July 29, 2004

Bugmenot

In the spirit of today's post, I give you another site of the day. Bugmenot is site that is really useful. You remember those annoying sites that ask you to register every time you want to access some section? Bugmenot has a database of such sites, and provides login info to bypass the registration quickly. Of course, this is for only the free sites, it does not let you bypass premium/paid sites.

Bugmenot also features an extension for Firefox, which makes it a snap to use it. There are plugins for IE also, but I've not tried them.

The Project

This year, we have to "learn" a new programming language as per the syllabus of the board. And our college has chosen Java. And we need to create a mini-project. It's nearly impossible to not laugh when the professor tries to explain something, she's clueless. Thankfully, I knew a little of Java beforehand, and don't have to rely on her.

The project I've already decided upon is an RSS reader. I'm not going to make some pathetic little project just for demonstration sake, I want to make something that people can actually use. Of course there's the problem that I know only the basics of Java, know almost nothing of XML, and have never yet tried to make a useful program. But no sweats, what are these next 2 months for?

On a side-note, I've been going to college. And this is the schedule I've been following for the last few days:

  • Night: Set alarm for morning 6:30 am.
  • Morning: Wake up, feel too sleepy, set alarm for 6:45 and try to rest for a while.
  • 7:45: Wake up, repeat above process.
  • 7:15: Finally wake up for good, feel urgency at maybe being late.
  • 8:10: Finally leave home, go through the pouring rain to the train station [it always starts raining just as I leave home]
  • 9:15 onwards: Reach college somehow on time. Spend the first lecture trying to listen. Feel sleepy from the second lecture onwards, but can't sleep in class. Talk to some friends, have some fun, and attend my practicals [practicals are what we go to college for]. Somehow reach the end of the day, and go through the rain again back to the station.
  • 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm: Reach home, finally some sleep! Sleep for at least two hours. Wake up refreshed, ready to do something. Surf a little, wait for dinner. Eat, surf some more.
  • 11:00 pm: Finally my folks have finished their serials, watch some TV. Write any remaining/overdue assignments.
  • 1:00 am: Start feeling sleepy finally, but can't sleep when I try to. Curse my evening nap, now I won't get enough sleep, and the cycle repeats ad infinitum.

Most people will wonder why I keep bitching about engineering, there are so many harder things in life. It's just that engineering is not hard, it's frustrating. It's frustrating when I actually want to learn something [for a few subjects]. Engineers are trained to be drones, we are trained to not question stuff, just blindly do as we are told. It's true, 4 years of this and you are a changed person. And I hate that.

Even if you are not paranoid, it does not mean that they are not out to get you...

July 26, 2004

The first sign of the Apocalypse. The world is ending. Run for your lives!!!!

July 25, 2004

Lance wins for a record 6th time

This is the first year I've watched the Tour de France, and that also for the last few days only. The main reason I started watching it was Lance Armstrong. This is a man who suffered from testicular cancer, had a major surgery, was barely given a chance of survival and has now accomplished the greatest task in the world of cycling after coming back from all that.

He's a great athlete, you cannot doubt that after seeing him. This is the first time anybody has won the Tour de France six times, and he's done it in six years. He's on par with Tiger Woods and Michael Schumacher, these people totally dominate their sport. I hope he comes back next year, and does not retire.

Catch-22

Joseph Heller: When I read something saying I've not done anything as good as Catch-22 I'm tempted to reply, 'Who has?'

This book is crazy. It'll drive you crazy if you think too much about it. All the characters in it are insane, in varying degrees. It's a book that cannot be understood, cannot be analysed, it just is. It's based during the second world war, with a group of American airmen based somewhere in Italy. And the war, along with the bureaucratic of the army, is what drives everybody crazy. It really drives home the point that bureaucracy absurd.

All the craziness aside, this is a brilliant book. It's thoroughly unconventional. It's so funny at times that you need to stop reading for a few moments. And it's tragic at the times it's the most funny.

The book is mainly about one man, Yossarin. When you start reading the book, you'll think that he is insane. In the end, it turns out that he's probably the most sane person left around. Yossarin is someone who seems to have given up on all his ideals, and his only remaining concern is living through the war. He fakes illness, runs away from combat, tries to get off duty any way he can. He seems to believe everybody is out to get him, he comes across as an extremely paranoid person at first. Of course, all this is in the initial part of the book, you learn more later.

And you come across Catch-22, a military rule of sorts. It's a fundamental paradox, and the first time we come across it is when Yossarin wants to get off combat on grounds of being insane.

You see, the army cannot let an insane person fly missions.
So Yossarin who's insane to some degree, asks to be excused.
But asking to be excused means that he's worried about his own safety, which shows that a degree of sanity remains in him. And he has to keep flying.
Anybody who's really insane would not ask to be excused, so he has to keep flying also.

You come across Catch-22 in varying forms throughout the book.

The most amazing thing about this book is that all the jokes & gags in the book are long-running. Even the smallest joke in the initial pages will come back to you near the end. There are so many varies plot-lines going through the book, and there is no definite sense of time. But it all resolves in the end.

Of course, there are a lot of other characters in the book, some more absurd than the rest. But as the book progresses, they keep dying, and only a few remain till the end. One of them is Milo, a mess supply officer who forms a trade syndicate of his own, in which "everybody has a share". Throughout the novel, he grows in power, and even starters trading with the enemy. He also becomes a military officer, even bombing his own unit for a profit. Milo is Heller's view of what capitalism can become.

This is one profoundly disturbing novel. It's a must read for precisely the same reason.

On a side-note, every novel I've read recently has been of similar character. Time to read some simple/feel-good book now.

Spider-man 2

I'm not a big fan of superhero movies, but I enjoy a few of them. And now that I saw Spider-man 2, I'd say that this was the best superhero movie I've seen so far.

Movies like this are not meant to mean a lot. You should watch them for the emotional roller-coaster ride they present. Don't think too much about the plot, everybody knows that the hero will win the day. It's fun, only if you do not overanalyze it. So, not much writing here, I'll just list the good/bad points of the movie.

What worked:
The story is actually much better than the first film, and a lot better than other similar films. The action is good, all the web-slinging looks less artificial this time. Tobey Maguire does quite a good job [we actually see his face for most of the movie this time around]. Others characters also acted well, especially Alfred Molina as Doc Ock. And I really like Sam Raimi, he's one of the best directors around.

There are some really funny moments in the film. Most of the jokes are at the expense of Peter Parker. One scene in an elevetor is simply great. And Raimi keeps a lot of visual gags coming our way. He does not try to be heavy, and rarely seems to take the movie seriously.

What didn't work:
The action, especially around the end, got even more unbelievable. And I said that the plot was better than the first movie, but it's not great. And some of the dialogue is a bit cheesy.

I didn't expect it to be any different, I went to see it to spend a couple of hours having fun. If that's what you want from the movie, you'll come out happy.

July 24, 2004

Update

Not much going on here. Still reading Catch-22. Almost two-third's finished. Will write about it later.

Signed up with Amazon. It's not like anybody's going to buy stuff from there after reading about it here, but just wanted to give this e-commerce by proxy thingy a try.

Got a slight cold, so bunked college yesterday with the excuse. I was too bored to go anyway, and reading was too much fun. Note to self: Start writing those assignments...

July 22, 2004

Currently Reading

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. The start's pretty wierd, but lets see.

July 21, 2004

Stuff

I've not posted for a few days, but I've been busy. Not busy per se, just dead tired. Almost 2 weeks of college and I've still not adjusted to the routine of waking up early. So, I've been like the walking dead for a few days, totally lethargic and oblivious to what's going on.

There are a few things though. First, it seems the Hotmail/Yahoo are blocking Gmail. A couple of friends have told me that they could not even forward mails from their own accounts. This is just a juvenile trick, instead of competing directly with Gmail, these guys are competing by proxy. I'll have to use my hotmail address till this whole mess is sorted out, it's ankitsolanki84 [at] hotmail.com.

[Start of Rant]
I've realised that 3-4 years of engineering are enough to kill any latent original thought/creativity left over from our school days. I hate this writing assignments shit, it's not like anyone actually prepares the answers themselves. And programming practicals are a joke, the professor never knows what to do and we are expected to keep producing the same programs as everybody else. I mean, what's the use of programming if the whole class is expected to write the exact same code?
[End of Rant]

Calvin: I used to hate writing assignments, but now I enjoy them. I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!

July 18, 2004

Fight club

The first rule of fight club is you don't talk about fight club. The second rule of fight club is you don't talk about fight club. The third rule is when someone says stop, or goes limp, the fight is over. Two men per fight. One fight at a time. No shoes, no shirts. The fights go on as long as they have to. And the eighth rule of fight club is, if this is your first night, you have to fight.

In a word, cool. Chuck Palahniuk could write about anything, and still make it sound cool. Not that what he's written here is not important, but reading this you'll remember the writer more than the book. I'll definitely get more of his books soon.

I've seen the movie, read the script for the movie, and now I've read the book. The movie is slightly different from the book, but it's great too. And I've got to warn you, if you read any further, you'll know most of the plot. Don't, if you want to read the book/watch the movie unbiased.

As far as I can tell, Palahniuk writes about the sheer numbness of conformity, and the desperation that comes with it. In the book we never get the name of the main character [I'm pretty sure it's Jack in the movie]. The narrator is a Recall Campaign Coordinator, it's basically his job to investigate crashes of his comapny's cars, and to deceide whether it's cheaper to recall a faulty car or to keep them out on the streets.

A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? You take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

And he's started to suffer from disassociative personality disorder [split personality], he creates the character of Tyler Durden. And Tyler is what the narrator wants to be himself; fearless, without a care in the world, the ultimate rebel. Of course, he does not realise till the end that he and Tyler are the same person. Tyler being the way he is, is a born leader of men. They together start Fight Club, where two guys basically beat the shit out of each other. Tyler's the leader here, and slowly starts controlling the men more and more. In the end, Fight Club matures into something called Project Mayhem.

The fifth rule about Project Mayhem is you have to trust Tyler.

The narrator ultimately feels left out, everyone keeps asking him whether he knows Tyler Durden. When Project Mayhem starts, Tyler seems to disappear from his life. And with his panic rising, he finally realises after some time that Tyler is a figment of his imagination.

Tyler is a projection. He's a disassociative personality disorder. A psychogenic fugue state. Tyler Durden is my hallucination.
"Fuck that shit," Tyler says. "Maybe you're my schizophrenic hallucination."

The book is also about the need to be loyal, the power that comes with leadership. Of human instincts that go back to our tribal days. The book is a sordid mess, but you can't help reading it. Tyler slowly matures into a dictator-type person, changes his followers into suicidal maniacs. Tyler want's to see the whole civilization collapse on itself, you have to hit bottom first. And he fast-forwards the narrator's fall to the bottom.

On a side-note, there's one really funny aspect to the book. Somewhere in their ruined building, the narrator finds stack of old Reader's Digests. There he finds articles about human organs in the first person, and he uses this mode of speech in many situations after that, to describe how he feels. Consider:

I am Joe's Cold Sweat.
I am Joe's White Knuckles.
I am Joe's Smirking Revenge.
I am Joe's Enraged, Inflamed Sense of Rejection.

Currently listening

Yo-Yo Ma playing the cello, and right now I'm listening to him playing the prelude to Bach's Cello Suite No. 1.

This is heavenly music, one of the first pieces of classical-type music I fell in love with. I think Yo-Yo Ma is regarded as the best current cello player, he's surely the most famous. This is all solo stuff, him playing the cello alone without any accompanying music. You just have to listen to it, if you like music by itself.

Links for streaming audio:
Windows Media
Real Media

I've never tried to link to streaming audio, so I don't know for sure whether these will always work.

July 17, 2004

The new blogger editor

Allright, I'm trying the new editor right now. It's got a lot of improved features. Hand-coding your posts is the way to go normally, but there's always the time factor. I'm not goint to use the Compose option anytime, I don't trust automated WYSIWYG editors to do their jobs. But the Edit HTML section is nicely improved. And as far as I can tell, this editor is XHTML 1.0 compliant.

There's bound to be a few quirks with this for the time being. I don't recommend editing old posts with this anytime toon.

July 15, 2004

Currently reading

1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk [for the first time] [at home]
2. The Silmarillion [again] [while travelling]

Waterfalls

Lately I've been enjoying going to college. Not college itself, its as dull as ever. But the journey to and fro, due to the rains. Last year, the direct second year admissions to engineering colleges were delayed and I started going from around August end. And I regret missing the rains back then.

You see, my college's at Nerul. To travel there, there is a wide stretch of open land between Mankhud and Vashi, 15 minutes by bus and 10 minutes by train. It's an open expanse, and at one end there's a long bridge over water. And lots and lots of mangroves. And with the rains, the scenery is truly breathtaking. The cold damp wind on my face is better at waking me up then 5 cups of coffee.

And there are a few minor hills in between. On days like today, you can see their tops covered in fog, which makes wish I keep a camera with me always. Today was a bonus. Waterfalls! It's expected that there will be minor waterfalls in hilly regions during the rain. But I didn't think that I'd be able to see them inside the city. The national park does not count, it's like a separate region.

All this has resulted in an increased enthusiasm on my part to go to college...

July 13, 2004

Minor Template tweak

Now the font's a little smaller, and the site will fit on a 800x600 screen. Too much space is wasted at higher resolutions, but I do not know enough CSS yet to try for a free-form layout. Will do that later.

Poems

I'm not someone who reads poetry. I can't handle Shakespeare, or any book written in verse for that matter. But I've read a few poems and there are some that I like. I have a confession to make. I carry around a page with some of my favourite poems printed in my wallet. It's kind of a tradition for me, I had been carrying the same page around for two years. Now it's finally time to lay that one to rest, so I printed a new. Here are it's contents:

Robert Frost:
The Road Less Taken
Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

Walt Whitman:
O Me! O Life!

Tolkien:
Second half of Journey's End [In ROTK]

Tennyson:
Ulysses [last stanza]

Dylan Thomas:
Do not go Gentle into that Good Night

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
The tide rises, The tide falls

I know it's not much, but these are pretty much the only poems I like. And that's quite a collection to fit on one page.

Hitchhiker's Movie script writer interviews self

This news is a month old, but I came across it recently. There's going to be a movie based on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is currently is production. Expected to release somewhere in 2005.

What's got most fans upset is that the script of the movie differs somewhat from the books. Douglas Adams wrote the initial drafts himself. The task to finish the screenplay came to one Karey Kirkpatrick after DNA's death. So the new writer decided to clear the air a bit and do a self interview.

The interview starts off with: "WHO THE H*#&! ARE YOU AND WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO MUCK AROUND WITH THIS TREASURED PIECE OF LITERATURE, YOU AMERICAN HOLLYWOOD HACK?" I like the guy already at this point. [Read more]

In one word, cool. If the rest of the movie cast are like him, this is going to be a hell of a movie.

July 12, 2004

My college started today. As boring and pointless as usual. I can't believe that they have started out practicals also, and we have to sit the full day from day one. There's almost an unwritten law in engineering: Let the students chill for a week or two and then bring on the heavy stuff.

On the plus side, there is no better cure for insomnia than exhaustion coupled with sheer boredom. So I'll sleep well from now on.

July 11, 2004

New Template

My LAN connection crashed. It's the first time this monsoons, which is great. I remember last year I had to spend two weeks offline due to some major circuit problems. Lets hope it's not that long this time.

As my connection is dead, and I have nothing else to do, I thought it'd be cool to redesign the template over here a bit. After around 30 minutes of work, the result is what you see. It's not perfect, but it's improving.

I used my old VSNL line to connect and re-publish. I don't have much time to look around online now, will do so later. There are still some problems with the layout, but my phone bill's gonna rise. So, later.

The blogger template I started with originally was by Douglas Bowman. It was one of the defualt one's you get choose. I would never have done all this from scratch. Tweaking is easy, creation is art.

Wordpress

I've been itching to stop using Blogger and move on to Wordpress for some time. Wordpress offers me a lot more control over everything, but I need to find a good web host that gives me PHP + MySQL for free. There's no way I'm going for paid web hosting, and most free hosts are not reliable. So I'm stuck here at Blogger for the time being.

Currently listening...

Pearl Jam - Black
"Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head
I'm spinning, oh, I'm spinning
How quick the sun can, drop away...

And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass
Of what was everything?
All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything..."

July 10, 2004

Site profile: Wikipedia

It'll be a miracle of any readers here have not at least been to Wikipedia at least once, I keep linking to it too often. But I'd still like to talk about this site.

Wikipedia has, as I type this, around 302087 articles in English. That is way more that any other Encyclopedia, and it was only set up in 2001. It has content in around 50 different languages. Counting all of them, there are more than 700,000 articles.

Wikipedia is an open encyclopedia, maintained by everyone and no one in particular. I could write an article and put it up there if I like. I can also edit any Wikipedia article I want. The reason most of the information there is genuine is that there is an active community of users, who correct mistakes in their spare time mostly. Needless to say, not all articles are unbiased. But as nobody in particular controls the content, there is almost no censorship. The information is also of a less formal nature, and you can get an article on almost anything you want. And it is totally free. And have I mentioned no central authority and no censorship? Yes, the censorship issue is important enough to be mentioned twice. Read more about exploring Wikipedia here.

Let me just give you a seemingly random collection of articles to let you judge it's content:
Blogger
Issac Asimov
MP3
Fractals
Random Page [Different every time]

It's not perfect though. It is highly under-funded. There are frequent server outages, the bandwidth available to them is too low considering the site's popularity. But it still does an admirable job. Whenever I come across something new that I want to know more about, I follow the following steps:
1. Look it up at Wikipedia. [which is usually enough]
2. Google it.
These two steps are enough for almost anything. Try it.

I, Robot

I downloaded the trailer for the upcoming movie, I, Robot. Being based on the only Asimov book I've read, I thought the movie would be good. Instead the movie seems like a leave-your-brains-at-the-door summer action flick. They even changed the rules! YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE FRIKKIN' RULES!!

The three laws of robotics by Asimov:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The same in the movie:
1. They cannot hurt us.
2. They must do what we say.
3. They can protect themselves.

I rest my case.

July 09, 2004

This is frighteningly similar to the way I fell sometimes. Shit. I gotta do something quick.

Ebooks

I've read a lot of books on my PC in the 12 to 18 months. It's hard on the eyes, but I'm used to sitting in front of the screen for hours at a time. I should say that most of the books I've read this way are old, or rare. When I want to really read some new book, I first search around, check the different rates online. Then maybe visit the streets of Churchgate and find second-hand copies. If I can't find a book, I'll find an electronic version to read. I'm quite good at this, if there is any book available in electronic form, I can usually find it. For most of the cases, I don't even have to resort to P2P apps, Google is amazing when you know "how to ask".

July 08, 2004

Currently reading...

Chapterhouse: Dune, the last novel in the excellent Dune series. I feel that the last 2 books of the series are the best. The first was really good too. Frank Herbert was a really good writer, the Dune series is unlike any other fiction I've read.

I'm probably going to take a break from reading new stuff for a few weeks now. I've read too many books in the last month or so and haven't digested everything. I'll probably re-read some of these.

The Latest

I've been kinda busy for the last few days, actually doing something. I was building a blog plus a photo gallery for a friend of mine whose moving to the states. He's probably not going to use it, but it was fun to do it anyway. I didn't want to use any ready-made tools available, like Blogger. This had to be something that I worked on.

I found a good host, XAXAX.com for setting it up. Then installed Greymatter, the original weblog software. I still think bloger is good, but what you can do with blogger pales in front of what you can do with custom blog softwares like this. Sure, Movable type is a better alternative, but I had a space requirement. The max space I got was 200Mb, and I had to fit a gallery with it too.

I originally wanted to use Gallery, but it would not run on my host. So I set up Axiom Photo Gallery.

I know this is boring to hear, but it was really fun to do. Till next time then...

July 07, 2004

The Private Life of Genghis Khan

Short story by Douglas Adams. [read]

July 06, 2004

To-Read list

  • Kurt Vonnegut:
    • Hocus Pocus
    • Jailbird
    • Long Walk to Forever
    • The Sirens of Titan
  • Ray Bradbury:
    • Fahrenheit 451
    • Something Wicked This Way Comes
    • Quicker than the Eye
  • Umberto Eco:
    • The Name of the Rose
    • Foucault's Pendulum
    • Baudolino
  • Matthew Woodring Stover:
    • Hero's Die
  • George Orwell:
    • Animal Farm
  • James Joyce:
    • Ulysses
  • Issac Asimov:
    • The End of Eternity
    • [lots more, there are too many to know where to start]
  • Douglas Adams:
    • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
    • The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul
    • The Salmon of Doubt
  • William Gibson:
    • Neuromancer
  • Nick Hornby:
    • High Fidelity
    • Fever Pitch
  • Homer:
    • The Iliad [prose]
    • The Odyssey [prose]
These are the books I plan to read in the near future. I probably won't read them all, because I start reading what I can get my hands on. My college is going to start soon and I won't have as much free time. These are in no particular order, I wrote them down as I remembered them. I would appreciate any suggestions, of course. And theres still the problem of finding these books to read...

This just in... It's Lord Vishwakarma's fault

When I first read this a couple of days earlier, I thought it was a joke. Then I did some checking around, and it does not appear to be a joke.

Apparently, our Honourable Minister for the Railways, Laloo Prasad Yadav, does not think that he's responsible for the Indian Railways. I'll have to quote him here, because I can't describe this level of stupidity myself:

"Indian Railways is the responsibility of Lord Vishwakarma. So is the safety of passengers... It is His duty, not mine. I have been forced to don His mantle."
and...
"I keep telling Him whatever accident or incident takes place on the tracks is His responsibility."

Read the original TOI article here.

Results

Ah, just wanted to say that my results are out. 72.77% in Sem IV. Now I can proudly say that I've perfected a method of scoring marks without studying.

July 05, 2004

More Moore

This man can't keep away from controversy. Now, he's saying that he does not mind people pirating his film, as long as they don't sell these pirated copies [link]. Obviously, many people are happy to hear this. But the movie bosses are not happy as expected. And they have put up their usual rhetoric. Read it for yourself and see.

July 04, 2004

Notes on Blogging

Some people have asked me what is this blog thing that I keep talking about and others have asked precisely why I like to blog. The short answer is that I don't know. The long answer is written below, so I'm warning you as usual to not read it for the sake of your mental sanity. Always stop at the short answer.

  • All right, there are many reasons for me to blog. One of them is that I like telling people what to do, actually I love it. I love other people listening to me sometimes. Ya, I'm egoistic, deal with it. Over here, I can keep preaching what I want and it's acceptable to others.
  • Another reason is that I have a pathetic memory. I remember the strangest things, but never the things of any importance. If I keep doing this long enough, it'll finally turn out to be kind of a memory well. Look into thy blog when thou can't remember.
  • Another reason is that I often come across as a hypocrite. It's because I frequently change my views on things, and this blog will show me just how many times I've changed my mind. I happen to think there's nothing wrong with changing your perceptions, it seems like a healthy way to live.
  • Another reason is this seems like a great way to get to know some really cool people. And to read other people's stuff, some of whom are great at writing.
  • And this also helps me improve my own writing. Lets me keep my thoughts ordered.
  • And finally I do this because I like Tech. This keeps me up to date with most of the basic web-design stuff.
Phew, if you got this far, I congratulate you on your patience. I usually don't like long posts, especially those written by me. Oh, and one final thing. I will contradict myself. Often. Get used to it.

Peace.

July 03, 2004

Troy

Went and saw Troy yesterday. It seems that everybody has already seem this, and everybody has similar opinions on it. My reactions are like most others'. Here goes, category-wise for added fun.

Acting: Eric Bana has made himself a big star with this one. Peter O Toole's scene with Brad Pitt was the best moment in the whole movie. Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger both suck at acting. Brad Pitt didn't act well, but was not as bad as the above two. Achilles was bound to be hard to play. Sean Bean was good in his short role as Odysseus. Rose Byrne was quite good, so I don't grudge her character getting a bigger role.

Script: Not as good as I had hoped. I mean, come on! They fitted a decade long battle into a couple of weeks! I've not even read the Iliad yet, but could point out too many deviations from the original. But it was not that bad, complete newbies could follow it.

Directing: I can't remember seeing any Wolfgang Peterson films before this. Even though it was not top-notch directing, this man had the guts to take on this project, which gives him my support anytime.

Effects: This will be the primary attraction for most folks over here. They are good enough for someone who just wants to see a movie solely for the giant battle scenes, but not as good as LOTR.

Overall, I think the movie should have stayed more within the original story-line, but more importantly, recast some of it's actors. It was quite good, and I enjoyed seeing it. Recommend that everyone should catch it once.

On a side-note, here's an unproduced script for The Odyssey, which I have mentioned earlier. This script is really worth reading.

July 02, 2004

Bushwhacking

George Bush is in a tough spot nowadays. The man is clueless about how to run a country, he can't even give a proper speech without mixing up some names. And there's Michael Moore, who's mission is to see that Bush is not re-elected. His movie Fahrenheit 9/11 is breaking records as I type this.

Don't get me wrong, I don't like Bush. It's just amusing to see him this way. Recently he gave an interview with an Irish newspaper before his trip to Ireland. And this reporter was not like her American counterparts, she didn't handle Bush with kid gloves. She went straight after him from the first question. Read the full transcript of the interview from the official White House site. I'll just put up some of the amusing bits over here:

Q: Indeed, Mr. President, but you didn't find the weapons of mass destruction.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me finish. Let me finish. May I finish?
He said -- the United Nations said, disarm or face serious consequences. [read on]

Q: There are terrorist bombings every single day. It's now a daily event. It wasn't like that two years ago.
THE PRESIDENT: What was it like September the 11th, 2001? It was a -- there was a relative calm, we --
Q: But it's your response to Iraq that's considered --
THE PRESIDENT: Let me finish. Let me finish, please. Please. You ask the questions and I'll answer them, if you don't mind. [read on]


Now that's what I call drama!

HBO Original movies

Watched Live From Baghdad a few days ago. It's a movie during the first US war on Iraq, the first war covered live on the news channels. It's about a team of CNN journalists that report live from Baghdad as the first assault takes place. Of course, this was a novelty back then, and now it seems that the wars are being staged just for television ratings. But that's going off-topic.

Michael Keaton looks good in this movie. It's really fun to watch. Is it just me or do you people also feel that most of the HBO Original movies are great? Two really good ones I remember are Cheaters and Conspiracy. I didn't get a chance to see a few others that I heard were good. And HBO also produces my favourite TV show, Six Feet Under. We get it on Zee English over here, which I can't understand why.

All in all, I've got to say that HBO is a really good channel, and produces some great original stuff. As far as the standard fare goes, it's level with Star Movies, but when you look at the small-budget movies, HBO rules.

July 01, 2004

Google News in RSS

The only thing better than Google News is Google News in RSS. I love their news site, which is still in Beta. And I always wanted to access it in RSS format. As Google showed no sign of implementing it, a Spanish site called Google Mania has done this for them. They have around 80 different feeds listed on this page. It's in Spanish, but this is where Google's Language tools come in.

Enjoy.