Sunday, 28 November 2010

An Inconvenient Truth (2006) [* * * * * *]

This is a terrific must-see documentary about the struggle of Al Gore to put global warming on the forefront of politics.

All his work as Vice-President to get the US to sign the Kyoto agreement was wiped out when the Bush administration decided it wasn't 'fair' for the developed world to reduce carbon emissions while countries like India and China didn't have to do as much work. (Duh, Bush Jr., that was because the first world countries have 5 times the emissions of ours and the US has 15 times higher emissions than any other country in the world! Grow up!)

Anyway, the world slapped Bush in the face for it by giving Al Gore the Nobel Peace Prize 2007 for his work to save the environment and he won an Oscar for this video! This movie is about that struggle and Al Gore's dogged determination - I never realised he was such a likeable guy until I saw it!

Here's a good place to view An Inconvenient Truth

Fanny & Alexander (1982) [* * * * * *]

This is a fabulous movie about 2 children and their mother after the husband dies. The children are born to a theatrical family and he led a free and creative existence with little or no discipline, having fun in a huge family full of love and joy and freedom.

After her husband's death, the actress catches the bishop's eye and he begins to woo her in the form of episcopal emotional support. Alexander is growing out of childhood and into a psychically sensitive teen who sees ghosts as easily as he sees hidden motives.

He takes an instant dislike to the bishop, but his mother falls in love. The bishop takes them home to a life of hardship and punishments for the smallest offenses. Alexander is repeatedly subject to humiliation and required to apologize to his tormentor. His one wish is to see the bishop dead.

The mother is unable to protect her children as the bishop threatens to use the marriage laws of Sweden to take away the children. Finally her former husband's family is forced to intervene to rescue the children.

During this act, we're made aware of how much of a rascal the Bishop really is, for all his hypocritical talk. The penury of the house is due to his financial excesses and his womanizing. The theatrical family turn to a Jewish merchant to abduct the children from the prison of their new home so that the mother is free to act. She puts bromides in her nightly broth to help her sleep and the suspicious bishop asks to drink it and is helpless to stop her from leaving him. The jewish merchant has a psychically talented son who sees the rage in the boy and channels it to set the bishop's house on fire, in which the Bishop dies.

Finally we see the theatrical family reunited and happy again. But Alexander is pushed down by the ghost of the Bishop who tells him that now he'll never escape him again.

I have never seen a catholic filmmaker's that I haven't identified with. Having been in catholic schools and colleges, I am deeply aware of their hypocrisy, the special humiliations and torment they reserve for children and the gilded cage they weave with words - whether the movie is about sexually abusive priests or punitive relationships between natives and missionaries, I identify with the rage and pain that goes into the telling of those stories.

Prizzi's Honour (1985) [* * * *]

A very entertaining gangster movie with a twist.

Jack Nicholson is a slow but deadly mafia man, brought up by the Prizzi family. He falls in love with Kathleen Turner, who's a specialist killer hired by the family, but he marries her anyway because he's in love with her. Anjelica Huston is a former lover who's been dishonoured because she cheated on him in a jealous fit.

It's a movie about family honour and its crazy mafioso implications. One mistake by Kathleen leads to very unfortunate consequences for his marriage by which Anjelica manages to get him back.

Well worth watching.

About Schmidt (2002)[* * * *]

This is an interesting movie for any middle aged person to see. Its a change-of-life story.

Schmidt is newly retired from his job as vice-president in a company who sees his life with new eyes.

One day watching a tv ad for a charity, he begins to write to an african boy with a cheque to support his education. His letters are about his new retired life.

He comes from a typical US married man background of having nothing to live for except his work. His wife seems like a stranger to him, but by the time he realises it, she dies.

Now he realises he can't take care of himself and his home, and his daughter won't stay to help because she has her own commitments. He decides to move up to join her but she doesn't want him to come until the day before her wedding.

Having time on his hands, he decides to sightsee. The trip to see his daughter married to a nincompoop in a weird, though very average american, family is hilarious and very real. His daughter wants him to pay for the wedding, her husband wants him to invest in some scheme - he realises everyone only saw him as a provider but didn't want to know him. His attempts to stop the wedding, and finally, his acceptance that it is beyond his ability as a marginal figure in their lives is quite moving.

The one thing I admire about these rare american filmmakers is their ability to see their own culture as being ... strange, if poignant, and laughing at it visually. He returns home thinking about what he'd achieved in his life and realises it was meaningless - until he receives a letter from his african charity with a picture drawn by the 6 yr old child, Ndugu. In his entire life, the only thing that makes his life meaningful is a whimsical charity of 22 dollars/month where someone returns affection when he gave willingly.

It touched me because looking at the man as a provider often goes hand in hand with manipulating him by withholding affection. A very common affliction in arranged marriages.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Honey honey honey - it is money

There are many a tribal folk coming down from the Kolli hills carrying honey from the wild mountain side,it is precious to them and they are made to sell it for a price at market value.

Those who have been trading, have got to know the rules and side paths to the market that they have started to find ways to make money too.

It was at such a time that i got to meet a local man, at my work station asking me if i wanted honey,he said he got it from a coconut tree and wanted some money so he is selling his gift of nature.

Seeing my confusion to want it or not he said it was genuine and if allowed till no moon day it would have been more,but he wanted money so he raided the hive for the treasure.

He knew i was not convinced, so he asked for a glass of water and poured the honey to show that it was immiscible, he poured the water away and asked for matches, which i got from a smoker around, he dipped into the remaining honey to show it was not having water in it and struck to bring on the fire.

Well i was not convinced, but i said OK i will trust, and was awarded a gift of rich honey, for a price.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

One evening at a maternity ward

This was during the 80s when Chennai was still called as Madras - nalla Madras.

The bay was affected with the cyclone, the walls were being battered, and the water could still flow through the drains,the middle aged cycle rickshaw man pulled up against the steps of the R S R M government hospital,the young pregnant lady was helped to climb down by her smart well built husband, who quickly pulled up his shirt to pay the rickshaw walla from his inner pant pocket, to be brushed away by the gestures of the rickshaw man to help his lady in pains.

Words were passed and quickly a wheel chair for the lady was made available and the 100 meters to the labour ward was passed in a run of a minute and half, careful with the treasure of the pregnant lady.

The ayaas and the nurses were ready to recieve the case,the girl was quickly sized and a maroon robe of petti coat was offered for a change of dress.

The anxious husband was made to wait outside, he found other equally anxious men,but men rarely make idle chatter to strangers so it was quietness in a place of many men.

The ward was a mixture of ayaas , nurses, new terrified students,a post graduate doctor and full term pregnant women .

The new patient was a lucky one to have found a bright student, an encouraging ayaaa, and an understanding doctor, who led her to a place and with the help of existence and so much we do not know, a baby girl was delivered naturally and a smiling mother was born.

Hot Tub Time Machine(2010)[* *]

I'm always surprised people would spend money making bad movies. Really, when you're putting millions into something, a lot of work storyboarding and paying 30 - 40 people's work hours, wouldn't you pick a meaningful script or at least a quality one? Its life-hours you're wasting. Give the money to charity and do the world a favour.:)

This is the first low-budget nonsensical movie of 2010 I've seen. Not worth the2.5 hours of watching unless you're a Cusack fan. He's gotten himself top-billed on really bad movies of late.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Onion peeling - a guide to nothingness

There are many ways one could help at the kitchen, in the hurry burry hours of the morning.

Sitting cross legged on the mat of the cold tile on the Spartex floor, a plate of small onions (the specialty of the region,) at the side, a small blunt round ended knife for safety, and a small basket to drop the peelings, such simple requirements can start the chore to turn it into a play to soothe the mind and relax the body.

The blunt knife is the best for learners who can get the outer most layer off the onions, cutting the nose and the tail, ( like my lady says) gets the skin off the onion, later to be chopped into smaller pieces, these onions are getting to be anemic these days,blanched,unlike the pink ones of those days, these do not even make us weep and clear our eyes, may be these onions of the day are loosing their values, and their flavor.

Many a story is told of the onion among the spiritual seekers, that life is like an onion, or pick any problem and if u go deep and deep eventually it comes to nothing,sounds so philosophical, but for now we peel onions for the preparations of the tasty nutritious dishes.

This morning it was for the tomato sambar, which went wonderfully with the dosais and cereal powders and coconut oil.

For those who are yet to break their overnight fast, may it give u an idea of preparation.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Adoption of America as a new homeland

I have many a country cousin of mine who have taken up citizenship of America, I am tempted too,but i have heard things are not that easy as early times.

Seeing the Dream act, i have many ideas cropping up in my mind, and the goverment of America seems to have such a kind heart for the illegal aliens, that they dont mind spending their own money, for the sake of the cross border folks.

Development, relief and education of alien minors( below 35 is a minor according to this DREAM act) the kids can get free education, they can bring on their families once they are settled,( chain migration) ohhh things are too good to be true, how kind hearted the Americans are , at least for this sake i can get to learn the "yankeee doodle went to town a riding on a pony..." song.

On second thoughts i will stay where i am, let things settle down and see if the DREAM act gets to be passed.

Then America will be the Dream land for those illegals, and Hell for those who are already living there paying the taxes.

Puffed rice and peanuts

There are many ways to fill the tummy at tea times with no tea.
one such filler is called as puffed rice, (pori in the tamil vernacular) and lots of water.

Normally the chit chatters on the home steps have this with peanuts mixed with the rice,while they gossip the local news, now it is the muncher at TV times.

I have heard this is a simple preparation, where large pans are heated with sand and then raw rice is added , the rice gets heated and puffs,it is then collected , salted stored and sent to the market.

The shop owners keep them in gunny bags or in plastic sheets to prevent them from becoming damp.

We prefer to have them roasted again at home with addiction of curry leaves,chillies, turmeric powder and at times peanuts.

For many a home in the village it is the snack of the family.where the tuck box is filled during the weekly shanty date, only to get a refill at the next shanty day.

Once this was the traditional snack,now things are changing with the arrival of the bakeries and the royal chips shop.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

A tingle on the senses

We seem to have normal rains only when there is a cyclone in the bay, we are placed so in the middle of nowhere.

Nowadays the afternoons are privileged for the gardens, so difficult to maintain a routine,how well we used to follow the time table during the school days and college days, to forget them fully when we get to be free and lazy.

I was caught one afternoon with the passing clouds bringing in a shower,while digging in the garden pulling out the weeds and making pathways around the plant for the water to stay.

Rain drops falling can be a theme for any art,
For me it was a slow realization of the different effects, that i was able to separate them into lines

First it was the feel of those drops on the skin, one after the other,picking a different place,so close yet another spot and a new sensor.

Then the sight of them hitting the ground, making water marks on the sand and gravel, also when a leaf of a plant learns to dance with the drop making the steps for the movements,giving space and time for the leaf to balance.

Next came the smell of the wet mud, a sense i seem to be loosing fast, those days i could smell the new mown hay and the distant rain with the smell of a different ground.

The audio with the drops hitting the leaves and the far away asbestos sheets, and the tinned roof of an air conditioned covering, was a pleasure not wanting to make any changes with the volume.

The only sense left was the taste , i could have had that too if i continued to walk in the rain, to let those drops bring on the taste of the high atmosphere, on my tongue.

If one could bring on the best of the senses, am sure it would be an orchestra, moving and flowing, with the maestro hidden behind the clouds, deciding where and when to shower for the gathering, irrespective of the applause she receives or not.

( oh god, i remembered something, this addition was at the time of checking the lines
atheist writing on the wall - god is nowhere,
Theist writing on the same wall - God is now, here)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Mother by law

She was a Mother by law, she passed on her greatest treasure at the wedding, Her Daughter.
She gave a lot of material accessories , but they were immaterial in comparison.
She was a kind compassionate lady who did proud to her daughter, in her care and concern, for folks around her.

She attended most functions at her daughters school, to encourage,
she never missed the family get together s either,
Most of all she never created hurdles for all the nonsensical freedoms that i adored.

She had accompanied us to Poona for our meditation programmes and took part
in them at our village.

She had special moments for our son as all grand mas do.

She made her last pilgrimage to Varnasi, and passed away helping her fellow travellers, who met with an accident between Gaya and Varnasi.
She was cremated by those who went on the pilgrimage.

She was a Mother by law, but like my own in freedom.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Crotch bomber to Love pats

I had written earlier about the full body scanner, at the airpots and was whisked away as something of a breeze.

Ever since the Christmas bomber was caught on a flight, the full body scanner was hurriedly installed in the airports, as if they knew before hand they were coming, and told that they were harmless and could not save pictures and more lies,since shah ruk khan was coming back from united kingdom,autographing on his scanned pictures.

Now it seems that many are noticing that the scanner waves breaks or untwists the Dna strands, and many are opting out of the scanner,for fear of irradiation,only to be led to patting, and hands into pockets search, or worse indignity.

Reading these material and seeing videos of small kids, elders, and handicapped folks being frisked is nauseating.

Well if such measures are a necessity for safe air travel, i guess we have to go with the authorities, or choose another mode of travel or not travel at all, or are such measures being taken to restrict movement and humiliate the society, keeping them cornered, and under control?

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Other Guys (* * *) [2010]

 Another actor who is interesting but never lives up to expectations is Mark Wahlberg. I've seen quite a few movies with him in it, and he always looks uncomfortable with acting. Which is probably part of the charm that makes me want to see another.

This was a surprisingly funny movie - two cops who're bumblers who're trying to get respect from the other cops by solving a case. They're pretty clueless about how to go about it even though they've stumbled on a huge scam. Worth a watch.

Wolf (* *) 1994

I almost always regret watching Jack Nicholson movies. Though I really like him and Michelle Pfeiffer, they haven't done a good movie in years (well, Bucket List is more of a good script than a good movie).
This is really one of the many b-grade horrors with top-notch actors.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Paprika (2007)[* * * * *]

Japanese animation varies from the very traditional to very avant garde, and Santoshi Kon's Paprika falls in the latter category with a bang. An amazing adventure about dream analysis set inside dreams.

The first time I downloaded it, it was without english subs, and made no sense at all. When I got it with english subs, it blew my mind. This is the one time I've really regretted not being very good at languages - what a profound difference it made to be able to understand what was being said!

The DC mini is a new psychoanalytic tool to understand dreams and record them, to help people. But the machines get stolen and as more peoples dreams merge, reality begins to alter to become dreamlike. Paprika is the alter ego of a researcher who is trying to save the world from a crazed nightmare.

Anyone interested in pyschotherapy would find it a fascinating film. This is where sci fi breaks new ground for science and medicine by predicting possibilities.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Qualitative Encashment - instead of Quantitative Easing

The world has just been told that the American cash printers are going to print, a sum of 600 billion from thin air, and it is called as quantitative easing, wonderful terminology to soothe the nerves, and calm the mind, but crash the money markets across the world.

It has always been the policy to print money when the government needs it, but there must be a backing of solid gold in the reserves for it, with out it the printed money looses face value, one does not need to be an economist to understand this.

If one creates more jobs, gets international market for the products, increase tourism and ease in the mind to travel around the land for the tourists, and all the other things with in the government, then there would be another kind of QE 2 called as Qualitative Encashment, where the quality of the American money gets boosted and gets more standardized, and with it the American dollar stays at its place at the podium.

Will it be possible? or may be the banking folks have decided to dump the Dollars.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Sita sings the Blues (2008)[* * * *]

The only reason I watched it because Nina Paley sounded familiar (I later realised I had seen her videos on VHEMT) and of course, because it was the Ramayana from Sita's perspective. (It didn't go far enough if you ask me, Sita's perspective would need a radical feminist approach.:)

The style does come across as flip, even though Nina protests it isn't, but I liked the whole comparison to her own story of male rejection. The songs were lovely and the narration very contemporary (meaning most indians only know bits and pieces well and that comes across). Very colourful and indianized, from an american's point of view. As an indian woman who knows the story, it wasn't very outrageous or even groundbreaking or insightful, excusable as it was made for a wider audience, but the songs were nice and scenes well-packaged. Good job, Nina! I felt very much for your parallel.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Astroboy (2009)[* * * *]

Here's another very entertaining movie - just that I didn't quite get the point of it, so no 5stars.:)
The story is of a distraught scientist father creating a robot in the image of his son, Toby, who he loses by accident. The robot doesn't know it isn't Toby until the father discards him.

Toby is then imprisoned in robot games of death, hunted by the government for his core and shunned by humans.

The part that really put me off was that the humans were hardly human to all the robots in the movie, treating them to sneering, sniggering manipulation, and the robots were all far more human than the humans. I mean, what were they trying to say to the kids they made this movie for? That slavery will be alive and well in the future - and that it doesn't matter because robots will replace blacks/ethnic folk? Or that humans needn't respect bots because they're their creation? I didn't like the overall repulsion I felt to what was a well-made, if cold, movie.

Monsters vs. Aliens (2009) [* * * *]

I really enjoyed this comedy sci fi. Its cute and very thoughtful monsters, so there's nothing very scary for kids.

A girl is hit by a meteorite and finds herself a 40 ft monster secreted away by the US govt. She meets 3 other monsters there - created by radiation, experiment or discovery. They're let out of the secret facility to battle aliens who want to take over the world, which they do remarkably well at.

Very, very watchable.:)

An orchestra on a sunday morning

It started like any other morning, but today was one with plans for the afternoon and evening, so some things were musical, let me explain to u.

This sunday afternoon we had plans to go to salem after lunch, so the breakfast and lunch and other chores of the day are arranged with speed and time adjustments.

The grinder has started its spin earlier and the chutney for breakfast was reciped and the hissing of the cooker was on, the occasional slipping down of the plates and saucers of unbreakable material added to the music of the kitchen, and i had requested to show my skill at the hand making chutney that allowed me to also be a part of the orchestra, the maestro was costumed with colorful drapes and the wand was the ladle or the change to another of those utensils with long handles.

Things moved with speed and sounds and the finish was the kids arrival,after a bath,with a stylish hair do and our breakfast of chilliless chutney, honey and dosais was served , we applauded and a shy courtesy was made.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Love is Stomatitis together

I had wondered what could have brought on the stomatitis (mouth ulcers) for me and my lady together, we were thinking of many reasons from Honey, to sleeplessness at wedding functions, getting things organized at post weddings, gardening, food at restaurants, the thulasi leaves.

Guess what we finally came to pin point, our using of tooth powder and at the same time discussing some serious topic that we forgot the time and we finally landed up with this erosive bombardment of the mouth.

It has been a long time since we made this switch to the Ayurvedic tooth powder, but we were always careful to use just a pinch and not more than a minute in brushing, but some things could make us loose ourselves, and this was one such time.

There i was sitting up late at night , hungry and sipping water with difficulty, the burning was too much, and this morning the breakfast was a temptation of idly and sambar, but my inability was too noticeable that i had to accept oil as a buffering agent for the b' fast.

Things are better now, and now i realize how it must be for the patients who come up with this problem.
it is not just enough to get a great meal, but we must be in a state to relish it, physically.

May we get fully well soon, meanwhile all of u enjoy your food with every bite.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Vaccine Awareness Week

We are in the National Vaccine Awareness Week. November 1-7 2010

We celebrate a variety of weeks and days during the whole year.

How proper it would be if we have time for this vaccine awareness, which seems to be growing more in the general public than in the professionals of medicine.

We could start with the simple question, does the immunity that develops in the administration of the vaccine offer what occurs when the body acquires immunity from a disease?

We could also build on it with asking questions to the ones who promote the vaccine, what are the ingredients in the vaccine, and search the effects of them on our children, as the ones who promote do not know the effects of the ingredients. (if you do not believe me try it on the next vaccine promoter at the clinic, ask.)

Let us ask ourselves, Is the immune system of our children mature or immature for the vaccines?

Start again from the beginning than just continue with what we have been told, that “vaccines are good, and they work, they cannot be questioned.”

Ask questions and search, now that the internet is available.

Do not trust the government for our healthcare, or will u trust them? I DONT.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Lightning Thief [2010] (* *)

I notice my list of ** and *** is sparse, but this is purely because I hate to review the bad films and just delete them.:) But I'll make an attempt to keep it even.

This movie is a monumental waste of time. I mean, for 2010 and fine actors like Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean to work on such tasteless, B-grade films ... what's going on??

The story is a quest for Zeus's lightning bolt stolen by a demi-god in urban america. Greek gods come down and mate with humans once in a while and abandon their kids. Percy Jackson is accused of stealing it, and returns it to save his mother.

Duh! I'm sure that will appeal to the unprecedented number of absentee-parent kids of divorce. But its as b-grade as a movie can get in the fantasy realm. I always thought it would be interesting to do something similar with the Indian pantheon of gods, but this story was so boring, I hope no one attempts it.:)

9 [2009] (* * * *)

A wonderful animation with a bizarre, almost incomprehensible, story. This is a world destroyed by man-made machines which turned to war against them. A bunch of rag dolls survive by hiding, created as No..1, 2, 3, ... 9 but are hunted by the machines.

Its quite an adventure, but leaves you with more questions than it answers. The ending was very much about setting the souls of the dead free - which didn't really end it for me. Still, for a fine new kind of sci fi anime, its worth a watch. Don't expect to understand it though!:)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

'End of Liberty' (in the US)

For all those indians who want to live in the US - watch. This is the police-state I saw when I lived there. How they've turned even a convenience like air travel into a humiliating experience for the average citizen.

Did you know that you could have a mental disease called 'Healthy Eating Disorder'?:) Psychiatic docs are pushing to get it recognised, so that they can medicate for it. lol!

Gardening - a play with the plants

Ever since i can remember i always loved to dig and play in the mud, and if there was any one building a house, i was always around playing, and digging up in the mound of sand and stones.

I have heard folks say they are at the garden, working,for me it is always an outdoor play at the garden, with no referee and no rules and complete freedom, but with it comes the responsibility that is is nature's home and we should be careful with her territory, for her to show her beauty.

Now that we have the monsoon, the occasional showers are like a head bath for the plants having a complete clean up of all the muck acquired during the past few months.

It is such a pleasure to just dig up and pull off the weeds and clean up the mess, that it would make the goddess going to the temple, pass our garden street for a check up and admiration of her style.

The colourful crotons, jasmines, hibiscus, oleanders, and the herbs of the kitchen, make the simple street a pantheon of green gods home.

Monday, 1 November 2010

On the banks of the Thirumani Mutharoo

Thirumani Mutharoo is a stream that gets its waters from yercaud from the Killiyur falls which drains the lake of Yercaud town, but now the flow is more of the garbage and stink of Salem being polluted into its waters.

It was a Sunday evening and the occasion was a get together of like minded folks with one who is like all of us but who has had a taste of a cruise of the cosmic kind.

Me and my lady were early so we were watching the bird formations in the sky, the white winged ones showing us innumerable formations with their large numbers, to be suddenly mingled by the crows, it was a blend of the black and the white, then the crows found their own group and perched on a water tank to also watch the white winged ones drift and move to the horizon.

The evening darshan was a sharing of ideas and expressions and music.
many points had been touched, but the one that i found most interesting is mental constipation.

when the creative spirit in us is suppressed, it goes in for a constipated feeling, and the result can be a stagnation, which will eventually get expressed as ill stinky hated outburst of anger and sarcasm.

A movement from suppression to expression which leads on to celebration, a cruise of the inner kind was shown to be the way.

I had a chance to sing, " when i was a little boy, quay sera sera.."
and " anndavan ullagathin muthalali.. avanukku naan oru tholilali.."
My lady sang " thelivu guruvin thiru meni kaanal..'

It was an evening of quick flow of time with oneness of self, nature also celebrated with us with thunder,lightening and a shower of the soft drizzly kind.

we reached home catching the 9.30 pm bus modeling on the way under the shroud of the umbrella.