Motivational Posters are Misleading but Beautiful


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All Hail Macbeth! Film Review

The film begins in the dark wet mud of Scotland. Macbeth ceremonially finger painting the faces of young men with blue Scottish paint. I have always loved that color! It is not a bright Hawaiian blue but a blue with a lot of darkness in it. It is the color of pride and the color of war. For the Scottish, it is a color of who they are. Something they cannot escape because unfortunately it is 1000 AD so everything that is done is done, cannot be undone! “These were brutal times!” is how it was explained to me enthusiastically by my friend Gifford Krivak; an English teacher/actor who accompanied me to the modern, sleek Angelika Theater conveniently located across a Target store so big that you accept it as a temple of socks, thermals and other useful things.

Macbeth bravely leads them into a bloody hand to hand combat against a rebel army that seeks the throne of rugged Scotland. The scene is beautiful! There is the maroon blood of slaughter flying in the dense fog, the clashing of swords, under an unforgiving dark sky, but also a sense that no matter who comes out alive, tragedy is the winner. But tragedy can be entertaining and mesmerizing! The battle scene is highly stylized and the opposite of a Mission Impossible movie. Nothing is going to get resolved because you ran really fast or dived from a cliff! Macbeth is not going to somersault his way out of trouble. The focus is always on the inner world. The realization of how senseless it is to kill another man, but also an acceptance that ‘hey I’m here so let’s get on with it.’

Sometimes the film pauses as if someone traveled back in time and took a Polaroid of Macbeth swinging sword against shield. And then in the middle of the battle, he sees them! The three witches! They are so weird! Wearing all black, watching impassively, undisturbed by the chaos of battle. And to make them weirder is this little girl witch who always hangs out with the three witches. The fourth addition is fantastic and creepy! Upon their foreheads is a three horizontal striped scar. Nothing too ugly or frightening but just creepy enough to make you look and then know that they are not natural! Or are they natural? Because do they represent our own darkness that we refuse to accept?

Fassbender is magnificent as Macbeth! He accepts the darkness and he loves his wife a lot; physically and emotionally the relationship is a complete success. We admire them as a couple, because in them exists the pure acknowledgement of exactly who they are. This is what’s so deliciously enjoyable when Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are talking. No disclaimers! They never say, ‘not to be a bad person or anything, but it would be nice if the king kind of did not exist tonight…’ They are the exact opposite of hypocrisy accepting every dark thought, surrendering to ambition, and always keeping it real! Lady Macbeth is not encouraging Macbeth by saying, ‘look I know it’s tough, you’ve had a long day…but still if you can just kill the king tonight it will be great. I’ll go microwave the popcorn it’s within the calorie limit.’ No. She is blunt, and challenges him to murder: ‘when you do it, then you are a man.’ The request is erotic and shown explicitly. Which is why my friend Gifford will not be able to show the movie in class to his young students.

I read Macbeth in school and I never understood it. But now as adults when we have learned the manners of politeness, the arts of evasion, it is refreshing to see a man do very bad things and then suffer gloriously without excuses. Once he has killed his king and taken the throne, he is sitting in the stony castle, Lady Macbeth comes to him to cheer him up urging him to do kingly things like smelling a rose while walking in the garden majestically, or wave from the balcony…But Macbeth has realized that guilt is the real king which cannot be killed. He smiles at her and says:

Oh, full of scorpions is my mind

Do you realize how painful that is!! Yet, he has the heroic ability to describe it for us! Macbeth owns his actions. So foul and fair a film, I have not seen.

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Cary Grant 33: 33 Films of “Original Cool” with Summary, Selected Dialogue, and Trivia

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Forget & Enjoy


Scientists managed to erase memory in rats but then they followed these amazing actions by restoring that very memory:

We can cause an animal to have fear and then not have fear and then to have fear again by stimulating the nerves at frequencies that strengthen or weaken the synapses,…

What wonderful things could we do with such brain control? Maybe walk into a restaurant and you are served a Forget Fortified appetizer. FFA. Now you have no memory of what a pancake is. The fragrance of maple syrup, the hot melting taste of it. You are born again as a pancake virgin. Taste it for the first time.

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Shakespeare on Writer’s Block

So what is writer’s block? I think it is the loss of meaning. Whatever it is that you are writing should get you excited. It should make you weird; you should be in your own world and people should wonder why you are not moving even though the traffic light is green. They should ask why you are standing in the self checkout counter, staring at an apple, talking to it. Your creation should overwhelm you and others should be irritated by your presence.

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Mexican Pizza at Taco Bell is the Tastiest Fast Food

The Mexican Pizza at Taco Bell. Observe the three cheese blend and the two crispy pizza shells which combine to create delight

I know the millions of people reading this blog will say that I am wrong. How can Taco Bell make such amazing pizzas? They do. But you have to eat it immediately. The pizza is made in a steaming oven which melts the three cheese blend to tasty perfection. The three cheeses are sprinkled with diced tomatoes so they add a nice chewy texture. All these toppings go very nicely on the crispy pizza shell. I usually replace the meat with beans and the flavor is just as good. I think this is one of the best fast food menu items out there. Sprinkle some fire sauce on it, and believe me, you are in heaven.

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Day 20 of My Vegetarian Life

So I had a realization. I never liked salads and I still don’t. I like things when they are cooked. Eating salads had convinced me that vegetables were a side item or something you had before the “real” meal. As a vegetarian over the last 20 days, I have been forced to make vegetables my main meal. So having a salad and then eating more vegetables did not make sense to me. I like cooked vegetables. So once I had this realization, I look at eggplants and tomatoes differently. Two nights ago I went to a dinner at my friend’s house. His mother is a great cook and she had made some delicious things, like eggplant in yogurt, and a traditional spicy cake which is eaten with a chutney. Once I had these, I had no longing for meat. The trick is to cook the veggies into something tasty, so that you eat lots of it and are satisfied with life and don’t feel like crying.

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Is it wrong to slice a bagel? It depends…

In the legend of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, sesame seeds are mentioned. They opened the door to a cave filled with riches.

More and more I am becoming against the idea of slicing a sesame seed bagel because the upper half always gets all the sesame seeds. The lower half of the bagel is immediately downgraded in our hearts and minds.

Sesame seed plants were first grown in Asia or East Africa. Ancient Egyptians were using sesame seeds in making very tasty bread. They had to. They needed a break from building those very large monuments. The Chinese also burned sesame seed oil to make high quality ink blocks. Sesame seeds are mentioned in ancient legend because people believed that sesame seeds possessed magical powers. Some of us still believe it.

Posted in Current Events, Food | Tagged , | 1,160 Comments

The Curious Case of the Fall in Crime

In the 1990s, 500 armed bank robberies were taking place every year in England and Wales. Last year in 2012, only 69 armed bank robberies were recorded. This huge fall is not limited to bank robbers. Car theft is dramatically down as well. In 1990, in New York, 147,000 cars were stolen. Number of cars stolen in New York in 2012? Less than 10,000! What is going on? Are people becoming nice? People in developed countries are now safer than they ever were since the 1970s.

In the 1990s conservatives predicted that divorce and single parent families would cause a rise in crime. Wild and crazy youth with no sense of humanity would go on a rampage. Some had predicted that as people of different ethnic backgrounds would come together in cities, there would be violence. Blondes would fight with brunettes. We would need Batman. They were wrong. The new generation is better behaved, less likely to get drunk in public and less violent. They do like Batman but only at the movies where the youth eats buttered popcorn in a peaceful manner. Sometimes they text but mostly they comply with expectations of decency.

This growing niceness has held true even as we experience a world recession. So how did we get here? Is it because we throw more people in prison? New York defies this logic, where prison population has fallen by 25 percent since 1999 and the crime rate has fallen faster than many other cities. Netherlands and Germany are reducing their prison population and crime is falling. First time offenders in England and Wales have fallen by a whopping 44 percent since 2007. Why and how you ask? The Economist explores this happy puzzle.

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Robots at Work

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The Goodbye Process

When a guest is leaving your place, do you walk them all the way to the car? Or do you simply walk them to the door and then do the half hanging out wave thing? I usually walk them to the car and sometimes I will even sit in the car to listen to music or have the last few words of conversation. I also continue to wave at them as they reverse and drive away. Sometimes I will keep waving as long as their car is visible. Sometimes I will run after the car to show affection. What is the decent cut off point where a farewell may be considered complete? The answer is that no one really knows.

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Star Trek is a Wild Ride!

What a great film! They finally found a villain who has a plan. I was expecting a gloomy suicidal maniac who wants to kill everyone including himself. But instead we were rewarded with scheming charismatic leader striving for a different future, a future in which genetically enhanced beings rule the universe.

A lot of the action is on earth which is a treat to watch, because it is the earth of the future. London of course exists in that future, combining elements of the past with the sleek shiny buildings we will build with our rational minds. There are no signs of poverty as Star Trek dreams of a society beyond money. Vending machines are just nice. They will give you whatever you want because you asked for it. Not like these days when we have to insert many coins and even dollars for chemical infested candy bars and cheese covered chips. I still eat them. In Star Trek future, cars and things of transport don’t have wheels. They float because we have figured that out.

Spock of course is the winner, because his cold logical side is balanced by his entertaining relationship with the attractive Ahura who speaks Klingon and is a valuable asset for any spaceship.

Ahura is romantically involved with Spock and she is fed up with his logic.

The film starts with a magnificent scene on a planet where the inhabitants are still in the hunting gathering phase of development. These people don’t have credit cards, or mortgages and no facebook. They hunt, paint themselves with earthy colors and throw spears. They are also very sensitive because they chase Captain Kirk through a forest of red trees.

One thing they could have done better was the Klingon world. I was expecting gigantic statues of warriors and coliseums where gladiators fight till death. Sadly, they were not able to establish such details for the Klingon civilization. I also wanted to see more of Ahura using her Klingon language skills to operate in their world. I also wanted to see more of Ahura doing nothing. I just want to see her. The film entertains with its touches, like the glass room holding area where the villain is honorably held. It is from here that Khan the villain says classy things to manipulate his captors. We also see some very cool space suits which allow the fearless captain to dive and fly through space. We are getting close to these things because just last year Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner broke the speed of sound by jumping from the edge of space. Star Trek is a postcard from the future, inviting us to invent a better world, and vending machines that have the decency to give things to us without asking for money. And best of all, this film has good old fashioned running, really fast, after the bad guy, in a crowded city of the future. Go see it!

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Yeh Jawanee Hai Deewani

Naina is a medical student feeling trapped by her boring life. She studies all day and goes shopping for grocery items with her mother.  She eats dinner on time, while her her mother lectures her on living a good academic life. Like all nerds, Naina craves excitement but is extremely shy and wears large glasses which hide her emotions and beautiful eyes.

All this changes when Naina runs into her outgoing friend Aditi. Naina admires Aditi because Aditi wears cut off jean shorts, and gets into fights with strangers on the road and at shopping stores. Naina decides that this is the kind of life she wants to have and sneaks out of her house to join Aditi on an adventurous trekking trip into the snowy mountains. But they are not alone. Joining them on this trip are two cool guys Bunny and Avi who are carefree and flirtatious. Bunny went to school with Naina but hardly remembers her because he sat at the back of the classroom while Naina was the obedient student in the front row always raising her hand to answer difficult questions. They come from different worlds. Can the carefree Bunny who wants to travel the world ever see eye to eye with studious Naina?

Naina and Bunny enjoying life in the mountains. But can these feelings of friendship be converted into romance? Probably because these films have a very big budget. - Image Source:

Just as Naina is about to get on the train with these cool people she has doubts. Is this the right thing to do? She is frozen with doubt and stands on the station as the train pulls away. Once again excitement is leaving her for a better destination. Will she be left alone at the station while others move on to enjoy life in the mountains?

They are having so much fun in the mountains, but can such happiness and excitement be sustained throughout life? Yes, if you go camping everyday.

Bunny, who  sees her reluctance, jumps from the train and grabs Naina, while convincing her that this is something she needs to do. She hops on the train just in time and now she is surrounded by a group of special people. Bunny the flirt who wants to travel the world, Avi the alcoholic who gambles away his money, Aditi the street fighter in cut off jean shorts. Soon several more girls show up and join their group. Avi and Bunny flirt with them as they play cards and drink alcoholic beverages. A lot of giggling and teasing is going on while Naina feels awkward and does not know what to do with her face or hands. And so it is with these ideal companions that the trip of a lifetime begins for the simple Naina and for us the audiences, a two hour journey, perhaps an hour too long, but there is a fantastic song called Badtameez Dil which teaches us how to live life.

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The real scoop on who invented ice cream

I took this beautiful picture at Whole Foods. I ate the chocolate flavor because just look at it!

So who invented ice cream? The answer is that I don’t know. Some experts think that Marco Polo brought the recipe to Europe from his travels in China. Italian cooks got excited and came up with some methods for making both water and milk ices. One such cook was a man called Buontalenti. Visiting royalty of France liked him so much, they decided to take him back to France! I am not sure how well he adjusted over there with the language barrier…but now the French court was enjoying ice cream. By 1670 a coffee shop in Paris was serving ice cream and it was selling like hot cakes even though it is the opposite of hot. Long story short, ice cream made it to America and George Washington served it to his guests. They were delighted. In 1904, something even more amazing happened. The ice cream cone entered human civilization. It was introduced at the World Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Since then It has done really well with people like me.

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Crossing English Channel by Air for the First Time!

This beautiful image captures the first time two men (Jean Blanchard and Dr. Jeffries) crossed the English channel by air to reach France. They were so excited about this trip that they over prepared. They carried all kinds of things into the balloon, such as anchors, a hand operated propellor which really didn’t work, and oars! Yes they wanted to use the oars to row through the air. They really wanted to be on the safe side. These helpful things almost killed them because they added extra weight and the balloon was crashing. Quickly they threw everything out of the balloon, to make things lighter. Blanchard got so desperate, he took off his trousers and threw them out. His tailor hated him but it worked! They made it! On Jan. 7, 1785, Blanchard and Jeffries made history by flying to France from England. One of the things they had not thrown out of the balloon was a small package which they successfully delivered in France. It is considered the first international air mail.

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