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30th May 1999

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World Flop

The Vulture is abso-lutely disgusted with sporting events at the moment. I seem to be having a very bad run of it in terms of picking teams to support and it is a good thing that I am not particularly a gambling vulture or I would be down a whole heap of carrion by now, I can tell you!

The litany of disasters began with the Five Nations Rugby competition earlier this year. England, having dominated the entire tournament just needed to beat Wales in the last match to win the trophy and achieve a Grand Slam into the bargain. The English were the superior side throughout the entire match until injury time at the death when the Ross Emerson of rugby touch judges and a human bulldozer called Scott Gibbs combined to deny England the match - and the trophy - by 1 point. Bad enough that England lost, but to make it worse, your sleep-loving vulture had woken up at 5 am on a working day for this!

Next the English Premier League football. Arsenal had not looked at all in the hunt for the title until the last two months of the season when the Gunners began to shoot down the opposition in every match, building up to a classic finish - the title down to the last game of the season for both Arsenal and Manchester-bloody-United. All Tottenham Hotspurs needed to do was draw against Man U and Arsenal - who won their match 1-0 would retain the cup.But thanks to a spineless, miserably pathetic performance they put in. Man U came back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 and take away the title that was surely Arsenal's - again by 1 solitary point.

And on to the cricket's blue riband event - The World Cup. Sri Lanka went into the tournament written off as one-hit wonders and in the midst of terrible slump in form. Let's be honest though: how many amongst us felt that the slump was a thing of the past; that we would come out on fire and roundly thrash the English in the opener (certain members of the Bad Shirt Club may feel free to stand up and proclaim "residual anti-colonialism" at this juncture [sorry, in-joke]).

Were the faithful disappointed? YES WE WERE. What was going on out there? Three out of four of Alan Mullally's wickets were gift-wrapped pressies by the batsmen; a certain star - who shall remain anonymous here because we do not wish to be sued for libel - played a shot that made him look like he was turning out for the bookies rather than for Sri Lanka; Mahela Jayawardene was left out (for "lack of form", mind you, not at all because Hashan Tillekaratne wouldn't get a game otherwise); Eric Upashantha seemed to think that the stumps were at gully and our erstwhile captain set a field that would have been perfect for defending a total of around 250. 204 ain't a large total, mate.

One would think that a few lessons had been learned by the match against South Africa and that Sri Lanka would come out focused and win. Did they? Why did we let them off the hook when we had them at 122-8? Why was Vaas not brought back on to get rid off Elworthy and get at Donald? Could it be because he had been bowling so well earlier on that it may have been risky to bring him on against the tail-enders? Also, when we batted why did we open with Kalu and start as if we were chasing 300+? To reiterate the point, 200 is not a large total...

Okay, so we did manage to stave off Zimbabwe. This is a step in the right direction, but our performance with the bat was ordinary to say the least. We now have to beat India and Kenya to qualify for the second round. If we are to beat India we shall have to think very hard about a batting strategy. Perhaps Atapattu should open with Mahanama and Sanath should bat at no.6. Perhaps it is time to leave Aravinda out for a game or two - Australia dropped Warne in the Caribbean so why can't we also put the game above individuals?

Bad Shirt Club

The Bad Shirt Club mentioned above is an ad hoc gathering that convenes very informally on Thursday nights at the Cricket Club Cafe. There is no membership fee or introduction needed; basic requirements are an enjoyment of all things alcohol-based, a sense of humour and absolutely no taste whatsoever in shirts. The idea is to wear the most garish, cacophonic shirt possible and the winner - adjudged by the "Zog" - is awarded a two-pint jug of beer. Most of the shirts that are usually displayed come from the beaches of sunny Unawatuna but some regulars are known to go so far as to pick out some absolutely awful print or the other in Maradana and then get a shirt tailored.

The worst shirt the vulture has seen so far was worn by someone who had no idea about the club and had genuinely rotten taste in upper body clothing; the prize-winning garment was nothing less than a fleece collared faux-leopardskin figure-hugger! Celebrity winners in the past include Sanath Jayasuriya, who also had no idea about the club but accepted the dubious honour graciously and duly chugged his double pint.

Jazz Unlimited

Jazz Sunday is back, and it's at the venue it started out at - the CCC. Jazz Sunday needs no explaining to those of you who've been before when it was at its laid back best at the CCC or at the 80 Club, so stampede on down to the grounds on June 6.

For those not in the know, Jazz Sunday is one of the most enjoyable events organised on a regular basis in Colombo. It's usually on only on one Sunday each month so it is not to be missed as it is one of the nicest ways to relax in this town. The bandstand is open to anyone who carries a tune and the jam sessions get to be pretty good as the more talented jazz artists around drift up. For the rest of us, hey, kick back, sup on a cold beer, lie back in the sunshine and just chill right on out baby.

Jazz Sunday is on June 6 at the CCC - free for JUO members, LKR 150/- for the rest. Be there and you won't be square!

Going shopping?

Dear Diary,

Less than two months to go and I still can't cook. Ironically enough doing up the kitchen has become my main obsession these days.

With my culinary skills in a sorry state and a fine line above burnt toast and soggy spaghetti, (how on earth do I manage to make soggy spaghetti? I don't know, it just happens, okay!), He's set to lose a couple of pounds in the first few months.

No wonder, my insistence on having a fully equipped kitchen baffles my mother. Marrying into a family of superb cooks doesn't exactly lend a silver lining to the cloud either.

We've got most of our kitchen stuff from Arpico. It's a really fun place to visit. It's full of colourful and cheery good quality stuff which is very reasonably priced. Having a grade two mentality at times is something the two of us seem to share, so naturally this place with its cheery bowls, dishes, water bottles and knick knacks in all imaginable shades of green, blue, red and yellow is a veritable paradise for us.

Both of us being terrified of crowds we would have loved to get married all on our own. But weddings being what they are, there's got to be a crowd. The next question then is invitations. My bright suggestion to just call people and tell them was turned down, phone bills being what they are these days.

A mid afternoon trudge to the famed Maliban Street turned up nothing but a heap of white cards with flowers in every imaginable colour strewn over them. No Thank You!

Eymard House was slightly better. We found just one card we all liked only to be told it was, (predictably) not in stock. If you want an original design the block has to be made. This normally takes about one and a half months and is very expensive. A card comes to about Rs. 100 this way, believe it or not! The readymade ones come to about Rs. 40 with printing.

Having family abroad, my mother insists on mailing them invitations early. The point of this is lost on me, because most of them aren't coming anyway. So what difference does it make when they get the cards? Thankfully though He and I managed to agree on the cards with relative ease, and that's one hurdle out of the way.

We visited the apartment last week. There were the two of us walking all around it with these huge grins and saying 'mine, all mine' over and over again. The novelty of having our very own house has still to sink in.

Heh, heh, we've finally got a place where we can really hang out. Put our legs up on the sofa, drop crumbs all over the place, dump laundry on the floor, pile up dirty plates in the kitchen sink, have loud blaring music and not entertain anyone we don't like, all those things we were deprived of during the teenage years. Why then did my mother laugh right in my face when I voiced this thought to her?

The thought of being able to do the house up exactly the way we really want it with no interference does however give us a sadistic sense of pleasure. If our house turns out to be the worst decorated one in the block, it will only be us rebelling against twenty odd years of living with our parents' taste. (And some people say we're too young to get married!)

We got the curtains last week too. Gehantex has a wonderful selection of curtains and their prices are well, interesting to say the least. Anyway for just two rooms and the sitting room, all with French windows, we needed 51 metres of material. Both of us being rather impulsive, we decided on one material and only after it was cut did we realise it wasn't that great after all. Being too late to do anything about it however, we convinced ourselves that it really did look very nice, never mind what anybody else said.

We then took the material to the apartment and made improvised curtains. Actually, being so tall, He held the material as high up as he could while I decided on how to do the curtains. Now, 18 metres of material awkwardly folded is quite unwieldy which resulted in the whole thing gleefully unravelling. I won't be too surprised if I see footprints all over the curtains once they're all sewn up.

Until next week...

The Bride

David's new family

During hiatus from filming "The X-Files,"the dashing David Duchovny has been on the set with Minnie Driver shooting the film 'Return To Me.' He told us about his romantic feature, and gave us the scoop on his new family!

Do you have any love scenes?

David Duchovny: They're love scenes, but they're not "love scenes." It has a very kind of chaste, 1940s style. It's a Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn kind of style of movie, where the love is emotional more than physical. There is some kissing, but not more than that.

Could you describe your character?

Well, in this movie I'm playing an architect/construction design worker. It's kind of between a blue-collar and a white-collar worker. He has suffered a great loss. He's lost his wife and he's pretty much shut down. He's not enjoying life at all. He's not enjoying anything. He's not open to anything. Then he meets this woman, played by Minnie Driver, and opens up again to her for reasons that are plot driven and interesting.

Is there anything in real life that has happened where you have lost something that precious?

Not a wife. I haven't lost a wife and I haven't lost a mother or father. I've lost grandparents. We all can relate to loss. Some people are more unfortunate than others in the age that they lose loved ones, or in the suddenness that they lose them. I think I've been pretty lucky. But I think it's a feeling that everyone can relate to.

What do you think of when you work?

Whatever you have to do to make yourself into a person that would shut off that way. But then again, it's an interesting movie because it's also a comedy. It's not a case study in grief and mourning. It's supposed to get into these emotions, but also bounce on them lightly.

I wondered about that. I thought that it was a romantic drama.

It is. It's a strange beast. It's definitely a melodrama. My wife's heart goes to this woman. It's an impossible happening. It's a fairy tale, really. Like any fairy tale, it has elements of horror and grotesque comedy. I think the tone that we're trying to get is kind of like a realistic fairy tale. It's hard to get.

How do you meet Minnie Driver's character?

She's a waitress in a restaurant. The first time that I go out after my wife has died, it's been a year and I've done nothing but eat Chinese food with my dog. I finally agree to go out on a date. My date is horrible, but Minnie's a waitress in the restaurant and there's something between us. It's kind of a metaphor for whatever it is that is between all people, you know. Whenever you feel a connection, obviously it's not because they have the heart of someone you used to love. That's kind of the fable aspect of it.

We're not used to seeing you in a romantic role.What's it like for you to play it?

It's not so much that it's a romantic role, but it's different than the kind of role that I've grown into unconsciously over the last six years. It just feels scary. Anything that I'm doing outside of playing Mulder at this point just feels awkward. I just haven't had time to do anything else, really. I've done one other role in the last six years.

Romance is not really the challenge. Snapping myself out of the hypnosis of what I've been doing the last six years is the challenge. When I go home at night... when I'm working on "The X-Files" at this point, I know how to do Mulder and I don't lay awake at night thinking what I could've done differently. But here I do. It's stressful and it's fun. It's fun to care that much again. I remember when I first started doing "The X-Files" it was like that.

In this film, after you fall in love with Minnie's character, you have everything. You've got the perfect love and you've got the career. Do you feel that your own life is a lot like that?

I feel like I should be a lot more grateful than I sometimes feel. I feel very lucky to be living the life that I'm living right now. Yet, I'm still strangely unfulfilled at times with work and what I want to do. There are moments when I can sit back and think that things are okay.

The wolf isn't at the door right now. But I don't want to be complacent. It's never over. Life is tricky and life is hard. Things are wonderful right now, but I don't think that has anything to do with me. It's a lot of luck and timing. I'll do everything I can to keep it that way for my family and me

Is this the only thing you're doing on hiatus?

Come on, give me a break! This goes until mid-July and then I'll take a month off and relax with Tea [Leoni] and the baby. Then I'll go back to doing "X-Files," which will kind of be fun to go back to.

Speaking of the baby, is it a month old yet?


What is it like? Is it sad to be here?

It is when I think about it. It's sometimes sad that I can't be with them right now. They're here now. They're in Chicago with me, so I go home and I see them. I tell myself that it's okay. At this point, the baby doesn't even know I exist, really. It's only about the nipple... and it's not my nipple, it's her nipple.

That's fabulous that they got to come with you!

Oh, yes. I only had to spend six days apart from them. That was hard, especially at that point. The baby was only five days old and I had to leave them. That was terrible.

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