Thursday, March 31, 2005

Brown and the art of spectroscopic analysis

Hear these facts that Dan Brown has uncovered for his "shortly to be released non-fictional work, The Secret of the K-word".
  • The then Kashmir Maharaja, Hari Singh covertly ceded Kashmir to the US in 1947.
  • When the map of Kashmir is reversed it becomes, uncannily, congruent with the hilly state of Kentucky “in the southern US”.
  • There are amazing co-relatives between Kashmir and Kentucky.
  • When the longitude of Frankfort, the capital of Kentucky, is divided by the latitude of Srinagar, the Kashmiri capital, the prime number so obtained has the same numeric valency as Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which accords a special status to Kashmir!
  • Slimes of India actually interviewed Dan Brown over telephone for an article on his latest book !

You can read everything here. While I am at a loss to figure out what words like "co-relatives" and "valency" mean, I know that Kentucky is not considered to be in the Southern US. And I certainly know the date, which completely invalidates my concerns regarding the geographical facts and the language used in the article. Don't you think such April Fool jokes are passe, esspecially when you have been reading "tall" stories in the Slimes of India all round the year.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Poineers, cell phones, comments and a virgin tour

• It’s funny that, just this morning, I read this (link via Wendy Seltzer via BoingBoing) line – Our downtown hotel was (blogs are so 2002!)........ And then when I took a break from whatever it is I do everyday to get a break, I came across Kiruba’s post about his “retirement”. He has his reasons. But his absence will be felt since through his blog, I have discovered facets to Chennai that seemed to have morphed out of nowhere during my period of absence. Adios dude. I still am sad that I could’nt make it to the first ever Chennai bloggers meet that you invited me for, back in 2003 when this blog was still in its early days.

• Earlier, in Chennai, the item of choice use to be thaalis, perhaps leading to one origin of the colloquial thaali aruthuduven threat. Now it seems to be cell phones

• Is it just me or is anybody else feeling that Blogger’s commenting system is slower than Haloscan’s system, both from the main pages and the archived post pages?

• A friend forwarded a link to a video clip – an excerpt from TV coverage of the recently concluded cricket series between India and Pakistan. The 1:53 long clip shows part of an over bowled by Arshad Khan to Sehwag and Dravid (and a minute odd break after), with India’s score at 121. It starts with the image of a teenage girl (face resplendent with a painted tricolor, sans the Ashok Chakra) holding a small placard to her chest with the words “Zaheer” and “I” + bright red heart + “you”. The footage comes on the Jumbotron and the gal self-consciously covers her face with the placard and then giggles with one hand nervously rubbing her face. The over ends in the meantime and the footage changes to show the dressing room with Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj watching the action. It is apparent that they have noticed the placard waving gal and someone (Wright?) proceeds to talk to Zaheer as he walks past. Now Zaheer and Co. are on the Jumbotron and a huge roar goes up with Zaheer himself giggling and pointing as if to ask the cameraman to concentrate on the on-field action. It’s obvious that Pathan and Yuvraj are ribbing Zaheer. Yuvraj actually holds Zaheer’s chin up, as if to show him off to the camera. Yuvraj then holds Zaheer’s hands up and the Jumbotron seems to alternate between Zaheer and the gal (the gal totally giggly at this point). The gal decides to blow a few kisses to Zaheer (obviously at the egging of her friends). But she is now self concious and you can read her lips saying “That’s it, now stop”. But stop, it doesn’t. Zaheer promptly returns the favor (shades of Machiavelli in Yuvraj?). The crowd roars again and this time, you see Sehwag grinning. It does not stop at that. Before the next over can start, the Jumbotron shows a still of both the smiling protagonists in a split screen and the crowd roars again. All the while, you hear the commentary in the background with Ravi Shastri (?) going on and on about how the crowd is enjoying it.

On a lighter note, after watching last year's series in Pakistan, I commented that one of the losses of Partition was the beautiful gals who seemed to frequent the cricket grounds in Pakistan. So, I enjoyed this clip too. Seriously speaking, however, this clip could have easily become an argument against the Jumbotron. I am certainly happy that Sehwag did not enjoy it too much to lose his concentration. He did go on to score a double hunndred. Hmmm, I am wishing now that I could see how Dravid reacted to the footage.

P.S: Are you wondering about the term "virgin tour" in the title? The term is sometimes used to refer to the continous stream of random beautiful women/gals that videographers linger on (usually without their knowledge) in the audience at events that they record for posterity. Hell, is Public Voyeurism a oxymoronic expression?

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Man is not logical and his intellectual history is a record of mental reserves and compromises. He hangs on to what he can in his old beliefs even when he is compelled to surrender their logical basis. - John Dewey

While I don't know the context behind Dewey's quote, I certainly am trying to justify some of the compromises that I have had to make in the last few months. However these compromises seem insignificant compared to those that I might have to make in the next couple of months.

But, should I even consider making those compromises? Are they worth it? And how am I going to justify them when I have been known to take a public stand against them in the past? Or should I even bother justifying them? The answer to all these questions, is one that I know clearly - I DON'T KNOW!

I wish that times were better. I wish that things were different. I wish that I do not have to make any more compromises. I wish for a better future. I wish I was right. And I wish for an Easy Button to solve all my problems!

Monday, March 14, 2005

We are the champions!

The Ohio men’s basketball team (21-10) earned the right to be part of March Madness '05 by defeating Buffalo 80-79 in overtime Saturday night in the finals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. It is significant that while Ohio has made it to the NCAA tournament after 10 years, no other MAC teams were selected in the 65-team field this year, with Miami (OH) being a notable exception. Click here to see the complete NCAA Tournament bracket.

This coming Friday, the thirteenth-seeded Bobcats will play fourth-seeded Florida (23-7) in the first round of the Syracuse Regional portion of the NCAA Tournament. Historically, the Bobcats and the Gators are 1-1. The last time the two teams met was in 1978 when the Gators won 96-61 at home, with the previous game having won by the Bobcats 38-29 at home, way back in 1926-27.

Go Bobcats!

Raam - an engrossing experience

I don't remember much from Amar's birthday party. I must have been in the 8th or the 9th Standard at that time. Jeevan, a classmate, had invited some of us for his brother's birthday party. His brother, Amar, must have been around 10 years old then. As birthday parties go, Amar probably had a nice time, but I don't remember much of it. Anyways, after close to a dozen years, some months ago, I heard that R.B Chouwdry was launching his son, Jeeva, as a leading man in Aasai Aasaiyai. It took me by surprise considering that my friend Jeevan was way past the age most guys become leading men. But I started smiling the moment I saw "Jeeva" smiling at me from pictures on an entertainment website. It was not Jeevan, but Amar!

I personally did not see the movie, but have read since that Aasai Aasaiyai did decently at the box office. His next movie, also from his father's production house, was Thitthikudhe. I don't know how it did, but when D told me that he was planning to watch Raam last night, I told him that I would watch it with him, initially only because of Ameer, the director.

Ameer really shone as a director in his debut Mounam Pesiyathe. In fact, me and my roomies loved it so much that not a week went past (for almost a year) without us watching the movie on our VCR. The songs were not laudable, but the background score was totally in another level. And the humor really came across as down to earth, with Surya in particular showing us, much before Pithamagan that he has a good comic sense. Total nakkal.

Raam is a whodunit. I would have wanted to watch it on the big screen, but I got to do with what I have. The movie is engrossing. The Hindu's reviewer calls the movie a "luminous feather" in Ameer's cap. And I cannot disagree. Ameer reaffirms that the glimpses from Mounam Pesiyadhe were no one time tricks. A good screenplay and a inspired casting does this for him.

Jeeva does an excellent job as a moody, almost autistic teen. He does not have too many lines, but the few lines and the body language impress. Though some of the lines refer to philosophy and god, the movie is certainly not religious. In fact it surprises some with the portrayal of god men. It is refreshing to see a disheveled godman mouthing pithy sayings in English. And we certainly haven't seen too many "heroes" who seem to sing and chant more than they speak (Vikram's Chitthan and Kamal's Guna notwithstanding).

Saranya seems to have done a good job too as his mother, but her voice (dubbed?) sometimes comes across as jarring. Mallu actor Murali essays yet another role as the strict, but just father (remember Jothika's father in Dum Dum Dum?) while Raghuman seems to be an inspired choice for the role of Murali's superior officer. Gajala does not do much, apart from shedding a few tears, but it is a competent role for her as Jeeva's neighbor (and Murali's daughter) who fawns over Jeeva, without getting anything significant in return. But someone else stands out. And that is Kanja Karuppu (source: The Hindu). He gives you wisecracks, laced with sarcasm, with a straight face and one can't help but laugh at those lines. I hope he escapes from the type casting that seems to have drowned so many before him.

YSR seems to have been in a Kadhal Konden induced hangover while composing for Raam. But that impression could be because one of the prominent voices in this sound track is Vijay Yesudas and he certainly proves to be a chip off the old block. The old block is in here too and KJY certainly does not disappoint. The sound track features two songs (Yaaro Arivaal, Manidhan Solkindra ) with both their voices and is on the whole melancholic, keeping with the theme of the movie. Yaaro Arivar and Nizhlinin Nijamum impressed me. But I do hope YSR refrains from singing in his soundtracks. His voice seems to be off key most of the time, or maybe I lack the knowledge to appreciate his yodeling.

If this was a couple of years ago, I would have said that a movie like Raam is not the ideal vehicle for someone not quite past the debutant stage. But Dhanush's experience seems to have been the catalyst, with every new face attempting a role with a psychotic tinge without hesitation. Dhanush's recent efforts were totally un-watchable and it remains to be seen if Balu Mahendra's gamble to cast him pays dividends. So, for his sake, I hope Amar and his father view Raam as just the means to an end result that looks much rosier than Dhanush's given that Amar seems to be capable of underplaying roles. Amar, Well done da....

Monday, March 07, 2005

Superstar Pattam

Last night, someone asked me about my views on the Chandramukhi sound track. I responded to this question with a "sort of" along with an "I liked it" and closed it with the rejoinder that "I have to listen to it more" (to form a firm opinion). He responded with a comment that I "will say this for any song" and that I look at it "from the point of a superstar crazy fan". That particularly offended me, because that comment is particularly typical of those people who seem to get great satisfaction from baiting people like me. So this post is for you all.

Having started out on the listening part, I have to begin this post with a note. Post 1994, the only Rajini starrer that could be termed a musical treat is Muthu (1995). Even Muthu pales in comparison to Veera (1994) which was the last movie that IR composed for Rajini. Though I am part of the legion of ARR fans, Veera will always be close to my heart. SPB and Mano sang their hearts out and went head to head with Konji Konji and Malai Kovil Vasalil. To this day I can't decide which song is better. And btw, (is it just me?) I thought I saw huge similarities between IR's orchestration in Konji Konji and Snoop Dog's latest Drop it like its hot.

But on its own, Muthu is a landmark, because it established what will forever be a benchmark for the classic Rajini intro scene. IMHO, in close second place comes Deva's "Hey...Hey...Hey" bit that accompanies the pre-credits frame in every Rajini movie after Annamalai (1992), that has been recently aped by that chimp in human garb, Silambarasan. SPB's Oruvan Oruvan Mudhalali has opened every single one of ARR's concerts (apart from mebbe Kolkata a couple of years ago, for obvious reasons). Hariharan's rendition of Vidukadhaiya brings a lump to my throat almost every time and is probably the most lyrically rich number in a Rajinikanth movie in recent times.

Anyways, I am digressing. Coming back to Chandramukhi, I am going into this sound track with the firm idea that the average Rajini starrer is an all round entertainer, with no single element hogging all attention. Of course there are have been exceptions, with all the uncertainties in the past regarding his political ambitions, but if you look at it from a neutral point of view, which I am doing right now, I cannot pinpoint any single reason for the success or failure of anything related to a Rajini starrer, apart from Rajini himself. The fact is that he is probably the only actor who gets to veto every single scene or song. My room-mate, V, is of the opinion that Rajini does a lot of analysis before making a movie, with inputs regarding what will work and what will not. Again Baba (2002) was an exception in it being an experiment to see how his own self beliefs would run with the mainstream. So Rajini's analysis (going by the trend in recent years) is that a visual experience would work better with audiences and that an average soundtrack would do as well as one that is musically rich.

So any music for Chandramukhi has been decided with the picturization in mind. A "Rajini paatu" is not an aural treat. It has stopped (with all intentions) being that since Veera. Now it is more or less a visual spectacle. So, the question that we need to ask is not whether it is "good to hear", but whether it meshes well with the picturizations that are usually decided with Rajini in mind. A "Rajini padam" is class-less with the bunch in the balconies enjoying it as much as the front benchers. And whether or not the person watching is a Rajini fan is irrelevant because I am sure everyone who saw Padaiyappa would have spent their cash well on a good couple hours (plus more) of entertainment. And any amount of positive comments from "a superstar crazy fan" would not make you like the soundtrack unless you see picturization. The trend of liking a Rajini pattu after listening to the song, is retro by at least a decade.

That is why I am not going to tell you that SPB has an awesome job with Devuda (which seems to be the quintessential Rajini intro song) and Athithom. Kay Kay Menon seems to be a strange choice for a Rajini paatu, but Annanoda Paatu will easily pass muster among Thalaivar's fans. Vidyasaagar keeps up with his reputation and does what he does best with a classical bit in Ra Ra (that seems to be the Bharathanatyam song). In addition you have people like Manicka Vinayagam and Tippu, who have recently been featured more in Vikram starrers. In fact I would have mistaken Kokku Para Para for a song from a Vikram starrer if not for the line ithu pattaya kalapara pattam Superstar pattam, nam pattam.

Oh well, in saying I wont, I did say those things. But hey, I think when you perceive me as "a superstar crazy fan", I think I can be counted on to make such statements. I hate to disappoint you people. But you have your opinions and I have mine. However I do think my opinions are more balanced than yours.

Footnote: This blogger is one of Rajinikanth's most ardent fans (mebbe not ardent enough to go to this length (Adobe PDF file), but nevertheless) and has possessed an email addy with a Thalaivar connection for at least seven years now, not to mention the fact this blog's URL has the same connection. But he can be counted on to give a neutral opinion once in a while, however slanted it might seem to all you Rajini haters. He tends to analyze from Thalaivar's POV without frivolously glorifying him or attacking him. That way, he sees himself being much more astute than the average Rajini rasigan. He is in some ways a living example disproving the popular thought that “You either love Rajini or you hate him”.

Suderman Vs Superman

Suderman, your rep is growing in Superman-esque proportions every single day, at least in my eyes. I bow to thee! And wish u all the best for a speedy transition for TFLW from concept to screen...

And Kiruba, this is something nice that you have done....You rock too!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Hacking woes?

One of my friends says she's been harrassed by this dude who claimed that he could hack into any Yahoo! account. He claimed that he used to work for Yahoo! earlier and knows a lot of loop holes in Yahoo's systems. Today a couple of her ids (not just Yahoo) seem to be inaccessible and one of her accounts has been deleted. This guy apparently told her this morning that he had done it and then later deleted his own ids that he had used while communicating with her. What makes the jerk seem even more cheaper is that while harassing her, he was using another to talk to her like the friend she thought he was, till he taunted her today saying that he was the same person and he was the cause for her troubles..

But the point is, while she is sure he is the cause, I am wondering if what he claimed was possible at all? Is Yahoo's security that lax, that a "former employee" can do all this, or is he just using Yahoo's name in jest while being "techie" enough to hack and delete her accounts.... And is there anyway to report all this to Yahoo?

While, personally I don't have good things to say about Yahoo's customer service, I know that what I getting is made available to me free of all charges and Yahoo probably does better for its customers who pay. But Yahoo pays for our service using all those ads on the top of the page and possibly makes a decent profit too, so shouldn't we be treated slightly better than we are?

Would appreciate if someone had some tips on this issue on how to proceed.....