Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Bitter Jealous Post

We are a species obsessed with instant gratification. From the Who Wants to be a Millionaire syndrome to the theist worshipers, everyone wants to get something that they are not willing to work for.

But we have started taking instant gratification to new extremes. The 15 minutes of fame syndrome, brought to its pinnacle, nay, summit (which has been diluted in meaning thanks to all the summit meetings of the bureaucracy), by the likes of youtube and dailymotion, lending credibility to talentless fucks, or demigods born out of pure showmanship (and hardly peer reviewed). But I kept telling myself, it didn’t matter; all the attention they were getting was useless in a world that runs on money, and in a world that forgets these under-achievers as swiftly as they created them (remember N’ Sync?).

But what happens when these acts of infantile imbecility provide with credible monetary gains? What do (ir?)-rational hardworking people do, when they see someone work half as hard (if at all) and living their dreams? I am talking, of course, about Matt, of “Where the hell is Matt” fame.

Sure, all you blue eyed, youtube yuppies and junkies and whatever else’s will be quick to jump to his aid, defending his intentions to be noble, enamored by the other worldly music of his videos, proving my point once again.

For a person who claims to be doing this for the thrill and enjoyment of traveling and soaking in cultures and all that nice sounding stuff, tell me, what would the purpose of publishing a video and a website be? Oh, you don’t think it is for the monetary gain that instant (if even fleeting) stardom brings? Well, Stride gum, is a sponsor. Guess what sponsors do? They pay you money. What for? Hmmm… lets see… putting a small little link to their website on your site and videos, mentioning them a few times in your travels, perhaps passing on a few sticks of gum even, heck whatever gets the name out there.

Oh yes, there is the inevitable argument, “so what if he gains from his previous journeys?”. Well, what is wrong, is the fact that there are at least a handful of people out there that are doing the same sans the retarded dance, but you don’t see them getting sponsorship deals!

I will end with a disclaimer; this is not a shot at the “shooting stars” that the internet breeds, it is a reflection of the society that allows mediocrity to breed. We create stars out of nobodies, and revel at our ability and achievement at having done so, while letting the true achievers fade away silently, unnoticed. And to the naïve that ask, “what harm is coming of it?”; we harm ourselves by the propagation of the phenomenon, by making “future generations” think that it is somehow more glorious to be remembered for something unoriginal, something marketed, outwardly glossy and substantially tepid, than to push the limits of our human intelligence.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Butter-fry Effect.

The insignificant flutter of a butterfly’s wings on the remotest corners1 of the earth may be elemental in the production of large disasters. The mystique of cause-effect relationships that seem outwardly unconnected is explained by the butterfly effect. But so potent is this perception that its agents are visible in every facet of our lives, on every avenue.

Even so, on my first work related “road trip”, leaving as early as 5 A.M. for Wisconsin, the work of this miraculous agent was quite visible.

Road trips have often been a topic of Hollywood flicks, from the absurdly retarded Road Trip series to much more endearing dramas, these movies offer a snapshot into country America.

As dissociated as events in some of these movies may be to real life, they mimic life in the most uncanny of ways. They cross barriers, geographic, cultural and perhaps even economic. I am, of course, talking about “rest stops”.

But as we stopped for breakfast, the reality of the butterfly effect and its unpleasant bedfellow; globalization, dawned on me. The oasis we had breakfast at a glaring example of the adulteration of our modern day lives by the whorifying enabler of globalization; Consumerism. With McDonalds at the right, taco bell to the left and everything in between a sampling of the finest in franchise cuisine America has to offer. As we embrace the gifts of globalization, the cost-cutting it affords us, we choose to ignore the local businesses that rely on our continued patronage for survival.

But in our pursuit of wealthiness, we have let slip the very essence that made those movies endearing. The small town cafes, bistros, pancake houses, moronically replaced by corporate food cloners that serve only to stifle the creativity that makes us unique, the servers grudgingly serving a daily dish of rude awakening. As we pinch pennies, filling the coffers of big business, we pay the ultimate price as we let them control our lives, our choices, our individualism; and effectively our freedom. I guess this fast paced life will overwhelm the abilities of our generation to sample the diversity of human evolution as we zombify our very existence.

1. A turn of phrase, obviously, originating in the day of old world "knowledge" where the earth was flat. Just as we keep the phrase and its intended meaning in spite of dispelling the darkening myth that gave birth to it, so it isn't entirely inconceivable for an atheist like me to use common phrases of language that invoke the imaginary supernatural being that supposedly gave birth to all that exists.

You have been warned. The next person to question the hypocrisy of using these phrases gets punched in the face.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Random Rant #149

Every man that wears a beard is Saddam. It’s true. I’ve heard it so many times; it has to be true. In fact, with my brown skin and beard, all that is missing is a chain of 7-Eleven’s to make me the stereotypical Islamic fundamentalist (or my yellow taxi cab)! But then I make up for that with all the bazookas that I play along with all day. I guess I’ll keep it for now, the beard that is (I have to leave my bazookas at the door).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where Is That Damn Pencil?

I realized something today. There is never a pencil around when you need one, or a pen! For that matter, there is never anything sharp around when you want it.

Have you ever been forced to be within a closed room (or public transport) with a bunch of WHITE, early teen, high school, Legally Blonde wannabes? Let me tell you, it is "like" worse than getting hit by a bus… and living through it. It is worse than having your head shoved into your butt, worse than getting your head shaved… with a pair of tweezers. It is worse than pulling out your finger nails straight out. It is worse than having a raving, religious lunatic preach about god and the bible, about good and evil, about vice and virtue, about damnation and salvation. Wait, that last one isn’t true. I would know. And there you have it, another moment I wished I had a pencil.

                             Image by Fernando Graphicos

Sunday, September 7, 2008

An Idiot for the idiot box!

Television for a few years now (perhaps even a decade) has shown us why it has earned the name, Idiot Box. It probably has something to do with the fact that it makes idiots out of us. So well is this fact documented that a movie Idiocracy was made to predict our future, as witty satire. But it did achieve another feat, aside from the one already mentioned. It proved how much they can dumb down television (which includes movies for me) for mass consumption, if there ever was a doubt with Spartans, the Scary Movie series, Disaster Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie…

But then television loves to prove to us how fucked up our society really is, be it a “wardrobe malfunction” (read nipple slip) at the super bowl, or a “celebrity malfunction”. I am sure I could spend another 15 minutes and find a few more, but this isn’t the point of today’s post.

This post is dedicated to the cinematic abyss that is Indian television. And no, I won’t be taking potshots at our “saas-bahu1 soap operas, even though I am tempted. It would be far too easy. I will however let the funniest words ever to be uttered on television speak for itself.

Talking about this incident, a friend commented, "Indian television was just lame before this incident, now it is American".

I won’t ruin the fun for those of you that haven’t already seen or heard of this abomination and will let you watch the video and make up your own mind. I don’t think a rational human being will need much prodding. All I want to know is what able minded individual thinks the guy deserves it? And to those that have to ask what I think, I say, he didn’t hit her hard enough.

Side note: It is imperative to indicate that the genre of satire is not defined by these sorry box office excuses for cinema. There happen to be classics like Yes Minister, The Family Guy, just to drop a few names.

Olympic Dreams

With the end of the Beijing Olympics (yes I know it ended some time back), there are those that are reveling in the pseudo-national pride that comes with your nation performing, however lack luster, at the big event; ecstatic at our performances in shooting, wrestling and boxing, Indian sports fans and the above mentioned pseudo-patriots are going crazy with accolades. At the other end of the spectrum there are the critics that either can’t/won’t take anything positive from it or are just inclined to finding the cloud that carries the silver lining.

The medal trio is enjoying the adulation being poured in on them, while the other athletes either disappear into obscurity or get back to training for the next event of their season. But that sounds just like the India I left two years back, where effort goes unnoticed, hard work and dedication sidelined by the Indian publics need for instant gratification.

But let us leave them for the moment and concentrate on our critics. Just 3 medals from a billion strong? Or how about the fact that countries the size of Estonia, or ones with political strife like Zimbabwe manage to win more medals than us?

"We are the world’s biggest democracy, the second most populous country in the world. Then why is that in a span of 4 years, we are only able to produce 57 top athletes?"

But these comparisons are simplistic. Canada, the second largest country finished just 19th, and Indonesia, with the 4th largest population did worse than the aforementioned politically handicapped nation. This just goes to prove, your size, population or wealth has no bearing on how well you will do at the Olympics or any large sporting event for that matter.

"This is a matter of national shame, an aspect that the Indian Govt. needs to look at closely."

This sentiment is highly reflective of Indian behavior, our need to shirk off responsibility and redirect blame. It isn’t the government that is to blame. It is the Indian public. A nation, taking a crap on Rathore, without even knowing what the reason for his poor performance might have been. And even if there is no reason, I believe our medal winners (and prospects) deserve a little more respect than they are currently being shown

But what irks me more than everything else Indians do is the fact that some of these critics aren’t too appreciative of the fact that our medal winners are getting the attention that they are currently receiving.

"Now lets move our focus towards the sportsmen themselves. Vijender Kumar has already started talking in terms of modeling. Sushil Kumar seems to be completely over the moon. Its obvious that these people have started losing their focus even before their actual journey has commenced. At a time when they should start concentrating on the Commonwealth Games, India's so called medal winners are everywhere except for where they should be."

Note: They are not “so-called” winners.

Well, it is alright when those douche bags get coke and Pepsi deals, isn’t it? I find nothing wrong with the Indian sportsmen and women cashing in on their newfound and (possibly) short lived fame due to their “so-called” Olympic triumphs. After all we are a fickle nation with no regard for our sports heroes. Maybe you will remember some of our athletes that had to sell their medals1 from other events in order to survive. Or maybe you do not. But that is our nature. And it is this nature that has dawned on these three men and they deserve to make the best of what they have now. May they never have to worry about selling their hard earned medals.

But all this begs the question, who is to blame; when our system rewards performances after results and provides no impetus (different from incentives) for our athletes (cricketers aren't athletes in my opinion). I don’t have the answer, and I don’t think Indians really care either. The question will be put on the back burner until a few months before the 2012 Olympics.

But all this doesn’t hold a candle to the final and most absurd accusation, one that pisses me off so much that I believe that anyone that dare make such an accusation deserves castration; and that is for the lack of time to construct an appropriate torture that matches the blasphemy. It is said that the reason we had so many ‘flakers’ these Olympics was due to the fact that they lack passion. To those cricket loving douche bags that know not true passion when they see it, I hope you rot in the world’s dirtiest cesspool

I don’t see how they can levy this accusation, with reasonable seriousness, when our sportsmen who toil in their respective sports even though the chances of any glory are minimal, even if they do bring in the results (Karnam Malleswari won a few lakhs for her bronze and some Arjuna Award or some titular facade). Most of them toil in their sports into obscurity. Few have heard of the gallant sportsmen who fight so that we may one day have an Abhinav Bindra or an Akhil Kumar.

India doesn’t deserve the medals these young men and women bring in. And while I will be hurt if we continue to perform as we have in the past, I believe the Indian nation deserves nothing more.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pradhan Mantri Mayawati

Yes, India is a technical superpower. We are The IT nation. Our IT services are so brilliant that American companies outsource these jobs in spite of the negative publicity it generates. So wonderful are they that they are a 6 billion dollar industry, contributing to over 7 percent of our GDP and 35% of our exports.

Apparently there aren’t any BSP supporters who can code. No, they can’t hire our wonderful IT professionals and programmers to build themselves a functioning website. Wait a minute, dalits can’t read, can they? That must be it; they are so impoverished and illiterate that a website would serve no purpose!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Rest in Peace, My Love!

My 500 gig external hard disk died on me a few days back, just as I was about to load a movie I had backed up on it. I spent a little over 2 hours trying to figure out if I could revive it somehow, even if briefly to transfer all my saved files, or just the important ones. Along with my movie collection, I lost all my music and all my saved files from when I had formatted my laptop last.

Now, I’m usually quite unorganized, so I have no clue about what files I had on them. I felt a little saddened at this loss, because I had spent a lot of time tagging my music collection. I’d spend an hour or two every week as and when I could spare it to tag my collection, rate them and make play lists. Not to mention the more important files.

But what I didn’t expect was the reaction of people. The first people that found out about this “sudden loss” were my roommates and a few friends. Their tones were grave and almost condolent, with one sounding like I had lost a family member or close friend. I joked about the reaction wondering why it had evoked such a reaction.

However, a few minutes ago, another friend, responded in the same manner, in a chat conversation when I broke the news.

TDD: oh... my external hdd conked out
lost all my data
and the hdd
Anon1: yikes
TDD: yeah
Anon1: how many movies was it?
TDD: I think that’s why I didn’t reply the last time
over 350
Anon1: uh-oh
am sorry

Now this seemed far from a coincidence. Too many people had reacted that way. Sure I was sad that it had conked out. Sure I would have to re-sort and re-tag all my audio files. Sure I will have to rebuild my collection without a clue as to what it included. But, people, let’s be realistic, it is only a bit of electronic equipment. All the files that I lost, I can re-acquire! We are truly in an age where malfunction of electronic equipment is a heartfelt loss. The expression of sorrow was probably more genuine than if it were the actual loss of life. We are truly desensitized, truly fucked.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just Another Day...

Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Independence Day, New Years Eve; I don’t attach too much stock to any of these. After all, they do come every year! And there is a reason for that. It’s called a calendar. The same goes for birthdays. So when people ask me what I have planned on my birthday, I usually give them an uncomfortable “I-don’t-know”. Uncomfortable, because I know they expect something generic; for instance, going out with my buddies to get drunk so I can’t distinguish vodka from grape juice.

I don’t need my birthday for that. Heck, I got drunk on some random day, at a party. Let’s call that my birthday and New Years Eve all rolled into one. Wait, it was New Years eve! But the point is birthdays are irrelevant. They were created by us, and I still don’t get the reason! Sure, it indicates we are getting older. But I’m older today than I was yesterday. Yay! Let’s go celebrate with some ice cream. Wait… I just did that.

Here is how birthday’s and New Years Eve are similar. It’s almost expected for people to look at the past year of their lives and introspect, relive good times and take notes on where to improve, which brings us to resolutions. After all life is a lesson right? And then there is of course dreaded milestones, be it quarter-life crises or Y2K.

Well this year I did just that, looked back on the year gone by. It has been a wonderful year, filled with so many lessons, and heart-warming experiences, some gastric delights, and some plain silly stuff. So here are the 10 most memorable moments that transpired during year 24 of my life.

  1. In the spirit of the Olympics, let’s start with this one.

October 8, 2007 - Track and field star Marion Jones surrenders her five Olympic medals she won in the 2000 Sydney Games after admitting to doping.

Marion Jones got screwed. She surrendered her fucking medals; they should have taken away. She lost 5 Olympic medals and about fucking time. The only lesson to learn from this experience is; DON’T GET CAUGHT. Indian weightlifters are dumb. They get caught. Had they not gotten caught we’d have medals lined up on our walls too! So cut them some slack. When they ask you to pee in a cup next time, oblige. Don’t ask questions. It’s all in the Olympic spirit. But what takes the Birthday cake is the fact that the bitch was banned for 2 years. OH fucking really!! Is she planning on taking part in the senior citizens Olympics?

2. December 20, 2007 - A group of activist Lakota Indians send a letter to the United States State Department declaring their secession from the Union as the Republic of Lakotah.

This one is amazing. Mount Rushmore might end up in another country! If RoL succeeds; do they bring down Mount Rushmore the way the Americans brought down Saddam’s statue? I can’t wait.

3. November 5, 2007 - The Writers Guild of America goes on a strike that lasts until February 12, 2008.

For 3 months, no TV, no news. That’s not a lot of fun. Where would we get our news if it wasn’t for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report? To put things into perspective, I watched 27 Dresses. Yep, that’s how much the writer’s strike affected me.

4. April 22 - Surgeons at London's Moorfields Eye Hospital perform the first operations using bionic eyes, implanting them into two blind patients.

Robocop! Awesome! But in all seriousness, I’m glad scientists are figuring out how to stick it to the retarded religious creeps. Screw god’s mysterious ways. No wonder they don’t like stem cell research and genetic research. That’s probably all the proof any rational person needs… that THERE IS NO GOD!

5. November 1 - London's Metropolitan Police Service is found guilty of endangering the public following the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian whom officers mistook for a suicide bomber.

How do you mistake someone for a suicide bomber? This is a suicide bomber!

This however, is not

6. August 30 - 2007 United States Air Force nuclear weapons incident in which a B-52 flew from Minot AFB , ND to Barksdale AFB, LA carrying six nuclear warheads.

Whoops! Nuclear war anybody? Come on, it might be fun. In fact, it might be more fun than dying the slow death that we will eventually see.

7. September 6 - "Operation Orchard": an Israeli airstrike occurred against a suspected nuclear site in Syria

Oh… I didn’t realize that it was enough to blow another country up if you suspect them. That changes everything. Now all Russia needs to do is say they suspected Georgia of the same. Go Russia!

8. July 15–20 - World Youth Day takes place in Sydney, Australia. Pope Benedict XVI appears at the event.

Holy sodomy! I nearly had milk coming out of my nose when I read this. The pope with kids… do I need to paint a picture?

9. November 16 - Over 3,000 people are believed to have died after Cyclone Sidr hits Bangladesh, with the death toll expected to rise.

December 20 - An earthquake of magnitude 6.6 ML hits the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, causing one death and significant damage in the town of Gisborne.

October 20 – November 9 - Wildfires in Southern California result in the evacuation of more than 1,000,000 people and destroying over 1,600 homes and businesses.

September 19 - Typhoon Wipha hits Fuding, China. Authorities had evacuated over two million people prior to the storm's landfall.

September 4 - Northeast Nicaragua takes a direct hit from Hurricane Felix. The hurricane was a strong Category 5 storm when it reached the coast.

August 25 - Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis declares a national state of emergency after a series of devastating wildfires ravage western Peloponese and southern Euboea, killing 68 people.

August 18 - Typhoon Sepat makes landfall in eastern Taiwan.

August 18 - The remnants of Tropical Storm Erin re-strengthen into a tropical storm over Oklahoma, causing widespread flooding and wind damage.

August 21 - Hurricane Dean, a powerful Category 5 storm, slams into a largely evacuated Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.

February 5–6 - A tornado outbreak, the deadliest in 23 years, kills 58 in the Southern United States.

March 25 - A 160-square-mile (414 km2) chunk of Antarctica's Wilkins Ice Shelf disintegrates, leaving the entire shelf at risk.

August 15 - An 8.0 earthquake strikes Peru, killing 512 people, injuring more than 1,500, and causing tsunami warnings in the Pacific Ocean.

January 25 - China's worst snowstorm since 1954 kills 133, delays traffic, and causes massive power outages in central and southern parts of the country.

May 3 - Over 133,000 in Burma/Myanmar are killed by Cyclone Nargis, the deadliest natural disaster since the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004.

May 12 - Over 69,000 are killed in central China by an earthquake measuring 8.0Mw. The epicenter is 90 kilometers (55 miles) west-northwest of Chengdu.

June 14 - A 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Iwate Prefecture, Japan, kills 12 and injures more than 400.

June 22 - Typhoon Fengshen hits the Philippines and capsizes the ferry MV Princess of the Stars, leaving hundreds dead or missing.

Source: The International Emergency Disasters Database

Climate change? Nah, that’s just the biggest hoax perpetuated on the American people. All these disasters were just staged. Come on, you can’t really believe these incidents are true, can you? The only events that we can be SURE about are when there is NO ONE else around but a chosen few, like the passing down of the ten commandments on a mountain, or the first men walking on the moon. Nah, these are truly staged. After all, climate change has no evidence, but we did see the moon landing on TV!

10. December 25 - An escaped tiger at the San Francisco Zoo kills one person and injures two others.

That gastric delight I was talking about, mmm. I never said it was something I would eat (maybe I would)! And before anyone decides to jump down my throat, hear me out. It’s about fucking time those tigers eat some of those pesky little runts. First you take those tigers out of their habitat, then you put them in a little cage that is smaller than the one you have your newborns in, and then your little angels think it’s smart to tease, and agitate the animal by throwing their peanuts or rattling their cages. You know why kids today are dumb? It isn’t our education systems! It’s the fact that we don’t let natural selection take its course. What happened was natural selection at its best, 1 dumbass down, 6.5+ billion to go.

Incidents like these almost make me hope climate change fucks us up and spirals us into extinction.

(2 months ago) (in reply to this)


God gave man dominion over the animals. Peple need to carry weapons, legally of course. I'm a peace officer and carry an off duty weapon, had I been there, the tiger would have been shot upon reaching the outer gate.

An armed citizen is a safer citizen;)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits

If the title hasn’t already given it away, YOU are in for an education. And, incidentally, the wildest ride of your life. George Carlin was instrumental in my “atheist education”. Along with Richard Dawkins and a few others, Carlin has been enlightening… and witty.

No matter what the F.C.C. says, what the religious fundamentalists say, and no matter what the mommies of the world say, Shit, Piss Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker and Tits will forever live on, in that order, as the legacy of George Carlin.

Before I continue any further, may we all kneel down onto the floor for a moment of screaming and pray that George be kept safe, safe on that roof. May the roof be strong forever. And we pray that the sun god watch over him and keep him warm... and in the nights, Joe Pesci.

For most people, George Carlin was just an old ranting fart, but those that followed his work, and the luckier few that got to meet him and shake his unwashed hands, he shall forever remain etched in our memory.

George, hope you found your keys.

P.S. I had written this sometime end of June, but for some reason haven't posted it until now...

Dark Knight is a long way from home...

The Dark Knight certainly picked up from where Batman Begins left off. The effort to make Batman more realistic, more plausible somehow seems to enhance the superhero genre, rather than take from it. Of course, some of it needs to be a little unrealistic; a stretch of the imagination, to remind the movie-goer that it is a comic book movie. I can accept blades coming out of wafer thin body armor, or a completely intact Batpod (I guess Bruce Wayne bought over Apple) from an absolute wreck of a Batmobile. But where the buck stops is when it violates basic physics and common sense.

Let’s talk about the Wayne High Definition Sonar Imaging systems.
A typical HD Sonar image can generate about 10Mbits of data per second. Let us assume the technology does not improve (else bandwidth requirements would certainly go up!) and a compression factor of 10. What we are expected to swallow, is that your phone will be transferring over a 100KB of data per second to the Wayne manor and NO ONE notices! People browsing the stock tickers on don’t notice dip in speeds, and more unbelievable, the telecom companies don’t notice this large scale data transfer! I mean millions of their subscribers sending information to the same location, all at pretty noticeable speeds. Oh, and don't even get me started on how they manage to get sonar devices on phones all over the city on such short notice!

But the sci-fi mumbo jumbo is exactly what makes Batman attractive, isn’t it? Who would want to watch the Batman if it wasn’t for these unrealistic inventions, the skyhook and all the weird shit that comes out of the bat armor, or the bat mobile. Perhaps that is true, but then why not have the infinite grappling hooks that the comic books had and the tiny gizmos hidden inside batman’s utility belt?

But where things get truly bizarre, is when they begin violating the laws of physics. No matter how much I suspend logic and common sense, I can’t seem to accept how easy it is to flip on its back an eighty ton 16 wheeler. An eighty ton truck, traveling at about 60mph and stopping in what seemed like about 2 seconds would rip three street lamps, with four 1-inch bolts each right off, no effort. And that is just a conservative estimate. Even if you assumed the lamps were somehow strong enough to withstand that force, you get to the rope that the batman uses. Even if I assume Kevlar-like strength, the force generated even by a forty ton truck would be enough to snap the rope!

Lets get to the final bit. Assuming the rope was as strong as the movie suggested, there is no way the truck could flip over! The worst that could happen is that the truck would get into a slide before finally rolling over! But it is undeniable, the cinematics that a flipping 16 wheeler can achieve, are no where comparable to it rolling about (note: sarcasm).

The illogical stunts aside, the movie has won so many accolades. Rotten Tomatoes have given it a 96% approval, and IMDb users have quickly made it the greatest movie ever made. I’ve tried thinking why that might be. Sure Heath Ledger was quite good as the Joker, making him seem like quite the psycho that he truly is. His performance surely is inspired, but then it’s a comic book psycho. Surely there is more room for over the top psychosis. But somehow the repetitive “do you want to know how I got this scar?” seems more needy, funny, pathetic even, than scary. Jack Nicholson does a better job of scary in The shining, and who can forget Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast. Even Judi Dench in Notes On A Scandal is quite chilling, without needing to cut people’s mouths open or have them blown up!

Let’s grant Heath Ledger his posthumous oscar for The Joker, even though it would be just one of those things, a media event, honoring a fine actor just because he is deceased, rather than based on a critical viewing of the performance. Let’s get to the script, long and winding, almost boring at times. The movie slows down to a snail pace right in the middle, as if to prepare the audience for the barrage of violence and visual titillation that was in store. All it did for me was show how little the script really had to offer. The script had nothing if it weren’t for a love triangle, a love triangle that exists no where in the original comic series. Let us forget that most of the characters have been distorted if not completely changed from the original series. For instance, Harvey Dent is actually married, or that his wife (Gilda) is a (unknown) vigilante who earns the nickname The Holiday.

Harvey Dent, or rather Two Face’s insane need for justice for the death of his beloved is quite out of character. Going after pawns, rather than the kingpin somehow doesn’t fit Harvey Dent’s personality.

And of course, the humanity aspect. Ah, so touching. Didn’t everyone just about suppress those tears when that big man in orange claims “I’m going to do something you should have done a ten minutes back” before (unexpectedly?) throwing the remote for the bomb into the sea. Who are we kidding here? If this is supposed to emulate real life, we all know what would have happened. The Joker would have won. And if the Joker wanted chaos as much as he claimed, he’d be a lot smarter. Why would you put all the faith of your plan in the hands of some irrational, emotional bullshit? For all his precision, the joker is just another fool, the bad guy who doesn’t have the balls to follow through on his plans. A man who doesn’t have any Plan Bs?

Let’s get to the Batman now, shall we? The Dark Knight, the upholder of justice; truth above all and all that crap. Somehow he has no pangs using a sonar system (whose plausibility is very questionable) that is a sure invasion of privacy, but to “rid the city of evil”, ah, he is too good and moral to let the joker fall! The duplicity of Batman’s nature surely indicates schizophrenia. What lengths is the batman willing to go to, to rid the city of evil? Obviously he isn’t the dark knight! He doesn’t have the cajones to do what is necessary, let the Joker die. But he has no pangs killing of those little pawns that obstruct him as he fights those minor drug deals, or weapon sales or whatever it is bad guys like Maroni do. Oh, and whatever happened to Falcone? The mob boss whose life Dr. Wayne saves.

All in all, the movie was full of plot holes, illogical, impractical and sometimes impossible stunts, suspension of all reality. Add to that characters that are very much contradictory, The Joker is precise (killing his crew for the heist) yet imprecise (killing Harvey Dent, the ships and more), Batman is the Dark Knight, having to do the “dirty deeds” that the Law cannot but unable to do what is really needed! Finally the duplicity of Gotham City; On one hand they are “sane” enough to decide not to blow each other up, yet the two “corrupt” cops were so easily persuaded to destroy two lives, an equal trade? I guess The Dark Knight is the greatest movie ever, if you can swallow all the bullshit it throws at you. But then so is Armageddon, or Total Recall, or Independence Day…

Friday, February 15, 2008

And the Oscar goes to...

Indian cinema is awakening to the need for intelligent cinema they say. Move over masala flicks and poor scripts; move over bad acting, over acting and no acting. The glory days are finally here and here to stay. Gone are the days where actresses were mere furniture on the sets, gone are the days where actors carried movies. Intelligent scripts are dawning on a new day for Indian cinema.

So what if the Oscars don’t recognize our talent and potential. “Bling” Khan won’t go to the Oscars even if they invited him. He wants the Oscars in India. He wants Cannes in India. He wants to focus on India’s wealth, prosperity and happiness. It is time we stop selling our shortcomings and showcase a whole new India to the west. Let’s have our song and dance movies, but let’s make them 90 minutes he adds.

But this isn’t about Shahrukh Khan. It is about the rejuvenated spirit of Indian cinema. It is about the Rang De Basanti’s, the Taare Zameen Par’s, the Dhamaal’s, and the Munnabhai’s. It is about how the west sidelines Indian cinema, ignoring the underdogs of International cinema. After all, we are one of the largest movie industries in the world!

Lagaan’s loss in the Oscars was sufficient proof for Indians that the Oscars were racist, politicized and one sided. Oh yes, movies like Amelie, No Man’s Land, Son of the bride and Elling had the big bucks.

The French film, Amelie, an Oscar nominee, is a huge hit, having grossed $20 million in America and $100 million abroad. The Golden Globe winner for best foreign film, Bosnia's No Man's Land grossed a modest $300,000 before the awards but won significant kudos including best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival. 'Superb, fierce, funny,' declared Rolling Stone.

They lobbied hard and made sure Lagaan didn’t stand a chance. And why would a brown man win the Oscars? Oh yes. That has to be it. Lagaan with its 224 minute run time was a sure fire winner, if it wasn’t for racial prejudice.

I have heard reasons spanning its brilliant musical score to the majestic acting by the cast, to the reality of past India, in reviews praising the movie; some westerners too. This is hailed as an international audience accepting the movie and accepting Bollywood standards as satisfactory, if not excellent.

From The New Yorker
This Indian film-a period musical drama about a group of drought-stricken villagers who play a cricket match against the British authorities to avoid taxation (lagaan)-is pure Bollywood. The director Ashutosh Gowariker crosses a lavish romantic epic with a muscular adventure tale and comes up with an outrageously buoyant hybrid. The musical sequences burst from the story organically, and the outdoor production numbers are composed of brilliantly edited tracking shots and spectacular choreography. Not all the performances soar (the British actors seem particularly stiff), but the romantic leads are wonderful. Aamir Khan's masterly preening is worthy of a young Tony Curtis and his ladylove, played by Gracy Singh, does a Janet Leigh turn at getting her man. The daunting four-hour length leaves plenty of room for meandering subplots and misunderstandings, but the film is so visually alive and superbly structured-it also breaks for an intermission-that you will be happily taken in by its bighearted charms. In Hindi and English.

-Bruce Diones

But to the objective perspective, it hardly seems so. The attractiveness of this movie to international audiences was far from those reasons. People believed the movies to be a “musical” and I would strictly avoid that label. All Hindi movies have song and dance in them. What differentiates them from a musical is the fact that the songs stunt the forward motion of the script. It is filler, an intermission, a pause for the viewer to recover from the barrage of non-stop nonsense. The exotic nature of our staple song-dance rituals eventually dies out and cinema will eventually be graded on more than the exotic appeal of a region. Lagaan may have benefited far more from its cricket inspired, sing-song, David-Goliath theme, than it has lost. In fact, I am willing to stick my neck out, that on the basis of cinematic excellence, it would have failed to make even the 5 nominated.

But where Lagaan has succeeded, all other bollywood flicks (in the visible future) will fail. The sing-song is no longer novel and cute. The constant breaks in the flow of the movie will be perceived with the same level of annoyance as Lagaan’s 4 hour long tirade. Of all the Oscar nominations in this millennium, Lagaan is by far the worst of them (from the 9 that I have seen so far). Of the 2002 nominations, I can quite comfortably say Lagaan is at best the second from bottom. The reason it has managed this feat, is because I am yet to watch Elling, the Norwegian nomination.

But this rant is a little late, isn’t it? This story is 6 years old. Ancient history. But is it? The reason for our apparent disinterest in the Oscars (for all its political propaganda) is not for justified reasons. The Oscars (at least the foreign language segment), is mostly devoid of the big bucks. No Man’s Land, the eventual winner had hardly grossed millions. Amelie did, but that didn’t make it easier for the producers to lobby for the movie.

The fact remains, whether we like it or not, the Oscars are still considered the epitome of cinematic awards. An even more disheartening fact is our inability to use a common platform to measure our movies with those from around the world. The Taare zameen par’s would hardly withstand the onslaught of sheer brilliance in world cinema today. Yet it hails supreme, as epitome of present day Indian cinema. This is, in spite of there being several good movies launching all over the country. I could go on with this rant, but it is, after all, just my opinion; an opinion that does not outweigh the opinion of a person who is forcefully opposed to my views, even if he hasn’t watched the other nominations, or the eventual winner.

But to drive home the real purpose of this rant, movies hailed in the Indian media are so covered in hype, that it is usually impossible for an objective opinion. Taare Zameen Par, had a sub-par script, with even worse acting from its super-star, and a total lack of originality. When a movie rips off ideas from famous comic strips in a 2+ hour long movie, you know there isn’t a single creative bone! We remain content with our unsatisfactory movie industry, hailing award ceremonies as and when they please us. Cannes is great only as long as they do not shun India’s favorite. The Oscars met with quite the same reaction in India.

But to celebrate excellence, my deluded friend, you must create it. It is easy for the Lagaan's and TZP's to win filmfare and all those countless awards when it is contending against Dil Chahta Hai and Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham. But when it is pitted against the likes of Amelie, No Man’s Land, it falls short.

Some more (interesting) reviews:

Update Feb 17th:
"Shah Rukh admitted to the interviewer that his last year's home production, Om Shanti Om, was full of cliches of Indian cinema. "But it is full of heart. I think we need to make more movies like this and gradually more and more people will come to like that," he said."
That is absurd on so many levels. And if the world standard ever got to that level (god forbid), I will swear off movies! Though am I glad for DVD's and digital media...

Friday, January 25, 2008


"Top 10 Reasons I Hate to Cook"

"Heat changes food; change it the right way and you have success!"

In the 21 years I have been in India, under the watchful eyes of my family, I have rarely stepped foot in the kitchen. The times that I did, were either to help my mom bake a cake (that is the only way I could convince her to bake one), or make myself some eggs (when I was old enough to operate the burners). My knowledge of cooking and all things gastronomic started and ended with eggs, perhaps the odd cup of tea, though I hardly recollect it.

The US brought with it a whole world of new experiences, amongst which was the compulsion to cook; and for a beginner to cook for 5 people is reason enough to hate it. But somehow, defying all logic (as I tend to do), cooking grew on me, though I can't make the simplest Daal and Rice. The rice, I have gotten a hang of, thanks to the microwave oven. Daals... let's not even go there.

But as with everything else, I have my theories as to why I started enjoying what I should probably have despised. Cooking, they say is therapeutic, and a stress buster. I certainly agree with that point of view, especially when I cook for myself. I don't understand other people, when they say they can't cook for themselves. I find the effort I put in, makes the meal/dish taste that much better. Unfortunately, cooking for other people, means keeping in mind their individual tastes and curbing your natural instincts, which robs the fun from it. But as my grandmother says, those who love eating better learn to cook well!!

I am hardly a master of the culinary world, though with the introduction to Good Eats, by my good friend Ashwin, I feel like a genius. Though limited by hardware, I find myself willing to put in that extra effort in order to compensate for the lack of mechanized beasts that simplify the prep. My cooking skills are basic. The need for instruction is over-whelming. But considering it has been barely 18 months since I started (even less if we are looking for quality), I am well satisfied. This post is looking back at all the experiments, some good and some gone terribly wrong, and a big Thank You to the people that have ingested the bad with the good.

American Born, Confused Chinese
This was my first attempt at a "recipe". A simple lemon, garlic, ginger and soy based dish with chicken, this soon became a favorite with the tangy-sweet loving simpletons.

With The Good, Comes Bad
This absolute disaster occured Dec 2006. Armed with a sub-par recipe (created by yours truly) and little know-how, this Fish-Mustard-Pea concoction is my biggest disaster till date. Barely edible (though I survived it), this dish was probably my best looking. The best tasting, for sure, is Beer Barbecue Chicken Fried Rice.

Tandoori Chicken and Pulao
This dish turned out to be far simpler than expected. Maestro Chef Yogesh Pai has perfected his spicy variant of this popular barbecue dish over the months while Vinayak's Pulao makes for the perfect unassuming accompaniment. Serve with loads of yogurt and lemon. Keep the fire extinguisher handy.

This Good Eats method (season 7, Ep 8) emphasizes fast cooking for nuclear families. A meal for as many as the oven can hold in half an hour. Unfortunately for me, the cooking alone took me about 45 minutes. I blame it on my oven though. The results, however, were scintillating and far beyond my expectations.

Hail Caesar
A modified (throw in everything you see) version of Caesar Salad, with chicken and Ranch dressing replacing the raw eggs. Olive oil did enhance flavor, but she turned out to be less photogenic.

House of the Rising Bun

Baking is probably what the wise were talking about when they said, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach". Though it has little to do with the stomach. Just the smell of fresh baked bread or cookies makes the stoutest men into putty. These cinnamon rolls were

relished without the cream cheese frosting. A lemon-ginger experiment was too good to be true. You just had to be there...

Seafood Extravaganza
A fish curry (bangla style) gone wrong (thanks to sweetened coconut milk) was a blessing in disguise. The dish was meant to be spicy, but the sweetness added a new dimension to an already brilliant dish. I had to lick my plate clean. The shrimp appetizers: Garlic Shrimp with Parsley, Kerala Chili Prawns

The Chicken is an egg's way to make more eggs.

Eggs... Spinach, garlic, spaghetti sauce and CHEESE. Now available in Omlette and Scrambled variants.

Ham Salad, Mutton cutlets and the simple 'ol scrambled eggs, pepper and salt.

The Butcher Shop:
He must be a leg man!

Organ-ised Butchery

Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Cookies.