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!