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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Six of our favourite kids on TV

Six of our favourite kids on TV

Debbie from Shameless: Debbie, played by Emma Kenny is the kindhearted soft -spoken Gallagher. We don’t know whether to weep when Debbie cries at the loss of the borrowed Aunt Ginger or to applaud when she stoically decides that she’d rather deal with a drunk father than a father who relapses. Her vulnerability, wisdom and good sense makes us love her more when we see her among her hardscrabble, tough siblings.

Arya Stark from Game of Thrones: She’s a tough one. She doesn’t simper in fear, she doesn’t moan in despair and she recites the names of her enemies before she goes to bed so she’ll remember that she has to kill them.  Played by  Maisie Williams, she is alert and smart and she never shows fear.

Manny from Modern Family: Manny is an adult in an kid’s body. He drinks coffee, writes love poetry, had a turtle called Shel Silverstein and usually has some great advice for everyone. He’s also a great salsa dancer. Played by Rico Rodriguez, as Gloria says, “Manny is old soul.”

Hope from Raising Hope: Very few toddlers, since the Olsen twins on Full House have had cuteness combined with the perfect expressions, whether they are entirely indifferent like baby Lily on Modern Family or just a “lump” like Emma on Friends. Played by Rylie and Baylie Cregut, Hope seems to almost enjoy her crazy but sweet family’s antics.

Jake from Two and a half men: When this show began a few hundred years ago, Jake, like Charlie Sheen was extremely cute. Angus T Jones (Tv’s richest kid) plays the stupid and gross kid and you still manage to feel bad for him. The opening credits of the show has him transform to a chubby cute kid to a….taller chubby cute kid.

Luke from Modern Family: Luke, Luke, Luke. He’s fun, adventurous, stupid and almost evil. Sure, Manny’s funny because he’s already an adult, but Luke is a real thirteen year old, he doesn’t care about consequences and he just wants to have fun.  What’s really fascinating is that vacuous Luke, who hates the cops is played by Nolan Gould, who is a member of Mensa. Watch him on Ellen and you’ll fall in love with him.

Haaave you met Neil Patrick Harris?: A tribute

Neil Patrick Harris or NPH or Barney Stinson is awesome. And not only because he is a brilliant actor and has a name that are actually three first names but because of these reasons –

NPH started his career as a child star with Clara’s Heart and Doogie Howser MD, he went on to do a bunch of movies, plays, TV shows, he has a nice family, has never been accused of drug abuse, alcoholism or crazy behaviour. He didn’t grow up to be utterly annoying and a cliché. And thank god, otherwise we may never have gotten

Barney Stinson. NPH plays an opportunistic, manipulative, naïve and incredibly self-obsessed guy with ADHD who “likes to create crazy situations and then sit back and watch it all go down.” I can’t think of anyone other than NPH who could have played Barney; he is perfectly vulnerable and indifferent and has set the bar pretty high for living an “awesome” life. Barney Stinson has a great following in the guys-who-need-a-playbook-to-get-girls category and his catch phrases are legend –

NPH and David Burtka (He played Scooter, Lily’s ex boyfriend in How I met your mother) are a lovely, normal couple. They aren’t over the top, they don’t make the tabloids for any other reason, expect when people want to awww at their cute little baby girls (who are hanging out with Oprah in this picture). Here is the two of them playing The Chewlyweds game.
 

During the writer’s strike of 2008, Joss Whedon created the Dr. Horrible Sing-along log. NPH ays Dr Horrible, a failing superhero who must defeat Caption Hammer, played by Nathon Fillion who is dating the girl he is in love with, Penny, played by Felicity Day. It has 3 acts, was released exclusively on the internet and features some brilliant songs recorded in a small studio in Whedon’s loft. When I re-watched it before writing this story, for research of course, it amazed me all over again. NPH is one of those people who will do interesting things because he has an opportunity to. He has a great part in a big sitcom, he has his movies on the side, but that doesn’t deter him from trying fun new things. Something we all wish we can do with our careers that easily get stunted or boring.

Among his many talents which include looking hot in a suit is singing. He shows it off in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along blog and on even better on Glee. Listen to his cover of Dream on by Aerosmith with Mr Shuster.

Talking about Glee, here’s where you can watch NPH dancing and convincing you that Broadway is not for gays anymore.

Like Barney, NPH is a magician. That’s right. He is currently serving a two year term as president of the Academy of Magical Arts. They are headquartered at the Magi Castle (remember when he threw a dinner party there as a part of a challenge on Top Chef Masters.)

Is there anything this amazing man cannot do? God!

– Sharanya

To-do: Read

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To-do: Read

We are nearing the release of The Dark Knight Rises and people are going more insane than usual, yes, yes, Nolan, Bane, I get it, stop drooling already. Almost all the tickets are booked for the release weekend and I’m feeling the pressure. What am I to do if I don’t get tickets, what will I talk to people about? Will I be shunned from society?

I have a job and something of a social life and I have to make time to read books, watch movies, watch TV shows, stay updated with everyday internet business. I do it all and in spite of that there are so many things I’m still to do and watch. It cannot be done!  I’ll be having a wonderful conversation about television with someone and then they’ll start talking about Six Feet Under or The West Wing or some other show I haven’t watched and it pisses me off. Let ME tell what a good show is! Just shut your mouth long enough for me to look down upon you for never having watched Studio 60.

I’m so saturated with pop culture that I desperately need the world to stop creating things. Just stop. Stop doing everything, stop making shows, stop writing books, creating art so I can catch up already!

But what suffers the most is my reading. Every once in a while my reading takes a back seat and soon enough it takes me a whole half an hour to get through 2 pages and then I stop putting a book in my bag…it’s just lawlessness  and chaos from there.

So, I’m making a list of books I need to read from The Guardian’s The top 100 books of all time, BBC’s The Big Read and Flavourwire’s 30 books everyone should read before turning 30.

There are 148 books; which means I’ve read 82 books that were on these lists.

I will keep you guys updated on how many I manage to finish. I still have to watch Season 4 of Breaking Bad and Season 3 of Louie, so I might get distracted, but as NPH would say, challenge accepted.

You can tell me how many you’ve read and add to my list in the comments section. But don’t add too many, I’m already intimated. And don’t go all “you haven’t read xxyy yet? Wooooah” on me, ok? Ok.

  1. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  2. A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen
  3. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
  4. A Sentimental Education, Gustave Flaubert
  5. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  6. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
  7. Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner
  8. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  9. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
  10. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
  11. Beloved, Toni Morrison
  12. Berlin Alexanderplatz, Alfred Doblin
  13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
  14. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
  15. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
  16. Blindness, Jose Saramago
  17. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  18. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
  19. Buddenbrooks, Thomas Mann
  20. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
  21. Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
  22. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  23. Children of Gebelawi, Naguib Mahfouz
  24. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  25. Collected Fictions, Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina
  26. Complete Poems, Giacomo Leopardi
  27. Confessions of Zeno, Italo Svevo
  28. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  29. Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol
  30. Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio
  31. Diary of a Madman and Other Stories, Lu Xun
  32. Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes
  33. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
  34. Dune, Frank Herbert
  35. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
  36. Essays, Michel de Montaigne
  37. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  38. Fairy Tales and Stories, Hans Christian Andersen
  39. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
  40. Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  41. Gargantua and Pantagruel, Francois Rabelais
  42. Ghost World, Daniel Clowes
  43. Gilgamesh
  44. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
  45. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  46. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
  47. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
  48. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  49. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
  50. Gypsy Ballads, Federico Garcia Lorca
  51. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
  52. History, Elsa Morante
  53. Holes, Louis Sachar
  54. Hunger, Knut Hamsun
  55. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
  56. Independent People, Halldor K Laxness
  57. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
  58. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
  59. Jacques the Fatalist and His Master, Denis Diderot
  60. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson
  61. Journey to the End of the Night, Louis-Ferdinand Celine
  62. Katherine, Anya Seton
  63. Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
  64. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
  65. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

See the full list here.

Six television couples we love

Six television couples we love

Matt and Harriet from Studio 60

There’s something deeply romantic about these two. She’s his beautiful, spirited muse. He falls to pieces and becomes a gibbering wreck without her. Politically, socially, spiritually they’re at complete odds. She’s a star comedienne and he’s a deeply talented humour writer, so that’s a lot of funny in one relationship. She’s conflicted, he is stubborn.  But there’s something deeply romantic about these two.

Andy and April from Parks and Rec

“We’re in love, we didn’t over think it. I mean, I cannot emphasis how LITTLE we thought about this.” Best. Wedding. Speech. Ever. April and Andy are really children playing at being married. They eat out of Frisbees because who needs plates, their role play involves an FBI agent and a rich, 1920’s widow and they get a bunch of medical tests done for fun, when they learn they have health insurance. And they’re the cutest. April and Andy!

Marshall and Lily from How I met your mother

Lilypad and Marshmellow. Sigh. Where to begin. They met in college and they still tell each other what they had for lunch. She finds his calves irresistible and she knows never to bring up chucky before bedtime. He plans elaborate parties for her because she loves birthdays. “Happy happy lily day.”

Joey and Rachel from Friends

If I was friends with on again/off again/on a break/getting married/having a baby/load a gun and kill me already and whatnot Ross and Rachel, I would have slapped them. A lot. Joey on the other hand was perfect. He was madly in love with Rachel, so pretty, and he was closer to her IQ level than Ross was. Also, clearly he has better game.

Jackie and Hyde from That 70’s show

She is uptight and rich and he’s a rebel with sideburns; they are meant for each other. Unfortunately they don’t work out what with the strippers, weddings, Kelso and Fez in the middle, but Jackie and Hyde were the cutest couple on that 70’s show.

Joey and Pacey from Dawson’s Creek

Joey Potter was caught in the eternal struggle between her best friend and his best friend. Well, it happens to all of us (not really). The kids on the creek sure experimented with a whole bunch of people before a moderately bad boy swept Joey off her feet. And thank god for that. Dawson Leary is the most boring, weak-ass protagonist to roam the land of teenage romance television shows.

What Ho!: A tribute to PG Wodehouse

What Ho!: A tribute to PG Wodehouse

In a Wodehouse novel, a character doesn’t just leap, he “leaps about like a lamb in the springtime,” a girl will not tremble in fear, she’ll “quiver like a badly set blancmange” and when someone chokes on a word, he does it “like a Pekingese on a chump chop too large for its frail strength.” If there’s anyone who uses words with style, it’s PG Wodehouse and that’s only one out of a million reasons why I love him.

I can read a Wodehouse novel anytime. Anytime. There is never a wrong mood and there’s never a bad place. Liking Wodehouse is also a great judge of character. If you’ve read him, you’ve scored brownie points with me. If you like him, I’ll hate you a little less on sight. It’s true. I once met a boy who said casually, “I’m more of a Blandings Castle fan than a Jeeves one.” I’m now dating him.

Speaking of Jeeves, if you’ve read one novel you’ve practically read them all. In that respect, he’s the Aaron Sorkin of literature. You know the plot before you’ve started but it’s all so fresh and new that you enjoy it heartily anyway. When a critic pointed this out, Wodehouse apparently felt very peeved. “I was trying to hide it.”


That’s another thing about Wodehouse. He doesn’t take himself seriously at all, and much like his books he has no clue about the outside world. I devoured this interview in The Paris Review where he couldn’t give the journalist directions to his own house because he had no idea where his house was. Things like directions, are codes, correspondence, even basic current affairs (Jack Kerouac died? Did he? Oh dear they do die off, don’t they?”) he couldn’t be bothered with them. He was just content to sit back and write literature that shines with the brilliance of a sun. And he did it so well; I imagine no one who managed the hum drum stuff for him would mind.

I was reading his Berlin broadcasts the other day and I couldn’t help but wonder. You have to be really positive to see the funny side of a prison camp, I mean geez. The broadcasts make it clear that PG Wodehouse wasn’t made to paint grim pictures. Like his books, everything is sunny and bright and they all live happily ever after. His is the best kind of escapist fiction there is. And when he found out that the broadcasts had ruffled a lot of feathers back home, he was dismayed. “I see now, of course that I was tricked into making these talks and I naturally feel a damned fool.” Dear old soul. Just like one of his well-meaning but errant characters!

I’m only 24 years old and I’ve met at least three staple Wodehouse characters in my life. In my college hostel alone, there was a Madeline Basset who famously thought the stars were gods daisy chain, there was a Bobbie Wickham, a beauty who would always get into trouble and get boys to help her out and there was a pseudo-intellectual Florence Craye (people tell me I’m Florence Craye sometimes, but I don’t believe them and just carry on with my daily life). Without Wodehouse, these characters would have been near unbearable. Because of him, I just find them funny.

Stephen Fry, who along with Laurie, brought faces to well-loved characters said of Wodehouse “You don’t analyse such sunlit perfection. You just bask in its warmth and splendour.” Word.

– Sheena

Judging ’em by the covers

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Judging ’em by the covers

The cover of J. K Rowling’s highly anticipated novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy was released a couple of days ago as was Manu Joseph’s new book, The Illicit Happiness Of Other People. Both are bright yellow, eye-catching and you know they will command a place of prominence at all bookstores (Not accounting for the popularity of the writers, of course).

If you walk into a book store, with absolutely no reviews, tweets or marketing ploys hard-selling books swirling about in your head, what would make you pick a book? The unfortunate and inevitable answer is the cover. The second is the title and synopsis.

We can try to not judge a book by its cover, but judgment comes naturally to us. Book covers, like magazine covers are pretty important to make a sale.

This is why it is so surprising that so many writers have such terrible book covers. Almost the entire rack of books written by new Indian authors (The journalist-turned-author, the IIM graduate-turned author, The-nutritionist/fashionista/twitter account turned writer) have uninspiring, boring and corny covers that give you no indication of what the book contains. Hearts, coffee mugs, clip arts of women with shopping bags; they just blend into each other and you can’t tell them apart.

Having sat in on a few magazine cover ideations, I know that the writers and designers work together on a cover that will best represent the magazine (or at least the writers will agree with the designer’s point of view). Unfortunately in publishing, the writers have only so much control over the cover design. At a discussion panel on the rise of Indian chick-lit I attended, Kiran Manral, author of The Reluctant Detective pointed out that she has no idea why the publishers decided to put a high-heeled shoe on her cover. And, that as a first-time author, she had no choice but to agree. You’d think a writer who has finally got their work published would fight tooth and nail to have it look the way they want. But then again, you’d rather lose that battle than not have your book published at all.

Aesthetics are important in almost every field and while we want to be idealistic and say that if the writing is good, who cares what it looks like, for the average book readers and buyers, the cover is the first thing that attracts your attention. (Disclaimer: This is only applicable to retail items. You can look like Einstein or never comb your hair like APJ Abdul Kalam; if you’re a genius, it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to adhere to the society’s superficial standards of beauty.)

Think of the beautiful cover of The Great Gatsby or the iconic Lolita or the simplicity of the Godfather that manages to thrill you. Of course, book covers take on a different meaning once you’ve read the book. In my head, angst is the cover of J D Salinger’s Catcher in the rye, Harper Lee’s To kill a mockingbird will always make me feel homesick, DBC Peirce’s Vernon God Little always makes me feel wretched and Zen at the same time.

Colours, fonts (JK Rowling’s new book cover has two different fonts and it grates my eyes), images all contribute to the emotion they are trying to convey.

Here is some visual stimulation for you. Flavorwire has some great minimalistic book covers here, some book covers compared to their movie posters here and some book covers with exceptional design here.

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