What I’m Doing For New Year’s Eve

This is what I’m doing on the 31st of December and on New Year’s eve?

Went to work, slightly late. Reached the office at 10:20 am and worked till 5:20 pm. In between I wished several people a happy new year and wished a person who was leaving our office to go and work in Mangalore. Ate a laddoo at the office.

I waited for a relatively less crowded bus and made my way to Menaka where I had a coffee and debated what to bring home for dinner for dad, mom & me. Just as I got down, my mom called to say that she & my dad were making chicken curry at home and not to buy any food. Ok, so I lazed for a bit with my evening coffee and then came back home.

On my way over I bought a large 2 liter bottle of Pepsi. As I type this I am drinking some Cesar brandy with Pepsi and enjoying the evening. Dinner is all ready for us. Here is a picture of the simple yet tasty chicken curry that mom & dad made.

Up next is cake at midnight and selecting a movie to watch. Cheers everybody, have fun, eat, drink, be merry but above all stay safe! Happy New Year!

Evening With Sarath & Sujith

I was working today. I left early and went to Cafe Coffee Day in Pallimukku to wait for my cousins Sujith & Sarath. It took me an hour to get from Padamugal to Pallimukku. I went in to CCD and ordered my coffee and in 10 minutes Sarath & Sujith joined me. They (brothers) are my second cousins and although I have been spending many hours with Sujith online and in person for drinks, food and discussion, I had never met Sarath – his older brother – except for online and a couple of times on the phone.

We drank out coffees as we sat in CCD for 90 minutes and chatted about movies in general. Later we walked over to Golden Dragon for some beer and good food – different beef, prawn & chicken dishes with fried rice. We have long conversations and finally left there at around 9:45 pm. It was a really great evening and I hope we have more soon.

Arsenal 7 Newcastle United 3

Last night I watched a match in which it seems the defence for both sides seemed to not show up! What a crazy match it was!

Theo Walcott scored three goals and set up two more as Arsenal overcame Newcastle in a 10-goal thriller and climbed to fifth in the Premier League. Walcott, out of contract in the summer, swept Arsenal in front but Demba Ba equalised with a deflected free-kick. After Sylvain Marveaux tapped in to cancel out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low shot, Lukas Podolski nodded home. Ba levelled again, only for Walcott to score twice more, either side of a brace from substitute Olivier Giroud. Giroud hit the bar as Arsenal pushed for an eighth, but the result was secure and Arsenal extended their winning run to four games.

Emirates Stadium was engulfed by chants of “sign him up” as the full-time whistle approached, a reference to Walcott’s contract dispute. He has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season and four in three games since being deployed as the central striker. His first effort, in particular, carried shades of Thierry Henry – Arsenal’s record goalscorer who was watching from the stands and is training with the club during the Major League Soccer off-season. It is hard to imagine Arsenal letting the 23-year-old leave if he continues to produce performances of this level. Walcott left Newcastle stunned but while they are still without an away league win this term, they should take heart from impressive displays at Manchester United and Arsenal over the festive period. They had four days less than Arsenal to prepare – the Gunners’ Boxing Day visit of West Ham was postponed – yet enjoyed plenty of early possession and Ba headed just over from Marveaux’s corner.

Newcastle were punished for a high defensive line when Walcott latched on to Podolski’s through ball and curled past Tim Krul – but Alan Pardew’s men responded well and were rewarded. Bacary Sagna conceded a needless free-kick outside the box and Ba’s set piece took a heavy deflection off Jack Wilshere to elude Szczesny. After half-time Podolski nodded Danny Simpson’s throw to Santi Cazorla and he set up Oxlade-Chamberlain to drill past Krul, only for Gabriel Obertan to beat Sagna and cross for Marveaux to tap in. The momentum was shifting like a pendulum and no sooner had Podolski headed Arsenal back in front after Wilshere’s run and cross than Newcastle struck again for 3-3. A weaving run from the outstanding Marveaux ended with a cross to the back post that let Ba ghost past Kieran Gibbs and convert.

The introduction of Giroud gave Arsenal a new dimension and the Frenchman headed in a Walcott cross before drilling past Krul. With Newcastle tiring, Walcott shimmied his way past several defenders to chip Krul from a tight angle and seal his hat-trick.

With this win Arsenal have 33 points from 19 games played and sit at the 5th position in the league.

Update On The “Holidays”

Hey people, what’s happening? How have your holidays been? Mine has been like this so far – due to some issues I had some problem with cash till the 18th of December after which things have been back to normal. We worked on the last Sunday – 7 days in a row, Monday to Saturday day shifts and on Sunday I did a 7pm to 3:30 am shift just so we could join the night shift for their Christmas celebrations. Then worked on Monday for just 4 hours and spent Christmas eve and Christmas all alone at home. Had some good food – grilled chicken with porota for Christmas eve and a pizza, picture a few posts below for the 25th.

During the Christmas celebrations for the night shift at our office, I was asked to speak about Christmas in front of the whole lot. Boy do I have things to say! But all I said was “every festival & holiday is based on stories. Just like for the harvest & monsoon seasons, the winter solstice has been celebrated for 1000s of years – even before Christmas was created.” But let’s not forget what this time like every other festival or holiday season is all supposed to be about – family & friends. Spend time with your family and your friends, appreciate them, do things as a family and enjoy your time. That’s the only thing that matters. Thank you!”

Oh I got two gifts from my two Secret Santas. I had one from the morning shift and one from the night shift and similarly I bought two gifts for my two Secret Santas. I got a Gatsby deodrant and the wall hanging painting done on some different canvas. I like both a lot.

So now that the Pagan holiday stolen by Christians, more specifically the Romans, is done, it’s now for my favourite days of the year. New Year’s eve and New Year’s Day!  Just like last week, I am working on this Sunday and I am a little pissed off about that. Working just so I can get a holiday on the 1st of January. But for me, working on the 1st is a no-no and I do not want to work on this day, a pact I have with myself for the past 8 years. I choose the 1st of every new year to spend by myself and do an analysis of the past year, what I did right and what I did wrong and what I want to change for the new year ahead of me. So it’s important for me to take the day for myself. This is the case for everyone at the office so, most are working tomorrow a Sunday in order to get Tuesday off.

Red Lights

I didn’t know anything about this movie other than it’s cast and that it was about ESP and stuff like that. But I just had to get it and I’m glad I did. Red Lights is a 2012 Spanish-American thriller film, written and directed by Rodrigo Cortés, and starring Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Toby Jones, Elizabeth Olsen, Joely Richardson and Leonardo Sbaraglia. Sbaraglia is the only actor I did not know about but he stood out during his brief two appearances on the screen.

The movie is about a university professor and her assistant, who is also a promising physicist in his own right, who specialize in debunking supernatural phenomena. They visit various places where invited and check for natural causes which may be behind the events that occur. The beginning of the movie is about establishing this nature of the two – Prof. Margaret Matheson and her assistant Tom Buckley who investigate cases involving paranormal activity and pulling the rug out from under frauds. They visit a house where paranormal activity is supposed to take place and also an African-American family who have an autistic child who only starts drawing when he listens to deafening death metal. All this and they conduct normal classes at the university too.

Tom gets excited when the news channels highlight the return of a world renowned psychic – Simon Silver – a blind man who wowed the world with his feats and “healings” until 30 years ago. The reason he stopped and retired from the limelight is due to the sudden death of his biggest critic and who was investigating Silver’s work. This supposedly left a long lasting effect on Silver but now he is back to sold out shows in theatres and halls in America. Matheson refuses to cooperate with Buckley’s insistent call to undertake another investigation of Silver, warning Buckley against such an undertaking due to her previous experience with the psychic. Matheson did however appear on a talk show which included a panel mostly pro-Silver and which included Silver’s assistant and now lover Monica Handsen. When Handsen touches on a very personal part of Matheson’s life, the latter leaves the show getting upset. Buckley is now adamant to investigate Silver when he is hit by the sudden death of Matheson from a chronic vascular condition at the same time that one of Silver’s re-introductory performances takes place.

Buckley tries to find proof for the purpose of exposing the popular psychic as a fraud. During Buckley’s efforts to reveal Silver’s large-scale trickery, a series of inexplicable events occur—electronic devices explode in the hidden room where he set up to try and trace radio signals, dead birds appear out of nowhere and break through glass and falls on him and Buckley’s laboratory is vandalized. Buckley’s paranoia intensifies, as he believes Silver is behind these incidents. He loses his clam demenour and takes his girlfriend, a student at the university, back to her place while  he continues to spy on Silver’s organization. Silver agrees to participate in an investigation proposed by an academic from the same university that Matheson was employed by, and Buckley bullies his way in ad joins the observation team for the tests. Towards the end of the film, Buckley’s assistants, including his girlfriend, find out how the physic does it – his watch is rigged plus Silver is only pretending to be blind!

At the end, Buckley, who is beaten up by one of Silver’s henchmen, exposes Silver’s fraud in a hall filled with people. The world sees that Silver is not blind. As he leaves the hall and walks out in the rain, he narrates to us that he actually possesses paranormal abilities and has been responsible for the inexplicable incidents that have occurred during his investigation of Silver. Buckley explains a realization in which he arrives at an understanding that his decision to work with Matheson, despite the possibility of loftier career opportunities as a physicist, was the result of an unconscious attempt to seek out others like himself; the revelation clarifies that Buckley’s choices were made in spite of his conscious denial of the existence of paranormal activity (such denial is touched on earlier in the film, whereby the character claims that he chose this career because his mother was delayed from seeking critical medical treatment due to advice from a fraud psychic).

Good twist at the end kind of like 6th Sense although the movie isn’t quite that grade. I do think it is a good film though and everyone acting does a bang up job. 8 out of 10!

Which Sense Can You Let Go Off?

Hmmmm, let me see. Sight, sound, smell, touch & taste. Losing one of them. Which one of them would I choose to give up if I had to and be able to keep the others. This is a tough one!

I definitely do not want to lose my sight. I know it’s the hardest one to do without and anyone who is blind and adjusts well to life has all of my respect. Even being short sighted and depending on my glasses (wearing glasses from the age of 10, so now 26 years) I’d still want it. I’d miss way too much and also, if I could wish for all who have lost their sight to gain them back or never ever having lost it. That would be awesome.

Sound – for someone who listens to as much music as I do, it would be close to death if I lost my send of hearing. I love music and various other sounds. I wish everyone could hear the lovely sounds and music. I would not hear the sounds of approaching cars or other vehicles or shouts of warning by people as danger rushes behind me – not pleasant sounds but necessary to survive and avoid dangerous situation.

Taste – how the hell will you know if what you are eating or drinking is the right thing that you wanted unless you could taste it. Too much or too little sugar? Too spicy or too bland? Too salty or no salt at all? How would I know? Without taste I’m left with just the texture, colour and look of the food or drink and that would be just dull.

Touch is a tricky one. Soft, hard, rough, bumpy. I might really need the sense of touch for certain situations. What if there is a blackout and I need to feel my way through to safety? Instead of a rope I pick up a poisonous snake? I could feel the difference and save myself.

That leaves me with smell – if I had to lose one, I guess it would be smell. Even though I love certain smells, I guess smell is the one I could do without. I’d prefer that I had the sense of smell but if one had to go, I guess it would be smell.

That’s what I think.

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Which Food Transports You To Your Childhood?

It’s more than just one type of food for me that reminds me of my childhood. It’s not very complex food because as a kid you don’t usually like complex stuff. I’m just gonna list out the various food I loved as a kid and which when I eat now, or even see them, instantly reminds me of the good times I had as a kid.

The first and foremost has got to be the Arabian staple shawarma (not surprising as I was born and raised in Kuwait till I was 11). As a kid I usually had them as rolls, or sandwiches if you please, rolled inside the pita bread along with cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce, usually with hummus as dressing or mayonnaise. In Kuwait I believe we had the choice of either beef, lamb or marinated chicken but here in Kerala it’s mostly either beef or chicken. I remember many evenings when we as a family would buy and eat shawarma for dinner.  My uncle, aunt and later their daughter Shalini, my cousin, also lived in Kuwait and many weekends were spent together and we sit together in front of the tv and enjoy a big meal of shawarma, khubz and hummus. Hummus is ofcourse the very popular Middle eastern  dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. My aunt being a veggie used to not have shawarma but enjoyed falfals – a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans- with khubz and hummus. Whenever I have shawarma now (I can’t seem to find a place that will serve the other stuff but shawarma is very popular here in Kerala as well) I always think back to the old days.

Kentucky fried chicken is another reminder of the days gone by. We used to order the buckets for family dinners during the weekends in Kuwait and we still do as a family now. Although it’s either KFC or an Indian owned alternative like Chick King or Chicken Chicago in India. Why we just had some Chick King last night although I opted for just a veggie burger and fried since I was a bit ill. That with Coke or Pepsi and French fries. Come to think of it Pepsi is a great reminder of my days as a kid. 7up and Pepsi and there was a even a Lemon Pepsi with it’s cool cartoon fish add. I also loved Hungry Bunny hamburgers although I only had that for the last year that we lived in Kuwait. It was a frequent meal for me after I came back from school. Half boiled eggs, cheese sandwiches, tuna sandwiches (oh my sister and I loved the canned tuna we used to buy a lot), fish fingers (that we used to buy frozen) and ofcourse – McDonald’s the very epitome of globalization and corporate capitalism!

Funny enough I don’t remember having pizza in my childhood days even though it’s my favourite now. My obsession with pizza came much later by the time I was 15-16. I’d love to hear what were your favourites during your childhood days and which trigger nostaglic memories for your whenever you eat them now.

Bones – Season 7

Significantly season 7 is a much shortened season compared to the previous 6 and the reason is due to lead actress Emily Deschanel’s pregnancy. Fox network did order an additional 4 more episodes but they were only able to air it for the start of the 8th season.

As the season starts the Jeffersonian team work on a case where the victim’s body was found in a paintball field, and later discover from the victim’s husband that she suffered from amnesia. Meanwhile, Brennan and Booth adjust to their new life as a couple living together, and deal with Brennan’s pregnancy. The remains of a competitive eating champion are discovered days before the next major competition where $10,000 is the prize, leaving the victim’s competitors as suspects. Finn Abernathy joins the Jeffersonian as a new intern finding a key piece of evidence for the case, but his troubled past is a cause for concern for Cam on deciding if he should keep his job or not. Meanwhile, Booth is upset when he learns that Brennan learned the sex of the baby without him. The team investigates a crime in which a female toy company executive is found shrink-wrapped with one of the company’s popular dolls. Meanwhile, Sweets prepares for his gun certification test, even though Booth believes he should not carry a weapon. Also, Brennan learns the importance of playing with her child from Angela, who is trying to put together a toy for her child.

The dismembered remains of a shipping and printing shop employee are found in several mailing boxes, leading Booth and Brennan to investigate the other employees, which includes a complicated love triangle with the victim. Meanwhile, Booth’s grandfather returns to break the news that Booth’s father has died, leaving Booth to deal with his anger towards his father who was never there for him. The team investigates the death of a storm chaser whose body was hit by a tornado. Meanwhile, Brennan feels Booth is being too protective of her. Angela and Hodgins deal with a lack of sleep due to their baby, while Angela’s dad visits wanting to babysit Michael, much to their dismay. The team investigates what appears to be a murder scene at a national monument, but the only clue left is a coded message made of human blood that will be the beginning of a scavenger hunt for the solution, courtesy of a new, technologically-proficient foe. Meanwhile, Booth and Brennan are still looking for a new home. The remains of an escaped convict are found in a residential sewer, but an examination of the sewer pipes indicates that the murder occurred within prison walls. Brennan insists on solving the crime – despite Booth’s pleas for her not to overexert herself – and the expectant couple experiences a very untraditional arrival of their baby daughter.

With the help of Special Agent Genny Shaw, the Jeffersonian team identifies the remains of a discount shopper and “extreme couponer” who was dragged along the road by an 18-wheeler. Meanwhile, Brennan is adjusting to her first day back at work after giving birth, and Cam disapproves of her daughter’s romance with intern Finn Abernathy. When a corpse is found at a landfill, dyed in a blue substance, intern Arastoo Vaziri discovers a method that helps eliminate postmortem damages to the corpse, which leads the team back to a hair salon where the victim worked. Meanwhile Bones is feeling uncomfortable in her post-baby body, so Booth decides to do something special to boost her self-confidence. Booth and Brennan investigate the murder of a truck company employee is found in the middle of the woods. After the victim’s son is questioned, Booth and Brennan visit his karate class in search of a motive. Back at the lab, Hodgins is going overboard purchasing lab equipment. Meanwhile, Booth’s son Parker returns from England and Brennan is apprehensive about how he’ll react to his new baby sister. When a corpse is found in the middle of the woods, the team links the victim to two families that have been feuding for almost a century. Brennan and Booth interrogate a family member with a shocking confession that leads them to a motive for the victim’s murder. Meanwhile, Brennan has a difficult time accepting her father’s (Ryan O’Neal) offer to babysit their infant daughter because of his unpredictable presence in her own childhood.

Brennan and Booth head out to Los Angeles to consult on the production of “Bone of Contention,” a film based on Brennan’s latest book and the work of the Jeffersonian team. While on set, Brennan intervenes after finding flaws with the actors’ performances, not to mention the film’s total disregard for science. Then she discovers that the prop cadaver being used is an actual murder victim, forcing her and Booth to launch an investigation that has real-world consequences in the land of make-believe. Meanwhile, Booth is offered a job on the studio lot, and embarrassing information is revealed about Cam’s past. Evil tech genius Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds), a suspect in a previous case Brennan and Booth handled, is seen before the parole board petitioning for release. Knowing what he is capable of, Brennan and Booth inform the parole board that he is a suspect in two murder cases. Then, Brennan and Booth are called to the scene of a new murder. After determining the victim is Brennan’s friend, who also is linked to Pelant, the Jeffersonian team works to prove he is guilty once and for all. But when law enforcement examines the team’s findings, key pieces of evidence are tied to Brennan and suspicion falls on her. Knowing Brennan will soon be arrested, her father arranges for Brennan and her daughter to go on the run so there is enough time to clear Brennan and find the evidence to arrest Pelant once and for all.

Despite cheapest personal loans uk the short season, I felt the ending was great and at the right moment with some tension building up. The villain is formidable and scary in his own way and threatens to derails the great team of Booth, Bones and co. What will happen to the couple? How long will Brennan be on the run?

The Dark Knight Rises

Ok, finally I got down to watch this movie, the second highest grossing movie of 2012 (and currently the 7th highest grossing of all time). The Dark Knight Rises is the 3rd and final installment in the Chris Nolan Batman trilogy and sees a conclusion to the story that started off with 2005’s Batman Begins. Nolan not only directed but also co-wrote the script with his brother Jonathan Nolan. The movie visually is a stunning treat, really awesome production and it’s worth seeing a few times in the theatres if you could do so (I ofcourse watched it on my laptop). The actors do a fine job and score is great too.

Joining Christian Bale, who reprises no credit check military loans the lead role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, are a returning cast of his allies: Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as James Gordon, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. The film introduces the characters of Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a cunning cat burglar in search of a way to escape her past, and Bane (Tom Hardy), a militant revolutionary out to destroy Gotham City. Also new are Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate,   Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake & Matthew Modine as Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley. Now for my thoughts on the film and the cast:

  • Batman is a bit dredit sidelined in this film what with the film needing more screen time for the added supporting cast as well as the established allies. I would have loved to have more focus on Bale as Batman but that’s just my opinion. After all it’s not Batman and friends but a Batman movie. Having said that I loved the “retired” Batman look and the scenes in the underground prison. The close relationship between Alfred and Bruce is shown to be a bit tensed but it all works out in the end. I would have loved to see Bale in a couple of Batman flicks before he gave it up but c’est la cinema!
  • Tom Hardy as Bane – I only know Tom Hardy from his role as Shinzon in Star Trek Nemesis and therefore it is hard for me to reconcile the much slimmer looking Tom from this beefed up version. Plus that voice – it’s irritating to say the least! I read that it is deliberate to have such a contraction between his physicality and his voice. He sounds almost British high class but attacks like a gorilla! Physically & stylistically, Bane is a very different villain for Batman and it works. In their unsecured payday loan first fight Bane proves to be too much for Batman and manhandles him towards the end, breaking his back and dumping him in the underground prison.
  • Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle – a cunning cat burglar who is looking to get er past wiped clean so she can get a fresh start. The beautiful Hathaway is just graceful & sexy in her role. Selina is an associate of Bane’s and double crosses Batman by leading him to a trap but soon regrets her decisions. She later goes to Batman’s aid and ends up killing Bane. She also falls for Bruce Wayne/ Batman.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake – in a way I felt that the movie was a lot about him. For the longest time I felt that thwy were prepping him up to be Robin in this series but the young, recently promoted detective, who will provide some inspiration for a disillusioned Bruce & Commissioner Gordon, ends up inheriting Batman’s gadgets and Batcave. Good work by JGL!
  •  Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate: Tate, a member of the Wayne Enterprises executive board who seemingly is an ally, confidant and briefly Wayne’s lover, low interest unsecured loan turns out to be the real villain! Tate intervenes when Batman is about to defeat Baneand stabs Batman, revealing herself to be Talia, Ra’s al Ghul’s child, who escaped the prison aided by her fellow prisoner, Bane. She plans to complete her father’s work by detonating the bomb and destroying Gotham. She is killed in a crash but not before detonating the bomb.
  • The rest of the cast are awesome – Gary Oldman as a good guy is such a change, Modine is good too. Cillian Murphy has two short scenes as a kind of judge who’s sentencing is sure death no matter which way it goes. Liam Neeson has a short cameo as does Desmond Harrington and Josh Stewart has a small role as Bane’s right hand man. Juno Temple plays Selina’s friend Jen and Christopher Judge has a blink and you miss it tiny role as a Bane henchmen who gets beaten by Blake!
  • I loved the movie all the way until the very end. Bruce Wayne retires for good, faking his death and that of Batman by escaping the detonation. Bruce is given a memorial and Batman is finally honoured as a hero again and he is immortalized in a bronzed statute. The Wayne estate is made into a orphanage while Bruce moves to Europe and starts a life with Selina. The mantle of Batman is to be passed onto to Blake – what is this? The Phantom? Will we have multiple Batman’s? Only time will tell.

8.5 outta 10 for me! Solid movie, except for the ending which left me unsatisfied but stunning overall.

Skills I Want To Learn, Given A Choice

  • Speak all languages fluently esp. French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic & Spanish
  • Play guitar like the best of them – electric, acoustic and especially Flamenco
  • Performing neat magic tricks that will dazzle the crowd
  • Piloting a small plane
  • Sing like Roy Orbison-Bruce Dickinson-Ronnie James Dio
  • Do amazingly accurate & funny impressions of celebrities – especially, James T Kirk aka William Shatner!
  • Do successful stand up comedy
  • Play the drums like Neil Peart or Nicko McBrain
  • Play the stock market like a successful pro
  • Draw and paint well, especially portraits
  • Build things with my hands & tools, like sculpting or stuff like that

Who Would You Choose To Be?

If you could wake up tomorrow as any other human being in the world, which person would you choose to be and why? I don’t want to be anyone else but myself. I just want to be a different kind of me.

I want to have made the right choices back when I was much younger and avoided the messes I made and thereby save myself a lot of grief. I wish I were wiser and not made all those emotional choices back when I was 15-16-17. Oh how much better life would have been if I only been smarter back then! I would have been more focused and hence made sure that I took care of a lot of other things in order for my life to have progressed to where I want it to be.

I would be living in my own place, having things setup the way I want it too. It doesn’t have to bee too posh or big and expensive – but just having everything as mine would be great. A little place of my own. I would be married and the wife and I would be raising our own pets – dogs, cats, and some birds. Our little family has lots of love for our furry & feathered friends. We’d be financially a whole lot more secure and hence that aspect would be a lot less worrying. I’d be really high up the chain job wise and looking forward to starting some project of my own. I don’t want too much wealth or fame or the high life. What I have as ideal in my mind is much simpler. So yeah if I could wake up tomorrow and be any other person, I’d want to be me – the me I should have been! Cause I deserve to be him.

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Lay The Favourite

If you don’t know anything about Rebecca Hall before watching this film then you’d be forgiven to think she is American and a ditzy bimbo! She’s neither. She’s a very talented young British actress and this is the 4th movie I have seen her in after Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Frost/Nixon and The Prestige. And she is the life of this film, putting in a great acting performance. Lay The Favourite is a 2012 comedy-drama movie directed by Stephen Frears based on Beth Raymer’s memoir of the same title and follows a young, free-spirited woman as she journeys through the legal and illegal world of sports gambling. The movie stars Hall as Beth Raymer with Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua Jackson, Laura Prepon & Vince Vaughan.

Beth Raymer is a wide eyed gal who moves to Las Vegas and find her path to fortune after a stint at private stripping at customers’ homes does not go all that well for her. She says goodbye to her father (brief cameo by Corbin Berson), packs up her few belongings and her dog and moves to a small motel in the Sin city in hopes of becoming a cocktail waitress. With a tip from Holly, a fellow tenant, Beth goes to meet Dink who is a professional sports gambler, who hires her to place bets for him around town, run errands and work the phones and before long realizes she’s a good-luck charm with a genuine gift for numbers.The doe eyed girl finally finds a purpose for her talent – she is really good with numbers – and does well very quickly, adapting to Dink’s lifestyle and work very quickly. Dink seems to like her as she seems to like him and they form a warm relationship which borders on love, much to the anger of Dink’s wife Tulip (an almost unrecognizable Catherine Zeta-Jones).

Dink reluctantly lets her go to please his wife, his sour-puss wife, and gives her some generous amount of money to keep her going until she lands on her feet. In the meantime, the impulsive Beth picks up a nice fellow, journalist Jeremy (Joshua Jackson), in a casino and they start a relationship which would eventually become more serious. However Dink starts to lose big and begs his wife to get Beth back in return for – get this – money for a face lift! So Beth returns, while Jeremy returns back to New York but things go wrong again and Beth is out of a job again. She goes to New York and lives with Jeremy and is soon taken under wing by a friendly rival of Dink’s, the flamboyant Rosie. Dink warns her that sports gambling isn’t legal in NYC but she doesn’t listen and is induced by Rosie to become involved in his illegal bookmaking schemes. This eventually involves her going to Curacao to oversee operations there. Things become scary when a client of hers is investigated by the law and their investigations could cause huge problems for Beth, Jeremy and Rosie.

She reaches out to Dink & a now sympathetic Tulip, who fly to NYC to help her and with some reluctance from Jeremy as well. Beth is able to get the customer to fess up and not sell them out, saving Beth some cash and misery. The movie ends in a frenzy, increasing the pace of the movie nearly triple fold but doesn’t really leave you satisfied as it could have been a lot better. From what I have read, the makers of the movie have stuffed too much from the book into one movie and perhaps that is what affected it. I love the cast, despite some negative comments and the movie is ok. I’ll give it a 7 overall out of 10!

Arsenal 1 Wigan 0

Mikel Arteta’s penalty secured a third consecutive Premier League victory for Arsenal for the first time since March. Arouna Kone wasted Wigan’s best chance when he broke clear in the first half and failed to hit the target. Arteta scored from the spot just before the hour after Jean Beausejour was penalised for a challenge on Theo Walcott, who again played as a striker.

Wigan have lost six of their last eight games and are in the bottom three at Christmas for the third straight year. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger qill take a large measure of satisfaction with the way his team, who were unspectacular but efficient, dealt with a difficult afternoon at the DW Stadium. With festive matches against Newcastle and Southampton to come, Wenger will be confident his team can enter the new year with a tight grip on a top-four spot. Arsenal began well and after Arteta was allowed to carry the ball from halfway, he fed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose drive was pushed past the post by Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.

Walcott dropped wide and swapped passes with Santi Cazorla before going down under Beausejour’s challenge. Arteta waited for Al Habsi to dive as he stroked in his third successful penalty of the season. At this juncture, Arsenal sit 3rd with one more game played than the other top 10 teams but they should remain within the top 4 come January.