Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
The academy awards this year somehow felt devoid of the drama that usually accompanies it. It is hard to be excited about it when you almost know for sure the winners for most of the categories. The only thing that kept me interested was to see if Scorsese would win the awards this year or not. We had a new host too, Ellen Degeneress, this year and she was a bit toned down compared to Chris Rock last year. The most memorable of her lines was “If there weren't blacks, Jews and gays, there would no Oscars. Or anyone named Oscar, if you think about that”.
Having said that, the awards did throw up some surprises along the way. The biggest of them all must surely be Alan Arkin, winner for best supporting actor for ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. He beat out everyone’s favorite Eddie Murphy who had won most of the awards leading up to the Oscars for his portrayal of James “Thunder” Early in ‘Dreamgirls’.
In another surprise the German movie ‘The Lives of Others’ won over Mexico’s ‘Pan's Labyrinth’, which was widely favored to win the award. Nevertheless Pan’s Labyrinth won 3 awards including cinematography, makeup and art direction.
The major categories all went according to plan. Hellen Mirren for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen” must have been the surest nominee ever to win the best actress award. It was a foregone conclusion that she would pick up the award and which she duly did.
Forrest Whitaker, who started off as a favorite early on faced some sentimental competition from the veteran Peter O’Toole. However Whitaker’s role of Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland” prevailed over Toole’s portrayal of an elderly actor in love with a young girl in ‘Venus’ . “Little Miss Sunshine” a popular road comedy about a dysfunctional family won 2 awards for the night including best original screenplay to add to its supporting actor win.
Jennifer Hudson, the favorite to win the supporting actress category, brought in the only Oscar for “Dreamgilrs”. The American Idol reject was visibly overcome with emotion during her speech after receiving the award. But it was a surprise to see “Dreamgirls ” lose out to Melissa Etheridge’s song “I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth”, despite having 3 of its songs nominated.
Babel picked up its only Oscar of original score for Gustavo Santaolalla, despite having several other nominations including best picture. Gustavo said during his acceptance speech that his goal was to write a score that doesn't sound like a National Geographic soundtrack.
Among the other notable awards, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was given to ex-Paramount chief Sherry Lansing. While a special Oscar was given to Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Best remembered for the The Good, The Bad and The Ugly's haunting theme song.
But the biggest winner of the night was undoubtedly Martin Scorsese. His crime drama ‘Departed’ not only won him his first Oscar in six attempts, it also went on to take the most awards (4) of the night including best picture. It won in the best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay and best editing categories. It was a long time coming and the Academy didn’t let go of the chance to make it special either. The moment three his greatest contemporaries came on the stage to give the best director award we were sure it had to be Scorsese’s night. He received the award from Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Oscar definitely has corrected its past injustices towards him.
And here are some pretty cool ways to do it in a fashion that will place you firmly either in famedom or in weirddom.
Do try these at home.
Creative way no:1/ The angelisa minerat way.
Contrary to what you have guessed, angelisa minerat is neither the name of a Rastafarian celebrity born to a Jewish father and a Muslim mother nor is it the name the students of Hogwarts have given to Hagrid’s private. Angelisa(beaut name, isn’t it?) is actually a leech like..thing that is rarely found in the humid Andes and never on the rest of the earth. Inorder to commit suicide in the first way, first of all u will have to travel to the Andes, wait around for an angelis to show up and then try to capture it. If you are still alive by then , come back home, and do as prescribed below.
Lower your pants and underpants. Shove the angelis inside your anus. The angelis is a natural born cent percent flesh eater. It will find its way through your liver to lungs and more all the while you will feel extreme physical pain the kind of which even a truckload of LSD wouldn’t do for you. Another advantage is the amount of blood that the angelis manages to squeeze out of your body. You can be dead sure that whoever comes to clean after you is gonna really really clean and remember u for the rest of their lives.
Warning: If you fail to shove the angelis up your lower opening and instead put it inside your mouth, there is a more than fair chance that the angelis would eat your tongue off and then come off since angelis loves our tongues and hates our words. If u do that all u would lose would be your words and not your soul. So, careful while doing this,ok?
Creative way no:2/ The spouse method
This is for those who are married. The rest can either skip this one or keep this for future reference.
Married people eventually get bored with each other. The only question is how long they get along with each other before it starts to get ‘so’. The figures vary. Some last two months and u may not believe me, but some couple do get by well without boring each other up to three whole months! Can u believe it! I’ve seen ‘em man. Yeah, it’s a strange world. I mean three who;e months…!
So as I said, this one is for those who are bored with their respective spouses and are trying to find a way out of this wed/warlock(as every married person is). All u have to do is kill ur spouse, then marry the next one. Eventually u will get bord with the new one and u then kill that one and marry the next one. Do this in a cyclic kinda hang and sure as cindy crawford’s big breasts, u will get bored with this process itself and due do sheer boredom u are gonna find some cute way to end your life, far more creative than anything I can come up with, ‘cause hey, its your life.
I did intend to write in a coupla more creative ways out of around 4000 I have thought up for u guys(straight from my heart with love), but I am having reservations about it now. I am gonna try my luck with the producers of the ‘Saw’ movie franchise. Maybe they will get interested in some of my ‘ways of death’. If that happens, u can catch the rest of the ideas on screen and if it doesn’t, well…if it doesn’t, all I can say is that this blogspot is gonna get weirder and weirder.
Peace! Happy suicide!
What I am driving at is that the musicbuds do need refreshments just as tastebuds need be stimulated using chick food. As any self respecting rock n’ roll fan would be my witness rock musicians of late have neglected the musicbuds of their dearly beloved audience.’Of late’, for some began right after the glam rock era and for others after the ascension to heaven of kurt Cobain in a bikini. Whatever be the precise time, the rock lover’s musicbuds have long since gone to a not by any means sweet slumber.
As we plead for someone or something to come and rise our dearly departed musicbuds, we can instead do the right thing by listening to ‘radiohead’. Arguably the greatest contemporary rock band. Listening to Radiohead is part fun and part superfun. And for those who likes ‘serious’ music, I would say this much-good luck boss!
Though shot to super rockstardom by their album ‘ok computer’ which also won them a coupla awards(read grammy) my favourite radiohead album is ‘kid a’ closely followed by ‘hail to the thief ’. ‘the bends’ , ‘ok computer’, ‘ amnesiac’ , those are all more than neat albums to own as well. Each radiohead song offers u a portal into another world which is much more real than this maya ridden world in which we reside in, though I do like the maya of root beer, and in the radiohead world root beer is free. What I mean to say is, their music is cool.
In India at least, radiohead is a terribly underrated and under listened band though they are popular elsewhere. Instead of ruining ur sensibilities and time listening to the girl with spears protruding out of her breasts or to the shack-era, both of whom actually offers far more to the eyes than to the ears, forget musicbuds dude!, just lay back and enter radiohead and see for urself how the simple sound of ‘bleep bleep blaap’ can reveal to you everything you ever wanted to know about your dearly beloved spouse.
And oh, I recently attented a funeral. That’s why the ‘dearly beloved..’ bit.
2007 Budget is almost ready and undergoing final touches on the FM’s anvil, the following are some untraditional ideas about a budget that will make the profession of agriculture viable and beneficial to all who are engaged in the job as well as all who consume the products out of agriculture. As we all know Indian farmers are not doing well and for a steady income however small it will be he will quit the farming and go leaving the land which so far gave him only cups of woes and marginalized him far from the developed world.
Farmer v/s consumer
The interest of a farmer should not be against the interest of the end user and the prosperity of the end user should never stand against the welfare of the farmer. At present the governments in the greed for caching votes is in search of quick-fix solutions by disbursing more and more bank loans to farmers. Loans are no solutions to the problems as they only push the poor farmer in to more and more debts – he is already immersed in debt. Writing off of loans is a bad precedent only to be a drain of public wealth.
A rotten machinery
There are a lot of government officials employed for the welfare of the farmers and the output of all these machineries are virtual nothing. They are good only for expending the allocations made for agriculture. The farmers are emotionally attached to their land however in-fertile it is, hence asking them to part with the ownership of this land for better style of living is not practical in the Indian background.
The facts, problems and solutions.
The ownership being left to them why the management of the farms to be left to some efficient corporates, let us think of the pros and cons of such a radical action.
Money, money and more money
Good agricultural practices involving latest technologies require a lot of money and Indian farmers do not have that kind of money at their disposal neither are they equipped to deal that much cash. The best thing they know to spend money is to see their daughters married off in grandeur, buy some consumer items like TV, fridge, car etc or building a palace like residence.
Managing farms (machineries, fertilizing, using of pesticides, engaging laborers etc) require cutting edge skills. Expecting poor illiterate Indian farmers doing all these with panache is nothing but wish full thinking.
Value addition and storage
Our farmer’s knowledge about value addition is a big zero, hence they sell it as harvested
And get the least value for their produce. Inventory control of machineries and scientific storage of produce require good knowledge and large amount of capital, which Indian farmers have never had it enough.
Marketing of products is a high-skilled activity which calls for technical knowledge, marketing skills, and bargaining power, in this point how many Indian farmers score pass-mark? The bank managers knocking their doors for repayment, force them for distress sales.
Ownership v/s Management
Suppose on a trial basis government select the worst affected agricultural area (Vidarbha in Maharashtra for example where farmer-suicide is a common event) and invite tenders from good Indian corporates for managing farms in Vidarbha and a model agreement is reached with the entity which offers the best conditions for the farmers who own the lands (The ownership in no way is transferred to the company).
A transparent agreement.
When the complete process is transparent there will be no loop-hole for false accusations and as the company which offers the best to the farmers for the lowest rate wins, why should there be any complaints from any corner, if necessary changes have to be made in the laws, why can’t that be done? If not for the people why should be there a law making body and so many members who waste a lot of money?
No labor outsourcing!!!
All the laborers required must be met from local people as per the agreement, this will generate jobs and steady income to the farmers and through best agricultural practices the company also will stand to gain. If farming can be done in developed nations, it can be done here with one tenth of the cost and our farmers will not have to commit suicide and will not be forced to leave the profession leaving their land barren as it is done in Kerala.
Subsidy if any? No compensated.
In case any subsidy has to be paid to lure the companies? Most probably it will not have to pay for as modern farming is a profitable proposition and corporates will compete for the entry in to the new vista that has opened before them. Even if some subsidy has to be paid it will be compensated by the great savings in keeping a large army of agricultural officers without much use.
Walk out or stay
Suppose this experiment succeeds, the entire India will undergo a change and the idea will close the chapter of debt-ridden farmers from this land for ever, they will be getting double benefits one lease of the land and two the monthly wages for doing work for a reputed firm which pay them regularly. After the experiment for limited period the farmer gets back his land and he can lease it out to any firm for the terms and condition he can agree for his good.
Government only a facilitator
No permanent officials are required as government is only a facilitator, initial directions framing of laws and deputation of a top local officer as a mediator alone is required and farmers associations also can be a party for the transparency of the deal and better and efficient implementation, that is all for the government, it being not a good thing to be entrusted with day to day affairs of anything as corrupt officials will jump in to make a quick buck out of the sweat of the farmers.
Starving on a mine of gold
Illiteracy and ignorance of the farmers on the one side, a government-machinery devoid of any sympathy or ingenuity on the other side has so far left our farmers sleep with empty stomach on the treasure trove that their land actually is as the Arabs starved and toiled on the oil-treasure a century back. There must be someone to show them the actual value of the land they possess.
60 years went waste!!!
An idea of the time
But Indian President and even Prime minister are not professional politicians for the fortune of the nation. It is hoped at least they may think about a radical change in the Indian farming. Shouting slogans like “Garibi Hatao” (ward off poverty) from roof-top was what the previous ones did. Industrializing agriculture is an idea the time of which has come. If the face of Indian industry has been changed by our entrepreneurs they can change the face of our farming also.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Best film – Rang De Basanti
Best Director – Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (Rang De Basanti)
Best Actor – Hrithik Roshan (Dhoom 2)
Best Actress – Kajol (Fanaa)
Best Supporting Actor – Abhishek Bachan (Kabhi Alvida Na Kahna)
Best Supporting Actress – Konkona Sen (Omkara)
Best Actor in a Comic Role – Arshad Warsi(Lage Raho Munnabhai)
Best Actor in a Negative Role – Saif Ali Khan (Omkara)
Best Music - A.R.Rahman (Rang De Basanti)
Best Story – Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rajkumar Hirani (Lage Raho Munnabhai)
Critics Award Best Actor – Aamir Khan (Rang De Basanti)
Critics Award Best Actress – Kareena Kapoor (Omkara)
Lifetime Achievement Awards – Javed Akhtar
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Akira Kurosawa’s movies are some of the best works in cinema that I have ever seen. From the first movie that I have seen of him, I realized why people regard him with such reverence. The first movie that I saw was Seven Samurai. One couldn’t help but be awed by that movie when you consider the fact that it was made in 1954. After that I became unwavering fan of his work and saw a few more of his movies. But none of these movies were as great as Rashomon to me. To me it is the crown jewel in the master’s work. In psychology there is even a phenomenon named after it; The Rashomon Effect.
When you watch any of Kurosawa’s movies the phrase that comes to your mind is that it’s far ahead of its time. The greatest quality of all is that his movies retain a kind of freshness even today, so much so that somebody like me, who is generations apart from the time of his greatest movies, is also able to appreciate it so much. That more than anything is the hallmark of a true genius; his legacy is immortal.
Rashomon’s appeal is its plot and its narrative. The story starts off with recounting of a crime and the accounts of the people involved by a woodcutter and a priest to a vagabond commoner. The crime is the murder of a Samurai and the rape of his wife by a bandit. The narrative style is that of a flashback within a flashback as the priest and woodcutter retell the testimony of each of the witness to the vagabond.
The testimonies of the witnesses are all self serving and vastly different form one another. The bandit claims to have captured the husband and then tries to rape her. He however claims that she submitted to him of her own wishes rather than him raping her. He also claims that to absolve herself of her subsequent guilt and shame she goaded both men to duel one another. According to the bandit both men proceed to duel each other skillfully and fiercely until he kills the Samurai with his sword. On seeing this, the lady runs away. On questioning about the wife’s expensive dagger, which is missing, he claims to have forgotten completely about it in the confusion.
According to the lady’s version she claims that the bandit captured her husband, raped her and left her there with her husband. Her pleas for forgiveness were returned with nothing more than a cold stare by her husband. After she freed him she tries to give him the dagger and begged him to kill her. She claims to have overcome with stress at this moment and fainted. When she awakes she finds her husband dead with the dagger in his chest implying that she killed him accidentally while falling over unconscious. She even claims to have tried to drown herself later on.
The husband’s tale is told through a medium. He claims that after raping his wife the bandit asked her to join him. The wife agreed and asks the bandit to kill the samurai. Even the bandit is shocked by this and asks the samurai whether or not to kill the woman. At this the wife fled and the bandit freed the man. The samurai then claim that he committed suicide with the dagger. He added on that he had the feeling that someone removed the dagger from his body after he had died.
At this the woodcutter claims that the Samurai must have lied as he was killed by a sword. He then goes on to say that he witnessed the whole affair and begins to tell his version of the tale. He says that the bandit raped the woman and later begged her to marry him. At this point the woman demanded that the men duel each other for her. This enraged the Samurai and he refused to do so and only comply when called a coward by the woman. The woodcutter describes that their fight was more of a comical struggle than anything else. He contradicts the earlier version of the bandit where they had fought with valor and skill. The bandit won the duel, plunging his sword into the chest of the Samurai as he was attempting to scamper away in the bushes. The wife fled on seeing this with the bandit hot on her pursuit.
However on hearing this story the vagabond accuses the woodcutter of having stolen the dagger and hence completely inventing the new story to cover up its existence. The woodcutter’s look of guilt makes us convinced that he might have stolen the dagger.
The priest’s faith in human goodness is shaken by this turn of events and his lamenting is interrupted by the cry of an abandoned child. The woodcutter takes the child from the priest saying that he already has six children and that the addition of one more is not going to make any difference.
The story is a powerful pointer to how perception sometimes clouds the truth. Each of the character tells their own version to justify their actions and to cast them in a better light. It shows the selfishness of men. We are no closer to unraveling the mystery after hearing all the accounts than when we started off.
The bandit’s version cannot be believed because he is a thief and his moral values have already proven to be suspect. Also he wants to show himself as a great warrior when he implies that the Samurai was a great swordsman and he was able to defeat even him.
The wife’s tale shows her guilt when she says that her husband gave her a cold stare after she was raped. Her account cannot be believed because of her desire to defend her virtue and seems more concerned with how others would think of her character.
The Samurai’s tale should have been the truth. But even here we suspect it because it would be far honorable for him to claim that he committed suicide than to admit that he was defeated in a duel by a bandit. Also his account that the bandit did not have any qualm for rape but is averse to murder too defies logic.
When I first saw the movie I was sure the woodcutter’s version is the correct one. But when his thievery was brought to life then his entire narration seemed made up or at least lacking in details. The missing dagger is the critical piece of the entire narrative. If we accept that then the woodcutter’s version is not believable.
Kurosawa does not spoon feed the audience with the answer but rather leaves it to their intellect and understanding. He leaves it to the audience to draw their own conclusion. Remember that this was done in 1950 probably for the first time, and there in lies his genius.
Reviews of Akira Kurosawa's Major works
Rhapsody In August (1991)
Friday, February 23, 2007
Osteoporosis – The diminishing Bones
The very fact that one out of every three women and one of every twelve men are prone to this disease, illustrates how wide spread and serious osteoporosis is. In fact osteoporosis is not an illness it is just a mal-adjustment of two body functions, creation and absorption (resorption to be precise) of bone mass. It may look strange that destruction (resorption) of the bones is also is a normal function of the body. But to restrict the shape of the bones in correct shape and size absorption of bones is as essential a role as the creation of the bones.
This process of absorption turns a villain when it turns over smart and over acts its assigned duties. There are two types of cells engaged in the creation and “destruction” of the bones. The formation of the bones is the duty of the “osteoblast” cells where as the “osteoclast” cells are engaged in the resorption (re absorbing to the body) or rather as we called the destruction of the bones.
All set in the genes
Our body is so designed that in the beginning the osteoblast cells are smarter and the form bones for the growth of the body, as the person reaches middle age the clast and blast rivals are generally almost equal in smartness (in normal cases both should be equal in speed). With advancing age the quantity of sex-hormones diminishes in human body this is the main reasons of middle aged people getting affected by it. Especially women after menopause.
For the misfortune of the mankind at times they (the blast and the clast) are not equal in every individuals, the clast gains upper hand (it absorbs the non-collagenous proteins of the bones) due to various reasons and as a result the bone mass of the person starts depletion. This mal-function generally goes un-noticed and gets noticed only when the person has a fall from only standing heights and approaches a doctor with a fracture.
Duel-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA, formally called DEXA). The bone mineral density is measured and compared with the gold standard and expressed T-score. T-score-.1 or above is normal, where as that of -1 to -2.5 considered low bone-mass and -2.5 is diagnosed as a case of osteoporosis.
Power of the body to absorb calcium and vitamin-d from normal food being cited as a reason it would be better for middle aged persons to supplement their food with these contents. It is the genetic reason which is cited as the main culprit. Smoking and consumption of soft drinks even though not directly responsible are accused as reasons which speed up the ailment.
Smoking affects the physiological activities and secretions of hormones like testosterones in males and estrogen in females. Soft drinks are said to replace the vitamin-d and calcium (both essential for bone formation). Lead and cadmium which enter the body by contaminated food and water are also considered to be causative factors for osteoporosis. Sedentary life styles over exertions and every thing related with modern life are blamed. If that is so let us think what can be done to get some relief from this malady.
Waiting for a fall!!!
First stopping of smoking and consumption of soft drinks seems an easier steps, supplementing food with some calcium and vitamin-d contents (para-calcitrol etc) also is not a very difficult proposition. The stopping of sedentary life style is a bit tall order for the couch-potatoes! The genetic factors are something unavoidable, but there is some relief as only precursors are inherited so that proper care and good life style can keep the disease at bay for almost as long as one wish. Just do not wait for a fall and fracture of the bones to see a good physician.
Be a good boy!
If you have a family history of osteoporosis and 30 years of age just consult a doctor before a fall and act (live) as per his directions (life styles, food habits postures everything).
Do not bother much if devoid of such problems and live as leisurely as your peer groups. Needn’t worry even if you are born with a genetic history because you are not alone, just one among billions and with a slight change of lifestyle you can be much better off than them. Even if the worst happens there are surgeons and physicians to correct it. Act before a fall and be better off. Let osteoporosis go away! There are treatments to ward it off till your death, after that osteoporosis does not matter at all!