Friday, February 29, 2008

BBQ Cricket at Rozelle, Fishing at Clovelly

It's that time of the year again for the annual PCo vs. NET cricket match. We've just had our organizational restructure (again), so now it's called the CARE vs. NI cricket challenge. Around noontime, everybody dropped whatever he/she was doing and headed down to Easton Park in Rozelle to get some action (and some free food, too).

There were rolls, steaks, chops, sausages, softdrinks, beer, and water for everyone. Players get free T-shirts. While most of the people were concentrating on the match, we got ourselves some shirts, too. Stayed around for a while, then my colleagues and I sneaked off to Clovelly Beach for some afternoon fishing. They did all of the fishing, I took the pictures. After a few hours of fishing, the guys were not too pleased with their catch, and wanted to go to Coogee for more. Me, I've taken my fill of pictures.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Barbecue Pork (Char Siew)

Surprisingly, this char siew is quite easy to prepare. Doesn't mean it tastes as good as the ones in the restaurants though.

In a mixing bowl, combine:

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic power or chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons catsup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Get a kilo of pork tenderloin and slice into two strips. Marinate pork at least 3 hours in sauce, turning frequently. Drain pork and place on oven rack; roast at 350F for 40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to ensure even brownness. If dry, brush the pork with the sauce and oil. Slice into 1/4-inch thickness, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Hot mustard and soy sauce dip optional.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Hatpin

Won two free tickets to the world premier of the new Australian musical drama called The Hatpin via an SMS competition. On the day of the show, I went to the Seymour Theatre box office to claim my tickets. Unfortunately, they can't find my name on the list. My sister's not gonna like it if she has to drive all the way from Macquarie for nothing. Then, I remembered - I actually used an alias for the competition because I didn't like giving out personal details. Good thing the lady gave me the tickets without asking for identification.

The Hatpin is based on a true story about the practise of "baby-farming" in 19th-century Australia. At that time, contraception and adoption was not yet in vouge and ladies who have children out of wedlock have no option but to give up their babies to certain parties who will care for the babies for a fee and hopefully find a new home for them. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous baby-farmers find it easier to simply kill off the babies, rather than find foster parents for them. If they play their cards right, they can still keep on collecting money from the mothers. Even when exposed as fraudsters, these baby-farmers are usually safe from the law because the mothers are too frightened or ashamed to go to the police.

In the play, Amber Murray (Melle Stewart) advertised her baby Horace in a newspaper trading column. The Makins came around to get the baby, but never allowed Amber to see her baby again. The Makins eventually moved house. Amber and her friend Harriet Piper (Caroline O'Connor) managed to track down the bad guys, and bring them to court. In the courtroom climax, Clara Makin revealed how her parents would use a hatpin to kill an unwanted baby, and bury it in the backyard. Hard to imagine that people will actually kill innocent babies for monetary gain.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cunard Royal Rendezvous

After a short tour of the Bronte House, I proceeded to Circular Quay to witness the historic Royal Rendezvous of the Cunard Queens. The 90,000-ton Queen Victoria arrived in Sydney yesterday, and has been docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal since then. Queen Elizabeth 2, on her final Round World Voyage) arrived this morning 7am and docked at Garden Island. (Trivia: QE2's arrival is specially timed to coincide with her maiden visit to Sydney 30 years ago.) At 6pm, the two ships are supposed to leave their berths and pass other at Fort Denison. According to the programme, they'll sound a "Whistle Salute" using their signaling horns, and this can be heard for as far as 16 kms. away. Also, this Royal Rendezvous will be the first and last for these two ships as QE2 leaves the Cunard fleet.

From Circular Quay, I took the elevator up to Cahill Expressway, and took some very nice pictures of Queen Victoria. The size of the ship is truly massive. By 6pm, I took the ferry to Cremorne Point. There are other better vantage points like Bradley Park and Mrs. Macquarie's Chair, though I'm sure they'll be full by now. Just about time, too. The ferry I took was the last one that was able to dock at the wharf. The next incoming one had to wait at the side because the Cunard ships starting moving already. There's such a festive air about. There are hundreds of ships on the water, six or seven helicopters in the air, every available spot on the shore are taken up by happy people. Some are holding up wine glasses, others are peering through binoculars. I was busy taking pictures.

At 6:32pm, the two majestic ships slowly passed on either side of Fort Denison and blew their horns. In a matter of minutes, the moment is gone, and it was all over. I took the next ferry back to Circular Quay, and spent the rest of the day watching these four tugboats push Queen Elizabeth 2 slowly into place at the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Philips GoGear SA3345

Big W is having a special sale on its DAPs (digital audio players) with models from iRiver, Sansa, Coby, Philips, etc. Best deal is the 4GB Philips GoGear SA3345. Originially priced at $168(?), it's now selling for $98. Don't know much about Philips' line of mp3 players, but its specs list looks pretty impressive:

  • 2.4" QVGA 35k colour screen
  • plays MP3 and WMA files
  • plays MPEG4 and WMV9 video files at 20fps
  • displays JPEG pictures
  • no special software needed, just drag and drop
  • 20 hours of music or 4 hours of video
  • .lrc lyrics support
  • ID3 tag support for artist name and album title
  • built-in microphone for audio recording in ADPCM WAV format
  • FM tuner with 20 station presets
  • firmware-upgradable
So basically, the SA3345 is a 7-in-1 device. Right out of the box, the GoGear already has a few tracks, an avi promotional video, and some photos included. Adding your own content is as simple as connecting the device to a computer via USB2.0 and transferring files to their respective folders: music, video, pictures, etc. (Charging is also via the USB port.) The GoGear is smart enough to skip filetypes it doesn't understand or can't handle. In effect, you can also use the GoGear as a 4GB USB drive. The user interface is quite intuitive to use. The main screen consists of a list of icons representing its different functions: video, music, text, recordings, pictures, folders, settings, etc. Navigation is done through a circular up-down-left-right pad with a central button as the enter key, doubling as a play/pause button. Hold it longer and it becomes an on/off button.

To play songs, you can select the artist name, the album title, the genre, or simply choose a particular song. For some reason, I can't get the album art and the lyrics to show up. And the user manual doesn't tell you how to do this either. Audio quality is quite good. Would've been nice if OGG support is included. Video playback is pretty straightforward. Just click and play. I put in a few karaoke mp4 files and they all played back smoothly. The SA3345 can also be used as an ebook reader (.txt only) with 7 lines of text per screen. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with auto-scroll and there's no way to change the font sizes. The FM tuner and picture slideshow work as advertised. I haven't had time to try the audio recording feature.

All in all, a very nifty device, and a must-buy at $98. I hope my sister's happy with the swap.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Crab and Steak at Woolloomooloo

Another colleague is leaving the country for greener pastures abroad. You know what that means - free food! Usually it's just lunch at the Chinese restaurant or Italian pizzeria down the road. This time, our manager is feeling generous, and our secretary booked a table at Kingsleys Steak & Crabhouse down at Woolloomooloo.

My E65's got the TomTom Navigator on it, and I recently acquired a Bluetooth GPS unit. Just the right time to test it out, since I have no idea how to get to the Woolloomooloo wharf from the customer testbed. Things were going well till I got to William Street. The TomTom lady said turn left. I made a left at Bourke Street, and found myself going headlong into the Eastern Distributor instead of towards the wharf. Worse, I miss my first exit (whatever it is). By the time I got out of the tunnel, I find myself at Supa Centa Moore Park. Had to do double back South Dowling Street, right at Oxford, left at Darlinghurst, which brings me all the way to the wharf area.

A bit of a hassle, but the food was worth it. We must've ordered all the entrees on the menu, Angus and wagyu steaks, and all three kinds of crabs on offer - Singapore chili crab, Alaskan king crab, and salt & pepper snow crab. Yummy!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sweet and Sour Whole Snapper

Sweet and Sour Whole Snapper
(adapted from Johnny Kan's Eight Immortal Flavors)

Have prepared:

  • 1 cleaned, fresh snapper (2.5 pounds)
With a sharp knife, make a few incisions on both sides of the fish, 1/4 in. deep so sauce can penetrate. Season with salt and pepper.

In a preheated wok or skillet, place:
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • a few slices of ginger
Bring oil to boiling point and add:
  • Seasoned whole snapper
Brown both sides (about 15 minutes), drain and set aside.
Wait for the oil to heat up, then fry the fish again.
In a large bowl, mix:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup catsup
  • 1 teasepoon Maggi seasoning
  • 4 drops hot sauce
In a preheated wok or skillet, stir-fry:
  • 1 large pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup onion, sliced
Transfer vegetables to a hot platter. Place fish on top.
Transfer sauce to the wok. Stir gently at high heat and bring to a boil.
Add gradually:
  • cornstarch
Continue cooking at medium-high heat, stirring mixture until sauce has thickened. Pour mixture over fish and serve immediately with steamed rice. Serves 3 or 4.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Jumper after Buffet Lunch

Went to Auburn RSL's buffet restaurant to have an eat-out with GF. She could've won easily, but I reckon she held back a little bit. I was so full, I didn't even try all the desserts. Went to Reading Cinemas and watched Jumper. The reviews on the movie poster were saying things like "Bourne meets Matrix!" Well, I've seen both movies, but they're not as bad as Jumper. There are sci-fi movies, and there are sci-fi movies. Jumper is a bad sci-fi movie. You basically have guys called Jumpers (what else?) who are born with the ability to "jump" or teleport from one place to another. Then, you have another group of people called Paladins whose mission in life is to hunt down these Jumpers because only God should the power to "be anywhere and everywhere at once." Throw in a romance angle, some cool and slick teleportation sequences, some high-speed chases, and you've got yourself an action movie in the vein of The Fast and The Furious. If not for the company of GF (and the photobook), it would've been an hour and a half of my life wasted. Stay away from the movie, just read the book.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Movie on Valentine's Day - Definitely, Maybe

It's not really my style to plan and prepare things in advance. Same goes for Valentine's Day. While others guys will order flowers online or reserve a restaurant table, I did nothing of the sort. There's a little flower shop at Union Square, so I was thinking worst case I can always drop by, get some roses and make a personal delivery. Really worst case, I know there's a few florists along Burwood Road.

I wasn't counting on leaving the office late. Worse, traffic along Parramatta is quite bad this afternoon. Since GF leaves her office at 4pm, I definitely (maybe) have to be there before then. By 3:55pm, I'm still on the road. I had no choice but to stall her by sending her text messages. I reckon she already figured out what I had in mind, still I'm sure she was surprised when I showed up at the villa. Part of the surprise might be from the fact that I showed up empty-handed - no flowers, no chocolates. (Though I did send her something via email.) Still, GF (and her colleagues) were quite happy to see me. Made up for it by watching this rom-com called Definitely, Maybe.

The only thing GF is after is Ryan Reynolds, and I'm happy to discover that Rachel Weis is part of the cast. That little girl, Abigail Breslin, on the other hand, should've been left out of the story. She's cute and natural in Little Miss Sunshine, but comes off over-acting in this movie. Anyway, story is about this divorced guy Will Hayes who failed at love with three women, and his daughter tries to figure out which one is her real mom. Is it her Dad's college sweetheart Emily, who has a thing for Summer and slept with his roommate while he's in NY? Or is it April the copier girl, who can't decide whether she likes Will or not? Or maybe it's Summer, who goes for older, experienced guys and who happens to be Emily's old flame. To make a long story short, Emily is the biological mother. The divorce still pushes through, and in the end Will and April realize that they truly love each other after all these years, and they become one happy family. Aww.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

FI Live in Production 2008

This FI cutover is definitely way overdue. The souped-up GGSN is due to be launched before the Christmas embargo last year to handle the sudden surge of mobile broadband traffic. Due to LIG and alarming issues, we can't launch it in time. We managed to solve all the pending issues, and it was due for cutover mid-January. In the morning of the planned cutover date, the box just hanged by itself. This caused a huge commotion with the customer. An emergency case was raised all the way to Finland. A patch was found, installed, and tested. Customer still not convinced problem was fixed and that FI is stable enough. We had no way of proving otherwise, so we had a write a customized script to check the logs every hour and raise an alarm if the fault happens again.

After a week of no alarms, we are go for another cutover attempt. The DNS entries were modified; the SGSN was reconfigured; production traffic started flowing through the FI. All seems well until the customer noticed that there are actually 12 L2TP tunnels going to the LNS when we were expecting just one, like the GGSNs. Not expected behaviour, rollback.

Another big commotion. Another emergency case raised. More investigation done. Our PL experts came back and confirmed that's how it's supposed to be. With that, the FI was scheduled to go live yesterday. Good thing it didn't push through because I was at the Tsai Chin concert last night. If something had gone wrong with the cutover, I'm sure I'll get called in. What happened was that Operations wasn't convinced about the FI's HA feature. This guy started questioning FI's ability to switch between the multiple L2TP tunnels in case one of the service blades go down. This was not tested during the SAT due to time constraints, and now they're flagging it as critical before they sign off. Can we test the resiliency with a couple of CPEs? No, they want a full stress testing with a simulator. That means I'll have to find me a Linux laptop and start brushing up on my SGSN simulator skills again.

So I go to the site today. My counterpart tells me the testbed FI is not working. To test on the production FI, we'll have to let Operations know in advance in case we generate alarms. We set up the CPE to do a continuous ping and YouTube download. I shut down the active blade while the session is on. Traffic stalled for a few seconds, then picked up again without a hitch. Session was switched from the active tunnel to the backup tunnel, and the LNS was none the wiser. Now for some stress test. For some strange reason, it's just not working. I was able to create 50 simultaneous PDP contexts, but they're not pinging. After half an hour of playing around with the parameters, I realized that maybe the box is actually pinging but the output is not being sent to stdout. I tested my theory using tcpdump and was proven correct. Showed my counterpart the evidence, and he in turn called up his superiors to convince them that the thing actually works. Cutover was scheduled for 11:30pm that same night.

I didn't hear anything back during the maintenance window - no alarms, no emergency page. I reckon no news is good news.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tsai Chin - Live In Conert 2008

As part of the CNY celebrations, Tsai Chin (蔡琴) flew in for a two-night concert at Star City's Lyric Theatre. For those who haven't heard of Tsai Chin, where have you been all these years? Tsai Chin is this ultra-famous singer from Taiwan. Her Chinese and Taiwanese songs transcends generations and her career spans decades. If you ask me, I would say she's second only to the great Teresa Teng.

Anyway, when I first heard she's coming, I immediately checked with my parents if they want to go. Nope, heard it, no need to see it. On the other hand, GF's mom's curiosity got the best of her, so she asked GF and me to accompany her. We met up after work at Star City, and had our pre-concert dinner at the nearby City Noodle Cafe. Naturally I paid for the meals, as it's the least I can do. By the 8:30pm, the whole of Lyric Theater was packed to the rafters with Asians. When Tsai Chin emerged onto the stage, she was greeted with enthusiastic applause from the crowd. It's not everyday you see a living legend perform.

The concert programme was broken into four sections (each one requiring a costume change). The first is called Shanghai Era. She sang songs from the time of Zhou Xuan (周璇) and Bai Guang (白光). Some I've heard before, some I can't remember. Next is the Hong Kong Era. She sang a medley of Chinese songs that were remakes of English ones - switching from one language to the other. She also sang Lui Wen Zheng's San Yue Li De Xiao Yu (Light Rain in March). For the Taipei Era, she sang Taiwanese folk song Night Song of the Green Island (綠島小夜曲), the haunting Bu Liao Qing (不了情), and the catchy Ye Lai Xiang (夜來香). For the encore (a.k.a. the Tsai Chin Era), she sang her trademark songs like Du Ni (讀你), Jin Xiao Duo Bao Zhong, and Cia Si Ni Di Wen Rou (恰似你的温柔). For her very last number, she said she brought along two newcomers from Hong Kong to sing with her. A video flashed on the stage backdrop, showing a snippet from Infernal Affairs (無間道). Andy Lau and Tony Leung were at the audio shop testing out the tube amps and speakers using Tsai Chin's Bei Yi Wang De Shi Guang (被遺忘的時光) as test song. The video was paused, and the live Tsai Chin continued singing the song from the movie. Very nice touch.

I've said before that I prefer classical concerts because all you need to do is sit back and appreciate the music. With pop concerts, people clap at inappropriate times, sometimes made to do strange things by the singer, sing and/or dance along to the music, etc. Tsai Chin's concert is an exception because she handled the crowd pretty well. Thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

CNY Parade

The CNY Parade from Town Hall to Tumbalong Park via Chinatown is supposed to be one of the highlights of the CNY celebration, said to be the biggest outside of Asia. 2500 performers including 600 people and floats from China's Shaanxi province. The parade started at 11am. Since we got to the city a little late, we decided to head straight to Tumbalong Park and meet the parade half-way. No such luck. By the time we got there, the floats are already parked and being dismantled. The participants are out of their custom and simply milling about.

There's a bigger problem. All the restaurants and food courts in Chinatown are jampacked. We went to this hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant on the second level of a nondescript building. Even that one is full. Had to wait like 45 minutes before we got a table. The food is superb though; might come back next time. We went back to Tumbalong Park to catch the free concert. Too late - everybody is gone and the stage is already being dismantled. Oh, well.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Shanghaied to Classical Kennedy

Supposed to go to the CNY party of the good friend of GF's mom tonight. For some reason, she knew about me, and wanted me to come along. Funny how things work out. On my way to GF's house, I passed by Meryla to drop off a colleague's Magic Sing. They're gonna need it for a party tonight - one in which I'm not invited to. Then I got an SMS from GF saying that her mom's at Westfield and since I'm around maybe I can give her a lift. Turns out I misread the SMS - it's the sister, not the mom. A lot less brownie points, but brownie points nonetheless. :-)
So we go over to the host's place and exchange pleasantries with the guests. Ten minutes into the party, GF tells me it's time to leave. She's bringing me to a secret location as part of her Valentine surprise for me. Before we left, GF's mom mentioned about a concert. There goes the secret, but I guessed as much - the date and time, the smart casual attire, the questions, etc. Apparently, those Classical Kennedy concert tickets caused GF a great deal of stress and cost a great deal of money to procure, as the 2-day concert sold out pretty fast. Anyway, there's more stress to come as GF can't find any parking at the Opera House. Strangely, every parking place around Circular Quay is either closed or full on this Saturday night. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that it's only minutes away from start of the concert. Fortunately, we found a parking operator which is open. Down, down, down we descended to basement level 99. Unfortunately, all the slots have been taken, says the parking attendant. Fortunately, there was no one behind us, so we were able to back up and go up, up, up, and out. Thinking worst-case, we doubled back and parked at QVB, then took a bus to Circular Quay. From there, power-walked to the Opera House. Praise the Sydney Symphony for starting the concert 5 minutes late.

Official concert programme below:
Mozart - Violin Concerto No.4 in D, K218 (24 minutes)

  • Alegro
  • Andante Cantabile
  • Rondo
Intermission (20 minutes)
Beethoven - Violin Concerto (40 minutes)
  • Allegro ma non troppo
  • Larghetto
  • Rondo

As with last year, thunderous applause from the audience when Nigel Kennedy walked onto the stage. A few jokes and friendly banter with the orchestra members later, he started off the concert with Bach's Partita No. 3. I guess he's trying to show off by playing the piece super-fast, but the guy definitely has the right to do so. Despite the frenetic pace, the individual notes are sharp and accurate. GF commented that it's like hearing two violins being played simultaneously. I actually had to catch my breath when the piece ended. It was that good.

Comparing Mozart's and Beethoven's violin concertos, I would prefer Mozart's more. Beethoven's work is just too long and too repetitive for my liking. Lots of times you can sense that it's about to finish, yet the orchestra would pick up and continue on and on. At one point, I almost dropped off to sleep, to GF's bemusement. For the encore, Nigel played Bartok's Duo for Two Violins Nos. 17, 38, and 35, together with concertmaster Dene Olding. He also played his own version of Monti's Czardas. As he is wont to do in many of his concerts, for the finale he played his version of Jimi Hendrix' Purple Haze with the orchestra providing the beat. During the interlude, he walked off the stage and chatted up some members of the front row audience. Seeing an empty seat near our area, he came up and took the seat. All this while still playing on his violin. The concert finished with Nigel and the orchestra walking off the stage while playing the last few seconds of the piece. I reckon that's always a good way to (really) end the concert, or else people will always clap and ask for more.

Had some pancakes at the 24-hour City Extra before driving back to GF's place. It was pretty late by the time I headed for home. Even got breath-tested by the mobile patrol. Fortunately, GF didn't drink that night, or else I'll be in big trouble.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Client Lunch on Boat, CNY Dinner at Botoli

The good thing about working for my current company is that we work hard, yet we play hard. Daily fruits, free coffee/Milo/tea, free use of the community gym, heated pools, and tennis courts, annual cricket matches, whole-day off-site team-building sessions, company-paid team lunches and farewell dinners, etc. This morning we're off to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia near Rushcutters Bay Park to go sailing with our firewall and mobile IP clients. The sailboat we used for the day is sleek and shiny. I asked our skipper and he said the boat costs about a million dollars. Just the sail alone, made of Mylar and Kevlar, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. We sailed out using the onboard motors, then anchored off some unknown bay (unknown to me) and had lunch on the boat. There were prawns, oysters, salads, chicken and breads. Afterwards, we put up the sails, and cruised around looking for other ships to overtake. Went back to the wharf around 4pm, and back to the office for more work.

Went to Botoli Restaurant (宝多利餐馆) at Burwood for the pre-CNY dinner that GF organized for our friends. Good food and great company. There were two kids with us, and the laughter is just non-stop as kids truly say the darnedest things.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Chinese New Year 2008

A Filipino colleague of mine came around my area and asked if I wanted to go to Glebe. What for? There's a Chinese temple there. Yes? It's Chinese New Year. So? Let's go there and pray for a good year, he said. All right! That's what having a Chinese wife will do to you.

The Sze Yup Temple is right in the middle of a residential area along Edward Street, just beside the Glebe park. It's not really the best place for a temple to be in. For one, there's not enough parking space. Two, things tend to get noisy during festivities, and this might disturb the neighbors. Not to mention the smoke and soot from the candles, incense sticks, and burning paper money. Definitely a fire hazard, in my opinion. Actually, a good part of the temple burned down just a week ago - a suspected arson attack.

Anyway, my colleague paid $20 for a pack of incense sticks and some pieces of paper where you write down your prayers and wishes for the year and burn them. Just when we finished our praying and picture-taking, it started raining cats and dogs, which is considered lucky, by the way. Except that none of us remembered to bring along an umbrella. After waiting for like half an hour, we decided to make a run for it. My colleague was quite satisfied that he did something productive today, we had late lunch at the Fish Market - his treat.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Destined for 2 Days in Paris

Not really my choice of movie, but it seems like the fates have decided, and their decision is final. My sister got me a double pass to 2 Days to Paris at Dendys, and I decided to pass. This time, GF's friend gave her two tickets to St. George's OpenAir Cinema for the same movie. How can I say no? It's a long walk from Town Hall to St. James to Domain. By the time we got to Mrs. Macquarie's Chair, we're quite ready for dinner. Once we have reserved our seats, we went to the nearby dining area and ordered beer-battered fish and chips and hand-made pizza with calabrese salami, mushrooms, and goat cheese.

It has been raining hard the past few days and tonight, the skies are trying very hard not to. At 8:30pm when the big screen came up and everyone is getting ready for the show, it started to drizzle. Then it started to rain and it started to pour. Everyone rushed off to get their ponchos. Watching an outdoor movie in the middle of a shower through a clear poncho - a first for me (and GF).

Would've been nice if the movie is spectacular, given all the effort we made to watch it, but it's only so-so (despite what the reviews said). Actress-director Julie Delpy plays Paris-born photographer Marion with Adam Goldberg as her American-Jewish boyfriend working in New York as an interior designer. They're on a two-day stop in Paris before going back to the US. During this time, Jack finds out that Marion has bought an apartment one floor above her parents, and that's where they're staying. He also gets to meet several of her ex-boyfriends, most of whom still seem to have the hots for her. He also discovers that one of them has been sending erotic SMS messages to her mobile, and she's been keeping them. Marion, on the other hand, is just a total nutcase. If I were Jack, I would drop her in a split-second. She shares her boyfriend's nude picture with the family; she's got serious anger management issues; she lies about her relation with her ex-boyfriends; she lies about her past sexual encounters; and she overuses her voice-overs in the movie.

For comedic effect, the movie gives us:

  • a neurotic boyfriend who doesn't want to take public transport for fear of terrorist bombings, yet nonchalantly gives the wrong directions to a group of tourists
  • a compulsive liar of a girlfriend who picks fights with Arab taxi drivers and physically assaults ex-boyfriends as if she's been doing it since she's five, and
  • her parents who don't speak much English yet always try to chat up Jack and makes jokes about him in French.
In the end, we got to know more about the main characters, but really I couldn't care less.