Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Apostrophe Catastrophe

Came across this post in Blogosphere about apostrophe abuse. Ended up writing a ditty there.. but could not edit it there... could not editee/a written ditty.

The abuse of the apostrophe is on my list of pet peeves as well. (The under-use of the hyphen is a close second)

Or, The abuse of apostrophe's,
Or, Its not right,
Or, Soon it will find it's grave!

Loud and strong
Proud and long
Grammarians complain
But it's all in vain
It'll happen now, and again
Then it'll be the common strain!
Sound and fury down the drain
Might as well say "Amen"!

- Thomas Jay Cubb

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Current Jokes

While in school, we were taught that the waveform for AC is a sine curve.
The representation of the signal was like: ^u^u^u^u or /\/\/\/\/\/\/\ with a line passing through it: you know what I mean.

This realization led to the postulation of the following explanations/justifications.

1. Why don't birds on wires get electrocuted?
Because they might be perched on a section of the wire through which the wave-form doesn't pass.

2. Why we need not pay for electricity.
Because the current comes to our home and then goes right back to the power-station.

Yup, these are PJs.

3. How could power-cuts possibly help to save energy?
The power was generated by water falling on the turbines. The power was being generated anyway (other localities would have power), the water was falling. It could not go back up, so weren't we actually wasting that water!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Plastics Or Trees: Hobson's Choice

It's a disposable world and convenience is everything.

With the ban on plastic bags coming into effect in many places, the usage of paper bags would likely increase. Paper bags match the convenience, accessibility, ease-of-storage etc of plastic bags more than bags made of other materials.

Plastic is notoriously difficult to dispose of, as it is non-biodegradable. But should the lives of an extra million innocent trees be sacrificed just because of our inability to exorcise the plastic demon?

Paper comes from trees - so, wouldn't it mean that more trees will have to be cut, to meet the growing demand for paper? Paper bags would also have a tendency to tear and would be spoiled if they get wet.

Which is the lesser evil? There ain't no such thing as a free lunch; to gain something, you must sacrifice something!

1. Use cloth bags instead. <==> But maintaining the bag, keeping it safe etc are just too bugging, right? And in any case, how many should we carry around?
2. Paper is recyclable. <==> So is plastic. The question is whether we really bother.
3. Paper can be made without cutting trees too...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Vegetarian Abortionists

Can a person who is vegetarian (lacto-vegetarian/vegan, the kind who avoids even eggs) by choice, because of moral reasons ("Respect life! Should not kill to eat, doesn't matter how indirectly we may be responsible!"), ever support the cause of abortion?

Is a 'vegetarian abortionist' a perfect oxymoron? If a person does both, should it not be construed/interpreted as hypocrisy? An egg is also like a fetus: if eating an egg kills the bird, the abortion kills the baby. Or is the life of a human not worth the life of a chicken?

Both the issues in question are very much what you may call matters of life and death, and are very similar.

Once we do an "I-choose-to-do-so" and enter a moral high-ground, we have to stay there, and do so consistently on similar things.* Or one has to be prepared to be branded a hypocrite!

* The same lines of reasoning would also hold for those members of the PETA (People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals), if any, who do not help suffering people.

1. Just a logical musing, not a diatribe. I have nothing against vegetarians or anti-abortionists: or even for pro-abortionists or non-vegetarians for that matter! :-) Also, nothing at all if the choice you exercise in what you eat (or do not) is as a victim of circumstance (religion / availability/ income).

2. Not to be interpreted as a case for cannibalism of any kind! :-)

3. I shall not be forced to eat gross things during the course of any argument resulting out of or inspired by this post. At the most, if forced, I will words! ;-)

- Thomas Jay Cubb

Inspired by and dedicated to my dear friend Anup Kesavan.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

You Are What You Say - More!

A few more things that I missed out in the previous post.

A. Coffee-drinking - the next social stigma
I was asked at the dentist's whether I drank a lot of coffee because of some stains on my teeth. The dentist asked this in an apologetic manner. A couple of years ago (or maybe a little more before) it would have been: do you smoke a lot?

Coffee has a lot of stuff going against it - it is intoxicating, odorous, may be harmful, and what's more, popular too! Two decades down the line, the kid next door will say: hey mister, would you please mind not drinking that?

Anything that could possibly give on pleasure must be stigmatized; at least don't do it in public! After coffee, it would be chocolates...

B. Making Fun Not = Having Fun
Constant criticism, even if done by way of casual jokes, does not advance a relationship. We need to accept people as they are; faults are acceptable, let people be. Do not always try to correct.

C. Egalitarian Vegetarianism
Shouldn't vegetarian mean only vegetables/plant-products? After all the term is not non-dead-animal products nor is it non-killed stuff. Some people would choose to define it that way, because otherwise it would mean no milk, no chocolates! Some vegetarians take the "will-not-kill-anything-even-if-to-live" line of reasoning. Well, we have to accept it like you have to have money to make money, only life can sustain life.

D. Religious Intolerance & Smoking
This one is outright biased, opinionated, founded on coincidence, even propagandistic - I have not even checked the facts! :-)

There is growing unrest and intolerance, rising religious tensions, in the world today. Also less tobacco usage. Could the two be linked? The Holy Wars (Crusades) ended after the arrival of tobacco. Being intolerant and rude to smokers is socially acceptable nowadays. If you agree with that, then you must also agree that religious intolerance ought to be acceptable - if you worship your god, it would harm my god!

Oh my god, that was a straw-man argument if ever there was one! What an unashamed attempt at blatant self-justification? "Well, I am right and you are wrong, so you should not do whatever it is you are doing, even if it does you good, because I have a right to protect myself and I believe it is wrong and could harm me. So please stop. STOP IT!"

E. Anachronistic phrases
On a related note (to E. above). Stuff like dialing a number (remember when the phones had rotary dials?), hang up and so on. There were more examples, I can't recall now...maybe in a later post...(I wish!)

- Thomas Jay Cubb

From the cradle to the grave
Go the cowardly and the brave
The good die young, some unsung
While the evil live and thrive
The skull and bones, touch wood,
Might do you good!

Only when a man dies.
Do we realize
There are no why's
All just a roll of the dice.

(untitled, unedited poem... please excuse!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

ACD List

Discovered an online database service called Zoho Creator. It's pretty cool and easy to use!

Catalogued all my audio CDs

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

IIM-B Vista Open


Clipped and Collected from Kerala Quizzers orkut community.


Harsha Bhogle @IIM-B

Last Sunday Me,Thomas (Ex TKM) & Prashanth (Ex CET) gatecrashed into IIM-B for 'Quizzard' which was part of 'Vista' the annual IIM-B business fest. The Quiz as always started late, Written prelims of 35 qns after which 6 teams made it through to the finals... As always we 3 were left high & dry thinking about the near misses we had or what could have happened if we had written the first guess kinda thing... This normally happens when u don't qualify and mind u its a tough field out here.. KQA veterans were all there plus some QFI imports from Chennai made it even more tougher. The QM was Harsha Bhogle,Questions were set by Anustup of KQA, Harsha was at his best in enthralling the audience with his quick wit and one liners, but at times he failed to impress. The setting for the Quiz was superb except the Buzzer - as always it malfunctioned a la Wardrobe malfunctioning which has become too common nowadays the latest star being Potter aunt JK Rowling....

The saddest thing about the Quiz is only 2 Mallus were on stage, One being our evergreen Anil Sir and his partner Jayadev who is a NRK, their team performed creditably and won the 3rd spot (Anil Sir had to leave after 2 rounds to catch the 9.45pm train to Cochin) Seeing people like Anil Sir & Arul Mani I always feel that most of us should be ashamed at the fact that we don't even have 10% of the enthusiasm that they have, For every KQA quiz Arul would be the first one to arrive on his Activa and from organizing to conducting to participating he is always there, Muslims go to Mecca for Hajj once a year but for Anil Sir Bangalore is Mecca and participating in Quizzes is a Hajj that he performs once a month, that's the spirit...

The Quiz was a memorable event and as expected was won by Arul,Uduppa combo, Infosys was 2nd Anil Sir's team led by Jayadev came third and Swami's QFI team came fourth - seeing Swami coming fourth was like watching the Aussies losing a Cricket match. For questions & a review keep checking Thomas's blog -


Part of the questions were set by Gopal kidao another mallu who is a mainstay of QED.Questions,presentation,ambience,audience&everything was right.I still feel kicking myself for leaving early which contributed to my team ICNH finishing third.the first two teams had cash 30000inr&20000inr.we got 3k worth vanheusen vouchers.5pts&a middle aged guy who booked a ticketback robbed the team of 20k but we have the honour of surpassing QED with swami,jayakantan&sumo one of the veryfew todo this in the past 5years.
Let me also mention that Thomas won an audience prize for cracking the dream scene from wildstrawberries(bergman).And gracias,lloyd for bringing the news across

available for chat Thomas


it was a fantastic quiz. the quality of the questions, the entertainment factor, everything was superb. one of the highlight was harsha bhogle telling anil's team that they needed to "insert" it better, when testing out the buzzers! ... for those not in the know anil's team in bangalore is called insert cool name here)... harsha said he would add it to the list of worst things he has ever said onstage in his life...

anil had to catch a train and hence left after the first onstage round... too bad they were not allowed a substitute! they lost out only in the final round... called derailer... interesting because of the "rail" angle ;-) the team had already been derailed once!

sorry that i have not yet updated my blog with the questions (hope prasanth can send them across, i didn't note anything) and opinions... was busy at work this week... there were quite a few trivia gems.. the quizicians didn't disappoint!

yeah i got an audience prize and also made some cool cracks in the prelims... it was an enjoyable and memorable outing despite the fact that we didn't qualify... i also made what qualifies as my super blooper... wrote "lighthouse of alexandria" instead of "library of alexandria"! :-)

(Waiting for inputs from Prashanth)

You Are What You Say?

You are what you say! If what you would say if you were there was known, is your presence really required? Do words make the man? In the sci-fi novel Wyrms, Orson Scott Card took this what-you-say-is-who-you-are principle to its logical extreme: heads of people were preserved such that they could talk, even years after the bodies perished! Talk about just being all talk! ;-)

Well, here are some things that I would have talked to you about if you had me over the last few months. These are also blog-points, hopefully I will expand on these points, but who knows! Some random thoughts in here - some trivial and obvious, some profound. Some original, some inspired. Some fun, some boring. Some are lessons, some are observations/insights yeah and some are shit. C'est la vie.

Doing the best possible thing at every point will not yield you the best results. You might even be called spineless! Greedy algorithms don't always work.

Science should not be taught in historical order. Why force everybody to learn the mistakes and then unlearn? One of the reasons why quantum physics, relativity etc still have an aura of mystique and incomprehensibility.

Hope is what keeps us ticking. Only if there is hope is there a will.

Everybody is Chinese when they are born, slowly we become others.

a) Only equals can be friends.
b) And there are limits to friendship no matter what you might claim. There's stuff you will and stuff you won't for a friend/relative. Remember King Lear.

Modern physics is in many ways approaching the realm of religion. "There has to be a particle like this, so let's search for it... we didn't find it... let's think up a new particle or a new dimension!"

Futility of writing long-winded reviews. If you like the thing or its maker and I say it's bad, you will check it out any way - how bad can it be?.

Quick-and-dirty movie critique tips applicable to all movies regardless.
a) Do the characters explain some part of the story or a quirk of some other character in dialogue? If they state the really obvious, it's a very weak script.
b) Artificiality Litmus - Did the director achieve what he aimed for?
c) There were a few more... cannot recollect now

a) Elements Technique - Rain/Thunder/Lightning to indicate helplessness of the characters
b) Call Of Reality technique. Phone ringing to interrupt a dream-like, unreal sequence.

Regular and systematic is best. Regularly systematic will also benefit you. Be systematic

Doesn't always have to be 100% before you try to do something, enter the fray, put yourself to the test etc. 80% should do. 80-20 rule. Can be applied in most scenarios. 20% is all you need 80% of the time. And 80% would suffice 80% of the time (wait a minute, that would be the 80-80 rule!)

The difference between continual and continuous.

Musings on the similarities between Kannada and Malayalam.
a) Malayalam being a somewhat recent language takes elements from both Kannada and Tamil, although the similarity with Tamil is what gets highlighted.
b) 50 is Ainpathu in North Kerala, Anpathu in South Kerala. Thantha (=father) derogatory in south.
c) The modifier for "do not" in Kannada is "baruthu", Malayalam ("aruthu").
d) Ho-Po, Va-Ba Sound Interchangeability principle
Maybe some of these "similarities" stem from my ignorance rather than knowledge of the languages in question. Take them as hypotheses!

Capture the thought when you can! It's the capturing that's important, improve it later. But the Heisenberg principle applies, you alter the thought when you catch it. But catch it anyway.

The principle of differential change like differentiation/integration. It is suddenly that you realize that it has changed completely!

Near-complete knowledge of any activity/sphere of life/domain is beneficial. Could be anything but it is very difficult to get there. Are you there? Here's an easy way to check: have you bluffed about It, when asked about something specific about It?

Yeah that's what I would have talked about. That was TJ BrainDump 2007.

So that's all? Nothing missed? Parts make the whole, but there is always more to the whole. Or so we hope.

- Thomas Jay Cubb

20071124 Added the cheesy titles, moved the background update to separate post

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What's Cooking

Background Updates
It's been a long time since I put up anything other than movie reviews here. It's not that I've been too busy to write, I have been writing and also updating my other blogs (programming and quizzing) well...frequently. I am writing to write here; expect no structure! This is a brain dump.

Life has been chugging on, and I think I have been having fun. Been quizzing a lot (no successes worth writing home about though), learnt some Kannada, got a promotion at work, playing lots of table-tennis, traveled around Karnataka a bit - trekking and stuff... all regular stuff... fun, dull but also enjoyable fun.

Have also been reading quite a bit (Kafka On The Shore, Crime And Punishment etc.) and buying lotsa CDs (burnt my fingers AND ears quite a bit) apart from watching a lot of movies. Yeah, and did I mention my Krishna conscious phase - not the ISKCON variety but the "truly conscious" kind ?

(originally as part of separate post)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Queuriestu - III

Here's the third instalment of Queuriestu. Questions are simpler (I hope) this time around.
Read between the lines and think out of the box. Hope you enjoy cracking this set.
Cover me in replies, drown me slowly!
Answers next Friday.
We Can Work It Out
1. Won't blame you if you can't understand this. What word is derived from French for the twittering
noises made by birds?
2. Anyone can answer this one. What were the names of the tunnels built for/in The Great Escape?
3. A heady mix of current affairs and trivia. This chimpanzee was taught sign language and was named
after the person recently voted the world's top living intellectual. Give me the name...of the chimpanzee.
4. A typical, 'character'istic connection question. Connect Orson Welles, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
and Lee Falk.
5. The logo of which company, a major star of the day, is formed by its name being interleaved four
times in a circular fashion?
6. What was Linus Torvald's planned name for Linux? Free something, you say, cryptically.
7.If an aye-aye is a kind of monkey and beri-beri is a vitamin deficiency disease...,
who or what is an atlatl?
8. What did Hermann Rorschach, the Swiss psychiatrist, invent/create? What did you say that was?
9. Ozzy, anyone? What is the Osborne effect?
X. As far as currencies go, what is peculiar about the Mauritanian Ouguiya and Madagascar's
Ariary? The clue is that this question is inappropriately numbered!
Shamelessly Me
Getting lonely in blogosphere...
No one visits, my worst fear
Do you my desperate plea hear?
Won't you,my dear, please come here?
Please do visit my blogs and comment.
Choose your poison(s)!
Musings - - Hatching Zone For Ideas
Literary - - The Last Resort Of An Unpublished Author
Publishing's gone to the dogs
Nowadays everybody just blogs.
Words and ideas the blogger bleeds
Nonsense spewing out at insane speeds
Who cares? Anyway, nobody reads!
- Thomas Jay Cubb

Here are the answers to Queuriestu - III.
Not too many responses :-(
Perhaps I should not have opined that this was an easy seemed it was not!
>> Questions are simpler (I hope) this time around.
Hope for a better response next time around.
We Can Work It Out
1. Won't blame you if you can't understand this. What word is derived from French for the twittering
noises made by birds?
* Jargon
Very few people got this one. Gibberish was a very appropriate guess, though incorrect.
2. Anyone can answer this one. What were the names of the tunnels built for/in The Great Escape?
* Tom, Dick and Harry
Anyone. Get it?
3. A heady mix of current affairs and trivia. This chimpanzee was taught sign language and was named
after the person recently voted the world's top living intellectual. Give me the name...of the chimpanzee.
* Nim Chimpsky was the name of the chimpanzee
Many of you worked it out to Noam Chomsky, but I'd specifically asked for the name of the chimp.
+I - Wikipedia has an article about Nim.
4. A typical, 'character'istic connection question. Connect Orson Welles, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
and Lee Falk.
* The connection is Xanadu. Have given points to all answers with this word.
They all created characters (so it was a character-istic connect) who lived in Xanadu. Coleridge
wrote Kubla Khan, an epic ode to the real-life Mongol conqueror, who lived in Xanadu. Lee Falk
created Mandrake (he created Phantom too), who lived in Xanadu. Charles Foster Kane, the hero
of Orson Welles's classic Citizen Kane, also gave his residence the same name.
5. The logo of which company, a major star of the day, is formed by its name being interleaved four
times in a circular fashion?
* Sun, the only star of the day :-), Microsystems
+I - SUN - stands for Stanford University Networks
+I - Such symbols are called ambigrams
6. What was Linus Torvald's planned name for Linux? Free something, you say, cryptically.
* Linus wanted to name his Freax !
Working the clue out: Free X (Something) and reading it aloud. Juvenile.
+I - He chose this after his friend Ari Lemmke gave him a directory called Linux because he didn't like
the name Freax. Who would have!
+I - He wanted to modify Andrew Tanebaum's Minix initially but was not allowed to. Check out my short
7.If an aye-aye is a kind of monkey and beri-beri is a vitamin deficiency disease...,
who or what is an atlatl?
* An atlatl is a type of primitive weapon - a kind of spear-thrower
Precursor to the bow and arrow?
8. What did Hermann Rorschach, the Swiss psychiatrist, invent/create? What did you say that was?
* Inkblot test
Where they show you weird pictures and ask "What do you think that is?". Have seen this only in
+I - Also known as TAT - Thematic Apperception Test
9. Ozzy, anyone? What is the Osborne effect?
* Loss of sales for a company's current product because of the company's yet-to-be-launched
new product.
Apple might just have done it - with their announcement of Intel Apple PCs...Microsoft keeps doing
it, but is lucky, every time!
+I - It is named for Adam Osborne; his company which went bankrupt after he announced the
Osborne-II computer.
+I - Adam Osborne died in Kodaikanal in 2003, which is when I first heard about him
QM: Apologies for the misleading Ozzy allusion! ;-) Oh pedantic me, but it is Ozzy Osbourne,
not Osborne.
X. As far as currencies go, what is peculiar about the Mauritanian Ouguiya and Madagascar's
Ariary? The clue is that this question is inappropriately numbered!
* These don't follow the decimal system.
+I - 1 Ouguiya = 5 Khoums
+I - 1 Ariary = 5 iraimbilanja.
(I've already forgotten!)
+I - Madagascar only recently changed its currency from the Malagasy Franc.
+I - Iraimbilanja means "one iron weight"
CURIOUSEST! - Enjoyable attempts
1. On Jargon
Gibberish (Was very popular)
2. On Tom, Dick and Harry
Jane Doe and John Doe.
X and Y
Any And One
3. On Nim Chimpsky
Noam Chimpsky
7. On Atlatl
Albino monkey with vitamin-deficiency
Inca headgear
9. On Osborne effect
An irresistible urge to eat live bats!
X. On Ouguiya/Ariary
Have odd numbered notes, like a 9 ouguiya note
The coins are all crosses (Xs)
SCORES (chronological, quiznetimal numbering)
1. Dinesh Krithivasan - 4 (Fantabulous tries, early bird!)
2. Vivek Krishnan - 3 (Thanx for the extra info)
3. My Quizbox - 3 (No clue as to ur name!)
4. Srikanth Madani - 4.5 (Missed out on number-base)
5. Dijo - 1 (Minix was Tanenbaum's OS)
6. Kamal Rathi - 3 (Not B&A exactly, but OK)
7. Nishanth - 2 (Cool tries)
8. Vaibhav Devanathan - 2 (First to jargon)
9. Balasubramanian K.A - 9 (Fantastic)
X. Abid EH - 2.5 (Half for mandrake and chomsky together)
Y. Ranjith Kumar - 3.5 (Imaginative work on the connect and chimp)
Z. Rachana Parmar - 5 (Good effort)
A. Venkateshwar KR - 1 ( Entertaining as always)
B. Shashwat Quiz - 8 (Solid)
C. Anish Babu - 1 (Good attempts)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Landmark Open Chennai 2007

The Chennai leg of the Landmark 2007 was conducted by Dr. Naveen Jayakumar at the Music Academy on 15Aug07. The turnout was huge and the auditorium was jam-packed, to witness the landmark quizzing event of the year. Please also check the following links for other reports:

The prelims on the first listen, I mean while writing the answers, seemed to be pretty decent. But in retrospect, only the first 30 questions or so seem to pass muster. Hindsight is 30/40! :-) There was an unnatural bias towards Harry Potter in the set of Qs (3+ out of 40; am complaining even though we got all of them), many were arbitrarily worded (avarahonam) or dead giveaways (one Q was even a repeat from the Odyssey event) and hence non-competitive; it was all in all an uneven spread. The cut-off was way too high, 30+/40, I have reason to believe, and would have been OK only if the quality/standard was uniform throughout.

Personal. Participated as the Borobodur Orangutans - Sreeram, Prasanth & me. DNQ. Usual story! :-( Managed to predict quite a few questions in the prelims and still did not qualify! Also ended up with a bout of Chennai-belly... Was a bad outing, all round.

The final round was not so great either. Not much substance (nothing to note!) and hence I left early. Usually I stay till the end, if only because I have traveled all the way to participate. The questions were rather stale, many seemed to have been left-overs from the 2006 quizzing season! Most of the current-affairs questions were based on early, mid 2006 stuff.

There was a high level of arbitness felt in some of the Qs (possibly because of the staleness factor) mentioned above. One of the teams even resorted to answering "Michael Jackson" based answers for all Qs that came to them - just because of a monstrously horrendous and banal connection question. And the answer to one of the questions which captured everyone's imagination, dendronautics was answered incorrectly and still given points. The team had answered something to the effect of "tree climbing" when the answer was morel like "study of vegetation according to height"!

The questions in the quizzer of the year round also was of non-uniform standard. Some of the participants had it real easy while some had it real tough. Of course, luck is a factor and also, this is a subjective opinion, but this was the general impression left behind.

In my opinion, it was a disappointing show, a let-down compared to the Odyssey Open in January 2007 held at the same venue.

QED from Chennai, the crowd-favourites won again, as other reports tell me. Some fun team names as well, "Cheque De", "Eternal Moonshine Of The Spotless Behind", "Munnabhai and the Jacky Sparrows" etc

The organizers could have made (and should in future make) better use of the computer during the registration stages in order to minimize the chaos that prevailed just before the prelims. Online registration/seating reservations for outstation teams would have been really cool.

Trivia Bytes
(prelims, thanx to prasanth for jogging my memory)
01. Wolf in Norse mythology. Harry Potter - Fenrir (cracked with Norse not HP cue!)
02. Movie clip --> Harry Potter and Dolores Umbridge
03. Visual Of - The Deathly Hallows
04. Kalashnikov most famous model - 1947
05. Philippines national flower - Jasmine
06. Avarohanam -> Avatar (abstrusely worded)
07. Origin of rivers - Manasarovar
08. Dalai Lama Nobel Prize - Gandhi
09. Only Non-Indian Bharat Ratnas - Nelson Mandela, Khan Abdul Gafar Khan
10. 1991 book - Generation X
11. Etymology. Asterix cue . - Font
12. Only bulletproofable car in India - Ambassador
13. Countries with Square flags - Vatican, Switzerland
14. Visual. Pale Blue Dot.
15. Predicted by Mendeleev - Technetium
16. Ekta Kapoor. Non 'K' film - Shootout at Lokhanwala
17. Question that has to be answered in Parliament - Starred question (This was a nice one)
18. Rearview mirror (Odyssey repeat)
19. Magnetic North Pole, GPS (Have disagreement about this one)
20. Named after son of Vayu - Maruti
21. Student body with certification -
22. AR Rahman song used for - Taj promotion (Predicted Q!)
23. Visual of stained glass in study - Venn diagram (another beauty)
24. Robinson Crusoe Island (Has become a chestnut!)
25. Types of webs

(Please check the other links for a better version of the questions)

The Poemism Crisis

It is sad that poems do not attract as much attention as they used to. No, I do not mean to say that poets are a dying breed. Far from it. In fact, there has been a boom in `poem-production over the years. But increased supply does not imply increased demand, `economic’ally speaking.

The core of the problem is that every Tom (includes me!), Dick and Harry wants to churn out feel-good, heart-warming verse. Sadly the stuff that comes out is often nothing short of bone-chilling! Verse. Sorry. Worse, they insist that the world celebrate their works and acknowledge them as the Tom Keats, Dick Shelleys and the Harry Brownings of the present. The PLIMs (PLIM,in case you don’t know, stands for Poet Laureate In Making) are men whose enthusiasm can be dampened by nothing whatsoever. I bet a googol dollars that even on the eve of Doomsday, a PLIM somewhere will be penning the deliverance song to be sung on the Big Day so that his work be heard in heaven.

Writing poems is not a hobby. It is a passion. I caught the `poemism’ virus last year, or was it the other way around? I became a PLIM anyhow. The thought of being a poet, acknowledged by one and all exhilarated me. I imagined my anthology being published and its contents being incorporated in syllabi the world over. I even introduced similes, metaphors and aphorisms into my poems so that the erudite student could ponder over their contextual validity and so that the examiner could spring many a surprise on unwary students.

As the poemism virus tightened its grip over me, things became worse. All I thought was poems, all I talked was poems, but I could not write any! The situation now became “Poems, poems everywhere but not a verse to ink.” To think that I was a well of poetry and I had no bucket!

One great advantage of being a PLIM is that one never has to learn grammar. Those whose hearts have been wrenched by Wren and Martin will realize that this is true bliss. The true poet spurns grammar in the same way as an Alsatian looks at a poodle. For the PLIM, marks of punctuation are but avoidable irritants. But when in doubt, he puts an exclamation mark! - and if doubt persists, can a question mark be far behind?

The true PLIM never smiles. He goes around with a permanent frown. The sorrows of the world sit heavily on him. When his mind is not churning ideas, it is polishing words. He can never afford to relax because springs of inspiration swell up in his soul. You never know when you strike gold. The PLIM’s command over the language is so great that he considers the dictionary a mere inconvenience. He creates new words at will, for do not new ideas require new words? Using old words is definitely old fashion. The PLIM does not want to be understood In fact, he can never understand his own self. He only wants respect. And every night and morn, he consigns every critic to the seventh circle of hell, the latest block there, constructed especially for this abominable species.

For the PLIM, the postbox is the sign of hope and the postman, the sign of despair. His wonderful creations are sent with great hope to myriad editors and just when he hopes, at last some bright editor has dis`cover’ed his true genius, in comes the postman and throws in bundles of discarded hope. But the PLIM, like King Bruce of yore knows no despair and sets to work yet again. Once a PLIM, always a PLIM!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

TBOWM - 200707

"We are in The Business Of Watching Movies." - Shimjith Ambali

20070715 Ordinary People
Superb. Oscar-winning (Best Picture, Best Direction) effort from Robert Redford. The movie is about a young boy who has difficulties overcoming the loss of his brother in a boating accident. A familiar theme but explored to great depth are the boy's relationships with his father, mother and his shrink.

20070714 Heaven Can Wait
A delightful comedy from Warren Beatty who gets a second chance at life after being wrongly killed. Beatty who is a footballer chooses to go back in the body of a millionaire. Though it is a familiar theme, some memorable scenes such as when the millionaire's wife is caught cheating redhanded. By a strange coincidence, my second movie for the day also had two

20070714 Bee Season
Though the bee in the title alludes to the spelling-bee competition, this Richard Gere starrer is more about the things people do to connect with God. Control-freak and deeply religious Gere's family's attempts to interpret and apply the Kabbalistic concept of "tikkun olam" or "repairing the world, reuniting its shards." The movie has not one but two directors - both engaging in tikkun olam themselves! Attempts to alleviate the gloom and repetitiveness with psychedelic renderings of words spelling themselves out!

20070711 The Birdcage
Robin Williams runs a gay/crossdresser nightclub (The Bird Cage) and his son falls in love with the daughter of a senator. Scenes of slapstick comedy unfold as the household attempts to cover up their true selves when the Senator comes visiting to inspect the suitability of his daughter's suitor!

20070710 Honeymoon In Vegas
Nicolas Cage falls for the crafts of a wily gambler and ends up losing his fiancee to his conqueror for the weekend. But is he gonna be losing her forever as well? Can the seemingly omnipotent millionaire trick the maiden out of Cage's hands?

20070709 Cool Hand Luke
Paul Newman plays the unflappable Luke, indefatigable and irrepressible in his quest for freedom and to be himself. in this prison flick. Memorable scenes include the egg-eating challenge, the explanation of the rules of the prison and Luke's escape'ades. Also features the famous(for me) quote "What we've got here is failure to communicate" in the song Civil War by Guns'n'Roses.

20070708 Tootsie
Watchable cross-dressing comedy. Dustin Hoffman is an out of work actor who finally lands a role when he cross-dresses and auditions for a role in a sitcom. Tootsie becomes a rage and Hoffman struggles to maintain his regular life. A useful side-effect is that he gets closer to one of her/his costars, but complications arise when the costar's father proposes to Tootsie!

20070707 The Bridges Of Madison County
Clint Eastwood, an ageing Nat Geo photographer, and Meryl Streep, a bored housewife have a brief affair while Streep's family was away for the weekend and Eastwood shows up to shoot photos of the Bridges of Madison County. The story is told as Streep's grown-up children shamefully reading about their now-dead mother's romantic liaison with the ace photographer.

20070707 Catch 22
An adaptation of Joseph Heller's classic is pretty much different from the book. Perhaps director Mike Nichols' intention was just to capture the horrors of war, the essence of the book, rather than reproduce it scene-by-scene. All in all, I felt it was darker and was less funny than it should have been. Does not do justice to the book.

20070707 Intersection
Richard Gere faces a midlife crisis, he is at the intersection or the crossroads of life. Does he stick with his wife or go with his newfound lover. The movie takes us along with Gere on a drive through the countryside and tells us the story through a series of flashbacks and incidents that help him make up his mind. Surprise, surprise it was somewhat artsy too.

20070618 Walk The Line
Johnny Cash biopic, Joaqim Phoenix puts in a decent performance as the country crooner. Primarily about Cash's involvement with his co-writer and other family problems (dad, wife).

20070618 Mayavi
Mammootty plays an ex-con who has the power/secret ability to bash up the bad guys, but only while it's dark and he is out of sight! Plot follows familiar lines, village-girl charmed, buddies turn foe - but definitely worth a watch.

20070618 Big B
Slick action flick from Mammootty. A Malayalam movie in true (well, almost) Hollywood style! The story is not much to write home about and there are no "unexpected" twists in the tale. Good, refreshing style though!

20070617 The Quick And The Dead
Sharon Stone and Russell Crowe sizzle in this Western-style, multi-starrer revenge-flick. Gene Hackman is the sherriff holding a shootout challenge to eliminate all possible challengers to his office. A young Leonardo DiCaprio too features among others. Expected a tedium of shootouts but different threads are woven in rather well.

20070617 Chota Mumbai
Mohanlal stars in this laugh-a-minute, feel-good movie. Was a pleasant surprise as I had gone to watch the movie expecting a blood-and-gore, goonda movie.

20070616 The Parallax View
A dark and paranoid thriller about the assassinations and conspiracy theories surrounding them, in the 1970s. It's a satire - there being a Parallax Corporation which is in the business of assassinating senators. A bit ahead of its time, the style followed by director Alan Pakula requires intense concentration to follow. Warren Beatty is the confused hero. I felt the footage in the Parallax test, the psychiatric test the recruit assassins have to take could have been more significant and poignant.

20070616 Boys Don't Cry
The true story of Brandon Teena (Teena Brandon), a transsexual in love with a girl. However things turn awry when her friends discover the truth, that Brandon is not who he claims to be. Hilary Swank plays the boy-girl to perfection.

20070616 The Sting
Paul Newman and Robert Redford play con-men planning to pull off the biggest job of their careers. A bit predictable but interestingly laid out as chapters! Robert Redford reckoned this was his best role ever, I read somewhere. Couldn't help but wonder how much the younger Redford resembles Brad Pitt (should be the other way around!). I think Viggo Mortensen resembles Michael Douglas too.

20070615 Blood Diamond
A pseudo "true-story" style movie, with more than its fair share of propaganda and gossip! The sheer amount of coincidences involving Solomon Vandi take the sheen out of it. Superb performances from the lead trio (DiCaprio, Connelly and Djimon Hounsou) however keeps the movie afloat, as do the fantastic scenery. The movie could have done with either a disclaimer or a true story notice - to lend it a bit of authenticity!

20070615 The Out Of Towners
Enjoyable comedy about how things go wrong for Jack Lemmon and wife when they make a trip to NY. There's non-landing flights, missed baggage, mugging, kidnapping and much more! Everything goes wrong! Was later remade, starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn.

20070611 Any Given Sunday
Al Pacino plays the coach of a "loser" football team in this Oliver Stone film. Cameron Diaz features as the new owner of the team and Jamie Foxx plays the star quarterback. The confrontational scenes between coach and don't-wannabe-protege are, well, tiredly inspirational!

20070611 Marathon Man
What would you do when your whole world turns upside down and the people who you thought you knew aren't who you thought they were? Dustin Hoffman, as a cute wannabe-Marathoner student, faces up to the tough guys. The "Is it safe?" torture scene is memorable. The athlete shown in the recurring clip is Abebe Bikila.

20070607 Pirates Of The Caribbean 3: At World's End
I thought this was a bit too long and detail-ridden. And everybody comes back from the dead! Dozed off towards the end, which my friends told was the best part of the movie. Anyways, I thought it was better than the second part.

20070605 American Gigolo
Richard Gere plays the titular role, a gigolo framed in a murder-case. Pretty decent stuff.

20070601 The Milagro Beanfield War
Surreal film from Robert Redford which tells the story of a town which is facing a water-crisis because of a big real-estate project. The hero decides to face up to the biggies and rebels by taking water for cultivating his beanfield. Becomes the talk of the town - featuring popular, legal and even divine interventions. Charming at times, overdone at others.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Queuriestu - II

Welcome to Queuriestu 2. The TUTU edition? :-)
Took longer and had more fun than expected, framing this set of questions. Hope you enjoy it.
Answers next week.

We Can Work It Out
Q1. Eunoia is a rarely used (you know, yeah!) term denoting a normal mental state. Root words: Eu + nous = good thinking. What's special about this word? Eminently guessable, analyze the word.

Q2. Tintin was created by...everybody knows...Herge. His real name was...wait, I'll say it...Georges Remi. The question is, why Herge?

Q3. You will miss this most queuriest question for sure. :-) After whom (that's correct, not who) is the unit for radioactivity named?

Q4. Symbolic question. Led Zeppelin's first three studio albums were called I, II and III. Though their fourth was untitled, LZ-IV was known by another name. Gimme the name ????

Q5. Which organization(?)'s name is derived from a corruption of the Greek word for circle? Don't be klueless, rounding up was one of their activities!

Q6. What was peculiar about Australian fast bowler Merv Hughes's hat-trick against the West Indies in the late 1980s?

Q7. Question 007. Which was the last James Bond movie with its title the same as an Ian Fleming work? Cryptic Clue: Vital shy gin delight - shaken, not stirred

Q8. Googleable. Who or what is a sabra?

Q9. Never mind your score in Queuriestu, but if you got an Apgar score of zero, what'd you probably be?

QX. Fill in the blank. Heaven (Christian):Pearly Gates:: Valhalla: _______ .



Just remembered that I'd forgotten to say when I would send in the answers.I decided two days after the last reply trickled in would mean it was about time. The list stopped at P. So, here are the answers.
Tough set this was, I guess. (Presented this set to crack, I would have scored 3...max) Bubbli and Venkateshwar, who attempted all the questions in the true spirit of Queuriestu, get special mentions.
Not many people spotted the anagram in question 007- VITAL SHY GIN DELIGHT shaken and stirred will give you the name of the movie (3,6,9). Take another shot at (of?) it before you scroll down.


We Can Work It Out
Q1. Eunoia is a rarely used (you know, yeah!) term denoting a normal mental state. Root words: Eu + nous = good thinking. What's special about this word? Eminently guessable, analyze the word.
A: It is the shortest word that contains all the vowels.
+I: Mozambique also contains all the vowels
+I: Abstemious, Facetious contain all the vowels in alphabetical order

Q2. Tintin was created by...everybody knows...Herge. His real name was...wait, I'll say it...Georges Remi. The question is, why Herge?
A: Herge is the French pronunciation of "R.G.", the author's initials in reverse order.
Confession: I'd read this somewhere. l still don't know how to pronounce it. :-)

Q3. You will miss this most queuriest question for sure. :-) After whom (that's correct, not who) is the unit for radioactivity named?
A: (Question cancelled)
I lost my footing on the framing of this one. Points for everyone.
What I had meant to ask was: You will 'miss' this most queuriest question for sure. After whom was the unit of radioactivy, curie named? There is a controversy regarding whether it was Pierre Curie or after both the Curies. The answer I wanted was Pierre Curie, and why I had said you would 'miss' this for sure... (+I - note "named after the late Prof. Curie")
The controversy was the reason why I had asked the question in the first place, but forgot to include the curie bit! :-) It was intended as a curious, 'curie'ous, queurious question....
+I Becquerel - is the SI unit of radioactivity. Named after Henri Becquerel
+I Roentgen Equivalent Man - named after Wilhelm Roentgen
But in any case, I'd like to make a comment here - when the name of a person is asked, and is the same as the unit, please mention the name of the person not just his/her surname. I got many answers of just "Curie" - which Curie?

Q4. Symbolic question. Led Zeppelin's first three studio albums were called I, II and III. Though their fourth was untitled, LZ-IV was known by another name. Gimme the name ????
A: Zoso
The album cover had only symbols (runes?) and one of the symbols (picked by Jimmy Page, the guitarist) vaguely resembled the English spelling Z-O-S-O.
+I This was never endorsed by the band members though.

Q5. Which organization(?)'s name is derived from a corruption of the Greek word for circle? Don't be klueless, rounding up was one of their activities!
A: Ku Klux Klan.
Klue was the direct clue, the Klan introduced the k-spelling corruption in many words. Also, the Klan did round up and lynch blacks.

Q6. What was peculiar about Australian fast bowler Merv Hughes's hat-trick against the West Indies in the late 1980s?
A: The three wickets came in three different overs!
Last ball of one over, first ball of next to end the first innings and first ball of second innings.
+I: Courtney Walsh also had a hat-trick across two innings in the previous Test but it came in two overs.
+I: Best ever bowling figures for Australia - 9/121 AA Mailey v England at Melbourne, 4th Test, 1920/21

Q7. Question 007. Which was the last James Bond movie with its title the same as an Ian Fleming work? Cryptic Clue: Vital shy gin delight - shaken, not stirred
A: The Living Daylights
Anagram of VITAL SHY GIN DELIGHT. Shaken and stirred was probably a better anagram indicator from a crossword point of view, but shaken not stirred was better from the quizzing point of view. I made my pick when at the crossroads.
+I Living Daylights was a short story by Ian Fleming

QM: None of Pierce Brosnan's Bond movies were bonafide Ian Fleming novels. Anyways, he never played cards (baccarat) with the villain in his movies, hence some charm was lacking afaiac...

Q8. Googleable. Who or what is a sabra?
A: A sabra is a native-born Israeli.
QM: Googleable was a red herring to throw you off your tracks. Maybe you should just have looked it up in your dictionary or encyclopaedia!!! ;-)
+I - Sabra liqueur is a famous chocolate liqueur from Israel (Hadn't known this)
+I - Sabra also seems to be the name of a mutant Israeli with superhuman powers in Marvel Comics (Courtesy Mayura). QM: The names of comic characters often go a long way in increasing your QQ (Quizzing Quotient).

Q9. Never mind your score in Queuriestu, but if you got an Apgar score of zero, what'd you probably be?
A: Dead or seriously unhealthy.
Apgar score is a rating given as an estimation of the health of a newborn baby. If you geta zero, you are, most probably, done for!
QM: When you google, google deep! - TJ

QX. Fill in the blank. Heaven (Christian):Pearly Gates:: Valhalla: _______ .
A: Valgrind
In Norse mythology, it is the name of the entrance to Valhalla.
+I: It is pronounced val- grinned, not grind
+I: It is a software tool on Linux, the documentation of which is where I picked this piece of trivia
CURIOUSEST! - Enjoyable attempts
Rotary Club (QM: was expected)
A Jew who is a Mossad mole in hiding
Helen of Troy
Banquet Hall
European union
Master at wielding the sabre
Odin's arms
SCORES (chronological, quiznetimal numbering)
1. Rajkamal Vasu - 5 (Good work on the anagram)
2. Dijo - 4 (Yeah, I have read the book)
3. Rajesh Raghavan - 3 (Enjoyable effort)
4. Anurag Singh - 3 (You got a point for the wild guess too!)
5. Bubbli - 5.5 (Attempted all the Qs, way to go! 0.5 for zoFo)
6. Varun Reddy - 4 (Newborn yes, but dead too. 3 separate overs)
7. Shashi Prakash - 5.5 (Didn't know about drink)
8. Rajesh Mohan - 5 (Klan)
9. Manu S Madhav - 2 (More attempts please)
X. Minhaj Alam - 5 (Nice to see you back)
Y. Prasanna Shankar - 4 (Two 0.5s in there)
Z. Santanu Dey - 4.5 ('e' comes before 'u' ;-)
A. Abhirup Ganguly - 3 (Good work on eunoia)
B. Himanshu Sapra - 1 (One on One)
C. Barb Rose Mayura- 5.5 (Thanx for all the extra info)
D. Prateek Vijayavargia - 5 (100% strike rate)
E. Prakash Swaminathan - 2 (Good working out, but two answers not specific enough)
F. Abid EH - 2 (Placements over?)
G. Mamatha Balasubramanian - 4 (Call it cues!)
H. Dinesh Krithivasan - 6.5 (Great show)
I. Srikanth - 2 (Two out of one!)
J. Samrat Sengupta - 3 (Missed shortest word)
K. Sushant Raut - 3.5 (Qurie :D Me2)
L. Nishad Manerikar - 2 (Good attempts)
M. PG G - 3 ( This line reads like a video file extension. Pray, expand ur name :-)
N. Shashwat Bhattacharya - 4 (It was not best ever figures for Australia, I could think of Shane Warne's best - 8 for 71)
O. Venkateshwar KR - 2.5 (Enjoyable as usual)
P. Ranjith Kumar - 5 (I picked up Apgar from you, remember? Back in Trivandrum?)

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Arul Mani was the QM for this one. There were a couple of other quizzes organized on the same occasion which I did not attend. The prelims was decent enough and the finals were OK. Cannot recall much more, writing this after a gap of nearly 2 months now.

You can read more about the event here

Team: Past Blast Masters (Lloyd, Ramdas, Prasanth & TJ) DNQ by a longish margin.

Lazarus gena
Date given - Gavrilo Princip Bridge
Mary Quant - Mini Cooper car, mini-skirt
French Somaliland - Djibouti
Ra I & II - Thor Heyerdahl expeditions
Baptism, Miracle at Cana, Magi - Theophanies
Castle of Otranto - Gothic literature
Binney & Smith => Crayola
Oracle of delphi - gases
General Tapioca vs Alcazar (Tintin) - Shown pic of tapioca and a castle
Bread fruit, Jack fruit
Rashomon - Japanese map with gates
Battle of Armageddon
Salt Castle - Salzburg
On the banks of Vistula - Warsaw
European capital outside Europe - 1816-1822 - Rio de Janeiro (of Portgual)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Verbose Monotony

Or what there could be in a name.

- I -

A man who never failed to please
Put you at ease, did John Verghese.
A man so true, a man so nice
But alas, logic was his vice.

"Hey John Verghese, 'geese' is plural
but you are just one, not many!"
A singular person in logic's noose
He changed his name, to John Vergoose.

"Hey John Vergoose, a goose is a she,
but you are male, not female!"
It was momentous, this question of gender
In a trice, he became John Vergander.

Now, there comes a time in a man's life
When he must get down and find a wife.
And John Vergander found repose
In the arms of the feminist Mary Bose.

"Hey John Vergander, post-wedlock
is it fair, that only the wife change name?"
Injustice, he always did oppose
He now calls himself John Verbose!


- II -

On and on, one could eloquent harp
about the virtues of Matthew Polycarp.
A man so true, a man so nice
But again, logic was his vice.

"Matthew Polycarp, 'poly' means many
but you're just one, not one more!"
This singular man, he was rather sharp,
He changed his name, to Matthew Monocarp!

"Matthew Monocarp, a carp is a fish
but you are a man, or are you not?"
A specious issue of identity,
Thenceforth, he became Matthew Monoman.

Again, there comes a time in a man's life
When he must get down and find a wife.
So Matthew Monoman entered into matrimony
with a lovely young lady, Mary Antony.

"Matthew Monoman, post-wedlock,
is it fair ,that only the wife change name?"
Why must marriage be male hegemony?
Our man calls himself, Matthew Monotony!

- Thomas Jay Cubb

Friday, June 01, 2007

TBOWM 200705

"We are in the business of watching movies." - Shimjith Ambali

20070514 Spiderman 3
Everybody needs help sometimes but Spiderman takes it a little too often in the movie versions, doesn't he? The third instalment failed to rise up to even the low expectations that I had. The tear-jerker scenes (and there are many of that!) left me in stitches. Mask-less Spidey (everybody knows by now!) gets rescued from a pounding from Venom and Sandman by his friend and/or enemy Harry. Utterly disappointing, but can't blame nobody because, in life, we always have a choice!

20070531 The Last King Of Scotland
Biopic about Idi Amin featuring Forest Whitaker in a laurel- and Oscar-winning performance. Whitaker steals all the thunder and the rest of the cast makes the most of what's left. An absolute must-watch.

20070530 Panic Room
Home Alone X and Blue Streak blended into a thriller! Artificial and manufactured story-line if ever there was one. There's a thief-proof panic-room in the house where there is a bounty which the thieves want. The break-in happens on the very day the new tenants move in, and they take haven from the robbers in the panic-room! The movie is rescued by performances from Jodie Foster who plays the distressed divorced mother with an ailing child and Forest Whitaker who plays a security-guy-turned-bad-but-all-the-same-there's-still-good-inside-me robber.

20070530 High Noon
A western that is not quite a western! There are not too many horses or gun-fights in this one. Rather, this is a rather instructive tale about how good, honest and sincere men are often left high and dry at the end by the very people they have served. Gary Cooper plays a retired(?) marshall who has to fend for himself when an outlaw whom he had put behind bars returns for revenge. The movie is shot in real-time, I think; it depicts what happens in the one-and-half hour or so after the marshall learns about the release of his nemesis. The frequent shots of the clock and the railway track build up tension and are standout features.

20070530 Babel
A four-stories-in-one and everything's-connected style artsy flick. Lives in Morocco, America, Mexico and Japan all connected through an incident that Brad Pit and wife, holidaying in Morocco, get embroiled in. The standout feature was the abundance of dialogue-less sequences, a very visual style of story-telling. The movie is more about the "connection" than anything else; the individual stories are not explained to their logical ends. Must say I enjoyed the movie as a whole.

20070526 Soft Beds, Hard Battles
Peter Sellers stars in multiple roles in this pathetic comedy... Did not, could not watch it through! Abandoned...

20070526 Charulata
Satyajit Ray movie about a "lonely wife" who falls in love with her husband's brother. Slightly abstruse and boring but entertaining nonetheless!

200070514 Keeping the Faith
Chocolatey comedy. A bit too mushy at times. Ben Stiller, Edward Norton and Jenna Elfman star. Love triangle involving a rabbi, a priest and their childhood buddy. Edward Norton's maiden directorial venture.

20070506 Bitter Moon
Sexually charged suspense film from Roman Polanski that is (emotionally) exhaustive and exhausting as well... you are guaranteed to be drained at the end of it all! The character played by Hugh Grant is drawn to the story of how a cripple (Peter Coyote) got together (in all senses of the word!) with his wife. Great stuff.

20070503 Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex
Well maybe not quite that, but a highly entertaining take from Woody Allen. A series of disconnected comedy episodes discussing sexual topics. The best sequences are the ones featuring Woody Allen as a sperm and the one in which a doctor falls in love with a sheep! A bit patchy, but thankfully, it is the mediocrity which surfaces in those patches and not the other way around!

20070501 The Man In The Iron Mask
A so-so adaptation of the Alexander Dumas novel that tells the tale, tells it quickly and entertains. Leonardo Di Caprio, John Malkovich et al star. Too little time spent on character-development, the plot stars; things happen a little too quickly.

20070501 Marvin's Room
A movie about the rediscovery of affection between estranged sisters (Diane Keaton & Meryl Streep). Keaton is the affectionate, self-effacing, all-sacrificing family-person who looks after sick dad while Streep is a fiercely independent, feminist (and selfish?) single mom with a delinquent son (played by Leonardo Di Caprio). Not bad for all the emotional baggage.

20070501 Hoffa
Jack Nicholson delivers a powerhouse performance in this biopic about James Hoffa of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a trucker's union. Danny DeVito hogs screenspace as Nicholson's sidekick, but not the limelight. Standouts are the courtroom scenes and the number of cigarettes that DeVito smokes!

20070501 Oliver Twist
Roman Polanski's retelling of the Charles Dickens story is faithful and elaborate with respect to sets and all that, but fails to sustain the interest. Both Barney Clark (Oliver) and Ben Kingsley (Fagin) act out their parts in an exaggerated manner, I felt.

20070423 Wall Street
Must-watch! Michael Douglas puts in a sterling performance as the super-investor. The movie is worth watching for his"Greed" speech alone. Charlie and Martin Sheen play out father-son roles in this one. Occasional flashes of wisdom from father and occasional glimpses of Tom Cruise from son!

20070430 Casino Royale
Spoof spoof. This comedy-multistarrer boasts big names but not too many good laughs. David Niven is the retired original James Bond who unleashes a whole brigade of duplicates (agents named James Bond) to confuse the bad guys (gals).

20070428 Terms Of Endearment
A run-of-the-mill tear-jerker (a comedy as well, it tries to be everything!); Jack Nicholson rescues the movie from the doldrums with his playboy-retired-astronaut role. Synopsis: Control-freak mother vs Independent daughter, affairs, loneliness and cancer! A very, very over-rated movie. How could it possibly have won so many Oscars! In hindsight, the movie was, I thought, pretty much similar to the later movie "Something's Gotta Give". If you liked that, you'll probably like this as well.

20070428 Quiz Show
A real-life story which shows the cheating that was rampant in the quiz (and game) shows in the early days of television. Some moral dilemmas presented and explored in a fine manner; but I felt it could have been a little more intense. Ralph Fiennes stars as the oh-so-handsome "intellectual" Charles Van Doren in this Robert Redford-directed movie; John Turturro puts in an unforgettable performance as Herb Stempel while Rob Morrow plays the the role of the investigator Dick Goodwin to perfection. My litmus test for a biopic role is: can you remember the name of the character or not? Some splendid quotes and bits of trivia as well. Which face cards are drawn in profile? Which movie won the Academy Award for best picture in 1955?

20070424 Once Upon A Time In America
A slow-moving grand epic gangster tale. Clocks in at 3:43! Took me an entire day to watch. Robert De Niro puts in a brilliant performance; he plays the part of Noodles as a young man, an older man and a very old man. The story is presented as a set of disconnected flashbacks from an opium den. The childhood section is the most entertaining but maybe that was because the gangster parts have since been told and seen umpteen times before. The Sergio Leone and Enrico Morricone combo come good yet again, almost poetry.

20070430 Moulin Rouge
A refreshingly different musical. Wonder why I hadn't watched it all this while. Set in 19th century to the words of rock-numbers. It's a little bit funny, this feeling inside!

20070430 Manhattan Murder Mystery
Woody Allen near his best. A genuine comedy, not the ROTFL type, more of humour. Diane Keaton plays the role that was originally written for Mia Farrow.

20070430 Taking Lives
Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke star in a hackneyed, catch-the-psychopath flick. Watchable, but not too good. A bit gruesome at times. The director could have spared us a lot of the blood and gore!

20070331 Dude, Where's My Car?
Hilarious. Occasional lapses into toilet-humour; it's a little bit too gross at times but it will have you rolling on the floor laughing. Guaranteed. "We are hot chicks..." is a line that never fails to get a smile out of you.

20070301 Leaving Las Vegas
Mushy movie. Cage puts in a decent performance as an alcoholic.

20070226 Melinda &Melinda
A little bit too self-important, almost pseudo-art, and the comedy is a little bit artificial. Woody Allen is not in peak form here. But the movie is not boring by any means and is eminently watchable.

20070226 Capote
An entertaining biopic-style depiction of the writing of In Cold Blood. What took getting used to was the high pitched, funny voice of the lead actor. But then that was the way Capote used to talk, as the extra documentary on the DVD showed. Was mighty impressed then!

Monday, May 28, 2007

KQA Mahaquizzer 2007

The Bangalore leg of the Mahaquizzer 2007 competition was organized by the KQA at the ITC campus on Sunday. The exam(!) was administered simultaneously in 9 other cities. It was, for the most part, a great set of questions. The general opinion it was much better than those in the previous editions.

There were 150 questions to answer in 90 minutes' time. Anustup Datta top-scored with 67 points for Bangalore. I hear the national top was 71 (in Chennai). The official results and answers will be put up on the KQA blog soon. Sreeram, my friend in Chennai scored 46, he told me. The topper in Kerala was Harikrishnan with 51.

It was an enjoyable outing for me, was writing anything resembling an examination after a gap of nearly 4 years! I managed to scored 34 points out of 150 (as per my count,the cursory in-situ evaluation put me at 30; the vagaries of evaluation!). After the unofficial results were announced, Praveen, Sai, Vivek and I headed to Mangalore Pearl, a restaurant in Fraser Town, for a pork-fest!

Kudos to the KQA for a job well done!

(110/150, watch the KQA site for full detail E&OE)
* 1992 Bharat Rana sent by registered post - Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
* Fruit "song of the wolf" - Cantaloupe
* Greek for hatred and cold - Styx
* Camphiris, used to dye nails of mummies - Henna
* Popeye Bulge
* Impurity list 1881 - Ivory Soap
* Two word term coined in 90s book about sleep - Power Nap
* City of Angels soundtrack, Greek Rainbow - Iris
* Kumbha mela modern => Harsha Vardhana
* Obituary 1975 misquote Shakespeare - Hercule Poirot
* Banks list. - highest altitude ATM
* Adult reproductive stage - Imago
* Island listing - Galapagos
* Julius Caesar Burial. Inspiration for Roman history book - The Forum
* Plane Mosquito aviation company - De Havillan
* Jagmohan Mundra
* Spy - Nana Phadnawis
* Number of horses > number of people - Mongolia
* SI unit of charge Coulomb. CGS - Coulomb
* 1951 case. Somebody vs State of Madras - First Constitutional Amendment
* Samuel Rubin. Paris brothers - Faberge
* Stuff about pigs and fences! Erinaceous - Hedgehog
* Brazil rock formation - Pao de Pizugur
* Mnemonic to remember speed of light. How? - Using telephonic keypad
* Somebody - Indy500 founder
* Trained to catch fish - Cormorants
* 1851 book by inventor Elastic - Charles Goodyear
* John McDermot won the first. Dominated by Kenyans - Boston Marathon
* BOMIS, beard award - Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia
* Assistant of Robert Koch - Petri dish
* Sage curse Brahma not to be worshipped anywhere - Bhrigu
* Apple software to convert to Intel - Rosetta
* Uluru Ayers Rock
* Expulsion list. Missing two name - The Grimm Brothers
* Name inspired by "And Quiet Flows The Don" - Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hain
* First reality show - Candid Camera
* Only mineral to be directly consumed by humans - Rock salt (The only shocker!)
* Hypothetical landmass, Roman May 7,9,11 - Lemuria
* Ethnical classification of idiocy - trisomy of Chromosome 21 - Mongoloidism (Down's syndrome)
* Father son duo. Father => Country - Israel and Judah
* Plant response imitation of animal - Mimosa
* Heal-all, trifoliate and five-foliate = Ginseng
* Iranian capture of British soldiers. Look like - Mister Bean
* Hurakan
* Resident of Spain, highest civilian honour - Vishwanathan Anand
* Name of character - Godot
* 1988 Nobel Peace Prize - UN Peacekeeping Force
* Saka, Kollam etc out of 29 used in India- Calendar
* Debonair founder, Illustrated Weekly - Ashok Rao Gavi
* Manufacturer of golf-clubs and tennis racquets. All England sponsor - Yonex
* Pierre De Coubertin introduced. skills needed by soldier to escape - Modern Pentathlon
* Oldest in Pirelli calendar - Sophia Loren
* River in Himalaya, Karnataka, character in Matrix Reloaded (4) - Kali
* Fallen Soldier Robert Capa photo
* Complete - Gambia, Niger, Nigeria, Congo - Senegal (rivers too)
* Islamic earthquake, also late 80s Hindi movie - Zalzala
* Hong Kong star "what Hollywood aspires" - Jackie Chan
* First Indian woman historian - Gulbadan Begum
* Former Belgian Grand Prix, health location - Spa
* Only trophy with names of all winners and management. Everybody gets to keep - Stanley Cup
* Movie called US warfare against Iran - 300
* Hungarian scientist coined "chain reaction" ~= Geo Lillard
* brother of famous person. built platform nations - Ernest Hemingway
* Persepolis ruins
* Named after Japanese steaks - Kobe Bryant (My only real miss!)
* Duel description - Alexander Pushkin
* Sanam - Idol in Arabic, Majrooh Sultanpuri popularized
* Golden flower Chinese movie - Chrysanthemum
* Photography story - Great Wall Of China
* Norwegian for destruction - Lemming
* editor of Esquire 2004, to become smartest man - Read entire Britannica
* Building, blending etc - Cocktails
* Locarnot - place where seven treaties were signed
* Lingua franca
* Oxford Cambridge boat race
* Missing movie 1939 - Wizard Of Oz
* Lumbar puncture, name of movie - Spinal Tap
* Handheld camera pioneered by Elvis => series (first 1989) - MTV Unplugged
* How to play lyre brother - Mercury and Cadatius
* Australian dollar, main city, no capital - Nauru
* Coined by Desmond Tutu at end of apartheid - Rainbow Nation
* Pilomotor reflex, 62-book horror series - Goosebumps
* Legumes name and music band former name given - Black Eyed Peas
* Company identity something. Used seasonally in India, Africa (worldwide) - Election Ink
* Format wider than tabloid - Berliner
* Vishwesarayya - "useless" - Jog Falls
* Tuartara
* Updike poem No French movie without _______ - Depardieueu (I wrote an Eiffel-tower-view!)
* Description of game - Quoits
* US National Monuments founding story
* Tributary of Colorado - Gila
* Superiority, Satisfaction, Incongruity - Smiling
* White House Design
* Steven Soderbergh - 1986 rock documentary
* Largest plant seed- Double coconut
* Plaster of Paris
* Debut in Perfect Murder - Daughter of Saeed and Madhur Jaffrey
* Brief bio - Mohsin Hameed
* Newest Independent Caribbean - St. Kitts & Nevis
* 1935 Nobel, took on wife's name - Frederic Joliot-Curie
* Theodore Roosevelt first US prez out of country - Panama
* Capybara - eaten in Venezuela, fo hide elsewhere
* according to different myths - Fire
* Battle Royale movie based on - The Lord Of The Flies
* Actor debut in 1975 Kannada movie, never in mother-tongue - Rajni Kant
* Waverly by Walter Scott
* Daredevil needs a female - Frank Miller, Elektra
* Four Quarter - Inca
* Yellow fever nursery rhyme => Jack Be Nimble
* Egyptian god, ram head - Ammon
* Blue Stone Excrement - Spirulina

Friday, May 18, 2007

Apart, Not Separate

Half my team moved to a different floor today. Does distance make the heart grow fonder?




Empty chairs and desks, now felt is pain
Now this floor is so much less fun;
You've gone, and left a void main,
But size and space spare none!

Young ones leave when they get older
But without you this place seems colder
(Fewer people for the AC,
Laws of physics, you see?) :-)

Now you have moved to floor three
A place more, where we can feel free!
That you have made the shift
Just means that we'll use more, the lift!

- Thomas

Saturday, May 12, 2007

You Know Officialese TJs

Three short ones, maybe more appropriate as cartoons.

A: Where can I find the pipeline?
B: Which pipeline?
A: You know, the one in which all the projects are...

A: I am resigning.
B: Why's that?
A: I have become a millionaire!
B: On a salary, wow! Where'd you invest?
A: You know, I've got ownership of so many things...

A: Can you please ring me on this phone?
B: But why are you standing on those magazines?
A: You know, I need to take a call on a few issues.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Queuriestu - I

Queuriestu, was another series of quizzes that I ran on Quiznet. Not successful as the previous series "Queuriest", due to different reasons, but I think this was the tougher of the two. Running this series also helped me stay in touch. I was in quizzing wilderness from 2003 to 2006; this series helped me a lot.

Hi all!
Old habits die hard. The Quiznet (and quizzing) habit of mine was almost well-and-truly dead! But then the quizzing motherlode pointed the way to the Young World quiz (as a spectator) and that inspired the resurrection, the Quizzerrection! :-) Have also rediscovered my crossword habit...
I name this series as Queuriestu (2)- after my old series on Quiznet, the cluesy (and classy as well I hope :-) Queuriest which I ran around two years back. "Quizzerrection" was probably a better name for this series as I can't guarantee that this will be in the Queuriest vein; this may not be QueuriesTWO exactly. But then I thought about the possible problems with spam filters and the like . :-)
I will try my best to live up to the name. I also hope that I will be able to maintain the momentum and keep going.
Shoot in your attempts ASAP. Answers and scores next Friday (promise)
// (emoticon I invented for "bye-bye") :-)

We Can Work It Out

Q1. Let's start off with an ungoogleable (or is it ungooglable?) one. Gimme one word that describes the following formation.
(Hope this displays correctly. Anyway, it's supposed to be a rectangle with 'x's indicating things at the corner and the centre.)

Q2. If you google, hitting below the belt, I hope you'll go straight to the foul bowl! But where are ice-hockey players (puckers!) sent for committing fouls?

Q3. Anti-democracy statement: Not everyone is equal. What does the abbreviation YMMV stand for?

Q4. Very literal one. Why is Cape Three Points, in the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana known as the `land nearest nowhere'?

Q5. Rumble In The .... You've all heard it. Who or what is a borborygmus?

Q6. Current affairs. Watergate. What was Deep Throat's real name? Cryptic Potter Clue: Possibly Death Eater Nixon's response to Voldemort's call.

Q7. A bland, boaring question. To kill which demon did Vishnu take the avatar of Varaha?

Q8. Computer programming trivia. What does a quine do? Goto Q8 and print it.

Q9. Filler question. What's Japanese for "single number"?

Q10. Let's round it off with this one. Forever with chuckers, cricket was never a gentleman's game. Who invented over-arm bowling?


Sorry for the delay. The promise of Friday was a promise broken. I apologize.
Anyways, here are the scores and answers.
Next set when the when the next set comes.... ASAP... :-)

We Can Work It Out
Q1. Let's start off with an ungoogleable (or is it ungooglable?) one. Gimme one word that describes the following formation.
(Hope this displays correctly. Anyway, it's supposed to be a rectangle with 'x's indicating things at the corner and the centre.)
A: Quincunx
An extremely cool word to know. Starts with a Q and ends with an X! Maybe I should have given that as a clue. But that would have made it googleable.
Does ungoogleable = unsolvable? And does ungoogleable mean unattemptable???? There was just one attempt at cracking this - pentagram by SM.

Q2. If you google, hitting below the belt, I hope you'll go straight to the foul bowl! But where are ice-hockey players (puckers!) sent for committing fouls?
A: Sin-Bin
This was the preferred answer. Have given points to "Penalty Box" also. When there is "foul bowl" in the question, sin-bin is the better answer.

Q3. Anti-democracy statement: Not everyone is equal. What does the abbreviation YMMV stand for?
A: Your Mileage May Vary
Had a lot of responses to this one! Was fun to read.

Q4. Very literal one. Why is Cape Three Points, in the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana known as the `land nearest nowhere'?
A: Because it is the land nearest a location in the sea which is at 0 latitude, 0 longitude AND 0 altitude.
Most of you missed the altitude part. Half points for those who missed that.

Q5. Rumble In The .... You've all heard it. Who or what is a borborygmus?
A: Stomach fills the blank. The sound made by gas and fluid moving through the intestines.
No who answers...

5. Q6. Current affairs. Watergate. What was Deep Throat's real name? Cryptic Potter Clue: Possibly Death Eater Nixon's response to Voldemort's call.
A: (W) Mark Felt.
If you are a Potterhead, you didn't need to get the newspapers to get this one. The followers of Voldemort (Death Eaters) feel a mark burning! Thus, Mark Felt!
Some of you tried guessing the first name (incorrectly), In a quiz, any quiz, it is better to be incomplete than incorrect. Haven't penalized though.

Q7. A bland, boaring question. To kill which demon did Vishnu take the avatar of Varaha?
A: Hiranyaksha
+I: Bali or Mahabali was killed by Vishnu in his avatar as Vamana.

Q8. Computer programming trivia. What does a quine do? Goto Q8 and print it.
A: A quine is a program that prints itself.
If you follow the instruction in the question, you would have printed the question itself. The goto part was a red herring (QM blooper actually); not really needed.

Q9. Filler question. What's Japanese for "single number"?
A: Sudoku
The clue was in....Filler! Leave no word unread!
I don't think sudoku can be a replacement for crosswords. With crosswords, you can learn a lot from the answers and improve your vocabulary, but there are no such advantages with sudoku. It's hit-or-miss. Sudoku is a good timekiller though and leaves you feeling intelligent!

Q10. Let's round it off with this one. Forever with chuckers, cricket was never a gentleman's game. Who invented over-arm bowling?
A: Christina Willes.
I've given points for slight variations as well. The story, though, is apocryphal - rather dubious.

CURIOUSEST! - Enjoyable attempts
Your movement is mainly in vain ;)
Not Greg Chappell
Eccentric? (x-centric)
You sail from there around the globe and reach the same place. nothing else in that latitude!

SCORES (chronological, quiznetimal numbering)
1. Sreeram - 4 (The Early Bird!)
2. Santanu Dey - 4 (Some half-points)
3. Rajesh Mohan - 1.5 (Yeah, I am the TKM guy)
4. Ranjith Kumar - 2.5 (You missed the altitude part)
5. Venkateswar KR - 5 (Superwittive effort as expected. You haven't changed one bit! :-) Thanks!)
6. Anirudh Batra - 1 (100% strike rate, but why don't you guess more?)
7. Anees Sekhar - 4 (Solid show)
8. Sushant Raut - 3.5 (Very enjoyable effort, Mr. X SentriK)
9. Vaibhav Devanathan - 3 (Almost missed ur answers because you left the numbers blank!)
X. Kumar Vaibhav - 9 (Superlative)
Y. Divya Kanal - 3.5 (.5 for omitting the term)
Z. Akshar Chandra - 3 (100% - bring down the percentage; more guesses please)
A. Abhishek Nigam - 1 (A sin-bin win!)
B. Anurag Singh - 4 (Fortune favours the guessers. Way to go, man!)
C. Sanjeev Mittal - 4 (Emphatic display. Was quine a guess? Superb)
D. Abid EH - 4 (Where are you now?)
E. Sandeep Unni - 4 (Good to see you back too!)
F. Abhishek D - 1 (Now you do know!)
G. Srikanth Madani - 1 (Great attempts. In the true spirit of quizzing)
H. Varun Reddy - 4 (Good effort)
I. Balasubramanian KA - 5 (Smooth sailing)
J. Mamatha Balasubramanian - (Hi there!)
K. Dijo - 1 (I Almost Missed It!)