Change

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You say you feel a chill in the season
Like something is falling apart
You say you can’t hold it together much longer
And I should look after your heart

But I feel a change coming on
Rolling out of the blue like a storm
And it’s bending your will like a willow tree twisting
Trying to regain its form

How does it make you feel
When you remember the times the two us lay here
In the arms of the world on the doorstep of heaven shining down

Do you feel a change coming on,
Rolling out of the blue like a storm,
And it’s throwing your dollhouse world in disarray
So you can rebuild or conform

How I wish you’d only see
How your own choices make your dream
Come out shining true before it can leave you
I wish that you could see
How your own choices make your dream
Come out shining true all around you

My worth is the look in your eyes
My prize the smile playing tricks on your lips and I wonder again
Do you ever dream of the world like I do

I too fear the change coming on
Rolling out of the blue like a storm
Can you hear it scream at the hurt that I knew

What is this chill at my heel
That makes the protections I’ve built around my pseudo world premiere
Tearing my utopian fiction apart as it happens to just pass along

I feel a change coming on
Rolling out of the blue like a storm
Crashing against my delirious thoughts where humanity’s waiting alone

– Poets of The Fall.

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An Idiot’s Guide to the best compact digital cameras

…the idiot being me.

You see, I bought my first Digital Camera (a Canon Powershot) way back in 2002. Since then, I have changed 5 cameras and clicked a few thousand photographs of every kind – Landscapes, Portraits, Macros, Sports and Night Shots. I graduated to a D-SLR with the excellent Olympus E-520 in 2008…and though my output as a photographer has improved in terms of quality, my knowledge about the intricacies of Digital Photography was still at 2002 levels – with the final output more to do with the environment and the IQ of the camera – rather than my control. In fact I bought the Olympus D-SLR just because I read a good review, and because it came with two lenses (a wide-angle and a telephoto) at a price lower than a comparable Canon or Nikon. Now I know, even though the choice was not all wrong, it was made for the wrong reasons. My realization over the past year or so is that your choice of camera will impact your success as a photographer, whatever your scope of photography is. I also realized that selecting cameras is not about megapixels or zoom capability, as demonstrated by the cameras that I have listed here. Here are a few cameras which which will help you turn ordinary situations into photographic masterpieces.

The Panasonic LX3/LX5

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Panasonic is not a specialized camera manufacturer. They don’t have decades of experience like some of the others featured here, do. But what they do have is a amazing partner in the form of Leica. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leica_Camera) And lots of money to throw into R&D. The result is one of the most prolific line-ups of consumer and prosumer cameras which put the best to shame in terms of features and output. The Lumix LX3 (now soon to be upgraded to LX5) is the tip of the Panasonic arrow. It has a sensor that is larger than other consumer cameras which allows it to capture amazing detail. Couple that with a maximum Aperture size of f2.0 – and you have pocket-sized dynamite which can even capture beautiful photographs in low-light situations (the typical Achilles Heel of compact cameras) . Just check out the LX3 groups on Flickr… you wouldn’t believe those pictures have been clicked with a pocket camera. It has full manual controls, but intelligent auto controls too. It doesn’t have too many megapixels (10) or too much zoom – but what it has, is an IQ which will put much bigger and more expensive cameras to shame. It doesn’t come cheap though. If you can find it (it is perennially back-ordered), you will have to shell out $380 to $500 for it. Worth every penny though. Watch out for the LX5 – upgraded with more zoom and a better lens – to be released soon.

The Canon S90

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Inspired by the success of the aforementioned LX3 – Canon decided to put their heads together and come up with a “Pocketable camera which produces professional results”. And boy did they succeed. The S90 rocked the establishment as the LX3 killer – featuring similar functionality with traditional canon refinement and picture quality. In fact search Google for LX3 Vs. S90 to get a sampling of the impassioned debates about which camera is better. The Canon features a bright f2.0 lens with a longer zoom and a slew of manual options for full creative control. More crucially it is cheaper than than the LX3 by $50 or more – and is more pocketable. As some one said – the best camera in the world is the one that you have with you when the opportunity strikes… this is one camera which you can keep in your pocket and produce brilliant results. Also, being from Canon, the S90 is much more readily available.

The Samsung TL500 / EX-1

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The Korean juggernaut is unstoppable these days, it seems. After literally monopolizing the consumer Audio-Video space – Samsung has now shifted its intense focus to imaging. The TL500 is Samsung’s answer to the LX3 or the S90. But with a f1.8 lens! This means the camera is theoretically capable of better pictures, especially in low light situations – as it can leave the Aperture more open. Though the launch was met with skepticism (more to do with Samsung being an outsider than anything else) – the camera has gotten almost perfect scores wherever it was reviewed. Alas, it is not readily available… and at $400+ it is quite dear. Galleries of photographs clicked with the TL500 are cropping up on the internet  and the photographs are awesome. This is one device which is destined for cult status… unless the Samsung badge is seen as a negative.

The Sigma DP2S/DP1S

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Sigma is a relatively unknown player in the consumer digital camera space – and are more known for their professional lenses, which can fitted onto other manufacturers’ cameras. But around 3 years ago Sigma entered the compact camera space with the DP1 and the DP2 – two cameras which feature the amazing Foveon X3 sensor. What you need to know here is that this is a sensor that is similar in size of what can be seen in the best Digital SLR cameras – but with a difference. Instead of giving the full 14.1 megapixels in one large image, the Sigma camera “stitches” three 4.7 MP images together – giving an effective resolution of just 4.7 MP! Small you think? Not really, because the detail captured in these 4.7 MP photographs is phenomenal. And what do you need a 14 MP picture for anyway? Most of the photos you will click will only be seen on the screen. Even if you do print, the depth of detail that is available in the images that the Sigma produces will be enough to print an 8X10 with a clarity that will put much more expensive cameras to shame. But the Sigma cameras are not beyond reproach – they don’t focus very well in low light situations and are quite basic when it comes to video recording and other bells and whistles which much cheaper cameras have. But as a reviewer put it, the Sigma DP1S/DP2S features 2002 level functionality but 2012 level image quality. Again, to really get an idea about what the Sigma compacts are capable of, check out the following link on dpreview.com.

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0905/09051101sigmadp2preview.asp

Of course, this quality doesn’t come cheap – with the DP2S retailing at upwards of $600 – if you can find it!

The Ricoh GR Digital III

image Ricoh builds copiers. And so you think. They also build some of most cult cameras in the industry…and a shining example is the Ricoh GR Digital III. The camera defies conventional logic by featuring a Fixed focal-length lens (20mm). In lay terms, that means it does not have any zoom! And it costs upwards of $600 – if you can find it. Interested? 😉 But when you look at the 1/1.7” CCD sensor (very large for a compact camera) coupled with F1.9 lens – you know that something is special about this camera. The build and design are classic camera…and somehow exudes confidence. You know that this one will click some amazing pictures. Want proof? Check out the samples page:

http://www.davidchinphoto.com/official-ricoh-gr-digital-iii-sample-images/

Photographers say that no zoom frees them.  Now they can just focus on capturing the moment…rather than fiddling with the zoom… how true! Again, very rare to get – your best bet would be to buy it in Japan – where it is, as I have mentioned before, quite cult.

*****

So the next time you go and buy a camera – look at just more than megapixels and zoom capabilities and focus on quality of image. Read about it on the internet… usually people are pretty unanimous about which cameras give good image quality. And at the end of the day – that’s what matters. Happy Clicking!

Twilight Theater – Poets Of The Fall

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What is good music?

Is it a trend that is made to seep into every fabric of our being by incessantly obvious media? Is it a weird hairdo and an addiction to the limelight that makes the artist appear in every frame of every picture? Is it just being obtuse and “alternate”? Is it a much needed change from whatever is holding our fickle attention? Is it hype, fame, a unique voice, leopard stretch pants?

I respect all kinds of art – after all each piece of art, be it music or a painting, is somebody’s creation. Rap, hip-hop, house are just a few genres I don’t really understand – but I have nothing against them. Power to Jay-Z if he finds an audience. Kudos to Lady Ga Ga for finding her 15 minutes of fame. All that is fine. But in my humble book of opinions, Good Music is music which uplifts you. Good Music is music which has melody. Good music is where each member who creates it is rock solid in his or her virtuosity. Good music is where there is no pretention, just an honest-to-god intention to make sound which will make others happy. Good Music is simple. Good Music is not experimenting for the sake of sounding different – but treading new boundaries of one’s own creativity and talent. Good Music is one which sucks you in and makes you throw your head back in unbridled joy as you sing along, aloud, unafraid of sounding off key. Unfortunately in today’s world it is not enough to create good music to succeed. As proven again and again by Poets Of The Fall (POTF).

Twilight Theater is the fourth album by this Finnish band, after Signs Of Life (2005), Carnival Of Rust (2006) and Revolution Roulette (2008). (dates updated thanks to “Redbossfan” from the POTF fansite forum) To say that Twilight Theater is one of their best is an unfair comparison because almost every album of theirs is unique in scope and musical intent – and each one brings out their best. But compare Twilight Theater to other contemporary music releases from highly successful bands such as Green Day or even Coldplay – and the comparisons suddenly become just. Twilight Theater is in many ways, the best music of our times.

Sounds like an exaggeration? Listen to “Change” or “War” and try not to be amazed at Marko’s flawless vocals or the effortless creation of magnificent soundscapes – complex yet so simple that you want to just drop whatever you are doing and just sing along. How many artists today make you want to do that? Their sound is so accessible… so melodious. What is wrong with that? Just because they make music that will sound like music to almost everybody’s ears – does it mean that they aren’t unique? Some people complain about their lyrics not being as accessible as their music. Er… guess what the operative word in their name is. Sure they don’t sing about broken hearts and hot women all the time. Their words flow like good poetry should. Not all is revealed. Sometimes all doesn’t make sense. But one thing you can count on is that you can always sing along. Not like some half garbled nonsense that only makes sense if you are stoned.

“Given and Denied”, “Rewind”, “15 minute flame”, “Dying to live” (corrected thanks to Clawouldu), “Dreaming Wide Awake”, “You’re still here”… each song is a composition with a sound that is large as life itself. With beautifully soaring vocals and all-encompassing orchestration which surrounds you like the first rain of the year; Twilight Theater begs for repeated listening. It implores you to memorize the lyrics so that you can join these amazing musicians from cold distant Finland. Unfortunately you will never find people (outside Helsinki) queuing up for their music. You will be hard pressed to find a decent review by an American or British magazine. Most people outside Finland would have never heard of Poets Of The Fall. It is sad, because they deserve to be heard and cherished.

Well, I have heard of POTF. And I will patiently commit every note, every word to my memory – while I wait for them to give their next gift to the world.

Meanwhile, if you want to know more about POTF and their music – just go to YouTube and search for POTF. Currently that is the only way for most of us to listen to their music. News is that “War” from Twilight Theater has been chosen as the title track for the new “Alan Wake” game soundtrack. Here’s the video.

***

Artist: Poets of The Fall
Album: Twilight Theater
Genre: Good Music

Inception

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I have to admit that I labored long and hard to come up with a clever title for this one. I even thought of (Inter)ception. In the end, I realized that no matter how long and hard I tried, I wouldn’t come up with anything smarter and cleverer than the subject of this review. So this particular post is going to be quite tame. Actually everything seems tame in comparison.

Inception, Chris Nolan’s latest, is a very simple movie. Let me correct that. It is a mind-boggling concept in the guise of a simple movie. And there in lies Chris Nolan’s genius. It would have been so tempting for him to get lost in the very loose framework that the concept defines. After all, everything’s possible in a dream world. In our dreams we are heroes and serial killers. In our dreams we oppress the boss and drive cars way above our pay grade. So when Nolan would have started penning this story about a bunch of people who travel through others’ dreams to steal their deepest darkest secrets, I can only imagine how easy it would have been for him to create a “Gilliam-esque” world – full of fantastic creatures and visions which defy the logic of the real world. Like a Dali painting perhaps.

But, Nolan didn’t. Instead of getting lost inside the never-ending spiral that could be “Dream-walking” – he focused on the characters and their mission instead. When the credits were rolling in the end, my mind was full of questions. How did these guys travel into dreams of others? How do they manipulate what happens there? What prevents Inception from being an erudite and obtuse “concept movie” is Nolan’s audacity to take all this for granted.

These guys travel into dreams of others. They are dream architects, they can build and break anything inside your head. Now let’s move on to the plot.

And as crazy as it may seem, it actually works. The audience is thrown head first into the crazy world of dreams, without any build-up or background – and we all just go along. Maybe, a movie about the subconscious just makes sense to ours. Of course there are points, like when “rookie” Ellen Page arrives on the scene as Ariadne – an architecture student who would build complex dream worlds – and DiCaprio’s Cobb has to explain the whole concept of “Dream Invasion” to her, thus answering a lot (not all) of the questions that would be forming in even the least imaginative of minds. But, at the end, a lot of it is “just there”. If you don’t get it, don’t feel too bad… the frenetic pace of the movie will carry your confused ass forward until it all comes crashing down in one massive kick. (you have to see the movie to understand what that is)

Inception is terrific cinema by any standards. Surely, one of the best in our generation. The concept aside, everything about the movie validates why we spend so much money and time to watch someone elses creation and why Cinema is the defining art of our time.

The casting is superb, with DiCaprio picking up right where he left off in the excellent Shutter Island – as the tormented widower who is struggling in a mire of guilt and regret. He is rapidly becoming the defining actor of our times. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is uber-cool as Arthur, DiCaprio’s right hand man, proving that he is much more than the Chocolate-faced hero we saw in (500) Days of Summer. (That zero-gravity fight sequence is awesome!) British actor Tom Hardy (who played Heathcliff in the TV version of Wuthering Heights) is great as the wry and funny Eames. One of my favorite actors, Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Letters to Iwo Jima) is also at his best, along with Cillian Murphy who is nothing like the Scarecrow character he played in Batman Begins. The beautiful Marion Cotillard is just perfect as the haunted (and haunting) wife-projection, Mal, and is the only true “villian” in the plot. Hans Zimmer’s music is never noticed. Which means that it perfectly captures the mood of the movie. The Special Effects are brilliant, and so are the fight sequences.

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But the real hero of Inception is Christopher Nolan. The whole movie is about the power of “One Beautiful Idea” that takes hold of your mind and doesn’t let go. “Inception” is that idea for Nolan that will define his career and will set a new standard for other more-celebrated filmmakers to follow. The care and attention to detail that has gone into the screenplay and plotting is thunderingly obvious.  He could have rested on the laurels of The Dark Knight and moved on to the next billion-dollar generating sequel. A lesser man could have done that. But Nolan chose to present his adoring audience with a ring side view into his prodigious mind. And a thousand reasons to munch more popcorn and lose oneself inside the beautiful world of cinema.

A 10/10 to Inception. Watch it.

Update: An awesome post which analyzes Inception as per Jungian archetypes. This should really answer some questions… only read it if you have seen the movie…

http://www.cinemablend.com/new/What-If-Inception-Were-Analyzed-By-Dream-Experts-19638.html

Update no. 2: The link seems to be down… I can imagine a lot of people heading towards it! 🙂 Keep checking…

Spring in America

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Hi folks! Haven’t posted pictures in a long time… chose to write a thousand (and a lot more) words instead. That’s not to say I had stopped taking them! Well… here are some of my favorites from a recent trip to the US. As usual full credit to my trusty Olympus E-520.

1) The canopy at Port Imperial in Weehawken NJ.

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2) New Yorkers (and their neighbors from across the Hudson) waiting patiently for the ferry at Port Imperial.

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3) Midtown Manhattan from the ferry. The Empire State Building stands alone in the background. A green tint has been applied to the photograph.

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4) These Japanese tourists looked a little intimidated by the Manhattan traffic… like skittles in a bowling alley…

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5) On my way back to Jersey, while waiting at the harbor in Manhattan. The sunset was too beautiful to ignore. Didn’t even want to spoil the snap with a watermark!

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6) Found this perfectly smooth pebble chatting up a leaf on a wooden bench. Wonder what they were speaking about…

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7) Look carefully. There is an airborne guest coming in from the west…

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8) Proof that Spring was bursting at the seams…

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9) Who says there can’t be beauty in a discarded piece of broken rock?

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10) …or in flowers which are hidden in the foliage, seldom to be seen…

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11) The pier at Port Imperial. Something about the gnarly nature of wood fascinates me…

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12) As I was saying.

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13) Of course Metal cannot be ignored either. Pissed off a dog while shooting this one…

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14) Maybe the sign was a hint. Which I didn’t take… and kept clicking…

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15) Manhattan at night. Kept the camera firmly on a trash can, kept the shutter open for 5 seconds at ISO1600. This is the best I could manage.

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16) Fire Hydrants also fascinate me. Maybe I was a dog in my previous life…

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17) It was cacophony when she rolled in at high speed, screeching to a halt at the 42nd street subway station underneath Times Square. But the people didn’t seem to mind…

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18) I was sitting at a cafe in the upper west side, enjoying some wonderful Eggs Benedict when the melee of signs above my head caught my eye. The breakfast was quickly forgotten.

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Hope you liked them. Next up… some photos from Atlanta.

All photographs copyright of Grimescene. Contact me if you want to use them somewhere.

Soccer Haiku

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Africa Shines;

Glorious

in its bright sun

 

The Globe Lifted;

Winter dawn

Quiets the Vuvuzela

 

The ball halts;

Man Departs

with lifted heart

 

The Armada sails–

On the sea

of crushed flowers

 

The breath returns;

Eyes De-focus

on the wait of four

 

(Though this doesn’t follow a 5-7-5 format. It is haiku in spirit – and I believe is accurate in that sense.)

Die Tintenfisch

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It might surprise readers of Grimescene, but the author is actually quite interested in Football. There is something so excruciatingly physical about the game, that it represents a sort of alternate reality for me. Why would you beat yourself up silly after a ball when you can beat yourself an omelet, I always say. But somehow, every four years I actually start following the sport in its biggest, grandest avatar. This world cup has been nothing short of the best Hollywood thriller – full of “fights-to-the-death” and unpredictable twists and turns. I even have a team that I support.

It is called “Die Tintenfisch” – formerly known as Germany.

For those of you not lucky enough to have lived in Die Tietenfisch for almost five years, it means (in bad german; it should be Der Tintenfisch) “Octopus”. The “Tinten” part comes from its ink dispensing abilities. “Die” is an English word which means to “chop and fry in butter”. Hence “Die Tintenfisch”.

image It wasn’t always like that though. It all started when an Octopus named Paul, decided to defect from its birthplace in Dorset, England – to Oberhausen, Germany. Settling down comfortably in the Sea Life aquarium, he decided to entertain his new-found countrymen with a nifty little trick he had learned from his brothers in the English channel. He started waging on football games in 2009. And boy was he good at it. That shouldn’t be too surprising, considering he is mostly a large head with eight legs. One would be foolish not to make the connection. He has an accuracy of 91.6% when it comes to predicting the outcome of a German football game. That is 11 out of 12 times folks! Probably more accurate than most people in this world would say, when asked about what happened the day before.

“Prescient Paul” as he is lovingly referred to by the media may be special… but he carries the curse that all Oracles are burdened with. You see everyone wants to know what will happen, and if it is bad, everyone secretly wishes that the Oracle is a fraud. But if the bad happens, the very people who asked for it, now try to shoot the poor messenger. As if the bad happened because the Oracle mentioned it. This is why most soothsayers think twice before doling out the bad news. But poor Paul is not so blessed when it comes to lying. Sitting in his glass abode, he betrays the sense of calmness usually associated with ascetics who predict doomsday sitting naked under a tree in the mountains. Surely the bright lights, the noise and constant flashing of cameras would be upsetting to Paul who is more used to deep-sea-calm. But Paul knows he has a role to play. Not caring for his own safety he coolly chose to eat the tasty morsel from the box with the Spanish flag on it – as his countrymen, the very people who gave him a home, gasped in collective disdain. Suddenly, nobody wanted to believe in Paul anymore. Germany was the best team in the tournament so far, just ask Diego! Nah… Paul is losing his touch. Maybe he just wanted to go and laze on the beaches of Majorca – like most of his countrymen did this time of year. Maybe he got confused about which team to root for when he heard names such as Miroslav, Mehsut, Khedira and Boateng. Whatever it was, people were sure he got it wrong this time.

Well, now we all know better.

Now we believe.

That Paul should die. Germany lost because Paul has this freaky connection with the karmic universe, the unseen puppet-master, the shit-we-can’t-fathom… each of his suction cups is actually a portal into that swirling vortex of shit-we-can’t-fathom, which controls the fabric of the universe and makes men do stupid things like lose to the actual best team in the world. Paul is the part of an evil plot of those pesky neighbors across the channel, and should be pickled.

Here’s the recipe.

Pickled Paul.

This pickled octopus recipe is a classic way to make an authentic Greek meze, Italian antipasto, Spanish tapas or German Revenge. Best Served Cold – obviously. It is best done with pre-cooked octopus. That’s easy with Paul. Just set the Aquarium on fire.
Prep Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Shelf Life: 4 years until the next world cup.

Ingredients:

    * Paul chopped in a thousand pieces
    * 6 bay leaves
    * 45 Schweinsteiger tackles
    * 1 dried or fresh hot chilly pepper
    * 2 Mueller’s Yellow Cards

    * 1 dozen cracked black peppercorns
    * 1 Unstoppable Surge from Iniesta
    * 1 T. dried oregano
    * 5 T. German Inexperience

    * 1 T. coriander seed
    * 3 cups of memories of losing to Spain in the Euro cup
    * 2 cups red wine vinegar
    * Olive oil to top off the jar
    * One flick of a shaggy head

    * 1 clean, quart-sized canning jar with lid to store the remains of Paul.

Preparation:

This is an easy dish to make, once you have cooked Paul.

In a dry saute pan, toast the coriander and the dried chilly (do not do this with the fresh chilly if you’re going that route) and the black pepper over medium-high heat until everything is fragrant and not smelling of defeat anymore.

Shift all the spices, including the oregano, the bay leaves and the fresh chilly if using, into a potimage large enough to contain the vinegar. Pour the vinegar over the spices and bring to a boil. Much like Loew was boiling on the sidelines.

Once the vinegar is at a boil, turn off the heat and cover. Let it steep until it’s room temperature, about an hour or so. Then pour it over Paul in the jar. Make sure it covers all of him (we don’t want any tentacle to start effecting Germany’s chances for third place); use fresh red wine vinegar (Puyol’s blood will also do) if you need more.

Top everything off with olive oil — do not let any part of the Paul stick through the top of the oil, or it will rot. It might also tell you that you are going to lose your job in a week. And you don’t want that.

Store in the fridge for up to 4 years or until the people in Majorca have stopped mocking German tourists – whichever comes first.

Wait at least a week before you eat Paul. He will taste fantastic with crusty bread and Jaegermeister or bier, especially on a hot day when you are still sulking and throwing darts at a Villa picture in your backyard.

(This is a real recipe. As long as you know what not to pick. ;))

(recipe source about.com)

So, now what will happen to Paul? Is this the end of his german fan base? Will he no longer be the recipient of crazed women’s underwear? Will he finally figure out that eight legs aren’t necessarily better than two? Well, don’t ask me, I am not an octopus. But rumours are that Paul is working on an Autobiography. It’s true. You can see what it looks like below:

Turtles Vs. Man

Dear Ashish (from Greenpeace),

First of all, thanks for your regular emailers, as they open my eyes to a wider reality in my country. In this haze of development and success it is easy for us to lose sight of the heavy price that we pay.

Having said that, I am also a pragmatist. When you suddenly tell me that some turtles are going to suffer because of an important port-building project which can provide much needed financial stimulus to coastal Orissa – it gives me the impression that Greenpeace is a band of tree-hugging hippies with a mindless agenda of stopping "the evils of capitalism" from destroying our planet.

Should Greenpeace be content with just being the "alternative voice"? You see, the reason why the forces of capitalism have thrived and been significantly more successful in destroying, than Greenpeace has been in saving – is the fact that capitalism is driven by reason and solid economic logic (mostly). If you would have told me that yes there is a way how economic development of the battered coastal areas of Bay of Bengal can co-exist with the turtles – I could have supported you with a clear heart.

So many of us are quick to jump onto the Capitalism Bashing bandwagon – and extol the virtues of “Sustainable Development”. Maybe “Sustainable Conservation” will be more successful. But at the moment, being a part of the capitalist machine, and seeing all the work around us left to be done, I just cannot afford to hug trees (or turtles).

Looking forward to a Greenpeace which uses the voice of reason and pragmatism.

Best Regards
Grimescene

***

(This is the mailer I received from Greenpeace.)

Dear Grimescene,
Despite opposition, Tata is about to complete the construction of the Dhamra port in Orissa. The port is dangerously close to dense mangrove forests and breeding and nesting grounds of Olive Ridley turtles.
Shockingly, over 300 ports are proposed on India’s coast, many in and around mangroves, breeding grounds for turtles, horseshoe crabs and other marine creatures.
Minister of Environment Jairam Ramesh needs to ban the construction of new ports and expansion of existing ones in eco-sensitive areas in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification. He made a commitment to protect our coasts and we have to remind him to stick to it.
Can you write to Jairam Ramesh asking him to strengthen the law and save our coasts?
http://greenpeace.in/turtle/no-more-dhamras
The CRZ notification was issued in 1991 to protect the Indian coast. But since then it has only been weakened to suit commercial and political interests and most violators have not been punished.
Last year, the government and environment minister Jairam Ramesh promised to strengthen the notification. It’s now time to ask him to live up to his promise
To make sure that this law actually protects coastal diversity, Jairam Ramesh needs to introduce a clause prohibiting the construction of new ports and the expansion of existing ones near ecologically sensitive areas in the new CRZ notification.
Write to the minister to make him keep his promise. Click here:
http://greenpeace.in/turtle/no-more-dhamras
Thanks a billion!
Photo of Ashish Fernandes
Ashish Fernandes
Oceans Campaigner
Greenpeace India

All Gore – A review of “Daybreakers”

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Tens of hungry starved blood-sucking vampires descend upon a hapless Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) and tear him apart limb from limb, sucking his innards, ingesting his organs and drinking his blood as if their lives depended on it, until one of them tears his head apart and dangles it by the hair as if to keep the choicest part for later…

Ok… if you can’t stomach that sterile description of what actually happens in “Daybreakers” – then stay away from one of most engaging vampire movies that has hit our screens in a long time. I am quite amazed that the Censor Board let this through without any cuts. Maybe they had all fainted in shock and missed the tastiest parts. (Apologies for the choice of words.)

I loved it. Nor did the gory going-ons put a damper on my appetite… after all it is only cinema. And that too pretty implausible cinema set in an alternate reality where Vampires are the dominant race on earth and all that remains of humans are bands of renegades living in hiding, from being wanted for their blood. The premise of Daybreakers is pretty simple – the largest supplier of “farmed” human blood to the vampire community is searching for a synthetic “alternative” to feed the starving population as there were hardly any humans left. One of the researchers, Edward Dalton (played by Ethan Hawke), is a “pacifist” – and believes in a future where humans and vampires can peacefully co-exist…while his boss (Sam Neill) only wanted to find an alternative till the time they could “replenish” their stock of natural humans for the real stuff. The movie revolves around Dalton’s search for a cure and Sam Neill’s efforts to stop him. Bloody straightforward isn’t it?

I have always loved Vampire movies. The first one that I ever watched, and which left an indelible impression on my fermenting mind was Coppola’s Bram Stokers Dracula. Though slightly over-dramatic (to the point of being comical) if viewed now – the whole idea of this alternate race of immortal villains who are neither dead, nor alive – have superhuman strength, yet are as emotionally vulnerable as you and me… struck me as fascinating. I have to admit that there even something morbidly sexy about the whole “sucking the blood from Winona Ryder’s pale white neck…”

That classical Vampire movie look was continued in the excellent “Interview with a Vampire”. Brad and Tom never looked better, than when they had tons of talcum powder caked on their face and grape juice concentrate running down their chins. All that ended when a snarling black vampire with killer Ninja movies appeared in the form of Wesley Snipes in Blade. Suddenly Vampires were regular people around us… just on a hemoglobin diet. The same thing continued with Underworld – where the focus was on a centuries-old war between Vampires and Werewolves… humans were just roadkill. These movies depicted a modern world, but gray and dreary… like the kind Vampires would thrive in.

Daybreakers carries the same look forward and has quite an interesting plot… but that’s where it ends. It goes a bit too deep into the sociological and moral issues of a world infested with Vampires. The problem is that when you the basis of your movie is so unbelievable – you can only do yourself more harm by going really really deep into the meaning of the whole thing. And the gore. Bloody hell, they really outdid it here… with certain scenes more gory than required… maybe they were in there to attract the kind of crowd which revels on human body parts flying around.

Nevertheless – it was engaging enough for the duration it lasted – especially for a fan of the Vampire genre. There were a couple of interesting turns from veteran actors such as Sam Neill and William Dafoe, who really kicked vampire ass as the crossbow-wielding “Elvis”. Ethan Hawke, resurrecting his Gattaca persona here was sufficiently sombre. A more charismatic lead – Evan McGregor perhaps? – might have given a bit of color to the movie.

On the whole though the movie didn’t draw any new blood… it was an adequately bloody romp. Watch it if this is your sorta thing.

Pulp Advice

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Parenthood is addictive. And if I take a birds eye view of my role as a parent, I suddenly realize why I sometimes thought (think) that my parents can be a pain.

Take yesterday for instance. I had planned to take Dhruv to visit an old dear friend of mine, who also has a 6 year old – Jaden. The plan was simple – let the kids wreck the house while we got a chance to catch up.

So while we were pulling out of the parking for the 15 min drive to my friends place, I told Dhruv that we were going to stop by Crosswords (a popular bookstore in Mumbai) to buy a gift for Jaden.

“Why?”

“Because it is polite to take a gift for the host when we go visiting.”

“Ok.”

That was easy.

“We are buying a gift for my friend or your friend?”

“For Jaden.”

“Not for your friend?”

“No beta (son in Hindi), only for Jaden.” (While quickly forming an answer for next inevitable question.)

“Why?”

“Because… because John uncle already has everything.” (And what he doesn’t, I probably can’t afford…)

Thankfully there were no further questions until we reached the store… something I knew would end once we entered what could be described as kiddie heaven.

“Go, choose a gift for Jaden…” I said to the already disappearing shirttail ahead of me.

As I caught up with him in the kiddie section – I could see him perusing through all the new arrivals.

After a lot of back and forth we settled on a hot wheels racing set, something he himself wanted to play with. I took the box and headed towards the cash counter – and Dhruv dutifully followed. No questions yet. This was so perfect for THE question… but it hadn’t come yet. I was impressed by my son’s maturity.

As we waited in line, he patiently hopped around (he doesn’t stay still for a second). I was debating whether to pay by cash or card – when his little hand caught hold of mine and the question came.

“Papa… why aren’t you buying anything for me?”

I was prepared.

“Because we are here to buy a gift for Jaden. Don’t you remember the cricket set we recently bought you?”

“I also want a Hot Wheels set.”

“No beta. Not today.”

“Why? Jaden is getting one.”

“Yes, it is a gift.”

He wasn’t convinced. It was then that I decided to play the know-it-all holier-than-thou-and-the-Dalai parent. “You have to understand beta that it is always better to give than to get.”

There, that should give him something to ponder. I turned back to the cash counter feeling mighty proud of my parenting skills and of all those wonderful things that I was teaching my child.

“Then Papa… you should give me a gift too.”

Another parent standing behind me gave me a triumphant smile, as if saying “Serves you right, you know-it-all holier-than-thou-and-the-Dalai parent! Now tackle this one.”

I don’t remember what I said at that point, because in the end it was his victory. It is so easy to take the moral higher ground when one is in the position of power. Maybe the trick with kids is to preach less and practice more…

(In the end, he didn’t get anything bought for him… and he seemed pretty ok with it. God bless him.)