Mostly Thoughtless

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Rejoice, we must. Over, it finally is.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally got to watch the new and final Star Wars movie, officially titled ‘Star Wars : Episode III - Revenge of the Sith’, but more affectionately known to movie-goers as ‘Star Wars : Movie VI, Prequel III, Henry VIII, Version 1.7 - Thank God! It’s finally over!’ Now I have to admit here that I’ve never really been a big fan of the cult saga but after watching this movie, the final installment of the series, I’ve come to realize that the entire six-part story can be summed up using just five words – a monumental waste of time.

Yes, this series is as cult as cult can get, by which I mean that it’s the kind of series that is so fantastically complicated that there are millions of websites and fan clubs all over the world who meet very often to discuss what the hell is actually going on; the kind of series that allows its creators to make even more money off merchandise, books, action figures and video games; the kind of series that raises a number of questions in your mind, chief among them being: “Who came up with those names? Was he drunk?”

I’m not joking. I know that all fictional fantasy universes need to be filled with at least thirteen million characters who have colourful, complicated, impossible-to-remember names but even then, this series redefines the word ‘colourful’ and takes it to a new, highly deranged level. At the beginning of the series, the nomenclature was quite sane: Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Han Solo and even Obi-Wan Kenobi were quite reasonable for a sci-fi series, especially a cult one. But as the series went on, it kept getting worse until finally, viewers had to watch characters named Mace Windu, Qui-Gon Jinn, Nute Gunray, Ki-Adi-Mundi and Tion Medon. And I seriously wonder what kind of demented parents would subject their bundle of joy to a name like Jar-Jar Binks.

But before we go any further, let me first summarise the entire series for you:

Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details do NOT follow simply because there is no plot.

Episodes I, II, and III show Anakin (pronounced ‘a-na-kin’) Skywalker's rise from a cute young kid who can’t act to a talented young Jedi (pronounced ‘jed-i’) who has something smelly right under his nose. Meanwhile, an evil Sith (pronounced ‘sith’) lord is orchestrating a conflict between the Galactic Republic and a separatist movement under the name Chancellor Palpatine (pronounced ‘pal-pat-een’), which is only marginally less silly than his real name Darth Sidious (pronounced ‘sid-e-us’). After the defeat of the separatists and the near-destruction of the Jedi, he declares himself Emperor of a new Galactic Empire. The series ends with Anakin’s eventual shift to the Dark Side of the Force as Darth Vader (pronounced ‘wade-der’), a highly constipated scuba-diver.

Episodes IV, V, and VI center on Anakin's son, Luke (pronounced ‘lew-k’) Skywalker. Luke joins the Rebel Alliance in its special-effects powered struggle to overthrow the evil Empire. He trains to become a Jedi (pronounc… oh no, we’ve done this in the previous paragraph) like his father, who he believes was killed by Darth Vader and like dad, he too ends up hamming big time. On the way, he meets smuggler Han Solo, an overgrown poodle named Chewbacca (pronounced ‘chew-back-ka’) and an obese cockroach named Jabba (pronounced ‘jab-ba’) the Hutt, not to mention C3PO, a little known actor who was previously seen as a stunt double for the Tin-Man in the ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and R2D2, a white post-box. Luke successfully resists efforts to turn him to the Dark Side and instead, turns his father back to the good side while the Rebel fleet uses some spectacular visual and sound effects to gain a decisive victory and end the war (pronounced ‘war’).

So, that’s the story of the entire Star Wars series which supposedly spans only two generations, but seems more like ten. Now, I know a lot of you who have sat through this cult trilogy and its cult prequel trilogy must be little confused by now. And I can only imagine the plight of the lucky souls who haven’t had to endure the torture. So, for the benefit of those of you who haven’t seen any of the movies, here are some highlights:

Star Wars Episode I : A Phantom Menace

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Hey kid, you’re very cute.
Qui-Gon Jinn: Yeah, you seem the kind of kid who will grow up to be a young man with brooding good looks who Natalie Portman can fall in love with.
Young Anakin: What is that supposed to mean, uncle-with-funny-name?
Qui-Gon Jinn: Two more sequels for us. Nothing for you.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Forgive me, Qui-Gon, but I think the kid was talking to me.
Qui-Gon Jinn: No way Obi-Wan, my name is definitely funnier.

Star Wars Episode II : Attack Of The Clones

Anakin Skywalker: What’s that smell?
Obi-Wan Kenobi: It’s probably your acting. It stinks.
Anakin Skywalker: When do I get to kiss Natalie Portman?
Obi-Wan Kenobi: As soon as all this computer-generated warfare involving millions of stupid looking robots is over.
Anakin Skywalker: Sigh… sniff sniff… eeyyuucckkk!
Natalie Portman: I have a bad feeling about this.

Star Wars Episode III : Revenge Of The Sith

Darth Sidious: Come and join me on the dark side.
Anakin Skywalker: Give me one good reason why I should.
Darth Sidious: Why one? I’ll give you three. Firstly, you get to be called ‘Darth’ which is waaaaay cooler than ‘Anakin’. Second, you get this funky black suit and mask which will hide the fact that you can’t really act and third, you lose your lame-ass voice and instead get James Earl Jones to speak for you. Now, how cool is that?
Anakin Skywalker: Awesome, dude!! Where do I sign up?
Darth Sidious: Hold on to your Wookiees, young Anakin. First you’ll have to fight a highly emotional battle with your mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi in a set that closely resembles the one used in the climactic sequence of ‘Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’.
Anakin Skywalker: Dammit… ok fine, but what’s that smell again?

Star Wars Episode IV : A New Hope

Luke Skywalker: Why are we on the sets of Steven Spielberg’s ‘Gremlins’?
Obi-Wan Kenobi: No, that is Yoda, our grammatically challenged philosophy teacher.
Han Solo: That little green thing is your teacher???
Yoda: I look funny, do you think?
Everyone: We're sorry, Yoda sir, but we do.
Yoda: Then Jabba the Hutt, wait till you meet.
Han Solo: I have a bad feeling about this.

Star Wars Episode V : The Empire Strikes Back

Darth Vader: Luke, I am your father.
Luke Skywalker: I know, pops.
Darth Vader: What? How? But the prequels haven’t been released yet!!
Luke Skywalker: I got the pirated DVD.
Darth Vader: Hmmm… I see, but is there anything that you want to ask me?
Luke Skywalker: Yeah, will you please sign my report card?
Darth Vader: I have a bad feeling about this.

Star Wars Episode VI : Return Of The Jedi

Yoda: Party all night, we must. Win the war, we have.
Audience: So does this mean that the series is finally over?
Yoda: Not entirely sure, we are.
Luke Skywalker: I have a bad feeling about this.
Audience: Groooaaaannnn…..

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Shoppers.... STOP!!!

I’ve lived in Theyagaraya Nagar, or T Nagar, as it is affectionately called, ever since I was eight months old and I’m now 21. Mathematically speaking, that’s 96.82% of my life. I have absolutely no idea why I spoke mathematically in the previous sentence but then I’ve not been myself for quite sometime now. Anyway, getting back to the point, I’ve spent nearly my entire life in this medium-sized Chennai Corporation zone which is famous for its incredible zest for life, and even greater zest for traffic blockages.

Seriously, you cannot drive through the place without feeling, at least once, an irresistible urge to pull out the gearshift and jam it down your own throat. It’s a corporation rule and strictly enforced with the help of a highly efficient network of secret spy cameras around the vicinity. The moment the authorities get a hint that a motorized vehicle is rolling smoothly through, they make the remote controlled zombie shoppers to jaywalk across the road, stray directly into the path of the offending vehicle and right there, on the middle of the road, carry on an animated conversation which might even involve the dropping of shopping bags. This is likely to go on until they are satisfied that the driver has learned his lesson and will not dare to swing by T Nagar again.

Why would anyone even want to swing by, you ask? Well, that’s because T Nagar is what professionals refer to as a “shopper’s paradise”. In layman’s terms, it simply means that with the presence of giant corporations such as ‘Saravana Stores’, one can, in addition to buying high-quality products at throwaway prices, also get groped and jostled by big hairy men smelling strongly like a pile of sewage.

The best time to come and see T Nagar, if you want to avoid the crowds, would be back in the 1500s when the city was still a marsh. If you want to see it now, you can’t. During the festival seasons (February-August, October-January), the place truly comes alive offering visitors a golden opportunity to die a slow and painful death. The best and quickest way to get here then would be to jump down from an overhead helicopter, but if you want the complete T Nagar experience, then you should pack a nice picnic lunch and drive there with your extended family. Be sure to carry plenty of drinking water because trying to find a parking space in this Chennai heat can be quite exhausting, especially when it takes more than a year.

However, once you’re in the neighbourhood, you really can’t miss the giant retail outlets even if you want to, because they cover just about every bit of it. Just pick a spot near a shop you like and stand there. Very soon, its doors will open and you will be trampled upon by the mass of humanity that will come rushing out of them. Mind you, these are shoppers from the year 1885, long dead and now reduced to restless wandering spirits who keep walking in and out of stores loudly discussing colour and price. And when you enter one of the shops yourself, be sure to note the time carefully, because every now and then, you might want to celebrate your birthday.

But what’s a couple of decades when you’re having so much fun shopping, right? You’re now in T Nagar - the ultimate shopping paradise, ready with your wallet out to shop until you drop. What could be more fun than that? Well, actually, you can’t quite shop, not just yet. First you must wait, along with 10,000 other aspiring shoppers to actually get inside the product display area. Meanwhile, garishly uniformed store employees present to guide you will treat you with about as much hospitality as a hat rack. By now, you are pushing your way forward, thrusting other wannabe shoppers aside, even kicking and trampling over their children if required. This is the “pure and unadulterated shopping experience” that only T Nagar can offer. Why go to the big fancy malls, with their high prices and brand tags, when, with just a little more effort, and loss of blood, you can get the same things right here, for a full ten rupees less?

We T Nagar residents are extremely proud to feel an immense sense of pride when we talk about our highly dynamic and ebullient locality. We strongly feel that there is no other place in the world where the tourist of today can find so many opportunities to get his pocket picked. And we just can never stop talking arrogantly about Ranganathan Street, a lane like no other, which never fails to make first-time visitors exclaim: “Holy Mother of…” before they pass out and die.

I must warn you that mere words cannot convey to you the incredible amount of fun that you can have in T Nagar. This blog post can, at best, only offer you a small, microscopic really, peek at the magical world that awaits you in our corner of the world. What it aims to do is merely help you, the modern shopper, effectively plan and carry out your purchasing activities with the barest minimum of casualties. So, what are you waiting for, people? Start packing your bags right now. Come to T Nagar immediately and shop to your heart’s content. And remember to drive.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Happy Days!!

The big day is finally here. The last couple of weeks have been hell on my eyes after all the time I've spent looking at the computer screen but it's all over now. The QFI Open Quiz 2005 happens today at 3 p.m. Be there if you can.

And yesterday, thanks to The Amazing Suderman, I found my name on Page 2 of Chennai's favourite newspaper - The Hindu. Thank you, Sudhish!! It was an article about young bloggers, you can read it here, and I was one of the four bloggers mentioned, the others being Harish, Praveen and Sandhya.

And many other things are happening that are making me very very happy indeed. Happy Happy Days!!!