December 29, 2005

Review on Birdsong

Book - Birdsong
Author - Sebastian Faulk

Review by Charles Flowers

An epic novel of love and war that radically defies conventional expectations, Birdsong moves back and forth between the second decade of our violent century and the near-present to explore how the absurd carnage of World War I devastated a generation throughout western Europe and left a heritage of confusion and loss.

Birdsong may have been a bestseller in England partly because the historical background is quite literally close to home and still poignant in the national psyche, but Sebastian Faulks, an experienced journalist, creates a world that should be memorably accessible to American readers who don't know Flanders Field from flan.

Six years before the war, his young British hero has a brief but scandalous affair with an older Frenchwoman. They will meet again in a lull between bloody battles, each physically wounded and unable to reignite the past, but the narrative core of Birdsong is the young man's struggle to survive the special horrors of trench warfare and find some meaning in the waste of millions of lives. The most effectively suspenseful scenes occur in the tunnels dug toward enemy lines by miners who then set explosive charges. Here, as throughout the novel, the research into the technical reality is evident but not obtrusive, subtly earning our trust. Cave-ins, explosions, attacks of claustrophobia, and sheer exhaustion kill those who aren't dispatched above ground by sniper fire, machine gun bullets, mortar rounds, and gas.

What prevents this grinding ordeal from becoming overwrought or crusted with political message is Faulks's extraordinary gift for significant physical detail combined with his surprising characterizations. His hero, for example, is not likably attractive but a grim, diffident loner who nonetheless becomes a compelling figure, especially in a moving climax that brings him out of a desperate situation into the rescuing arms of his supposed enemies. Minor characters, too, are quite originally portrayed with odd obsessions and unusual personal histories that underscore the infinite diversity of the war's nameless dead. Their heroism is that they slog through and endure, without drums and trumpets, even though their officers are murderously incompetent and the folks back home ungrateful and complacent.

After the war, the hero will discover that his affair produced a daughter, and it will be her daughter who translates his coded diaries in 1979, learning the truth about his famous love story, his experiences of war and the serenity he eventually achieves in marriage thereafter. That the novel ends with a birth might seem too doggedly symbolic a resolution, at first glance, but Faulks's compassionate dramatization and vivid description make the moment powerfully effective. It is one of several unexpected scenes that set this novel well apart from other wartime sagas.

A profoundly humane novel that tells a riveting story spanning four generations, Birdsong addresses grand themes of the human experience while also making us care deeply about several individuals yearning to find healing love and a rationale for survival in the midst of unprecedented destruction

My first film review

I watched Bluffmaster last week with my cousins. We arrived a bit late at the theater. So, we had to buy tickets in black (I know it's a culpable offence and I feel very bad for that). Now, coming to the film, you gotta watch such films only in theaters. Don't dare watch it at home on a CD/DVD. You bet you will hate yourself for having wasted two precious hours on that film. One might get bored in the beginning but the tempo sets up only after the first thirty to forty minutes. It was nicely made and nicely told. People should look beyond the conventional love stories and action flicks for such films. Nana Patekar fitted the role well. So, did Boman Irani. If you got bored with all the romance and action being shown these days and would want to watch an entertainer light-at-heart, then go for Bluffmaster.
My rating for this film- ****

( * you will shoot me
** waste of time
*** can sit through the film
**** worth watching once
***** must watch )

December 20, 2005


I had a nice nap in the afternoon during TT lecture and was awakened by the Asso. Prof.. :D It was a nice experience though, being interrupted by your teacher in the middle of a relaxing nap. I was feeling very tired as I had no proper sleep last night. I was on my way home from Hyderabad on a bus. She woke me up and asked me if I was sleeping and I said yes. I thought she would ask some questions related to the topic she was teaching at that moment, but she didn't say anything, was that final semester freedom, or may be she felt empathetic towards me.

I confirmed my project on Audio Signal Processing which I would start working on in the first week of January. And, that may extend up to two months. By the way, we had a blast of time in Hyderabad. Caught some memorable moments on cam.

December 15, 2005

Near completion

We are about to enter the final phase of our engineering. Twenty days later I will start doing my final Btech project. I will be doing it in signal processing related areas. Not yet confirmed. So, I may not blog for two months as I would have to leave for some other place where I may or may not find a suitable cafe to blog from. So, it all depends on the place where I would be residing.

College has been re-opened this week. And, it feels good to have only two courses to study in this semester. Polaris and ADP Wilco are going to visit our campus in the last week of this month. But, they are going to recruit only computer science graduates as it will suffice their requirement. Well, that shouldn't bother us much as there are other companies too to visit our campus next April/May. Whatever happens, happens for the best.

December 09, 2005

The Bermuda Mystery

The great mystery of the sea is still unsolved, it is the mystery of the BERMUDA TRIANGLE.

“The region involved, a watery triangle bounded roughly by Florida, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico, measures less than a thousand miles on any one side.” . . .So George X. Sand introduced the Triangle to his readers in October 1952 in a short article for Fate magazine, entitled “Sea Mystery at our Back Door.” Sand’s article recounted the latest disappearance (the Sandra in 1950) and went on to discuss some of the other recent baffling mysteries like NC16002, Star Tiger and Star Ariel, aside from devoting most of the article to Flight 19. The Triangle remained a colloquial _expression throughout the 1950s, employed by locals when another disappearance or unexplained crash happened. By the early 1960s, it had acquired the name The Deadly Triangle. In his 1962 book, Wings of Mystery, author Dale Titler also devoted pages in Chapter 14— “The Mystery of Flight 19”— to recounting the most recent incidents of disappearances and even began to ponder theories, such as electromagnetic anomalies and the ramifications of Project Magnet. His book would set the temper for Triangle.

The Deadly Triangle as it appeared in a 1962 book Wings of Mystery by Dale Titler. The idea that Vincent Gaddis invented the shape and mystery is nonsense. It had long been popular before his time. He seems merely to have been the first one to call it Bermuda Triangle. It is also nonsense that Gaddis or anybody else ever thought that Miami, Bermuda, and San Juan were absolute nodal points. Gaddis was merely trying to give the area geographic life to a growing audience.
Fate’s October 1952 issue.
The Triangle begins discussions thereafter. (Just in April 1962 Allan W. Eckert had written a sensational piece in the American Legion Magazine on Flight 19 ((“The Mystery of the Lost Patrol”)) which introduced some of the most popular but erroneous dialogue purported coming from Flight 19, including lines like the ocean looks strange, all the compasses are going haywire, and that they could not make out any directions, “everything is strange.” This became a may pole for electromagnetic discussions).

However, popularity on the subject was beginning to spread beyond the area of the Atlantic seaboard. But the moniker “Deadly Triangle” contained absolutely no geographic reference in it— in other words “Deadly Triangle” could be anywhere. Then in February 1964 Vincent Gaddis wrote an article for Argosy Magazine. The article was little different from others, though it added a few more recent cases like Marine Sulphur Queen. However, it was his title that finally clinched with the public: “The Deadly Bermuda Triangle.” Adding “Bermuda” finally materialized the location for everybody, though Gaddis clarified “in and about this area” many have disappeared. In his popular 1965 book Invisible Horizons, Gaddis devoted chapter 13 to “The Triangle of Death.” The concept of the Bermuda Triangle was spreading rapidly.

Ironically, the first book published devoted to the subject was entitled Limbo of the Lost (1969) by John Spencer, in which he proposed the area had no real shape at all and elaborately tried to include the Gulf of Mexico as well as New Jersey. It sold in limited quantities, but was later reproduced in paperback in the early 1970s and did well. Dozens of magazine and newspaper articles came out in the early ‘70s, each author offering a general shape. Richard Winer proposed “The Devil’s Triangle” and extended it nearly to the Azores near Portugal. Ivan Sanderson was sure it was an oblong shape centered almost entirely north of Bermuda. But no book sold as well as Charles Berlitz’s 1974 bestseller, The Bermuda Triangle.

Selling way over 5,000,000 copies in hardback, it became a phenomenon. Berlitz also cautioned about the exact shape, as had the others. But to this day Bermuda Triangle is deferred to for the same reason “Deadly Triangle” failed—there is simply no other name that calls to mind the general area as does Bermuda Triangle. But the vast popularity of the subject brought into vogue an art that is still trying to flourish today—debunking. Out of all the books that were published, only one remains in reprint today: Larry Kusche’s book The Bermuda Triangle Mystery

For further information on the Bermuda follow the link below.

Preface to my novel

అనంత సాగరం లాంటి ఈ మహా ప్రపంచంలో ఒక నిమిత్త మాత్రురాలిని నేను. జీవితం అనే భారాన్ని మోస్తున్న ఒక ప్రాణిని నేను. సత్యం-అసత్యం,పాపం-పుణ్యం,మంచి-చెడు,గ్న్యానం-అగ్న్యానం తేడా తెలియని మూర్ఖురాలిని కాను నేను. నిష్కల్మష హ్రుదయం నాది. అయిననూ ఏదో కలత, ఎక్కడో చిన్న లోపం. దుఃఖం అనే మహాసాగరాన్ని ఈదుతున్న ఒక సగటు మనిషిని నేను. ఈ మహాసాగరంలో ఎక్కడో వెలిసే ఒక చిన్న ద్వీపం లంటిది నా సంతోషం...

నా మనసు ఒక తెరిచిన పుస్తకం అని లోకం అన్నా,అందులో ఏ మాత్రం నిజం దాగి ఉందో అది నాకే తెలుసు. నా భావాలు నా వరకే పరిమితం. నా ఆలోచనలు మరొకరి తలుపు తట్టే లోపే గాలిలో కలిసి పోవాలి. నాది విశాల హ్రుదయం. కానీ అందులో మంచికి తప్ప వేరెవరికీ చోటు లేదు. నేను ఎల్లప్పుడూ మంచి పంచేందుకు ఆశిస్తాను. నా మంచిని బయట పెట్టాలని కోరుకుంటాను. కానీ ఎప్పుడూ ఏ మంచీ నా తలుపు తట్టలేదే అని బాధ పడే ఒక సగటు మనిషిని నేను...

కారు మబ్బుల చీకటిలో ఎక్కడో చమత్కరించే కాంతి, ఆశ. నేను ఆశావాదిని. మరొకప్పుడు నిరాశావాదిని. కానీ అన్ని వేళలా ఆశావాదిని అయి ఉండాలనేదే నా కోరిక. పగటి పూట దారి చూపే వెలుగు పేరు ఆశ. రేయి వేళలో నిండు జాబిలి నుండి ఉదయించి ఆహ్లాద పరిచే వెన్నెల పేరు ఆశ. ప్రతి ఆశ నిజం కావాలని కోరుకునే ఒక సగటు మనిషిని నేను....

లోకం అనే ఒక బంగారు పింజరం లో బంధింప బడ్డ చిట్టి చిలకను నేను. చెరసాల ఎటువంటిది అయినా, అది నరకమే. రెక్కలు తెగిన పక్షిలాంటి దానను కాను. ఆ పింజరమే అడ్డుకట్ట. ఏ బాధలు, బెరుకు లేకుండా స్వేచ్ఛగా ఆకాశాన్ని అంటాలి. ఏదో సాధించాలన్న తపన. సాధించగలనన్న నమ్మకం. మరుక్షణం సాధించగలనా అన్న సందేహం. ఏనాటికి నాకు విముక్తి? ఎప్పుడు నాకు విజయం? అతి త్వరలోనే అని ధయిర్యం చెప్పుకునే ఒక సగటు మనిషిని నేను...

...సగటు మనిషిని నేను.

December 04, 2005

Humor from great minds

"As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can't remember the other two... "
-Sir Norman Wisdom

"One of the most difficult things in the world is to convince a woman that even a bargain costs money."
-Edgar Watson Howe

"A true friend is one who overlooks your failures and tolerates your success! "
-Doug Larson

"A harmful truth is always better then...a useful lie! "
-Eric Bolton

" When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bike. Then I realized that The Lord doesn't work that way, so I stole one and asked him to forgive me."
-Erno Philips

" I only go to work on days that don't end in a 'y'. "
-Robert Paul

"We spend the first twelve months of our children's liv! es teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up."
-Phyllis Diller

" Laughter is the closest distance between two people. "
-Victor Borge

"Start every day with a smile and get it over with. "
-W.C. Fields

" Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else."
-Will Rogers

"Always get married early in the morning. That way, if it doesn't work out, you haven't wasted a whole day. "
-Mickey Rooney

" Women now have choices. They can be married, not married, have a job, not have a job, be married with children, unmarried with children. Men have the same choice we've always had: work or prison."
-Tim Allen

"If you never want to see a man again, say, 'I love you, I want to marry you. I want to have children...' - they leave skid marks. "
-Rita Rudner

" I'm not afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens. "
-Woody Allen

" Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't."
-Erica Jong

"Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out of it alive. "
-Elbert Hubbard

"Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use. "
-Wendell Johnson

" In life, it's not who you know that's important, it's how your wife found out."
-Joey Adams

I've been in love with the same woman for forty-one years. If my wife finds out, she'll kill me. " -Henry Youngman

"Have you noticed that all the people in favor of birth control are already born ? "
-Benny Hill

Long gap

I am writing after nearly ten days. I returned from Hyderabad yesterday. It was quite a deliberate stay for one whole week and I learnt a lot though. I also got sick inbetween because of the sudden change in weather and also due to the not so hygienic food that I consumed there. Whatever it is, now I am pretty fine- back at home.