Friday, October 21, 2005

My mom's watching National Geographic. Something about voodoo. Just saw some guy bite the head off a live chicken.


Codex by Lev Grossman

This is one really solid book. So far, at least. ( I'm halfway through. )

I'm into these Dan Brown-esque works of fiction at the moment. Especially after that cool Angels & Demons tour in Rome ( which I think everyone should join, whether you've read the book or not ).

I'm also dosing up on supernatural/religious-themed thrillers. Something called "Brimstone" ( can't tell you the author's name 'cos I haven't taken it out of the bag yet ), and currently waiting for cheaper copies of Mark Frost's "The Six Messiahs" and "The List Of Seven".

But back to the main story.

"Codex" is another one of those adventure-suspense combos, this time revolving around an investment banker ( wimpily named Edward WOZNY, hmm ). 25 years old, described as skinny, and on the verge of a trans-Atlantic move to London for a coveted position.

He somehow gets roped in to sort a chunk of antique books for a valued client, meets a whole bunch of strange characters along the way ( a Columbia Uni student obsessed with old books, a gang of LAN-game addicts ), and gets hooked on a mysterious computer game called MOMUS ( which sounds suspiciously like Myst - used to drive me batty in my younger days, don't ask me why anyone would find THAT fun ).

Anyhow, the novel is enjoyable ( for me ) mainly because of Grossman's writing style - deceptively fluid yet littered with lyrical analogies and astute observations about people, work, and best of all, New York City.

For instance:

" ...he winced whenever he happened to land on CNNfn, with its slippery poisonous blue serpent of fiscal data slithering across the bottom of the screen, rapaciously devouring its own tail."

In keeping with my habit of picturing literary characters in the forms of suitably-proportioned actors, I've picked Jake Gyllenhaal for the lead part. He doesn't have black hair, but it's a small discrepancy. Let's see if this hits the big screen sometime in the near future.



The 2nd installment just aired 4 days ago, with quite a few repeats over the weekend, so check your catalogues and watch it already!

I thought the pilot was amazing, but the follow-up totally blew me away.

The 2 brothers - Don and Charlie - were hot on the trail of a gang of bank robbers. Lots of twists yet again, with a change in modus operandi, theories about observers inevitably altering the behaviour of the observed subjects ( "you can't measure an electron without bumping into it" ) and - my favourite bit - a revelation about math genius Charlie's tortured past.

Morrow ( who plays older bro Don ) has beefed up for his FBI agent role. He's physically right for the part, handling the heavy action in the nail-biting opening shootout with great dexterity. He reminds me of those "CSI" team leaders ( i.e. Gil Grissom, Horatio Caine and Mack Taylor ) - strong, intelligent, introspective, even-tempered and more than competent. In the face of mounting pressure both at work and at home, Morrow's Don remains consistently soft-spoken and compassionate. Nice.

Of course, Krumholtz steals the show once more, this time conveying frustrated confusion when he suffers a 2nd breakdown ( the first occurred during the last 3 months of their mother's painful battle with cancer ). Used to being in control, he finds himself regressing into a dark tunnel of denial, preferring to scrawl formulas in a futile attempt to decipher perplexing equations, rather than confront his demons head-on.

There're 2 beautiful scenes in this episode.

One, where Don tries desperately to persuade Charlie to return to the FBI office to draw up another plan for them. They're standing in the garden, Charlie hunched over and pacing the edge of a koi pond, Don upright and wringing his hands behind him. At one point, the latter grabs the former and tries to shake him out of his reverie. But Charlie doesn't retaliate. He just stands there, limp, silent and defeated, and Don suddenly releases him, apologizes, then almost instantly launches into another impassioned speech, to no avail.

The second has Charlie seated beside his father ( played by Judd Hirsch ), initially talking about general stuff. The former unexpectedly blurts out his incomprehension regarding his mother's death and how he coped with the tragedy. He's merely stating what he did, with no emotional adjectives at all. But his voice breaks, and the words come out in an anguished, strangled sob. He looks at his dad, who leans forward, smiles reassuringly and says, "But your mother understood. Because she knew how your mind works." And that was enough.


Another DVD box set to add to my shopping cart, heh heh. :)


The next MOPEX switch beckons, and I'm starting to feel quite sentimental all of a sudden.

It's been a rough 6 months, especially when a certain ER used to close daily. We suffered severely, but our MOs worked really hard, and many have improved tremendously, especially the most junior ones.

I still recall how a certain MO used to stress me out by asking LOADS of questions, even requesting that I read every x-ray s/he ordered. Now, the resus room is his/her favourite place, and I have little problem letting him/her run the show. Not too long ago, I overheard him/her saying, "Heart rate 160? Okay lah." while wheeling the patient in. Ah, I am SO PROUD. :)

Another ( also junior ) MO has already inserted 5 chest tubes in this posting alone. S/he wants to go into ophthalmology, but we're trying to change that. :)

We've got a good batch, and will miss them when they go. Quite a few are voluntarily staying back though, thank goodness. The next set of MOs are apparently ALL non-trainees ( someone tell me the logic in THAT ), but hey, I've never placed much value in such things ( I know a dean's-lister who once knowingly jabbed a patient with a Penicillin allergy with Ceftriaxone, gave too much insulin to another, and caused major bleeding when he aspirated a joint using the wrong method. Yes, it's all the same person. But oh well, he won some award recently, so what you don't know won't hurt you eh? ).

Be prepared to be WHIPPED into shape, my poor hapless little chicks.

Italian Trip Entry

It's been 3 months already, maybe I should just stop writing about it, haha.

St. Peter's Square at Vatican City is one of the stops on the Angels & Demons tour, but my mom and I returned for a more leisurely stroll after we got back to Rome 3 weeks later. It's where one of the altars of science representing Air is featured, and where one of the cardinals in the Dan Brown novel was murdered ( punctured lung, naturally ).

Look around for the obelisk ( that's it in the picture ), and you will find the West Ponente plaque, which then directs you to the next marker. Not as easy as it sounds, of course. That's why it's called fiction! :)

It was hot, as always. Crowded too. We couldn't linger long both times we were there, but it's nice to gawk at, with 2 huge fountains if you need to cool down a bit ( very filthy, but looks good if you don't stand too close ).

Didn't manage to snap one of the Swiss guards, but I don't really fancy men in goofy-looking uniforms anyhow. :D

Think I'll go catch up on some reading now. Enjoy your weekend.

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