Realm Of Randomness

April 15, 2008

Let sleeping dogs (and movies) lie

Filed under: Humour,Movie,Rant — Randomizer @ 3:16 am

I have this habit of reminiscing too much. I often think about how it was, growing up in the 80’s and the early 90’s and love thinking about all those shows and movies that defined those wonderful years of my childhood. To name just a handful, I was crazy about the Knight rider, the Ninja turtles, the Terminator, Home Alone, Back to the Future, Perfect strangers and countless other movies and shows that to this day, bring back fond memories every time I hear some tune from their respective soundtracks.

Well, ever since YouTube and online video hit the scene, and I mean really became a part of everyday life, I have been constantly tempted to re-visit some of these old shows. Not just movies or shows that I watched and enjoyed, but even those that I missed that I wish I hadn’t when growing up.

Take the Star Wars trilogy for instance, and I mean the original trilogy(4,5 and 6 in the series). I watched it when I was way too young to understand or remember it, and so I lost out on the Star Wars phenomenon… which, for kids of the 80’s is a cardinal sin. At 25, after watching more than a 100 pop-culture references to scenes from the trilogy and failing to understand them, I finally decided to sit down and watch them. And that’s where I am taking you with this post …

Let sleeping movies lie.

There is really *no* way you can put yourself in the shoes of someone who is living in the 70’s, and honestly enjoy all that the movie has to offer. This is 2008, and there is no way you can turn back time. You are not only used to some serious out-of-the-world computer graphics, but even without your knowledge, you have come to expect so much quality from the direction, cinematography and editing. Things just aren’t the same. That which you call a ‘cliche’ today, was at some point perhaps the best line in a movie !

The first of the trilogy was seriously hard to get through, but the next two were thankfully better. Had it not been such a legendary trilogy, I would have gladly abandoned the series after the first one. I should have learned my lesson after watching an episode each of the Ninja turtles and Perfect strangers, both of which I found much less exciting than I remembered them to be, but no – I forgave and forgot. Finally, a week or so ago I picked up this movie, ‘The Running man’, which I must have watched in ’89 or ’90 as a little kid, that I had really found exciting and had always wondered about since I’d forgotten most of the story. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger in a futuristic action packed reality show…. and boy, right from the opening scene I just couldn’t wait for the movie to get over! It was one of the most horrible movies I’ve ever seen – the cheesiest of dialogues, the most cliche-ridden characters ever, and a story so predictable that anyone who watched it would consider pursuing fortune-telling as a career. It was that bad.

That was the last straw. No more sci-fi movies of the past. Missed ‘2001: a space odyssey’? Well, too bad. Missed the original Star Trek series that *everyone* swears by? Too bad, I missed that too. Don’t know head or tail about the characters in the ‘Wizard of Oz’? So be it. I choose ignorance over a waste of 2 hours.

And I will definitely choose the gradual waning of my fond memories over the complete erasure of their beauty. These movies shone at some point in time, and unlike books or even songs, they have an ‘expiry date’ whether you wish to believe it or not. Feel lucky that you tasted it while it was good, but don’t ever eat a ten year old apple.


November 28, 2007

iHate – Winter special

Filed under: Humour,Rant — Randomizer @ 4:08 am

Some more things that have been pissing me off lately. See my first list here.


  • It’s Christmas. So there! It was like a time bomb, waiting for November to approach – and when it did, BOOM! The trees were lit, the radio stations switched to Christmas carols and the malls turned into shades of red and green! Christmas is on December 25th – NOT November 1st or 10th or 30th or any other day! WTF! I’m in absolutely no mood for celebrating something that’s more than a month away, but it’s being shoved in my face everywhere I go. I want to have the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ when it’s TIME for the most wonderful time of the year – not two months before it!So keep those Santas off the road, those Jingle Bells records off my radio and those Christmas offers off my face! I will celebrate it when I want to!
  • Quick. Give me a script for our Christmas episode! I just got back from the gym where I was forced to watch an episode of ‘Bones‘ while jogging … I should have known that even shows such as this one, that are about violent crime and murder mystery, will not be spared the inevitable ‘Christmas script’. So how do you include Christmas into such dark, violent, shows? Simple – Today’s episode was about a murderer who was one of the Santas at the mall. Cool – I’d never have thought of that. The script was pure genius.
  • The paparazzi and the news they make: Yeah, so I take a peek at the funny headlines on my way out of the grocery store – and guess what most of the news these days is on – Yep, it’s still Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. For a whole freaking year. And Britney Spears. And Paris Hilton. But that’s at least ok. What I hate is the way they literally make the news they report – For instance ‘Britney Spears runs over photographer’s foot‘ – It’s like when there’s no news to report, they just make something happen anyway and then report it ! It’s the stupidest thing in the world ! You hound and chase a person till he/she does something stupid or yells at you – and *that* is the news you report – These criminals aren’t worthy of any of the privileges of the free press and deserver to be put in jail.
  • The ‘Animate every animal’ project – Ants = Antz. Bug = A Bug’s life. Penguin = Dance of the penguins/Surf’s up. Animals in the sea= Finding Nemo. Animals in the wild = Madagascar. Animals on a lawn = Over the hedge. Animals in a kitchen/bathroom = Flushed away/Ratatouille. Animals that buzz = Bee Movie. Animals that are extinct = Ice age. Animals from fantasy = Shrek 1, Shrek 2, Shrek 3 and the dozens to follow.And after all this, I see the advertisement for Kung Fu Panda when I went to the theater this weekend.
  • Dear folks at Dreamworks/Pixar – Before you contact Jim Carrey about lending his voice to your newly animated cockroach/frog/skunk, I just want you to know – I THINK WE GET THE IDEA ALREADY !

October 16, 2007

The bitter

Filed under: India,Rant — Randomizer @ 2:18 am

I watched the movie Parzania last night … for those of you who haven’t watched it, it’s a very powerful, emotional movie about an incident we have all conveniently put past us but which continues to haunt the lives of thousands of our fellow citizens every day – the carnage in Gujarat that occurred a little over 5 years ago. The direction and acting is superb, and you find yourself lost in the tragedy of the movie. Reading more about it and the role that the government and the police played takes away all or most of the pride with which we hold our country dear. Arundathi Roy writes an essay about this carnage, which makes for a very intense read.

Well, I guess after the last couple of ‘sweet’ posts about India, the bitter was just waiting to be tasted. I sure did get a very big helping of that from Parzania.

July 24, 2007

A 2$ lesson on Pan-handlers

Filed under: Opinion,Racism,Rant — Randomizer @ 12:46 am

For most of the non-US readers of this blog, the term ‘Pan-handler’ must seem odd. Well, that’s understandable, because this is the United States – where Strip clubs are Gentlemen’s clubs, illegal immigrants are undocumented aliens, toilets are restrooms, and beggars are – ‘Pan handlers’, because they pan-handle, or hand you a ‘pan’ to collect money.


I’ve been approached by Pan-handlers pretty rarely, compared to India, and of course, these guys are much much better off than their Indian counterparts in terms of lifestyle, clothing and options … however they are that much harder to ignore.

Incident #1

I was approached by a pretty healthy looking, 20- something African-american male in Houston Downtown once, last year. He got right to the point, saying ‘Hey, could I please have a dollar?’ . Being the first time I was ever solicited by an ‘American beggar’, I was slightly confused and did what I usually do in India – just ignored him and walked into a store. The fellow followed me into the store, and I tried to ignore him again. Finally the guy goes,

‘Hey, don’t act like I don’t exist, man’

I was pretty shaken by that, but I immediately told him I don’t have any money and he left me alone. I thought to myself, This ain’t India. Learn the new rules.

Incident #2

Two weeks ago, I was walking towards my lab and a healthy looking, 30-something white male in very decent clothes approaches me and says ‘My car ran out of gas, and I lost my wallet … I haven’t been able to get any help from the police… could you please spare me some money for gas?’ .

Being very inexperienced with the ways of the American poor, I really didn’t know whether to believe him and be a ‘good samaritan’ or move on. More so, most of the American poor I’ve seen so far haven’t been Caucasian. Once again, I had a classic Racism vs Statistics mini-debate going on in my head about this guy’s credibility based on my personal observation that being White significantly reduced the probability that he was poor/homeless…. and if he spoke so well, had all the manners, and didn’t have the society’s prejudice stacked against him, why the hell doesn’t he have a job ?

Luckily for me though, I didn’t have any cash on me, so moving on was fairly easy. He thanked me and went away…

Incident #3

Just last weekend, as me and a friend were walking to our car in Houston at about 11.30pm in the night, we heard a familiar ‘Excuse me sir! Excuse me… could I please have a minute?’ request from a short, decently dressed, African American man. Seemingly polite, he went on to say,

‘I just need some help. I’m not a homeless guy… I just need some help’

I was urged to move on, but I felt bad about walking away. Besides, just because he’s colored doesn’t mean he’s homeless… Stop being racist, I thought. So I stopped and engaged. He goes , ‘I live in ___ part of Houston, and I’m just trying to get home. If I use the MetroRail I’ll get a 75$ fine without a ticket, could you please spare me 2$ to buy a ticket home ? God bless you sir! ‘
This time though, I knew I had loose change in my wallet… and even though I knew he was a panhandler who successfully engaged me in a conversation, I was a little afraid of pissing him off and hated the thought of him harassing us by following us around at this time of night. I had an ‘Oh well, what the heck’ moment and handed him his 2$. We felt bad for a while afterward that he successfully got our money, but decided that our lesson on Panhandlers costed us 2$ and it better have taught us something.

So here are the results of my little research, after going through many articles on the internet. Note that this is NOT about the poor are who are really in need – like the crippled/the old/the abandoned – this is about those bums who Choose to panhandle as a living because it is lucrative , and not because they are forced to :

  • ‘Need money for gas’ , ‘Need money to get home’, ‘Got a dollar?’ are very standard pick-up lines. Apparently, all the incidents above were standard panhandling incidents…with not even a trace of genuineness
  • NEVER engage. If he/she isn’t in your way, act like you didn’t see them. Avoid eye contact at all costs. KEEP walking!
  • If confronted, have a standard reply, ‘Sorry can’t help you’ , ‘Sorry don’t have any money’ and Move on.
  • Do NOT take out your wallet. They are just looking to see if you have cash.. and if you do, this encounter could end up as a full-fledged mugging. Though in incident #3 I thought I was appeasing him by giving him what he wanted, things could have turned out much, much worse
  • American panhandlers are extremely smooth talkers, and often extremely creative. They earn money out of guilt-tripping generous people, and it often pays more than minimum wage…. Doing no work and getting paid more than flipping burgers? Sounds like a great career to most of them
  • They take advantage of our lack of being able to say NO to speak to someone. Maybe it is just my observation but I somehow feel that us desis have a very hard time saying No to Americans. How many of my Hindu friends got caught up in religious decisions with Mormons, Baptists and what not ! There’s a Mormon bible lying at home from one such incident where my roommate found it too hard to refuse. Though it seems rude, SAY NO. Walk away !

Thanks to these bums, the line between a genuine case and an outright beggar has become fuzzy. Thanks to these bums, the people who really need help are going to be faced with colder, less generous pedestrians like the one I’m becoming. And for all us Desis, learn the new rules. No more beggars in rags , No more extreme poverty. A new game is being played and it starts with an ‘Excuse me, could I please have a minute?’. I hope that my 2$ lesson gives you a head start !

July 18, 2007

Lending a SIM card while brown[ updated ]

Filed under: Controversial,Current events,Opinion,Racism,Rant — Randomizer @ 2:32 pm


Mohammed Haneef, an Indian doctor from Australia, is in his 2nd week of interrogation. Today he moves into solitary confinement for 23 hours a day . The highlights of the case so far:

  • He once lived with the people involved in the UK Terrorist attacks
  • One of the attackers, Kafeel Ahmed, is related to him.
  • Haneef had credit on his SIM card in the UK, so he gave it to his cousin Kafeel
  • Haneef is accused of ‘Reckless support of a terrorist group’, for the SIM card
  • He is accused of witholding information about the attack, though he claims he knew nothing about it
  • The courts cleared him and gave him bail, but the governement cancelled his visa anyway

Here is an opinion article by a right-winger in the Australian news who claims everything was done by the law. I was happy to read the comments though, there seemed to an even number of left and right wingers in the discussion. Here is his wife’s side of the story. And (don’t you love the internet?) , here is a pdf file on the grounds for canceling Haneef’s visa.

If in 20 odd days of interrogation, they have been unable to connect him to the crime in any way, chances are that he’s just an unlucky relative of a radicalized islamist. Canceling his visa before his guilt was substantiated is to succumb to Xenophobia and the Austrailian right-wingers ought to be ashamed of themselves.

See also:

Flying while brown
Photographing while brown
Filming while brown
Shopkeeping while brown

[Update: Its over ! The charges have finally been dropped. He was in custody for 23 days ]

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