My Questions Gets Asked In Linden’s TV Interview

Time for some hockey related stuff. Retired hockey star Trevor Linden recently appeared on Vancouver based talk show Urban Rush with hosts Mike Eckford & the absolutely ravishing Fiona Forbes. A few days before the interview the hosts had asked the Twitterverse if us fans had any questions for Trevor. I had tweeted to Fiona a question for Trevor (using my Twitter id @countroshculla) – and guess what – it’s featured on the show!

Thanks to Mike & Fiona for choosing my question to be on the air during the interview. It was fun to see it up there on their giant screen.

The River : Ep7 “The Experiment”

Finding the outpost, where Dr. Emmett Cole was taken to, abandoned and deserted Tess leads the team minus Jahel & Emilio (who stayed on the boat) into the huge building. Tess is more determined than ever that they must find Emmett and they slowly make their way into the creepy looking building, seemingly devastated by violent struggles and where they hear music. A radio had been left turned on and was playing songs of a station. They then make their way into a huge kitchen where they find blood tracks, and spoiled, rotten food still lay in utensils & a foul stench emanating from the room. They find a huge freezer locker in which around 20 dead rotting bodies are hung with a horde of swarming flies surrounding them. The foul stench is way too much for most of them to bear but Lincoln covers his ears, nose & mouth with a wet handkerchief and checks out to see if his father’s body is among the rotting corpses. Meanwhile AJ finds Kurt trying to contact someone using his satellite phone and sees his walking off to the first floor.

AJ follows him secretly and sees that Kurt dialing a number and hears a phone ringing in the distance. Kurt tracks the phone down to a room where he finds the phone and AJ sees Kurt take out a photo of him and a woman. This woman, Mina, Kurt’s lover was in charge of security for this building, a medical research facility where an experiment, which was searching for a cure for cancer using some less-than-ethical methods, goes horribly wrong causing the people to become violent flesh eating zombies. In a flashback scene we see Kurt about to propose to Mina but she tells him to wait until she comes back from her current assignment. Kurt catches AJ in the act and the two rejoin the rest. Tess must now face up to the fact that Emmett probably died here and they are about to leave when they run into an alive & disheveled Rabbit! Rabbit, somehow survived all this time, and relates how Emmet was brought in and was being treated when the outbreak happened.

The team decide to leave when they run into a few zombies who start lunging at them at the sight of fresh meat. The team barricade themselves in a big office where they see some of the experiments being conducted in a video record. Later the zombies all seem to have gone into a slumber enabling the team to tiptoe past them but Kurt stops to shoot at Mina – although she doesn’t die (as we will find a little later). They reach the roof where a dragonfly leads Lincoln to a room on the terrace in which they find Emmett, wrapped up in a huge amber  cocoon, using his recently found abilities with the dragonfly. As he explains in an old clip from “The Undiscovered Country,” when food is short for dragonflies, they go back into a cocoon to survive. The crew take him out and drag him to the boat, chased by a few zombies who Kurt shoots at. At the boat they are greeted by Sasha who refuses to get into the boat with them, going off into the jungle with a few final barks.

The team sets off in the boat as night falls and Lincoln sets about treating his father and hooking him up with an IV. Kurt chooses this moment to get drunk and tells Clark in German that he is there actually to kill Emmett if he is still alive. Tess tells Rabbit that they will stop at a next town to get Emmett medical help and that she is not to continue with them. Later as Jahel is at the wheel, Rabbit is attacked & killed by a zombie Mina. Mina is in turn killed by Kurt but a couple of more zombies have also made their way onto the boat. They kill off a a couple but one attacks Tess and is about to bite her when it is shot dead by a shotgun wielding Emmett, who then delivers one of the coolest lines ever “So, how was my funeral?”!

A mysterious symbol is also shown in the building, which Tess connects to be the same design of the the locket on a chain that Lincoln wears given to him by Emmett. And it is the same mark on the back of Lena’s neck, which she still hasn’t told anyone about. What is this mysterious symbol and how is this gonna end? Find out one week from now in the season finale.

Scientists Venture To Bring Back Wooly Mammoths

2011 Scientists from South Korea and Russia have signed onto a project that looks to bring back the wooly mammoth (also known as the Tundra mammoth) from extinction. Like they didn’t learn a lesson from watching the Jurassic Park movies?

Even more controversial than the storyline is the participation of a disgraced cloning expert from South Korea in the project. Hwang Woo-Suk, now with South Korea’s Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, was found to have falsified data claiming a stem cell research breakthrough and then forced to resign his post at Seoul National University in 2009. Still, Suk continues to enjoy notoriety in his native country as the first scientist to clone a dog. Now the question is can his use that expertise to reproduce a long time extinct animal and the chances may hinge on a variable entirely out of his hands.

This isn’t the first time scientists have set their sights on cloning a mammoth. Scientists in Russia researching the project have had their progress blocked by not having nuclei with undamaged mammoth genes. That changed last August when paleontologists reported discovering a well-preserved mammoth’s thigh bone in Siberia, raising the chances for a successful cloning procedure. Assuming that the researchers can find nuclei with undamaged genes, they would implant the embryos into elephant wombs for delivery. Although mammoths became extinct about 10,000 years ago, they are considered to be close enough relatives to the modern elephant.

You know what that means don’t u? Manny from the Ice Age movies will live. Will the mammoth be as cute as the one I have pictured here?

Online Bingo : Passtime That Takes Me Back

I occasionally play online bingo on quite evenings with some coffee by my side. My first memories of bingo being played were in the rooftop terrace parties at the apartment building my family and I lived in Kuwait City, Kuwait for some years before coming back to India. There were 18 families in all living in the building in small 2 bedroom apartments. Every year for social events the tenants would pool in money and organize a nice party on the terrace which everyone could enjoy. There would be games, musical competitions, quiz and lots of fun things for the kids to enjoy and lots of good food & eat. Usually towards the end of the night the adults would settle down for bingo and I’d sit next to my mom & dad and check the numbers with them.

As I grew older I’d play it myself at functions & parties. While studying at NIIT, I was part of the organizing committee for the annual day function and me and 3 others were in charge of getting sponsors & fund. Part of it was selling bingo (known locally as tambola) tickets for Rs.10 each and I’d charm all the girls to buy more than the boys and pleading with my brown eyes & boyish smile and guess what – I sold more tickets than the rest of the team combined! And I loved that feeling of being able to bellow out “Bingo” when you got all the numbers ticked and you get a prize. At one such event I remember getting the big prize – an expensive dining set for four.

So anytime I play online bingo, as much fun as it is, it also brings me back to a time gone by. I get to relive the parties & events on that rooftop of that building in Kuwait and my exploits at 22 in NIIT.

Tower Heist

2011 has some good movies perhaps a few more than the previous years. One such movie, as I was told by a few people, is Tower Heist. It’s a crime-comedy movie directed by Brett Ratner and starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda, Tea Leoni & Michael Pena. The movie is about a few ordinary people planning a heist in an apartment of a huge skyscraper to get revenge and correct a wrong. Eddie Murphy was involved in the making of the movie from 2005 onwards, which was supposed to be an all-black cast robbing a Trump building.

Ok so Josh Kovacs (Stiller) is the manager of a huge exclusive high rise building, one of the biggest in NYC, and is good at his job. He plays online chess with wealthy business man Arthur Shaw (Alda) who he seems to have befriended. Among the staff of the tower are concierge Charlie (Affleck), his brother in law; Enrique(Pena), a newly hired elevator operator; Lester, the doorman nearing retirement; Odessa, a maid; and Miss Iovenko, who furtively studies for her bar exam at work. Shaw is arrested for fraudulent investments by the FBI and Josh gets involved as he first believes that Shaw is being kidnapped, when he in fact was trying to escape. Josh is stopped by the arresting FBI agent Claire Denham (Leoni).

Josh tells the Tower staff about Shaw’s arrest and explains that he gave Shaw their pension fund to invest, and their money is gone. Lester attempts suicide but is saved in time. Josh, Charlie and Enrique visit Shaw, who is under house arrest and ask about the money and seems insincere and a frustrated Josh breaks the windows of a 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso that Shaw keeps inside his apartment. The building’s General Manager apologizes to Mr. Shaw and fires the 3 employees. Denham takes a liking to Josh and meets him for drinks; while drunk she lets on the  fact that Shaw was careful and must have a safe stashed away somewhere. Josh gathers Charlie, Enrique and an unemployed former Tower tenant Fitzhugh (Broderick) and plans to steal the money, reportedly $20 million atleast, from Shaw’s apartment and give it to all the employees. They hire a local thief Slide (Murphy) to join in an share in the money and teach them how to do it.

They also need someone to crack the safe and bring in Odessa, who works in house keeping at the Tower and whose father taught her how to open safes. Just before Thanksgiving Day, Charlie tells Josh that he is backing out as he has been re-hired and as the building manager. The rest of the team use the Thanksgiving parade as a distraction and sneak in to the tower. They get to the apartment and find the safe inside a beam but find the safe empty.  In a scuffle they find out that Shaw invested his cash in gold, had the gold melted down and cast into car parts, and then assembled the car in his apartment! Josh also finds a  ledger of Shaw’s illegal finances in the car’s glove box. They lower the car through the window in an empty apartment but are unable to take it out as Denham & the FBI are onto them and are giving chase. Using Lester to drive away in a huge truck as a distraction, the team takes the car to Shaw’s rooftop pool and covers it.

Denham arrests Shaw on seeing a hidden safe and also arrests Josh and his team. Miss Lovenko arrives, having passed the bar, and acts as Josh’s attorney, shows the FBI Shaw’s hidden ledger which seals the case against him and asks for Josh & the team’s freedom in exchange. The FBI accepts on the condition that Josh, being the primary conspirator, must serve a minimal two-year sentence, which he readily agrees to. The rest of the team get the car from the pool, strip the parts and send each of the employees a part to compensate for their lost pensions. As the movie ends Shaw begins his life sentence and Josh is booked into jail, a satisfied smile slowly forming on his face.

Fun movie although it didn’t really explode when it had plenty of chances to do so and I guess you could say that it could have used better writing. Stiller is subdued in his role while Murphy is hilarious. Tea Leoni has a good scene in the bar getting drunk. Overall I would say that it was good enough. 7 out of 10!

Family Vacations From My Childhood

After my parents, my sister & I moved from Kuwait back to India and settled down in our house in Thrikkakara, we went from being just the 4 to a huge extended family. Mostly on my mother’s side – a plethora of uncles, aunts and cousins plus my grandmother. Every vacation time we would get together, usually at my grandmother’s huge house in Mattancherry. Every year school kids get a 2 week vacation during Onam (in September) and Christmas and then ofcourse a 2 month summer vacation once your school year ends. During the first couple of years, 1987-88, we’ve gone on a family trips to different places.

We’d hire a couple of mini-buses, called tempo travelers seating 14 people, and if needed a car or two (to fit all the folks in) and go on these long road trips and see all the places. Riding in the mini-buses which come equipped with a tv and vcr so you can watch a couple of movies during the long hours on the road. Or play songs on the stereo system and sing along – I pity any of my uncles & aunts who would have the misfortune of sitting in the vehicle with a bunch of us at our loudest. We’d stop at places on the way for drinks, tea and food and then get back in to enjoy the trip once again. I remember us going to Palghat, Coimbatore, Mysore, Madurai and I think Mangalore & Bangalore. I can’t remember much as it has been all these years but I do have some photos in a couple of albums, which I will have to hunt and find.

Staying in hotels, 4 to 5 kids in a room, fighting over the pillows, playing board games or quiz contests till late in the night. Those were awesome times. At that age we didn’t care of the sights & sounds in the cities we went to but I do remember a memorable visit to an art museum.

Indian Commercials : Hit Or Miss

At one time I felt that we had some really good concepts for commercials. Those are less & less the case these days. Some of the ads, especially for fairness creams & other cosmetics, are basically Bollywood films in 30-60 seconds without the fights! It goes something like this : we get the father taking his daughter, pasted with some ointment to make her look darker than she really is in real life, dressed in full head to toe Indian saree going to an MNC company with pooja material and stuff. At the reception of the huge glass walled MNC company, daughter is rebuked for her ideas and in a snide remarks the heavily makeup laden women make fun of her appearance and dark skin! Daughter is ashamed and left in tears runs home. Dad walks in to his ancient pooja room with bells ringing around him, pulls up an age old recipe for a cream that will make his daughter look radiantly fair – which is also the same as our fairness cream company got the same recipe – makes a paste and gives it to his daughter!

A now bright & fair daughter (either her natural colour or enhanced with makeup and/or digitally) walks in to the MNC in a smart outfit, breezy air about her, smiling stupidly for no apparent reason. The same women who rebuked her now stand in awe, mouth agape and startled. Daughter aces some interview with the MNC company and is chosen to be it’s face in some ads. Moral of the story : fucked if I can find one! Really? That’s something that you want to believe go ahead. And people buy into this big time. Fairness Creams are a huge business in India.

You also have the laughing for no reason, mouth open to show shiny teeth if it is a toothpaste ad, sickly kid speaking nonsensical ads, dance & laughter ads, the absolutely-no-context-to-the-product ads, the trying too hard to be cool ads, the speaking English like an idiot ad and really dumb ads that try hard to get to their catchphrase ads (I’m looking at you Idea Mobile), the really annoying musical shit ads (Airtel) and the silent ads. I think I like silent ads, atleast it won’t offend or annoy you with loud ads.

And then you can get some fun ads like the Nestle Kitkat ad with the singing & talking squirrels. The song choice, funny voice and the plot just make it absolutely fun to watch. But that is just one of a few exceptions.

Babylon 5 : The Coming of Shadows (Season 2)

As we enter season 2 from season 1, Commander Jeffery Sinclair has moved on be Earth’s Ambassador to Minbar and Captain John Sheridan has taken over as as the military governor of the station. Some Minbari do not like this appointment due to Sheridan’s success in destroying Minbari ships during the war. He and the command staff learn that the death of President Santiago was actually an assassination masterminded by Vice President Clark (who assumed the Presidency upon Santiago’s death). One of the major developments is Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari unknowingly enlists the Shadows aid through his association with the mysterious Mr. Morden in the ongoing conflict with the Narn.

A rogue Minbari warship is on the loose in hyperspace; and the truth behind the end of the Minbari War is revealed. Garibaldi is fighting for his life and Dr. Franklin takes extreme measures to save his friend using the mysterious alien medical device. Ambassador Delenn emerges from her chrysalis changed dramitaically; she has hair and looks more like a lovely human woman and less like a Minbari. This would lead to her authority being questioned within the Minbari. Londo continues to use Morden and his associates to gain prestige and power, while a dangerous Drazi conflict is handled by Ivanova. Londo’s three wives arrive on the station while Delenn seeks Ivanova’s help in adjusting to her new human characteristics; and Talia’s ex-husband, a fellow Psi Corps telepath, arrives on the station with an intriguing story.

Their trysts with the PSI Corps is not restricted to just that event; Bester arrives searching for an underground railroad helping rogue telepaths to escape the Corps; his arrival sparks discord amongst the command staff as they realise that an insider is helping the railroad. Garibaldi is the first to notice a group called the Rangers and encounters some of them. Babylon 5 plays host to 25,000 EarthForce marines, known as “ground-pounders”, led by General Richard Franklin, Stephen’s father and the conflicts & disagreements between father & son are there for all to see. Sheridan is abducted by an alien race, where he must fight his way off their ship, while Delenn is summoned to the Grey council. G’Kar attempts to rally support for his people from Sheridan and the Earth Alliance; Ivanova goes to great lengths to secure an alliance with a new race. Sheridan nearly loses his command after he kills a Minbari in self-defense, clearly a ploy to get rid of him.

After a news crew comes to shoot a documentary on the station, Sheridan discovers a connection between his late wife and the mysterious Mr Morden, and makes enemies of everyone around him when he has Morden detained. He is too furious to care. A deadly plague threatens the Markab race with extinction, leaving Franklin in a race against time to find the cure before even more species are infected. Lyta Alexander returns to Babylon 5 with news that one of the command staff may, unknowingly, be a sleeper agent for the Psi Corps. The agent is revealed to be telepath Talia Winters, the woman who replaced Lyta almost 2 years ago on Babylon 5. Lyta will soon become a recurring character in season 3 as well. Lead by Londo’s tactics the Centauri war machine rolls on towards the Narn homeworld, unknowingly aided by the Shadows, while the remains of the Narn fleet plan a last-ditch counter-attack. The Vorlons send an “Inquisitor” to Babylon 5 to test Sheridan and Delenn’s readiness to lead the Army of Light. In a cruel test the two are proved to be worthy.

The command staff are caught between a rock and a hard place when Sheridan agrees to give sanctuary to a Narn warship, while EarthForce attempts to placate the increasingly aggressive Centauri Republic. The Nightwatch, a group supposed to bring extra order & help to the station and other outposts like it, begins to expand their influence on the station. From a volunteer organization it will soon become more like a militant one.

“What Are Your Intentions?”

I’ve been searching for a new job for the past couple of months. Although I haven’t found one yet I believe that the search will end soon as I am tired of searching for one. However I would like to share a few interesting things that have happened during an interview that I have attended in January:

I attended the preliminary rounds, two to be exact, at a company quite near my residence on Dec 24th. A few weeks later I was called in for the final 2 rounds and was told that I was one of the 5 finalists for the post. I was quite hopeful that I would get the job and since I had been doing a very similar kind of work for almost 3 years in the very same industry, I was quite confident that I could well if selected. I waited for a long time in the lobby for the final round, with the owner/Managing director of the firm and while sitting there I noticed that there were a bunch of Christian Trends magazines lying on the coffee table! The owner/MD and some of the top brass there are devout Pentacostals and I was told by a friend who knows them well that to be careful. When I met the MD he asked me, rather roughly, “Why are you not married at the age of 35?”

I felt that was quite a personal question and none of his business to ask me that question. I replied something that seemed to satisfy him as he went on to other questions. But the nerve of that asshole! Anyway, they selected someone from within their organization.

Have you had someone ask you such an inappropriate question during an interview? He was quite gruff when asking me some of the questions as if I would violate some of the women at his office being a bachelor myself – that’s my my friend says that the MD asked me that to check if I would have any plans to play the field with women staff at the firm and that’s how this guy thinks. I thought that was a lame reason, if it actually was true. 

Tucker & Dale Vs Evil

Now here is a movie that turns the sterotypes on it’s head and makes you think that perceptions are not always true. Tucker & Dale Vs Evil is a 2010 Canadian comedy-horror movie, hilariously evil I might add, starring Tyler Labine & Alan Tudyk as the main characters Dale & Tucker respectively. The support cast include Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons, Travis Nelson, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Laing, Alex Arsenault, Adam Beauchesne and Joseph Allan Sutherland as the college kids who go head to head against what they mistaken believe to be vicious evil killers. Finally a movie that does not depict the rural rednecks as preying on innocent city people who just happen to pass through the hicks.

So a group of college kids Allison, Chad, Chloe, Chuck, Jason, Naomi, Todd, Mitch and Mike are on a camping trip in West Virginia. On their way they stop at a gas station for supplies and beer and run into two hillbillies Tucker & Dale. Tucker & Dale are also on their way to a vacation in an old run down cabin in the woods that Tucker recently bought. On his friend’s advice Dale tries to talk to Allison who he is attracted to but only ends up scaring her and bringing her friends to her apparent aid. The kids go their way and pitch their tents in the woods, drinking beer and telling ghost stories. Chad tells everyone a story recounting an event known as the “The Memorial Day Massacre,” a hillbilly attack which took place twenty years previously in the same section of the woods, leaving only one survivor among the college-aged victims. They go for a swim in the lake nearby where Allison, not wanting to be near Chad and his sexual advances, chooses to move away from the rest.

Tucker & Dale also happen to be on a boat on the same lake,, drinking beer & fishing, when they spot Allison. The girl gets frightened when they startle her by accident and falls in the lake bumping her head. Tucker & Dale save her and lift her to the boat and they wave to the rest of the group saying “Hey, we’ve got your friend!” This leads the college kids to think that the hillbillies have abducted Allison and they run away. Dale takes care of Allison, dressing her in his shirt and covering her in a blanket and lays her on his bed. The next morning Allison, although initially frightened, wakes up to a big breakfast that Dale has made. She learns that he & Dale are just decent & well meaning guys and befriends Dale. Meanwhile outside her friends have tracked them to the cabin. Chuck leaves in their vehicle to get the police. As Mitch approaches the cabin, Tucker appears frantically waving a chainsaw after accidentally hitting a bee hive while cutting a tree stump. The college kids scatter through the woods, and Mitch accidentally impales himself on a broken tree.

Then it’s all out misunderstandings & war between the kids and the hillbillies – the kids even believe that Dale is making Allison dig her own grave, when in reality she is helping him dig an outhouse. Mike tries to rush Tucker but jumps head first into a woodchipper. This leads the hillbillies to believe that the kids are in a suicide pact and want to kill Allison too. Chuck gets the local sheriff, who knows the duo, and he is killed in an accident when he rests on a broken beam. Chuck accidentally kills himself by shooting the gun at himself but Chad gets the cop’s gun and starts shooting at the cabin and they even grab Dale’s dog. Tucker is captures when he sneaks up to free the dog and two of his fingers are broken in retaliation for the assumed murder of their friends. Chad & Naomi break into the cabin where Allison tries to sooth out the differences and tries to convinces them that Tucker & Dale are harmless but Chad accuses her of suffering Stockholm syndrome!

Tucker and Dale return, and Allison attempts lead a calm discussion, leading to Chad revealing that his mother was the lone Memorial Day Massacre survivor, while his dad was killed by hillbillies, which is why he hates them. Jason and Chloe rush in with a trimmer but mutilate Naomi by mistake. A fire breaks out in the melle and Jason is killed.  As the fire spreads, Allison, Tucker, and Dale escape, but Chloe is trapped by it and a still-breathing Naomi grabs Chad’s leg as a stockpile of fuel cans explode.  Naomi and Chloe are killed but Chad survives, horribly scarred and all the more determined to kill Tucker and Dale. Allison, Tucker, and Dale escape in a truck, but they crash it moments later. Chad, who has lost it all by now, catches up and abducts Allison and when Dale recovers and an injured Tucker tells him to go get Allison back. Dale tracks them down to an old mill and is able to rescue Allison and they find old news clippings on the Memorial Day Massacre and the truth about Chad’s father: Chad’s father was not one of the victims, but the Memorial Day killer himself, who raped his mother, making Chad “half hillbilly.”

Chad is enraged but is apparently killed when he falls out of a high window, after Dale throws a bag of chamomile tea powder on his face, triggering his asthma. Afterward, the police and a news crew arrive at the sawmill and conclude that what appeared to be a mass suicide by mentally-unstable college students may have been the work of a deranged killer whose body was not found. While convalescing in the hospital, Tucker asks Dale whether he managed to ask Allison on a date and is happy to hear the two of them are going ten-pin bowling. Later that night at the bowling alley, the two confess their feelings for each other and kiss. Meanwhile, Chad has survived his injuries and attacks a news crew investigating the murders.

Hilarious and fun to watch, this is the way to make a spoof of the hillbilly horror genre without using a lot of lame tricks. 9 out of 10!

Criminal Minds – Season 2

Season 2 starts off directly where we left off in season 1, with the second part of the two-parter starting off as the season premier. In the Fisher King (2) Elle is fighting for her life after being found by an FBI agent and taken to the hospital. Dr. Spencer Reid discovers that the psychopath knew so much about the BAU team through his mother – he was a fellow patient in the same hospital as Mrs. Reid and got many details about the team her son was part of by pretending to just be interested in the proud mother recant her son’s cases. The killer is surrounded in his house where he kills himself by fire but the young woman he was holding prisoner is saved.

Elle takes the slow road to recovery and 4 months later rejoins the BAU 3 weeks early, telling Hotch that she got bored and she fine to work. She has a  new look with a shorter haircut as does Reid. However it is soon obvious that all is not well with her. The team goes onto solved the cases of a young boy, kidnapped a year ago, being sold in an online auction for child pornographers and a case in which people are abducted and tortured and a dvd of the torture is sent to their families. A bank robber in Los Angeles who forced his hostages to undress is also stopped. A serial rapist attacking young women at religious schools suddenly changes his demographic of women. Elle is to go undercover posing as a victim-to-be, but finds and stops the suspect before the operation is accomplished. After the suspect, who is revealed to be the rapist, is released due to lack of evidence, Elle, enraged over his actions, confronts him and eventually ends up shooting him dead in cold blood although she seemingly claims self-defense for her actions.

Elle fights with Hotch but it is very obvious that she can no longer work in the BAU due to the way she is dealing with her trauma. She resigns and hands over her gun & badge to Hotch. In reality the actress who plays her Lola Glaudini wanted to leave the show as she missed NYC and didn’t want to work in Los Angeles. Enter Agent Emily Pretiss (Paget Brewster) daughter of a US Ambassador, who joins the BAU on the recommendation of FBI Section Chief Erin Strauss. Her appearance surprised both Agents Aaron Hotchner and Jason Gideon, as neither supervisor had signed off on the transfer. Hotchner was immediately suspicious of the new agent, but Prentiss, insisting that her mother had not pulled any strings for her to get the assignment, convinced him to let her join the team on a probationary basis, and eventually proved her competence and gained the team’s trust. The BAU is then called to St. Louis to investigate two serial killers who appear to be competing with each other. By setting a trap based on one killer’s profile, the team creates a media event by which to capture the second killer.

A real shocking episode is one in which a man kidnaps three teenaged girls and locks them in a cellar, he tells them only two of them will live and they must choose which one will die. The BAU takes the case when the mother of one of the girls travels to Quantico to ask JJ to intercede with the FBI on the girls’ behalf. Gideon, Reid and Prentiss travel to Guantanamo Bay to interrogate the leader of a terror sleeper cell being detained there after a chemical weapons dispersal device is discovered during a raid at a suspicious house. Reid suspects a teenager (Anton Yelchin) he met asking for his help is guilty of killing a series of prostitutes. Morgan is arrested as a serial killer after he goes home to Chicago to visit his family. Because the detective making the arrest had used a profile provided by Gideon, the team travels to Chicago to help the local authorities find the real killer and exonerate Morgan who they believe is being framed for the crimes despite the local detective insisting that Morgan’s responsible. Gideon is pitted against Frank (Keith Carradine), the scariest and most evil murderer in his entire career and who has been killing for thirty years.

The BAU are called to investigate after a wealthy couple is murdered in their home following a Super Bowl party. The team pursues what they believe might be multiple killers who use webcams to record murders and upload the tapes on the internet. Hotchner, Morgan and Prentiss soon discover the unsub is actually one man with multiple personalities. The episode ends in a cliffhanger as JJ finds herself trapped in a barn with bloodthirsty dogs who have already killed one woman and Reid is left alone in a cornfield, trying to reason with Hankel before he is eventually knocked unconscious and kidnapped. The BAU realizes Reid is being held captive when the unsub, Tobias Hankel (James Van Der Beek) who’s suffering from multiple personality disorder begins sending live videos of him being tortured to the team while Garcia, having been drifted out into the field begins working at Hankel’s computers in hopes of uncovering any possible clues as to Reid’s whereabouts. Meanwhile, Reid’s troubled childhood is revealed in flashback sequences as he drifts in and out of consciousness. He is drugged for two days before he is able to rescue himself. Reid becomes addicted to Dilaudid as a result.

Reid will soon struggle with his drug addiction due to this case. The BAU travels to Houston to investigate a series of murders that have occurred near construction sites and abandoned buildings. We have a copy cat killer of Jack The Ripper in New Orleans in a case that sees Elizabeth Prentiss, a foreign ambassador and SSA Emily Prentiss’s mother, seeks the aid of the BAU when a Russian immigrant is kidnapped and held for ransom. While the rest of the team are at the BAU HQ, Gideon, Reid and Morgan fly to Baltimore to meet up with Agent Josh Cramer who returns to help them with the case. Two Idaho brothers capturing their victims before releasing them into the wild and then proceeding to go hunting with human beings as the target as also caught, one dead. When the prolific and psychopathic serial killer Frank last seen in “No Way Out”, returns and murders Gideon’s girlfriend and old school friend, Sarah Jacobs in his own apartment, Gideon’s own life is torn apart and he starts his own investigation before disappearing altogether.  Meanwhile, Strauss asks someone to give her inside information on Hotch and the way he runs the team. It’s soon revealed that the mole she’s chosen is none other than the BAU’s newest recruit, Emily Prentiss.

Cruisin’ – Where I’d Want To Go

Would I like to go on a cruise ship?

Ofcourse. I remember when I was a preteen and read a lot of detective books that featured investigations, murder or even adventure stories that happen while on a ship cruise. I think I even read a Nancy Drew book where the mystery was aboard a ship that was on a cruise (oh hang me to death, I read Nancy Drew all before the age of 13). Some of the episodic tv shows that I watched would have an episode or two that happened on a ship cruise where the leads characters of the tv series just happened to be on or had to board the ship to investigate & solve a mystery/crime. If I remember well perhaps I have seen a mini-series or an old movie which was based on a ship cruise.

These early days of my childhood watching or reading this stuff peaked my curiosity in seeing the world while cruising along in a big ship, stopping by in various ports of call and going on organized tours to the different sights, sitting in open air cafes and buying the local wares. That seems like such an idyllic & lovely way to spend a long vacation. Wearing polo shirts and white pants (I dunno why but that is the image I get in my head) sunglasses and a hat to cover your head. Walking tours and late evening stops at bars for sampling the beers & wines.

Where would I go – Greece, Italy, France, Turkey onto Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia then Spain, Portugal, the British Isles, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and to Iceland, Greenland and finally Canada. Stop – I will get off there and I ain’t coming back!

Old School Memory – The Sandwich Boy

I recently joined a Facebook group for alumni of my old school, Hill Valley High School, and have been enjoying posting and reading posts/comments from my old friends, classmates, seniors & juniors from school. I studied in that school from the age of 11 to 15, grades 6th to 10th. After that it was off to a college for my 11th & 12th, known as pre-degree, which was the common education system back then. Anyways, all the waxing eloquent about the good ole days some of us shared during our school days brought me a lot of memories from that time. Someone also went to the school a few days ago and took a few photo to share with us. It has changed a whole lot.

Anyways, one of the memories I had today made me smile a lot. 3 of my cousins have also studied at the same school. Arun who is 3 years older to me, Sandhya who is a year younger and her brother Navin who is 5 years younger to me. It was when I was in the 10th grade that Sandhya & Navin joined Hill Valley after their family moved from Coimbatore back to Cochin and this was the summer of 1991. I was glad for the company and you know it’s kinda nice to have your younger relatives in the same school when you are the top gun aka in the senior most class and a school leader (one of four). And yes it was fun as I was/am very close to them. And I bring you a memory involving Navin majorly and with a supporting role by Sandhya.

Navin, in class 5 at the time, suffers from chronic asthma, although I think in his mid to late 20s he had it much under control. Since I also have bronchitic asthma, if he had a problem while in school, I would be called to help him out, give him his medicine and take care of him until his dad or mom came to pick him up. One such day while I was in class, the school clerk came to our class asking for me as Navin had fallen ill and had a breathing problem, so I was needed. Just behind her was Sandhya and one of her friends waiting for me. I swung into action after taking permission from my teacher and went to the teacher’s lounge room where Navin was resting on a chair. I went up to him, made him take off his shoes and loosen his belt, made him remove his uniform tie and unbutton the top two buttons of his uniform shirt so he breathe easier and relax his breathing. I asked him where his medicines were kept and he replied that it was in his lunch box. So I took his school bag, took out his lunch box and opened it and stopped!

Now, I’m bending on one knee near Navin who is sitting on a chair (or was it a wooden bench, I can’t remember), right behind me are Sandhya & her friend. When I opened his lunch box we could all see what was it it – stacked row after row of sandwiches. So many of them and each had a different filling – some were cheese, some butter, some ketchp etc etc. I was astonished as to how many there were – it was like the counter of a sandwich shop!! And I started laughing, Navin started laughing, Sandhya & her friend started laughing. To anyone else who saw us, it would have been weird “Why are the laughing out so loud when that boy is sick?”

That was a hilarious for us and something special that I remember about Navin and Sandhya and will always keep that memory with me!

Beer Types – Porter

Porter is a dark style of beer originating in London in the 18th Century. The name came about as a result of its popularity with street and river porters. Most traditional British brewing documentation from the 1700s state that Porter was a blend of three different styles: an old ale (stale or soured), a new ale (brown or pale ale) and a weak one (mild ale), with various combinations of blending and staleness. The end result was also commonly known as “Entire Butt” or “Three Threads” and had a pleasing taste of neither new nor old.

In general, the porter is a top-fermented beer that uses black or chocolate malts to create a beer that ranges in color from dark brown to almost black. The taste of a porter should be spicy, chocolaty and be dominated by a distinctive dark malt or roasted grain flavor, with a slight sweetness.  They also tend to be well hopped and the hoppiness can range from bitter to mild.

Often compared to, or confused with Stouts, porters tend to have a lower alcohol content, lighter body and malt character, and a slightly sweeter taste but….the stout actually gets its name from a porter.  The name “stout” for a very dark beer seems to have come about from the name for a strong porter – “extra porter” or “stout porter”.  The name would eventually be shortened to just stout.

Porter pairs well with almost any meat dish. But since the brew is such a complex combination of mild flavors I typically enjoy it on its own. Some famous porters are:

Arcadia’s – London Porter
Anchor Brewing Co.’s – Anchor Porter,
Labatt’s – Labatt Porter,
Fuller’s – London Porter
Samuel Smith’s – Taddy Porter

and the one pictured here is Sleeman Fine Porter from Sleeman.

Drive

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (the other movie of his that I have seen is Valhalla), brings us Drive starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks and Albert Brooks. Those of us (me included) who didn’t know anything about the plot before watching the film, and are expecting a high intensity, car chasing or even a race movie, will find themselves thoroughly disappointed if that’s the only thing that they wanted to see. I did expect the same and was a bit disappointed at the slow pace but still enjoyed the movie.

The unnamed Driver (Gosling)  lives in a low-rent apartment building and works as a mechanic, stuntman but his real talents are his driving skills for which people seek him out as a getaway driver. He is known as one of the best drivers for this and works anonymously and never works for the same people twice. We see him waiting for a job to be finished and driving away to safety once the thieves are in the car. His other rule is that he will only wait 5 minutes before he drives off from a job. Shannon (Bryan Cranston) owns the garage the Driver works at and arranges his other jobs. Shannon gets mobster Bernie Rose to invest in a stock car for Driver to race, which he does once he sees the Driver’s skills.

Nino (Ron Perlman) is Bernie’s business partner and had once broken Shannon’s pelvis for failing to pay off a debt, leaving him with a permanent limp. The Driver meanwhile meets & befriends his neighbour Irene and her young son Benicio and helps her out. He becomes close with he both of them. However when Irene’s husband Standard is released from jail, the budding relationship is halted.  Standard is beaten by a gangster, Cook, for money that he owns and seeks the Driver’s help to rob a pawn shop and pay off his debt. The Driver agrees to take Standard and Blanche, Coo’s moll, to the pawn shop as their getaway driver. The job goes wrong and Standard is killed while the Driver escapes to a motel with Blanche, with the killers in a car chasing them, where he threatens her to spill out the truth. She admits him that the chasing car belongs to Cook and that she and Cook planned to double-cross the Driver and Standard, taking the money for themselves. Two of Cook’s men attack them in the motel room, killing Blanche and injuring the Driver before he kills them both.

The Driver confronts Cook at a strip club and finds out that Nino is behind the pawn shop heist. He returns back to his apartment building, meets Irene and they go up in the elevator. A hitman sent by Nino rides along with them and is instead brutally killed by the Driver who repeatedly stomps & breaks the hitman’s head. Nino meets with Bernie and tells him what happened, upon which the latter goes to Shannon’s garage and kills him as a warning to the Driver. The Driver chases and kills Nino by drowning him in the ocean and then arranges to meet Bernie at a Chinese restaurant. The Driver says his goodbyes to Irene and meets up with Bernie, who agrees not to kill Irene & her son in exchange for money. n the parking lot, Bernie stabs the Driver in the abdomen as he pulls the money from the trunk of his car. The Driver fatally stabs Bernie, leaving his corpse and the satchel of money behind. That evening, Irene knocks on the Driver’s apartment door, with no response. The film ends with Driver driving into the night.

Storywise it might not be a plot stirrer but the movie works in a weird way. Even the tacky 80s style synthesizer music seems oddly in place with the movie. It’s not a movie I’d watch over & over again but it’s definitely worth getting just for the difference from other movies of our times. 8 out of 10!