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About smo

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  1. 3 out of this year's 5 academy awards (aka Oscars) best pic nominations are made by non-US filmmakers. I've seen 2 of these: "3 billboards outside Ebbing, MO" (made by an Irish-Brit) and "I,Tonya," (made by Aussies); plus one US-made nomination, "Lady Bird." All excellent movies. The last one, coming from a young us filmmaker (but already seasoned actress) named Greta Gerwig,is a straight forward, coming of age story, pretty much auto-biographical about her growing up in Sacramento: rebellious child/teen, losing virginity, getting in prestigious university, end of story. By the number, nothing special as far as subject goes, but for the fact that it proves that good, honest-to-god movie-making doesn't have to rely on other-worldly special effects or Meryl Streep. (I guess same can be said for Chinese *fast* food, un-complicated but great-tasting if you just do it right.) However the other two are something else. Both depict american life somewhere in the midwest, the unglossed, rather hardscrabble kind - far removed from west coast/east coast glamor shall we say. And both have a story arc unusual for what we are used to be fed nowadays from Hollywood movies that are not sequels. In short they both don't begin or end by way of beginning, middle and end. One jumps in at the end of the "story" ("I,Tonya";) the other gets off, I kid you not, in the middle ("3 billboards...") This last one is the most interesting because it was an original script (as opposed to adapting a true event/book), and it uses what in Hitchockian terms is called a McGuffin: a murder mystery is presented not so much as something to be solved, but like a carrot to keep the audience watching while...something else unfolds (reminding me of the old adage: "Life is what happens while you're busy making plans.") I hope I'm not giving too much of a spoiler here, but go see them when they come to town, a true breath of fresh cinematic air! [As for the other two noms, I shall be polite and say nothing....]
  2. I went to the second showing (the first one being sold out) on the first day the original Star Wars came out in (summer if memory still serves, of) 1977, at the Avco theater in Westwood, Los Angeles. I can still recall the collective orgasmic moan the audience whooped out when Luke dropped that bomb deep into the bowels of the Death Star. And yes, I also dropped out of SW fandom as the 3rd installment was coming out. Already then as I saw all these ewoks chipmunking about a la Disney, I could tell it wasn't a good sign. Princess Leia trying to be femme-fatale by slipping into a gold bikini? sorry mam, but that was a character faux-pas! Fast forward to post Xmas 2017, more than 40 years later. I was all excited to go and see Jumanji 2 but fate would not have it. As of yesterday, J2 had only 2 evening showings in its BKK limited release. So what left for me to do showing up at the local multiplex at 2 in the afternoon? Buy a ticket for the last jedi of course. btw, this is the first SW movie I have seen since "The Empire strikes back." Now that I have watched legions of fan rants against TLJ on youtube (these are loads more entertaining than the movie itself, some are almost as long! Lots of hair pulling and long faces though.) One word that was missing from the way everybody was expressing their disappointment and anger was gravitas. All the British actors in the world (the three young leads among others) could not fill in the void caused by the lack of which in the plot with their Brit accents (Don't we miss the Peter Cushing and Alec Guiness of the first 3?) All the more jarring when heard over ill-timed shallow jokes ("you like my new hair?" the 2nd question, after the how have you been? Leia asked Luke at their long awaited reunion.) Characters pop in and out (Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro) with absolutely no introduction, no background lead in ("Here's the new captain of the ship..." Laura Dern then came out from the wings and we saw her face for the first time). Rey, Finn, and Kylo the young main villain, the 3 main characters, are card-board thin, spouting inane dialogue (in the middle of a big fight, "you killed my father/ you don't believe me?" or something to that effect). There are 3, count them, 3 kamikaze attempts in this movie, at the beginning, middle and end, like clockwork. Mark Hamill tried his best to act in a scenario that he (said so) did not believe in - and I believe him. While the best Carrie Fisher could do was try not to slur her lines. The script, plot was not even mediocre, as you can tell by now, one bar lower, it was non-stop whtthfck nonsensical. One collateral damage was the unfortunate nickname "Mary Poppins" that Leia/Fisher did not deserve, another was "the white Bronco chase in space" for the chase by the bad guys after the good guys, lasting the whole length of the movie (basically "We chase them until they run out of fuel" I kid you not) The direction/pacing were shockingly inept considering this being an (actually the) prime Disney action/adventure film. I dozed through the big galactic battles, they were that yawn inducing (and didn't look that good either.) Stylish, lean and mean, those are the words I reserve for the 1st star war. Sorry TLJ, man you could not even kiss the ground that one walked on. If SW fans have any balls they will all stay home on Dec 20, 2019, the release date of the next installment. Nothing hurts Hollywood more than empty movie theaters. "Guys and Gals, show them the Force of your Fandom!" But I seriously doubt that would happen. They are yelling at the top of their lungs right now, but when the time comes they will keep their mouth wide open for more of same crap.
  3. Finally a post that makes sense. Online dating is as safe or as dangerous as you make it, same with air travel, plastic surgery or finding a good auto mechanic. Speaking from personal experience: back home in southern California, home of "Baywatch" and "Real Housewives of Orange County," my sex life went through a "renaissance" boom(-boom) in the last decade thanks to good old rickety Craigslist. We're looking at a period when iphone 4 had just come out (and out of most people budget range), so CL and my pentium-slow pc had to shoulder the task. I might post an ad sometime in the afternoon and less than a day or two later around lunch time we'd be already squealing like pigs between the sheets. That might not be fast enough for today's smartphone apps users; call me old-fashioned but that bit of time lapse between ad and action was crucial to my MO. To create a safety zone that people nowadays don't seem to bother with. Come to think of it, it might have been less safe - and downright burdensome - for those who expressed interest in my CL ad to actually get to meet me than vice versa. At first my vetting was to such extent that one young prospect remarked that he felt " as if I was going in for the SAT exam!" From that comment, I relaxed my guidelines somewhat. But in this line of social interaction, you've got to take care of your partner and yourself first and foremost. Safety and its first cousin, discretion, are the names of the game: after the initial response, a body pic exchange, a phone (voice) chat and a starbucks face to face meeting were to follow. Strictly in that order and no skipping, given the latitude that each step lasted no more than a few minutes and both parties were free to back out at any stage. By the time we moved from public to private settings, who was going to do what to whom and how had already been agreed upon. Now the main safeguard was the where? Either at my place if local, or in their hotel room if from out of town visiting (in this instance I would insist on meeting in the hotel lobby first.) Going to someone's lair was an absolute no-no (yes, I've watched "Silence of the lambs".) Soon after I had got that arrangement down pat, I found myself running a low-key, low-maintenance little harem (just like your local diner.) A couple of lines of text and splat! There's a man in my bed (now we call that sexting.) A revolving group of "returning" guests - just your ordinary guy next door/town/state demographic - so much so whenever my phone chimed an SMS my first thought would be "oh, if it's Tuesday, it must be Dick!" I bought condoms in bulk. A friend joked that I was doing "community" (sex) services! As previously mentioned, my main strategy was posting the ad (I rarely responded to someone else', a waste of time in my book) then thoroughly vetting the offers. As a result, the ones who finally came through had already been well "scrubbed" by my selection criteria - usually a clean-cut, not too sexually experienced dude, somewhat (or very) "curious," looking for a safe venue to explore, or "fresh meat" in my parlance - in short, less complicated and more eager than the types you often see online these days. My philosophy was by showing a bit of class, maturity and deliberation you will likely be attracting same. Those were the days, my friend...
  4. thanks for the additional info and best wishes for your upcoming surgery.
  5. If possible, could you give out the name of this doctor which I assume is now your primary physician at this hospital? and were you able to get the first appointment with her pretty soon (in a couple of week time as opposed to a month and a half for example.) Thank you much in advance. smo
  6. I just completed my first shipping via their services. My evaluation is Excellent! First, I emailed them to tell them I just registered with them and that a friend in the LA area would come by to drop my package with them. Got a very instructive and friendly email from Bernie on what to do. Next my friend drove there to give them the package. He was impressed: "whathisname (taking the package) was super cool!" Immediately I received an email from PE with 3 lively pics of the package and its "bio" info. Next it was my turn to put more funds into my deposit, made a custom declaration, bought insurance and then clicked "Send." The next day I received all the shipping info with tracking number and ETA of 1 to 2 weeks. The service I chose was USPS Priority Mail. Of note is that the tracking number only works with USPS website, the thaipost website doesn't see it. My guess is that this is a special kind of tracking number between USPS and PE only. The last tracking input was that the package has left Suwarnabum for delivery. A couple of day later, ie yesterday the post man delivered the slip for me to go to the post office to pay custom tax and pick it up. I insured the package for 200 usd, the custom tax + VAT was 283 baht for a value of 1,600 baht (determined by custom, then the po clerk slapped on another 20 baht for reason he explained but went over my head.) Total shipping time was roughly one week. Breaking down the shipping expenses: 25 dollars for postage (package weight 1.7kg); 5 for insurance of 200 usd value, and 2 for PE handling service. So in all the total was 32 bucks. Prior to coming to PE, my friend took the package to the post office and checked the cost. Right of the bat 50 usd without tracking number or insurance. One caveat was their website is not quite up to snuff, in the sense that it doesn't tell you what to do next, you have to figure out on your own. Easy enough as a natural progession of logic: for example, package at their warehouse, what to do next? put in enough money for shipping cost. Then what next? click send. That sort of thing. All in all very pleased with Planet Express for both cost and services and again thanks to TallGuyJohninBKK for steering me there. 5 stars recommended!
  7. You did right Andy! Thanks for the useful info and and good karma is on the way! Your good deed speaks for itself, don't bother to defend yourself against those who think it's not. They are of a different breed than you and those of us who appreciate your generosity and concern for the benefit of others.
  8. Can you tell which term for the 2.6% rate and how easy/difficult it was for you to open your account there? Any documents re work permit, retirement ext. etc. required? thanks
  9. Thanks for specific deadlines. 31 Oct it must be, as my friend did it yesterday the 16th. So I guess farang expats can still come in (AYOR) and get it done at LP as we speak for this week and next. Strange that my friend did not notice any signs posted, or maybe he was just clueless. My telling him about it did not ring alarm bell to him, oh well... He's been warned (by me!)
  10. yes as I said in my original post - so let me repeat here : "So I did my online report last week for the first time, and got approved the same day (couldn't be happier!)" ( - and thanks to ubonjoe for the link!)
  11. From second hand account: ran into my yankie fellowman expat building mate this morning. He just came back from a trip to LP for his 90 day report. "You did it?" I asked incredulously. He nodded, "And it was fast this time, only took 40 - 45 min!" I asked further if there was any warning/hints about them not doing 90d at LP anymore. "Nope." "And they didn't say anything last time you went either?" I checked again. He shook his head, looking surprised. Last time I went there in July, they didn't give me any warning also. The only thing worth noticing was that they treated farangs and non-farangs on equal basis, namely the numbering system be damned, you are told to go to the window by the bunch, and when the young female clerk(in this instance it was a trainee - I saw the regular male officer seating at his desk behind hers, giving out intrustions) finished she simply put your passport at the counter. I picked up the wrong one, and she screamed! I thought since they also had re-grouped the windows in the same manner, maybe they hadn't got their act together. Then later when I read here about the branches not doing 90 day anymore, I thought maybe that was their curtain call. So I did my online report last week for the first time, and got approved the same day (couldn't be happier!) I post this because it seems strange to me that my friend went in having no idea whatsoever and for him it worked as it has always worked (even "faster" than before - gosh I wish I had his cool!) He's a button-down kind of a guy and there's no reason he would make up this story on a lark. Anyone has any idea?
  12. Thanks Stocky, for the heads up. Been watching those mouth-watering "Must-eats in Hat Yai/Songkhla" youtube videos. I notice quite a bit of our neighbors to the south making trips to Hat Yai, looks like to them just a quick hop over the border for shopping and... fun in the big city. There are Chinese tourists too - of course they're everywhere, it's a fact of life in Thailand - but not a place they would hang around long as say BKK (just like as you mentioned for farangs, just passing through.) I was hoping for more videos that show residential areas of Hat Yai, but so far all the videos aim for visitors, to be expected. Songkhla appears very charming, definitely a small town feel. Surprising I didn't see a single person going into the water on its immense beach(es)? The locals just stroll along or sit around...I have visions of myself rolling down to the water from my hammock, and then rolling back up, repeat. Both Songkhla and Hat Yai seem like places where one can eat oneself to oblivion, I better get my tummy up to the task!
  13. 1) I will have to stay close to the songthaew routes: a) physically I am no longer strong enough to handle the weight of a motorcycle b ) for safety reason I don't want to venture far from the popular areas on my own, thus what boundaries the songthaews serve that would be my stomping ground. Sorry to hear about what happened to you and wifey, I always keep in mind that no matter where we happen to be there's always bad elements present, just don't give them the opportunity (in the dark of the night, being alone, looking lost, etc.) to jump on us. 2) the general rental rates sound really good ("good condo at 5000"). Again, for safety reason, I would want to live in condos as opposed to houses (no matter how much I wish to have a little garden, veranda to sit out and have my coffee/tea.) Where I live in BKK, the building has guards (x2) at the front round the clock, the reception is also manned 24 hr, CCTV in the parking lot and at elevator landing on every floor. 3) the English corner on PSU campus sounds great! I guess I will have to actively get on with my facebook account to get connected with them. Regarding the pool fee, I'm fine with that. I used to have membership to the fantastic Sport Complex of SAT just down the road, and have access to their great pools at a minimal expense, until recently my body can't take the chlorine dosage in the city water anymore (main reason I look for a place to live "near the sea.") 4) The Sunday morning market in Songkhla sounds irresisitble, a real flea market as in the good old days! You can count me as a faithful attendant already. Also glad to hear "The food in Songkla beach is 2 times cheaper compared to tourist trap areas, Lipe, Phuket, Pattayam etc." I can hear my wallet heave a big sigh of relief! All in all thank you Seizhin for taking the time to give out very useful information on divers aspects of living in Hatyai. Really appreciated that and all the best! [Maybe we can meet over for coffee if you have the time once I get there and you can tell me more about (the exciting!)life of local expats...]
  14. Thanks Stocky for the weather forecast, it's been raining everyday here in BKK this month too so monsoon everywhere it is! Look like Jan/Mar would be good time to come to Hat Yai, I'll leave Feb to the tourists in case there's a rush...(Come to think of it maybe post Songkran would be even better!)
  15. Thanks a million Joosesis for the way excellent info on PSU! I can't wait to check out its campus, sounds right up my alley. in BKK I live practically across the street from Ram University, after a few years it has become my stomping grounds so to speak, though Ram U being a governmen-run institution is not really endowed with many amenities . Of which seems like PSU has aplenty (and then some, museum, food market, massage center, I must be dreaming? I'm sure I'll get access to its new pool one way or another. And definitely will try your "country-best" Khao Man Gai stall!) (that's one nice thing about Thailand, you're free to roam...If I remember correctly, once upon a time, on UCLA campus canteen, there was a sign that said if you're not student, prepare to pay a higher price on your lunch items, though happily that wasn't strictly enforced, meaning the cashier couldn't care less. And the last time I checked, say about 10 years ago, the moment you entered the campus grounds, you're immediately slapped with a 10 dollar - or was that 12 - parking fees!) Re Songkhla reading between the lines not just from you but also from others, it seems like a nice place to visit but not that "sabai-sabai" comfortable to live...I'm willing to trade the once or twice-weekly van rides to the beach (Songkhla) for all the living comforts that the city (Hat Yai) has to offer. Fair enough( and life's too short!) If I have one more question it would be about the weather, any recommendation when would be a good time to visit Hat Yai? It doesn't matter to me rain or shine, but I would want to avoid when the streets are prone to flooding and what not... Thanks,