26 July 2008

Fine Dining for Monks

I had dinner at Li Bai earlier this evening. At the next table, my sister observed two monks, one in saffron and one in grey eating with some people. We observed that the one of the monks was wearing rimless glasses while another had a stylish frame. The monk in saffron also had a sliding mobile phone with a metallic casing and he was flipping through a mooncake brochure. The Li Bai chocolate truffle mooncakes! The monk in grey was also wearing a large watch with leather straps and after his dinner, he swaggered out. I had thought that these people had sworn off lives of earthly pleasures and when I saw them at the 2007 Restaurant of the Year, I was somewhat astounded. Yes, they could claim that this dinner was a treat given by their devotees and friends but had they not vowed to live a life which foresworn luxuries? And they had all the trappings of modern life, late model mobile phone, stylish glasses and what else? I really don't know, perhaps someone can enlighten me. Is this right for monks?

Swedish Infantry of the Army of Gustavus Adolphus



Swedish Musketeer




Swedish Pikeman
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It's funny when I bumped into Harry and Jane at the exact same spot in Borders last night as when I bumped into them a few years ago! As usual, they called out to me.

24 July 2008

My Canon Canoscan U676U is dying. Pity, it had served me well for about four years. Electronic items these days don't last, even Canon products. My old Canon BJ-200 printer last about three years too. The Epson replacement was not as long lasting.
The cold evening yesterday was perfect for running. After making the initial distance at 9:10, I went on for another kilometre or two. Not much. I should train for longer distances. I really really should get back to running 5 km every time.

I was also at Borders last night. I browsed but I did not find anything that I was looking for.

On an unrelated note, I don't like McAfee Security Centre but it came free with my system. I can't argue with free.

23 July 2008

Film Ratings

I rate films on a 0 to 10 scale. My typical rating would be 5/10 for the average film and 6/10 for a film with a few outstanding points, be it script, exceptional acting, excellent art direction, 7/10 and 8/10 for a film with a strong script and some memorable scenes and so forth. Most films from Hollywood would be 5/10. A bell curve. Here is the key to my ratings on a 0 to 10 scale.

9-10 - A cinematic masterpiece which I like. Films that attain this level will include Fellini's 'La Strada', Welles' 'Citizen Kane', Gilliam's 'Brazil', Coopola's 'Apocalyse Now Redux', 'Yojimbo', 'Trainspotting', 'Bleu', 'Blanc', 'Rouge', 'The Fight Club', 'Full Metal Jacket', '2001: A Space Odyssey', 'Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb', 'Amelie from Montmartre'


7- 8 - A strong film with plotting. Above average but generally worthwhile. Films in this category will include 'Hot Fuzz', 'Memento', 'The Machinist', 'American Psycho', 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', 'Zodiac', 'Seven', 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels', 'The Ninth Gate', 'In the Mouth of Madness', 'Casino Royale', 'The Brave One', 'L.A. Confidential', 'Delicatessen', 'The Brothers Grimm', 'Lust, Caution', 'Nights of Cabira', 'The Bicycle Thieves', 'Platoon', 'Eyes wide shut', 'eXistenZ', 'Thirteenth Storey'

5-6 - A typical run of the mill piece. It can be competent but nothing extraordinary. The majority of movies released are rated at 5.0. A movie at 5.0 is not necessarily bad, it is merely the median. They are worth watching generally if one enjoys the subject matter and genre. Films in this category will include 'Paycheck', 'First Blood', 'Fantastic Four', 'When Harry met Sally', 'Lost in Translation', 'Chocolate', 'Resident Evil: Extinction', 'Panic Room', 'Transformers', 'Daywatch', 'Nightwatch', 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly', 'Kung Fu Panda', 'Leaving Las Vegas', 'The Deaths of Ian Stone', 'Angel (The Real Life of Angel Deverell)', 'Narco: The Secret Adventures of Gustave Klopp', 'The Matrix', 'The Transporter', 'The Transporter 2', 'Crank'

3-4/10 - Typical but marred by one or two irritating flaws. Derivative and exploitative possibly. Examples of movies at this score would include 'The Last Samurai', 'Radio On', 'Otoko-tachi no Yamato', 'From Hell', 'The Last Crusade', 'Get smart', 'Mars attacks', 'Batman', 'Batman returns', 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', 'I not stupid', 'Battlefield Earth', 'V for Vendetta', 'The Matrix Revolutions', 'The Matrix Reloaded', 'Superman returns', 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen', 'Serenity'

1-2 - Abysmal. Incomplete. Marred by technical flaws, bad script, bad acting, bad acting, incoherence. 'The Green Berets', 'Mr and Mrs Smith', 'Knocked Up', 'Equilibrium'

0 - This deserves derision for a variety of reasons. I haven't really found any film that deserves this as of this point.

After watching a film, I find that the immediate exuberance of the film, the images lingering in my mind, the manipulation of the director and everything will usually result in a higher rating from me, usually by an addition 0.5 to 1.0. Upon reflection and also comparison with previous films over the years, I will moderate the score. For instance, 'The Dark Knight' would be a 7/10 for me rather than an 8/10.

22 July 2008

The skies were overcast for most of today. Despite the overcast skies, there was some sunshine when I ran earlier. 10:10. I didn't run very far today. I should really be running 5 km.

Books I am reading

I'm reading 'The later Thirty Years War: From the Battle of Wittstock to the Treaty of Westphalia' by William P. Guthrie. I finished 'Battles of the Thirty Years War: From White Mountain to Nordlingen 1618 - 1635' last night. I was also looking through a pictorial, 'German Sturmartillerie at War Volume 1'.

What are you reading?

21 July 2008