The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
Can you get a DVT in Business Class?
Let’s clear up the acronyms
first. DVT stands for Deep Venous Thrombosis, which manifests itself as
blood clots, generally in your lower legs. And secondly, you don’t have to
fly to get a DVT.
Now everyone in the world, other than a few farmers in outer Mongolia, has
heard of the “Economy Class Syndrome”, in which you end up getting blood
clots in the legs from being squeezed into seat 176A at the rear of the
Economy section of Plummet Airlines. The rationale is that after sitting in
176A for the 12 hour flight to bring the bad news to Outer Mongolia, the
blood flow in the legs slows so much that clotting forms and you end up with
yet another acronym, this time called DVT, or more correctly Deep Vein
Thrombosis, or even Deep Venous Thrombosis. This has produced a group of
nervous airline passengers, cowering in fear, waiting for hijacking or DVTs.
Those who can afford it, upgrade to Business class and sit there drinking
G&T’s feeling totally pampered and safe from DVT. Unfortunately, you can get
a DVT while sitting with the aforementioned G&T in seat 12A as well.
However, there are many ways of getting your DVT, and you don’t have to buy
an expensive ticket, plus fuel surcharge to get one. You can get one sitting
in front of your work computer. Dear me, your computer is now a killer.
Backing up this contentious claim is one of the world’s respected medical
publications, the New Zealand Medical Journal, with the results tabled at
the annual conference of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.
Professor Richard Beasley of the Medical Research Institute in New Zealand
studied patients admitted to hospital with DVTs and found that only 21
percent had traveled on long distance flights, whilst 34 percent were
sedentary office workers who would sit in front of their computer screen for
three to four hours at a stretch without getting up, and do this for up to
14 hours a day. This showed two factors. Firstly their work habit was
dangerous, allowing the blood to pool up in their legs, and secondly, they
had magnificent bladder control.
Whilst I was joking about the bladder control, I would postulate that to be
able to sit for four hours at a time, these office workers were not drinking
enough fluid, leading to thickening of the blood, and even more likelihood
of blood clots. Look around your office, how many of the staff have a water
jug, or even a glass of water on their work station?
That’s enough on the factors leading to DVT, what can a DVT do? What happens
is very understandable. The clot breaks off from the deep vein and then
travels upwards towards the heart. In doing so, it will go from major, large
diameter blood vessels into smaller and smaller again. Eventually, depending
upon the size, the clot will become wedged in a very small vessel and shut
off the blood supply to that area.
If the blockage occurs in the lung, the condition is called a Pulmonary
Embolism (PE). This is potentially fatal. PE causes or contributes to up to
200,000 deaths annually in the United States. One in every 100 patients who
develop DVT die due to pulmonary embolism.
There is some good news in all this, if pulmonary embolism can be diagnosed
early and appropriate therapy started, the mortality can be reduced from
approximately 30 percent to less than 10 percent.
Still, 10 percent is a little too high for my liking. So what can you do to
prevent getting a DVT? Apart from the obvious maintenance of good health
with sensible eating and drinking and regular check-ups, the important
preventive factors include getting up and walking around at least every hour
(both in the office and from seat 176A), drinking plenty of water and taking
100 mg of aspirin every day. By making it less likely that a clot can form,
you remove the dangers of DVT.
Go and get a glass of water now! And use it to swallow your aspirin.
Heart to Heart
Dear Hilary (sic),
Perusing several recent editions, I came across two writers keen to know
what is your true appearance, having only seen the odd drawing of you
which could have been mine, sketched from photo’s taken by most ardent
admirer, Nairod Remraf. Why sketched, because Nairod’s camera, a box
brownie which he’s used since serving in the Boer War, needs expensive
serving, its images so poor, in need of enchantment by cartoonist me?
So, back to your appearance and why you’re rarely seen? Your modesty
prevents you from saying that you have it all! And to be seen and adored
in public would have the world media descending on Chiang Mai and giving
your modest self, unwanted attention. Re the photos? One of them
featuring the back of your shapely legs was quite good and would have
been even better had the Big C security chap not apprehended Nairod for
prostrating himself on the escalator, the photo being later confiscated
by the court. His welfare these days I hear you ask? Well, he’s
recovering well after taking up your suggestion to pitch his tent on the
Sukhumvit, so very soon, he’ll be refocusing on your sweet self again;
and my advice to you is to wear trousers when negotiating escalators!
PS: so that you don’t think Nairod too old for you, he says that he lied
about his age to serve in the Boer War.
Dear Dorian (and in a roundabout way, your alter ego Nairod),
Photos of me going up the Big C escalators? Taken with a box brownie?
You must be mistaken, Mr. Cartoonist. Hillary (two ‘ells’, by the way my
Petal) does not go up Big C escalators. In fact, I do not go up any
escalators. I have no head for heights and the last thing I need in this
life is to swoon into the arms of your lecherous friend. No, when
needing to go to upper floors, I always take the lift, as befits a woman
in my position.
I am not sure your friend really understood what I meant about pitching
his tent on Sukhumvit Road. I neither meant the footpath, nor the median
strip, but somewhere around the center lane outbound would be fine. If
he pitches the tent close to the hospital, the ambulance charges should
not be too difficult for him to scrape together (after they’ve scraped
him off the road). When you say he is “recovering well”, is this from
the after effects of being run over? (I don’t think I’m that lucky!) Or
is it just from the vodka?
Honestly Dorian, I don’t think that your alter ego is the man for me. I
don’t give a purple damn how old he is. Thank you for telling me that my
legs look nice. I don’t do anything special to keep them that way. Not
that I’m really interested, but are there any copies of the photographs
This is not a lovelorn problem, so I hope you don’t mind my taking up
your time with this, but it is one that nobody has been able to answer,
so I thought, as you are the fountain of facts, you just might know. I
notice that there appears to be more and more hill tribe people selling
native trinkets in Thailand. They just used to be in Chiang Mai down by
the Anusarn market, but now they seem to be everywhere, and certainly a
long way from the Golden Triangle. That makes me wonder if these traders
are real hill tribe people, and if they are, how did they get so far
away from home, and are they genuine and is it safe to buy things from
Phew! You certainly have got your undies in a knot over the hill tribe
folk, haven’t you? How did they get away from Chiang Mai? Simple, my
Petal, perhaps it is the new cheap flights from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
that is bringing them down from the hills, as I have yet to see an Akha
lady in the black jacket and skirt, colored socks and funny hat with the
back turned up, on a regular flight.
Why do they do this? It is a fine example of the Thai Free Trade Dam
Agreements (TFTDA), promoted heavily by the Thai government. If there is
a market somewhere, flood it! But what you have to remember is that
every time you see a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt, it does not mean that
he is Hawaiian. Or every time you see a very well endowed woman in a
bikini, it does not mean that she is a he. Likewise your genuine hill
tribe ladies. If they are far from the beaten track, it is highly
probable they are genuine traders in black drag and funny hats, but not
genuine hill tribe traders. If I am found strangled in the morning by a
rope of silver coins, you will know I was wrong. They were genuine. Is
it safe to buy things from them? Totally safe, there have been no
recorded cases of bird flu passed on through chicken feather
by Harry Flashman
How not to miss good shots
many times have you thought to yourself, “Damn! I wish I had the
camera right now!” This is after the shot of a lifetime just
happened before your eyes. A shot that could have kept you in
champagne for the next three months.
Now these shots do not have to be re-runs of the Towering
Inferno, but can be shots that just somehow epitomize life in
Thailand, for example. It could be a katoey posturing on Beach
Road, or even the buffalo with two birds standing on its neck,
like the shot I have used for this week. Always remember that
you are living in a land that your countrymen save up for 12
months just to get here for a holiday. You (we) are lucky and
should not let photographic opportunities pass us by.
So this week, let’s look at a few specific examples of “how to”
when you are looking to record those “once in a lifetime”
Every city, town or village anywhere has its parades. And there
are plenty of them here. Now, have you ever tried to record the
parade? It is actually very difficult. The naked eye sees a long
procession of musicians, marchers and the like as they pass by,
but the camera sees only one slice of the action about 1/60th of
a second long!
There is only one secret word for parades, and that’s ‘height’.
You have to get a high viewpoint to successfully record the
action, and preferably use a long lens. By shooting down the
oncoming procession you will get several squads of musicians,
marchers, etc., all on the one frame. By using the telephoto
lens you “compress” the action and get more in the one
photographic frame. Honestly, if you can’t get up high don’t
take parades. You will be disappointed with all ground level
All tourist towns have their nightlife, and we have the odd
nocturnal events and places. Lots of lights, neon signs and
flood-lit fountains are the norm for this type of photograph.
The secret here is a wide angle lens with an aperture down
around f 1.8. This is the time to set your digital to 800 ASA,
or 400 ASA at least. The other secret is not to use your flash.
Now I fully realize that this is photography after dark, but the
whole concept is to let the attractions provide the
illumination, rather than blasting it with your flash burst. If
you try and take neon light using flash you will totally wash
out the neon and again get very disappointing results.
One of the more challenging travel situations is the summer
beach holiday. It is very difficult to photograph the beach and
not end up with a washed out look in the final photographs. The
secret here is a polarizing filter and the time of day you
shoot. This is where the polarizer works so well, especially
with the glare from the sand. The polarizer will also give you a
blue sky to contrast the yellow sand. The time of day is also
just as important. Shoot early morning or late afternoon when
the sun’s rays are skimming across the beach and the tracks and
ridges in the sand will show up as shadows.
Some of you will be exponents of the wilderness type holiday,
trekking and camping and taking in the vast grandeur of
breathtaking natural wonders. The secret here is a wide angle
lens, look for low viewpoints and set the ASA on 50 or 100, plus
a tripod if you can. The idea here is to use the lens at around
f16 or f22 to maximize the depth of field. This in turn and the
slow ASA setting, will require longer exposures - hence the
tripod. Shooting in this way will give you maximum detail in the
shot, maximum content and visual theater. Finally, shoot early
morning or late afternoon as well to get the dramatic shadow
effects and really give the impact to the Grand Canyon! With
charging elephants, however, do not wait to see the whites of
their eyes; however, they do look better when polarized!
Money Matters: Paul Gambles
MBMG International Ltd.
Where in the world?
A well know magazine recently interviewed MBMG about how the
recent political turmoil here in Thailand, coupled with the rollercoaster ride
being experienced by the banks and economies around the world, is causing
widespread concern about the security of investments. In Thailand, concerns were
prompted by a combination of the political situation and the recent passage of
the Institutes of Deposits Protection Act (IDP). In simple terms, as stated in a
recent Money Matters column, this Act places a cap, or limit, on the amount of
protection bank deposits in Thailand will receive. Under this Act, the maximum
amount that the IDP will guarantee per depositor per financial institution is
one million baht. In the article we reviewed the range of viable alternatives in
Thailand, including money market funds, deposit funds, overnight funds and fixed
deposit funds in different jurisdictions around the world.
However, this has also prompted us to review the various investment and deposit
markets around the world. At the time of writing, we are waiting for the US to
approve or not the Paulson request for US$700 billion and so things may be
different in the short term by the time you are reading this. Nevertheless,
below we have summarized the issues facing investors and depositors and indeed
everyone right now:
Africa - The Dark Continent is coming increasingly under the investment
spotlight with the increasing focus on MENA (Middle East and North Africa)
funds. However, this appears to be driven more by marketing momentum than
fundamental economic factors and we would be very wary about all forms of
investment in Africa now although commodities and resources are likely to remain
attractive and this may ensure that Chinese direct investment into Africa
Summary - African currencies, property and equities right now look too
specialized for most investors.
Asia - See below for information regarding specific markets. Investor
protection is patchy throughout the region varying dramatically from country to
country, as indeed does the quality of financial institutions. Property in Asia
is, in general terms, in much better shape than in the West although in many
cases we would defer buying opportunities for the short term. Many of the
region’s currencies that aren’t completely US$ linked appear to be in reasonable
Summary - We would not rush in right now but, generally, we would not
Australia - The worst is yet to come for the Australian economy, property
markets, equity markets and financial institutions. Finance companies are
falling like flies after a DDT dusting and we expect the Australian banking
system to come under pressure too. The AUD remains extremely vulnerable as a
result, especially against a backdrop of falling interest rates.
Summary - it’s not too late to exit Aussie assets and it makes sense to
move money away from ‘down under’.
China - The world’s most populous nation’s inevitable progress to
becoming the world’s largest economy has been cemented by the arrival of 3
Chinese banks in the list of the world’s 5 largest banking institutions. We
think that the stock market has further to fall, that the property market is
entering a major correction and that a recession is on the cards. That said, we
also think that China is not excessively leveraged, has huge foreign currency
reserves and a hugely resourceful and resilient population.
Summary - It is hard to know how clean China’s banks are so we would
avoid keeping money in China and we would be waiting for better opportunities to
invest into Chinese equities and property. RMB may not be the best performing
currency over the coming 12 months but it will not be the worst either.
Europe - The Euro zone is battling against recessionary forces and some
European countries are now openly in recession. The economic pain will be at its
worse in leveraged countries such as Ireland or Spain and this is where property
and equity corrections will likely be at their most serious. The euro is not as
beset with problems as the likes of sterling or AUD but looks expensive and may
weaken to some extent. Some European banks may get caught up in the fallout of
the sub-prime crisis but overall the European banking system is in far better
shape than the US or the UK.
Summary - It is too early to buy European equities just yet, property in
Ireland and Spain looks set to fall much further and this now more neutral than
Harvard & Yale - the endowments of these institutions have operated the
most successful investment strategies of the last two decades. They continue to
go from strength to strength. The main focus of these strategies is to reduce
risk and to achieve greater consistency of investment returns resulting in
higher gains over the business cycle. MBMG’s client portfolios, managed by Midas
Capital (nee MitonOptimal), aim to replicate this philosophy and approach and
continue to generate good returns for clients in a range of currencies.
Summary - Despite the global economic woes of present, clients have still
made money, are making money and will continue to make money whatever the
markets throw at them.
Middle East - Strong oil revenues have created a wall of Arab money, as
evidenced by the spending power of the region’s sovereign wealth funds. However,
we remain very sceptical about the investment and business capabilities of the
Summary - Arab currencies, property and equities right now look too
volatile and insufficiently attractive for most investors on a risk/reward
New Zealand - Plunging property market, collapsing finance companies,
banks under pressure, equity markets locked into a downward spiral. There may be
good reasons for keeping money in New Zealand but all the ones that we can think
of are related to the attractive returns from agricultural investments right
Summary - Get out while you can!
Offshore - Regulated respectable offshore centers will profit from the
added security that they provide. Those with less stringent protections may
experience chickens coming home to roost. We have long preferred keeping money
in deposit or investment funds in Guernsey, a self-governing UK dependency since
1204, whose financial regulation and law enforcement standards were strongly
commended by the International Monetary Fund which found a strong level of
compliance with the highest international standards. The Guernsey Financial
Services Commission (GFSC) requires that at least 90 percent of assets be held
by a third party custodian to provide capital protection in the event of a
failure in the investment provider. This means that, if you choose to place your
money in a Guernsey-domiciled investment provider, at least 90 percent of your
money is protected even if your investment company folds completely.
Summary - A regulated deposit fund in Guernsey can be very different to
putting your money into, for instance, a bank in Thailand. If a Thai bank fails,
then you will become just one more name on a long list of creditors.
Singapore - The economy seems to be slowing and this would hurt the local
stock and property markets. However, the Singapore dollar’s status as the Swiss
franc of the East remains intact although we would prefer to hold our SGD
offshore rather than in one of the banks in the Lion City.
Summary - The currency may well be a beacon right now.
Thailand - Will the currency, the economy, the property market and the
local bourse improve if the political situation is resolved? Maybe, but when
will the political situation be resolved? Fundamentals remain attractive and,
therefore, there is high potential within the market.
Summary - Could go any way!
United Kingdom - The property market is in the throes of a major crash.
The equity market is in a tailspin, the pound remains very vulnerable, the
economy is on the verge of recession; things are looking desperate. Banks,
especially the smaller ones, are at significant risk of failure. The country’s
largest mortgage lender HBOS has been rescued by Lloyds-TSB but other
institutions like Bradford & Bingley remain extremely vulnerable.
Summary - Sell property and equities now! Take exposure to other
currencies; prefer offshore deposit funds to smaller onshore banks.
USA - What did we say about the UK? - The property market is in the
throes of a major crash. The equity market is in a tailspin, the dollar remains
very vulnerable, the economy is on the verge of recession; things are looking
desperate. All banks and financial institutions are at extremely significant
risk of failure. Money held within portfolios at investment banks is generally
safe as the banks only act as custodians. However, the size of US institutions
may mean that the process of transferring investors’ securities even from Lehman
Brothers, which certainly was not the largest institution, may take some time.
We believe that it is more secure and more re-assuring to hold assets outside
the US right now.
Summary - Sell property and equities now! Take exposure to other
currencies, prefer offshore deposit funds to smaller onshore banks.
Zimbabwe - Recently introduced the $100 billion banknote. Sadly, it’s
worth just 80 cents. Maybe Zimbabwe exists to prove that things actually can be
even worse than in the UK and USA.
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
Ever, Dirk…The Bogarde Letters
Superb companion volume to the authorized biography
Last week, a friend arrived in Chiang Mai carrying some
post, a handful of CDs, two tubes of Euthymol toothpaste and best of all a
luscious fat book…all 550 pages of it – with super photographs – containing
a selection of the letters written by Dirk Bogarde during the two ‘final’
periods of his life. The time from the very end of the 1960s until around
1990 when he lived on the Continent and was happiest and the last decade of
his life, which were often melancholy encompassing as they did the final
illness of his long term companion Tony and his own declining years, living
as he described it a short walk from Harrods.
The letters have been culled and brilliantly assembled from an original two
million words into 250,000 words or so of gossip, erudition, information,
opinion and personal notes and will prove fascinating (and witty and clever)
to anyone interested in this fine actor-writer or post ‘60s culture and
society generally. It should be available on line from suppliers or even a
good bookshop and deserves to be tracked down. He also wrote 15 books,
including biography, memoirs, journalism and several novels which are mostly
still in print and can easily be found in one of the many wonderful second
hand bookshops in Chiang Mai, alongside John Coldstream’s Dirk Bogarde: The
Authorised Biography, which was published in 2004 and issued in a paper back
version a year later. A wonderful read.
Since the book was sent to me by the publishers (no doubt at the behest of
John C., a friend), I feel free to write about it. None of the above is
influenced by knowing the editor and knowing his subject and the easiest way
to prove that is to choose (with great difficulty) a couple of quotes from
the letters to give a sense of the style, content and sheer magnetism of
Bogarde’s writing. He became much more of a writer in later years and indeed
much of his fame rested on his books and reviews and a screenplay, since he
made very few films in the last 20 – even 30 – years of his life, after
making Death in Venice for Luchino Visconti.
Here he is describing a visit for dinner by his neighbours in France, the
‘Atts,’ known to us as (Lord) Richard Attenborough and his former actress
wife (Lady) Sheila Sim. “We fed them naturally, in Attenborough Style. A
huge, really big leek pie, which Dick had two helpings of. TWO chocolate ice
creams with nuts and cream walloped on top, half a round of cheese, lots of
bread and butter, figs from the garden and TWO bananas…I sat amazed...but
could say nothing… We had a bottle of wine, they did rather and then coffee.
Oh! I forgot. With the leek pie they had my tomato salad mixed with fresh
basil, sugar and oregano… and ate it all. We had made enough for our lunch
today. No way.
But they are, when alone with us here, very relaxed and obviously, one
feels, are very fond of us both. We never dry up for conversation and Dick
is very un-pompous. EXACTLY what he is NOT in public. Strange. He has had a
ghastly time with the Americans over his film (A Chorus Line). They have
behaved dreadfully badly, as they always do, and summon him back and forth
across the Atlantic as if he was an office boy. I don’t know how he does it
or why he lets them do it to him. He agreed he was too decent and that his
British Manners of fair-play and good humour were out of place in Los
Angeles. As I know to my cost!
However, off they go on Sunday for two weeks. To fight the battle again. No
wonder really, that they need so much food. They have to keep their energy
up somehow…but I do fear the day when he’ll explode!”
This is just one tiny part of one letter, but somehow encapsulates much of
Dirk’s style. His waspish humour, exaggeration, his affection and testiness
and constant worry about the cost of entertaining. Also his way – in casual
letters – of writing exactly as though he were chatting to the recipient.
Throughout the book (though it has been subtly edited and ‘cleaned up for
possible libel’), there are countless spelling and grammatical errors,
expletives and other politically incorrect statements and a sense of fun and
frustration. He hates America only slightly less than Australia and bad
manners and televison and a host of other things. He loves many more things,
especially some people. And even those he detests (director John
Frankenheimer aka Frankenstein) and the fat Welshman (Richard Burton) seems
to justify his bile. This is not a book for the fainthearted. It is a roller
coaster ride through the life and times of a very fine actor and a brilliant
actor. A scrabrous portrait of many of his fellows and yet containing some
of the best of all the writing he did. His letter to the widow of director
Joseph Losey (with whom he made five films including The Servant and
Accident) is a masterpiece of sensitivity and truth and compassion.
He said once, ‘it is an astonishing thing to me to find that I am really not
a bit happy unless I am writing. Even a letter will do.’
It also serves as an adjunct to the biography, the memoirs in its
revelations about the star himself. Much of the time he was cagey. Notably
about an earlier great love and in his studious avoidance of gossip about
his nearly 50 year relationship with the wonderful Tony. I was lucky enough
to meet him on a variety of occasions. Helping with his hugely successful
lecture/interview at London’s National Film Theatre, at his favourite hotel,
the Connaught, and best of all on visits to his wonderful house at Clermont,
way above Grasse in the South of France. On the first occasion, the house
had only just been bought and was far from habitable but his and Tony’s
delight with it were a joy to share. Over the years it became ‘grander’ and
less primitive, but still welcoming and a wonderful home which he hated to
leave. Much of this and his fantastic life emerges from these letters,
alongside anger and frustration at the passing years. It was no ordinary
life and this is no ordinary book.
Let's Go To The Movies:
Now playing in Chiang Mai
Body of Lies: US Drama – With Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell
Crowe, about a CIA operative who attempts to infiltrate the network of a
major terrorist leader operating out of Jordan. Based on a 2007 novel by
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. Mixed or average reviews.
E-Tim Tai Nae: Thai Action/ Comedy – A boxer in a show in Pattaya
falls in love with a Japanese tourist. Looks dreadful, unless you like
comedy based on the smashing of testicles.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: US Animation/ Sci-Fi – A new adventure in
the “Star Wars” series, here done with animation. The movie has gotten
generally negative reviews, most saying that the mechanical animation and
less-than stellar script make The Clone Wars a pale shadow of George Lucas’
once great franchise, and a cheap excuse for a big-screen spectacle. It’s
more like a long Saturday morning cartoon, and a trailer for the upcoming
new Star Wars series on the Cartoon Network.
Disaster Movie: US Comedy – Returning to their seemingly bottomless
well of flatulence humor, racial stereotypes, and stale pop culture gags,
Friedberg and Seltzer have produced what is arguably their worst “Movie”
yet. Seldom has a film been more appropriately titled. Reviews: Extreme
dislike or disgust.
Luang Pee Teng II / The Holy Man II: Thai Comedy – Bad boy becomes
monk, meets misadventures, makes merit. The first Luang Pee Teng was the top
Thai film at the box office in 2005, earning 141 million baht, even beating
out Tony Jaa in Tom Yum Goong. This second of the series has a new star,
Thai rapper, hip-hopper, and ex-skateboarder Joey Boy, one of the Thai stars
in the ill-advised and poorly-received rock version of the Ramakien that
played Lincoln Center in New York in the summer of 2006. The cast is filled
out by the usual contingent of Thai TV comedians.
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 families, the
phone calls push the two into a series of increasingly dangerous situations
using the technology of everyday life to track and control their every move.
As the situation escalates, these two ordinary people become the country’s
most wanted fugitives, who must now work together to discover what is really
happening. Fighting for their lives, they become pawns of a faceless enemy
who seems to have limitless power to manipulate everything they do.
The script has the feel of something once substantive, but which was poked,
prodded, cut, and crimped until all semblance of intelligence was wrung out
of it. Apparently, it means to say something about anti-terrorism
surveillance and civil liberties, but most reviewers who try to say what
it’s about, say it’s about as dumb as can be.
Vista has a Thai-dubbed version as well. Mixed or average reviews.
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. Here he plays the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for laughs. I laughed. A
lot. And cringed. A lot. Mixed or average reviews.
Scheduled for Oct 16
Max Payne: US Action/ Thriller – Starring Mark Wahlberg. Based on
a popular interactive video game, this is the story of a maverick cop
determined to track down those responsible for the brutal murder of his
family and partner. Hell-bent on revenge, his obsessive investigation takes
him on a nightmare journey into a dark underworld. “As the mystery deepens,
Max (Wahlberg) is forced to battle enemies beyond the natural world and face
an unthinkable betrayal,” or so says the studio.
Scheduled for Oct 23
Beverly Hills Chihuahua: US Comedy – In this Disney comedy, a
pampered Beverly Hills Chihuahua (voice of Drew Barrymore) finds herself
accidentally lost in the mean streets of Mexico without a day spa or
boutique anywhere in sight. This one actually looks quite delightful, to
gauge by the previews.
Tropic Thunder: US Comedy/ War – I have seen this, and I heartily
recommend the film, but only for those not easily shocked. You might just
have the best laughs you’ve had in years. Robert Downey, Jr. gives another
amazing performance, this time playing a black. It’s an action comedy about
a group of self-absorbed actors who set out to make the biggest war film
ever. After ballooning costs (and the out of control egos of the pampered
cast) threaten to shut down the movie, the frustrated director refuses to
stop shooting, leading his cast deep into the jungles of Southeast Asia
where they inadvertently encounter real bad guys. Directed by Ben Stiller.
Generally favorable reviews.
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?:
The “Cat’s Whisker” flower
There are a group of understory (which grow under large trees)
plants, some native to Thailand’s rainforests, which have long,
drooping appendages reminiscent of cats’ whiskers, called
Tuccas. The commonest Thai variety is Tucca chantrieri,
which fully deserves its common name, the “Bat plant,” as the
distinctive side bracts look just like the black wings of a bat
in flight. I am particularly fond of any flower which has the
extremely rare colour “black,” although the colour itself is not
actually black but a very dark purple pigment. This is one of my
favourite plants in the world, together with Areseaone with its
elegant black and white stripes and the all black pansy, the
“blackest” of all flowers.
All the above can be grown in Thailand; T. chantrieri is
now in flower and is freely available at the market. Look out
for the different forms – some have rather small flowers, some
rather green, but the most spectacular is the brown-black
variety with its tall stems and its “whiskers,” which can reach
up to 12 inches in length.
Flowering is encouraged by water collecting in the base of the
leaf stems, and the peculiar black flowers are upward-facing to
collect water until they are pollinated, after which they turn
their faces downwards in order to set seed. A white/pale purple
Tucca is also available and flowers earlier than the
black-bloomed example, but has quite spectacular large flowers –
These plants must have shade and ample moisture, but can survive
drought by losing their leaves and becoming dormant. They
survive by their swollen rhizomes – shorten stems which act as
food stores. Please do try this plant – the glossy leaves are
lovely on their own, and, when in flower, it never fails to
arouse interest and comment – if not outright amazement.
of the Week
Always try to buy a plant in flower, then you can be absolutely
sure that you are choosing the right colour and form. It can be
very disappointing to go to the trouble of planting and
nurturing, only to discover too late that you have bought the
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
I recently played a match over two evenings in Chiang Mai, against John
Bucher and Jay Sherman, and with Chris Hedges as my partner. John and Jay
won the first half easily, but at least we got a little back on this
interesting hand. I was sitting North.
South dealer, no one vulnerable
S: KQ6 S: 743
H: A1076 H: K843
D: A6 D: 7
C: AK106 C: QJ983
This was the bidding:
South West North East
2D 2N 3S P
P Dbl 4D P
P Dbl All pass
Chris dealt and opened with
a weak two diamond bid – a bit unusual because when you have a good major
suit on the side, most people do not open weak in a minor unless their
partner has already passed. West overcalled two no trump, which actually
understates his 20 high card points (in this sequence, the 2N overcall
usually shows a decent 1N opener). I decided to bid spades, both to get in
the way and knowing I could always escape to diamonds if necessary. After
West’s double, I did indeed escape to four diamonds. West doubled again,
understandably in view of his hand.
West led his two high clubs, and Chris ruffed the second in hand. He then
crossed to board with the ace of spades and ruffed a low spade in hand. He
ruffed a heart on board and ruffed another spade in hand. Now, dummy’s
spades were all set up. He pulled trumps in two rounds, leaving a trump on
board to get back there to cash the three winning spades and throw losing
hearts from hand. All he lost was the aces of clubs and diamonds, making
four diamonds, doubled into game, with an over trick, for 610 points
(Chicago scoring). A better defence is probably for West to switch to the
ace of trumps at trick two, and then continue with his last trump, to cut
down ruffs on board. However, this makes no difference to the result,
because the spade suit can still be set up by taking the ace and ruffing two
rounds of spades in hand. The two remaining trumps on board provide the
additional entries needed to reach board for the second ruff and then to run
the good spades.
The most interesting feature of this hand is that it shows the power of
distribution. The North-South hands have only 14 high card points between
them, yet 11 tricks in diamonds are cold against any defence that I can see.
East-West have 26 high card points between them, yet cannot make any game
against good defence (losing two spades and two trumps in four hearts and
losing two spades and one heart in five clubs). Points schmoints, as they
Send me your interesting hands at: [email protected]