The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
World Heart Day
Next weekend is World Heart Day
(27th September). I know that there are all sorts of “world” days for us to
celebrate such as “World Three Legged Water Spaniel Day” and “World Quokka
Day”, but other than World No Smoking Day, nothing comes close to the
significance of World Heart Day.
Why? Because heart disease still remains the world’s greatest killer,
despite improvements in the overall statistics. The list goes:
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases)
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
Accidents (unintentional injuries)
I have to say that I am at a bit of a loss to explain why Alzheimer’s
disease is considered a killer, but the World Health Organization must have
its own reasons.
Being a ‘world’ problem, it is also interesting to see the best countries
not to live in. Here are some interesting statistics (again from WHO)
Slovakia: 216 heart deaths per 100,000 people
Hungary: 192.1 per 100,000 people
Ireland: 152.6 per 100,000 people
Czech Republic: 148.6 per 100,000 people
Finland: 143.8 per 100,000 people
New Zealand: 127.3 per 100,000 people
United Kingdom: 122 per 100,000 people
Norway: 112.5 per 100,000 people
Australia: 110.9 per 100,000 people
United States: 106.5 per 100,000 people
Germany: 106.1 per 100,000 people
Italy: 65.2 per 100,000 people
Portugal: 55.9 per 100,000 people
Spain: 53.8 per 100,000 people
France: 39.8 per 100,000 people
Japan: 30 per 100,000 people
Looking at those tables it would appear to be beneficial to eat sushi in
olive oil and washed down with a nice bottle of Beaujolais.
However, we are here, and unfortunately I have no exact statistics for
Thailand, mainly because it is difficult to get exact statistics on anything
in Thailand, but just believe me when I say heart disease is also the
biggest killer - especially amongst the farang community.
The sad part in looking at the world statistics is that the mortality from
heart disease can be reduced. And what is even more sad is that much of it
can be controlled by the individuals themselves.
Looking at a few of the risk factors for heart disease turns up high
cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes,
overweight and a poor family history (and I don’t mean financially).
Another good thing about those risk factors is the fact that most of them
are easy to measure. Cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar (diabetes)
are a simple blood test (and results in 45 minutes at my hospital here).
Weight? Step on the scales. Blood pressure? Again a simple measurement, and
many people have their own automatic machine at home as well. Smoking? Check
your pockets for the cigarette packet and do yourself a huge favor by
throwing the packet in the rubbish bin. Poor family history? Well,
resurrection is currently beyond our capabilities right now, though some
expensive insurance plans may include it soon. Just understand that a poor
family history means that you should be doubly aware of all the other risk
World Heart Day is September 27; it might just make sense to pop over to
your local hospital that day and see whether you are in the high risk
category. There is no point in shuffling off early if you can avoid it,
In the meantime, you can always do the following:
Count the calories consumed each day
Watch the waistline
Measure the morning pulse
Get the cholesterol, triglyceride and sugar levels checked
Get the blood pressure measured
And of course, stop smoking.
Do all that and I’ll see you next year as well! And for those interested, a
Quokka is a strange marsupial, about the size of a cat, that lives in
Your Health & Happiness: Health, Fitness and Weight Loss
Be S.M.A.R.T. – enjoy your exercise!
After the last several weeks’ emphasis on specific
illness-related exercise, it might be an idea to throw in a little more
of the philosophy( or theory) of exercise in relation to age, health,
attitudes and the mental/emotional issues we all experience from time to
time to a greater or lesser degree. For an exercise professional, two
considerations are always under review; firstly, the effect of exercise
on the individual, and secondly, the client’s potential response to a
particular exercise regime.
At one end of the spectrum, a healthy but slightly overweight 55
year-old may well decide it’s time to be more active and fit as an
insurance against future health problems. At the other end is the
individual who, for whatever reason, has already developed a serious
health problem and is at risk of secondary complications as a cumulative
effect. In both cases, there are two considerations to address – the
potential of existing problems and the maintenance and improvement of
both cardiovascular and metabolic health.
A 55 year-old man, for example, is obviously not going to become a
body-building champion overnight, and a health problem is not going to
disappear after only a couple of months of corrective exercise, although
both parties will feel better in themselves by that point. For the
exercise professional, this presents a second problem, retention, which
goes like this.” I feel so much better, I think I’ll give the gym
(swimming, cycling, jogging, whatever) a miss this week.” Thus is
continuity broken with the accompanying guilt and loss of self-esteem –
pretty soon, it’s back to square one!
As I may have mentioned before, motivational techniques and tactics are
essential in maintaining one’s health and fitness status – appropriate
exercise has to be part of your lifestyle. Research has found that the
main reason for giving up on a regime is “I don’t have time.” Here in
Chiang Mai? Possibly retired? You don’t have time? Right!
All of us here are in a privileged situation as regards climate and diet
– and free time, unless we’re slaving away 24/7 at a job. It’s how we
use the time that’s important. The bottom line is, as always, that it’s
up to the individual. A little help, though, is always welcome, and you
might be surprised to find out that the most helpful person you know is
probably yourself! Unless you are by nature highly motivated, the best
was to help yourself is to make a framework around which you plan your
strategies of starting and continuing. We all have times when the going
gets tough and we just don’t feel like doing anything, which is exactly
when the barriers go up.
The most common problem experienced by exercise professionals is
“flexibility.” No, not the physical kind, but the “all or nothing”
approach to training. “All,” unfortunately, can become “nothing” very
easily, resulting in difficulties in reinstating your regime. It’s far
better to cut yourself some slack without feeling guilty. Taking 2 or 3
days off is allowable, providing you start again as promised to
yourself. After 2 days or so, you will probably feel the need to start
again anyway. Another aspect of the flexible approach is to vary your
exercise type as and when it suits. If you’re fed up with the gym, swim.
If you’re bored with cycling, walk. If you’re tired of walking, run.
Etc, etc. This works and can ultimately be as beneficial. No worries –
right now there’s 4 years before the next Olympics!
Remember, thought, that you still do need a framework within which to
measure your improvements. Welcome, therefore, to the SMART principle,
Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time Based!
“Specific” relates to definite, “Measurable” aims and goals to be
achieved. These must be “Agreed” on and “Realistically” achievable in a
given “Time-frame”. Get it?
SMART is an important strategy, but must have a degree of flexibility,
both in increasing and decreasing its measurable units. The best person
to help you do this is an exercise professional, but a good friend or
training partner should be able to give you enough feedback to help you
on your way. The “loneliness of the long-distance runner” is not a good
way to achieve success in exercise therapy! You could also become part
of a group and enjoy the social aspects, as long as you remember that
fitness training is not a competition.
In the end, regular exercise, whatever the motivation, can only increase
the quality of your life. Begin a programme at an easy level, review
your SMART progression regularly, get your mind and body comfortable
with this new way of life, and, most importantly, ENJOY!
Heart to Heart
Recently I asked you for some advice after my Thai girlfriend left me
after I innocently asked her if I could take some upskirt photographs of
her underwear. In reply, you belittled and scorned me, which I accept in
good nature. But seriously Hillary, I have a question... why do Thai
women prefer to wear black underwear, when white looks so much better
against their tanned skin? I can’t understand it. It has reached the
point where I have been forced to purchase white underwear to give
whatever bar girl I pick up to wear. That’s not fair really. I mean, why
black underwear? Also, I am not some kind of deviant. Sure I am Dutch
and I am old, but I am not some trench coat wearing deviant.
I am so glad to read that you don’t have a trench coat, which makes you
feel that you are not a deviant. I take it this is because, in your
mind, having a trench coat is the sign of a deviant, my Petal. Well it’s
not in mine, Stig. For me, a deviant is someone who does things like
sniffing lady’s chairs (and I see an Australian polly went down for that
one). Other things that deviants are known to do is taking upskirt
I also have to take you to task, old Dutch Stig, where you write
“Recently I asked you for some advice after my Thai girlfriend left me
after I innocently asked her if I could take some upskirt photographs of
her underwear.” It was far from innocent, Stig, as in your first letter
you even admitted that you set up these photographs to post on the
internet, on an adult website. And you also admitted to buying knickers
for bar girls to wear as you got down on your knees probably with an
electric fan and a box brownie. You wrote, “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.”
There’s the crux of this matter (crux, not crutch, Stig), “then post
them on the website”. So much for “innocently asked”.
As far as Thai girls preferring to wear black knickers rather than the
white underwear that you prefer, I have no experience in this, as
upskirting is not one of my regular pastimes. However, I did speak to
the young girl in the lingerie shop and she said that both black and red
seemed to be popular, but did mention an old chappie who comes in
regularly for another pair of white ones. She did not know whether the
man was buying them for a girlfriend, or to wear himself. Thailand is
the place where you can be yourself, isn’t it, Stig?
However, the real reason for the black undies is to make their skin look
whiter by comparison. Thai ladies want to be white, and that is why
whitening creams have the biggest slice of the cosmetic market in this
country. Simple, so put away the camera and find something else to do
with your spare time. Have you tried stamp collecting?
I have a problem in the office. Nui is the secretary for the boss and
while the relationship looks very business-like on the surface, I have
seen the pair of them out together at night in karaoke bars. I like Nui
a lot and I have seen the boss with other women at night, so she doesn’t
know about this I am sure. Nui is always very friendly towards me when
we meet at work and I want to ask her out, but I don’t want to get on
the wrong side of the boss. I’m also thinking of leaving, but I don’t
want to leave Nui. Should I ask her to leave with me? I haven’t
discussed it with anyone yet.
Are you for real my shrinking violet? You are wondering if you should
stroll up to the coffee machine when she is making the boss his morning
coffee and breathe heavily and say, “I’m leaving. Want to come with me?”
What do you think she is going to say and do? Leave the coffee cup and
say, “Hang on a tick, I’ll just get my handbag.” You seem to have built
this relationship up in your mind, to the point that you think it is
real. It is not, Alex, this is a fantasy that you are trying to make
reality, and it just does not happen like that. If Nui shared that
fantasy, then go ahead, it could be fun, but she doesn’t, does she? She
does not even know what you are thinking, but a good secretary knows how
to be friendly with the other staff members. You are mistaking that
friendliness for something much deeper.
Let me ask you a pertinent question, my Petal. How old are you? And how
old is Nui? I think, reading between the lines, that you are still a
teenager and Nui is much older than you. Did you leave the nest too
early, Alex, and are looking for a mother substitute?
Alex, yes you should leave, before you make an embarrassing fool of
yourself, and wait till you are much older before embarking on
by Harry Flashman
Making child photography child’s play
have just had the Jester’s Charity Children’s Fair and there
were certainly many children to photograph. There were also many
proud Mums and Dads with cameras, but how many got a ‘good’ shot
of their offspring? Unfortunately, not as many as you would
One of the largest problems when photographing children is their
attention span. You may know you are trying to get the best shot
ever of little Johnny, but little Johnny doesn’t know it. And
what’s more, doesn’t care! With an attention span measured in
milliseconds, he is not going to stand still long enough for you
to fiddle around with camera settings, flash settings and
exposure mathematics. No, when photographing children, use the
Auto setting on your camera, and that is one of the few times I
will recommend that setting! To get a good kid pic means that
you have to be totally set up and ready. That means you must
begin with an idea of how you want the end result to look.
The music hall comedians always worked on the principle that
they should never get on stage with children or animals. There
were many good reasons for that, one of which was the fact that
neither took stage direction very well, and both had short
attention spans. Photographing children and animals is also
fraught with the same problems.
Let’s look at the equipment needed first. In general, the
further away you get, the more natural the photograph you will
get. So, a small zoom lens (35-70) works very well in this
situation as you can get far enough away from the child without
invading the child’s ‘personal space’ and producing shyness or
Some photographers swear by Auto-focus (AF) for this type of
shot, but personally I find that the noise is distracting for
children. The “whiz-whizz” attracts for the aforesaid three
point four milliseconds attention span, and then they are off
again. However, the newer AF cameras (lenses) are much quieter
and are probably the best in this situation.
The most important item with child photography is to get down to
their level, otherwise by shooting from above you get
distortions and a “strange” view of the child.
Since children are fairly mobile creatures, you do need to get a
reasonable depth of field to keep the subject in focus. There
are a couple of ways to ensure that this happens. The first is
to select 200 ASA film. This means you can use a smaller
aperture (or your camera can select it, on “auto” settings).
This increases the depth of field, keeping your subject in a
deeper area of sharp focus. The second is to photograph in good
light, which again means the camera can select small apertures.
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty of taking the shot of
your terrible three year old. Put little Johnny in a well lit
area of the house, patio or garden with some favorite toys. Sit
down on the floor a little way from him and pre-focus the
camera. Now just sit there, not joining in to his play world,
looking quietly through the viewfinder. Remember that you do
have a limited time before Mr. Three gets bored and wants to
When everything is right, call out the child’s name and catch
the child’s first response to you. The inquiring look, or the
big smile, will be there to be caught forever on film. You can
repeat that exercise perhaps three times before the child will
not respond any more, no matter what you do! As I said at the
beginning, these little creatures have a very short attention
span. Be prepared, be ready and be watchful and you too can get
that ‘magic’ shot.
Have a look at this week’s picture. This happy youngster was
snapped by doing all the above techniques. The candles on the
cake were focusing the child’s attention, and the supplicating
hands were caught at just the right time. Not a fluke, but the
photographer was there, and ready, and this was just one of
about six taken at the time.
Money Matters: Paul Gambles
MBMG International Ltd.
Getting a grasp on the Institutes
of Deposits Protection Act
One year on since the Sub Prime Crisis in the US emerged and
still the global aftermath unfolds. The announcement of banks in the UK
suffering liquidity issues has already seen many depositors withdraw their
savings. Following the ‘temporary nationalisation’ of Northern Rock and the role
of the Fed in the rescue of Bear Stearns, the question of whether UK government
should intervene is a hot debate. Even without any banking failures, it’s also a
hot topic here in Thailand right now.
Following Thailand’s economic crisis in 1997, the government launched the
Financial Institution Development Fund (FIDF) which protects clients’ deposits
against bank insolvency or bankruptcy. It was designed to regain consumer
confidence in banks and has proven to be successful; locally bank deposits have
been considered as a secure method of saving money only a decade after the
widespread failure of finance companies and the Bangkok Bank of Commerce.
However, on August 11, 2008, a further Act, known as the Institutes of Deposits
Protection Act, was passed which supersedes this.
The Act defines, imposes and sets out some provisional measures which will alter
the statuses of financial institutions in Thailand including the security,
stability and safety of deposits held by financial institutions. The Act
establishes the Institute of Deposit Protection (“IDP”), classified as a
juristic person, which will control the Deposit Protection Fund. The IDP has an
initial capital of THB 1 billion with the main practical difference between the
FIDF and the IDP amounting to a cap on the amount of protection bank deposits
will receive. Under the FIDF deposits were protected regardless of the amount
whereas the IDP adopts a systematic tier approach.
Instead of the full amount, the maximum amount that the IDP will guarantee per
depositor per financial institution is THB 1 million, regardless of the number
of accounts owned by the depositor.
In order to adapt gradually, this Act provides a transitory provision which
covers the first four years of the Act as follows:
Year Value Protected THB
1 Full Amount
2 100 Million
3 50 Million
4 10 Million
5 Onwards 1 Million
From the effective date of this Act, any person who holds resident THB deposits
of more than THB 1 million in a financial institution must reconsider the
security and the returns of maintaining those accounts. Savings in commercial
banks will no longer be fully protected (subject to a 5 year scale) and will go
from a “low risk, low return” investment to “high risk, low return” investment.
The Act will greatly affect the credibility of financial institutions in
Thailand. It may encourage depositors to seek alternative ways to safeguard and
invest their money.
What are the alternatives?
We could look at keeping deposits within the regulated western and
offshore systems but in many cases this isn’t practical. This is Asia’s Century
according to global economists because of the demographic and economic trends
will ensure that the 21st century will be dominated by Asian politics and
culture. Therefore we should perhaps be looking for more opportunities to employ
our capital in Asian currencies than in the old world.
It is on this premise that the Asian Century fund was created as a high yielding
income fund offered in Thai baht, Singapore dollar and US dollar hedged
The Asian Century fund makes it possible to invest offshore in investment grade
deposit securities denominated in Thai baht currently yielding over 8%. What’s
more custodial regulations in Guernsey provide 100% protection to investors in
the event of the failure of these funds. This protection is unlimited, unlike
that offered by the IDP.
Other choices besides the Asian Century fund such as government bond, real
estate or even stocks are also available. One thing that we cannot miss though
is to study well and reach for a professional guide when needed.
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
Dear Nick…Welcome to Thailand…
A few ‘tips’ to help you enjoy your first visit
I know you’re not actually here yet, but by the time this
appears you should be packing for the third time and ready for the off.
Leave most of it behind. You can buy anything you need, laundry is cheap and
it’s hot in early October. Sadly for us, you’ll probably have spare seats on
board, thanks to over hyped political problems and ludicrous announcements
from 23 foreign governments, including the UK, who have warned against
travel to Thailand.
Anyway, the impasse seems to have yielded some sort of result and hopefully
life will be back to normal by the time you arrive. To be honest, apart from
so few visitors – the long term effect of which is hard to judge – we notice
very little up here. The fact that a person who cooks pork in coca cola and
supports the Burmese junta is no longer in charge means only that he will
have more time to prepare vivid sounding recipes and less time to influence
ASEAN countries’ attitude towards Burma. Win one lose one. I doubt much else
Still, politics need not concern you. What you need is a little advice on
your first visit to the Kingdom. Remember that word and you’ll be welcome.
You may not think so at Suvarnabhumi Airport, despite the notice above the
immigration desks, proclaiming Welcome to Thailand – the Land of Smiles.
Many of the staff do their best to disillusion you of that during the
painfully slow process. The fact that you’ve been traveling for most of a
day and are 6 hours out of sequence only adds to their pleasure. Luckily, it
is easier and more pleasant in Chiang Mai and since you are wisely heading
straight up here you’ll escape the hurdle of wildly over priced taxi
‘services’ into Bangkok. Here, there’s a flat 120 baht charge into the city.
Very clean, very efficient and good value. Let it be said though, tuk-tuks
and their often erratic drivers are a different matter. Prices of transport
went up with petrol prices. Now they are down no one has told red car or
tuk-tuk drivers. A contradiction of the saying that what goes up must come
With luck, the very wet weather will have eased by the time you get here,
although it will still be hot. The low season scrapes itself off the
September floor and hotels here will be hoping for a rise from the 15 to 20%
occupancy rate, which has not been helped by the over zealous encouragement
of new accommodation here. Something to do with plans, (thankfully aborted),
for a casino in the city.
As I said, welcome to the Kingdom. Something to remember, since the King
here is not just respected like our Queen is at home but revered. You will
hear silly stories about how strict observance is of that fact. In reality
it amounts to a showing of respect and good manners – standing during the
Thai national anthem, for example. You’ll have picked up other do’s and
don’ts in a guide book—a wise investment, as too many tourists arrive
without a clue and remain clueless for weeks. It comes down to common sense
and good manners. No sloppy dress at temples. Shoes off before entering
homes, some shops and all places of worship. Sensible behavior and decorum
in public, not pointing your feet at people and so on.
Personally, I think they should make more of the need to keep calm, whatever
the circumstances. For the impatient farang – some never seem to learn –
this is difficult and it only adds to the stress. Remember, Thai time is not
our time. This applies not just to meeting someone but also to the fact that
for many Thais the day starts late and ends the same way. Also, meals are
not governed by the clock, but hunger.
And talking of meals, these are not ‘governed’ by our strict notions of
starters, main course and possibly puddings. Thai food (it is best to eat
Thai here during your short visit, since it is cheaper and better cooked
than all but the most expensive farang places in Chiang Mai) is best shared,
and it is a fact that the quality of fish is infinitely better than the
available meat. It is quite usual for everything to arrive at once or for
some dishes to arrive very late. To avoid this just order the so-called
appetizers first and then order further dishes as you go along. If things
get chaotic don’t panic. And don’t get upset. It will do absolutely no good
at all. Quite the contrary. No need to count to ten, just say three times,
This is Thailand! The alternative is to be like one farang I know who admits
to a short fuse and is constantly surly. Or another who thinks that saying
something very loudly and more than once makes him more understandable. It
doesn’t, of course.
So there you have it. Respect the Royal Family, Buddhism, the general
customs and culture without making a fuss about it and you’ll be fine.
Meanwhile, I’d say there are two basic rules. In my experiences Thais like
cleanliness and by extension people who dress ‘well’ more than anything
else, seeing these as an aspect of good manners. It’s not designer clothes
I’m talking about, (though youngsters will notice these), but the state of
one’s outfit and its condition. They are a picky lot and a grease spot or
missing button is enough to confine any item to the laundry basket. None of
above denies the advantage of a well filled wallet. This is a money oriented
society, with cash infinitely preferred. Credit cards should be a last
resort and very often incur a surcharge.
Despite this very real concern with money and ‘reward’, I must say that in
25 years of traveling here and five years of residency I have never
experienced any unpleasantness in respect of money, let alone theft. This is
not to say it does not exist. Nor other crimes. Nor drugs, bribery and
corruption. Nor violence. It is simply a question of common sense on the
part of visitors, who can easily avoid all those things. But common sense is
something patently lacking on the part of many tourists, especially the bar
louts who hang out in Pattaya and parts of Bangkok and elsewhere, get ripped
off and complain about it afterwards. We fare much better here and although
there are a few bare-back motor cycle riders in high season and some dodgy
bars, Chiang Mai is calm – at least on the surface – and the people here are
The exception to that rule is on the roads. Whilst road rage is not a
problem, the general regard for other road users is minimal. That applies to
pedestrians especially. Young, old, infirm it does not matter – you are a
second class citizen and risk your life at every crossing, whether you have
‘right of way’, (that’s a meaningless green number counting down from 10),
or not. I was told recently that Thailand has the highest death rate on the
roads of any country. I don’t actually believe this, having seen the driving
in Manila and Moscow, Colombo and Delhi, but I’ll bet they are in an
unenviable top ten. During their New Year, (that’s Songkran, known as the
water and slaughter celebrations), more people die on the roads than in the
whole year throughout Scandinavia.
And forget the old song about a bicycle made for two. Three or even four
without a helmet between them is quite common. It is also quite common to
see a four-legged navigator. Back legs planted in front of the driver, front
paws resting on the handlebars. Cute? Possibly. Lethal? Definitely.
Still, as you’ll know from earlier conversations, the good infinitely
outweighs the bad here. So pack those slip on shoes, a few lightweight
shirts and some shorts and slacks and plenty of cash. Luckily Thailand is
still a lot less expensive than Europe. It is now at its greenest and Chiang
Mai is really at its most pleasant from October through February. You’ll
have to contend with a stupid and excessive tax on wine but keep that as a
treat and enjoy the good beer along with some super food. There are some
great trips to be had outside, to the north, or around the city, to Chiang
Dao or down to Sukhothai. There is also plenty to do in the old city or
around the river. The locals are friendly and the farangs nicer here than in
any place I’ve been in Thailand. Culturally, it offers a wide range of
musical activities, plenty of art shows and galleries, commercial and art
movies and - naturally – plenty of local ‘interest’ and Thai culture. It
boasts more good second hand book shops than anywhere of its size I have
ever visited. And? No, since this is a family newspaper, I won’t venture
into other territory. Suffice to say I don’t think you need to be lonely,
hungry or bored in Chiang Mai. Deafened on occasion, hot and sticky, run
over if you are not very careful. But not bored!
Let's Go To The Movies:
Now playing in Chiang Mai
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan: US Action/Comedy – Starring Adam
Sandler. Zohan is an Israeli commando who fakes his own death in order to
pursue his dream: becoming a hairstylist in New York. It’s an Adam Sandler
comedy, and if you like his kind of low crass comedy, you should like this
one very much. Here he plays the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for laughs. I
laughed. A lot. And cringed. A lot. Mixed or average reviews.
Baan Phee (Phop/Pob) 2008: Thai Horror/Comedy – At least the 11th
installment of this popular ghost/horror/comedy series. In Thai with no
Cyborg She: Japan Romance/Sci-Fi – A touching time-spanning sci-fi
romance/comedy with impressive visual effects. In the year 2070, a kindly,
frail, and physically handicapped Jiro builds a female cyborg and sends
it/her back to 2007 to prevent the incident that crippled him. Thai-dubbed
with no English subtitles.
Burn / Kon Fai Look: Thai Thriller – All you ever wanted to know
about “SHC” – Spontaneous Human Combustion. As you certainly know, that’s
the familiar medical condition wherein a living human being suddenly bursts
into flames. Director Peter Manus comes up with a pretty far-fetched
explanation for this pretty far-fetched human malady. Slow and not really
too scary or gory; the film is more a drama, and you will be quite surprised
at who the villain turns out to be. Some interesting effects and moods.
Bangkok Dangerous: US Action/Drama – Directing twins Danny and Oxide
Pang remake their popular 1999 thriller about a ruthless hitman (this time
Nicolas Cage) who travels to Bangkok to carry out four murders. A fairly
decent, if cliché ridden and predictable, action flick. You should be happy
with it if you like a somewhat low-powered action picture. Or are a fan of
Nicolas Cage. Rated R in the US for violence, language, and some sexuality.
Tevada Tokmun: Thai Comedy – About the misadventures of an angel and
Mamma Mia!: US/UK/Germany Musical/ Romance – Starring Meryl Streep.
Immense quantities of popular ABBA music that I find horrifyingly
infectious. An extraordinarily vivacious and energetic musical that is bound
and determined to make you sing and dance and feel good about marriage.
Mixed or average reviews.
Boonchu 9: Thai Comedy – A feel-good movie for Thais from start to
finish. It’s the gentlest of comedies and family drama, with the sweetest of
characters and the pleasantest of situations. Has some appealing young stars
and well-established older comedians.
The Coffin / Lhong Tor Tai: Thai Horror – Ananda Everingham as a
claustrophobic architect who participates in coffin rituals to gain a new
lease on life. Interesting, and has some good things going for it, with a
stellar cast and a fine director, but not quite the movie that director
Ekachai Uekrongtham set out to make. The opening sequence of the burial
ritual at the temple gives an idea of what the film could have been. The
director’s first English language film, but shown in Thailand only in a
Thai-dubbed version, with English subtitles which don’t jibe with the
movement of the lips. It’s simply awkward.
Made of Honor: US Comedy – A piece of fluff about, what else, love
problems, with the appealing stars Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan.
Generally negative reviews.
WALL•E: US Animation – A work of genius from the first frame to the
last. Robot love in a dead world, and the cutest love story in years.
Reviews: Universal acclaim.
Death Race: US Action/Thriller – Little more than an empty action romp –
mindless, violent, and lightning-paced. Rated R in the US for strong
violence and language. Mixed or average reviews.
Scheduled for Sep 25
Eagle Eye: US Action/Mystery/Thriller – Shia LaBeouf and Michelle
Monaghan play two strangers thrown together by mysterious phone calls from a
woman they have never met. Threatening their lives and their family, the
phone calls push the two into a series of increasingly dangerous situations.
These two ordinary people become the country’s most wanted fugitives, who
must now work together to fight a faceless enemy who seems to have limitless
power to manipulate everything they do.
Dive!: Japan Drama – Three young men try to turn their dreams of
Olympic gold into a reality in this sports drama from Japan. They are
members of the Mizuki Diving Club, which has a reputation for transforming
talented young divers into world-class champions, but in recent years the
club has had a run of bad luck, and with few winning divers emerging from
their ranks, sponsorship is dwindling and unless things change the MDC could
go out of business. Faced with this grim possibility, the head coach brings
in a new female coach. Lovely but determined, she intends to restore the MDC
to its former glory, puts her focus on three young divers she’s convinced
have the greatest potential, and pushes them to the limit in preparation for
the all-important qualifying meets.
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
Last week I mentioned the relaxed attitude towards life, exemplified in the
phrase mai pen rai (meaning something like “never mind”) which is
famously part of Thai culture. However, such an attitude has its
disadvantages when it comes to the bridge table, where planning is rather
important to success. For declarer, the most important aspect of planning is
to count your tricks before even playing to the first trick. If you are in a
four level contract, you want to be able to count 10 tricks, in a six level,
12 tricks. Try this with the hands below.
You are sitting South and are declarer in six hearts, with no opposition
bidding. The ten of spades is led. You see the North and South hands as
below. Before looking at the full deal, decide what is your plan for the
S: ? S: ?
H: ? H: ?
D: ? D: ?
C: ? C: ?
I watched one declarer play
this. He snarled his thanks at his partner and then paused, correctly,
before playing to the first trick, in order to formulate a plan. As play
proceeded, it became obvious that his plan involved trumping his club losers
on board. That meant delaying pulling trumps. He needed plenty of entries to
hand, so he began by playing the spade king and overtaking it with the ace
in hand. Then he ruffed a low club and led another spade to hand. He ruffed
a second low club and tried a third spade to hand. East ruffed in and led
another trump, leaving only one trump on board, while hand still had three
losing clubs. Declarer then seemed to lose heart (understandably) and ended
up losing a trump, two clubs and a diamond, in addition to the defence ruff,
to go down four.
At the other table, declarer paused to count tricks. He saw that he could
never get to 12 tricks if he used dummy’s high trumps to ruff clubs, because
his trumps in hand were too weak to use to pull trump. The only way was to
use his own trumps to ruff diamonds and try to set up dummy’s diamond suit.
He won the opening trick in hand and led a low diamond. West went up with
the ace, to declarer’s relief, and led a low club. This was ruffed on board
and a low diamond was led to be ruffed low in hand. He crossed back to board
with a trump, and led a third round of diamonds which he ruffed with the
king in hand. West discarded a low spade. Now, he led his last trump to
board and pulled trumps with dummy’s last high hearts. He breathed a sigh of
relief again when trumps split 3-2. Dummy now has good spades (with the help
of the ace in hand) and the good K108 of diamonds. Twelve tricks (three high
trumps, a club ruff on board, two diamond ruffs in hand, three spades and
three diamonds) and contract made, thanks to careful planning. Admittedly,
he needed a little luck, but he went for the only possible way to make
twelve tricks, which was by setting up dummy, not trying to set up his hand.
More about dummy reversals (setting up dummy, not hand) next week.
This was the full hand, with North dealer and EW vulnerable. Would your plan
have made the contract?
S: 109872 S: 53
H: 983 H: 76
D: A6 D: QJ95
C: Q103 C: AJ972
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