Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Therapeutic Tag

You know what time it is, don't you? Yes, you got it right... The time when everybody is thinking of which resolutions to break in next month (or two months, for the more resolute).

But as you all know, I keep my promises (especially if the "promised" party is me). So when this tag came my way from Amrita (who continues to send very good tags my way) this month, I thought I should up the ante a bit, tenfold to be precise.

10 Things I'd like to do in next 10 years:

Everybody tells me that I am entering the period of my life where I will be achieving the most. So what would I like to achieve?

  1. Go once around the world: I am a flight away from the goal, actually.

  2. Get published in any form: e-magazine, magazine, newspaper, I am not particular about the medium. Post, article, review, I am not particular about the form. You see, I cover all the bases.

  3. Write a (short?) novel: They say there is a writer hidden is everyone. And one of these days, I am going to find him.

  4. Fly in Airbus 380 and Dreamliner: Dreamliner should be out within next 10 years, even with all the delays.

  5. Drive Porsche/Ferrari: Own, I am not sure. But drive, I would really like.

  6. Get a pilot's license: Not commercial, but just for recreational flying. I think all those flight-sim hours should be useful for something, right?

  7. Get married: My parents (who are so understanding on the subject) would be shocked (to put it mildly) if I postpone it for a decade, don't you think? And do I really need to add, to a girl I like?

  8. Become a millionaire: Now you may not believe it, but this has nothing to do with money. I just like the sound of the word, you see.

  9. Chart a ten-year plan: If I want to do some of the things in this list, I need a proper plan. And everybody tells me, this is high time.

  10. Following the tradition started by Amrita, I guess I will keep this for anything coming out of #9.

10 Things I miss about my life right now:
  1. My family, they never were more away from an overnight travel.

  2. My little niece. She is growing up.

  3. My friends

  4. Summer holidays

  5. Treks and short trips

  6. My school and college

  7. Evenings spent chatting with my friends

I don't think there is anything more.

And, on this new year's eve, I tag... nobody and everybody. Whoever wants to take this up, and whoever gets a comment from me tagging them...

Happy New Year to you all!!! May this year be what you hope (and dream) it to be!!!

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Some More TV Detectives

Oh yes, "Detectives" series is back. And before I go on to non-desi detectives (and there's a whole lot of them), I want to finish up with some TV detectives which I didn't cover last time. One I am including more for the sake of completeness than anything else, the other one, I didn't know exist.

Special Squad:

The Name: Special Squad
The Men (and Women): Aryan Khanna, Shaina Kaur, Dipika Ghosh, Ajay, Neha, Boxer, Shotgun, Papaji

Special Squad (not to be confused with their Australian mates) was set up by Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, as a "special" team. Supposed to be a crack team of homicidal investigators and forensic experts, they are pitted against the "perfect criminals". The team is led by Aryan Khanna (who is pushing himself because he could not solve the case of his wife and daughter's murder) and later by Dipika Ghosh (who is put in the team to control the unorthodox ways of Aryan).

The cases are a combination of the cases where the team has to find the criminal and the ones where they have to catch the criminal. While the later often tend to be more "police-procedural" drama, the former are interesting, if not brilliant. Perhaps the major point I can talk about is that the "cases" do not seem to be overtly "inspired". Then again, the series was a 2005 original, and I am not really conversant with crime dramas of that period. Also, although the story of a cop troubled/fueled by personal trouble is common in books, it was rare in the serials I have seen (If this was 2007, I would have jumped all over them for with "Life").

In case of the "investigative" cases, they are fairly guessable. But when we see the unit reconstructing the crime scene while investigating, the crime "scene" shows the real criminals. I want to find out who made this decision, as this definitely takes away a lot from the suspense. I agree that a group of people discussing how the crime happened is less interesting than actual visual, but then seeing the face of the actual criminal about halfway through the episode is not good either.

I think if the serial had gone beyond one season, this would have been a good one. Of course, I don't think this would have given any serious competition to CID, as this is much more "emotional" drama, not to mention that CID has got quite a few years to establish the characters. But then again, this slight emphasis on emotion does make them less prone to the unintentionally-funny gaffes CID often makes.

That said, I did not know that the time of death could be pinpointed to the minute by forensic examiners. Neither did I know that bullet cases are fired, and not the bullet.

Coming next week: He lives with a doctor. The title song tells us that he is a master of disguises. Sounds familiar? Well, you will be surprised.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. Find the link to the other posts in "Detectives" series under "I Wrote..." in the sidebar.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Tagged by Madhavi, sorry Mads, ages ago. Since I am in winter cleaning mode, I think it was time to finish this tag.

What is FMORT? According to Mads, it stands for Five Minutes of Random Thoughts (read more about it on her blog). Now, given my blog's name, I thought I could take it up easily, but it just kept getting postponed. Not so much because I didn't have 5 free minutes (I cannot say that so close to Christmas, can I), but because some posts (and topics) kept coming up.

Get a clock, pen and paper. Set the alarm to ring 5 min 10 sec later. Clear your mind for 10 seconds. Now write down anything that comes to your mind for five minutes on the paper. After 5 minutes, tweak the scribbles into meaningful sentences and post on your blog. The tag requires the title to be "My FMORT".


Can I write on paper for 5 minutes? I am tragically out of practise for that.
Which is why my handwriting is getting worse. Spikey and uneven.
So is my patience. 4 more minutes to go.
Can I think of anything now? My mind is going blank.
I need my coffee.
Where do the US studios get such cute new faces to star in new serials?
All the series I like are on winter break.
That reminds me of "The Office". If you do your spring cleaning in winter, you don't have to do anything in spring.
I need to clean my table. It has 2 large piles of letters on it.
I need to find my bluetooth USB adaptor. I think the previous task will take care of it.
I need to update my flash drive with recent data. That is the only thing between my PC crash and my mental crash.
I should get to the next level in Tomb Raider: Anniversary. I have Lara has been hanging on that rope for ages now.
This week, I cannot even finish one single post properly. I have 2 half-finished posts in my docs folder. 3, if you consider the random notes tagged there.
2 more minutes to go. Oh, 1 more to be precise.
Blank mind, blank mind.
I have 1 more tag pending now. 2 more, including the new tag I am planning. I should finish that up and put it on.
I am bad at planning. No state secret this, you will know when you see next tag, and how much time it is taking me to finish it.
Chuck, Indian Culture = ?,...
Everything's Eventual, Amber room, Sigma Force series,...
Why cannot I finish even one post properly now?

And... Done.

Nice tag really. Just shows you how (and more to the point, what) do you think in your free time, and what lurks in your subconscious.

I am not tagging anybody specific in the post, as most of the regulars here are AWOL. I will be tagging some people in comments, so keep an eye out on your blogs. Sometimes, it will scare you what goes on your mind if you let it...

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

Friday, December 07, 2007

Further Analysis of the Ghostly Realm

Since my post on "Top 10 Must-haves in Horror Serials" was so well received, I thought it was time I give you some more details of my knowledge on the subject. So I thought I should give you a sneak peek into my yet unpublished (indeed, unfinished) thesis on "Ghosts of (and on) Television":

A Rough Classification of Ghosties:

Out of 10 ghosts, on an average, 3 are jilted lovers, 4 are devil worshipers, 4 are convicted criminals (mostly serial killers), while 2 are disciplinarians like jailers and hostel-wardens (my friends tell me there is not much difference between the two), with a shapit aatma (cursed soul) thrown in for good measure.

And no, I am not weak at maths. Some fall in two or more categories.

Now, on to the Part Zwei of the "Must-have's in Horror Serials".

  • Traditions are there to uphold: As I have noted before, even the ghosts of former club-hoppers love traditions. This is amply shown in their deep dislike of modern (especially feminine) clothes, and their choice of habitat (old, mainly abandoned buildings and palaces). But you can also safely bet that given a choice between a cellphone and a disconnected old (or faux-old) phone, the call from "beyond" will come on the later.

  • Idiot Box: But that doesn't mean that spirits don't change with times. Since their old toy of radio is out of fashion now, they have learnt to use TV as a means of communication. (But I still think this is a conspiracy from Parents' Association, to scare away children from watching TV)

  • It's hard to teach dead dogs new tricks: Ghosts, if possible, will try to use the tools of their former trade for killing people. If they don't have access to such things (what is a hostel-warden going to use to kill people he doesn't like? A pen?), then they will make do with anything they can think of. Which is why sometimes there is no connection between their "powers" and how they died.

  • Mein mooh dikhane ke kabil nahi raha: Undear Departed are often considerate enough that they will keep the person they killed facing the other way from others in the room. It is their way of "closing the eyes and covering the face".
    So if you find yourself in a haunted house, and one of your group is sitting in a chair facing away from you, just move on. Because there is a good chance that he has "moved on".

  • Haha, not funny: Ghosts have a sense of humour, but they don't appreciate jokes at their expense. Guess they are not much different from us humans after all. But then, they were (almost) human earlier.

  • KISS (or Keep it selectively stupid): It is well-documented fact that the brain-cells start dying once the oxygen supply to brain is disconnected at death. Which effectively makes the ghosts selectively stupid, at least when it comes to killing main characters.
    Which should explain why a ghost who was professional joker can think of new and "amusing" ways to kill somebody but does not know the joke we all heard when we were in kindergarten. I mean, we all knew why the frog cannot jump when we break all its legs in pre-school, didn't we?

  • You gotta earn your stripes: I am pretty sure there is some kind of internship period before a dead person gets to be a full-blown ghost.
    Otherwise, wouldn't it be great just once to see the ghosts of the people a ghost killed gang-up and beat their killer? (I promise, I wouldn't comment even if you make a shoddy copy of the graveyard scene in GoF)

The book (which I humbly think will be considered the last word on the subject) is a work of art in progress. Pre-orders will be open soon.

So, got anything to add?

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Million Dollar Blogging

Going through my Google Reader recently, I came across a post by Problogger where he addresses two questions:

Would you stop blogging if you get million dollars today? And will your blogging style change if you are suddenly a millionaire?

Apart from the fact that USD is not what it used to be, I would have to answer first question with a resounding "No, probably" while the answer to second one would be, "Umm... let me think". And no, this is not because I am not indecisive (interviewers please note).

So, let's get to the first question. Would I (like) be a millionaire blogger? Yes, of course. Would I still be a blogger if I am a millionaire? Yes, unless...

I didn't start blogging to earn money, indeed I was not aware that blogging pays until well into my second year as a blogger. So, for me blogging is not a way to earn money, nor does it pay me so well as to make me rich any time soon (hint hint). I use this blog to talk about anything and everything I like, while "Lazy Habits" is about my main hobby. So, unless being rich makes me completely secretive, unable to express myself in writing, and leaves me no time to read, I am going to blog no matter what my bottom-line says.

So where does the "probably" in the answer come from? Well, do you think I will get time to blog while dealing with all my accountants, my businesses and everything else that comes with being rich? Million dollars are not enough to make me stop working for life, and I would of course want to get richer (say a million euros, and we are talking something else). So, I guess people would have to be satisfied with very infrequent and short posts, at least for a while. For most readers, that would be as good as me not blogging. And lack of time is seriously going to affect Lazy Habits, as writing reviews takes a good chunk of time. So the part I am not sure is whether I can put aside time to write the posts like I am accustomed to. And given what I see of people's work habits and how people disappear under pressure unless they are "pro", that's a serious consideration.

On to second one. Will I change if I am rich?

Do you really have to ask?

I have no doubt that my writing style will not change. Which means that content-wise I am not going to change any time soon (sorry all who were hoping otherwise). Post frequency and lengthwise? I already answered that one (which is why the "think" part in the answer)

I would like to add a question of my own here. Although I am not blogging for money, and don't care much if I am missing from scene for some time, I would like to try and keep people reminding of my blogs. So, I would try and get somebody who can fill in for me, if only for Lazy Habits (being a theme-blog, it is easier to fill in). I would even be ready to pay for that in kind, if need be. So, the question I am asking you is,
Would you consider somebody guest-posting on your blog if you know you won't be able to blog for some time (at least, if you have a theme blog)? Also, would you consider blogging for money or turning Pro?

By the second question, I mean something like PayPerPost, or sponsorships of some kind. Most of the bloggers I know don't blog for money. So I am fairly sure of the answers most people would give here. Leave answers in comments, write a post and leave a link to the post, do it anyway you want. But I would still like to get the answers, and get them from heart.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. In a completely unrelated note, if you are in the market for some great (though serious) and inspiring short-stories, do read about the "Embrace the Wonder" stories on Bennie's blog.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The New Updated "Spamming 101" - Part II

The successful candidates who finish Part I of the "How to Spam: Spamming for Beginners" course will graduate to the part II.

The Hardcore Spam:

Now this is the part all the students have been waiting for, or at least those who want to launch their own spamming careers. This is the part which will earn you money, and unlike mails from part I, often ends in "Spam" folder.

The course will cover in detail the industries which provide support for our operations:

  • The Pharmaceutical Industry: Given the amount of "pills" and other "aids" sold on the internet, it does not come as a surprise to the educated people that the world population has sky-rocketed recently. But remember, that means the number of potential customers is increasing by the second. And it is our job to keep the world (-population) ticking.

  • The Inheritance and Immigration Laws: With pros of globalisation, come the cons. With people spreading all over the world, and the nuclear families shrinking, it is hard to keep track of one's relatives (and their money). The course will teach how to track down the immediate relatives (the "relative" being a relative term here), how to get government departments and banks to "clear" the concerned inheritances and to get the "authorities" to write to the "relatives" to impart the glad tidings.

  • The Banking Industry: Given the number of banks coming up (and being taken over by bigger fish), it is understandable that the websites for banks keep on changing. It is our duty to provide people with the updated information. Also, there is a social-service angle attached to this of helping people who forget their passwords by storing them.

  • The Retail Industry: Given the globalisation trends, it is but understandable that new industries need to spread overseas. And who more can understand the tricks of local markets and finances as "finance agents" recruited in the country to collect and send money to parent company? Ask any professor in marketing...

  • The Stock Market: The number of new companies coming up every day, and the rising global economy... It pays to be on top of your portfolio.

  • The Movie and Media Industry: There has been a decline in number of mails giving people access to their favourite "stars" and their special "movies" or photographs which the general public can never come across. We feel that like retro fashions, this industry is poised for comeback, not to mention an upturn. This is the evergreen source of clicks out of all the mentioned industries. Remember, this is where the "hardcore" part of the course name can be taken literally.

Apart from the market review, the course will also cover the essential skills required of a successful spammer. A short list of course contents:

  • What's in a name: How the name doesn't matter, and how getting even a part of name is enough online.

  • Spelling and grammar, do they matter?: Hint: not in the least.

  • No red tape: How to avoid the delays in official channels by bypassing the authorities (see point 2 and 3 above). We can send their mails for them.

  • The New Royalty: After all, Africa can have only so many deposed princes and dead rich men. There are more continents (and hence countries) in the world.

  • Marketing medicines, an art: The claims of "breaking a log" are definitely getting old fast.

  • Know thy enemy: The videos such as this, and other information.

Admissions are open (Instructors and research fellows can also send mails, with 3 writing samples in their area of interest).

Legal small print (because our lawyers said so):

  1. The institute does not guarantee any income after the course (except for the institute of course).

  2. All fees are payable in advance, in cash. Offers of partnerships with overseas industry or details lost bank accounts will not be accepted in lieu of the fees.

  3. The course does not advocate sending spam mails, the role of the institute being limited to teaching.

  4. For any damage caused to the candidates, the institute will only be as liable as the institute teaching horse riding or archery.

  5. For any damage caused by the candidates, the institute will only be as liable as the institute from where a student creates and sends out a virus.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

Quote of The Day:

Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick.
- Bill Gates

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The New Updated "Spamming 101" - Part I

It's been an year since last time I gave you the sneak peek into my course "Spamming 101: Tips for New Spammers". And given how things change in today's fast-paced world (the fact brought to me by this great article by Aditi), what then was cutting edge is now commonplace. So, I think it is time we need to make the course known once more for the syllabus which is truly the ahead of its time.

Here's your look into the new, updated "How to Spam: Spamming for Beginners" (yes, the changes start from the name, and no, we don't like calling potential customers "dummy").

The new course will be split into two parts: the non-earning part, and the monetizing part.

Non-earning or social part:

The slew of social sites and suchlike have opened up new ways for the learning spammers to hone their skills. And since this is more of irritating, and not exactly "spamming" (except for some people), you can easily get away with a lot, while getting less brickbats and flames coming your way.

The coursework will consist of topics like (as usual, my comments are in brackets):

  • Social Networks and Invitations:
    • How to make sure invitations are sent to all your contacts

    • How to make sure all your address books are used for sending out invites

    • How to optimize contact lists so as to make sure nobody is left out

    • How to avoid the temptation to add anything personal to the invites (mass-invites are always more efficient)

    • How to add all the Facebook applications you come across, so as to multiply the amount the mail

    • And for extra credit: Sending invites to people who will be least interested in the app you are promoting

  • Social Networks and Requests: With social networking, you are in an enviable position to keep your contact list always growing, thereby giving you new people (and mailboxes) to experiment with.
    • How to give personal touch to the requests with creative new words (who said the orthodox word "friendship" sounds better than the new-age avataar "fraanship"?)

    • Experimenting with grammar (these two points come in handy in next part of the course, too)

    • How to use smsese and other forms of not easily understood words (today's kids should excel in this)

    • For extra credit: Only for girls, sending "frndship" requests (told you we are ahead of our times)

  • Forwards: These have been around for ages, and yet, the importance of forwards in spamming can never be underestimated.
    • How to send all the forwards you get to everybody you know, however remotely.

    • How to write effective "If you don't send this to X people in Y minutes" appendices, and add them to all forwards which don't have anything at the end (that's a waste of a forward if you ask me)

    • The optimum number of daily forwards you should send so as to irritate people an optimum amount

    • The main point: Never ever, at any point of time, for any mail, put the e-mail addresses in anything but "to:" field. In fact, remove "cc:" and "bcc:" fields from your mail application. Remember, the more the "visible" number of people you send the mail to, the more people will think of you as a famous person.

But remember, since this is done mostly to the people you know (or people in your address book), this can go either way. So you should carefully monitor the amount of "social" spam you generate. On one hand, if you irritate the people a lot, they know where you can be found. But on the other hand, your "friends" may be able to forgive you a lot more worthless e-mails than the people you don't know.

So, the main part of this course will deal with the determining frequency and amount of spam you should start with. Research positions are available for this topic.

The course will also cover other media, like scraps, blogging (and comments on blogs) and so on.The successful candidates who finish this part will graduate to the "Hardcore Spam" part of the course. For details of that part, stick around till next post.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

Quote of The Day:

We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true.
- Robert Wilensky, speech at a 1996 conference

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Quick Draw McGraw

Event: Intra-DC Charades Championships (Round: Comics and Superheroes)
Date: Regrettably Forgotten
Venue: the basement hall in one of the buildings in office

Imagine this. A team is heading back to their place after their turn, their heads bowed in defeat. Other team heads up to the podium. Two members take their places, while third member picks up the chit from the box. He turns, gestures, the name is uttered. The team heads back before the previous team has reached their places. Time taken: 2 seconds

So, was it a surprise we won the first prize?

So, let me tell you how it came about...

Our team was (hastily) selected the morning of competition. Due to the projects (all members from different projects), none of us had time to sit together and plan anything. The only planning was done while walking to the venue of the competition.

We arrived, and went through first round easily. Second round, the team before ours was on the podium, and they could not guess anything, despite energetic gesturing by the "dumb". From what he was doing, we guessed that he was trying to convey "Phantom" to his team-mates. "Why is he doing all that? I would just show a person drawing guns from his holsters" was the verdict of our discussion.

Turns out they were supposed to answer "Asterix" (or something like that), and not Phantom (which actually made it a lot "dumber", IMO). Then our team was called up. I went on the stage, saw the name given to us...

I may not have beaten the record for "Fastest Draw", but I must say, I came pretty close to it that day.

I have friends so tuned to a common wavelength that many times we just need to look at each other to get what we want to say (a thing the girlfriends of my friends rue). I have had charades adventures when the correct guesses came before any movement. I have had charades games where the opposing team got so desperate that they started giving imaginary movie names (which incidentally, we guessed, all of them). But this was the only time it was, "We came, I did (something), We Won".

Got any such "connections" and adventures to share?

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

Quote of The Day:

- Robin

Thursday, November 08, 2007

About Pu La...

Purushottam Lakshman Deshpande (November 8, 1919 - June 12, 2000), called Pu. La. or Bhai affectionately, was one of the most accomplished Marathi artists (and believe me when I say that there is quite a competition for top spots in that category). Apart from being a famous writer, he was an orator, actor, director and music director, not to mention a very talented musician and singer.

His writings span across various fields. He is most famous for his humorous portraits (of lives of mumbaikars and others), and other humorous writings, but he has also written plays, character portraits, travelogues, dramas, screenplays and dialogues for movies. He also translated "Pygmalion", "The Old Man and The Sea" and many other famous works into Marathi. He brought "One Man Act" to Marathi theatre, and many of his acts are still remembered.

He is often compared to George Bernard Shaw or P. G. Wodehouse, but his brand of humour (when he shifts the upper layer of comedy just a bit to show the tragedy it covers in many cases), in my opinion is almost unique. Avoiding temptation to write a long post on my favourite author, I guess it should be enough to say that he is one of the leading humour writers in Maharashtra, the state which has produced many famous writers in this field over the ages.

The "Pu. La. Deshpande Foundation" is a charitable foundation, which he started with his wife, Sunitabai Deshpande, herself a very good writer. From the royalties the couple got from their books, they used to keep just the money needed for their necessities, and pass on the rest of the amount to the foundation.

In the last century, at least three generations on maharashtrians have known PuLa's writing intimately. It is very hard to find a Marathi household which does not have at least one of his books (and it will be very hard to find a true Marathi student, who does not carry at least one of his books when he flies outside India). His writings and plays are so much part of Marathi people's psyche, that people can recite the whole dialogues by heart.

If you think I am exaggerating, my post on one of his famous books, "Vyakti ani Valli" is the most popular one on my book blog, and has more views than the second and third posts combined. And I am sure the same fate awaits my next post on that blog about "Asa Me Asami".

In short, though the term "Maharashtrache Ladke Vyaktimatva" (Maharashtra's Favourite Personality, is the closest translation) has now lost the meaning due to political overuse, this is one person who truly deserved the epithet.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. Maharashtra Times has a great collection of quotes, poems and incidents from PuLa's life. A must read for anyone who understands Marathi.

Quote of The Day:

There is an instrument called "divider" in pencilbox. It did nothing except dividing me and mathematics.
-P. L. Deshpande, Bigari te Matric

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Medium, Nothing "Well-Done"?

Every weekend, I look forward to catching up with my "favourite" serials on Indian television. And one of the main reasons I look forward to this time is that, it has never happened that it hasn't inspired me to ask some fundamental questions of life.

Just take my today's thoughts as an example:

  1. As far as I remember, taking aatmas of dead people is a task allocated to Yama (and his Yamdoot) in Hindu Mythology. Since when was the task "outsourced" to the scythe-bearing Death?

  2. And is that why sadhus (tr: sages) now recognize Death? Is this what they mean by "Global Village"?

  3. Death being such a mean, old (yup, mean and old both) thing, shouldn't its aura be black, and not such glowing bright Rin-ki-safedi white?

  4. Luckily, the old remedies(?) to frustrate the Death still work (remember the tale of Savitri and Yama?)

  5. There might be worse reasons to die than just because your wife cannot care to follow Karavachauth, right? (And standing near a Sati-Savitri might be more deadly than just jale pe namak (tr: rubbing salt on...) in this case)

  6. Incidentally, how do you know that someone sitting next to a temple in a place completely foreign to you is Gyaani Mahatma (tr: An Enlightened One)? As a corollary, how exactly does a GM look?

  7. On an unrelated note, why do all women take a bath on suhag-raat (tr: wedding night?)?

  8. If somebody is suspected to have died of poisoning, and if there is a beverage glass lying nearby, the conclusion is obvious. So, after discussing and saying it out loudly many times, and packing off the glass to forensics, why are some people surprised when they hear that the beverage contains poison? Is it short-term memory or are they surprised that they got it right?

  9. If police are tracking somebody who used to work in the place where a murder was committed, why should it come as a news to the commissioner that the aforem. person used to work in the aforem. place? What happened to all lines of communication in the investigation?

As you can see, despite the doubts about television's IQ (or lack of it), it does keep providing me such food for thought weekly... Nothing better to relax on a weekend..

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. Can anybody give me the English translations of the Hindi words I have used here? For a detailed description of "Karvachauth", see Madhavi's comment below.

P.P.S. And no, in my opinion, suhag-raat != honeymoon. Honeymoon normally extends much more than "that" one night.

Quote of The Day:
Television is a new medium. It's called a medium because nothing is well-done.
- Fred Allen (1894 - 1956), on the radio program The Big Show, Dec. 17, 1950

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

1-Star, Anyone?

Yesterday, I was talking to a fellow blogger friend about his blogging experiences. He is an aspiring writer with a pretty decent writing style (and a good sense of humour), and has contributed a piece or two to magazines (that I know of). He looks to blogging as a medium to improve his writing. So, I was very surprised when he suggested he was very demotivated, and was thinking of shutting down his blog.

When I asked why, he told me that this was because of the feedback he was getting. He has a gadget for ranking on his blog (rather like the stars I have in left sidebar), and there are some 15-20 people who have managed to put him down in the last 20% on quality.

He told me he was planning to take down the gadget, as he felt it was not a nice advertisement for his blog that so many people feel his blog is so bad. I told him he cannot do that. That is like taking away freedom of expression of his visitors, and as we all know, you cannot do that. In today's world, every person should be able to say how he feels about everything, for it is their right.

Secondly, he is not the one who is clicking on that gadget (at least, I assumed that in the interest of fairness). So all his shouting was like a kid who is not allowed to vote, ranting against the elected leaders in democracy. i.e. completely pointless.

What really got his goat was that none of those people wrote any comments or criticise him, which would help him improve his writing. I told him that he should be thankful that people took time from whichever site they frequent, to let other viewers know how they feel about his site. And he cannot expect them to take more time off to write him any comments. Because although it is the viewers' right to give him feedback, it is not their responsibility.

His other option was to stop writing the blog completely. I told him he should do that, because if so many people think he is not good, does he really believe that he can improve given time and practise? But then, if he continues writing, I would respect that too, if only for his stubbornness.

And now that the markets have spoken (in the words of US Presidential candidate Stephen Colbert), I am wondering whether I should stop visiting my friend's (well, he is more of an acquaint., to be precise) blog, even though I like his writing.

But that also prompted me to think about how we give feedback to somebody. In today's fast paced world, if you can rank somebody on a scale of 1-5 by just a click, is there any point writing any comments and giving any "constructive" criticism? Isn't constructive criticism an oxymoron anyway?

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. In the interest of security (mine), some of the facts of this case might have been changed. I would suggest you not to go around hunting in my blogroll looking for the subject of this post.

Quote of The Day:
Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
- Christopher Hampton

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Power of 5

a.k.a. 5 Things meme

Nikichan tagged me on Sunday, and I could not get around to finishing it because I was a bit busy this week. Now that the week is almost over, I though I should take up the meme before I forget this week (or at least, I try to).

So, here goes:

5 Things Found in My Room (let me talk about my current room, and not my room at home in Pune):

  1. My bag: containing all my clothes. At least all those which are not lying around on top of the bag.

  2. My Laptop: can I live without this? And more to the point, how do you think I am posting all this?

  3. A shelf with some great books: surprised? You must be new here.

  4. A pile of letters and papers: I need to sort them out. Hopefully sometime soon.

  5. A bed: Contrary to what you may believe, I do sleep at night. Sometimes in the afternoons too.

5 Things Found in My Bag (I don't carry a bag, being housebound. But when I carried a college bag):
  1. My laptop: It was needed in the college, if not always in the class.

  2. My laptop charger: How long do you thing the laptop battery last?

  3. My iPod: Though to be fair, it did spend time in my bag only when I was in class.

  4. A notebook or two: I am still a bit old-school. And it is often hard to write formulae on computer, not to mention drawing figures (technical ones).

  5. A abundance of pens: I like to experiment, and I like to try new pens. And the office had new type of pen every month or so, it seems.

5 Things Found in My Wallet (that reminds me, I need to get a new one):
  1. Cash: Well, wallets are for that purpose, right?

  2. Coins: particularly, pennies. No matter how hard I try, I am a coin magnet.

  3. Cards: Identity cards (note the plural), not credit cards or business cards. Though I have one or two of credit variety.

  4. A ticket stub: Of some movie I saw sometime in the past. Did I tell you I need to clean my wallet up?

  5. Come on, I am not so rich to carry 5 or more types of things in my wallet.

So, how many of these did you expect? And what else were you expecting? (Yes you, you dirty mind...)

Now it's time to pass on the meme (and hopefully, uncover some secrets like we did with Nikichan):
  1. Sid (You share a room, right? That should be interesting...)

  2. Silverine (The newly minted manager. Do you have a cabin now? But we are more interested in the "other" room.)

  3. Princess Stefania (you can choose the room, the bag and the wallet you most like from your palace and collection.)

  4. Madhavi (I guess it is time she got out of alphabets, and learnt some numbers right?)

  5. Once again, I find myself short-changed. Do you want to take this up? Then leave a comment so we can enjoy.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. Now you can get follow-up comments e-mailed to you. Just check the comments page in Blogger, and you can make sure you receive the replies to your comment, and come back and participate regularly in discussion.

Quote of The Day:

A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory.
- Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

Friday, October 19, 2007

Me Do Science...

Sometimes I feel, I haven't given full justice to my new status as a "Master" of science (note the capitals please). Also, I don't think I harp enough on the fact that my IQ puts me in the Genius region.

But you should know that although you don't read about it, doesn't mean that I don't have a science lab at my home.

Just to give you an example, remember how you feel when a fly thinks he/she is Maverick and uses your ears as control tower1? Well, I am sure during the afternoon nap, the irritation factor goes up tenfold. Now, a normal person would have gotten out of bed and tried to shoo away the fly. The benevolent scientist that I am, I decided to invent something to catch flies.

I envisioned some kind of adhesive polymer2 which only sticks to flies, and which will engulf them enough to impede their fast flight. Being a systematic person, I set off checking the items off my list.

First off, I got my mad-scientist laugh ready for when I finished my invention, and my shy-scientist smile for when I would accept the numerous awards and felicitations. Then I started listing all the ingredients, and started planning the experiments.

First on my list: find which substance sticks to a fly, and not tangle in the user's hair. That's when I realised, I had gotten myself into kind of "recipe for rabbit-stew"3 position. There was only one fly available there, and it was zooming around my head.

At this point, the programmer in me saw a big infinite look looming ahead, and aborted the whole program.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

1. i.e. buzz around your ear. Come on, you didn't get that Top Gun reference? What kind of movies have you been watching?
2. Read: sticky webby substance.
3. You know the one I am talking about, right? The one which starts (or rather, should start) with "Catch a rabbit"...

Quote of The Day:

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny ...'
- Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Studio 14

What do you do when you find yourself going from a nightmare into a weird dream in half-sleep? If you are anything like me, you write a story from that:

"Hello, and welcome to tonight's episode of Studio 14 on the Nightmare Street. A short history before we commence our show: As you probably know, this is the longest running show in the history of the network. The Studio we are sitting in right now, is the studio the show is shot in from the start. It was named after the show, and of course, it's content.

In a few minutes, the show will start in the sets in front of you. Each week, we normally record material worth around 2 and half hours. As those who have seen the show before know, your nightmares can be anything from ugly, slashing monsters, dangerous places to something as innocuous as rejection from your near and dear ones. Of course, as you might have noticed, one's nightmare is often another's comedy, so there is something for each of you in the show. And everybody has his favourite, or should I say nightmarish, bits.

Right behind you, that door on the ground floor leads to the writers' room. All the writers would be sitting in their chairs praying right about now, because as the writers in the audience can tell, the nightmare scenario for them is normally not getting the response they want from the audience.

Now you can see our director is in his room and the executive producers are standing on the balcony looking anxious. That is our cue to start the show. We have a great show lined up for you tonight. Thank you for coming out here, and hope you are ready to be spooked."

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. The title is a reference to a show whose early demise I am still mourning.

P.P.S. Find my other attempts of writing "original fiction" here.

Quote of The Day:

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
- Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 1849), "Eleonora"

Thursday, October 11, 2007

That "Gedanke" Part Chapter I

Today's Chapter: "Inspired" Thoughts

You start a blog, and name it "Random Thoughts". You start writing, and after some time find that the thinking is becoming a bit too structured, and there is no place for "random" thoughts any more on your blog.

So, here's a place where I dump all those titbits and one-liners (which I came up with during my endless net-surfing and intermittent TV) which wouldn't have made it on their own:

  • Kusum recently blogged about the lesson she learnt on the first day of school: "Let Sleeping dogs lie". What she forgot to mention is that this is the motto of the sister school of Hogwarts, the one for muggles and squibs.

  • The review of "Mrityunjaya" on Lazy Habits was picked up by some blog directories. Among "Related Posts" were posts about Rakhi Sawant. Mahabharat and Rakhi Sawant... Can you think of more unrelated topics?

  • Things I learnt from watching ads: in 1940s, a part of your annual car insurance would pay for a home in Beverly Hills. Either insurance rates have gone down a lot or real estate is getting way expensive.

  • Where do ghosts get their powers? Why should the ghost of a person killed by falling weight be killing others by burning them (either that or electrocution through hand)? Where's the justice in that? Or is it just for sadistic pleasure of the ghost? In which case, I need to ask again, where's the justice in that?

  • A lot has been written about the guys who write captions (subtitles) for hindi movies, making makhna into buttercup and so on. But their cousins in closed-captioning jobs are no less entertaining. How else can you explain the line I read during recent telecast of EPL? "Two girls in EPL for XYZ this season". As if we didn't know how football players "score".

  • Ever wonder how Shahrukh Khan's sister would look like (well, I know everybody has seen the forward thousand times till now, but still)? Ever wonder who would be cast in the remake of "Duplicate" with elements of "Twelfth Night" mixed in? Wonder no more... (Picture picked from an ad in local newspaper)

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

Quote of The Day:

This is my answer to the gap between ideas and action - I will write it out.
- Hortense Calisher

Monday, October 08, 2007

नभः स्पृशं दीप्तम्।

The Indian Air Force celebrates the 75th Anniversary of its inception today.

Starting with six officers and four Westland Wapiti IIA biplanes, the IAF has come a long way. With exceptional men piloting and maintaining the machines, IAF has frequently proven its superiority even over more advanced machines. In today's world where the supremacy of airspace is important, IAF is led in its quest for latest technology by air superiority fighters like Su-30MKI and multi role combat aircrafts like MiG-29 and Mirage 2000.

With Tejas replacing the mainstay of IAF (and the cause of many a controversies) MiG-21 by 2010, and possible development of fifth-generation of fighters with Russia, as well as indigenous MCA, IAF is set to continue defend India's airspace for years to come, as they have admirably done till date.

Here's to heroes in the air from an ex-NCC cadet (Air Wing) and a flight-sim fan (not to mention a Su-30 fan).

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. Interestingly, this also marks 75 published posts on this blog.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rs. 3,97,48,000 Question #3.5

When I asked the last in my series of thought-provoking questions about technology and showing off, all the female commenters told me how girls like to think long term and so on. And talking for my sub-species was only me, so thanks all male bloggers...

But the post is not about how I should expect Oscar for that real-life rendition of Stan Laurel in "Block-Heads" (which is another example of life imitating art I have found in last month or so). The post is a corollary to my earlier question.

I have found in my research that all the thoughts of long term, getting value for money and so on in female brain come to nought when it comes to... fashion.

All those girls who tell boys off for showing off latest cellphone or laptop are ready on one leg to show off latest dresses or shoes. Indeed, I have examples of girls bemoaning pleasant weather as it does not allow them to show off their newest leather jacket, and girls talking endlessly about a shade of a lipstick from a particular company. So, today's question to ponder is for all the girls out there:

Where does the "rational female brain" go when it comes to shopping for dress? How is the tale of how you got the best bike different than how you survived the shoe sale at the mall? Aren't boys better because at least, they don't drag off their girlfriends to shop for gadgets?

Girls can head over directly to add comments now. Seriously, there's nothing of interest for you coming up.

Now, a chance to redemption for all boys out there reading this:
"Rational female brain"? How many of you are still coherent despite the laughter? Then try the last two questions I asked the girls.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. For other such questions, see Q.1 , Q.2 and Q.3.

P.P.S. The demands of real world this week meant that I cannot give full justice to the announcement I promised. Sorry...

Quote of The Day:

Fashion is something that goes in one year and out the other.
- Unknown

Friday, September 28, 2007

Life and Art

You do know what they say about one imitating the other, don't you?

Imagine you are watching one of the episodes of "Eureka" (more about it later) on your laptop. The story goes: People are vanishing from Eureka, and after each disappearance, only Sheriff Carter knows that there is something/someone missing.

Now, after I have watched five out of six chapters (parts), I click on the link for the sixth one. What I get is something I didn't expect, and is definitely not the video I want.

Assuming something clicked wrong, I click on the back button. Nothing... Back again and the PC flashes "Empty Folder" at me. It's like only I remember that there were 6 full videos of almost 10 minutes each in there just now.

Now tell me, how much freaking out is in order here?

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. The last two weeks have seen some major changes in the blog template, and content. Feedback welcome...

P.P.S. Stay tuned for a major announcement sometime this week. Details are being finalized as I type.

Quote of The Day:

Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious.
- Brendan Gill

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rs. 3,98,60,000 Question #3

a.k.a Size does matter?

I have spent this month quite preoccupied. And what with Silverine talking about the "size", Cuckoo talking about insecure men and my post on "statistics", I think you know which way my thoughts were going to go.

Now, the result of all these thoughts and my research into the subject has prompted me to ask third in the series of hard-hitting, serious, thought-provoking questions.

But let's talk a bit about my research before going to the question.

After an extensive research and brainstorming, I have come to the conclusion that the male preoccupation with "size" and "statistics" dates back to the hunter-gatherer days. The neanderthal man (OK, I am not a paleontologist, so spare me the corrections) had to worry about the size, because the mammoth (or other animals) he hunted must supply enough hide to at least make clothes for his family. I am pretty sure shopping malls and places like Gucci or Chanel didn't exist back then (so lucky... the men I mean). So all this behaviour which often results in your girlfriend/wife getting angry at you is just a racial memory, like "fight or flight" (and believe me, "fight" is not an option when confronted with your angry girlfriend).

Now that I have propounded this theory, I am waiting for some university to come and offer me PhD (I will wait for Nobel Prize). Meanwhile, back to the question:

Bigger bikes, bigger cars, smaller cellphones, thinner laptops, latest web application/software/games... If When you get it, do you flaunt it? And is the stereotype that the fairer sex does not share our love of these things true?

Given the fact that I just read about a friend wanting to check the make of her cell before talking about it, I would say the answer to the second question is yes. But then, I should wait to give out my answer.

So, are you stereotypical or do you break such barriers? As an corollary to my earlier question about stats, do these things matter to you, or is it something you fashionably avoid? And what are you flaunting currently?

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. In keeping with my plans to merge my blogs, this is one more series from "Talons" which will continue here, apart from the Round Table series. For other questions, see Q.1 and Q.2.

P.P.S. I never thought my blog would talk about finances given my (lack of) interest in the field, but... well, the titles say it all.

Quote of The Day:

Let's have some new cliches.
- Samuel Goldwyn (1882 - 1974)

Monday, September 17, 2007


When I wrote the post about Pu La Deshpande as an introduction to the review of "Vyakti ani Valli", one of my friends suggested I make it a regular feature on my blog.

Given my schedule (and other excuses I can give if you want), here finally is the second post in the series, about Shivaji Sawant (August 31, 1940 – September 18, 2002), the author of one of the most celebrated Marathi novels, "Mrityunjaya".

At the age of 27, Shivaji Sawant wrote his famous novel, "मृत्युंजय" (Mrityunjaya - translation: "Conqueror of Death") about the life of Karna, one of the most complex characters in whole Mahabharat (which is filled with grey shaded individuals). The novel is in semi-autobiographical form, with many other characters near Karna telling the story of his and in turn, their lives. The novel won several accolades and awards, and was translated into 9 languages including Hindi and English (a fate I hope more Marathi books share).

He followed the success with "छावा" (Chhava - translation: Lion Cub), a novel based on the life of controversial Chhatrapati Sambhaji, the second Chhatrapati of Marathi kingdom. Sambhaji is also a very complex character, with life full of differences with his father and his father's ministers, and warring for 9 years against European and Indian enemies surrounding the kingdom as well as against his internal enemies, culminating in his torture and death at the hands of Aurangzeb. This “Warlike Prince” (as he was called by his Portugese enemies) was also a scholar and a poet, who wrote among other things, “Budhbhushanam”, a treatise on politics and other related fields.

The trioka of Shivaji Sawant's famous novels was completed by "युगंधर" (Yugandhar - yuga = Age, I am not so sure of translation) , a novel in the same mould as "Mrityunjaya" on the life of Krishna. Although Krishna is considered a God (in fact, one of the "avatars" of Vishnu), the novel concentrated on the exploits of Krishna as a leading man of his Age, a visionary with strong sense of justice and truth, shedding the layers put on the man, Krishna, by millenniums of mythology and stories.

I haven't read any of Shivaji Sawant's other novels. But the three novels I mentioned all show his prowess as an author, as well as his command on language. Apart from being thoroughly researched (even the fictional additions he made to classical Mahabharat story in his novels don't rankle), his novels are full of lyrical descriptions in true traditions of classical literature.

A former teacher, vice president of Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad and president of Baroda Sahitya Sammelan, Shivaji Sawant died of heart attack while contesting the post of president of 76th 'All India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan'.

Update: The review of Mrityujaya is up at "Lazy Habits".

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

Quote of The Day:

A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.
- Edith Wharton (1862 - 1937)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Knight Chronicles Chapter VI

a.k.a. Knights in Swimsuits

When Deepa wrote about the problems she faced in (getting to) swimming pool, it put in my mind the times when we used to swim. Or rather, my friends. Water is not exactly my element, you know.

So, let me take you back to the time when the Knights were not yet Knights, but school kids in uniforms, riding bicycles.

Jaws IV

Once it so happened once that some of my friends had gone for a swim in a pool. The pool was crowded with people, including some girls from our rival (sister) school. Now you should know that it is not exactly advisable to show off in a pool full of people. So imagine the surprise of my friend when one of his strokes put his arm neatly round the shoulders of one of the girls, who had suddenly resurfaced near him with all the grace of a submarine blowing its ballast.

My friends recon they have never seen a better yawn-and-stretch manoeuvre carried out even consciously and on ground than this aquatic version. No wonder the girl came to be known as "Shark" during later days.

The Longest Mile

And then there was the time when my friend and his brother went swimming. After his brother was finished, he told my friend he was going ahead, with their bag. What my friend had forgotten was that the only "clothes" outside the bag were his jacket containing his bicycle keys and a towel.

The walk from the swimming pool (he could hardly ride, could he now?) wearing a jacket and towel, made my friend understand what it is to walk the longest mile.

The Fibbing Fish...

No tale of the swimming Knights would ever be complete without telling you about our friend with "asthma". While others indulged in regular pool activities (like pushing people underwater, or pulling them), he used to steer clear of any strenuous adventures. So it wasn't surprising that we never asked him to accompany us on a trek.

What was surprising for us was to find him angry with us for excluding him. When we told him the reason we omitted him, he fell down laughing. Turns out his asthma was the result of his desire to be kept out of antiques in pool.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. Click here for other adventures of Knights of The Round Table.

Quote of The Day:

Seventy-five percent of our planet is water - can you swim?
- Author Unknown

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Stat-isfactory or...

If you care about your blog as much as I do (i.e. if you crave attention as much as the next blogger), I am sure then you would be checking your stats, err... your blog's stats at least twice a day.

Pro-bloggers and serious bloggers tell me that blog stats are a good way to know what your readers are reading, and what they don't like, thereby making you more "in tune" with your readers. That doesn't mean the keeping an eye on blog stats is easy going.

To give you an example, here's today for me:

  • Good: Pageviews exceeding daily average by 30% on "Lazy Habits of Thinking" within first quarter day means that I am well on way to make this second-best or even best day.

  • Bad: I still don't know why the occasional spikes, so I don't know what I did (and should do) to attract people to my blog.

  • Good: Coming after a particularly slow day (on account of Labour Day weekend), the spike might be expected.

  • Bad: Not a single comment resulting from all those visits? More than 82% readers spend less than 30 seconds on my blog.

  • Good: Some of the older posts seem to have been rejuvenated.

  • Bad: As much as I want, I cannot believe people are searching the net only for one Harry Potter book out of seven, that too not the last one. So what's different in that one post? I haven't found any answer yet.

  • Good: The spikes, and resurgence of some posts gave me idea to put some extra things in the post footer, like single button to bookmark the post on any social bookmarking site you want, and link for subscribing to RSS feed.

  • Bad: Without feed stats on Wordpress, I cannot be sure if that is working at all.

  • Good: An e-mail from the author of a book I reviewed for BlogCritics, telling me he liked my review and my blog. This has nothing to do with stats, but I must say, it was a nice feeling hearing from an author (whose book I liked by the way), not to mention reading that he appreciates the post.

So, now that you know how stat-watching is emotional roller-coaster ride for me, I would like to know more about you:
Do (blog) statistics matter to you? Do you keep going back to your stats counter again and again through the day? If you see lots of traffic on one post, do you wonder why? And if 100-odd readers leave no comment, do you despair?

Write in comments, write a post and leave the link in comments... answer any way you want and do tell me I am not alone here.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. Do remember to check my last year's post "A Toast to All My Teachers" on this Teacher's Day (09/05/2007).

Quote of The Day:

Statistics: The only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions.
- Evan Esar (1899 - 1995), Esar's Comic Dictionary

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In Your Face

What with the inflation and collapsing economies, we increasingly find it hard to live our life without advertisements and sponsorships1. Product placements seem to have penetrated every aspect of our visible life2.

But the product placements we see in everyday life can go two ways (like songs in Indian movies) : subliminal messages blending the ads with the content seamlessly, or in your face marketing.

Recently I came across these two different approaches in two TV serials:

Scenario 1: Eureka is a township housing the best of the best scientific minds in US, working to push the boundaries of science, in a military contracts company. In one episode, the head of the company is in a video conference. When he finishes the conference, the screen shifts to the logo of the phone manufacturing company3.

Now the fact is that logo belongs to a real-world company working in telecommunication and software field, and you just watched a highest-security-clearance video conference taking place on the phone by that company (or at least, using the software by that company). Clever? Oh yes. Subtle? No doubt. Now that's what I call genius4...

Scenario 2: In every episode of CID on Sony channel, you get at least one instance when someone, mostly Fredericks5, gives you the "Coming Attractions" on Sony in as subtle manner as Peeves' practical jokes6.

I am not comparing Hindi vs English serials, or Indian vs American advertising here. I mean, perhaps the best ads I have ever seen are the Fevicol and Feviquick ads on Indian television, while I am still wondering how a caveman who parties, uses airports, has access to news channels and psychologist, and knows the words like "existential meltdown" is different from a modern man. What I am saying is, many times, in your face marketing gets opposite results than intended (telemarketing, anyone?).

I have just come across a product placement in a book. A character (maybe main, I haven't gone that far in the book) thinking that shifting to Mac from PC has changed her life for better, reducing the booting time. What do you think of that? Subtle? Jury is still out on that.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken...

Quote of The Day:
I LIKE ads. It's not that we don't like ads, we just don't like ads when they are out of place.
- Bill Barnes, How to Blog for Money by Learning from Comics

1. In unrelated news, have you seen the Amazon search box in the right sidebar here? And the google ads?
2. I still haven't seen anybody putting company logos on the underclothes for advertisement, but I cannot be entirely sure here, can I?
3. Something like when your Dell laptop has Dell desktop image as default originally when you buy it.
4. But then, you swing a microbe and hit 10 genius in Eureka, but that's for another post.
5. The guy seems to have been added to the cast for comic relief. As if the other goings-on were not humorous enough...
6. For the ignoramuses, these include statues falling on your head and suchlike.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Knight Chronicles Chapter V

a.k.a. The History of Knight in Split Pants

When I wrote the last post about Sir Pinocchio, I told you that he came very close to being called Sir Urmila (or some such thing). Being busy in creating my new blog meant that the story of "how" had to be postponed for some time.

Those who remember the story (others click on the link above and come back) would remember that the trek was undertaken in monsoon. That meant climbing for a better part of morning in torrential rains, and we all were completely drenched by the time we reached the top.

Before trying to dehydrate our waterlogged clothes (which led us to solve a puzzle about halving the distance involving wet jeans) and roaming around in the fort, we changed out of wet clothes. Our squire found out that the only trousers he could spare was the pair which comes with your typical 2-piece rainsuit. He thought that was a wise choice given that rain hadn't stopped yet.

Now those of you who have experience with the item in question will know that whatever else the pants are made for, they are definitely not made for climbing and heavy roaming. The result was that by the time we got back to our campsite, the only thing holding the pants together on one side was the band of elastic at the top. (Did I tell you how windy it gets up there?)

To this date our squire is greatful that some unfortunate (for us) miscommunication meant that there exists no photographic record which we can show to his wife, and that the fortunate (for him) incident of mismatched pins meant he got a better name than Sir Urmila.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. Why Urmila? Those were the days when she was noticed for her roles in movies like "Rangeela", "Daud" and so on...

P.P.S. As part of the (possible) plan to merge my blogs sometime in future, "The Knight Chronicles" will continue on this blog from now on.
Want more exploits of the Knights? Click on the other adventures of Knights of The Round Table. (No, Blogger doesn't have an "import" function).

Quote of The Day:
Until you've lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was.
- Margaret Mitchell (1900 - 1949)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Sign of 8

a.k.a. "8 Random Facts About Me" tag

I know I have been missing from this blog for quite some time now (weeks?), but you know the reason, right? I have been trying to make my new blog as good as possible (and incidently, why didn't anybody tell me some of the links were broken there?)

So, it is just now that I have been able to take up the 8 Random Facts tag from Nikichan.

The Rules of this tag:

  1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.

  2. List eight (8) random facts about yourself.

  3. Tag eight people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).

  4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving them a comment on their blogs.

Now, I can tell you simple facts like I am single, or my IQ makes me “Genius” and so on and so forth... But they don't come under category “random”, do they? Also I have a nagging feeling that this tag is some version of this tag I have already done.

Still, telling you 8 more things about me is not exactly inviting stalkers to camp out on my doorstep, is it? (You're supposed to stay “no” here). So, here goes:

  1. I have been asked this many times: Fleiger, because that was my callsign when we had a squdron of simulation fighter pilots in my company. That was as close I could come to “Flying Man” in German.
    Adler came after some people started calling me “Great Eagle” based on my profile picture.

  2. The profile pictures I use are normally of the eagles found in Maharashtra, or in Sahyadri ranges.

  3. You all know how I like to read. What you might not know is that I have started writing 2 novels (a sci-fi and a thriller) and have a third in my head (it will be a sci-fi/alternate reality one), none of which has gone beyond “Prologue” stage.

  4. Our core group of friends is together almost from primary school (4th grade being the latest addition).
    And speaking of my closest friends, let me tell you that the Knights of the round table are also known as “E-Zero Group”, known earlier as “Key-Tone Group” (rhyming with, nay, sounding exactly like the the carbonyl group we all learned about in organic chemistry).
    And no, I haven't exaggerated even a word while describing the exploits of the Knights.
    And yes, there's a whole lot more to come.

  5. When you are born on the lap of Sahyadri, and in the birthplace of Marathi empire, you love the mountains and hiking. Sinhagad is a regular retreat for us. And we have visited many more forts, each hiking trip has a stomach-achingly funny story of its own.

  6. The first time I counted the number of books in my library was in 4th std or thereabouts. The number came out around 300. Since then I have gone down on the number of books I own (most were kiddy books).
    Being the poor student I am, I now try to read the books first, and then if I like them, I will buy them for myself.

  7. One of the few possessions I am proud of is complete Marathi translations Ramayan and Mahabharat (5 and 11 volumes respectively, around 400 pages per volume on average). I have read the entire Ramayan, have gone more than half through Mahabharat volumes.

  8. My favourite TV channels include Comedy Central, Disney and Sci-Fi. I wouldn't say no to a nice Discovery or NGC serial, too (though no animal shows for me).

Now comes the part where I am supposed to tag 8 people. Mwahahahaha...

  1. I think Cuckoo should continue her series of soul-bearing posts...

  2. Sid hasn't been posting for some time now, being busy in studying I guess.

  3. Neihal can have a “Jail Diary” a la Jefferey Archer or Paris Hilton, right?

  4. I would say this is something Princess Stefania should do to take her mind a bit off the grief.

  5. I am not sure, but I can't find if Keshi has taken up this tag.

  6. Priya has avoided Summer tag for a long time, so I guess I should burden her with one more as a punishment.

Have I run out of people to tag? In that case, do leave a comment and take up the tag if you want.

In any case, do leave a comment and take up the tag if you want.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken...

Quote of The Day:

There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.
- Oscar Levant (1906 - 1972)

Monday, August 06, 2007

This is it...

It has been less than a week since I conveyed my unhappiness about the current state of affairs with you. And while I am not so much happy about the response to it either, I want to tell you the result of my thinking.

So, after much ado and without further, let me present to you my new blog:

Lazy Habits of Thinking

While this blog will continue to have other random posts, along with my "Detectives" series, "Lazy Habits" will be exclusively literature-related blog. Thus, the blog has way better and easier to follow tag structure and indexing. It also allows me to have a nice F.A.Q. as an "About" page. In short, I am planning to make that blog my "flagship" from now on.

I will be updating the links on all the blogs to which I contribute. So, please head over and don't forget to update your bookmarks. And while you are reading and commenting on that blog, there are some more things which you can do.

  1. I am going to delete the posts from this blog to avoid duplicates, and also will be removing the "My Book Reviews" and similar links from sidebar. Please tell me if I should keep the posts on this blog too.

  2. This is for all the artists in you: As much as I like the layout, I am not so sure about the header image. I would like it to be something related to books, and my profile. And although I am a very good reader, I am slightly less than an average artist. So please send me your suggestions/images. The winner of course gets due credit on the blog.

So, see you there...

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Some Random Thoughts

No posts for more than a week... Did you think I shifted to my normal lazy ways? Or that I contacted a case of breakitis which is currently doing rounds in blogosphere?

Fear not, that's not the case.

As I sit here with more than 2 years of this blog behind me (well, not spatially, but temporally) I feel like something is missing. The Eagle is not going the way he should, or want to. Although the emphasis on this blog is on book and related stuff (given my interests), The Eagle's thoughts are, well... random. I don't like that.

Well, if you think you know where this is going... well, let me tell you there will be an important announcement on this blog soon. So stay tuned...

Till then, keep reading and commenting...

And anybody who spoils my surprise announcement, तेरा मुँह काला| (you will get sunburn and no tanning)

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Top 10 Must Haves in Horror Serials

Indian Television and Movie Industry has a long and glorious tradition of “horror flicks”. If Ramsay brothers frightened the populace with the horrible ghosts like “Jaani Dushman”, “Jaadu Tona”, the television audience thrived on shows like “Kile ka Rahasya" (remember this?), “Zee Horror Show”, “Aahat” and “Sshhh… Koi Hai” to name a few.

There are quite a few things which are common amongst all these media. But after watching myriad movies and TV serials, I have come to a conclusion that there are 10 things which every single horror serial episode has to have (as opposed to movies which might have all or none of them):

  • Koi Nahi Bachega: In first five minutes, no human is safe.

  • And... you are “it”: In next five minutes, if you hear “darawana” music and camera is sneaking onto somebody from the back, the person will be completely safe, though thoroughly terrified at suddenly getting a hand on her (it's normally *her*) shoulder.

  • Jeans, bad; Punjabi Dresses, safe: The more outspoken, outgoing and modern a girl, the more the chances that she will be one of the first ones to get bumped off. By corollary, the more shy and reserved a girl, the more her chances of getting saved, by a boy, with whom she will walk in sunset (or “exit left”).

  • Times, they are a-changin': The ghosts of earlier (and admittedly more traditional) era can be recognised by their white sarees and lighted candles, the ghosts have become more modern now and have a wider choice of wardrobe. More often than not, “Black” seems to be the colour of choice now-a-days.

  • Ghosts like deserts (and deserted places): Rajasthan (with its palaces in desert and all) has more ghosts than all other states combined. By contrast, South Indian ghosts are either highly camera-shy, or need to be put on endangered species list.

  • Architecturally and geographically speaking: People do continue to live in most deserted places (and live alone or with minimum of servants at that), miles from basic amenities, yet having everything they want. Every single ruin you see has to have a “living” or active ghost. On the other hand, even houses in most crowded part of city do have certain necessities like a hidden dungeon or two stashed below them.

  • Jab gidad ki maut aati hai, tab woh akela ghumata hai: However “haunted” a place may be and however terrified the people may be, there is at least one boy or girl who will insist on wandering off alone.

  • “Inspired by” not copied: If you recognise the start of any episode as an english ghost (or horror) story you have read earlier, be sure that by the end you will either be questioning your memory, or cursing the mish-mash that is served to you. (Just to give an example, in a recent episode which started very similar to “The Shining” had among other changes, an additional couple which could only have been included to add a pint or two more blood on the sets).

  • The Law of Inverse Beauty: Death does not agree with complexion i.e. ghosts of even the most beautiful women or handsome men turn out to be horrible looking (which should keep the beauty-concious among us from becoming ghosts). But, the most horrible looking ghosts turn into most beautiful women or handsome men when needed.

  • No publicity: Every single Bollywood-lover worth his/her salt knows that the police are always late. But in horror serials, the police are there only to cart off the bodies even if people insist on dropping dead every two minutes or so (and many times in the same family). Any police officer continuing the inquiry either comes late or becomes “late”. And in today's day and age of satellite channels (with channels insisting on telling news before it happens), the reporters are included only if most if not all of them are in line of death.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken...

P.S. The article marks (or rather, marked) my debut on Desidabba.

Quote of The Day:

Imitation is the sincerest form of television.
- Fred Allen (1894 - 1956)

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Intrepid Lady Sleuth

No series on detectives will be complete without a review of lady detectives. Or at least, I thought so...

But, when I started searching for lady detectives in Indian fiction, I found a veritable dearth of them. Despite real life examples like Kiran Bedi and reel-life examples like “Udaan” (my recollections of which are very hazy, except that it was a nice serial), lady sleuths in mainstream Indian literature are very rare to find. Of course, so are sleuth's ladies (only Byomkesh' Satyaboti and Bahadur's Bela come to mind), but that's for another article.

That's why there is no plural in the title...

Uma Rao:

Daughter-in-law of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, wife of a Superintendent, Uma Rao is your traditional housewife, or as “traditional” as you can get while being on first name basis with ministers on both sides of marriage. But, when she starts to write her thesis on criminals, it is not just her introduction to criminals, but to sleuthing as well.

When she finds a hijra vehemently denying that he killed one of the members of his community, she decides to help the person she believes is innocent. With the help of a constable from her husband's office, she uncovers the truth behind the murder, in the process finding the roots of crime reaching the highest echelons of Bangalore's society. Flush with her success, she goes on to find the true murderer of a wealthy English Lady (literally), who has come to India to meet her brother who is living in an ashram.

The brother turns out to be a member of Homicide Squad in Britain, and so, when a famous actor (working in a production of “A Midsummer Night's Dream” on Independence Day) disappears and is murdered after reappearing, the British counsel gets the help from Uma Rao, who is watching the play. They find out that the wife of the actor is not the real killer, despite their marriage supposedly being on rocks.

Written by Sahitya Akademi Award-winner Mahesh Dattani, the three plays show us a housewife turning into a sleuth, first only because she wants to help a person whom she assumes to be innocent. Later on, as a famous detective, whose renown reaches even British isles, she turns what initially is a thesis into a quest for her own identity.

Of course, her journey to fame and independence is not without obstacles. She has to venture into the most dangerous districts in the underbelly of Bangalore, face attempts on her life, and since that is not enough, face conflict with her husband who is not so happy with her foray into practical side of crime fighting. But despite that, the “intrepid sleuth” brings the criminals to justice.

As I said before, despite a lot of research I could not find any more lady (or girl) detectives in mainstream Indian literature. Have I forgotten (or not found) anybody?

But, I did find an interesting difference between male and female detectives which is not limited to Indian literature. Men (or the detective stories with main characters as men) don't waste much time on their romantic entanglements or marital descriptions. e.g. Byomkesh is married, but Satyaboti, in spite of being an intelligent lady (which is why Byomkesh is attracted to her in first place) does not merit many lines in his stories (at least, his stories which I have read/seen till now). On the other hand, stories involving lady detectives have a lot more conflict of romantic (or marital) kind, which does tend to hog limelight from crime fighting sometimes, with the main character giving way to her emotions. Why do you think this difference?

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken...

Quote of The Day:

But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things.

- Sherlock Holmes (The Sign of Four)