Sunday, May 31, 2009

Movie: Art School Confidential

Jerome(Max Minghella) is an immensely talented young man who wants to be the greatest artist of 21st century. He goes to Strathmore College to pursue his interests. Jerome ends up studying under Professor Sandiman(John Malkovich) who takes an interest in Jerome and guides him.

Jerome gradually learns how the art world works and is impressed with the success of Marvin Bushmiller(Adam Scott), who also studied in Strathmore. He also gets smitten by one of Professor Sandiman’s models, Audrey(Sophia Myles). All the moves by Jerome prove unsuccessful because of the Jonah(Matt Keesler), a fellow art student. Jerome also befriends Jimmy(Jim Broadbent), a Strathmore alumni who is now living in disillusionment.

As the movie progresses, there is a strangler in the campus who is preying on people. As the final days of the school approach, Jerome becomes desperate to score high both in the art world and also in love.

Terry Zwigoff directs this drama. The strangler angle in this drama is confusing as the story can progress even without this character. Overall, the movie is watchable for the story. The performances are not great but it does feature couple of big names.

Picture Courtesy: Yahoo! Movies

Genre: Drama

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Art School Confidential,Max Minghella,John Malkovich,Adam Scott,Sophia Myles,Matt Keesler,Jim Broadbent,Terry Zwigoff,Drama

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Speak Easy

Maybe I’m missing something, but that just sounded like the biggest bunch of bullshit I’ve ever heard in my life

This was Mark Cuban’s reaction to Adam Lindemann during TechCrunch50 where Adam was presenting his product/company iMindi and Mark was the judge. Mark spoke his heart rather than trying to reframe the response in a politically correct way.

Today, when we are becoming increasingly insensitive to other’s  feelings, the call for tolerance is also on the high! But when we become tolerant, we are losing out a good laugh on these intolerant remarks. I have worked in companies with startup mentality and also with traditional mentality. Mark’s remarks reminded me of the years spent with companies with startup mentality.

Nobody is afraid to speak their mind! The people who will be shouting at the top of their lungs will magically stop the yelling match at 1pm and go out for lunch together. When they come back, they resume from where they left off.

There is no hesitation in using the infamous four letter words. I have been in meetings where people pointed their fingers at each other. And it was never the index fingers they were pointing!

Picture Courtesy: http://drinkmovement.wordpress.com

Blogger Labels: Musings,People,Speak Easy,Mark Cuban,Adam Lindemann,Startup

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Movie: Things We Lost in the Fire

Jerry Sunborne(Benicio Del Toro) and Steven Burke(David Duchovny) are friends from second grade. Jerry has become a drug addict while Steven has become a successful developer. Steven is now married to Audrey(Halle Berry) and they have two kids, Harper and Dory. Steven still believes in Jerry and visits him on a regular basis. But, Audrey does not approve of this friendship.

When Steven gets killed in a freak shoot out, Audrey invites Jerry for the funeral. After the funeral, Audrey asks Jerry to move in her house. Jerry befriends the kids and the neighbor. Slowly, Audrey and Jerry struggle to piece their life together.

Susanne Bier directs this drama. She starts the movie with the funeral and gives us the background information in short flashbacks. She also uses shaky camera without losing focus on the performance of the lead actors.

The movie works because of performance of Benicio Del Toro and Halle Berry. Benicio Del Toro is excellent as the drug addict who is struggling to recover. He uses his entire body – wandering eyes, biting lips, shrugging shoulders - to show restlessness associated with the character. Halle Berry is good as the wife who is coping with loss and feeling conflicted about increasing influence of Jerry on her kids.

Rating: ***

Genre: Drama

Picture Courtesy: Yahoo! Movies

Tags: Movies,Things We Lost in the Fire,Benicio Del Toro,David Duchovny,Halle Berry,Susanne Bier,Drama

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

To Dunk or Not

Last week, Ina Fried, wrote an interesting article about retrieving her BlackBerry from a clean bowl after an accident. She chronicles her subsequent search, and her anxiety, in getting her BlackBerry to work. While reading, I kept wondering about how the BlackBerry ended up in the clean bowl! More important, how or why did she decide to dunk her hand and retrieve the BlackBerry? It would have taken enormous effort to dunk your hand into a bowl no matter how clean or clear the water is.

Long ago, during my school years in Kochi, I have heard someone shamefully recounting a similar experience. A gold ring slipped from the maid’s finger into the bowl when she was cleaning the rest rooms. She immediately dunked and took the ring out. “It was pure gold”, she said anticipating my approval. I mumbled something in return and moved out as it was an embarrassing moment for me. Considering the paltry monthly salary, she had to hang on to the precious possession.

This will be a good lesson for all those people who are using their mobiles in restricted areas! One of my friend is known to take his laptop inside the confines of his bathroom. He has setup wireless connectivity at home and can surf the net from bathroom. Luckily, laptop being a large object, it is never going to slip down and will never cause him a dunking dilemma.

Picture Courtesy: www.istockphoto.com

Tags: Musings,To Dunk or Not,Ina Fried,BlackBerry,Kochi

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Apple, Earbuds and Static

“Wow! iMac!”, my friend gushed. It was fall of 1999 and we were in the Fry’s store on Arques Avenue in Sunnyvale. It was many seasons before iPod hit the market. Growing up on PCs, I was ignorant about Apple and Macs then. I was puzzled on why people want to use an iMac? Wasn’t Windows the answer for everything?

My friend patiently explained about Macs and it’s loyal fan base, never missing an opportunity to berate Microsoft. In spite of never touching a Mac before in his life, the passion in his voice and eyes were hard to miss. He loved Apple. On second thoughts, he worshipped Apple.

It is one of the most interesting thing about Apple. Before iPod hit the market, I have never came across any friend(or even friend’s friend) who used an Apple product. But, they were ready to vouch for Apple!

I was always neutral to Apple. I was gifted two iPods at different occasions. My wife listens to music while I download trailers and watch it on iPod. I love the product. But I can hardly be called an Apple fan(atic).

Last week, Apple warned users about experiencing a “small and quick” shock via their earbuds due to a buildup of static electricity. I have met people who can’t handle static while opening a door. When presented an opportunity to open a door, they will glide sideways tactfully so as to let the next person open the door. Hope they are not using iPods.

Imagine getting a jolt of electricity while or after listening to your favorite song! A wake up call for the listener lest he/she falls asleep listening to a favorite song.

But Apple, being a professional outfit, immediately issued an article on their support forum. They have explained the cause of this issue and asked us to avoid using it in extremely dry environment. They have also asked the users to try out the following options.

  • Dehumidifier
  • Anti-static spray
  • Anti-static hand lotion
  • Apparels made of natural fibers
  • Bag or case for iPod

Even in adverse conditions, Apple is trying to promote other industries! This is exactly what we need in a downturn!

Picture courtesy: http://fortuneapple20.files.wordpress.com, http://www.apple.com

Tags: Musings,Apple,Earbuds,Static,Microsoft,iMac,iPod

Movie: Ripley Under Ground

Tom Ripley(Barry Pepper) is a struggling actor, living in London now. He goes to an art exhibition with his actress friend, Cynthia(Claire Forlani). Cynthia’s boyfriend, Derwatt, is exhibiting his paintings with help of Jeff Constant(Alan Cumming). Bernard Sayles(Ian Hart), a struggling artist and vying for Cynthia’s attention, completes the group.

At the exhibition, Tom runs into Heloise Plisson(Jacinda Barrett), a rich and beautiful French heiress and develops an instant liking for her. After the first night of exhibition, Derwatt meets with an accident due to his rash driving. Fearing no takers to Derwatt’s paintings after his death leading to huge losses for Jeff, Ripley convinces everybody to hide the accident till the exhibition is over.

Before the exhibition gets over, Jeff is given a huge amount in advance for Derwatt’s painting by an American collector, Neil Murchison(Willam Dafoe). Since Bernard can imitate Derwatt, Ripley convinces everyone to keep up the charade while Bernard paints as Derwatt. Everything goes well and they start making money.

Ripley starts pursuing Heloise by landing up at her doorsteps. Her dad takes an instant dislike to him. In the meanwhile, Murchison suspects the new painting delivered to him are fake and shows up in London. He also turns up in Paris. Soon, John Webster(Tom Wilkinson), Scotland Yard Inspector, is hot on Ripley’s trail. The narrative goes through many twists and turns eventually leading to a thrilling climax.

Adapted from a novel with the same title by Patricia Highland, this movie is directed by Roger Spottiswoode. Go for it for the twists and turns. The movie has graphic scenes. Watch it at your discretion.

Genre: Thriller

Tags: Movies,Ripley Under Ground,Tom Ripley,Barry Pepper,Claire Forlani,Alan Cumming,Ian Hart,Jacinda Barrett,Willam Dafoe,Tom Wilkinson,Patricia Highland,Roger Spottiswoode,Thriller

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dirty Dishes

On Saturday, at the request of my niece, we stopped by Kebabwala after shopping for groceries. We were accompanied by my wife and daughter. Being Saturday, the place was extremely hot and noisily crowded.  We were able to find a vacant spot near the barbeque machine. After everyone sat down, I walked to the counter to place the order. I returned to my table with a plateful of chicken lollipops and a shewarma. The girls feasted on the lollipops while I ate shewarma.

The adjacent table was occupied by four people. One of them suddenly dumped their dirty dish on my table. His table was full with dishes and he had finished a plate of biriyani. Now, he was struggling to place a new dish his friend had brought over. In order to place the new dish on the table, he dumped the dirty dish that contained the wasted rice and a chicken leg devoid of meat on my table. He resumed eating his dinner without giving me a second look.

I was angry. But, controlling my emotions, I asked him about the dish. Suddenly, his friend wanted to take the dish back while he remained unrepentant. He was about to defend his actions was full when his friend took the dish back!

What was he thinking?

Tags: Musings,Bangalore,Daughter,Niece,Wife

Movie: Aloo Chaat

Nikhil(Aftab Shivdasani) returns to Delhi after completing his education. On his return, he finds his dad, Purushottam(Khulbhushan Karbanda) along with other members in his family trying to set him up with prospective brides. Purushottam’s friend, Hakim Tarachand(Manoj Pahwa), also aids him in this cause. Hakim is the local sexologist saving the local gigolos and local couples from impending disasters.

Nikhil is not interested in the girl his family found for him as he is in love with Aamna(Aamna Shariff). But Aamna is a muslim while Nikhil is an Hindu and this will not go fine with ultra conservative Purushottam. So, Nikhil hatches a plan with Hakim Tarachand. Find a gori girlfriend. Introduce Aamna along with the new girlfriend. Let the family figure out the difference between gori and desi. Make the family pick the desi girl. So, Nikhil and Hakim finds Nikki(Linda Arsenio). To top this all, Nikhil’s uncle, Chhadami Mama(Sanjay Mishra) hates goris.

What promises to be a laugh riot does not even evoke a giggle. The film is boringly slow with “supposedly” witty one-liners! Aftab Shivdasani looks uninterested while Manoj Pahwa and Sanjay Mishra fails to make us laugh. More than the actors, the director, Robby Grewal, lets down. He has chosen a wrong pace and tone for the movie.

Tags: Movies,Aloo Chaat,Aftab Shivdasani,Khulbhushan Karbanda,Manoj Pahwa,Aamna Shariff,Linda Arsenio,Sanjay Mishra,Robby Grewal

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Three on a match

During the Manipal years(college years), a good friend of mine never let us light more than 2 cigarettes from one match. If he saw a match being passed to the third man, he intervened and extinguished the match. This always caused despair in the third soul who was waiting for the smoke to give him a much needed escape. Surprised by his actions, I asked him about his perversion. He explained philosophically, “It is bad for friendship!”.

The selfless relationship of friends were threatened by an inanimate object of negligible size. The match has fire at one end. But it was still not dangerous and can easily be controlled. Such an inconsequential object has a devastating effect on a strong invisible bond named friendship. My blood boiled.

From that moment, I took up arms against three on a match. Whenever I saw three people lighting cigarette from a single match, I sprang into action. I destroyed the offensive match by extinguishing it. In the ensuing years, I saved numerous friendships.

Last week, I came across on an article on  Ivar Kreuger. There is also a book named The Match King, detailing his life and his crooked deals. Three on a match is a superstition created by Ivar in order to sell more matches! He used this on soldiers. The superstition says  if three soldiers lit their cigarettes from the same match, then one of them would be killed.

I feel cheated to be used by selfish industrialist. Though I do not hold any grudge against my friend, I’m now wondering how a superstition among soldiers eventually became a superstition among friends.

Tags: Musings,Three on a Match,Manipal,Friendship,Ivar Kreuger,Superstition,Cigarettes

Friday, May 22, 2009

Movie: What Happens in Vegas

Joy McNally(Cameron Diaz) and Jack Fuller(Ashton Kutcher) are two diametrically opposite personalities who meets in Las Vegas. Joy has dumped by her boyfriend while Jack was fired by his boss, Jack Fuller Sr(Treat Williams) who is also his dad. Joy and Jack lands up in Vegas for rebound with their respective friends, Tipper(Lake Bell) and Hater(Rob Corddry).

After a initial showdown, Joy and Jack warms up to each other. They party wild all night. When they get up the next day, they find themselves married to each other. They almost agrees to have the marriage annulled when fate plays a weird trick. Jack hits the jackpot of $ 3,000,000 with quarter taken from Joy. So, they end up in the court for a divorce so that Joy can have half the money.

Judge Whopper(Dennis Miller) scolds the couple for making a mockery of marriage. He orders them to put in a sincere attempt to make their marriage work and order to meet a counselor, Dr Twitchell(Queen Latifah), on a regular basis.

Joy moves into Jack’s apartment. Now, they start making each other’s life miserable. But in spite of all their best efforts to thwart the marriage and infuriate the other, they end up falling in love with each other and also complements each other.

Only 20 minutes of the movie is set in Vegas and the rest is set in NY. With the name, you assume the movie is set completely in Vegas!

The movie gives you occasional laughs.

Tags: Movies,What Happens in Vegas,Cameron Diaz,Ashton Kutcher,Treat Williams,Lake Bell,Rob Corddry,Dennis Miller,Queen Latifah

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Movie: Smokin’ Aces

Buddy “Aces” Israel(Jeremy Piven), a Vegas entertainer, is a wannabe mob boss who gets into a disagreement with the current mob boss Primo Sparazza. As a result, Israel decides to turn state’s evidence against Primo. FBI has been trying to get evidence against Primo for a long time. The only success was the infiltration of Primo’s gang with an undercover agent named Freeman Heller a long time back. But, Primo finds the identity of Heller and kills him.In order to place Israel under protective custody, FBI director Stanley Locke(Andy Garcia) sends out two agents – Agent Carruthers(Ray Liotta) and Agent Messner(Ryan Reynolds).

Meanwhile, Primo orders a million dollar contract on Buddy Israel life and he wants Israel’s heart to be presented by the killer. This contract draws a set of psychopathic killers. Georgia Sykes(Alicia Keys) and Sharice(Taraji P. Henson) Watters, who works as a couple, is entrusted with this job. Similarly, Soot and Diego are two independent operators who is hot on Israel’s tail. Finally, a band of neo-nazi psychopathic killers – Darwin Tremor, Jeeves Tremor and Lester Tremor – also pursues Israel.

In addition to both sides of law, there is a different set of people who are pursuing Israel. Israel has jumped bond and as a result Jack Dupree(Ben Affleck), Pistol Pete Deeks(Peter Berg) and Hollis Elmore(Martin Henderson) are also trying to bring back Israel.

Israel is now hiding out in the penthouse suite of the Nomad Casino in Lake Tahoe. All three different sets of people descend into Lake Tahoe leading to the final confrontation.

Joe Carnahan, the director, sets the stage and introduces the host of characters in the first 20 minutes. The movie is fast paced with narrative jumping from one story to another. The jumps help to fasten the pace and also keeps the viewer hooked onto the movie. The shootouts are well choreographed. He has managed to rope a lot of famous actors. You will also see Matthew Fox in a very small role of casino security.

Go for it to crank up the volume of your apartment. This will be a good watch if you like fast paced movie, shoot outs, slow motions and a lot of blood on screen.

Tags: Movies,Smokin' Acces,Jeremy Piven,Andy Garcia,Ray Liotta,Ryan Reynolds,Alicia Keyes,Taraji P. Henson,Ben Affleck,Peter Berg,Martin Henderson,Joe Carnahan,Matthew Fox

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Curtains

When my young friend said he was skipping lunch on last Thursday, I was surprised. Here is someone who don’t discriminate between chicken, mutton and beef and whose idea of dieting is ordering one and a half biriyani instead of two. Instead of reaffirming his decision, I asked, “Why?”. He spoke after sizing my question from all angles. “I am fixing my curtains”.

Luckily for me, I was not sitting on a chair. So, I did not fell off the chair. We were standing in the corridor. It was my turn to pause and I restrained myself from reacting with the sarcastic,  exaggerated and loud laugh that I’m known for.

I regained my composure and said, “Wow! You doing it yourself?”

He calmly responded, “No. I have hired somebody to do the curtains. He will be coming over now. So, I have to skip the lunch and makes sure he does a good job!”.

My friend is very young. Recently, he has again patched up with his girlfriend in an alternating on-off relationship. He stays in a one bedroom apartment with another friend. Why would he want to put curtains in a place when he is always on the move or at work? It is the married men who runs around for all these things at the “insistence” or “persuasion” of their spouses!

After a considerable thought, I attributed it to faster aging where my friend was getting wiser beyond his age. I went for lunch while he went to his apartment. I couldn’t suppress a smile when I saw him walking back flustered after three hours. Such an inane thing as fixing curtains was not easy as it sounded. But I was impressed with my friend’s efforts to elevate the charm of his abode.

Over the weekend, the truth came out of the closet. His girlfriend was visiting from out of town. Putting up curtains was a way of impressing her. So I confronted him, “Why curtains? There are thousand other things you could do!”.

Pat came the reply, “She had given me a bed lamp and the curtains make it look it better!”.

Tags: Musings,Curtains,Girlfriend,Relationship

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Movie: Leatherheads

Dodge Connolly(George Clooney) is the captain of a professional American football team named Duluth Bulldogs in the 1920s. In 1925, the team is disbanded as a result of losing the sponsor.

In order to get the team back in the limelight, Dodge tries to enlist Carter “the Bullet” Rutherford(John Krasinki), a war hero, into playing for Duluth Bulldogs. Dodge convinces Carter’s agent, CC Frazier(Jonathan Pryce) before convincing Carter.

As a result of accusation of cowardice from a man who served with Carter in the war, Lexie Littleton(Renee Zellweger), a reporter with the Chicago newspaper, investigates Carter by following him. While Carter is unaware of her intentions, Dodge accidentally finds out about Lexie’s mission.

What follows is a romance, comedy, second comings with a triangular love story thrown in. George Clooney directs this movie and the movie has an “Coen brothers” hangover! This movie does not have anything new to offer. At the same time, it does not bore us to death!

Tags: Movies,Leatherheads,George Clooney,John Krasinki,Jonathan Pryce,Renee Zellweger

Friday, May 15, 2009

Axe Effect

Dear Paul Polman,

Good day to you. Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to read my letter. I recently picked a deodorant named Axe from your collection of products. Right now, I’m confused and almost disappointed with respect to Axe. So I decided to write to you, seeking answers to my questions.

I was reminded of your commercials when my eyes rested on the display of Axe brand on one of the shelves in the local super market. Your commercial shows a remarkable change – in the facial expression – of the fairer sex when somebody who has used your Axe deodorant walks by. The women in your commercials go the extra length to express their desire to the man, armed and dangerous with Axe. All the imagery associated with the commercials tipped my decision towards this particular brand.

Once I zeroed in the brand, I was presented with another dilemma. Which one do I chose? There were again a wide variety of offerings under this brand -  Musk, Spice, Amber, Marine, Oriental etc. Hidden among these choices was a chocolate colored bottle indicating Dark Temptation. The name reminded me of Cadburys. I did not hesitate further and picked it up. As I approached the counter, I felt awkward. Luckily, the counter was deserted. So, I was able to pay and leave quickly.

I was very excited in the morning when I left for work. I had used a liberal dose of the Dark Temptation while getting ready for work. As I entered the office, I saw a group of women waiting for the elevator. I was not planning for this scenario and I sweated profusely, thinking of the consequences displayed in the Axe commercials. While waiting for the elevator, I watched these women through the corner of my eye, surreptitiously. None of the women were behaving like the women in your commercials! After the initial panic, I gave your product the benefit of doubt. It may take more than 5 seconds to have the desired effect.

I was the last one to step into the elevator and my heart was pounding faster by then. The elevators are constricted spaces and I will be alone with these women in the elevator. I found courage and stepped in the elevator. Even in the elevator, these women remained calm. Once again, I gave your product another benefit of doubt. The women may be extremely restraint.

During the lunch at the office canteen, I passed by several women. All of them never threw a glance at me. By this time, I started doubting the “extremely restraint” theory. As the day grew older, my anxiety and pain increased. After completing the day at work. I rushed back home to search the Dark Temptation ads on the net and found an ad that bewildered me.

Now, please tell me where did I go wrong?

Anxiously waiting your reply,

Yours faithfully,

A sincere customer.

Tags: Musing,Paul Polman,Axe,Axe Effect,Deodorant,Dark Temptation,Cadburys,Commercials

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Denomination Effect

Have you noticed the bills with larger denomination staying in your wallet for longer time? Do you ask your friends to pay and settle it later with them if you have bills with larger denomination in your wallet?

According to Priya Raghubir and Joydeep Srivastava in a paper titled “Denomination Effect”, people are less likely to spend larger bills than their equivalent in smaller bills. So you spend less if you have a single $20 bill than twenty $1 bills.

We also fear once larger bill is broken into smaller ones, the money will vanish in no time! Priya and Joydeep uses the term “tightwads” to describe this phenomenon. This fear has also fuelled many interesting conversations among friends when it comes to paying bills as early as from the college days.

I paid last time. You pay now and I will settle it with you later.

I also have a large bill. No, I don’t want to pay. Why do I pay all the time?

In these turbulent times, if anyone owes you money, it is better to ask for larger bills at the time of repayment so that it will linger in your wallet for a longer time.

Tags: Musings,Denomination Effect,Priya Raghubir,Joydeep Srivastava,Money,Tightwads

Movie: Delhi-6

Roshan(Abhishek Bachchan) accompanies his ailing grandmother(Waheeda Rahman) to Chandni Chowk as per her wish to spent her last days in their ancestral home. Delhi-6 is the zip code of Chandni Chowk. After reaching India, the grandmother gets better because of nearness to old friends and the colorful ways of Delhi.Roshan gets the taste of India in the narrow constricted lanes of Chandni Chowk.

Here, he meets an army of characters; all interesting in their own way. He befriends Ali uncle(Rishi Kapoor) who was in love with Roshan’s mother and lost her to Roshan’s dad. He gradually falls in love with Bittu(Sonam Kapoor) who rebels when it comes to a marriage arranged by her dad and aspires to be an Indian Idol demonstrating the independent streak. He falls in love with Mamdu’s(Deepak Dobriyal) jalebis. He watches two warring brothers – Madan Gopal(Om Puri) and Jai Gopal(Pawan Malhotra) – in amusement. He has a showdown with the Inspector Ranvijay(Vijay Raaz). He watches Hindus and Muslims leaving in harmony.The peace is disturbed by a menace named Kaala Bandhar. In a short span of time, Hindus turn against Muslims. Tensions rise leading to a dramatic climax.

This is Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s directorial venture after the successful Rang De Basanti. This is aimed at the intelligentsia. He has brilliantly captured the claustrophobic lanes of Chandni Chowk and also presents the viewer with excellent montages of Delhi interspersed in the songs. Some of the songs are relegated to background in order to avoid inconvenience to the viewer. Yet the movie falters because of the screenplay.

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Prasoon Joshi and Kamlesh Pandey have collaborated on the screenplay. The Act III of the screenplay is fast where events happen in quick succession. The Act I and Act II are slow and boring because of the multitude of characters involved. Because of a weak screenplay, most of the veteran actors do not stay in our minds long after the movie.

Abhishek Bachchan is okay as the NRI who falls in love with India. He underplays the character like his portrayals of the Shankar in Sarkar and Sarkar Raj. Waheeda Rahman lends credibility to the cast. Among the other actors, Deepak Dobriyal outshines all others. Amitabh Bachchan appears as Roshan’s grandfather in a blink-and-miss role.

Go watch it to encourage the attempt towards quality cinema.

Tags: Movies,Delhi-6,Chandni Chowk,Abhishek Bachchan,Amitabh Bachchan,Waheeda Rahman,Rishi Kapoor,Sonam Kapoor,Deepak Dobriyal,Om Puri,Pawan Malhotra,Vijay Raaz,Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra,Prasoon Joshi,Kamlesh Pandey

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff, a 20 minute video on the hazards of human consumption, is a big hit in American classrooms. The creator of the video is Annie Leonard, a former Greenpeace employee. Her video has a profound influence in altering the buying habits of the next generation.

Annie’s video explores the 5 processes involved in creation and consumption of stuff.

  1. Extraction: In this section, the video emphasizes on the depletion of natural resources which will act as the raw material for stuff.
  2. Production: Here, the natural resources are mixed in toxic substances to produce stuff. The toxics eventually build up in the food chain affecting even the breast milk.
  3. Distribution: The stuff is cheap and sold quickly because of externalizing the costs. Since the real costs are not captured, we aren’t really paying for the stuff we buy!
  4. Consumption: 99% of the stuff is trashed within 6 months! This section highlights Victor Lebow’s call for consumerism and two of the effective strategies used – planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence. The effective strategy is also bring down the happiness quotient in every day life.
  5. Disposal: During this phase, toxic substances, that were added in production, when burned releases super toxins thereby adding to the woes.

Blogger Labels: Videos,The Story of Stuff,Annie Leonard,Greenpeace,Extraction,Production,Distribution,Consumption,Disposal,Victor Lebow,Planned Obsolescence,Percieved Obsolescence

Monday, May 11, 2009

Movie: Margot at the Wedding

Margot(Nicole Kidman) visits her sister, Pauline(Jennifer Jason Leigh), in their family home. She takes her son, Claude, alongside during the visit. Pauline is planning to marry Malcolm (Jack Black).

Margot is a successful writer and is critical of everything. She is currently separated from her husband. She is also overly critical of her sibling, Pauline. Pauline trusts Margot completely and confides that Pauline is pregnant. Margot distrusts Malcolm, who is a failed musician.

Margot’s hypocritical ways touches everyone’s lives. The ghosts from the past come tumbling outside the closet - the siblings fight, the husband pleads, the fiancé confesses!

You can miss this wedding!

Tags: Movies,Margot at the Wedding,Nicole Kidman,Jennifer Jason Leigh,Jack Black

In search of land

When my brother-in-law told me about the plots for sale in Sarjapur, lying in the outskirts of Bangalore, I was interested in checking out the plot and location. These plots are ideal places to build a house. But will I ever be building a house in Bangalore? Only time can can answer this question.

There was another reason too behind my decision. The tax season reminds me of the money I have spent the entire season despite the EMI payments and the various insurance payments. Starting another enterprise that requires a monthly payment gives me a good opportunity to feel proud of my achievement in the next season. Of course, during these calculations, I conveniently forget about the pains associated with making the various monthly payments!

We started out towards Sarjapur before twilight. My brother-in-law had made couple of calls after I indicated interest and the car was filled with enthusiastic and potential investors. The road towards Sarjapur is deserted with little villages sprouting up en route. Out of nowhere, shops appear on both sides of the road with bicyclists and pedestrians refusing to yield. Most of the prominent builders in town has acquired acres of land in this part of the city. Huge hoardings announce their presence and walls around the hoardings marks the assets.

As it was dark, we missed the destination and went further into the city of Sarjapur. Once we realized our folly, we turned back. This time, we consulted the crude map drawn in the back of the brochure supplied by the builder to avoid any further delays. After unsuccessfully interactions with the locals on the whereabouts, we found the small country road that leads us to the destination. It was a paved road which you could miss even if you are looking for it. This road featured a Kidzee school at the start of the road. Why would anyone want to start a school in an underdeveloped area? Are the property developers paying for the school to make the area more attractive?

All along the road, we found huge walls and gates indicating private property; majestic walls and nameless gates. We continued on the road for 10 minutes before realizing we were lost again! A couple of phone calls, owing to poor network coverage in the area, to another friend helped us in identifying the exact location of the plot.

It was one of those inconspicuous wrought iron gates. It was dark by the time we drove inside this gate. There were neither any guards at the gate nor any living being inside the gate. It was virgin land as far as eyes could reach. After taking couple of turns on the rudimentary road, we reached a building under construction. This indicated the future office of the builder. Reluctant in getting out as due to darkness and little sand structures indicating the presence of snakes, we surveyed the land and the plots from the car. There were no clear indication on what was for sale and how the land was divided in contrast to the brochure, which was colorful.

We started back to Bangalore without making a decision. Commute to work, the potential of these places becoming hubs in the next few years and BDA limits dominated our conversation on the way back.

Tags: Musings,Bangalore,Land,Plot,Sarjapur,Builders,BDA,Kidzee

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Movie: The Golden Compass

In a parallel universe, humans are inseparable from their dæmons, representation of their souls in the shape of an animal. This parallel universe also possesses an alethiometer, also referred as The Golden Compass, which measures the truth. Over the ages, the alethiometers have been destroyed by an organization named Magisterium.

The story opens with Lyra Belacqua(Dakota Blue Richards), an orphan, spending her time at Jordan college. Her dæmon is Pan(Pantalaimon) and often changes shapes. Lord Asriel(Daniel Craig), her uncle, is visiting Jordan college to make a presentation. Lyra, as a result of a misadventure, get locked inside the room where the presentation is going to be held. So, she is able to save Lord Asriel from a death attempt. She also finds out more about Lord Asriel’s intentions. He is looking for funds for an expedition to North Pole and experimenting with a mysterious substance named as Dust.

Lyra then meets up with Marisa Coulter(Nicole Kidman) in a dinner hosted by the college. Marisa persuades the Master of the College in giving her Lyra as an apprentice. The Master agrees reluctantly. Before Lyra leaves Jordan college, the Master presents her with an alethiometer and warns against disclosing the possession to anyone. Lyra then starts her journey with Marisa. Before long, Lyra discovers Marisa is not what she claims to be. Marisa is in hand-in-glove with the Magisterium and is connected to Gobblers, who kidnap children, for mysterious experiment.

Lyra runs away from Marisa and is saved by Gyptians. Now, she embarks on an adventure where she learns to use the alethiometer, befriends a witch named Serafina Pekkala(Eva Green) and a Texan aeronaut named Lee Scoreby(Sam Elliot). She also helps an armored polar bear, Iorek Byrnison(voice of Ian McKellen),  from a life of pity to that of glory.

The movie is based on first book in the trilogy, His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman. This is no patch on The Lord of the Rings although the movie is a fantasy and requires stunning imagery like the Lord of the Rings. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable watch.

Tags: Movies,The Golden Compass,Dakota Blue Richards,Daniel Craig,Nicole Kidman,Eva Green,Sam Elliot,Ian McKellen,His Dark Materials,Philip Pullman

Friday, May 8, 2009

Business Cards, Meat, Lasers…

What do business cards, meat and lasers in common? Seems nothing! Check out Meat Cards. Four organizations coming together to give you business cards printed on beef jerky with lasers.

What is the future of business cards in today’s world when you can transfer contact details across cell phones?

Will this environment friendly? So, you are going to carry a lot of beef jerky in your wallet! This looks like an interesting option for a professional who travels a lot! But they are also trying to print “Do Not Eat” on the card. But will it taste a bit of laser even if we ignore the warning?

Where do people find time and money to pursue these kind of ideas? Is there a venture capitalist involved? If there is one, I’m going to do some serious thinking tonight! I’m wasting my time here when there are a lot of opportunities out there to make money!

Tags: Musings,Business Cards,Meat,Lasers

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hidden Kitchen: Hometreat

On one of the pocket roads off the 100 ft road very close to where 100 ft road intersects with Sarjapur road in Madiwala, you can find Hometreat in one of the residential building. They do not have a billboard advertising their presence. Even the pocket road is not identifiable in Google maps!

This is primarily a mess catering to the young crowd in the area. But they have mouthwatering Kochi Biriyani, crispy fish fries(sardine and mackerel) and also excellent beef dishes. The food is oily but very tasty.

Their phone number is +918025520272.

Call ahead as you will have trouble finding this place.

Tags: Hidden Kitchen,Bangalore,Hometreat,Biriyani,Fish Fry,beef

Stimulus works!

What else can explain the serpentine queue for a Jimmy Choo sale in Manhattan. For the unintiated, Jimmy Choo is the luxury fashion designer known for woman’s shoes. This was made popular by “Sex and the City”. Jimmy sells off old samples at bargain-basement prices of $75 for shoes or $150 for a bag.

I hope there were serious buyers and the money is trickling down to save the economy as I write!

Tags: Videos,Stimulus,Jimmy Choo,Manhattan,Shoes

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The “Mundu” Legacy

Many of my friends refer to “mundu” as “lungi”. For a malayali, there is a difference between mundu and lungi. Since this is not a subtle difference, you can imagine the anguish and frustration of hearing “mundu” referred as “lungi”!


Check out the mundu and lungi definitions on wikipedia. Both are garments worn around the waist and the similarities end here! Lungi is colorful while mundu is not! For a malayali, lungi is casual while mundu is formal!
Since time immemorial, there are jokes about mundu. A fellow blogger, Mathew, digs deeper to challenge the myths and also enlighten with facts about the mundu and it’s legacy.


He starts with the reasons for low industrial productivity that is going around the internet and challenges the figures. Then, he moves to the ancient history. The Romans knew Mundu but never got to wear it the right way. In not so distant past, Freud also talks about the Malayali mind with respect to the way in which he wears the mundu. Finally, Mathew also brings out the early morning debacles because of wearing mundu!

You can find more writing from Mathew at http://wetspark.blogspot.com.


Picture Courtesy: www.keralapals.com

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Predicament of a parent

On Labor day evening, my niece was riding her bicycle after mastering the art of cycling using her feet to rotate the pedal fully. Seeing this, I started pushing the bicycle with force excitedly.

My niece survived the first two pushes. As a result, the adrenalin levels climbed and I pushed harder. This time, she lost her balance and fell on the concrete floor. Recently, her parents had tonsured her head. So the impacted area swelled up fast and she suffered a massive shock as evident on her face.

Her dad, her mom and me took turns in consoling her. Then, I went home for a change as we had planned to meet in couple of hours for dinner at my sister’s place. When I returned with my family, one of their friends was in the apartment alone.

My niece had vomited twice. Since she fell hitting her head, my sister and her husband took her to St John’s Hospital. The doctor had advised for CAT scan to rule out any hidden issues. The CAT scan can be performed only after 4 hours of the incident. So, they were stuck in the hospital.

We drove to the hospital immediately. On the way, we frantically tried to reach whoever was in the hospital with my niece. By the time we walked into the hospital, the scan was completed and technician had assured us there was nothing to worry about. We felt better and waited for the pediatrician’s final words.

The pediatrician took a look at the scan results and okayed it. He called up a neurologist for a second opinion. After a long wait, the neurologist turned up. He looked at the scan results and confirmed everything was alright.

I was standing by my brother-in-law’s side when the doctor advised him , “Everything looks good. Now, if you see excessive vomiting, unconsciousness or blabbering in the middle of night, please bring her back”.

I conveyed the same to my sister. My sister looked puzzled. After a moment’s pause, she asked “In the middle of night, both of us will be sleeping. The baby will also be sleeping. How will we know if she is unconscious?!”

Tags: Musings,Predicament,St John's Hospital,Doctor,Sister,Niece,Pediatrician,Neurologist

Movie: CJ7

Dicky(Xu Jiao), son of poor labourer Ti(Stephen Chow), studies in an expensive private school. As Ti does not have any formal education, he wants his son to have better opportunities than him. So, Ti works hard to earn money for the tuition fees doing jobs on construction sites.

Ti scavenges the dumpsters to gather shoes, shirts etc for Dicky. One day, during such a scavenging tour, he gets a green ball from the dumpsters and Ti presents the green ball to Dicky. The green ball turns out to be an alien.

Dicky finds out the true identity of green ball before Ti. He terms it as CJ7 in order to boast in front of his classmates who has a toy named CJ1. Dicky dreams about CJ7 possessing magical powers to transform his life.

But, the reality is different. Although Cj7 does not possess any magical powers that Dicky dreams about, it still transforms Dicky’s life.

This is a Cantonese movie directed by Stephen Chow. He also acts in the movie as Ti. Like his previous movies, this one also relies on exaggerated while visually pleasing and astonishing action sequences. He also pay homage to many Hollywood blockbusters of yesteryears.

Watch it if you have nothing else to do. This might evoke laughs.

Tags: Movies,Xu Jiao,Stephen Chow

Friday, May 1, 2009

I voted…

Bollywood… My apologies, Big B. If I refer to this as “Hindi film industry” as you would like all of us to, I will not be able to finish this blog on time! So, I’m sticking to the unimaginative name just like the unimaginative knock-offs the “Hindi film industry” delivers! Now, it is time to get back to my blog!

Bollywood celebrities have been urging us to vote on Radio and TV. Aamir Khan contributed towards ads for creating awareness on voting and elections. Even the wooden faced, John Abraham, urged his fans to vote. Looking at his portfolio and performances, the fact that he still has fans is a surprise!

Preaching is easy and practicing is difficult! The preacher always shuns away from practicing. Did these celebrities turn out for voting on 30th April 2008 in Mumbai? Yes, they did!

Along with hoards of celebrities, the first family of  Bollywood, the Bachchans, also showed up. Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan displayed their middle fingers gallantly to the shutterbugs. I voted… Up yours, Sir! Or was this intended for junta?

Blogger Labels: Musings,Voting,Elections,Bollywood,Aamir Khan,John Abraham,Amitabh Bachchan,Abhishek Bachchan

Perils of being a boss

When I almost felt safe by acquiring skills to duck, I came across a podcast which shattered my sense of security. With the financial meltdown, anger is rampant and vengeance against the bosses is the most common way to release anger.

Depending on the area of residence, you express your anger differently. If you live in UK, you will throw brick through your boss’s window! If you live in France, you will lock your boss in and throw away the key. If you are in US, you will tarnish your boss on the internet!

The US way of releasing anger is both peaceful and effective way of reacting to the excesses of your boss. This is exactly what happened at Thomas Weisel Partners in San Francisco. A Managing Director, John Soden, send a nasty email to employees asking them to report on Good Friday! On retaliation, one employee set up a fake Twitter account on the MD’s name. Since then, the fake twitter account has provided a platform for all the email victims to exact fun at  Soden’s expense.

As we are good at learning and adapting, I’m afraid if my direct reports will learn these techniques followed by their brethren in other parts of the world. At first, there was no reason to panic since I never asked anyone to work on Good Friday. Pondering more on this point, I have asked my direct reports to work on weekends when the timelines were challenging.

Since it is better to plan for all outcomes, I started looking at the various modes of releasing anger. The UK way will not be applicable to me since I do not have a window, neither in the office nor in my apartment, through which a brick can sail through. All the windows have grills.

The France way also will not work on me. At work, they are no rooms to lock me in. In worst case scenario, I will always have my cell phone with me and there is good network coverage at my work.

Since Twitter is blocked at work, I heaved a sigh of relief. But that was momentary. Most of direct reports have internet connection at home! How am I going to safeguard against this evil? I’m clueless. Help me, God…

Tags: Movies,Boss,Anger,Thomas Weisel Partners,San Francisco,John Soden,Twitter
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