The Racketeer By John Grisham

I read almost all John Grisham books as they are good reads, interesting and gets me hooked. The Racketeer is no exception and I really liked this book. However I do have to say that Grisham has the same kind of theme like in The Firm and other books of his and you get the feeling of deja vu as you go through the later half of the book. Still quite satisfying as you put the book down after reading the last page.

Malcolm Bannister, a former US Marine and small town lawyer in a 3 lawyer firm, is now in jail serving a 10 year sentence in a minimum security prison. A real estate transaction which he undertook in good faith turned out to have involved the purchase of a secluded hunting lodge where a crooked Capitol Hill lobbyist invited corrupt Congressmen for orgies with underage girls. When the scandal was exposed, Bannister was caught up in big a FBI sweep, his name was added to many others on a hundred-page racketeering charge sheet, his protestations of innocence ignored, and he got a ten-year prison sentence. 5 years later, when a federal judge is found murdered, along with his secretary, in his remote weekend cabin, Bannister puts his epic plan in place. Claiming to know the identity of the killer, Bannister contacts the FBI & gets out of jail and into the US Marshall’s witness protection program. The FBI apprehends the man, someone who was in the same prison as Bannister and who had escaped. Courtesy of the government, Bannister gets the reward money, a new face via cosmetic surgery and a new identity as Max Reed Baldwin. But things are not right as his identity & his new locations seem to be found by people  related to the “murderer”. Bannister / Baldwin gets annoyed with the US Marshalls & the FBI and walks away from witness protection.

What follows next is a plot filled with twists, deceptions, cunning and cleverness so large that even the FBI big wigs have to admire. See how Bannister plotted his escape with the help of his friend from prison, whose sister he is in love with and a cousin of the two. How they find & frame the real murder on another charge and gets him imprisoned in a Caribbean jail and the murdered reveals the place where he hid the gold taken from the safe of the judge. Bannister and his accomplices thumbs their nose at the US Government and the FBI, who put him in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, by committing several felonies and getting rich in the bargain. Second chances are something that this ex-lawyer schemed and thought out while sitting in a jail, innocent. Now he is out and he has a new woman in his life and he is wealthy. Excellent read for a lazy weekend.

2013 NHL Playoff Lineups – Round Of 16

Well the shortened 48 round regular season is over and the playoffs are upon us. I think this year was quite exciting and there was a rush at the end for some teams to catch up on points and make the playoffs. Sad news again this year for the Winnipeg Jets, my second adopted team (read all about the reason why in the archives; just search for Winnipeg Jets in my blog), as they just missed out on qualifying for the playoffs. They seemed to have the points in place but it just didn’t happen for them as they finished at #9 in the East. Calgary & Edmonton failed miserably and the former has some rebuilding of the squad to do this off season (who ever say the Flames trading off Jarome Iginla before the season started).

The Toronto Maple Leafs make it to the playoffs for the first time in 9 years and they look good enough to reach the semis. No playoffs for regulars Philly & New Jersey – look for those teams to be trading some players – and no playoff for Tampa Bay & Carolina again. In the West it seemed for a while that Detroit wouldn’t make it but they knocked in enough goals and wins to finish 7th in that conference. Phoenix failed to qualify and we could finally see that franchise being relocated after 4 years of no ownership & being run by the league itself. What a mess in Arizona, sell the team and relocate to Quebec City already! Dallas doesn’t qualify either.

My Senators did well but they started failing badly towards the end and finished #7 in the East. They play the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. Can Ottawa pull a win here? Who can say? I really wanted the team to trade for some big name & scoring players in order for us to have a chance. I don’t see it happening this year. Can they pull off an upset and beat the Habs? Time will tell.

This Is Spinal Tap

I am a bad rocker. Although I was aware of this spoof band and the cult movie, I have never watched the movie This Is Spinal Tap till last night. As a lot of you will know, this is a 1984 mockumentary about a fictional English heavy metal band Spinal Tap and directed by Robb Reiner & produced by Karen Murphy. The movie satirizes the wild personal behavior and musical pretensions of hard rock and heavy metal musical bands, as well as the hagiographic tendencies of rock documentaries of the time. For a movie in which most of the dialogue by the 3 main actors – Christopher Guest, Michael McKean & Harry Shearer – ad libbed the dialogues, it’s a really funny movie. Several dozen hours of footage were filmed before Reiner edited it to the released movie. The three actors play their musical instruments and speak with mock English accents throughout the movie.

What I also didn’t know that Fran Dreschler & my 1980s Scifi crush June Chadwick (Lydia from the original V) also play supporting roles in this movie.  Actors Paul Shaffer, Fred Willard, Ed Begley, Jr., Patrick Macnee, Anjelica Huston, Dana Carvey & Billy Crystal all make  cameo  appearances in the movie. In 2002, This Is Spinal Tap was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry. Reiner himself plays the director of the documentary, which focuses on a 1982 United States concert tour by the fictional British rock group to support their latest album Smell The Glove. We also have one-to-one or group interviews happening in between the scenes. The band was started by childhood friends, singer / guitarist David St. Hubbins and lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel, during the 1960s. They started a band and called themselves the Originals but changed it to The New Originals when they found out that there was another band with the same name. Later they settled on the name “The Thamesmen”, finding success with their skiffle/Rhythm and blues single “Gimme Some Money”. They changed their name again to “Spinal Tap” and enjoyed limited success with the flower power anthem “Listen to the Flower People”.

Soon they found their heavy metal sound and Derek Smalls joined them on bass, keyboardist Viv Savage (David Kaff) and a series of drummers, each of whom mysteriously died in odd circumstances, including spontaneous human combustion, a “bizarre gardening accident” and, in at least one case, choking to death on the vomit of person(s) unknown. The band members are shown to be excellent musicians & composers (some of the songs are really good, the actors play their own instruments and McKean sings very well) but are dimwitted and almost naive. Despite their success, the band find that some of their shows in the US are getting cancelled due to low ticket sales and they fall into a sales slumps as some of the major retailers refuse to display their album because of an offensive album cover. There is growing resentment shown towards the group’s manager Ian Faith (Tony Hendra) and things turn a bit more craxy when St. Hubbins controlling & interfering girlfriend Jeanine arrives and offers to co-manage the group. Tufnel gets angrier as Jeanine injects herself in band meetings and influencing decisions, while the band’s distributor, Polymer Records, opts to release Smell the Glove with an entirely black cover without consulting the band. A signing session sees no one turning up and a stage show which is supposed to have a Stonehenge megalith for the show during the song “Stonehenge” – but rushing it sees a tiny model displayed on stage, making them laughing stocks. he group accuses Faith of mismanagement, and when St. Hubbins suggests Jeanine should co-manage the group, Faith quits in disgust.

The band continues in smaller venues and and at a USAF base, Tufnel gets upset with malfunctioning equipment and storms off the stage. The band continues without him, adjusting their material to compensate. However at the last show Tufnel comes to tell them that Faith would like to arrange a new tour in Japan as they are hugely popular there. At the concert David beckons Nigel on to join them and he grabs his guitar and plays with them onstage. Tufnel rejoins the band and they hire Faith back as manager. Despite losing their drummer Mick Shrimpton (R.J. Parnell) as he inexplicably explodes onstage, the film ends with Spinal Tap playing a series of sold-out arena shows for enthusiastic fans on their Japanese tour.

Hilarious and mocking the big stage shows – malfunctioning cocoons and getting lost backstage – and the lifestyle. It’s something that all rockers have loved over the years. 8 outta 10!

Toys In The Memory

Do you remember your favourite childhood toys? Let’s see how many of you beyond the age of 30 (like me who is 36) can remember stuff that they payed with 20 + years ago.

I remember a few stuff like my cars. I had several sets of toy cars, some with wind up thingies in them that made them move. My pride and job where the miniature models of the Knight Rider car (a Transam) with a reflector light sticker on the front that made it look like the display on the actual car, KIT! I played with that a lot and it even would be displayed with pride on the front shelves in our living room.

I had a rollercoster type race track with little cars that you could set and have a race with other kids. It allowed 4 cars at one time and it was a fun little activity with friends or cousins. I knew that broke when I tried carrying it up the stairs and it slipped from my hands. Still had the cars till I was 12 and then I packed them away.

I had a lion’s head that was attached to a belt and you could tie it around your waist. A button allowed you to play different roars and sound effects and with lights flashing out of the lion’s eyes and mouth. In the dark it was really cool. Needless to say all the kids loved it as well.

I had a few action figures from the He-man & the Masters of the Universe collection and my favourites were of He-Man and of Prince Adam, his alter ego which came separate. The figures were directly from Mattel, the makers of the comic & cartoon series and hence the resemblance was authentic.

Those are the ones that I can remember off the top of my head. What were yours?

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Beer Types – Bock

Bock is a strong lager of German origin. Several substyles exist, including maibock or helles bock, a paler, more hopped version generally made for consumption at spring festivals; doppelbock, a stronger and maltier version; and eisbock, a much stronger version made by partially freezing the beer and removing the water ice that forms. Originally a dark beer, a modern bock can range from light copper to brown in colour. The style is very popular, with many examples brewed internationally.

The style known now as bock was a dark, malty, lightly hopped ale first brewed in the 14th century by German brewers in the Hanseatic town of Einbeck. The style from Einbeck was later adopted by Munich brewers in the 17th century and adapted to the new lager style of brewing. Due to their Bavarian accent, citizens of Munich pronounced “Einbeck” as “ein Bock” (a billy goat), and thus the beer became known as “bock”. To this day, as a visual pun, a goat often appears on bock labels. Bock is historically associated with special occasions, often religious festivals such as Christmas, Easter or Lent. Bocks have a long history of being brewed and consumed by Bavarian monks as a source of nutrition during times of fasting.

Traditional bock is a sweet, relatively strong (6.3%–7.2% by volume), lightly hopped (20-27 IBUs) lager. The beer should be clear, and colour can range from light copper to brown, with a bountiful and persistent off-white head. The aroma should be malty and toasty, possibly with hints of alcohol, but no detectable hops or fruitiness. The mouthfeel is smooth, with low to moderate carbonation and no astringency. The taste is rich and toasty, sometimes with a bit of caramel. Again, hop presence is low to undetectable, providing just enough bitterness so that the sweetness is not cloying and the aftertaste is muted.

Earth Girls Are Easy

I love the 80s! The chicks with the crazy hair, the  outlandish clothes, lots of make up and the great music and the weird movies. This one has it all – Earth Girls Are Easy is a 1988 musical comedy with some science fiction thrown in for effect and they don’t take themselves seriously at all. Directed by Julien Temple it stars Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, Michael McKean,Julie Brown, Charles Rocket, Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans and is based off a 1984 song by Julie Brown. And also the movie is a semi-dig by Julie Brown against the whole “valley girl” & “Valleyspeak” thing from the 80s & 90s, directed at semi-affluent and affluent  middle-class  and  upper-middle class girls living in the early 1980s Los Angeles bedroom communities of San Fernando Valley.

Using a rather bad special effects section of a ridiculously colourful spaceship flying about in space we see our three furry friends Whiploc (Carrey), Zeebo (Wayans) & Mac (Goldblum) traveling around in space and when they see broadcasts for women in bikinis coming from earth they decided to head to our planet. Meanwhile valley girl manicurist Valarie, has just dumped her fiance Dr. Ted Gallagher after she caught him with another woman at their house. This just after Val had gone through a complete makeover to seduce him under the advice of her best friend Candy Pink at the beauty salon where they both work. Heartbroken she breaks a bunch of his stuff while going through a sad song. The next day Val is sunbathing next to her pool when the aliens spy her when their spaceship malfunctions due to an accident caused by Whiploc & Zeebo and it crashes in her pool. As Val investigates she bumps her head and the aliens take her in. When she comes to she is initially scared but soon befriends the furry aliens and she brings them inside her house.

Val calls her friend Woody (Michael McKean) to come and drain the pool so the aliens can work on their ship and get it flying again. Meanwhile she brings them into her home and though there is a language barrier at first, the aliens prove to be quick learners and absorb American culture and language by watching television. Later she takes them to Candy and they have the aliens shaved – they turn out to be human looking and attractive. Dressed in trendy clothes the girls take the 3 aliens to a happening nightclub where they attract many women with their good looks & long tongues – and Zeebo has a dance off with a top dancer as they both vie for the same babe. Mac, who is more intelligent had mastered English and talks with Val alone and sparks flies! Back home, the two find out that they are anatomically compatible and have sex. The next day the pool is drained and Zeebo and Wiploc are working on their ship when Woody stops by and offers to take them to the beach. They agree and after accidentally holding up a convenience store, Zeebo and Wiploc are soon driving down the LA Freeway the wrong way, in reverse, with the police in pursuit. Mac finds out his crew mates are in trouble and goes to help and gets arrested along with Woody in a case of mistaken identity. Valerie smashes the police vehicle in order to get arrested too so she can go with Mac.

Whiploc & Zeebo crash their car and the police take them to the hospital where Dr. Ted finds them. He was miffed at being chased out of the house the previous night, and examines them and is shocked to find out that they have two hearts each and is convinced that they are aliens. But Val & Mac sneek into the ER dressed as a doctor & a nurse and convince Ted that he is delusional. They then escape back to Valerie’s place where work continues on the space ship. Meanwhile Valerie and Dr. Gallagher reconcile and plan to go to Las Vegas to get married right away. A heartbroken Mac prepares to leave earth with Zeebo & Whiploc and as Valerie comes to say goodbye, Ted sees the spaceship and wants to alert the cops. While Valerie is struggling with her fiance to keep him from calling, she comes to the realization that it’s really Mac who she loves. She gets in the ship and off they head into space.

Funny, cheesy but a little fun and the ability to laugh at themselves. It makes me nostalgic for the 80s again. I first saw this movie bac in 1994 or so I’ll probably watch it again once in a while. 6.5 outta 10!

Rookie Blue – Season 1

Rookie Blue is a Canadian cop drama tv series that started in 2010 with the first episode airing on June 24th in both Canada & the US. The series follows the lives of five rookie cops from 15 Division who have just graduated from the academy. Now that their training is over real cop work begins and each rookie is determined to do well and prove themselves to both their training officers as well as themselves. They must learn not only to deal with their duties as police officers, but also deal with the problems and expectation of their families and friends. Each rookie is paired with a training officer who will not be their usual partner when out on patrol but who will also evaluate them at the end of their first 6 months.

The rookies are Missy Peregrym Andrea as ‘Andy’ McNally, Gregory Smith as Dov Epstein, Enuka Okuma as Traci Nash, Travis Milne as Chris Diaz & Charlotte Sullivan as Gail Peck. Ben Bass, Matt Gordon, Noam Jenkins, Melanie Nichols-King plays their training officers while Eric Johnson plays a homicide detective who usually partners with Jenkins’ character and begins a relationship with McNally. Lyriq Bent plays the Sergent who heads the 15th division. As the season begins the eager detectives who are friends – with only Gail being aloof – are nervous but raring to go on their first day on the job. Unfortunately, their first call is to a domestic disturbance, which turns out to be a murder. In an attempt to catch the shooter, Andy McNally unknowingly arrests an undercover cop, ruining eight months of work. However she is able to redeem herself by apprehending the real criminal after a tense stand-off. It’s a really funny scene to see a cop, even a rookie cop, crying & pleading to a young man to not do anything stupid to make her first day as a cop any more difficult as she couldn’t bear it. The undercover cop, Sam Swarek is assigned as Andy’s TO. 15th Division is tasked with catching an escaped murderer. However McNally, who is paired with Swarek the undercover officer she previously arrested, defies orders to try and rescue an informant from a drug ring that Swarek was working on prior to his arrest. Epstein and Peck are able to apprehend the murderer; meanwhile McNally breaks the rules to secure both Swarek and the informant’s lives.

In the 3rd episode the rookies are tasked to aid in an undercover operation. Although the operation is a success, Nash disobeys orders to capture a fleeing suspect. Nash, who has decided to participate in Fite Night (an annual boxing event) is also under pressure to keep alive the tradition of 15th Division winning the event. Meanwhile, McNally and Peck try to help a woman who is being beaten by her husband. Despite their best efforts, the woman decides to return to her husband. Nash is able to win Fite Nite. McNally, Peck and Diaz are tasked as prostitutes in a sting operation. Nash however has been sent to work with Callaghan on a murdered John Doe. McNally is unable to perform and she is pulled; as is Epstein for blocking channels during a time of emergency. As a result, both decide to take down a weapons trafficking syndicate in an attempt to redeem themselves. Although their attempt is successful, they jeopardized a civilian in the process. Meanwhile Diaz manages to figure out the identity of the John Doe. After being called to a residence for a break and enter, McNally and Nash are left behind at the request of the mother. However Nash is forced to leave to get her son from day-care leaving McNally alone. Unknown to McNally, one of the robbers did not have time to flee and hid in the basement. The robber’s subsequent attempt to escape is stopped and he draws a gun creating a hostage situation. Despite McNally forgetting to load her gun, she is able to talk the robber down. Also, Diaz and Epstein go undercover at a wedding to stop a group who have performed a string of high end break and enters.

Nash and Williams stop a car-jacking and the suspect is then linked to a murder case that Callaghan has been assigned to. However, the murder charges will not stick as the bullet was never found at the scene. Callaghan enlists the help of McNally to watch a witness who actually has the bullet lodged in his skull after killing the victim. The witness manages to get away leaving McNally to find him before he is killed for what he knows. Despite being able to find the witness, he dies as a result of an operation to remove the bullet. Andy sees another side of Luke and turns to Sam for support. The summer heat seems to be driving people’s reckless behaviours. To make matters worse, there’s a blackout in the city. McNally and Swarek arrest a minor for stealing an ice-cream truck. Swarek believes that the theft was an act of rebellion; McNally who believes otherwise is sent out with Shaw to pursue leads. However, they’re shortly called to a residence where a mother is reporting her daughter missing. McNally’s instincts lead her to believe that two girls were abducted from the park and the minor they have in custody managed to escape. Her instincts are correct as McNally and Shaw trace the missing girl to an abandoned recreation center. Shaw is shot by the perpetrator leaving McNally by herself. After finding the girl, McNally comes face to face with the perpetrator and is forced to kill him in self-defense. She is in shock and goes to see Swarek, and ends up almost sleeping with him. Also, Epstein and Peck are forced to deliver a baby after a woman goes into labor. Complicating issues arise after the officers realize the woman suffers from agoraphobia and refuses to leave her residence. While the senior officers attend retraining the rookies are sent out to various schools to do community outreach. Epstein and Nash are paired together, but they soon find themselves investigating a group of girls who are taking amphetamines. McNally and Diaz are sent back on patrol after being told they have come on the wrong day. During their patrol they find a man who has been assaulted. Further investigation reveals that a detective assaulted the man. McNally and Diaz are forced to report it, much to the displeasure of Peck and her brother Steve. The accused detective is Steven’s partner. Andy must deal with the consequences of her previous actions.

15th Division diverts its operations into finding a young girl and her abductor. Shaw, who has returned from his injuries, leads Peck, Diaz and Epstein in the field; with Nash at the mother’s home. Epstein manages to get an ID on the abductor who is connected to the mother and a pedophile. Swarek believes the mother is hiding something and directs McNally to interrogate her, during which she reveals that she was high at the time of her daughter’s abduction. However, she does provide a possible location for where her daughter could be taken. This information proves to be correct as the officers manage to rescue the girl. Luke finds out about Andy’s run-in with Swarek. After all the rookies, except McNally fail their gun re-certification, Peck and Epstein are assigned to help a man with amnesia while Nash and Diaz help Detective Barber reconstruct notes that went missing for an upcoming court case. McNally is assigned with Swarek to do a prisoner transport. Although they find their situation awkward, they talk and reconcile. However the inmate escapes the custody of the two officers, leaving them in a frantic race against daylight to find the prisoner.

McNally and Swarek help investigate the murder of a suspected rapist and murderer. However upon finding evidence that implicates McNally’s father as the culprit, the officers search for proof of his innocence. McNally’s father is later cleared, after the wife of the deceased confesses to the murder. Meanwhile, a vigilante accesses police information via Diaz and Epstein’s squad car. However upon being caught it is revealed he has vital evidence that helps towards taking down a major drug ring. Also, Peck confides in Nash about the pressure of expectation she feels. During her evaluation, McNally confides in Best about her fears of ruining her life because of the job. It is revealed in her most recent shift, McNally had informed a mother of her daughter’s death. The shock of the news and the realization of the part she played in her daughter’s death drives the mother to try and commit suicide until Williams intervenes preventing her death. The pain that McNally felt she caused mirrored that of one of her father’s cases. Best tells McNally to bury her father’s skeletons and make a fresh start. All the rookies pass their evaluation and become fully fledged officers. McNally and Diaz make an untimely arrest, which compromises a major heroin bust; Swarek goes undercover posing as the buyer with McNally as his girlfriend, to try and salvage the operation. Peck and Diaz, who are part of the surveillance team, search a seemingly empty warehouse. As they are leaving Diaz is stabbed and as Peck checks on him the door closes and they find themselves locked in a room. In an attempt to get out through an air vent Peck sees the heroin is being prepared for the deal. Swarek and McNally try to make the deal, but the dealer has other plans and Swarek is forced to leave to get the heroin from an undisclosed location. When McNally is told that the buyer’s boss will be at the exchange, she realizes that Swarek’s cover will be blown and calls back-up, blowing her cover in the process. Nash and Epstein notice that Peck and Diaz have failed to check-in from their location, leading them to believe that the warehouse is where the heroin is. Tactical teams arrive at the warehouse and successfully save Swarek, Diaz, and Peck and also take down the drug ring.

The funniest scene of the season is the last one as McNally, Epstein & Nash sit on a squad car’s hood congratulating themselves for being on the biggest drug bust in the disvision’s history and that they are full fledged cops, a senior cop passes by and chides them telling the 3 rookies to get off the car. Which they do, like admonished children! Perfect end. While the series has been criticized for being lazy for focusing on the private lives of the 5 young good looking rookies (a la Grey’s Anatomy) I do find entertainment in the stories and the cast. Also I never liked Grey’s so I’m fine here. It’s cool, it’s harmless fun and some of the cases are really good. Now onto season 2.

What A Lucky Man He Is!

If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be, and why? If that seems too easy, try this one: who would you like to have spend a day as you and what do you hope they’d learn from the experience?

You know who I would want to be if I could be someone else for a day? I wanna be the luckiest man in the world. Who is the luckiest man in the world? Let me borrow a few verses from Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Lucky Man song:

He had white horses, And ladies by the score, All dressed in satin, And waiting by the door, White lace and feathers, They made up his bed, A gold covered mattress, On which he was laid, He went to fight wars, For his country and his king, Of his honor and his glory, The people would sing, A bullet had found him, His blood ran as he cried, No money could save him, So he laid down and he died

Ooooh, what a lucky man he was, Ooooh, what a lucky man he was

No, I don’t want to be that guy but it depends on what your definition of the lucky man, or luckiest man is. Mine would be…….the luckiest man in the world is the man who has everything he ever wanted and dreamed of and is happy & content with what he has. Is there someone like that out there?

Well if so, that’s who I want to be. Even if it’s just for one day.

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Cloud Atlas

I watched Cloud Atlas over the last night and this afternoon. Cloud Atlas is a German science fiction drama film written, produced and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. The movie is based on the 2004 novel of the same name by David Mitchell and has 6 different plotlines set in six different time eras. The movie spent 4 years in development at a budget of $102 million and and was released on October 26, 2012. The cast is a stellar line up of Tom Hands, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, South Korean actress Doona Bae, Keith David and smaller roles by Susan Sarandon & Hugh Grant.

How to start telling this story that is interlinked & interconnected in one way or the other? It is easier to separate the sections and tell the story. The first & set in the oldest era is in the year 1849 where Adam Ewing, an American lawyer has come to do some business for his father-in-law Haskell Moore. Ewing is appalled at the public whipping of an African slave Autua, who later stoves away on the ship in which Ewing is traveling back to the US. Ewing feeds the slave and gets him a job as a sailor on the boat. However Dr. Henry Goose slowly poisons Ewing, claiming it to be the cure for a parasitic worm, aiming to steal Ewing’s box of goal coins. Autua saves Ewing before he can be given a fatal doseage by Dr. Goose and recovers with the help of his new friend. Once back home, he and his wife reject her father’s businesses that deals with slavery and go off to join the Slavery Abolishment Movement.

The next section is set in 1936 as Cambridge student Robert Frobrisher, a bisexual English musician, leaves his university to work under the employment of the elderly composer Vyvyan Ayrs and to also work on his own compositions. Frobrisher compose his masterpiece The Cloud Atlas sextet while in Ayrs house and to his dismay Ayrs wishes to take credit for Frobisher’s work, and threatens to expose his scandalous background if he resists, which would mean that no one would want to listen to his work. After reading part of Ewing’s journals, Frobrisher shoots Ayrs and flees to a hotel where he finishes his work on  the sextant and shoots himself dead, just before his lover Rufus Sixsmith reaches the hotel. Many years later, 1973 to be exact, an much older Sixsmith, who is a nuclear physicist meets journalist Luisa Rey and confides in her about a conspiracy regarding the safety of a new nuclear reactor run by rich businessman Lloyd Hooks. Sixsmith is killed by an assassin sent by Hooks before he could share a report proving this conspiracy to her, however another scientist Issac Sachs meets Rey and sends her a bunch of Sixsmith’s files including a copy of the report. Sachs is soon killed in an explosion while Rey is run off the road into the sea but she escapes and with the help of the nuclear plant’s head of security, Joe Napier (who happened to be a friend of Rey’s father) she evades the assassin and uses the report to exspose the plot to use a nuclear accident for the benefit of oil companies. She also reads a bunch of letters that Frobisher wrote to Sixsmith in the latter’s files.

The 4th section is set in London in our present, 2012, where 65 year old publisher Timothy Cavendish attends a party where his gangster author whose book he has published, murders a critic and is sent to jail. The gangster’s goons hassle Cavendish for the profits from the book, which he has already spent. So he goes to his brother Denny for help. Denny, carrying a grudge against his  brother for sleeping with his wife, tricks Cavendish into hiding in a ‘hotel”, which is actually a nursing home where he is held against his will, but Cavendish escapes with the help of 3 elderly friends he made in the place. This is the most comedic of the 6 sections which is really funny. A little later Cavendish receives a manuscript of a novel based on Rey’s life and writes a screenplay about his own story in the home. We then go to 2144 in Neo Seoul, Korea where a Sonmi-451, a genetically-engineered fabricant or clone, server at a fast food restaurant is inspired by a fellow clone to dodge the expected servitude. Sonmi is released from her compliant life of servitude by Commander Hae-Joo Chang, a member of a rebel movement known as “Union”. The two begin a love affair and watch a movie based on Cavendish’s life. When she finds out that rebellious fabricants like her are killed and “recycled” into food for future fabricants, make a public broadcast of her story and says that the system of society based on slavery and exploitation of fabricants is intolerable. Chang is killed in a fight and Sonmi is captured and executed by the government after an interrogation.

Finally we got to 2321 in which after more than a century of what is suggested as a major world war & holocaust, Zachary lives in a small village in the valley in a primitive society that worships idols of Sonmi. Most of humanity has died Zachry is plagued by hallucinations of a figure called “Old Georgie” who manipulates him into giving in to his fear, and he watched scared as his friend & a young boy are killed by the cannibalistic Kona tribe. With medicines from Meronym, a member of the “Prescients” – a society holding on to remnants of technology from before the Holocaust, Zachary’s neice Katkin is cured and as repayment, Zachry agrees to guide Meronym into the mountains in search of Cloud Atlas, a communications station where she is able to send a message to Earth’s colonies on other planets. At the station, Meronym reveals that Sonmi was a mortal and not a deity as the Valley tribes believe. When Zachary returns home he finds the Kona has decimated his village but Katkin has survived and Meronym helps him escape the returning Kona, and they leave earth for one of the colonies in a giant spaceship along with the rest of the Prescients. The epilogue & prologue scenes are of an old Zachary telling this story to his grandchildren at the of which an older Meronym, his wife, comes to greet him.

The movie can get very confusing and one might lose interest here and there. I do appreciate the movie but it feels a little bit disoriented & uneven with the scenes changing from various eras. However I still liked it enough to give it a 7.5 outta 10!

A Look At SFC Plus

I’d like to show you the newest place (new as in atleast for me) that I like to go to for a quick bite to eat and some cold drink. SFC Plus is an Abu Dhabi based, Indian Malayalee owned, fast food restaurant which currently has two franchises in Cochin. The one that I go to, or have been going to for the past month or so, is the one in Alliance Residency on Marine Drive, which is quieter, much much quieter shopping mall next to the hustle & bustle that is the Bay Pride Mall. And while Bay Pride has the food court with Indian, Chinese and Marry Brown’s similar fast food menu, I think I prefer SFC Plus.

One main reason I like SFC Plus is that it’s quieter and less crowded. The 4 times I have been there there’s just a few people in there and it’s quiet and peaceful. There is also a lot more seating available with wisely placed tables, booth seats and in the middles these smaller square table with cushion stools. There’s plenty of space and 3 doors leading into the outlet as well. Now the menu is similar to Marry Brown’s – southern fried chicken, chicken strips, some veggie burgers, chicken burgers, prawn & chicken subs, salads, fried rice, wraps and good pizzas. And they do have 2-3 rather cute & petite lady servers from North East India! Bonus

I’ve had the chicken sub twice (the third pic) and their prawn sub (the 4th pic) and both are very good. Their fries are hot & awesome tasting. Their burger was ok, nothing to rave about. And once I had a pizza from there, a barbecue chicken with jalapenos, capsicum, onion & tomato pizza which was hot, good and served on a hot plate. So since the food is good as well I really enjoy this place. They mostly have Coke to drink but I also had a Sprite there once. Nice place to chill out in the evenings.

Injured Leg & Personal Update

Well how are you dear reader? How’s it going at your end? Me, I’m on semi bed rest for almost 2 days now due to a little self-inflicted injury that stupid ole me did to myself, so to speak. Sunday night I was getting ready to lie in bed around 10pm and watch some tv shows before going to sleep. Just the usual routine that I follow, nothing special. But – I stepped on and slipped on the end of my own lungi, my slightly large lungi and slid into the bedpost.

I hit the bedpost with my right leg, right above the knee and I did hit it hard but I didn’t think much of it at the time. I mean it hurt a little but it will hurt if you hit yourself against solid wood right? I went ahead and watched my shows and then went to sleep. The next morning, that is yesterday, my leg was hurting in the same area. Pretty soon I couldn’t move my right leg without inflicting pain. There was some swelling in the area above my knee as well.

So I’ve been mostly restricted to my bed and keeping off my feet once the pain got too bad. I’ve been using an anti-inflamatory spray called Volini on my leg and it has brought the swelling down but there is still some pain and therefore I am still in bed for the most part. I hope it’s all healed up by tomorrow or the day after atleast.

Cold Squad – Season 1

From the latest shows to hit television & the internet now it’s time to go back to an older one. Back in time to 1998 and a Canadian cop show called Cold Squad. The show crime drama show, created by Julia Keatley and Matt MacLeod, followed the investigations of a part of the Vancouver Police Department Homicide Division tasked with solving cold cases ( a crime or an accident that has not yet been solved to the full and is not the subject of a recent criminal investigation, but for which new information could emerge from new witness testimony, re-examined archives, retained material evidence, as well as fresh activities of the suspect), the titular Cold Squad. This was the first purely Canadian drama show that I had ever seen and followed, watching it back in 2000-2002, watching the reruns on AXN-India. Not sure when they originally started airing it here but that is when I started watching it. Recently I started watching the show from the very beginning and just completed watching the 11 episodes that make up the first season.

The show was a vehicle & launching pad for actress Julie Stewart who was cast as Sgt. Ali McCormick who leads the small team of Cold Squad. Rounding out the team are veteran cop Lt. Tony Lugozzo (played by BSG‘s Michael Hogan) & trainee profiler Jill Stone (Joy Tanner). One of the peculiarities of Cold Squad was the constant changing of the cast & restructuring that would occur every couple of seasons. Anyways, also part of the main cast but in supporting roles were  Insp. Vince Schneider (Jerry Wasserman) who was incharge of the station, Det. Nick Galagher (Paul Boretski), Det. James Kai (Hiro Kanagawa) & in the lab pathologist Dr. Christine Lui (Linda Ko) & Dr. Sam Fisher (Jay Brazeau). Each episode was also named after the victim of the case that the team was investigating. Also to note, Cold Squad was the forerunner & part inspiration for the slew of police procedural shows that came up in the US shortly afterwards – like CSI and more importantly Cold Case! The latter was subject to a case filed by Keealey & McLeod due to the similarities in the shows.

In the first episode a young boy is found in the harbor, Ali tries to tie the case to the similar unsolved murder of Christopher Williams in 1977. Next Ali & Tony investigates the 12-year-old murder of a ex-detective’s daughter, which destroyed his career. Ali takes on the case of a teen-aged Jane Doe, whom Tony has named “Tess,” whose body was discovered 15 years earlier. Ali revisits the case of Barbara Taggert, a mother who was killed in a house fire in 1995 that was ruled an arson. Her daughter Lisa disappeared that night and was presumed abducted. While investigating a 1995 murder, Ali and Tony come upon a new lead on a suspect in the 1968 murder of a sailor in his cheap hotel room. Most episodes deals with case that could not be solved because of the technology issues faced during the time of the initial crime.

The final episode, episode 11, deals with a woman who was involved in drugs & possible prostitution when she was much younger, switched ids with a young girl, Amanda Millerd, who was killed while on vacation and deemed to be missing. She hid from her boyfriend at the time and his boss who is a major drug dealer. The drug dealer turned informant to the police at 12 years before the events of the episode and hence was protected by the department at the cops at that time including Isp. Schneider & the local chief. Ali’s investigations bring the dealings into the light hence putting both the chief & the inspector in trouble, despite Lugozzo warning her not to. Ali finds the prostitute who under the alias of Amanda Millerd lives a new life with her husband & young son, who have no idea of her past. The drug dealer & his associate, the boyfriend, are brought down but the chief is transferred and the inspector has to resign. Ali is persona non grata at the station with Lugozzo asking for a transfer.

Hemlock Grove – Pilot Episode

I would have to be honest and say that I checked out this series or just the pilot episode based solely on this poster that they have for it. Hemlock Grove is what I am talking about and it’s a  horror/thriller television series for Netflix from executive producer Eli Roth, developed by Brian McGreevy & Lee Shipman, and produced by Gaumont International Television. THe show premeiered on Netflick on April 19th and I downloaded the first episode via torrents and watched it last night. It is based on McGreevy’s novel Hemlock Grove, which was released on March 27, 2012. Currently Netflix has all 13 episodes of season that you can watch online.

I’m not familiar with the novel but we have Famke Janssen, Bill Skarsgård, Landon Liboiron, Penelope Mitchell, Dougray Scott & Freya Tingley as the main cast. Familiar faces Lily Taylor, Aaron Douglas & Kandyse McClure (from BSG). Production wise this show does remind me of Sanctuary and Lost Girl a little bit. The budget for the first season of Hemlock Grove is reportedly about $45 million and filming was done in Port Perry, Ontario a small town about an hour away from Toronto.

The show starts off with one of the lead characters, Roman Godfrey, eating an ice cream cone in a small parlour when a hot girl comes to the glass door and catches his attention. Leaving his cone, he steps outside and follows her to his car where they proceed to have sex and in a bizzarre fetish that he must have, Roman cuts his finger on a blade and rubs a little of his blood on her while she rides him. When done he goes off in his care. Later a teenager, Brooke Bluebell, is murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, while she is going to meet her female teacher, with whom I presume she is having a sexual affair. Her car is attacked by an unseen creature and she is chased through the woods and is killed while trying to hide in a playground. Evidence points to an animal attack but suspicions soon fall on Peter, the newly arrived gypsy. Peter is a gypsy and the new kid in town following the death of his uncle and is living in his uuncle’s old trailer park home with his mother. Peter quickly becomes the target of rumors that he is a werewolf.

Roman is a weird kid but that’s because he lives with his weird mother Olivia, who used to have sex with her brother-in-law and Roman’s father’s brother Norman Godfrey. The Godfrey family was well known for it’s steel mill in the little Pennsylvanis town of Hemlock Grove. In the present day, the steel mill has been shut down for years, but the Godfrey family has since moved on to become the owners of White Tower, a cutting edge biotech facility. There’s also Letha, Roman’s daughter, who is exceptionally close to her cousin Roman. Christina is a young novelist and a high school student who is intrigued by Peter. She’s also the first person to meet Peter as he moves in with his mother to the neighbourhood. And we have a mad scientist – a role filled by Dr. Johann Pryce, a visionary who believes that he can create life from death. Pryce is a man who will do anything to pursue his agenda. While the murder is discovered, it’s up to Sheriff Tom Sworn, the man whose job it is to make sense of the mayhem and craziness of “Hemlock Grove” while attempting to keep the town from tearing itself apart.

It’s too soon to say but I hope this one gets better as we go along. I’m looking forward to seeing the next episodes.

Help Find Sunil Tripathi

In the midst of the Boston Marathon bombings, the search for the suspects and the death of one of the suspects, shooting incidents, death of a police officer and the successful hunt for the other, another story loomed it’s head in the news. For a few hours, hundreds of thousands of people received a message about the identity of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers that was painfully false. The story is of a Brown University student Sunil Thripathi, an American youngster of Indian origin who was falsely identified as being one of the bombers. Sunil a 22-year-old Brown University philosophy student who went missing on March 16, became a trending name on Reddit and Twitter worldwide, as a young woman who went to school with thought she recognized him from one of the photos released by the FBI. Redditors also picked up on the supposed likeness, and by the evening Reddit and Twitter (on which “Sunil Tripathi” would soon trend worldwide) had exploded with the theory.

Sunil’s family, who live in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania and describe him as “kind, gentle, and shy,” had launched a social-media campaign to find him; their Facebook page garnered nearly a quarter million views in the first week of his disappearance. As the police search for Sunil expanded, his story began to make national news last month with mentions from Fox News, ABC News, the Boston Globe, and other outlets. By the same evening the Tripathi family began to be flooded with calls, Facebook posts, and harassing emails raising the allegation. The family suspended the Facebook page at around 10 p.m., flagged the messages, and reached out to law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. National & local news stations had caught wind of the story spreading on the internet and soon roughly a dozen news vans had parked themselves at the Tripathi residence in Radnor eager to question the family. (All of this, even though Sunil’s Tripathi’s name was never once mentioned on the Boston police scanner prior to the initial suspicions on Twitter.)

After hours of fevered speculation, early on Friday morning NBC’s Pete Williams batted down the rumors, and broke the news that authorities had identified brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as the primary suspects. The moderator of the Reddit page that was based on finding & identifying the bombers issued a public apology and asked each & every user who had remove any and all links about him. However Sunil’s sister says that other than some individuals, the family had yet received any apologies from news organizations whose employees helped push the erroneous ID. The Tripathi family’s nightmare continues. Sunil Tripathi remains missing; authorities do not suspect foul play, and an FBI forensic analysis turned up zero clues to his whereabouts. The family has launched another campaign on Facebook encouraging supporters to write messages of love and encouragement on their hands and post the photos online.

Hope he is found alive and well and can return to his family safely.