slipgun's den

everyday epiphanies treated to overanalysis. plus techno-social-cultural babble from a 3rd world point of view.

Sunday, November 23, 2003
it seems my dreams of being a regular writer have again been kept away for more serious stuff. more games.

i really have a deficit of hours in my daily schedule when i try to fit in TV, novels, studies, games and writing. so some of these thigns will have to be sacrificed. for the record, the new crop of games include postal 2, freedom fighters, soldiers of anarchy, post mortem, Baldur's gate II (this one is actually my brother's choice), cold zero, IGI 2 and oni.

so long from this world.

Thursday, November 20, 2003
dull & dumber
Listening to: Dashboard Confessional - The Places you have come to feel


Its been 5 days since the phone line has gone down taking the net access with it. Very conveniently timed, I must say. Just when I finished a massive game and part of a massive course and needed some time off. Some times I do feel that there is a greater hand at work here. Maybe the phone line and the electricity have a love-hate relationship with me. Why is it always that as soon as I sit down for my daily dose of sitcoms, I am blanketed in darkness, which is not at all comfortable considering winter is here maybe it is not in the extremely ordinary 0-5 degrees the first world is used to but us tropical people are very very uneasy in a time when the fart-causing-bacteria is not at ease in us. Its time I got over TV now that I am imagining a relationship with electricity. Scary.

A lot of people defend Discovery Channel, National Geographic and the ilk with the argument that they are informative. Somehow that makes up for something in the idiot box.

That is a good comment on today's music scene too. Its gotten so bad that even normal and even bad pop artists with guitars (read avril, and those busted guys) feel better than britney - whose latest song with Madonna puts everything else to shame. Come on. How many stabs at fame do you want? And why disrespect the music with it. You can be a pr0n star and be popular. And respected in music circles too. (Anybody remembers 'The Ballad of Chasy Lane'?)

I have a problem with that. That information is unwanted. The infotainment that they provide is not needed and is only there to spark our temporary interest. And information - however interesting but if still unwanted - is trivia. And I guess apart from Sean William Scott (hint: Dude where is my car? ostrich farm in the middle of America. that is by far the best teen comedy movie... EVER) no one has ever used that information. So my argument is that it is better to be entertained than to be informed from TV and remember its purpose.

That's why I even stopped reading newspapers. It would take one hour daily every day in the morning and gradually I started doing it for the sake of reading. Every parent encourages their kid to read the paper to be informed and improve their English (in our country). I reached the limit of 'improving' my English through papers. Realization stuck me that the information there was also just useless data. Trivial matters who became irrelevant in a day or two. And thus you missed nothing. I just read the editorial page for some time but it also turned to shit now. Or maybe its just me who is changing considering the papers' readership stays at par. and unlike chemistry, I don't suppose a dynamic equilibrium is at work here as a major factor with people leaving equaling people joining the readership.

Now I just read the comics every day. Nothing else is worth reading now. The lead paper here, timesofindia.com has become a self-serving entity. Every day at least half the news are about the parent company launching this channel and that radio FM service and economic conventions and strip bars. And they are shameless at that. They put comments underneath important articles. Hullo there? You are a goddamned reporter, not the judge. Let the public do that. We want news, not opinions and leading the people into something. The editorial page is there for whatever you think. They changed the whole paper into a color format. I have no absolutely qualms with that but when they highlighted passages in the editorial page (considering you can't do anything else in that region with color or photos or ads), they broke the proverbial hunchback and camel's cross-pollinated hump. I mean, WTF? Are we a kindergarten country or what? Not only that, they changed from 3 editorials a day about diverse issues (one of them being a little on the lighter side) to 1 editorial and 2 articles having opposing views on a issue. Again, WTF? Ambiguity had started to creep into them since the last Executive editor left (Dileep Padagaonkar. I personally liked the guy and his fortnightly columns) and this was the limits. They are not willing to take a stand in important issues and will generally moan about the conditions of government and society like a rape victim in the middle of the act and unsure about the enjoyment she is having is worth suing or not. Damn mutherfuckers. They resemble Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp more and more everyday who bend over backwards and become rightwing in each country, be that China or USA.

And they didn't stop at that. They spearheaded the creation for a tabloid environment here. Earlier there were no page 3 people, whatever that means. Just serious news. Now we have all these people having parties and being featured in pages. I don't see the whole point unless this is the upper class back patting among themselves and butt-licking and giving the rest of the country the opportunity to see them in the act. Their argument is that it motivates people to work for a better condition. I didn't know if they were serious or not but is this a better condition? People drinking and reaching for more and more coverage. I see the scene here increasingly reminding me of Orwell's 1920's post WWI England with class differences between workers and upper middle class. 40% of the population lives in cities and must be in the reach of English papers. The rest 60% wipe their Asses with such papers and then use water after shitting out in the open. Somehow middle class here in major cities has become a totally different country from the villages without electricity (in one of my friend's villages, the line went down in 1978 and hasn't returned yet. *chuckle*). It's like living in 4 centuries at once and I still have to decide whether it is good thing or not.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003
a doomed marriage
Listening to: KMFDM: Megalomaniac


In this age of super-boredom, hyper-mediocrity. Celebrate relentlessness, menace to society

I caught the matrix bug a bit late. First time I saw the original 99 sleeper hit was on pirated videotape and it would be months before it would be released officially and the awws and oohs would start coming. 4 years later, its full impact has hit me. I started frequenting [url]matrixessays.blogspot.com[/url] regularly for more theories and even contributed some stuff I found on the net there. Thanks to HBO, which keeps repeating it every other day, thus denying me any scope of doubt within a margin of 3 to 4 days.
I am reading the bad reviews of 'Matrix Revolutions' and it seems to have stuck a chord of discontent far and wide. But I am pretty happy about it. I never expected it to answer important questions. That was for the fans to think for themselves. Sort of like 'the ring'.

I am going to watch 'Ring 0: Birthday' in an hour or so. HBO has some Japanese festival going on and may lord thank them for that. And also the Japanese for their weird stories. Go check out a lot of reviews for Japanese horror flicks, Indian 70s action movies, and various other Italian and Turkish crap at teleport-city.com. If there is an idol on the net for me, this guy is. He is so enjoying his life doing what he wants.

I liked 'Matrix: Reloaded'. If the first part was about raising questions on faith, then the second part was about choice and fate. As a self-proclaimed philosopher - he he - I expected them to raise questions and make us think, not to give the walkthrough. Providing me some real life excitement so I can tie up the questions raised by the movie with me, my grandma went into action. Although surreptiously because she knows I ridicule astrology and its brethren. Stocking me up with ammo on my assault on the believers around some months back was the editorial in the newspaper. A study

I hate these words. They keep doing such weird studies like how milk is bad for health and then how it is good as an anti-cancer thing that the whole point is lost in a million other worthless IgNobel efforts. Which rounds up another extremely important implication of matrix. Most people have been reminded again of Orwell's 1984 (Year of my birth, w00t!) by the movie. While they should be looking at another previous and totally more relevant effort by Aldous Huxley. 'Brave New World' lays out the exact very world of today where we have been so habituated into shocking news (and live war coverage which is worse than pr0n, however embedded they may be into silica in middle east) that everything becomes irrelevant and mediocrity takes prominence.

Conducted on time twins since 1962 (people born at the same time) till 2002 took place where every subject's life was monitored for 40 years and they found no important similarities in their life.

Not that I don't believe in all this at all. One day last year in those sleep-deprived hangover mornings I read the paper and my horoscope said, "You have been thinking about the question of life, universe and everything. (He he) and today you will get a hint." I was taken by surprise because I had been troubled for the last some days by it - alcohol can do this to you. And also turn males to female slowly according to Discovery Channel - and the horoscope was to the point. It was by a Shelly Von Strunckel and as was my habit, I went to her site some time later and I have to say this. Her prediction for the period July 03 - July 04 has been pretty accurate till now.

Anyway, my grandma recently went to the city where I was born. She went to the hospital and got the exact time (which is 1350 hrs btw). She got a priest on the job to make my 'TIPPANI'. It is an exact planet chart on my birth time which can be used thus for predicting my future and defining me as such. The main difference in Indian astrology and the western counterpart is that it takes Latitude/Longitude also in consideration. Now there is a point that may have some truth. These sadhus and temples have definitely gone hi-tech. I remember catching a Tibetan monk in Delhi with a Nokia Communicator. Now the computer does all my Birth Chart. Makes sense because it has so many enormous calculations, it would be the first software developed in India. The religious monomania here just kills me. So it has got some interesting things to say. It states an average financial life for me with occasional short-term problems - which is reassuring. That I am very jealous kind of guy, which is totally wrong. That I will have a bad 2003 in terms of health and is right this time with my bout of jaundice and other such discomforting diseases after a clean 9 years.

Here's the dope. It states that I had Mars in my first house or some such crap. Which means that Mars has a very strong affect on my life. This basically translates, "I can only get really intimate or marry a girl who is also similarly in deep shit with Mars.” Otherwise it can be fatal - written explicitly in the text, no warnings, no sugar coating. A plain line with no rituals to overturn it.

Ah! The vagaries of a pre-destined life! There goes my dream of moving to Lebanon for Rannoush. Damn.

Sunday, November 16, 2003
american sitcom 101
Listening to: Freelance Hellraiser - Ballad of a HellRaiser


TV has become this integral temporary part of my life. For the first time in my life, I am a bonafide couch potato deciding sleep patterns and changing eating times around TV. I am the invisible guy at my home that can only be seen when the electricity is gone and that is around 1 hour every day. And I love it right now although I know I can't continue like this for a lot of time in the immediate future. I wrote an article some time back about the serials I had just started watching. But come October, and the whole schedule changes. All seasons start around this month and yes, they are not the latest seasons from the US. Its time to list the seducers. Oh and a big thanks to tvtome.com for all the comprehensive references, the TVDB of the net.

It's important for you to know that there only 2 channels which aim for an audience looking for English programming. And one more - AXN - which has only Arnold and the teletubbies on air. Ok maybe not the teletubbies but they are as frightening as any of the 80s action movies. And they have a lot of bad serials typically American featuring a lot of home videos and reality TV.

'Everybody Loves Raymond'(ELR) and 'Dharma & Greg' shifted to weekly slots from the daily ones. Raymond is in Italy right now and Dharma and Greg ended. Season 5 & series finale happened some time ago. ELR was a particular favorite and it hasn't disappointed. In their place, 'just shoot me'(JSM) and 'home improvement' have started. Now I don't particularly like the latter which seems too 'full house' for me (running daily on another channel) but JSM rocks. Its got David Spade and is currently in the middle of season 3 where a lot of good action is coming from. Some really good references to Hitchcock and a good cast. But not everything is good. I saw 'lost & found', a movie with Spade in the romantic lead and well it is too disappointing to speak about. Carrying on are 'the simpsons' (which has become a religion. said many times, but one of the best shows on TV) and friends which is currently in season 6 or so. I know it is pretty crappy and it has become a soap opera but I have seen so many episodes now that I am going to watch it completely. But I swear if they do the Ross & Rachel thing again, somebody is going to get killed. And I noticed (as did Wayne Brady on Whose line is it Anyway(WLIIA)?) that there are no blacks in friends' NYC. Strange city. On that matter, Eddie Murphy's 'Boomerang' has no whites. Another strange place. On the other channel, I am watching 'Will & Grace' (strange that it so popular when our country is not really so cool with homosexuality yet), 'Caroline in the City' (which is ok but I think I am going to bail out in some episodes) and Friends again from season 1 onwards. Hey, its only one soap opera till now. There is another show late nights called 'Dave's world' but it is wearing off. Something about a writer and well, his jokes are good but the 80s setting is a turn-off.

The weeklies has a good lineup too for around half a week. Add another 4 sitcoms on Monday - 'that 70s show' (I like that round table cam. and the 70s guest appearances and Nixon references), ELR, 'yes dear' which is so-so, and 'Becker' whom I just love. This guy is so pissed off. He reminds me of 'Cheers' which is on early mornings (bad timing) but I can't follow it. They stopped 'grounded for life' which was my favorite on Monday nights with its unique flashback style. Damn.
My favorite 2 sitcoms are on Tuesday - 'The Drew Carey Show' and WLIIA. The weirdest humor and the greatest improv actors. There is 'Monk' too, which is nice but the mystery standards are still not up to earlier great shows like Poirot and the rest. Sometimes I even watch 'Law & Order: SVU'. But the constant stream of badass molesters gets too tiring sometimes. I started watching 'Alias - season 2' but family intrigue and fake off shore locations are very idiotic to me.
Wednesdays is time for 'Ally McBeal' which although widely panned somehow keeps me interested. It's a really quirky comedy and the writing is really good. I used to watch David Kelly's other show, 'Boston Public' purely because it was set in a school but it ended. It's also time for 'Titus' (which is fast becoming A favorite) and '2 guys & a girl', which is OK. This is also the day for 'CSI: Miami', the only show on AXN I like. Just pure forensic science. No relationship shit between the characters. Thats the way I like.
The new line-up on Thursday is really shit. There is 'Roswell' last season (teenage aliens? WTF. 2 episodes and I was going to puke but the music is good), 'Dark Angel' last season (never found it interesting) and Joe Millionaire (I never could get the hang of reality TV). Not that the earlier line-up was any better with Buffy and Angel. A bunch of weirdos. I saw the musical episode and hung around for Alyson Hannigan and that too lesbian! W00t! But it crapped out in some time with its seemingly video game style of killing a few vampires every show.
The rest of the week isn't so good. The saving grace is '6 ft under' which is by far, the best drama series on TV right now. Season 1 just ended. Then there is 'opposite sex', a cancelled show (really bad but the girls are good) and friends season 9. I know thats a little too much of this serial but I can't help it. Got to finish what I started. Late night Saturdays is 'sex and the city' which is growing on me. And they replaced 'futurama' with 'the simpsons' season 12 and 'Malcolm in the middle' with '3rd rock from the sun' last season on Sundays. There are 2 more shows - 'hidden hills' which is chugging along right now and 'Norm' (another SNL alumni, Norm McDonald) which is rising along with Titus as my favorite new sitcom.

That about sums it up. It seems like one of the channels has bought all syndicated stuff. I keep catching weird American sitcoms like 'the Gregory Hines show', 'can't hurry love', 'the promised land', 'touched by an angel', ER, 'the west wing', 'royal Canadian air farce' and boatload of other stuff. I have started appreciating the resilient nature of American people. Forget 9/11, enduring such crap since the TV was invented must have been testing. Bravo, bravo!!
But there is some good stuff too. I really wish I could watch all those classics like Seinfield, Frasier and M*A*S*H. right now, I am waiting for 'Curb your enthusiasm'. Its going to kick some real ass if the guys at tvtome are right about it.

Saturday, November 15, 2003
gamelog II
Listening to: Audio Bullys - Ego War - snow


I have come to expect the reality of my writing habits. I am just not a blogger stereotype. Somehow I always loose the will to write every day after some days writing. I have tried to do shorter passages, maybe just one point at a time but then my old school diary habits just don't allow me to. I feel this impulse to do pieces at least of an acceptable length. Which for me stands around 600 words minimum. Its funny. When I started writing in my diary, I would usually write once in a month or so and then the frustration would be lost and an overpowering urge to do something more worthwhile would grip me. Now this cycle has been reduced to 10-14 days.

That still does not explain this long absence. This sitting is coming after I finished a game I started long ago, seems like in another millennium. Also - and more importantly - I finished a portion of my course. I have assigned 6 hours to the 4 things I do everyday - the PC, studies, sleep and TV. That's right folks. I preferred to watch TV over writing. The woes of a couch potato who knows the depth of broth he is in. I couldn't help it. I am in the middle of an 'American sitcom 101 crash course'. But more about it later.

I finished KISS: Psycho Circus today and it has been hell of a long ride. After ranting for short games this one game took the better part of 2 weeks. To be fair, I did some days of playing and only studied. Still, it was a long, scary ride. I have had this fear of clowns for as long as I have been going to the circuses. And even if not scary, they have never been funny. It always seems like they have had a bad childhood and are going to take revenge anytime. So this game was like exorcism. Yeah baby! Shooting so many carnies comes only second to shooting 'sardars', and Indian race of people you may know as 'Sikhs' in hitman 2. Its a nice game although a bit hard on the normal and more difficult levels. Loads of worlds, lot of KISS music, a badass ending video and actually better than a lot of merchandise games from comics. For comparison, you can take Spiderman which I am going to play next. It maybe slightly good and diehard fans may die for the trivia and Stan Lee narration but for me, the restricted camera angles are going to be a problem if they are trying to compete to the level of Lara Croft. In the pipeline are deusex and undying.

Update 121103: started playing Spiderman. This one is totally for hardcore fans with collector comic books as secrets in the stage, Stan Lee voiceover and cameos by his entire cast of superheroes - the human torch, black cat, silver surfer, etc. its got a fats paced storyline too. Although technically you can see the engine is based on Tony Hawk Pro Skater's one (they have ads of THPS2 all over the game) and even the menu is same. Lazy neversoft/activision bastards. It feels so dated.


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