Friday, 3 August 2012

ICONS@LXG: Christopher Walken

I could swear that Christopher Walken was from another planet. He has an other-worldliness about him that seems to permeate every role he's every played, and even comes across in the few interviews that I've seen him in. 

But I love watching his movies and he's obviously a very smart and astute guy.
He never seems to answer a question directly, and seems to be in deep thought before offering up any reply. It would be great to engage him in conversation, and God knows where the subject matter would lead. 

Like Connery, and perhaps Caine, no matter what role he plays, Walken always seems to be able to inject part of himself into the character - and still get away with it. So even when he is playing a complete psycho, you can't help but still love the character.

And so, without further ado, some choice, classic left-of-centre words of wisdom from the dancer, actor, thespian, writer, orator - Christopher Walken no less:

Morning is the best time to see movies. 

I remember once, years ago, I was walking out a door — I'd been having a conversation and I was walking out the door, and this guy said to me, "Chris," and I stopped and I turned, and he said, "Be careful." And I never forgot that. And it comes back to me often: Be careful. That was good advice. 

That's supposed to be a fact, that the question mark is originally from an Egyptian hieroglyph that signified a cat walking away. You know, it's the tail. And that symbol meant — well, whatever it is when they're ignoring you.

When I was a kid, there was someone in my family, an adult, and whenever I saw them, they would say, "You got a lotta nerve." From the time I was a little kid, it was always like, "Heh, heh, heh — you got a lotta nerve." I always thought, What does that mean? But then when I got older, I thought that it was an instruction. If you tell a kid something, it sticks. I think I do have a lot of nerve. But, I mean, I think I maybe got it from that person who said it to me. 

My father was a lesson. He had his own bakery, and it was closed one day a week, but he would go anyway. He did it because he really loved his bakery. It wasn't a job.  

I used to love Danish. My father used to make a Boston cream pie. You never see that anymore. Very good.  

Most of the jobs I get are basically very unwholesome people. There's always something wrong with the guy, and sometimes something deeply wrong. I'm tired of that. I tell my agent I want a Fred MacMurray part. I want a part where I have a wife and kids and a dog and a house, and my kids say to me, "What do you think I should do, Dad?" and I say, "Be careful." 

 I always figured that if I'm gonna be playing these people, that there should be this relationship to the audience that is very clear. "That's Chris, and look at Chris having a good time, wanting to take over the world and sink California and shoot everybody in the room" — just so long as they understand that that's Chris on the set having fun. And that Chris wouldn't really do anything like that.  

Golf. My God, that's a mysterious occupation. I know people who are — good friends — who are absolutely smitten, practicing their swing and talking about it. I can understand some sort of sport where your body got a benefit, like marathon running or bicycle racing. That's not golf. And not only that, but the whole business of standing in the sun — my God. That's like torture. 

 I love spaghetti. And I like to cook spaghetti. And I used to eat it every day. I weighed thirty pounds more than I do now. You can't — you can't do that. Ice cream — I love to watch television and eat ice cream. But that's like a ten-year-old. I can't do that anymore. Beer. Beer, spaghetti, ice cream. 

Professional dancers don't go dancing.  

When you're onstage and you know you're bombing, that's very, very scary. Because you know you gotta keep going — you're bombing, but you can't stop. And you know that half an hour from now, you're still gonna be bombing. It takes a thick skin.  

I had an agent when I first got into the movies who said to me, "You're gonna be in Los Angeles now once in a while. If somebody invites you to a party, don't go. Stay in your room, go to the movies." And I have a feeling I know sort of what he meant: Don't show your face around too much. Let 'em be a little glad to see you.  

It all happened when I did The Deer Hunter. Suddenly — I'd already been in show business for thirty years, and nothing much had happened. I mean, I really was laboring in obscurity, and then suddenly this movie. It was kind of infectious, and I really did become rather social. Gregarious. And that lasted, I don't know, ten years.  

Movie scripts are usually pretty loose — things usually change a lot. But not with Quentin. His scripts are absolutely huge. All dialogue. It's all written down. You just learn the lines. It's more like a play.  

Sometimes I look at this watch and I think, There's some guy that puts these little screws in there? There is something about it. I'm not into cars, either, but there is something about a really magnificent car.  

Me and Dennis [Hopper], when we were doing that scene in True Romance, it was hilarious. It really was — including shooting him. All that laughing was real. He was killing me. And all the guys around us — that was a very cracking-up day. 

I like to listen to radio interviews. I got a list of things that if I wasn't so lazy, I would do something about, but the idea of having a radio show — two people talking on the radio is fascinating. I'll bet you there's some college around here — they all have radio stations. I get now that I don't like to go anywhere, so if there was some place down the road — twenty minutes' drive.  

I don't like zoos. Awful.  

They say that the human smile is in fact one of those primordial things — that in fact it's a showing of teeth, that it's a warning. That when we smile, in a primeval way it has to do with fear. 

There's something dangerous about what's funny. Jarring and disconcerting. There is a connection between funny and scary.

If Christopher Walken is indeed from another planet, I'm glad he decided to stay...
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Thursday, 2 August 2012

TRAVEL@LXG: Mongolia - Leaving the World Behind

That's what it felt like - to be stood on a landscape, so spellbinding, and yet so alien - that it almost felt unreal to actually be there.
The steppes of Mongolia spread out like some vast cloak of grey and green over a gently undulating terrain. It seems almost too tidy, too well planned out - compact stands of pine trees crest every mountain-top. Boulder-strewn riverbeds twist, serpentine across the valley floors. Closely cropped pastures of grass cling to the ground - everything is in its right place, even the wildflowers grow in a kaleidoscope of colours.

Its the vastness of the place that gets to you though - you feel insignificant in the scheme of things, as your jeep struggles along a dirt track riddled with potholes. The sheer scarcity of people hits home, as you survey the horizon, and over a distance of say, twenty kilometres or so, only two or three homesteads lie huddled together, with a small herd of livestock scattered nearby. The characteristic yak-skin tents known as Gers are all that these people of the plains have tp protect themselves from the elements. We are here during summer and there's already a chill in the air. But when winter hits, it does so with a vengeance - as temperatures fall below zero and the entire country becomes frozen beneath snow and ice.
Yes it is beautiful, but it is a lonely kind of beauty. Even for someone like me who is happy to escape from the bonds of human society from time to time - this vastness could well become overbearing after a while. Its no wonder the Mongol people seek out each others' company in annual festivals and fairs. A sense of Community is a survival strategy in a place like this, where you could easily lose yourself in a constant landscape that stretches further than the eye can see and the mind can comprehend...

They are tough, these people - sturdy, enduring and tireless in the undertaking of their daily chores. As most of them are herders, horses take centre-stage in their lives. These wiry steeds are almost like living extensions of their riders. They move imperceptibly together across the plains in an ageless scene that could be centuries old. The Horse and the Rider - defining symbols of Mongolia.
We spent a precious few days in their company, and it wasn't long before all my sense of bravado about being able to live this kind of life, flew out of the window. They live right off the land, quite literally. And despite best-laid plans, every day is determined by the elements themselves. Only forward-planning gives these people a fighting chance, plus the ability to react fast to any given situation, be it positive or negative.

"Expect the unexpected" is an unspoken mantra, and the Mongolians' approach to life is to grab it by the throat and hold on for the ride. Yes it is a beautiful life. But a life that they have to work hard for. The blood of the Khans certainly endures out here in the vast empty plains...

ME@LXG: Simple Minds, Sir David, and Sri Lankan Bears

Its amazing how a simple tune can evoke a vast store of nostalgia, seemingly from out of thin air. 


This morning a song blaring from a distant radio, a typical tune from the mid-80's - I think it was an old hit by Simple Minds - tapped a totally forgotten region of my memory, and suddenly I was back in those old days of questionable hairstyles and garish clothes, surrounded by the sounds of the new romantics as the pop music movement called itself back then. And there I was, a wonder-struck schoolkid in the heart of the Midlands in the UK, forgetting about my homework and my beloved BMX Chopper, and escaping instead into a world of meerkats and honeypot ants and mountain gorillas. A televised dreamland, made real by the unassuming magic of David Attenborough. 
Life on Earth and the subsequent series in the Life trilogy were something of a revelation for me, a series that opened my eyes to the possibilities of the great unknown; that made me realize, even in my early teens, that there were corners of this world that I could never see, and yet there were some that I most certainly would.

David Attenborough's calm and composed presentation struck home far stronger than any modern-day 'reptile hunter'; compelling me to think further than the shores of England, further than the physical constraints of the tired old elephants of London Zoo.

He made me realize that television could open the doors to the natural world; that TV could bring to life the reasons for environmental conservation in a far more compelling way than dusty old textbooks in dusty old classrooms. That TV could make nature accessible to anyone and everyone.

And so began a somewhat convoluted journey to where I am right now, with still miles to go. Whether I have made bad nature programmes or good, Sir David is directly responsible. I have always aspired to creating television in his approachable and accessible style. Even hard science can be translated for the least sophisticated audience, through a simple device called a story. Every story has a thread, that starts at the beginning, weaves the middle, and connects it all to the end.

I am learning how to tell a good story. I've even stepped in front of the camera a few times to try and bring life to the tale, but in all truth my aspirations of being an Attenborough are much like Golem aspiring to be Gandalf - I don't have the white hair and I can't carry off the safari jacket.

But given enough maturing and the considerable weight of experience I may try again. Attenborough is still my milestone.

And so this leads me to my current project, one that began in mid '05 and is scheduled for completion later this year. Its a story that takes me back to Sri Lanka and into the heart of a country I have rediscovered with new eyes. It is also a story that Discovery Networks has taken considerable risks in commissioning, as its central character happens to be the island's most endangered mammal.

Numbering less than 300, Sri Lankan Sloth Bears are something of an enigma. They may as well be ghosts for most of the year, and I would be very surprised if even a quarter of the country's population knew of their existence.
And yet for just a couple of weeks they make themselves known, very briefly. It is this window of opportunity that my story hinges on... and perhaps the reason I often find myself shaking my head and asking a simple question to the world in general, "Why?" 

I've had more than a fair share of luck during my years making wildlife shows, but what a way to start my debut with Animal Planet... forever waiting for that fountain of luck to run dry.

In truth however, nature has been kind to us. In spite of unforeseen forest fires and severe droughts, the bears did their disappearing/reappearing trick for us last year. It was still mostly a case of 'blink and you miss them', but when they did choose to oblige us - I can't begin to explain the feelings that raced through my bloodstream. A mixture perhaps, of immense relief, adrenaline and sheer awe.

Again I wanted to add that Attenborough ingredient into the body of the story, but as is often the case, I was reminded once again, that the world has moved on. The kids are more sophisticated, the audience has a limited attention span. The gentleness of 'once upon a time' has been lost in most of the work you'll see on Nat Geo or Discovery these days. Its not their fault, its what the public demands. I feel a great sense of loss that the 'wonder of it all', the instinctive excitement of pushing aside a leaf and seeing what lies on the other side of the forest... all this will vanish when the David Attenboroughs of this world are no more.

I think sometimes that I was born two or three generations too late for this business. The marvel of wild discovery and exploration is taken for granted on our screens today. There are some gems that crop up amidst the rubble from time to time, but by and large this is the age of unnecessary risk-taking and showmanship and playing up to the camera, with the wilderness playing second fiddle. That should never be the case, and I wonder how long this genre of wildlife television can sustain itself.

So in many ways, the bear story has become a kind of visual 'holy grail' for me. Its important not just professionally, but also because it allows me the opportunity to tell a story about the island of my birth.

Just one little story, a tiny fragment of a much larger and wonderfully complex picture - but a story that for once will have an audience that spans the world. This is something I had promised myself somewhat naively as an idealistic teenager. If the bears do their part, I'm sure we can make something special together.

And I'll be sure to put a little of the Attenborough ingredient in there somewhere, just to please that wonderstruck schoolkid, way back when.

Yes, its amazing how a simple tune can evoke such nostalgia... 



Wednesday, 1 August 2012


Now let’s get one thing straight – guys don’t talk to each other about the condition of their face and skin – right?

I mean when I was growing up, none of my friends dared start a conversation about the latest face-mask, let alone moisturizer. And if ‘Joe’ ever made the mistake of talking openly about his enlarged pores, his punishment would to forever be branded ‘Joanne’. Yes those were tough years if you were a sensitive guy…

It was just too much risk to our ‘manlihoods’ to talk about such fussy and obviously feminine things. But this is no longer the case. The male human has evolved. I was not informed.

Apparently the days of the male braving the elements, and enduring the scorching Sun, just to bring home the bacon – are long over. Now he wears tinted SPF 30 sun-block and preps himself with cleanser and toner, before he heads out on the hunt.

I was obviously in need of a re-education, so after much prodding and poking, and some not so subtle hints, I recently found myself at the threshold of one massively giant step in my evolution from caveman to charismatic gentleman: The Day of My First Facial

As I made my way down the sunny byways of Orchard Road, and tentatively stepped through the grand entrance of the Palais Renaissance, my mind raced back to a time when I was a kid, gulping down his fear as he stepped into the Dental Surgery for his first ever filling.
A similar shudder raced down my spine as I stood outside the entrance to Phoenix Le Beaute Salon. It wasn’t the fear of pain however, it was the sheer terror of anyone coming that close to my face – close enough to examine all the little pits and scars and lines. I have spent over half my life working under the Sun, and my skin now carries the evidence to prove it.

I was greeted by therapist Nicole, who led me to a waiting room where I first filled in a questionnaire asking for details about my personal skin treatment regime – which got a very short response – and what I thought were the main problems with my skin – this turned out to be a very long list.
My therapist, Nicole - I was in safe hands...
When Nicole found out this was to be my first ever facial, I think she immediately took sympathy for this sorry, deprived soul, and from my responses she could probably also tell that I was feeling pretty nervous about whole thing.

But she took time to explain the procedure, which was going to be the signature Maria Galland Therapie Cocon  (Cocoon Therapy) – basically an hour-long anti-stress treatment comprising a tailor-made massage ritual to relax facial features and rejuvenate the skin.

Treatment Room at Phoenix Le Beaute
That didn’t sound too bad actually – so with a few more words of reassurance, I changed into a robe and was led to one of the cosy treatment rooms. 

Subtle lighting and quiet instrumental music piped in the background set the mood, and I was soon stretched out on a comfortably padded bed.

After smoothly cleansing my face and applying a mask, Nicole began the facial massage, her fingertips gently yet firmly applying pressure and easing out tension across the face and along the temples and neck muscles. 

She seemed thrilled by the prospect of this being my first ever facial, always checking that I was comfortable and happy with the ongoing process.

I have to tell you – that massage was working wonders. I never anticipated that this would be part of a facial treatment, but apparently a unique aspect of the Maria Galland method is to incorporate the massage ritual as a means of easing tension and draining the lymphatic system. 

Normal facials for guys only restrict the massage to the face, but this version spent equal time on the shoulders, neck and upper back. By this time my concerns had flown of the window. I was completely relaxed and totally at ease.  I could have stopped right there and been totally satisfied.
Range of Maria Galland products, some of which were used in the facial
But this was when the actual ‘cocon’ treatment began. Literally a cocoon of foam is applied to the face and left to work its cleansing and restorative magic for about 20 minutes – actually I’m not too sure for exactly how long, because by now I had no concept of time; I was floating in a cloud of near-meditative bliss. I was really surprised as to how quickly my initial resilience had disappeared!

Finally a moisturizer containing Vitamin A and E was applied to my face, and I was done. My first ever facial was over and thanks to Nicole’s expert treatment, I was mentally already planning when my next one would be…  

So there you go – I highly recommend the Maria Galland Therapie Cocon, especially for newbies like me. I actually found out that’s it no longer a rare thing for guys to have such treatments. Nicole sees young professionals and even couples visiting Phoenix Le Beaute Salon for their regular facials and spa treatments.

I for one am very happy to have finally evolved…

To find out more and try out the Maria Galland Therapie Cocon treatment for yourself, visit:

Phoenix Le Beaute
390 Orchard Road
#B1-07 Palais Renaissance
Singapore 238871
Tel: +65 6733 4556

Courtesy of Phoenix Le Beaute, LXG is giving away one exclusive Maria Galland Therapie Cocon, treatment, valued at S$180 (excluding GST)
To take part and stand a chance to win:

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Sunday, 29 July 2012

WELLNESS@LXG: Shout-Out for Supplements

There are two distinct camps where the subject of supplements is concerned; those that believe that we should simply eat healthily - and those that believe that we should pop a pill or twenty a day to ensure we live to be a hundred.

I however tend to find middle ground between the two. Yes we certainly should eat healthily, but with our current hectic work schedule, how many of us actually have the time to cook and eat even two meals a day at home? (And I’m sorry to disappoint but processed food straight from a can, sachet or packet does not count).

So the only way to ensure that we stay healthy, would be to take a supplement together with as many fresh fruit and vegetables as we can get our hands on in a day.

I spent most of my youth working out and being active (unlikely but true). I’ve hiked through the highlands of Scotland in unsuitable footwear and nearly lost my toes to frostbite. I have traversed the jungles of Sri Lanka photographing exotic wildlife, and I was almost desiccated in the deserts of Northern India. So after so much abuse, my knees and joints are now protesting and refusing to be as pliable as they once were. 

Before I was introduced to Kneipp, I used to pop a glucosamine tablet, but the problem with that was I often forgot to take it, and because the tablets have to be taken with food, it became quite a chore, with me probably only taking it twice in a week. 
Kneipp® Active Joint’s 5-in-1 Effervescent Tablets (l)
Kneipp® Magnesium + Calcium + D3 Effervescent Tablets (r)
The great thing about Kneipp® Active Joint’s 5-in-1 Effervescent Tablets is that I can take them any time I remember, which is a huge bonus as I often remember at bizarre times during the day. The effervescent tablets taste really subtly citrusy and I actually served it as a “drink” to someone who popped down unexpected recently.  

The Glucosaminsulfate and chondoitinsulfate - which are natural components of articular cartilage and connective tissue - together with the added Vitamin C helps build collagen, while Zinc helps build up bone, and Vitamin E helps protect cells. Dissolve in iced water for a great tasting and refreshing drink. Each tube, comprising of 15 tablets is priced at $22.90.
We all know that calcium is essential for keeping our bones healthy. Kneipp® Magnesium + Calcium + D3, made from natural minerals and combined with Vitamin D3 and calcium, provides the body with essential nutrients in times of physical and mental stress. Build your calcium store when young to prevent osteoporosis and other ailments that afflict us when we age due to a lack of nutrients. In fact, with all the pain that I have in my joints, sometimes I regret the abuse I put my body through in my youth... 

Kneipp® Magnesium + Calcium + D3 Effervescent Tablets is priced at $14.90 for a tube of 20  tablets.

Kneipp® Tea

Kneipp® has been producing contemporary products made with the very best natural ingredients since 1891. Kneipp® Herbal Teas are naturally caffeine-free and contains no artificial colouring, aromas or flavouring, so you get to enjoy the pure benefits of the herbs.

Stinging Nettle (Cleansing Herbal Tea)

Now this product really intrigued me, and while researching the benefits of Stinging Nettle, I found out that Nettle leaf is actually among the most valuable of herbal remedies. It is a slow-acting nutritive herb that gently cleanses the body of metabolic wastes. It is also one of the safest alternative remedies in the treatment of chronic disorders that require long-term treatment. It is said to have a gentle, stimulating effect on the lymphatic system, enhancing the excretion of wastes through the kidneys.  

Nettle’s iron content makes it a wonderful blood builder, and the presence of Vitamin C aids in the iron absorption making it an excellent herb for anemia and fatigue, especially in women. Stinging nettle is also beneficial during pregnancy due to its rich mineral value and Vitamin K, which guards against excessive bleeding. It is also a good supplement to strengthen the fetus and can be used during labor to ease the pain.

Kneipp’s Stinging Nettle (Cleansing Herbal Tea) is priced at $9.60 for a box of 15 tea bags.

Kneipp Products are available at:

Unity Healthcare:
2 Jurong East Central 1 #B1-05 Jcube Mall
252 North Bridge Road #B1-44L Raffles City Shopping Centre
LINK BRIDGE 62 Collyer Quay #02-01 to 04 OUE Link
3 Temasek Boulevard  Suntec City Mall #02-105 ( S) 038983

Guardian Health & Beauty:
290 Orchard Road # B1-20/24 Paragon
101 Thomson Road #B1 United Square
930 Yishun Ave 2  # B1-01/02 Northpoint Shopping Centre Singapore 769098
2 Jurong East Street 21 #01-57 IMM Building Singapore 609601                        
Novena Hospital 38 Irrawaddy Rd.#01-08/09/10/11 (S) 329563

Kneipp is on Facebook: 

LXG is giving away a set of Limited Edition KNEIPP products not available in Singapore. Each set is priced at $80! 
To take part and stand a chance to win this set of Citrus Fruit and Melissa Body Lotion and Anti-Callus Salve:

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