Thursday, July 30, 2009

Training day

I was originally going to write a very small review about this, but it wouldn't do justice to Denzel's work. Oh my god, he totally rips this apart. After you try and sit back to analyze the movie's story or screenplay, it's just Denzel Washington that comes to mind. Glad he got an Oscar for this one, may be he should have gotten, one more!

I remember watching this with my friends in 2001. At that time it looked like an entertainer alone. Didn't see anything specific with Denzel's performance. But I was quite happy when he got the Oscar then. Unfortunatly, Ethan Hawke's great performance also took a back seat only because it was overshadowed.

Oh well, this movie is one where it becomes a classic because of one man's brilliance! Watch the scene below [it's a transition from his very strong personality to where he freaks out and tries to save face]. It's really scary what he can do in the right setting!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Horizon Realty is making a mistake...

We all know the internet age recontextualizes, blurs, redefines, simplifies they way we interact and the implications of what we say can be far reaching. But we are in a state where we are moving from point A (static and clearly defined in an unconnected context) to point B (clearly defined in a connected context) and there is bound to be a lot of confusion on the possibilities. I earlier quoted an instance.

So, when a tweeter decided to post a seemingly harmless tweet to her 20 followers stating... Oh, well, read it here :)

My point is after this: Horizon Realty is making a mistake

1) The original tweet was quite innocuous. People are entitled to opinions, subjective ones, false ones. Give them that bandwidth and don't try to play big brother. She wouldn't have posted that tweet if she was delighted with Horizon Realty's offering. There is no point trying to be technically correct on what is mold, how much % of the apartment was mold covered, what type of mold was there, how much % does the Chicago municipality allow and so on.

2) Horizon Realty's mistake likes in keeping that tweet on the pedestal and creating negative publicity as a result. Millions of people knew about that tweet as a result.

3) They worsened it by saying, "We're a sue first, ask questions later company"! That caused people to pull in feedback about their homes [-ve ones that is] from all over the internet and quote them as references on blogs and the twitterverse. Try this search for a test.

4) They worsened (3) by saying it was a tongue in cheek comment!

Anyway, we will probably see more of these coming along until companies learn that their era of playing the big guy is over. The internet hands over immense power to the customer and the sooner the corps realize them the better.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Man on Fire

This would have been a meaningless revenge oriented movie if not for two reasons:

1) The relationship between Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning. It is so strong, that the climax sets off emotions that are hard to describe

2) Denzel Washington himself! I heard this part was in consideration for several other actors, but having watched him here, it is hard to imagine anyone else.

Dakota Fanning seems to be over smart for her age, but she has a really beautiful smile!

The dialogues in the movie are quite excellent as well. ("Forgiveness is between them and God. It's my job to arrange the meeting.").

It also gives glimpses of how dangerous Mexico City is. I was wondering if it was another Hollywood propaganda or exaggeration, but reading upon real life experiences of people, it does appear to be as dangerous. A city really goes down very badly when the protectors (cops) turn into accomplices of crime or become criminals themselves.

I think this is where Tony Scott and Denzel Washington starting striking up an excellent chemistry for their following movies!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Penalising the folks who market or deliver for you...

That is not a good business model.

The people who work for commissions or who deliver stuff for you? If the product or service [or process] isn't that good enough, the marketer may anyway not come through with the sale. Or, if there is no clear need for the customer, even a good product or service will not sell through.

I think companies need to direct their effort in improving their products *and* training the folks who market them. The burden of making the sale must be on the marketing department and the people making the product as well [they're the ones anyway getting paid the big bucks]. Not on the final end-man who is at the end of the straw reaching out to people.

I recently had some one from Eureka Forbes come over. He asked if I wanted to see a demo of a new vacuum cleaner that came out. Even before he started, I mentioned I wasn't interested. He anyway explained the features. I then paused, told him politely that I did not  need a vacuum cleaner then. He was equally polite, did not push for a hard sell and then left after thanking me. I was wondering about his day. He has to go through the routine the entire day, the entire month [can't be impolite even for tiredness or frustration]. Some might agree to take the demo but eventually do not buy [which probably doesn't count on the company's book]. The conversion rate will probably be 4-5%. So if the salesman needs to sell 10 of them, he might have to visit 200 to 300 houses. And if his primary income is commission, it would be a stress filled job. It doesn't sound fair for the salesman to bear the burden of a product's quality/expense.

On a related note, some time back, I got a note stating that the pizza delivery guys who fail to deliver within 30 mins (remember the "30 mins or it's free ad"?) end up paying for the pizza, and not the pizza company? That sounded very unfair. Later, a Domino's pizza pamphlet said they did not penalize pizza delivery folks for delay. That forward must have created a furore. Anyway, if it is happening now [or even it *was* happening], it is not right. Needs to stop. Those folks deliver for a living. Not for the pizza chain to make more money. If the real focus is piping hot pizza for the customer and the 30 minutes is a quality parameter, it needs a separate process work flow on how to make it happen. You don't handover the pizza box to the delivery boy and say "You pay for it if you don't deliver it in 30 mins" and send him from ICF to Perambur in peak traffic!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I bit into a pepper...

Too good! I love the chemistry between George Clooney and Brad Pitt!
The follow up is also great - explains the fate of Terry Benedict!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What I am listening to now...

S.No Artist Album Title My comments
1 iLaiyarAjA Devar Magan Maasaru Ponne Varuga... This has a very ancient spiritual appeal. Has awesome lyrics and just lifts the scene to a different category when it happens!
2 iLaiyarAjA Devathai Oru Naal... This is a highly underrated song. The prelude, the interludes, the way SJ sings...
3 iLaiyarAjA Dharma Durai Maasi Maasam... Deva took the rythm of this song, created "கட்டிபுடி கட்டிபுடிடா" and in the process made it sleazy as well. This song drips with eroticism. One of those songs you recognize just with the rythm itself. Again, one of those songs that is destined to be a hit even on the first hearing!
4 iLaiyarAjA Dharmathin Thalaivan Muthamizh Kaviye... Such a lilting melody, surprisingly worked on Rajnikanth :) - Had me just with the prelude
5 Vijay Antony dishyUm dailAmO dailAmO... This song grew on me after 2-3 hearings. Has a lot of energy. Meaningless lyrics, but very enjoyable to hear
6 Deva Dum Chaanakya Chaanakya... This song gets caught in the middle of being a lilting melody and a rythmic song. But it worked well. I hope it is a Deva original :)
7 kArthikrAjA Dum Dum Dum Ragasiyamai... Hearing songs like these makes my heart bleed for KR. If one composer deserves a mega-break it is him. Not sure what is not working!
8 iLaiyarAjA Ellame En Raasadhan Veenaikku Veenai... The greatest creation possible by a human, is creating another human. And this piece reflects the magnificence of such a happenning. One time, when I heard IR singing "உன்னை பார்த்து உருகி போச்சு, இரும்பு மனசொன்னு பாரம்மா...", my eyes were wet with tears.
9 iLaiyarAjA Ennai Vittu Pogadhe Ponna Poola... Though his songs on mother are blindly categorized into "Amma Sentiment Songs", each song stands on its own in terms of context and emotion. This song creates a gut wrenching feeling. I don't want to hear any other voice other than IR's for these type of situations. I doubt any one else can bring that "feel"
10 Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev Eternal Echoes Beyond Love - Firefly "... if life's summers have warmed you, and your inner spaces have charmed you, I can set you afire and the word too!" - Brrrrrrrrrrrr!
11 Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev Eternal Echoes The Divine Secret - Tenderness "With the work done, why linger on? Depart gracefully, says my mind. But what to do with lovers? Who have lost themselves in the process of loving..." - Good question :)
12 Martin Davich ER: Original Television Theme Music and Score Hell and High Water (From "Hell and High Water") This piece has undertones of the ER Theme (which is one of the best pieces composed in terms of what it depicts - you can feel you are in an emergency room just hearing that)
13 Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev Eternal Echoes Glimpse of the Master - Shameless The first few times I heard this, when it came to the verse - "The strength of shoulder of donkey in prime, would make a wellbred horse stand in shame..." I used to cry. To this day, I am not able to precisely say why.
14 iLaiyarAjA Friends Kuyilukku Koo Koo... After 30 years, he comes up with a song like this. Also passed by uneventfully was the fact that three stalwarts sang this together - SPB, HH and SM.
15 iLaiyarAjA Geetha Vazhipadu En Paava... இவர் பாடும் பாவ கணக்கு பட்டியல் எல்லாருக்கும் பொருந்தும் என்று நினைக்கிறேன்! Just that not everyone thinks like this!
16 Harris Jeyaraj Ghajini Yoheio Ghajini... Just wait for the drums to roll and the chorus to start. It brings the mood of revenge precisely! That flute piece makes me shudder. I am curious to know how ARR handled this in the Hindi version!
17 Harris Jeyaraj Ghajini rangOlA... Another masquerading song. But nice tune!
18 vidyAsAgar gilli kokkarakkO... Excellent song, unfortunately sung by Udit :-(. It makes me switch off internally!
19 Hans Zimmer Gladiator The Battle This piece deserves a standing ovation. Unfortunately, because of YSR, I think of Vijaykanth walking all the time!
20 kArthikrAjA Grahan Kehte Ki Jisko... Just wait for the opening humming! Hooked on thereafter!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summary reviews...

American Gangster: Very well made movie. Denzel Washington is strong as usual! Recreate the late sixties quite beautifully!

Toy Story: Yes, watching this only now. So not writing any review. Just that, ever since they came out with this movie, Pixar have consistently done two things: Increase audience expectations, and then match them. They've been successful at this up until their latest movie now.

Pancha Bhootha Aradhana

About what it is, you can read from the source:

After a long time, I had the opportunity to attend this. I have no clue what happened inside. But after it was all over and I came out, one resounding feeling was within. To precisely describe this:

"Life is so vast. And I know only a tiny speck of it!"

Just the horizontal is so vast. A million songs to listen. A million books to read. A million people to meet. Then the vertical - which is totally another dimension.

The search will never stop. May be I will never know it all. But why does that seem more than fine?

Monday, July 20, 2009

What I am listening to now...

Well, the opinions are subjective (bias/prejudice warning!)

S.NoArtistAlbumTitleMy comments
1MaragadhamaniAzhaganSaadhi Malli Poocharame...Very simple song - but the appeal is in the simplicity. Also, the lyrics are beautiful - கடுகைப்போல் உனதுள்ளம் இருக்கக்கூடாது. கடலைப்போல் விரிந்ததாய் இருக்கட்டும்!
2BharathibArathiyAr pAdalgaLKakkai Chiraginiley...Bharathiiiiiiii. His brilliance is what has caused just the utterance of the word "kakkai chiraginilE" to associate with this song. Another thing to note is that he chose this to be the first phrase instead of anything else. The man saw God in everything! "I feel you when I let my hand in fire!"
3BharathibArathiyAr pAdalgaLAcchamillai Acchamillai...When he says, do not fear when the sky falls on your head, there is very little to comment isn't it? The nerves steel when you hear "பிச்சை வாங்கி உண்ணும் வாழ்க்கை வந்துவிட்ட போதிலும்..."
4BharathibArathiyAr pAdalgaLEthanai Kodi Inbam...This song shows that Bharathi is deeply aware of the goal of a spiritual process. In essence, he says, this world, the "other world" - everything is so psychedelic!
5Harris JeyarajbhImAsiRu pArvaiyAlE...HJ impresses with his glossololia style openings. He seems to have a continuous supply. Another thing he is quite good is presenting (masquerading) a western song in native format
6rahmAnBombayPoovukkenna...What an outrageous presentation! Wonder if MR was expecting this from ARR when he gave him the situation. The song carries six-seven years of story with it. In the end, when it hits the crescendo, with the chorus, tabla and flute - totally outlandish, yet strikes home very closely!
7vidyAsAgarchan-thiramukiaththiththOm...Don't ask why, but this song is proof that there is a Creator (aka, atheists are wrong!)
8Ravi ShankarChants of IndiaMangalamWierd coincidence, I decided to put this song on my playlist. I then later heard this in a very sacred setting as well. "Sarva mangalam bhavathu bhavathu bhavathu" - Kudos to this culture!
9vidyAsAgarchan-thiramuki - pinnaniFinal Confrontation...Makes me want to watch the movie again. Makes me wonder, our composers are equally at ease with native music as well as Hollywood style music!
10Ravi ShankarChants of IndiaMahaa Mrityunjaya"Sacred" button on!
11Harris JeyarajchellamEARiya uthadugaL...Very peppy. Very direct lyrics! But somehow doesn't cause any discomfort. The first interlude violin pieces are awesome (kudos for not using synthesizers)
12iLaiyarAjAChinna GounderAndha Vaanatha...Now a classic. I love IR's voice :). I remember the impact this caused when watching with the video. It's now beaten to death, yet still survives!
13iLaiyarAjAChinnavarPadagottum Pattamma...I love the effortlessness with which IR pulled an excitingly pepply, but native song out of his hat. The first interlude, you can see, he literally toys with the notes.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Request for Financial help for my 1.9 year old son’s Cancer treatment

I am posting this on behalf of my colleague. I have also taken the liberty to post his request for help as an online document.

The document can be viewed here.

I have masked out his contact details, however, I know this is a genuine situation since we work in the same organization. It was quite painful to see the contrast in the two photographs of the child.

You can help, either by donating or by spreading the word.

Ways to donate: Simplest way would be to post the amount to the account number mentioned online.
If you are abroad and you wish to contribute, please get in touch with me; I can coordinate this through my Paypal account.

If you've contributed on your own because of this post, it will help if you leave a comment with the amount (anonymously if you so desire) so it will be helpful to tally totals and notify Balaji.

I will post any updates back to this post. Thanks!

Update: 17th July 2009. Things happened so fast on this one. Follow up message from Balaji below

Dear All,

This is to inform that I have received around 5 lakhs till now, which I think would be sufficient for my Child's further treatment, I may require another 3 lakhs which would be received shortly, may be by tomorrow. So I would like to thank every one of you who stood there behind me and my son. A big thanks to each one of you.

Please forward this mail to everyone concerned, as my mail box is full now, i am not able to send and receive mails. I managed somehow to send this mail. I have no more words, only tears with happiness that I can now confidently treat my Child in the same hospital.

Great help from you all.

I do not want to make more and excess money out of it, still my company people in North America and in India are supporting me. I think I would get the sufficient amount by tomorrow.

I would request everyone of you to forward this mail to all. Soooooooooooo Sorry if had missed someone. Kindly circulate.

Thank you all Once again. I am grateful to everyone in this World. God is great, more than this, people are Great.

Balaji R

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Happenning

I am one of the "alarmists" who feel we're heading for doomsday in the way we are treating the planet and rest of life (well, it includes fellow humans, so it is all of life). But I was always of the opinion that it would be a calamity - a build-up of all that we have done and it would be in a way that is totally unpredictable after the build-up reaches critical mass.

But "The Happenning" adds a devious twist to it. The trees upgrade their chemistry and release a neurotoxin (to protect themselves) that cause humans to kill themselves. That is really a new twist and adds a surprise element right at the start of the movie. You add to that, Shyamalan's skill on crafting a really scary screenplay. He has the ability to hold the fear pulse of the audience.

But sadly, it goes down hill from there. The rest of the movie just plays on this opening premise where much could have been done with it. Also, there is too much gore in the enactment, something I never expected in a Shyamalan movie, more so given the fact he is known for his subtle touches.

I think the biggest miss of the movie is the fact that it could have driven home the concern for planetary protection using is scary fictional setting of a humanitarian crisis. (Something, "Day after Tomorrow" did very well!). It almost feels like they cut the movie short owing to a budget crisis!

You still have to give points to him for the offbeat imagination and his ability to carve a fearful screenplay.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Experian - deceptive marketing...

I came across this ad while browsing. Experian happens to be one of the major credit reporting agencies (along with Equifax and TransUnion)

Just looking at the ad gave the feeling that it is not just a freebie and it is a tag along with a monthly pay service. As always with marketing of this kind, the ad doesn't say it. Next, among the many reasons the user has to choose to see his credit report - they do nothing with that. All the "links" take to the same page (below).

When you click on "Get your FREE report"

You are led to the page where you get your "free report" along with your 30 day free trial of the CreditExpert monitoring service. I didn't explore further, but I am betting that you pay monthly unless you cancel. Anyway, a separate topic is why citizens need to go to such hoops to see their credit report? I am guessing it must be freely available.

Also beats me is the fact that such a huge entity like Experian cannot resort to more straightforward marketing/advertising!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Fedex, Roddick and the 15th Grand Slam crown

Well, to start the match, I was always rooting for my favorite Federer.

But even during the course of the match, it was an awe filled experience to watch Roddick keep the heat on Federer relentlessly. For a good part of the game, it was actually Federer struggling. Roddick got the first set, and almost got the second - when Federer weaved some magic and got through.

The epic five setter epic fifth set lasted 30 games and the only time Federer broke Roddick's serve, he got the match.

Statistically, this match is very significant, but on that particular day no one lost! It is very silly to keep accounts for a game like this, for it could have been so easily been the other way. Roddick deserved his maiden Wimbledon crown as much as Federer deserves his 15th Wimbledon title Grand Slam title.

This post by Telegraph covers the key moments of the match very well.

Wondering how I managed to blabber so much in one post! :)

Thursday, July 02, 2009


#001 It took less than 40 minutes to read this book

#002 140 bites, each bite 140 bytes or less. Oh, if you didn't guess already, the entire book was written on Twitter.

#003 The praises, foreword are all tweet sized

#004 Funnily, the shorter the content, the more thought you need to put in to assimilate what has been offered.

#005 One read of this book isn't sufficient. You may have to reread it multiple times to truly appreciate this.

#006 To the author, Rajesh Setty's immense credit, he follows the essence of the advice he is trying to share.

#007 Pithy statements need not be trivial

#008 Essence1 of this book: Try to give before you try to get

#009 Essence2 of this book: There is no bar for excellence

#010 Read it - it will be worth your time (40 minutes of it anyway!)

#011 Ordering information here:

Low attention span!

As information explodes, the number of things that compete to catch our attention is extremely high. From a marketing perspective, businesses catch up on this and make their ads pithy and make it as simple and unintelligent as possible. In fact, the primary success of Twitter can be attributed to this dip in attention holding capability of people in general. Now, we also have the first ever book (?) written on Twitter.

Now to clarify: All this is fine. If people's attention span is lower, you have to do what works, as long as it is sincere. The problem is when people start recommending others to kill blogs and move the entire universe to nuggetdom. Because, several things on the internet (and life) can only be accomplished by consistent continuous effort. And there is no substitute for that. Can I learn an entire programming language on Twitter? I think the more meaningful thing to do is to acknowledge the tweets and the fact that the new nugget sized world is here to stay.

Low attention span at its extreme is a disease (ADD). Use Twitter or anything else to done quickly that doesn't need something elaborate. It's a super effecient tool that allows you to connect to others or do things that weren't possible before. It is also reorganizing itself with the possibilities in that plane. However, if you are low on attention, or if your pattern is changing to low-attention mode because of all this, may be it is time for a check point.

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