I'm quite tired of living a life of a conformist. I'm bored with abiding the law. I get no thrills by sticking to the speed limit of 60 (or is it 50 I don't really know). There are so many people I'd like to shoot with a bullet shot straight into their heart but I can't. Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code stops me from doing that. I'd like to run through Parliament when its in session yelling abuses at the top of my lungs. I'm afraid I'd be shot dead long before I even got to the gate. I have fantasies about hurling Molotov cocktails into the studios of what we shamefully call "news channels". But I don't really like going to jail for it. I'd like to jump into one of those new Sukhois and take it for a joy ride. Unfortunately I don't even know where the Air Force keeps them. It's high time I stopped being a citizen of a country run by others and got myself a country run by me with others as citizens. I want my own personal banana republic!!

A Banana republic is a pejorative term for a small, often Latin American, Caribbean or African country that is politically unstable, dependent on limited agriculture, and ruled by a small, self-elected, wealthy and corrupt clique. Now, I don't want any small or wealthy clique. It should be just me and my subjects and of course my army. After all, what is a banana republic without an all powerful army. Now I don't want something very large. A small island in the Pacific would suffice for my Utopic banana republic. I'll be prudent and even call it Utopia. How cool is that??

Now what kind of nation shall be Utopia? A land of unlimited fun and freedom of course. Speed limits? Of course. It will be the largest number on the speedometer of your car. You hate your local politicians? Well that is just not possible because I would be the supreme power and you can't kill your only authority figure can you? Got a bone to pick with some one? There are no courts of judges in Utopia. You just fight it out Fight Club style. No more messy court cases and no more time wasted. And they call America the land of freedoms!! HUH!!

What about me? Well I would of course have no less than 50 mansions all sea side of course. My own personal gold plated Sukhoi for me to take out on a joyride. A yatch no smaller than the Titanic shall befit me. Of course, I can't have fewer cars than the Sultan of Brunei so I guess its 1001 of the worlds fastest and most exquisite automobiles for me. Ahh.. what a life!! My most prized possession would be a gold plated AK-47 which obviously only fires golden bullets. After all, it should be an honour getting shot by a demi-god such as me. I shall name every second street after me and declare my birthday a national holiday. The national food shall be banana splits of course (some pun intended).

Aah.. If only I could.....

PS:- Its late and its the two cans of beer that led me to the above four paragraphs of incoherent ramblings. Maybe next time I'll have something more sensible to rant about.

Lot of big movies came to our screens this year courtesy Hollywood. Sequels to Spiderman, Shrek, Pirates of the Carribean and Bourne Identity all hit a theater near us. Not to mention other highly anticipated titles such as the Simpsons movie, Ratatouille and Transformers too had cinegoers flogging to the movies in droves. Some movies were worth the hype while others were a sheer dissappointment. Whatever be the reception, the studios where laughing all the way to the bank. We were even treated to surprises like Disturbia and Knocked Up who made a mark as well. A lot of these summer surprises never hit our shores and never will. One of them is 1408. A horror flick based on a Stephen King novel.

More movies and TV shows have been based on the writings of Stephen King than any other author. And in my opinion, except the Shawshank Redemption and the Green Mile, they are all pure crap (including Kubrick's "masterpiece", the Shining). 1408 should be more of the same but somehow it isn't. It's surprisingly good and actually not the usual horror flick we are quite used to. Consider it more of a nightmare flick rather than a run-of-the-mill ghosts and ghouls kind of movie.

The plot, on the face of it, doesn't promise anything brilliant. A writer on the supernatural wants to stay in a hotel room where no one has ever spent a night alive. John Cusack, the writer, gets to stay in room 1408 (notice how 1+4+0+8=13 and the room is on the 13th floor as well because the hotel has labelled the 13th floor as the 14th) despite Samuel L. Jackson's , the manager, urging. This is where the movies takes a path less travelled. The room isn't filled with your average collection of disturbed ghouls or axe yielding zombies. It's something way more powerful than imaginable as it not only plays with your mind but plays with reality itself. So don't expect the reflection-in-the-mirror or shadows-over-your-shoulder kind of tricks that have been the trademark of the horror genre for years. The power of room 1408 is summed up in one line by Samuel L. Jackson in the movie, "It's an evil fucking room".

1408 has enjoyed reasonable success but I think the movie deserves way more credit and recognition that it has gotten so far. The performance by John Cusack is top notch and even Samuel L. Jackson shines in his incredibly short role as the manager. Go watch this movie for a refreshing take on the horror genre which has being going stale for a while and a rare movie based on Stephen King's horror which actually works.

Most of us don't give a shit about Miss Teen USA pageant. Actually I doubt how many of us even heard of it before. It's all changed now. If you still don't know what I am talking about check out this video of the finalist from South Carolina who was asked this question at the 2007 edition of the pageant.

Now, I know that MENSA doesn't go looking for new members at teen beauty pageants where the combined IQ of all 50 contestants would roughly equal that of an average 3 year old toddler but still! This makes even George Bush seem like Einstein in comparison ( I am sorry for writing such a thing Dr. Einstein and may your soul rest in peace). But I am being harsh. I understand your plight Miss South Carolina. You need that space in your skull to store your make up and hairspray and moisturizer and mirror. After all you aren't allowed to carry a purse to the pageant stage. And who really needs a brain anyways these days. We have computers to do all our thinking for us!

In case you (the reader) still missed out on what she said, here's her epic statement spelled out for you:

"I personally believe that, U.S. Americans are unable to do so, because some… people out there in our nation that don’t have maps, and I believe that our education, like such as in South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should… our education over here in the U.S., should help the U.S., er, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future.., for our children... ".

If anyone can come up with proof of a dumber statement ever made in public then, puuuhhhhlllleeeeeeeasssssseeeeeeeee, let me know.

After seeing this epic moment in blonde history I thought maybe ask this pallbearer of human intelligence some more thought provoking questions. Alas, I could not. Miss Lauren Caitlin Upton (that's her name folks) was no where to be found. Apparently she had gotten lost backstage at the pageant and could not find her way out of the auditorium. Looks like that she too, like most U.S. Americans, had no map to guide her out. Could the South Africans and Iraqis help her out please? Still, no issues. I can pretty much imagine how she would have replied to my questions so here goes:

ME: Why do you think that gun violence is so rampant in the US?

MISS DUMB ASS: I think that U.S. Americans like guns so much because they..err.. they like shooting stuff and hearing the noise of firing .. umm .. because kids of U.S. Americans like them like playing with guns when they were kids unlike the kids of U.S South Africans and U.S. Iraqis who don't have any toy guns when they were kids, and I believe that the U.S. should donate toy guns to those countries so children, umm, like grow up happy and, like, have a peaceful future.

ME [with my head spinning]: Err... interesting point of view. Do you think the war in Iraq is justified?

MISS DUMB ASS: In my opinion the war in Iraq is, like, soo totally justified. I think that its soo totally sad that U.S. Iraqis don't have, like, so many rights that we U.S. Americans have, like, .... ummmm... the right to eat at McDonalds whenever we want and, like, they don't even get to watch MTV. I totally believe that these things should be given to every one and even, like, the U.S. South Africans get to watch that and I believe that our soldiers are there to give them those rights like MTV and McDonalds and with that, like, children will grow up to a better future for themselves.

ME [now seeing double]: Err.. hmm... ummm... What do you think American can do to curb pollution and help protect the environment?

MISS DUMB ASS: I think pollution is a big problem facing U.S. Americans everywhere and even those who are, like, not U.S. Americans. I think we can all contribute to reduce pollution by, like, umm.... like..... err.... not eating a lot of gassy foods. Because then if we do then we will all be like farting a lot and that is something that is not like by U.S. Americans and even the U.S. South Africans and U.S Iraqis because then it will stink a lot and people will be blaming each other for the fart and innocent people will be dying in the Asian countries so we need it to be like part of the American education system so that our children have a peaceful and clean future for the tomorrow.

ME [now having developed a splitting headache]: Aaarrgghh... it was extremely painful..I mean a pleasure meeting you but I have to for my emergency CAT scan now. Goodbye and good luck building a better future for the children. Again, it was a great pleasure meeting a PhD such as yourself.

MISS DUMB ASS: PhD? But I haven't even finished kindergarten yet?

ME [now with a brain haemorrhage]: I'm sorry but you misunderstood. PhD stands for Pretty Huge Dumbass!!

The old idiot box. It may be in color now crafted in ultra hi def (at least not in India) beamed to us from the heavens with more channels than there are countries in the world. But even after an hour of channel surfing and aching fingers from that remote pushing I still can't find anything worthwhile to watch. I'm in some mood for comedy. So in this maze of mindlessness what do I find funny? Its not the news channels that make breaking news out of a woman slapping her unfaithful husband. Its not a hapless Somnath Chatterjee trying to calm a few hundred angered politicians who seemed to be fueled by Red Bull and half a gallon of caffeine for no apparent reason. Its not the wardrobe "malfunctions" at the India Fashion Week. Neither is it Rauf Lala who makes grotesque and inappropriate jokes on national television and gets away with it (and the tag of Laughter Champion). Its not the millionth rerun of an episode of Friends which I have by-hearted. Its a little sitcom called Arrested Development which has me holding the sides of my stomach because it hurts so much while laughing.

The plot is simple. One twisted rich family with a big business loses it all as the head of the family and the business is jailed for financial wrongdoings and its all up to the good son in the family to keep them all together. Sounds interesting? Well the story isn't even half the appeal of the show. Its how the story is told which forms the icing for this very fine cake. Unlike its contemporaries, this one is not shot in a studio and does not have the standard background laughter to get you to laugh as well. This is one genuinely funny show. The cinema verite style justs adds that extra bit of class. And the cherry on the cake is the narrator. Lot of sitcoms have narrators but the narration is usually done by the main character of the show or the future self of the main character. In arrested development, the narrator is just that, a narrator. He is not a character on the show and neither is he related to anyone on the show. Voiced by the legendary Ron Howard in a matter-of-fact and to-the-point manner, the narrator is the funniest part of the show by not being funny.

A great show cannot be great if it has no memorable characters. All the characters in AD are so colourfully crafted that they make the six F.R.I.E.N.D.S seem one dimensional and black and white in comparison. Whether its the eldest brother Gob whose trademark "I've made a huge mistake" is a sign of impending doom or the grandson George Michael's growing inappropriate crush on his cousin Maebe there is something outrageously wrong (and funny) with every person on screen. Few shows use double entendres and word plays as intelligently as this one. Sample this, the brother-in-law Tobias Fumke wants to start a practice combining an analyst and a therapist. What does he call his new venture? An analrapist!! Its brilliant and outrageous at the same time and neatly sidesteps the landmines of being grotesque and crude. Most sitcoms also try to be emotional and meaningful at times where an episode ends on a sad note or leaves a meaningful message before ending. But not here. Yes, sometimes there is a message of family before all else but then right after the message is conveyed there is some outrageous betrayal by a member of the family which totally obliterates the message. The message actually helps accentuate the outrageousness and no show on earth can do this.

The show just ran for 3 seasons out of which the last season had a run of only 13 episodes. Falling viewership and the presence of boneheads at Fox's headquarters meant the show had to be axed. I guess it was too intelligent and outrageous for the Americans. The Americans had shown world that they too could make an intelligent and adult comedy which was at par and better than British shows like Coupling. I just wish that it was the British who had made this show in the first place because in that case the show would still be running.

I consider Arrested Development to be iconic and a coming of age (or at least an attempt) of American television. It is best I have seen on the TV for a long while even though, ironically, every episode I watched by downloading off the internet. I do wish someone would bring it back.

Its been two years since Microsoft launched the successor to its Xbox. The 360 was a technical marvel when launched and the most advanced piece of gaming equipment that money could buy. But that was nearly two years ago and in the gaming industry two years is an eternity. The gaming scenario today is completely different with entry of Sony's long awaited Playstation 3 and Nintendo's hot selling Wii. Of course one cannot ignore the influence of the constantly evolving PC. So does the Xbox still have what it takes to take on the new kids on the block? In this part I shall deal with only the PS3.

Just like in the last generation, the main rival for the new Xbox shall always be the PlayStation. The new PS3 was touted as being the re inventor of the wheel. Boasting a new state-of-the-art Cell processor, BluRay disc technology and a host of connectivity options, the PS3 was much more than just a gaming device, it was touted as the heart of media and entertainment in a household. On the face of it, the PS3 has the Xbox not only beaten but smashed.

The PS3 has more storage space (80gb vs 20 gb for the Xbox). It has a Cell processor with 7 cores (versus 3 for the Xbox). It has more USB connectivity than an Xbox. It can connect 7 controllers simultaneously whereas the Xbox can only link 4. It supports memory cards whereas the Xbox does not. The PS3 has the latest in optical storage by using Sony's next gen BluRay while the Xbox still sticks to the old dual layer DVD format even though HD-DVD is an optional extra. The PS3 has HDMI whereas the Xbox does not. The PS3 has Wifi built in while an Xbox owner has to buy the adapter separately. Also online gaming is free for the PS3 but a subscription based feature for the Xbox. So by just comparing the figures no one will doubt that the PS3 is a better deal even though it costs a lot more than the Xbox. But is it?

One should not forget that a console is about gaming. And hence, it is all about the games. Its only been a year since the PS3 has been around. As a result the games available for it feel half-baked. The launch title for the PS3, Resistance: Fall of Man, looks bland and boring compared to the Xbox's killer app, Gears of War. Gears of War is an astonishing testament to how good a game can look and feel and it has set the benchmark for years to come. It was all achieved because developers had one year to learn development for the Xbox. The same will happen for the PS3 this year with titles like Metal Gear Solid just around the corner. But will the PS3 games outshine their Xbox 360 counterparts in the long run. Microsoft's XNA studio provides developers a lot better environment to make games in. Also, given the fact that Xbox games can be far more easily ported to the PC than PS3 games make the former a better choice to make games for. Also, the PS3's fixed 256MB system memory and 256 MB graphics memory is nowhere near as flexible as the Xbox's 512MB unified memory architecture. On the graphics front as well the Xbox is more developer friendly with its 48 pipeline unified shader architecture. The Cell processor. The reason why the PS3 is called a mini super computer. Just 4 Cell processors would have more computing power than HP's SuperDome supercomputer which is the worlds 500th fastest computer. But the Cell is not easy to program for and its 7 SPEs are not suited for gaming applications. The Xbox with its 3 general purpose cores is far more suited towards gaming and is easier to write code for. So keeping these factors in mind, I do believe that PS3 games will continue to improve but so will games for the 360. In the long run I know we will see some outstanding games but I doubt if one console will be able to outdo the other. So, if in the long run there is no difference then what is the point of investing so much into developing a cutting edge processor that gives Sony no real edge?

Storage. Well its no doubt that the 54 gigs one BluRay disc can accommodate would literally swallow six 9 GB dual layer DVDs. But do we really need that much space for games. Over the past few years games have grown in size and complexity. As a result more space is required for storing the levels, the audio and the textures. But contrary to what you might believe, developers are learning to do more with less. Microsoft's XNA studio has tools which can help a developer more efficiently use a medium by removing reduntant data. Too see more on how large games have become over the years, Click Here. So, I think the Xbox can make do with the 9 GB of space on current dual layer DVD. Plus, by using cheaper DVD technology a game disc for a Xbox is cheaper than the BluRay game disc for a PS3. As for the question of watching HD movies is concerned PS3 do have an upper hand with their built in BluRay capabilities. But the HD format war has just started with HD and BluRay still trading punches. Its much too early right now to bank on one technology. Hence I believe that Microsoft have played it smart by staying away from this fight right now. It only provides HD-DVD as an add-on which is good business sense. Right now it hurts Sony to build every PS3 as the BluRay drive is expensive to produce. And with BluRay movies still to pick up pace, the drive is only used for BluRay game discs which could easily have been DVD in the first place. On the practicality front, I think Sony has lost this battle.

Online gaming is where today's gaming battleground is. Microsoft proved it long ago when it launched its Xbox Live service with the original Xbox. The 360 just raises the game to a whole new level and it is regarded as THE reason to buy an Xbox. By keeping the online gaming aspect of the Xbox under its control Microsoft has created a service that is coherent, consistent and as user friendly as it can be. Now with the Games for Windows Live initiative, Microsoft intends to unite PC and Xbox gamers for the first time ever. The only catch is it costs a mere $50 per year to subscribe which is pittance for a hardcore gamer. The PS3 has a lot of catching up to do. Online gaming is free on the PlayStation network but the responsibility of providing online gaming is left up to the developers. As a result this could provide a gaming environment not as coherent or consistent as Xbox Live. Again, in the long run, I believe, the Xbox wins this one as well.

In the end, I do believe that despite being loaded to the gills with super technology and looking as sexy as hell, the PS3 is not the console to have for this generation. It doesn't have the games (at least not yet) and even a few years on its games will not be the quantum leaps ahead of its Xbox counterparts as was purported by Sony. So why buy something so expensive when it has no real advantages over its rival. One might argue that the BluRay, larger hard disk, in built wifi, HDMI, and support for all sorts of cards and sticks. The next gen optical disc war has only just started and in the end a player which supports only one format will not be the way to go. As for HDMI and larger hard disk the Xbox has that covered with the elite version which is still cheaper than the 60 GB PS3. And as for support for memory sticks and cards, its just a gimmick and detracts from the real purpose of gaming. Wifi support you say? Well, the Xbox does offer a Wifi card as additional extra which would still work out cheaper (coupled with the cost of the console) than a PS3. I am not a Xbox fanboy. I always wanted a PS3 years before it was even launched. But when you think about it practically, an Xbox makes a whole lot more sense.


I was watching a movie on TV the other day which have a million ad breaks or should I say I was watching some ads on TV the other day which have a million movie breaks. Whatever be the case, when a 3 hour long Hindi movie is extended to 4 hours because of the ads one somehow loses focus of the plot (which, when you consider how ridiculously simple Hindi movie plots are, is amazing). Now, my intention of writing this blog was to review Rekha's best movie to date, Madame X (yes thats the name!! and please sense the sarcasm), I cannot, because I somehow got more involved with the ads. And thanks to SET Max's excruciatingly long commercial breaks I have found some new people who are to be the new target of my hatred, the admen!!

In the good old days lying was an art reserved for the politicians and the lawyers. But today there are new players in the lying playing field, the advertisers. I must also mention that they are new players in the stupidity and insanity playing fields as well. Tata Tea had an ad where 4 young army officers come to the commanding officer's house to receive their posting. Now this soooo parallels reality doesn't it? The 3 officers who drink Tata Tea receive Goa as their posting whereas the "poor" soul who doesn't is shipped of to Ladakh. Hmmm..... so by drinking Tata Tea you basically become a sissy who'd rather go and party in Goa and by not drinking it you are a brave soul who would defend his country in one of the most hostile battlefields on Earth. Somebody please donate these admakers a brain! Even a monkey's would do because then at least they would have one.

The insanity continues. Fair and lovely made an ad with the tagline, "Be macho and use a men's fairness cream". What the *@#%!!!! What lunatic thought that using the terms "macho" and "fairness cream" in the same sentence would be a good idea?? If this were any other country this cream would repel even the most panziest and metrosexualest of men. But thanks to our "gora" obsession it will sell no matter how silly the ad. Since I am on the topic of Fair & Lovely there are more samples of their insanity. A dark girl wants to make a career for herself so what does she do? Nopes, she doesn't enroll herself in a premier B-school nor does she sleep with the director of a Bollywood movie. She applies that magic cream called Fair & Lovely, becomes gora (thanks to some airbrushing) and is now an air hostess. Now the message being conveyed here is wrong on so many different levels that an entire book can be published about it. But this isn't the question of one ad. The company has been making these kinds of ads for ages scarring generations of women and making a fortune out of selling their products. If it were up to me I would line up all the people responsible for this preposterous marketing campaign and drown them in their own medicine ....errr..... fairness cream.

But the lunacy doesn't end there. Here's Mountain Dew's punchline: "Dar se mat daro. Dar se aage bado. Mountain Dew." I like Mountain Dew. In fact it is my favourite soft drink. I have gulped down a million bottles in my life but never have I felt fearless after drinking it. I have never emptied a bottle and had an intense urge to drive a Gypsy down treacherous Himalayan roads at breakneck speeds. All I have ever felt after drinking Mountain Dew is a satisfaction brought about by quenching my thirst. In this respect I believe that Sprite had the most sensible ad campaign. The line "Sprite bujhaye only pyaas... baaki all bakwaas" is iconic and striking contrast to the absolute trash of advertising campaigns other colas have.

Lunacy on a global scale. Axe is the winner here. Hands down. The new Axe campaign features one dude dousing himself with some Axe deodorant on a beach and within milliseconds there are billions of bikini clad babes swarming towards him from every direction. Cut to real life. I spray myself with some of the new Axe fragrances at the super market for some testing. It smells so bad that not only does it not attract any women but it also repels a couple of the flies that were buzzing around me. Now I didn't for one brief moment that the new Axe would be some new age love potion but to think that so much much hoopla over something that smells this bad made me feel betrayed. I sure want to hunt down the admakers at Axe with a real sharp axe.

It is said that there is no such thing as bad publicity. This is a line which is probably engraved onto the DNA of today's advertisers. The constant exposure to such grotesque forms of marketing has created a youth who are able to hum the latest ad jingle but unable to remember the first line of the national anthem. A generation which embodies the "brand nahi to style nahi" punchline. Advertising has truly become mad-vertising and everyone will soon need psychiatric care.

Seen the news these days? There's always some famous dude being jailed and let out again. There's some poor old woman whose husband got murdered. There's some unfortunate little girl who survived intense brutality at the hands of her employer. All these sensational stories which appear as breaking news on the Megahertz of bandwidth which we sadly call news channels. No matter what happens, be it a nuclear bombing of the Parliament or just Amitabh Bachchan farting at his son's wedding, these pioneers-in-the-cause-of-letting-us-know-the-truth are always there. And what is the first question that is asked to these hapless victims after a mike and camera is shoved into their faces? "Aapko kaisa lag raha hai?"

Now, I might be crazy but asking a woman how she feels after her husband dies is like pouring salt, pepper, acid, base and some radioactive polonium on an open wound. Isn't it obvious that the woman is in pain and can't these "journalists" at least have the courtesy of at least offering their condolences before shooting their mouths. Same thing with Salman Khan when he got back after a week vacationing at the Jodhpur jail. A Times Now reporter asked the same question and a witty Salman quickly retorted, "Bahut bura lag raha hai. Mere ghar waale chahte the ki main jail mein kuch aur time bita loon". Now I'm not the biggest Salman fan. I am such an anti-fan that I would like to run him over with the same Land Cruiser he used to mow down those footpath dwellers. But kudos to him for the retort and making the reporter look silly.

It's been years since our TV has been drowned in news channels but the Bhagwad Gita for our home brewed news reporters remains the one piece of paper on which it is written, "always ask aapko kaisa lag raha hai before anything else". Its high time we knocked some sense into these people or maybe its just time i stopped watching the news. Anyways so apko kaisa laga yeh blog padke? Comment karna mat bhoolna!

Just today I saw another "Fair & Lovely" ad. A pretty face who is already fairer than an albino wants to win a dance competition. So what does she do?? Nopes, not practice dancing. She applies Fair & Lovely and in 28 days her "skin ki nikhar" has won her the competition. How thrilling no? After watching this one minute clip of what can only be compared to horse crap (which is quite frankly an insult to horse crap) I felt like yelling out "WTF!!" with window shattering intensity. I couldn't however as my plans were disrupted by the presence of my family. But anyways, I was truly aghast with the Indian obsession of being "gora".

Every sunday's matrimonial is filled only with ads for grooms for "fair" brides. Makes you wonder why the "not-so-fair" don't look for grooms. What is it with our fair fixation?? We stare at American and British blondes when they walk our streets but run for cover if we happen to spot a Nigerian or a Kenyan. We buy more Fair & Lovely than we probably buy toothpaste. We associate being dark with being ugly. But why??

On the other side of the planets the original goras spend millions getting a tan to look darker. Haven't we Indians ever heard of the phrase "tall, dark and handsome"?? Aren't Kajol and Bipasha Basu ambassadors of the cause that dark can be gorgeous too?? When are we going to wake and stop trying to whitewash ourselves (quite literally). Can't we be happy with the way God made us?

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