Friday, December 29, 2006

The last working day of the year

Time just flies by and we'll be old before we know it. Feels like yesterday when I twisted my ankle at the last new year's eve. 2006 could have been better, but then it could have been worse. Hopefully, I'll have an uneventful new year's eve this time around, and a great year head. Happy New Year, folks! Here's to great times ahead!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gael Garcia Bernal

After seeing The Motorcycle Diaries, I've been reading up about this really amazing Mexican actor - his choice of films is just amazing (a word that pops up often when Bernal is mentioned) - Amores Perros, Y tu mamá también, El crimen del Padre Amaro, and more recently, The Science of Sleep and The King.

What is really commendable is that Bernal has established himself as an interesting actor without having done any Hollywood movies (Babel is the only big budget Hollywood movie he's done so far). I remember the first ever movie that I saw of Johnny Depp (Ed Wood) and itching to see more. Bernal is far more subtle an actor than Depp, and I think its going to be a pleasure watching him. Can't wait.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Oh No!

Bono is to be knighted. How dumb!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Filmy weekend

Watched a lot of movies over the weekend - Happy Feet, Star Wars Episode II, How the Grinch stole Christmas, etc. But the one thing that hit me was The Motorcycle Diaries.

Based on the road trip undertaken by Ernesto "Che" Guevara and his friend Alberto Granada across the South American continent, the movie is one of the best I've seen recently.

In 1952, Ernesto "Fuser" Guevara and his friend Alberto, start from Buenos Aires on a rusty old motorcycle (The Mighty One, which is anything but) to spend time working at a leper colony in the Peruvian Amazon, and reach Venezuela in time for Alberto's 30th birthday. They miss that deadline but the trip takes them across the Andes, Chile, the Atacama Desert and into the Amazon. Short of cash and often hungry, the friends devise ingenious methods to stay afloat, including getting a paper to publish an article on their ambitious trip.

It is not all fun and games, however, as Ernesto begins to emerge from the safe, warm cocoon that was his life in Buenos Aires. The human suffering he sees, across various parts of South America slowly seeps into him, sowing the seeds for the revolutionary that he would become later in life. By the time Ernesto and Alberto reach Venezuela, you can actually see how much the young man has changed.

Walter Salles, the director, has done a wonderful job in this film. This could have easily descended into a leftist, political movie, but Salles gives us a deeply personal account of what amounted to a life changing event in Che's life. The mining couple (Ernesto gives them the precious American dollars that his girlfriend gave him to buy her a bathing suit), the Native Indian woman who remembers a better life, the visit to Machu Picchu, the leper colony separated from the healthy by the mighty Amazon - one can understand that effect it must have had on a sensitive and intelligent 23 year old. (How I wish I had been that 23-year old!). Some might argue that Che has been idealized in this movie, but then Hollywood has idealized men far less worthy and Che's communist leanings don't change the fact that he was a great revolutionary.

This is my first Gael Garcia Bernal movie and the guy is just amazing! I finally understand why people rave about him so. Bernal is the actor who seems like a average looking guy in a few pictures and in some makes you wonder why he is so lusted after. But once he is on screen you understand why - he transforms into something else, he has amazing screen presence and is so endearing as the shy, sensitive young man who doesn't know the Mambo from the Tango. Must see more of this guy's movies!

Verdict: Apocalypse Now and American Beauty left indelible impressions on me. I was in my teens when I watched the first and 21 when I watched the second, more impressionable ages to be sure. But The Motorcycle Diaries made me sad - sad for having to grow up, for being caught up in everyday life, for not believing in pretty much anything. Che was a lucky guy. Loved the movie, a must see for anyone who has ever itched to get away from it all. A fitting description of my reaction to the movie would be Jack Kerouac's words from On the Road:

I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"

Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday grumble

Just started getting into the holiday groove when the stinker arrived. Ah, life! I need some cheer, seriously! Motorcycle Drive By playing on my earphones. God bless Third Eye Blind.

In other news, the last (hopefully) Harry Potter book will be named "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I've probably posted this before, but...

We're perched headlong on the edge of boredom
We're reaching for death at the end of a candle
We're trying for something that's already found us

Wow, I'm sick of doubt
Live in the light of certain south
Cruel bindings
The servants have the power
Dog-men & their mean women
Pulling poor blankets over our sailors

I'm sick of dour faces
Staring at me from the T.V. Tower,
I want roses in my garden bower; dig?

Royal babies, rubies must now replace
Aborted Strangers in the mud
- Jim Morrison.

Dragon's virgin birth

Komodo dragons have exhibited parthenogenesis! For the uninitiated, that how the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were able to reproduce, even though there were only females on the island. Its amazing how some reptilian species adapt to adverse environments. Yet another reason why we should respect them. Must plan that South East trip to see some dragons soon.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I am macaca

S.R. Sidarth - Salon Person of the Year

"The Virginia native and son of Indian immigrants changed history with a camcorder and introduced Sen. George Allen to the real America."

Youtube's been blocked. No more video posts, till I find a way around.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006



Wanted to post some Led Zeppelin, but the video quality is really poor. And the audio is even worse. Here's some Goo Goo Dolls instead - a big favourite when I was at college. Not to mention the crush I had on John Rzeznik, what a voice! This one is called Broadway.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Weekend Movies

Watched The Doors last night. The last time I watched it, I was in school or early college and was totally fascinated by The Doors (Morrison and the music). This time around, the music brought tears to my eyes, but I kept thinking how Morrison could write such beautiful words and still have been such a p#&@k. Well, I still love the guy, so I'll blame Val Kilmer for it :).

Finally managed to watch Casino Royale. The movie has several firsts for a Bond film:
  • Bond can fight and looks like he can take out a dozen guys by himself.
  • Bond is intense and brooding, and really,really HOT.
  • No Q - but that doesn't mean that there are no gadgets, its just that they are more believable (remember Brosnan and the amazing weight lifting watch?).
  • A well defined character for the female lead.
  • The recipe for Bond's vodkatini and the reason why its shaken, not stirred.
  • Multiple shots of Bond's buff body in powder blue swimming trunks - Bond is the babe in this one. Take a look:

Verdict: Not bad. I mean the movie ;)

I am Time Person of the Year, and so are You

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Heart shaped box

One of my favourites. Cobain looks so insane in it. Not to mention the Christ imagery.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Smells like Teen Spirit

The song that turned Nirvana into something they probably didn't want to be.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Some Nirvana this week. A song that's close to my heart.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Why I'll watch Apocalypto

Mel Gibson has done it again! What started out as one scene in Braveheart evolved into a full blown torture in The Passion. And now he wants to take it further with Apocalypto where he has been accused of depicting the Maya as a mindless and bloodthirsty people who deserved to be wiped out.

I am no expert on any civilization, but I have read enough National Geographic magazines to know that the Maya belonged to a highly advanced civilization that ruled for nearly 1000 years. Yes, they did have human sacrifices, probably tortured people, but then which civilization didn't? Mel Gibson himself portrayed it so barbarously in the Passion, didn't he? Didn't the medieval church take especial joy in torturing the so-called heretics? How would it be if someone made a movie which depicted Christians as a torture happy people who loved burning people?

That said, I'll still grit my teeth during the bloodbath and watch it. Why? Because it would still be the closest I'd get to seeing a civilization that captured my imagination when I was a kid. Pity it has to be a dumb bloke whose movie gives me that chance. The Maya deserve better!

The Prestige

"Are you watching closely?" says the magician showing off a trick to a little girl at the beginning of the movie. And so does Chris Nolan. For if you are not, you'd probably miss quite a few of the many sleights of hand Nolan performs in the movie. Shot in variable time (Nolan, please get over Memento, its even been copied in my native tongue!), the movie is peppered with million of clues and if the viewer fails to spot them, well tough luck. Nolan overdoes the clever clues bit here, and the viewer tends to get lost in an otherwise well intentioned thriller.

The Prestige is about two rival magicians - Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman), whose obsessive rivalry culminates in the apparent murder of Angier at the hands of Borden. Working as ringers for an established magician, Borden is the "natural" magician while Angier is the consummate showman. Rivalry turns into obsession when Borden invents an astounding trick which appears to move him from one closed cabinet to another in the blink of an eye.

Convinced that Borden's act is the real deal, Angier seeks help from acclaimed physicist Nikola Tesla (who had a similar rivalry with Thomas Edison in real life over Alternating Current!). Angier returns with some seriously impressive looking equipment and proceeds to announce 100 final acts of his show, at the end of one such show, he is murdered by Borden. Is Angier really dead? Is Borden's trick real? If so, how does he do it? Does Tesla's machine really work as well we are led to believe? The movie raises more questions than answers, and if you are left befuddled, you have only yourself to blame for not being as clever as the movie.

The casting couldn't have been more apt - Angier's innate charm and showmanship earns him more sympathy even when his character seems every bit as bad as Borden's, who is a better magician. In real life, Jackman is more the more popular of the two with his image as the charming, nice guy while Bale is a notch lower even though he is clearly the better actor. Michael Caine as Harry Cutter, Angier's illusion engineer is brilliant as usual. David Bowie as Tesla is a total scream! Scarlett Johansson is wasted here.

Verdict - Nowhere near Memento, but not bad.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Jim!

Jim Morrison was born on 8 Dec 1943.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Clauses’ Mediterranean Vacation

This is a story that my cousin Siddarth wrote. He's 10.

The Clauses’ Mediterranean Vacation
On Christmas Eve all the little helpless, vulnerable children were making their wish list. Well….all except Jackie Paper. Jackie thought “Why should everybody ask Santa for a gift? Maybe I can give him a gift this year. I should ask him to take vacation to a place that he likes the most”. Jackie also convinced his neighbors to ask Santa for the same thing.

In his block Jackie convinced 52 children to ask Santa to go on vacation. Some kids had suggested some places that they thought Santa would enjoy. But other kids had left $30 near the milk and cookies to help fund his vacation. Jackie also wanted to request Santa in person and decided to stay awake. But little Jackie could not keep his eyes open another second after 11:59:59 pm. He missed Santa by few somewhere near a minute, because Santa always came at 12:01:29 am.

When Santa saw all those little children’s request, he was overwhelmed by the affection because, every generation before this, the children just participated in Christmas for the presents. He thought to himself, “Ho-Ho-Ho. These younger generations have changed. These younger generations have changed. Later he finished distributing the presents. Santa also brought home all the milk, cookies and presents that were left for him by the children.

Couple of hours later Santa was back at his home in the North Pole. He told Mrs. Clause and the reindeer about the affectionate notes that the children had left for him. Mrs. Clause and the reindeer were also pretty surprised because, Santa had never gotten notes this affectionate before. Mrs. and Mr. Clause decided to give it a thought.
The next morning a booming voice from inside the mansion said, “pack your bags, we are going to the Mediterranean”. All the reindeer got very excited and started to pack their bags with everything they might need. When the reindeer asked Santa when the trip was, Santa said they were leaving in two days. Reindeer started getting really, really excited and started dancing around.

The day of leaving arrived. All the reindeer double-checked their bags to make sure they have the necessary items. While Santa was getting his special ear medication, all the reindeer loaded their bags in the stretch-limousine’s trunk. In the airport they retrieved the bags and followed Santa. When Santa looked back he saw them following him and Mrs.Clause, with baggage, to the check-in counter. He looked back and asked loudly “why are you following me. Did I ever say you reindeer are coming with me? I need someone to take care of the mansion”.

The reindeer couldn’t believe what they were hearing. It had never occurred to them that Santa only meant him and Mrs. Clause. All of them were at the verge of having an emotional breakdown. The reindeer got so frustrated they started randomly blaming and kicking each other in a very clumsy manner. Immediately Santa realized the misunderstanding and promised them that right after Mrs. & Mr. Clause returned from the Mediterranean they would give all the reindeer a special coupon for an all day reindeer spa. This calmed the reindeer down and they stopped blaming each other. Santa used this point of time when the reindeer were calm to his advantage. He said, “hey Prancer, you are the leader. Rudolf, you are the second in command if something happens to Prancer”. He also stated that Rudolf would choose the third in command and the third in command would choose the fourth in command etc.. “Bye Bye” Santa said in his loud, bellowing voice. Santa said it so loud that everyone in the airport said it back to him.

Santa had left a list of phone numbers and his address in case of emergency. One day later Santa called and told them that he had reached on time and was having a nice time in his private island. His island in Mediterranean had everything one could imagine of. The reindeer were desperate to hear more about it.

So, Santa sent a bunch of pictures to Prancer via. Internet. Prancer called a meeting of all the reindeer to tell them about Santa’s private island. In the evening, all the reindeer assembled and Prancer described the island using a Power Point presentation. Prancer began “ Santa’s island, named ‘The Land of Reindeer’ is located in Mediterranean at latitude 30 degree North and longitude 40 degree South”. After hearing the name all the reindeer started whooping. Prancer waited for the whooping to stop and then continued. “It has everything we could dream of. To start with, it has a theatre, casino, food court, indoor swimming pools and a nice view of the ocean from anywhere you stand. That is were some of the elves are staying because they like the warmer climate better. Santa’s cruise ship is also there, in that island ” finished Prancer.

“ Any questions?” asked Prancer. One of the reindeer asked, “Can we go there?” “No, because we have to take care of the mansion” said Prancer. After all of them ate dinner, it was Rudolf’s turn to do the dishes. Rudolf was complaining while doing the dishes, “why do I have to do it after cleaning the kitchen this morning.” A few hours later after watching a Star Wars movie then went to bed. All twelve of them slept in the same room.

In the morning when Prancer and Rudolf woke up, they saw rest of the reindeer sleeping. All of them looked very tired. Both of them thought that the rest of reindeer were tired because all of them except Prancer and Rudolf were up later watching “Cars”. After having pancakes with maple syrup and butter for breakfast they decided to go on the treadmill. About 12pm Prancer got suspicious about why the other reindeer were still sleeping. He shook them and tried to wake them up but he couldn’t. Prancer got really worried and called the doctor.

In an hour the doctor finally reached and immediately got to the bedroom. Rudolf noticed that the doctor’s face turning different. Rudolf nudged Prancer to notice doctor’s face. A few minutes later the doctor said “did they eat anything odd or unusual last night?”. “No” answered Prancer. Prancer continued, “All of us had Mexican burritos and tacos”. Rudolf suddenly raised his voice and said “hey, why do all of them have a hole like thing near their neck about 1cm deep?”. The doctor examined one of reindeer and noticed that there were few almost microscopic dots of liquid around the hole. The doctor took out couple of glass tubes from his bag. He collected few samples of the microscopic drops and tissue around the injury. The doctor, walking towards the door, said “let me get to my lab right now to test these samples. I will get back to you by tomorrow. Till then, keep a close watch and give them liquid food even if they are half asleep”.

Prancer and Rudolf passed the rest of the day thinking whether they should inform Santa about this sudden unfortunate event. They debated for a couple of hours and finally decided that they should call Santa. They called Santa on the number that Santa had left on the refrigerator. In the first two attempts they got the message “Ho!Ho!Ho! You have reached Santa’s cell phone. I know where you live and whether you are good or bad. Please call again”. Third attempt was successful and Santa picked up the phone. Rudolf was tensed but Prancer was calm. Prancer explained in detail all that happened.

Santa used to do yoga, so he was calm. He listened to Prancer very attentively and said, “OK. I will activate the security system right now. As soon as you hear from the doctor, call me again no matter what time it is”. It seemed like a never-ending evening and night for Prancer and Rudolf. In the morning they got up and were eagerly waiting for the doctor’s call. About 11am the doctor called and said, “I am sorry but your brothers have been paralyzed.” Prancer and Rudolf got so annoyed they broke a vase. They immediately called Santa and informed what the doctor. Santa growled and said, “I think it is the cunning act of Azula. She is one of the most dangerous criminals. Based on your description of the wound and liquid it is paralysis dart. This particular type of dart is called Dart 007 and can only be found in the Ice Pick Club. I think I have paralysis cure ointment in my medicine closet in the blue room. Good luck”.

Prancer and Rudolf immediately leaped to the medicine closet in the blue room, got the ointment and applied it on the wounds. Like magic all the reindeer went “huh…huh…huh” and stood up. Rudolf said, “You have been paralyzed for a day. And we know who did it to you…Azula the rough woman”. All of them immediately went to the sleigh/weapon garage, picked up a sleigh that was fast and could hold a dozen reindeer and picked up weapons that may be necessary, like a plasma canon, a few smoke bombs and many baseball bats.

They reached the Ice Pick Club in about two hours. Prancer stuck his head in the entry hole and a security guy asked for the password. He slammed the door open and sent the security guy flying. All the reindeer went in single file. Ice Pick Club is known for its members with criminal background. Once such member was watching the security guy getting thrown said “this means war!!”. In all of two minutes every single Ice Pick Club member, except Azula, who were in the Club at that time was either moaning on the ground or lying down unconscious. During the rumble Prancer saw Azula escape into a room. Rudolf caught a criminal named Joe Bazooka (he got the name Bazooka because he was selling Bazookas). Prancer and Rudolph forced Joe to reveal where Azula was headed. He said, “Azula is headed to the Mediterranean. Please don’t hurt me”.

Prancer and Rudolf threw Joe on the ground, and immediately took off with all the reindeer. They called Santa and told him about Azula coming his way, to the Mediterranean. Santa beefed up his security by getting troops of elves stand around his island. Since elves could clone themselves at will, within minutes the island protected with elves holding super forceful Bebe guns. To Rudolf, Santa said “get over here ASAP, all of you”.

Santa’s control tower spotted a flying object coming near his island. He thought it was Azula and instructed elves to guard the runway. In a few minute the sleigh that looked like an aircraft landed, the doors hissed open, all the elves cocked their gun and aimed. When the door opened, to everyone’s surprise 12 reindeers came out. Santa greeted all the reindeer warmly and let them guard the runaway so that elves could guard the airspace on hovercraft that could hover up to 152 ft. In a few minutes another jet was spotted. The elves cocked their guns and fired at will. The wings of the aircraft got dented. The aircraft was going in for crash landing. About 20ft from the shoreline the aircraft plunged into the ocean. The plane floated back up and Azula came out. She was armed with a flamethrower. She swam ashore, with the flamethrower, hurdled over all the elves, held the flamethrower up to Santa’s head and screamed in her commanding, spine chilling voice, “one false move from any of you and Santa won’t be around for next Christmas”.

Azula had forgotten about the reindeer, as she didn’t expect them to reach before her. Behind her she thought she heard footsteps. Azula turned around carelessly for a second or two. Santa used this opportunity to trip her to the ground. He snatched the flamethrower and held it at her head. Santa didn’t want to kill her but make her suffer the consequences. Azula tried to kick Santa but before she did everyone heard a “ vshhhhhhhooom” sound. Next thing they saw was Azula falling for the last time.

Santa, in a gleeful mood, shouted “Ho!Ho!Ho! Azula is gone for good. Since I am so happy I am going to take all of you to Vegas. Now for the second time in less than two days the reindeer fell down paralyzed. But this they didn’t need cure because they were paralyzed by happiness!!

One year later Santa received several letters from children to go on a cruise. This time he didn’t want to take any risk by leaving reindeer alone. So wrote back to Jackie Paper requesting him to stay in Santa’s mansion and take care the reindeer.

Comments invited!

Moonlight drive

This song was probably the primary reason why The Doors got together. Great imagery. This video also features Horse Latitudes.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Are we still cave-women?

A recent article says that women still are very much dependent on men, no matter how successful they are individually.

In evolutionary terms the huge cultural changes over the past generation amount simply to the merest blink of an eye. It could take another 10,000 years for women to change their thinking.Quite simply, women are preprogrammed to feel dependent on men. Even today women may be richer and enjoy all the trappings of success but, deep down in their psyche, they fear they can't survive alone.These women may be shooting up the career ladder and earning more than the men in their lives, but when it comes to relationships men still hold the trump card.

I have seen women behave irrationally in a relationship, but I hope that the author is wrong about the whole dependency theory. Besides, the primary reason why women look for socially superior men is to ensure that their fragile egos don't get bruised and lead to relationship troubles. I wonder what today's women have to say to this?

Jesus Camp

A chilling documentary of where America is headed.

The video has been removed, you can watch the trailers at youtube.

The Doors

I'm trying a new thing here - posting music that I really like. If by chance someone reading this blog gets to listen to some awesome music, I'll be doing my bit to make this world a happier place. Along with the music, I'll try and post some lyrics and links for information about the artists.

Now anybody who knows me wont be surprised by my choice for the first band - The Doors. Formed in 1965, Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby Krieger played their music straight to my heart. I worshipped Morrison while I was at college and their music still remains very dear to me. This one is called "Not to touch the earth":

Will I be blocked?

The Indian government plans to block any blog/website that would potentially threaten national security. This would enable blocking of websites at the sub-domain level. I wonder what the criteria for such a block would be - governments can justify just about anything in the name of national security, can't they?

Monday, December 04, 2006


Back after an extended vacation ("medical tourism", according a friend) after multiple visits to doctors for self and family. Three weeks just flew by. Being back will get better after a couple of days I suppose. Starting off with:

Great video, great song. Wikipedia has the details.