Friday, November 13, 2009

Barney's Back, Baby!!


Thank God.

As people following this blog with rapt and uninterrupted attention, or, you know, those who know me outside the the online world, I'm a huge fan of the TV series 'How I met your Mother'. Also, assuming that the reader of this blog is by definition a suave, connected to the world, modern individual, there isn't any need to really tell you what this series is about.

To put it succintly it's pretty darn funny. And the philandering philosopher that Neil Patrick Harris plays (the Barney in the title of this post)is easily the funniest and most, in his own words, awesome character of the show. Over the last four seasons he's regaled us through his commitment-phobic, one night stand and womaniser extraordinaire actions and one liners.

On the other hand is Robin, the similar character played by Cobie Smulders (sigh...should've been smoulders..those eyes... but we're digressing). Also fiercely independant, this character is as commitment phobic as Barney.

Unfortunately, at the end of the last season of HIMYM they start dating each other.

Now comes the main reason for this post.

The episodes play on CBS on Tuesday nights, US time. And almost immediately I'd get on one of those torrent sites to download the episodes and watch them within hours of the episode being aired. I did this for the first three episodes of the current season. But then I found myself actually forgetting about the episode and hence the downloading. A little introspection, and the reason was clear. Barney was not acting like Barney. He was some lame ass boyfriend-wannabe which JUST did not suit him. Instead of the self assured woman related advice giver he was actually sitting in Ted's class learning Robin 101! Now I wouldn't mind attending Robin 101 myself, if you know what I mean, but Barney! No way! That was just a sad turn for the character as awesome as that.

But in the latest one, which I downloaded today, Barney and Robin decide to break up!! A very mature and amicable break up (they exist?) where both realise that they just weren't happy in their relationship.

And so ladies and gentlemen, nay only the ladies - Barney is back where he belongs - climbing out of your bedroom window in the early hours of the morning after leaving you a form letter with a cock-a-bull story about he being:

a. a space alien
b. a time traveller
c. shipping out to war in the morning

to explain his absence.

And my interest in the series is right back to it's earlier levels! Happy viewing - it's going to be legen... :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dystopian Theories...

Literature and movies portraying a future dystopian society always fascinate me, whether it is the 'Big Brother' fronted suffocating oligarchy of George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty Four' or the societal choice between a free-will powered chaos versus a conditioned factory-like safe yet stagnant society exquisitely described in 'The Clockwork Orange' by Anthony Burgess.

And not necessarily a hypothetical society of the future, 'Animal Farm' (again by George Orwell) is a brilliant look at how the Russian society (in the communist era) evolved where the revolutionaries (pigs, if I recall correctly) overthrew the oppressors (the humans in the farm) but then slowly reacted in the same way as the humans they evicted to transform into another avatar of the very same oppressors they removed with no change in the conditions of the other animals. (I really recommend this book. It's a thin little book but phenomenally powerful). Another book on similar lines is 'Lord of the Flies', which essentially focuses on how idealized human culture fails under stress and freedom. Individual versus society is a theme in this plot as well.

Anyway, why am I going on and on about these books?

Well, I had taken some movies from R a long time back and had not really watched them all. I was getting bored this morning and sat down to watch a movie called 'Brazil'. If you're thinking this was about scantily clad women at the Rio carnival (the way I had thought) then you are in for a huge surprise. This movie is set in a world of the future where every individual seems to be sinking in a revolting marsh of bureaucracy. A totalitarian society at a more micro-level than the one described in 1984, this society curbs all freedom of thought through the simple machinations of filling forms! The government bureaucracy shown here with no one willing to take a decision and people capable of going beyond the forms being looked upon with suspicion of terrorism. When a freelance air conditioning repairman seems like a Robin Hood character, you can imagine what the society breeds.

In the midst of this is our protagonist, the ever reliable, unambitious and unimportant spoke in the Ministry of Information's wheel. But even though he may be filling out his forms as diligently as the next person, he has a secret - a dream where he is a Knight in shining armour rescuing a damsel in distress.

Things gather pace as he bumps into a girl who looks exactly like the girl in his dreams. The plot thickens as he also takes the help of the renegade Air conditioning repairman who left the government service when the bureaucracy and the forms got to him.

I'm not going to put in the whole story here but the movie is quite good. Some sequences are quite chilling and thought provoking. Though people would have many interpretations (after all that is something all such movies are supposed to do), for me the primary question it poses is the same one. Who decides what is good for someone - the Individual or the Society?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Giant Wrap Up Post...

Yeah yeah, I know. It's been a while...

That's not to say that I've been having a boring time or anything but somehow I haven't had the will to put pen on paper, or, you know, fingers on keyboard. So anyway, what have I been upto since the last post? What stories have stayed put in my head instead of being poured out for your office-time-silent-guffaws?

Lots of stuff actually work (which we shall not talk about here as usual), travel (no, i mean beyond the daily home to office - though there's a story there as well), movies (and you will not even imagine the kind of movies i've been watching - a few under the influence [if you know what I mean]), restaurants (and to think I thought I'd covered most of the good places to eat in this bitter-sweet city), books (lots of them as usual. And some surprising ones. And some authors came up with surprising ones).

Whew, seriously, HOW have you people been staying awake at work when I haven't been writing!

But this seems like a marathon post if I do actually keep my eyes open for a while. So I shall only give you short selected write ups rather than all the incidents.

But before that a serious thing. This is a public blog and i'm not aware of all the facts so will not write the whole thing here. But I came to know about something heinous and disgusting that a person I know did recently. I cannot imagine anyone doing things like that in this day and age. The horrible way in which people you think you know shock you is just unbelievable. I know this didn't make much sense but please let this pass. (disclaimer: nothing has been done to me. Came to know of this recently and am still in a bit of shock)

Well, now with that out of the way:


I went home for Diwali this time. Even though the festival of lights was brilliant last time with the three day extended festivities with some huge-ass firecrackers, there is still something about Diwali that tugs your heart strings towards home and family.
So this time I gave my parents and granny a surprise and it was pretty awesome to see their elated reaction when I jumped in front of them! Diwali was very traditional and joyous as I met my sister and niece and celebrated the festival itself at home with that most traditional and sacred of customs at home - The legen...wait for it...dary Chole Bhature dinner that my mom always makes on Diwali. In fact i'd been chewing the brains off so many people around going on and on about how much I was looking forward to that dinner. I actually had four bhature. Then I took a step back - Swapnil, you didn't come all the way from Bangalore to eat just 4! That's just self-humiliating. Do you have any self-respect? Would Mom like it if you had just 4? All the effort she put in to make that tasty meal and you just hang your head and give up at 4?

I don't think so. So I went for a long walk all around the colony. Then took another saunter around just to make sure. Then I went in with grim determination written on my face. And I sat at that dinner table and had another 2 bhature. Vindicated!

A good trip though most of it was at home. And it's always great to see my niece. However the most lingering image I have from the trip is a vision I had just as I stepped out of the airport...

I'm sitting here watching Pulp Fiction. And this is an absolute aberration to all the trashy movies I've been watching over the past few..umm..months now. To add to the three weird movies I spoke about a couple of posts ago, I have followed them up with even weirder movies. Ok, people may not agree with me when I put "Wake up Sid" in the same category as 'FOX' and the rest but i'll stick with my decision to do so. I mean what a predictable movie. It's the kind of script that four people with a crate of beer would write. AFTER going through the beer...

When I go for a movie I look for some kind of interesting twists and turns in the tale not a movie in which you can predict half an hour in advance, including the freakin' dialogues.

Anyway, the other movies I've seen recently will chill your blood. And not in a good oh-I-forgot-my-fur-coat-on-this-Swiss-peak way. More of the Who-the-F-slammed-the-door-and-switched-on-this-walk-in-freezer way. Ok, that was probably a bit over the top but I'm sure you'll forgive me when I tell you that I have probably been the only person in the city, nay, the world, who's seen "All the Best" TWICE! And that's including the producer of the movie who couldn't really see the screen through the bloody tears brimming up in his eyes as he could literally see his money flowing away.

I also saw "Do Knot Disturb". Yes, ladies and gentlemen whoever had this image of me being a suave, sophisticated, rakishly handsome guy based on reading my blog, you're wrong on two counts. I'm just a rakishly handsome guy who watches second rate movies.

Ok, i'm tired of writing now so short snappy sentences from now on:

Places to eat: Been to quite a few new ones. Olive Beach is easily the best. Great food, great ambience...definite must eat at place. Though I probably won't be going there for a while. Such amazing dining experiences should be separated by sufficiently long periods of time to retain the awesomeness.

Books: I never liked Chetan Bhagat's books. I mean I found his penmanship childlike in Five point Someone (and the book suffered from the same predictable nature that I attributed to Wake up Sid) and never read anything from him after that. But I got 'Two States' as a gift and it's quite a page turner. Very interesting book. Highly recommended.

ok, So I shall wrap this post up now - Pulp Fiction is moving towards its end. And I definitely deserve to watch a good movie for a change!