Sunday, July 11, 2010

I finished reading Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse at exactly 1 o clock yesterday. Did the end measure up ? Yes and no. While in the case of Mrs Dalloway, the ending, although abrupt, felt perfect, because I had suspected all along that the closure would never really be that, what with all of the elements sinking down in the midst of a very palpable agitation still hovering around, in To The Lighthouse, the ending felt like an ending, like someone had finally managed to bring every anxiety to rest with a supreme effort of will. I was left with that same feeling of wonder at having read something rather brilliant and even more importantly, new (for me at least), but I can't say I wasn't even a little disappointed either. For one, the section called Time Passes seemed rather drawn out, and while the effect may have been intentional, it dulled some of the pleasure that is to be had from one revelatory anecdote appearing after another without fail, much like in the dinner sequence. In between, a few silent moments of pondering and reflection help balance things, but this section went on for too long, and at times I suspected Woolf of repeating the same metaphors in slightly different ways. The last section was surprisingly delightful in its constant shifting of viewpoint from Lily to Mr. Ramsay and the children, but even here, apart from the starkly visual recollections of Mrs. Ramsay by Lily, replete and illustrated by things, colors and objects labelling these memories, making them easier to remember, I felt nothing new was said. The story, if I am allowed to call any Woolf novel that, backtracked, traced events all the way to the beginning, and came to conclusions not terribly different from what had already been achieved. That said, it could also have been an attempt at stating how even a death as sudden as Mrs. Ramsay's, after all, cannot linger on too long without allowing a greater understanding of things to replace it. Perhaps that was Mrs. Ramsay's final gift to Lily and the others.

I feel I have written almost nothing about the brilliance of the majority of the novel, but I shall leave that for another day, when, hopefully, even these minor setbacks reveal themselves to be only essential aspects that needed me to think them over a much longer period of time, before judging.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Literature can move you, but literature can also get away with lies, exaggerations, over-indulgent romanticizing of practical day to day events, feelings, and thoughts and make them seem bigger, or lesser than they really are. Literature can make you peer inside your head and come out with treasures you didn't even know existed, but it can also make you scoff at yourself for being, thinking, and sounding too plain, before you quickly remedy that by seeing how plain is just a word some people thought up to cover up their fears of individuality.
Waiting for our turn, with a book in hand, I sat, one leg on the other, reading. Or trying to, amidst the aching, groaning impatient people surrounding us. My father was one of them, but his discontent stemmed more from how long it was taking the last person to come out of the doctor's chamber. I had Heart of Darkness in my hand, and as I read the opening lines, I wondered why I never had started on it all this time; it was a pretty slim book. The wall in front of me had the face of a happy kid advertising some product. Make that a baby. And it struck me how much I hate babies. Skimming over the first page, (parts of it were almost memorised through repeated attempts at starting the book to finish it once and for all), and turning over to the next, I remembered a friend had educated me in second grade how its hard to score with girls if you don't at least pretend to like babies. But look at his face!, I exclaimed inwards. Looks like someone outside the photograph was asking it to smile, and the smile was so forced and as much as I hate babies, I hate forced smiles more, babies or grown ups. Conrad's writing seemed forced after Salinger's. But it was hard to concentrate with a new patient entering every 5 minutes. Shall I bring you a newspaper or something?, I asked father. No, he replied, emotionless, waving his hand. I noticed, not for the first time, how crooked his fingers seemed. Its funny how these details get magnified in a hospital.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I've always wanted to see what happens when you write, or draw without thinking about what it is you're about to write and draw and just do so as it comes. I have John Coltrane's A Love Supreme running in the background, and I will now write whatever comes into my head under the music's influence.

Running, the poodle smelt of heaven dropped by noisy cymbalines transformed into rattlesnakes. The increasing dimness of the speech cocked the dog's head sideways, and a yellow halo formed across the sky with leaves talking about a probable rustle and the verdant fields accepting that the raucous moles would probably dig everything up and ruin it anyway. The smelly author in his undergarments didn't look so ugly, and neither did the tramp lolling about the streets for sustenance. Suddenly, the ugly were more meaningful in their disgusting filth, and the glamorous looked bland. "Come, we'll dance ourselves into a form, and that form shall quote poetry from our grubby uneducated hearts rife with mismanagement and anxiety. But to be human is to be flawed" and saying so, the brains popped into the skies like clouds forming instantaneously, raining down thoughts and good cheer on the filth because for a change the faces mean the change and the red dawn shall slowly spring forth into rainbows that might vanish with the advent of a black and silent chant prescribing sanctuary. Sanctuary, cried the African wrapped in purity, and the sounds and the screams, weird in their incoherency, felt true and had a place in this world. The beautiful fell away, and what was natural reined while the dance of passion around the blue fire continued forever and time ceased to be time and became a collage of images that juxtaposed memories with desires and things rarely felt like possessions and alive, talked about years of mute tolerance.

Holy crap.

Friday, June 18, 2010

We had plans as school kids, or when we were just on the verge of college, that once we found our footing in this world, we would share an apartment, the three of us. Because, then, we were certain, absolutely sure that all three of us would do something together: work on a movie, or come up with a comic book, or write books. Or work on things really similar. Or, at the very least, stay in the same city. The three of us were inseparable, or I liked to think that. Yes, I liked to think that very much. Back then, stereotypes didn't seem as bad or cheesy as they do now. I would be the glue that held the team together. One of us would be the moody, soft-spoken sort, another the moral gorilla, quick to get angry and even quicker to admit when he's wrong, and the third, namely me, the wisecracking hotshot who was a lot more, but was also so in love with who he was, and who his friends were, and how amazing his friends were...well, I'd be the one ready to take the blame, or take the leap, if it meant the survival of our friendship.

Then college happened. Stuff happened. The usual stuff that happens to every college guy who thinks that come end of school, life will, life must, surely take a turn for the better. Provided, and we agreed on this very strongly, unanimously and were full of idealistic verve when we did, that we slog our asses off. Because we would do what we loved to do, to think about. We wouldn't be part of the rat race, no sir. But we would also never let it get to our heads: once you've got what you want, you got no excuse any more. You manage to lose it, its all your fault. No grumbling, no whatever.

Things did change, but not for the better. Not for all three of us. I got into art school. The soft spoken guy I told you about took computers and stuff. The angry wildcat with a heart of gold had to go with his family business. He had to study for it. No choice. Okay, to be fair, he did have a choice but sometimes having a choice is not enough. You need some sort of support, not the kind we gave. I'll admit I was thoroughly in love with my life then, and had become something of a nuisance. How I would advice, but to what effect? It was the kind of thing good little kids say to one another because they can afford to. Because they're kids. And because they're too young to know they aren't really good or bad unless they're out there alone. I wasn't a kid. I acted like an adult, or what I thought an adult was supposed to act like, but then one day I found out there's no such thing as being an adult. Nothing so clear cut. One day at my uncle's place, and what a little curiously insignificant little thing at that. See, my uncle, I used to worship the guy. Think the world of him. He got me into books, he read the greats, had this real humanistic side to him I thought only my father had. I used to idolize my father since I stopped being scared of him, but it takes me a long time to feel the same way about others. But my uncle, he was such a man. Then one day I hear he beats his wife. Okay, alright, it was his life, who was I to judge? How often are these rumors true anyway? It struck me funny. A man like him, engrossed in his Dostoevskys and Faulkner's, someone who appreciated good art. And then I go out to buy ice cream for my grandma one day, he tags along because he has stuff to buy too, and pays for all the stuff and tells me "I'll take the money for the ice cream now." Any other guy would have probably missed it, but I didn't. I suddenly found myself visualizing me in his place, and a little kid in mine (I still saw myself as a kid) and I couldn't bring myself to even think of ever asking the little guy for money. You don't do that. Its kinda cheap. Its miserly and cheap and it suddenly shattered his protective force field. Now I would be critical of every little thing. The man didn't feel so great anymore. Lookie there, I told myself. None of them don't feel so great when you go beneath the surface. The surface is what I had a massive fascination with. The surface would have ruined me later on hadn't it been for little incidents such as these, I was certain.

(to be contd.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Death is never very meaningful. You always feel you come away from it a little wiser but in truth its just the opposite. Its one of those things extremely simple to look at, but its consequences and this simplicity are so drastically different, and so very at odds with each other - no connection whatsoever, at least at first or even second glance - it leaves you a little empty because without even meaning to, you've spent a lot behind making some sense out of it. And its the same no matter what the death - whether its that of a baby crow or an animal you have brought in, thinking you could save it, or a human being. Although I'm glad the latter I've had very little first hand experience in seeing. The former is still as jarring every single time as ever, but rarely feels as pathetic. There's always a certain amount of dignity in every animal that dies, the dignity that comes out of, ironically, not having any human characteristics to begin with. But then again, that might just be the misanthrope in me speaking.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Its fun writing in short bursts. The ideas feel much more formed, ironically, when you want to express them in exactly the same format it originally occurred to you: a sudden, short, compact, and curiously self-explanatory period of epiphany, whose impact an introduction, a middle and a conclusion might considerably dilute.
As he gets down from the rickshaw in front of the familiar blue-grey house, he can't help but think about his mother. That very morning had seen them discuss this place, with all its memories and all the people of her childhood and he found it delightful suddenly when he remembered her face lighting up at the mention of the little details they had gone over so many times. It was a ritual. Both of them knew that the same memories would be summoned up, the same events affectionately recalled and the same people criticised or cherished. For what else did she have now to discuss, or talk about anyway? As he opens the gates and hears them welcome him in rustily, he wishes with all his heart that it were possible to bring her here for a visit one day. He rings the doorbell twice, and the face of his aunt suddenly makes it very easy to call off that wish. He greets her mechanically, and at the same time, makes a mental note as to how happy Mother is being just where she was, even in that cage of a house, surrounded by her almost hilariously varied group of companions. Last night's little group quarrel seemed meaningless now, or at least, hardly as serious a fight he had thought it to be. Why, father seemed quite himself today morning, and things would assuredly be alright with him gone for these two days. For sometimes, though not always, the catalyst that kept them together and, as he liked to think, kept them sane became also the factor that slowed the healing process down. Then again, as a friend once said of him, perhaps he was giving himself too much importance. His parents had always been self sufficient, even through their illnesses (especially through their illnesses, he reminded himself), had always been devoted to one another and he found he was suddenly angry for again giving himself too much credit. But one couldn't help it. They made him feel needed, and how.
I've always been of the opinion that when you find yourself depressed, or terribly sad, then the best general way to slowly get back to life as you want to live it is by creating something which excites you. It helps if you are a creative person to start with, but if you aren't, troublesome emotional situations probably offer the best excuse to pull yourself out of the rut and apply your mind to coming up with a reason to feel good about yourself.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Things worth noting down right this moment:

  • J.G.Ballard. I'm going to take my time with this book. 'The Drowned World'.
  • My list is coming along well.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I've been a serious music fan for about 6 years now. And I've listened to a wide range of music, and although I probably have missed out on plenty of genres and tons of legendary tunes, I'm more than literate. Here I present a list of the songs which years and years of listening and re-listening has ensured a place in Tito's rock and roll hall of fame. In other words, the following list (which I'll be adding to every now and then) contains what I think are the most perfectly executed songs in the History of popular music.

1) Song: Key to the Highway
Album: Riding With The King
Artist: Eric Clapton/ B.B.King

The very first time I heard Key to the Highway, I was completely blown away. To me, it represents everything that makes Blues so beautiful: the melancholy yet hopeful feel in every guitar lick, the notes that seem to almost talk to you and the soulful vocals. I was stunned, and it sold me onto blues for good. This song has had several renditions over the years, and while I love the Derek and Dominoes version (which was more of a jam session), my absolute favourite has to be Clapton and King's collaborative effort. There's nothing quite like the sound of the acoustic guitar when it comes to the blues. To me, this is probably one of the greatest blues songs ever.

2) Song: Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Album: Electric Ladyland

Okay, now this is a thoroughbred classic. Everyone's heard it. If you had to name ONE Hendrix song, this would be probably it. The playing is simply phenomenal. There's no word for it. The kind of song that might make converts out of even the mellowest of rockers. Voodoo Child is probably reason enough why Hendrix is still held to be a legend.

3) Distance vs Desire
Artist: Allan Holdsworth
Album: Sand

Very few songs actually have made me cry. And even fewer have made me readily admit that in public. It's a strange pick, this one, because I've never listened to much Holdsworth. But Distance vs Desire is what music is all about. This is the kind of stuff that takes you gently off to faraway lands. Holdsworth is a criminally overlooked guitarist. On this track, he plays the synthaxe, which is a guitar shaped synthesizer of sorts. Very crude description, I know, but you get the idea. I'm just glad there isn't any vocals in this one.

4) The Great Gig in the Sky
Artist: Pink Floyd/ Clare Torry
Album: The Dark Side of the Moon

I didn't go with any obvious Floyd song because they have been done to death on other lists and quite frankly I am a bigger fan of their more experimental outings. I'm talking about Atom Heart Mother and Echoes and Shine on you.... But Great Gig is my choice because of several factors. One: it was completely spontaneous as far as the story goes. Clare Torry, the singer, admitted to have gotten carried away a bit but she did the job beautifully. There's an almost primal sense of fear, anger, sadness and all out expression in her voice, and it fits in with the concept album theme marvelously. Secondly, it stands for what Pink Floyd was originally about: taking rock to new emotional heights and highs. And while it's all over in 4:48 minutes, but it feels like a progressive rock epic. Very dark yet hauntingly beautiful, this is the Floyd song for the ages.

5)Bohemian Rhapsody
Artist: Queen
Album: A Night At The Opera

Frankly, they don't make them like they used to. Show me something as wild and unpredictable but consistently brilliant as Bohemian Rhapsody, and...well, you can't. Yes, a few songs do come to mind, (Radiohead's Paranoid Android, Yes's And You and I, but they are either too whiny, or don't make sense, or both), but none that could compete with Mercury's soaring vocals or May's ripping guitar solo. And the song knows when it should end. It doesn't drag, yet is long enough to have the three parts perfectly complement each other. Amazing.

6) One More Red Nightmare
Artist: King Crimson
Album: Red

If there's one King Crimson album you should absolutely listen to, its Red. It proved progressive rock could actually rock, for one, and didn't have to resort to elaborate pretentious noodling, as some of the critics called it(just for the record, I love Moonchild when I'm in the mood....and yes, the whole of it). It also proved how much of a sucker I am for monster saxophone solos. And boy is there a treat for all you sax lovers. Ian McDonald features on the alto-saxophone and he grabs you by the collar and thrusts you into a musical phantasmagoria thats exhilarating and downright disturbing at the same time. It leaves you a little crazy by the end of it. John Wetton's vocals, Fripp's characteristic manic guitar and Bill Bruford's versatile drumming makes this one an all time rock classic.

7) Little Wing
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Album: Axis: Bold as Love

The second Hendrix song on my list. Little Wing has been covered by Clapton on his Derek and Dominoes album and more famously perhaps, by Stevie Ray Vaughan as an instrumental which got him a Grammy. I'm including the original, because frankly (and this is going to get people angry, provided anyone at all reads my blog apart from my sister) Clapton's version ruined the beauty of the song, and Vaughan's instrumental stretches on a little too long for my liking. Little Wing just went to show Hendrix could be an exquisitely melodic player, and a great singer when he felt like it, and wasn't all about burning guitars and technique and wild soloing. That said, the guitar solo that does feature on the original is a tad too short.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Philip K Dick feels like someone I would have liked to know. Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch was a harrowing, disturbing and ultimately, weird-but-wonderful read, and it has finally made a PKD fan out of me.

I miss my playstation 2 so bad.

Duck Tales, and Henry Vaughan. Strange combination to say the least.

Friday, May 7, 2010

ScienceFictiony song

A science fiction junkie like me
has a question he asks all around
whenever there's chance for conversation
or a suitable time to be found,
I ask my friends if they really believe
that we two legged freaks are IT,
And does noplace else in our universe
harbor any logic or wit?
Isn't there any life (or unlife) anywhere
if not our galaxy, beyond?
Is it really too hard to imagine God
did not after all abscond,
with all his magic and vivid imagination
the minute he His error realised?
back to wherever he hid all along,
no longer willing; for He tried
and came up with fascinating beings,
but put some on too long a leash
and these apes, they soon cried for the moon
and utter chaos did unleash!
He was divided upon this brand new form:
For while they knew wrong from right,
Some extended their hands to help,
And others did hatred ignite,
while some genuinely felt Duty tug
at their heart strings and acquiesced,
the rest couldn't really have cared any less
and joined in the perverse feast.
and I'm sure seeing this all, and seeing their gall,
He packed up his things and left,
and though he felt bad for the good 'uns few,
by then he was too sad and bereft,
and so the mere thought of a separate world
teeming with the corrected kind,
must've given Him nightmares and wracked him up good,
but perhaps never even crossed his Mind.
But this science fiction fan would still pretend
that Faith the Creator still had
upon us and upon his awesome powers,
to have ever stopped taking a stand.
Perhaps in a galaxy far far away
we have counterparts better
not chained by prejudices and petty mistrust,
by personal beliefs not fettered.
One sure likes to dream, and dream in color
curious, wonder struck dreams,
about Him getting everything right, for once
and a world not ripping at the seams.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Party

Celebration end, time sheds its cloak
And all who were stuck, unwind
and emotions, once so easily stoked,
seem to have grown their own minds.
Those in the limelight pack up and leave
Forgotten in the instant it ended,
And enmities and jealousies dissolved in the glitter,
don't really seem to have been mended.
The beauty and laughter, so innocent at first
reveal the paint and pretense
While insecurities which relaxed in the music
return armed with new found sense.
The talk that might have turned a few heads
is remembered with a wicked glee
that lets itself loose with enormous frenzy,
oh, such upright people, we!
This labeled wrong, that, "too strong!
surely too rude and indecent!"
but what is unsaid and most cruelly implied
certainly could not have been meant!
Why, when people so immediately pretty
decked in costumes so striking,
pay you attention you've always deserved
you instantly start taking a liking.
"They understand me, they like me, they do!"
And when it gets a bit chilly,
You wonder if its the windows that's open or
something you said that's quite silly.
You only thought you were being yourself,
but no matter, if an elevated style,
is what they desire, by god! you won't tire,
You'll make yourself well-worth their while.
But at the end of the evening, whens all said and done,
its left you with a bitter taste,
But, you keep reassuring yourself,
it can't have been ALL a waste.
Finding good folk is so hard, as it is,
Intelligent discussions so few!
No, you count your blessings and pack up your thoughts,
and until next time, bid adieu.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The meeting took place as planned. Seven hundred refugees figuring out God on Earth, and not a human in sight. Relics littered everywhere and they took turns describing man and lamented. How very close they had come to unlocking everything, and look now. Its taken but a century to transform reality into dust. The meeting ended with them acknowledging the fact that human kind is not to be allowed to prosper anywhere else in the galaxy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Loss is always hard, but can be coped with, and must be coped with, and in doing so, you discover just how resilient you are. Which makes for some rather painfully interesting dips into self-discovery.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I have always had a thing for round eyed aliens. That's what I inevitably get around to doodling when I'm too bored to even think up things to draw. There's something charming about vicious creatures who have a soft side to them. Or perhaps the soft side is just something it wants you to think it has. Take this for example:

I had a character called Koopu, and now I realise I've been unconsciously plagiarising! The one up there is Alien Hominid. He started out as a flash sidescrolling web game hero and quickly rose in popularity to make his way onto consoles. I was a fan of the original, and now that I've got my hands on the ps2 version, I suddenly remembered Koopu. Koopu was then, not wholly a figment of my imagination. See for yourselves.
Its scary how much of what you think to be original might actually be 'borrowed', without you even knowing it. But I guess thats how art works. No piece of writing, art, whatever, can be really completely original. Its all, in many ways, a rethinking of its inspirational original, which was in turn subconsciously, or very consciously, reworked from it's predecessors and so on.

Thats not to say I consider Koopu a work of art, per se! But one things for certain, after Koopu finished venting his often unjustifiable cute bloodthirsty alien rage on humans, they turned into of art themselves.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Little me, in the shroud,
stone still for a while,
and then, alive,
tumbling, trembling,
falling, elsewhere in time,
and place and reason.
Some world's found a need for me again,
and I unconsciously
find myself obliging.

What I wrote above
is what I remember:
The only bit I remember
the rest is a journey for purpose
clouded with struggles
of the most mundane kind.

Questions, questions are all I have
at the moment, and what
the people say counts for little;
I don't know much myself
but if only that little tiny shimmering
strand of memory weaves
itself bigger, and larger
and stronger through time,
and reaches me here, stuck
in a web of part-wonder, part-curiosity
and mostly misplaced ambition,
I'd have something to
show me the way.

I lie in wait.

edit: while this was written in as sincere a manner as is possible at the time of writing, I find myself wincing considerably re-reading it twice. Yeowch.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The lonely son of a bitch

Ugliness is all in your mind, he kept telling himself. What you think to be ugly is perhaps beautiful to someone else. That is, after all, natural. These differences in perception are what goes into making us truly human. But it's okay to think something or someone ugly; you're only doing what comes naturally. You're not treating the person any differently after labeling him so. That, he also told himself, must surely count for something.

All around him were people whom he could barely relate to. But he knew that for the next few years, he would be spending time with them, getting to know them better and he might as well make good use of this time and immerse himself in all the kinds of ugly there is in this world. For, again he told himself, there surely was all sorts of people gathered here, ready to learn and perhaps, later, transform that into something beautiful, or kill it and pursue something else entirely.

He quickly scanned the front row. All average, all extremely artificial in how they dress. All of them, he noted, simply reek of mediocrity. But its alright. Its quite alright. There isn't any need for sudden bouts of natural disgust. You don't know almost anybody, and already you're marking off people, ticking off one after the other. This has become a hobby. This is wrong. He shook his head silently and reprimanded himself mentally.

And then, suddenly he stops fighting and lets all of that go and realizes that he really is the best, most balanced person in the entire room. There's no use thinking otherwise. He isn't smiling and overreacting at every funny word. He isn't looking to please the next guy or girl he sees that he likes and would like as a friend. He isn't especially keen on going out of his way to help lost and confused souls who are too shy to ask for any assistance in the first place and sit smiling to themselves wryly, all alone. Why, he isn't remotely like any of them, and the sweeping generalizations he's been making till now suddenly feel justified. A feeling comes over him and he lets it hang on for a little while longer before letting it dissipate. I'm nowhere new. And for the first time, he smiles that well known, time-worn cruel smile of his.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Okay. Time for a quick roundup of the past 3 days:

  • Frequent blackouts have seen me taking out my guitar and singing and playing Rabindrasangeet songs to entertain my parents and save myself from creeping boredom. Oh, and I can't sing Rabindrasangeet for the life of me, I just figured out. My guitar needs to be restringed.
  • The two tests went reasonably good, then better, in that order. I stayed up the entire night studying for my Augustan paper, and am extremely proud of myself. Regardless of how I fare, I know I had a lot of fun writing the answers.
  • Dad and me love making fun of how Bengali culture can't seem to get out of the Rabindranath fixation and can't seem to make any new headstart. We started this by remembering people who used to sing the same old songs, and horribly at that. Suffice to say, Ma wasn't particularly anxious about listening to our discussion.
  • A getaway is in the works. More on this soon.
  • Avinash got me Deadpool and books for my birthday!
  • I wish Saptarshi cheers up soon and gets to be his hearty self again. He deserves better.

Retrogame Review: Klonoa 2 Lunatea's Veil

Klonoa 2 was released very early on in the PS2's lifespan, and wasn't especially successful commercially. Perhaps its because by 2001, the 2d sidescrolling platformer as a major genre was virtually extinct, and with the advent of 3d platformers like Rayman 2 and Jak and Daxter, both of which were released for the Playstation 2 as well, people probably overlooked this little gem. I'm playing it in 2010, 9 years after its release, and I can safely say that this title is already a modern day classic in my book.

Klonoa 2, it seems to me, much like its lauded predecessor on the psx, has been designed with a very specific audience in mind. For everything in the game oozes the old world charm of the NES days of gaming, back when platformers were a dime a dozen, and were probably the most popular genre. Its also very self consciously Japanese in everything from speech, to character design to the soundtrack. The gameplay itself reminds me a lot of Ristar for the genesis, largely because how exquisitely simple it is. In Ristar, all you had were your hands, with which you grabbed enemies and hooks and propelled yourself forward. In Klonoa, you blow your enemies up into little balls and then use them to jump higher and hit switches. You also grab hold of floating balls and ascending copters. If you have played Yoshi's Island for the SNES, you'll find yourself especially at home with Klonoa. However, Yoshi's Island was something else entirely, and comparing the two doesn't make sense. Klonoa's approach is essentially a lot simpler. There are no special moves whatsoever to learn, and while that may sound boring to some, its not. It leads to a more focused feel.

The controls are very tight. You'll rarely if ever find yourself dying because of difficulty in controlling Klonoa. In fact, you'll rarely die at all. One of the drawbacks of this game is that it's a little too easy sometimes. It all depends on how you look at it though: I was looking for a fun platforming experience, and I came away with something so much more. It IS easy, but that's hardly the point of the game. The actual enjoyment in Klonoa lies in the platforming. Its so fun grabbing enemies and jumping up and solving the many simple yet satisfying puzzles thrown in that you'll soon forget that you've never died till now.

Graphically, Klonoa is gorgeous, with weird and wonderful 3d backgrounds and Klonoa and gang themselves cel shaded, lending them a cartoony look. 2.5D platforming needs more love. I'm not kidding. There are people who seriously miss old school gaming, myself included, and the 2.5D way keeps both sorts of people happy: you get your graphics, and you maintain the classic gameplay too. And that is exactly what Klonoa does. It plays like a lavishly designed NES platformer, albeit with 3D thrown in for good measure. The colors are vivid and psychedelic. Character design is impressive and the cutscenes inbetween visions are decent. And, most importantly, skippable. But having a story egging you on is very fun as well.

The soundtrack, now, is where you'll finally see how much heart this game has. The soundtrack, ladies and gentlemen, is absolutely incredible. Its beautiful, sad, happy, fast-paced, thoughtful and more. It proves that a good soundtrack complements a game tremendously, making it a transcendental experience in gaming, once in a while. Klonoa very surely delivers in this regard. It reeks of a beautiful fantasy setting, mystical, charming and at times haunting, all at once. It's good enough to be listened to separately!

So there you have it. Klonoa 2 is a brilliant combination of old school, classic platforming, superior music, and quirky and delightful graphics and it's sure to delight platforming fans and help introduce many to the genre as well. Highly recommended. 9/10.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Violet and brooding
a soft summer evening
a tint of frustration
in the air

A chair by the ocean
missing the commotion of
home this far away
its not fair.

And the swishing of the waves
and the crying of the gulls
and the sand and the rocks
they all argue:

You've come out here alone
alive and to postpone
all your thoughts until
they are due.

The violet night sky
angry, beautiful, can't lie
and you know to think is but to
waste this time

You've eked out for yourself
you never sought out any help
and the least you can do is enjoy it,
please try.

Friday, April 2, 2010

My ps2 is dead. End of story. I didn't know how dependent I'd gotten to be on that little thing till now.

And suddenly I feel extremely light. Its hilarious I know. And I was probably expecting something like this. I mean, just when I was finally getting to enjoy the console, it, or fate, pulls this off. Amazing. What now?

Nothing. Except perhaps getting back to things that really need my attention. My exams, for one.

Sigh. Tata.



Thursday, April 1, 2010

Early post for today. Like, real early. Its 2 24 am now, and I just finished playing a level of Halo. The first one. Yes, I know: How come I never played it before?! What the hell was I thinking? etc. As it turns out, this game is VERY fun. I don't like fpss in general, but this is an exception. It runs a bit choppy on pcs...the port isn't perfect unfortunately, but the fun factor takes over soon and if you're a science fiction fan then you're pretty much bound to be pleased. Who am I kidding...this game is already held to be a legend amongst gamers, and while this does play like a more or less generic fps, I can tell why it caused such a stir when it got released in the early 2000s.

And stay tuned for first impressions on...*drumroll please* Ratchet and Clank 3! Ratchet and Clank is one of those games you cannot dislike even if you wanted to. And I hear part 3 is something delightful to play.

Its quite funny, me blogging this enthusiastically all of a sudden. I'm actually having a lot of fun doing this after God knows how long, regardless of whether people are actually reading it or not.
I'm late. To quickly go over yesterday:
  • Extremely uneventful overall, till home when me and the guys went for a stroll.
  • Saptarshi messages me that the internet speed has doubled.
  • We, all three of us, think it to be a really bad attempt on Saptarshi's part at trying an April Fool's out on us.
  • Then we remember April Fool's is still a day away.
  • We scurry to Bishu's place to find out that it IS in fact, the truth.
  • We do a little victory dance and call Saptarshi up who is almost dancing himself and slightly incredulous.
And today, I lost my way in Salt Lake and unknowingly took an extremely long detour which has me tired out too bad. I can barely type. Lemonade's got my throat all sticky and is making me thirsty all over again. This is my third glass all day. After the eds me and Saptarshi finally found time to hang out, and we met with Samik and Somak and got the photocopies for Tuesday's test. And I didn't score too badly in the American Novel test but nothing too brilliant either.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I have a lot of things to say today, and some of it quite funny too. I just don't know where to start, so I'll go ahead and do as they say: begin at the beginning.

Yesterday night, roundabout 2 o clock, I had just got off the internet after going through random gaming articles and found I couldn't fall asleep. I was hungry and I couldn't get to sleep and half an hour later found me at the kitchen making noodles of all things. I woke up the entire household by doing so. I'd wanted to go for has a way of dulling the hunger down enough, but lately I've started disliking that drink. Blasphemous I know, especially with someone like me.

So anyway, after noodles, I didn't feel sleepy one bit. So I did what I do best: read. I read Zora Neal Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God...almost all the way through (just a few pages left) and a good book on a full stomach is good. And Their a good book indeed; I'd read The Color Purple 2 months back and Alice Walker had written that she'd been influenced most by Hurston and I can see how. I also finished Native Son a day back and comparing the two I found several interesting things to mull about today: Native Son is written by a man, and Hurston's book is a marvelous vacation compared to his. The sheer optimism in Their Eyes... seems almost non existent in Wright's narrative. But then they are two very different tales.

I finally fell asleep at 5 30. Hurriedly woken up at 9 o clock. Classroom cleanup! Fled to college, got off at the market, bought a broom, a big one, and went to class. A few friends pitched in, and soon took over, and we were done in an hour or so, and the classroom looks a lot cleaner and healthier.

Throughout I was extremely sleepy, and by the time the eds started, I was ready to drop. Which was a shame, because the cinema eds of late have been thoroughly brilliant. And thats one of the reasons I forced myself to stay awake...almost.

Back home, I took Baghu for a walk. He must have been surprised...I normally don't take him out before 9- 9 30 at night. But I'm glad I did, because Baghu met his neighbourhood gal-buddy Sarah, who seemed extremely pleased to see him as well. And even though Baghu couldn't 'see' her technically, he had a lot of fun running around and the both of them chased one another and had a blast.

Ratchet and Clank is winding up. I'm probably at the last level....the difficulty feels a little too steep a little too suddenly. Its not a bad game at all. But I just wish there was a little more platforming in it, especially since it was marketed as a 3d platformer with shooting elements. It seems more like a straight out action game with platforming elements thrown in. Which makes for some brilliant gameplay, true, and there is some strategy in it as well...with so many weapons at your disposal, you can think up really exciting ways to get rid of your enemies. The visibomb is literally a blast to use.

It had its moments, the game did. I don't know if 10 years down the line, it will be hailed as the classic people are calling it. But then again, this is the first game in the series, and the sequels I've heard are way better. I'm just a tad disappointed because the true platformer, as a genre, has almost completely lost out. There is no true platformer that's been released in a long time. Klonoa perhaps, but what else?

When it comes to gaming, I'm always a generation behind. If it weren't for my sister, I'd be two generations behind. She was the one who got me the ps2. I've always oscillated between pc and console gaming, and if you ask me now which one I like best, I won't be able to answer. On the one hand, the pc controls seem to me the most accessible and I'm definitely more at home with the pc, but on the other, the extreme lack of variety in pc gaming is appalling. I'm not a fps junkie, and a non fps player would be a fool to invest a lot of money in a new gaming rig. I'm not exactly a console-limited player either. In my all time favourite lists, the best looking and fun to play games are mostly console specific titles, while the most absorbing and moving have been pc ones. So taking sides would not do either side justice. And just for the record, I am not a graphics nut. This has several reasons behind it: not owning a 3d gaming machine till very late in my teen years, the burning of a brand new 8600gt not even a year old at that, before I could try Mass Effect out on it, a childhood love for drawing and anything 2d...the reasons are endless and I shall not proceed further.

I was thinking to myself today how little of my actual thoughts I reveal here. This being a public blog and all. In fact, I generally don't like it too much when people get too personal on their blogs nowadays. I've always held that barring a few exceptions, really REALLY private stuff lose their value and meaning when you post them for all the world to see. Because they really aren't meant to be written down to be read by everyone...they don't read well at all. Either they sound terribly pretentious, or terribly gloomy or too artsy for their own good. But that's just me. Your inner feelings and needs, prejudices, opinions...stuff you feel too deeply about to even trust yourself with, if you get what I mean....merely translating them into words is like...I don't know, taking a painting and then having someone describe it to you instead of seeing it for yourself. And unless you're a very trusted someone, a very close friend, you can't ever see it for yourself!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Today was a mixed bag day of sorts. Non stop classes till 5 30. Will be cleaning up the classroom tomorrow. Was extremely tired of the world when I boarded the bus. Brilliant breeze as usual at night and walked the dog for a while. The stars were out, and reminded me of Vaughan, who I have to study and who also looks to be quite good: I saw eternity the other night. What a start to a poem.

Veering away from cosmic matters, Ratchet And Clank is a good way to wind up a day which wasn't very exciting. But that's probably for the best.

PS: Some thoughts on Native Son. It is harrowing in parts, and certain portions are expertly handled and evoke a genuine sense of despair and understanding and disgust and despair again in turns. Not disgust, that's too strong a word. Shock. But it could have been shortened. The length probably heightens the suspense but also dilutes the overall impact the book has on you. Nevertheless, one of the better books I have read this year so far. The narrative zipped along while never shying away from elaborate, stream of consciousness sections and you really find yourself in the head of the protagonist. A recommended read to anybody with even a passing interest in the state of African Americans in the 30s in America.

PS PART 2! : I almost forgot! New discovery of the day!
Arctic Monkeys.

Oh boy, heard this a long time back, clean forgot about it till today when I happened to find it again on youtube!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In the park, the giant trees, the few that still remain, swished and swayed in the now very strong breeze blowing all over and it sounded exactly like the sea. The wind felt exactly like the sea as well.

The late afternoon was a deja vu filled moment when I suddenly got reminded of what I used to do at school, right around 3 30-4. It used to be the penultimate class of the day, winding up, and when a storm would show signs of starting, its like a gleeful poltergeist took its turn possessing all of us, at once or individually. Even the teacher. The last class would be called off if this persisted, and 4 30 found me either walking home, or taking an auto, hanging on by my bony hands, eagerly anticipating the rest of the day after school. Didi would be back from college at 7, met with an excited shriek and all hell would break loose if it was a Friday and it was windy and stormy. There were nothing quite like stormy Fridays. If it rained Friday night, Saturday, a day full of cartoons and books and short study sessions followed by outrageous breaks in between, would start with a sweet muddy smell coming from the garden in front. Have you ever seen tiny snails? Baby snails, green all over, not bigger than your fingertip. Not to mention the huge ones, who would pop up all over the place all of a sudden. One day they aren't there, the next, they're all over the place, climbing walls, trees, in the garden. Squishing a snail under your shoes by mistake is one of the worst sensations in this life.

Today, when school is long gone, and Fridays don't hold the same sort of charm they used to even two years back, it was rather lovely how nature conspired to feel and sound exactly like it would 6 years ago. I'm so very thankful for days like today. You barely need anything else.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hello world. Its 10 55 am and a Saturday. I have the whole day ahead. And I woke up just now. The to-do list for today includes:
  • Page 1 of my all new webcomic.
  • Finish Native Son
  • Watch Shutter Island with Baba
  • Find a little time to study again in the evening.
Here's hoping I do all of that. Will be back.


Hello again. So what did I do all this time?
Lets see. Okay, first things first. Dark Cloud 2 is addictive. I'll give it that. The weapon leveling system is interesting to say the least, as is the idea of spectrumizing (that is, the ability to turn anything and everything into its elemental state, which helps add to a specific stat of your weapon. So lets say you get a flame stone, and you spectrumize it and turn it into a flame sphere, and when you synthesize that with your weapon, it gets better at dealing with foes which firepower...I think. Something like that, at any rate) and it reminded me of Secret of Mana. So badly in fact, that I played Secret of Mana all afternoon. So Native Son not touched all day long, except for a little bit in the morning. The test is not far away, however, so I'll have to buckle up.
Baba and me watched Shutter Island. For me, it was marvelous viewing it the second time over; you catch a few nuances here and there which you obviously couldn't understand the first time you saw. Baba liked it, but said it could've been shorter and a little more subtle. As far as acting is concerned, we loved Caprio and Kingsley, but Baba was of the opinion that Matt Damon could have played Caprio's role even better. Come to think of it, they do look quite alike!

...or not.

And in keeping with my promise of a comic strip, well, here it is.

Role reversal. Heh.

Its finally rained. And before my blog starts sounding like a weather forecast, I'll go. Good night.
A certain pop-corn smell in the American Library today (of all places) reminded me how very long its been since I've been to the movies. The last time being Avatar. Its become extremely costly, the either have to catch the morning shows or shell out more than 100 bucks. Which hurts, both my conscience and my wallet. This is where I fondly remember the days when I used to go to Globe, New Empire, Light House. I'm a sucker for old world charm and quaintness.
Have finally got hold of Worms Armageddon, thanks to a pal. We plan on playing tonight. Worms is the most fun I've ever had when it came to online gaming. I'm not a fan of MMORPGs. They tried to get me hooked, but something about the mindless grind has always put me off. And it comes back to hit you one fine day in the future and you find yourself lamenting all the wasted time.Reading Richard Wright's The Native Son, and I'm surprised how smooth and brilliant a read it is. I am absolutely loving the book. I hope to finish the rest tonight.
And its stormy and windy and superb outside. A welcome break from the heat.
Baghu, hot, tired out and panting furiously. Baba had taken him out and as usual, he'd pranced off with his dog buddies to the park.Baba, who's become a bookworm all over again recently.

And finally, Ma, who finally allowed me to take her photograph, and I'm glad she did.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Today saw me starting on an action rpg which goes by the name of 'Dark Cloud 2' and apparently its sort of a classic in the ps2 library. Nowadays I make it a point to never get my hopes too high when starting on a book or a game...I get disappointed too often as it is. But Dark Cloud 2, as far as I've gone at least, looks to be exactly the sort of game I like: a fantasy set up, cool animation, a nifty battle system, levelling up. Its like someone finally let me breathe after that blasted excuse of a game. Yes, I'm talking of Final Fantasy XII and I'll say here that I think the entire franchise is a joke. There I said it.

Water snakes are beautiful creatures. I saw one today again, its head out of the water, peering at us. No classes have left me observing nature, that too in Jadavpur, and its quite interesting. You spot odd critters here and there, and if not anything else, there's always the occasional mutt to pet. In the central jheel of Jadavpur, there is a HUGE fish. I've only seen it once and its big. Prolly some sad mutated fish bored out of its wits, having to spend time with small fry in the now very dangerously diminishing lake.

I want to start a comic book club in Jadavpur. Or even a book lover's club...something which will get together like minded people and people can have fun talking about their favourite genres, books, etc. That would be very fun indeed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Its very hot here in Calcutta suddenly. The bus rides to college in the morning don't seem to end. College itself is your usual fare, but lately its been quieter than usual, with two of my friends always involved in some work or the other. Good for them: at least they're keeping busy. I never seem to keep busy. Things might change from today though, with the next test date announced.

The weather however, took a turn for the better near the afternoon. It's cooled down by now. I've cooled down with a glass of lemonade which Ma handed me upon getting back home. Some strange impulse had me unearthing my camera and clicking a few photographs. I've always wanted to keep a photo journal blog, but have never managed to maintain one on a regular basis. Here's me starting again. Or I will be starting, since today I don't have any good photographs to display. I'll post a few old favourites.
Incidentally, I read out a story to another friend of mine sitting on the college ledge today. One of Maupassant's , and I had to read it for a film analysis class in which we compared a film adaptation of the same by Renoir with the text. Fascinating stuff, really. I never did think about adaptations in such a light before...well, maybe I have, but when you're actually being taught something like this, dissecting one element after another its very fun to sit back and listen and see. From where we were sitting, you could spot a crow feeding its young, in a bunch of twigs atop a tree nestled dangerously and flimsily on a branch, just above the lake. My friend suddenly remembered a rather gruesome real incident he happened to witness once: a baby crow had fallen down into a lake, and a water snake had apparently caught hold of it, taken it underwater to drown it. I won't go into what happened next.

Back home, I'm either lolling about, or having trouble deciding how to occupy myself. I'm interested in too many things, but can't seem to focus on any! A dilettante is what I'm turning into. But my friend said today, do you have to be good at everything you do?
Tomb Raider Anniversary is good old fashioned fun.

Terry Pratchett is....I don't know why I haven't read him in all these years. He's too good to be true.

And something is terribly wrong with my camera. Everything's blurry.

Oh boy.