Archive for ‘Vernon’

March 22, 2014

Test Your Reading Speed

I got 564 words a minute – 126% faster than the average US reader.

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

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September 28, 2008

Feasting on culinary programmes

Another Sunday, another day of working with Giselle, Ria and Nadine and another evening of watching the food programmes on cable. News was great today and we managed to pull the newscast together primarily because of Giselle’s uncanny ability to remain unruffled in the face of anything. I swear if civilians heard the bawdy conversations we have while creating a newscast they would probably throw holy water on us. Giselle did an excellent job of reading this evening as usual and I was happy to be able to just behave as the conductor.

 

I made it home to revel in another evening of watching food programmes. The main event for me this evening was Alton Brown’s Feasting on Waves which, as it turns out, was the final part of his four part series. Before that I watched Challenge on Food Network with some dreadful display of odd cooking in what seems to have been a beef cooking challenge that resulted in a few winners with rather yawnable dishes. At least I managed to grab dinner and have a shower during the programme. This was followed by a difficult time for me when I was confronted with Iron Chef America ( a poor imitation of the Japanese version of the show) running against Anthony Bourdain with his No Reservations. Normally I am glued to Iron Chef America but dammit Jim …it was Anthony Bourdain and an episode I had never seen before on the Travel Channel with him in New Zealand. I flipped back and forth and then saw that the challengers on Iron Chef chose Bobby Flay and ..well…Bourdain won.

 

Bourdain was his usual self as he bombed at a culinary speech in New Zealand and proceeded to find the ethos of the country before venturing into his next presentation. I know it was all staged TV ( I work in the medium – after all) but it was well done and there was wild boar involved and Bourdain did the butchering. I think I adore the guy because when i watch him and his sarcastic and cynical ways I see myself and in a world when I often feel I am the last caustic person on the planet  – it comforts me. His insatiable curiosity also strikes a chord with me. Bourdain was happy with his visit to the Antipodes and I was pretty darned happy too. BTW I managed to catch the last minute of Iron Chef and was pleased to see that Flay lost the challenge.

 

I was going to make this entry a detailed discussion about the last episode of Feasting on Waves but despite my extensive note taking on Scrivener  I feel that would miss the point of the last episode. Yes, he spoke of pelau and had more johnny cakes which, inexplicably, seem ubiquitous in the upper Caribbean but not Trinidad. And , yes, he insists on pronouncing Anguilla as “angweela” as opposed to “angwilla”. He also continued his concentration on the smaller territories ignoring the islands that really dictate the cuisine of the Caribbean but it was a four part series so I can only assume he has a plan for a larger series.

 

My views on the the series after seeing the final episode are actually quite basic. I am happy I have seen another side of Alton Brown. A less perfect and much more interesting side that…dare I say it…makes him more human. I saw our region force Alton to relax and just be himself which I guess is what we are best at doing. We break people down and force them to realize we are ultimately about being human and that involves the fun of learning we are not perfect and that life is really about a little bit of this and little bit of that and damn the exact measurements. Caribbean culture, built on African, Indian, European, Chinese, Arabic and heaven knows what else is about just doing what feels right. That is what I love about living here. Then Alton, the most uptight person on the Food Network made the ultimate announcement in his last episode. He said that in the Caribbean ( in local food places) we cook food with love and that is very different from cooking it “lovingly”. Ding ding ding Alton….you got it. That is what we are about as a people and a region and most observers miss it but you didn’t. So I now have a new respect for Alton who was always struck me as a soulless but very knowledgeable food expert. He clearly has soul and after seeing him barefoot in a kitchen and seeing him taste  a dish by sucking it out of his hand ( I always thought that was normal) he is now fully OK with me. I love the line he said in the BVI regarding a great coconut fish chowder passed down to the cook by his grandmother which he described as “drinking  his history out of a cup”.

 

Ironically, living in the Caribbean I now see that one of my best friends Bruce, who is also a travel writer but times 100, is facing Hurricane Kyle in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. How odd that I am safe in the Southern Caribbean and he is now dealing with one of our most infamous exports – bad weather.

September 5, 2008

Banana Republic

 

I blog this evening after I called Toronto to speak to my folks only to learn from my brother that they were on a tour of the Eastern Provinces. I vaguely recollect them indicating they would be going on a trip but I was a bit shocked that I had missed their departure. This job of mine makes time warp into a blur of homicides and interviews. My dismay at the trip is predicated by a minor childhood trauma . I was in my early teens and my parents decided to move house without informing me of the development. Imagine my puzzlement when i came home from school to discover an abandoned house? And people wonder why I am slightly neurotic. 

 

In any case, my brother rebuffed me for not updating my blog. I was surprised that he seems to read it on a regular basis but I now feel sufficiently guilty to fling together an entry. 

 

My brother and I have a quirky relationship that has had a few ups and downs over the ..ahem..decades. I will be the first to admit that, as the older sibling, I may have been a tad ungentlemanly over the years and done things to him that might, in retrospect ( and the eyes of the UN) amount to cruel and unusual punishment. I recall an episode involving me locking him in a steamer trunk atop an armoire that might possibly qualify me for prison time. Nonetheless, despite our widely different lives and personalities we got closer as we got older and, though the love was always there, we now have something approaching a healthy bond. The fact he is now twice my size may possibly also account for the detente but I like to think it is just the grinning face of death awaiting us just a few corners away.

 

My other thoughts are revolving around the fact I should make more of an effort to insist on having regular off-days. For the last several months there have been far too many times when I have gone over 10 days without a day off. Working weekends doesn’t help but I will henceforth insist on having at least one  (or preferably two) days off every week. I don’t see why I should be the only person working abnormally long weeks. 

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August 7, 2008

So you think you can blog?

 

Well I survived my Minshall interview(s) and apparently the feedback indicates it made for excellent TV. It is never easy interviewing someone you have known for a long time and who you know is not just a local creative genius but a creative genius who has made the world gasp in wonder. 

 

I chose to wear black knowing that he would too and when I picked him up to drive to the station ( forgetting the station vehicle shutting down on me) he was, in fact, dressed in his trademark black. I assessed his mood as he can be rather mercurial and determined that I would allow him free reign. Minsh can either hold back and force you to pull things out of him or he can just be in a mood to express – this was an expression day and there was no way i was going to get in his way. As it turned out he hadn’t said all he wanted to say after the first interview so we immediately decided to do a second interview. They basically consisted of me introducing Minsh and asking a question or two and the rest was just pure Minshall. I am not one of those interviewers who thinks it is essential to make my presence felt every minute by jumping in with interjections for no good reason. People tune in to hear what the guest has to say and since Minsh is not involved in spending public funds or causing suffering by poor management it was fine to let him talk. What ensued, upon looking at the broadcasts yesterday and today was akin to an extemporaneous performance of King Lear done by Olivier. Minshall is gripping on camera.

 

In other news, as shallow as it may seem, I have been addicted to So You Think You Can Dance on Fox for the entire season. I watch each episode zealously and end up crying several times because I love dance and when it is done well as it often is on the show it moves me deeply. From the very beginning I picked an unlikely favourite – Joshua. He is a street dancer with little training, his butt is too big for a dancer, his body is not a dancer’s body but he had spirit , an incredible gift and tremendous power. Joshua did jumps that seemed impossible and did presses and catches that seemed to have been accomplished by computer graphics. He is a brilliant dancer and left me breathless several times. Amazingly, this evening he won the competition and i felt like an Apple stock investor again.  I assumed a cute white boy would win the vote based on the masses of white suburban girls voting but I was wrong. Apparently in this case democracy worked. I am still not a complete fan because G. W. Bush has been President of the U.S. for two terms..but I had a moment of doubt this evening.

July 8, 2008

Life in the fast lane.

 

 

Interesting day today what with feeling like crap and working. Actually, I was a bit tired of my hypochondriac self and proceeded with my day as normal. My 1pm interview with Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj was cancelled when he called at 7:30 to say he had to attend parliament. I have been doing this for a long time but even I have to defer to the business of the nation. My second interview with Kevin Ratiram was intact.

 

I did the makeup thing I hate and went down to the interview when I was called and informed he had arrived. It was interesting to say the least. Ratiram is a compatriot of Ramlogan and the entire COP crew but in my research I noted he is also an attorney/actor/model and and the new President of the Rotary Club of Penal. He has led some interesting cases that caught the news and he obviously lost in contesting the seat for the COP as they failed to gain a single seat. I was, however, astounded by his optimism and enthusiasm. Here is a young guy who is also a lawyer who sees the underside of T&T society and yet, if we are to believe him, he really feels he can make a change.  I am a natural cynic but I give him credit for being quite convincing  about his plans for the Rotary Club in Penal. The fact he looked like he came from Bollywood only made the whole experience more bizarre. But I say good for him and if his plans for change are really honest I wish him all the best.

 

I have been thinking a lot about what Bunny wrote in his blog. I would have never guessed a few years ago that reading something on the net would be a big deal in my life but apparently times have changed. The choice of changing jobs and, by definition, changing friends and environment. can be a serious thing. I  am now, as they say, carefully guided.

June 19, 2008

…and one more thing

 

In addition to the numerous offline comments I have had about the Nawab I have also had several about  my favourite foodies. While this may not count as a true entry I am hoping it has a little value as a space filler. 

 

My favourite food writers of all time is a question I get asked a fair amount. I would think the answers are obvious. In chronological order. Andre Simon was brilliant and his magnum opus was undoubtedly A Concise Encyclopedia of Gastronomy. It sets the bar for food writing and is enormously entertaining. He has recipes for just about everything including rat and elephant. How can one not respect that? As a good aside his recipes ( though I never actually follow a recipe – it makes me feel cheap) are pretty spot-on as well. Elizabeth David is to me the greatest food writer who ever lived. She captures places and foods with a clarity that is astounding. I never thought much of women and food until I read her work and it truly changed my world. I will never squeeze a lemon again without bowing my head to a woman who changed how I think about food. Of course, Anthony Bourdain is a quasi-god to me. Here we have a heterosexual man who understands food and writes in a style that is both refreshing and unique. I don’t know if he knows it but he is one of the best writers on the planet. The man cooks and yet he is able to write like someone who  should be writing the next great novel.  He understands and appreciates his subject. There are not many writers who have mastered that fine craft and he has done so amazingly. More importantly, I care what he writes and I believe it. The humour is an added benefit. Anyone who has not read Bourdain is missing out in life. I have never eaten in his restaurant(s) but I am certain his legacy will not be in his eating establishments but in his prose.  Of course, I would be remiss to not mention the greatest culinary work I have ever worshipped which  remains Larousse Gastronomique. The greatest book ever written on the subject of cookery.  When I watched my fave animated film of all time – Ratatouille – I asked myself if it respects Larousse. It does. 

 

The very first time I read Larousse I thought…this is my bible…it remains so.

June 12, 2008

Night without end.

 

WARNING – VENTING ALERT!!!

 

I have just returned from being subjected to another awful M. Night Shyamalan film. Actually, based on recent experience with his films it is redundant to use that particular adjective but this one is so egregiously bad that words almost fail me … but not quite. I hadn’t planned to go to the movies but Alvin, Binky and Alvin’s cousin Amshad said they were going and would pick me up for the 9:15 showing of The Happening. Warning bells should have gone off in my head but since my flu/cold/terminal disease has kept me a virtual recluse lately I went. Foolish move.

 

Those who know me even slightly well know that i love the medium of film but nothing irks me more than a badly made film. In this case M or Night or whatever his fans call him has achieved the previously unachievable task of making a film where there is simply nothing good about it. SPOILER ALERT!!!

 

I found it strange that the film opened here in Trinidad before the official release date of Friday 13th in the US ( gosh what a clever release date) but I am sure once the critics rightly savage the film on Friday it will be thrown straight on to DVD. Actually, in my view that would be a waste of a DVD blank. The premise of this travesty, in a nutshell – and not to put too fine a point on it – is that the plants get annoyed and decide to kill us. But they don’t actually kill us themselves, oh no, that would be far too simple and a bit too Day of the Triffids, what they do is release a “toxin” in the air that makes us kill ourselves in a variety of creative and colourful ways. We throw ourselves off buildings, shoot ourselves, slash our wrists, get run over by lawn equipment and even bash our heads into walls. Oh gee..I almost forgot…we also jump into lion cages and tease them until they bite our arms off as it is captured on iPhone video ( despite the fact iPhones don’t do video) . If we take this incredibly stupid premise that the plant version of Google Labs suddenly figured out this clever formula and pair it with some of the worst and most stilted dialogue I have ever heard and then throw in some incredibly bad acting we  end up with a recipe for an instant headache.

 

When I say bad dialogue I don’t mean just bad dialogue I refer to the sort of dialogue that would make your eyes roll back into your head and never want to emerge again. We are talking lines such as “don’t let the wind catch you” and “if I have to die I want to die with you” and I, of course ,paraphrase because I was having a hard time staying conscious. This sort of thing might work if it is done tongue in cheek but M N S takes himself so damned seriously with what I gather was meant to be a morality lesson about the environment. 

 

The acting made me think they just rounded up a bunch of people and dropped them on the set. Mark Wahlberg makes a fine underwear model but i swear his range makes Keanu Reeves look like Larry Olivier. Zooey Deschanel, the female lead, seems to have been given some sort of pupil dilating drops and then pumped full of medication before being let loose on the set. The only person who seemed to have escaped this film with her career was Betty Buckley who at least managed a camp crazy lady performance.

 

So, to summarise, people start dropping like flies within the first 5 minutes, then for the next 6 hours..ok fine…1.5 hours …we have to listen to bad dialogue as people try to figure out what is going on and “run from the wind”.  I am all for freedom of expression but I shouldn’t be lured into having to sit through a grade Z movie. I can see no reason for this “film” other than wasting time and effort and making cinema enthusiasts feel ripped off. I read with alarm that M N S is about to embark on making another movie. Please M. Night do film a favour and put down the pen, fold away the director’s chair and step away from the camera.

ADDENDUM

I’ve slept on it and decided I was too kind last night. This film was not just bad it was monumentally bad. It is an affront to bad film. It is the Burj Dubai of bad film making. It is, in short, the gunk under the toenail of bad film making. Those writers who dare to liken M N S to Hitchcock are off their trolley. Hitchcock was a genius and a tremendous talent. M N S should not even be allowed to say the name Hitchcock. I want my 90 minutes back and Alvin wants his $180 back.

June 9, 2008

Why me?

 

I am enough of a Mac addict to admit that I have, for far too many years, been glued to the annual  Apple Worldwide Developers Conference to hear the latest announcements from the mothership. Today, however, the revelations about the latest developments from Steve left me shaking my head. The iPhone is great and lovely and I still don’t want one – making it the first Apple product ever I have not had any interest in buying. This may not seem like much of a declaration but keep in mind I still own an Apple Quicktake camera and two Newtons. The startling thing for me was the announcement that .Mac which is what I use to host one of my blogs and where much of my digital life is firmly planted is about to be  replaced by “MobileMe”. I don’t know what drugs Stevie is taking but I don’t want any part of them.

 

I have paid for my .Mac service for many years and, while I admit it is overpriced, I enjoy the geek value of having a dot mac email address and having all my Macs synchronized. If I change a bookmark on one or add a contact Lo and behold the others reflect the change. Apparently, Apple thinks I really want a globewriter at ME.com address. Nope, I don’t. It really is not all about “me”. I understand I will be allowed to keep the original @ mac.com address but I pity all the poor fools who have to now  accept a  joeschmo@me.com address. Why on earth would Apple think that was a cool email address to have? I love the fact that when I give people my email address they always say “ I love Macs they are so cool” or things similar – what are they supposed to say now – “I am really glad you love yourself”?. I can assure Apple that when I am also assigned ( as apparently I will be shortly) a globewriter @ me.com address I will only use it to post replies on strange boards I don’t care about. Note to Apple…. it is not all about me…that generation is over. I am also sobbing about the announcement that iCards will soon be no more. I have sent Apple iCards to everyone I care about and loved the fact they were not full of flash animations and annoying musical numbers. I suspect I will miss iCards the most.

 

In response to Ursula’s comment on my previous entry suggesting I should be more careful what I write because this is ( no denying it) a small country I feel I should spend a few words. I am not from the sort of family that is easily cowed by those in authority. My Mother is a writer and once lost her job at a newspaper because she wrote something that annoyed a Prime Minister. My biological  father  continues to disparage those in authority on the air and my Stepdad, who I adore, could not be kept silent by anyone. Freedom of speech is, to me, the most important liberty imaginable. I would lay down my life for two things only – my friends and family and my right to speak freely. If it ever reached the point I had to give up my freedom for my freedom of speech I would do so gladly. I am a journalist but I am also a rebel ( is there much of a difference?) so I will continue to speak out when I need to. I am intelligent enough to separate the two. When I produce or present news my personal views are of no importance but as a human I have views so to pretend otherwise is folly and I will continue to state the obvious in my blog and in my other writing arenas. If it gets me in trouble I am prepared to face the consequences. To co-opt the AIDS slogan of the 90s – Silence=Death.

When people stayed silent about Auschwitz then or Darfur now they are complicit in genocide – I refuse to stay silent.

June 8, 2008

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse

I work in news and when I have to produce a newscast on a weekend with my usual dream team of Ria, Nadine and the powerhouse that is Giselle it is normal to call before I head to the newsroom to ask if there were any overnight murders. What is not normal is hearing that one of the latest murder victims is a 5 month old infant. Things have reached a really sorry state in this country when a 25 year old father is getting out of a taxi with his baby boy and they are both gunned down. There is no indication the father had any involvement in anything illegal and by all accounts three bullets were pumped into the child as his father tried to shield him. Giselle did her usual excellent job on the story and we devoted 4 minutes to it but I am still shocked and most of all very angry that such an event actually happened in this country that is rolling in money and should be a tropical paradise. Knowing that the sorry excuse for a National Security Minister will sit there defending his performance at some future media event and the PM will tacitly show his own poor judgment by keeping him in office is more than I can reasonably comprehend.

 

We also had a late arriving story of Dr. Keith Rowley giving his latest take on the scandals involving UDeCOTT and the government’s continuing attempts to explain some decidedly strange accusations from the Opposition concerning alleged nepotism and tendering inconsistencies. As I have said before I have a begrudging respect for Dr. Rowley mainly because of his clear intelligence and spunk. He may not be taken very seriously since he was part of the administration for many years with nary a peep but I like seeing him speaking and I admire his bulldog spirit. Basically, in his hour and a half speech, he said I am not apologizing to anyone and the government is taking us all for fools. At one of the recent get-togethers at my place someone said the PNM has done some good work. I don’t deny it and I honestly can’t say any of the opposition parties would have done any better but I know that even an abject idiot with billions to spend would do some good. Hell…a gang of monkeys punching keys to spend billions of dollars would have accomplished some good. 

 

At this point I only know one thing – this country is in a sorry state and there is no cavalry on the horizon.

May 28, 2008

Face to familiar face.

 

Now that Peggy is here to promote her book Jahajin it was inevitable I would have her on the programme for a little tête-à-tête about her visit. It is never an easy business interviewing a family member much less someone who has always rather awed me with her multiplicity of talents. Like the cat that she has always used as a metaphor for her personality one must simply approach it and hope for the best. As it turns out it was a very pleasant interview and Peggy even consented to do two interviews back to back. The logic of this was not simply to maximise the nepotism potential ( and, yes, I mentioned she was my cousin) but also to be able to get her on before the book launch tomorrow and to also have a programme with her insights for Indian Arrival Day which is this Friday.

 

Both interviews were enjoyable for me and Peggy is nothing if not an intelligent raconteur. She discussed the book candidly and was able to give insight into the genesis of the idea and her motivations for bringing it to press. I thoroughly enjoyed her discussion of what it is like to have adopted India as her homeland and the unique perspective it gives of Trinidad. I think I came away learning something but then again I am never in Peggy’s company without learning something. To this day i carry around bits of trivia and even opinions that were planted into my young head many years ago. I am not one to go about admiring people but I am happy to admit that she has played an unusually ( and ,I dare say, unintentionally) large role in shaping my mind.

 

We went to lunch at the Arabic food place near work which she hailed as serving the best food she has encountered on this trip in between befriending the entire Syrian staff…one of whom refused to believe that we are not Arabic. Over our meal she gave me some insights into her next planned books but her mind and thought processes are such that I have not yet quite absorbed all of her ideas and concepts. One does not listen to Peggy and digest what she is saying but rather one stores the bulk of it for later processing. Her mind runs like a Maserati on an Alpine road so it is sufficient to hang on for dear life and then ponder the trip in due time. I don’t think i have the full capacity to follow her thought processes fully as her vast array of talents leads her to think about literature in musical terms, of narrative in visual terms and of reality in conceptual terms. I just sit and talk to people for a living so you can see my disadvantages in that area. She is an accomplished painter, musician, linguist and now writer so I will say that were she not family I would hate her instinctively. 

The only other news today other than road blocking, an 8 year old girl murdered and raped by a family member and more accusations about UDeCOTT was the Prime Minister dismissing the notion expressed by..oooh 90% of the public that he is an arrogant jackass ( ok…I added the jackass part). All I can say is that when you decide to follow some harebrained scheme for becoming a developed country while ignoring human welfare, spending money like a high-rolling gambler on crack and build yourself a palace as a priority when work hasn’t even started on a new hospital  you have to be pretty damned arrogant not to spot your own arrogance.