Iron Man 3

The 3rd installment in the Iron Man franchise is directed by Shane Black with a screenplay written by him & Drew Pearce. Jon Favreau who directed the first two installments returns as Executive Producer for Iron Man 3 which sees Robert Downey Jr return to the role of Iron Man & Tony Stark. Also returning are Gwneyth Paltrow & Don Cheadle and joining them are Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, William Sadler and Ben Kingsley. Favreau also reprises his role as Stark’s former bodyguard Happy Hogan who is now Chief of Security for Stark Enterprises.

The movie starts off with Tony Stark narrating how the incidents of the current film were put in place back in 1999 in Geneva. At a New Year’s eve party Stark is with  scientist Maya Hansen, inventor of Extremis—an experimental regenerative treatment intended to allow recovery from crippling injuries.disabled scientist Aldrich Killian offers them a place in his company Advanced Idea Mechanics, but Stark rejects the offer, humiliating Killian. Flash forward to now and we find Stark pottering about in his lab still shaken by his experiences with the alien in New York (see the movie Avengers) and also suffering from panic attacks. He has also built several Iron Man suits which vary slightly. It is then that a terrorist named Mandarin launches several attacks on US interests, which leave the US govt & military puzzled. As the military sends  James Rhodes—the former War Machine, now re-branded as the Iron Patriot to track the origin of these attacks. Stark issues a televised threat to the Mandarin, who responds by destroying Stark’s home with helicopter gunships. Hansen who had come to the Stark home to warn him of the attack survives the attack along with Potts, who drives her off to a hotel. Stark had left the destroyed building in an Iron Man suit avoiding detection which his artificial intelligence JARVIS pilots to rural Tennessee, following a flight plan from Stark’s investigation into the Mandarin. Stark’s experimental armor lacks sufficient power to return to California, and the world believes him dead.

Stark is helped by 10 year old Harley, at whose’s lab in a garage, Stark leaves his suit to be recharged and investigates an explosion in the city which he suspects was caused by Mandarin. He discovers the “bombings” were triggered by soldiers subjected to Extremis, which at this stage of development can cause certain subjects to explosively reject it. After veterans started exploding, their deaths were used to cover up Extremis’ flaws by manufacturing a terrorist plot. Stark witnesses Extremis firsthand when Mandarin agents Ellen Brandt and Eric Savin attack him. After warding off their attack Stark traces Mandarin to a mansion in Miami and finds out that Mandarin is actually a ruse – he is a British actor hired to play a role actually a creation of Killian, who appropriated Hansen’s Extremis research as a cure for his own disability and expanded the program to include injured war veterans. After capturing Stark, Killian reveals he is the real Mandarin; he has kidnapped Potts and subjected her to Extremis to gain Stark’s aid in fixing Extremis’ flaws and thereby saving Potts. Killian kills Hansen when she has a change of heart about the plan. Killian’s agents lures Rhodes into a trap and capture his suit and using it Savin goes into Air Force one and attacks the president. Remotely controlling his Iron Man armor, Stark saves some surviving passengers and crew but cannot stop Killian from abducting Ellis and destroying Air Force One. They trace Killian to an impounded damaged oil tanker where Killian intends to kill Ellis on live television. The vice president will become a puppet leader, following Killian’s orders in exchange for Extremis to cure a little girl’s disability.

On the platform Stark goes after Potts while Rhodes saves the president and gets back into his suit. Stark summons his Iron Man suits, controlled remotely by JARVIS, to provide air support but finds that Potts has survived the Extremis procedure. However, before he can save her, a rig collapses around them and she falls to her apparent death. Stark confronts Killian and traps him in an Iron Man suit that self-destructs, but fails to kill him. Potts, whose Extremis powers allowed her to survive her fall, intervenes and kills Killian. As a sign of is devotion to Potts, Stark has Jarvis activate the auto-destruction of all his suits. With Stark’s help, Potts’ Extremis effects are stabilized, and Stark undergoes surgery to remove the shrapnel embedded near his heart. He pitches his obsolete chest arc reactor into the sea, musing he will always be Iron Man.

Much better than Iron Man 2 and certainly bigger than the first one – but I still couldn’t get into this movie as much as the first one, which I like a lot. Still it’s a great action movie with lots of awesome special effects and comedy bits thrown in. 8.5 outta 10!

For Tonight I Sleep On A Bed Of Nails

I’ll never forget the song that was playing..

I was 16 and just joined the pre-dregree course in college. I had a few of my school friends joining me in the same college (which was quite near my house) but in the class that I was in I only had one of my old friends for company. Everyone was new to me and that’s when I met her. I knew that I had fallen hopelessly in love when I couldn’t stop thinking about her and saying her name over and over again in my mind when I was alone. I had to become friends with her and then let her know my feelings. I slowly overcame my fear and my shyness (yes I was kinda shy back then) and got to know her. Through common friends who already knew how I felt, she first came to know about the way I felt about her.

We became friends and slowly started calling each other on the phone to speak for hours at a time once the classes were done on the weekdays and even more hours on the weekends. But I’ll forever remember the first day we spoke for a long time over the phone. It was 1992 and I was also playing the then latest Bon Jovi album Keep The Faith on my stereo system. As I spoke to her and she got to know that I was not just joking and was truly falling for her “Bed Of Roses was playing through my speakers. I’ll always associate this song to the young love and the time I had with my ex. I’m not nostalgic for her or the relationship I had with her but I am nostalgic for those days of my life when I was more innocent.

I give you Bed Of Roses.

RIP Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy, American author best known for his technically detailed espionageand military science storylines that are set during and in the aftermath of the Cold War, along with video games which bear his name for licensing and promotional purposes, has passed away. He is well known for fiction works featuring the Jack Ryan character in The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears which have been turned into commercially successful films.

Clancy was born in Baltimore, Maryland and before making his literary debut, he spent some time running an independent insurance agency. Clancy launched his writing career with The Hunt for Red October in 1984, which garnered a positive review from President Ronald Reagan, who called it a “perfect yarn.” By the time his second novel Red Storm Rising was released in 1986, some military officials suspected that Clancy had gained access to classified information on weaponry, when really he had pieced the information himself through extensive research and informed guesswork. The author was also noted for his “Guided Tour” nonfiction series that explored military machinery in detail.

Clancy wrote several nonfiction books about various branches of the U.S. armed forces. Clancy also branded several lines of books and video games with his name that are written by other authors, following premises or storylines generally in keeping with Clancy’s works. These are sometimes referred to by fans as “apostrophe” books; Clancy did not initially acknowledge that these series were being authored by others, only thanking the actual authors in the headnotes for their “invaluable contribution to the manuscript”.

In his personal life he was married twice; first wife Wanda married in 1969, separated briefly in 1995, and permanently separated in December 1996. Clancy filed for divorce in November 1997. On June 26, 1999, Clancy married freelance journalist Alexandra Marie Llewellyn, whom he had met in 1997. Clancy died on October 1, 2013, at the age of 66, in a Baltimore hospital after a brief illness at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, not far from his Maryland home.

Thomas Leo “Tom” Clancy, Jr. (April 12, 1947 – October 1, 2013)

Cogenitor

I watched another favourite episode from Star Trek Enterprise last night- this one is called “Cogenitor”. Although a similar concept had been done in Star Trek The Next Generation, I find this episode to capture the concept better and it sticks in my mind a lot. I have seen this episode 3 times now and I love this episode and find it to be though provoking, sad and tragic all at the same time. This is what Star Trek or any good science fiction does to you when it is well. It resonates with you long after the episode has ended and since I first watched this episode back in 2006, it still is fresh in my memory.

The crew of the Enterprise is studying a hypergiant star when they are hailed by an alien species that they had never met before, The Vissians, who are traveling on a much larger spaceship. The technically more advanced Vissians are friendly and open to do First Contact with the humans and sharing knowledge. While captain Archer joins the Vissian captain on a smaller shuttle to conduct surveys and explore the inner workings of the star, Enterprise’s Chief Engineer Commander Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker befriends his Vissian counterpart and his wife. While eating food in the Enterprise mess hall Trip learns that the Vissians have 3 genders : male, female and cogeniter. With the Vissian engineer & his wife is a cogenitor, who are essential for Vissian couple who plan to have a baby – they supply an enzyme during the sex act which facilitated conception. Cogenitors make up about 3% of the Vissian population, are treated in a very pragmatic way, being shipped from one couple to another to keep the population growing. A side effect is that they are treated like objects, not deserving names nor education.

Trip is fascinated with the cogenitor and makes friends with “her” (as the cogenitor feels more female to him and is played by a female actor anyway) after he learned from Dr. Phlox’ analysis that they have the same intellectual potential as the two other sexes. He teaches it how to read and tries to make it understand that it has the same rights as the rest of its species. He gives her a pad and is pleasantly surprised when she learns to read quickly. He then sneaks her into the Enterprise and shows her around the ship and shows her a movie in his quarters. He teaches her to play the board game GO and is amazed when it beats him at a game, since the engineer has been undefeated for the last two years. Later T’pol is contacted by the Vissians who are upset with Trip and deny him access to their ship. She then debates him on the touchy nature of First Contact and especially with the Captain away for 3 days. When Archer comes back the cogenitor sneaks back to see Trip and asks Archer for asylum – because she won’t be able to have a decent life among her own people or do any of the things that Trip tells her about (get an education, go rock climbing, etc). The Vissians are angry as their chief engineer and her wife had to wait a long time to get the cogenitor and also they felt that the humans couldn’t possibly comment on practices of a culture that they barely know. Archer is furious at Trip, even though he wishes he could accept the cogenitor’s request for asylum, and in order to not offend the Vissians, Archer refuses.

The two ships depart and both captains are still optimistic about hat the incident will not interfere with the relation between  Earth  and Vissia, the situation gets a lot less bright when Archer learns that the cogenitor committed suicide, an evident result of the independence it developed out of Tucker’s teachings. She learned of possibilities she had never known till now and having them denied to her was  too much for her to bear. Archer  severely reprimands him for his interference, as it has not only resulted in the cogenitor’s death, but now the Vissian couple will not be able to have a child for a long period of time. Tucker is deeply shocked, as Archer reminds him that despite all his time on Enterprise, he still compares other cultures to Earth standards and interferes without thinking first. Archer is upset that first contact with the Vissians led to this conclusion, and Tucker begins to realize the consequences his actions can cause.

It is a good reminder to all of us that we have to think before we react and criticize another culture just because their ways are not the same as our own. Another culture may eat different food, have different ideas about family, sexual preferences, marriage, homes, employment, language, accents, medical practices etc. They may seem weird & alien initially but unless we take the time and effort to understand them, we cannot deem ourselves fit to comment, criticize, debate, lecture or discuss about the said culture. This will be crucial if humans ever do have contact with an alien species in real life. It seems like a distant possibility for now but if we ever do, the lessons from this episode will be crucial.

Before I end this post I must say that this does not apply to various cultures on earth among us humans. That is another post for another day :)

Arsenal 2 Napoli 0

Arsenal’s impressive start to their season (minus the opening day loss to Aston Villa) & their Champions League campaign continued as Mesut Ozil inspired them to victory over Rafael Benitez’s Napoli at the Emirates Stadium. The ÂŁ42m deadline-day signing from Real Madrid scored his first goal for Arsenal with a brilliant finish, and then set up a second for Olivier Giroud as this Group F meeting was effectively decided within the first 15 minutes. The money spent on the German international is paying off for Wenger and the Gunners.

Arsenal’s domination ensured the rest of the game was little more than a formality as Napoli, riding high in Serie A, never threatened to upset the optimism that has swept around Arsenal and also taken them to the top of the Premier League. At the heart of it all was Ozil, the German combining natural grace with deadly contributions that proved too much for Napoli, who had proved their own pedigree by beating last season’s Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund in their opening group game. Arsenal produced the perfect follow-up performance to their win in Marseille and now head a group that looked littered with hazards when the draw was made. Aaron Ramsey also produced another highly accomplished performance, setting up Ozil’s goal and continuing the outstanding form that has been a hallmark of Arsenal’s opening to the season.

Former Liverpool keeper Reina could not be blamed for either goal and he was in action to prevent a third for Arsenal with 14 minutes left, blocking from Laurent Koscielny from close range after Mikel Arteta flicked on. All that was left was for Arsenal to close out another important Champions League victory, which they did without alarm.

Barbershop Blues

Last Saturday I went to get my hair cut at this saloon/barbershop that I usually go to since the past year or so. When I first started going to get my hair cut I used to go to this place called Capitol – most of the males in my extended family went there. The two or three barbers who ran the place knew all of us and it felt weird if we got our hair cut at any other place. Then in the early 2000s a small barber shop started near my then house and it just made more sense to go there to save time (Capitol was in the city about 45 minutes away by bus or car).

In 2006 I moved to the city but when I made my way to Capitol, I found a new business there and they had no clue as to where the barbers had moved off to. I asked my brother-in-law if he could recommend a place and he suggested Mamma Mia (don’t ask!) – which is a gent’s & ladies saloon, beauty parlour nearby. So I started going there and I liked them as they did a fine job. I usually get my hair cut every 3 months or so and I usually don’t have to wait too long for my turn once I go there. About a year or so ago I went to the place to get my hair cut and find the place closed up. When I checked with the store next to them, they said that the owners had moved shop elsewhere but they had left no forwarding address. So now I needed a new place again!

As luck would have it, my father had happened to see the ‘Capitol’ sign board in the city and found their new place of business and he told me about it. I was overjoyed to know that one of the old barbers was still working there – the other owner had passed away – and he had setup shop with a lady who ran the beauty part of the saloon – facials, hair dying and all that stuff. However the barber had a bad health related issue (not sure what it is) and became laid up and unable to work anymore. He sold his share of the business to his partner and she is running the saloon by herself, hiring a barber to cut men’s hair. Each of the last 3 times I have been there I see a new barber there. They only seem to last 3 months or less! Each time I have to get accustomed to the new barber and tell them exactly how I want my precociously balanced, balding hair should be trimmed. I miss having a regular barber or barbers!Also their rates have gone up exponentially! Just like that a jump of Rs.40! WTF?

Either I will have to find out where the bloody hell Mamma Mia has set up their new place of business or find another place altogether. Also – I don’t like the lady who runs Capitol. She is pushy – every time I come in she keeps trying to see if she can get more business outta me but she doesn’t do it in a nice way. I can’t stand her. Plus her rates really have to be controlled! Sigh!

I Am Thankful For….You!

The internet is full of rants. Help tip the balance: today, simply be thankful for something (or someone).

Ok that’s a good thought for today. More positive thinking. Let’s see; I am thankful for the handful of regular readers I, or more correctly my blog, has managed to attract. There aren’t that many that bother to visit regularly. There are even less who bother to comment. I am grateful for having you in my life. Thank you.

I am thankful for the few who have kept coming back all these years. You are an old friend, each one of you. I miss you when you stay away and I beam with happiness when you come back. I yearn for your comments and look forward to reading the little notes you leave for me. I cherish them.

I am thankful for the newer visitors, the ones who have just started commenting. Welcome and I hope you stay with me for a long time. Let’s hope you enjoy your time visiting my little blog as much as I enjoy writing the posts.

Powered by Plinky