Thursday, October 01, 2009

What does it feel like?

A nightmarish sleep,
An agonized delirium;
A hailstorm on feverish skin,
Sting of the flaming sun!
Like burning, like choking,
Like freezing, like drowning;

Like weeping, like crying,
God! It feels like dying!
Like oxygen sucked out of the air,
Worse! A rip in my heart, a bloody tear!
So much anguish I feel, Dearie,
Every time you ignore me.
Feels like the loneliest sigh,
Can't bear it, no! I'd rather die!

--- dreamcatcher

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow'd.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

--- William Ernest Henley

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

--- Rudyard Kipling

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nothing is forever

Nothing is forever!
Not the sun, it'll burn out;
Not the stars, they'll shine out.
The moon will be lost,
Everything has a cost.
Love will be loss,
Life will be death.
Insults, putdowns, letdowns of every kind;
Every single grudge will be left behind.
All will be dust,
So quarrel if you must.
All will disappear,
Why not love while we're here?
Nothing is forever,
Everything is now, here!

--- dreamcatcher

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dorothy Parker Poems

Why Live?

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acid stains you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.


**************************************************

Unfortunate Coincidence

By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying -
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.


**************************************************

Symptom Recital

I do not like my state of mind;
I'm bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn's recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I'm disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I'd be arrested.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men....
I'm due to fall in love again.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Remember the best but don't forget the worst!

When you watch as many movies as I do, you're bound to stumble upon some absolute stinkers. Now, writing about them individually would be too much like glorifying incompetence, but I'd still like to keep track of the hours of my life irrevocably lost to some atrocious movies. Ergo, the list of the worst movies(1/10) I've seen:

Watchmen (2009)
Push (2009)

Meet the Spartans (2008)
Shoot 'em up (2007)
Ultraviolet (2006)
Elektra (2005)

The New World (2005)
Catwoman (2004)
Alexander (2004)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
The Animal (2001)
Austin Powers - The Spy who shagged me (1999)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

An Equal Music

I have never gone as low and as fast in my opinion of a book as with 'An Equal Music'. After the first 25 pages, I felt that I'd stumbled on to something incredible (no doubt helped by the very simple writing, which was a refreshing change from Salman Rushdie's tediousness); but after a 100 pages it became clear that it was incredible, just the wrong type - incredibly bad.

The story is about a violinist who is reunited with his lost love after 10 years. She has re-married and has a child, yet sees nothing wrong in getting involved with him again, with remarkably little wooing from him. They have fun for a while and then she leaves him again. I know I make it sound crass, but that really is the story. There's a lot of musical stuff involved, as both of them are musicians, but that is incidental to the story.

For a book that presumes to talk about emotions and sensibilities, it is remarkably devoid of sentiment and feeling. That's the first problem. The other problem with this book, an ostentatiously realistic novel, is that it is not grounded in reality. There is no semblance of consistency, logic, even common sense to either the story, the narrative, or the characters. The narrative progresses at such a slow pace that even a snail would get tired following it. There's no thread of consistency or even a shred of believability about the protagonists' actions. Its as if they don't think at all; and all their actions and words are based on whims! The lead character is so contradictory that one gets the feeling that 4 or 5 diametrically opposite personalities have been squeezed into one. All this is very bad. What pushes it to infuriatingly bad, is that the two protagonists living in a very real world with very real problems, are so far removed from reality. It is hard to feel anything but contempt and strong loathing for them. As if that weren't bad enough, these inconsistent characters show an appalling lack of moral strength as well.

And the last straw? The writing becomes more and more pretentious as the story progresses. As if, at the beginning the writer wasn't sure about his abilities and as the book became longer he realized that he has suddenly become a good writer. To paraphrase a very apt quote - 'Its not the quantity of pages written, but the quality on the pages, that makes a good writer'.

The praise for this book was led by the Daily Telegraph - "The finest novel about music ever written in English". I will counter that verdict with mine - "A most infuriating book with the worst conceived and realized characters that I've ever come across in any book".

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fury

The overwhelming feeling after reading this book is of an immense waste - of the reader's time, of the writer's undoubted talent and of the multitude of pages on which its printed, which could have been put to much better use. Right from the start, it seems like a pointless book. This feeling remains & intensifies throughout the book and at the end, is confirmed beyond doubt.

The story is about a man in the grip of fury (the reason for which we aren't given until almost the end, and that reason, to me at least, is not convincing enough). Anyway, he has become a threat to those he loves and so just takes off to another continent (without so much as a goodbye to his wife and son), where he tries to undo his old self, hoping that whatever is wrong with him will be destroyed along with his old identity. The book chronicles his efforts to defeat his furies with the help of the people he encounters.

So, not a wholly stupid plot. What makes it bad is the unbelievably bad writing. Sometimes its hard to believe this is the same guy who wrote 'The Moor's Last Sigh'. There is no continuing thread through the story. It frequently runs off on tangents and doesn't bother to rejoin the main theme. Rushdie's books usually need a lot of patience and I've become quite patient reading his books, waiting for the point to appear out of the fog of fancy words and tedious abstractions; but with this book it was a hopeless exercise because there is no point to it.

Even more unforgivable than the bad writing is the fact that the story seems forced, somehow. As if the writer's publishers told him to come up with something quickly and he started writing about the first thing that came to his mind without bothering about plots, themes, coherence and all the other things that make a decent book, trusting his reputation to ensure it would be accepted, even acclaimed. And sadly, it worked. Reading the reviews, you'd think this was a masterpiece. When in actual fact, it could be the worst book Rushdie has ever written ('Shame' was depressing, but at least it was well-written). This is just an ego-trip of sorts, most evident by the resemblance of the protagonist to the author himself, and the tiring fact that rather than battling his furies, he seems to be spending too much time encountering stunningly beautiful women with all of whom he has his way.

In the end I'm left salvaging what little good I can from this disaster of a book. The only thing I come up with is this line - 'Do not contemplate what lies beyond failure while you are still trying to succeed!'

Not so much a bad book, as an unnecessary one!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ice Age (6/10)

This movie tries hard but never quite makes it to 'great'!

First, the story is a bit too predictable. Three unlikely companions - Manfred the woolly mammoth, Diego the saber-tooth tiger and Sid the sloth take it upon themselves to unite a lost baby with his 'herd'. The rescue-and-restore operation sees them go from bickering, can't-get-along reluctant companions to loyal, willing-to-die-for-each-other friends.

The highlight of this film is, undoubtedly, the wonderful squirrel, Scrat. The highly inventive, usually disastrous, unceasingly persistent and endlessly fruitless travails of the squirrel transform this movie from a decent movie to a pretty good one. The dialogue is extremely funny in parts, especially Manfred's one-liners delivered in the classic deadpan Ray Romano voice.

My biggest problem with the film was that I found the voices of the main characters very unconvincing. Having watched Ray Romano in 'Everybody Loves Raymond', its very difficult to reconcile Manfred the woolly mammoth with his voice. Also, Diego the saber-tooth tiger's voice is a bit too cultured to quite match the character. Only Sid the sloth's voice is convincing enough.

A good movie overall, elevated a few notches by the delightful squirrel.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Michael Clayton (7/10)

"I'm not the guy you kill, I'm the guy you buy!"

A film characterized by taut, controlled direction. A film that hints at many things without delving deep in any of them. A film featuring quite amazing cameos by very good actors (witness three Oscar nominations in acting categories).

I wasn't expecting to like this movie. After all, the storyline doesn't exactly get the pulse racing. A legal thriller with hotshot attorneys and big corporations is not groundbreaking stuff. But it exceeded my (admittedly low) expections.

It starts off with a quite haunting monologue by Tom Wilkinson, which in itself is worth half the admission price. The story revolves around this bigshot fixer with a huge corporation, whose most important case is jeopardized by the histrionics of their leading attorney. Michael Clayton tries to clean up this mess, while trying to sort out major issues in his personal life.

The beauty of this movie is the very simple storyline backed-up by economical dialogue, brilliant direction (an Oscar nomination for the first-time director) and very, very good acting by everyone involved. It is an unpretentious, refreshingly original look at a world that has been dissected to death by hollywood. Finally, George Clooney is quite simply exceptional as Michael Clayton. His best performance in a very long time, if not his best ever.

Definitely worth watching!

Shame

What do you say about a writer who's brilliant at his work, but uses it to highlight and exaggerate the negative aspects of life? I say its a shame. Its a shame that someone with Salman Rushdie's considerable writing skills can't employ them in constructive writing. Instead, he chooses to write about the problems in the societies he used to inhabit. This most depressing aspect of his writing is most evident in this book, titled quite aptly, Shame.

The book is an encyclopedia of everything that could be wrong in life. It seems to challenge all concepts of decency and goodness in men (& women). By the end of the book, you lose all hope in mankind. Rushdie seems to delight in pointing out everything that is wrong with the world. There is a fine line between realism and championing negativity, and Rushdie crosses it far too often in this book.

I am a firm believer in the concept that art's main purpose is not to reflect reality, not to show humankind and society the way it is, but rather the way it should be. An idealization of life. To portray the best that we can be. This is the reason I love Michelangelo's sculptures & paintings. They show man as he should be - strong, proud and flawless. But I digress.

What I'm trying to say is that Rushdie's endless tirade betrays the purpose of art. Instead of showing what could be, Rushdie tells us what was, and how disguting it was. Instead of talking about what should be, he talks about everything that should never be. Its not just a reminder of the evils perpetrated by some people, but a magnification of these until you feel that its all that mankind is capable of. What purpose does it serve, I wonder? Besides reminding the smug literary-elite that eastern society is messed-up.

A most disappointing & depressing book!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Coming of a legend (and fading of another?)

Australian Open Final 2009
Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer - 7-5 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-2


It could be billed as a bout between extremes - young vs old, style vs substance, brains vs brawn. As it turned out, it was a great advertisement for substance; as brawn prevailed over brains(not implying that Nadal's game doesn't have its own subtlety). Nadal's winning his first grand slam on hard court, on the heels of his first-ever grass court grand slam win at Wimbledon last year, added to his implausibly brilliant record on clay has the feeling of a defining moment in tennis history. This is the point from where he can go from being the best player of his time, to becoming the best player of all time. I know, its too soon. But he is just 22. He has a lot of time to improve his already awesome game. And playing against (not to mention beating regularly) a legend like Federer can only help his cause. This was a good match. Not quite an epic, but surely one to be remembered as the one that sent Nadal on the way to legendhood. Fittingly, he had to beat an existing legend to do that.

1st set - It started off all wrong. Nadal, the one who had just come off a 5-setter was the one who started more emphatically and Federer, the one with the longer rest, looked unsure, hesitant and dare I say it, scared? No surprise then that Nadal won the first set.

2nd set - Federer gained in assurance, reflected in an increasing number of winners and aces. Not to mention fewer unforced errors. Second easily to Federer.

3rd set - Nadal comes roaring back after losing the 2nd set cheaply. An increase in the number of unforced errors belies his fatigue, although there are no visible signs of exhaustion. This is where he starts an awesome run of winners. He doesn't just win points, he CONJURES them out of hopeless situations. 4/4 in 3rd set, and down 0-40, Nadal holds to make it 5-4. Is this the defining moment of the match? (He goes on to save 13 of 19 break points!) Nadal wins the set in tiebreak.

4th set - Federer starts strongly. 2-0. Its as if he has decided to play only the even sets well; not a good idea! Nadal comes back 2-2. Federer makes it 3-2. A certain inevitability when Federer takes the 4th set. After all, this is a grand-slam final between the world's best 2 players. It has to be a 5 setter.

5th set - An anticlimax. So many unforced errors from Federer. He seemed in a hurry for the match to end. This is one aspect of his game I'd like to see a change in. When it comes to the crunch, he just seems to lack the defiance and fight that Nadal epitomises. I hope this is just my mistaken assumption and that the next time we see these two go at it, we'll see a much closer match all the way to the final point.

For now, I hope this is not the end of Federer. I would like to see him set a new grand slam record before he fades away. Meanwhile, Rafa enjoys all the accolades. Hopefully we'll witness his indefatigable spirit and almost superhuman will to win in many more grand slam finals.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

When going through hell...

When you're going through hell, keep going.
--- Sir Winston Churchill

Meaning of life? What life offers you and what you make of it.
--- Anon

...two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
--- Robert Frost

The tragedy is not how one dies. It is how one has lived.
---- Salman Rushdie 'East, West'

The great vanity is not thinking we can win, its thinking we don't need to fight!
--- Anon

You can never begin to live until you dare to die!
--- Anon

Nothing in this world worth having comes easy.
--- from 'Scrubs'

The secret to getting ahead is to get started.
--- Sally Berger

Monday, January 12, 2009

Last Laughs

A few actual gravestone inscriptions, some people have a sense of humour to the end, and beyond ;)

Here lies Ned,
theres nothing more to be said,
because we like to speak well of the dead.
--- Anonymous

Looked up an elevator shaft to see if the
car was on the way down. It was!
--- Harry Edsel Smith, Albany, Georgia

He called
Bill Smith
a liar!
--- Anonymous, Cripple creek, Colorado

Here lies the body of
Jonathan Blake,
Stepped on the gas pedal
instead of the brake
--- Jonathan Blake, Uniontown, Pennsylvania

Here lies the body of Emily White
She signalled left and turned right
--- Emily White, unknown location

Beneath this slab
John Brown is stowed
He watched the ads,
And not the road.
--- Ogden Nash

Jealousy

Sapphires are those eyes of yours,
Ravishingly sweet,
Oh, triply fortunate the man
Whom lovingly they greet.

Your heart is like the diamond
That sparkles noble beams;
Oh, triply lucky is the man
For whom with love it gleams.

Your lips are like twin ruby stones,
None lovelier anywhere;
Oh, triply fortunate the man
To whom they love aver.

Oh, if I knew this lucky man
And found him thus in clover,
Just a tete-a-tete in the deep green wood,
His luck would soon be over.

---- Heinrich Heine

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Solitude Shattered

Oft had I found it bothersome, in a crowd to blend;
Had friends precious few, I was my own best friend.
I was an introvert, hated crowds with their petty drone;
Despised others' hollow chatter, was happiest on my own.
Not for me the moon's starry allies, together yet jaded;
I like the sun; singular, alone, reaching its zenith unaided.
Then along you came from nowhere and made me aware;
You're my unconsciously asked, silently answered prayer.
Your smile was an epiphany, that glance made me see;
I'm a drop of water and you the ocean that'll set me free.
My dreams monopolized, occupied every waking thought;
My blissful silences lost, in your musings I'm ever caught.
My muse, you took from me my most personal due;
My very essence, my solitude, now belongs to you.

--- dreamcatcher