Gone Too Soon

Today I went along with the rest of team to a mosque (not inside but just waited outside) in Kalloor and then to the house of one of my team members. This was not a joyous occasion; far from it. This was possibly the worst reasons we could ever have to go to someone’s house. The death of an infant.

His sister has delivered a baby girl 10 days ago. At the time the doctors at the hospital said that they wanted to keep her for a day just for observations. That became a concern 24 hours later as they came back and said that there was something troubling near the baby’s liver and that they wanted a specialist to look at the baby in 2 days. They took the baby girl to another hospital and the results looked horrifying – it could be cancer and if so it could be fatal! The family was devastated but they kept this news from the mother of the baby.

They wanted to do some blood tests but had to postpone it for a day or too as the poor baby was too weak. Then it was a wait for the results to come in four days later while the family agonized over the helpless little girl whose only sin it seemed was to be born on this undeserving planet. And then it was confirmed – it was cancer and it had already spread throughout the little baby’s system and she was due to succumb to its effects. She was put on a ventilator and this morning the doctors said that it was a maximum of this evening or by tomorrow morning that she would breath her last. It was only the ventilator that was keeping her alive. My team member was devastated and crying. I could only imagine what his sister and brother-in-law must be going through.

Well this afternoon at around 1:45 pm the baby died, another victim that cancer has claimed. 10 days only in our world. So I asked permission to take a company cab, put the rest of the team in it and we went to pay our respects. That’s the least that I can do.

Songza: Create Your Own Radio Station

I always seem to be getting good options of things to do online from TorontoMike. Here’s an example of one; here’s Songza a website that let’s you create your own internet radio station. It’s pretty easy to create one online and share your favorite music with anyone who is interested.

Click on the boombox image below to be guided to my station.

The 63rd Independence Day List

On our nation celebrating it’s 63rd Independence Day, let me take a few moments to let you know a few favourites of mine:

  • Favourite Indian city: Bangalore & Cochin
  • Favourite Indian state: Kerala (naturally)
  • Favourite Indian movie: Sholay
  • Favourite Indian rock band: currently Avial; Indus Creed is all time fav
  • Favourite Indian sportsman: Leander Paes
  • Favourite Indian sportswoman: Saina Nehwal
  • Favourite Indian musician (classical): Usatad Amjad Ali Khan
  • Favourite Indian dish: chicken biriyani
  • Favourite Indian snack: samosa
  • Favourite Indian drink: MGM Vodka
  • Favourite Indian tv show: Highway On My Plate
  • Favourite Indian personality: Shashi Tharoor

How I Feel About Swear Words

I’m a person who swears a lot. Well maybe not a lot. I don’t sound like an Italian Mafia guy from New York if you know what I mean! But I use the occasional ‘shit’, plenty of ‘asshole’ usage, lots of ‘fuck’ and the usual ‘sonofabitch’. In no way do I use it as exclamations or punctuations and I try to avoid using it around women but the odd one usually slips out.

I find that it relieves stress, tension and pent up frustration. Dealing with stupid impossible clients – give a discourse on how they spend their sex life! Cross functional battles – choose words that best describe how their parents created them! Anything just to get some anger out.

I remember when I was 13-16 and swear words were considered to be such a big taboo. I used it cause I thought it was cool and I was a bit of a rebel. I used so many swear words in front of my sister that I think she developed an immunity to them. I loved to read novels and then mimic the swear words in similar situations in my life. I would wait for a really antagonistic, know-it-all, self-serving idiot to piss me of before I lifted my middle finger in a defiant salute at him and yelled ‘Mother fucker’. Ofcourse it is usually pronounced ‘Mutha fuckaaah’!

In my native tongue of Malayalam, even though I can’t read & write, I know enough swear words to make the locals proud. I can enunciate them like the best of them and spit out the words with enough vitriol to make you understand the meaning….even if you didn’t know a word of the language. Yes I consider myself the Ernest Hemingway of swearing, although I control using it as much as I can. I am so pro using bad words.

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Taken from Bizarro Central’s books section:

It’s Shatner VS Shatners!

It’s the first ShatnerCon with William Shatner as the guest of honor!┬á But after a failed terrorist attack by Campbellians, a crazy terrorist cult that worships Bruce Campbell, all of the characters ever played by William Shatner are suddenly sucked into our world.┬á Their mission: hunt down and destroy the real William Shatner.

Featuring: Captain Kirk, TJ Hooker, Denny Crane, Rescue 911 Shatner, Singer Shatner, Shakespearean Shatner, Twilight Zone Shatner, Cartoon Kirk, Esperanto Shatner, Priceline Shatner, SNL Shatner, and – of course – William Shatner!

No costumed con-goer will be spared in their wave of destruction, no redshirt will make it out alive, and not even the Klingons will be able to stand up to a deranged Captain Kirk with a lightsaber.┬á But these Shatner-clones are about to learn a hard lesson…that the real William Shatner doesn’t take crap from anybody.┬á Not even himself.

It’s Shatnertastic!

The Circle – Bon Jovi

So they had their fling with country edged songs and now are back to rocking your eardrums with The Circle. I’d like anything that Jon, Tico, Ritchie & David care to put out. Ofcourse they ar never going to top their best efforts Slippery When Wet & New Jersey or even These Days or Keep The Faith. I thought that the band peaked with those for albums and everything else that has followed has failed to live up to those lofty standards. Ofcourse you have the odd single here or there but not an entire album. Still Bon Jovi are way more listenable than most stuff that seems to be popular these days (and Bon Jovi are very popular even now) even as the members hit their 50s (Jon & David are just 2 years away from the half century mark, Tico is 56 & Richie is 51). The album was released in Germany and Ireland on October 30, 2009. The album debuted at number 1 in several countries, including the U.S., where it sold 163,000 copies in its first week debuting at number 1 on the Billboard charts. This gives them their fourth number 1 album after their 2007 effort, Lost Highway.

So what can you expect from a new Jovi record? More crowd pleasing, arena rocking songs like the lead single and opening track We Weren’t Born To Follow; a song about standing up against all odds, a song of defiance and defining the human spirit. The single was nominated for a┬áGrammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Originally written by┬áJon, Sambora and┬áBilly Falcon for a Bon Jovi greatest hits collection that got shelved, When We Were Beautiful was released as an iTunes only promo single from┬áThe Circle in the US. It became available as a digital download from the US┬áiTunes store on October 26, 2009. The song was released for download to coincide with Bon Jovi documentary When We Were Beautiful on Showtime. The song talks about a bleak world that used to be more than what it has become, and the narrator wishes to find what made that better world work, so he may then try to make his world a better place. The song has since been released as the third official single from the album with the music video being released on May 24, 2010.

Work For The Working Man is a song in praise of the working class masses from which the band has sprung up. It’s all about the people who go through a lot just to get by in life and put food on the table for their families and a roof over their heads. On Superman Tonight Jon explains its about a boy watching a girl going through ups & down in life, from a distance and wondering if she needs a hero to save her and wishes that he could be that for her. The Bullet starts off with a harder sounding guitar riff and is a social commentary about the way the gun, bullets and weapons in general create havoc for humans. When a relationship goes down south, goes sour, then the other person becomes the Thorn In My Side. Although finally acknowledging this fact, this song is also about the positiveness of the inevitable moving on. Live Before You Die is about to appreciate what you have and your youth and to living life to the fullest while you can.

Broken Promiseland doesn’t sound like a Bon Jovi track; it’s just different. This is a good thing as it sounds fresher. Love’s The Only Rule & Fast Cars are ok songs, mostly there to make the numbers but pleasant all the same. Happy Now is a bit cheesy and we end the album with the ballad Learn To Love is about accepting the world that you are living in and loving it is the first step. Overall a good album, not groundbreaking but good enough for many a spin on your cd player. Here’s the video for When We Were Beautiful.

That Special Day

Ah, my favourite date of the year, Friday the 13th. No matter where I am or what I am doing I always note this day. A big fan of the macabre and horror movies, Friday the 13th always holds a dark fascination on me. Like today for example – I’m just recovering from a fever, brought on yesterday and with lots of rest and sleep I’m feeling a whole lot better from evening. But the date is still on my mind.

I remember that as a young boy, before ever having watched any of the movies involving Jason, his machete or his hockey mask, my cousin Arun put this notion in my mind that all Friday’s were scary days and that the 13th was even more horrifying in particular. He was so good in describing the horror that not only did I get scared……but he got scared as well!!! I mean, the first movie came out in 1980 or 81 and this incident must have been around 84 or 85 (when I was 8 or 9).

Anyway this day is noted to be one of bad luck by superstitious people, thought by some to derive from the┬áLast Supper or a┬áNorse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners. Another theory is to do with the ledengary Knights Templar – threatened by that power and eager to acquire their wealth, King Philip secretly ordered the┬ámass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307. In the┬áGregorian calendar, this day occurs at least once, but at most three times a year. Any month’s 13th day will fall on a Friday if the month starts on a Sunday. Today is this year’s only Friday the 13th.

The Return Of Starbuck

Recently I started watching the original Battlestar Galactica all over again and had also started downloading Galactica 1980 – the inexpensive and inferior spinoff to the 1978 series. Also as I have probably mentioned, I recently got a copy of the entire 4 seasons of the new BSG. But my favourite and sentimentally attached episode is from the 1980 10 series season. It’s called The Return Of Starbuck and it blows everything else off just because of the storyline.

In it, the mysterious Dr. Zee’s origins are explained; he is the one telling Cdr. Adama about a dream he had, which is actually a true story. Starbuck & Boomer are battling a bunch of Cylon raiders and although they destroy all but one (which is damaged and crashes on a planet), the mood is not celebratory. This is due to the fact that Sarbuck’s viper is also hit and he cannot make it back to the ship. The only option is for him to either drift off and die or try to land. Boomer goes back to Galatica, which is plagued by attacking cylon raiders. He pleads to Adama for help in saving Starbuck but understands when the patriarch states that they cannot go back, even if Adama wanted to so badly. Starbuck is lost to the rest of the fleet.

The warrior lands on an uninhabited planet and is alive but has barely enough rations to last a few days. He has accepted his fate and searches for a makeshift shelter. He then see something that startles him, something he never expected – the damaged cylon raider lies crashed on a plain. Cautions, Starbuck approaches the wreckage with his weapon raised but he needn’t worry – the three cylons are all damaged an out of power. Lonely and desperate for companionship, Starbuck sets off to repair one of the cylon, using parts from the other two and powering it with the raider’s generator. Once activated, the cylon tries to attack the colonial warrior, but the latter manages to convince his enemy that they both need each other and co-exist in this planet as they are the only inhabitants. ‘Cy’ as Starbuck christens the Cylon, is then taught about humans, their way of life and also a game of cards called pyramids.

However, soon it is obvious that Starbuck needs human companionship, female in particular. Cy gets “offended” when Starbuck changes the rules of pyramid in order to keep himself amused. He says that he will find Starbuck a female companion and leaves into the freezing cold night. Starbuck waits and hopes that Cy hasn’t hurt himself in the poor light but is astonished when the cylon brings back a pregnant female human who is unconscious. This woman, who Starbuck takes care of, delivers a baby boy in a few days. She then tells Starbuck that the cylons will be coming soon, attracted by the distress beacon that the damaged raider had automatically soon. With Cy’s help, Starbuck constructs a one seater shuttle, taking parts from his damaged cockpit and the raider. Soon three cylons arrive and while the woman is safely sent off in the shuttle with her baby, Starbuck faces off against the three centurions.

Cy arrives with his weapon repaired and shoots 2 of the cylons dead; but the third one damages Cy with a shot. Sarbuck kills the 3rd cylon and rushes to the aid of his friend. The dying cylon pledges his friendship to Starbuck, till now never acknowledging it and dies out. Starbuck cannot repair him and settles for life alone on the planet. The baby reached Galatica safely, but his mother has vanished. The baby turns out to be Dr. Zee and the mother is a higher being sent to ‘judge’ Starbuck and deems him to be worthy & good. The script for an unfilmed sequel to this episode, as the series was canceled, lets us know that Starbuck is eventually rescued from the planet by the┬áSeraphs, the inhabitants of the┬áShip of Lights, of which Angela, the baby’s mother, was one. The entire affair had been set up by the Seraphs as a test of Starbuck’s worthiness to join them.

This episode has always remained strong in my mind and been the epitome of loneliness, atleast to me. As such it is one of the most nostalgic memories of my childhood – I was 5 when this episode originally aired and probably 7 or 8 when I first watched it – and is a perennial favourite of mine. You will agree if you have seen it.

Pizza On The Way Home

There are ways to make a really crappy day end on a happy note. Most evenings I get into the car of a colleague who takes me and two other colleagues on his way home. I get down at Palarivattom and then take a bus from there to my apartment. The other two live quite close to the owner of the car. Today there were 2 more colleagues and they both got down at Palarivattom with me and we were supposed to wait for a bus. Only we happened to look at the new Dominos hub that has opened opened up right next to the Palarivattom bus stop and got the same mind go through our minds at the same time.

We thought that we’d grab some pizza before going home and so we went right in and ordered the small four different pizzas that you get – all with chicken on it. The place was small and crowded and noisy as hell. We waited for about 15 minutes and they brought the four small boxes to our table and we proceeded to pour on the oregano spice thick and heavy and I also added some ketchup to mine. The pizzas were all delicious and we swapped slices so that all 3 of us got to have┬á atleast one slice of a different pizza. Bellies full we left happily for the bus stop and went home.

The One & Only Sporting Event I’ve Been To

Despite the many years I’ve followed football, tennis and since 2000 ice hockey, I’ve never been able to attend a sporting event live at the venue with one exception when I was 14. I’ve attended the finals of a tennis tournament in Cochin, which mainly featured Indian players, way back in 1991. Nothing like the Chennai Open; much much smaller in nature.

So no international football matches (ha, I live in India) and NHL is out of the question. There are clay courts in the grounds of the Cochin Oil Refinery setup in Ambalamedu which is a bit far from where I live. I remember that in 1991 there was this tournament held on the clay courts and most of the top Indian talent were attending it. I spoke to an uncle and my cousin Raju and we though that it was something that we wanted to attend. So one Sunday in January 1991, the three of us took a drive from my grandma’s house to the courts in Ambalamedu to attend the men’s single final & the double’s final.

I remember that a young Leander Paes was facing an Italian expatriate player who lived & played in India for many years (I just can’t remember the guys’ name) and lost. They then played as a team in the doubles final and due to fatigue or illness, Leander and his partner had to forfeit the final. I managed to get an autograph from Leander and the Italian dude; it must be around here somewhere amongst my stuff from my childhood. That was a good experience for the 3 of us and we drove back home happily.

Chaos Theory: Introduction To Chris Broderick

I was very upset when Marty Friedman left Megadeth and got replaced by Al Pitrelli. Then Megadeth kinda went away and brought in Glen Drover. Then he left after one solid & good album and they brought in Chris Broderick. I was wondering who is this guy? Well he is a classically trained guitarist with some neo-classical metal influences. Plus he has this amazingly beautiful pearl white Ibanez guitar. This is his intro video to Chaos Theory; a new video column he is doing for Guitar World magazine. Here he speaks about his beginnings. And there’s that gorgeous guitar !

I Wanna Be A Ventriloquist

Ventriloquism is an art, rather than a skill, that I would dearly love to master. After playing an instrument like the guitars, drums or piano, this is the next biggest thing I’ve always wanted to learn how to do. This is a fascination that started as I was a little boy and watched my first tv special which featured a ventriloquist and if I’m not mistaken it was on a Paul Daniel’s special.

Since then the ventriloquists of this world, or rather only the good ventriloquists, have held me enthralled by their talents. I can’t remember his name, but this black dude with a black dummy had me in splits with his act – they have a baseball dialogue which was so confusing & hilarious that I still like to this day.

Over the years I’ve always wanted to learn this art form but I’ve never heard of a ventriloquist training center in either Kuwait or in India. I later watched a few specials but until I got to know about Jeff Dunham & very recently Terry Fator, no names stuck in my mind. I’ve also seen a couple of ventriloquists in India, doing their act in Hindi – their acts leave a lot to be desired! As in lacking in humour, Just like Hindi comedy. Very bad!

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Avatar The Movie

I’ve finally seen it; the biggest blockbuster of all time and I just saw it last night. No it wasn’t in 3d and no it wasn’t on a movie theatre. Heck it wasn’t even on a big LCD tv either. Humble me watched James Cameron’s Avatar on my 15.6 in screen of my Lenovo G550 laptop. And if I was this blown away watching it here, I can only imagine what it must be like watching in a giant screen with the lights dimmed!

Awesome experience of movie making at the very best. A fantastic imaginary world created by Cameron to boggle your mind and yeah the ordinary human brain cannot fathom the extensive research, creative process, brain storming, craftsmanship & fantasy that went into making this film. It’s Sci-fi for the ages and dare I say it, it’s like the Star Wars gone bonkers on acid, mushrooms & the finest of weed! This totally rocks!

The story is simplistic at best, a formula that has been around for decades. It’s almost Dances With Wolves with aliens instead of Native Americans. Paraplegic soldier is chosen to operate the human/Na’vi hybrid avatar in an effort to learn the ways & gain the trust of the natives of Pandora, a moon in the Alpha Centuri star system. Greedy humans want to mine the rich & valuable mineral which is on the sacred homeland of these natives. Soldier gets into the group and gains the trust of the Na’vi after learning their ways and also gets the love of the girl who shows him the land. Greedy humans close in on the natives and through brute force & technologically advanced weapons scatter the tribe from one holy land. Soldier gives rousing speech and helps natives to defeat the humans and they are chased away. He gets the girl, becomes one with the natives and all ends well. Sounds familiar? Insert human instead of ‘white man’.

Still it’s a stunning visual feast and we are all indebted to Jimmy boy for creating this master piece. Here is a few thoughts on the movie:

  • The Na’vi look, sound & behave like a hybrid of Native American (North+South) tribes & African tribesmen.
  • Avatar is an English word derived from the Sanskrit ‘avaatar’ which means incarnation of, usually a Hindu deity. Like Vishnu’s avaatars of Krishna & Rama. Is that why the Na’vi are blue skinned?
  • The movie┬á is set in the year 2154, which is only 3 years from when the year of the first Starfleet deep space mission using the first starship to be called Enterprise from the Star Trek legend (which starts off in the year 2151). Apparently Cameron’s future of humanity is much less hospitable and still obsessed with wealth & gaining power when compared to the Star Trek legacy.
  • I though Giovanni Ribisi was miscast as the secondary antagonist in the film, a corporate administrator.
  • Stephen Lang as the villainous Colonel Quartich – man that guy looks so cartoonish; for a few minutes I thought that he was CGI as well!
  • Cool to see Sigourney Weaver in her supporting role; the helicopters, ships and equipments remind me of the Alien movie franchise of which she was a huge part.
  • Na’vi women are hot, even if 10 feet tall.
  • The wildlife and plant life shown on Pandora is fucking awesome. Outta this world….which is what it is supposed to be!

Outta 10 I give this movie  99!

Miss Tracy Whitney aka Mandolyn Smith

Back in 1986, Kuwait tv showed a mini-series based on a novel by Sidney Sheldon called If Tomorrow Comes. The 3 part mini-series with the same name starred Tom Berenger, Liam Neeson, David Keith, the late Richard Kiley, CCH Pounder and the gorgeous Mandolyn Smith.

For my 9-1o year old self, she was the most gorgeous woman I had ever seen. She didn’t look like most women I saw on tv – she was slightly darker or tanned and she had a sensuality that even a blind man couldn’t miss. She starred as Tracy Whitney, the main protagonist in the series, the heroine around whose life the series is woven and whose path gets entangled with deceit, imprisonment, love, vengeance, scandal, burglary & life as a con artist.

I haven’t seen her in anything other than this series although she has acted in big name movies like 2010, Urban Cowboy & Funny Farm except for an episode of Due South and when she came on the screen I remember shouting aloud ‘hey that’s Tracy Whitney’.

Her acting listings do not show her as having appeared in anything after that and it’s perhaps because of her wanting to focus on raising a family. She got married to Canadian NHLer Mark Osbourne who used to play for the Winnipeg Jets, The Toronto Maple Leafs & the New York Rangers. But I still think that she’s gorgeous and she’s had that look that not many actresses can carry. I’m going to be downloading the series if I can find a suitable torrent and I’m re-reading the novel at the moment (which was what brought about this post).

The Sacrilegious Scorn

The Sacrilegious Scorn is off Dimmu Borgir’s In Sorte Diaboli album and is probably one of the Norwegian black metal band’s best songs. The video concept is mainly a paraphrase on Christianity’s core-symbolism and motives.

Such examples are the Roman soldiers gambling over Christ’s garment, the mockery of St. Michael the Archangel, driving Satan out of Heaven by stepping on him and pointing his sword onto him. Now we see this reversed, when the inaugurated Antichrist is doing that to St. Michael. We also witness the inauguration of the Dark Emperor in the Temple of the Baphomet, seeing him taking the oath as the new sovereign while celebrating a mockery of the Last Supper. The story culminates in the Dark Emperor showing up in front of his followers, bringing out blessings. The Empire of Darkness is then established.