to wear such silly platform shoes and high
heels? They are dangerous and many countries have already banned them.
There is nothing wrong or not-sexy wearing sensible shoes. What is your
opinion, or do you wear such ankle breakers?
When you are only 1.5 meters tall and ride a motorcycle you can’t get
your feet on the ground when you stop at the traffic lights. So all the
young ladies have only two choices. Wear platforms and be able to stop
or ride straight through against the red light. Next time you are
looking at young ladies legs on motorcycles take note of the ones who go
straight through. They are the ones wearing ‘sensible’ shoes that you
want to put everyone in. So the platforms are not as “silly” as you
think, my Petal. There are usually good reasons behind the way the Thais
I have to thank you for bringing an air of normality to our community.
There is so much BS in the bars and so many newbies get taken in by it
all. I loved the British Standard Duck Test and if this were strictly
applied then half the heartache will not happen, and the buffaloes might
have to fend for themselves. Thanks again.
I am so glad it wasn’t Donald and the Duck Test. Thank you for the nice
words. Next time wrap them around some Belgian chocolates!
by Harry Flashman
The photography 15
I was reminded by our sister publication, the Pattaya Mail
management that the fifteenth anniversary of the Pattaya Mail
was this year (and this issue if my mathematics is correct), so
I got to thinking just what the number 15 means in photography.
The simplest is shutter speed, and almost every camera ever made
has a setting called “15” which stands for 1/15th of a second.
This is probably the most underused shutter speed ever, and yet
it can help make your photographs very much better.
There seems to be an idea in the photographic world that
anything slower than 1/60th of a second cannot be hand-held, and
you must use a tripod. This is tripe - unless you have some
medical condition resulting in uncontrolled shaking spasms.
The reason to use 1/15th is to expand the light range in which
you can take shots without flash, such as sunsets for example,
or to bring out the background, even when using flash. You know
the shots taken at a function where you get someone looking like
a startled rabbit in blackness, where if you had used a 1/15th
shutter speed you would have got a nice mellow background to
soften the picture.
Of course there are a few tricks to hand-holding at the slower
shutter speeds. The first is to steady yourself and that can be
done easily by leaning against a wall or a pole (preferably not
a chrome one attached to a go-go dancer). The second is to hold
the camera firmly in both hands, take a breath in and hold it
and then gently depress the shutter button. I have even shot at
½ a second by holding the camera firmly pressed down on the back
of a chair. Take a few as some will have obvious camera shake,
but you will get at least one good one.
Still on the number 15. There is a theoretical f stop which
could be called f 15. F stops after all are only a way of
measuring the diameter of the aperture inside the lens, to bring
it to its simplest terms. As you go through the usual f stops of
f 8 to f 11 to f 16, you are actually cutting the light down by
one half each time. The f stop scale is also an inverse ration,
as the bigger the number, the smaller the diameter. There is a
good mathematical reason for this, but just believe me.
If you really want to get technical, for example, f/16 means
that the aperture diameter is equal to the focal length of the
lens divided by sixteen; that is, if the camera has an 80 mm
lens, all the light that reaches the film passes through a
virtual disk known as the ‘entrance pupil’ that is 5 mm (80
mm/16) in diameter. The location of this virtual disk inside the
lens depends on the optical design. It may simply be the opening
of the aperture stop, or may be a magnified image of the
aperture stop, formed by elements within the lens.
The f stop scale is a sliding one, allowing for fractional
differences in the light allowed through to the film (or the
digital sensors). Most old cameras had an aperture scale
graduated in full stops but the aperture was continuously
variable allowing the photographer to select any intermediate
aperture, and thus it would be possible to shoot at f 15.
The continuously variable aperture cameras slowly disappeared
with ‘click-stopped’ aperture becoming a common feature in the
1960s; the aperture scale was usually marked in full stops, but
many lenses had a click between two marks, allowing a gradation
of one half of a stop.
On modern cameras, especially when aperture is set on the camera
body, f-number is often divided more finely than steps of one
stop or half a stop. Steps of one-third stop (1/3 EV) are the
most common, since this matches the ISO system of film speeds.
Enough technical details! Time to just believe me again.
Finally, a rather obscure photographic 15. The AA lithium
batteries that power many cameras and flash units weigh 15 gm.
Happy 15th Pattaya Mail.
Money Matters: Paul Gambles
MBMG International Ltd.
With due deference to the folks at Market Watch, we’re taking
inspiration from one of their long-standing columns and launching our own
feature - the latest ‘dumb investment ideas’ of the month. If this caveat emptor
prevents just one investor making a bad decision with their hard-earned cash,
we’ll consider it a worthwhile public service!
It’s not really a new one but rather an old dog that stubbornly refuses to die
although it keeps taking on slightly different guises. It emerged as viaticals
(which were sold with pictures of grateful looking terminally ill people so that
investors felt that not only were they getting a good return but they were also
contributing to the greater good - this was handy for the salesmen of such
products as it made it awkward for prospective investors to decline to invest or
even haggle about terms). It re-surfaced as Traded Life Policies (TLPs) - you’ll
be surprised how many three letter acronyms (TLAs) you see before the end of
this article! - and now is re-emerging under the different identity of Senior
Life Settlements (SLSs).
The basic idea of both is to release capital before the policy holders die that
will eventually come to holders of whole of life policies in the form of death
benefits. The law of big numbers says that if you buy enough policies (and
generally these are being pooled into offshore funds - if someone tried to get
you to buy an individual policy then the alarm bells should really start
ringing) and the quality of information is good enough then, on average you’ll
achieve expected maturities - some helpful policy holders will die earlier than
they are meant to, a very few bang on time and some awkward ones will outlive
their expectancies BUT overall it should wash.
In which case the issue simply becomes one of calculating an acceptable interest
rate, which is deducted upfront from the amount paid to buy each insurance
policy - for instance, if someone had a life expectancy of one year and the
simple interest rate were to be 10% then you would pay $90 for every $100
insured and the actual interest rate achieved would be determined by the actual
period until the death claim - if the insured dies within 6 months the rate of
return is twice the amount expected but if the insured lives for 2 years then
the rate is effectively halved. Our problem is that we have a very different
view of what is an acceptable return in this market. Let’s look at the risks:
1) Credit worthiness of the institution - because there is an efficient
process in most developed markets for securitising high quality life policies
(individuals can borrow against them - institutions regularly trade them to each
other - even Warren Buffet’s insurance interests trade second hand life policy
liabilities) the stuff that comes onto the market for offshore SLS funds is
generally not the best. In reality, they are nothing more than a hodgepodge of
local insurers that tend to be just about investment grade. Just about
investment grade doesn’t cut it with us right now with even the biggest
insurers’ abilities to met claims being downgraded. By buying a pool of polices
then the risk of default/failure becomes a percentage that should be factored in
to the return. For every $100 invested, don’t expect $100 back - something like
$96 might be more appropriate.
2) Fraud - search life insurance policy fraud on yahoo and there are a
staggering 27.1 million entries! Admittedly not all relate to the TLP/SLS market
but a frighteningly high proportion do. This sector has suffered all kinds of
frauds over the years - fraudulent applicants withholding information on their
applications with the result that claims are subsequently refused, fraudulent
statements from medical practitioners about the life expectancy of their
patients which result in having to wait longer than expected before claims are
met and a great many practitioners within the life policy trading industry
engaging in fraudulent or dubious practices - most recently the failure of the
Mutual Benefit Corporation. This is now evidenced by the fact that many American
states have now outlawed the practice which is what has largely driven the
industry offshore to less regulated pastures. With such a huge fraud rate you
should prudently set aside at least 5% of the capital invested for such losses,
taking the ultimate return of capital down further to say $91.
3) Claim refusal - even in the event of a non-fraudulent application
there may be valid grounds for an insurance company to refuse to pay out
depending upon the circumstances of the insured’s death. We have never seen any
TLP/SLS fund make any provision in advance for this but 1% should be considered
a bare minimum, taking the return of capital down to 90%.
4) Extended life expectancy - the experience of such funds offshore thus
far seems to have been a survival age higher than originally expected. As
mentioned earlier this negatively impacts the rate of return. Even a one year
added life expectancy makes a significant difference to the actual return
What this means for investors is that despite advertised ‘target rates’ as high
as 11% we believe that sterling, euro or dollar investors would do well to
achieve in excess of 4.75% per year in return for the risk of further loss and
for locking their capital away for an indeterminate period.
I can think of far better returns that come with greater guarantees, more
certainty, higher liquidity and far less risk. The latest twist that we have
seen pairs these policies with structured products - potentially the toxic waste
type vehicles in which many of the liabilities of the credit crisis reside.
Stunned by the sheer ingenuity of sticking 2 equally appalling investment ideas
together and presenting them highly polished as though somehow the one adds
lustre to the other, we have no hesitation in presenting the inaugural ‘Dumb
Investment of the Month Award’ to this breathtakingly stupid concept.
The above data and research was compiled from
sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd
nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in
the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as
a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading
the above article. For more information please contact Paul Gambles on
Life in Chiang Mai:
by Mark Whitman
It’s only a number! And by the way,
what constitutes an evil giraffe?
Last week, kind friends sent a birthday card from the
U.K. and added to the usual greeting were the words. ‘Remember, it’s only a
number’. A remark that was probably uttered a thousand time on board the
H.M.S. Bounty when Capt Bligh commanded a sailor to be flogged: ‘100 lashes,
Mr. Christian!’ You can hear the pathetic recipient saying, since it’s only
a number could you knock a few off, make it fifty, forty, even less? No
The problem with birthdays, especially into middle age, is that they come
round with a rapidity which never happened when we were young. How long it
took from aged nine to reach those magical double figures. What an eternity
from 12 to becoming a teenager. We bounced along easily, enjoying
milestones, 18, 21. Even the ‘dangerous’ age of 30 and the years just before
that when one is considered ‘a young man’, (or woman), and aunts and family
friends have ceased to ask when you are getting married for fear of a
Eventually of course one hits forty where life truly begins and with cruel
irony sets one on the slippery slope into declining years. In a developed
western country the male life expectancy is given at around 78 to 79, even
80 depending on the country concerned (Sweden fares better than most, plus
it seems even longer).
If you make it to 60 then you have a 50 per cent chance of reaching that
‘average’ which is naturally just that - an average. Take a large group of
men - at least 100 - born in the same year - and one of them will not make
it out of his teens. Another will probably stagger on to an unenviable
century. Few people who reach that age retain the faculties and talent of
In the middle years our numbers are thinned out by accidents (rather higher
in this country of motor-cycle mayhem…), wars, natural disasters and those
attendant killers - heart disease and cancer, among others. All exacerbated
by avoidable contributions from smoking, obesity, drugs and an over-fondness
for the ‘bottle’.
And let’s not forget suicide, although lots of those are not acknowledged
and get put down as accidents. Less so in the U.S.A. where it is difficult
to hide, since half of those who top themselves do so with a gun thanks to
the unhappy ubiquity of some 300 million firearms in ‘God’s country’. Many
people abhor the very concept of suicide, calling it cowardly or pursing
their lips and invoking the almighty. These are the same group who describe
themselves as God-fearing as though that were in itself a recommendation or
a cause for self-congratulation (or self-flagellation in a few extreme
Why this should be the case escapes me. Why should one fear a notion? And it
is only an un-provable belief. And what would be ‘positive’ about fearing
something which believers see as a benign presence? Call me simple, if you
must. I’ve known quite a few suicides in my time, aged from 18 into their
mid-sixties and the most harsh thing one can say about it is that it is
selfish since it leaves a lot of physical and emotional mess to clear up. It
is inevitably sad and more memorable than conventional deaths among friends
and acquaintances. Sad for the departed who must have found life so utterly
desolate and without hope and the living who may have unwittingly
contributed to that emptiness.
It seems a brave action, to me. And has done since I read H.G. Wells’ ,The
History of Mr. Polly‘ for a school exam and found that the hero contemplates
just that course. Having decided at around the same time that there is
nothing beyond our last breath, it seems remarkably courageous to do
something so defiantly final. These comments do - inevitably - have to leave
out the group who are seek refuge in suicide from painful and terminal
illness or women who can no longer endure brutal marriages, freedom from
which is idiotically and cruelly denied them by the church and/or society at
Those optimists who can contemplate something beyond this mortal coil are
perhaps lucky. After all, it’s human nature to delude oneself, so why not do
it big time? Fine as long as they don’t bang on about it. The guys who sit
down at breakfast tables on cruises or holiday restaurants and start a
conversation that tries to lead to a conversion. Or those handsome,
vacant-looking young Mormons or smug Jehovah’s Witnesses, proffering their
dowdy publications at the front door.
Next time they call, don’t say, ‘Not today thank you.’ It only encourages
them. Just say, whether it’s true or not, ‘This is a gay, socialist, atheist
household and my partner has a very low threshold of boredom’. They’ll
accelerate towards the garden gate quicker than Batman’s Lamborghini.
Then again, if you are bored on a Sunday afternoon you could always engage
them by asking what they think of the comments by the transvestite
actor/comedian who, during his stand up routines, asks the question, ”what
qualifies a giraffe for being evil ?”. His question relates to the
extermination of all creatures (except for the inevitable two by two by
two), which were designated as victims of the great flood, because their
creator has botched the original job. As we know, animals are not capable of
‘evil’. Cruelty, yes. But it is human beings who are capable of evil. And,
happily of great kindness too.
I found this true around the above mentioned birthday, which stretched for
four days without prior intention. On the evening before, I realized that I
was truly back in Chiang Mai with a visit along with a group of Thai friends
to the ever reliable Ney Ney, (along from the Grand View hotel on Super
Highway). Good food, inexpensive, fun and bright service. I know nowhere
more enjoyable in the city for a casual meal.
Next stop Moxxie’s at D2 with my Thai partner and a confirmation that this
has the most refreshing space of any of the up-market hotels, the most
charming waiters and some of the best food. Not having been there for a
while, it seemed even better in all respects including value, despite a
slight hike in prices. During the day I’d been lucky enough to attend the
master class/rehearsal for the New York New Music Ensemble’s concert at
Payap the next day. Bennett Lerner steered them through an interactive
session with students at the McCormack campus and it was an illuminating and
The actual concert the following evening (reviewed elsewhere in the Mail)
was a triumph. The quintet have a high reputation and deservedly so. Their
remit is to introduce audiences to music of our time. Some of it can be
demanding, but all of it proved invigorating and Chiang Mai was lucky to
have them at the newly ‘crowned’ Duriyasilp College of Music - elevated in
status from its previous Department. After it we went to that perennial
Chiang Mai favorite, The Green Mill.
Music of a gentler nature was to be found at the AUA on Saturday, July 12,
with guitarist Alessio Monti and four of his pupils playing a wide variety
of music on an instrument which to me seems to have the range of an entire
orchestra, especially when the compositions are Spanish and feature
dance-like rhythms. I joined Nui again for dinner at Krit’s new place off
Huay Kaew Road (reviewed a couple of weeks ago in the Mail) and found
it well up to standard.
And finally, as the week closed down…or does it open up on Sunday?.. a kind
friend, John W., laid on a little drinks party at his elegant condo,
followed by a casual meal at the Garden Bar.
It served to remind me on many counts how lucky we are to live in this
particular city with many of interesting and convivial company, a range of
cultural activities (this week an experimental film festival!) and some of
the best restaurants to be found in Thailand and far beyond.
Let's Go To The Movies:
Now playing in Chiang Mai
The Dark Knight: US Action/ Crime/ Drama/ Thriller - The first
Batman movie without “Batman” in the title. I think it’s just a wonderful
film; dark, complex, and unforgettable, it succeeds not just as an
entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling and disturbing crime
drama. If you enjoy either type of film, don’t miss this one. And Heath
Ledger gives a performance that is terrifying in its portrayal of an insane
mind. I would suggest, however, that the film is not for kids - it’s way too
dark for them to appreciate or even understand.
In this episode, set within a year after the events of Batman Begins,
Batman, Lieutenant James Gordon, and new district attorney Harvey Dent
successfully begin to round up the criminals that plague Gotham City until a
mysterious and sadistic criminal mastermind known only as the Joker appears,
creating a new wave of chaos. Batman’s struggle against the Joker becomes
deeply personal, forcing him to “confront everything he believes.” And a
love triangle develops between Bruce Wayne, Dent, and Rachel Dawes. Reviews:
Wor / Woh Mah Ba Maha Sanook: Thai Horror/Comedy - The usual
comedians and an unusual (and mad) dog.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army: US Action/Fantasy - Again directed by
Guillermo del Toro and again starring Ron Perlman as Hellboy, this presents
again a dark and difficult fantasy world full of fantastical creatures. It’s
a brilliant nightmare, and almost too rich - one is truly overwhelmed with
astonishing visuals and strange stories. Generally favorable reviews.
Red Cliff: China Action/Adventure - This $80-million film, directed
by John Woo, is being shown here only in a Thai-dubbed version, and that is
a real shame. It is a grand and glorious spectacle, designed by China to be
released just before the Olympics to soften the hearts and minds of everyone
towards China. This, the most expensive film ever produced in Asia, tells a
story that is known by heart by probably billions of Chinese, and which they
never tire of. It depicts the first setup episodes for one of the world’s
greatest battles, the Battle of Red Cliff, to be seen in the second part,
scheduled for release sometime around the end of the year. It is really
thrilling, and well-done in the way only China with its tremendous resources
can command. The film revolves around events in third century China, as the
Han Dynasty is facing its death, and the emperor raises a million-man army
against two kingdoms that are hopelessly outmatched. Starring Tony Leung.
Hancock: US Action/Comedy - There’s no doubt about it: Will Smith has
a lot of charisma for a majority of moviegoers, including me. Here he plays
an unsympathetic character, and has to work to gain our good will. Reviewers
have widely diverse views on this one. A mess, frankly, but a mess with much
to enjoy for fans of Will Smith, though he plays against type a good deal.
Mixed or average reviews.
Friendship: Thai Comedy/Romance - I was less than enchanted - it
seemed to me unrelated to the real life of people, either young or mature,
and somewhat amateurish in writing, acting, and directing. But fans of Thai
romances may well take to the unrealistic happenings between the two
Wanted: US Action/Thriller - If you think you’ve seen it all in
violent and bloody action films, you haven’t yet seen this one: it raises
the bar to a whole new level! Visually I think it’s fascinating - there are
scenes which I really could not believe I was seeing - and I would say it’s
about as exciting as a movie can get. This is a fast-paced thrill ride, with
a dazzling mix of state-of-the-art visual effects, adrenaline-fuelled action
sequences, and nail-biting terror.
A young man (the very versatile actor James McAvoy) discovers his father is
an assassin, and when his father is murdered, the son is recruited into his
father’s organization and trained by a strangely-hypnotic man (Morgan
Freemen) to follow in his dad’s footsteps, and in the process is transformed
from a drone into a dark avenger. Also starring Angelina Jolie and Terence
Stamp. Rated R in the US (and richly deserved) for strong bloody violence
throughout, pervasive language, and some sexuality. Generally favorable
Scheduled for Jul 24
Journey to the Center of the Earth: US Action/Adventure/Fantasy -
A 2D version of a 3D film, starring Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, and
Anita Briem. During a scientific expedition in Iceland, visionary scientist
Trevor Anderson, his 13-year-old nephew and their beautiful local guide, are
unexpectedly trapped in a cave from which their only escape is to go deeper
and deeper into the depths of the Earth. Traveling through never-before-seen
worlds, the trio comes face-to-face with surreal and unimaginable creatures
- including man-eating plants, giant flying piranha, glow birds, and
terrifying dinosaurs. Mixed or average reviews for the 3D version.
Experimental Film Festival in Full
Now showing at the CMU Art Museum is a program of experimental
films, independent short films, and experimental documentaries presented by
the company of the acclaimed Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, in
association with the Thai Film Foundation and the independent arts
organization Project 304.
The festival began July 13 and runs through this weekend, to July 27. The
presentation is quite professional, and the films on the first day were well
done, some of them quite interesting, not all of them experimental by any
means - some simply high-quality short films on a variety of themes and
subjects. Most are from Thailand, but some are from filmmakers all around
This is the touring version of the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival 5,
which ran in Bangkok in March of this year, the fifth year of the festival.
The remaining and final showings are this Friday through Sunday, July 25-27,
at 7 pm. at Film Space, which is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art
Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school,
on the 2nd floor. Or perhaps on the roof, if the weather is good enough.
Friday, July 25
The program is in two parts, the first a selection of short
films, and the second a feature-length film.
Part 1: 7:00-8:35 PM - Paranoid Dance - Described as a challenging
95-minute program of six experimental films that provoke the imagination and
are designed to keep you guessing. Through “unsettling flirtations with
genre, paranoia, and strange choreography,” these film artists explore the
psychological programming of modern life.
The last of these, “Faceless,” is a 50-minute film by Manu Luksch of Austria
with a voiceover by Tilda Swinton, made entirely of footage from actual
video surveillance cameras in London, which are ubiquitous. (As required by
the law that allows the public release of this surveillance footage,
people’s heads are blotted out by colored ovals.) The story: In an eerily
familiar city, a calendar reform has dispensed with the past and the future,
leaving citizens faceless, without memory or anticipation. Unimaginable
happiness abounds - until a woman recovers her face.
Part 2: 8:45-10:25 PM - A Crime Against Art [Director: Hila Peleg
(Spain/Germany), 2007, 100 mins] - Based on a trial staged at an art fair in
Madrid in 2007, which in turn was inspired by the mock trials organized by
avant-garde movements in the 1920s and 30s. The trial theatrically raised
issues in the world of contemporary art, such as “collusion with the ‘new
Bourgeoisie,’ the ‘instrumentalization’ of art and its institutions, and the
possibility of ‘critical artistic agency.’”
The trial begins with the assumption that a crime has been committed, yet
its nature and evidence are elusive, and no victims have come forward. The
testimonies and cross-examinations become an attempt by the Judge, the
Prosecutors, and the Defense Attorney to unravel the nature of the puzzling
“crime against art.” The film presents a condensed 100 minute version of the
Saturday, July 26
Part 1: 6:45-8:30 PM - Learned Behavior - A 75-minute
program of short and experimental films exploring the poetics of
reproduction, and the unconscious forces that shape the patterns of social
and political life. How are things passed from one generation to the next?
Can we unlearn what we have learned? With an introduction and a Q&A session
with David Teh, the curator of the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival.
Among these short films is the controversial 8-minute “Middle-Earth” by
Thunska Pansittivorakul, a rather languorous study of two naked men
Part 2: 8:30-10:30 PM - Lolay + Giam Eee - A 120-minute ThaiIndie
collection of recent video works by acclaimed illustrator and artist Lolay
(Thaweesak Srithongdee) and his collaborator, Giam Eee. This feature-length
program has never before been shown in Thailand.
Sunday, July 27
7:00-8:00 PM: Experimental Music Videos - a 60-minute
ThaiIndie collection of new and recent experimental music videos by Thai
filmmakers, including works by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Sathit
Sattarasart, Duck Unit, and Thunska Pansittivorakul.
Admission is free to all screenings.
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
You are West and hear this bidding (S deals, EW vul):
S W N
1N P 2C P
2S P 2N P
3N P P
This is your hand:
What do you lead?
Some players might try the “safe” lead of the diamond jack. You, of course,
think about the bidding first, before leading anything. 1N by South
indicates 15-17 points. 2C (Stayman) shows that North has at least one four
card major. 2S by South shows four spades (and denies four hearts). 2N by
North shows his four card suit was hearts and indicates 8 or 9 points -
inviting to 3N. South accepts the invitation, so should have 16 or 17
points. Thus, NS are marginal for making game, with about 25 points in
total. You have 3 points, so your partner must have about 12 points. Since
your partner has the points, you want to find his suit, rather than trying
to set up yours.
But what is your partner’s suit? North has four hearts and South has two or
three. Since you have only two hearts, your partner must have at least four,
maybe five. So, you lead the Q of hearts.
The full deal is:
Your partner overtakes your lead and forces out the ace
of hearts. Now, when he gets in with the ace of clubs, he takes the rest of
his heart tricks. The contract goes down one - and your partner is delighted
with your play!
Now watch what happens if you lead the “safe” diamond jack. Declarer wins in
hand and then forces out the ace of clubs. Your partner gets in and leads
hearts, but it is too late. Declarer takes the ace of hearts, to add to his
three club tricks and four diamond tricks (by finessing you for the marked
ten), and the ace of spades, to make the contract. If necessary, or if
declarer is feeling really lucky, he can also take the spade finesse. On
today’s hand this gives him an overtrick. Your partner glowers at you.
Defence is by far the most difficult part of bridge. Sometimes the
gives you a map of the hands, so take advantage of it!
I would like to hear from readers about their favourite hands - please do
contact me at: [email protected]