Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I missed the link in the Book Handling post. Here it is
Book Handling

Love your books

My heart sinks everytime I catch sight of book abuse. Anyone who values a book will never treat it carelessly. I love books - reading them as well as collecting them. And I am very careful and choosy about the people I lend books to. Somehow, if someone were to mishandle a book of mine, that person would lose credibility in my eyes. I would probably think twice before trusting such people with anything that needs care.

I recommend this pictorial tutorial on book handling. It is a well presented one that uses the visual medium to communicate information about right book handling techniques.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Troy: The Movie

If my entire review were to be summed up in a word, I'll say 'GRAND'.

I was completely fascinated by TROY the movie. Not because of Brad Pitt or any other character, but because of the phenomenal photography, the effortless portrayal of the characters, the rich colors of the locations as well as the costumes, the enormous scale of production and lastly the stirring background score of James Horner.

I sailed back in time to ancient Greece the moment the first scene started. While history (or is it legend?) has been tweaked a bit to make Paris live and Menelaus die, those tiny details did not matter at all. From the single swish of the sword to kill Thessaly's most powerful warrior to the fearless initial attack of Troy and seizure of the Temple of Apollo, Achilles dazzles all the way.

However, my favorite character in the movie was Hector for his simple goodness and his strong beliefs in all that that is right and moral and good. It was very moving. The night after he slays Patroclus, Hector knows that he will meet his end at the hands of Achilles on the morrow. Death is beautifully shown in his eyes and written all over his actions. He knows that his end has arrived but he walks upto it strong and humble.

Another strongpoint of the movie is the effective use of dialogue. From Priam's "Wars are fought for money, power, fame and love" and "You are still my enemy tonight but you can treat enemies with respect" to Achilles' "The Gods envy the mortals" - perfect.

After three engrossing hours of Troy, I barely recognized my own city when I stepped out of the cinema hall. It has been a while since I lost myself in a movie. A day after watching it, I am still savoring its effects. Whatever be the cost of making Troy ($200mn apparently), it is an effort that will surely reap its dividends.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Like attracts like?

While on the subject of theories, I seem to have some innate power by which I make other humans with theory professing capabilities gravitate towards me. Maybe because I usually make a sincere attempt at single-pointed attention while listening to other people talk. Whatever be the reason, theories are great to listen to especially if they border on the outrageous.

In recent times I have managed to draw to myself many new funny theorists who have harangued about many things under the sun. As always I try and listen and soak in the ridiculousness before reacting. It is so much fun. The more ridiculous the theory is, the greater is my joy. One such theory was the connection between A-strap slippers and social work. Apparently my theorist pal found that women who wear A-strap slippers tend to favor social work or at the least feel for the cause. There are plenty of such hard-to-prove-so-hard-to-refute theories that I have heard. I will list them out sometime when I really need a laugh.

Opinions and theories

In addition to opinions, I also dish out theories ever so often. A lot of unsuspecting people just need to ask me a question and the theory juggernaut rolls. Sometime back, one of my friends asked me what I thought the term 'down to earth' means. On the same head, this friend also wanted to know what I thought of 'Simple Living and Straight Thinking'. I emailed three paragraphs and I did not hear from this friend in months :) Pasted below is what I wrote back then.

Sometimes words can mean very different things at different times to different people. Simple living and Straight Thinking are words that are extremely subjective in nature.

Simple living to me means a living that is not subject to the whims of desire. A lot of us tie happiness to the outcome of desires. And that all powerful emotion can control and damage our lives if we leave it unchecked. Sometimes we confuse desire with necessity and make our lives miserable. Why is it important that we have a car just because we earn five figure salaries? Sure, a car is a comfortable thing and perhaps it is fast becoming a necessity. But if we tie our happiness to the act of buying a car then we are bound to be miserable for long as the ball of happiness will roll over to some other desire the moment the car is in our garage. So simple living is really a matter of identifying the truly important things in our life and putting them above the desires that consume us from time to time. I do not believe that simple living means scorning money and its power. It is just the ability to be smart enough to realize what extravagance is and what is important.

Straight Thinking is getting me in an argumentative frame of mind. Why is it that 'straight' is interpreted as 'right'? Well, let us ignore the apparent narrowness of these words in the assumption that some medieval uppity Englishman coined the term in the pride of his own moral standards. I would prefer to reword straight thinking to harmless thinking. If we observe the pattern of our thoughts, a lot of it is usually good but some of it is particularly vicious in nature. We seek revenge, imagine hurting someone and what not. Such thoughts cannot be harmless simply because they activate the latent animal in every man. Thoughts that do not sow the seeds of venom are good thoughts. This is indeed an idealistic interpretation and it needs to be toned down to gray from its black and white projection. However, at its simplest level 'straight thinking' should include some sense of beliefs and values, integrity in thoughts and actions, basic respect for fellow beings and obviously a good level of self respect.

Now let us get to what started us on this discussion in the first place - the term 'down to earth'; I would call someone 'down to earth' if they were practical, amenable to reason and pleasant to be with.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Echo thing stuck!

Hmm...how did I ever miss the fact that my display name is Echo? Whatever, it is hardly a hollow word anymore :)

A Name is such an elusive thing

I wanted to call this blog Hyperbole since I have these hugely exaggerated ideas about the value of my opinions. I like to believe that I merely need to voice a thought to set a colossal change in motion. Anyway someone beat me to it in the blogging zone. So I had to settle for the innocuous JustJots.

A little before I thought of Hyperbole, I tossed around 'Echo' and decided that it was too hollow to be me :) Ahem, well I looked up for the origin of Echo and found out that Echo was a mountain nymph, in Greek Mythology, condemned to speak only in echoes because her chattering distracted the goddess Hera from the infidelity of Zeus. Unable to declare her love for Narcissus, Echo pined away in solitude until her bones turned to stone and only her voice remained. After such a background, Echo hardly suited my naming criteria. So out went Echo.

A few minutes before the Echo thought originated there was Hydra, which to my petty delight was a thing which is hard to overcome or resist because of its pervasive or enduring quality or its many aspects. Unfortunately Greek Mythology intervened and I realized that Hydra was a many-headed snake whose heads grew again as they were cut off.

On reconsideration, I think I will happily live with JustJots. Not many myths to live with on this one.