Sunday, February 29, 2004

My Oscar picks (wow... unimaginativeness at its best!)

A couple of hours from now, the whole world would know who won the Oscars for 2003. And what better way to shake of almost a week of inactivity than to predict who’d go home with statuettes of their own.

Well, I might as well be putting my foot in my mouth when I don’t pick Peter Jackson for the best direction, but I thought Clint Eastwood painted a better and poignant picture of a misfit trying to avenge his daughter’s death. As for the best actor Oscar, two of my personal favorites, both odd-balls in their own right with a penchant for oddest of roles, are both claimants for an award that a couple of previous winners are fighting for too. Though one of them, Jude Law picks Sean Penn for the ultimate prize, I am rooting for Johnny Depp as the incorrigible pirate with the painted eyes and a swagger reminiscent of one resulting from too many Jack Daniels, Jack Sparrow (see a picture of Depp as Capt. Sparrow and one look-alike at the Athens Halloween Street party this year here). But sadly, I think I am rooting for a losing cause, as the Oscar’s never seem to favor comedy and Capt. Jack Sparrow raises a laugh every time he walks on screen, whether it is when he lands lithely on shore from the top mast of his slowly sinking ship or when he fights the “un-dead” Barbarossa and his henchmen. Tim Robbins and Renee Zellweger earn their votes with such earnestness and spontaneity. For Robbins this is perhaps his best role since playing Inmate 37927 in 1994’s prison saga, Shawshank Redemption. As for the best animated movie, Finding Nemo is everybody’s choice though some people claim that Ellen Degeneres should consider herself unlucky to have missed out on a best actress nomination for her role as the voice of Dory, a short term amnesiac. But she’s sure to be remembered as much as Robin Williams is for the voice of the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin. I watched Finding Nemo twice and it’s my pick to win the best original screenplay award too.

So here are my picks….

LOTR – The Return of the king

Clint Eastwood, Mystic River

Johnny Depp, Pirates Of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl

Charlize Theron, Monster

Tim Robbins, Mystic River

Renée Zellweger, Cold Mountain

Finding Nemo

Mystic River

Finding Nemo

Update: Hmmm...Five out of Nine is still a good score. But eleven for LOTR ? Wow... And as Billy Crystal said, everybody in New Zealand was thanked. But no one bothered to thank the sheep. Now why did I type that last line?

Friday, February 20, 2004

Yuvi for opener?

Yuvraj for opener? Whoa..whoa.. where does he come in now? Cricinfo features Ganguly's comments on various issues from the opener's spot to Rahul Dravid's keeping. And Ganguly seems to have a "left of left" opinion on each one of these issues.

First Yuvraj could get in if he wants to open. So where does that leave Akash Chopra? Sehwag seems to be in the clear because Ganguly praises him elsewhere in the same peice but does not mention Akash Chopra at all! And then when commenting about Rahul Dravid's wicketkeeping duties, he says "I cannot see how we can relieve Rahul Dravid of wicketkeeping duties now that Laxman has cemented his one-day spot." I wonder what that means. Well, does it mean that Laxman and Dravid were fighting for one position that grew into two because Dravid took over the keeping duties leaving the open spot for Laxman? Hmm... we certainly have an embarassment of riches.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

A tribute to a little known master-type fellow!

Kumaraguru's comment on my last post pointed me to a newsgroup that had not seen before today - One of the threads that caught my attention was this - Americans and Cricket. As the case is with un-moderated groups, some of the 81 messages so far in thread were very offensive.

One of the messages on the thread instructed everyone to search for "Sane Warne is 9" on Google Groups (which were then on Usenet, i think), just to get an example of the offensiveness that has been a staple of Usenet messages once in a while. Upon searching, I landed on perhaps the most interesting and yet unknown online sensation, even rivalling that Ramesh Mahadevan - Perumalselva Pandiyan. The fad seems to have even spawned a fan group of his own - Check out Sadly the whole thing seemed to have died down towards the end of 1999. But between May and December of 1999, Perumalselva Pandian seemed to have blazed a solitary path through

I have spent the last one hour laughing at the various references to brinjals, crows, dildoa tins (i can only surmise from the references to cooking that accompany the last mentioned term, that it refers to Dalda, which for the non-Indian readers, is a generic name for edible vegetable fat used for cooking) used in relation to the game of cricket, of which Perumalselva Pandiyan seems to have been an expert at. He also seems to be a fan of T.Rajendar and seems to consider T.Rajendar the finest orator ever. On the flip-side PP (as he was fondly known in the later days of his sourjoun on RSC) seems to be extremely casteist and seems to hate anybody who hails from the parts north of the vindhyas, in fact even north of the Pulicat lake. So I have to include a cautionary P.S with this post.

And yes, I have been laughing at the sick jokes and the worsta language used by PP to embarass himself on RSC. If that makes me more worsta than him, so be it. Everybody is worsta in his/her own way.

(P.S Some of the links are N.C 17 certified. If you are under the age of 17, please skip the links. Some of the messages and the obvious casteist references might be offensive. Read at your risk, only if you can laugh. If you are uptight and can laugh only when Sardarji type of fellows are the subject of the jokes and not yourself, please skip any discussion regarding Perumalselva Pandiyan type of fellows. LOL)

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The Dead Game...

It was a dead game. Nevertheless no one on the ground, at least the spectators seemed to mind. A cool breeze tends to blow from across the Pavilion end at the County Ground every afternoon in this time of the year and this played quite a bit of role in cooling the populace that was scattered around the ground in their summer wear on this warm August day. The ladies in their parasols and dainty hats chattered incessantly as the men ooh-ed and aah-ed the game progressed in the middle. A group of kids had finally persuaded their parents to let them out of their eyesight and were engaged in a heated game of marbles at the top of the grassy knoll at the Ashley Down Road end with such an intensity that even some grown ups marvelled at their competitiveness.

But the batsmen in the middle, in their starched white trousers and shirts, were playing without any undue urgency, the audience gently applauding, in true English fashion, every good stroke or a good delivery bowled by the bowlers, the applause dying only when the bowler started his walk back to the start of his run up. The batsman on strike, the batting team’s captain, a tall bearded man with the physique of a bear and the paunch of a seasoned beer chugger seemed determined to show the opposition that though it was almost thirty years since he had made his debut, he had lost neither his form or the hunger for runs that had seen him head the national averages in eleven of his first thirteen years as a first class cricketer.

At the end of an over, he walked over to the non-striker as the next bowler walked from his position looked on waiting to start a fresh over. “The match is as good as dead”, said the batsman. The non striker, nodding at his captain replied “Yes it is, Sir", his respect and awe of his captain evident in his demeanor. "Let’s just get some practice out of this dull day. Yesterday morning at breakfast, I just wished that these Surrey lads would fall down easily, but Mr.Fry here and the other lad Marlowe put up a good show“. His captain smiled at the passing Mr.Fry as he adjusted his cap. “We did not do too bad either, did we, Mr. Brown?” He looked at the scoreboard and smiled to see a “9" and a 0” appear next to his name as the scorers corrected their error and added one more against his name. “Let us get on with the game, gentlemen”, the umpire goaded, wanting to get the remaining dozen 8 ball overs out of the way and head for the pub in the club house. Mr. Board and his captain took their places at the opposite ends of the pitch as the right arm fast medium bowler waited at the start of his run up.

Mr.Fry looked at the batsman waiting to face him and started his run-up. The ball, a perfect in-cutter landed on the good length spot and was patted back to him by the batsman who seemed to be in perfect peace with his surroundings, his demeanor rivaling that of the description of the great Buddha himself. Mr.Fry walked past the umpire and the non-striker and thuoght to himself, “Will my effort be forgotten against the batting exploits of this maestro?" He dismissed all the thought of his good batting performance that had carried his team to a safe position and concentrated on his efforts on dismissing the stalwart. His next ball fell just short of a good length and the batsman pushed it through the covers on his back foot and ambled across for his runs. The crowd gently applauded the stroke from the master as he returned to his crease, completing two runs.

A casual glance at the scoreboard informed the batsman of his individual tally. “92? Interesting score”, he thought to himself. For the next couple of seconds he busied himself trying to think why the word "interesting" had turned up in his mind. In a moment, he smiled to himself as the answer appeared out of nowhere. Mr. Brown thought that he was expected to return the smile and smiled from his spot at the non-striker's end, as did the umpire who grinned, exposing the gap between his front teeth that had been caused, not by the fall from his horse as he had told everyone, but from the punch thrown by a stranger who had been as drunk as he was, leaving the house of a lady, the company of whom no respectable gentleman would want to be seen in public.

The batsman not noticing these smiles, dug his bat gently into the small depression on the white line and decided to play the next few balls at their merits. The next ball pitched on the line of leg stump and seemed to hold its line. The batsman moved to the back foot and prepared to play it on to the vacant region between the square and fine legs when the ball moved just a little bit and caught his leading edge and ballooned toward mid on. A collective gasp went from everyone, including some of the fielders themselves and umpire and the non-striker. However Mr. Fry looked on in frustration as the ball fell into no-man’s land allowing the batsmen to jog across for a single. The scorers started to add one more to the batsman’s and team’s score

Walking back to the start of his run-up at the Pavilion end, however, Mr. Fry found the batsmen walking back with him. Mr. Fry stopped in his tracks and looked around to see every other person on the field sporting the same quizzical glance looking at the departing batsmen. Mr. Fry thought it was prudent that he ask the master what was wrong. “Mr. Grace, where are you going?”.,he asked. “Well, Son.”, started the batsman, waving his bat like a pointer, at the "93" against his name on the scoreboard. “ the reason. This lifeless match has served its purpose.” He started walking again, leaving C.B. Fry, bewildered, shaking his head both in amazement and in immense relief.

Monday, February 09, 2004

To sledge or not to sledge!

What gives a cricketer the divine right to sledge his opponents - his team being in a winning position or his individual achievement at that moment (i.e hitting the bowler for a few runs or getting a batsman's wicket with an unplayable delivery). Does age give the cricketer the right to sledge opponents younger than him but not someone older or is it cricketing experience?

Irfan Pathan's detractors among my friends claim that it was improper for a 19 year old green-horn like him to sledge an older and experienced player like Damien Martyn in full view of the millions of TV veiwers while Brad Williams was blameless because no one saw him.

For me, sledging is not a team game. It is just one result of the agressiveness inherent to a fierce competitor. While in a introverted player like Tendulkar or Dravid, the aggressiveness results in increased resolve. But in some, like Pathan, it just translates into mirth - mirth that just bubbles over from his heart on seeing the back of his nemesis. I am not a supporter of sledging, but just the fact that age or nationality should not be the deciding factor when we condone the practice.

Some of the same people who were berating Pathan yesterday were also laughing at Zaheer Khan for staring at the Aussie openers at the Wanderers last year when he was being belted all over the park. But what was he supposed to do? Put his head down and kick at the grass and go back to his mark? Isn't "Hold your head high even at the face of defeat" the first lesson any sportsperson supposed to learn? So why are we blaming our own players for standing up to adversity in their own way? Isn't it our duty as their fans to back them up?

Sunday, February 08, 2004

NRIs in India - right or wrong

Few years ago, a mere glance at the "bridegroom wanted" column in the local personals would have been a very good indicator of the IT boom that was sweeping through India. And then the bust heralded a down trend in the frequency of such ads with the foreign returned/settled techie's going down in the charts. This period also saw a marked increase in NRI's coming in droves to India with their investing dollars/pounds etc.

The government soon recognized the spending power of these pseudo-Indian citizens and started several measures to woo them, the annual PBD etc. Of late, the government is talking about giving voting rights to these NRIs, much alike the votes that Americans on national duty are eligible for. This at a time, when even the American government is talking about the (in)feasibility of ensuring the validity of such votes in this age of chads and hung electorates.

I am not degrading the status of the NRI, but a NRI claiming rights in both India and the country of his origin does not appeal to me as morally right. I mean, a NRI has voluntarily left the country of his birth only because he thinks that the conditions are detrimental to his progress or are slowing his progress - the classic case of the other side of the ocean having the greener pasture. So now when you find the grass is dying now, you can come back to the original grazing ground, but obviously you can't expect to get the same territory that you had earlier - meaning you can't demand things that half the people who stayed back and fought against the conditions, who started the gold rush in the first place.

I am not saying that these ppl dont deserve what the government is offering in a platter, but only that these efforts can be worthwhile if the targetted audience is different. Its the NRI's moral right to give something back to India. Not every NRI came abroad as a indentured laborer. So is it proper to leave when the going gets tough and come back only to cash in to a boom?

I think its not and its not becoming of a national government to give out rights like that freely. The situation does not demand that. It's not that NRS's are denied rights like these in the nation of their adoption. So the need to heap it on them in India is just not there. Will saner heads in the Vajpayee government prevail in this issue?

My take on this matter is that, we are in such a position that we can institue a system like the american green card system, for these NRIs. If you want (not that the NRIs are fighting for these rights that the BJP government is falling over to provide) to get some rights in modern day India, move to India for a couple of years, pay the taxes (at least token taxes) just like the average tax payer and contribute to the GDP with not just overseas money but with your sweat and flesh.

It might look like India is persecuting its own kin but it is just fair that we expect them to provide some inputs for the same rights that we as citizens of India get. And the main input for the government is taxes and its just fair that these taxes be paid by every qualified Indian citizen, even if the citizen is an NRI.

Thursday, February 05, 2004


Terminology catches up fast. Lazy Geek writes about possible actions that the FCC is considering for live events - major being a 5 second lag. So all those live matches would be "Deferred Live" - as we were informed during the soccer world cup last in 2002.

Well, as one of the comments on Lazy Geek's post, echoing the Geek's own post, mentions, this system would not work with games like cricket where, thankfully, the game is not affected by TV coverage. In fact in Australia, Channel Nine and other stations regularly cut from live cricket to their regular programs.

Quite the opposite here in America, where, yesterday, ESPN deferred the start of its 11:00pm Sports Center till the end of the Cavs home game against the Lakers, which went into overtime, maybe due to the wastage of valuable seconds by LeBron James till he went off balance trying to beat the shot clock and break the tie with a huge 3 pointer.

The comedy of errors that this "clothing malfunction" has degenerated too, has every captivated cartoonist in America. Daryl Cage's Professional Cartoonists Index (on Slate) has 12 pages of Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl. Some of them even feature Mr. Phil of Punxsutawney, the groundhog weatherman who signals the advent of spring every year on the 2nd of February (GroundHog Day)every year, which this year coincided with Super Bowl Monday and the day after the most talked about expose in America after the Woodward and Bernstein's expose of the Watergate Hotel break-in in 1972. Depending on which source you would believe, Mr. Phil has been left deeply scarred or deeply scared by the sight of Ms. Jackson's right mammary that he has said that winter would last for another 6 weeks for sure. Well, isn't that what he says every year?

A World XI to face Australia without Mr. Special !! Is this a joke?

Trevor Marshallsea, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald about the ICC's reported proposal for the Super Series between Australia and the Rest of the World, puts forth a likely eleven using the PricewaterHouse Coopers ratings for the top batsman and the bowlers in the world today.

Here's where Marshallsea stumbles. Now his top six of the Rest of the World team comprises of six of the top eight non Aussie batsmen who make up the top 10 (the two Aussies in the top 10 being Ponting and Hayden at positions 2 and 4 respectively). The team's wicket keeper would Kumara Sangakkara (the highest ranked wicket keeper on the batsmen's list after Gilchrist) with Pollock, Murali, Ahktar and Ntini rounding off the eleven as the team's bowling attack.

Now why is this team a joke (even though it is pure conjecture), even if the availability of these players for a still to be announced series is uncertain? Because, of one absentee in the list. Because the absentee's boasts of an average of 63.52 against Australia at a strike rate that would make any modern batsman proud. Because he is one batsman that the Aussies would not want againt them. And we all know who he is.

Now the inclusion of Mark Richardson (who's ranked one spot above Laxman currently) defies logic, because Sangakkara, who makes it in as the wicketkeeper is Sri Lanka's opener too. So substituting Richardson with Laxman and asking Sangakkara to open with Gibbs would do this team a lot of good, in every sense of the game.

I am still laughing. Well, it is conjecture at the moment and in all probability, this series will be still born, but Marshallsea's Rest of the World team is still a joke.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004


This blog is approaching a major milestone in the next couple of days and what better occasion to introduce that inevitable factor called change. Well.. spew forth ur suggestions and I shall be glad to try to make your experience on this blog as better as possible.