Star Trek or Star Trek IX

I have never waited so long or this eagerly for a movie to be released and for me to watch it. The movie turned out to be good but not as good as I thought it would be. It’s too much stuff in one movie for it to be considered great.

Let’s get one thing straight; the storyline was created to give the movie makers freedom to give the franchise & characters an alternate reality & not refer to the older stories. So is this the Star Trek that was not? Or is it Star Trek only in name? Let each fan decide!

  • The new design of the ship is cool – retro and yet futuristic.
  • Eric Bana’s Nero is the least complex and least convincing Trek movie villain.
  • Both Romulus & Vulcan destroyed? The nerve of the movie makers!
  • Zoe Saldana as Uhuru & Anton Yelchin as Chekov have done commendable jobs as the young (and alternative) versions of the legendary characters. And Zoe is hot!
  • Sulu is played as a ‘less sure of himself’ than the calm, serene and always in control version that we’ve come to know and love. Having said that, I thought that John Cho is a good choice.
  • Simon Pegg’s role comical but irritating at the same time. I wasn’t sure of him before and now I’m certain – he’s no Montgomery Scott!
  • I was surprised by the choice of Karl Urban as Bones McCoy. The new doc has taken a few lines from DeForest Kelly like ‘My god man! Are you insane?” It’s a bit eerie how he sounded just like Kelly!
  • Chris Pine is a poor man’s William Shatner. I didn’t like this guy at all for the choice of James T Kirk. There’s just a couple of scenes where I felt he exuded some form of charisma!
  • Give the casting some due credit – we’d better check and see if Zachary Quinto is infact actually the spawn of a human female & a Vulcan male. Damn good job as a ‘tortured’ Spock.
  • Speaking of whom, the original Spock, Leonard Nemoy is great in his role. I felt that he was necessary to make the movie feel as legimate as possible.
  • Best actor on the set – everyone please give a big round of applause for  character actor Bruce Greenwood as Captain Christopher Pike. Strong performance, which is somewhat aided by the fact that his character isn’t as popular or well known as the others. But still, kudos!

9 outta 10!

The End Of A Long Week

It’s been a long week, 6 days of pure stress and tension. Preparing, rehearing & then presenting a review (along with the rest of the departments) in front of 2 VPs. Getting dissappointed with their arrogant comments. Going to work at 9:30-9:45 am and reaching home after 10:30pm. Not sleeping enough. I have dark circles around my eyes the size of the rings around Saturn!

Meanwhile the selection process for the new crop of Trainers & Quality Analysts is reaching it’s culmination. They have been through a Product test, an apptitude test and a call calibration round. Today they had to do presentations in front of a panel consisting of just me & the Quality Lead. We both sat through 26 presentations – some were good and some just plain stank. I had an excel sheet in front of me and I entered the scores on the evaluation format for trainers and noted feedback.

I’m no Simon Cowell. For that matter I’m no Randy Jackson or Paula Abdul. I tell them when I’ve enjoyed something and when they’ve done something well. I gave them sincere feedback and told them how they should improve. I feel sorry for some as they have no hope of getting through either option. Now, tomorrow late afternoon, with a cup of strong coffee in front of me I will compile all the scores and mark them bottom 25% – who will be eliminated before the final round – a personal interview round with me & the HR Manager.

I can’t wait for my team to be finalized and I get them released to me. Tuesday evening cannot come too fast for me!

Chilling At The Nyle

Long day yesterday. I was up by 6:30 am, preparing for my section of the review that Cochin center of our company is presenting to the new VP and the Sr.VP. It has a department wise snapshot of 08-09, 09-10 (so far) and a detailed KPI wise for April-July. By 8:45am I was out of the house and @ work by 9:20.

The review started around 11 am and stopped at 1:45 pm for lunch – a small burger, a small sticky triangle of bread with some toppings (that a bakery tried to pass off as pizza), chips and Pepsi. I think everyone was still quite hungry even after lunch and the grumblings continued on. We went back to our respective departments and continued our work till 7 pm (quitting time for me) when we were informed by the Admin head that us HOD’s were required to be present for a presentation/dinner at Hotel Nyle Plaza.

So me & the Quality lead went to watch Tom & Jerry in the reception hall (with no sound as the tv needs repairs) and we left via a mini-bus provided for us. All HODs were at the hotel by 8:15pm and we sipped on a fruit punch while we waited for the VPS and our center head to come. Turns out that it was a very casual affair, no presentations – just a dinner and a showing our our recently held grand R&R function (end of June) on a big screen.

Dinner was nice – nan rotis, chicken, fish masala, gobi manchurian, some salads and stuff, rice & fried rice and for dessert gulam jamun & chocolate pudding! We stood and ate for the most part and it was fun. By 10 pm we left the hotel but it was only by 11:15 pm that I reached home, due to people living in different areas having to be dropped off.

Answer Yes Or No

1. You can only answer yes or no.
2. You are NOT ALLOWED to explain ANYTHING unless someone sends you a private message and asks sor an answer. (The temptation to explain some of these will be overwhelming because nothing is really what it seems.)

Been arrested? –No
Kissed someone you didn’t like? — No
Ran a red light? — No
Been suspended from school? — No
Experienced love at first sight? — Yes
Totaled your car in an accident? — No
Been fired from a job? — No
Fired somebody? — No
Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t? — Yes
Caught a snowflake on your tongue? — No
Kissed in the rain? — Yes
Had a close brush with death (your own)? — Yes
Seen someone die? — Yes
Played spin-the-bottle? — No
Smoked a cigar? — Yes
Sat on a rooftop? — Yes
Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes? — No
Broken a bone? — Yes
Skipped school? — Yes
Eaten a bug? — Yes
Sleepwalked? — No
Dumped someone? — No
Shaved your head? — No
Made your girlfriend/boyfriend cry? — Yes
Eaten snake? — No
Marched/Protested? — Yes
Skinny-dipped? — No
Gave someone stitches? — No
Ridden a surfboard? — No
<b>Drank straight from a liquor bottle? — yes<B>Had surgery? — Yes
Peed on a bush? — Yes
Eaten alligator meat? — No
Peed your pants in public? — No
Snuck into a movie without paying? — No
Written graffiti? — Yes<b>Still love someone you shouldn’t? — No
Been involved in/witnessed a natural disaster? — No
Met a celebrity? — Yes
Been in handcuffs? — No
Believe in love? — Yes

Busy Schedule For The Next Few Days

I’m so tired. There’s a stupid dumb review happening tomorrow with some VPs and that is sure to take the entire day. There’s interviews to see if we have a good group of call center agents who are ready to move to the next level – as Quality Analysts and Trainers.

The Quality lead needs 5 QAs and I need 4 trainers. I already have select 2 Communication Coaches and got one transferred from our Coimbatore office. Once the interviews are over and we have completed the selections, my team size will increase to 9. I will end up taking roughly 44 interviews and sitting through 30 presentations.

There’s also a TTT program being done over the phone for 3 of my new selects and this is being done at my desk – so I can’t access my emails while it happens!

I can’t wait till Monday when all this will be over and I have my team completed!

Arsenal 2 Glasgow Celtic 0

In the first leg of the Champions League playoff series against Celtic, a pair of ‘lucky’ goals were more than enough to grant Arsenal a victory.

A Cesc Fabregas free-kick on the stroke of half-time flew into the net off the back of William Gallas as the defender crouched to avoid the ball. And midway through the second half Celtic skipper Gary Caldwell diverted a Gael Clichy cross into his own net. It might have been a little harsh for the hosts but they faded after a spirited first half.

Celtic worked hard to contain Arsene Wenger’s side but it was a largely comfortable evening for the Gunners back four. And the win ensures they become the first English side in nearly 26 years to beat Celtic on their own ground. The last team to do so was Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest.

Differential Treatment @ US Airports For Muslims

I’ve been reading about people being unhappy with the way Indians of Muslim ethnicity have been treated on arriving in the US. And what is a bigger outrage is that the three people, who have been treated such & whose cases have become high profile are all prominent people of high importance. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam, actors Mammooty & Shah Rukh Khan.

Recently there was uproar after Abdul Kalam, a former Indian president, was frisked by personnel of US carrier Continental Airlines in New Delhi before being allowed to board a US-bound flight. It seems that the airline has apologized to him at a later stage but that could be only because of the controversy that it generated. And Malayalam film superstar Mammootty was denied entry to America and was detained for a couple of hours when he reached JFK airport at New York last week.

Finally, the Indian Consulate in New York intervened and got him released from the custody of US homeland security who had interrogated him also. It was his name that caused the trouble, it is learnt. His name, as given in his passport is, Mohammad Kutty Ismail Paniparambil. Mohammad Ismail is a name that figures in the US homeland security watchlist, it is reported.

In all cases, it seems that a form of ‘Islamaphobia’s is to be blamed for this differential treatment of these famous people. Being Muslim and the wrong shade of colour was the reason.

Or in Khan’s case, maybe they saw his films & the bad overacting and wanted to put a stop to it! Damn it, they had him in their clutches and they let him get away.

The Camera Print Copy Of Star Trek XI

A few weeks ago, I was able to locate and download a torrent file of the new Star Trek movie, which we fans will call Star Trek XI. Having waited impatiently ever since the movie was announced and then since May 8th, I really was anxious to watch this eagerly awaited movie.

However – once the download was completed, I saw that it was infact a very bad camera print of the movie which some boot-legger shot by smuggling a camera into a theatre. I was confused; I really wanted to watch this movie but should I base my feelings on such an important flick by watching a bad copy?

Since I couldn’t decide for myself, I left the choice to Twitter. I posted a comment depecting my dilema and asked for suggestions – bang! Everyone said not to watch it. And so I haven’t yet! It’s still lying in my hard disk but I haven’t watched it. Sigh! And there’s no hope of it coming to a theatre in Cochin.

Late Lunch With Anil & Madhu

A meeting between the three of us has been long overdue. I guess work, family, personal needs & some other shit came in the way of Anil, Madhu and myself getting together and having a few drinks with some good food and some laughs. But a few months? I think that needs to be remedied.

We had to postpone our drinking session by a day since I wasn’t feeling so great yesterday. Today, there was no stopping me from hanging out with my buddies. We had fixed a meeting time as 1:30 pm @ Barista cafe. I got there on the dot and ordered a Swiss Mocha and waited for Madhu and then Anil to join me. We had our coffees and ogled at some young girls (silly old men) and then headed out to have some late lunch as we were starving.

Velocity Bar was our destination and we settled our collective asses on the comfy sofa style booth and ordered some food & drinks – 8PM whiskey for Madhu, McDowells’s White Rum for Anil & Romanov vodka for me. We had a salad, some egg burgi, chilly fish, chilly pork, chilly gobi and finally chappty and chicken curry (Kerala style). All along we chatted and laughed and also had some serious conversations about family & stuff.

I need this. I need to spend some quality time with my best friends and not worry about the time and forget about the daily stress. By 5:45 pm, we were out of there after our 5th round of drinks and went to Caravan to have some ice cream. By 6:30 pm, we went our seperate ways and I crashed on my bed for a long nap.

Arsenal 6 Everton 1

As my wonderful cable company wasn’t airing ESPN last night, I wasn’t able to watch this thrashing that Arsenal doled out to Everton. 6-1 is a wonderful start to the new season for Arsenal.

Denilson struck the first blow, followed by new signing Thomas Vermaelen, who doubled their lead with a header from a free-kick. William Gallas headed the third before two Cesc Fabregas goals made it 5-0. Gunners substitute Eduardo was on hand to tap in a late sixth before Louis Saha rolled in the most inconsequential of goals for Everton in injury time.

Ofcourse, this still does not negate the lack of world class material that Arsene Wenger was supposed to have signed but it’s a wonderful way to appease the loyal fans.

Chin Up Buttercup – Holly McNarland

The city of Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada) has produced some of my favourite artists – Chantal Kreviazuk, Neil Young & Crash Test Dummies. Adding to that list is Holly McNarland, an artist I knew very little about except for a few of her songs, including her wonderful Beautiful Blue. Now, I’ve got the chance to get a full album of her material; 2007’s Chin Up Buttercup. The album starts off with the distinctive corrosive guitar riff that defines So Cold, the rush of cold biting wind that rushes at you. This, her 5th album, deals with lyrics of motherhood, loss & everyday. Fly is another great track that duets acoustic & electric riffs equally well.

We move on to the instantly catchy Dadada and then onto the beautiful & dreamy Sweet Lazy. Both of these songs seem to be inspired by family life and motherhood. Her voice in the latter is especially expressive and describes visions of bliss. Every Single Time starts off with a happy beat and lyrics of missing someone when the person is not around.

Back to her original angst, she hits back with Dear Pain, a lyrical letter to the thing that hurts her the most. The ballad Dry As A Bone deals with personal loss and the feelings that come once all the tears are dried up. Bye Bye Boy is one of her best songs that deals with breakup, addressed to a former lover. The melancholic Mermaid deals with devotion & needing to special to someone (could easily be about a child).

The slowed down The Waltz is a nostalgic look back and a decision to not let that change the future. Memory Of A Man is totally different from any song that I have heard, due to the repetitive, almost meowing words that litter the song. We end with Sad Songs, a perfect end to the album that’s probably the most personal that she has done till date.

There aren’t many Holly videos available except for her 5 or 6 hits & for some amateur shot live clips on Youtube. Here’s the video for Every Single Time.

The New Three

I’ve added two members to my team – we had run an IJP (Internal Job Posting) from the tenured crowed of call center associates and finally 2 were selected to become the new Communication Coaches for the Cochin center. Their names are Riju & Rekha; although I haven’t really known much about Rekha before, she seems to be a level-headed & sensible person, and Riju is a former trainee of mine.

The Communication Coach posts are starting for the first time in our center and hence there’s some learning to be done for all the aspects. I also have a 3rd Comm Coach joining my team – he is from our Coimbatore location and his name is Firdaus. He will join us on the 18th. I’m excited to get 3 new faces and intergrate them into the team. Welcome to you three!