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