Thursday, October 23, 2008

Raja Sen = Frankenstein's Monster?

"Who the hell is Raja Sen" you may ask! Fair enough, but if you happen to be a Rediff reader and still ask this question, I'd have to say, "Dude!!!!" So for the starters, Raja Sen is a regular contributor and, I presume, an employee at Rediff, India's perhaps most popular portal. Known among readers mostly as a movie reviewer at rediff.

First of all, let me say that let my title of the post not misguide you. I, in no way, hate Raja Sen. I have been regular rediff reader since quite some time. To put it in perspective, Rediff is my one of the guilty pleasures, in the lines of Gunda, Loha, Classic dance of love, and such like Mithunda movies. Nothing can provide good mid-day laughter like headlines "Do you think Shahrukh is selfish? Tell us!" or heartfelt chat with "Loveguru" and most importantly rediff's "commenter's base", which I would come to later. In spite of all these, rediff has had its fair share of good articles. Contributors like Raja Sen, Prem Panicker, Sidin Vadukut have provided articles that make it worth your time. Now, coming back to Raja Sen. Raja Sen has been writing for rediff since as long as I can remember. He is one of the movie reviewer, whose words I have found myself to be agreeing with. When everybody was going over the board with Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins", Raja Sen described it as "Ew!" Being an avid Formula-1 and Michael Schumacher fan myself, I have enjoyed monday afternoon chat sessions with Raja and Sumeet about previous day's race. So far so good, but then something happened.

Back in those days, Rediff's comments were moderated, so if you comment on an article, it may not be visible till next day, but one fine day, Rediff decided that this was not working and made the comment section "open for public". Now everybody could talk, thrash, kick, spit... and they did! Comments deteriorated day-by-day and topics knew no bound. "Northies" vs "Southies", Amitabh vs SRK, Sania Mirza's hype, conspiracy theories.. all of them got served equally at Rediff's message board and as the time passed mob found their scape goat. What happens when you rate hugely popular star's hugely popular movie as "one star" (case in point, Bhul Bhulaiyya) or term universal hit like At World's End as "Disappointing!"? You get mobbed, that's what happened. People had found him. Comments ranging from as mild as "who da hell do u thnk u r raja sen", "r u writing reviews or givng GRE exams" to "hey u raja, u gay srk chamcha, go home" were abundant on every message board. Each and every Raja Sen article turned into a flame-bait. If you were to judge any review by the number of comments it got, Raja Sen can outnumber Sukanya Verma or Elvis D' Silva by 100-to-1. Sidin aptly introduces Raja Sen as one of the most popular writers on Rediff when measured on the popularity metric: "House most likely to be burned down."

It seemed as if Raja Sen has outgrown Rediff -- Monster has taken over Frankenstein. On one auspicious Friday, in spite of three reviews, none of them was reviewed by Raja Sen and his "fan base" got impatient. All three of the message boards got flooded with letters of unrequited love with touchy messages like "whr da hell is moron Raja Sen", "this reviewer sucks! at lst idiot raja sen used to give honest opionions", "bring raja back!" and needless to say, when Mr. Sen was back next Friday, people were overjoyed. They had their target back. As for us, our Friday evenings were spent literally rolling on the floor laughing, courtesy this fan base, which I am sure is the same scene in Rediff as they fervently refresh those comment sections to see if the next message can beat the previous one in inanity.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Of records, joy of records and nostalgia of joy of records

First things first : Laying out the foundation for the post. Sachin Tendulkar surpassed Brian Lara as the all-time top scorer of test cricket and surpassed 12,000 as well, along with his 50th Fifty although missing a well-deserved ton. Needless to say he holds this distinction in ODIs too. Sourav Ganguly surpassed 7000 runs mark along with a half-century on the way (and going) and India ended up with good score on the board at the end of the day.

This probably was destined many years before it actually happened. Everybody knew that some day or the other Tendulkar will end up with all-time top scorer in both longer and shorter form of the game. The only question was when! After two splendid innings Tendulkar-style down under, predicting game had begun. Optimistics predicted it to be towards the end of the Australia series. Pragmatists predicted it in the series against Sri Lanka. Neither happened. After fabulous Australian series, just like rest of the middle order, Sachin struggled against Sri Lankan bowling attack and collected only 95 runs in 3 tests. Probably it was destined that he would achieve his record against his favourite opponent and he sure did!

His critics have alleged time and again about Tendulkar putting his records before team, and I can counter everyone of them, but that's not the point of the post (An older post about it here). Sachin's records, however personal, have been a cause of joy in this cricket crazy nation. His every record among cricket fan is revered and celebrated. Tendulkar is a hero people have looked upto for last 19 years and seldom he has disappointed them. His record of staggering 673 runs in 2003 world cup (surpassing his own previous record) was important part of India's much touted appearance in final. His any sort of record hasn't pulled Indian team in negative direction, if not towards the victory. Sachin has never shown lack of commitment to the cause of the team, and records just have fallen into place. That's the reason his every century, every milestone, every record is cheered and savoured among fans. Have you seen the wildness, have you heard shouts when Sachin Tendulkar enters the ground? I have. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps. It will be 19 years this November since Tendulkar first set a foot on the arena, but common man fascination is still same. These 19 years have seen rises and falls of heroes, even to the extent of putting them ahead of Tendulkar, but this man has stood still. Kambli, Ganguly, Dravid, Sehwag, Dhoni all have had their heydays, but it's Tendulkar that still towers two feet above them in public scrutiny. And that doesn't come for a player who plays for himself.

Another important aspect of today's game, may be eclipsed by heap of records, was partnership between Tendulkar and Ganguly. It was extremely joyous to see these two share a century partnership. This best opening ODI pair ever (with record 26 century partnerships and most runs by a pair) was a nightmare of opponents what with attacking approach combined repertoire of impossible shots. There was no taunting these two. Ask Henry Olonga what happens if you do do it. But sadly that was past and before this when was the last time these two shared a century partnership? Can't remember and that's probably why this is so important. With Ganguly retiring at the end of this series, this might be the last big partnership these two greats shared, but those opponent-trouncing nostalgia will always remain with us.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An idiot's guide to 2008 subprime mortgage crisis

What actually it's that has taken global financial world by storm? "Sub-prime mortgage crisis" as they call it. What is it about? A few tutorial/article I found easier to understand:

1. Subprime works. Comic-style cause-effect subprime crisis tutorial.

2. Greatbong's guide to The Great Wall Street Meltdown (1, 2, 3). Treat for Gunda fans among other things!

3. A Visual Guide to the Financial Crisis, by Mint.

4. The crisis of credit visualized (via Shreeni)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Do we really need The Onion...

...when we have GOP and FOX news to entertain us? FOX news says it is "fair and balanced" and I totally believe them.

FOX News is angry at Newsweek for NOT retouching Sarah Palin's photograph on the cover, given that it was so much close up. You can feel the anchor's anger and to add to the spice you always have GOP's media commentator Andrea Tantaros. Watch this clip and you can have your own drinking game for how many times Tantaros says slap in the face.

GOP has broken space-time continuum and acquitted Sarah Palin of Troopergate scandal before jury announces its verdict. How about swearing Mccain in for President on 3rd of November?

PS:- Sorry for being all election-y on blogs these days, but it's flavour of the season. Because when I am not watching 24, it provides me daily dose of all the drama, thrill, action and comedy.

(Link via Praveen)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Open Letter to Sarah Palin

Dear Ms Sarah Palin,

You know how it is these days. When you are in politics, nobody is your friend and everybody tends to ask you wrong and irrelevant questions, until you found a shoulder to cry on, FOX news. You were quoted on FOX news that, Katie Couric annoyed you. I can totally understand your feelings. All you wanted to do was talk to American people irrespective of what an interviewer wants to ask. Then how does she dare ask about your economic policy, your foreign relations experience, your relevance to VP post. HOW DARE SHE? Atleast you got to talk to American people irrespective of moderator's questions in the debate. From now on, please refuse interviews to any other channel than FOX news, they are ruthless, heartless people.

Lots of love,

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Change HE needs! Change HE can believe in!

I can't say this is "out of the blues". I can't say it's a total surprise. Somehow --deep down-- I really saw it coming. Roger Federer has decided to take a break, which may last upto end of this year. Now all those "Roger is past his prime","Rafa will rule", please don't jump to conclusions. Hold your horses.

First of all, this is definitely not a Ross-Rachel we-were-on-a-break break. This is well thought out, well deserved and much needed break. As you may well be aware, Federer has been suffering from monoculosis/grandular fever since beginning of the year and still he has not missed any major. His grandslam record includes one trophy, two finals and one semifinal. Now, don't tell me that Monoculosis is your grandpa's excuse for his less than exceptional performance this year. It says here, complete recovery will take several months provided the person is not involved in strong physical activities, which Roger is. Preponement of couple of Masters series and addition of Olympics, thus cutting down a month's break after Wimbledon doesn't help either.

I do not claim that physical fitness is the only factor. With constantly improving Rafa, he would have won Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Monoculosis or not, but more than one external and internal factors do put your harmony out of sync. Roger's fascination for #1 is no secret and with Rafa breathing on his neck, he wanted to cling on to it with his dear life, but inevitable had to come sooner or later. After incredible 237 weeks, he had to give it up to Rafa just after the Olympics, which I believe was a major paradigm shift. It meant that he could now take a few deep breaths and relax. It was reflected in very positive mindset and relaxed game during the US open, resulting in his 13th major.

With that win, put into perspective, makes this break even more pertinent. He is not running away. He is not hiding. He needs a break and now is better time than any. No grandslam till Australian Open in January i.e. four months. Although my guess is that he may return for the year-end masters cup to defend his title. It's as simple as it gets : Better to take a break and strike down with vengeance to reclaim #1 than to drag behind with #2 tag, so till then fans, you too take a break, shed off doubts and be prepared to re-welcome our Spartan in the cardigan.