Noy Thrupkaew

Noy Thrupkaew is a Prospect senior correspondent.

Recent Articles

Magic Wanda

Wanda Sykes can be devastatingly funny. An Emmy Award-winning writer and comedian, Sykes is a regular on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm and Inside the NFL -- and also on Crank Yankers , a Comedy Central offering that features puppets acting out nasty, real-life crank calls made by a stable of comics. As Wanda Murphy, Sykes called up a tow-truck operator and hollered, "There's a turd in the backseat of my car!" Her incredulous target was so amazed that he had to get his friend on the phone, too, and the two men were soon laughing so hard they could barely talk. Sykes did it all with just her voice -- a honking, squawking, outraged bray, the acid essence of indignation applied to a poop joke. If Sykes can do so much with just her voice, why is a whole show devoted to her not funny? In FOX's new Wanda at Large , Sykes plays a diminutive loudmouth hired by a Washington, D.C., TV station looking for a "Charles Barkley trash-talking" type to spice up a snoozer of a political talk show. After...

Paved With Good Intentions

What would Graham Greene do? Or more to the point, what would he write about our current time, its terrorist horrors, its shadows of war on the horizon? Perhaps our situation would sound familiar to the author, who set a similarly foreboding scene in his 1955 novel The Quiet American , the subject of Phillip Noyce's recent film adaptation. The book takes place in Vietnam before French colonial death spasms gave way to our Apocalypse Now , and it offers a scathing critique of the nascent U.S. involvement in that country. Focused on a symbolic love triangle between a naive American do-gooder, a jaded British journalist and the Englishman's Vietnamese mistress, the novel was called anti-American after its publication -- and prescient after the U.S. foray into Vietnam began. During the conflict, the book found a following among U.S. correspondents stationed there; these days, young boys hawk pirated copies on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. Although there's no telling how prescient the...

Tilting on the Axis (of Evil)

I never thought I'd hear "Hotel California" in the bleak desert landscape of Iran. Don Henley's tale of a bad trip was a big hit with our guide, Reza, however, and he'd turn up the volume whenever the song looped around on his tape player. "This could be heaven or this could be hell," Don and Reza sang, as we drove in the mountains near Shiraz, several hundred miles south of the capital Tehran, passing crumbling caravansaries, those vacant hotels once used as inns by travelers on the Silk Road in the Middle East and Asia. "You see," Reza proclaimed, gesturing at his tapes of Western music as we sped past dry, barren mountains chalked with the names of imams, "everything you do in America we can do in Iran." We neared a police checkpoint -- one of many where buses are searched for drugs -- and Reza leaned over and snapped off the music. After we drove past, he turned it back on. "Livin' it up at the Hotel California!" he sang jubilantly. Only later did I understand why Reza interrupted...

Clock Watching

Virginia Woolf is putting on her coat with red, rough-knuckled hands. She stumbles out the door, pockets a large stone and wades into the river near her house in Sussex, England. As her shoes slip free of her feet, we hear her voice reading a suicide note to her husband. "I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been," she says. So begins The Hours , a meditation on the powerful entanglement of life and death, of the past and the present. A film adaptation of Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, The Hours tells the stories of three women: Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), as she begins to write her great novel Mrs. Dalloway ; Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), a fragile housewife and mother in 1950s Los Angeles who is reading Woolf's book; and Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep), a bustling editor in modern-day New York City. As Woolf muses in the movie, Mrs. Dalloway is "a woman's whole life in one day." The movie hews to a similar notion in...

Rhyme and Reason

P art of the fun of 8 Mile is guessing at who's in the lead role: Is it the real-life Marshall Mathers III, the sullen Eminem or the explosively perverse Slim Shady? Starring Mathers, aka Eminem, aka the most controversial white boy in music today, 8 Mile teases us with its billing as a semi-autobiographical account of the rapper's life, suggesting that this might be the final word on what makes Eminem so confounding, so fascinating and so enraging. But this being Eminem, we don't come away with much biographical insight. After all, the rapper has as many stage personas as a Hydra has heads -- he even cavorted down the aisle of the 2000 MTV Video Awards with a crowd of peroxided blond lookalikes, yelling, self-referentially, for the real Slim Shady to "please stand up." Quite a piece of theater, that -- Eminem as the satanic Pied Piper of suburban mothers' nightmares, leading away their ferrety sons. The multiple stage personalities provide a nice slipknot for Eminem, who has tried...

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