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Saturday, May 24, 2003

Last night we were invited to a little birthday get together at Bill's and Veronica's place up in Tamavua, close to were Jonathan lives (and many other expats). We had met Bill & Veronica before while diving in Bequ, they also are friends with Edo&Marly (yes, Suva is a small place).Also there were Wade&Arali and new friends of Ritsu, the Takasaki's with their 1 year old daughter and Edo picked up a New York colleague (Atsushi) from the airport. Jonathan with his son Ethan, daughter Kaia and wife Kozue joined later .. It was fun. Turned out we had a japanese majority, followed by 3 latin-american ladies. The rest seemed outnumbered ... no speaking nihongo or south american spanish? Sorry, you snooze, you loose :)

... for the second time that day we had Duruka, but this time texan style right from the BBQ .. smoked just like corn cobs .. yeeehaaaw .. very tasty. We also had homestyle hotdogs (not had one in a long time) and of course beers ...

15 years ago a party at a place like this would have involved people getting drunk and falling into the pool (the only person falling in was 4 year old Ethan, trying to rescue his batman doll) listining to loud music (instead here, we had Bill getting his guitar and playing nice folk tunes .. which I knew none of, but enjoyed a lot) and then in a smokey dark room headbanging style dancing (nope, all lights on and everybody, including the kids dancing to latin music). What a great evening ... always fun to see other people's houses around here ...

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So, today we got up early for another Rucksack-Club adventure ... but no hiking this time (which nearly killed me last time) ... it was a workshop on fijian food .. we all met at the market, which is chaos on saturdays, and bought all kinds of interesting looking / smelling things

The market is very crowded already on Saturdays ... but trying to move around with a group of 15 people was a challange. We saw and bought many interesting things (Dalo leaves [Rourou], Duruka, Coconuts, 2 different kinds of mussles, a medium size octopus, seagrapes, cooking bananas, ota [a local, curly, fern], carrots - onions - tomatoes, and of course a big heap of Dalo itself .. but I am still sceptical about buying seafood there. A heap of freshwater mussles cost something like 2F$ ... stuff at the market is fairly cheap .. I saw a bunch of green crabs for 45F$ .. that must have been the most expensive item there (well, I did not figure out how much they asked for those live roosters, which they stuffed into plastic bags, no matter how much the rooster protested.)

We then headed to the Forum Secretariat complex to use the kitchen fascilities ... and we all joined the fun of stripping fern, scraping out coconuts and chopping mussles ... I will not even bother to write down the recipes, a) most of the stuff is not available outside of Fiji b) it is not that super great that someone would come up with the idea to actually export e.g. Dalo or Seagrapes ... Most of the fijian food is .. well .. basic .. making the best out of what is available .. not an artform as it is in french cuisine or a philosophy as it is in Japan ... but it sure is interesting ...

Scraping out a coconut is fun, but quite work intensive ... sure you can either buy Lolo (coconut cream) in cans .. or even have your coconuts scraped out mechanically for just an extra 10cents at the local supermarket ... but doing it fijian style means sitting on some board which has a kind of scraper attached at one and .. and along that you scrape the half-shell ...

Also fun (and yummy) is Ota, a local fern ... you buy a big bushel, but end up using only the tips ... and then you strip those into thinner strings ... peeling Duruka is like the search for the holy grail ... reminded me of finding the inside of an artichoke :) ... (what Ritsu has in the pic down their is unpeeled Duruka). Needless to say that the whole group interaction was a lot of fun and just being part of creating all these food items was very very interesting ...

So ... how did it turn out? First of all ... pretty much everything is cooked/marinated in / with freshly made Lolo (coconut cream) ... no matter if octopus, salad or desert .. i think out of the 8 or 9 dishes we made, only the fern salad was cocnut free. Also onion/tomatos are used in pretty much all salads .. and the mussles appetizers ... The soup made from dalo leaves was very very nice .. I also enjoyed the Duruka again, and the fern salad ... The octopus was a bit chewy .. and I was sceptical about the 2 mussle appetizers ... one was very nicely arranged in its shell with carrots on top and then some lolo and the baked for a while ... those seagrapes .. well .. they are basically seaweed that comes in a shape of mini grapes .. and even with onions and tomatoes they end up tasting fishy .. and not in the best way ... The main "stuffer" = dalo (hmm, something like potato) .. was just like dalo is ..pretty boring ... I keep saying it needs lots of butter and garlic to breath life into those ... The desert was cooked cooking bananas with -you guessed it- coconut milk ... and it was very tasty ...

All in all a very interesting, educational day and it is great to have the chance to learn all about fijian food from the 4 fijian ladies who introduced us to all this

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Friday, May 23, 2003


Note to self: Consider diet when garden chair no longer takes your body weight.

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Thursday, May 22, 2003

quite fascinating was last weekend's discussion at Toberua among the Suva expats "which supermarkets you go to when and how often?" ... As it turns out, everyone seems to go to Cost-U-Less (they are a US company specializing in ware house style supermarkets on islands like Fiji ... interesting) ... and at least 2 different MH's ... MH is a chain and they operate supermarkets in many locations in Fiji .. they newer ones with AC and catering more to the expat people who want weird things like anchovies and ravioli or even parmesan cheese ... the top 2 seem to be MH Premium (in Flagstaff) and MH Superfresh up Princess Road ... Over time you learn things like "at MH: Coke 2.09 and Water 1.99 - at Cost-U-Less: Coke 2.29 and Water 1.79" ... that makes a good kitchen bitch ... while the MH's look like a very regular supermarket ... Cost-U-Less looks more like a warehouse .. and they also have a somewhat changing inventory ... you cannot really rely on what they have ... sometimes they have great Campbell's Clam Chowder ... sometimes they have low fat yoghurt from Australia (note to self .. buy as much as possible when you see it) .. it usually sells out quite quickly ... but they have great stuff. Just don't go there for fresh groceries .. though I just got great basil there ... usually the selection is limited and everything comes pre-packed (like, a tray of 4 pears for 3.99)

I really like their meat department, looks very clean, they have an aray of cold-cuts (though amazingly flavorless ham and roastbeef). They also have many house hold items like mops, plastic utensils ... i think our breakfast plates and cups are from there too ...

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Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Yesterday I managed to watch Phone Booth, an intriguing little movie that plays like a well done piece made for HBO. I was fascinated on some level, but ultimatly the movie failed to really get me. It was rather short too, with barely 70 minutes sandwiched between opening montage and end credits. Amazing how easily Collin Farrel can drop his accent :) And Kiefer Sutherland's voice just lend lots of character ... For me it was unnecesary to actually see him later ... I just love movies where the bad guys get away ...

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Tuesday, May 20, 2003

We haven't had any cute, cuddly cat pics here in a while ...

Seems she 'survived' our absence just well and is very happy to have us back.

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Monday, May 19, 2003

I really wonder how some people think search engines work ... like typing in cheap order fire crackers that are very cheap firecrackers .. that really blows my mind ... and they actually click in the nacken fiji experience link ! WOW

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We haven't talked about food in a while :) well, last night's dinner was turkish "Koefte" (can't find a recipe in english .. so I will have to write that up some time) .. which for the first time I did with ground goat meat (not bad at all .. very similar to lamb)

After that we sat down to watch "Bowling for Columbine" .. Ritsu finished it, I was too tired and went to bed ... will let you know what I think once I am done with it .. but it is so far very intriguing ... too bad everybody outside the US seems to watch it .. while actually the US publich should be seeing it ...

Last friday Ritsu introduced me to a chinese restaurant she just recently tried .. it is located in the old old Regal cinama building and it is just hillarious ...

It looks a bit like a YMCA soup kitchen ... there is a make-shift set up where stuff can be cooked freshly .. you just point at what you want to have ... they also have nice steamed things waiting for you (as usual with Dim Sum, or as it is called around the australian landmass "Yum Cha", it is 'point-n-pray') ... and we picked some really nice stuff ... the setting is fun ... very basic .. but the food was really really good, albeit simple ... and in the end it is pretty cheap ... very recommended ... it is right next to McDonalds.

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Our Monday started quite early .. around 4 AM .. since the wind was howling and the rain was a pouring (make that "super pouring") .. I was concerned about the storm shutters so we ran around the house closing these ... we then took the liberty to sit on the somewhat drenched porch and watch as mother nature unfolded ...

Later, when it seemed safe again to use electric appliances, we both hopped online to check mail .. Ritsu then went back to bed, I remained on the computer ...

After breakfast I drove Ritsu to Lami, where some workshop was going on ... to get there you need to go about 10km/6miles .. but through 'downtown' .. not a biggie on the way to Lami .. but on the way back I joined the commuting forces ... it took me quite a while to get back home ...

but .. as promised .. my views on "Matrix Reloaded" ... at this point I actually would like to cut it short and be over with it ... but then again .. so many thoughts about this movie circling in my head....

Major one: Anger ... with the premise of the first movie .. and the money and special effect power attached .. they could have done SO MUCH BETTER !!! ... if I am not mistaken, the first Matrix movie was rated R ... and now the sequel is PG 13 .. which shows !!! .. woah ,. yeah, we may get to see a nipple through a half translucent shirt .. not even sure if male or female .. but a battle with sharp edged weapons does not draw any blood ? The Battle in Matrix 1, where Morpheus hit his head on the toilet seat ... I squirmed!!! .. that was so painful just to watch ... nothing like this here .. great big battles .. but I ACTUALLY nearly fell asleep .. and that at 10.10 AM ..

Ok .. rewind .. so .. great thing for me was that in ole little Fiji the movie would show on 5/16 in the morning ...which is pretty big ... if they did 5/15 in the morning, we had have the world premiere .. other movies like that I have seen starting a day later .. but afternoon .. So .. safe to say .. I watched it the same time many of my US geek pals saw it in the first showing they could get into after work ..

It turned out that the 6 screen theater in Suva was even showing it on 2 screens .. not so nice was to find out that the screening room that I was in, had no dolby digital sound .. so .. all flat in the front .. woohoo .. in the end I doubt better sound would have helped much ..

Back to the movie .. there will be SPOILERS left and right .. or .. actually .. there will be not spoiler guard .. I just keep on rambling .. and in no certain order ..

First of .. yes, in my eyes, X2 is better than M2 .. at least it was more entertaining, admittedly, for M2 it was hard to live up to its hype, but I strongly believed it had the great premise and now the money power to continue on grand scale ..

so .. what happened ? At the end of M1, Neo warned the Machines that he is coming after them .. does that happen ? is Neo now a superman guy ?? NO NO NO ... instead .. for reasons unknown and unexplained, the machines have found the super secret location of the ladt human city "Zion" .. and that is major plot point #1 ... I could have understood that while Neo is undermining and fighting the machines, they in defense find Zion .. but that does not happen .. actually .. besides Neo using his 'superman thing' like a little kid .. he has not evolved at all .. he gets into pointless fights left and right ... while we are shown that he can see the code behind the matrix, he still rather battles a hundred CGI smiths than simply taking off .. (a major question asked in any review I have seen so far) ... while watching I was not really asking that question .. i was merely wondering who turned the playstation on .. that fight Neo vs. Smith100 is just silly in terms of CGI .. it very quickly looks like plastic ... it looked great on hi res downloadable trailers .. but it was laughable on the big screen .. though I have to admit that the movement looked quite real .. but switching between realtime and slow motion helps to cover flaws .. anyways .. now known as the 'burly brawl' .. well .. i found it laughable .. was offended as a viewer .. and WHAT WAS THE POINT ???

oh .. let me get back to "point" .. what is the point of the movie ??? After #1 one thinks the idea is to turn down the machine forces .. but nada .. instead we get a bad dream .. 30 minutes of Zion which is a mix of some bad family drama, an even worse Banana Republic commercial(meaning that wannabe dance thing) , a super bad speech by Larry Fishburne, a bad love scene and political quarrels that makes you wish that Jar Jar Binks would show up ...

Enter the Oracle and her 'quest' for Neo ... In the whole movie I never really knew why Neo was doing what ... why are we looking for Mr. Keymaker ? Why are we running into that french sounding guy who is an offense to any american actor who ever tried a french accent ... If you get Ms. Belucci in the movie to just look sexy, then at least let her run around naked .. I fail to see the point in her "I want a Kiss" thing ... actually, Trinity looked like "Can I give you that kiss?"

I have read on several places, that WHY WHY WHY that talk about werewolves and vampires .. and all we get is some classicly bad henchmen dudes, and 2 guys in tinfoil who stole their effect from LOTR's ringwraiths ... hey, wow, they fight with old school barber razors .. wooopie ...

I notice while I am writing this I am getting more and more pissed off .. but then again, I am having fun channeling my thoughts like that .. and most important .. I STILL THINK THIS WAS A GOOD MOVIE ... i am just mad that I think it could have been so much better ...

Let's go on to that car chase ... YES, i will buy the DVD ... and i will watch that chase again and again ... but only the chase .. maybe even just from where Trinity gets on the motorcycle ...

Morpheus' fight on the truck with 'Mr. I dont care agent' looks super fake, is as uninvolving as a sack of rice falling down in china .. the only pay off is that bullet time shot of the trucks turning into harmonicas and Neo flies by to grab the leftovers .. the Twins in tinfoil will be nicely steamed at 450F after 20 minutes .. enjoy ..

Can I just ask again what they point was between Neo-man and Smith-many-man fighting ??? Yes it looked cool .. but does anyone else thing they shot all the action scenes before writing the script? And then brainstormed how they can put all that together?

So, ok .. i liked that car chase scene ...

what happened next ?? oh .. we need a bunch of people we have hardly scene to get to 'the source' (no real reason given) and we only have 314 secs time .. and we need to shut down power and Trini-baby should stay out of it ... ok .. who can predict what happens? Anyways .. what comes now is Mr. Architect ... I may have to watch that again to see if that guy had a point or was simply constipated ... Oh .. Neo was in that movie ? Hardly noticed that so far ..

ok .. and then the end of this chapter gets all confusing and we are left with some guy we are all made to believe he is some kind of mole .. but we do not know why and how and anything ..

From the reviews I had read i noticed that many people are very confused .. as far as even Harry Knowles in his first review announcing that Zion was destroyed .. while it was not ... there is a 'good' confused in movies .. this one is an example for 'bad' confused ...

I actually care shit about how the story goes on in november .. I am more curious if the box office data will show that many many people lost faith / interest .....

I was very excited about seeing this sequel .. now I am not to wild about the 3rd part ..

Ok .. fairness .. what was good: Some of the action stuff and the visuals ... background history more hinted at in the "Animatrix", errr .. hmm . give me a minute .. I am thinking ... Agent Smith is fun to watch, but his motives are .. hmm .. well .. not clear .. And I doubt they ever will ... Production Value .. everything looks sleek and well produced ... sunglasses .. great styles .. Lady Oracle was fun ...

I think I am just sad .. it could have been so much better ... Show how Neo flies to the surface and frees people who are locked in their pods .. and they all become kick ass kung fu fighters in skimpy outfits (especially the females) ... then when the Machines feel really threatened they try everything to find Zion (in M2 it is just a given that they found it) .. and then a real big battle ensues .. not some silly quest to find some old asian guy ... and hop over trucks and stuff ..

Did that sound bitter? I guess that's how i felt coming out of the movie ...

Below: The 'crowd' on opening day, first screening in the morning. And a funny local advertisement, making use of hollywood movie posters (in this case Anger Management

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