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Archive for August, 2008

Hellboy II: Watch It

Posted by anandrr on August 28, 2008

We watched Hellboy II quite by accident. We thoroughly recommend it. It’s directed by Guillermo del Toro, who knew? And it’s brilliant. Ok, not totally brilliant, but still quite good. It’s thoroughly self aware and very post-modernly winking at the audience. But more than that the visualization is lavish, colors are every where (show me a modern day comic movie that’s not all dark and noiry throughout), and del Toro has imagination enough for 10 of us mortals. And it has Jeffrey Tambor. As the head of the Bureau for Paranormal Research. Looking all serious and head of Paranormal Research like. And Seth Macfarlane! What could possibly go wrong? Not much as it turns out.


Posted in Films, Reviews, Showbiz | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Beautiful Bangalore I

Posted by anandrr on August 27, 2008

We hope just the first of a series.

It was raining cats and dogs, the Domlur flyover was a convenient shelter.

Posted in Bertie Heads to the Photo Shop, Monsoon, Shutterbug | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What We Look for in CS Grads

Posted by anandrr on August 25, 2008

I recently visited our old alma mater, NIT Calicut, for a round of campus interviews for our company. While I was there, I met with old professors who had had a hand in teaching me and we spent some time discussing what we were looking for, and I was asked to write it up, so this write up would be that write up. We were interested only in students of Computer Science and we take some not insubstantial pride in the quality of engineering talent we already have at our company and the quality of incoming talent and our rigorous process for inducting this talent. I’ve personally interviewed hundreds of candidates over the last few years, and like to think that I have some key insights into what makes a successful engineer and what doesn’t. At any rate, I have keen insight into what makes an engineer employable at our company and what doesn’t. In all my discussion here I am thinking only of students just completing engineering school, people who in India are termed “freshers.”  In a future post, I will discuss some more about non-engineering graduates and graduates in general, but here the discussion will be strictly CS grads from our best engineering schools (EF will be participating in campus recruitment at a couple IITs, IIIT Hyderabad, NITs Calicut and Trichy, and the top engineering colleges in Chennai, Bangalore and Coimbatore). Follow me after the jump, if you still care about what I have to say about all this. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Education, Recruiting | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Film Review: Kung Fu Panda

Posted by anandrr on August 23, 2008

We recently watched Kung Fu Panda on the flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco. It was a tiny screen, we were packed close and uncomfortable on the flight, and the headset only cancels out so much noise. But despite all this, we simply loved this movie.

For the longest time, I’ve had a problem with modern animated movies. Gone are the movies from my childhood when an animated movie meant either a Grimm’s fairy tale dressed up to last 90 minutes or a simple tale that involved animals acting like humans except that anvils fell on their head every now and then. And oh we roared with laughter, there are few things funnier than an anvil falling on someone’s head. Not today though, kids these days are expected to understand such Randian themes as “if every one is special, no one is special,” or that a chef creating a franchise is selling out and really should be staying true to his traditions. And then they’re full of inside jokes that only adults could be expected to understand, anything to keep the adults in the seats while the kids enjoy the animation, no doubt. Ellen Degeneres providing the voice of a fish but making subtle references to her sexuality, or other pop-culture jokes like reusing De Niro to play a “mafia shark.” Happily, Kung Fu Panda manages to stay almost entirely clear of these, the plot is a simple story of a young panda wanting to be the Kung Fu master and subsequently attaining his dream (but of course), the jokes are funny, but not overly reliant on pop culture references, the action is frenzied, and the animation is splendid.

The first few minutes of the movie are beautiful. They seem to be hand painted not computer generated, and tell the story of Po the Kung Fu expert who seems to have all of China in his thrall. It all turns out to be a dream, dreamt by Po an obese Panda whose life consists of working in his father’s (a bird of some sort) noodle shop and idolising the Kung Fu masters who live way up on the nearby hill (Masters Oogway and Shifu and the next generation of fighters imaginatively named Tigress, Viper, Mantis, Crane and Monkey). The rest of the movie is conventionally animated using computers and immediately soon after the dream, the movie breaks into a riot of colour and scenery that beautifully evokes middle-ages China. Po is voiced by Jack Black than whom there are few funnier actors today. He has done the obsessive fan before in High Fidelity and the martial arts yearner in Nacho Libre. In a role that requires him to be both, he is pitch perfect. The movie itself is both homage and spoof of all the best Chinese martial arts movies you have seen. Fighters seem to defy gravity and all other physical laws when they fight, the old venerable Master Oogway speaks in riddles and sees what other people can’t, and Master Shifu is authoritarian and yet willing to have his heart melted. Some scenes are pure beauty, the introduction of Master Oogway where what appears to be a totem pole turns out to be a turtle (upside down!) with a walking stick, Master Oogway “passing on” in a flurry of flower petals, and best of all arrows raining down in true bad-ass Chinese martial arts style. Of course there are your standard story lines, the misfit who would be master; the guru who learns to love and respect his misfit student and so on, but those only serve as a basis to tell a good story, and some very funny jokes. Po ends up learning kung fu via his food addiction, and the “dumpling” scene between him and Shifu are alone worth the price of entry. But most of all, we liked that the film makers didn’t shy away from physical humour. When you have Angelina Jolie providing one of the voices, the temptation was surely high to have a few scenes and lines namecheck Brad Pitt or spoof Tomb Raider, instead we have a Panda being hit in the crotch by Kung Fu training equipment. For my money, and my adolescent sensibilities, I’ll take a solid whack on the crotch any day.

It might be that children will enjoy Kung Fu Panda more than adults to which Master Oogway would probably suggest that we need only to find the child within ourselves. Early in the movie, in the aforesaid dream scene, one of the awe-struck villagers remarks on how awesome Kung Fu master Po is and wonders how he can be repaid. To which Po replies, “There is no charge for awesomeness.”  To which we say, “Thank You Jack Black, for this pure awesomeness.”

Posted in Films, Reviews, Showbiz | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Beware of Mile High Biking

Posted by anandrr on August 21, 2008

The Democratic Convention will be held in Denver soon, and the Denver Police is looking suspiciously at people with bicycles. Obviously these fringe liberal convention protestors would go around on bicycles from their hippie communes to the convention center. But here’s the thing, Denver is a mile above sea level, places where most of the rest of America comes from is much lower, and the left fringes obviously reside almost entirely at sea level. One of the things we learnt the hard way is that once you get used to the abundance of oxygen at sea level, it’s hard to do anything strenuous at a mile above. We used to live in Salt Lake City and go mountain biking every day. Then we moved to the Bay Area and a couple years later when we tried mountain biking in Salt Lake City again, we quickly found that our body wanted a lot more oxygen than the thin air there could provide. If I were the Denver police, I would stop looking for the bicyclists with maps, just look for the hippies who got stoned the previous night and can now barely stand next to their bikes as they gasp for air.

And what, they couldn’t just head to the suburbs and find Cartman? (Watch episode)

Posted in Outdoor Stuff, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who Cares for the Olympics?

Posted by anandrr on August 19, 2008

Mandar thinks we need to stop being ridiculous about our Olympic dreams and get serious about realising them. I don’t know, on my list of top things India needs to do to in a hurry, winning individual Olympic golds ranks so low we shouldn’t talk about it for a couple decades, minimum. And then if (when?) we get to all the other things on the list, we still won’t have to talk about it because we’ll be winning those golds anyway. Another thing I hope I never hear Indians talk about: When will we host the Olympics? We were against it when San Francisco wanted to host it, we’ll be against it when New Delhi prepares its bid.

PS: Oh, and my gym does allow women to dress as they please.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

The Mortals Shall Inherit the Earth

Posted by anandrr on August 19, 2008

I left the US before Radiohead’s performance in Golden Gate Park, what’s more it was going to be part of the Outside Lands Festival which means a lineup featuring Beck, Manu Chao, Wilco, and so many other fine fine bands. I could have looked so indie, so hip! And yet not to be! (If you’re reading this in the fine bay area, please do go, and tell me how much you enjoyed it so we can have some fine knife-twisting-in-the-wound action).

I was discussing this with a good friend, and I was reminded of my great grandmother’s saying, “Shahatha Irunda sakalathum kanalaam, Novada iru maname.” Our mother used to repeat this to us often, and loosely translated it reads, “Don’t worry too much, so long as we’re alive we’ll experience everything yet.” (Strictly translated it reads, “Without dying if you be, everything you will see, be without pain, O mind!” which also used to crack us up as children). But this saying has always confused the heck out of me. The whole point of being disappointed at not being able to go somewhere, see something, visit some place has to do in some fundamental way with our mortality, it is exactly because we live short lives that not missing any opportunity becomes important. Indeed if we were destined to live forever, we would not at all be worried that we missed Radiohead this year, after all once life had gone through all possible combinations, Outside Lands Festival in 2539 would probably feature the exact same line up and we would be fine. What made it especially ironic was that this philosophy was being promulgated by our great grand mother the one person most likely to be aware that indeed, mortality implied that we took our opportunities and ran with them.

We apparently think differently about these things these days.

PS: On a lighter note, if you have not watched the Futurama episode featuring Beck playing Golden Gate Park in 3000 AD, hie over to Youtube right away

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Chiranjeevi Enters Politics

Posted by anandrr on August 18, 2008

Chiranjeevi “entered politics” yesterday to “dedicate himself to the service of the poor, who had been deprived of the fruits of development.”

No word on whether those are ripe fruits and called apples to boot.

Posted in Funny, Politics | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Iyer Olympics

Posted by anandrr on August 17, 2008

This morning I watched about the only thing I’ve watched at all this Olympics (Free Tibet!): Phelps winning the 100m butterfly. It was a thrilling race, Phelps way behind at the turn and edging out the Serbian guy with about 1/100 second to spare, and you could really tell where his training and endurance took over around the 75m mark when he just started powering forward while the rest of the field began to lag off just a tad.

I was reminded of that a couple hours later as we prepared for our annual Brahmin ritual of Avani Avittam, where the men all get together and participate in the annual changing of the thread. Ever since I was yeh high, I’ve been fascinated by this stag event, they come out in force dressed in their whites (but only waist down!), and hang out for a couple of hours allegedly participating in religious rites, but really just hanging out without the women around for a few hours every year. The early morning ritual takes place at home where we prepare for the event by meditating for a while chanting this mantra over and over again 1008 times. At home, Dad first has to lead brother and me through the initial ritual before he settles down and gets to it himself. So you have three people sitting down to barrel through the 1008 renditions of Kamokarshit Manyurkarshit. With my super-concentration and speed I was well ahead at the turn, and Dad had to take a break mid-meditation to attend to my brother who started really late, but in these matters endurance and training will tell. Dad has been at this for well over 50 years, every year without fail, I have only had about 20 chances, and squandered over half of them by being away from home, so at the end, you could tell when I started flagging, lost count, had to start over at the last known mark, and generally broke under the pressure, while Dad cool, calm and composed powered ahead and won by well over a minute and a half.

Next year, we try again.

Posted in Brahmin Stuff, Culture | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

When the Revolution Comes, We’ll String Them up From the Lamp Posts (with recycled jute ropes of course)

Posted by anandrr on August 10, 2008

Only possible on the San Francisco – Boston red eye:

She: Can I have a pillow please?

Attendant: As you might have heard on the news,

She: I don’t watch the news, so probably not.

Attendant: Well, since last week, JetBlue is charging for pillows. It’s $7 for a pillow and a blanket, but you get to keep it.

She: Oh? Is it organic cotton?

Posted in Airlines, Business, Travel | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »