My 500th Facebook Friend Gift Giveaway

500th friend give away. I’m at 499 friends on Facebook at the moment. Never thought I’d get that many. So I’m going to give away a gift.

The 500th friend request that I receive and approve (no duplicates please) will get a little gift from me. Whoever it may be (unless it’s someone I already know and do not like the person at all). Ofcourse you will have to send me your address so I can mail it to you. Who will it be?

Update: I went through my Facebook friends list and found 20 dead accounts in it and deleted / de-friended them. No need for that shit. And I’ve only gained one friend since then. The search for the winner is still on.

Three Important Years

Think of three important years in your life — not including the year you were born. Why are these 3 separate years so important? What happened, and where were you?

So if not the year of my birth I’m going to go with :

1987 : The year I turned 11. My family left Kuwait for good and we moved back to India – well moved to India for me since I was born and raised in Kuwait till that year. My sister had already moved back to India as she had finished her 10th grade and Kuwait didn’t have good school or college programs for 11th & above. So she was in a hostel in Cochin, India by 1986 and studying in a pre-degree program in a college. My dad decided to resign from his bank job in Kuwait City after being with them for 29 years. He, my mom & I would join my sister back in Cochin and settle down in our newly completed house in the suburb of Thrikkaraka. Life was much simpler during my childhood in Kuwait but ofcourse as a kid I didn’t have much to worry about.

2002 : I moved to Calicut for a little over 8 months or so while just as turned 26. It was the first time that I had stayed away from home and not living in a hostel (which I did for a year while studying in Bangalore at age 19). It was a struggle but I totally enjoyed being on my own. Home for those months was a small 1 room in a lodge called Bava Cottage with an attached bathroom. I ate frugally and I lived a bachelor’s life. Every Thursday evening some of my colleagues and I would get together and out Rs.50 each and with that money we would buy a couple of bottles of rum and some snacks and have a jolly ole time. I enjoyed my life in Calicut even if I was on the tightest budget that I have ever been on. It was fun.

2011 : The year I turned 35. The worst year of my life so far. 2010 ended, in fact on the 31st ended with me getting into a fight with the DGM asshole at my then job for him trying to put the blame for a decision he made on realizing that he had made a huge error and I refused to do so. Since he wasn’t a decent person and offered no support why should I? So 5 days into 2011 after a discussion with my immediate supervisor, a senior manager in another state, I agreed to serve a long notice period and resign. I took a job that I shouldn’t have and suffered later. The new job saw me lose time, money and my sanity. I traveled a lot for the job and I got nothing in return. I still have to get some payment from them but they have closed down. I spent some time without working while still being in their employment and not getting payed. As 2012 started I managed to get some freelance work while still looking for a new job. I finally landed one at the end of June while continuing to do freelance work and then officially resigned from that shitty situation. My hair had started to grey at the sideburns due to the tension & stress.

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The Amazing Spider-Man

Before watching this movie I had spent some time and rewatched the first two Spider-man movies (which I hadn’t seen in a few years) and then watched the 3rd movie for the first time ever. And then a couple of days back I sat back to watch the reboot of the comic book hero – The Amazing Spider-man. Directed by Marc Webb, the film stars Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-man, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors and Denis Leary as Captain George Stacy with Martin Sheen & Sally Field as Peter’s uncle & aunt.

Once again we are treated to the origin story with a few changes made. As a child Peter discovers that his scientist father’s office has been ransacked and calls out for him. His father gathers concealed documents before Peter’s parents take him to stay with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. His parents leave, but are later killed in a plane crash. Cut to 10 years later an a teenaged Peter is bullied by high-school jock Flash Thomson and humiliated when he intervenes in Flash harassing another student. Gwen, a girl who Peter has a crush on, comes to his aid. One evening at home, Peter discovers a satchel with his father’s research documents and finds out that his dad used to work with scientist Dr. Curt Connors at Oscorp to combine human and animal DNA to cure illnesses. Peter sneaks in to Oscopr, pretend to be an intern and sees Gwen there, and runs into Dr. Connors who is pressured by his superior Dr. Ratha to complete his serum, and cure the terminally ill head of Oscorp Norman Osborn. Connors wants to use the serum to cure himself – he has lost one of his arms.

Peter goes to one of the labs where he is bitten by a genetically modified spider. On the subway ride home, he finds out that he now has heightened sense of danger, improved speed, strength and the ability to stick to surfaces. He then befriends Dr. Connors and helps him with the code for the formulae. In school, Peter damages school property during a confrontation with Flash and Ben is forced to work late so that he can pick up Peter. Ben tells Peter to escort May home that night. Peter ignores Ben in favor of helping Connors test their serum on a three-legged mouse. After he returns home, Peter argues with Ben about not picking up May. Ben then recounts Richard’s philosophy of responsibility to Peter, who only leaves in anger after pointing out the hypocrisy. At a grocery store, the clerk rudely refuses to let Peter buy a drink, and when a thief steals money from the register, Peter lets the thief escape. Ben, searching the streets for Peter, confronts the thief, but is shot and killed. Peter responds to the gunshot and finds Ben’s body. After seeing a police sketch of the suspect, Peter realizes it was the thief he let go. Angered Peter turns vigilante and hunts the thief, fighting various other thieves and attracting police attention for his vigilante actions.

During a fight he falls into an old gym where he sees a Luchador poster and inspired created a mask and a spandex costume to hide his identity, using the spider that bit him for a logo. He & Gwen strike up a relationship and while at her house for dinner, where he & Captain Stacy have a disagreement on what the vigilante called “Spider-man” is doing, he confides in her about his alter ego and they kiss. Meanwhile at Oscorp, Ratha sees that a test mouse has grown it’s missing limb back using lizard DNA, Ratha demands human trials begin immediately. Connors refuses and is fired. Desperate Connors use the serum on himself and sees his arm regenerate but he soon mutates and transforms into a large Lizard-like creature. The Lizard hunts down Ratha in a taxi on the Williamsburg Bridge and starts tossing cars including Ratha’s, over the side of the bridge. Spider-Man, manages to save Ratha and other civilians – including a small child and reuintes him with his dad. Connors retreats into the sewer and reverts to human form. Peter then meets Dr. Connors in his office and is curtly shown the door and suspecting him of being the Lizard and confronts the Lizard in the sewers to take pics for proof but leaves his camera behind when he is unsuccessful.

Connors finds out that Spider-man is Peter when he sees the latter’s name on the camera cover and attacks the school Peter studies in, leading to a fight between the Lizard & Spiderman and the police searching for them – causing the two to leave the school. Connors laterheads to Oscorp, intending to disperse his serum across the city and make everyone into lizards, while Peter has Gwen develops an antidote in Oscorp’s lab. The police corner Spider-Man and try to capture him. A big fight later, he tazed & Captain Stacy discovers that he is Peter, but lets him escape to go save Gwen. With the help of the father of a boy he rescued earlier (in a corny scene in which the father gets all his construction worker friends to set up the cranes in such a way that Spidey can use it to get to Oscorp faster), Spider-Man reaches Oscorp in time. Spider-Man manages to replace Connors’ serum with the antidote, reverting Connors to human form, but not before Connors mortally wounds Captain Stacy. Spider-Man nearly falls to his death, but Connors saves him. Before his death, Captain Stacy makes Peter promise to stay away from Gwen for her safety. He initially keeps the promise, but later admits to Gwen that failed promises are the best kind; she responds to this with a smile. After the credits there is a scene in Connors’ prison cell in which a man in the shadows talks to Connors about Peter’s father – when Connors tells the mystery man to leave Peter alone, the man disappears.

8 outta 10!

My Lament To Cafe Coffee Day

I posted this on Cafe Coffee Day’s official Facebook page sometime back along with the photo!

“Your outlet in Shenoy’s Junction, Mg Road, Kochi has become so depressing. I went there this evening after a gap of a month. The quality has been declining steadily week after week. A couple of months back I had pieces of plastic (from the milk packet) in my frappe. Today I went there and the place is looking like a dump. Cartons, boxes & black garbage bags filled with stuff dumped to one side. Due to this there was a lack of space on one area of the cafe, where I had the misfortune of sitting and the tables were pushed so close to each other. I regretted placing an order especially when my veg samosa arrived – the texture is like leather! I could use it to make a pair of shoes! Atleast the coffee was good. But I am not going to step inside the place again. Here is a pic of said cartons & black plastic bags. Couldn’t take more as my phone battery was dying.”

Watching Tv Shows

I like marathoning a whole show or atleast a couple of seasons worth of episodes from a tv show when I watch it. While stating that fact, I also can’twit for new episodes of the shows that are currently airing as well. I like having 2 to 3 new episodes of different shows to catch up on each day (currently the current shows that I am watching are around 8 in number (Arctic Air, Bones, Castle, Criminal Minds, Lost Girl, Republic Of Doyle, Supernatural & The Big Bang Theory), one which is on hiatus till Feb 10 (The Walking Dead) & 3 more whose latest seasons are yet to start (Falling Skies & Game Of Thrones, Perception). I’m not sure I could wait that long – what if I die before the show ends and I can’t watch the entire collection before I breath my last?

Having said that, it is fun to watch shows marathon style. Here’s some shows that I watched back to back episodes off well after they finished airing on tv:

  • Star Trek Deep Space 9
  • Babylon 5
  • Star Trek TOS
  • Corner Gas
  • BSG
  • Stargate SG1
  • Coupling
  • Farscape
  • Star Trek Enterprise
  • Being Erica
  • Due South

There’s a bunch of other shows I’m still watching and some which are on the air but I watched several of their seasons back to back as the shows are in their 6/7 or 8th season at the moment like Supernatural, Stargate Atlantis, Bones, Criminal Minds, Flashpoint (their final season, season 5 just got over), and The Big Bang Theory (I marathoned seasons 1-5 and now all caught up on weekly showings of season 6. Also Castle (I had seen season 1 & 2 on tv) is another show that I marathoned – seasons 1-3 before quickly catching up with season 4 (now season 5).

Then ofcourse there are shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Friends, Star Trek TNG, Star Trek Voyager, Friends, The X Files, which I watched completely during their original and I now have them in digital format and have marathoned them. It’s just so cool & awesome to be able to do that and it ofcourse brings back good memories again & again. I have quiet a few more shows that I want to marathon like that – Fraiser, Seinfeld, Will & Grace.

Another set of tv shows are ones I have never seen at all but am interested in watching them now based on their reviews & plots and recommendations from like minded individuals. Shows like Fringe, Eureka & Warehouse 13 (although that last one is still in it’s original run on tv). And some more here and there.

Temper, Temper, Burning Bright

I seem to have less patience and lose my temper quite more frequently these days. I’ve always been an emotional person, with my heart on my sleeve. People can tell what I am going through by just looking at my face – I have never been able to hide my emotions. My grandmother once joked that I am, according to an old saying, a person who has his anger “right at the tip of my nose”. Even the slightest thing can knock it and anger me! Although she was just pulling my leg all those years ago, I do think it is very true now. Back then the only people who brought out the anger in me were my mom and my sister and my grandmother was actually meaning my interactions with them when she said that.

Otherwise for most of my childhood and upto a few years ago I was known and a gentler person, some one who was very understanding and gave you his ears when you had some sorrow to share. And I’d always give my shoulder for you to cry on. Heck if you are a hot babe, I’d give you both my shoulder and a whole lot more to cry on But I digress! These days I’m more liable to give you a swift kick in the ass if you are not careful – if you happen to be a jackass, as asshole and not a very nice person or if you just plain annoy me. Otherwise for the good people, hey my shoulder is always there for you to cry on and I’ll sympathize and empathize, make you laugh once again at my awful jokes and cheer you up and be patient & listen as you pour your heart out!

I seem to not have much patience with the assholes who travel in the buses in my city. Most people are rude, inconsiderate and try to make life miserable for the rest of the people as much as they can. They stand feet wide apart, block your way in, stand too close to you, personal space just being an alien concept to them, poke you with their elbows, shoulder and bags and make travel in the buses a harrowing experience.

And today – after I left the office, I went to Palarivattom to pay off my way overdue phone bill at the Vodafone office. As I was getting down this man in his 50s places his hand on my shoulder. Now, this is the system here in Kerala – if someone (typically an asshole) wants to get down from a bus in a hurry, he will push the person in front of him or place his hand on their back or shoulder and push them or guide them out of the bus to indicate that he is in a hurry. A few weeks ago when I was getting into a bus I saw this guy, who was blocking people’s way into the bus by standing at the door in the first place, slowly pushing people into the bus like they can’t get in on their own. When it was my turn to climb in he did the same to me, I looked at him and told him to shove off and stop touching people for no reason. You should have look at the face of that idiot after I said that loudly.

Now back to this evening – so this moron is trying to push me forward while there are 3 guys in front of me still trying to get out of the bus and one guy behind me and then only this impatient motherfucker. I lost my temper. I grabbed his hand and forceflly pushed it away with some force. It was in a rude manner but the fuck did I care – he started it! I was furious and the look on my face could have burned him into ashes in under a minute. As I got down I turned to look at this asshole but he wouldn’t look at me, embarrassed beyond belief. And then two college aged boys came up to me and said “Thanks! He deserved it. He pushed the both of us towards the side as he was trying to get down as well!”

Republic Of Doyle – Season 1

Now I’ve selected ‘Humour’ as one of the two categories for this blog post but it’s an action/detective/crime/drama/comedy kinda show. However what drives the show is the whole lot of humour and the chemistry between the fine cast. The show was co-created by Allan Hawco who also stars and is an executive producer & writer of the show. So it’s mainly his baby. Republic Of Doyle is about a detective agency run by the Doyle – father Malachy (Irish actor sean McGinley)- a retired respected cop of the St. John’s Police department & his son Jake (Allan Hawco)- a former cop himself and now running the agency in partnership with his father. Unlike his dad Jake is often in trouble, rubs some of the authorities the wrong way and has an eye for the ladies. Joining them in running the office is Rose (Lynda Boyd), Malachy’s second wife & stepmom to Jake and his 2 siblings – older brother Christian & sister Kathleen.

Jake lives with his dad & stepmom has he has been recently kicked out & divorced from his wife Dr. Nikki Renholds. In the Doyle house Tinny, Jake’s smart 16 year old niece (daughter of his older sister) also stays. Rounding out the agency is Des Courtney a former delinquent graffiti artist who painted Jakes prized GTO and would start working with the agency, using his computer skills to help solving cases. Des provides much of the humour for the show with his clumsiness, stupidity and attraction towards underage Tinny. And then we have Sgt. Leslie Bennett (Kristin Pellerin) who occasionally clashes with Jake but is attracted to him – and him to her. Season 1 starts off with the Doyles’ helping a close family friend beat a manslaughter charge despite the fact that he refuses to defend himself. Jake’s relationship with his ex-wife, Nikki, is heating up when it should be cooling down – and Leslie might be the perfect distraction. A young woman comes to the Doyles with one case – to find her unknown biological father – but they end up solving three; Jake is distracted by Leslie while trying to extract himself from Nikki. The Doyles take on a cold arson case for Mal’s old flame to find out the tragic truth of what really happened when a girl died in a bar fire; Jake and Leslie are finally starting to connect when Jake discovers he might be… a daddy?

A wrongfully convicted murderer gets out of prison and offers the Doyles a generous payday if they find the real killer; Jake finds out the truth about Nikki’s pregnancy. The Doyles start trailing a potentially cheating husband to find he deeply loves his wife but is in deep trouble with some menacing criminals and smugglers; as Nikki moves forward with her new beau, Jake and Leslie take it to the next level. The Doyles show their sentimental side as they help Jake’s high school girlfriend Stacey Layden (Joanne Kelly) run off into the sunset with her new husband, who’s running from both bad guys and good guys to just get away; Rose’s past comes back to haunt her in the form of her ex-con husband Martin Poole (Nicholas Campbell), while Leslie weighs whether or not she wants Jake in her future. Jake sets out to find the true identity of a beautiful amnesiac who stumbles across his path and ends up fighting off her two stalkers; Martin Poole refuses to leave town and wreaks havoc in Rose and Mal’s relationship; and Leslie gives Jake the cold shoulder. A grieving widow hires the Doyles to find out why her husband left a generous sum of money in his will to a woman she’s never heard of. Rose continues to battle with Martin over their divorce while Mal formulates a plan to get Poole out of their lives for good; and Leslie and Jake hit a comfortable stride as friends and colleagues – just as his divorce from Nikki becomes final.

When a dubious chip truck owner notices his truck is missing – along with his driver/best buddy – he cons Jake into taking the case; Martin really crosses a line with Rose and she takes matters into her own hands; and Jake’s divorce becomes final and he’s happy to tell Leslie that he’s now a free-agent. But Leslie’s just been bumped up the ladder with a promotion to Sergeant, and her eye is on the job, not Jake Doyle. When Mal suddenly leaves town and lends Jake out to be shadowed by a pompous crime novelist looking for inspiration, Jake’s entire life, including his constant relationship woes, is put under the authorial microscope; a simple cheating spouse domestic case turns out to be something far more devious than it first appears; and Jake, expecting the return of his father, gets an unwelcome surprise when it’s not Mal standing in the kitchen to greet him but his troubled older brother, Christian. Jake and Mal are pulled into a family favour case when Walter’s soon-to-be brother-in-law suddenly disappears on the day of his wedding; Leslie meets Christian for the first time and he certainly leaves an impression on her; and the tension between Jake and Christian escalates to a new level after Christian crosses one too many lines with his younger brother. When Jake receives a mysterious late night call from Christian, he’s not prepared for the scary crime scene he finds at the other end of the line; Mal is suddenly and seriously sidelined and Jake takes the reins to save his tormented brother from the Police, including Leslie; Nikki makes a significant step in moving on from Jake; and everyone’s trying to keep it together as their Republic falls apart.

Japanese-Indian Connection

What there is an international football game being played in Cochin tomorrow and I didn’t get to know about it till today? So I was reading about the build up and previews; India is playing Palestine who doesn’t even have a proper nation to define. I read about the difficulties that the players & that which the Palestinian coach faces – unable to get all players together most of the time, difficulties in getting visas for some of the players, travel being banned between West Bank & Gaza, some players based in Jordan or Lebanon etc etc. Compared to that Indian football faces just bureaucracy, stupidity, lack of funds, advertising & sponsorship as cricket gets all the money, low public expectation and thereby nonchalance attitude over the national team’s performances. And then I found out about this guy:

Arata Izumi will be making his international debut for India when the match kicks off. The Pune FC player is usually a roving second striker and will be the first foreign national to play for India. The Japanese born Izumi has an Indian father and a Japanese mother. After his early years in Japan, he started his professional football career with Albirex Niigata Singapore of the S.League.

Despite his growing reputation in Singapore, he was never called up for the parent club in Japan. In 2006 he moved back to Japan and signed for Mitsubishi Motors Mizushima F.C. of the Japan Football League, where he worked at the Mitzubishi plant for 10 hours and then practiced for 2 in the evening. Late in the year he signed with East Bengal FC in India and played with them for a season. In 2007 he signed with Mahindra United and from 2009 he has been playing with Pune FC, where last year in August it was announced that he has recieved Indian citizenship. Reading up on him, reminded me of this fellow:

Dan Nainan is an American standup comic born in Indiana to an Indian Malayalee father & a Japanese mother. Before becoming a comedian, Nainan worked at Intel Corporation as a senior engineer, before being promoted to Strategic Relations Manager! During presentations at high profile events Dan found it experienced tremendous stage fright. To fight he fear he took classes and eventually joined a comedy group. His Intel coworkers, upon viewing a videotape of his, invited him to perform at a team dinner for 200 employees at a high tech convention in Las Vegas. Upon seeing that performance, the organizers of Intel’s annual sales conference asked Nainan to perform for 2,500 salespeople from around the world. Restless at his stationary new job and anxious to use his creative talents, he left Intel to pursue stand up comedy full time in 2007. He opened his 300 seater club to promote clean comedy in the DC area. Nainan’s book about standup comedy, titled How to Become a Full-Time Standup Comedian, was published by HyperInk Press on April 18, 2012.

Preacher Rapes & Kills Daughter, Goes Free

This kind of stuff really gets my goat. How the fuck does this kind of thing still happen? Fayhan al-Ghamdi is a Saudi religious scholar who had raped his five-year-old daughter in 2011 December and tortured her to death in 2012. Now the judge has ruled (last Saturday) – the father has been ordered to pay “blood money” to the mother following a short term in jail! And he is free to go about his life as he chooses to! What the fuck?

A statement released by the group said the man’s daughter, Lama, was admitted to hospital on 25 December 2011 having sustained multiple injuries including a crushed skull, a broken arm and ribs and extensive bruising and burns. According to the victim’s mother, hospital staff told her that her “child’s rectum had been torn open and the abuser had attempted to burn it closed”. Lama died in October 2012. Apparently her father doubted – listen to this – the girl’s virginity and thus abused her! Despite the brutality of the crime, the activists say a judge has ruled: “Blood money and the time the defendant had served in prison since Lama’s death suffices as punishment.” The group claim the ruling is based on national laws in Saudi that a father cannot be executed for murdering his children as husbands cannot be executed for murdering their wives. In the trial the father, who is a regular guest on Islamic television networks, reportedly confessed to using cables and a cane to inflict Lama’s injuries.

The judge ruled that the fine and the time that the man had spent in prison after his arrest were enough punishment. Islamic law specifies that the ‘blood money’ can be paid in lieu of the death penalty. Since the victim was a girl, the fine for the preacher, one Fayhan al-Ghamdi, was reduced to half the usual amount! Ghamdi confessed to the crime and said he used a cane and cables to beat his daughter up. The justification the man gave for this was that he doubted that his 5-year-old daughter, Lama Ghamdi, was a virgin. He also forced her into undergoing a medical inspection.

Chernobyl Diaries

From director Bradley Parker, who also co-produced this movie with Oren Peli (the Paranormal Activity series) & Brian Witten, comes horror film Chernobyl Diaries. The story is about 2 young couples and 2 other friends who go along with their tour guide to abandoned town of Prypiat, just outside of Chernobyl – the site of the nuclear disaster. Released in 2012 the film stars Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski, Devin Kelley, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Nathan Phillips, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, and Dimitri Diatchenko.

There’s nothing unique about the plot, except for the movie makers deciding to use the real life tragedy of the Chernobyl Power Plant disaster as the backdrop. Chris & his girlfriend Natalie are traveling throughout Europe – visiting the hot spots like Paris, London & Rome. Their next stop is Kiev, Ukraine which is where Chris’s older brother Paul lives. After spending some time unwinding and partying (including an almost fight with 3 guys who try to hit on the girls), Paul suggests to the other 3 that they go on an “extreme tour” of the abandoned town of  Prypiat  which sits in the shadow of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, deserted since the events. This town housed most of the employees of the power plant and the residents were given barely 5 minutes to evacuate the town before the disaster struck. Yuri, who runs a tour service, meets them at his office and they are joined by another couple – Michael & Zoe (an Australian & Norweigian who just met a few weeks ago) for the trip. They go in Yuri’s old van and are stopped at the checkpoint where the Ukrainian military denies them entry claming that there is some maintanence work going on.

Yuri takes them through another route, sneaking in without the soldier’s knowledge. As they spot a mutated fish on the banks of a river, Yuri shows them his geiger counter which shows him which areas have heavy radiation. At the abandoned town, they take in the desolate sights, explore a few buildings. While inside an apartment building, they find a bear that rushes past them. As dark approaches they prepare to leave but find that their van won’t start – wires have been chewed off. The radio isn’t picking up signals either, so Yuri says that they have to spend the night in the van and go for help in the morning, which leads to Chris blaming Paul for their situation. However on hearing noises, Yuri and Chris go out to investigate. Shots are heard and Paul runs out, only to return with Chris whose leg has been severely mauled, seemingly by dogs. The van is surrounded by snarling dogs who lunge at the van but leave after a while. The next day  Paul, Michael, and Amanda go looking for Yuri – they find his mutilated body in an underground reactor complex are are attacked by an unseen attacker in the dark. The three escape back to the van where Amanda shows them a creature looking at them from a window of a building in one of the pictures she took.  It is decided for Chris and Natalie to stay behind while the others go for help.

Paul, Amanda, Michael & Zoe find a parking lot and a  locate some old replacement parts for Yuri’s van and are chased by wild dogs while returning to the van. The dogs chase the group until they reach the lake and while crossing the lake, Michael falls in and is attacked by the fish. Night falls as the group returns to the van, but it is ripped to shreds and flipped over. Natalie’s video camera reveals that she and Chris were taken by mutants. While searching for the two, the group is chased by more mutants. By nightfall they find a traumatized Natalie but she is whisked away by another mutant while the other 4 are distracted. The rest of the group is then swarmed by a horde of mutants. While retreating to a fallout shelter, Michael is captured causing Zoe much anguish. They find Michael’s ring; he was going to propose to Natalie once they reached Moscow. hey start to climb a ladder and a gang of mutants pull Zoe back down, forcing Amanda and Paul to leave her behind. As two remaining – Paul & Amanda – run through a section of the reactor, they notice that their skin has started to blister due to high radiation contamination. They manage to find their way out of the reactor, but are confronted by Ukrainian military personnel. Blinded from radiation poisoning, Paul tries to approach the soldiers, who shoot him dead.

Amanda falls unconscious to the ground and when she comes to she is being taken inside a building on a gurney. Several doctors, clad in protective hazmat suits, inform her that she is in a hospital. Talking among themselves, the doctors reveal that the “creatures” were escaped patients who had been recaptured. They decide that Amanda knows too much, and can’t be allowed to leave. Amanda is thrown into a dark room where she is attacked by mutants.

Good enough for a few scares and jumps as it is mostly shot in the dark and several scenes are shot with just flashlights illuminating the area. There has been some Chernobly victims & survivors friendly groups who the film’s plot was insensitive to those who died and were injured in the disaster, and the movie was sensationalizing events that had “tragic human consequences”. I did find a bit of that (the movie had to be shot in Serbia & Hungary) but it’s still worth a watch. 7 out of 10!

Supernatural – Season 6

Season 6 starts off a year after the end of the last season with Dean who now lives with Lisa and her son Ben, and having given up hunting for a year after Sam jumped into Lucifer’s Cage. When mysterious occurrences start attacking Dead, he is rescued by Sam. Sam tells Dean he escaped from Hell around the time Dean started living with Lisa, but is unsure of how, and introduces Dean to family members he never even knew existed: the Campbells; his mother’s cousins, hunters led by none other than their grandfather Samuel. They go to destroy a Djinn who is attacking people close to the brothers and once that is done Dean stays with Lisa & Ben while Sam joins the Campbells. Their lives will come together very shortly as Sam asks Dean for help in  a case about missing babies whose parents are being mysteriously murdered and Sam finding one baby left behind. However, before they can decide the baby’s future, a shape-shifter breaks in and kidnaps the baby. The shape-shifter was apparently the father of all shape-shifters (the alpha), and was much stronger than the others. Samuel secretly talks to someone on the phone promising he’ll capture the alpha. After losing the baby, Dean returns to Lisa, and tells her that he is not sure whether he should stay to protect her and Ben, or go to make sure nothing happens to them. Lisa tells Dean to leave, but just come back home whenever he can.

This season introduces the recurring character of Balthazar (Sebastian Roche) an angel who has deserted heaven to live on earth, indulging in whatever he pleases and he gave the staff of Moses to a human. When Gabriel arrives to retrieve the  staff, Balthazar initially leaves but comes back to destroy Gabriel’s human host body. He then tells them that Heaven is in a state of chaos and civil war between angels and God’s weapons have been stolen. Meanwhile Dean begins to notice the change in Sam. Bobby summons Crowley to get his soul back who reneges on the deal and holds it for a ten-year period. Sam & Dean go to Crowley’s remains in Scotland and threaten to burn it if he doesn’t give Bobby’s soul back, which he reluctantly does. Sam’s change is evident when he allows Dean to be turned into a vampire, supposedly to help them find the vampire nest and kill them off. But it is when the Goddess of truth fails to put a spell on Sam, Dean has confirmation that Sam is not who he seems to be – Sam says he can’t sleep or feel emotions. Castiel finds out that Sam’s soul is missing and in the investigation they learn that Samuel is working for Castiel hunting alphas and that the demon lord of hell is the one who rescued Sam. The brothers reluctantly now have to help Samuel & Crowley capture monsters. A  leprechaun senses the lack of a soul in Sam and makes an offer to get it back for him, but Sam declines and attacks him instead, telling Dean that deals aren’t a good thing.

Meg & her followers, who remain loyal to Lucifer, become cagey allies against Crowley, who admits he can’t get Sam’s soul back. He is seemingly destroyed by Castiel burns his remains. Dean makes a deal with Death to get Sam’s soul from hell and he does, pushing it into a screaming & pained Sam – but builds a wall around his memories. Sam wakes up normal, not remembering the things he did without a soul, which Castiel tells him about. Sam & Dean have to stop some dragons from opening Purgatory and releasing something known as ‘the Mother of all’ – Eve. Sam will soon be confronted by some of the things he did soulless & working with Samuel. Balthazar gives Sam a key and sends the brothers to an alternate reality where they are known as Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Sam and Dean discover that everyone they knew in their reality is an actor in this reality: Castiel is a Twitter-addicted nice guy named Misha, and Sam is married to ‘Ruby,’ Genevieve Padalecki. Sam and Dean attempt to return to their reality, but are hampered by their alternate lives as actors and the crew of their TV show. One of Raphael’s assassins, Virgil, arrives to kill them, but fails; eventually, the brothers beat him. They are then pulled back into their own universe and confronted by Raphael (in a new female vessel). Balthazar and Castiel appear and reveal that the key was a ruse to divert Raphael’s attentions from the real transaction: Castiel now owns the weapons of Heaven that Balthazar stole. Frustrated with Castiel, the brothers ask why he did what he did, to which Castiel simply states that he will tell them another time.

Samuel is infected by a worm sent by Eve and is killed by Sam and Rufus is also killed. The brother then must undo Bathazar’s work – he went back to 1912 & prevented the Titanic from sinking (to avoid the movie & Celine Dion’s hit single from being made), causing one of the Fates sisters Atropes to go on a killing spree of all the survivors descendants. The brother then travel back in time to 1861 in Wyoming to kill a phoenix and collect it’s ashes – as that can kill Eve. They catch up with Eve tells Sam and Dean that Crowley is still alive and is after the power of the souls, not the purgatory and is also torturing her children. She takes the form of Mary to show them what is mother’s love. Her plan is to ruin Crowley’s plans by sending souls to Purgatory instead of Hell (only monsters go to Purgatory). Dean refuses to deal, and Eve tries to turn him, but he drank whiskey mixed with phoenix ashes earlier, which poisons her. Sam, Dean and Bobby argue because they are suspicious of Castiel, thinking he let Crowley live. Crowley meets with Cas at the diner, saying he is tired of covering up his messes. It is then revealed that it was actually Cas who pulled Sam from hell. Castiel goes to meet with Crowley who is doing experiments with Eve’s corpse.  Cas reveals he started the civil war in Heaven, using 50,000 souls from Hell, because Raphael wanted to raise Michael and Lucifer and resume the Apocalypse. The brothers summon Castiel and trap him in a circle of holy fire. Dean asks if Castiel is working with Crowley, and from Castiel’s inability to look him in the eyes, Dean knows the answer. ack at Bobby’s, Castiel appears to Dean, telling him to understand that he is doing this for him. Dean asks him to trust him and stop what he is doing, because he’s like a brother to him, but Castiel says he won’t. Dean then says he will do anything to stop him. Castiel asks God for a sign to see if what he is doing is right or wrong, and says that if God doesn’t answer him, he will do whatever it takes. There is no sign.

Crowley kidnaps Lisa & Ben and has a demon posses her so Dean must exorcise her. Lisa is mortally wounded however and as Dean grieves as she lies dying, Castiel appears to help. As a final act of friendship with Dean, he heals Lisa’s wounds without being asked and both he and Dean admit they wish this changed the fact that they are now enemies. As one last favor to Dean, Castiel erases Lisa and Ben’s memories of Dean so they can live a safe, normal life. Castiel shows up and breaks the wall in Sam’s mind when they refuse to stop trying to stop him. In the real world, Balthazar betrays Castiel by giving up Crowley’s hiding place to Dean and Bobby. Castiel discovers Balthazar’s treachery and kills him. Dean and Bobby arrive at Crowley’s hideout but are attacked by a cloud of demons. Furious, Castiel tries to kill Crowley but discovers that he cannot. Crowley has allied with Raphael as Castiel betrayed him. Giving up a Purgatory being’s blood, Castiel escapes, while Crowley recites the spell to open Purgatory with Raphael. Dean and Bobby recover and storm in but are both easily beaten by Crowley. As Crowley finishes the spell, nothing happens. Castiel had switched the jars of Purgatory blood, using the real one to open Purgatory and absorb every soul there. Now all powerful, Castiel destroys Raphael, while Crowley escapes. A recovered Sam arrives and stabs Cas with an angel’s sword, but it has no effect. Castiel proclaims himself as the new God of the world, and tells the group to bow down and profess their love unto him their Lord or he shall destroy them.

Arsenal 1 Stoke City 0

The match just got over. Arsenal defeated Stoke City with a controversial goal deep in the second half. Substitute Lukas Podolski’s deflected free-kick earned Arsenal victory and left battling Stoke City deflated at Emirates Stadium. Potters goalkeeper Asmir Begovic produced a series of fine saves before Podolski struck in the closing stages. Begovic denied Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from five-yards, kept out Laurent Koscielny’s header before saving Oxlade-Chamberlain’s angled drive. But Podolski’s set-piece went in off Geoff Cameron to ease the frustration.

The goal was controversial as the linesman seemed to flag for something after the ball went in (offside on Walcott perhaps?) but it was ruled by the referee that the goal should stand as the ball deflected off a Stoke City player. Stoke City, certainly in the running for least popular visitors to the Emirates didn’t help their cause by a series of fouls late in the game and things got a bit heated but the referee kept a cool head which helped things. Michael Owen saw some action, coming on late in the game for Stoke.

The game saw the debut of new Arsenal signing Nancho Monreal, a signing just 3 days ago from Malaga for around £10m. Monreal has agreed a long-term deal, thought to be four and a half years. The 26-year-old has made 54 appearances for Malaga since joining from Osasuna in 2011 and won seven caps for Spain. Arsenal made their move after Kieran Gibbs was ruled out for three weeks with a thigh strain sustained in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool. That left Andre Santos as their only recognised left-back. Monreal is however cup tied for the Champions League.

Classy & Sleek 48th Floor Apartment

Look at this classy & sleek 48th floor apartment in downtown Vancouver (Shangri La condos) that take full advantage of it’s awesome views. The open plan main living area is split conveniently into many sections – living, tv/family room, dining, a little work office nook, coffee & breakfast table – and then ofcourse the open plan great looking kitchen. Two bedrooms of which the master has a nice big walk-in closet. This is the kind of place I dream about.

Website Server Space Locked For Another Year

My URL having been paid & locked up for one year in November, it was now time for the server space that I use to store the files of this blog. The payment due date being today, I was sent the invoice a few days ago.

Well I just made the payment via credit card for $44 USD which secures my web server space for the next 365 days. That comes to around Rs. 2330. Not bad for a year. I was thinking about paying for a couple of years in a row but I think I might want to change the package I have with them and expand a bit in a year. We’ll see, I have some plans for this website – the blog will stay the same but I might do a few more things along with it. And I will need more webspace for the same.

Anyway rest assured regular readers, the blog will go on as usual. You can expect me to blog on a daily basis for the next year atleast, provided I don’t die or something equally horrendous happens to me.

The Wicker Man (2006)

Not having seen the original British classic 1970s cult horror film, I still watched the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man. It was written and directed by Neil LaBute, based on a screenplay by Anthony Shaffer, and stars Nicolas Cage, along with Molly Parker, Leelee Sobieski & Ellen Burynstn. The movie was panned critically and failed at the box office, falling just short of it’s $40 million budget.

Edward Malus is a California Highwat Patrol bike cop (I was reminded of ChIpS) and stops a station wagon driven by a woman as her daughter had thrown a doll out the window. Malus takes the doll back and gives it the girl who proceeds to throw it again. While he goes to retrieve it, the huge truck crashes against the station wagon. Mom is killed and Malus tries to get the girl out but the car explodes, knocking him out. As Malus recovers, he gets a mail from an ex of his, Willow, who he hasn’t seen in a few years. In the letter she asks him to help her find her lost daughter. Willow lives on this secluded private island off the coast of Washington state, where a group of Celtic pagans live, farming fruits and honey (which they are famous form) and have nothing much to do with the outside world. The island is run by Sister Summersisle, who is treated as the human embodiment of their main goddess and their main source of income is from the honey that they harvest.The only way in is to sneak in via a boat plane and on reaching the island Malus is made aware that the people on it are strange. He finds little help but managed to meet Willow at the inn where he rents a room. Willow is convinced that her daughter Rowan is alive while everyone else says the girl burned to death.

Malus investigates and asks questions but this woman dominated community is weirdly strange & tight-lipped and the men never speak and are unusually docile. Malus is disgusted to learn that the community women sees men as mainly used for breeding. At the school he finds that none of the girls in the class seem to recognize Rowan’s photo but the school register has Rowan’s name stricken off. The teacher, after a short discussion of the island people’s view of death, says that Rowan will burn before correcting her tense and says that she burned. Willow finally confesses to Malus that Rowan is his daughter as Malus finally meets Sister Summersisle but is stung by bees and is brought in by her servants. He accuses her of trying to hold information back and gets her permission to dig Rowan’s body from her grave. He only finds a burned doll but he finds Rowan’s sweater underwater in the churchyard. On the day of their main festival, Malus attacks Sister Beech, who has a bear costume for the ritual joins the parade led by Sister Summersisle, dressed as the bear. He finds Willow in the parade, after he has told her to stay at home, and then sees Rowan tied to a tree at the site of the festival ground. Malus rescues Rowan and they run away through the woods, but Rowan leads him back to Sister Summersisle. Sister Summersisle thanks Rowan for her help, and Malus realizes that the search for Rowan was a trap.

The villagers attack Malus, breaks his legs and place a mask of bees on his head. Then they carry him into a large Wicker man and shut him inside. Although the look on Willow’s face shows she is pained, she joins the chants. Rowan sets fire to the wicker man and Malus is sacrificed. The crowd chants “The drone must die!”, believing that Malus’s sacrifice will restore their honey production. Malus pleads asking how can he be a good sacrifice if he does not believe in their religion or their gods. and dies in the fire. 6 months later we see Willow & Honey (another girl from the island) flirt with two men (James Franco andJason Ritter) in a bar and invite them to go home with them, presumably in hopes of luring them for breeding just as Malus was.

The movie is strange in places. I didn’t think that they haunting images of the little girl who died in the crash was needed and why does he always see her as Rowan, until the end, when he only comes to see her what she looks like after the crash! There is some dream sequences that are creepy and man is the girl played by Rowan creepy! Especially when she lights the wicker man on fire, she looks downright evil! I did like the movie although I see why it bombed. I’m still gonna give it a 6.5 out of 10!

The Why Of It All

Why do you write? What keeps you motivated?

I dunno, I guess I’ve always wanted to keep a journal and maintain it for as long as I possibly could. I remember hoping when I was 14-15 that I would write poems or song lyrics and did some once in a while. At the age of 15 I kept a diary in which I would enter a few lines about the day and my thoughts about certain things on a daily basis and even back then I had a song for the day section at the end of each entry. I soon started writing about my feelings and opening up my heart about certain stuff that was going on in my life. When I went on a 3 day school trip to Kodaikannal, it was a way of recording the things that happened there on that fun trip. I stopped writing in my diary the next year – although I should have continued as so many things happened to me during the ages of 16-19.

During my 1 month rest post operation at the age of 21, being mostly restricted indoors and mostly staying in my room, I started writing a bit again but it didn’t last beyond those 30 days. Mostly I wrote in a book about the albums & songs I listened to each day (and I listened to a lot). I also managed to create a scrap book of the 1998 World Cup in France and wrote stuff about the matches that I would see. In 2002 I moved to Calicut and mostly to keep a record of things there, I started a blog after having started reading a few during the past few months. I created a blogger account and the blog is still there but I lost track of why I kept it once I moved back to Cochin and around 2004 it became a hockey & football oriented blog with the occasional blog post. Then in 2005 September I started a new one in blogger – also called Awake & Dreaming – and it became the kind of style that you see today. And in 2007 Jan 1st onwards – I started this blog you see here.

Why do I write? It’s mostly for myself and for the handful of regular readers – all 6 of you – who like what I write about and keep coming. It’s a place to vent my frustrations, air my views, share my thoughts, write reviews of movies, books & music and pen down eventful happenings. I love blogging and I love writing. I will always keep an online journal even if no one read it. And that’s the biggest reason you should write – for yourself first & foremost!

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