Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What a Classic Line!

"I was born naturally, but brought up Caesarean." - Adrian Monk from the series Monk

I heard this line last night on the latest episode of Monk & cracked up! I think it will be a classic. I had to think deeper after my initial response (i.e.ROFL) to its superficial comedic delivery by the talented Tony Shalhoub to figure out what Monk meant when he said that. My personal take on its meaning is that Monk was born, like most everyone else, a normal baby. But subsequent "interventions" (i.e. situations which occur , and people he interacted with during his life) - hence the term "Caesarean" upbringing- resulted in the neurotic person that he is now, with all his oddities & quirks.

I love the analogy & I think it applies to all of us, as each & every one of us have our own distinctive neuroses & dysfunctionalities (to different degrees!).

I love Monk! More, more!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

English Lit.

The movie adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride & Prejudice" will hit the local cinemas in December. I have already asked a couple of my ex-schoolmates if they would be interested in coming along with me to watch this chick flick (hubby had resignedly said,"If you really want to watch it, I will accompany you." Sweet intentioned that he is - hee hee - I won't submit him to the torture of sitting through 2 hours of Jane Austen's dialogue).

Reason why I am so keen to watch this is because I remember reading this book for English Literature, one of my favorite subjects in Secondary school. What made it even more fun was that some of us were assigned "roles" (characters) from the book, & we read out the dialogue as if we were acting out the book in a play. Reading this book brings back many enjoyable memories of reading & learning to appreciate the beauty of words & what emotions some words can evoke in me. I remember reading Poetry which could stir up emotions in me that I never knew existed!

Admittedly, Jane Austen's austere & rather long-winded writing style frustrates me immensely at times; and yet, I am still drawn to reading her books (as a matter of fact, I have all her novels); perhaps I am a masochist! I even have some of the previous movie adaptations (Sense & Sensibility, Emma) as well as the TV series version of Pride & Prejudice in which Mr Darcy was played by a rather wooden Colin Firth (highlighted in Bridget Jones' Diary).

Literature is no longer a compulsory subject in local schools, which is a pity. It is a shame that many of our children will not know writings of Shakespeare or Bronte or Austen, nor the poetry of Yeats or Keating. It is obvious that the standard of written & spoken English locally has deteriorated tremendously in the last decade or so. Someone in the Ministry of Education should realise that the study of a language does not comprise solely of filling in the blanks of Cloze passages (what the h*** does Cloze mean anyway??? Can't find it in any respectable dictionary!) & answering multiple choice questions. Children need to be exposed to the different forms of writing & not only will they grow to appreciate the power of language, but at the same time learn so much more about the world around us.

When my older son first transferred to the international school system after spending 5 years in the local system, he struggled with Reading & Language. Yes - this despite the purported high standard of English in the local schools. He realised that what he had been doing previously was just skimming the surface. In his new school, he had to actually read books, analyse paragraphs, and learn to use different tools in writing. It took him a couple of months to change his mindset as far as learning the language was concerned. And it is only recently that I see a change & vast improvement in his language skills when he had to review a poem (below) by Langston Hughes called "A Dream Deferred".

Not bad for a 13 year old, eh?

A Dream Deferred:
Why it’s Memorable

“A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes is very memorable because of its vivid, detailed imagery. His use of pauses and hyphens causes the desired, unsteady beat to create stress in the poem. For example, he put “Harlem” at the beginning, asks a question, and he has an off-beat question at the end and they all don’t follow any steady rhythm like the middle of the poem does. He probably did these things in this poem to show that a dream deferred is random and out of place. Hughes also used harsh “st” sounds and “s” alliterations to create undesirable images and slithering, flowing sounds to show slyness. For instance, he wrote, “Or fester like a sore – And then run?” this creates an ugly or even painful image of a sore in the reader’s head. Another example: he wrote, “Or crust and sugar over – like a syrupy sweet?” which creates an encroaching, slithering manifestation of a rotting candy. Using all kinds of devices, Hughes creates a lasting impression in the reader’s mind.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Harry Potter & GOF

Watched Harry Potter & the GOF tonight. Have mixed feelings about it. Loved the special effects, and the stars of the show did a wonderful job, but somehow felt like the movie had a rather chopped-up-then-put-together-again feel to it. I guess the director was trying very hard to squeeze all the important elements of the story into it, without ending up with a 4 hour movie! I wish that some of the supporting characters like Cedric, Fleur & Cho had been given more screen time & allowed to develop their characters a bit more. Even Snape didn't get to show his colors as much this time around. And Sirius was reduced to literally ashes in the fireplace in just one scene.

A-n-y-hoo, I think it's worth a second look (we are such movie buffs that we tend to go a bit overboard sometimes!) to catch some of the minor bits & nuances which we may have missed the first time around. Hmm...maybe will try Gold Class.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Of Witches, Wizards, Magic & Hogwarts

What is it about Harry Potter that draws grown-ups into his world & his adventures? We bought advance tickets for Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire last week when the tickets first became available for sale. I am probably more excited about the movie than my sons! I have even marked the date on which we are watching the movie in RED on my calendar, that's how excited I am!

I bought the first Harry Potter book (Sorcerer's Stone) out of curiosity about the hoo-ha that surrounded its popularity. My older son was not even old enough to appreciate it at the time. My husband soon got drawn into it by the time the 3rd book came out.

I guess part of the appeal is the fantasy world of magic, where bones can be mended with a potion, or time can be relived using a magical necklace. It's a form of escapism from the real & often mundane world. Something about living in a boarding school also appeals to the teenager in me, who used to read the Mallory Towers series by Enid Blyton, wishing that I, too, could do the same.

I know that come Nov 18 when we are watching the movie, I will be on the edge of my seat with anticipation as the scenes unfold and JK Rowling's words are transformed into the images on the big screen. I also know that I will wish that the movie will never end - that's how it's always been in all the Harry Potter movies- and that the magic will somehow continue...but it never does, and eventually, it has to come to the bittersweet end.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Must-See TV...NOT!

I was appalled at the standard of a local TV drama series which premiered last night called "Lifeline", which is about a group of paramedics & police officers. I am all for supporting local talent if it exists! I wonder if the TV stations have quality control people who screen through the programs first before they are allowed to make the cut into prime-time!

I was cringing through the 1-hour episode with the wooden acting, poorly scripted dialogue, unimaginative storyline; even when the credits were rolling, the background showed a scattering of what was supposed to be ECG tracings (I think!) which looked more like the scribblings of someone testing out a pen at Popular (a local chain of stationary/book stores).

Sigh...local TV needs to be revamped, especially the programming. For the last decade or so, prime time slots of between 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm have been reserved for mainly locally produced comedies, reality programs & now dramas, while award-winning TV programs like Desparate Housewives, CSI, & previously X-files, E.R., Chicago Hope etc were relegated to late night slots of after 10 or 11 pm.

SOAPs are like DOPE

Do you realise that soapy dramas like One Tree Hill have an almost addictive effect on its viewers??? I watched one episode of this series (targeted mainly at the teenage female audience)during one of my "nothing-better-to-do" moments & was reluctantly, slowly, but surely, drawn into the convoluted happenings of this small town called Tree Hill. The story revolves around characters from the local high school - two of them, Lucas & Nathan are half brothers on the basketball team. They share the same father (Dan) whose brother (Keith) is in love with Lucas's Mom (Karen). There is a plethora of other characters like Jake (a single parent to an infant girl), Brooke (Lucas's ex-girlfriend), Peyton (Brooke's best friend whom I think had a fling with Lucas but I am not sure cos I wasn't watching the series when it happened), Haley (Nathan's girlfriend & now wife!) & Jessie (???I think that's her name??? - anyway she is the mother to Jake's baby girl). Latest cliffhangers in the season finale has Nathan's mom (Deb) having a one night stand with Keith; Lucas leaving Tree Hill with Keith; Dan having a heart attack; Coach Whitey (basketball coach) on the verge of discovering the diagnosis of his eye condition; Jessie trying to find Jake who has run off with their daughter after she threatened to fight for custody; & Haley & Nathan finally consumating their relationship after a quickie wedding. Confused enough??? My husband begged me not to tell him about the story ("No, no more...enough!!!") when I was trying to explain it to him while I was watching the taped final episode of the season. I think I will try to cold turkey myself off this series even when the new season starts....

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Something's Gotta Give

A renowned advertising executive, Neil French recently resigned after creating an uproar over a remark made about why women don't make it to creative directorship. He said something to the effect that because of motherhood, women just do not have what it takes to get to the top of the heap in the advertising world.

In my personal opinion, his remarks probably holds true for many other professions, including Medicine. The demands & time needed to, first of all, complete medical school, then internship, and then possibly traineeship, are arduous & draining, both physically & mentally. I know that there are thousands of ladies out there who have become excellent clinicians and heads of departments, or set up their own GP clinics working morning noon & night for most of the week and at the same time, have managed to start families, balancing work & family life with amazing dexterity. But one wonders if the quality of life achieved is satisfactory, and whether their families (especially the children) suffer as a result of this tenuous balance.

We may want to be Supermom & Superdoc concurrently, & there are probably some women out there who can be both, but I think that is the exception rather than the rule. Like it or not, women ARE from Venus & men ARE from Mars, and apart from our physical differences, the psychological and emotional make-up of the two genders are very different. Somehow, when men are at work, they are able to focus totally on their job - forget about planning for dinner or whether the kids have homework, or whether the kids are revising for their tests/exams etc. Women, on the other hand, often times have to multitask - seeing patients, planning what's for dinner, making up a grocery list, worrying whether the kids are doing their homework...

I told my ex-boss once after lamenting about the shortage of doctors in our practice: it's tough hiring female doctors, isn't it? What with maternity leave and going part-time once the babies arrive, and children's MC etc... He just smiled & said "You said it, I didn't!" I guess many people don't voice out what is quite obvious in their minds for fear of repurcussions (a la Neil French). But we have to admit that something's gotta give...

Flame on people (:::putting on my asbestos suit:::)