The Starting & The Changing Of My Blog(s)

Why did you start your writing? Is that still why you write, or has your writing gone in a different direction than you’d planned?

Honestly when I first started blogging back in 2002, after reading a few blogs that caught my interest, it was mainly to capture my new life in Calicut, the city to which I had moved to from my hometown of Cochin. Having joined a company there I was living on my own in a small room in a lodge (I had colleagues in similar rooms nearby) and I wanted to capture the things that happened and events that pass along the time that I would spend there. So I created an account in blogger.com. The stay in Calicut was short lived – just 8 months – and I came back to live in Cochin at the end of it.

From then on (somewhere in 2003) the blog became a weekly or atleast 5-6 times in a month hello, this is what I have I have been upto, I bought this cd, I watched this movie kinda thing. That is the way it would stay for a while until somewhere in 2004 I started blogging a lot more of my thoughts, along with the events and ideas and some movie/tv reviews. I also started posting heavily on football & hockey and it became a catalog for sports players. I got disinterested in the blog even though I was posting very regularly and in September of 2005 I started afresh with a new blog in blogger.com which became a lot more regular and a lot like this current blog. When I finally bought a home pc and took up an internet connection, a year after I started the second blog, I started doing daily posts and multiple posts in a day. Pretty soon I wanted my own webaddress and storage space and bought this one that you see here.

I don’t know how much longer I will continue to maintain this blog and this format. I’ve been at this website for over 6 and a half years and blogging for almost 11 years. I think I will always have a blog in some format or the other since I don’t always like the Facebook format. Facebook is fun but I want to continue a blog for as long as I can.

Powered by Plinky

The Listener – Season 2

The second season is a bit awkward because they abandon the search for Toby’s mom altogether. This season also sees new casts – 3 new regular and 2 recurring characters were added. Gone are Anthony Lemke & Lisa Marcos with the death of Marcos’ character Det. Charlie Marks. Added are Lauren Lee Smith (Mutant X & Lie With Me), Ranbow Sun Francks (from Stargate Atlantis) & Peter Stebbings (Traders). Kris Holden-Reid (from Lost Girl) and Tara Spencer-Nairn also join as recurring characters.

It is well over a year and Toby is still coming to terms with the death of Det. Marks and the disappearance of his mother. His relationship with Olivia has also suffered although the two are still very close friends and care for each other. He hasn’t worked with the police since all this time but he gets pulled in the season opener as Toby decides to help when a woman (guest star Rekha Sharma) is found on a Lake Ontario beach suffering from amnesia and helps her to retrace her steps, discovering she was the victim of a murder attempt by a mining company but she is also wanted by the Integrated Investigative Bureau (a special unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) for murder. The cops he helps are Sergeant Michelle McCluskey & Corp. Dev Clark and their boss Alvin Klein (Stebbings) is not sold on Toby’s contributions. Initially Michelle & Dev think that Toby is just good at reading body language and movements but he has to admit to them about his abilities, which stun them. When an undercover cop Sergeant McCluskey believes has been exposed she asks Toby, whose past she had been looking into and his involvement with Charlie Marks killed 18 months before, to help discover if her man is in danger from the gun runners he had infiltrated. This leads to Toby revealing his ability to read minds to the doubting McCluskey and when the undercover man is fatally wounded, only Toby can help find the gun runners.

Employed by the I.I.B as a “Confidential Informant”, Toby is asked to help in finding a possible assassin who wants to kill one of the Conservative party leadership candidates. From the thoughts Toby is able to read, they lead to a cover-up of civilian deaths in Afghanistan. Toby assists Sgt. McCluskey when Dmitri Volkov confesses to killing his father, Fyodor, a Russian diplomat. He is defended by his lawyer brother Yuri, claiming diplomatic immunity, but the truth lies by looking into the mind of the third brother, Pavel, an autistic boy who lives in his own world of a model railway. A joint I.I.B. and Metro police drug investigation has been failing and suspicion falls on two undercover Anti-Gang Unit cops. Sgt. McCluskey asks Toby to help her figure out who is dirty in the undercover Metro Police, but things get complicated when one of the undercover cops dies from a suspicious drug overdose and his fellow officers and family close ranks. Magnus, a prisoner known as The Magician because of his brilliant mind, demands to see Sgt. McCluskey, who as a police cadet arrested him six years ago. Magnus engages in a psychological battle of misinformation about the forthcoming kidnapping of a judge that conceals his motives involving the murder of a female student a year after he entered prison and Toby is unable to read his mind as easily as Magnus can seemingly read his. A clumsy cover-up of the murder of a CSIS (Canadian Intelligence) agent who had access to American classified intelligence leads to a high-stakes poker game when the information will be passed on. Sgt. McCluskey needs help from her estranged husband, Adam, with Toby as the back up “ace in the hole” to infiltrate the game.

When a wealthy widower businessman’s baby is kidnapped outside St Lukes hospital, the only witness is a psychic artist who is in communication with the baby’s dead mother. Toby convinces a sceptical Sgt McCluskey to take the artist seriously when investigating a revenge kidnapping with one of the kidnappers having close ties to the father. Toby helps Sgt. McCluskey during a cyber-crime investigation when Corp. Dev Clarke intercepts a hacker carrying ten thousand blank credit cards. This leads to the mysterious world of hackers and Jericho 11, man or machine behind an impenetrable firewall, a plot to steal 14 million social insurance numbers from Revenue Canada and the death of a man named Joshua. Toby and Oz are dispatched to a routine call for a broken ankle that turns out to be a serious gunshot wound. Taken hostage by a couple demanding they perform surgery on the man, they allegedly shot by accident, who was the organiser of a Ponzi scheme. They need him alive to get back the money he had swindled from them but when the man dies only Toby’s ability to have read the man’s mind can keep himself and Oz alive. When one of four partners in a restaurant used for money laundering is murdered one partner, a famous chef de cuisine, accuses another partner, a mob boss, of the killing and is placed on witness protection. Toby is employed to confirm the accusation which seems genuine but to find out the truth the chef is allowed to cook a meal at the restaurant where the killing took place with the fourth partner and second chef, Magda, who were also present at the time of the murder.

The IIB are investigating a hacker releasing classified documents to the internet and the impending major release of thousands of documents when a sex tape of the foreign affairs minister, she is the main opponent of freedom of information, is released. Toby is tasked with finding the male escort in the videotape and who employed him to discredit the minister and find the person leaking the documents to the hacker. Toby connects with a gifted young woman, whose family was killed when she was eight, with mental powers that surpass his own by including manipulation of a person’s conscience including Sgt McCluskey’s and his own. She was close by to a series of suspicious suicides linked to an old biker gang with a leader with no conscience how can justice be served?

Star Trek: TOS Women 13

Leslie Dalton (born 12 August 1944) is an actress from Boston, Massachusetts, who played Drea from the Kelvan Empire in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “By Any Other Name”, credited as Lezlie Dalton. Drea was a Kelvan female and a member of an expedition from the Kelvan Empire in the radiation-imperiled Andromeda Galaxy. Her ancestors were part of a wave of multi-generational starships dispatched to nearby galaxies to find new territories for the Empire to conquer and occupy. Reaching the Milky Way Galaxy after centuries in the intergalactic void, her ship was destroyed crossing the galactic barrier. Under Rojan’s command, Drea escaped with three other crewmembers in a life-craft to a Class M planet. The Kelvans adopted humanoid forms more compatible with the new region’s intelligent life and available transportation.

After a false distress call attracted the attention of Captain James T. Kirk, Drea was part of the boarding party that captured the USS Enterprise. Drea served as the Enterprise flight officer for the return home to report their discoveries to the Kelvan Empire. Humanoid sense perceptions and emotional tendencies were alien to Kelvan experience, allowing Kirk and his senior officers to exploit Kelvan weaknesses. Drea was the only Kelvan not subjected to this attempted subversion. Eventually, Kirk suggested that the Kelvans’ new Humanity could be fully realized on a planet in the Milky Way, and the Kelvans restored control of the Enterprise to Kirk and his crew.

Dalton went on to become a featured player on Dean Martin’s 1970s variety show The Golddiggers. Afterward, she made guest appearances on the Henry Darrow/Anthony Zerbe television series Harry O and two episodes of S.W.A.T. in 1975 and 1976. The following year, she became a regular on the soap opera The Guiding Light, where she stayed until 1981.

Important Factors In Chosing A Town To Live In

mindbump suggested by Life in Eureka Springs

“What are the most important factors for you in choosing which town to live? Some factors to rate are: weather, population, job market, accessibility, recreation, churches, schools, shopping, crime rate, etc.”

Well my options are very limited considering where I live and most probably, with my situation, it will be job + money offered that would be the prime factor since I live where I live. If I were in say Canada or the UK or the US or Australia or any nice Western nation then here are the choices that would factor in:

  • job market
  • the lesser number of religious nutcases
  • crime rate
  • weather
  • pollution
  • accessibility
  • entertainment
  • food scene
  • drinking scene (atleast some good beers & bars, I’m not a night club kinda guy)
  • chances of seeing good live bands

I can’t think of much else at the moment. I’d take things as they come. Maybe some good, cheap weed

Beer Types – Stick Alt

Pronounced “Shtick-uh ullt”; is a darker and stronger, seasonal, variation of the traditional Düsseldorf Altbier. Invented by the Uerige brewpub of Düsseldorf, it is brewed only twice a year and is ready for tapping on the third Tuesday in January and the third Tuesday in October, respectively.Another Düsseldorf brewpub, Schumacher, serves a similar brew, also twice a year, which it calls Latzenbier. At Schumacher, the Latzenbier dates are usually around the middle to end of September 19 as well as towards the end of November.

“Sticke” is local vernacular for “secret,” which means the brewery does not reveal the recipe. This much however can be acertained by tasting this rare beer style: The brew is full-bodied and well-hopped, with a surprising balance between bitterness and nutty-malty sweetness, overlaid by strong notes of chocolate and roasted, but not acrid, malt. A Sticke Alt is usually dark-copper in color, has the flavor complexity of an ale, the noble hop bouquet and creamy head of a Pils, and the clean, mellow-smooth finish of an Oktoberfest. Its typical alcohol level by volume is about 5.5%—sometimes higher—compared to the 4.7 to 4.8% of a regular Altbier. The Uerige brewpub also makes an even stronger Sticke, called a Doppelsticke, at about 8.5% alcohol by volume. Uerige Sticke Alt is imported into the United States in 0.3-liter, wire-baled pop-top bottles and is seasonally available in many specialty beer outlets. Serve Sticke Alt at around 45 to 50°F (7 to 10°C).

Outside of Germany, Canadian & American breweries do offer their versions of Stick Alt; the above picture is of Festivale Plus Sticke Altbier from Beau’s Brewery in Ottawa, Canada.

Favourite Childhood Home Memories

mindbump suggested by Danos Homes“Describe one of your favorite childhood home memories. Can you remember the colors and the smells?”

I have a lot of good memories from my childhood, especially the time period in  between my birth to the age of 11. Incidentally those 11 years were spent in Kuwait city, where I was also born. Even though my family and most foreigners who have lived in Kuwait at some time or the other aren’t given citizenship status, the live that we had there was quite nice. Get up early go to school and be back home in time for a late lunch. Sitting around a big coffee table in the living room, even though we had a large dining table in the next room (which was also where my sister & I slept in our respective bunk beds, and watching tv.

Ah watching the great cartoons on tv as a kid is a fond memory. Kids these days have it so bad. They have all these gadgets, toys and computers even to play with but they are missing out on the fun & awesome cartoons my generation enjoyed a lot back in our day. Tom & Jerry, Bugs Bunny & Friends, Droopy, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Popeye, The Pink Panther – these are just some off the top of my head. There were ofcourse so many that I enjoyed. What do kids these days watch? A bunch of crap from what I have seen. Sitting there and enjoying the cartoons in the afternoon and early evenings, safe from everything in the world around you, is one of the best things ever. My sister & I would also watch tv shows like The A-Team, Battlestar Galactica, V, Starsky & Hutch, etc etc in the late evenings.

My final year in Kuwait, 1986-87, I moved schools and the classes started late and ended by 6pm. By the time I come home, mom would have a juice and a snack (for some reason I always think of Hungry Bunny’s frozen burger patties that you heat up with some oil in a pan and serve in a bun or between bread for this memory, although I’m sure that I’ve only had it a handful of times) while I watched the cartoons before going to do my homework. And watching my favourite movies of the time on VHS during the weekends! Sigh, those were good ole days.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

The moment I heard about this movie, I knew I had to watch it without fail. However the negative reviews and criticisms against the storyline and the predictability of it all put a damper on things and it was only today that I sat back to watch it. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a 2013 comedy film directed by Don Scardino and written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, based on a story by Chad Kultgen & Tyler Mitchell, and Daley & Goldstein. The film stars Steve Carrell, who also co-produced the film, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde & Jim Carrey. Alan Arkin & James Gandolfini are co-star in the film.

So what is the movie about? Burt & Anton Marvelton are two magicians who have been best friends for 30 years & partners with their own magic show in Las Vegas. After a much bullied Burt is gifted a magic set from his mother as a boy on his birthday in 1982, he is inspired by the magician who made an instructional video that goes along with it. As the young Burt practices his tricks in school, he befriends Anton and the two become a team and create new tricks. Over the past 30 years the two have become a successful act and have headlined at the Bally’s Hotel in Las Vegas for the past 10 years. However as the audience starts dwindling due to the same routines & tricks, media focus shifts to newcomer Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), a street magician who does unique & dangerous acts for his tv show – ‘Mind Rapist’! Anton, fed up with Burt’s ego and attitude that has cost them many female assistants, quits the duo as their attempt to stun audiences (locking themselves in a plastic cage called the Hot Box hung above ground) goes awry as Burt refused to rehearse. Anton is injured and leaves the partnership and Burt’s behaviour makes the latest assistant, Jane, also quit.

However without Anton, Burt’s stage performances go really bad and he is fire by Bally’s by the owner (Gandolfini) and is out on the street as he has spent all his money. Broke & homeless he tries to crash at Jane’s place but insults her with his insensitive remarks and hence is thrown out. Working small jobs here & there, a humiliated Burt finally gets a job as entertainer  an assisted-living facility catering to former Vegas entertainers. There he finds Rance Holloway, the famous magician from the instructional video, who had quit show business many years ago. The two begin a friendship and with Rance  inspiring him to remember the initial wonder that led him to become a magician. The two catch one of Grey’s shows, with Jane assisting them, and appalled they work on new material. Jane visits her grandmother at the facility and patches things up with Burt. Bally is opening a new casino and is looking for an act to sign as headliner invites Burt to do a magic show at his son’s birthday party, but Gray also appears and tries to upstage Burt with his own tricks. Jane leaves, quitting Grey’s act, and meets up with Burt – who is approached by a returning Anton. The best friends have a silly, sentimental reunion and reconsile. A drug found in Cambodia that puts users into a deep sleep gives them an idea for a sensational trick. At the event that opens the new casino sees Grey performance involves him drilling into his brain, claiming it will not affect him – but it does! Rance introduces the next act – Burt & Anton’s “Disappearing Audience” and with Jane’s help, they secretly sedate the audience with sleeping gas and then transports them to an outside location in the same seating locations. The audience awakes and responds with awe, and Doug awards the headlining act to Burt and Anton; they ask Jane to be their opening act. The trio then performs the Disappearing Audience trick again, returning everyone to the casino theater, as now mentally-impaired Gray watches on with the drill bit still in his skull.

The criticism against the movie is that it is inconsistent, predictable as hell and safe. Carrell seems to be repeating himself in some parts; I was sure I had seen the character before! Buscemi to be honest , does ok in spurts and Gandolfini was fine. The credits go to Alan Arkin and Jim Carrey – the latter steals the show! Gray holding his pee for 12 days is a hilarious endurance test! As was the sleeping overnight on burning coals! A shame, as there are some laughs. The movie bombed at the box office, not even making back it’s small budget of $30 million, only making 27.4 million! There’s a cameo by David Copperfield and Daly (Sweets from Bones) also has a cameo as a paramedic. While I enjoyed the fun stuff, I do see why the movie failed at the box office. Still, 7 outta 10!

A Walk On Marine Drive, Ernakulam

This cloudy & nice afternoon, my cousin and I took a walk on the promenade that is called Marine Drive in Ernakulam (Cochin), just 10 minutes from my apartment!

Shame on us Cochin. We make one of our most popular tourist destinations filthy & unhygienic by throwing trash in the waters.

Spotted this dead sewer rat (thorappan in Malayalam) floating away. I wonder if the garbage did him in!

Rookie Blue – Season 3

After her three-month suspension, Andy McNally faces an official hearing which will decide if she should be reinstated back onto the force. However, upon returning, she and Swarek are accidentally involved in a missing child case when a drunk driver (William Shatner) collides with a van and finds a teenage girl in the back. Also, Peck gets a shock when a new rookie, ex-soldier Nick Collins (Peter Mooney), arrives for his first day at 15 Division. The case is closed with the grandfather, played by Shatner, is reunited with his granddaughter. While tracking down Dov and Shaw’s police car, which was stolen by students as a prank in a secret scavenger hunt, McNally and Swarek pick up the trail of an armed teenager who robbed and assaulted a local criminal. Meanwhile, Collins tries to mend his present relationship with Gail. Dov’s world explodes into chaos when he walks in on a convenience store robbery in progress and shoots a young black teenager, who may or may not have been armed. The tight-knit community erupts in outrage, as the ensuing investigation calls into question whether Dov used excessive force or acted too quickly. Filled with self-doubt, Dov is left to wonder if he operated within the guidelines or if he will be charged with murder, as 15 Division struggles to prevent a riot in the sweltering streets.

All hell breaks loose on Traci’s first day as detective when a carload of young women from a bachelorette party slams into another vehicle, apparently killing the driver. When the police discover that the driver of the parked car was dead before the accident, Traci realizes that her “rookie” handling of the car crash may have compromised the pending homicide investigation. Meanwhile, as Gail and Chris work together on the case, Chris realizes not only that he still has feelings for Gail, but that he has competition. Finally, when Traci and Andy uncover a secret the bride is desperately trying to keep, it is a race to find the murderer before he strikes again. Andy’s personal life turns upside-down when she answers a domestic disturbance call and the social worker on the scene turns out to be her long estranged mother, Claire, who abandoned her and her father 15 years ago. Now Andy must deal with her private issues as she works alongside her mother to investigate the secrets of a family in turmoil. Meanwhile, Sam, Nick, Chris and Gail are in a race to find the desperate mother and her two children before she makes a tragic mistake. And Detective Jerry Barber’s badge may be on the line when a stash of guns he recovered ends up resurfacing on the streets. A noise complaint at an illegal warehouse party leads Andy and Swarek to an injured John Doe, a homeless squatter who has been brutally stabbed. They apprehend a surprising material witness, Oliver Shaw’s 15-year-old daughter, Izzy. When Izzy disappears, the officers move into emergency mode to track her down. But her involvement in the crime nearly pushes Shaw over the edge, both as a cop and a father.

After the embarrassing loss of a key witness in an upcoming organized crime trial, the officers of 15 Division must turn to a man who claims he is a gifted psychic to help track the witness down. Having taken a leap of faith when his information checks out, they begin to suspect the man’s motives… Is he a talented psychic or brilliant con man? The police are compelled to confront some hidden truths about themselves and their fellow officers. A grad student’s disappearance leads Andy and Nick to discover the woman’s double life as a high-end escort. When a pattern of missing women emerges, Gail, who is physically similar to the victims, is sent in on an undercover sting operation. Meanwhile, Dov and Chris are following a different lead, and when they uncover the body of a missing woman, the case takes an even more dangerous turn. A twisted killer is still at large, but, now, does he have his sights set on Gail? The same night the officers of 15 Division are forced to release a suspected predator for lack of evidence, Andy and Gail are violently assaulted in Andy’s loft — and Gail is abducted. Detective Luke Callaghan is brought in to oversee the case that very well may be the work of a serial murderer. Working frantically to track down Gail’s abductor before it’s too late, the officers rally – and zero in on their prime suspect. But when that search comes up empty, they have to go back to the drawing board — which leads Andy and Swarek back to the same hotel where they ran the call-girl sting the night before. Meanwhile, the other rookies follow up on leads to similar cases in a desperate search for details that might point to Gail’s whereabouts. And when one of the officers follows up on a simple lead, it puts them directly in the path of the demented killer — forcing them to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The officers of 15 Division struggle to come to terms with their fallen colleague and get back to work patrolling the streets. And when they discover that a police laptop containing sensitive information has been stolen they set off on a hunt to recover the computer and prevent any dangerous fallout. Andy, Nick and Swarek eventually uncover a drug informant who may have been compromised by the leak – and decide to see the deal through in order to protect the man’s life. When that informant’s motives come into question, it drives a wedge between Andy and Swarek that unleashes a flurry of pent-up emotions. Andy and Nick are called to the scene of a van that’s been torched, and discover that it belongs to Father Jean Pierre, a street priest who’s been receiving death threats from the local drug kingpin. Although the priest is reluctant to accept the officers’ help, things turn more dangerous when Father Jean Pierre is the target of a drive-by shooting. During their investigation, Andy and Nick learn some surprising secrets about the priest’s history and the surprising connection that he has with one of the members of the kingpin’s crew. Meanwhile, Gail and Traci pick up one of the dealers young runners: a girl who refuses to inform, forcing Traci to make a major decision about her career; Chris tangles with Swarek as they clash over what it takes to be a good cop; and Dov’s new relationship takes a dramatic and dangerous turn. With the senior officers off on another assignment, the rookies of 15 Division are on their own. But a seemingly innocuous shift leads to a frenzied night in the station when an improperly searched prisoner pulls a gun on Chris in booking. With Internal Affairs looking for someone to blame and potentially dismiss, the rookies find themselves recalling and defending their actions during the chaotic shift. Knowing someone’s career may be on the line, they walk the delicate line between telling the truth and having each other’s backs as they reflect on the personal and professional choices that might have helped lead to the night’s events. Meanwhile, Gail is still trying to be normal after her harrowing abduction; Chris is blindsided with a personal revelation; and Andy learns a dark secret about Nick’s past in the Army. When the Internal Affairs inquiry reaches its end, it seems as though Chris will take the blame. But as another officer steps in and takes the fall, it appears that 15 Division will likely be losing one of its rookies.

When a violent child abductor escapes from an emergency hospital visit, the officers of 15 Division try to track him down before he takes another young victim. When Andy and Dov discover that the desperate man has snatched another girl, Andy and Swarek find themselves in a deadly standoff to save the terrified victim, resulting in a major emotional confrontation and a serious choice for Andy. Meanwhile, Chris’ family obligations have him contemplating a transfer, and Traci and Gail each face monumental decisions regarding their respective careers. At the end of the season finale, Andy & Nick accept the offer from Jacob Blackstone (Louis Ferreira) to go undercover on a huge operation – but they have no time to say goodbye to anyone at the station, their things are to be collected and they will be dropped to a new location asap. Both of the them accept – Nick to further his career and Andy, because she is at a crossroads in her personal life and wants space away from Sam.

RIP Karen Black

American actress / screenwriter / singer Karen Black has passed away. The Chicago, Illinois native is a 2 time Golden Globe winner (nominated 3 times) & Academy Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress died from ampullary cancer at the age of 74. Born Karen Blanche Ziegler she was of mixed German, Czech and Norwegian descent but took the last name of her first husband Charles Black.

Her film career began in 1959 with a small role in The Prime Time. She wrote and sang the theme song and supporting songs for The Pyx (1973). In 1970, Black appeared as Rayette, the waitress girlfriend of Jack Nicholson, in the film Five Easy Pieces, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. She starred as Nancy Pryor, the stewardess who is forced to fly the plane, in the 1974 disaster film Airport 1975. That same year, she played multiple roles in the televised anthology film Trilogy of Terror. Black had leading roles for famed directors as an aspiring Hollywood actress in John Schlesinger’s The Day of the Locust, as a country singer in Robert Altman’s Nashville and as a kidnapper in what turned out to be Alfred Hitchcock’s last film, Family Plot. She also co-starred with Bette Davis in a horror film, Burnt Offerings. In April 2009, Black reunited with director Steve Balderson for Stuck! – an homage to film noir women-in-prison dramas. Black stars also in John Landis’ 2010 thriller, Some Guy Who Kills People. Later that year, Black appeared on Cass McCombs’ song “Dreams-Come-True-Girl” from the album Catacombs. She was also in Children Of The Corn IV – The gathering and played the mother in Rob Zombie’s directorial debut House Of A 1000 Corpses.

Black was married 4 times; her 4th was to Stephen Eckelberry, who she married in 1987 and has a daughter with. She also has a son from her 3rd marriage. Eckelberry was the first to report her death via Facebook.

Karen Black (July 1, 1939 – August 8, 2013)

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Apparently there are a couple of more movies about the brother & sister but this is the big budget version of them as grown ups. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a 2013 American-German action-horror dark fantasy film with black comedy elements, co-written and directed by Norwegian filmmaker Tommy Wirkola. It’s a continuation of the story of the siblings, initially written by The Brothers Grimm and see them grow up to be witch hunters. Co-produced by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Kevin Messick & Beau Flynn the movie stars Jeremy Renner & Gemma Atherton as the brother & sister with Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Derek Mears & Finnish actress Pihla Viitala.

So we see Hansel & Gretel left in the woods by their father on the urging of their mother. The kids chance by a gingerbread house and eat some of the candy. On entering the house the run into the wicked witch who plans to fatten them up and kill them but the siblings outsmart her and are able to kill her in the oven. Throughout the fifteen years after the incident, Hansel and Gretel become famed bounty hunters dedicated to mercilessly eradicating witches, slaying over six hundred of them. Their work is relatively easy because, for an unknown reason, they are immune to spells and curses. Hansel, however, is diabetic as a result of his ordeal and needs to take a regular shot of insulin every few hours. They are called to the village of Augsburg as 11 children, born in 11 different  months of the year have been taken by a group of witches led by Muriel. By dad the siblings capture one of the witches and interrogate her and find out that Muriel is planning to the ritual of Blood Moon, which requires sacrificing six boys and six girls, each born on a separate month. Muriel and her witches attack the town, injuring the hunters and causing much damage as they take the final child needed for the ritual.

The rest of the movie are the siblings getting the better of the witches with the aid of a young man Ben, who idolizes the two, Mina a good witch and Edward a troll who is bound to serve witches but seems to have an affinity for Gretel. The siblings find out that their mother was a good witch or white witch, like Mina, and that they were sent into the forest to protect them as the townsfolk (Augsburg is their hometown) feared all witches and later killed the mother & father. This explains why the siblings are immune to witches’ magic. Muriel takes Gretel away to sacrifice as they need a Grand white witch’s heart to complete the ritual but Gretel with the help of Mina, Ben & later Edward attacks the gathering and frees Gretel. One by one all the witches are killed but Mina, who shared a romantic experience with Hansel is also killed by Muriel. The siblings then engage in a grueling fight against Muriel inside the gingerbread house, until they behead her with a shovel. In the end, Hansel and Gretel collect the rest of their reward for rescuing the children before embarking on their next hunt, with Ben and Edward joining them.

Not at all frightening but I did like the make-up and designs for some of the witches, although Famke Janssen’s ended up looking like a black metal band member! I also wonder why they need American accents for some of the characters – it actually takes away from a period film when the actors talk like modern day people. The blood & gore is nothing to disturb most of us though I wouldn’t show this film to small kids. It’s just about passable because really the story is nothing to be excited about. This movie could have been a lot better with more effort and some better acting!

6.5 outta 10!

Lab Grown Burger/Meat

Unless you haven’t been online or checked the television for news during the past few days, you should know about the lab grown beef burger. Dutch scientists on Monday unveiled a hamburger made from beef grown in a lab—not raised on a farm—that was then cooked and eaten at a West London arts and television studio. The patty, which also contained bread crumbs and a binder to hold the meat together, was then fried in sunflower oil and butter and taste-tested by a food writer and a food scientist who weren’t involved in the research, at a news briefing in front of an audience of about 200. The testers described the patty as largely having the texture and juiciness of meat, though not the intense flavor typical of beef. They said the burger needed seasoning. The multiyear project, which cost over €250,000 and produced the single patty, was funded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. It may be another decade or two before lab-grown beef is stocked in grocery stores.

At the moment it is heavily expensive but there might come a time, once they perfect it and ensure that there are no issues in mass consumption, when the cost of making these patties are about as much as or perhaps even lesser than making real meat available for everyone. You could find the lab-grown beef patty expanding to full steaks, chops, ribs or racks. And why stop at beef? We could have lab grown chicken, pork, bacon, ham, mutton, lamb, fish, crab, squid, shrimp, quail meat, rabbit meat, etc etc. Can we look at a time, many years from now, where animals won’t ever be killed for their meat to be cooked as food for humans?  Also if they could find ways to make it very healthy for us by adding all the proteins, vitamins, fiber and all the good stuff that vegetables gives you, that would be great wouldn’t it? And if you don’t have to depend on the animals we could find ways to ensure than food is provided for everyone. The homeless, the poor and the the starving in every part of the world.

This is a step in the right direction. Soon replicators, capable of making these food & food products easily available in each & ever home and for each and every human, dog & cat. End to world hunger & thirst is what we should be striving for. Onwards humans!

On Negative Comments

mindbump suggested by It’s Just Life–Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

“How do you respond to negative comments–either on your blog or in real life?”

I have a policy on editing negative comments on my blog – when people have a point, no matter if I like it or not, I’ll keep it. I might not agree with a particular person’s point of view but if they have worded it well, I’ll approve it and answer back to it as much as I can. If they disagree with me but can properly say why, I’ll save it and respond to them. However if your sole reason for commenting is to try and embarrass me or spout bad words and vitriol just because something I wrote cause your knickers to get twist, forget it! I am particular about what I allow to be published on my website/blog – hey, I pay for it!

I have a little liberal way of looking at comments when it comes to Facebook & Twitter. I’ve had back & forth arguments especially on Facebook and usually it is regarding religion. The religious person usually forgets that I am attacking or criticizing a disgusting and or ridiculous point in that religion and the audacious claim that is usually harmful. But the religious douche usually takes it personally and launches a personal attack which fails to even address the topic at hand which makes their belief in their religion look even more ridiculous to me. I still respond and leave the comments unless there is abusive language – and by that I mean actual swear words – involved. I don’t mind otherwise.

I’ve had this less in Twitter. Twitter chats usually tend to be much nicer and I’ve never really faced much issues on it. I think that’s because of the way Twitter is used by most people and by me. Hence the debates & arguments are less.