Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Marathons on Discs

Turns out I prefer watching my favorite Television shows on DVD with back-to-back episodes (one season after another) rather than waiting a week for the next episode. This year (which is almost up!) I did exactly that. I was trying to recap some of the shows I caught on DVD this year and was quite surprised by how many of them turned out to be fairly engaging. Here's the list (with my ratings):

Awesome: John Adams, Rome (Seasons 1 & 2) and Carnivale (Seasons 1 & 2).
I am not sure whether to applaud HBO for the great series or to be mad at them for cutting short  Rome and Carnivale. The second season of Rome was rushed to cover a greater timeline while Carnivale didnt really offer much closure (or got around to showcase its dense mythology) - neither of which I am happy about.

Pretty Good: Entourage (Seasons 1 - 6), Six Feet Under (Season 1), Top Chef (Season 5), Coupling (Seasons 1 - 4), Mad Men (Seasons 1 - 2)
Entourage until season 4 was pretty good but I am not going back for more considering how poor seasons 5 and 6 turned out to be (Ari Gold carried me through them!). Six Feet Under had a very satisfying first season and considering I know "it has a proper ending" I must have been tempted to stay through for more - somehow I never really cared for any of the characters and didnt make it beyond the first season. And Top Chef probably became my next favorite "reality competition" show after Survivor (I am still surprised at why they continue to have Hells Kitchen, Chef Academy and other such nonsense that sell characters and drama in the name of cooking). Coupling (the UK version, obviously!) was surprisingly not a F.R.I.E.N.D.S remake as I was led to believe and turned out to be funny most of the time. Mad Men surprisingly fell short of my expectations towards the second season and its great cast and spot-on sets/costumes or the invoking nostalgia parts weren't enough for me to go in for the third.

Average: Survivor (All Stars, Pearl Islands), Chuck (Season 1)
Two blah seasons of Survivor - one with the infamous Johnny Fairplay and a blah winner; the other whose jury members must have been relieved after the current Samoa's jury took over their "most-bitter-survivor-jury-ever" crown. (Side note: one look at the All Stars season's DVD set and I was furious - that DVD design team needs to be fired immediately if not already. How extremely creative of them to place pictures of those eliminated in the next set of episodes on the corresponding DVD cover! And I was worried about chancing on spoilers everywhere else.) I really liked Chuck, but it was just like Prison Break or 24 for me - by the end of the first season I was so used to the writing that the show stopped being interesting (may be I shouldn't be watching these shows as a marathon, but a little too late for that!); and that ridiculous season finale pulled it down several notches to the "average" category.

Skipped: In Treatment (Partial first season)
It had an interesting premise which I seriously thought I would go crazy over, but didnt do anything for me. I still stuck around for 3 weeks before exchanging the shrink for some freaks during the dust bowl .

That is definitely a lot of TV-on-DVD for a year but considering I hardly watched much otherwise (except for Survivor, which I continue to watch semi-religiously) and considering I haven't had cable since the latter half of the year, it is probably still within limits.

Btw a big thumbs up to the Cincinnati Public Library for changing their holds policy this year!
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Procrastinating pleasure

Guilty as charged!

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Buy only Vatican shoe

A & B go for lunch. B orders his burrito with extra hot salsa and realizes his burrito is too spicy.

A: <something>

B: "What? You should buy only Vatican shoe-aa?"

Figure out what A said, and you will be in splits too!

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Losing Cool

I lost my laptop cooler's cable yesterday and given that hundreds of people must have passed by it by now, I don't have high hopes of finding it. Of course, it may not seem a big deal to you unless you *know* that I treat my laptop more like a mobile desktop (with a bag load of accessories whenever it is mobile); the cooler was one of those permanent attachments. Btw, the worse part than losing something has to be knowing exactly where and how you lost it (I know about crying over spilt milk, but then you probably don't know me ;) )

How I wish there were easier ways to find lost stuff.

The ideal Lost-n-Found?

Wouldn't it be cool if you could have something like a RFID tag on all your stuff and whenever you find something, the finder can use it to identify your stuff and send it back to you? Of course, the finder would get "karma points" every time and when you find something, you can look-up the finder's profile and get some of his "karma" transferred to you. Also, since most of the lost-n-found is "local", there has to be "karma centers" where you could drop off the found item / collect your lost item. These "karma centers" could be anything from Starbucks and Taco Bells to Banks and Hospitals. By being "karma centers" they get free advertisement along with more potential customers. May be the "karma centers" can have their own "karma points" too (with 1-star to 5-star "karma ratings")! Considering how much people get attached to mundane things, and considering how everyone loves getting some "good karma", this would definitely work, no? Is it just me or does this sound like a sure-fire startup?

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Will it... Won't it...

Guess I will find out soon enough.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Funny Ha Ha

Question: Why should PhD students not use Macs and iPods?
Answer: Macs and iPods delay their graduation cuz "Apple a day keeps doctor away" ;)

A less geekier version:

Question: Which fruit should PhD students stay away from?
Answer: Apples! Apples delay their graduation cuz "apple a day keeps doctor away" ;)
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Sunday, August 09, 2009

My Five - Woody Allen films

I don't see how someone can dismiss Woody Allen as an eccentric comic. Even if you don't dig his quirky humor or his neurotic persona, his brilliance clearly shines through in his scripts and his movies. Though I haven't seen several of his acclaimed older works yet, here is my top five Woody Allen movies (in random order).

1. Annie Hall - With a brilliant cast and a witty-as-hell script that has some of the best one-lines (sample: "What's with all these awards? They're always giving out awards. Best Fascist Dictator: Adolf Hitler."), "Annie Hall" works both as a screwball comedy and as an intimate study of human relationships.

2. Hannah and Her Sisters - High voltage drama mixed with slapstick comedy makes up for a delicious cocktail. "Hannah.." is a very neat ensemble drama that probably also has Allen's finest performance.

3. Husbands and Wives - A very mature and a hilarious drama that uses the mockumentary format in the best possible way. I cannot imagine why someone would rip this masterpiece off only to make a dumbed-down mess called "Dil Kabaddi".

4. Crimes and Misdemeanors - Morality, guilt and conscience are the underlying themes in this very engaging drama/thriller.

5. Match Point - Story-wise "Match Point" is very similar to Allen's earlier work "Crimes and Misdemeanors". However, Allen looks at luck and destiny in his own quirky way in what is probably his finest film in decades.

Some of his other films that I liked are "Sleeper", "Manhattan Murder Mystery", "Scoop", "Vicky Christina Barcelona", and "Cassandra's Dream". There is an obvious difference in style and handling in his newer movies (post 2000) compared to his "Annie Hall" days and I am not sure which I like more. Some of his older films are definitely among his best but his genius in later works are enough proof that the master may not have finished his masterpiece yet. I have a lot more Woody to catch up with until then.
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My twitter wordle

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Product Pitch

I was talking about this idea with my uncle on my recent trip to Chicago.

GPS definitely has been a great innovation that has made travel easier and hassle-free. But when you are going in a big group with multiple vehicles where one is "following" another (for either directions or for some other reason) wouldn't it be cool to to be able to communicate with the the other car without having to call the other driver every now and then (probably just to tell him to switch lanes or to watch out for the next exit)? I guess an iphone app would be cool for this. But what would be cooler is to also have a simple external indicator, say a matching colored flag on top of both vehicles, so that the other vehicles on the road will also realize that these cars are together. That way, the other vehicles on the road can watch out for simultaneous identical actions of the two cars. Now that is something to think about.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Twitter Apps

Some nice apps that go with twitter:
  • - Check out your tweet statistics
  • & - Get backgrounds for your account
  • - Crosspost to social networking sites and to tweet from IMs
  • - Lists trending topics
  • - Current tweets on interesting articles
  • twhirl - IM for twitter

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Thursday, July 23, 2009


At work:

Girl: "O-M-G".
Boy: "Did you just say O-M-G to me?"
Girl: "Duh."
Boy IMing a friend: "Dont believe it. G just used OMG. Not oh-my-god. OMG."
Girl texting a friend: "OMG. B got so OMG when I said OMG. OMG, OMG."

Had me in splits. Kids these days... :P

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Coraline vs. My story about Story

I watched the animated film Coraline on my trip to India and couldn't help notice how similar it was to a not-so-recent "non-bedtime" story that I had come up with for my young cousins.

I called it "The story of Story" and it was pretty much an "on-the-fly" affair with inspirations from several places.

Story was a naughty little boy who wouldn't listen to his parents (not drinking milk, not brushing teeth, etc. etc.) and was always up to some trouble or the other. One day his mother tells him that if he continues to be bad then he his father will send him to the summer camp. That night Story cannot sleep and is lying awake in his bed. He hears some noises (along with thunder rumbling etc), gets scared and hides under the bed. As the noises draw closer and closer, he finds a magic marker, draws a door on the wall under the bed, crawls through a tunnel and finds himself back again in his bedroom. He also sees that it is the next day and is time for him to get ready for school. He hears his mom calling him to wake up and to his surprise he finds another boy in his room, who looks exactly like him, who answers the call as if he was Story. As the day proceeds he realizes through several incidents that not only is he like a ghost- no one can hear him or see him, but every one also seem to think that the other boy is Story. He also notices that the other boy is very obedient and well behaved and gets a lot more love and affection from his parents and his friends. By the end of the day he realizes how badly he has been behaving and prays to God to give him another chance to be with his family and friends. Immediately the weather turns gloomy and he starts hearing the same noises that he heard before in his bedroom the previous night. He sees a floating figure that approaches him and tells him that now that he has learnt his lesson, he is free go back to his original life. Story wakes up to find everything as normal as before, hugs his parents and tells them that he loves them and that he will be a better boy. He finally returns to his room to find the magic marker next to his bed.

While narrating it, I had made it as scary as possible (as requested by my 4 cousins, who wanted "a little but not a lot" horror) which actually made the entire story not so fairy tale-ish. While watching the film, there was the obvious "alternate dimension" thing with the "other parents", there was the magic door and the crawling through the tunnel part and most importantly the really dark tone of the entire narration, all of which made me wonder about how similar the film was to my tale.

Anyways, I really enjoyed the movie, despite the less impressive parts towards the end. Since something similar has been made into a rather nice movie, I guess "The story of Story" was not that bad then. I wonder if my cousins still remember the story though. Hmm.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Border Sauce Sayings

I love Taco Bell's border sauce. I keep getting the same sayings though.

Will you scratch my back?

Ahhh... we meet again.

Will you marry me?

Help! I can't tell where I am. It's dark and I can hear laughing.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

India after Gandhi

Finished reading "India after Gandhi" by Ramachandra Guha last month. The book is a pretty good sketch of the Indian political scene from the pre-independence days to early 2000s. The book was quite a fast read which I think is a huge achievement considering the topic and my disinclination to big non-fiction books.

The book pretty much divides the 1940 - 2000 time period into decades and deals with each individually. There is very little repetition of stuff covered in earlier chapters which could be a problem for someone completely new to this area, but for a book this ambitious that is probably the only practical solution; even without the appendices and acknowledgements, the book has about 800 pages of reading material.

I really loved the first three fourths of it and got to learn a lot of stuff that I didn't know before. The last part, however was a letdown. Post 90s is covered by chapters on distinct topics rather than the chronological order followed in the rest of the book. Although the author seems to have done so deliberately, I think a slightly more chronological ordering would have helped. My another problem with this period was that it seemed to just glance over several topics rather than providing a more detailed analysis. It is quite possible that being from this decade, I know more about the issues and hence expect to seem them all tied up neatly with the rest of the political history but when the author mentions in the preface that there is not a lot known about several local Indian leaders (like MGR) who have influenced people in areas as big as several european coutries, I expected the book to cover these lesser known important people in greater detail.

Nevertheless, I was quite impressed with the book and strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Indian history, post independence.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Movies In-flight

The best (and possibly the only enjoyable) part of sitting inside a long flight, for me, is the chance to unwind with some movies. Cathay Pacific & Singapore are my favorite airlines and offer a decent in-flight system (for me, a good in-flight entertainment system must have: a) a separate screen and controls for each person (with option to pause / rewind / ffwd), b) a decent resolution screen and sound system (at least as good as a decent portable dvd player), c) movies in dvd quality, and d) a good selection of movies!)

I caught quite few movies on my vacation trip this time; here's the rather long list:

Doubt, Last Chance Harvey, He's just not that into you, Bolt, The Game, Abhiyum Naanum, Gran Torino, Raaman Thediya Seethai, Kidnap, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Duplicity, Sunshine Cleaning, Coraline, and the first half of 17 Again.

The list is long, I know. In my defence, I really liked watching movies in KrisWorld (SIA). (If you still think the list is long, I confess, I have left out a couple of movies that I can't recall!)

Btw, without any doubt, the worst film in that list (and quite possibly the worst movie I have ever seen) would be Kidnap (Hindi, 2008). Thankfully, I had very little expectations and watched it half asleep and hence was saved from having to endure it completely.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tocantins Finale

It was a pretty good season although JT's winning streak towards the end played a major spoiler. Not only was the finale predictable (despite a good jury tribal) but I had to be content with my pre-season picks taking the 2nd and 3rd places. Hopefully I ll get it right the next season!
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

To tweet, or to blog

The question:
Having a blog and a twitter account (for the same purpose) is not only redundant but also a major cause of indecisiveness. I now have to make another decision everytime; To tweet or to blog, that is the question.

The fix:
Took some time to set up my twitter account updates to be displayed on top of my blog posts (using the twitter widget).

The compromise:
If I am too lazy (or too excited) to write a long(er) blog post, I ll tweet.

The lesson:
The more you have, the more you have to maintain.

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Saturday, May 02, 2009


Survivor Tocantins spoiler alert!

The best episode of this season of Survivor was when they voted out the second member of the jury.  However the episode following that hasn't really lived up to expectations. Overall, this season has been pretty lame with a large number of the contestants lacking strategy. And Coach with his "dragon-slayer" ramblings is more irritating than funny to me.

Two positives this season:
  1. My two pre-season picks Stephen and Erinn are still in the game! And with only 6 people left, I have much better odds than ever before to have picked a season winner!
  2. I have to give credit to Coach for inspiring some unimaginable dialogues. (Sample: Sierra to Coach: "How do you save the kind enemy?". Whoa!)
Btw, the secret scenes from the episodes and the ponderosa clips offer a lot more insights this time into the tribe equations that are pretty much edited out.

For example, Erinn and Taj didn't write down Sierra's name at tribal council because they are playing for her jury vote! Erinn's vote against Stephen has nothing to do with sending her to exile (as I had initially thought).

Also, Sierra apparently spilled the beans on Taj still holding the hidden immunity idol to Coach and Debbie, who refused to believe her. Whoa! And I thought Coach can't get any stupider.

Hope they don't start bringing in Coach stereotypes in future seasons.

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Awesome Threesome

Happened to watch three very amazing "kids" movie recently - "Children of Heaven", "Ma vie en rose" and "WALL-E" and strongly recommend all three of them to all "adults".

Of the three, I definitely liked "Children..." the most. Cliche alert: "made me wonder why they dont make such movies anymore". It is a definite must-see for kids these days who can't seem to function without texting and cell phones. 

"Ma vie..." is a more serious film, at least thematically; the film is extermely heartbreaking despite lacking emotional manipulations as in "Taare Zameen Par".  It is hard to believe that it has a "R" rating at the US, especially since most hollywood "PG-13" blockbusters have extreme violence and/or crude humor.

"WALL-E" is a definite third in this list, for despite the animated magic that it was, I felt a bit let down towards the end with a rather gimmicky climax and the happily-ever-after ending. To its credit I didn't feel like I was watching an animation movie, it crossed that bridge successfully; however, it left me feeling like one of those "good-but-not-great" movies (like say "Taare Zameen Par") and THAT, I think is where the movie fell short. 

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I shrugged

This post is long overdue.

Finally managed to finish "Atlas Shrugged" in March. This was probably the longest I had taken to finish a book; unfinished ones don't count, obviously. The book wasn't boring, actually it was pretty difficult to put down once you started reading, but for some reason it not only took me 6 months to finish but also broke my reading record of two books a month (I could only manage to finish 2 others on the side).

What did I think of the book? It was... hmm... okay, I guess! I don't agree with a lot of the objectivism principles and feel very little of them have relevance today. (I definitely don't think comparing it with the bank bailout situation makes much sense). So reading 1000 odd pages that emphasized those principles as the be all and end all of human existence is a little hard to digest, especially when the author decides to re-emphasize the same point every 10 pages! I lost count of the number of times I must have thought "Ayn Rand, I get it. Now, go on will ya?".

A note for those planning to read the book - this is NOT a novel. It is just Ayn Rand's objectivism theory disguised as a novel. The characters are pretty much "good" or "evil" and stand to drive home the theory with their words and actions. For example, one main character's "speech" (in a radio broadcast) lasts close to 100 pages. I would strongly recommend that you read "Fountain Head" first and then take a big gap (a year or two at least) before returning to "Atlas Shrugged".

PS: How much of a dubious honor is it to be awarded the "Least edible book" in an edible books competition?
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Comprehensive Collection of A R Rahman Hits

Play AR Rahman Playlist in youtube (with the randomize option) or just let them play out sequentially below. This was quite time consuming, I wish had indexed these songs. Their interface is definitely cooler.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Gore-zilla - 1

He watches helplessly as the S.W.A.T members move in behind the desks with their guns pointed at the several entrances to the classroom. He knows that someone's even slight misjudgment will turn into an irreversible blunder. He tries to think of anything to delay the inevitable. To his relief, just one student enters the room, but his relief is short-lived as he sees the guards steadying their fingers at the trigger.

"Don't shoot, Don't shoot, I know these people". He jumps in front of the student to protect her, hands waving and hysterical, just as the rest of the group starts pouring inside the room.

As the S.W.A.Ts lower the weapons, several students realize the situation and start panicking. Before anyone could leave the room, a set of uniformed guards close the doors and line up as a shield, and the students about to run out of the room automatically step back to the center of the room. Before anyone could react any further, there is a loud noise and almost instantaneously the outer wall of the room blows inwards, as if a result of a very powerful bomb.

The guards standing next to the wall take most of the impact, the desks serve as good cover for the rest of the people inside. Although he is thrown back a few feet, luckily he manages to land without hutting anything. As he pulls himself up spitting and coughing though the dust, he hears it, a roar so deafening that his falling down on his knees with his hands pushing the ears hard into his head seems to make no difference.

The roar stops just as suddenly as it started. Few moments pass by before he raises his head again, his ears are still ringing heavily and with great difficulty he opens his eyes. Although dust is still all over the room, as his vision gets clearer, through the big hole in the wall, he manages to see a shape moving on the grounds outside. He shrinks back in horror at the sight of a creature so enormous and so ugly that the only place it could have come from, and belongs in, would be hell.

To be continued...
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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Climbing Wall

Finally managed to try and climb the wall at CRC and surprisingly finished the tough ones as well (with a bit of cheating of course!).

Hopefully next time will not involve cheating :)
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Monday, February 23, 2009

And who won the best supporting actor?

A typical night at the living room, watching TV with my roommates. The red carpet starts on E!, we keep passing comments that include frequent clarifications for one of my roomies ("this is Hugh Jackman, he is the guy who comes in X-men - the mutant movie, with the blades coming out of his hands", or "we saw her in the Devil Wears Prada, remember? No she is not nominated for that movie, her name is Anne Hathaway", and "that is not Shekar Kapoor. What? Shekar who? Never mind.")

The sound in room is at "loud-enough-to-hear-from-outside-the-house" level which occasionally gets bumped to "loud-enough-to-hear-from-street-end" level whenever I get hyper excited (i.e. when it is one of the 9 Slumdog categories). And I get 7 phone calls after Rahman's win and after the Best Director and Best Film awards are announced; I have to leave the room each time to take the call so as to not annoy my roommates anymore than I already have although I knew I was drowning the TV with my conversation and that they had to make up with closed captions.

Finally, the show is over, we all say enough awesomes, comment again on Anil Kapoor's "I-am-on-TV" act, and everyone heads off to their rooms and I switch back to E! for the post-Oscar party bits. My other roommate who has been in the room right from the red carpet ceremony asks me: "So, who won the best picture?"

My eyes are pop out while I reply "Slumdog" and without missing a beat he goes "Oh. What about the best actor and actress?" The conversation continues and I fill him in on the 8 wins of Slumdog, that Penelope Cruz and Heath Ledger won the supporting acting chops. Finally he tell me out of the blue "You should watch Naan Kadavul. It is an interesting movie."

I know that he was on his computer with headphones on. Still, I am not sure why but it definitely felt like Wall E had won the background score and Button the best picture. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.
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And the Oscar goes to...

I am extremely glad that the Oscars didn't throw any surprises this year. What a win for Slumdog! 8 of the possible 9 wins and especially winning the best picture without any acting nominations is a real feat. The movie may be overrated and may be not entirely worthy of the best picture crown but when Chicago and Crash have won in the recent past, Slumdog is definitely not the odd man out. And it completely deserved the wins for the background score, editing and direction and always was a damn good choice for the adapted screenplay, sound mixing and cinematography categories. Bravo Slumdog!

The most deserving winner of the night, for me, was probably A. R. Rahman- the man who deserves much more recognizion and respect than what has come his way. "Jai Ho" may have fetched him an oscar but it obviously is an award for every single one of his songs. What better way to celebrate than go "Masakali Masakali.."!
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Survivor Tocantins

My pre-season picks are not necessarily those with the best chances of winning, but who I would like to root for from the very beginning. Usually it is the "geeky" asian guy / girl from the predictable set of cast members. I think Survivor is a full-on social game and it is very interesting to watch a un-social person adjust and do well in the game. A very good example would be Kenny from last season (Gabon) who started off as a clueless kid and went on to become the godfather only to fall prey to the full-on drama of Sugar. Yul from Cook Islands would be another fine example for the same. I was very surprised to not see the token asian guy/gal in the cast this season. I had to finally settle with Stephen who seems to doing pretty well, two episodes in.

My second pick was a tough choice between Sydney and Erinn. Both of them belong to the typical "dumb-blond" category which is always a big disadvantage in the initial periods but can be used to their advantage if they are smart. I finally settled for Erinn which seems like not -a-bad choice considering the first 2 episodes. Sydney seems to be in it for the long haul as well considering she is almost missing in action almost entirely from the episodes.

I haven't had any of my picks win so far, may be this season will be different.
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Sunday, February 08, 2009

And the Aish stack

I am still playing with 's stacks. Here is another one with some great Aishwarya Rai videos.

SearchmeView in searchme: full | lite

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Stack-ing Rahman 's stacks are really useful, especially the video stacks that can be used to create a video playlist of your favorites from youtube. If only they will index more sites and fix some of the bugs.

See the stacks in action with some A R Rahman songs:

SearchmeView in searchme: full | lite

See here to learn to create stacks:
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Sunday, February 01, 2009

God it’s killing me

It is sad that the Aussie Open timings don't work for you if you are in EST. I woke up at 5AM to catch the match, missed the first set completely and slept through part of the fourth and fifth sets. But the presentation was more entertaining than the match itself.

@Roger: In case you forgot, you ARE #2. And, that's not bad at all. But if you keep crying like this, no one will be intimidated by you. Not even Roddick.

Picture taken from:

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