Thursday, December 22, 2011

Football jokes from The Guardian

--- ...thundered a City statement before insisting that the club couldn't be more committed to transparency if it stuck a wedding ring on its finger and sired its children.

--- "Can I be one of 1,057 Bible-toting pedants to point out that Jesus would have had a hard time fixing anything in Sodom on a wet Wednesday (yesterday's Fiver), given that His Dad had destroyed the city a good while before he was born?" - Mark Rae (and one other Bible-toting pedant).

--- ...in temperatures Satan himself would have objected to as excessively hot...

--- Arsenal want the Birmingham defender Scott Dann, despite him being a real-life defender

--- Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas may open talks with Kaká instead. The Brazilian famously belongs to Jesus, who currently sub-lets him to Spanish club Real Madrid

--- Foster could initially move on loan, giving Roy Hodgson time to see if the 28-year-old is a big enough galoot to fill Scott Carson's recently vacated oversized clown shoes.

--- Dirk Kuyt has insisted he's staying put despite strong interest from Internazionale, who are looking to inject a lack of pace into their front line.

--- With new captain Robin van Persie suspended for the crime of shooting on goal while wearing an Arsenal shirt, Udinese will now face a forward line of Marouane Chamakh, Andriy Arshavin and Gervinho. While on the bench there could be places for such junior hopefuls as exciting Keith Pot-Noodle, the current captain of Malaysia's all-conquering Under-12s and an as-yet-unnamed Brazilian foetus of indeterminate gender.

--- "I'm starting to think you're making up your relatives. Weird Nephew Fiver implies Wired Uncle Fiver has at least once ... well, you know ... with a lady, and that's just not plausible" - Matt Corbishley (and others).

--- Marseille want to pay £6m worth of real money for the flailing goal-hulk Carlton "Can't Buy A Goal" Cole. Didier Deschamps's team have scored only 17 times in 16 Ligue 1 games this season, a situation that will no doubt change completely the moment Carlton "Can't Control" Cole arrives in town with his red and white handkerchief on a knotty stick slung over his shoulder.

--- Having got shot of Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Liverpool are in the market for a defender to sit alongside Martin Skrtel on the bench.

Football jokes from The Guardian

--- ...thundered a City statement before insisting that the club couldn't be more committed to transparency if it stuck a wedding ring on its finger and sired its children.

--- "Can I be one of 1,057 Bible-toting pedants to point out that Jesus would have had a hard time fixing anything in Sodom on a wet Wednesday (yesterday's Fiver), given that His Dad had destroyed the city a good while before he was born?" - Mark Rae (and one other Bible-toting pedant).

--- ...in temperatures Satan himself would have objected to as excessively hot...

--- Arsenal want the Birmingham defender Scott Dann, despite him being a real-life defender

--- Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas may open talks with Kaká instead. The Brazilian famously belongs to Jesus, who currently sub-lets him to Spanish club Real Madrid

--- Foster could initially move on loan, giving Roy Hodgson time to see if the 28-year-old is a big enough galoot to fill Scott Carson's recently vacated oversized clown shoes.

--- Dirk Kuyt has insisted he's staying put despite strong interest from Internazionale, who are looking to inject a lack of pace into their front line.

--- With new captain Robin van Persie suspended for the crime of shooting on goal while wearing an Arsenal shirt, Udinese will now face a forward line of Marouane Chamakh, Andriy Arshavin and Gervinho. While on the bench there could be places for such junior hopefuls as exciting Keith Pot-Noodle, the current captain of Malaysia's all-conquering Under-12s and an as-yet-unnamed Brazilian foetus of indeterminate gender.

--- "I'm starting to think you're making up your relatives. Weird Nephew Fiver implies Wired Uncle Fiver has at least once ... well, you know ... with a lady, and that's just not plausible" - Matt Corbishley (and others).

--- Marseille want to pay £6m worth of real money for the flailing goal-hulk Carlton "Can't Buy A Goal" Cole. Didier Deschamps's team have scored only 17 times in 16 Ligue 1 games this season, a situation that will no doubt change completely the moment Carlton "Can't Control" Cole arrives in town with his red and white handkerchief on a knotty stick slung over his shoulder.

--- Having got shot of Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Liverpool are in the market for a defender to sit alongside Martin Skrtel on the bench.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vision

I have a vision of a beauty so pristine,
Such as on earth never has been seen.
Sculpted from snow her form exquisite,
Mesmeric her gaze, her smile's hypnotic.
Her spirit wilder than wildest flames,
Toys with hearts, plays tenuous games.
Darkest of shadows she makes light,
All my life's wrongs she makes right.
Defying all of nature's laws,
She truly is... without flaws.
But such flawless beauty on this earth cannot be,
Visible not to mortal eyes, only to ethereal eyes is she.
In high heavens she is, not on this earth low,
For when He'd created her, even He couldn't let her go!

--- dreamcatcher

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hannibal's Haiku

Night heron revealed
By the rising harvest moon
Which is lovelier?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

damn you, love!

restless days, sleepless nights.
insanity draws closer.
damn you, love!

--- dreamcatcher

Friday, November 25, 2011

Reverie


you,
and i,
and the sky...

(sigh...)

hint of a smile,
gazelle eyes,
oh, my!

you avoid my eye,
why?
you meet my eye,
i could fly!

come to me,
wondrous tales have i,
now you're here
i'm tongue-tied!

i need you,
you're my joy!
once you're mine,
happy i'll die.

--- dreamcatcher

Monday, November 21, 2011

heavenly tears

raindrops on my window;
heavenly tears.
I don't cry alone...

--- dreamcatcher

Saturday, November 19, 2011

gocce di pioggia,
piange il cielo.
anch'io...

--- dreamcatcher

Friday, November 18, 2011

perdendo il senno
poco a poco,
maledetto amore!

--- dreamcatcher

Friday, November 11, 2011

Her Eyes

Eyes, those enchanting eyes,
Highs, infinite depths and vertiginous highs!
Drown, so many colors in which to drown;
Drown, in the black & white & grey & brown.
Green, Why don't I see the green?
Seen, every other color I've seen!
Gazelle, sweet eyes of a gazelle;
Spell, put me under a haunting spell.
Peek, when in this mystique I peek,
Weak, makes me oh-fucking-weak.
Frost, hot as embers, cold as frost,
Lost, in them I'm hopelessly lost.
Gaze, I gaze, and gaze, and gaze;
Amazed, amazed, amazed, amazed !!!

--- dreamcatcher

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why do I like you?

Is it your quiet, effortless grace?
Perhaps its your pristine, pretty face.
It must be your wonderful smile,
Leaves me speechless every single time.
It could be your sweet, bewitching eyes,
with endless depths and amazing highs.
Maybe its your voice, or perhaps your hair;
That radiant smile that you always wear.
Maybe it's how independent you are,
a loving sister, devoted daughter you are.
Its all these things, these secrets of ours,
Listing your graces is like counting stars.
Thats it Dearie, I've said all I can,
I like you coz you make be wanna be a better man.

--- dreamcatcher

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

FINE

Le stelle in cielo
Non conoscono l'ira
Bla, bla, bla, fine!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

L'attesa

Tremendo, temendo.
Sognando, sperando?
Aspetto...

--- dreamcatcher

Monday, November 07, 2011

Ti auguro tempo


Non ti auguro un dono qualsiasi,
ti auguro soltanto quello che i più non hanno.
Ti auguro tempo, per divertirti e per ridere;
se lo impiegherai bene, potrai ricavarne qualcosa.

Ti auguro tempo, per il tuo fare e il tuo pensare,
non solo per te stesso, ma anche per donarlo agli altri.
Ti auguro tempo, non per affrettarti a correre,
ma tempo per essere contenta.

Ti auguro tempo, non soltanto per trascorrerlo,
ti auguro tempo perché te ne resti:
tempo per stupirti e tempo per fidarti
e non soltanto per guardarlo sull'orologio.

Ti auguro tempo per toccare le stelle
e tempo per crescere, per maturare.
Ti auguro tempo per sperare nuovamente e per amare.
Non ha più senso rimandare.

Ti auguro tempo per trovare te stesso,
per vivere ogni tuo giorno, ogni tua ora come un dono.
Ti auguro tempo anche per perdonare.
Ti auguro di avere tempo : tempo per vivere.

--- Elli Michler

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

In Defence of Egoism

I'm frequently chastised by my friends of being an 'egoist'. Their reprimanding tone doesn't surprise me because our society has such an ingrained fear of independent spirit that any person with even a hint of selfishness is automatically branded as bad. What makes me laugh is that people who otherwise are fairly intelligent fall for this kind of thinking. After all, a little bit of common sense is all that’s needed to understand that egoism by its pure definition CANNOT POSSIBLY be a terrible thing!

Merriam-Webster defines egoism as "excessive concern for oneself with or without exaggerated feelings of self-importance". So it is actually a very personal thing. But our society completely distorts the definition to claim that an egoist is one who doesn't care about others and so is a horrible person. Two problems with this. One, just because I care excessively about myself doesn't mean that I don't care about others. The two things are not mutually exclusive. The second problem is this 'concern' for others. Just how much concern am I supposed to show others to be branded noble? I strongly believe that I don't need to be in love with everyone around me to be a good person.

I'm a decent person, but I'm not wonderful to everybody. I believe that people need to be treated in the way that they deserve. So I'm nice to people who're nice to me and to people I like, I'm civil to strangers and acquaintances and I'm 'not very nice/almost rude' to people who disrespect me.

Note that I said 'people who disrespect me', not 'people who don't respect me'! This important difference is forgotten by our society when it denounces egoism as an unpardonable sin. Not actively respecting a person is not the same as disrespecting a person. There is a middle way and that’s civility. I believe that we all have a basic obligation to be civil to others, that’s it! You need to be civil to everyone at the least, to 'not disrespect' others, rather than to go out of your way to 'respect others'.

Being egoist means being aware of one’s self-worth. This is completely independent of others. I can think very highly of myself without thinking any less of you. I know what I am and it doesn't interest me what you think of me. I don't need the validation of others. Nothing wrong as long as I don't actively disrespect you.

This is egoism at its purest. An acute awareness of one’s self-worth independent of others' opinions. An independence of thought and a sense of security that precludes the validation of other people. Thinking highly of oneself without thinking any less of others.

P.S. : I'm a pacifist, NOT an idiot. If I tolerate mistreatment it’s because I do not like confrontations. Some take it as a sign of weakness. Maybe it is. Worse, there are those who mistake my weakness for stupidity. Shame!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

That inside, that between...

Such is the rainbow
Not a dream.

He asks her to forgive
His temporary absence
His sudden grieve.

And he kisses her cry
With such concern
Such heed, so precise.

His lips so sweet
Go slowly down
Towards her knees
How he loves that inside
That between...

That she cannot understand
Perhaps
Because she does not see
As he tastes
But she feels….
And titillates.

Such is his charm
Not a dream.

That’s when her cry
Becomes her smile
His veneration
So kind,
So alive
They could die
And would not mind.

That’s when they celebrate
Their harmony,

Their peace:
Immortality.


--- Thanks to "Sweeter Poetry"

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Stay hungry, stay foolish!

A most inspiring speech from one of my heroes, Steve Jobs. This is the text of his Commencement address at Stanford university.

Thank you. I'm honored to be with you today for your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. Truth be told, I never graduated from college and this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation.

Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories. The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first six months but then stayed around as a drop-in for another eighteen months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out? It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife, except that when I popped out, they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking, "We've got an unexpected baby boy. Do you want him?" They said, "Of course." My biological mother found out later that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would go to college.

This was the start in my life. And seventeen years later, I did go to college, but I naïvely chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and no idea of how college was going to help me figure it out, and here I was, spending all the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out, I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms. I returned Coke bottles for the five-cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example.

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer was beautifully hand-calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans-serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me, and we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts, and since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them.

If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on that calligraphy class and personals computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.

Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever--because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.

My second story is about love and loss. I was lucky. I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents' garage when I was twenty. We worked hard and in ten years, Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees. We'd just released our finest creation, the Macintosh, a year earlier, and I'd just turned thirty, and then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew, we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so, things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge, and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our board of directors sided with him, and so at thirty, I was out, and very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating. I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down, that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure and I even thought about running away from the Valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me. I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I'd been rejected but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods in my life. During the next five years I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world's first computer-animated feature film, "Toy Story," and is now the most successful animation studio in the world.

In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT and I returned to Apple and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance, and Lorene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life's going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love, and that is as true for work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking, and don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it, and like any great relationship it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don't settle.

My third story is about death. When I was 17 I read a quote that went something like "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "no" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important thing I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctors' code for "prepare to die." It means to try and tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next ten years to tell them, in just a few months. It means to make sure that everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope, the doctor started crying, because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and, thankfully, I am fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept. No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don't want to die to get there, and yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. right now, the new is you. But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's quite true. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalogue, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stuart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late Sixties, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. it was sort of like Google in paperback form thirty-five years before Google came along. I was idealistic, overflowing with neat tools and great notions. Stuart and his team put out several issues of the The Whole Earth Catalogue, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-Seventies and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath were the words, "Stay hungry, stay foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. "Stay hungry, stay foolish." And I have always wished that for myself, and now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Thank you all, very much.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Falling in Love

Ignorantly is how we all fall in love; for it is a kind of fall. Closing our eyes, we leap from that cliff in hope of a soft landing. Nor is it always soft; but still, without that leap nobody comes to life.

--- Salman Rushdie, "The Moor's Last Sigh"

Ignorantemente noi tutti ci innamoriamo; è un tipo di caduta. Chiudendo gli occhi, saltiamo da quella scogliera nella speranza di un atterraggio morbido. E non è sempre morbido, ma comunque, senza quel salto nessuno prende vita.

--- Salman Rushdie, "L'ultimo Sospiro del Moro"

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Creation

- That god who made her,
how could he
have let her go? Was he blind?
- This wonder is not the result of blindness:
she is a woman, and a sinuous vine.
- It is thus proved:
Nothing in this world was created!

--- Octavio Paz

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Capolavoro!

Per la ragazza piu bella del mondo.


il mio desiderio piu intenso, piu profondo
cosi dolce, cosi morbido, pallore divino!
il tuo seno, un capolavoro

--- dreamcatcher

Monday, September 05, 2011

Deception


You smiled, you spoke, and I believed;
By every word and smile deceived.
Another man would hope no more;
Nor hope I what I hoped before:
But let not this last wish be vain;
Deceive, deceive me once again.

--- Walter Savage Landor

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Choose life! Or not!

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars .... Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life...

But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons ... ?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Haiku

I'd been a loner all my life. Never had time for other people. Then I came to live in Sicily and my life changed. I came in contact with so many people so unbelievably good that they managed to change my outlook on social life. Now I am very much changed and considerably more social. This is due to many people, but the largest share for this change is thanks to the first friend I made here, Chiara. This haiku is for her:

un raggio di luce
nell'oscurità,
quell'abbraccio...

--- dreamcatcher


Translation:

A ray of light
in the darkness,
That embrace...

--- dreamcatcher

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Where do you go when you're lonely?


Where do you go when you're lonely?
Where do you go when you're blue?
Where do you go when you're lonely?
I'll follow you
When the stars go blue...

--- Ryan Adams

Monday, August 22, 2011

I believe in the essential validity of love...



I still believe in the resilience of the human heart and the essential validity of love;I still believe that connections between people can be made and that the spirits which inhabit us sometimes touch. I still believe that the cost of these connections is horribly, outrageously high... and I still believe that the value received far outweighs the price which must be paid.

--- Stephen King, "Four Past Midnight"

Friday, August 19, 2011

Strange, how we suffer...


You are the call and I am the answer,
You are the wish, and I the fulfilment,
You are the night, and I the day.
What else - it is perfect enough.
It is perfectly complete,
You and I,
What more-?

Strange, how we suffer in spite of this.

--- D. H. Lawrence, "Bei Hennef"

Friday, August 05, 2011

Come scrivere un capolavoro


Quello che segue è l'inizio di un romanzo di Stephen King, "Duma Key". Secondo me è uno dei migliori brani mai scritti!

Come fare un disegno?

Si comincia con uno spazio bianco. Non dev'essere necessariamente carta o tela, ma secondo me dev'essere bianco. Noi diciamo bianco perché abbiamo bisogno di una parola, ma la definizone giusta è «niente». Il nero è l'assenza della luce, ma il bianco è l'assenza della memoria, il colore del non ricordo. Come ricordiamo di ricordare? Bisogna stabilire l'orizzonte. Bisogna segnare il bianco. Un atto abbastanza semplice, direte, ma ogni atto che rifà il mondo è eroico.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

In the end we all swing!


You may wonder about long-term solutions. I assure you, there are none. All wounds are mortal. Take what's given. You sometimes get a little slack in the rope but the rope always has an end. So what? Bless the slack and don't waste your breath cursing the drop. A grateful heart knows that in the end we all swing.

--- Stephen King, "Skeleton Crew"

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Best-ever Opening to a novel


How to Draw a Picture

Start with a blank surface. It doesn't have to be paper or canvas, but I feel it should be white. We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can't remember.

How do we remember to remember? You have to establish the horizon. You have to mark the white. A simple enough act, you might say, but any act that re-makes the world is heroic.

Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby. She fell from a carriage almost ninety years ago, struck her head on a stone, and forgot everything. Not just her name; everything! And then one day she recalled just enough to pick up a pencil and make the first hesitant mark across the white. A horizon line, sure. But also a slot for the blackness to pour through.

Still, imagine that small hand lifting the pencil ... hesitating ... and then marking the white. Imagine the courage of that first effort to re-establish the world by picturing it.
I will always love that little girl, in spite of all she has cost me. I must. I have no choice.

Pictures are magic, as you know.

Monsters !!!

You're off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters!


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Tentazione!


Pensi davvero che ... che è debolezza cedere alla tentazione? Vi dico che ci sono tentazioni terribili, cedere alle quali richiede forza, forza e coraggio. Mettere in gioco tutta la vita in un solo momento, rischiare tutto in un tiro, che il premio sia potenza o piacere, non m'importa - non c'è debolezza in questo.

--- Oscar Wilde

Temptation!


Do you really think ... that it is weakness that yields to temptation? I tell you that there are terrible temptations that it requires strength, strength and courage, to yield to. To stake all one's life on a single moment, to risk everything on one throw, whether the stake be power or pleasure, I care not -- there is no weakness in that.

--- Oscar Wilde

Monday, August 01, 2011

The worst is still to come...



There are always worse things waiting. You think you have seen the most terrible thing, the one that coalesces all your nightmares into a freakish horror that actually exists, and the only consolation is that there can be nothing worse. Even if there is, your mind will snap at the sight of it, and you will know no more. But there is worse, your mind does not snap, and somehow you carry on. You might understand that all the joy has gone out of the world for you, you might wish you were the one who was dead - but you go on. You might realize that you are in a hell of your own making, but you go on nevertheless. Because there is nothing else to do.

--- Stephen King "Full Dark, No Stars"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Somniloquy


Your gravity, your grace have turned a tide
In me, no lunar power can reverse;
But in your narcolpetic eyes I spied
A sightlessness tonight: or something worse,
A disregard that made me feel unmanned.
Meanwhile, insomniac , I catch my breath
To think I saw my future carved in sand
One afternoon 'as still, as carved, as death',
And pray for an oblivion so deep
It ends in transformation. Only dawn
Can save me, flood this haunted house of sleep
With light, and drown the ghosts that nightly warn:
"Another lifetime is the least you'll need, to trace
The guarded secrets of her gravity, her grace."


--- Jonathon Coe - 'The House of Sleep'

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mothers!

MICHELANGELO'S MOTHER: "Can't you paint on walls like other children? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get that stuff off the ceiling?"

MONA LISA'S MOTHER: "After all that money your father and I spent on braces, that's the biggest smile you can give us?"

COLUMBUS' MOTHER: "I don't care what you've discovered, you still could have written!"

MARY'S MOTHER: "I'm not upset that your lamb followed you to school, but I would like to know how he got a better grade than you."

ALBERT EINSTEIN'S MOTHER: "But it's your senior picture. Can't you do something about your hair? Styling gel, mousse, something...?"

JONAH'S MOTHER: "That's a nice story. Now, tell me where you've really been for the last forty years."

THOMAS EDISON'S MOTHER: "Of course I'm proud that you invented the electric light bulb. Now, turn it off and get to bed!"

WALT DISNEY'S MOTHER: "With the mouse; with the duck, and now with dwarfs. Why don't you become a CPA like your cousin Morris?

NAPOLEON'S MOTHER: "All right, if you aren't hiding your report card inside your jacket, take your hand out of there and show me."

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S MOTHER: "Again with the stovepipe hat? Can't you just wear a baseball cap like the other kids?"

GEORGE WASHINGTON'S MOTHER: "The next time I catch you throwing money across the Potomac, you can kiss your allowance good-bye!"

PAUL REVERE'S MOTHER: "I don't care where you think you have to go young man, midnight is past your curfew."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tandem Story

Here's a prime example of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" offered by an English professor from the University of Phoenix:

The professor told his class one day: "Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story. You will e-mail your partner that paragraph and send another copy to me. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also sending another copy to me. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back-and-forth. Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely NO talking outside of the e-mails and anything you wish to say must be written in the e-mail. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached."

The following was actually turned in by two of his students: Rebecca and Gary.

-------------------------------------------

THE STORY:

(first paragraph by Rebecca)

At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.



(second paragraph by Gary)

Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. " A.S. Harris to Geostation 17," he said into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far..." But before he could sign off a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.



(Rebecca)

He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel,"Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.



(Gary)

Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu'udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace disarmament Treaty through the congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anu'udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid Laurie.



(Rebecca)

This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.



(Gary)

Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. "Oh, shall I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of F--KING TEA??? Oh no, what am I to do? I'm such an air headed bimbo who reads too many Danielle Steele novels!"



(Rebecca)

Asshole.



(Gary)

Bitch



(Rebecca)

F__K YOU - YOU NEANDERTHAL!



(Gary)

Go drink some tea - whore.



(PROFESSOR)

*A+ - I really liked this one.*

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Best of Salman Rushdie

We look up and we hope the stars look down, we pray that there may be stars for us to follow, stars moving across the heavens and leading us to our destiny, but it's only our vanity. We look at the galaxy and fall in love, but the universe cares less about us than we do about it, and the stars stay in their courses however much we may wish upon them to do otherwise. It's true that if you watch the sky-wheel turn for a while you'll see a meteor fall, flame and die. That's not a star worth following; it's just an unlucky rock. Our fates are here on earth. There are no guiding stars.
--- 'The Moor's Last Sigh'

Abraham Zogoiby covered his face [...] because he had been assailed by fear, [...] a sudden apprehension that the ugliness of life might defeat its beauty; that love did not make lovers invulnerable. Nevertheless, he thought, even if the world's beauty and love were on the edge of destruction, theirs would still be the only side to be on; defeated love would still be love, hate's victory would not make it other than it was.
--- 'The Moor's Last Sigh'

Ignorantly is how we all fall in love; for it is a kind of fall. Closing our eyes, we leap from that cliff in hope of a soft landing. Nor is it always soft; but still, I told myself, still, without that leap nobody comes to life.
--- 'The Moor's Last Sigh'

We all owe death a life.
--- 'Midnight's Children'

Do not contemplate what lies beyond failure while you are still trying to succeed.
--- 'Fury'

I sigh therefore I am . . . In the beginning and unto the end was and is the lung: divine afflatus, baby’s first yowl, shaped air of speech, staccato gusts of laughter, exalted airs of song, happy lover’s groan, unhappy lover’s lament, miser’s whine, crone’s croak, illness’s stench, dying whisper, and beyond and beyond the airless, silent void.
A sigh isn’t just a sigh. We inhale the world and breathe out meaning. While we can. While we can.

--- 'The Moor's Last Sigh'

Now I know what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that's what.
--- 'The Satanic Verses'

What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accomodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? – The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world.
--- 'The Satanic Verses'

Most of what matters in our lives takes place in our absence.
--- 'Midnight's Children'

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Football Jokes from the Guardian, Part 6

The Guardian writers absolutely surpass themselves when it comes to ridiculing Arsenal!

--- "Our position is always the same," said Wenger, revealing a bit too much about his marital life for the Fiver's comfort.

--- For years, Arsenal fans comforted themselves with the phrase 'Arsene Knows'. Yet now many have added the suffix 'Eff All, the stupid effing feckless eejit'.

--- Velez Sarsfield's Ricardo Alvarez has decided to skip the two years of moping about never winning anything at Arsenal and go directly to Inter for £10m instead.

--- Robin Van Persie says Arsenal must "change or die", which sounds a little harsh even if you sort of know what he means.

--- Wesley Sneider "The Inter fans have always treated me very well. They were wonderful," he said. "I want to thank them. Only God will decide where my future lies." Though God may be assisted by Sneijder's agent when he makes the fateful decision.

--- Steve McClaren is back. The highly-rated-young-coach-turned-mediocre-club-manager-turned-object-of-ridicule-turned-actually-quite-good-tactician-turned-nope-that-was-a-one-off maestro put pen to paper on a three-year contract with Nottingham Forest this morning

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shakespeare's Sonnet XVII

Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were fill'd with your most high deserts?
Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say 'This poet lies;
Such heavenly touches ne'er touch'd earthly faces.'
...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

No Second Troy

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
with misery, or that she would of late
have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
that is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?

--- W.B.Yeats

Friday, June 10, 2011

Football Jokes from the Guardian, Part 5

--- Every time a challenge has been thrown down to them this season, Arsene Wenger's young team have risen heroically to meet it. But in the light of last night's draw between Manchester United and Newcastle, which breathed fresh scope for fun into the Premier League title race, we must remind ourselves that there are limits to what even lion-hearted prodigies can do and, difficult though it may be to believe, at some point this season Arsenal may fail to screw up an opportunity to win something.
For surely even they can't have many more c0ck-ups in reserve? Already this season they, like sailors who've slipped LSD into the scuttlebutt, have delved deep into the absurd in search of ways of wasting opportunities: they've thrown away a four-goal lead, managed to get their striker sent off for shooting wide, conceded a penalty in the 12th minute of stoppage time, fielded no fewer than four goalkeeping clowns and even lost a cup final to none other than Birmingham City, for crying out loud. So when they travel to White Lane tonight, what wacky way can they possibly find of responding to the gauntlet thrown down last night by Sir Alex Ferguson's teases?

--- The Mill says that if Clichy had been entrusted with the crucifixion, Jesus would probably have been nailed to a haystack or a bucket of water or dung, because, yes, Clichy has no idea what a good cross is.

--- Arsène Wenger, has given up any notions of knowing what a defender looks like, and will instead go back to scouting French sides for undersized wide attacking types that he can call on when the other eight are injured.

--- Arsene wenger will snap up Jack Rodwell because, let's face it, you can't have too many promising young midfielders.

--- That would open the way for Tomas Rosicky to leave the Emirates for ... for ... We can't think of who would buy Tomas so will just leave it there.


--- Bacary Sagna is likely to return to the fold, which sadly means there is unlikely to be any comedy intervention from Emmanuel Eboue.

--- Arsène Wenger has decided he needs an old-fashioned defender. The kind who tackles, heads, marks people at corners, displays positional sense, doesn't air-kick the ball in the six-yard box and maybe, just maybe, can defend.

--- "Re: Alexander Hleb failing to adjust to Birmingham's style of play. Yeah, that whole winning trophies thing can be tough to get used to" - Nicholas Einhorn.

--- Fading Frank Lampard will totter back and forth in a manner that is but a couple of unhinged late tackles away from being a precise re-enactment of a modern-day Paul Scholes display

--- "Reading is still not a city, despite being bigger than Southampton and Portsmouth (I'm not bitter honestly). Having been a long-time reader of the Fiver, I always wondered what type of idiot bothered to write and correct you on these insignificant details. It now seems that I'm that type of idiot. Ho hum" - Russ Brown.

--- Jamie Carragher's challenge on Xxxx, a tackle so X-rated it should have come with a freephone number to call and assurances that it wouldn't appear on your bill

--- Kenny Dalglish is going to have to keep Italian ornament, Alberto Aquilani, after Juventus opted not to sign the flint-boned midfielder. Still, anything that keeps Christian Poulsen away from the first team can only be a good thing.

--- "I think you'll find Stoke is in the feekin' midlands you southern muppets" - Joseph Gibson.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Enchantress of Florence

I will always remember this book as the one that re-awakened my interest in Salman Rushdie. Prior to this, I had twice tried (unsuccessfully) to read his most successful book, 'Midnight's Children', and had given him up as a writer too convoluted for his own good.

I suppose its the Florence in the title that attracted me to this book (I'm a huge fan of Italy, and all things Italian). The review served only to intrigue me further. A heady mixture of old Indian empires, Italian culture and a healthy does of enchantment were promised. So I decided to give it a try.

It turned out to be an inspired choice. The story follows an Italian visitor to the Indian emperor Akbar's court claiming to be his relative. As preposterous as this suggestion seems, the visitor weaves a web of tales that make his claim seem not just credible but very probable. But this is just the pretext for this book. Its real strength is the narration. The author explores everything from the concept of religion, the intricacies of the Mughal emperor Akbar's court (& his nine jewels, the Navratnas), the events shaping up in Italy at the same time, to the depths of human nature. To combine so effortlessly two vastly different societies (mughal India and catholic Italy), and to flit gracefully from one to the other, and back; is the true achievement of this book.

Finally, this book establishes Rushdie firmly as a magician... of words! Some of the sentences are nothing less than exquisite necklaces woven from a string of wonderfully simple and necessarily complex gems of words. Most of the passages are an absolute joy to read. It makes one marvel at the heights to which human imagination can reach when at its inspired best.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quantum of Solace (6/10)

A Quantum Failure!

Reinventing a successful franchise is never easy. The makers of 'Quantum of Solace' have proved this by trying to redefine James Bond, and failing miserably. The re-invention that started with 'Casino Royale' comes to a jarring halt in this instalment. While 'Casino Royale' made a decent fist of this daunting task, 'Quantum of Solace' is extremely disappointing in almost every aspect.

Where to start? The plot, or rather the more-than-usual-flimsy storyline, which passes for a plot in Bond movies, involves a mysterious organization 'Quantum' that has tentacles everywhere, is trying to take over control of a natural resource, water, and de-stabilizing the world in the bargain. Unfortunately for them, they crossed James Bond's path, and so of course, mayhem ensues. No need to explain too many things because this is James Bond, after all. It doesn't have to make perfect sense. Suffice to say that theres plenty of action, adrenaline, big bangs, pursuits over land, water and air, and a tour of half the world.

Now, the problems. While the Bond movies have never traditionally made sense, what they had in common was the protrayal of Bond as this ultra-chic, super-suave, charming spy who doesn't need to work too hard; a perfect case in point being Pierce Brosnan, whose immaculate hair and tux are never affected, whether he's fighting the baddies, or riding cars, fighter jets or even tanks. With Daniel Craig this super-cool persona has been dropped and Bond has become more human, or to put it bluntly, normal.

The attempt of the movie makers was obviously to fuse the Bond charisma with the Bourne canniness, thus getting the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, this backfired big time. This bond has neither the suaveness, coolness and elegance of Brosnan, nor the lethal efficiency of Jason Bourne. Where Bourne's every move is clearly thought-out and executed flawlessly, Criag's Bond seems to do things for no apparent reason and continuously gets lucky (and I don't mean just in bed).

The action sequences borrow so heavily from the Bourne series that some of the ripoffs are embarassingly blatant. Daniel Craig, undoubtedly a good actor, just doesn't have the aura of control that Matt Damon protrays, nor does he possess the charms of Pierce Brosnan. His attempts to make Bond more human just reveal the too many flaws in the storyline. Ultimately, he ends up dragging Bond down to the level of an average, unspectacular spy.

A disappointing movie.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Midnight's Children

There are no adjectives left to praise this book any more. It has won so many awards (the Booker prize, 'Best of Booker-25 years' and 'Best of Booker-40 years' are the most notable) that any praise seems superfluous. Its like saying Michelangelo was a great artist; true but quite obvious (lapalissiano as a dear friend of mine would say)! In the case of this book, its achievements speak louder than any words ever could. So lets just say that it has earned all the praise it has gotten so far, and fully deserves the accolades that have & will come its way.

The story traces the life of a man born at exactly the same time as India gained its independence from the British, the midnight of 15th august 1945. Through his life, we see the major events that shaped the formative years of India. Considering that this was only the second book written by Rushdie, it is audacious not only in its scope but in its style and content as well. He plays with the narrative like a seasoned narrator and not once shirks from making powerful political statements concerning even the most influential political personalities. Along the way, he imbues every single character with a life of its own.

Salman Rushdie truly is a great writer(a sentiment echoed by literary figures with a lot more credibility than me). His sentences are magical, much more than mere constructions of words. Like a magician, he makes them do things that a mere mortal can only dream of. So it is that his words make us dream, think, despair, love & hate; a proper roller-coaster of emotions that even moving pictures cannot match. He achieves the ultimate objective of any writer by making his words speak directly to the heart of his reader!

One tiny example of his mastery of his art is an episode where a muslim woman saves a hindu life. The episode is narrated in a simple, straightforward way without any pretensions of judging the eternal race relations. His heroes are not sugar-coated, rose-tinted melodrama-filled dummies; they are real-life, simple and even matter-of-fact about their heroic actions, and hence are infinitely more believable. Another testament to his skills is the heart-rending simplicity with which the protagonist's grief is narrated in the second last chapter. With one brief sentence he manages to convey the depth of the protagonist's emotions. And that is the sign of a master writer; to do more with less, to recognize that grief does not need fancy explanations. Sadness is always stark, bare, unadorned and at its root, tragically simple. Listing down every single high point of the narrative is just not feasible, so suffice to say that in the pantheon of the greatest books on realism this book would hold its own along with The Moor's Last Sigh.

An epic for all ages!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Dark Knight (9/10)

Why...so...serious...?

A comic-book hero movie with philosophical aspirations! A villain more complex and deep than the hero! An oscar worthy performance! Plenty of gadgetry and big bangs! This movie has all this...and much more! If anyone can take a comic-book hero movie and turn it into a huge blockbuster, completely reconstructing the franchise along the way, it is Christopher Nolan. And he is in top form here.

'The Dark Knight' confounds you with the complexity of its characters, richness of its plot and its sheer magnitude. There are many layers to this movie. There is obviously the simple good vs. evil plotline. But just under the surface are many more subtle themes. How difficult it is to be truly good, how easy it is to turn bad, how strong (or weak) is our respect for morals, the lure of the dark side, and the indefatigable spirit of the light! Nolan follows all these themes and manages to string together a movie that is much more than an average hollywood blockbuster. It is a movie which makes us think. At the end, the words of Harvey 'Two-face' Dent resonate in our ears : 'You either die a hero or live long enough to become the villian'. Terrifying, precisely because the movie shows how close this is to the truth.

Heath Ledger as 'The Joker' is astonishingly good in this movie. When Nolan was asked why Ledger as Joker, he replied "Because he is fearless". Watching this movie clarifies that statement. Its not just that he is showing us a Joker far more wicked, far more sinister and far more scary than ever seen, its that he's using an actor who has never played a villain before (played Casanova, in fact), to play possibly the most scary character ever portrayed on-screen. And the gamble has played off handsomely. Ledger has played the Joker with a refreshing honesty, and in so doing injected a level of menace and wickedness into the Joker that is unexpectedly terrifying. He forces us to take the Joker a lot more seriously than we'd like to. This is an iconic performance that'll be remembered for a long time and deserves an Academy Award.

A must-see!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Moor's Last Sigh

This is an epic about many things : about Bombay, about growing up and about the different manifestations of love; but most of all, it is about women, about four generations of strong, proud, flawed mothers, wives & daughters, and their culmination into one ultimate flawed, hapless, helpless man - MOOR. The plot is a family history, a narrative of the life stories of 4 generations of the Da Gama/Zogoiby family where not one member is perfect (which is probably a true reflection of real-life where everyone has his/her share of imperfections). Moraes 'Moor' Zogoiby, the last son of the Zogoiby family, and the narrator, takes us on a journey from the origins of his family tree all the way to his final hours, where we see the successes & the failings of his family. We see them becoming exceedingly rich professionally, and reaching a shocking level of moral decay, with a climax that is shocking for its savagery.

The writing doesn't have Rowling's simplicity, King's invention or Dan Brown's breathless pace; but what it lacks is more than made up by an amazingly inventive narrative style and an almost magical play on/with words. The simple, straightforward story becomes an extraordinary achievement thanks to the narration. Most writers have one, proven style of narration and stick to it; Rushdie on the other hand, seems to constantly experiment with and evolve his prose style, and in the process finds exhiliratingly original ways of narration.

His manipulation of words is astonishing at times, and the inventiveness of his narrative style is always brilliant. His ability to take simple acts, and describe them, so as to effortlessly ascribe to them profound meanings and philosophical connotations is truly exhilirating. And thus, from the simple act of breathing, he comes up with the following : "I sigh, therefore I am. A sigh isn't just a sigh. We inhale the world and breathe out meaning." This was one book which never seemed to end, partly because it is fairly long, but also because there were so many passages of mind-blowing writing that I couldn't resist reading these over and over to savour the magic of his words.

An epic in every sense of the word.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WALL.E (9/10)

They say that lightning doesn't strike twice. But where Pixar studios are concerned, lightning doesn't just strike once(Toy story). It strikes again(Finding Nemo). And again(The Incredibles). And again(Ratatouille).

The latest magical flash of lightning from Pixar is 'WALL.E'

The plot is fairly straightforward. WALL.E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth class) is the last active robot on earth, whose job it is to collect and dispose of waste. EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) is a state-of-the-art robot sent to earth on a classified directive. On earth, she meets WALL.E, and something else that requires her to return immediately to her masters. By this time WALL.E is hopelessly in love with her, and follows; leading to the inevitable adventures and wholly unexpected discoveries.

So what makes this movie special? The highly endearing robots, the honesty/simplicity of its plot, the unbelievable chemistry between its many inanimate protagonists, and not least of all, the numerous ingenious alternatives to speech that it finds to convey the essentially human feelings of its completely un-human protagonists. And so it is that despite saying just one word in the whole movie, WALL.E manages to come across as love-struck, sad, happy, puzzled, and infinitely more clever and human, than intended, or indeed expected, by his creator. And despite looking like a feminized i-pod with blue eyes, who utters less than 5 words in the whole movie; EVE manages to get across her innocence, lethalness, happiness, exasperation and in one final moment, heart-breaking vulnerability.

This movie shows us a future replete with comfort and yet most definitely undesirable. It reminds us of the gift that is this earth of ours, and how we are misusing it. But above all else, it reminds us in a totally new way, the power of that most powerful of human emotions, love!

A wonderful, wonderful film!!!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Charlie Wilson's War (9/10)

Effortlessly brilliant!!!

By now I've come to expect something special from a Mike Nichols movie. So when I watched this one, I was positive that I wouldn't be disappointed, but I wasn't counting on being blown away, which is what happened. This movie is a masterpiece of its genre, a political satire of the very highest calibre, not to mention an exceptional biopic.

Charlie Wilson was a US congressman with pretty serious character & moral issues, who almost single-handedly was responsible for the US arming of the Afgan resistance against the Soviets, hence directly causing the end of the cold war. He was a womanizer & chronic drinker whose heart was in the right place, and when he witnessed the pain and inhuman atrocities in the Afgan refugee camps, he took it upon himself to arm the Afgan resistance. The movie tells his story, and how he finds unlikely allies in a coarse, foul-mouthed CIA operative, an exceedingly rich woman with a personal interest in the well-being of the Afgans and the bevy of gorgeous, eager-to-please, all-female assistants (Charlie's angels)!

Why is it so good? As always with a Mike Nichols movie, the dialogue is wonderfully brilliant, laced with satire, shrewdness and wit. The acting is uniformly excellent, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is absolutely, unbelievably good as the foul-mouthed CIA guy. He owns the screen in every single one of his shots, being charmingly politically incorrect and showing remarkable confidence, control & passion with his dialogue delivery. The music at all the times is meticulously matched to the setting and enhances the feel and the authenticity of every shot. The entire movie is shot and controlled so well that the brillance is enhanced by the seeming effortlessness of it all.

Another masterpiece from the master film-maker!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Closer (10/10)

Those who love at first sight are traitors at every glance

Larry - She doesnt want to be happy.

Dan - Everyone wants to be happy!

Larry - Depressives don't. They want to be unhappy to confirm they're depressed. If they were happy they couldn't be depressed anymore. They'd have to go out into the world and live. Which can be depressing!


Just one of numerous instances of razor-sharp verbal wit showcased in the masterpiece that is "Closer". From the first shot featuring "The Blower's Daughter" to the very end, which incidentally features the same song, this is a movie that is an unforgettable experience.

Here's a movie that says, "things dont always work out as expected & that we are not as strong-willed as we may think", and boldly goes on to explore the consequences. Mike Nichols has given us a refreshingly brutal look at relationships. And done it with breathtaking elegance as well.

At its heart, the movie is about relationships. What sets it apart is that it deals with all the aspects of a relationship that weaken it. It's like watching all the weaknesses of humans crystallized in one film. It might not sound like fun, but life is not always fun either. Unlike the dime a dozen 'feel-good' movies out there that are far removed from reality, this is a movie not afraid to tackle reality head-on. There is a unique strength and vitality to realism that just cannot be captured by fiction, and it's this realism that makes 'Closer' so compelling.

The biggest asset of this film is the unbelievably clever dialogue. Considering that the movie has zero action & almost no comedy, the dialogue is the only weapon at the director's disposal to make an impact on the viewer, apart from the acting. And what an impact it makes! Almost every single line is laced with shrewdness, cleverness & wit and delivered exquisitely. Brutal and hard-hitting at times, deceptively simple at others, but utterly convincing and clever always, its the dialogue that turns this movie from a 'very good' movie to an 'exceptional' one.

Finally, the stellar cast - Clive Owen, Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Julia Roberts. All four are exceptional, and not so much acting as 'living' their respective roles.

I like three kinds of movies - ones that make me laugh ('Snatch' comes to mind), ones that promise a great ending ('The Usual Suspects') and lastly, and the most difficult to achieve, ones in which the story is an end in itself and the actual ending matters very little.

"Closer" belongs to the third type. You don't watch it for the ending, to know how it all turns out in the end; you watch it to savour the class & elegance of every shot and every dialogue. You watch it to witness four tremendous actors and one brilliant director at the peak of their powers. It is the equivalent of a beautiful journey where the destination is immaterial, and the journey is all that counts. This is a journey well worth taking!

Friday, April 29, 2011

(500) Days of Summer (10/10)

'This is not a love story. This is a story about love.'

A surprisingly wonderful movie. Surprising because at first glance it seems to be the usual romantic tripe that Hollywood is bursting with. Instead what we get is a refreshingly honest, adult and intelligent look at (non)relationships. A simple story that is portrayed brilliantly thanks to taut, understated direction, good acting and good dialogues. A testament to how much you can do with simplicity.

Our hero, a young, naive, romantic guy, Tom, falls hopelessly in love with his boss' new assistant, Summer. Unfortunately for him, Summer doesnt believe in love. Her thoughts on the subject are summed up by this exchange:

Tom: What happens if you fall in love?
Summer: Well, you don't believe that, do you?
Tom: It's love. It's not Santa Claus.


Nevertheless, she finds Tom interesting and they start seeing each other. Steadily their relationship develops from being colleagues, to friends, to lovers and a bit more. Summer still refuses to acknowledge that they're anything more than mere friends which annoys the hell out of Tom. Witness this exchange:

Summer: We're just friends.
Tom: No! Don't pull that with me! Kissing in the copy room? Holding hands in IKEA? Shower sex? Come on! Friends my balls!


And so the relationship starts, develops and inexorably winds towards a conclusion that is a little bit sad, a little bit happy and a little bit liberating all at the same time.

A movie that is touching in its own simple way and a must-see for all the naive romantics out there (including yours truly :-p)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Computer - Male or Female?

A French teacher was explaining to her class that in French, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine. "House" for instance, is feminine - "la maison." ; "Pencil," however, is masculine "le crayon."

A student asked, "What gender is 'computer'?"

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether "computer" should be a masculine or feminine noun.

Each group was asked to give four reasons for their recommendation.

The men's group decided that "computer" should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computer"), because:

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic
2. The language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else
3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval
4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine ("le computer"), because:

1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on
2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves
3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time THEY are the problem
4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bobby writes to God

Little Bobby came into the kitchen where his mother was making dinner. His birthday was coming up and he thought this was a good time to tell his mother what he wanted.

"Mom, I want a bike for my birthday." Little Bobby was a bit of a troublemaker. He had gotten into trouble at school and at home. Bobby's mother asked him if he thought he deserved to get a bike for his birthday. Little Bobby, of course, thought he did.

Bobby's mother wanted Bobby to reflect on his behaviour over the last year. "Go to your room, Bobby, and think about how you have behaved this year. Then write a letter to God and tell him why you deserve a bike for your birthday."

Little Bobby stomped up the steps to his room and sat down to write God a letter.

Letter 1

Dear God,

I have been a very good boy this year and I would like a bike for my birthday. I want a red one.

Your friend,
Bobby


Bobby knew that this wasn't true. He had not been a very good boy this year, so he tore up the letter and started over.

Letter 2

Dear God,

This is your friend Bobby. I have been a good boy this year and I would like a red bike for my birthday.

Thank you.
Your friend Bobby


Bobby knew that this wasn't true either. So, he tore up the letter and started again.

Letter 3

Dear God,

I have been an "OK "boy this year. I still would really like a bike for my birthday.

Bobby


Bobby knew he could not send this letter to God either. So, he wrote a fourth letter.

Letter 4

God,

I know I haven't been a good boy this year. I am very sorry. I will be a good boy if you just send me a bike for my birthday. Please!

Thank you,
Bobby


Bobby knew, even if it was true, this letter was not going to get him a bike.

Now, Bobby was very upset. He went downstairs and told his mom that he wanted to go to church. Bobby's mother thought her plan had worked, as Bobby looked very sad.

"Just be home in time for dinner," Bobby's mother told him. Bobby walked down the street to the church on the corner. He went into the church and up to the altar. He looked around to see if anyone was there. Bobby bent down and picked up a statue of the Mary. He slipped the statue under his shirt and ran out of the church, down the street, into the house, and up to his room. He shut the door to his room and sat down with a piece of paper and a pen. Bobby began to write his letter to God.

Letter 5

God,

I'VE KIDNAPPED YOUR MAMA. IF YOU WANT TO SEE HER AGAIN, SEND THE BIKE !!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to reject rejections

Subject: Human Resources


Dear Hiring Manager,


Thank you for your letter of March 16.


After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me a position in your department. This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.


Despite your firm's outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I will assume the position in your department this August. I look forward to seeing you then.


Best of luck in rejecting future applicants.


Sincerely, Interviewee

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Problem-solving the Qantas way

Qantas is an airline company based in Australia. After every flight, Qantas pilots fill out a form called a gripe sheet, which conveys to the mechanics problems encountered with the aircraft during the flight that need repair or correction. The engineers read and correct the problem, and then respond in writing on the lower half of the form what remedial action was taken, and the pilot reviews the gripe sheets before the next flight. Never let it be said that ground crews and engineers lack a sense of humour. Here are some actual logged maintenance complaints and problems as submitted by Qantas pilots and the solution recorded by maintenance engineers. By the way, Qantas is the only major airline that has never had an accident.
(P = The problem logged by the pilot)
(S = The solution and action taken by the engineers)



P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.

S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.





P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.

S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.




P: Something loose in cockpit.

S: Something tightened in cockpit





P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.

S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.





P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.

S: Evidence removed





P: DME volume unbelievably loud.

S: DME volume set to more believable level





P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.

S: That's what they're there for





P: IFF inoperative.

S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode





P: Suspected crack in windshield.

S: Suspect you're right





P: Number 3 engine missing.

S: Engine found on right wing after brief search





P: Aircraft handles funny.

S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious





P: Target radar hums.

S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics





P: Mouse in cockpit.

S: Cat installed





P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.

S: Took hammer away from midget

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Complaints from tenants

These are genuine clips from British Council flat tenants complaining to the Council about problems with their flats !!!

1. My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has fungus growing in it.

2. He's got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just can't take it anymore.

3. It's the dog's mess that I find hard to swallow.

4. I want to complain about the farmer across the road; every morning at 6am his cock wakes me up and it's now getting too much for me.

5. I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would you please do something about the noise made by the man on top of me every night.

6. And their 18-year-old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.

7. Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and satisfy my wife.

8. My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?

9. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.

10. Will you please send someone to mend the garden path? My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant.

11. I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

12. 50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster and 50% are plain filthy.

13. I am still having problems with smoke in my new drawers.

14. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.

15. Will you please send a man to look at my water, it is a funny colour & not fit to drink.

16. I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.

17. The man next door has a large erection in the back garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.

18. Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and would like a third so please send someone round to do something about it.

19. I wish to complain that my father hurt his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage.

20. I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof. I think it was bad wind the other night that blew them off.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Sick notes

These are real notes written by parents in a Tennessee school district...(spellings have been left intact.)

1. Please exkuce lisa for being absent she was sick and i had her shot.

2. Please excuse jimmy for being. It was his father's fault.

3. Please excuse jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it monday. We thought it was sunday.

4. My daughter was absent yesterday because she was tired. She spent a weekend with the marines.