Friday, February 27, 2015

The Collected Short Stories and The New Collected Short Stories -- Book Review

Finally, my first book review in 2015. Well, I have read these short stories a while ago when they were sold as separate books. Yes, a long time ago :) The Arien got me these two collections of short stories for Christmas. I got around to reading them this month. The Collected Short Stories is a collection of three books: Quiver full of Arrows, Twist in the Tale, and Twelve Red Herrings. Some of the stories are good, some are predictable, some are just ok. I think I preferred the stories from the "Twist in the Tale" book of this collection.

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If you have not read any of his books, you could start with the Collected Short Stories.

I have been reading and re-reading Jeffrey Archer's books almost as often as I read Agatha Christie's books. And, I enjoy them a lot. However, I do not like his newer short stories that much because somehow they seem quite predictable. Its also possible that after re-reading his books a gazillion times, I look for the Tell or can recognize the Tell of the author. I do not want to think that the master story teller is losing his touch. I like his novels though. He still weaves a pretty good story.

The New Collected Short Stories is a collection of three books: To Cut a Long Story Short, And Thereby Hangs a Tale, and Cat O' Nine Tales. I liked the stories from the "The Cat O Nine Tales" book from this collection but there are some good stories in the other books as well.

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Catch it when you have the time.. its a light read. Because it is a collection of short stories, you can put it down for a bit and then get back. That was the life saver for me. I tend to get engrossed in a book which irritates the Arien and Kuku but that did not happen this time.

Oh and No.. this is not really a review though the title pretty much says that :) 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pulse Polio @ Masinagudi

So, I was supposed to send a reminder out about the Pulse Polio vaccinations on Sunday (22nd Feb) but forgot all 'bout it in the rush to pack. I was actually worried if we could get the vaccination done because we were not in Bangalore. But, I needn't have worried. We got Kuku's polio drops @ a health center in Masinagudi.

We had, by the the time we got the vaccination, received a gazillion calls from family members reminding us to get the vaccination. So, we spent the rest of the time, informing folks that "Yes, we got it done", "No, we are not in Bangalore", "Yes, it was possible here as well" and other variations of the same!

Hope you got it done as well!


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Elaneer Mousse

I spent a lot of time nibbling on my nails wondering if I would do anything new this month. And then over the weekend, as we drove towards Mysore, we stopped at a Food Court. I was quite surprised to hear myself order Elaneer Mousse at the UpSouth outlet. I am not someone who experiments with food and so I was very sure I would be hitting myself on the head 'bout that choice for the rest of the journey. Surprise! Surprise! I loved it. Its very rare that I experiment with my food and rarer still that the experiment does not blow up on my face. I had the widest smile in a loong time and was ready to do the bing dance :)

Well, Elaneer Mousse (Elaneer means coconut water in Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada) ,as the name suggests, tasted of coconut. I love coconuts. I like them in Biscuits (coconut crunchees), chocolates (Bounty), Chutneys, Subjis, and raw as well. And so, obviously I liked it a lot. I allowed the Arien to take a bite and he was like - "It tastes like coconut burfi" which made me go Grrrr.. Well, ya, it kinda tastes like coconut burfi. The Arien somehow managed to hit the nail on the head.

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Well, anyway, I tried a new dish - Yipeee!! I loved it - Double Yipee!! I have a post - Triple Yipee!!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Is Chetan Bhagat the New Shah Rukh Khan? -- Rant

Hahahaha :D Are you wondering if:
  • Chetan Bhagat (CB) has been signed on by Yash Raj films
  • CB has become buddies-nahin-family with Karan Johar
  • CB has started a on-off relationship with Farah Khan by slapping Shirish Kunder
  • CB has a six-pack
  • CB had botox so he cannot ever frown and even when he does - it looks comical
  • CB's illegal ramp has been mowed down now
  • CB has a surrogate kid called Abram

Well, there was a time, when I watched a lot of TV (before Kuku, of course) and at that time irrespective of the channel, when it was time for advertisements, I found myself staring at Shah Rukh Khan. If it was not Fair and Handsome, it was Lux, Lux Cozy, Navarathan cool Tail (Yupp, that is the spelling), etc etc etc. After Amitabh Bacchan, an actor I used to admire a lot before he joined the  overexposed list, it is Shah Rukh. Amitabh appears for Maggi, Cadbury's, Navaratan Cool Tail, ICICI, etc etc etc. I found myself admiring the Heroes of an earlier era who would not be caught dead appearing for these advertisements. Of course, some of them died penniless as well :(

Chetan Bhagat now has the dubious distinction of joining the overexposed group with, Blender's Pride, etc. Seeing him on TV advertisement after advertisement, had everyone at home going "Whaaat??" The senior Arien even asked "Who is that?" Well, so, if Shah Rukh was the next Amitabh, Chetan is the next Shah Rukh!  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Gone Girl -- Movie Review

This was the first movie we watched in only two sittings. I am not sure if I should thank Kuku or the movie director for that. Kuku, because he did not cry and throw tantrums while we watched the movie and the director for making a movie that was quite gripping. Ok, before I start, I am a big fan of Ben Affleck. I have usually found something to like irrespective of his role or the movie. Glad to get that out - Ok, now to the review: **Spoilers Ahead **

The movie starts on the day of the fifth wedding anniversary of a couple (Ben and Rosamund) and you feel that Ben (Nick) is not too happy or interested in celebrating the accomplishment from the way he is chatting with his twin sister (Margo). He is called home by his wife (Amy). He reaches home to find the house empty. He wonders if this is something new that Amy has planned and starts searching for her. He is surprised she is not at home but does not seem too upset until he reaches the front room where the glass top of the table has been shattered and the table is upside down. He fears that she has been kidnapped and calls the police. 

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The Police
The detective (Rhonda) and her partner (James) ask questions, check the scene of crime, walk around the house, and find an envelope marked Clue 1, in Amy's handwriting. Nick mentions that that is part of the anniversary and they usually have a treasure hunt. Each clue results in an unfolding of the scene and you wonder what is going on as a red undergarment that does not belong to Amy is found in Nick's office. Nick is quite surprised and tries to solve the clues ahead of the police as he is worried. And then, Amy's parents arrive and you are hit with some information that Nick obviously is not aware of, some he is aware of but did not think important enough to share with the police which makes them wonder what else he is hiding.

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Nick Proposes to Amy
The movie keeps slipping from the past to the present as you see a charming Nick propose to Amy amidst a bunch of journalists. You wonder how a couple that were so much in love could become so indifferent in 5 years - you wonder if it was all an act or  if it was marriage that killed their love.

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As the media frenzy builds, Nick tries to keep it normal and attempts to do all the normal things with disastrous results. Nick's oddest behaviors were actually the most natural and not so curiously, they were the ones that stayed in my mind: Nick, Margo, and Amy's parents are attending a press conference called by Amy's parents. At the conference, Nick comes across as wooden and does not say "I love my wife, I miss her.." etc but asks folks to speak out if they have any information about Amy. Amy's parents nail it by doing all the right things on camera. Nick is ready to leave but Margo asks him to stay. Then, Nick is asked to pose with one of the banners that has Amy's picture. He stands close to the banner while a cameraman asks him to smile and he does.

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He allows another lady to take a selfie with him which also lands up in the hands of the media.  You are wondering at Nick's odd behavior as the media frenzy builds.

As the mystery unravels, you go from thinking "Whoa- Nick is in deep shit" to "Douchebag Nick" to "Wow Nick" and to finally "Oh man, Nick". Ben is perfect. He hits all the right notes. Maybe the  experience with the media during his romance with Jennifer Lopez (daubed Bennifer, at that time) helped. Ben is simply fantastic as Nick Dunne, a gentleman first, charming, lazy, and totally lovable.  

Margo chatting with Nick on their Anniversary
The supporting cast was actually pretty good. I liked Margo (Carrie Coon), a lot. She came across as a natural. She is a typical sister, protective and at times, hitting him on his face with the truth, and always supportive. There are times, when their closeness is also twisted out of context, as part of the media circus, another form of manipulation and it was handled well.

The detective and her partner also do a good job. The male partner is unsympathetic towards Nick while the detective is not as quick to judge which creates some tension between them. The lawyer, whom Nick Dunn, hires is also perfect for his part.

This is a movie about manipulation: of another person, of each other, of the media, of the police, the list goes on. Amy is fantastic as a master manipulator and Nick is not far behind. I liked the movie. The Arien felt that it dragged a bit. I only felt that you can manipulate some people most of the time, most people some of the time but not all the people all the time. Of course, people become master manipulators with practice. There are some scenes which cannot be watched with the family or with children and so I advise viewing with discretion.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Resolutions for 2015

So, I typed the title and stared at the screen for a long time. I mean, I have a number things I want for this year. But, I want to make a list of only those ones that I will close before the end of this year. And that was becoming a tough list to create. I have a history of coming up with resolutions and not really keeping them and so for a change, I want to do things differently :)

Sometimes a resolution with specifics or measures makes it achievable quite as long as I am motivated to do it. For instance, lose 5 kilos before the end of the year. Lose 5 kilos in 3 months - It is possible. But, can I do it? Bottom line, as always, these resolutions boil down to me.

So, instead of coming up with a bunch of resolutions that are easy to make and break - I decided to come up with a list of achievable resolutions for 2015. And since, according to research, 80% of the people who came up with resolutions tend to break all or most of their resolutions before the end of January, I have decided to come up with my list at the end of the month. Here goes:
  • Walk for about 30 minutes - 5 days in a week if not every day. 
  • Eat sensibly to lose 5 Kilos in 5 months time.
  • Blog once a week or post 4-5 blogposts a month.
  • Read 1 book a month - re-reading an old book is also allowed as long as I read it again completely.
  • Try 1 new thing every month - something I have not attempted in the past.
  • Take 1 trip per quarter for the change of scene that it gives you - it need not be a big trip - a weekend away or even a single day outing is also fine as long as you are not in your home.
  • Start going for driving lessons and drive your car to office before the year ends.
As you can see, none of them are very challenging and should be achievable soon. Well, lets see. It all depends on me. I wonder if I should tack this on my laptop - something which I stare at everyday so I remember them and do something. All the Best to me.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Maze Runner - Movie Review

Finally, a movie review. After Maleficent, I got to watch Maze Runner this week. Kuku was ok for a bit. When he started to throw a tantrum,  I was able to put him to sleep. And so, we were able to watch the movie without too many breaks :)

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The movie started off very well - a guy is in a lift kinda thing which is traveling at a very fast pace in the upward direction - he is awake and is trying to get out but is not able to and finally loses consciousness. The lift stops and the top part opens and he sees that he is being watched by a whole bunch of people (guys mostly). He is unable to remember anything and is being led to the leader. He seems curious and has a million questions and finds the people (boys and young men) strangely accepting of the situation they are in. The movie manages to sustain a level of suspense and we are as eager as the new guy (greenie or newbie) to know the answers.

There were some good moments and at some level you are wondering if this movie is like the hunger games trilogy and are excited. But, somehow the movie manages to fall flat. The ending with the twist is so passe` and a person who could not be there - is. Either editing was missed or the shot should have been handled or taken differently. Also, it is quite clear that there will be a sequel to this movie - maybe more than one.

I wanted to check if this movie was based on a book as I missed the initial part, and I found that Yes it was part of a series, written by James Dashner. He has two sequels and 2 prequels to this book. Well, I plan to catch up with the books. I usually like the books better than the movie - most of the time. Well, lets see.