Monday, May 31, 2004

Noir ... My fascination towards the noir genre is fast increasing with U-Turn being the latest in the series to enthrall me. Surprisingly, in spite of its stellar star cast and Oliver Stone's name, the film is not that well known. According to BoxOfficeMojo this happens to be one of Stone's lowest earning movies. Further research on some of my favorites from this genre and their box office outcomes revealed the following:

Pulp Fiction : $107 million
Snatch : $30 million
Reservoir Dogs : $3 million (it was however made for less than $1.5 million and I am only listing the US box office turnovers)
Lock, Stock ... : $4 million

Hmmm, somebody got to make these movies earn more.

for the lack of a better title the mention of the lack of a title. Spent the day trying to work on my fast failing communication skills. Spoke to Modi, Ari and the Dam kins. Have been bugging people with what I have been terming as obvious poetry - in a nutshell this is going to be absolute crap that I am going to indulge in for the next two weeks. It includes senseless things like:

He has a wife,
He has a son.
He is a husband and a father.

This is going to be pure stinking unadulterated crap. Rented the DVD of Oliver Stone's U-Turn - didn't get around watching it though. Tomorrow is likely to be (read should be) maddening work and I hope to get some stuff done. Spoke to G -

I spoke less,
She spoke lesser ...
Its like we were "Dumb"struck.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Writing the day after watching Day After Tomorrow. Well the movie had really neat effects with a really cheesy storyline. Almost all the cliches we hear of were there - however, the effects were indeed awesome.

Spent the whole morning trying to run Barbara's code on Planetlab but there was some bug. The fault could be mine or it could be faulty code - who knows. Can't say who cares though - coz I know of at least four people who care about this.

Have been missing someone a lot. This normally wouldn't have made it to the blog but I know that the person concerned reads this blog and that is pretty much our only form of communication right now :(

A mind yearns
Strong desires
The past soothes
Her present ires

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

... speaketh the Film-maker: The last two days have been, to say the least, maddening - I have been running all over the place to get the first draft of my short film (for my film making class) out. After a zillion technical glitches and a painfully long (but rewarding) editing process version 1.0 was out and by the grace of GOD people in the class liked it. Some things I learned in the process:

1. Most hardware and software for film production are proprietary and lacks any kind of standardization.
2. Notebooks and desktops have different number of pins in their Firewire ports (this one cost me $25).
3. Moviemaker does a very good job of film splitting (and its free).
4. Editing is highly under rated.
5. Jim and Bill in UCSD Media Center are among the most helpful people I have seen.

It will take another week before I get done with the final version but let me leave you with the opening lines of this extravaganza:

She f****d me bad
Not in a sexy way
F****d me deep
So the pain can stay

Monday, May 24, 2004

A must for every woman. I have finally decided to put my soft, gentle and sensitive side to good use :) While browsing through the Miss Universe contestants (the official web site has videos as well of the participants) I decided to serve billions of Indian girls in a meaningful fashion. I can't speak for the world but in India there is a standard set of q&a a damsel has to be familiar with to do well in this pageant contests. Having been a long standing "critique" of these socially meaningful events, its time now to pass on the mammoth volume of priceless information to future generations. Given below is a compilation of must-know answers that no young Indian lady should leave home without:

1. Who's been the biggest influence in your life ?
- MOTHER. It doesn't matter if she is a raging alcoholic with a twisted sense of humor - momma is always the best. So when they ask you "Who's your daddy?" - breathe in and say its Momma Dear.

2. Describe your self in one word.
- Aha you have a range of options for this one. Choose from - Loving, Compassionate (which is what the present Miss India uses), Confident (you bet you are - you are wearing a swim suit and facing the world) and Dedicated. You get a bonus point if you can give the answer with a fake twinkle in your well glittered eyes.

3. If you had to choose between beauty and brains which one would you settle for?
- Say Brains coz there is a good chance you will need it. However, you should ideally say Beauty coz no one has ever seen this question being hurled at an ugly woman in a pageant contest, who then proclaims to the modern world - "See, this is where brains got me". So be thankful that beauty got you to a podium where you gave tons of brainy women the satisfaction that it's difficult to have it all.

Yes, I am jobless to even start writing on this topic, but not so jobless to just go on - I suddenly have better things to do - gotta catch a movie. So cheerios.

Kramer vs Michael. My apartment mate Rakesh's obsession with pizza is benefiting us in more ways than we thought it would. Till now it was free giveaway slices and great deals offered by the pizza joints, but this time they offered us a fee DVD. What was poetic was that by sheer trial and error we chose this movie called Trial and Error. The movie has quite a decent star cast comprising of Jeff Daniels (the unforgettable goofball in Dumb and Dumber and the forgettable officer in Speed), Charlize Theron (now we definitely can't forget her) and Michael Richards. Though I haven't seen the movie yet the synopsis tells me that Richards plays an "over-the-top" character. All of us who have seen (and seen and seen) Seinfeld have to agree that Richards' Kramer took TV physical comedy to a completely different level. Sadly, the description of this movie seems to suggest that this role is also Kramerized. The only other movie of Richards' that I have seen is Airheads (starring the then young Adam Sandler, Brendan Fraser and Steve Buscemi), where again his character resembles Kramer's. This is a sad story of great talent getting completely type-cast. Till some time back I used to wonder whether that's the way Richards is in person but a radio interview he gave made him appear calm and composed (at times even dull). Hmmmm ... hmmmm ... hmmm

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Weekend Update. A good mix of work and indulgence in lethargy sums up the last few days. Saw Shrek 2 (liked it) and rented the DVD of Paycheck (I had missed it when it released). Played around with J2ME and managed to get it installed and ran some basic applications. Had Thai dinner and drove around different freeways for the fun of it.

I just read the stuff above and realized that it would have looked better if I had enumerated it. However, I am going to indulge in the afore mentioned lethargy and do nothing about it and go on to describe something less mundane (somehow the justification of something, using lethargy as an excuse, requires so much effort that it dilutes the argument).

While talking to Pummy last night she mentioned that during dining in one of the innumerable food joints in Kolkata some guy walked up to her and asked her if she was "Sagnik's sister". Now that is strange because not too many people find Pummy and me similar - so the guy had to know Pummy from before. Obviously the solution to this confusion would have been a simple query about the whereabouts of the guy and my sister did that. However trust Pummy to miss the name of the guy but remember his email id. So from what Pummy tells me - the guy is called Ata (I have no friend/acquaintance/enemy by that name) and the email is funrap@yahoo.com which does not reveal anything about the person's name :( So just for sheer curiosity/boredom I am going to mail "Ata" and find out who he is.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Driver Installed. As the great "bard" Austin Powers would have said - "Yeah baby!". I just cleared my driving test. Yeah yeah - I took my time and I flunked the first time but the bottomline is I cleared my test. So next time you are driving in Sunny California and you see a red Ferrari zoom past you its likely to be some rich dot com beneficiary - BUT if you see a grey Nissan Sentra there is a good chance that will be me. Yahooooo!

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Poll Mol ke Bol. Having spent the last few blogs alluding to my messed up mental state, it's now time to talk about something which has nothing to do with me - the great Indian Elections.

The Congress led coalition won and the BJP has been shown the gate. I must mention that I change my political inclinations with time but this time I was hoping for such an outcome. For starters - making foreign origin an election issue showed the dearth of real issues the ruling party was trying to address. Come on - does it matter if a person of foreign origin is ruling the country (which as it turns out now, is not even the case). Do you think the large fraction of India, trying to make ends meet, cares if the person getting them food is of Italian origin or Indian origin? Speak "issues" people - you are trying to lead a country - make "ability" and not "defamation" your point in case.

Staying on the issue of political preference - tried to explain to Saket how supporting the Congress does not dilute my stance on supporting Capitalism. Capitalism has to be practiced differently in US and India. A US-like Capitalism enforcement makes sense if you have already provided a fair starting point to most of your players. The concept of "let the best man win" makes sense then. However, in India what has to be practiced is a more tiered/hierarchical version of Capitalism. You can't expect the man who is applying for electricity and the man who is applying for a power plant to be treated similarly.

Have a lot more to write but have to meet people. So that's it before more shit flows.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I was surprised today by the sweetness of a lot of people who I had not expected sweetness from. On the other hand, people I had really expected things from, let me down. I have decided not to complain and shall try to adhere to the resolution but moments like this make me wonder/ponder - I spend entire days expecting a moment of joy from a select few, mostly in vain, while there are those who not only make me happy but often even give me strength to remain nonchalant to the tepidity of others.

I seek the unknown
And fail to find
For the unknown was known
And there in my mind

Prioritize - be self dependent - remember.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

I let just one wake me from my dreams.
I let just one break my heart.
I let just one drown me in a pool so deep,
That I knew no end no start.

They had told me so.
Warned me afore.
Tried to open my eyes
From the visible blindless.

But I chose the darkness.
Thought the bleak will soon be gone,
And warmth with arms spread so wide
Will wait for me out there.

But days went by and the shivering cold
Soon hit my nerves so raw,
I woke up cold, no one to hold
In a room of shattered thoughts.

Will I ever be what I was
Before the dreams I dreamt?
Will I ever be what I was
When the nickels of joy weren't spent?

Will I ever be - me again ?

Friday, May 14, 2004

Words from The Man. Got an amazing mail from my dad this morning. The cool thing about Bubin is that he oft manages to spell out things that you see for years without realizing. In today's mail he pointed out that we often spend a phenomenal amount of effort getting tense about things whose outcome depends completely on the ability of other people. How true! I feel extremely worked up during India's cricket matches, when the fact remains that there is nothing I could do to improve the situation. My apartment mate Rakesh, along with a zillion other people (and hats off to him for sucking me in too), get really worked up during NBA games, when once again the fact remains that all of us combined can do nothing except maybe pray at times for divine intervention. So, why do we let the ability of others rule our happiness? Aaaah! Come on, we are mere mortals - we don't do everything according to sane rationale. We are weird and thank GOD for that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Annoyance. Just checked out this web-site. It reminds me of Seinfeld - its a web site of nothing. The site also reminded me of a technique I had read about in my undergrad days to annoy people. The popularity/effectiveness of the technique can be gauged from the fact that there now exists a far smaller group of people I have to make sweet talk with. The technique suggests (1) singing some extremely popular song only partly without completing the line and (2) then repeating this till the person next to you catches you by the neck and makes you choke (a good execution of the strategy would lead to this stage in a jiffy).

Talking about pages with sweet nothings in them, visit the following sites - [1], [2] and [3].

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

For the want of juice. Spoke to Ranajit in the evening and he informed me that he found my writing on this blog very dry. I informed him that the only juice words coming out of me ever get is saliva. The rest of the conversation consisted of similar cheap attempts at humor from both sides - largely in the form of obscure references to women we both had forgotten. However, the interesting thing that came up is that Ranajit's web site has the words - "Howard Stern" and "crotch" in it (albeit separately and in what Ranajit calls justified contexts) and apparently there was a rare Google search comprising of these words that led to his site. Shocking! So as an experiment I will add some stray terms to end this entry and see if people ever reach this page by searching for any of these terms - gooogle, yaho, movis, intresting, missspelt (for the reader who is still confused these are words that are incorrectly spelt versions of common terms).

Mondays are hectic for me. I have my Film-making class from 3-5.30 and a Financial Investments class between 7 and 10. That means I miss my daily dose of sitcoms in the evening - which leaves me feisty and volatile. However, on realizing that this space has not been supplied with new material that the several million visitors would like to savor, I decided to pen down some sweet nothings.

- I became a member of Google to make use of its API. Gotta take a look at that. I plan to develop a more personalized front end and search filtering mechanism based on mining information. This is my own little experiment for the coming month.

- Saw Main Hoon Na. It was barely OK - as I told Rakesh - most people praising the movie would have different opinions had SRK not acted in it.

Thought about a third thing to add and realized that if we just have two points then we (maybe its just me but then generalization sounds romantic) feel the situation did not warrant a point-wise representation. Nevertheless, a third point could not be thought of - so "un dous blank" it is ...

Saturday, May 08, 2004

More on the Central Perk fellas: My father too, who gathers all his knowledge about the Western World from the back pages of the numerous newspapers he reads, is aware of the FRIENDS hysteria. He barely knows who the characters in the sitcom were but mailed me asking me if Ross and Rachel got together.

This will definitely be my last entry (but who is to blame me if I lie) about FRIENDS in this blog. Every good thing warrants a good closure and FRIENDS was no "just good thing". Every evening when I searched for activities to keep myself busy, my television would sing the Rembrandts' tune and I would almost invariably be entertained for the next 30 mins. So it doesn't matter excreta to me if the critics found it overtly sentimental, if John Stewart said that he did not see it or the intelligentsia weren't satisfied with the wit - all that matters is that FRIENDS made many of us laugh - and that's probably why it got some tears when it left.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Poem ... A small piece describing my current mental state. Like most of my poems I am not giving this one a name too. I feel a name gives away too much and the reason I choose poetry is just the opposite.

Walking knowing where I head
that's the reason I am lost ...

Do I want to reach there now ?
Knowing what's there in store,
Reach and rest in a land afar
Though I might deplore.

Or should I just keep walking on?
Or should I just keep going stray?
Or should I just keep being lost?
Or should I just look every way?

But what if I tire
Loose my desire
Sit back and wonder
Think it was a blunder

For the land I yearned for might not be there.
Or what if I had touched it before?
What if I thought there was a greater joy
But that's just what was in store?

Thursday, May 06, 2004

On making blogs popular. A friend of mine informed me that he liked my blog - giving vanity an ego boost. This makes me wonder with a zillion blogs available how does one increase the visibility of a blog. I remember an anecdote my father used to tell me using G. B. Shaw's name as the protagonist's. Apparently Shaw would go to various publishers and enquire about "Bernard Shaw's latest book". The simple scheme worked for Shaw and the rest was history.

Ranajit, a close friend of mine, has a fairly well visited blog and his secret lies in the fact that he creates a collage of interesting news snippets for his blog. This initially attracted a lot Google hits and now he has a fairly dedicated user base.

There are other blogs which deal with specific issues and therefore have a dedicated user base. This makes me wonder how to make my blog more visible. More importantly - do I want to make my blog more read? The answer is yes - for a blog like mine, which does not take a stance nor discusses issues of social/technical/gastronomic/farcical importance the only reason for writing is to be read. Why else would I publish stray thoughts on the web instead of storing them in a local Word file of my computer. "Elementary dear Watson" - the answer is to be seen and read by all and sundry. Even though I offer nothing in form or content, my mind hopes to gather a "reader-base". Will it or won't it - that's the question.

Marriage: Just got a mail from Madhura, an ex college mate of mine. She is happily married. So are people like Amit, Aruna, Vivek, Preeti, Abhishek, Sunayna and the list goes on ... I am really happy for these people.

Wow - imagine three years back there were friends of mine with whom I discussed the answer to the last problem in the Control System's paper and now these people have discussions I can barely be a mute spectator to.

I don't see myself married right now - mainly because it will be very difficult to have a child when your mental maturity is like his/hers. I can actually see fighting with my son over TV shows we would watch. My wife would suggest having two televisions but then the problem will not stop there - would need to buy two DVD players, two packets of chitos, two X Boxes and finally we would both compete for my wife's attention at which point my wife would suggest having a second wife - obedient that I am I will take this advice too and this wife will have a child and ... this is a problem close to my heart ... its a recurrence relation.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

F.R.I.E.N.D.S Just read this really well written (probably I liked it more because the views strongly matched mine) article on the series. Hmmm! I feel bad too.

Shall summarize my day's activities - had a meeting with my advisors - got forced into eating a decent but miniscule enchilada for lunch by Girija - spoke to Ranajit while he traversed 20 blocks - yup!

Planned a lot about the background score of the short film I am planning to make for my Film Making course. More details about this shall be revealed (as if people are waiting in suspense !) in future.

Summer Box Office. Aha! Finally the summer season begins. Its gonna be a 10-12 week long bombarding of one blockbuster after another. For a listing of the major summer studio releases check out this link.

Just read in Rotten Tomatoes that Van Helsing hasn't impressed a large number of critics but I will anyway try to catch it on Friday.

On a personal note the movies that I am most keenly waiting this summer to nurture my desire for big screen summer bonanza are:

1. Troy - I love epic movies and this one is undoubtedly the epic of this summer (yeah I will put this above King Arthur).
2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - I really enjoyed the first two Harry Potter movies and this one happened to be my favorite book in the series too.
3. Day After Tomorrow - the effects look cool and I loved Emmerich's Independence Day.

Check out this blog (which sadly not too many have done) for more movie news, views and reviews.

P.S. Just tested the spell checker and was surprised to see that the spell checker of a Blog did not recognize "blog" as a valid word.

Windows vs Linux: In the evening I got into an interesting discussion with my apartment mates, Sid and Sub, about Windows and Linux. Sub and I are part of the select few ardent Windows supporters in the academic community - actually that's not true and that was the topic of discussion - we were arguing with Sid that Wndows is now slowly managing to win over the academic community as well. Sid bought our argument finally because (i) we were more persuasive :)) and (ii) he agreed that he can survive without Linux (even though he likes it) for his basic computing needs but needed Windows for his daily computer usage (for his Star Wars game, Visual C++).

I admire people who support Linux and use it but for the many who use Windows but act as proponents of Linux solely to follow the trend - I have nothing to say. Here are some links that support my claim - (i) and (ii)(ii).

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

SitdotCom. Just read this article on a recent survey conducted asking people about their favorite sitcoms. Being quite an avid watcher of this genre I was happy to see that two of my favorite sitcoms - Seinfeld and F.R.I.E.N.D.S got the two top spots. While the survey did not consider a large enough population to be termed conclusive I kind of agreed to the results.

The reason, I feel, Friends and Seinfeld are different from others is bacause they manage to make their way into common conversation. I don't even remember how many times I would be discussing random things and quote similar anecdotal evidece from these sitcoms. This is where Simpsons, Everybody Loves Ray etc. fell behind.

I have had several Simpson followers telling me that Friends lacks the intellectual wit that Simpson provides. Even though I like Simpsons myself, this annoys me at times. The success or failure of every entity should be judged based on what it aimed to be rather than on an absolute scale. I am extremely fond of both "Schindler's List" and "Dumb and Dumber" but that does not mean I compare them in the same scale. They both tried to achieve a certain goal and reach out to a certain audience - and they both managed to - that is why they are successful. FRIENDS never wanted to supplement the intellectual mind. As a matter of fact one of its best features is that it has always been unpretencious - it just wanted to be funny and hugely succeeded for the better part of its ten year run in being so.

The Key-board Tale. My laptop is facing with a key board problem. The keys seem to work fine till the laptop is moved much - following which the internal circuitry messes up and you have to keep trying random shakes in random sequences to make it work again. As a result I had to use the software keyboard that comes with Windows for a while and now even have an USB keyboard that I can carry along for emergency. To sum it my laptop is fast reaching the state where it is going to be a desktop with a small screen :( Andrew was right - the average time for laptops to become obsolete is indeed close to two years. Ahem.

The Orkut Phenomenon. This is a fast growing system where one creates a Social Network (incidentally read the book called Linked on Social Networks which was very interesting) using a chain of available people. I have been a part of it and have been realizing very interesting aspects of it. Incidentally had a discussion with Ronny Dam regarding this too. My take on this trend is as following:

1. It helps in getting you in touch with people who you had lost touch with but would like to get back in touch with.
2. It gives you an ego hike when you see a large number of people in your so called "Friend list" and makes you feel popular.

Then the problem starts:

1. Friends of friends start contacting you and people you have no clue about want to be your "friend". Agreed that this helps in broadening your social circle but the pit side to this is that the system is intrusive. A friend of mine recently got this invite she would have ideally not accepted but then it was a friend's friend and you do not want to be rude to a "friend's friend" - even though you might not have wanted to be "friend-ly" with the person to start with.

My solution to this is two fold - (i) you should only be able to add people directly without revealing how you got to that person, thereby eliminating the need to embarrass intermediate friends and (ii) any invitation you want to send to people who are "your friend's friend" should be send through the friend - this would create an initial embarrassment for your friend too and after a while he/she will filter requests themselves for you.

So it will be interesting to see how this system keeps up ... we shall wait en see

Realized that IE was caching this URL and the update policy being used for determining new content (I had set the option to "automatic") was not sufficient - so changed it to "every time you visit the page" and it works great now.

I am still confused whether to make this blog a space for (i)information (ii)my general thoughts and philosophies or (iii) to just make it a log of my activities ??? I guess this will be a combination of all three.

To begin with an example of point (iii):

Spoke to Mummum, Bubin and Pummy last night. Poulami was also there and spoke to her. Pummy seems to have decided to take the GRE (third time in three months). Lesse.

Yes yes - the initial enthusiasm is addicting. I am sure in two weeks I will stop updating this site (and my guess is that not too many people would realize that either) but for now I feel like adding things to the site. For starters I want the page to be more full.

After I wrote the above lines I had a writer's block - yeah yeah - it was presumptuous to call myself a writer but then this is my blog - I will supplement my ego by adding many such lies without being answerable to others.

I have spent another minute with abosultely nothing to write - a clear indication of the fact that it is a good time to go and sleep ...

You can make out from the timing that I had just posted my first blog a minute back and could have very well added this message to the previous one. However, that being the first message wanted to be let out in the World Wide Web faster. To be "poetic" (a term that is highly misused including my present reference) these two messages were almost like twins - conceived at the same time, born almost together but still one emerged an initial winner. Blah, blah,blog.

This is my first posting and I wonder what most people normally write in their first posting. Most people probably introduce themselves and promise rich content to follow. If I follow them I would succumb to banality but being different itself is a cliche. That said - enough has been said for starters.

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