Saturday, July 02, 2005

map-quest dept.

Thanks again to Jeet for this diversion...

How much of India have I covered?

A long way to go yet...This definitely makes me parochial.

States visited in India

Brought to you by pratibha75, quizling and teemus.

Friday, July 01, 2005

h2g2 dept.

A bit of H2G2 trivia -- an answer to a question that has puzzled me greatly ... No! Not that answer, and not that question either ... it is this -- what is so funny about the name 'Ford Prefect'?

In the first book, Douglas Adams mentions that Ford chooses this name because he feels its nicely inconspicuous. Now after having read this far, knowing Adams' style, one begins to think there must have been some lingering irony behind that origin of his name.

A clue was revealed to me when I stumbled upon a wikipedia entry for H2G2 -- more specifically, the French translation, in which the names of the characters have been changed around. So, Ford Prefect becomes Ford Escort.

Apparently, Ford Prefect was the name of a Ford Car specifically marketed in the UK as a low-cost car in the 50s/60s that became quite popular. And Adams mentioned in an interview that the reason 'Ford' chose his name was because he simply miscalculated the dominant life-form.

Get it?
mystic-redemption dept.

In Mystic River, Tim Robbins plays a man abducted by child molestors as a kid, who spends his adult life finding and beating up child molestors. In that movie, he is seemingly dispatched into Boston's Mystic River by a vengeance-seeking Sean Penn.

In Steven Spielberg's War Of The Worlds, however, we learn that he somehow made it out of the river, moved to the countryside, and found out that his abductors were actually Aliens from outer-space, planning a mass extermination of humanity. Now he waits, talking to his shotgun in a rickety old basement of a rickety old house, biding his time. Until of course, his old tormentors arrive to finish the job.

Then he runs into a guy who calls himself "Ray Ferry", who is actually Mitch McDeere, hiding under an alias -- he brought down The Firm, remember? Mitch is trying hard to pretend he is not a Yuppy, working at the docks, trying hard to look like a slacker, stretching out his perfect abs to simulate a beer belly that isn't there. He's gone underground, taken his older brother's first name (and also his persona, I might add ... but naah, Ray McDeere was way too cooler), and managed to lose his wife to a guy who's not afraid to show his yuppiness (also I don't think Abby really forgave him for that beachside romp in the Bahamas, and of course, for the fact that he got to cheat with a Penelope-Cruz lookalike hottie and she got to cheat with Gene Hackman. Although women are turned on by wealth and power, well, he's still Gene Hackman.)

Abby -- she's actually Eowyn in disguise, conferred immortality after an accident in the grasslands of the Riddermark with a Noldorin Elf and some spare Longbottom Leaf from Pippin's secret stash -- has now moved to Boston.

Meanwhile, all these strange goings on, with people hiding themselves under aliases, talking to their shotguns, Aliens digging themselves into the earth, only to come out of it, first zapping human beings with a death ray, then thinking it would be a good thing to drink their blood and spray the tri-state area with their intestines instead, all of these strange things have been foreshadowed by Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding. He was just fed up of fixing boats in Zihuatanejo is my guess. Besides, when one does too much voice-over work, one does get 'institutionalized'.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

ash-nazg-durbatulúk dept.

Almost four years ago, on a whim after reading too many /usr/games/fortune's, I bought a volume of The Lord of The Rings. It was a time in my life where I had developed a sort of mental block and had problems reading books (among other things, like spotting holes in the ground two steps ahead of me). I had spent almost a year before that without reading a single new book (this of course, includes my textbooks in engineering college), and had serious concentration problems. I would try to focus on things, but my mind would wander and I would begin to mentally digress.

Well this book eventually brought me great enjoyment and reassurance, and I feel I should acknowledge that. It was a welcome friend to me in a time of confusion and desperation. I had mixed feelings when reading the trilogy -- mostly because I was trying to force myself to read arduous, complex writing like Dostoeyevsky's Crime And Punishment and books of the same ilk. Rings seemed to be sinfully enjoyable compared to those other ones (the measure of a great book is -- it goes well with snack food of any kind), and for some time after I'd finished it, I was sort of lost because there wasn't anything else to read. So I hobbled out to the bookstore and back again, and bought The Hobbit instead.

More recently, over the last few months, I went through the entire Lord Of The Rings Extended DVDs -- through the documentaries, and also watched all the movies with commentaries turned on ( Cast, Director and screen writers, Weta Digital Special Effects Crew -- you name it. Don't ask me how I found the time).

And now, joy of joys, I have begun reading The Silmarillion. I have never read anything quite so beautiful, and so complete and as imaginative. Its like reading a "Best of" collection of human mythology. There are online reviews of The Silmarillion which say that it reads like a catalogue of events, but please don't believe them.

To paraphrase the central idea: the world is created out of a symphony by "The One" -- Eru or Iluvatar -- who creates a number of guardian spirits to watch over it, and then he creates Men, who are blessed with a will of their own and are driven by a quest for the infinite, and who above all have been bequeathed the one gift which the other spirits lack -- death, or freedom from the circles of the world.

How can you not like J.R.R.Tolkien?

Monday, June 27, 2005

color-me-bad dept.

Thanks to Jeet for this link. A rivetting, veritable explosion of color.