The House of Random Crap
A clearinghouse for my crazed, deviant, trivial, irreverant & occasionally reflective thoughts.


Wednesday, February 25, 2004  

It's been a over a week since I posted, but I've been pretty busy with work, so I have a good excuse. So what's been happening?

Well, Valentine's Day was low key. We stayed at home, and for dinner, I cooked Nicha my signature deep fried catfish, which she absolutely loves (my hook is that I use ground up seasoned salad croutons instead of bread crumbs for my coating), and for dessert, I made a blueberry cheese pie from a recipe that Nicha's best friend gave me. Very delicious. Otherwise, we relaxed and watched movies. Overall, it was a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend our V-Day.

I've also drained my bank account to put the down payment on our new house. So much for diving back into the stock market. Unfortunately, the house won't be completed until late April, and the interior will take another 2-3 months after that. We've started looking at interior designs, as well as furniture, appliances, and consumer electronics. As a result of all this, Nicha asked me to cancel our trip back to the states in order to save money. I'm pretty peeved about that, and haven't made any final decisions on that matter yet. I've been looking forward to going to my 5-year business school reunion in April, as well as attend the wedding of the girl I took to prom, so I am loathe to completely nix those plans just yet. And speaking of prom, I stumbled across the website of a duct tape company that holds a contest each year for the most creative prom outfits made from duct tape, with the winning couple receiving $2,500 a piece in college scholarship money. If you take a look through the archives, some of the outfits are pretty damn impressive.

The only thing that might mitigate the utter disappointment of missing the reunion and wedding is the possibility that my brother Pete and his family may be vacationing in Thailand in May. I'm a bit bummed that the house won't be ready to host them when they get here, but I'm planning to take some time off to take them around, as well as play with my niece Jessie, who's getting cuter and more demanding everyday. This is a picture of her playing peek-a-boo with her mum. Adorable!

Work has been picking up, but in a good way. I'm currently juggling about 8 projects at the moment, of which 3 are dormant, 2 are in development, and 3 are very very active. I spend most of my evenings at home glued to the computer, sleeping past midnight, and drinking a lot of caffiene (though I tend to do these on regular nights too!). I'm quite happy with the projects on my plate (mostly acquisitions and debt restructurings), and if just 2 or 3 hit this year, I should have a pretty decent Christmas =). My social life is picking up too, with more and more Thai-American friends moving back to Bangkok. Jack, a Thai-American guy who had become a core part of my social clique when I was out here Pre-Crisis recently moved back, and we're hitting the bars and pubs at least every week or two with some of our old drinking buddies. I also just got a call from Sam, a college classmate who (with the exception of a very brief and extremely random encounter in Bangkok International Airport about 2 years ago) I haven't seen in almost 12 years. Sam also recently moved back, and I'll have a chance to introduce him to this growing tribe of Thai-Americans.

I've been downloading a lot of music lately, mostly some of my favorite one-hit wonders from junior high and high school that are bring back some major memories. Remember Corey Hart ("Sunglasses at Night"), Lipps Inc ("Funky Town"), Rockwell ("Somebody's Watching Me"), and Falco ("Rock Me Amadeus" and "Vienna Calling")? How about Murray Head ("One Night in Bangkok"), Men Without Hats ("Safety Dance"), or After the Fire ("Der Komissar")? Rocking to the stuff I used to listen to at the high school dances has got me in a very pleasant mood lately. I also downloaded George Harrison's "Cheer Down" after listening to it during the end credits of Lethal Weapon 2. I would have to say that this is my favorite song at the moment. It reminds me a lot of his work with The Travelling Wilburys, which made me nostalgic for their music, and so I'm listening to a lot of Wilburys lately too.

Speaking of music, Tata Young is releasing her first English-language album today ("I Believe"). For those who are not familiar with her, Amita Marie "Tata" Young is a 23-year old half Thai, half American gal who won a talent show here in Bangkok in '94-ish at the age of 14 and shot to local super stardom, cranking out pop albums and starring in local teen flicks. Incidentally, I find both Thai pop music and local movies to be mostly nauseating, mindless drivel. Can't stand the crap; hearing her songs played in the karaoke bars constantly was one of the things that made me happy to leave Asia. Anyways, Tata put her career on hold to study in the states, and pretty much disappeared from the Thai entertainment scene for a few years, which is far longer than the typical 15 minutes of fame most local acts enjoy. Now she's making a big push to reassert her presence as a star, and as it turns out, her new album is being released by Columbia Records, making her the first Asian to be signed by a major Western record label. She's also re-made her image, going from the school girl type that everyone remembered her to a sexpot in a similar vein to Britney, Christina, Kylie, or Beyonce (admittedly, she's become quite attactive, much like how the Olsen twins blossomed from a pair of fugly kids into double mint hotties =). Likewise, her music is pretty much the polished, synthesized crap that characterize these modern day divas (and that I generally can't stand to listen to) though the quality is a lot more professional than the local stuff, with obvious mass, international appeal. I downloaded her first single "Sexy, Naughty, Bitchy", and admittedly, it is not all bad, though I suspect that a part of me is subconciously rooting for home-grown talent to make a splash in the global music markets.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 6:10 PM |


Sunday, February 15, 2004  



Courtesy of Terence

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 5:09 PM |


Friday, February 13, 2004  

Aw, man, I have such a pounding headache!

In my first year in business school, I played for the Kellogg Rugby Football Club as a loose-head prop. During practice on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday 1998, one of my teammates inadvertantly jammed his finger into my right eye during one of our scrums. Hurt like a mother fuck, and I was completely disoriented for about 10 minutes after that. I ran water over my right eye, but I could only see a white glare out of the eye. Fearing some major permanent damage, my teammate (who would eventually be my 2nd year roommate and the Thai equivalent of my best man) took me to the nearby hospital.

By the time I got to see a doctor, my vision started coming back to me, but the blow had knocked loose some cells off the surface of my cornea, which were suspended in the viscous liquid on my iris. I was literally seeing spots before my eyes (about 5-6 dots and lines) which would swarm all over my line of vision everytime my eyeball shifted (much like a bunch of flies over a piece of dung). Supposedly, it is normal for such cells to break loose with age, so it was nothing drastic, but it would be permanent. so I did indeed suffer permanent eye damange. It took me several weeks to get use to the spots and how not to focus on them, which was a source of many headaches during those weeks. Nowadays, those spots are merely background "static", and I forget that they are they. However, every once in a while, my eye seems drawn to them, and will try to focus on them as they swim about. And hence, this pain-in-the-ass migraine. I'd like to take a nap, but Nicha and I are meeting some of my buddies at a jazz pub for drinks tonight, so I guess I'll just have to sleep in.

For Valentine's Day, I wanted to take Nicha to this great outdoor barbeque buffet at the Shangri-La Hotel, where we got married. As much of our wedding package, the hotel gave us a complimentary dinner for two at the buffet on our first anniversary, and it was incredible. Normally, the cost of the buffet is about $30, so we resolved to eat there only on special occasions. However, with us buying a house, she wants to cut back on the more luxurious expenses. Plus, she wants to eat some of my cooking, which I haven't done in quite a while. So tomorrow night, I'll be preparing a hand-breaded fried fish, stir-fry veggies and a home-made blueberry cheesecake.

And to commemorate the day of love (and my ability to host photos!), here's a picture I took in Monterey, California during our honeymoon.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 4:56 PM |
 

why is role playing always limited to maids, cops, nurses, etc....

why not an employee of starbucks or a computer programmer?

"yeah...pour that latte you dirty slut...oh yeah...2 sugars baby"

"ohhhh....fuck me java style...mmmm...your program is so complicated. ooooo...virus alert"


-- stilladick

As profane as he is, stilladick never fails to crack me up. And he makes a very good point too. It's like a question I asked someone not too long ago: Why are people always someone famous in a past life? Is it possible that not all of us are reincarnated artists of renown or powerful politicians? Maybe I was the guy that scraped the elephant turd off of the circus tent floor? Or a crack baby who died in infancy? Or a serial killing cannibal?

Anyways, I digress. Happy Friday the 13th!! Hope you aren't superstitious. If so, then in all likelihood, you're in for a disasterous Valentine's Day. If you survive the weekend without maiming your significant other, consider yourself lucky.

This past week's randomness:

1 Work is starting to pick up a bit. Some of the deals I've been working on or chasing down are starting to prove themselves non-starters, but others are starting to come down the pipeline. I've been assigned to a debt restructuring project in Indonesia (what is there to do nowadays in Indonesia other than debt restructurings?!?). I'm pretty excited about that. From everything I've heard, debt restructurings in Indonesia can be real nightmares, typically because they involve acting as referee between some oftentimes dodgy borrowers and very recalcitrant lenders. But I've never done an Indonesian deal, never did a debt restructuring, and never worked in this particularly industry (which I can't disclose for confidentiality reasons), so every aspect of the deal will be completely new for me. In fact, the more complex and exasperating the deal, the better the learning experience will be. It also looks like I might get staffed on a project in India, another country I have yet to visit, so no complaints =).

2. Nicha is having a great time at work. Her bank just puchased and installed a new options/derivatives pricing software package for about $100 grand. Her first day using it, she lands a huge client and makes enough profit to pay for the program and then some. The London office is so happy they call her at the beginiing of their work day to congratulate her. I am so damn proud of her. She's pretty much responsible for building the bank's entire derivatives operation & portfolio in Thailand, and she's off to a roaring start. She's basically on track to quadruple the revenue brought in by a team of 2 that she's replacing, and her boss couldn't be happier. My wife rocks! I'm seriously contemplating letting her be my sugar mama and subsidizing a life of leisure and early retirement for me...=)

3. I'm glad the brouhaha surrounding the Janet Jackson nipple flash is starting to die down. Yes, it was attention-grabbing, but for it to drag on as long as it did was not only annoying as hell, but also a sad commentary on what holds the attention of the American public. With all the violence and porn that Americans are exposed to these days, it surprises me that so many people are up in arms about this (I'm sure the Europeans and Asians are laughing at the Americans for both their prudishness and their hypocrisy; I know I am). And during what is without a doubt one of the most exciting and memorable Super Bowl performances in recent years, but people pretty much forgot that a day after the Patriots were back in Boston. It's like that whole Birtney Spears marriage thing. She even made a good point when she mentioned that while so many people were fixated on her annulment, probes were sending back photographs of Mars of an unprecedented quality. Our understanding of the galaxy we live in just took a huge leap forward, and Americans want to know whether Britney boinked her husband. Pathetic.

4. I saw "Seabiscuit", "Underworld", and "Lost in Translation" this past week. Good movies, all of them. I was pleasantly surprised with Underworld. I wasn't expecting much, and though it wasn't the most oustanding action flick I've ever seen, It was clever, and I actually enjoyed the storyline. I was not particularly impressed with Kate Beckinsdale in Pearl Harbor or that moronic flick she did with John Cusack, but she did a pretty good job here. I'll go see the sequel when it comes out. Lost in Translation was a beautiful piece of work. Not one of the top films I've seen, but certainly very well-written, acted, and filmed. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanson were in top form, but the one who really stole the show was the Japanese escort who was screaming at Bill to "lip" her stocking, and then tackling him as she fought off his non-forthcoming sexual advances. Nicha and I were cracking up so much at that scene, and must have watched that scene about 3 or 4 times. I was particularly impressed with Seabiscuit, a fantastic film that unfortunately didn't last very long in Thai theaters (I guess there wasn't enough explosions or pop stars to hold the interest of local mall rats). I think Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, and Tobey Maguire are among the very top tier of actors working today, and they put in worthy performances. I have always loved historical pieces, and true stories of against-all-odds struggles always occupy a warm space in my heart. I still have VCDs of "8 Mile" and "Anger Management" that I have yet to open, so maybe I'll get to them this weekend.

5. All the logistics for the new house are being ironed out. Nicha is communicating with the bank to get the loan, and her dad is looking into wood work and fixtures for the house, so I think the only thing left is for me to start packing and do the heavy work =P. The house is supposed to be ready in mid-April, which I hope doesn't get in the way of vacation plans.

6. Thanks to Technicolour Lover for directing me to Photo Bucket, a site that will host photos for me to post up on my blog. No more having to leech off of Pete's websites. So here are a few pics of the townhouse development that Nicha and I will be moving to. The first pic (on the right) is what each building will look like when completed; this one contains 5 units. The next two are shots of the show unit, taken on the second floor loft level.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:40 PM |


Saturday, February 07, 2004  

Today's batch of randomness:

FIRST

A HUGE update on our housing situation. Nicha and I had confirmed that we would be taking the condo unit in the next tower over. We have already been making arrangements to pack up ane move next Saturday. However, after lunch today, we decided to swing by a townhouse development near where we live. I was already familiar with the layout of this developer's townhouses, as I was their financial and strategic consultant when I was at my last company, and had visited many of their residential properties. But this was Nicha's first time at any of their projects, and she was absolutely blown away. And thus, we have decided to buy a house! It's a 4-storey, 260 square meter (2,798 square foot) townhouse, with 4 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. The architecture is very European, with the common areas boasting large ceilings and windows, creating a light & airy atmosphere. The development comes complete with a clubhouse (swimming pool, squash courst, sauna, & jacuzzi), and gated entry. It is also a stone's throw away from our regular hypermarket and shopping mall, and a 2-minute walk from our regular driving range. We are loathe to move from the neighborhood we are in now, since it's convenient to major expressways, thoroughfares, and transit systems, close to many restaurants and retail venues, and is a generally nice area to live, so we are excited to find the place. Hopefully I can persuade my former client to give us a generous discount on the unit! =)

This is a particularly momentous decision for me, since the prospect of owning property has always been a scary and daunting one for me. In fact, it's a decision that I find even scarier than marriage. This may sound silly, but its true. I've become a fairly nomadic person, having moved around a dozen or so times over the last dozen years. To buy property, or even large pieces of furniture is akin to putting down roots. For me, I always thought that even if I married, maintaining a mobile lifestyle wouldn't be completely out of the question. However, property is a relatively illiquid investment, especially in Thailand where the secondary market is thin. Buying a house would commit me to Thailand in a way that merely marrying a Thai woman could not. Well, ever since I decided to take this new job, I'm started to come to the realization that committing myself to this company for the next few years nearly slams shut the door to possibly working another stint overseas. Also, having seen my brothers' and friends' new babies has made me realize that it's probably time Nicha and I start thinking about a family of our own. All of this, plus Nicha finding a place she absolutely falls head over heels over (I'm easy-going, but admittedly, I really like the townhouse) is such a significant confluence of events that we would be foolish not to act on them. The funniest thing about all of this is that the biggest purchase of our lives will be an impulse purchase, based on an impromptu visit while we were digesting our lunch!

SECOND

Nicha and I saw "The Last Samurai" last weekend. One word: eehh. It was okay. The cinematography was beautful, the action scenes kinda neat, but overall, largely forgetable. I mean, it's all been done before, and on a much grander scale. Remember "Dances With Wolves"?!? Disillusioned, suicidal Civil War officer goes to strange and far off land, encounters a noble and "savage" warrior culture, falls in love with the people (among them a woman), immerses and succumbs to this new culture, and turns on his own military. I don't see "Samurai" covering any new ground. If anything, Samurai substitutes decent-but-not-mind-blowing action scenes for storyline and character development. Ken Watanabe is a formidable actor, but it was not quite an Oscar-worthy performance (my friend Ami commented that his character seemed like a Japanese Morpheus, each wielding a katana blade). Plus, the whole idea of Asian woman falling in love with white man (especially one who killed her husband) strains the limit of credibility, if not my ability to instantaneously vomit. Again, a decent film, just not one that lives up to all the hype.

Coincidentally, Nicha and I just finished watching the 80's television mini-series "Shogun", which just came out on DVD. I've always loved this series, and that the studio has re-inserted a significant amount of cut footage (bringing the running time to 12 hours) only makes it that much better of a story. It sort of makes Samurai pale even further in comparison. But of course, if you're gonna watch samurai flicks, you gotta go with the grand master of the genre: Kurosawa. "The Seven Samurai" remains one of the great film classics of all time (and even the Western genre remake "The Magnificent Seven" is a classic in its own right), one that people will still hold up as a masterpiece long after Samurai is forgotten.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 6:48 PM |


Wednesday, February 04, 2004  

One of the regular BBS posters on the Rice Bowl Journals forum posted this joke/anecdote that I found pretty funny:

A little girl goes to the barber shop with her father. She stands next to the barber chair, while her dad gets his hair cut, eating a snack cake. The barber says to her, "Sweetheart, you're gonna get hair on your Twinkie." She says, "Yes, I know, and I'm gonna get boobs too."

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:14 PM |


Tuesday, February 03, 2004  

Just picked up a few new pirated DVDs off of Sukhumvit. "Seabiscuit", "Underworld", and "Lost in Translation" are all of outstanding quality. The picture for "Kill Bill" is VCD quality, but the sound isn't so great. All-in-all, I'm a happy camper.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:02 PM |
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