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Monday

Evano Oruvan - Falling down in Madras

"How many Sridhar Vasudevan-s have you arrested in your career?", asks the Inspector (played by director Seemaan of 'Thambi' fame) mid-way through the Thamizh movie - 'Evano Oruvan'. In my opinion, that is the crux of the social commentary underlining this movie. More about that later.

I got the opportunity to witness the HSBC sponsored preview screening of the movie in San Jose much prior to its intended December release. Actor/Producer Madavan was at hand to promote the movie and also introduce its non-Tamil director Nishikanth. It was a unique experience with about a hundred audience members showing up and participating in an interactive session with the crew past the movie screening. One such question from the audience was "Why did you decide to portray the leading character as a Brahmin?".  Madavan answered the question with a rare insight into Thamizh culture - the Brahmins are the least expected to do anything that challenges the law of the land.

The Tamil Brahmins are the omnipresent yet invisible sect of bustling Madras. The only time they ever rise to spotlight is during the annual music season. Rest of the time, they go through the monotonous self-centered lives that is the bane of urban India. They do not influence assembly or parliamentary elections. A very small percentage of them actually participate in elections. They do not have a talismanic figure anywhere in the democracy framework. They are usually part of a nuclear family catching up with real India through newspapers and water cooler talks. They are everywhere but nowhere. Immensely knowledgeable of the wrongs of the society and equally impotent when it comes to acting upon it.

What happens to the fragile balance of the city when one such Tamil Brahmin resorts to violence and bashes up every wrong doer he comes across in a 48 hour time period? The result is quite chilling.

Madavan sheds his 'Alaipayudhe' image to roll up his sleeves and immerse himself in a subject he believes in. I think it is that much easier to enact a difficult role when you have already played the part sometime in real life. He finally comes out of the self-created dependency on Mani Ratnam to create meaningful roles for himself. Seeman plays the movie's conscience as the Inspector who is an integral part of the corrupt society but is also stressed by his own consciousness. Sangeetha (who crops up with a decent performance every couple of years and disappears) plays Madavan's wife and the real instigator of the psychotic mayhem that follows. She is a housewife who stands to lose her comfort zone when she loses her cause to complain. Following the movie, director Nishikanth candidly admitted how he has used Hollywood movies like 'Falling Down' and 'Taxi Driver' to channel his own observations. These are the kind of movies that we should try and Indianise more. They are reflective, contemporary and chat-worthy.

It is never good over evil. It is more like a war of helplessness and dismay. The situation is quite bleak as the movie does not invoke its license to deliver a message. It does just enough to disturb the movie goer and stir the pot a little.

 

Tuesday

Netflix Makes a Comeback

Movie & TV News @ IMDb.com - Studio Briefing - 23 October 2007
Netflix shares have an upswing by 13%. This somehow brings a smile to my face and I don't even own Netflix shares. I signed up to the Netflix service in 2001. They have been a big help in satiating my movie appetite. I've been sampling their online streaming as well. Netflix is a pioneer and deserves to be given shareholder confidence for further innovation.

Saturday

Babloo #04 - Rules of Desi Engagement

A single desi is at home with only one kind of company - other single desis - of the same sex. This is law. Anyone pretending otherwise is either not single or not desi. However, from time to time, the odd sighting of a single desi in undefined crowds have been noticed. Those are the experimentation stages. This straying from the prescribed path has only one reason behind it - the desi has encountered a Ms.Desi.

At the start of the millennium, the most prolific love dhooth was the instant messenger closely followed by the ever present cell phone. I've had the chance to observe in close quarters two Desis consumed by the engagement virus. One was officially engaged - the kind of successful Desi behind whom is a woman - a proud girl hunting mother. The other is the kind of Desi behind whom is an absolute necessity to talk to a girl (any girl). The kind that likes to get 'committed' every now and then.

The first is the most fun to watch because he is actually showing off to other co-single-desis. Goofiness comes naturally to goofs.  This guy tucks in his shirt - even on a Friday - and combs his hair - like twice a day - with a comb! It is bad enough when he was single - now he is an engaged dude. Oh... the cockiness! Oh... the madness! The torture that the roommates have to endure when this guy is on the phone with the girl. Did I mention the madness?

There is this constant buzz in the apartment around this time. This buzz is our friend on the phone speaking sweet nothings and I mean nothing. "Are you a Vijay fan or an Ajith fan?" is one I overheard without meaning to. In fact, the girl's preference was broadcast the next morning. This sort of interrogation is supposed to get a peek into the psyche of  this girl with the phone. We, the roommates, once complained that he was interrupting the television with the incessant gigglefest. He gave us a big sigh somehow suggesting that he felt pity for our single lives. He proceeded on to lock himself in the toilet and continued his conversation only this time the gigglefest was echoing off the plumbing and we had to bear it in surround sound. Even this is bearable when compared to being stuck in a car with the shameless show-off who had consumed our smart friend. We, his co-passengers, aren't allowed to talk. We aren't allowed to answer our phones. We aren't allowed to listen to music. We can't lower the windows nor can we increase the fan speed. It is one idiot with two or three other stuffy silent single desis. Their collective knowledge had just been given added value with the unseen girl's (apparently an insomniac with a phone glued to her ear)preference in everything from breakfast to cricket.

One married guy had this advise for us single guys - when you are engaged, act like a typical ruffian. This way, when you are actually married any small act of goodness seems like a welcome change and you are not burdened with expectations. His verdict on the cell-phone giggler - 'Gone case'.

It is an unwritten law that engaged dudes are exempt from cooking duties and even cleaning duties. The engaged single desi's honeymoon had already begun and we the roommates were the busboys of the seedy motel. The toilet was the honeymoon suite.

Next gen of Thamizh cinema

Quite a few podcasts and variety shows are targeting Gen-Next of Thamizh Cinema.

First off was the news item on 'Sultan' the animated movie starring Rajinikanth possibly as the titular character. A teaser trailer was available along with his last blockbuster 'Sivaji'. This thrilled me at many levels. A big fan of animated movies it was heartening scene to see the genre finally entering the shores of Madras. Just last year, post 'Chandramukhi', the guys were discussing plot points for a new Rajini movie. Yep, this is what we do when we get together and we are proud of it. Anywise, the consensus was that the movie should take the 'thalaivar' appeal to the next generation of kids. Yours truly had suggested that the best possible route would be to do an animated action movie and add merchandising a la Hollywood. Since we are aping the movie making style anyway why not adopt the marketing route. This seems to have had some credibility although it was said in jest at that time. Now, we have Soundarya Rajinikanth, launching her father in a brand new avatar. Can't wait to see that one.

South Side Episode #10 featured an interview with Shruthi Hassan. I had heard her single 'Covers' a while back on an earlier episode. One of my friends in the music business had suggested that the song had more attitude than material. Irrespective, Shruthi came across as a fun-loving grounded girl with one witty quip after another ready in hand. Listening to her, I got the feeling that star kids in India adjust to stardom better than their Hollywood counterparts. Shruthi Hassan does seem to be eager to do her own thing rather than pressure herself with the growing expectations.

Another podcast in the South Side space is Radio NRI beamed out of Madras. Radio NRI features RJ Cary and his engaging interviews with 'it' people from Kodambakkam. One does feel that a pure Thamizh interview will be a lot more engaging given the subject matter discussed - Thamizh cinema. The two interviews I sampled were the ones with actors Sibiraj and Jeeva. It was a study in contrasts. Sibiraj's interview revealed his focus - his ambition to become the next big action hero in Thamizh cinema. That interview was very much like a talk with a Chennai College student drunk on local cinema. Jeeva, on the other hand has lofty ambitions. He did make a poignant observation - International cinema is really hardcore regional cinema. Only the movies that have a native flavor find an international audience. We cannot ape Hollywood to widen the audience beyond the shores of India. Looking forward to movies from this guy.

Friday

A readymade script for Kamal and Vikram

:: rogerebert.com :: Reviews :: Sleuth (xhtml)

Put this under "If wishes were horses". The script for 'Sleuth' demands two main actors with a lot of charisma and the ability to display histrionics at will. That is the reason why I was mulling on the possibility of Kamal and Vikram essaying the roles of the Andrew Wyke and Milo Tindle. One night, two men - a dangerous battle of wits. Acerbic dialogues, punch lines and character nuances - the aforementioned two can lap it up.

Sunday

"Sleuth" is not a remake

:: rogerebert.com :: People :: Jude Law, Michael Caine, Kenneth
Branagh: "Sleuth" is not a remake (xhtml)

This should be an interesting movie to watch. Sleuth is one of my favorite movies that deals with thrills based on psychology and dialogs. Michael Caine's role in the original is now played by Jude Law and Michael Caine plays the original role played by Sir Lawrence Olivier. Fans of Agatha Christie novels should love this one.

Friday

Blue Umbrella

Blue Umbrella is Vishal Bharadwaj's brilliant adaptation of Ruskin Bond's short story. Ruskin Bond is something akin to R K Narayanan of the North. Malgudi is replaced by the various villages in the foothills of the Himalayas. The same earthy nativity is maintained in Bond's tales as in the works of RK. Among Bond's works, I can faintly recall the 'Train stops at Shamli' or is it 'Time stops at Shamli'. This was part of the prose in my high school.

Bharadwaj is a rarity among Indian directors in that he seeks established literary works for his movie plots. His first movie was the kids flick, Makdee which I am yet to see. Omkara was based on Othello and Maqbool was based on Hamlet.

In BU, he shrugs the cast of big names with Pankaj Kapoor being the only known name. The story telling is at an easy pace. The songs are at once melodious and engaging.

It is a very simple plot. A ten-year old or something close to that, Binya, trades her precious leopard tooth necklace for a bright blue umbrella froBum a tourist. This umbrella becomes the object of desire for the entire village. May it be the teacher's wife or the crafty shop keeper. Eventually, the umbrella gets stolen. Binya suspects the shop keeper Nandu to be behind this. The local police raid  his house and come empty handed. Nandu makes a big scene and vows that he won't touch his favorite pickle until he buys a glorious umbrella for himself. Very soon he does get a red umbrella that elevates his status in the village. The rest of the tale is about shifting importance in the social scale for the two protagonists especially Nandu. The tale ends with the kind of translucent justice that only a child of ten can come up with.

Go for the story and stay for the visuals. The Himachal area is captured wonderfully and the scene in the snowfall rivals the best that the west and the east have to offer.

Nagesh - the original king of comedy

There was a time when I would watch a Thamizh movie only if Nagesh was part of the casting.  Some of my Nagesh favorites.

Kaadhalikka Naeramillai

I cannot recall the number of times I've listened to this movie's dialogues over my Dad's LP Record player.  An ensemble of cast that owed a lot to the Baliah-Nagesh duo for lifting the movie to comedic heights. Chellappa is the ultimate movie buff - lots of ideas but no real talent in film making - maybe that's why I like this character a lot - can identify with it. When will someone make 'Mayanaththil Muththam' and 'Kaththi munaiyil raththam'? The contemporary dialogues had Nagesh mouthing English lines immediately followed by their Thamizh translations. "We don't see English pictures... we want only Thamizh pictures!"

Thiruvalaiyadal

Upstaging Sivaji Ganesan in a historical or mythological movie is impossible. However, Nagesh came as close as anybody in the ten minutes he was on screen. The casting was a master stroke and the dialogues complimented the actors. The number of stage plays in schools and colleges across Tamil Nadu that had this scene reenacted is tribute enough. Sokkaa, Sokkaa...

Bama Vijayam

Another Balaiah-Nagesh treat, Balachander delivers this comedy gem relying on his theatre like screenplay. One cannot help guffaw during the scene where Nagesh tries to remember the 'one' move in which the titular actress acted well. Sureshaa...

Naan

Thrillers are a rarity in early Thamizh movies. Nagesh comes as an undercover cop to unravel the mystery of multiple heirs in a royal family. My favorite line is when Nagesh and Ravichandran are cornered by the villain's henchmen. One of them points a gun at Nagesh's and asks him for his last wish. Nagesh asks for the gun. Comedy bliss. The real scene stealer was Nagesh's brief appearance as his own mother. "Komatla Kuththu"

Veettukku Veedu

Lakshmi and Jayashankar play a couple who con a group of people into thinking that they are not a couple. Nagesh plays the character of the landlord's son. In trying to woo the heroine, he discovers her secret. His frustrations compound when no one believes him. The whole plot boils down to Lakshmi outsmarting Nagesh and his 'Mmmmmaatikittan' triumphs. His hippie style of dressing and crooning "Andha pakkam vaazhndhavan Romeo, Indha pakkam naan enna saamiyo" add the seventies flavor to the movie. "Jalagandeswara, Jamadhagni"

Edhirneechchal

Balachandar's ode to Nagesh's entire range of histrionics. The character, Madhu, has inspired many and none more than comedian/script writer Crazy Mohan.  "Dhamma thundu paiyalukku Dhilla paaththiya?"

Iru Kodugal

Again, a Balaachandar movie. This time around Nagesh plays a rabble rouser in an office setting. His name is Babu and his son's name is Buba. Together they go about creating havoc in the office. The humor laced villainy is unique in its execution.

There are many others which I cannot recall in detail

Server Sundaram

Saadhu Mirandaal

Bommalaattam

Thaen kinnam

Neerkumizhi

Kamala Haasan is another big fan of Nagesh, the actor. Proof of that is his casting of Nagesh in stellar roles in some of his own movies.

Apoorva Sagodharargal - as the main villain

Michael Madhana Kama Rajan - as Avinasi, the gold digger

Nammavar -  a national award winning turn as the father of a rape/murder victim. His 'dance' at his daughter's funeral is a hard hitting scene.

The Tiger

TIGER, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? What dread grasp

Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,

And water'd heaven with their tears,

Did He smile His work to see?

Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

 

William Blake's immortal lines...

Good news for fans of the Tiger, a sub species, the South China Tiger, thought to have been extinct was sighted.

Rare China tiger seen in the wild

Tiger, Tiger, daring to defy...

Thursday

The new test XI?

With the big three (Ganguly, Tendulkar and Dravid) poised to be phased out, what will the new Indian Cricket test team look like?

The Openers

Wasim Jaffer (or Akash Chopra or Virendra Sehwag)

Dinesh Karthik (or Parthiv Patil)

The Middle Order

VVS Laxman

Yuvaraj Singh

Virendra Sehwag (or Mohamad Kaif or Robin Uthappa)

Manoj Tiwari ( or S Badrinath)

The Wicket Keeper

M S Dhoni

The Bowlers

I K Pathan (the one Indian all rounder)

Harbhajan Singh (or Piyush Chawla or Ramesh Powar or Murali Karthik)

R P Singh (or Sreesanth or Munaf Patel)

Z Khan

Is Balaji still in the reckoning?

Tuesday

Memorex DVD drive

What a Monday!

I beat my habitual friend Procrastination and finally bought a DVD drive for the media center. What more, assembled it the same day as well.

There are very few options for DVD drives - feature-wise. The usual suspects are Memorex, Sony, Pioneer and HP. Emperex and others round up the vendors. What do they offer?

1. Multi format support

2. Grey/Black bezels

3. Nero seven applications suite

4. Lightscribe32023220_lg

5. E-IDE cables

6. Analog audio cables

7. Flash ROM for firmware upgrades

In my quick analysis, Memorex offered all these at $69.99 (at Fry's Fremont) with a free blank DVD. The others did not have one feature or more at the same price range.

What next?

Install movie editing software.

Freaky but true, a friend called to ask me about DVD writing speeds while I was installing the new drive. I am now positively positive that I am being stalked.

Monday

How to read a painting

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-to-read-a-painting.html

A very useful article for someone like me who is more naive than a novice in the art world.

What does someone who can't paint do? He buys paintings.

What if that someone can't afford the paintings as well? He looks at them, I guess.

Here's to looking, Art!

Sunday

Picture Quiz #05

Identify the product being advertised here.

 

                                           what-is-in-the-picture

 

What goes into an open mouth in the highway?

Stop Blue Whales From Being Killed by Ships

 

 

Last month, three endangered blue whales were killed when they were hit by large ships in their feeding grounds off the southern California coast. The coastal waters of southern California are home not just to the largest animal that has ever lived on Earth, but also to the busiest shipping lanes in the United States. Unusual ocean conditions this year have led to large numbers of blue whales feeding in the rich waters off southern California for much longer than normal, putting them directly in the path of fast-moving cargo ships and oil tankers. Ship strikes are one of the leading causes of death of large whales worldwide, and scientists have identified ship speed limits as the most effective method to reduce whale mortality.

Dead blue whale
Dead blue whale killed by ship

Last week the Center formally asked the federal government to impose a temporary speed limit off southern California to protect the blue whales. While the government has issued advisories for ship captains to watch out for whales, it has yet to impose the speed limits actually necessary to protect these magnificent and highly endangered animals.

Please: Let federal officials know right away how important it is that they impose a binding speed limit for large ships to protect endangered blue whales.

Take action

source: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/

A tale of two Paattis

It was the best of IMs. It was the worst of IMs.

The events described here took place about three months ago.

Wifey and I were trying to get the respective parents to chat online with us. In all our naivety, we decided to make a conference chat session out of it. We had 'good' news to share and wanted to do it simultaneously to both sets of parents. Easier planned than done, apparently.

The trial run was on a Wednesday evening ; Thursday morning for them. That session did not go too well. We called them to check their availability. The respective Dads were in a hurry to get out of the house and the Moms were in a hurry to get the men out of the house. We said our goodbyes and promised to call again that weekend and suggested they come online.

Attempt number two, that Saturday ,was more successful - sort of. Wifey's parents could not run Yahoo IM while Skype was installed. Some incompatibility issue that we were invited to resolve. My parents had only Yahoo IM and had no idea if they had Skype. The weight of the news that we had to share prevented us from doing any rational thinking. With the IM situ. they way it was, we pushed it by asking them to switch on their webcams while attempting to broadcast ourselves. Here is where the 'sort of' success kicks in. The in-laws did not receive video but could hear us. The parents could not hear us but could 'see' us. We could not see either of them. We alternated between calling them and doing one heck of a multitasking tech support job for the IMs. For the whole hour that we did this phone-chat show we had not even approached anywhere close to 'the news'.

As they were on different IM clients we could not conference them in the same chat window either. While the mom was talking on the phone, the dad would attempt to 'fix' something and they would log off. It would then be followed by a domestic dispute between the two while we tuned into the show over the phone. We gave up any hope of having them on the same page. At the count of three I typed "You are going to be grandparents" while holding up the ultrasound scan to the webcam. At the same time Wifey was mouthing those words to whoever was on the other end of the phone.  The chaotic hour that preceded it gave way to a stage where things suddenly became very quiet all over. After what seemed like an eternity a smiley appeared on the IM and a low throttle and stretched out "hey..." came over the phone line. This was followed by what can only be conceived as virtual hugs.

That done with, it was all business. Pa-in-law suggested that my job was done and that I should expect to be totally ignored from this point on. Glad to comply. Dad was typing that I should take this as a cue to turn a new responsible leaf. This to a guy who had taken vows, a total seven of them, across a raging fire. With this the Moms (future Grandmas aka Paattis) took over. 'Curb your enthusiasm' and 'duct tape the smirk' was the summary of their advice and for some reason it was directed at me.  We (I) were (was) not to spread the good news just yet. I was then dismissed and some lovey dovey OPoMIPoTT took place with the glowing mom-to-be.  OPoMIPoTT is a Thamizh Culture Phenomenon - Oru Ponnoda Manasu Innoru Ponnukku Thaan Theriyum -suggesting that female cardiologists have a better success rate with female heart patients. Sworn to secrecy I turned down all social interactions diligently. I could have potentially gone for a hike to Mt.Whitney but I didn't. I didn't even visit the apartment gym. That's how much I respected the women in my life.

Still under the fore-mentioned Non-Disclosure agreement, we were shutting ourselves from society. A curious turn of events took place. People from India started phoning in with congratulatory notes. My wife gave me a stare every time the phone rang. People, relatives, friends and telemarketers from India were sending IMs, offline messages, phone calls and emails with congratulatory messages. A pigeon carrier or two might have also found its way. It so happened that the one person who had laid down the strictest rules of secrecy was the one spreading the news faster the speed of sound. That would be my mother - Paatti A. It was almost like the baby was saying - "Beam me up Patti". 

I was flustered. I did call my mom up in an attempt to plead for justice but somehow ended up apologizing. I don't remember what I apologized for but I usually have a buffer of reasons with my mother. Anywise, the gag order apparently did not apply to her and was a yours truly exclusive.

"At least its still a secret in America!" - Wifey always had a positive outlook on all things spinning out of control.

Cue - Paatti B aka Mom-in-law.

This is how the overseas territory was conquered. A couple in our gang of friends in Sunnyvale were expecting a baby. The guy's parents were coming over to help with pregnancy/childbirth and called up Paatti B to say their goodbyes before departure. They asked her when Wifey and I would have 'good news' to share. This somehow got Paatti B indignant and she let them know that we already had 'good news'. So friend's parents called up the friends and let them know that we had 'good news' as well. Kind of breaking news rights that they suddenly possessed. During this call, a second set of friends were in the house with the first set of friends on a social call. So they had to be let in on the news. It follows that this second set are habitual visitors to their apartment laundry room where they met another set of common friends and the secret was shared hoping that the hot news would help dry their clothes faster. For a couple of days the joke was on us. Most of our friends had the task of safeguarding our secret from us. So guess - who was at the receiving of a 'SURPRISE' news. Bad news might travel fast but good news apparently is a lot more wilier - travels fast without a ticket.

A secret is what one tells to everybody not to tell anybody.

"At least we were the first to know!" - Wifey and her lack of pessimism gets me down every now and then. So yeah, we are expecting a baby in March.

Friday

Babloo #03 - Desi jargon

Elk is a kind of maan

- A desi friend explaining what an elk is to an European.

----

Baseball is like cricket except the other team bats first and I think the one with the ball throws it in a different way.

- Desi girl explaining cricket to an American at the USB plugfest of all places. I did not dare to interfere.

----

How's it going?

- The pujari at the Sunnyvale temple while giving me Prasad(am). Reverse culture shock!

---

Enga poganum sir?

- New York JFK cabbie after ingeniously discovering that I speak Thamizh. I dutifully called him 'Annein' Sendhil style for the rest of the trip.

---

Holy cow!

-  A coworker's exclamation once I confirmed for her that Indians do worship the cow and sometimes offer it its own milk. Holy cow? Exactly!

We tried to popularize 'punidha maadu' for a while but gave up eventually. Maybe we should have stuck to 'Dheiva Maaaaa' which was our second choice.

---

Aahsum ra

- One brother from Hyderabad's version of  'Awesome dude'.

---

It is all political. Our PM, President are all virgin bachelors.

- Ingenious and indigenous answer to the one question that plagues all single desi junta - 'you are single and a virgin?' - this was valid up until Manmohan Singh replaced Vajpayee and Pratibha Patil replaced Dr.Kalam.

---

This is Pankajam calling from Shantha Clara.

- Stanford Radio's Tamil Wednesdays are a blast. Mmm.. sollungo mami.

---

Take a left at Senthomas expressway.

- You can always filter out a true blue Madras guy when St.Thomas enters the conversation.

---

Maembalam yeri yerangina udane oru Macdonalds kadai varum. Anga right edu. 35-nu oru board irukkum. Adha thaandi marupadiyum oru right edu.

- Driving directions for southies. The 35 board turned out to be a speed limit sign.

---

My dad is an Indian - like from the country India...

- Overheard at a birthday party. Desi-let covering for her Dad's accent to her friend who strangely enough looked Desi as well.

---

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge

(after a pause)

Hai

- Southie Desi attempts Hindi with ghori northies

---

Its like New York City and New York.

- French dude explaining Madras and Chennai after his solitary trip to India. Thanks mon ami.

---

 

Anything to add?

How Benazir played into Musharraf's hands

A saga involving a deadlock of avenging angels. As I see it, Bhutto Sr. dishonors Musharraf Sr. a long time ago. Musharraf Jr. vows revenge. Before he could do anything about it, the military on their own accord hangs Bhutto Sr. Now, Ms.Bhutto has reasons to seek revenge. She comes to power defeating the military regime (twice). Musharraf Jr. IS the military now. What a deadlock!

Thursday

Thrilloo

It was dark outside.

Last one to leave office.

The responsibility of switching on the security alarm before I go looms large.

Alarm switch needs to be pressed by last person to leave to arm it.

It verifies automatically if all doors are closed.

Then it takes 40 seconds to arm itself and lets out a long beep at the end of  it.

Should leave the building before that long beep.

If I open the door after the beep it sends a silent signal to the cops.

The alarm is right next to the the men's loo.

Pressed the alarm switch.

Felt a sudden urge to take a leak.

Do I have enough time to relieve and then leave?

The toilet is right here.

20 seconds for the alarm to verify and 40 seconds to arm itself.

One man, one minute, one mission.

Dashed into the loo.

Unbuckled frantically. How many seconds left?

Doesn't matter.

Stage fright.

Nothing was happening.

Forced some grunts.

Did a courtesy flush.

Anything to instigate the anticipated free flow.

No luck. How many seconds left?

Did it beep while the flush roared?

Ruffled clothes and sweaty brow.

Mission abandoned.

Rushed out of the loo.

Checked the alarm display while still on the run. 5 seconds left.

55 seconds of repressed feelings in the loo.

Rushed out into the dark night.

Collected my breath.

My bladder was ready to burst.

Retro Desi Shows

Bharath's Insular Thinking dwells on age old Indian TV shows this week.

Draculon...

As a kid, during late 80’s - early 90’s, Saturday and Sundays were of utmost importance for two reasons.
- Cricket with home made bats and rubber balls
- Watching TV.
Then we had just one channel, DD, which used to start their transmissions in the evening during weekdays and at 9.00 AM on Sundays. They never cared about TRP ratings, ad revenue etc as they were the only channel you could watch on TV in India.
Here are some of the TV serials I still remember.
-    He Man and the masters of the Universe. Remember seeing it on Sundays at 9.00 AM. Still can hum the theme song.
-    Star Trek – Sundays 11.30 AM. Of all the episodes and characters, Spock was the only character that stuck in my memory bank until I assimilated all the episodes again during college days.
-    Spiderman – The cartoon series. Exactly @ 12.00 Noon. Usually there were two 15 minute stories with an ad in between, Kitply or Fevicol most of the times.
-    Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot.Saturday 4 PM slot. Even YouTube has few of them online. I found all the episodes on Netflix, which inspired this post.
-    Film song based programs Oliyum – Oliyum (translates to picture and sound) on Fridays and Chitrahaar on Wednesdays.

Click here for the rest of Bharath's blog.

Wednesday

The Idiot Box Strikes Back

I am finally putting my DVR to full use. Happily getting sucked right back into the make believe world that I had deserted all summer. Poignant 'note this point' - Of all the new shows, Wifey likes 'Dirty Sexy Money' while I am intrigued by 'Life'. Isn't that a point to ponder?

Five days and Twenty One shows to choose from.

New entries

1. Chuck

Combines Geeks, Girls and Gadgets. Likeable so far.

2. Bionic woman

Sci-Fi retelling of old show. Amazed at the money that goes into these shows.

3. Life

Intrigued by the premise. Cop solving other cases while trying to solve his own on the side.

4. Dirty Sexy Money

Dallas-like show. Wife likes this one a lot. I think it is all Peter Krause's doing.

5. Big shots

Funny in parts. "Men - we are the new women" Huh?

6. Cavemen

Inspired by the Geico commercial. I am returning for this one.

7. Back to you

Safe bets  - Kelsey Gramer and Patricia Heaton. DVR helps.

8. Pushing Daisies

Yet to see. Plot about coroner capable of giving life to dead bodies disturbing.

9. Journeyman

Well paced drama. A contemporary Doctor Who set in San Francisco.

10. K-Ville

Cop drama with Katrina ravaged New Orleans as the background. Okay.

11. The Big Bang Theory

Wooden acting. Missed second episode.

 

Recurring shows

1. Heroes

It is getting increasingly tough to follow all the characters.

2. House

My No.1 show. Wooster with sarcasm. P.G.W would have loved this one.

3. C.S.I

Somehow retains interest. Still watching reruns.

4. Criminal Minds

Gripping crime drama. Not for the faint hearted.

5. How I Met Your Mother

Great writers. Engaging comedy.

6. Bones

Excellent chemistry between leads. Wifey likes this more than I do.

7. Two and a Half Men

Waning interest.

8. Ugly Betty

I 'have' to watch this one.

9. The Office

Michael Scott - you are worse than my managers. You rock.

10. 30 Rock

Tina Fey. You are the best.

In the off season, I faithfully follow Monk, Psych and The Closer. All of them brilliant. I would like to see Reaper and Moonlight but can't find time or DVR space. I have stopped watching C.S.I Miami and C.S.I NY.

Tuesday

A WIN FOR THE CONDOR: CALIFORNIA SENATE GETS THE LEAD OUT

 

After three years of legal pressure, the California Senate passed the Ridley-Tree Preservation Act on September 5, requiring hunters to use non-lead ammunition for hunting big game and coyotes within the California condor range. Passage of the legislation is a victory for the condor as in recent months at least 17 of the endangered birds have suffered from lead poisoning by feeding on carcasses riddled with lead shot. In 2004, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned California Fish and Game Commission to end the use of lead ammunition statewide; in 2006, the Center filed a suit against the state for continuing to allow such condor-threatening hunting practices.

Source: Center for biological diversity

 

The fear of the known

Sitting through 'Life', the latest crime drama offering from NBC, I was intrigued by the overall premise of the series rather than the crime handled in the pilot episode. 'Life' revolves around a cop who is released after twelve years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. His ordeals at the hands of the inmates during those twelve years are told in passing - the many days he spent in the prison hospital and the complete shutdown of his regular life in those twelve years. Upon release he is given back his job and a hefty compensation amount. What the twelve years has really given him is a quirky zen-like approach to solving crimes. Interesting premise - hopefully the premise will continue to hold my attention in the coming weeks.

The fear of prison itself loomed large in the pilot episode. It made me recall the absorbing Spike Lee flick, "25th hour". This film too had the fear of prison as its heartbeat. The main character here is in fact guilty as charged. Yet, you tend to sympathize with him in the last 24 hours of his life before he goes to prison for a few years. Fear grips his soul as he contemplates different what-if scenarios. He know that his regular life faces a complete shutdown and there is a very high chance that he will not survive prison.

At the other end of the prison spectrum is the classic - "Shawshank Redemption". Patience is apparently not only a virtue but a life saver in prisons. How many times have I see this movie? A few hundred times too less. One of the best movie adaptations of a book. Shawshank suggests that prison might be a complete shutdown to your daily existence but not necessarily a shutdown of your soul.

Bits and pieces of all these sentiments can be found in Kalapani aka Siraichaalai - in my opinion the only prison movie to have come out India.