The Sanctum

Welcome, traveller. This be the realm of Jay Niner, where everything be possible, and nothing ever happens. If, perchance, thou wisheth to tarry, then find thou a page from the Grimoire and read. For we are here in eternity, and we are in medias res.

12.8.12

Revival

Blog's been shifted to: http://unusuallyuntitled.wordpress.com/

5.7.12

Random

There is but one thing in the universal core;
That picks at my heart like a cancerous sore.

Words fail me, it overwhelms;
To rip out my established tedium of life, threatens;

If there ever was such a thing as an eponymous bore,
Then it is punctuality, that mind-numbing chore.
In its thrall have careers been wrecked-
For want of a few minutes has destiny been checked
For was there ever was such a thing so inanely effective,
As a docked day's pay and an hour's invective?
My almighty excuses fall to perdition,
Faced with authority, plead sedition;
While whosoever on the giving end proceeds to pound,
Into that speechless brain mound upon mound,
Of decibels, of expletive sound.

Oh misery, oh mine, what then is life,
But a casserole of deadlines with a dollop of strife?
Ah, but punctuality, that effervescent bore,
But for punctuality, that taskmistress whore,
Somehow, without her, I suspect we'd be
Still swapping coconuts, instead of sipping tea.

1.7.12

Another untitled

After so long it barely registers. Flipkart has been a constant savior; the avenging angel to stave off the bogeymen of boredom. I'm pretty sure the delivery guy is going to take his revenge some day; at least thrice a week we see each others' mugs before my slamming the door on his face or him turning his back on mine.
Yup. We're pissed.
Good thing, though, is that with the new laptop on hand I get to go through a larger variety of content than before. Too many apps. As bloody usual. The other one lasted six months before conking off in my hands.
Been going through this amazing book - The Wise Man's Fear. Just the second book by Patrick Rothfuss. Get your hands on it. His style is amazing; the guy is pretty much creating a world in spite of all the cliches in fantasy you see every damn place.
And then some.

27.5.12

The Road taken everybloodyday

Went out for a walk today. And a smoke. And I met this old boozehound along the way, sloshed out of his balls, running the razor's edge behind a particularly violent truck.
And what did he say? Nothing much. He was drunk. It was just interesting, watching him chase that monster along the thin little asphalt strips that pass for roads around my pad. I wondered what happened to him afterwards. When I returned, there was a big enough crowd on the way, and I couldn't see through them; but I could guess what they were hiding.
How? 'Coz I saw the truck driver not too far away, held by several members of our disgustingly moral society.
Accidents. So many of them have been happening around here. And five of them involved two-wheelers. I'm just wondering when I get my turn on the stage. 
Driving a bike along Wagholi is just begging for trouble. The sad thing is, the traffic couldn't care less unless there's a sizable difference between victim and wannabe murderer. And they're immensely bored. So the slightest excuse for an accident will do, providing it involves a biker and an obscenely large truck. And a Punjabi, preferably. 

20.5.12

Thinking ahead

Been doing almost nothing but reading this last week. Brandon Sanderson. China Mieville, Patrick Rothfuss, Dan Simmons, E.E. Knight and my constant companion of two years, John Norman, from whose considerable repertoire I have but three books left to sample. That's saying something because John Norman is bloody monotonous after the first few books, and then suddenly from around the twentieth book onward, his plot gains momentum, and Tarl Cabot stops being a brat and decides to do something big.
I finally got around to deleting my Facebook account. What a pain in the ass. Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg, is becoming a farce. A nice big farce that we can all laugh at, because not much of it is actually true. 
And last, but not least, I've got to start paying more attention to the newest twist in my life - I managed to get a job.
Quite accidentally, too, but who's complaining? It's bril. I get to sit at a desk and edit for seven hours. No running around like I did a few years back, trying to find a story which may/mayn't interest the editor. No. This time I HAVE THE POWER! Or at least, a taste of it. My ass, currently, is under the jurisdiction of the sub-editing department of the irredeemably esteemed The Hindu. In Bangalore. It might not be the booze capital of India, but Bangalore has the works. And cheap rent. Hooray.
The sad thing about it is that I have nothing to complain about. Like an artist without his muse, a cynic (even an aspiring one) can scarcely turn his nose up at life without going through some measure of stress. And right now I've got absolutely nothing to be worried about.
And that should worry me. Because this is the time in a man's life when Fate in her obnoxiously complicated way decides to throw in something permanent into the mix. Young? Check. Bachelor? Check. Staying alone? Check. Independent? Check. 
That sounds like such a recipe for trouble. Broken bones, obsessive girlfriends, sadistic landlords, house problems... a lot of ouch for comparatively little bang.
Right now, I'm just killing time, waiting for several of my downloads to happen. I just pulled out this blog, after twitter, and realized that I'm going to have quite a lot of free time in the coming months. Which means I need to get my priorities in order. I need to know exactly what I'm going to be busy with in that free time, and how I can maximize that to full potential. Kya kare, the life of a slacker is full of complications, like who's going to make me a sandwich. After all, the acquisition of lunch is, according to Douglas Adams, one of the biggest questions of life.
Eh. Let's wait and see. I foresee a lot of problems in the next few weeks. Hopefully, I won't be inspired to take longer hiatuses from my social responsibilities, i.e. blogging, tweeting, downloading, et al. There will be time between rum shots and joints, between acid and coke, between intoxication and subsequent depressions, to waste some time doing something a bit less constructive. Depends on perspective.
Well, let's see. In either case I want this job for at least a few years so that I can concentrate on other stuff. Psychology, Creative Writing, Literature, learning German, trying MMA... got a list ready. Now gotta get meself shipshape.

14.4.12

Review: The Hunger Games

"And we wish you all happy Hunger Games!" Cue Applause? Sorry, these are the oppressed you're talking to.
The Hunger Games is that sort of movie you take someone to. It's a movie with a happy ending (somewhat). I mean, no one expected a remake of Gladiator, but that's how the movie tries to be.
Granted, the book was pretty good. Suzanne Collins's book was like another version of Anne Frank's diary. Somewhere there, at least, since Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence in all her pouty glory) is this sort of would-be amazon with a penchant for marksmanship. Unlike her partner, Peeta Mellark, is a real hunter. She knows what she wants, and how to get it; but even so, unlike in the book where Katniss is a bit more manipulative, the movie version doesn't quite get there, and ends up being a bit more melodramatic instead.
Peeta Mellark is by all means a supporting character. While Suzanne Collins says that her inspiration for Katniss came from Theseus, then Peeta is by all accounts Pirithous, one of the Greek hero's better companions. In the film, though, Peeta is a quiet, subdued, and more than slightly jealous character who, in typical Twilight style, confesses to stalking her throughout most of her childhood. 
But Katniss, there, is pretty clever. You see, the "tributes" (or gladiators) are given gifts from their sponsors, without which life in the arena is pretty fucked. When by some odd coincidence she and Peeta are cast as star-crossed lovers, the audience goes into rapture at the thought, so Katniss encourages the rumour. 
Of course, the fact that it transcends mere manipulation by the end of the movie is fairly predictable. 
All of that aside, what I really liked about the film is the history divulged. 
The Hunger Games are set in Panem, which is typically a collective of North American countries. 74 years have passed since a failed revolution by 12 districts caused these games to be founded by the President so as to keep those districts intimidated.
In all that time, they've taken young men and women - a pair, from each district - and tossed them into the deathmatch. Suffice to say, it's worked. All the districts live in rural simplicity, while the capital of Panem boasts amazing technology and culture. 
And all of this comes through in the movie. That's one thing I liked about it: from Katniss's perspective, all of this is new to her. Oddly, though, also from her perspective, you get a sense of odd contempt from her, since she is essentially one of the best archers anyone knows, and you'd swear she was somehow related to the Predator. That's not to say, that she doesn't have her perks. She's tough as nails; one of the better parts of the movie is when she gets fed up of trying to impress the audience, and shoots an arrow straight into the proverbial apple in the boar's teeth, instantly diverting attention from the feast and to herself. 'Thank you,' she  says, 'for your consideration,' before retreating, leaving behind a rather stunned collection of sponsors.
But Katniss, more than Peeta, is a survivalist, and that's the one thing that goes to convince you of typical cyberpunk. 
That in the end, what's being shown, being projected, is actually possible. That's why Equilibrium became a success, that's why The Matrix still pulls you in. The fact that a future like this could be in the works, where children are forced to fight each other to the death, over medicine, water, food and weapons, and then fight until only one remains standing, is very reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, except that here, there is no adult to intervene.
So when adults go on to play, it takes a child to bring a stop to their games. Katniss, for defying the rules of the game, becomes a political figure in her own right. But she pulls it off. 
Which is rather odd, since with a title and a theme like this, I was expecting something a bit more chilling, or sudden, but the ending sort of creeps up on you when the President, angry at being defied, goes off to sulk.
All in all, The Hunger Games is not such a bad movie. It's a one-time watch. Despite somehow pulling out a 7.6 at IMDB, unless you've read the book before watching the movie, it tends to be forgettable.
So, final rating? 3/5. 

21.2.12

Review: Desert Spear

Desert Spear is Peter V Brett's second work in the Demon Trilogy, and better than the Painted Man, his first novel in the series, but only by a narrow margin.
In Desert Spear the story starts with Jardir, a boy who grows up in the desert land of Krasia, where there are only Sharum (warriors), slaves and khaffit, which is what the Sharum call anyone who isn't a sharum. Caste is an important factor in Krasia since it determines whether or not you get to enjoy paradise with Ala, the Krasian God. 
Although the influence isn't just traceable, it's staring you in the face, the way Brett weaves his story, doing a George R. R. Martin act, balancing several distinct and well-made characters as he goes along.
What's good about this book is the complexity of the characters; the Painted Man himself, Arlen Bale, is an identifiable byronic hero, his would-be lover Leesha is the typical village wise woman, a rough-tongued beauty who attracts Jardir's attention, and after getting what she wants, decides not to marry him after all.
That part is fun mainly because the Sharum of Krasia think the Thesans (the greenlanders) are all a race of yellers; this rapidly gets proven otherwise.
What's good about this book is the way Brett draws you into the plot. There is a lot of suspense, and a lot of action; when Arlen's lady love finally makes her own entrance, and Arlen walks the line between coreling and human and tries to make sure she doesn't, it reveals a depth of character in Brett's creations.
All of his characters, for that matter, are so well-defined, so real
They are all average people, from humble beginnings. At the height of his power, Arlen Bale, the Painted Man, is still fallible, still human, even though his powers say otherwise.
Then comes the scenery, and the corelings themselves. In the first book, there were just a few varieties of corelings, demons that are born in the Earth's core; in Desert Spear, the shadowy lords of the corelings finally make their appearance.
These Mind Demons, as Brett calls them, are telepathic and bonded to a guardian more dangerous than most other corelings; and they're sentient and with human intelligence, all of which makes them even more interesting to follow. Brett puts a few POV chapters with the Mind Demon in prime focus, and although he tries to make it inhuman and sadistic, it works out that the mind demons get more of a hunter-esque personality instead.

Final conclusion: Desert Spear is, for once, deviating from the typical idea of fantasy stories; you have two messiahs, several powerful artifacts, immense numbers of demons, over dozens of demon lords; and no final villain in sight.
All of that means we still need a sequel to get somewhere in this book. For now, Brett's style and characters are damn interesting to follow. 
Three and a half stars.