Friday, December 2

The Truth About Diamonds

Excerpts as imagined by somebody who is unfamiliar with the nuances of being a rock royalty princess and a card-carrying member of Hollywood's inner circle

"...'I can't stand to hear anymore of your lies!' screamed Chloe. She angrily took the ring off her finger and threw it on the dirty street. She hoped that the diamond would shatter into a million pieces like her heart had upon realising his betrayal. But of course it wouldn't, Chloe thought, because diamond is the hardest naturally occurring substance on Earth. It ranks a perfect 10 on the Mohs scale, even! However she had fallen prey to a popular misconception about a diamond's destructibility. Hardness only refers to a diamond's ability to withstand heat and scratching. Its toughness rating, on the other hand, is actually only fair to good due to its cleavage planes. Had the diamond been struck on one of its weak points it would have easily chipped or fractured......."

"......Today her best friend's pencil-chewing in class annoyed Chloe more than usual. "One of these days you're going to get lead poisoning," she snapped even though she knew it wasn't true. The pencil was actually composed of graphite, a non-toxic form of carbon. Interestingly enough, the diamond twinkling on her ring finger was also another form of carbon. While the chemical formula is the same, these widely different forms or allotropes exist because of their different molecular structures. In graphite, layers of covalently bonded carbon atoms are joined together by weak attractive forces called Van der Waals forces, allowing the layers to slip easily over one another. The covalent bonds in diamond form a 3D interlocking structure which accounts for its rigidity...."

"....After a light salad lunch Chloe and her gang decided to stop by her favourite jewellery store to admire the diamonds. They all looked so sparkly, especially under the small recessed halogen lights that were strategically placed to enhance their brilliance. The salespeople made sure to display their gems against black felt cloth so that even the more yellowish ones would take on a whiter look.....

"....When Chloe saw what was in the tiny velvet box, she couldn't breathe. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her life. The 4.5 carat princess cut solitaire must have cost a fortune but not because it was genuinely rare. It was because De Beers, the world's largest diamond company had been able to keep prices artificially high by regulating diamond distribution channels across the world. Recently De Beers agreed to pay $250 million to settle class action lawsuits which accused the company of price-fixing. A savvy marketing campaign hinging on the phrase "A Diamond is Forever" had also conditioned women to expect one each time a romantic milestone had been reached...."

Thursday, December 1

The Debutante Ball

Oh to be born wealthy and with passable good looks. Every year a select group of well-born young ladies are presented like prize fillies at the Hotel Crillon's Haute Couture Ball. This year, however, the event seems to have set a new low by allowing celebrity offspring in its midst. Being the grand-daughter of Steve McQueen can still probably carry some cachet in social circles but what notable birthright can the daughter of Andie "Is it still raining? I hadn't noticed" MacDowell claim? Why not just open the floodgates and invite every girl whose mum uses L'Oreal Revitalift?

Despite this little aberration, the upper crust remained unfazed and magnanimously posed for the photographers in their ritual finery.

Bianca Brandolini D'Adda, descendant of Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria, is the model for Valentino's single biggest mistake of his life. Seen here on the catwalk, it really is as bad as you think. Whipped cream and sheer black tulle...there is never a good way to transfer your sexual fantasies to a dress.

Princess Augusta von Preussen of Germany is wearing a Giles Deacon creation. There is nothing wrong with the dress per se even though it will result in many guests making minimal eye contact with her. However the problem lies elsewhere...I know I should try and limit the number of Star Wars references used in the 1 week but damn..those are some wookie arms that the Princess of Kashykkk is sporting.

Viscountess Dorothee de Jonghe d'Ardoye, a member of the Belgian royal family, opted for something made by her local couture house Natan. Chocolate being one of Belgium's finest exports, it makes sense that it be incorporated into their finest gowns as well. She's like an endless serving of Viennetta chocolate icecream!

Nadine Ghosn, daughter is wearing vintage Didier Ludot. It is an odd angle to be taking a glamour shot, made odder by the fact I can't tell whether what's sprouting out from the bottom half is intentional design or just pubic hair gone out of control.

Laetitia Marie de Moustier is resplendent in this design by Gerald Watelet, made of Michelin starred restaurant-quality table linen. However a small flock of less privileged birds slammed into her and died shortly after impact, but not before releasing a not inconsiderable amount of droppings.

This Chanel couture gown, worn by Marie de Menthon, has received plenty of coverage from the moment it appeared on the runway. It's been featured in several magazine shoots but unfortunately it doesn't improve upon repeated viewings. If you pull the black ribbon one of two things could happen: (1) air is released from the balloon section, causing Marie to go flying noisily all over the place or (2) the bottom section of the dress falls off, allowing Marie the use of her legs instead of just waiting around to be swept off her feet.

This whole event may strike you as rather elitist but it's done for the benefit of you, the person of common ilk. How else can you, the lowly commoner, learn that the nobility can still screw up their fashion choices, albeit on a much grander scale than you will ever hope to achieve.

Wednesday, November 30

Quid pro quo

Nothing like a bit of controversy to stir up publicity for a movie especially as we approach Oscar season. The Chinese are mad, the Japanese are mad and the average moviegoer is demanding to know why Rob Marshall didn't include a scene where all the geishas at the house decide to spontaneously break out into a perfectly choreographed dance number while singing "What Are We Going To Do With Sa-yu-ri?"

Well all I can say is be thankful that at least an all-Asian cast was chosen. If some clueless Hollywood executive had got their way, we would be having a very different discussion right now.

Before you heap more criticism on the movie, spare a thought for Zhang Ziyi who plays the lead role. She's had to endure unkind jibes from her countrymen including references to her "flat-bosom and fat-bottom". She's had to master a foreign language in a relatively short time. Worst of all, she's been forced to attend the world premiere, up to her supposedly non-existent breasts in snow fungus.

Strangely enough, Gong Li, who plays the evil Hatsumomo is nowhere to be found at the same event. I wonder where she could have gotten to.

Who wants to be walking the red carpet when you could be living it up on the set of Miami Vice with someone who hasn't bathed since the shooting started, his half-asleep co-star and those fantastic mojitos, not to mention a Brad Pitt lookalike in a pony tail.

Angered by what they perceive to be inappropriate casting choices, some Japanese have tried to rile up the Chinese in return. How? By making a dog look like a panda.

It's not the most original trick in the book but let's just call it even shall we.

Another blog to visit: The shaky kaiser - different drinks for..different needs.

Tuesday, November 29

A battle of equals

How is it that Bosnia got its own Bruce Lee statue even before Hong Kong did? I like how the people of Mostar decided to experiment with his style before the official unveiling. The ethnic makeover is a vast improvement on his trademark yellow jumpsuit, of which I was never a fan for several reasons:
1. bright yellow has a ghastly sallowing effect on east Asian complexions
2. impracticalities of going to the toilet for somebody living by an 8 glasses a day regime
3. worn on the wrong body type, dramatically increases the risk of cameltoe
4. provides wearers with a false sense of invincibility and causes them to perform feats of reckless bravado, which in turn leads back to no. 3

In choosing Bruce Lee as their symbol of unity, the Bosnians snubbed that other famous martial arts star from Hong Kong, Jackie Chan. It is clear that Jackie's anti-piracy campaigns have cost him fans, isolating a large part of population who don't mind watching buddy cop movies featuring Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson but who aren't willing to pay more than $1 for the privilege.

All of this attention over Bruce Lee has also raised fresh debate over who would win in an epic battle between the two. In my mind, any such discussion would be a fruitless exercise, one that's been done to death a gazillion times. You'd get more mileage out of speculating over the outcome of a cage match between Jackie Chan and the Duchess of York.

What would be worthwhile, though, would be a comparison between the competing Bruce Lee statues. If they came to life and say, leapt off the pedestals with nunchukas aflurry, who would prevail? In the Bosnian corner, we have the shiny gold-coloured version which I like to call C3P0 Bruce Lee.

Over in the Hong Kong corner, the sculptors have opted for a duller finish, resulting in Crunchy-Hard Toffee Bruce Lee.

So, which will it be?

Another blog to visit: Chick With a Gun - A cozy little place full of deep thoughts, not-so-deep thoughts, reflections on society, current events, and maybe something else from time to time.

Monday, November 28

You Like, You Buy Vol 36

While Tom Cruise was out terrorising Chinese villagers over the weekend, what was I doing? Nothing much really, apart from making a list of Xmas gifts. When it comes to most people, you really need to spell out clearly for them what you want to see in your Xmas stocking. Otherwise you will end up with a used earwax cleaning apparatus or even worse, can upon can of abalone-flavoured macadamian nuts.

When buying gifts for others, I always try to go for something that is brightly coloured, mildly useful and belies its inexpensiveness. This year I will be looking at interest at the creations of Hong Kong design house Zanif (, a local version of Alessi householdware.

In particular there is the UV detector card which can be used to measure UV intensity and test the effectiveness of sunglasses. If you get one from me this year, it means that I want to spare you a lifetime of Botox injections and laser peels.

There are also many other products available, mostly made out of silicone rubber. For maximum pleasure, presumably.

Soldier Torch

Bath Plug

Toothpick holder

Tea making spoons

Cooking moulds

Another blog to visit: #105 Best of Me Symphony