Monday, April 30, 2012

Photos: Avengers, the French Election edition

This is a poster of Avengers that I came across while strolling the 13th arrondissement. Look closely, you will see Tony Stark's face is pasted with Hollande's poster. Now, look at the arms where repulsor rays are fired. There is another poster of Hollande giving the illusion that Hollande is the repulsor ray. If I could do the picture again, I would do a better composition which show how high this poster is. Then, you can also visualize the determined Hollande fan who climbed up to stick these posters on top of the orginal Avengers poster.

By the way, I have some answers on the Cabellera and Mascara terms used in the earlier picture I posted. In wrestling, the fighters adopt outrageous names for illusion of ferocity. They use masks and long hairs. Cabellera is long hair. Sarkozy has more hair when compared to Hollande. You can compare their pictures to understand the pun. Hollande has a mask because some people accuses him to be pretending to have a solution whereas in reality he doesn't!

Photos: Wrestling match, the French Election edition

The second round of French elections are on 6th May 2012. I was strolling the 13th arrondissement when I came across this poster. The poster, I believe, is in Spanish. Although a passerby and a person in my group explained the poster, I don't remember the exact meaning of it now. Mascara translates to masked. But what does Cabellera mean? Anyways, the poster announces a wrestling match between the two candidates in the second round, Sarkozy and Hollande. The opinion polls are all hailing Hollande as the next president. What do you think? Of the duel and also the possible winner?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Photos: Shaping the bubble

The last photo was about enthusiastic photographers trying to capture giant bubbles. If you wondered who created those bubbles, I have part of the mystery solved for you. Like I wrote in the previous post, it was a group who was making these bubbles using a bubble blower. The lady in the picture is one in that group.

In the picture, she is blowing on the bubble to give it an unnatural yet interesting shape. It was an open-for-all event. This group was ready to share the bubble blower with the onlookers. Also the onlookers could blow on the bubble to produce interesting shapes. I tried blowing on the bubble and learnt you have to really gentle while doing so. Otherwise, the bubble explodes.

Tags: Photos

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Radio Londres

The primaries are over for the upcoming presidential elections in France. France has a two-tiered elections. In simple words, the entire nation goes to vote two times. Two candidates are chosen from the first round of voting. In the second round, a victor emerges with clear majority out of the two candidate chosen from the first round. I'm oversimplifying the entire process. In reality, the French system has many buts and ifs giving rise to a complex system which does not give preferential treatment. This is different from other parts of the world where the electorate do not vote twice for single post in one election.

Reading all the analysis and reports of the first round, I was surprised to hear about a ban on the social media to prevent the leaking of the election results till late in the evening. I neither know why this is necessary nor how this was accomplished. On twitter, it was different. The clever tweeple worked around this ban by employing a tag "Radio Londres" (#radiolondres). Londres is London in French. If you are thinking what is connection between a French election and London, then you are thinking just like me.

It has to do with history. During World War II, BBC set up a broadcast named Radio Londres for the occupied France. Using this hash tag is an apt homage to the past. However, it is dramatic at the same time as the conditions of France are not comparable with those days.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Photos: Enthusiastic photographers and a bubble

At Parc de Sceaux, there was a group playing with a giant bubble blower. Observing them for a few minutes, one can make out this is an art and also a very relaxing activity. They were producing giant bubbles using the bubble blower after which they gently blew air on the bubble to give it exotic shapes.Photographers get excited for no reason. Now imagine what happens when there is a good enough reason. You can see the result for yourself. 

I like the picture of many reasons. It captures the frenetic activity of photographers. It captures one photographer inside the bubble lending a surrealistic touch. It also captures a photographer casually leaning on the tree and clicking. Her pose is relaxed. But I am sure she was able to immortalize some beautiful moments using her camera.

Tags: Photos

Monday, April 23, 2012

Photos: Girl, Umbrella and Cherry Blossoms

Have you seen the red umbrella before? Well, it is the same umbrella in a picture posted earlier. The girl in the picture was ready for the Hanami ceremony. Her red umbrella and matching dress went well with the background of cherry blossoms and green earth. Moreover, she was confident and posed happily for the scores of photographers. If you look closely, she is giving a thumbs up for taking her picture.

Tags: Photos

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Friend, Girlfriend and small talk

A girl irrespective of the role she plays in life is prone to jealousy. Men become aware of this fact by experience. Last Monday turned out to the evening where my young friend became experienced. On Monday evening, I ended up with my young friend and his girlfriend at The Cricketer in the vicinity of Saint-Lazare station. By the way, Monday evenings is the Quiz night in this pub. New to the British custom in Paris, we participated in the proceedings as a team and came first; first from the last.

It may have been the sympathy created from the results, women stopped by our tables for chit chat. My young friend being extremely cordial and polite responded without malice. When I say "without malice", I mean he was not flirting. They were asking questions and he was answering. But the politeness did not go well with his girlfriend. My young friend, being young and inexperienced, was not bright to interpret the unspoken messages on his girlfriend's face. Come on! Don't blame me. I tried to distract her. But you know how futile it is to distract a focussed woman! 

Here is my question. What is the right thing? When a girl makes small talk, should a man completely ignore her?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Movie Review: Lockout

In the year 2079, Snow(Guy Pearce) is taken into custody for killing a government agent. His behavior irritates his interrogators and he gets sentenced to prison. Just before transporting him to the maximum security prison in the outer space, he gets a chance for freedom if he agrees to rescue the President's daughter Emilie Warnock(Maggie Grace) who is held hostage in the same maximum security prison.

Directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, this action movie is based on the story developed by the director duo and Luc Besson. Like most of the action movies from Luc Besson's association, this one also have a wafer thin plot line which takes inspiration from action flicks all around the world. So the basic premise of a rescue mission is given a dash of drama and comedy by placing two diametrically opposite main leads who is chased by psychopaths. If that is not enough, setting the stage in the future and space gives the directors a chance to get inspired by the original Starwars climax for an aerial action scene.

On the whole, the film fails to impress because of a male lead who is not known for action but for acting capabilities. Even though Guy Pearce has buffed up for the role, he is miscast in this role. Maggie Grace has nothing much to offer other than a pretty face. To make matters worse, the CGI is very crude especially the ones during the bike chase in the initial part of the movie.

Stay away from this movie. Believe me, you are not missing anything!

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: *

Photos: Tell me what to do

The umbrella did not belong to him. Being red in color, it naturally attracted the attention of many photographers in Parc de Sceaux. They were all keeping a safe distance from the red umbrella. The boy and the football came into the frame by chance. He was playing with the football. As a result, the football rolled into the frame. The boy looked at the photographers wondering what was happening. He looked around for help.

I liked this picture because this captures his confusion and the plea for intervention.

Tags: Photos

Monday, April 16, 2012

Photos: I see you

At the entrance of Musee Grevin in Passage Jouffroy, this face stares at you. The grin says "I see you" and he looks life-like too. Most of the tourists stop by to take a picture. I tried couple of times to capture him and the smile. But the reflections on the glass worked against my best intentions. Finally, I decided to use flash. Under normal circumstances, I don't use flash. This is another way to push myself to give the best results under natural lighting.

Tags: Photos

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Photos: Hanami in 2012, Paris

Have you heard about Hanami? It is a Japanese custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers. One of the choices for this occasion is cherry blossoms. So, Parc de Sceaux with beautiful cherry blossom trees is a good venue for this custom in Paris. This weekend, I was there. The park is big. The cherry blossom trees are hidden from the inside the big green trees. When I entered the area which contained these trees, the scene was magical. There were many people spending time in the park. Just about the time I started clicking the trees with the cherry blossoms, the kid raced past on a cycle. It provided a good foreground for the colourful background.

Tags: Photos

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Books: Steve Jobs

The number of pages was my first concern. In order to finish reading, you need to invest a lot of time. The second concern was even more important. What can you learn about a man about whom a lot have been written already. If your thoughts echo my concerns, then do not think further. Pick up the book. The biography of the genius written by Walter Isaacson is captivating and an easy read.

The authorized biography traces the life of Steve Jobs chronologically from adoption till a few days before succumbing to cancer. Isaacson interlaces the narrative with excerpts from the various interviews he conducted with Jobs and also scores of other people who was associated to Jobs personally and professionally. This helps the reader to understand different perspectives while making one's own conclusion of the events. This technique prevents the book from disintegrating into a passive reading of what we all know by now. On the flip side, some of the events are so popular that the excitement is lost before reading it. Luckily, these are very few.

The two most powerful themes of the book is passion for the right design and the phenomenon dubbed as Jobs' signature persuasive technique namely reality distortion field. The passion for right design was instilled in Jobs by his adopted father from his early days. The right design always produces a product which adopted easily. That might be one of the reasons why his adopted dad is featured more than the rest of his family. The use of reality distortion field is the way Jobs motivates people to perform the impossible. You may frown at this. But it has always produced results for Jobs and also benefited his customers.

Steve Jobs also has an unpleasant side to him. These are also impartially written in the book. The author deliberately wants the reader to interpret these using their own sensibilities. Because of all these, Steve jobs ends up as a man blessed with intelligence and a passion to change the world.

So if you haven't read it, pick up the book. Some of the events happened during our life. When we were growing up, the world was changing beyond our imagination.

Tags: Books,Walter Isaacson,Steve Jobs

Photos: Lovers in a park

Do you want me to explain this shot?

Tags: Photos

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Movie Review: Battleship

Humans find a planet which is similar to the earth. They set up a communication base in Hawaii and start sending signals to this distant planet using satellite links. But very soon, the aliens from Planet G descend on the earth to colonize it. So, the fate of the earth depends on a highly unlikely hero, currently engaged in peace operations with Japanese Navy, elevated to a leadership role . This is the premise of movie adapted from the board game with the same name and directed by Peter Berg.

The movie suffers because of the script. The script tries to infuse as many cliches as witnessed in the movie history into one movie. They also try advertising or product placement for the US armed forces namely rehabilitation of the wounded veterans. If this is not enough, the setting is Pearl Harbor and joint exercises are with Japanese. With the film releasing during Memorial Day weekend in US, we already know where they are aiming. Then you have the customary sidekicks who mouth one liners intended to make everyone laugh during the action. To add to the crowded scenario, they bring back the World War II veterans for the climax to demonstrate old (technology) is gold and comes in handy when everything else fails. The WW II veterans have done their part. Why don't you guys leave them alone during their retirement? In sum total, the movie tries to say a lot of things but unable to focus on anything. 

You have Alex Hopper(Taylor Kitsch) with a lot of potential who is always helped by his big brother Stone Hopper(Alexander Skarsgard) Commanding Officer of a destroyer and always eyed suspiciously by Vice Admiral Shane(Liam Neeson) for being his daughter Sam(Brooklyn Decker)'s boyfriend. We don't see any potential in Alex other than breaking into a convenience store to get a chicken burrito for Sam! But Alex can quote Homer and also The Art of War at opportune moments! After the initial long minutes of tension building between Alex and everyone on Hawaii, the action kicks in. That is when the movie becomes watchable at places primarily due to the graphics and also the sound design.The scene in which the battleship performs a half-doughnut is remarkable because it is perfect example of an otherwise impossible shot implemented with the help of CGI. The scene works because the half-doughnut maneuver is shown with an aerial shot too. Performance wise, there is nothing much to write about. If you are wondering about Rihanna, I am also wondering about her; about why she agreed to feature in a silly role.

There are two circumstances in which I will recommend this movie to you. The first, you are ready to suspend every ounce of disbelief from your system. The second, you love sound of action. Otherwise, skip it.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: *

Photos: The jogging lady with her dog

Warm sunny day and the red rule. But for these two reasons, I wouldn't have captured this moment. It was a warm and sunny day. Everybody was out enjoying the sun. So was this lady and her dog. The lady was wearing a shade of red. For a photographer, a photo is a must as soon red is spotted.

I was out in the park. As soon as I spotted the lady and the dog, I took out the camera. Being a novice, taking out the easier than setting it up. If given a second chance, I would still  the lady and her shadow on the left side of the frame. If given a third chance, I would capture both the lady and the dog up in the air.

Tags: Photos

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Movie Review: My Week with Marilyn

My Week with Marilyn directed by Simon Curtis is based on the diary accounts of Colin Clark on the sets of the 1957 movie The Prince and the Showgirl. In the screen version, Colin Clark(Eddie Redmayne) becomes a third assistant to Lawrence Olivier(Kenneth Branagh) on Vivien Leigh(Julia Ormond)'s recommendation. There he impresses both Lawrence and also the leading lady from America, Marilyn Monroe(Michelle Williams).

The movie tells the story of the talented and remarkable actress who is unsure of many things. She is looking constantly for feedback of her performance. Because of her fragile nature and mental instability, she rubs the lead actor the wrong way. Simon Curtis succeeds in bringing out the drama, the conflict and the pathos of different characters during the shooting of the movie. The theme of 1957 Olivier-Monroe movie is comedy. But the making was definitely not a pleasant experience, at least initially. This is the part which engages the viewer. On the whole, Simon manages to give the viewer a movie which is worth watching. The cast is mostly British. So you can see Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi and Emma Watson among other major ones.

Performance wise, Michelle Williams dominates with her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. Because of her acting, the viewer is not just able to label Marilyn. She still remains an enigma. You can glimpse all shades in her performance - purity, innocence, frivolity and even cunning - without any particular characteristic dominating the performance. It is a walk on a tight rope and Michelle does a wonderful job. Kenneth Branagh is clearly overshadowed as Lawrence Olivier. If there is someone standing up to Michelle, it is Judi Dench as Sybil Thorndike.

I wouldn't recommend this movie for the big screen. But this is definitely worth a watch.

Language: English

Genre: Drama

Rating: ***

Photos: Reflections in a passage

If you are interested in photography, then Paris is one of the best cities to be in. Here I was during the Easter weekend with nothing to do and what do I come across? A French book whose title is roughly translated to Covered Passages. These passages connect two streets. Lined with a lot of antique shops and also museums, it is a welcome break from the sidewalks. If you take into account the unannounced drizzles, these passages are more than a welcome break.

But there is a challenge in photographing these covered passages. What do you different in these photographs that someone hasn't attempted already? I decided to do monochrome, reflections and symmetry. The picture is a result of my experiments. One thing for sure, perfect symmetry is difficult to achieve.

Tags: Photos

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I have two 15 year olds

A tete-e-tete with a colleague reminded me of my often repeated mistake of jumping into conclusions. So here I was in the afternoon catching up with my colleague over a cup of coffee near the vending machine. Suddenly, we are talking about kids.

Colleague: My two sons are 15 years old and my daughter is 7 years old.

Me: So, you have twins?

Colleague: No

This is really strange. I have heard siblings who are an year apart. But siblings of the same age. It is not possible. Or is it? My thoughts were interrupted by his words.

Colleague: One has his birthday on March and the other on April.

Is he saying they are not twins because of the gap of one month? How can a mother give birth to one child in March and the other in April? Is this medically? Is this a medical miracle? My colleague continued with a big smile.

Colleague: This is my second marriage. One from my previous marriage and the other from her previous marriage.

Like I said, I should stop jumping into conclusions.

Tags: Musings,Twins

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pappettan bends the sacred rule

If you are wondering who Pappettan is, click on this link and find out.

Pappettan goes to a restaurant in Paris with his French friend. After going over the menu, Pappettan orders a dish containing beef.

French Friend: *surprised* Do you know this contains...err..beef?

Pappettan: *calmly* Yes.

French Friend: *bewildered, takes a moment to recompose himself* It is cow...

Pappettan: *smiles*

French Friend: You are Hindu?

Pappettan: Yes, I am.

French Friend: *more confused* Cow is sacred for you. But you eat beef?

Pappattan: Indian cows are sacred. French cows aren't.

Tags: Pappettan Says,Cow,Beef

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Photos: Up in the air

Any celebration can make the crowd go carefree in minutes. This is what I observed during Holi. With the colors and water spray, the crowd went berserk. Someone climbed up the pole while the rest of the crowd cheered. Similarly, they also go hold of this girl and threw her up in the air. The girl seemed to be having fun. For me, it was a moment to capture the action.

If I could do it one more, I will change the composition in order to capture the faces also with the hands that await her return.

Tags: Photos

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