(500) days of summer
Cast: Tom Hansen: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. A trained architect who works in a greeting card company.
Summer Finn: Secretary at said greeting card company.
Director: Mark Webb (directorial debut of sorts)
Release Date: 31 Aug 2009
Running Time: 95 min (PG-13 for rude humor)
If you don’t get the significance of the parentheses in the title, please click here !
(500) days of summer is by far one of my favorite movies of all time. It is a love story, sort of, told out of order (Wikipedia describes it as: a love story with a non-linear narrative) as Tom Hansen (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) recounts the 500 days, in a highly mangled order as if he were assisted by memory, during which he fell in love with Summer Finn (played by Zooey Deschanel), tries convincing Summer to actually commit to the relationship with no result and finally falls out of the relationship with mixed results.
Tom Hansen meets Summer Finn and it’s love at first sight. Sadly, this would remain a case of unrequited love as Summer doesn’t believe in all that "load of crap". Tom Hansen tries vainly to put a descriptive tag on their "relationship" (boyfriend-girlfriend, f-buddies etc.) but eventually comes to the realization that Summer and he aren’t meant to be.
The two go their separate ways only to bump into each other *days* later! Tom gets invited to Summer’s house for a party. He envisions this being that significant moment in time that would resonate through eternity as the day when they actually get back together again. Its heartbreaking though as this party was to celebrate Summer’s engagement to another person.
Tom leaves the party, quits his job, takes to breakfasts of alcohol and junk food and recounts the many wonderful carefree days that he had spent with Summer, his lost love. He pulls himself together, reapplies for jobs as an architect and tries to get his life back to normal.
On day 488, Summer sees Tom at his favorite spot in the city and they talk. Tom states his lack of understanding towards her actions but ultimately, wishes Summer well. Twelve days later, on day 500, he attends a job interview and meets a girl, who is also applying for the same job. Before entering the interview, he makes a date to have coffee with her afterward. He asks her for her name, and she replies, "Autumn."
The droll and deadpan delivery of dialogue that is Zooey Deschanel’s forte and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s generally lost but not nearly as innocent demeanor lifts the film a few notches above other romantic comedies.
The Wind’s twelve quarters by Ursula K LeGuin
Book: The Wind’s twelve quarters (1975)
Author: Ursula K LeGuin
Note: This book is a collection of sci-fi and fantasy-fic stories for adults.
Note about the Author: Ursula LeGuin is an American authoress born in California in 1929. Her style of writing explores mostly psychological themes. The vivid imagery of her language very often spellbinds readers.
I was really lucky to have caught a stage adaptation of a few of her short stories from her book "The wind’s twelve quarters". This is the first story that I’d like to review here. The stories that got me quite glued to Miss LeGuin’s writing style are: April in Paris, The Darkness Box, Vaster than empires and more slow, The ones who walk away from Omelas.
This story, "The word of Unbinding", explores her fictional universe of "Earthsea". This universe is an archipelago, amidst uncharted waters, where magic is a way of life . Technologically "Earthsea" is based in early Iron Age .The story also reveals a certain obsession with nature and trees among the people of Earthsea .
The story is about a wizard, Festin. A very powerful wizard capable of vanquishing any living enemy or threat to his beloved forest land. Festin lived alone in his forest, conversing with the trees, being one with the brooks that flowed through his land. His home.
But something had happened on this fateful day. He awoke in a foreign enclosure. In darkness. He had been imprisoned and was without his alder-wood wizard’s staff with which he could conjure up terrible magic to flay the perpetrator. But who was the perpetrator? Utilizing his inner magic, he comes to understand that "Voll the Fell", a terrible wizard who is bent on crushing every living creature in his path had him incarcerated in this dungeon.
With all the magic that Festin could muster, he tries to escape from this dungeon of a cell. First as a stream of mist, he attempts his escape, only to be thwarted by a surge of warm air that threatens to throw his misty apparition into irreparable chaos. Next as a stream of air, he efforts his getaway, only to be vanquished by a cold, harsh, fast gust of wind that threatens his permanence. Then he tries to roll away as a gold ring only to be chucked back, unceremoniously, into his dungeon of a cell by a guard Troll.
Oh how is he to escape now?! Then he dawns upon an idea. The nature. The wind. The soil. The water. His beloved land. He becomes it. He is one with it. He seeps away! He is again reunited with his land. His arboreal world. Being overcome with joy mixed with feelings of smugness and hunger can be disastrous to even the sharpest of wizards as he makes the catastrophic mistake of changing himself into a fish, a trout, only to be re-captured and cast into the dungeon of a cell. This time with several broken bones to stymie any further attempts to escape.
Dejected and forlorn, he lies there. Overcome with hunger and sorrow. Close to accepting defeat. Unable to move as much as a finger as a result of his debilitating injuries. Introspection is all he has left to him. And a few sparks of magic.
Meditative introspection reveals to Festin that Voll’s source of power and invulnerability is that he is already dead. He controlled his henchmen from the world of the dead. So how is Festin, who is alive, to defeat an enemy who is dead? …….. What if Festin chose not to live?
So Festin made his choice. He took a last deep breath and spoke "the word of unbinding". One which is uttered only once. In life he had immense power. And here, in the afterlife, the land of dead, he did not forget his power. Through the darkness he moved as a candle flame. With the swiftness that he always possessed, with the infinite power with which he was gifted, he makes Voll enter his own dead body hence returning him to the living world. But Voll was dead in the living world.
Now Festin stood there. He sat. To rest, not sleep for he had to keep guard over Voll’s body until he turns to powder and his powers are scattered far and away by the winds of time.
Festin had lost forever the joys of nature. The seraphic strains of the brook. He had given his life to save everyone who might have found themselves in Voll’s path.
 LeGuin,Ursula (1975), "The wind’s twelve quarters", Harper and Row,NY, pp 58-65
Rocky Balboa – Movie Review
Cast: Sylvester Stallone
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Release date: Christmas 2006 (USA)
Running time: 102 minutes (PG)
I’ve been watching the Rocky franchise of movies since the mid 90s’ and not one of them has left me even remotely disappointed and least so the current and presumably final movie titled: Rocky Balboa.
I’ll keep this movie review short and simple. If you are looking forward to a movie with a lot of adrenaline rushing fights, blood and guts spilled or those really inspirational "Rocky steps" routine, you will be disappointed. What this movie is all about is hope, love and compassion, family and mostly about "It ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward".
Sylvester Stallone plays the eponymous Rocky Balboa in what could be considered the best Rocky movie since the first one called "Rocky" in 1976! It’s about Rocky, the life he leads as a widower and his estranged son, estranged as a result of not wanting to live in his father’s huge shadow. It’s how Rocky gets back in the ring, not to prove anyone right or wrong but because he had to do it one last time. It was also particularly because Stallone had left the Rocky franchise in an uncomfortable position with Rocky 5, but that’s a different story.
If you’ve watched the Rocky movies before, you should watch this one as the pugilist from Philadelphia makes a graceful exit.
Alone – a surreal experience
Disclaimer: A lot of stuff in the passage of text below is non-fiction. It’s entirely up to you to decide which portions of it are… That might kind of speak in volumes about the kind of person you are!!! The below passage is also meant to have a surreal feel to it and not everyone might be able to digest it, or appreciate it – It is surreal after all.
I do a lot of weird stuff just because I like to experience weirdness! Like most people, I have a dark side. You’ve got to admit it that everyone has a dark side because if we didn’t, we would be incapable of choosing between right and wrong, good and evil, darkness and light and a whole bunch of such contrasting aspects of life.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been writing a lot of stuff that I’ve accumulated and could possibly be part of dark, albeit a pretty good memoir. Highly publishable. Here is part of it.
I live alone. I used to have room mates but I don’t just let anyone live with me. So I started living alone a couple of months ago when the room mate I trusted left.
The best part about the town I live in, which is also the worst part, is that it is quite desolate. I kid you not when I say that during holidays or just general long weekends, I usually don’t see a single person on the streets for days and days together and the only foot steps in the accumulated snow are mine. Spooky.
Living alone has its perks: you don’t have to wake up at 5am just to do your business in the loo before you head off for your 7 am class. You don’t have to pick up after messy room mates. It’s peaceful. Of course, it has its downside: you need to cook dinner everyday of the week as there is no one else who is going to take turns! You’ve got to lug all the groceries on your own rain, sun, snow or any other weird inclement weather conditions. You’ve got to shovel your walkway on your own without much needed help. I figured that you are also more prone to a strange disorder known as S.A.D or seasonal affective disorder. More on that in a future post.
What I figured is that although living alone looked quite attractive initially, it’s a real dark experience. As a social (or maybe an anti-social) experiment, I try to do downright weird things. I lock myself up on weekends and stay indoors for about 50-60 hours ensuring that I have no contact with the outside world. My personal best is staying indoors for 5 days at a stretch. I find that solitude is very therapeutic but could be dangerous if you can’t balance well enough on the thin line that separates the sane from the…. others….
The other rather interesting and seemingly insane activity I indulge in, on weekends, is absolute silence. I utter not a single word for days together. If you try this you’ll realize that when you do speak after a few days of absolute silence, your voice would sound quite strange to yourself! With enough practice I have learned to stay silent for days together.
Soliloquy is another risk that you run if you live alone ensuring an absolute hermetic seal around yourself. I find that I sometimes catch myself talking to myself. I must admit however that the conversations that I have with myself are quite intense and revelatory at various levels. You just don’t want to NOT realize that you are in fact having a conversation with yourself.
It’s a surreal experience. To live alone. You visit the thin line between what’s real and what’s not. To cocoon yourself deliberately. To avoid all human contact. It’s also eye opening. Introspection. But with a high price to pay, if you aren’t careful. Do you want to know what the price is? Can you handle it? The thing that would grip you the most would be
The above passage has been deliberately left incomplete. For the uninitiated, it lends to the surreal feel. Want to know more? Wait for the future post.
A Surreal experience felt and written by Sir Pumpkin
Be a nice kid and do your homework
I am 25. I wait with bated breath, tension gripping me. For the last three years, there have been tense moments like this at least 3 times a week… No, I am not on weed!!! What I am talking about is something really ubiquitous for anyone who went to school. Homework assignments!
The tension that grips me is the over-burgeoning tomes of homework assignments that I am handed to do in a week. Over three years from a novice at minutiae such as vectors and basic math I have metamorphosed into juggling multivariable calculus on one hand and looking up steam tables to figure out when the refrigeration unit in the corner would blow up in my face while trying real hard to solve some really ambiguous, god-forsaken non-linear evolution equation in my spare time like my life depended on it!!!
There was a time when I had a lot of homework — I was in primary school. Then there was the time in secondary school and during the heady undergraduate days when life was carefree sans homework. Flitting we were like butterflies on a mild summer’s day! And now this!!!! Homework like never before and quizzes … and surprise tests… and mid-terms… and final exams… and more homework… and take-home exams… and did I mention more homework??
I thought I had seen the end of it when I turned post-graduate. But I was SO wrong!! Now I have more courses to take. More homework to do. More exams to deal with. Not to mention, more homework! Of course, I am now dealing with real world problems… But I still have homework!
It’s not that I hate homework. (I hate the type of homework that is due on the same day as an examination or maybe two examinations!) But I am not a big fan of homework or examinations! But what I have learned is that academics are the best thing to happen to me. Yes, I’ve tried the ‘other’ life — the one where you have a job and work a 9-5 shift and take home a decent pay. I didn’t like the ‘other’ life. It was too a routine. Mundane even. Although I didn’t have homework!
I’ve realized that what gets me high is the sense of academic anticipation!!! I know I have at least 25 years more of academic thirst left in me to learn everything there is to learn and so should you, given an opportunity!!!… And also probably smoke some pot…. Just kidding about the pot!!!!
So I’d like to leave this meandering post with what Emo Phillips said "You don’t appreciate a lot of stuff in school until you get older."
As for all the references that I made to weed I’ll only say: " Don’t buy Drugs…….. Become a rock star and they give you them for free….!!" (Bill Nighy, 2005). Nice segway, eh?
Sunshine – Review
Cast: Cliff Curtis (of Die Hard 4 fame), Cillian Murphy (of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight fame), Rose Byrne (of 28 weeks later, Damages fame), Chris Evans (of Fantastic Four fame), Mark Strong (of RocknRolla fame), Michelle Yeoh (of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame)
Director: Danny Boyle (of Slumdog Millionaire fame)
Release date: July 2007 (USA)
Running time: 107 minutes (R)
The sun is dying. Icarus 1, a space ship is sent with *nuclear* bomb to reignite it. However, Icarus 1, commanded by a Pinbacker (Mark Strong), doesn’t make it to the sun for unknown reasons. The crew is presumed dead.
Seven years later, Icarus 2 is sent in the wake of Icarus 1 to do what latter couldn’t — reignite the sun.
What the crew of Icarus 2 don’t expect is to actually bump into Icarus 1 when they are close to the sun, in the orbit of the planet Mercury.
What they don’t expect is that they would need to board Icarus 1 to salvage Icarus 1′s *nuclear* bomb and oxygen as a result of their oxygen being depleted due to an accident on board.
What the crew of Icarus 2 don’t expect is to find the whole crew of Icarus 1 having committed suicide by deliberate exposure to lethal levels of sunlight.
What they also don’t realize is that this was probably perpetrated by Pinbacker who is very much alive but driven to insanity due to prolonged loneliness.
But most of all, what they don’t expect is that Pinbacker doesn’t want to allow anyone to reignite the sun as he insanely believes that "For seven years I spoke with God. He told me to take us all to Heaven."
Without going into complete details as it is a complex film that needs one or two viewings to fully appreciate the various emotions that people would feel if quite literally the weight of the whole earth was on their shoulders.
Eight people to save a couple of billion. The hard decisions they need to make such as euthanasia for the sake of conserving oxygen to get to the sun and detonate their *nuclear* payload, Being faced with a relentless and murderous Pinbacker who as a result of his insanity believes that he is the chosen one to do "god’s" bidding of disallowing anyone to mess with the natural progression of things, knowing that even if they did "restart" the sun they wouldn’t be coming back home.
I would highly recommend this movie to everyone who qualifies and is eligible to watch an R rated film. Rated R on account of the controversial nature of the subject, references to god in an ungodly sense at times, situations of suicide and euthanasia and just general edge-of-your-seat-but-claustrophobic-dark environs!
The most chilling passage of the movie is marked by a conversation between Cillian Murphy and the Icarus 2′s computer which is referred to simply as "Icarus":
"….Trey is dead. There are only four crew members; Cassie, Mace, Corazon and me."
" Negative. Five crew members."
"Icarus (computer)… who is the fifth crew member? "
Two is company
He reclined in the armchair. “I feel different…the new medication is making me better… It’s been going good ever since I got out of prison for the incident…”
“Why are you telling me all this?”
“Because you are my shrink…”
“No, I am not… I am still you…”
He looked around his jail cell.
The above 55 Fiction work is stretching the imagination about Dissociative identity disorder.
Story written by Sir Pumkin Longshanks.
For more about 55 fiction click here
One view , different seasons !
I have never been an avid photographer. However, a couple of months ago, I made up my mind to snap a picture on each side of a season as that would be a nice way of covering up my lack of photography skills!!!
The town I live in provided me with a great opportunity to do that and hence I went about my "time-lapse-adventure", if you could call it that! The seasons in the picture provide the contrast that this picture needs.
The picture is of the town of Houghton in the scenic Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan, USA where in the words of the townsfolk there exists two seasons viz. "Winter is coming" and "Winter is here!” The place boasts of a very high temperature spread with temperatures ranging from -38 F during the peak days of winter to 95 F during the peak days of summer (around -35 C to 35 C). This apparently is a result of a phenomenon unique to areas like this called, lake effect. (Check out Wikipedia’s entry on Lake effect for more information)
As of now, we have had our first snow fall on the 9th of October and status quo will be maintained until the first week of May 2010!
Same place different seasons !
Upper Peninsula of Michigan – summer 2009
Upper Peninsula of Michigan – Winter 2009
Let’s end up this article with a lovely poem by William Wordsworth.
Thought On The Seasons
By William Wordsworth
Flattered with promise of escape
From every hurtful blast,
Spring takes, O sprightly May! thy shape,
Her loveliest and her last.
Less fair is summer riding high
In fierce solstitial power,
Less fair than when a lenient sky
Brings on her parting hour.
When earth repays with golden sheaves
The labors of the plough,
And ripening fruits and forest leaves
All brighten on the bough;
What pensive beauty autumn shows,
Before she hears the sound
Of winter rushing in, to close
The emblematic round!
Such be our Spring, our Summer such;
So may our Autumn blend
With hoary Winter, and Life touch,
Through heaven-born hope, her end!
Windows Vs Linux Vs Mac
All of us have used windows (95/98/NT/XP) in our lives. I’ve had the opportunity of using a rather neat distribution of Linux and currently am the proud owner of a Mac book, which I am absolutely in love with, so I thought it might be a neat thing to compare the three. I haven’t included Windows Vista deliberately in this list as I haven’t used it myself and don’t know squat about it.
Of course, I might leave out a few details inadvertently. Please feel free to include your comments/suggestions in the comments section. Which OS do you prefer?
Windows (in general… irrespective of 95/98/XP)
- Probably the first OS any of us would have used!
- A nice OS with a neat user interface.
- Very intuitive. Very "Point and click"
- Useful tools (word processing etc.)
- Highly media (movies, mp3s) friendly!
- Extremely gaming friendly!
- Annoying service packs that need to be installed on a regular basis!
- Frequent RAM hogging (keep your computer in ON mode for a week or so and you’ll know what I mean)!
- Terrible for scientific computing.
- Hacker’s first choice in testing their skills.
- After the critically declaimed flop show with Vista, Microsoft is betting high on its latest OS – Windows 7.
- Windows 7 promises quicker startup and shutdown (aren’t we bored waiting for the computer to start and shut down, so Windows 7 could save our yawning time)
- Lots of distributions, mostly free available merely off the internet!
- User interface getting more and snazzier by the day! Not really "point and click".
- Highly customizable.
- For all of us scientists: "Open the terminal (kind of like MS-DOS) and feel at home!!!" The best for scientific computing!
- Don’t usually see applications hanging up or crashing (read windows!)
- Gaming is a big minus! Lack of games (some improvement being made in this now)
- Not really a media (movies, mp3s) friendly OS.
- Some popular Linux OS are Fedora, Red hat, Ubuntu.
Mac OS X:
- Very spiffy user interface!
- Highly intuitive and snappy!
- OS X based on UNIX so again, "Open the terminal and feel at home!!!"
- Highly user friendly applications and tools.
- Highly media friendly!
- Quickly replacing Linux machines in labs for scientific computing!
- Fewer viruses affect the OS X (fewer Macs in the world, hence fewer viruses).
- Not really gaming friendly although this is changing now, what with the iPod touch and the iPhone.
- Mac OS X Snow leopard is the latest from the staple of Apple.
Instant Chocolate Mousse – Recipe
A lazy Sunday morning which boasts of not much to do was inspiration enough for me to make one of my favorite desserts for after-lunch: Instant Chocolate mousse. It is one recipe that hits the spot quite well after any meal! Might I add that this would also line your arteries well so you might not want to indulge in this devilish delight too often!
I apologize for the low quality pictures: I am a bad carpenter and I blame my tools!
Step 1: The ingredients that you would need to concoct this gastronomic extravaganza are:
-250gm of chocolate buttons (as dark as possible — I’ve used 60% cocoa buttons),
-50 gm of unsalted butter (that’s about 1/5th of the stick displayed in the picture),
-A few drops of vanilla essence, heavy whipping cream or whipped cream
- As much as you’d like but BEWARE this is artery clogging stuff!!
-About three quarters the quantity of mini marshmallows as you have chocolate buttons
-2 to 3 table spoons of water (not shown in picture)
Step 2: Heat a skillet on a low-medium to medium flame and melt the mini marshmallows and chocolate buttons with the few table spoons of water.
Step 3: As the marshmallow-button mixture starts melting, add your 50 gram dollop of butter. Make sure you are mixing all the time or the contents of your skillet may for a congealed black gooey gunged at the bottom of your skillet!
Step 4: On the side mix the barest of bare quantities of whipped/heavy whipping cream with 2-3 drops of vanilla essence.
Step 5: Once the chocolate goo is of the desired consistency (Step 5), let it cool. Don’t bother if the marshmallows still form white striations in your chocolate goo!
Step 6: Fold the cream-vanilla essence mixture with your chocolate goo and refrigerate. The pudding should set in about 1 hour!