Wednesday, February 23, 2005

3 bloody 1! What a bloody night!

What a night! Bayern Munich slamming three past Arsenal. The bloody morons...all overrated idiots...were given a right hiding. Three goals! And Kahn the man conceded just one. It hardly gets better than this.

Oh, don't I love it when all these French super-idiots get stuck against really good European teams! Henry and Vieira and Pires and the rest, they have a ball against teams like West Brom Albion and Birmingham and Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers. And then they come up against teams from Italy and Germany and stuff...even France. The best French players are still there, aren't they?

I mean, Henry was actually one of the top three European footballers for the season. I think he was one of the nominees last season also. On the basis of what? Those identical runs down the left flank and strikes past stupid British goalkeepers? Can't be much else. If one-dimensionality is worth so much...

And some of these idiots actually say they want to spend the rest of their careers in Arsenal. We'll finish our careers in Arsenal, they say. What else can they say? Which other halfway decent team would take them anyway?

It's good Liverpool won? And it'll be good if Manchester United win. Simply because of all the history and stuff. And the attacking game they play...

And it'll be good if Chelsea win. You know, despite all this talk of Roman Abramovich's millions, their's is the smartest team in the EPL. By far. Outside of Jose Mourinho, they haven't really brought in any REALLY huge players... players the rest of the world was also targetting. They don't have the players Real Madrid do. Or even Barcelona.... But they are doing far better than Arsenal.

Arsenal sucks! European football sucks also...but British football sucks the worst. And Arsenal sucks worse than the rest of the British clubs put together.

Monday, February 21, 2005

More pulp, split guts

Mike Tyson is planning to fight again.

Now it’s sad. It’s always sad when someone who has been right at the top of his (or her) field, and has signed off, is forced to come back for reasons outside of ‘just for the heck of it’. You obviously don’t see too much of it in some of the more general fields of work. But among sportspersons, actors, other film people, entertainers, singers…this has always been a phenomena. And being showbiz (all these fields, including sports), it’s all the sadder. And there are just so many examples. And so many reasons for their comebacks.

It’s also especially common among boxers. Why? Well, I am no sociologist, but I would think it’s often the physicality of the sport. Not in Tyson’s case, but in general. Unlike in other sports, being the number one boxer doesn’t only mean you are the best. It also means you are the strongest. Losing, therefore, not only makes you second best, but also weaker. A loss is a sign of weakness. Of admitting that there are other blokes on the block who are stronger than you. I think that often brings people back into the ring. And, at the cost of sounding politically incorrect, the Hulks from Harlem are easy meat for this sort of provocation.

In Tyson’s case, it’s the financial shit he is in. All those misadventures and suits he has had to fight and alimony and compensations he has had to pay…plus the lavish Las Vegas kind of lifestyle that comes as part of fistic stardom. It’s not left him with a lot.

Then it’s sadder because this is not his first comeback. He tried it last year. Was beaten to pulp by a Brit of all people. Danny Williams. Not only was he beaten, knocked out in the second round or something, he was beaten by a guy who was beaten almost immediately after by a White Man. Vitaly Klitschko…a Ukrainian at that.

Tyson, therefore, is making a comeback knowing fully well that he has no hope in hell of going back to 1986. When he became the youngest ever heavyweight champion of the world. Or those glory years in the late 1980s or early 1990s. He knows he is going to lose. He knows he is going to come out worse than he did against Williams. But he can’t help it. Heck, he doesn’t know any other way of making money.

And the other interesting facet of the whole thing is that America is going to pay to watch Tyson being pulped. They hate him, don’t they? He is the bad guy. Among the Most Hated Americans ever. So, despite not having Don King around him anymore, Tyson will be able to sell himself and his fights.

Sad, but then…he isn’t the first to reach such a stage. And he certainly won’t be the last.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

PVR: Bloody bastards! there's a peg for the PVR tirade I have been planning for a while now.

It all started for me when Ajitha and I once went to watch a film. This would be at least two years ago. It so happened that the morons at the ticket counter were left with just three tickets. The last three. And there were two of us. So we were forced to buy all three tickets. It was a choice between all or nothing. We chose all. And spent Rs 150 unnecessarily.

Went back extremely humiliated and all that. Chose to take it up with the PVR authorities. Flashed my Press Card as far as possible in a strongly worded letter. Sent it across. Called them a few days later...was promised an apology and a refund...didn't get either. Gradually lost the enthusiasm...

A few days later, this other friend of ours who worked at a film-making enterprise at the time, had another tale to tell. She had gone into watch a film with a pile of papers and documents in her arms. Wasn't allowed in. Wasn't sure the alternative of leaving the papers with the paanwallah was safe enough. Skipped the film.

Yesterday...Ajitha had a packet of chewing gums with her. Chewing gums! Chiclets. Wasn't allowed to take them in. Was asked to leave it at the gate. We didn't want to...we offered to chew the whole lot instead. And would you believe it, they didn't let us eat our chewing gums either!!! What would we have done? I mean, who spends so much money to just spend two hours sticking gum on other people's hair? Or chew them into a ball and throw them at the screen? I mean, one of these had to be their concern, right?

Have to stop going to PVR now. It really is high time. Will have to wait for Savitri to start and then chuck PVR for good.

At the movies

Had a rather filled-up weekend after a long gap. There was all the freelance work Ajitha and I have been doing and then Ajitha's idyllic three-days-a-week work shift is off and she needs to go in a criminal five days' a week now. And then there has been my new work which gives me a rock-solid excuse to stay in bed as far as possible on my off-days.

But we had the Headlines Today sports bureau over at our place on Friday. After work. Food and booze and general banter. Also, me being new and Ajitha not having met any of them properly (except for the little time we spent at Chandru's party), it was a good chance to spend a bit of off-office time with everyone. Also got generous doses of office gossip. Always a good idea when you are just a month-old in your workplace.

And then yesterday, after waking up well past evening tea time, we went on a movie-watching spree. Started with Black. Thought it was amazing. Really, really good. And coming from the same man who made Devdas, it was a pleasant surprise.

BLACK: Melodramatic? Yes. But how do you make a film about disabled people without a bit of melodrama? And a bit of noise? I thought that bit was dealt with especially well and the noise quotient was well managed. The acting was uniformly good. Rani Mukherjee can evidently act. Amitabh Bachchan was brilliant. Mindblowingly so. Even - a bit unexpectedly - with his Alzheimer's act...the shuffling around the place with the silently bobbing head. Everyone else was also more than competent. The colours were awesome. The background music (there were no songs) was not jarring.

And while those were just the tangibles...the film, as a film, was more than just good. A big thumbs up as far as I am concerned.

We went to watch Finding Neverland after that. It came with a bonus screening of The Little Terrorist. Finding Neverland has to be one of the greatest movies made in recent times. I am not equipped enough to write out a proper review saying exactly what I felt and all that. Really. But yes, it was a classic as far as fantasy + reality + interpretation + surrealism is concerned. Add to that Johnny Depp at what's possibly the peak of his acting ability and a characteristically restrained Kate Winslet and it was a treat. Little Peter was super as well.

Little Terrorist, meanwhile, was utterly charming. The simple story [of a Pakistani boy playing cricket on their side of the border, chasing the ball into the other side (full of landmines that don't go off), being spotted by the sentinels, running into a village on the Rajasthan side of the border, being branded a terrorist, having all his hair shaved off, and being returned home by the old man and his daughter] is told in the barest of ways possible. No Hindu-Muslim nonsense. All the Oscar talk is beside the point - and we haven't seen any of the other entries anyway - but it's a commendable bit of filmmaking.

And then we bought a VCD of this Iranian film called Baran by the rather well-known Majid Majidi. Will see it sometime this week.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Of weddings and tribulations

I was 22 when I moved to Delhi. When was it...some six-odd years back. Not too many of my friends - the ones here in Delhi, at least - were getting married. So I was a virgin as far as marriage celebrations in Delhi are concerned. And food at Delhi marriage celebrations.

They eat vegetarian food!

In Cal, Bengalis (or Bongs, as you might be more familiar with) marry as well. They celebrate as well. They have marriages (the equivalent of the shaadi)...and receptions. You might not always get alcohol all over, but you can stock some in a car outside the venue. And you will get good chicken and mutton and fish to eat. That's because it is a celebration. And celebrating is easier with non-vegetarian food. Cows! Birds and goats! Fish and pigs!!!

Why do Delhi-ites, who otherwise spend obnoxious amounts on everything get so stingy about the food? Shouldn't the ostentatious-ness extend to the food table as well?

I swore never to attend another north Indian wedding (receptions only was the pledge) sometime back. But that isn't always possible. By some strange twist of fate, weddings are always slated for the weekends and the reception for a weekday. Therefore, it's the weddings we can attend. And eat leaves and stuff.

I can see this blog going nowhere specific...but when has venting spleen been organised with direction and stuff!

Ajitha tells me veggie food is good. Man can't live by meat alone. I want to. Ajitha is wrong.

I haven't lost all hope yet. Have a couple of friends whose weddings promise some birds and flesh and bones and such-like things. Will keep you posted.

More music

More on the music front. Ajitha and I have finally started a CD collection. About five years too late, I suspect. But there's always time.... We have started with one friend. Got a lot of his Stevie Ray Vaughan, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters variety of CDs to burn. And have burnt them. Don't know if it's more to do with going back to music or making good use of our new computer. Both really, I guess. We started listening to a bit of music recently, so this is a continuation of that. And second, we got the computer with a CD-Writer and therefore bought a lot of blank CDs. And since we bought a lot of blank CDs, we are now filling them up.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Staying in touch...

Off blogging again...didn't have anything major to write about. Not that I do right now either, but I do have some time in hand, which I haven't in quite some time now. Simply because there's just been too many hours spent at work. Nine hour shifts in any case take a lot out of you, and then travelling to Jhandewalan and back kills you all over again. But the perks are good and I am not complaining. Not yet, anyway.

The last week was a Sania Mirza-induced blur. Ajitha claims it's because she is a good-looking girl that she's getting all the attention. True. But only to a very limited extent. She has now hit the Top 100 for hell's sake! She became the first Indian woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam at the Australian in January-February. She became the first Indian to win a WTA title last Saturday. And now she has become the first Indian to get inside the Top 100. Not bad by any standards.

Sania's Saturday match - the final against Alyona Bondarenko - was also my first experience of a LIVE thing on TV. It's not terribly tough if you have enough hands on deck. As we did on Saturday. There has to be someone to continuously update the scores. One guy has to coordinate with the ticker and 'break' all sorts of news. And then there's a whole lot of other stuff. Fun...but a bit BP-fucking.

And they tell me live cricket matches are a few degrees worse. Looking forward to it.

Settling down at work has been good too. Good fun on the whole. Except for the small matter of needing close to five-six hours to 'do a story'. You finish writing it - just about a minute-and-a-half - in around 15 minutes. And then the fun starts. The various processes involved take up around three-four hours, in which there's a lot of coordination with the video editors and various other people. Such a change from the bung-in-500-words-and-go-home routine.

Saw Page Three as I mentioned. Ajitha and I are also finally on our way to putting together a few MP3s. [Do you call them MP3 CDs or just MP3s?] Saw I am Sam again. Attended two weddings on Sunday...Ajitha is at another today. Finding Neverland and Black have both released and demand watching.

NOTE: It's fun writing these diary-like blogs. Why not? Maybe I'll try a few more from time to time. Especially seeing that there's less than zilch to write on otherwise.

PS: Dying helps. For Ray Charles, it amounts to an Oscar-winning (it will...) movie and a multiple Grammy-winning album.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Saw Page Three

We saw Page 3 last evening.

Didn't like it for the most part with its repetitiveness and overdone attempt at establishing simple facts. Or charcaters. Was eqully distressed at the uniformly pedestrian acting, despite having a collection of competent actors in the list. And, at some of the conlusions.

But that said, the movie had a number of moments going for it. Surprisingly high number too.

Nothing beats the little gay spot though. Konkona di goes visiting her boyfriend, a wannabe model, and finds her friend, the movie make-up man, giving him head. Quite cool. And the coolness doesn't end there. Konkona's little spat with her friend (the make-up man) doesn't deal with the gay factor at all, but with the whole "I thought you were my friend, how could you steal my boyfriend" angle.

Quite laudable.

And it comes less than a year after I saw (snigger all you want) this movie called Rules: Pyaar Ka Superhit Formula. Terrible film on the whole, but again, with a number of superb moments. There again, the gay aspect was dealt with rather sensitively.

In Page 3, there was the other intelligently done bit about all these socialites - P3Ps - doing time with little street-boys. Well done.

And the other big thing about the movie was - though it was not central to the film and thus not dealt with at length, and therefore good - the little conflict between Konkona and Atul Kulkarni over the concept of good journalism and what makes a journalist a journalist. There was a spot of confusion within Konkona (she was playing a 22-year-old, so it's okay) about her responsiblities as a Page 3 journo. She wanted to do socially relevant roles within that capacity. Not always easy, and something the boss (Boman Irani - brilliant again) should have specified to Konkona.

Sandhya Mridul, meanwhile, was the brightest spot. Brighter even than Konkona, who is fast becoming a really, really competent performer.

But the movie keeps sagging because of the caricatured parties Bhandarkar wants to show again and again. He seems to have gone a step backwards from the well-intentioned but badly-directed Chandni Bar. And that's not good news. Never is that good news.

Black is what I am looking out for now...and, more interestedly, Finding Neverland.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Schmeling's dead, though

Had first heard about Max Schmeling many years ago at a quiz contest in Calcutta. Ages, ages back. Sounded interesting with his defeat of Joe Louis and open defiance of the Fuhrer during those crazy years.
That he died and all doesn't make a difference to anyone, obviously. But it was what he stood for, being German, that's so important.
I remembered him as being one of the few white boxing champs of the time...wasn't quite sure he was German though. Of course, the Hitler connection was there, but hadn't really stayed in mind.
What I had was the rather gruesome vision of the white-faced man beating Beautiful Smokin' Joe.
Madison Square Garden and all that...
But it was the defiance of Hitler that made him more famous. Found out in a news report today that it was back in 1936 (when my father was two) that he busted Louis' guts. He lost the rematch (Go Joe!) in 1938.
The Hitler bit came in later.
This is what the report says: "However the boxer was almost as much of a legend outside the ring as in it. Hitler tried repeatedly to get him to join the Nazi party and use him as a propaganda tool, but Schmeling refused and was eventually forced to join the army."
Also: "The Nazis tried to exploit his victory over Louis, a black boxer considered the greatest man at his weight to have ever stepped into the ring, as proof of white physical superiority."
And: "Schmeling's generosity and modesty earned him respect in Germany and abroad. During the war, he visited more than one prisoner of war camp holding Allied troops and handed out photographs to inmates. He never outwardly opposed Nazism but nor was he a slave to it. During the infamous Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, when synagogues and Jewish interests were attacked, he hid the brother of his Jewish friend Henry Levin and helped him escape to the United States."
Finally: "Schmeling also gave financial help to Louis, who later became destitute, and set up a foundation to help charity groups and retired boxers in need."

Blip on the theme

Just a straight report:
(USUAL) Walked in to office today at around 1.30pm.
(USUAL) Saw my colleagues on the phone looking slightly panicky...been a journo five-six years now, so...
(BUT THEN) These people turned around and threw the latest BIG NEWS at me: Lara, Brian Lara, has died in a plane crash. We just got the info but there's been no confirmation. Loads of SMSes here and there. Any way we can find out? Everybody else is trying as well.
(...) A series of phone calls; waking people up in the Caribbean where it would have been just after midnight, calling contacts in Sri Lanka, England, Australia...closer home in Mumbai, Calcutta. No one has heard the news.
(...) Get a call back from a friend in Calcutta that a friend of his in Bombay has got the news too but no confirmation.
(...) Hours later, all of us finally decided that it was a false alarm. No confirmation anywhere. No one in any of the countries have heard the news. No website or wire service has reported it.
(ASIDE) Each time I reported the news to someone over the phone - some twelve times in total - I got goosebumps. It was one of those complete shocks. Shattering. A complete blank in the mind.
It had to be a day after my romantic ode to King Brian. It had to be...heck, today. Now...just after I had walked in to office...FUCK!
Anyway...had to get that off my system. I am still in a bit of a shock but have not been able to think about it much with all the rush in office. Am still not even close to 50 per cent around here, so I need a lot more time to do each thing than the others do. Which means I am occupied for more time than anyone else is, doing double the work I am.
But guess things will get better on that front gradually.
And, well, Lara lives. His theme plays on.
The King is Alive; Long Live The King!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Lara the loser

Discovered this while surfing around cricinfo. It's about which player has been part of most Test match winning sides and little bits of trivia (or statistics) like that.

Now, Steve Waugh is an obvious guess as the player to have been part of most winning teams. Who is next? Shane Warne, Mark Waugh, Glenn McGrath, Viv Richards, Desmond Haynes and so on. The most drawn matches list is headed by Indians Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar...again, not too tough to guess if you took a minute to work the configurations out.

But it's the 'losers' section that is so, so confounding. Alec Stewart - a Pom, wow!- heads the list with 54 games. But coming a close second at 51 is Brian Lara. And how sad is that?

Of course, there's the whole romance attatched to being a hero in so many losing causes and being that eternally-sympathised-with character. And, very importantly, winning and losing don't often reflect much more than just that...winning and losing that is.

Whether Lara plays those stunning, etheral knocks to help his team win doesn't really make a difference. That he plays the way he does is good enough.

It's not the same with someone like Sachin Tendulkar...who needs to be part of a winning outfit to be great. The fact that he has won so few matches for India despite reaching all those major landmarks will, in the final analysis, have to count against him.

Not so for Lara. He's far too beautiful a work of art to be part of any statistical analysis.

But still, despite all that romantic nonsense, it remains a fact that Lara's name really shouldn't be so high in the losers' category. Nope, not on. And since things don't look like turning around in the near future, it's pretty certain that Lara will eventually cross Stewart at that 54 mark.