BevCo’s First Self-Serve Outlet In Kerala

Back in April the Kerala State Beverages Corporation Ltd. (Bevco) announced that it will soon open three posh liquor outlets with self-help counters in the cities of Cochin, Kozhikode (Calicut) and Thiruvananthapuram. This move was seen as a means to woo its high-end customers; I say finally the State liquor corporation plans to enter atleast to the 20th century! Unlike other countries and perhaps some Indian states, Kerala current sees the BevCo’s with cutomers not allowed inside the outlets. You have outlets with counters setup and you have to stand in cue outside and in between the metal bars setup to form some kind of order and wait for your turn. Once you reach the counter you ask for your beer / vodka / whiskey / brandy / rum or other drink of your choice and wait the minute or two as the men behind the counter get them for you from the shelves behind them. They then wrap them up in newspapers and hand it to you as you fork over the cash.

Going by the government policy not to open any new liquor outlets, the corporation plans to open these on the first floor of existing shops where space is available. The corporation is losing considerable revenue from its premium customers who are wary of waiting in long queues and under the gaze of onlookers to buy their bottles. These customers would rather walk in to a bar and pay a higher price for the drink than wait in the queue, say officials. The facility is being planned to meet the requirements of drinkers who opt for premium brands, and no new shops will be opened. Only rum priced above Rs. 500 a bottle, and brandy and whisky with a price tag of Rs.700 and above will be sold through the self-help outlets. In Kochi, the corporation is looking for space in central city areas, including Kaloor and Palarivattom, officials say. The corporation will spend around Rs. 10 lakh a unit, which will be air-conditioned and spread over an area of around 1000 sq ft. It also expects a sale of around Rs. 1.2 lakh and 160 customers a day.

The serpentine queues outside the retail outlets ‚ÄĒ often portrayed as indicators of Kerala‚Äôs fad for alcohol ‚ÄĒ need not reflect the real picture, say corporation sources. One outlet caters to around one lakh people in Kerala where there are only 338 retail outlets. It is a negligible figure when compared to around 7,000 outlets in Tamil Nadu, 8,500 in Karnataka and 6,500 in Andhra Pradesh, they say. Each of these shops in neighbouring States caters to an average of 8,000 customers a day.

Dark Skies

Dark Skies is a 2013 scifi/horror movie written and directed by¬†Scott Stewart¬†and produced by¬†Jason Blum¬†starring¬†Keri Russell,Josh Hamilton¬†and¬†Dakota Goyo. The movie relies on the actors talent, some good camera work and reactions to the weird stuff that’s happening rather than big budget special effects and gizmos for the techy stuff or blood & gore for the horror. Jason Blum
Couper Samuelson & Jeanette Brill co-produced this movie on a budget of $3.5 million.

Daniel & his wife Lacy are parents of 13 year old Jesse and 8 year old Sammie. The couple are going through a rough patch as Daniel’s previous employers went bust and he has been out of work for over 3 months which puts them through a financial strain. Jesse & Sammie communicate at night from their respective bedrooms via walkie talkies with Jesse reading Sammie ghost stories of the Sandman. Suddenly strange things start happening in their¬† house – partially eaten food scattered over the kitchen counters and floor when everyone is sleep. One night Lacy comes down and sees canned and packaged foods stacked up in towers all over the kitchen projecting a strange sign on the ceiling and asks Sammie if he did it. The boy replies that it was the Sandman. Another day after they wake up they find that all the photos have been removed from their frames in the family room. With the cops thinking that the boys might be acting out to get attention, Daniel setsup the alarm system in the house but it goes off without any visible cause and the alarm company can’t explain it.

One afternoon Lacy sees 800 birds, which animal control find out to be from 3 different flocks, all crash into the walls & windows of their house as if they were drawn to it somehow. The birds are taken away for testing but no explanation is found. Finally one night Lacy is wakened by Sammy talking and witnesses a humanoid figure standing over his bed. Horrified, when she turns on the light, the room is empty, and they find Sammy in the front yard. Immediately after this experience, Daniel installs security cameras around the house. Lacy begins to research online for an answer and it all points out to alien abduction. She finds pictures other children have drawn that are very similar ones Sammy has drawn of a child and three tall, grey figures holding hands beside a house. Daniel however is instantly dismissive of her theory. Jesse reacts to his parents arguments by smoking pot with his friends. Lacy finds herself losing 6 hours of the day – she was at a house showing it to possible buyers when she stopped in a daze and hits her head against the glass windows. When she comes to she is at home and told by her boss to take a few weeks off. Daniel has a sleepwalking episode after which he has a nose bleed. Jesse also has a blackout. Daniel has a job interview and is offered and accepts the job. Sammie is the most affected as he goes off into a trance once in a while. Soon, it is noticed that there are bruises and marks on the boys and child protective services is notified. It was also noted that the marks were symbols that were applied with a brand. Daniel is finally convinced when he sees 3 gray figures standing over the beds of everyone in the family and he also has horrific nightmares. He & Lacy go to see an expert on these type of situations.

The specialist Edwin Pollard calls the beings the Greys informs them that many have dealt with the Grays, with most cases ending in an abduction. Pollard has a wall in his apartment covered in newspaper articles about missing children. Pollard warns the Barrett‚Äôs that they should be hyper-protective of their child, who has been “chosen” and that they must work together in order to save their son Sammie who they feel is the one targeted as he seems to have been the first one they came in contact with. Then maybe the aliens will move on to another family. Daniel boards up all¬† the doors & windows of the house while Lacy goes to get a guard dog, as Pollard says that dogs can sense the alien beings. On July 4th, the family spends the evening having dinner together and watching the fireworks on tv and generally trying to find happy things to say. Suddenly the transmission cuts to static ¬†all the lights begin to flicker, and the dog starts barking ferociously at the boarded up front door. Lacy puts Jesse in his room with Sammy and tells him to protect his brother. She stands guard outside the door with a knife in hand but doesn’t see the alien behind her and as she checks another room the door shuts behind her and she can’t open it. Meanwhile Daniels sees the screws coming off the boards on their own and a bright light shines through the door and he shoots at it. He then runs upstairs and gets his family into the master bedroom, and they huddle together on the bed. Lacy sees the Grays standing around the bed and screams and Jesse blacks out. In his trance, Jesse sees his brother in the hallway and approaches him. As his family watches in horror, the Grays appear out of nowhere, surround Jesse, there is flash of light, and he is abducted.

Three months pass and the 3 of them have moved to a new place. While go through some of Jesse’s stuff Lacey finds old drawings that he drew a few years ago and that involved three grey figures holding his hand in front of a house. The movie ends with the boys’ walkie-talkie coming on and Jesse’s voice screaming “Sammy!” multiple times amongst a lot of feedback before it firmly says Sammie’s name as Sammie and Lacy listen in horror. And the movie cuts to black! Very well acted with emphasis on the reactions of the cast, good camera work and interaction rather than special effects and blood & gore. Worth a watch. 7.5 outta 10!

5 Things To Make Me Smile

mindbump suggested by Ace of Stars

“What are 5 things you can do to turn a frown upside down?”

I really think it depends on the person and the situation. Like if it was me I would:

  1. Crack a joke. The dirtier the better. Limericks, dirty jokes – anything to tickle my dirty mind.
  2. Play some of my favourite music. Especially the rock anthems! The air guitar is brought out and I play along.
  3. Play some comedy clip of one of my favourite stand up comics. Sure fire way to hilarity!
  4. Have a drink. Beer, vodka or brandy on ice with some 7up or cola!
  5. Eat your favourite food – like pizza! Always puts a smile on my face.

How would you turn a frown upside down?