Jumaat, 21 Oktober 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio


Charlie Sheen slams new 'Two and a Half Men'

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 05:47 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com): Looks like Charlie Sheen is done playing nice with his former bosses.

The ousted ''Two and a Half Men'' star, who's preparing for his small-screen adaptation of the Jack Nicholson film ''Anger Management,'' took a few shots at the show while out in Los Angeles on Thursday, saying he's ''very disappointed'' in the direction ''Two and a Half Men'' has taken since his ouster, TMZ reports.

Asked about the ratings slide that the show has taken since its eye-popping season premiere numbers, Sheen offered, ''People aren't stupid, you know? Not all of them.''

Sheen was a critical about his replacement, Ashton Kutcher, who plays brokenhearted Internet millionaire Walden Schmidt on the show.

''He's doing the best he can,'' Sheen offered. ''I don't think the role is cursed, but I'm extremely disappointed with how they're handling what I left behind.''

After a very public, very ugly war of words with ''Two and a Half Men'' executive producer Chuck Lorre, Sheen struck a conciliatory tone at this year's Emmys, taking the stage and wishing his former cohorts ''nothing but the best'' with the show revamp.

''From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season. We spent eight wonderful years together, and I know you will continue to make great television,'' Sheen said.

Two weeks later, in late September, Sheen settled his lawsuit with Lorre and Warner Bros. Television. As TheWrap reported at the time, Sheen received $25 million in the deal, though that primarily consists of back-end payments from episodes he'd already filmed. (Sheen had been seeking $100 million in the suit.)

The good news for CBS? Charlie's a big fan of its comedy ''Rules of Engagement.'' The series enjoyed robust ratings for its season premiere Thursday, and apparently Sheen was among the viewers.

''Anyone catch the premier [sic] of ''Rules of Engagement'' last night?'' Sheen tweeted Friday. ''Glad it's [sic] back! Hat's [sic] off to buddy Tom Hertz, cast and crew. Great show CBS!!''

Maybe he's trying to make ''Two and a Half Men'' jealous?

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'Jersey Shore' season finale ratings barely up from last week

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 05:45 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com): Season 4 of ''Jersey Shore'' started out with a bang, ratings-wise, and while the season didn't exactly end with a whimper, it was nothing to fist-pump about.

The season finale of ''Jersey Shore'' on Thursday - in which Snooki, the Situation and the rest of the GTL crew bid arrivederci to their ancestral homeland of Italy - beat out last week's episode, but just barely. And the season capper was a far cry from the blockbuster numbers that the Season 4 premiere in August posted.

Thursday night's finale pulled in 6.6 million total viewers, just managing to best last week's 6.5 million total viewers. (The season premiere raked in 8.8 million total viewers, while the season overall averaged 7.3 million total viewers.)

In the target demographic of people 12-34, last night's premiere posted a 6.36 rating, with 4.9 million total viewers in the demo, compared to last week's 6.24 rating and 4.8 million in the demo.

The reality TV guidos and guidettes will return to MTV for a fifth season in January.

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The Star Online: Sports

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Canada make Argentina work hard for Pan-Am hockey win

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 05:26 PM PDT

GUADALAJARA, Mexico, Oct 21 (Reuters) - World hockey champions Argentina were given a run for their money by Canada, the second best team in the women's Pan-American Games tournament based on performance, before winning 7-3 on Friday.

It was a match of two halves in which Canada stunned the Las Leonas (the lionesses) with a sixth-minute opening goal from Thea Culley.

Argentina then scored four goals in 10 minutes but Canada hit back twice through Hannah Lynn Haughn and defender Katherine Gillis in fine attacking plays at the end of the half to hold the favourites to a narrow 4-3 lead at the interval.

Having adjusted defensive issues, captain Luciana Aymar's team scored three more goals in the second half for a comfortable victory that might have been by a greater margin but for some brave goalkeeping from Azelia Liu.

Argentina's coach Carlos Retegui gave the Canadians full credit for their three goals and smiled about the fact that they were all from field plays with none from short corners.

"We had set ourselves the target of not conceding from corners," he told reporters.

"But, well, (the ball) did go in in plays. I think we need to be a bit more alert with 50-50 balls in the area.

Retegui said the ball could have fallen to either team in those tight goalmouth situations and all Argentina's rivals were going to play them that way with fast counter-attacks.

"Lots of teams are going to play us like that, get into the area and they're going to knock it in... we must do a bit more zonal marking to be able to intercept those crosses," he added.

TAKING CHANCES

"The goals (conceded) were merit of the rival team who came into the area, created goal chances and were good at taking them.

"We need to correct those mistakes but I think the team did good things with the ball," Retegui said after his team had mostly kept Canada on the back foot.

Argentina, who had crushed Trinidad & Tobago 11-0 in their first match, equalised through Soledad Garcia.

Then Aymar, the world's top-ranked player, scored two trademark goals following brilliant dribbling runs that have earned her comparisons from her compatriots with soccer ace Diego Maradona.

Garcia made it 4-1 in the 25th minute before Canada's two fine breakaway goals in the last five minutes of the first half.

Argentina then pulled away with two goals from short corners by specialist Noel Barrionuevo after 41 and 53 minutes and a final strike from Carla Rebecchi at the end of a move that Retegui called brilliant.

"The seventh goal deserves to be framed... It was a combination of three - Lu (Aymar), Sole (Garcia) and Rebecchi - that will stick in the mind. The team played very well at times," Retegui said.

"We're turning our minds to Barbados on Sunday and then the semi-final which surely be with Chile. The United States beat Chile (in Pool B) so they are our most likely opponents," he added, confident of taking the points against the Barbadians.

Argentina are looking to win the single Olympic berth on offer at the tournament.

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Radwanska qualifies for WTA finals without playing

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 05:24 PM PDT

MOSCOW, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Agnieszka Radwanska secured the last remaining spot in the season-ending WTA Championships without hitting a ball after Marion Bartoli retired from her Kremlin Cup quarter-final with an illness on Friday. Kremlin Cup organisers said the Frenchwoman was forced to withdraw from her match against Russia's Elena Vesnina after suffering from a viral infection.

World number nine Bartoli was the only player with a chance of catching the eighth-ranked Pole but she needed to win in Moscow to clinch a place in the eight-player field in Istanbul.

"I think my whole body needed a break," Bartoli said in a statement. "Yesterday, during my match I didn't feel very well but I still had energy left so it was enough to win."

The third seed had crushed unseeded Russia Ksenia Pervak 6-1 6-1 in just over an hour on Thursday to reach the last eight.

"This morning I had so much pain in my whole body, in my neck... I couldn't even warm up today. So I knew it would be very difficult," added Bartoli, who won her second title of the year on Sunday after beating U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur in the Japan Open final.

"It has been a very long season and I really tried to play till the very end but that was it for me."

Russia's top seed Vera Zvonareva, who has already booked her ticket to Turkey, was upset by eighth-seeded Slovak Dominika Cibulkova 4-6 6-4 6-4 after a near three-hour battle.

Despite losing her opening match in Moscow on Wednesday, Radwanska will join world number one Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Zvonareva, Stosur and French Open champion Li Na in Istanbul next week.

SORE SHOULDER

Zvonareva blamed a sore shoulder for her defeat.

"I started having pain in my shoulder in the second set and I started thinking about it and was afraid it would get worse," the world number five told reporters.

"I've tried to fight through the pain but just couldn't get it done. I probably should have stopped," she added.

"I have this bad habit - I often keep on playing even when I have an injury and it doesn't do me any good."

Cibulkova said she was unaware of Zvonareva's problems.

"I didn't notice she was having any problem," said the Slovak, who now faces 64th-ranked Vesnina in Saturday's semi-finals.

"She kept serving at top speed so I was very surprised she had called for a trainer midway through the third set."

The second semi-final pits Estonian Kaia Kanepi, who crushed Russia's sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1 6-2, against Czech Lucie Safarova, a 6-4 6-4 winner over Russian Vera Dushevina.

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Garcia leads after Castello Masters second round

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 05:20 PM PDT

CASTELLON, Spain, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Former world number two Sergio Garcia, chasing his first European Tour victory for almost three years, fired a blistering eight-under 63 to take a two-shot lead after the Castello Masters second round on Friday.

The 31-year-old Spaniard, who has slumped to 49th in the rankings, finished with a 12-under total of 130, two ahead of Swede Alex Noren (63).

"I'm getting there with my ball striking although there are a couple of things I'd like to get better," Garcia told reporters. "A couple of shots didn't come out the way I wanted them to today."

Tournament promoter Garcia is this week playing on his home Mediterraneo course where he also won this event in 2008.

The Champions Tournament in China in November 2008 was the last trophy Garcia lifted before his relationship with Greg Norman's daughter Morgan ended, a split he said he took some time to recover from.

Garcia was back on form on Friday, compiling his best round for two years. He strung together seven birdies and an eagle courtesy of a 40-foot putt at the par-five eighth.

His 63 equalled the score he registered when finishing fourth in this event in 2009.

"I do have an advantage over a couple of shots here and there on my course," said Garcia.

Earlier this week Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal predicted Garcia would be back in the European side in 2012 after missing out on the biennial team event last year.

"There are no givens," said Garcia. "I want to make sure my head and my will is good and I don't want to have to rely on a captain's wildcard pick."

Noren, looking for his third win of the season after claiming the Wales Open and Scandinavian Masters titles, was delighted to score his 63 playing alongside Olazabal.

"I've been thinking more and more about the Ryder Cup since playing in the Seve Trophy a few weeks ago," Noren told Reuters. "It's always good to play well in front of the captain.

"I'm finding things easier since understanding I can't hit every shot perfectly so I play to my strengths instead."

Overnight leader Ross McGowan (70), fellow Briton Gary Orr (67) and Australia's Marcus Fraser (64) were four strokes off the lead in joint third place.

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The Star Online: Business

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Gamuda-MMC faces lower bids from pre-qualified bidders for MRT tunnelling project

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 05:58 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The front runner for the mass rapid transit (MRT) tunnelling project the Gamuda Bhd-MMC Corp Bhd joint venture may be put in a tough spot to match the lower bids from some of the pre-qualified bidders, industry sources said.

Yesterday a financial newspaper reported that five companies had been pre-qualified for the project, including Gamuda-MMC, China's Sinohydro Group Ltd, South Korea's SK Holdings and two other parties from China and Japan.

Gamuda-MMC was the only local company shortlisted.

Reliable sources have confirmed this.

In an e-mail reply to StarBizWeek, Gamuda said: "We have not been informed of being shortlisted." It didn't reply to other questions in the e-mail.

The tunnelling works for the MRT is estimated to cost RM7bil and the financial newspaper reported that the pre-qualified parties had three months to submit their bids.

It had been reported that the project delivery partner (PDP) of the MRT project, Gamuda-MMC, would have the upper hand in bidding for the job as it was given the right to match the lowest offer from other bidders for the tunnelling job under the Swiss challenge system (Gamuda-MMC has to match the lowest bid to win).

However, bidders from China are said to pose a threat to Gamuda-MMC due to their expertise and experience in tunnelling jobs as well as having the financial muscles to undertake the project.

A reliable source added that local parties have a price advantage of between 3.5% to 7.5%, depending on the level of local and bumiputra equity participation in the project.

"However even with this price advantage, Gamuda-MMC could still be hard-pressed to match the pricing of some of the other bidders," an industry source said.

Meanwhile OSK Research pointed out that while there was a risk of the other four pre-qualified names "under-cutting in their bids, we believe the local JV (Gamuda-MMC) still has an edge."

"As the MRT is funded by the Government, we believe it would like to keep the job largely in the hands of local contractors.

"Furthermore Pemandu (Performance Management and Delivery Unit) had also previously stated that under the Economic Transformation Programme, the awarding of contracts to foreigners would also depend on whether these would have a positive impact on the GNI (gross national income)."

OSK expected Gamuda-MMC to be prequalified for the project, "given Gamuda's experience with the Penchala Tunnel, Smart Tunnel and Kaohsiung MRT."

The research house said it expected the award to be made by the end of the first quarter of next year.


GAMUDA : [Stock Watch] [News]
MMCCORP : [Stock Watch] [News]

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Tanjung gets RM27m Petronas Carigali job

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 05:58 PM PDT

Saturday October 22, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR: Tanjung Offshore Bhd has been awarded a contract worth RM27mil by Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd for the provision of three units of offshore support vessels (OSVs) for up to two primary years.

Tanjung said in a statement that its unit Offshore Services Sdn Bhd had been awarded the contract on Thursday.

The contract for the three units of OSVs is for a primary period of between three months and two years effective October and November this year respectively.

"In the event the contract is renewed during the option period, the contract charters will be determined at the then charter rate," it said.

Tanjung said the contract was expected to contribute positively to its earnings for the financial years ending Dec 31, 2011 (FY11) to FY13.

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MAS lines up mid-management

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 05:57 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has released its organisational chart to its employees revealing the lines of reporting for its middle-level management but it has yet to name a candidate to head sales and marketing since the departure of Datuk Bernard Francis.

Datuk Eddy Leong would continue to head Firefly as CEO and he is also the chief operating officer of the short haul operations, sources said.

The chart showed that the airline had consolidated the over 10 units to seven, sharpening its focus and made the reporting lines clearer, they added.

The seven are commercial, customer experience, operations, group finance, corporate finance, human capital and CEO's office.

The three subsidiaries MAS Wings, MAS Aerospace and Engineering and MAS Kargo are also parked under the CEO's office.

"As customer is the key focus, MAS has created a new unit, customer experience, which is headed by Datuk Mohd Salleh to look at all the touch points of customer needs, from planning, booking, check-in, baggage handling to customer care.

"This is essential since the airline wants to get back to offering full premium services or it would always be known as a second-tier premium carrier," said a source.

Customer experience management will be handled by S. Pushpalatha while Rahimah Farjan Ali would oversee service quality assurance and enforcement.

While some view the new chart as providing clarity to the lines of reporting, others felt it was "confusing, and it appears to be top heavy again."

The immediate focus of the new team should be to return the airline to profitability and make its mark in the premium segment where competition is stiff.

MAS reported RM769mil in net loss in first half of 2011 when its rivals in the region reported profits.

It has undergone a shake-up with the share swap with AirAsia Bhd in August and this resulted in a board revamp and the entry of the new MD/CEO and deputy CEO.

It is the new team that released the new chart to the employees.

At the end of September the new team came up with a organisation for the top management team whereby there was a clear separation of duties for the MD/CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and deputy CEO Mohamed Rashdan. Alhough Jauhari oversees the airline, he is also head of long haul operations and Rashdan, the short haul.

The commercial unit is also headed by Rashdan until a new candidate is found. All aspects of sales and marketing, revenue management, network and fleet planning, charters, corporate marketing and loyalty programme (Enrich), Golden Holidays falls under the purview of the commercial unit.

The head of the commercial office is Datuk Merina Tahir, head of commercial strategy is Datuk Dr Amin Khan, corporate marketing and loyalty programmes remains with Raja Datuk Nordiana Zainal Shah. Revenue management is under the purview of Sharifah Salwa.

All the aspects of operations, be it flight operations, the control centre, crew and pilots fall under this unit and it is headed by Capt Mohamed Azharuddin and flight operations under Capt Izham Ismail.

The corporate finance unit looks into mergers and acquisitions, fleet management, aircraft financing and leasing and it is headed by Abdul Aziz.

MAS made it clear that Firefly would continue to focus on operating the turboprops from its base in Subang and Penang and its jets would be taken over by MAS. The jets would be re-deployed for the short haul operations by Dec 4 as the airline is currently undertaking a route and fleet management evaluation.

Separately, Airbus said MAS' first A380 took off from Toulouse for its maiden flight on Thursday after completion of the final assembly and system tests.


MAS : [Stock Watch] [News]

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The Star Online: Nation

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IIUM: Don's suspension to facilitate investigation

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:14 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) has clarified that the move to suspend law lecturer Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari from work for seven days was not to penalise him.

UIAM Rector Prof Datuk Dr Zaleha Kamaruddin told a press conference that the suspension was to enable a detailed investigation to be carried out under Regulation 15 of the University Staff Discipline Regulations.

The suspension, beginning last Wednesday, followed Dr Aziz's recent statement allegedly questioning the Sultan of Selangor's decision with regard to the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raid at the Methodist Damansara Utama Church (DUMC) in August.

The university also denied media reports and portal news that Dr Aziz was not allowed to enter the university premises and that his salary was temporarily withheld.

"The university will pay his salary as usual and he is free to enter the university and associate with the faculty," she explained.

Dr Aziz is obliged to respond to the show-cause letter issued to him by the university last Wednesday. BERNAMA

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M'sia-Indonesia meet next month on terms, conditions for maids

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 06:25 AM PDT

MALACCA: Employers will have to pay extra if their Indonesian maids work on their off days, said Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

"For example, if a maid is paid RM600 a month now, the employer will have to pay an extra RM150 a month if the maid is required to work on her off days (maids are given a day off in a week)," he told reporters after handing out Deepavali contributions here.

This term and other conditions would be thrashed out when officials from both countries meet in Bali on Nov 18 and 19.

The meeting follows the lifting of the two-year moratorium on maids from Dec 1 as announced by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday. BERNAMA

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Book not about having orgies, says Obedient Wives Club

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 05:34 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The Obedient Wives Club's controversial new sex guide is not about having orgies, said the club's founder Hatijah Aam.

"We never said that a man can have an orgy with all his wives on the same bed. That is not allowed.

"What we meant is when a man has reached the highest spiritual level, he will be granted the ability to have sex with his wives spiritually.

"He could appear in multiple apparitions and have sex with his wives even though they are in separate locations.

"This is how men who were at war in the past satisfy their needs," she told a press conference in defence of her book Seks Islam Perangi Yahudi until kembalikan seks Islam kepada Dunia (Sex in Islam War Against Jews To Return Islamic Sex To The World) that has not only invited controversy but stirred the imagination of many.

"Sex is the main reason people get married. And in a way, orgasms are like heaven on earth," said Hatijah, who is the wife of late Al-Arqam founder Ashaari Muhammad.

"Praying is a pious act. That's why we teach people how to pray.

"But sex between married couples is also a pious act, so why can't we teach people how to do that in a pure way?"

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf


Junior reading room

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 01:24 AM PDT

Being Billy

Author: Phil Earle

Publisher: Puffin Books, 272 pages

BILLY Finn has spent eight years in a care home so he's understandably angry – with his mum for giving him away, with the system that allowed it, and with social workers who tried but failed to ensure that his life didn't suck. Billy's little brother and sister are the only people he loves, but even they can't keep him out of trouble. Is Billy being difficult on purpose? Maybe he just can't help being who he is. After all, who else can he be?

Sad Monsters: Growling On The Outside, Crying On The Inside

Author: Frank Lesser

Illustrator: Willie Real

Publisher: Plume, 192 pages

Monsters have it tough. Besides being deeply misunderstood, they suffer from very real problems: Mummies have body image issues,

Godzilla is going through an existential crisis, and creatures from the black lagoon face discrimination from creatures from the white lagoon.

At heart, these monsters are human; after all, you are what you eat!

Pomelo Begins to Grow

Author: Romonoa Badescu

Illustrator: Benjamin Chaud

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books, 48 pages

Pomelo the little pink elephant wakes up one morning and notices that he seems to have grown.

This makes him happy but also makes him worry. What does growing bigger and older means?

This book addresses, with deep insight but an admirably light touch, the concerns children may have about growing up.

Squish Rabbit

Author & Illustrator: Katherine Battersby

Publisher: Viking Juvenile, 40 pages

Squish is just a tiny rabbit and this is actually how he got his name – he's hard to see, easy to miss and so ... squish! But although Squish is often missed, he never misses a thing, and when things go wrong, Squish is there, ready to help.

This is Squish's chance to prove that even a small rabbit can be a big hero!

Mortal Kiss

Author: Alice Moss

Publisher: Random House Children's Paperbacks, 352 pages

Life in the town of Winter Mill gets almost too interesting with the arrival of Lucas and Finn. For Faye McCarron, it means coping with the ardent attentions of both young men ... but there are other complications to deal with, including a dead body in the woods and a snow storm that just won't let up.

It seems that evil has come to Winter Mill and it's up to Faye to get to the bottom of it or die trying.

The Flint Heart

Authors: Katherine Paterson & John Paterson

Publisher: Candlewick Press, 304 pages

At the request of a power-hungry leader, the magic man of a stone age tribe creates the Flint Heart, a stone that hardens the heart of its bearer. The leader gains total control of his tribe but his cruelty leads to its destruction.

Thousands of years later, the stone re-emerges, once more a poisonous and destructive force. As it wreaks havoc in the lives of a farmer, a fairy and a badger, siblings Charles and Unity work to find a way to battle the dark forces associated with the Flint Heart and save themselves and their friends from its evil influence.

Liesl & Po

Author: Lauren Oliver

Publisher: HarperCollins, 320 pages

Poor Liesl, locked away by her cruel stepmother in a tiny attic, with only mice and shadows as friends. However, one night, a lonely ghost named Po appears to Liesl and the two become close.

That same night, Will, an alchemist's apprentice, accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less impressive. Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.

Eve

Author: Anna Carey

Publisher: HarperCollins, 336 pages

Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth's population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and 200 other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of New America.

But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school's real purpose – and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

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High-octane family drama

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 12:37 AM PDT

Daughters-In-Law

Author: Joanna Trollope

Publisher: Touchstone Books, 319 pages

THE last couple of novels by Joanna Trollope felt a little off to me, not exactly classic Trollope. Well, I'm delighted to be able to report that the British novelist is back on form and delivers a satisfying read with in her 16th book, Daughters-In-Law.

The setting is middle-upper class Britain where lives are privileged, money is never an issue, the houses are grand, and everyone seems to be beautiful and model perfect.

Matriarch Rachel Brinkley loves being the centre around which her large family revolves, and despite the fact that her sons are now all grown up and married, she still insists on fussing over and controlling them.

On their part, her three sons remain – perhaps rather unhealthily – close to Rachel. The Brinkley boys – Edward, Ralph and Luke – come across as mama's boys, men in their mid-20s and early-30s who still depend on their mother to make important decisions for them.

The novel opens with the church ceremony of youngest son Luke's marriage to Charlotte. As you would expect of a Trollope protagonist, Charlotte is very beautiful, spoiled, opinionated and has no intention of falling into step with the Brinkleys – and her "insubordination" has been steadily getting on Rachel's nerves.

As Charlotte pushes her boundaries more and more, Rachel finds that her role as matriarch is diminishing and her control over her boys begins to slip. In a dark moment, she realises that even the other two daughters-in-law are becoming more important to her sons than she is. The final insult comes when Rachel realises that even her husband, Anthony, no longer seems to mind that his sons' wives are becoming an integral part of Brinkley family life.

As her control over her family slips, so does Rachel's sanity as she struggles to regain her power, forcing the whole family to question assumptions true and imaginary, and find a new dynamic, if any of their relationships are going to survive.

In lesser hands, Daughters-In-Law could have steered dangerously close to being an inconsequential and mediocre read; but Trollope moves the story beyond mundane bickering to a high-octane family drama. After the first 100 or so essentially scene-setting pages, Daughters-In-Law grips the reader emotionally, often to the point of sentimentality, and Trollope deftly takes her audience along with her to a satisfying conclusion.

It is unfortunate that Trollope is sometimes seen as the poor man's Jackie Collins and Jilly Cooper; I actually like the fact that, unlike Collins and Cooper's work, Trollope's novels deal with everyday problems that more of us can relate to, rather than the overly dramatic issues in those authors' books. And Trollope's writing is enriched by convincing dialogue, which Daughters-In-Law is full of.

This novel is a gripping read due to its excellent pacing.

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In Gillespie’s grip

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 12:36 AM PDT

Familiar themes and ideas are given new and enthralling twists.

Gillespie And I

Author: Jane Harris

Publisher: Faber & Faber, 504 pages

IT is said that one of the purposes of art is to reveal concealed truths. But there is also a fascination with ambiguity; the human mind seems to like nothing better than a puzzle. To cite possibly the most famous example of this: It is doubtful whether Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa would have retained its fascination over the centuries were it not for that ambiguous smile. What is she smiling at and why? Remove the smile and you would not have half the questions that jump into your mind on seeing the picture, and it would not be half as memorable.

One of the literary equivalents of this is the device known as the "unreliable narrator". The technique is straightforward, if horribly difficult to pull off. The novel is written in the first person and the events are seen through the eyes of the teller. But what if the teller of the tale lies, or imagines things, or simply chooses to mislead? Where does that leave the reader? Reading the novel becomes an interactive guessing game of trying to work out where the truth lies.

Over the course of the opening section of John Fowles' now classic 1963 novel The Collector (a clear source and forerunner, incidentally, of Emma Donoghue's Room, which was a finalist in last year's Man Booker Prize), the narrator calmly and coolly explains how he plans to kidnap a girl and hold her prisoner. In the first few pages, as he only hints at what he plans, he sounds entirely ordinary, reasonable and just a little pathetic and so, as the reader, it is only gradually that you realise that he is in fact seriously disturbed. Then the realisation kicks in that he is actually deranged and his attempts at rationalisation are just elaborate exercises in deceit. And by then the reader is complicit in the deception.

The worlds of art and the "unreliable narrator" come together beautifully in Jane Harris's second and latest novel, Gillespie And I. The Gillespie of the title is Ned, a Scottish painter, "artist, innovator, and forgotten genius". The narrator is Harriet Baxter, who describes Ned as her dear friend and soul mate.

"It would appear that I am to be the first to write a book on Gillespie. Who, if not me was dealt that hand?" she begins and thereafter unfolds the tale of a single woman in Victorian Glasgow who is smitten with the work of an artist and becomes a close friend of his family with results that no one could have foreseen and that the reader is left to untangle.

Harriet's memoir of Ned is written some 45 years after the events she describes. Sitting in her flat in London, with two caged birds for company, she reconstructs the events of all those years ago and gazes at one of the few paintings by Ned that has survived. At the same time, she recounts the problems that she is having with her live-in companion. By far the biggest sections of the book deal with the Victorian past but her current problems are also illuminating – the words of Miss Baxter are simply not to be trusted.

Harriet's version of the woes of Ned and his family, whatever the actual truth of the events she recounts, raises all kind of issues and is particularly pertinent in asking questions about the ways in which we think of the past, the ways in which we idealise our relationships ("soul mate" is not a casually chosen phrase) and our seemingly unlimited capacity for self-deception. Is there not, the reader is left wondering, just a little of the Harriet in all of us?

I am anxious not to give away too much of the plot of this beguiling, intriguing, complex and beautifully written book. Suffice it to say that lovers of art, Romanticism and Victorian melodrama are unlikely to be disappointed.

Aside from Harriet and Ned, there are some fine minor characters here, too, not the least of which are Ned's wife Annie and their elder child, the tormented and waif-like Sybil. If these characters are rooted in Victorian art and literature, and through Harriet's eyes they quite clearly are, then it is only right that they should be, as these are at the heart of the book.

It is Jane Harris's skill that she has re-woven themes and ideas that are not entirely unfamiliar, and given them new and enthralling twists. This is a novel steeped in its period with authentic details and atmosphere – but it also contains some bitingly humorous and far more "modern" moments.

I cannot recommend Gillespie And I highly enough – it is an utterly compelling and completely engaging read, extremely difficult to put down.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies


Movie coming soon

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 12:20 AM PDT

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Latin tales

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 12:18 AM PDT

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Shah Rukh’s the one

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 12:15 AM PDT

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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The Star Online: Metro: Central


Metro watch

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:03 AM PDT

Buddhist Ceremony

Ti-Ratana Buddhist Society, NBC Klang, will be holding its 5th Kathina Robe Offering Ceremony on Oct 26. A procession will be held around the NBC building where the Buddhist Society is located. All Buddhist devotees are invited to attend this auspicious ceremony. Devotees may offer vegetarian food on that day. Activities start from 8.30am and ends at about 1.30 pm. Robes and requisites are on sale at the centre. For details, call 03-3341 4897 or 016-278 7962 (Foo)

Boat competition

The International Dragon Boat Federation Cancer Survivors World Cup and Malaysia International Dragon Boat festival 2011 is on from today to Sunday at the Putrajaya Watersports Complex at Precinct 6. It is from 8.30am to 6pm. Admission is free. For details, visit www.putrajayadragonboat.com.

BUSINESS Summit

BQe Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2011 is taking place on Nov 19 at the KDC Auditorium in Cyberjaya from 9am to 5.30pm. Themed 'Brewing the Future of Youth Entrepreneurs in Malaysia", will have seven entrepreneurship sessions. To register, visit www.thebigbrew.bqe.my. Seats are complimentary but limited to the first 300 students. Certificates of participation will be provided.

MONASTIC DISCIPLINE

The Buddhist Maha Vihara temple in Brickfields will be conducting its 36th Novitiate Programme from Nov 25 to Dec 4. The event is to familiarise the public especially youths with aspects of monastic discipline and to encourage Buddhists to gain personal spiritual development and be of service to the Buddhist community. Register before Oct 30 and call 03-2274 1141.

Homdec EXHIBITION

Homedec Exhibition is being held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre until to Oct 23, Part two will run from Oct 27 to 30, from 10am to 9pm. It will feature kitchen cabinet and appliances, bath and sanitaryware, tiles and marble, wall coverings and paints. For details, call 03-7982 4668.

Urgent Meeting

There will be an urgent meeting for Alam Perdana Court bungalow lot buyers on Oct 30 at 3pm at Taman SEA SS23 Community Centre, Jalan SS23/7, Petaling Jaya. If you are keen, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alamperdanacourt/ for more details or call 012-283 0959 (Doris).

100 VENDORS AT BAZAAR

In conjunction with the inaugural Collision Arts Asia Festival at Publika from today to Sunday, Bijou Bazaar will be organising a fashion, arts and crafts market with more than 100 vendors from 10am to 10pm at Publika in Solaris Dutamas.

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Charity golf tourney to collect funds for kids with learning disabilities

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:03 AM PDT

RONALD McDonald House Charities Malaysia (RMHC Malaysia) announced their 18th annual RMHC Malaysia-Tropicana Charity Golf Championship at the Tropicana Golf & Country Resort recently.

Proceeds from the fundraising event will be channelled towards the building of more Ronald McDonald Sensory Rooms in aid of Malaysian children with learning disabilities.

The Ronald McDonald Sensory Rooms, established in schools for special needs children, contain multi-sensory equipment that serve as a crucial tool for teachers and physiotherapists or occupational therapists to make lessons effective for these children through their senses of touch, smell, sight and hearing.

Over the course of time, utilising the Ronald McDonald Sensory Room on a weekly basis will enable these children to learn essential life skills such as walking, speaking, memorising and interacting with people, which eventually leads to self-confidence to adapt and function in society.

To-date, RMHC Malaysia has 12 such facilities in 12 centres across Malaysia for the rehabilitation and teaching of these special children.

"We hope to establish at least one Ronald McDonald Sensory Room in every state in Malaysia, especially in centres that actively promote teaching and rehabilitation of children with learning disabilities" said RMHC Malaysia president Chan Chee Chin.

"Most schools need the equipment but find it difficult to purchase and maintain them. Through this sponsorship valued at a minimum of RM80,000 per school, we also help to maintain the equipment for as long as the school is in operation. We also fund the teachers' training to utilise the equipment in the correct manner and to maximise usage."

Plans are underway to establish the Ronald McDonald Sensory Room in Perlis, Kedah and Negri Sembilan. The funds raised at this year's event amounting to RM180,000 will be used to fund these projects, apart from the maintenance of the existing Ronald McDonald Sensory Rooms.

McDonald's Malaysia has been one of the major corporate donors for the RMHC-Tropicana Charity Golf Championship since 1993, having contributed at least RM50,000 each year towards this fundraising initiative. In addition, McDonald's Malaysia plays an active role in supporting all of RMHC Malaysia programmes as part of the company's community relations efforts.

McDonald's Malaysia managing director Sarah Casanova said: "Providing underprivileged children with the opportunity to master essential life skills and be part of society makes our contribution all the more meaningful. RMHC's programmes in the areas of children's education, health and welfare resonate with the McDonald's Malaysia community objectives and we are happy to support these initiatives."

Special guests Christine Wong, president of the Special Children Society of Ampang and Zuairiyah Md Noor, principal and assistant secretary of the National Autism Society of Malaysia (Kuantan Centre) whose organisations are beneficiaries of the Ronald McDonald Sensory Room, shared their respective experiences on how the facility had enriched and benefited the children in their care.

Also present at the media conference were the various sponsors of the event, including Tropicana Golf and Country Resort Berhad, MacFood Services (M) Sdn Bhd and TaylorMade-adidas Golf.

Each of the 140 participating golfers received exclusive TaylorMade-adidas merchandise and also stand a chance to win an exclusive BMW 320i Coupe as the Hole-in-One prize. A minimal donation of RM1,200, which is tax-exempted, is the pre-requisite to enter this golf championship.

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion


Power of street art

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 01:18 AM PDT

Artistic expressions developing on city streets are helping marginalised youth all over the world.

WHEN you see thousands of refugees, including children, fleeing the turmoil inside Myanmar across the border into Thailand, what can you do?

If you are a performing arts proponent like Jerry Snell, you may want to help them by teaching them circus acrobatics and hip-hop street dancing.

Snell was inspired by the success of the world famous Cirque du Soleil's outreach programme called Cirque du Monde (Circus of the World), which teaches circus techniques to vulnerable, otherwise rejected, young people to help them get their self-confidence back and to reconnect with society.

Snell was also heartened by how eight young Cambodians, after a childhood spent in refugee camps on the Thai border, returned to their country and created Phare Ponleu Selpak, a circus and arts school to help vulnerable youth, such as street and trafficked children and orphans, reintegrate into society. "In 12 years this organisation has expanded to over 800 students," says Snell.

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