Third Times The Charm

Write a piece of fiction describing the incident that gave rise to the phrase, “third time’s the charm.”

Tim was a young man working in a pub in New York City back in the early 20th century. He had migrated from his native Ireland as a young boy of just 8 years old and had settled down to live in the new country. He liked his job as the bar tender of one of the busiest pubs in all of NYC and he loved the chatter and the regular patrons who came in to drink their ales, lagers & stouts alike. Now 18 years since he had arrived in America he had enough money to get a small home to call his own and the only thing that was missing was a woman to call his own. Tim was usually a shy lad growing up, especially when it came to the women, but now he was more confident that he could convince a nice pretty girl to settle down with him. So he was looking around for his options and looking at the girls that he knew and that lived in the neighbourhood. He finalized his list to 3 of the nicest young women he knew – Betty the butcher’s daughter, Catherine who worked at at the post office and Linda who worked at a gift shop.

Tim went to the butcher shop at 10 the next morning and decided to call on Betty. However when he arrived there he saw Betty cursing and yelling, using a huge butcher knife and cutting pork & beef sausages with such vigour and venom that he got scared. When she saw him Betty stopped what she was doing and greeted him – it was obvious that she liked him but what he had just seen had put him off. Tim asked for two raw steaks, bought & paid for them and left quickly. 1 down and 2 to go, Tim said to himself and decided to go visit the florist shop where Catherine worked. Just as he was about to enter he saw Catherine, who had quite a temper, yelling at an old couple who was holding the line as they couldn’t put their package in order for it to be sent out. Young Catherine was yelling and swearing at them and this scared poor Tim away. This time, he didn’t even bother to go say hi but just beat a hasty retreat. Almost about to give up he saw that he was at the right near the gift shop where Linda worked and thought “what the hell, I might as well try her as well!” and so he went in. He was surprised to see a very neat store with wonderful smelling fragrances coming from inside. Linda had some candles and flowers in every nook & corner. He said hello to Linda and with her help, bought a nice gift for his friend’s wedding the following week. It was obvious that the quiet, gentle and lovely Linda was the kind of woman he was looking for.

Before he left he asked her out to dinner at his place the following Sunday, where he proceeded to cook the steaks for their dinner. Soon the two were in love and when he finally had the courage, Tim asked her to marry him. She said yes and gifted him a bracelet of lucky charms as a wedding gift. At that moment Tim thought to himself “Third times the charm!” Poor Tim, within a month of the getting married Linda would greet him whenever he was late coming home by – yelling & swearing at him!!!

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The Top 5 Food & Drink

Who doesn’t love a list? So write one! Top five favourite food & drink joints in your town

Top five fried chicken outlets

  1. KFC
  2. Chick King
  3. Marry Brown
  4. SFC Plus
  5. Chicken Chicago

Top five slices of pizza in Cochin

  1. Dominos
  2. Pizza Hut
  3. US Pizza
  4. SFC Plus
  5. Woods Manor’s Pizzeria

The top 5 favourite watering holes

  1. Couchyn
  2. Loungevity
  3. Velocity
  4. Volga
  5. Mansion House

The top 5 coffee shops

  1. Cafe Coffee Day (both Ravipuram & Shenoy’s Jn)
  2. Fort Cafe
  3. Coffee Beanz
  4. Coffee Cube
  5. Cafe Canopy

The Man With No Name Trilogy

Yes you’ve seen them or atleast heard of them or maybe you’ve heard some of the music – but there is just no escaping the trio of Spaghetti Westerns that Italian director Sergio Leone unleashed on an unsuspecting public who would go on to worship them and elevate the said movies to cult, classic status. Commonly referred to as either the Dollars Trilogy or the “Man With No Name Trilogy”, a trilogy following the exploits of the same so-called “Man with No Name” (Clint Eastwood, wearing the same clothes and acting with the same mannerisms). The “Man with No Name” concept was invented by the American distributor United Artists, looking for a strong angle to sell the movies as a trilogy. Eastwood’s character does indeed have a name – albeit a nickname – and a different one in each film: “Joe,” “Manco,” and “Blondie,” respectively.

Fistful Of Dollars is first of the trilogy, released in 1964 starring Clint as the Stranger – a quick as lightning gunslinger – with Gian Maria Volente as the main villain. Marianne Koch, Wolfgang Lukschy, Sieghardt Rupp, JosĂ© Calvo, Antonio Prieto, and Joseph Egger play supporting roles. A remake of Akiro Kurusawa’s 1961 classic Yojimbo, the movie was subjected to a lawsuit. The movie is about a stranger who arrives in a small Mexican border town of San Miguel. After seeing a young boy sneaking into a building to meet a lady (who we learn is his enslaved mother) and being beaten up by some men, the stranger enters a inn. innkeeper, Silvanito, tells the Stranger about the bitter feud between two families vying to gain control of the town: on the one side, the Rojo brothers, consisting of Don Miguel, Esteban, and RamĂłn; on the other, the family of the town sheriff, John Baxter. The stranger senses an opportunity to play both families against each other and waits for the right moment. The Rojo clan ambushes & massacres a a detachment of Mexican soldiers escorting a shipment of gold passes through the town, while dressed as American soldiers and steal the gold. The Stranger takes two of the bodies to a nearby cemetery and sells information to both sides that two Mexican soldiers survived the attack. Both sides race to the cemetery, the Baxters to get the “survivors” to testify against the Rojos, the Rojos to silence them.

The two rival groups fire at each other with Ramon managing to “kill” the “survivors” and Esteban capturing John Baxter’s son, Antonio. While this is going on the stranger goes for the gold in the Rojo hideout but accidentally knocks out the enslaves mistress of Ramon, Marisol. He takes her to the Baxters, who, in turn, arrange to return her to the Rojos in exchange for Antonio. At the exchange Marisol’s son runs to her, with her husband following – but she has to return with the Rojo clan while the Baxters get their son back. That night, while the Rojos are celebrating, the Stranger rides out and frees Marisol, shooting the guards and wrecking the house in which she is being held in order to make it appear as if it were attacked by the Baxters. The Stranger tells Marisol, her husband, and their son to leave town, at the same time giving them some money to tide them over. His only explanation for helping them out is that he knew someone just like her in the same situation. The stranger is discovered as having crossed the Rojo clan, who then beat him up and lock him in a room but he escapes killing two of the men. Believing the Stranger to be protected by the Baxters, the Rojos set fire to the Baxter home and massacre all the residents as they are forced to flee. Among the dead are John Baxter, his wife, Consuelo, and Antonio. Now the only gang left in San Miguel, the Rojos confront and beat Silvanito, who they think is hiding the Stranger.

Having recovered & rested the Stranger comes back to town and faces the Rojos in a dramatic showdown. Protected by a steel chest plate behind his poncho, the stranger manages to over their bullets and kills all but Ramon. The two then have a race for their guns and finally Ramon is killed. Esteban, who has this ridiculously animated laugh (I swear the guy doing the dubbing must have also voiced some hyenas in cartoons) is shot dead by Silvanito as he hides in a building and tries to kill the stranger. Saying his goodbyes and taking some of the gold, the Stranger rides out of town.

The second of the three, For A Few Dollars More, released in 1965 sees Lee Van Cleef join Eastwood with Volente playing a different villain. The Stranger, referred to as “Manco” in this film, is a bounty hunter in search of El Indio, one of the most wanted fugitives in the western territories, and his gang. Indio favoures a musical pocket watch that he plays before engaging in gun duels, shooting only as the chimes finish. Flashbacks reveal that the watch belonged to young woman, who killed herself while being raped by Indio after he had found her with her lover and killed him. Indio still obsessed over the woman. The Stranger finds himself having competition in Colonel Mortimer also hunting for El Indio and after a classic “head-butting” scene, the two decide to pair up and share the money that is  to be made for killing Indio and his 14 member gang, which amounts to a lot of money. Indio’s primary goal is to rob the Bank of El Paso and its disguised safe containing “almost a million dollars.” Mortimer persuades a reluctant the Stranger to join Indio’s gang during the robbery in order to “get him between two fires.” Manco is offered membership in the gang after rescuing one of Indio’s friends from prison.

Indio & gang rob the bank and reunites his men in a small border town to wait while things cool down. Meanwhile the Colonel is recognized by one of the men as from a previous encounter in which the Colonel had deliberately insulted him and forces a showdown in which he is killed by the Colonel. He then proves his worth to Indio by easily opening the safe for him but Indio states his intention to wait a month if necessary to allow the furor over the bank robbery to die down and locks the money away. The Stranger & the Colonel try to steal the money but are caught and severely beaten up. Indio has his right hand man Nino kill the guard and release the two bounty hunters and then has his men chase after them; his intention being that if they are all killed, he only has to share the money with Nino! However one of them realizes this and kills Nino. The next morning the bounty hunters kill off all the men one by one but the Colonel has his gun shot from his hand by Indio, who then takes his pocket watch out and plays the music. However just as it ends, the stranger comes with a similar watch that plays the same music! The second watch belongs to the Colonel, who is the brother of the woman Indio raped. The stranger plays the music once again and sits aside; as the music stops the Colonel outdraws and kills Indio. His revenge complete, the Colonel decides to take no part of the bounty.

The Stranger stacks all the dead bodies in a horse cart and rides off and counts them by the reward for each one, totaling $27,000. As he leaves, he recovers the money stolen from the Bank of El Paso, though it is not clear whether he intends to return it. He then rides off into the distance with his horse towing the wagon full of the lifeless bodies of the entire gang, while the Colonel rides off on his horse back home.

And now we come to the 3rd and the most famous of the trio, the behemoth that is the legendary The Good, The Bad & The Ugly which came out in 1966 and once again starring Eastwood, with Van Cleef in a different role as an antagonist and Eli Wallach as the second villain. The plot revolves around three gunslingers competing to find a fortune in buried Confederate gold amid the violent chaos of gunfights, hangings, American Civil War battles and prison camps. Angel Eyes (Van Cleef) interrogates a former soldier called Stevens about a missing man named Jackson who has taken on the name “Bill Carson” and a cache of stolen Confederate gold. He brutally guns down Stevens and his eldest son after the interrogation, but not before Stevens pays Angel Eyes to kill Angel Eyes’ employer, another former soldier named Baker. Angel Eyes later collects his fee for Stevens’ killing from Baker, and then shoots and kills him, too. Meanwhile Tuco Ramirez, an escapes bandit who killed 2 bounty hunters and wounded another, runs into a group of bounty hunters who prepare to capture him when they are approached by Blondie (Eastwood), a mysterious lone gunman who challenges the hunters to the draw, which he wins with lightning speed. Blondie then delivers him up to the local authorities for the reward money of $2,000. Hours later, as Tuco awaits his execution, Blondie surprises the authorities and frees Tuco by shooting the execution rope; the two later meet to split the reward money, revealing their lucrative money-making scheme.

When Tuco’s reward money goes up to $3000 the two repeat the process at another town before Blondie, weary of Tuco’s incessant complaints about the dividing of the profits from their scheme, abandons him in the desert, keeping all of the money. An angry Tuco makes his way back to town and arms himself while enlisting three outlaws to kill Blondie. Almost killed by Tuco, Blondie manages to escape when  a cannonball hits the hotel and demolishes the room. But Tuco catches up to Blondie and captures him, and marches him across the harsh desert making him suffer from heat exhaustion & dehydration. As Tuco prepares to kill him, he spies Bill Carson the dying Bill Carson, who reveals that $200,000 in stolen Confederate gold is buried in a grave in Sad Hill Cemetery but falls unconscious before naming the grave. As Tuco leaves to get water, Blondie drags himself to Carson and learns the name on the grave from Carsonn just before the latter dies. Tuco nurses Blondie back to health in a monastery and the they leave but are captured by a colonel. Angel Eyes gets wind of the torture Tuco into revealing Sad Hill Cemetery as the location of the gold, but Tuco also confesses that only Blondie knows the name on the grave. Convinced that Blondie would not be easily broken, Angel Eyes offers to take Tuco’s place in the partnership to recover the gold. Blondie agrees and rides out with Angel Eyes and his posse. Tuco manages to escape and follows them.

Much fighting, twists and killings later, we have a Mexican standoff between the three at the Sad Hill Cemetery. Blondie shoots Angel Eyes, who tries to shoot Blondie while he is down only to be shot by Blondie again and roll into an open grave, dead. Tuco also tries to shoot Angel Eyes, but discovers that Blondie had unloaded his gun the night before. In a grave marked ‘Unknown’ Tuco is made to dig out the gold and is to stand atop a tottery grave marker and fixes the noose around his neck, binding Tuco’s hands before riding off with his share of the gold. As Tuco screams for mercy, Blondie’s silhouette returns on the horizon, aiming a rifle at him. Blondie fires a single shot and severs the noose rope, dropping Tuco face-first onto his share of the gold with no horse to make his way out. As the movie ends Tuco swears at Blondie, who rides off.

6.5, 8 & 9.5 for the movies respectively.

The 7Up Ad That Has Some Keralites In A Huff

This is the 7up ad that has Malayalees in a huff. I watched it. It’s not making fun of Kerala or Malayalees. It’s not making fun of Kathakali. It’s not making fun of anything or anybody and you shouldn’t get offended by it for that. What you should get offended by is that it’s a stupid song, it’s a dumb ad, it’s an idiotic dancing and this is the standard that ads in India have lowered themselves too. Be offended as it is a low standard ad. 7up should fire their ad makers for the low quality ad. And untwist your knickers!

On that note I’m gonna drink a 7up!

ROSHAN’S ELEVEN: Favourite SitComs Of All Time

  1. Corner Gas
  2. Friends
  3. The Big Bang Theory
  4. Seinfeld
  5. Fraiser
  6. Will & Grace
  7. Everybody Loved Raymond
  8. Mind Your Language
  9. Coupling
  10. Full House
  11. Gimme A Break

This is my top11  list of favourite sitcoms of all time. I almost put Little Mosque On The Prairie in there and I guess King Of Queens has fallen out of the top 10 when I remembered Full House & Gimme A Break. Also nostalgia favourites like The Jeffersons & The Bill Cosby Show is not in this list because I haven’t seen any episodes in ages and I can’t remember much. I’m hoping to get a few more shows in the near future.

$5 Million For Charity

You’ve inherited $5 million, with instructions that you must give it all away — but you can choose any organizations you like to be the beneficiaries. Where does the money go?

There’s so much good that can be done around the world. $5 million is a lot of money and I feel that even more is needed to take care of the poor in this world – to feed, bathe and give them proper shelter, care & medicines. And if I am giving money away, whether it is mine or if I am able to select an organization that will receive it to do the needful accordingly, I want to make sure that the money is put to good use and that it doesn’t go into the deep pockets of the greedy corporates or a politicians or a whatever.

So which one – homeless? poor & needy? the sick who can’t afford medicines or adequete treatment? the old? the weak? the recovering addicts? the abused and used? the crack children? victims of rape? the disabled? What about the animals who have been abused, sick & abandoned? How do you choose? I wish we could irradicate all forms of diseases & sickness, all injuries, all pain & suffering and everything that hurts us physically and we never have to feel hurt again. Not just us humans but our animal friends too! Wouldn’t that be great?

Since that is just a fantastic dream I’d give it to orphanages and hopefully the kids there will get something good out of it – more clothes, school stuff and food. And just maybe some of those kids will grow up to become scientists who help to fulfill my dream!

Zero Dark Thirty

I finally got round to seeing one of the big Oscar contenders of the last Academy Awards – Zero Dark Thirty. This movie is director Katheryn Bigelow’s tribute to the “biggest manhunt in history’ (or American history). The film dramatizes the United States operation that found and killed Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda. It was produced by Boal, Bigelow, and Megan Ellison. It stars Jessica Chastain ably supported by a large cast including Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, and Édgar RamĂ­rez. It was independently financed by Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures.

The movie was nominated for 5 awards at the 85th Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress (Chastain) and Best Original Screenplay and winning for Best Sound Editing. Before I continue I must say that as far as I understand, this is not an exact play of events but based on what the movie makers have gotten from parties involved – and I must say that it must be from various sources – and therefor is at best a fictional movie based on actual events. The main character Maya is based on, mainly one CIA agent but also on other women involved in the operation. She is a staunchly determined, completely one tracked minded and passionate about her job at hand – collecting solid intelligence and analyzing the data to find and apprehend Osama Bin Laden.  As the movie starts, the young agent initially is disturbed as she observes first hand the torture-investigation of a a detainee with suspected links to several of the 9/11 hijackers. This is the most difficult scene to watch – as the interrogator humiliates the detainee and subjects him to waterboarding. However later on, as she “matures” Maya interrogates Abu Faraj while her colleagues torture a man who has been getting message from Bin Laden & his courier Abu Ahmed.

During a span of five years, she survives the 2008 Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing as well as being shot at in her car by armed men. Neither event detters her from her aim but she is told by her superior that now that she is on the “list” of American nationals to be killed, she has to go  back to the US. While waiting for an informant, Maya’s fellow officer and friend Jessica is killed in the 2009 Camp Chapman attack, when it turns out that the informant was a double agent has been armed with a suicide bomb belt that he detonates. When a Jordanian detainee claims the man previously identified as Abu Ahmed, from a photograph, is a man he personally buried in 2001, several CIA officers – Maya’s seniors – conclude the target who could be Abu Ahmed is long dead, and that they have searched a false trail for nine years. However Maya’s colleague researching Moroccan intelligence archives comes to Maya and suggests that Abu Ahmed is alive and that his brother, with whom he shares very similar features, was the one buried. Abu Ahmed is tracked while using his phone an driving in his vehicle & numerous CIA operatives are deployed to search for and identify him. They locate him in his vehicle and eventually track him to a large urban compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near the Pakistan Military Academy.

The final third of the film is the actual operation after several months of surveillance, during which Maya gets very frustrated. The raid is approved and is executed on May 2, 2011. Although execution is complicated by one of the helicopters crashing, the SEALs kill a number of people within the compound, among them a man on the compound’s top floor who is revealed to be bin Laden. I may have to watch that scene again but the SEALs kill a couple of unarmed women as well but I guess that is something you have to expect. hey bring bin Laden’s body back to a U.S. base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where Maya visually confirms the identity of the corpse. Maya is last seen boarding a military transport to return to the U.S. and sitting in its vast interior as its only passenger. The pilot asks her where she wants to go but she does not reply and instead begins to weep quietly.

To be honest, although I appreciate the film, I was also bored to tears for most of it. I do not usually like American war movies/military movies as such but I had hoped that this one would be more entertaining. Does Katheryn Bigelow only do war movies? And this is the second movie I’ve seen of Jessica Chastain and both are in search of a famed bad man. 7.5 and that is a grudging 7.5 outta 10!

Defiance Pilot Episode

A new science fiction show which I had only heard about a month before it premiered – I must be losing my touch. Defiance is the new original tv series from SyFy (and I’ll stop there; we all know what I feel about this channel) that is aimed at the majority of science fiction buffs but is also a political drama and action oriented show. A joint American & Canadian production the tv series is developed by Rockne S. O’Bannon (the guy behind Alien Nation & a beloved show of mine, Farscape) and stars Grant Bowler, Julie Benz,  Stephanie Leonidas, Jaime Murray, Tony Curran, Graham Greene, Mia Kirshner and Fionnula Flanagan. Take a moment to relook at some of the names – Greene, Benz (from Angel), Flanagan and Curran!

The show is set in the future – supposedly aliens known collectively as Votans have come to Earth seeking a new home after their star system was destroyed in a stellar collision and find the planet, which they had thought to be uninhabited, filled with humans who respond to them with hostility and suspicion.  The Votans are not a single species, but a collection of seven different alien species who evolved on separate planets in the Votanis star system. The different races banded together to flee their star system when it was destroyed in a stellar collision, and ultimately arrived at Earth. The Votanis star system was destroyed in a stellar collision 5,000 years ago, but the millions of Votans who fled in ark-ships made the long interstellar journey in hypersleep. A limited number of Votans are allowed to settle in a colony in Brazil, and eventually two other colonies, but millions of Votans remained in hypersleep aboard their ships in orbit as negotiations dragged on with Earth governments for full-scale settlement. Tensions rose for ten years, but the Votan and human governments were on the verge of negotiating a peaceful settlement, when in 2023 the Votan ambassador to the United Nations was assassinated by a disgruntled human supremacist on live television outside of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. This sparked a disastrous global conflict between humans and the aliens known as the “Pale Wars”.

The wars tore apart the planet for seven years, until their culmination in 2030 in the apocalyptic “Arkfall” event, when the Ark fleet in orbit mysteriously exploded. The aliens think a rogue human commander was responsible, while humans suspect it was an alien weapons experiment gone awry. Millions of Votans died in hypersleep. During the Arkfall, destroyed Arks rained down on Earth and accidentally released terraformer technology. While the Votans had intended to use their terraforming technology in a carefully planned manner, the Arkfall haphazardly unleashed chaotic and radical changes to the biosphere and even the geology of Earth, making the planet dangerous to both humans and the aliens. The earth was scorched, chasms opened in the ground, new mountain ranges were raised, and the surface of the planet was covered with dust and debris. Animal and plant species from the Votan star system were introduced to Earth, and both native and alien animal species were horribly mutated by the uncontrolled terraformer technology, creating bizarre and dangerous hybrids and new species. Within a few months, the Pale Wars wound down as both sides had fought to the point of mutual exhaustion, and a ceasefire was declared. Few organized governments remained for either the humans or the aliens, and both sides factionalized as their members began looking out for themselves. In several areas, local human and Votan militias began to band together when they realized that they had to cooperate if they hoped to survive on this new, almost alien planet.

So in 2046, 33 years after their arrival, we have humans and the Votans – Casthithans, Indogenes, Irathients, Liberata, Sensoths, Gulanees and the straightforward villainous Volges in varying numbers, surviving on a planet that is alien & not really suitable for any of the races. Scavengers Joshua Nolan and his adopted Irathient daughter Irisa Nyira are on their way to a better life in Antarctica when they are ambushed on the way by a gang of Irathient. The two escape from them and Nolan hides a glowing hexagon device in the dirt out in the woods and they make their way to Defiance, a city where St.Louis used to stand. After patching up the injured Irisa, Nolan befriends the local bar owner/prostitute, Kenya Rosewater, and goes to a fighting ring in the back of the bar, where he fights and defeats a Bioman ( a huge fully synthetic, sentient life-forms used to fight the war) and wins big. He runs into one of the town’s leaders,  Datak Tarr, a Castithan who takes away some of his winnings. As the duo stay in the town at night, and while Nolan has sex with Kenya, the oldest son of Rafe McCawley, the owner and operator of “the largest mine in the territory, is found just outside the walls of the city. Nolan offers his expertize as a tracker during the war and his investigations uncovers a traitorous Indogene who worked as town mayor Amanda Rosewater’s assistant.

During a scuffle in the bar the town’s Lawkeeper (sheriff) is killed by a errant bullent as McCawley fights with Datak Tarr, who’s son is McCawley’s daughter’s lover, and is the initial suspect of her brother’s killer as the two had clashed often. With the mayor’s assistant setting a bomb to destroy the tower that controls the protective shield grid around Defiance, the town is in peril as an army of Volgee are headed their way. With Nolan stepping in to help Amanda and the town, they successfully defeat the Volgee using the hexagonal device that Nolan had stashed away – which is a powerful explosive weapon. The next day the town’s folk picks up after the battle, having lost a few of it’s citizens but gained a few – Irisa Nyira had managed to get the gang of Irathients to help out. As Amanda recovers from her wounds, she passes the Lawkeeper’s badge to Nolan, who decides to stay in Defiance along with Irisa.

Thus ends the pilot – a scifi western drama that reminds you some of the American Westerns and some of the overall themes in other scifi shows. The short lived Firelfy and Terra Nova comes to mind. The show also has O’Bannon’s look & feel all over it; Farscape fans would feel at home here. Having said that I am some apprehension as to how much interest can this show maintain? And I am not convinced by some of the cast, especially Grant Bowler as Nolan. Is he enough to lead the show? We’ll find out in a few weeks.

The Ultimate Escape Plan

Describe your ultimate escape plan (and tell us what you’re escaping from)

I’d escape from my life. I am in such a big rut right now that I’d like to get away from this place and never come back. There isn’t anything to really come back to. I’m wondering is this it and am I never gonna be happy in my life? Am I destined to live in this stupid little apartment with my parents and not have anything to look forward to? I want them to be happy and to have a nice life but my things aren’t getting done and I know it’s a case of part my fault and part shitty luck and circumstances. Living in the same old routine, staying in my small bedroom because I can’t stand any of the religious crap that they watch or pray and since I don’t watch the things that they watch. So  retreat into my room, spend most of my time online and listening to music and watch tv shows &  movies on my computer that I download. I come out to eat, I come out to get more water and I come out of the room when I want to use the bathroom or when I am heading outside.

I’m 36 and will turn 37 in a few months and I’ve never been married or lived with a woman I love. Not that living in without marriage is going to really be possible in India, we’re still very conservative, but you get what I mean. With the exception of some months back in 2002-03 and a few weeks in 2011, I’ve never lived on my own or in a place that I’ve rented. When I live here it’s someone else’s rules, even if it’s my dad’s. I can’t live my life as long as I live here and that’s right because it’s my dad’s and mom’s place. And that’s usually the case in India. In the place that I live, you only move out for two reasons a) if you got a job in another city or far from where your home is or b) when you got married! Or c) if you made a ton of money. Let’s just say that none of these reasons are true for me and that’s why I still stay with them. I want to live close to them but not with them. I want to be able to go and see them if either of them are sick without having to travel for more than an hour or so. But I don’t want to live with them. Their religious stuff drives me crazy. Their ideas on things drive me crazy. Their bullshit tv programs drive me crazy. So I want to leave this area.

If I had a lot of money I’d rent a nice little apartment somewhere in the city or a suburban residential area. Or get my own place, buy it outright. Or if I could get the money and leave this place altogether. Go to Goa or some island like the Turks & Caicos islands or somewhere like that. Where no one knows me and life can start from that point onwards. No baggage (not the physical stuff, I’ll need that ofcourse) and no past. Clean slate. Get everything that I am fed up of out of my life and reboot, restart, re-life! Live near the seas, eat shrimp and lobsters everyday, grill and beer every night. Find some woman who wants to be with me and say goodbye to a sad life.

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The Lion Tamer

If you ran away and joined the circus, what would your role be? Would you run a concession? Would you train elephants? Be a clown? Ringmaster? Why?

I was never into the circus much, not even as a child. Over the years living in Cochin we’ve had a few visits by a Russian circus and not even a molecule within me was interested in going and seeing them. I do remember some really good acts that I have seen on tv with juggling, trampoline, balancing and all that stuff. Major talented people some of them. I remember in particular one act that came from Korea (not sure if it was North or South) and they did this amazing 20 minute show that blew the American crowd and everyone who saw it on tv.

Other than those I have seen bits in some movies or tv shows and that’s about it. Sometimes of knife throwers with amazing aim, some magical acts and some clown bits that draw laughs. But if were to join a circus I’d want to go all the way and do the most daring acts – those with lions & other cats. The lion tamer. Put my head into the jaws of a huge lion that looks so ferocious but he wouldn’t close his jaws to crush my head because he has been trained by me. That and make these big cats jump through hoops, do a little dance, chair jumps and make them behave as calm as pussycats.

That’d be me in the circus, drawing the most gasps and the oohs and aahs.

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The X-Files : Fight The Future

At the height of The X-Files popularity in 1998, right after season 5, the first movie was released. Titled The X-Files : Fight The Future the movie was actually shot before season 5 but the film’s story takes place between seasons 5 & 6, with events following season 5’s finale. Chris Carter decided to make a feature film to explore the show’s mythology on a wider scale, as well as appealing to non-fans. His original plan was to end the show at 5 seasons and do more movies based on the alien mythology but the network wanted more seasons and being one of the most popular shows of all time it made a lot more sense. Director Rob Bowman was at the helm with Carter & Daniel Sackheim co-producing the movie based on a script that Carter co-wrote with Frank Spotnitz.

The film starts off over 35,000 years ago in an area which will be called North Texas. A cave man enters a cave and runs into an extra terrestrial. They fight and the caveman wins, stabbing the creature to death, but he is also infected by a black oil-like substance. Fast forward to 1998 and a group of young boys playing in the same area find one of their group to have fallen down a hole in the ground. The boy finds a human skull and as he picks it up, the black oil seeps into his skin and up to his eyes, causing them to go black. Four firefighters descend into the hole to rescue him but do not come out and soon a team of biohazard-suited men arrives on the scene. Meanwhile Fox Mulder & Dana Scully are still recovering from the closure of the X-Files and assigned to other cases. Called to investigate a bomb threat in Dallas in the federal building in that area,  Mulder discovers the bomb in a vending machine. Special Agent in Charge Darius Michaud (Terry O’Quinn) stays behind to disarm the bomb as Mulder and Scully evacuate the building. Unknown to the agents, Michaud makes no effort to disarm the bomb, which detonates.

Back in DC, the duo are chastised by the superiors because, in addition to Michaud, five people were apparently still in the building during the bombing. A separate investigation is held but Mulder encounters a paranoid doctor, Alvin Kurtzweil (Martin Landau), who explains that the five victims were already dead, and that the bomb was allowed to detonate in order to destroy evidence of how they died. At the hospital morgue, Scully is able to examine one of the victims, finding evidence of an alien virus. Scully & Mulder head back to Texas to the scene of the crime and are led to a strange train hauling tanker trucks and they follow it to a large cornfield surrounding two glowing domes. They enter the domes, only to find them empty. Suddenly, grates leading to an underground area open in the floor and a swarm of bees chases the agents out into the cornfield. Once outside they are chased by helicopters and they barely manage to make their way out and head back to DC. With news of Scully being transferred to Utah, she & Mulder devastated at being separated are about to have a tender moment when Scully is stung by a beer that was lodged in her shirt collar and she looses consciousness.  Mulder calls for the paramedics but when an ambulance arrives, the driver shoots Mulder in the head and whisks Scully away. Waking up in hospital, Mulder is told the bullet only grazed his temple and leaves with the help of The Lone Gunmen.

With the aid of the Well Manicured man (John Neville) Mulder is able to track Scully’s location to a secret base in Antartica. The Well-Manicured Man is then killed in a car bomb, before his betrayal of The Syndicate is discovered, but not before he is able to pass along a vaccine to combat the virus that has infected her. In Antarctica Mulder discovers a secret underground laboratory run by the Cigarette Smoking Man and he uses the vaccine to revive Scully. But by doing so he also disrupts the stable environment of the lab and reviving the cocooned aliens who chase after the duo. Mulder manages to drag Scully out to safety and – the lab turns out to be part of a huge alien vessel lying dormant beneath the snow; the vessel pushes up through tons of ice and snow and travels straight up into the sky. Mulder watches the ship fly directly overhead and disappear into the distance, as Scully regains consciousness. Some time after she has recovered back in DC, it is clear to the duo that their investigation & testimony has been ignored but their partnership is no longer threatened to be dissolved. he only remaining proof of their ordeal is the bee that stung Scully, collected by the Lone Gunmen. At the end of the movie, we see the Cigarette Smoking Man in another crop outpost in Tunisia, getting a message that the X-Files has been reopened.

The movie is bound to be confusing to people who haven’t followed the alien mythology (if not the entire show) at least in the tv series so far. Even having done so, the movie is far less than satisfying and a bit of a mess. I’d give it a 7 outta 10!

Beer Types – Ice Beer

Ice beer is a marketing term for pale lager beer brands which have undergone some degree of fractional freezing somewhat similar to the German Eisbock production method. These brands generally have higher alcohol content than typical beer and generally have a low price relative to their alcohol content. The process of “icing” beer involves lowering the temperature of a batch of beer until ice crystals form.Since alcohol has a much lower freezing point (-114 °C; -173.2 °F) than water and doesn’t form crystals, when the ice is filtered off, the alcohol concentration increases. The process is known as “fractional freezing” or “freeze distillation”.

Eisbock was developed in Germany during Oktoberfest celebrations with bock beers, which are strong lagers. A particularly cold year froze the beers and a new taste was noticed by the drinkers. However, in its current form, ice beer was developed from the fruit-juice industry which used to freeze orange juice concentrate in order to reduce shipping costs. The term “ice beer” (in name) was introduced in Canada by Molson. The first ice beer marketed in North America was Canadian Ice (now known as Molson Ice), which was introduced by Molson in April 1993,although the process was patented earlier by Molson’s competitor, Labatt, instigating the so-called “Ice Beer Wars” of the 1990s. By August 1993, both Molson and Labatt had introduced ice beer products in Canada, with Labatt having captured a 10% market share.  These ice beers are brewed and filtered at sub-freezing temperatures, thus producing ice crystals and raising the resulting alcohol content. Labatt’s Maximum Ice, for example, rates 7.1% alcohol by volume. The freezing of beer allowed the removal of protein-polyphenol compounds, creating a smoother, more colloidally stable beer, and avoiding long aging time.

The ice beers are typically known for their high alcohol-to-dollar ratio. In some areas, a substantial number of ice beer products are considered to often be bought by “street drunks”, and are prohibited for sale. Other than Molson Ice, Labatt Ice & Labatt Maximum Ice other breweries also have ice beers like : Moosehead Dry Ice, Busch Ice, Polar Ice etc.

A Kerala Power & Weather Rant

Time for a climate related & government & Kerala rant. I hate this weather. We are so screwed. Let me start by reminding you that in my part of the world we have just two seasons : monsoon and heat. Call it summer, call it whatever; it’s just heat & fucking humidity. When it rains it can rain a lot  and I kind of like that. Then there’s a brief period in January early February when it’s a little bit more pleasant with the early mornings and late evenings being a bit cooler but then bang we come to the end of Feb and March and it’s fucking hot. Energy sapping, sweat inducing, moisture robbing heat & humidity. That’s what we have now and it’s annoying as hell.

Kerala depends on Hydo-Electric plants for the majority of the electricity with the dams and the water level in Iddukki being a constant topic of discussion for all Keralites. We depend on the rains for providing that water and usually we have a heavy monsoon that takes care of the supply of water needed for the power demands of the state. Last year the monsoon was weak and we didn’t get much water. Whenever this happens we have scheduled power cuts in weekly rotation timings each evening to save electricity usually for 30 minutes a day and between the peak hours of 6pm and 10pm. With that scheduled power cuts they also sometimes have unscheduled power cuts during the day in certain areas depending on the whims & fancies of the deranged assholes working at the controls – or so it seems! This past year it has been bad. 1 hour power cut a day, 30 minutes in the morning and 30 in the evening. Starts from 6am to 10am and 6pm to 10pm. And now we have unscheduled power cuts during the day as well.

And for the past few days we have 2 hour power cuts a day – scheduled! Yes 2 hours a day. This week my area has been having the power cuts for 30 minutes each at 7am, 9am, 1pm and 8pm. And yesterday the motherfuckers cut the power to my area 3 extra times in the evening for who knows what reasons. It just kept going off and coming back on – looks like like someone at the controls at KSEB was either having fits or rolling around on the controls having sex! Man, woman or animal – I’m not sure! KSEB is run by incompetent shemales who can’t distinguish between power sockets their own assholes! Plugs might go in anywhere, in any hole!

I have no idea when the state is going to have it’s power issues and their shit back together. I know some other states have it really bad but the problem is that this state is so complacent with a bunch of old, uneducated & corrupt men who are just interested in filling their pockets and don’t care about progress. We should have gone to solar power a long time ago and not depend on the rains as much as we have. Imagine if we had both options and Kerala could actually move forward. But no! Screw your parties, screw your politicians, fuck the Kochi metro talks and all that shit!

Dog Soldiers

From director Neil Marshall (Doomsday, The Descent & Centurion) comes the 2002 werewolf action-horror flick Dog Soldiers. Marshall also wrote the film which is his directorial debut, a British production set in Scotland but shot almost entirely in Norway. The film was shot on a small budget and made a little over $5 million at the box office but has become a dvd favourite for horror movie fans and considered one of the best werewolf movies ever made. Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Emma Cleasby and Liam Cunningham star in this film.

At the beginning of the film we see two campers in the Scottish Highlands and the woman gives a the man a silver letter opener as a present. At night they are attacked by creatures not shown on camera and killed. Meanwhile Private Cooper is trying out for Special Forces and is order by Captain Richard Ryan, his assessor, to shoot a dog; when Cooper refuses Ryan kills the dog himself much to Cooper’s anger. Ryan fails the private who returns to his unit. A few weeks later Copper’s unit, led by Sergeant Harry Wells, are dropped by helicopter into the Highlands on a training mission. At night while camping for the night, a dead cow’s carcass is dropped near them startling them.

The next day as they come up the camping sight by evening, of a Special Forces unit, they come across their remains with just a sole survivor – a wounded Captain Ryan. Ryan is unable to talk coherently as to what happened so the soldiers stock up on weapons & ammo left at the camp just as they feel creatures surrounding the camp. While retreating, Bruce is impaled on a tree branch and Sergeant Wells is attacked by a large werewolf and he is wounded badly with his intestines hanging out. Cooper saves him and the soldiers run to the roadside, where a passing zoologist in a truck, Meagan, gives them a ride to a lonely house out in the woods. At the house as they patch Wells, Meagan sees that the family living in the house is not home, just the family dog which was in a locked room. She tells the soldiers that there were rumours of these werewolves and she moved the area a year ago to investigate. As they try to leave the house, they find the truck destroyed by the werewolves. Determined to make it till daybreak when the full moon will retreat and the werewolves should return to their human form, the soldiers maintain a desperate defense. After Terry is abducted and ammunition runs short, they realize that they will not last, and decide to try to escape.

As Spoon creates a distraction so that Joe can steals a Land Rover, the latter sees a werewolf eating the remains of Terry and he is himself killed by another who was hidden in the back of the vehicle. Ryan seems to be affected, as his wounds heals remarkably well and transforms into a werewolf, but not before revealing in an angry exchange with Cooper that the Government had sent him on a mission to capture a live werewolf in order that they could be investigated and weaponised. Based on Megan’s directions, the soldiers try blowing up the barn where Megan tells them the werewolves must be hiding with petrol, gas canisters, matches, and the Land Rover. Once it’s been destroyed, Megan reveals that not only were there no werewolves in the barn, but she also told them that to destroy their only means of transportation; she is a werewolf as well – and part of this family of werewolves that live in the house. She is shot dead by Wells (who has also healed quickly as he is infected) and one by one the soldiers are all killed as their ammunition runs out. Finally the final two survivors, Wells & Cooper end up in the kitchen. While Cooper hides below in the cellar, a slowly transforming Wells cuts a gas line and blows up the house killing all the remaining werewolves.

Before Cooper can make his way out, he is attacked by the transformed and now full werewolf Wells. Cooper kills him with the silver letter opener and shoots him in the head and makes his way out with Sam, the dog who has survived as well. As the credits roll, we seem some photos of the werewolves (Megan had stunned a few of them with the flash from a camera) attacking the soldiers. Cooper finds his way back and his story is told in a tabloid under the heading “Werewolves ate my platoon”.

Really good and one of the best werewolf movies around, considering that there was no backstory or trauma of transformation and stuff. I rather enjoyed this one just like the two other movies of Neil Marshall that I have seen. 8 outta 10!

“Why I Am An Atheist”

One of  of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement who was martyred, Bhagat Singh wrote a pamphlet titled ‘Why I Am An Atheist‘ while in jail, awaiting his death sentence.

“As regard the origin of God, my thought is that man created God in his imagination when he realised his weaknesses, limitations and shortcomings. In this way he got the courage to face all the trying circumstances and to meet all dangers that might occur in his life and also to restrain his outbursts in prosperity and affluence. God, with his whimsical laws and parental generosity was painted with variegated colours of imagination. He was used as a deterrent factor when his fury and his laws were repeatedly propagated so that man might not become a danger to society. He was the cry of the distressed soul for he was believed to stand as father and mother, sister and brother, brother and friend when in time of distress a man was left alone and helpless. He was Almighty and could do anything. The idea of God is helpful to a man in distress.”

Towards the end he wrote “Let us see how steadfast I am. One of my friends asked me to pray. When informed of my atheism, he said, “When your last days come, you will begin to believe.” I said, “No, dear sir, Never shall it happen. I consider it to be an act of degradation and demoralisation. For such petty selfish motives, I shall never pray.” Reader and friends, is it vanity? If it is, I stand for it.”

Bhagat Singh (28 September 1907 – 23 March 1931)