Mostly Thoughtless

Tam Brahm, thank you ma'am

Friday, July 30, 2004

Duh!

I was watching one of those stupid morning shows on TV the other day when it struck me that only the dumbest people ever call up these shows. Seriously, if you ever feel dumb, turn on the TV, watch one of these shows* and you'll immediately feel better.

So, as I was saying, the show I was watching, it went something like this

Hostess: Hello viewers, welcome to 'Dumbass', the only show (at this time-slot, on this channel) which lets millions (actually tens) of people know what you feel. Today, as it has been every single day this decade, our topic for discussion is 'Do movies have a degenerative effect on kids?' Oh, look at this, we already have our first caller. Hello.

Caller: Woo hoo, woo hooo, yaaaay, yipppeeee, mom, dad, grandma... come here quick...

Hostess: Hello?

Caller: Hello hello, I'm so excited I can't even talk.

Hostess: Relax. Don't be nervous. Go ahead and say something.

Caller: I know, but it's so tough getting through to you that I'm speechless with delirious excitement.

Hostess: Wait a minute, didn't we talk yesterday?

Caller: You remembered?!!!! woo hoo, woo hooo, yaaaay, yipppeeee, mom, dad, grandma...she remembered...

Hostess: Ha Ha Ha (the fakest laugh I've ever heard) ok ok, what song can we play for you?

Caller: Please play your favourite song.

(I solemnly swear that the folowing is true)

Hostess: Ok, do you want to dedicate this to anybody?

Caller: Yes, I want to dedicate it to my friend's new sister-in-law.

Hostess: What's her name?

Caller: Donno.

Hostess: You don't know the name of the person you want to dedicate this song to?

Caller: Yup. No idea.

Hostess: Ok fine, we'll dedicate this song to your new sister-in-law.

Caller: No no, my friend's.

Hostess: Ok, your friends.

Caller: No, not my friends, my friendddd's new sister-in-law.

Hostess: Ok whatever. Done.

Caller: Thank you very much. Bye.

Hostess: No no, wait a minute. What do feel? Do today's movies have a degenerative effect on kids?

Caller: Degene... what?

By the way, to get over 'New', I did the only thing I could think of. I sat and watched all the three 'Godfather' movies. My god, do they rock?

*Vinod's First law of Television

At any point of time, on at least one TV channel, there will be a call-and-request show.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Neeewwwwwww!

Certain films make you feel good. Even hours after you've reached home, you're still thinking about the film and wearing a smile on your face. They fill your heart up with their warmth and have a certain magic about them that simply cannot be expressed in words. This magic comes about only when there's a perfect harmony of the cast, the story, the screenplay and the music. Needless to say, such movies go on to become classics.

'New' is definitely NOT one of them.

8-year old Pappu is a kid who wants to do stuff that adults do. His mom keeps scolding him and so, one night, he decides to run away and commit suicide. He is stopped by a scientist who injects him with a wonder-drug that turns him into 28-year old Vichu overnight. Vichu goes on to work in a toy store and fall in love with a beautiful girl. However, a flaw in the drug lands Vichu in a soup wherein he's an 8-year old from 0600 to 1800 and a 28-year old for the other twelve hours.

Interesting? Well, screw the logic. The script has enough masala to make the movie a success but all that promise is wasted.

Everything goes wrong in this movie. The performances are downright horrible. Everyone hams. Most of the voices are horrible and the entire movie is just too goddamn loud. The comedy is of the silly slapstick variety and they only succeed in bringing tears to your eyes. The double-entendres in the movie are slightly enjoyable but even they're done in extremely bad taste.

A.R. Rehman's music is perhaps the saving grace of the movie. Even in a complete turkey like this one, the songs by Rehman are absolutely outstanding. All of them, without exception, are brilliant. The only other highlight of the movie is a ravishing Simran, in her last film appearance. Apart from these two, there is simply no other plus that you can take away from this movie.

One concluding piece of advice - If you're planning to watch this movie, don't. Buy the tape instead.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Audi Vidi Quizi!

I've been really really busy all week. Oodles and oodles of work.

My department is holding a National Level Technical Symposium and there is simply so much to be done that it's not at all funny. As part of the symposium, I'm doing a two-hour, audio-visual quiz along with Shrikant and the way things are going, I think the quiz is shaping up to be a huge hit with everyone. I've done it for the last two years and both the earlier editions have been very well-appreciated.

The quiz itself (called 'Audi Vidi Quizi' in honour of Julius Caesar's 'Veni Vidi Vici') will be semi-technical. But please don't worry, my idea of what is tech and what is not is fairly foggy. So, an example of an I.T question will be something like...

Q: What does Shammi Kapoor scream at the start of the famous song 'Junglee' from the movie 'Junglee'?
A: Yahoo!


Get the picture?

Three people in a team. Mixed college teams are allowed. i.e. All three team members need NOT be from the same institution. College ID cards required. Attractive cash prizes on offer.

Date: 28-07-2004

Timings: Prelims: 11:00 a.m
Finals : 02:00 p.m

Venue: Sri Sai Ram Engineering College, Tambaram, Chennai, India.

Interested participants can reach the college by college buses. You can also visit our website for more details.

Here are some choice questions from the last year's quiz.

Q: The ancient Greeks used to have regular drinking parties during which the men would recline on sofas, leaning on their left elbows. What were these parties called?

A: Symposion or plural Symposia, from which we get the word symposium.


Q: Which English play is traditionally performed at 9 p.m. on June 23 every year?

A: William Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’


Q: Which piece of sports equipment won the Best Inanimate Object in a Motion Picture award at the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Sixth Annual Critics Choice Awards at Los Angeles in 2001?

A: Wilson, the volleyball from 'Castaway'.


Q: What does Linus Torvalds refer to as Linux v2.0?

A: Patricia Miranda Torvalds, his daughter.


Q: At the headquarters of Cyrix Corporation, the world's second largest manufacturer of microprocessors, there is a large black coffin with 2 words inscribed on it. What are those 2 words?

A: Intel Inside!


P.S: I know that was really boring for all you non-quizzers but I really couldn't help it.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Fine Legs and Silly Points!

Sachin Tendulkar.

Cricket! Why does cricket have such a hold on Indian hearts? Why is it that we care so much if Abdul Karim Al-Saleh of the Mutawarelite Kingdom of Yemen took 2/43 against the Sultanate of Oman in the Inter-Middle-Eastern-Countries Cup, sponsored by Pepsi, Sahara, Coke and madaboutcricket.com and brought to Indian households by Ten Sports (Live) and DD-Sports (Deferred Live), and watched by all Indians except two, who were busy making a movie about the sport.

Unlike most Indians, I've never felt too strongly about cricket. For example, I wasn't one of the 3,00,000 people who went to see the Bangladesh vs. Kenya game that was played here in Chennai. Of course, that was because I couldn't get the tickets but then I didn't follow up that failure by deciding to hang by one leg from the branches of one of the surrounding trees. Hence, I'm not a normal Indian cricket fan. Sigh!

The few occasions that I did go to watch a game live, I was completely in awe of the crowd at the stadium. You'd suddenly hear a huge roar from the stands, like the one you'd normally hear in Yemen when Abdul Karim Al-Saleh runs up to bowl except that this time, if you had looked at the pitch, you'd have seen the groundsmen rolling it.

That's how popular cricket is in India. People admit their children into cricket academies before they think about admitting them into play-schools and they usually take more time to select the academy than they do to pick out a name for their kid, which would be about 10 seconds.

Dad: Hmmm, it's a boy! What should we call him?

Mom: How about Sachin?

Dad: I like it but no, it's become too common these days. Plus, he's out of form. His average in his last 17 innings is ony 14.63.

Mom: What about Saurav, then?

Dad: Yup, that's perfect, but what if the kid is not left-handed.

Mom: Not to worry, you obviously don't know the piece of important cricket trivia that Saurav Ganguly bats left-handed and bowls right-handed. I have half a mind to divorce you right now and go marry Charu Sharma. That divine man even knows what Mohammad Ashraful from Bangladesh likes to read while in the toilet!

Dad: Damn, how could I have forgotten that? Saurav it is, dear! And hehe, even I know what Ashraful reads, it's 'The Habits of 11 Highly Ineffective People' by Malcolm Gray.

That, in a nutshell, is the name selection process for Indian male kids. If it's a girl, then it's a much easier job. First choice is Mandira, of the noodle-straps fame. Second is Anjali (Tendulkar's wife) and third is Jaswinder (Harbhajan Singh's neighbour's milkman's neice).

I occasionally play cricket myself. I'm a superb leg-spinner with a devastating googly. In fact, I'm so good that everytime I enter a room with a TV showing cricket, someone gets out. And my claim to fame is that I've got Sachin out twice, once in 1999 and once this year. Damn! If I had been a citizen of the United Arab Emirates, I would've been richer by $2000 dollars now!

Ideally, however, I'd love to have been a batsmen. I'd like nothing better than to hit the balls between two fine legs!

And just for your information, cricket is not the only sport Indians enjoy. They are huge patrons of weightlifting as well. Watch a cricket game and you'll find out that the batsman gets the biggest applause when he lifts his bat up over his head, one-handed that too!

However, one thing that irritates me about cricket's popularity in India is all the stupid statistics shows on Indian news channels these days. But we can't blame them, we Indians are absolute suckers when it comes to raw figures. To top it all, they have an 'expert' panelist who was so good that he played for India in 2 first class games against the Namibian Board President's 11. Anyway, a standard such show would go something like this..

Anchor: So, Mr.Panelist, the statistics in this table show that in 17 out of the 29 occasions that Virender Sehwag adjusted his 'box' before facing a delivery, he hit the ball between short mid-wicket and mid-on at an angle of 45 degrees. What do you think this means for the future of Indian Cricket?

Panelist: I think it's a very good sign indeed. Back in those days, when I used to play, the best we could do was hit it between short mid-wicket and mid-on at an angle of 30 degrees. 45 degrees was only a distant dream. These guys today are really awesome. I'm glad that Viru is listening to advice from his seniors. He used to only adjust his pad, shoulder pad, thigh pad and helmet before. Now, he's started adjusting his 'box' and it's done wonders to his game. And yes, Indian cricket is definitely on the way up.

Anchor: So, you're saying that in the near future we might actually be lucky to get to see an Indian batsmen actually hit the ball between short mid-wicket and mid-on at an angle of 60 degrees! (with a disbelieving look on her pretty face)

Panelist: I'm not a fool to say something as presumptuous as that but with the amount of talent these 'kids' have (readers please note that the panelist is utmost 29 years old), anything could happen!

And it's not just watching cricket that's a rage in India. Cricket fans here fanatically devour cricketing books, buy only products endorsed by cricketers, collect cricket cards that come free with bubble-gum and generally participate with great enthusiasm in any cricket related activity. Cricket to India is like Football to Brazil.*

Initially, I was wondering how to start this post but then it dawned on me and I chose to start with 'Sachin Tendulkar'. Why? You wonder? Simply because that man is such a good opener! (I know that was a really really sad excuse for a joke but please forgive!)

And that's all for now folks, I'm off to the nearest bookshop to buy '45 Degrees and Rising : A Tribute to Modern Indian Cricket' by Ramachandra Guha along with Raju Bharatan.


*Not very imaginative when it comes to analogies, am I?

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Engineering For Dummies!

It's been nearly four years now. Well, actually closer to three but I've started the fourth, so, by applying the value adjustment strategies last used only in the Physics laboratories of yore, we can safely call it a nice round 4. Now that that's out of the way, we can proceed in peace.

As I was saying, it's been almost four years in an Engineering course and I was recently wondering what it was that I've learnt in all this time. And I'm still wondering. I'm not exactly the sincerest of students but even then, it's a professional degree for David Lynch's sake. So, after a lot more wondering, I finally decided that the best way to go would be to slowly and systematically analyse my engineering course activities so far and then try and hopefully arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.

So, we start.

The First Year (2001-2002)

In the Great Republic of Pseudo-China, this year was referred to as the 'Year of The Deer-in-the-Headlights', and not without good reason.

Delighted that I was finally done with school, I had spent the next few months engaging myself in some really strenuous activity. Come August, and it was time for Academic life to take centrestage again. So, it was with great sadness that I said my good-byes to the comfy couch and the five daily meals (not counting the snacks) and prepared myself for the rigours of Engineering College life. At that point, I had had a premonition that it was going to be a really long year.

But as it happens, even the best of us can get it wrong. It wasn't that long a year. It was more like a really short millenium. Engineering College wasn't all that difficult but that doesn't necessarily mean that it was great fun either. All the hopes and dreams I had built up all along about college life came crashing down to earth with a huge thud, right on my own head. All the frolicking with lovely girls in the corridors a la 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' were now a distant mirage. College, in the real world, was just a dingy classroom with lecturers who appeared to have jumped right out of some weird foreign language art film. Not to mention hour-long bus journeys and lousy canteen food.

By the time the year was finally over, I was feeling exactly like a well-worn pair of socks.* Whatever I was supposed to have learnt, I most definitely hadn't and that's all I remember from first year.


*I know socks are inanimate but I'm guessing if they had feelings, they'd probably feel just like I did back then.


The Second Year (2002-2003)

The Year of the Worker Bee (Not!)

You might be surprised, but even in today's world, there a number of people who think girls have no business going to engineering college. Well, in the second year, I discovered that they had a very good reason to do so.

Engineering Colleges everywhere have one thing in common and that is that they're all filled with no-good, half-assed, lazy guys and I have to rather ashamedly admit that I'm one of them. It's for guys like us that girls come to college for. Without their help, I have no friggin idea of what I'd have done in the second year.

This was also the year I discoverd that I had a real talent for creative writing. I discovered that in the wonderful world of Information Technology, the usage of a few core words like 'system', 'computer' and 'data' again and again with a healthy number of other simple words in between would do very nicely in the examination papers. Also, experimenting with the number of ways you can write the same sentence is appreciated by the wonderful Anna University.

For example, let us consider the rather profound question 'Explain data transmission over Computer Networks?'

Here is how I'd go about answering it,

'The transmitting system sends the data over the data channel to the receiving sytem which receives the data. Thus, we can infer that the data is sent from the source all the way to the destination with the help of the systems in between the source and the destination. The working of the system is as follows: The transmitter first sends the data, then the receiver receives it. The sheer simplicity of the whole procedure is what has made data trasmission over networks a vital feature of networks today. The process can be carried out in steps as follows:

Step 1: Transmitter transmits data

Step 2: Receiver receives data.'


Ok, what've we learned so far...


The Third Year (2003-2004)

The Year of the Hippo-in-the-Swamp

Third year was slightly peaceful. I had settled into a comfy routine. Without taxing myself too much, I had managed to figure out what it took to get out of colege with a reasonable score. The implementation of the plan didn't require too much effort either.

No article about Engineering College life in Chennai can be complete without a mention of the redoubtable Charulatha Publications or their remarkable series of publications known in the student community simply as '.....made easy'. Remarkable is definitely not the word. There was 'Operating Systems made easy', 'Digital Signal Processing made easy'. Name the subject and it was immediately made easy... just for you. And that is what made it the most astounding series of books to come out of the great publishing houses of Earth, Ursa Minor and Major all put together.

A million times at least, I've glanced at my watch and seen that there was an hour left for the semester exam to start. A friend would pass me a well thumbed copy of '....made easy' and it was as if, like The Guide, it had the words 'Don't Panic' in bright red friendly letters on the cover. And, also like The Guide, it's much cheaper than the extravagantly priced prescribed texts. One look at it and I'd feel my body beginning to relax. My mind would become clearer and all the knowledge I gathered from the book, I'd spit it out on my answer sheet and go on to successfully clear the exam. It helped me pass. Me. Pass. That's how magical the book was!

To put it in a nutshell, engineering college has been, so far at least, a criminal waste of time, money and all other resources known to man. As you can probably sense, I'm all nostalgic right now and the tears are flowing freely down my very chubby cheeks. So, I'll stop it here. You guys have a good time.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

A-kill-es!

After reading numerous bad reviews, I finally got to watch 'Troy' today. Just back, in fact. The verdict: It rocks! It totally, absolutely rocks! And here's why...

The movie has been directed by Wolfgang Peterson and written by Greek poet Homer in partnership with Hollywood-Scriptwriter-Man and let me tell you, the latter is the real superstar of the project!

The movie veers away from Homer's original plot more times than competitive exam question papers get leaked in India but very surprisingly, in this case, the changes are definitely for the better.


For example, a scholar of 'The Illiad' will claim that Agamemnon [Brian Cox] was not really killed by Briseis [Rose Byrne] at Troy and that he survived the war and returned home only to be poisoned by his wife Clytaemnestra. But no, that's just too boring for today's world of instant karma. Not to worry, though. Hollywood-Scriptwriter-man always has his finger right on the pulse of the viewer. Throughout the movie, you start to hate Agamemnon so much that it's frankly awesome when he finally gets screwed in the end. In fact, when Briseis plunges the dagger into his meaty neck, I was on my feet cheering loudly. Now that was one good change.

Also, apparently, the actual siege lasted ten years in Homer's poem but in the movie it lasts just a month. Well, if Ekta Kapoor had had a say, it would have taken upto twenty but then again, it's Hollywood-Scriptwriter-Man to the rescue. Slam! Bam! Swish! Flash! And Done. Game Over! Another excellent change.

And then, there is some serious ass-kicking done in this movie. In fact, it's like they took the extras from 'Braveheart' and sent them to battle the extras from the 'LOTR' trilogy. The battle scenes reminded me of a scene from that mother of all spoofs 'Hot Shots! Part Deux' where there's a funny body count meter running and calculating the number of people dying. At least a thousand guys are killed in this film and that absolutely rocks! What I didn't like though was the excessive shaking of the camera during the battle scenes. Not only in this film but in most others as well. What're they hoping to achieve by shaking the camera so much? Do they think it makes the scene more natural looking? Yup, that's just logical. I'd like to know what kind of an idiot would actually believe orcs and goblins are being massacred just because the camera is wobbling a bit! I mean, would he be like, "What crap! Orcs and Goblins don't exist! .....Oh no, wait a minute, the camera's shaking! So the battle must be really happening!" You know what, I don't think so!

Another funny part is that whenever Achilles [Brad Pitt] or Hector [Eric Bana] corner a guy during a battle, immediately, all the action pause, all the warriors take a time-out and gather around the duel to cheer on their hero, like one would in a bar-room brawl scenario. In fact, in one of those scenes, I thought I even saw an old guy going around taking bets and serving beer.

And on the same note, football fans who followed Euro 2004 would've been shocked out of their skins! Yes, Greeks can attack! And how!

The highlight of the movie, however, is the one-on-one between Achilles and Hector. It's awesome and though Hector gets his @$$ whipped, he dies with his honour intact. The atmosphere built up, with the gentle but rhythmic drumming in the background make the scene truly unforgettable. Eric Bana's Hector is quite easily the best performance in the movie.

Brad Pitt shouldn't have been cast in this film. I like him a lot as an actor but he just doesn't seem to fit into the role. He tries hard, I have to admit, but it just doesn't work. No matter what he does, he is never Achilles, always Brad Pitt. In fact, he could've auditioned for the role of Helen. He did look very pretty!


Diane Kruger [Helen] is another one who gets a raw deal. Everyone will crib that she's not a Helen but when you actually look at the facts, people are going to say that no matter who the makers had cast in the role. For her part, Kruger looks great and she doesn't have much to do, so her acting is ok too. She particularly excels in the scene where she plays a surgeon, stitching up Paris' wounds with amazing sartorial skills!

Orlando Bloom [Paris] is pretty convincing as a complete wimp and he's also what a Chennaiite would describe as an 'OC bugger', he aims for Achilles' head, hits his heel and kills the mightiest warrior ever known. That what real OC is all about.

Overall, the movie rocks and it's full paisa vasool, though some actual female nudity would've gone down well with the crowd. So much promised, so little delivered. Sigh! And though the movie is teeming with big male stars like Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom, the real champion, without a shadow of a doubt, is good old trusty Hollywood-Scriptwriter-Man who delivers an adventure specially designed for the not-so-well-educated viewer.

Go watch it! Have fun!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

'The Meaning of Life' or 'Yeah, right!'

How was the world created? Is there a God? If God created us, who created God? Who let the dogs out? Pulli Rajakku AIDS Varumaaa?

People have been asking these rather silly questions for a long time now and according to latest reports, still haven't received a good reply. Ever since the human race learned to reason, millions of able and not-so-able philosophers have attempted to discover the true meaning of life, and failed miserably.


Orkut acting up again?

And not just philosophers, everyone who's ever drawn in a breath has something to say on the subject. The Monty Python group, in their famous 'The Meaning of Life', have this to say on the subject - "Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations" Excellent answer indeed, but then, unfortunately, the world isn't a beauty pageant.

Douglas Adams, perhaps, came the closest when he said that the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is the number 42. I completely agree that the figure sounds just perfect (not too big, not too small, just right!) but there is a fundamental mistake with his solution. Mr. Adams may have indeed hit upon the right answer but what we must ask is 'Was it the right question?'. And the truth is - No, it wasn't. The correct question, according to me, should have been - "What's the value obtained when 6 is multiplied by 11 and the product is then converted into hexadecimal?" You see my point? As I said before - a very good answer, but definitely doesn't serve our purpose.

So, what is the real answer to life, the universe and everything? Hmmmm... let me think.

69. No? Really?

Ok, here's what I think. I don't think Life has any meaning as such. I don't think it's even supposed to have one. Life is meaningless. It has no relation whatsoever to anything else that happens around it. It usually involves a bunch of people who don't really affect it too much. It varies drastically in its moods and it's generally very very confused and chaotic. In short, Life is a David Lynch film. Or, to put it in another way, David Lynch is God. That is, if God turned out to be a dumb, pathetic, retarded LOSER!

So, in order to understand the true meaning of life, watch David Lynch movies. 'Mulholland Drive' to begin with, 'Lost Highway' after that. You needn't watch any more because by this time, you will have seen the light. However, being a good friend of yours and having had the misfortune of having to sit through both these films, I will make your job easier and tell you what the answer is.

So, finally, here it comes. The end of the eternal quest. The true meaning of life. The mother of all revelations. The answer everyone wants to know. Here it is...

Death is better.

You probably won't understand it right now but go watch those two movies and it'll immediately dawn on you. You'll soon realize that death is an infinitely better proposition.


Guy who's just read this post and seen the light!

So, the bottom line is this. Instead of going on and on about stupid, overrated Life, we should all start thinking more about Death. Beautiful, dark, mysterious death.

P.S: For more information on 'The Meaning of Death', keep watching this space.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Why orkut rocks!

I was trying to send a mail through orkut and something went wrong. This is the error message I got.

Bad, bad server. No donut for you

Unfortunately, the orkut.com server has acted out in an unexpected way. Hopefully, it will return to its helpful self if you try again in a few minutes.

It's likely that the server will behave this way on occasion during the coming months. We apologize for the inconvenience and for our server's lack of consideration for others.


Lol!

Moral of the Story

A sense of humour always helps. Yes, it really does. Especially when you've just typed out a really long and detailed mail only to see it wiped out by a dumb server malfunction. Trust me.

Monday, July 05, 2004

My Big Fat Greek Victory!

It's happened! The ultimate fairytale! A team that hadn't won even a single match in a major tournament before this, goes on to hoist the trophy! Not even Sooraj Barjatya could've scripted it any happier!


Before the match started, I thought that if Greece went on to win it, it would be an advertisement for negative football and that would be a bad thing for the sport itself because teams all over the world would then start believing that negativity could win them trophies. But as the game went on, my view gradually changed and once the match was over, I understood that the Greek victory was not an endorsement for negativity but instead, an inspiration for lesser teams - a sign that tactical brilliance, determination and discipline were far more important than just flair and style. And make no mistake, this was no flash in the pan. The Greeks fully deserved their victory and every bit of the praise that has accompanied it.

And once they had gotten the goal they so desperately wanted, it was fun to see them sit back and absorb everything Portugal had. And the hosts didn't go down easy! In the last twenty minutes, Portugal threw everything and the kitchen sink at the resolute Greeks but the defence superbly manned by the unflappable 'keeper Nikopolidis was as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar!


It was rather saddening to think that Rui Costa (above), who displayed flashes of his old brilliance when he came on as a sub last night, will end his career without an international trophy but then, I guess these things must happen in sport.

So, even though I feel sad for Portugal, my opinion about Greece has totally changed. I thought they were simply fantastic last night (I haven't seen the other games, just read about them.) and all I have to say in conclusion is WELL DONE, GREECE!

And this lovely young woman will be our last great 'supporter' of the tournament.

Till the next time, bye and take care.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Last Tango in Los Angeles!

This morning, I woke up at around 6:30 and like I always do, ambled across to the living room. I saw 'The Hindu' lying on the table and picked it up to glance through all the headlines. The first one I saw, however, left me dumbfounded. It read - 'Marlon Brando is Dead'.


The Legend passed away in Los Angeles last night of a lung failure. He was 80.

Considered by many to be the greatest actor of all time, the man was pure magentism. Who else could convey power and inspire awe so effectively without even raising a hand or word as he so successfully did in 'The Godfather', one of the greatest movies of all time? There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that only Marlon Brando could have done justice to the role of the enigmatic Don Vito Corleone, who still lives on in the hearts of millions of book and movie lovers.

Some of his other memorable films include 'A Streetcar Named Desire', 'On The Waterfront', 'Last Tango in Paris', 'The Wild One' and 'Apocalypse Now'.

Apart from a glittering on-screen career, Brando was also famous for his eccentricity and unpredictability. His refusal of the Oscar for 'The Godfather', when he sent Sacheen Littlefeather to express his displeasure at the wrongs committed against the Native Americans by the American Film Industry, is a case in point. At that point of time, he had already won an Oscar for his performance in 'On The Waterfront'. Even today, the Native American people haven't forgotten his gesture, as seen here.

Even in one of his most famous films 'Apocalypse Now', Brando caused a lot of problems during shooting. After being paid $1 million in advance, Brando reportedly threatened to quit and keep the money. Francis Ford Coppola, the director, told his agent that he didn't care, and if they couldn't get Brando, they would try Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, and then Al Pacino. Brando eventually turned up late, drunk, 40kg overweight, and admitted he hadn't read the script or even 'Heart of Darkness', the book it was based on. He then read Coppola's script, and refused to do it. After days of arguments over single lines of dialogue, an ad-lib style script was agreed upon, and this was shot according to Brando's stipulations that he appears in shadows. That's why, whenever he appears in the film, there is a surrealistic look to the entire scene. He was last seen on screen in 'The Score' along with Edward Norton and Robert De Niro.

In spite of all these incidents, Marlon Brando is still an icon in the truest sense of the word. All up and coming actors will have to endure the invariable comparison with the legend at some point or the other in their careers. Thank God for small mercies, we still have his movies to remember hm by.

Finally, to end this post, a fitting line from 'The Hollow Men' by T.S Eliot which was also inspired from the 'Heart of Darkness' by Joseph Conrad.

"This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
Not with a bang but with a whimper."

Friday, July 02, 2004

Comfortably Dumb!

You will not want to believe what comes after this paragraph but let me assure you that the following is an actual conversation I had with one of my IMS classmates this evening. We'll refer to him as X for the sake of convenience.

Me: Hi, how was your day?

X: Not bad, I saw 'Troy'.

Me: How was it,? I heard it was pretty bad.

X: It was ok, except that the ending is pathetic.

Me: What do you mean?

X: No, it's so stupid. The good guys die and the bad guys live. (??!!!)

Me: Machan, didn't you know that at the beginning itself? That Achilles would die.

X: No, but ok, even that is bearable but the way he dies is really really dumb. Lots of arrows to his neck and all, nothing happens and then one to his foot, and he dies. (?????!!!!!!!)

Me: Duh! Haven't you heard of Achilles' Heel? That's his weak point!

X: Excuse me, what?

Me: Never mind!

X: And they use one stupid strategy da. They build this huge horse shaped monument and...

Me: Stop! That'll do. I want to watch the movie for myself. Please don't spoil the suspense!

Me: (to myself) OH MY GOD!

Yes, that really did happen. This was before the class started. So, for the entire class, I just sat and marvelled at X's infinite ignorance, all the while struggling to stifle my laughter. I'm not going to say anything else about it because I want you guys to appreciate it for its own merit.

Turning to Euro 2004 now, Portugal are through to their first major tournament final and I really hope they go on to win it. Players like Figo and Rui Costa deserve to have at least one major international trophy in their houses and this might be their last chance to do it. By the way, here's what I think is another superbly poignant photograph.



It has also come to light recently that the secret of the Portuguese fitness and success in this championship is a result of some special training. Something that is very close to India - The Bhangra, as demonstrated skillfully in this fine picture.



Now the Greeks, in this tournament, have beaten France, an on-fire Czech Republic (albeit without Nedved for the most part) and even Portugal itself in the very first game of Euro 2004. However, even after achieving all this, when the last game officially gets underway, they will still be the underdogs. I just can't make up my mind whether that's an injustice or just an irony.

Meanwhile, my suspicions about Ruud van Nistelrooy's sexual orientation (refer last post) were vindicated as he proved once and for all that I was dead on the money. Check this picture out. I can only hope for Ruud's sake that Van Der Sar doesn't get jealous!

On that rather happy (actually gay!) note, I will end this post. Till the next time, bye and take care.