Archive for June, 2009


MCOT News: A Swan Song

MCOT logo

We need you. Hell, I need you. I’m a mess without you. I miss you so damn much. I miss being with you, I miss being near you. I miss your laugh. I miss your scent; I miss your musk. When this all gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together.

This quote from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy pretty much sums up my emotions right now.

This Monday’s broadcast will be my last time anchoring MCOT News on Channel 9.  I sense the following responses:

  1. NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  You can’t do this, I watch it all the time!  Why??  WHY???  CNN, BBC, and Al-Jazeera ain’t got shit on you guys!
  2. (glassy-eyed stare, a nine-months pregnant pause) Woah.  That’s…cool?

For the last two years, I have had the privilege of presenting late-night English language news on MCOT, channel 9.  Almost thirty years of experience reading out loud in English, I was actually getting paid to do something I do almost every day on the porcelain throne.

Pre-recorded about two hours ahead of time, I often make it back home in time to watch it, as it airs a bit after midnight*.  My wife, undoubtedly my biggest fan, insisted we watch it together.  Though she usually falls asleep, and unless there are graphics associated with a news item I am interested in (“Hemlines of Thai university co-eds reach new heights”), I’ll covertly change the channel to watch The Sopranos on HBO.

In honor of MCOT Channel 9 for giving me the opportunity to live the dream, here are nine memories I take with me…

1.  My first broadcast, where I mangled a bunch of names of important Thai officials.  I remember coming back into the control room and seeing the News Director P’A-Jirayu trying to smile as she offered words of encouragement.  I didn’t get it perfect right away, but I kept practicing and gaining more comfort with these names (like Satit Wongnongtoey, Arisman Pongruengrong, Veera Musikapong, etc.) .  Recently, I had to say five names of UDD protest leaders.  Afterward, no one said anything, it was business as usual.  But as I left the office, I allowed myself a little fist pump.

2.  Getting on a motorcycle taxi near Radio Thailand, the driver asked if I read the news.  Surprised, I told him yes.   He tells me he likes to listen to me read, because he feels like it helps him with his English.  A clever way to get an extra tip from me?  Maybe.  But I think he earned it.

3.  Arriving at the studio one evening, there was a crowd of teenage girls, cordoned off the door.  When I walked up the stairs, I heard some started screaming before abruptly dying down, like a false alarm at a surprise birthday party.   I walked into the building unmolested, to my slight disappointment.  I found out later they were all there to greet a Korean pop star who was giving a radio interview upstairs at Seed 97.5.  I couldn’t help but recall reading about when legendary rocker Robert Plant anonymously walked past a bunch of delirious teenage girls waiting for the Backstreet Boys, and not one of them were interested in some red snapper.

4.  Life imitates art.  Covering the birth of a panda, I let myself slip into Ron Burgundy mode of fake newscaster enthusiasm.  That was the only time I almost laughed out loud during a broadcast.

5. For a while I was the only male announcer on MCOT News.  On days I came in to anchor, I would often record voiceovers for features that would air on days someone else was reading. Up until just last year, we were still recording them on Betamax video cassette tapes in a musty closet.  Now we use computers, but I still miss handling the tapes, with voiceover scripts fastened to them by a rubber band.

6.   One of my colleagues found an entry on Pantip, a Thai webboard, discussing my work on MCOT News.  Aside from a few compliments, there was an ongoing debate as to whether I was gay.  Apparently a few netizens are convinced I am 100% gay, my marriage and three children being an elaborate sham.  I wanted to respond “Look sweetie, just because I have to wear make-up for my job, that doesn’t mean I am, girlfriend.  Snap!”…but ultimately felt it would be counterproductive.

7.  The MCOT news team goes to Samut Songkram province to record a feature.   They meet an old woman of very modest means who works as a farmer, who says she watches me all the time.  She doesn’t understand what I am saying, she just likes listening to me talk in English.  Before I start puffing my chest out in pride, my producer, Pink, explained that Channel 9 is the only channel she can watch clearly at her house.

8.  Calling my parents in the States and letting them know I will be reading the news that night.  They have satellite and watch whenever they can over there.  You can watch the latest episode at until Tuesday

9. The Mynamar uprising, Cyclone Nargis, earthquakes and Olympics in China, the funeral of the late Princess Kalyani Wattana, PAD protests take over Suvarnabhumi airport, the world financial crisis, Bloody Songkran, swine flu, the crackdown in Iran.  It was a fringe benefit that work meant nursing a curiosity of what was going on in the Thailand and around the world.

I was ever any good, it was only because I made a point to remember something crucial:

“It’s not about you, dumbass.”

There’s no room for ego here, it’s all about the news.  People don’t come on here to see me.  The audience wants to know about what is going on in the world.   I don’t make commentary, just read and don’t make any goshdarned mistakes.  I mutter all this to myself as the cameraman started the countdown, “Five, four…”

(Downing the last of my scotch and soda and stubbing out an unfiltered Lucky Strike…)

“three, two…”

(Clearing my throat, a quick smoothing out of my luxuriant moustache, as the cameraman points to me)

Sawasdee Krub, thank you for joining us with MCOT News, I’m Ron Burgun…oops.

I hear the program director sigh into my earpiece.  Okay, let’s do it again.   Good thing we are not broadcasting live.

Now even though I hardly ever see the other newscasters I’m proud to be associated with them, because everyone is so professional and contributed to the great reputation of the program.  I know I will see them all again around the way.

If you ask me why we are being cancelled, I don’t have a firm answer.  Perhaps the powers-that-be at MCOT did not see the point in presenting English news on a channel where the content was all Thai language.  Or maybe we were like Strangers with Candy, Joy Division, and the electric cars…just a little bit ahead of its time.

It has been a fun ride, enjoy the rest of the week’s broadcasts.  There is still English language news on Channel 11 with Newsline and cable channel TNN, as well as CNN, BBC, and Fox News.  And who knows, maybe we’ll be back in another form?  Bigger and better than ever!  Until then, I might have to temporarily change this blog name to Jack of Some Media.

As an homage to Anchorman, I usually sign off with “Thanks for stopping by**.”  We’ll see if I can sneak in something special for the last broadcast.

Thank you to everyone for watching.  And in the words of the real Anchorman Walter Cronkite…

“And that’s the way it is.”



*One reason I think it might have been hard to build even more loyal viewing audience than the channel-surfing night owl is that there was not set start time.  People would ask what time to watch, I told them after midnight.  It could have been 12:03 am, or 12:18.  We were shoehorned into a spot immediately after a live variety show called Ta Sawang, right before a Thai language program, the Thai version of Top Gear or some golf instructional show.

** When I do the midday news on MET 107, it is live so I sign off with “Stay classy, Bangkok.”  Doing MCOT News has given me the confidence to read live on the radio, as well as exposure and opportunities to do live emcee jobs.


Hot Travel Rumor

Working for a travel magazine, we often hear juicy gossip about what hotels are on the auction block, who is an incompetent buffoon at the tourism board, etc.  Well here’s a hot tip for you I heard recently.

Thailand relies heavily on tourism for income, this we all know.  And lately, it hasn’t been going well with the perfect storm of political instability, influenza pandemic scares, and the global economic downturn.  And it didn’t help at all when the PAD staged their airport block party, shutting down Suvarnabhumi airport last year.  All told, Thailand has lost some US$2.5 billion of revenue along with around 200,000 jobs.

Thailand’s national air carrier, THAI Airways has subsequently taken a battering, losing over 21.3 billion Baht (US$900 million), including 14.8 billion Baht (US$411 million) in the fourth quarter alone.  What to do about it?

Why, have a huge promotion!   Rumor has it THAI will be introducing a broad “buy one ticket-get one free” promotion by the beginning of June.  While you would probably be required to pay ancillary costs like fuel surcharges and airport tax, it would still be a killer bargain.  Word is that this will apply to all classes of travel domestic and international, and the offer will supposedly be valid even if you trade air miles for a ticket.

Where would you go?  The wife and I were already thinking about taking a ski trip to Hokkaido, Japan sometime later this year.  But now we are thinking big, perhaps a jaunt to Italy for a drive up the Amalfi coast?  My wife has already been to Lake Como, where she and her gal gang had a picnic at George Clooney’s villa.  Well, not at the villa, but somewhere outside it. Yes, I married a stalker.

Closer to home, if you are looking for shopping and nightlife, Hong Kong is the shizznit.  One of the coolest places in the always-fun Lan Kwai Fong area is Club Sugar.  I went with two other friends a couple years ago, and we were amazed that every girl in there was at least cute and quite a few were flat out stunning.  Forgive me for judging them on their looks, but my Chinese language skills were not up to par, so I just said “wo ai ni” a lot, which I’m told means “Nice to meet you.”

Check out this interesting blog entry (complete with photos), where this dude from shows up early on a Friday when Club Sugar is dead, then it picks up dramatically after midnight.  I’ve been in a few similar situations, where you are hanging out at a club and it is half empty, then a few drinks later you turn around and it’s packed.  When it works out that way, I am usually pretty happy that I have a table, though the shimmying through the crowd to use the bathroom (after the Yellow River dam breaks) is a slight downer.

For a private speakeasy type club, this Salon de Ning at the Peninsula is quite swank.  This from the…

Tucked away in the basement, yes the basement, they have recreated the salon of 1930’s Shanghai socialite Madame Ning. Just tell the hostess at the top of the stairs you would like to go to Salon De Ning and she will personally usher you down to an unmarked door whereupon you are greeted a mysterious and flirtatious set of eyes (digital)… presumably embodying the late Madame Ning’s. The door opens and you are escorted into a lush and transporting interior. There are 4 themed rooms – Africa, Spain, Swiss Ski and Madame’s Changing Room (you must book ahead for a room). We sat in the ski room….very much a Swiss ski chalet with a comfy leather sofa, layers of cozy carpets and fluffy pillows. Every last detail is considered – even the flickering flames of a (mock) fireplace have been included to make the experience complete.

It look perfect for high-rollers like myself, part of the “work hard, play hard” party monsters of yore.  (Though the drink prices sound a bit steep.)

That’s all for now.  Speaking of rumors, my next entry will be about one of the biggest rumormongers in all of Thailand.  It’s like Page Six…if it were run by Sith lords.


A 40 Questions Meme

I posted this on my Facebook profile, but since I only have 51 friends (40 of which I haven’t met yet, but added me since I changed my profile picture to this).   Feel free to copy the questions, but none of my answers.  This is my life damn it, I’m the only one allowed to plagerize it.

Borrowed from  Here.

1. My uncle once:  killed vampires for a living.  Now he owns a comic book shop and doesn’t tolerate loitering.

2. Never in my life: have I knowingly sold crack cocaine to an undercover cop.

3.When I was five: I told the undercover cop I thought it was rock sugar.

4.High School was: not like in the movies.  No unstoppable mask-wearing killer, no webcam broadcasts of a boy violating a pie, and no werewolves on the basketball team.

5.I will never forget:  that time I made out with one of the Olsen twins.  I can’t recall which one, though.

6. I once met: this ten year old kid last year claiming to be my son.  Embarrassingly, I told him that was just impossible.

7. There’s this girl I know who: has X-ray vision.  I always tell her how cold it is when she starts snickering.

8. Once, at a bar: I beat Stephen Hawking at darts.  What a sore loser.

9. By noon, I’m usually: in the gym, finishing up a punishing seven-hour workout with 1,000 reverse gravity sit ups before heading to McDonald’s for a double Big Mac, supersize french fries, chocolate milkshake, and a large Coke Zero.

10. Last night: I faced down yet another pretender to my breakdancing crown at the Electric Boogaloo.

11. If only I had: one arm, I would still be the best banjo player in Southeast Asia.

12. Next time I go to church:  I will save some communion wine for others, even though they were rude to me for not being a Christian and for not putting my cell phone on Silent.

13. Terry Schiavo: rest in peace.

14. What worries me most: is that my children will someday find out I’m not the strongest, smartest, most handsome man in the universe, and that I’ve never actually been off Earth technically.  My tales of intergalactic space travel?  Daddy made it all up.

15. When I turn my head left, I see: my lovely wife, sleeping peacefully next to me.

16. When I turn my head right, I see: Megan Fox, hunched over the table, doing <i>another</i> line of coke.  Geez girl, put some clothes on!!!f

17. You know I’m lying when: I tell you those pleated acid wash jeans look fucking awesome on you.

18. What I miss most about the eighties: is driving around town drunk, yelling profanities at the elderly and little children, while blasting Hall and Oates on the radio.

19. If I was a character in Shakespeare, I’d be: Jason Bourne in drag.

20. By this time next year: my penis will be longer and thicker than ever, according to this promising email.

21. A better name for me would be: Rock Harder.  That way people could call me Rock, Rockman Lover, Rockity-Rock, Rocknrolla, or just Mr. Harder.

22. I have a hard time understanding: people from England, with their “jolly good” this and “bully for you” that.  Learn to sprechen ze American, will ya?

23. If I ever go back to school, I’ll: run for class president, buy votes, then rob the school blind.

24. You know I like you if: I build a shrine to you in my bedroom, filled with pictures taken when you weren’t looking, your name scrawled everywhere in my blood, “Every Breath You Take” by the Police playing on constant repeat.

25. If I ever won an award, the first person I’d thank would be: Ed McMahon, for reminding me that I could already be a millionaire.

26. Darwin, Mozart, Slim Pickens & Geraldine Ferraro: a bunch of egotistical blowhards who would make for quite a poker game.

27. Take my advice, never: run from your problems.  It looks suspicious, so just walk away casually.

28. My ideal breakfast is: a bottle of 1995 Dom Perignon mixed with Minute Maid Orange Juice, served with organic eggs benedict made with real English muffin, served on the naked body of a mute Japanese schoolgirl with attractive teeth.

29. A song I love, but do not own is: Happy Birthday to You.  I sing it every time we have a dinner out.  Everyone knows the words, and sometimes you get free dinner!

30. If you visit my hometown, I suggest: you wear Kevlar.  It’s a tough neighborhood, but it made me the classy warrior I am today.

31. Tulips, character flaws, microchips, & track stars: are, coincidentally, the four main exports of my hometown.

32. Why won’t people: stop screaming when they wake up handcuffed to the bed?  They are <i>padded</i> cuffs.

33. If you spend the night at my house: don’t ask me what the big feather is for.

34. I’d stop my wedding for: a Klondike bar.

35. The world could do without: all that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  Factories, stop burning!  People, less breathing!  Cows, quit all that farting!!!

36. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: lick its butthole.  That’s just gross.  And way too kinky.

37. My favorite blonde is: my Mom.   You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a 66 year old Asian woman with bleach blonde hair and a nose ring.

38: Paper clips are more useful than: paper itself, according to FDR’s inaugural speech.

39. If I do anything well, it’s: fill out surveys, standardized tests, and these Apple Bottom jeans.

40. And by the way: if you read this entire list, that’s 15 minutes you aren’t getting back, you slow-ass reader you.


“Lost” Opportunities


Following up with yesterday’s mobile post, it seems that Palm is experiencing some stutters with meeting the high demand for its Pre.  That doesn’t bode well as Apple is not letting up with marketing the iPhone, which (in a pre-emptive move?) slashed prices this month.

A Pall Over Palm (BusinessWeek)

My question is whether Apple’s pricing strategy will have any effect over here in Thailand.  Of course the $99 iPhone is contigent on signing up for a contract with Sprint.  Unlocked phones are expected to cost more, but will we have some relief over here? (24,500 Baht or US$715 for the 8GB, 28,500 Baht or US$832 for the 16GB).

Of course, this is the same country where despite living expenses of only about half of the USA, we blithely purchase automobiles for twice the price, i.e. Toyota Camry here is 1.7 million Baht (~US$50,000), as compared to MSRP $19145 – $28695 Stateside.

As yesterday’s post involved a Will Ferrell quote, we seamlessly look at his new movie Land of the Lost, which got creamed at the latest US weekend box office by frat-pack comedy The Hangover and Pixar’s Up.  This is interesting because Ferrell actually blew up after doing Old School, followed by other so-called Frat Pack comedies like Anchorman and Talledega Nights.  According to those in the know, like LA Times columnist Patrick Goldstein, Land of the Lost suffers from not clearly defining its target audience.  Is it for children?  Fans of palaeontology humor? Stoners?  While I enjoyed seeing the clip of Ferrell dousing himself in dino-pee, I don’t know if I would pay $12 (or however much your crap American cinemas charge these days) to see a whole movie of that.  The most damning assessment of Ferrell comes at the end of Goldstein’s column…

The verdict in Hollywood: Ferrell hasn’t done a good job of managing his brand. Sandler is the master of dumb hijinks. Eddie Murphy has become a cuddly family star. But who is Will Ferrell? No one knows anymore. He’s in danger of becoming the comedy equivalent of George Clooney, someone who enjoys a great deal of goodwill but who isn’t actually a real movie star.

Ouch.  I mean, I liked Stranger than Fiction.  But maybe he has a point.  You know what might be funny?  A buddy comedy starring Ferrell and Clooney maybe called “One Note Wonder” where they strive to break free of their respective pigeonholes.

Clooney:  You want to stick me in the same narrow category as Gregory Peck or Rock Hudson, fine.  But just remember that all the bullshit doesn’t define who I am, as an actor, as a human being, and what I’m capable of.  Just consider what’s going on in, uh, Darfur.

Ferrell:  That’s…awesome.  I know, man!  I’m feeling it.  Right here.  Deep down.  In my gut.  Oh wait, that might be the chimichanga I had earlier.  Do you have any Tums?  I need my calcium too.

Clooney tries to give a smoldering look of annoyance, but can’t suppress a self-possessed grin.

Ferrell:  Don’t look at me like that.  Oh, I will kiss you.  On the mouth.  With tongue.  You think I won’t?

They start wrestling.  Playfully at first, then more violent.  Clooney ends up on top, Ferrell screaming something high-pitched, a threat involving a purple nurple.  They lock eyes, breathing heavily.  A deep passionate kiss ensues.

Tell me you wouldn’t watch that movie, and that it wouldn’t do better than Aquaman on its opening weekend.


Phones of Our Lives

Handphone Orgy

“Well, uh I guess I, deep down, am feeling a little confused. I mean, suddenly, you get married, and you’re supposed to be this entirely different guy. I don’t feel different. I mean, take yesterday for example. We were out at the Olive Garden for dinner, which was lovely. And uh, I happen to look over at a certain point during the meal and see a waitress taking an order, and I found myself wondering what color her underpants might be. Her panties. Uh, odds are they are probably basic white, cotton, underpants. But I sort of think well maybe they’re silk panties, maybe it’s a thong. Maybe it’s something really cool that I don’t even know about.”

Frank the Tank


This quote from the Academy-award winning film Old School always tickles me, for its hilarious take on ambivalence and honesty, perfectly delivered by the matchless Will Ferrell.  While I have no doubt I picked the right woman (or rather she picked me) I am undergoing a different dilemma.

For a time, I used to scoff at people who changed mobile phones every year.  I fancied myself above slavery to technology fashion, where folks bought powerful, expensive handsets based on aesthetics and functions they would never fully use.  I’m smarter than that, right?

Then I did a mental calculation, which was humbling;  in the eight years I have been living in Thailand, I have owned a total of seven mobile phones.  Not exactly a self-denying ascetic life.  (Though I know of someone who has lost more than that many phones in one calendar year).

I recently bought a Nokia XpressMusic 5800 for my wife as an early anniversary present, attracted by the touchscreen interface and its large clear display, which can be used to show off pictures and video of our charming brood:

Shameless excuse to show off our three boys.

Shameless excuse to show off our three boys.

So far, it’s a great phone, and Mook loves it.  The display is nice and clear, and the built in speakers pack a surprising audio punch.  In these uncertain times,  you would think that purchasing another expensive phone would be foolhardy.  Yet here I am, serenely pissing into the winds of economic turmoil by contemplating the purchase of yet another phone. 

For weeks I have grappled with the seemingly inevitable, choosing between a Blackberry and an iPhone.   In Blackberry’s favor is the ability to do work via email anywhere. Picture me sitting by a pool, editing a document and calling it an honest day’s work from my Jackberry (that has a nice ring to it).  As for the iPhone, I am seduced by its seamless interface and many seemingly useful applications.  And if I’m the self-proclaimed Jack of All Media, wouldn’t it make sense for me to be using the Jesus Phone?

But I wasn’t completely sold on either.   While the Blackberry seems like it enhances productivity, it feels to me like having MSN Messenger on all the time, with the temptation to chat all day long eroding my daily productivity.  Does this sound unreasonable?  Take note of your Crackberry-toting friends someday at dinner.  While you are playing raconteur about your theories of what really happened to David Carradine, are they sneaking a peek at their precious under the table, thumbs pumping and eyes lowered as if in reverent prayer?   You may feel like snatching it and chucking it out the window, but it is better to wish carpal-tunnel syndrome on their oh-so-rude thumbs.  But can I really fault them if I would be just as susceptible to the dark side of the Berry?

 And what of the iPhone?  To me, there has always been something a little bit fascist about it.  You can’t change the battery when it loses effectiveness.  Typing on the touch screen is a pain in the ass.  You can’t copy-paste or send/receive MMS messages.  And it is really expensive here (24,500 Baht for the 8GB model, though the Blackberry Bold is comparable in price; I am told the Curve can be found for around 16,000 Baht at MBK Center).

But we don’t live in a world where there are only two choices, right?  I have always hated being presented with a “one or the other only” scenario, and in this case there should be a universe of worthy alternatives.  What about the Palm Pre, which is being hyped as a possible iPhone killer?  And Hewlett-Packard makes a smartphone that surely meets my technical requirements, the iPaq Business Messenger.  What about Nokia?  They have some sweet new smartphones (like the super-sweet N97) which has the interface I am used to (plus I can use the same charger).  And Samsung has one called the Jack, how perfect does that sound for me?

In the end, does it really matter?  Recent history suggests I will only use it for about a year before I start this whole merry-phone-round all over again.  In the meantime, I appreciate any suggestions/recommendations/warnings for my next purchase.






Jackphones, A Brief History

2001– Upon moving to Thailand, I purchased a Siemens A36 and signed up for AIS One-2-Call prepaid service.  Pure, unvarnished functionality was the key, and my cousin was puzzled why I didn’t spend a little bit extra for a more flashy phone.   It did the job, and was admirably durable, but ultimately I realized that a vibrating function is a must.

2002– Nokia 8250.   Began an extended love affair with the Finnish giant with this beauty.  The bright blue display light had me at hello, along with its sleek styling.  Here is where I began a slight addiction to mobile games, as beating Opposite (a version of Othello) on Expert setting was one of the small highlights of my life.  Dropped one too many times, it felt like shooting a prized racehorse retiring this one.

2003- Nokia 6510.  A slight upgrade to this durable, reliable workshouse.  One of the reasons I bought it was for the built-in FM radio function I ended up using only once.  By the end of it’s lifespan it looked like a phone Mad Max would have used, if the apocalyptic future dystopia still had GSM coverage.  He could wile away the hours playing Snake II, Space Impact, and Bumper, though.

2004 Nokia6610i–  My Wizard of Oz moment, as I now was now belatedly introduced to a world of color!  Upon start-up, the vivid display screen hypnotically showed two Caucasian hands clasping as the polyphonic Nokia theme hummed along.  There was even a rudimentary camera, only 352 x 288 pixels, but a harbinger of great things to come.   A great spare phone for when friends and family visited Thailand, this trusty mobile met its end when my dad had it in his shirt pocket and leaned over a bottomless canal, circa early 2007.

2005 Motorola Razr.  The only one I never bought, this one was donated to me by my girlfriend at the time who was using the Dolce & Gabbana limited edition version (and was utterly shocked at the decrepitude of my Nokia).   My first and only flip phone, I had the CTU ringtone from 24 on it.  Being so used to Nokia’s interface, I found Motorola frustrating (when saving phone numbers and texting) so I gave it to my dad, who has been sufficiently warned that this phone does not float either. 

2006 Nokia 8800.  I remember vividly that this phone’s purchase coincided with the 2006 World Cup, when a gambling addict friend needed to raise funds immediately and I got this beauty at a deep discount (retailed for 30,000 Baht, I picked it up for 20,000 Baht).   Had this phone on me for my wedding, and I never got oohs and ahhhs as much as this one, even though the battery life was laughably short.  The only one of my phones that was stolen, I miss it most because of all the text messages I had saved from when I was courting my wife.

2007 Nokia E65.  Upon recommendation from my lovely friend Joi who works for DTAC (she is a goddess of technological gadgets and gizmos) I purchased this model, which boasts wireless internet, 3G capability, microSD card slot, and a 2-MP camera and video recorder.  Despite it’s beat-up exterior, it is still a great phone.


Guillermo del Toro- Interview ’bout a Vampire

This is the genius behind Hellboy, Blade 2, and Pan’s Labyrinth.  Just like Peter Jackson, he comes from a horror background and also faced prejudice for his looks (he’s a bit on the tubby side).  But there is denying his vision, talent, and fanboy cred; check out one of his DVD directors commentary to hear his humor, intellect, and contagious enthusiasm for filmmaking.

For fans of vampire novels, he’s authored a new trilogy called The Strain.  Don’t expect the romantic bloodsucker cheesepuff of Stephanie Meyer or the goth romance of Anne Rice.  This promises to be a more visceral, anatomical–and scary–take on vampirism.  Read all about it here.


Kn*cked Up

Out of curiosity, I watched the censored version of Knocked Up here in Thailand on HBO.  I own the DVD, a legal copy even, and wanted to see how it would differ, as well as to check out the Thai subtitles (did you know the polite Thai for “blowjob”  is “boowup?” know you do!)  As expected, they cut out any sexual situations, drug references, and most swearing (though “shit” appears to have been rehabilitated from the Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television) which cut out about twenty minutes from the running time and would have left a naive, first-time viewer slightly confused.  (“How did the lead actress get pregnant?  They just kissed!”)  Laden with F-bombs, The Big Lebowski feels like a half hour and has something to do with rugs.

This sheltered cable existence took it’s toll one evening on our honeymoon in the States.  One night we were staying in a hotel room in Orlando, Florida and Mook was taking a shower.  I decided to see what was on TV and turned on Cinemax about halfway into Hostel.   A few minutes later, Mook rushed out of the bathroom asking what was all that screaming.  It was actually me, shrieking like a little girl at the scene where a guy takes a blowtorch to the Japanese girl’s face.  Unfortunately, I missed all the scenes with exposed boobs, which apparently come in the first half of the movie.


I would like to share a link to one of my favorite sports personalities, former NBA player Paul Shirley, who has played all around the world and also authored a book Can I Keep My Jersey?  His humor is drier than silica gel, and he’s a fantastic writer.  He also has excellent taste in music, and just broke up with a spanish girl.  Feel his pain and sample his wit here, a semi-regular column he does for  An excerpt:

I first saw my ex-girlfriend, whom I’ll call B for the rest of this column, in the Barcelona airport from 100 feet away. From that distance, and then again from two feet, she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Half-Dutch and half-Spanish, she’s 5-foot-10, blonde, and possesses the most disarming smile since Audrey Hepburn’s. My opening line was “I came over here to find out if you speak English.” Thankfully, she did. Equally thankfully, she didn’t laugh at my typically Paul and typically amateurish approach. For 45 minutes, B and I spoke like we’d known each other for years. Her English was nearly flawless; not bad, considering it was her fourth-best language. I was smitten. Unfortunately, I would soon be leaving Spain. I was in the airport with my team en route to our last game of the year. After that, I was supposed to be back in the United States to oversee the release of my book and, as it turned out, to rehabilitate the ankle I would break in the game I was about to play.

I didn’t put much stock in our chances. She was decidedly not American, and I was decidedly not going to be in Spain in the near future. As such, I halfheartedly asked for her e-mail address, saying that, because of our lifestyles (she traveled a lot for her job as well), it was possible that we might end up in the same place one day.

At first, she refused. I was disappointed and said goodbye. But, as with all males, my hope springs eternal. After an hour of Interneting in the airport, I tore a map of Kansas from the pocket atlas that accompanies me all over the world and wrote a note that included my e-mail address in the margins. On my way to my gate, I found B and gave it to her.

She e-mailed me the next day.

Not his funniest work, understandably.  For a better idea of that you’ll have to read about his encounter with the “dirtiest player ever.”