First Mouse On Mars

Today India gears up for its first mission to Mars, which if successful, would make it the first Asian nation to reach the Red Planet. The unmanned Mars Orbiter spacecraft is scheduled for lift-off on Tuesday afternoon from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR located on Sriharikota Island off the coast of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

As this historic moment, may I remind you about the time that I sent the first mouse to Mars (photographic evidence is just below)?

After the mission the mouse reported that he felt lonely out in space as the trek was too long but he was extremely proud to boldly go where no mouse or man has gone before. However on reaching there he was quite disturbed to find that there was no evidence of cheese on the surface of Mars and a detailed study revealed that there has never ever been any cheese on Mars. He was traumatized by this discovery and has been in psychiatric care since he returned.

BlackBerry Abandones Sale Plans

The state of BlackBerry (formerly known as Research In Motion but changed their name to their flagship product earlier this year) is a sorry one and a particularly sad one for me. A few years ago, before smartphones became the in thing to have, I remember watching an episode of Oprah in which she gave out the then model of BlackBerry to all her audience members. Since then I researched the company and the phones and have always been a loyal supporter of theirs. I unfortunately was able to buy a phone from them only in 2010 (Jan 1st to be exact) and have since changed the Curve 8320 to my current phone, the Bold 9780 last year. BlackBerry has been left behind in the lurch by Apple iPhones and the various Android phones from say Samsung & LG and has struggled really badly for the past couple of years.

BlackBerry went through lots of changes internally. Thorston Heins, a former Siemens executive in Germany, became chief executive in January 2012 after James L Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the longtime co-chairmen and co-chief executives, resigned in the face of a rapid decline in BlackBerry’s business and the failure of its PlayBook tablet computer. In January of this year a lot of us BlackBerry faithfuls eagerly awaited the launch of the BlackBerry OS 10 and the two new phones the Z10 and Q10 that looked amazing. Heavily promoted the new line of BlackBerry 10 handsets as the company’s salvation they proved, however, to be a commercial failure (with some exceptions in certain areas) and there has been solid talks of an outright sale or a takeover big by another mobile company.

Now the latest news is that Heins will leave after the collapse of a tentative takeover offer from BlackBerry’s largest shareholder, the company said on Monday. Instead of purchasing BlackBerry and taking it private, the largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings, and an unnamed group of institutional investors will invest $1 billion through debentures that can be converted into common shares at a price of $10 a share. John S. Chen, the former chief executive of Sybase, will become BlackBerry’s executive chairman and acting chief executive. It remains to be seen as to what will happen to the brand. Almost everyone has written them off and many long time users have move on to get either an iPhone or Android device. I’m sticking with my Bold for the time being, cannot afford anything new at the moment and will wait for a few months to see what is going to happen. I like using the BlackBerry and would want to continue using them for years to come.

Swetha Menon Molestation Case

This molestation incident with Swetha Menon is just another reminder of the fact that at such functions where a celebrity or any of the people are attending, there is hardly any security or respect for personal space, way too many hangers on, too many people pushing about and clinging around the celebs that such incidents are bound to happen and there are assholes who take advantage of these situation as well. The changes are there to be made.

For those who do not know, on Friday Swetha Menon (actress /former model & Ms India contestant / tv anchor) stated that while at a public function in the city of Kollam (Kerala) she was molested by Congress Party member & Kollam’s Member of Parliament N Peethambara Kurup. All weekend we’ve been tuned in to the events that unfolded since then. She complained to the Kollam district collector B Mohanan but says she felt betrayed by him for “ignoring” her grievance when he was informed about it shortly after the incident. It was on the invitation of the Collector that she had attended the function. Mohanan has claimed that he had not received any complaint from her. said she was also harassed by another person during the President’s Trophy boat race in Kochi, who has also been charged. Although Swetha didn’t name the person in question when asked by the press, media footage showed Congress MP N Peethambara Kurup from the area touching her but the lawmaker on Saturday strongly denied having committed such an act.

She, along with her husband Sreevalsan Menon, had told reporters on Saturday night after meeting office bearers of various film industry bodies that she would forward a detailed complaint to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, whom she is likely to meet on Tuesday. Acting on a complaint lodged by Communist Party of India – Marxist’s youth outfit Democratic Youth Federation of India, the police team led by a woman circle inspector went to Kochi Sunday morning to record her statement. The 39-year-old actress told police at her apartment in Kochi that she was insulted by Kurup and another person during the function. Shweta, a two-time state award winner and also a TV anchor, broke down while the statement was being recorded. Earlier in the day, Kurup reiterated that the charge against him was totally untrue and he produced some photographs of the event, claiming that the actress was harassed at the scene by some others. “I am past 70. I have passed the age of getting excited by the presence of women at public functions,” he said.

Finally Kurup was booked by the police, charged under IPC sections 354 and 354 (A) for assault or criminal force against a woman with intent to outrage her modesty. However later on Suday Swetha withdrew all legal proceedings against Congress MP N Peethambara Kurup later in the day. “In the wake of Peetambhara Kurup’s repeated public and personal apology about the incident at the President’s Boat Race at Kollam, I am withdrawing all legal and other actions against him,” Shwetha said in a statement released to select media organizations and to the film fraternity at around 8pm on Sunday. Although Kurup could be arrested anytime, the case against him will fall flat if she gives a written statement saying that she is withdrawing the complaint. Shwetha, who said she had taken her decision not to press with the legal proceedings after consulting her guru, father and husband, also claimed, that there was no outside pressure on her do so. Kollam police said they were not aware of her decision to withdraw the complaint. “Till the victim gives a revised statement to the investigating officer, the case will stand,” an officer with Kollam East Police said.

How will this messy situation end?

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is a 2006 movie directed by Johnathan Levine and starringĀ  Amber Heard,Ā Michael Welch,Whitney Able, andĀ Anson Mount. This is one of the movies I heard about from discussions in a Facebook group that is frequented by fans of horror & slasher movies.

Mandy Lane is a shy, introverted but very popular girl in high school mainly due to the fact that she is extremely beautiful but unattainable. She gets lots of attention from the males, and even some envious glances from the girls, but seems to not date anyone. She is invited one evening to the house party by Dylan and agrees only if her best friend Emmet can come as well. At the party by the pool Emmet & Dylan clash when the latter tries to get fresh with Mandy and later a drunk Dylan joins Emmet on the roof of the house. Emmet convinces Dylan to jump into the pool to impress Mandy but Dylan hits his head on the side of the pool and dies. 9 months later it seems like Mandy has kept her distance from Emmet post the incident but has made new friends. Red invites a small group to his family cattle ranch and Mandy agrees to join her new circle of friends. On the way they stop and steal a keg of beer from a man in a truck and head to the ranch. At the entrance to the ranch land, Chloe refuses to take her car further due to cattle dirt and so, due to shortage of seats, Bird & Mandy walk. Bird asks to hold her hand and then asks to kiss her so she lets him kiss her on the cheek when they meet Garth the ranch hand who drives them to the house.

Once at the house, the kids go swimming in a nearby lake, and later begin drinking and playing games. After Marlin & Chloe make a disparaging remark about Jake’s penis size, he walks out and Marlin follows him to a shed. Once there Marlin engages in oral sex with Jake but is pissed off when he refuses to reply in kind. He walks off with the torch leaving her there alone. She is then attacked by a hooded figure with a double barrel shotgun and knocked unconscious, while Jake goes back to the house and the lights go out. Red goes to help Chloe who was upstairs alone at the time, while Bird goes to start the generator and Mandy gets some candles from the kitchen. Jake confesses to her that turned the power off in order to spend time alone with her; he tries to kiss her, but she refuses and he storms out. Jake leaves as the others all get back and continue drinking & smoking joints in the living room. Jake, having also been rejected by Chloe takes his truck goes to look for Marlin and finds her sitting by the lake; when he realizes she is injured, he is pushed into the lake and then shot to death; the hooded killer then breaks Marlin’s neck with the butt of the shotgun. Back at the house Garth joins the remaining four when they are attacked by firecrackers by the hooded figure in Jake’s car and Bird goes in chase of the car and finds – Emmet who then blinds Bird and kills him. At the ranch, Mandy falls asleep in the kitchen and Red and Chloe fall asleep on the couch. In the morning, the killer enters the house and approaches sleeping Mandy, stroking her hair. Garth hears noise in the kitchen and suspects someone is in the house, but upon rushing downstairs finds Mandy still asleep with blood on her hair; “wake up” is spelled out on alphabet magnets on the refrigerator. Garth and Mandy realize that they need to leave and go to wake up Red and Chloe.

As they open the door Emmet shoots at Garth injuring him. While Mandy tends to his wounds Chloe & Red run through the back door to get help. They stop at the car at the entrance of the ranch and hug and kiss in relief but Red is shot from afar and then beaten to death by Emmet. Chloe runs back to the house with Emmet in close pursuit in the truck. Garth has Mandy run to his cabin to get his keys and a first aid kit and she also finds the knife that was used to kill Bird in there. Mandy takes it and runs back when she sees Chloe, hysterical as she has seen Bird, Jake & Marlin all lying dead, running towards her chased by the car. Ā Chloe runs to Mandy, but upon embracing her, Mandy stabs her in the stomach and caresses her until she collapses. While Chloe bleeds to death, Mandy & Emmet laugh and talk about their suicide pact; they had agreed that Mandy will take pills and shoot Emmet in the heart! However Mandy reveals that she has no plans to die and they both begin fighting when Garth sees then and shoots at Emmet, who then attacks him. Mandy runs into the fields, chased by Emmet, and falls into a ditch full of cattle carcasses, where the two fight. Mandy eventually gets hold of Emmet’s machete, and stabs him to death. She then helps the wounded Garth into his jeep. They drive away, and Garth thanks Mandy for saving him, assuming her to be a victim in Emmet’s murder plot.

At the end of the movie we see a flashback to the 6 friends goofing off at a railroad track and Mandy is seen balancing on the tracks, giving the camera a knowing look. Having her parents killed at a young age has had a bizarre effect on her mind, despite being raised by a loving aunt who took her in. Not bad, with a good twist in the end. It’s an ok film but you are left waiting for something to happen for a long time while just watching 5 teenagers drinking & talking crap. 6.5 outta 10!

Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0

It was the first meeting this season from old foes and current first & second spot holders in the league. Liverpool FC came visiting to the Emirates stadium last night and Arsenal had a point to prove to their doubters after two back to back defeats at home – to Dortmund in the Champions League and to Chelsea in midweek in the League Cup. Arsenal showed resilience and quality to maintain their fine start to the season and stretch their advantage after Chelsea’s surprise loss at Newcastle United. But it was Liverpool who started things of brighter and took the game to the Gunners in the opening few minutes. Arsenal stemmed the flow and started attacking themselves.

Santi Cazorla gave Arsenal the lead with a fine first-half strike after his header struck the post and Aaron Ramsey scored his 10th goal of this campaign with a spectacular long-range effort on the hour. Captain Mikel Arteta gave a midfield masterclass in which he overshadowed his Liverpool counterparts to set the platform for a vital win that gave the club 3 points and a healthy 5 point lead over Liverpool at the top of the league standings.Ā Arsenal were without the injured Jack Wilshere but there was still more than enough ability on display in both sides to make the first 45 minutes a thrilling spectacle. Arsenal, who were just finding their feet, took the lead after 19 minutes with a goal that was a tribute to Cazorla’s balance and technique. He recovered his position brilliantly to volley past Mignolet after hitting the woodwork with a header.

Liverpool might feel that they were denied an equalizer when referee pulled them back after a very quickly taken freekick afterĀ Bacary Sagna had fouled Luiz Suarez.Ā Arsenal created more moments of danger as Olivier Giroud failed to profit from ex-Gunners defender Kolo Toure’s misplaced pass, then poked a shot straight at the keeper. After 59 minutes Ramsey made Liverpool pay for offering up time and space 25 yards out by finishing spectacularly high past Mignolet with the outside of his right foot. Mesut Ozil almost added a third as Arsenal ended in comfort. And this was a performance that will have increased Wenger and Arsenal’s confidence that they can maintain a serious challenge this season.

It’s Wrong….But It’s Ok!

It’s wrong to deny someone choices – but it’s ok if it’s in the name of your religion!

It’s wrong to subjugate & dominate women – but it’s ok if it’s in the name of your religion!

It’s wrong to treat anyone unfairly – but it’s ok if it’s in the name of your religion!

It’s wrong to stop people from getting an education – but it’s ok if it’s in the name of your religion!

It’s wrong to label people based on their lifestyle & choices – but it’s ok if it’s in the name of your religion!

It’s wrong to kill someone – but it’s ok if it’s in the name of your religion!

Star Trek Continues : Pilgrim Of Eternity

Star Trek is a passion that glows brighter & stronger than a 1000 stars. After JarJar Abhrams highly successful reboot of the Star Trek franchise, two movies that have done well and introduced Star Trek to a whole new league of fans but leaves a lot to be desired for a lot of the faithful Trekkies (like myself) a humble fan-made episode in a Web series called “Star Trek Continues” that was shot for some $40,000, brings back sweet memories of the original Star Trek we have come to know and love as TOS (The Original Series). Produced by Farragut Films and DracoGen Strategic Investments, the nonprofit series stars Vic Mignogna as Captain Kirk, Todd Haberkorn as Mr. Spock, and features the late James Doohan’s son Chris in his father’s role as Scotty as well as Grant Imahara of “Mythbusters” as Lieutenant Sulu. The whole idea behind the fan series is to continue the 5 year mission from year 4 (and hence season 4) as TOS was cancelled after 3 seasons before coming back a decade later in the form of the first 6 Star Trek movies. The makers of the show want to create the show as faithful as possible to the original spirit. The look & feel of the show is like late 1960s Trek. They’ve got the costumes, the hairdos, the props, and even the lighting right!

Mignogna directed the first episode Pilgrim of Eternity which even features Michael Forest returning in the role of Apollo which he also played in the season 2 TOS episode Who Mourns For Adonais?back in 1967! The episode was shot at a 10,000 square-foot warehouse that hosts impressively accurate reproductions of the Enterprise bridge, transporter room, sickbay, and other classic sets. In Pilgrim Of Eternity the Enterprise is investigating power stations in a quiet region of space when they come across an anomaly that seems to be draining their power. Captain Kirk gives the order to destroy the source, a meteorite, they also detect 2 lifeforms which beam onto the bridge just as the source is destroyed. Kirk and crew are shocked to see that the lifeforms are a much older looking Apollo and Athena. Athena had used her last vestiges of power to send her & Apollo to the ship and she dies in a few seconds. Apollo is taken to sick bay and kept in the care of Dr. McCoy. Their previous encounter with Apollo, anĀ alienĀ who turns out to be theĀ GreekĀ godĀ Apollo, has seen the powerful being hold the ship captive.Ā  We learned in that episode that Apollo and his fellow alien race, get power & energy from adulation & worship from lesser being like humans, and hence posed as the Greek gods of ancient earth. And extra-organ in their body is the source of their power which enables them to create things and possess god like abilities. Eventually when the humans stopped loving & worshipping them the aliens left but Apollo wanted the same worship again and hence held the Enterprise crew captive

Apollo explains that the meteroite holds the entrance to a separate realm where all the “gods” of Olympus had gone to but the realm drained all their powers and aged them hence the rest of them died and now Apollo is the last living member of his species. He wishes to live out the rest of his days in peace amongst humans but says that he does not want them to worship him. After an analysis by a new member of the crew, ship’s counselor Dr. Elise McKennah (Michele Specht), Kirk agrees to let Apollo roam the ship albeit guarded by two security men. At one of the recreation rooms, he sees and hears Uhura singing and praises her. He then sings himself and gathers an audience. Spock walks in and sees Apollo telling the crew tales from his past and as the adulation increases, Apollo gaining energy and power from then starts to look & feel younger. When questioned by Kirk Appolo towers over the captain and uses his powers against him until Elise shoots at him with a phaser that stops the assault. Apollo is taken back to sick bay and restrained once again. Meanwhile Sulu & Simone (played by Jamie Bamber in a cameo) are clearing the debris of the realm on the outside of the ship during a spacewalk but an explosion causes Simone to be killed and Sulu is rescued just in time. This incident causes Mr. Scott to further be enraged and wants Kirk to not allow Apollo to live on a planet populated by humans.

Apollo then offers to undergo an operation to remove the extra organ, the source of all his power. He will still be able to retain some aspects of the abilities but will not be so powerful enough to cause harm. After the operation however Uhura is injured in an accident and dies and Apollo, showing remorse, uses his remaining powers to heal her and bring her back to life. The crew is stunned to see that his sacrifice has actually helped him heal himself and he once again appears slightly younger. Kirk, Bones & Spock discusses this and approach Apollo with a new plan; why not offer himself as a person who does good for humans and hence gain power & youth by his sacrifices to help those in need? With a renewed sense of purpose Apollo agrees and the senior officers, including a now convinced Scotty, decide to beam Apollo down to a planet that is inhabited by a primitive section of humans. The crew then continue on their mission. The ending shows a much younger looking Apollo helping out an old man and his grandson and beaming in pleasure at their gratefulness.

Wow, I never new a fan series could be this good. With the exception of a couple of big special effects that seemed poor, the rest of it feels like we are back with the TOS era show with new actors playing the roles we love so much. The characters – I’m not convinced with the new Kirk , Mignogna, who physically resembles Kirk and even tries to mimic the speech pattern & style but he lacks the charisma & good looks that William Shatner had in abundance. Haberkorn as Spock – has a voice that does not match the character and I wish he had a bigger physique and deeper voice. Larry Nemecek also seemed ill cast as Bones McCoy – he is too soft spoken to pull that role and just sounds & looks all wrong. Uhuru is just ok, while Imahara at times sounded a lot like Sulu but looks way too young for the role and Wyatt Lenhart as Chekov only had a couple of lines so I’ll reserve my judgement on his performance. It looked fine but nothing memorable.Ā Michele Specht looked out of place in the cast as did her character and I hope they don’t keep her as a permanent fixture and instead try and bring back Nurse Chapel. Which brings us to Chris Doohan as Scotty who does his father proud in a role increadibly just like his father did.Ā  Uncanny work done there. Oh and they even got Marina Sirtis to do the computer’s voice – neato! I’d like to see more of this. With a small budget of $40,000 they pulled this off – imagine what they could do with a proper financial backing!

What Would Life Be Like At 70?

Q. What do you imagine you will be like at age 70?

At this point in my life, I can’t even imagine living till the age of 70, which is now less than double my age. I am 37 years old after all! I have no clue as to how long I will live to and I don’t imagine I would want to live very long (if things are the way they have been in my life). The way I seeĀ  it at the moment I won’t be unwelcome to death if she decides to embrace me tightly and refuses to let go. It might actually be a huge relief for me. But let’s just say that I do live to be the age of 70 which will be in 33 years. What would my life be like, if it continues to beĀ  the way it has been so far?

Well I imagine I would still be living in a small apartment, either this one or one much like it. I might be retired by then or doing some small work. I imagine I would be living all alone with no one with me, just getting on by. My folks would have been long, long gone and they would just be a memories, photos and images for me. Since I live alone I would look forward to visits from my two nephews and niece, who would be in their 40s by then. Hopefully they have great lives and have gotten married and have some children, some grand nephews and nieces for me to dote on as well. I hope my sister and brother-in-law, old as they would have become, 76 years, would also have some time for me say once a month or so.

I hope my closest friends will also be alive and the once in a while meeting them would be what I most look forward to each month or so. But mostly it will be just me, in my small home, cooking for one, living a day at a time, watching tv and going online. So that’s what I think I would be doing at the age of 70.

The Ledge

Heard about this movie a year or so ago but only got round to watching it yesterday. The Ledge is a 2011 movie directed by Matthew Chapman and starring Charlie Hunnam, Terrence Howard, Liv Tyler, Christopher Gorham and Patrick Wilson. The film premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The lives of a five people are focussed here with family, marriage, love, infidelity and religion takes focus in the dialogue driven script.

Detective Hollis Lucetti has just gotten the worst news he has ever had from a clinic. His doctor tells him based on tests that not only is he sterile and can no longer father children but that he has always been that way. Which means that the two small children he has had with his wife are not his. He confronts his wife at home before he goes to work and she confesses that she had a feeling that there was a problem. So she decided to go for an “arrangement” and had sex with Hollis’ younger brother to get pregnant and gave birth to two young kids. An enraged Hollis goes back to work when he is called to respond to an emergency; a man, Gavin Nichols is standing on a ledge as if to jump to his death. With a small crowd gathering below, it looks like a regular suicide attempt. Hollis reaches the small bunker room next to the ledge and leans throw the window to try and talk Gavin down. In a couple of minutes Hollis understands that Gavin is here not by his own choice and asks for the reason why.

Gavin then tells his story; he is an assistant manager of a big hotel in the city and recently met a woman in her 30s through one of the part time maids in the hotel. The woman, Shana, is also a music student and just so happens to be Gavin’s new neighbour in the apartment building they live in. Shana is hired and later her husband Joe invites both Gavin and his roommate Chris for dinner. At dinner Joe, a fundamentalist born-again Christian comes out as a rude bigoted man who mistakes Gavin & Chris for lovers, given that Chris is a open gay. Gavin, an atheist, despises Joe and leaves before they can eat and after saying thanks to Shana. Chris himself leaves in a couple of moments. Chris, who had lost everything and was helped by Gavin, tells him that he doesn’t think Shana, although religious, is like her husband. In the next few days Gavin flirts casually with Shana, intending to win her over and take her away from Joe, who he thinks does not deserve her. Although his intentions are casual and he treats it like a game in the beginning, when things becomes more serious he apologizes to her and they stay away from each other for a while. Joe invites Gavin over and apologizes for his rudeness as he thought Gavin was an atheist and gay too. The two then have a philosophical debate over religion, beliefs and ethics with neither convincing the other of their own point of view.

Meanwhile Chris is trying to get his relationship recognized by the religious organization where he and his boyfriend first met. Their relationship blossoms but their rabbi refuses to marry them as it is considered to be against god’s rules. Shana goes back to see Gavin and tells him her story – she became a drug addict at 18 and started selling her body to feed her addiction. One night her pimp sends her to a church to meet a customer, who beats her and leaves her lying naked at the church. There Joe, a former alcoholic who had amended his ways and started doing the “lord’s work”, helped her and later they got married, even though Joe dictates what Shana can & should do strictly as per his beliefs. As Gavin and Shana become closer, Shana decides she wants more than theĀ  guilt and verbal abuse from her bully of her husband and they have sex when it’s just the two of them in the apartment. They meet whenever they can in secret and even arrange a meeting in one of the empty hotel rooms but Joe finds out about their rendezvous and is devastated. He then traps Shana and ties her up in the hotel room and calls Gavin out. After a discussion he tells Gavin to go to the top of the building opposite the hotel and stand on the ledge for over 3 hours before jumping off it right at 12 pm – or Joe will kill Shana with his gun. This is why Gavin is on the ledge.

Hollis tells Gavin his story as well, having made a connection with the about to be jumper. As it is almost noon the police try and find where Joe is holding Shana hostage but before they can find him Gavin, after telling Hollis to tell Shana that he loves her, says goodbye and jumps to his death. Hollis’ partner and the other cops manage to find Shana and arrest Joe, bringing him to the station. Shana goes back home after giving her statement and cries when she sees Chris. Hollis, takes Gavin’s advice and goes home to sit down with his wife and kids. As they have dinner his wife asks if she can say grace but Hollis, a Catholic, says not that day as the movie ends.

Although I was excited about the premise and the possibility of discussions between a fundamentalist and an atheist in a movie, something I had never seen before, the discussions are kinda cliched, stuff that you have heard in so many debates before but it’s worth watching once. The movie doesn’t really pan out but for what it is, it’s still worth a watch. 7 outta 10!