Monday, August 16, 2010

The Decision - I am taking my talents to...

I thought I would never come back here. Sad, but yes.

The decision wasn't easy. Like this slightly more (in)famous decision that got all the hype:

I am not fortunate enough to have Miami as a choice, but nevertheless, I am taking my talents this summer to:

The Big Show & SportsWave

It will combine the two things I love: sports and satire. We at The Big Show decided to flirt with the idea of combining the two.

The first attempt, the pilot episode for the The Big Show podcast can be found here:

The Pilot Episode

I apologize to whatever few regulars occasionally visited the site looking for an update, or response, but I do hope you do join me at my new pursuit.

Not ruling out a return, this blog has been special, and memorable)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Time Out: End of First Quarter

The last time my age was a perfect square,
I was all of 16, and felt like a star.
It used to feel like 2 has the power of 4;
Trust me, it did seem like that for sure.

Now having finished a quarter of my life,
People ask how it feels to be twenty-five.
Well, it feels like 5 has the power of 2,
Unfortunate, cruel; but so fucking true.

[And no, this in any way does not mean to hint at anything that would suggest that I take those "Power Enhancement" spam messages really seriously henceforth. I wish so till 8 has the power of 2.]

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sex Appeal in Movies, Literally

Your favourite weekly death-by-analysis column is back! Only this time with a slightly more constructive approach towards analysis and the resulting conclusions.

While browsing through IMDb, I happened to look at the Top 50 ranked movies by gender. This gave me an idea to make a list of the Top 50 overall movies and then compare it against the Top 50 movies for each gender. I compared the list of overall Top 50 ranked movies against the male and female choices respectively and also compared the male and female list with each other. Since the number of male votes hugely outnumber the female votes, the overall list is pretty much in-line with the overall list.

The results are pretty much unsurprising in terms of what guys rate to be a good movie and what girls rate to be a good watch. So here they are:

What women want (and men don't)

Lead Female character, hardly any one else gets any air time. Unsurprising.

Idealistic, classic, moral tale narrated by kids. Any guesses why guys don't rate it that high?

What men want (and women don't)

Quite a few in the Top 50 list actually.

*No* females. Cowboys, shootouts, wars. No wonder the girls keep away.

5. Pulp Fiction (1994) [5]

Gangsta. Nonsensical (seemingly) storyline. Typical guy stuff.

Old, black and white Jap movie about some warriors protecting a village. No females again.

15. Goodfellas (1990) [12]

Cool gangsta flick. Again.

17. Cidade de Deus (2002) [15]

Gangsta. Mindless carnage. Carange by kids. Drugs. Well, well, well.

19. C'era una volta il West (1968) [19]

Whatever holds true for the earlier one in the Dollar Trilogy. What's with girls and westerns?

Satire. Black humor. Tough to grasp basically. And did I mention no females again? 

26. Memento (2000) [27]

Mindless violence. Black and white, colour, forward, backward. Ends in the middle. Did I mention tough to grasp? And no females, again?

29. The Matrix (1999) [24]

Nobody knows what the matrix is. Especially the girls.

30. Citizen Kane (1941) [31]

A balck and white movie about a self obssessed old dude. And before I forget, no females, again.

33. Se7en (1995) [26]

Violence. And we all know the fate of the single female character in the movie. Ouch!

35. Apocalypse Now (1979) [29]

War. The horror, the horror. And no females except the Vietnamese women killed on the boat. Or the one that hands over the file to Harrison Ford in one of the initial scenes (Anyone know here name?)

36. American Beauty (1999) [35]

This one's tough. But probably because a married man finally decides to fight back and enjoy life? Maybe?

A psycho taxi driver who takes his girlfriend to a porn movie. And we all know what a .45 magnum does to certain physical parts.

39. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) [40]

A mad guy wandering in the desert for what seems like 10 million years. And no females in sight. 

42. Paths of Glory (1957) [47]

War. What is is good for? Guys!

43. M (1931)

A silent German movie about a psycho killer who abducts and kills children. Any guesses why girls stay away?

49. Alien (1979) [45]

Aliens bursting out of human anatomy. Cool stuff. Strictly for guys.

Ha ha ha. I mean like there was any doubt for this one. 

What both men and women want (just about)

And the girls who watch do so because their brothers/fathers/bf's/husbands talk about how cool it would be to own a light saber at least 300 times a day. Lightsabers *are* cool. I like the green one. Whoooosh.

3. The Godfather: Part II (1974) [m-3, f-22]

Curiously the girls nore or less agree with guys on Part I. Because Michael gets too ambitious in the second one?

It gets harder and harder to explain.

12. Star Wars (1977) [m-13, f-24]


21. Fight Club (1999) [m-17, f-28]

Pleasant surprise to find this one in the female list.

The ones which girls have ranked higher than guys are mostly cases of skewed sample sets and low votes. Nothing explains LOTR and American History X being ranked higher in the girls list. Except maybe Silence of the Lambs.

Then there the neutral movies, which both seem to like equally: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Shawshank Redemption, Psycho, The Dark Knight, Casablanca, North by Northwest, Leon, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Vertigo.

An image of the analysis sheet, just in case you are interested.

Enough. Time to get back to work.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A lament: How over-analysis killed subjectivity and gave way to undesirable objectivity

Heavy, huh?

Lately, I’ve found that my professional skill set is somehow permeating into the non-professional persona (loosely termed as the personal side) and wreaking havoc. This realization, of course, came through a series of over analytical studies on human behavior (I still qualify as one) and deconstructing thought processes behind every action.

They say you should keep your professional life and personal life at arm’s length. As always, they are right. I’ll explain you why.

Professionally I’m supposed to look for objective justification of everything that is happening or not happening. If I do not, I am taken apart at reviews which take place to do exactly that: take apart subjective reporting.

As an example (highly illustrative in nature), when I say that your cowshed is a bit too lenient on handing out fodder to the cows this month, I have to substantiate, and spice it up it by saying:

  • Your cows produced more milk last month as compared to current month
  • Your cows consumed less fodder last month as compared to current month
  • You did not set a benchmark to optimize production per unit consumption of fodder and did not monitor current month’s consumption/production against benchmark

(And a hell lot of other things. Thank God this one’s not being reviewed)

Then I list out the fallouts of this whole little fodder mix-up. There’s always the value add that says:

  • You should recover some costs by using the by-product in the process (cow-dung cake from cow dung) at some stage as a substitute to some other material (say for keeping the cows warm at night by burning the cow dung cake)

Then there’ll be always be graphs, pie-charts etc. which are supposed to provide immediate impact to the higher management who cannot sift through all the lowly detail heavy cow dung material. Quite literally.

So it goes. You take a fact, and you justify. You take a plump fact, make it go through a series of high definition sharp toothed crushers (analysis tools/methodology) and extract every single drop of juice. Then you present it to a third person to ensure that he CANNOT have a different point of view. No scope for subjectivity.

Fair enough. This or higher levels of objectivity are good to have at the workplace. As a benefit, they make it that much easier to figure out the possible reason behind the extra fodder:

  • Some ‘external’ cows (or whoever has a taste for fodder) have been feeding out of the cowshed
  • Short delivery by the supplier
  • Fodder scam! (human beings can have a taste for fodder too)
  • Generally, the cows have been more hungry and lazy

Enough fodder for thought?

Somehow this analysis-till-death approach has been embedded in my sub-consciousness too. This, as you can tell by now, is making my non-professional life very creepy.

This why-why-why-why-why methodology, which forms a basis of these analyses, is taking control of every thing that happens around me. Be it

  • something that someone says or does to me,
  • something that is being done by someone in general to anybody else,
  • something I have said or done (as is apparent)

And a whole lot of other things.

This is wrong, I know. When someone says something, he might not have performed this painful analysis of why he is saying it, or what effect does he want out of what he says. It is just a momentary action, sometimes undeserving of any serious thought. What happens with me these days is that I try and get to the bottom of the thought process that could have generated such a statement and end up psyching myself up with my self-drawn conclusions.

Things get more complicated when I hear the same event or statement from more than one different person. The situation could be as simple as this:

A: “I talked to that guy today”
B: “That guy talked to me today, he told me about his conversation with A”

Both A and B relate the incident to me, with their first person narrations and of course additional inputs. Normally when you narrate an incident in the first version, there is a bias that comes in the narration. The bias could be:

  • Glorifying (It was such an absolute revelation talking to him)
  • Justification (I normally wouldn’t talk to him, but he came in my way, so I said “Hi”. I couldn’t avoid it, you know)
  • Trivializing (Yeah we met today, so what else were we talking about?)

Since I already have a rough idea of the incident, with my point of view, I really find it hard to associate to and explain any one line of thought. Or the way it is presented to me as if to influence my original line of thought.

(Rashomon, in retrospect, is such a masterpiece of a movie)

I, like anyone else, am guilty of the same. However, admittedly I am not the same in front of different people, just cannot be. I may be talking happily about the latest Bollywood gossip (highly illustrative, again) to someone, while find it stupid in front of another person with whom I could be discussing Bergman’s works. Everyone has different faces in different situations and in front of different people, and none of them is definitive them.

That explains the points of view and narration bias. The bias comes in to maintain a consistency in front of the person who you are narrating the incident to. Say in the earlier example, if person A knows I hate the guy he talked to, he would use ‘justification’. If he knows I really admire that guy, he will resort to ‘glorifying’ and if he knows I don’t care, he’ll just ‘trivialize’. Of course, this wouldn’t happen all the time, but it does happen a lot of times.

I get judged similarly. Sometimes the faces you present in front of different people, situations overlap, and that is another problem. Person A knows me in a different context, person B knows me in an entirely different one. The problem arises when person A judges, from his opinion of me, about what I say or do to person B and person B does the same. This is an apparent inconsistency in behavior, and I fail to explain it somehow. Frame of reference is such a bloody brilliant concept.

There is no absolute me, or you. There are frames of references in which you and I exist as seen by different people and in different situations and they should not be viewed from any other frame of reference to avoid any complications. I am trying my absolute best to do this.

All this may seem nonsensical and stupid to you, but if you were me, you would know exactly what I mean and exactly how I feel. Sometimes you can psychoanalyze people and tell exactly what they think and mean, but there is no purpose in doing that.

Analyzing people is not a fucking game in which you score points whenever you predict something about someone. It does feel good at first, but it ends in fucking you up when you end up knowing things you never wanted to think about. Or what the other person never meant. Because sometimes, you tend to think you’re right about something, and relate everything that happens to your line of thought and build upon your case. Then this whole psycho game takes control of you before you know and you end up screwing yourself and everyone around you in the process.

Stop. There are far better things to do than think on someone else’s part. That’s what I tell myself every time a self-destructing line of thought crosses my mind.

Delusions, false justifications and untrue notions; I’ve seen that fucking up people’s mind bad. So bad to someone so close, that after almost a decade of providing support and re-assurances, I feel helpless and unsure about the future.

I pledge never to play this game anymore. Psychiatrists all over can take a sigh of relief (unless I end up visiting one).

Also now whenever I come across something like the following paragraph:

Hughes has been the standout performer after making twin centuries in Durban but North was also brilliant in compiling a hundred on debut at the Wanderers. Hilfenhaus has bowled superbly and deserved greater rewards, while other men to have joined the squad in the past few months, players like Andrew McDonald and Peter Siddle, have played key roles in the series win.

I'll stop asking questions like:

  • How do you measure 'stand out' performance of Hughes? Define 'stand out'.
  • How do you say North was brilliant? Define 'brilliant'.
  • Why do you say Hilfenhaus bowled brilliantly? Define 'brilliantly'.
  • What do you mean by 'key roles'? Substantiate 'key roles'.

Yes, I've become that pathetic.

Enough. I was never one to write such incomprehensible gibberish, but this is something I felt I had to do for my own future reference. Serenity now.

The cows are calling me back. Moo.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

what is this life if full of care...

So it takes a lonely day at a far-off guest house room on the festival of colors to gather my thoughts and put it into writing. It has been a busy few days, with its fair share of experiences. Just to give an indication:

3 Sundays ago

A trip to Khan market, savoring Khan Chacha's delicious 'Tikka Rolls' (the plural form is intentional). This was followed by a mandatory visit to The Big Chill for a mesmerizing 'Mud Pie'. Then a visit to the Old Fort in its entire majestic splendor at the break of dusk, to attend the South Asian Music Concert, featuring bands from across SAARC nations. Parikrama was good, except their most famous song, I liked their Maiden cover of 'Trooper' and another original called 'Am I Dreaming'. There was this band called 'Cobweb' from Nepal which had a massive support, something I've never seen, with people waving Nepal flags in the crowd and doing crazy stuff. Rest of it was nothing much to write about. But the setting with all the modern rock music played against the centuries old walls of the Old Fort presented an amazing visual experience. Unforgettable.

2 Sundays ago

I was stationed at Laksar, a place near Haridwar and made it a point to utilize the benefit of this proximity. Rajeev came on a short notice from Delhi, and my colleague at Laksar was equally enthusiastic about rafting in Rishikesh. The three of us took a raft intended for 8 people (with two instructors of course) on a 12 km stretch for a memorable two hours ride. The thrills came intermittently at the rapids, where for a few moments we felt helpless at the hands of a raging river; the boat rocking wildly, the force of the chilled water hitting across the body almost knocking it over. In striking contrast, the rest of journey was a peaceful, slow and serene ride.

Somewhere in between they had this cliff jumping point. As an answer to all complaints I received of never having taken a holy dip in any of my visits, I decided to do it the extreme way. The jump from some 20 meters high into the mighty river is a thrill that just cannot be put into words. A suggestion for anyone planning to take a holy dip in Ganges: This is the way to do it.

1 Sunday ago

No such luck. Back to the cement plant in the middle of nowhere. The only thrill being waking up early morning to see the Indian batting order creating records every day. Living with that.

There was more, but I’m not sure it is such a good idea to whine in public anymore.