Wednesday, December 19, 2012

paes leander, don't hurt 'em

The film is called Rajdhani Express and offers another example of HowNotToMakeAMovieTrailer (too much text flashing into the screen from a new corner each time mixed with almost every plot point minus a twist or two, served with one-liners designed to be bookmarks for the editor to cut). Jimmy Shergill is on the roster as is Gulshan Grover. Both have been known to be kind to smaller films (remember Grover in Souten: The Other Woman?). This film will likely be a smidgen bigger because it marks the début of tennis star Leander Paes.

"Having grown up on films like the "Lawrence Of Arabia", "Sound Of Music", etc, I am all for the old school of filmmaking. (director Ashok Kohli)

The full name was Rajdhani Express: Point Blank Justice. Now, as a token of respect for the eventual plight of all viewers, the full name was changed to Rajdhani Express: An Unsafe Journey. The full name now appears to be Rajdhani Express: In Search of Dignity

4 Passengers. The Elite. The Intellectual. The Consumerist. An Underdog (hint: Paes).

It is possible that the voice you hear for Paes is not his own (source). Another case of Celina Jaitley and Lisa Ray. Fret not. You're here for more than that. You're hear for the almost inevitable badness that the trailer promises. Prepare yourself by watching Ajay Jadeja's début in Khel: No Ordinary Game!!!.

He calls Leander Lee. His last name is Kohli. bahut lii!

If you're itching for a plot synopsis, try this. Meanwhile, ex-lawyer Ashok Kohli is already working on his next project, an adaptation of the Bard's The Taming of the Shrew.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

aiyyaa: mainstream meets oddball

  • Rani Mukerji goes down Vidya Balan lane and does her own Dirty Picture (with aplomb, gumption and enthusiasm)
  • the first half works really well in setting up the oddball universe
  • after the interval, SSH kicks in, unfortunately
  • great showcase for Pune and Punekars (Sambhaji Bridge, Subodh Bhave, Satish Alekar)
  • Hats off to Amitabh Bhattacharya for the lyrics (please, just listen to them really carefully)
  • nice touch having the laavaNii backing dancers in savaa Daa.clar wield digital video cameras
  • Finally a film that features a poster of Chashme Baddoor (in addition to introducing fandom for Farooque Sheikh and Deepti Naval and resurrecting the name Dhurandhar)
  • A Bengali star plays a Maharashtrian girl who falls for a Tamilian played by a Malayali star (you can spot the accent when he speaks his lines in the second half) and gets her cue for Dreamum Wakeupum (this film's ooh la-la) from Silk Smitha dance with Chiranjeevi in a Telugu film called Goonda (you wonder why you've heard that name before? Surely, you've seen golii maar, the rip-off of Michael Jackson's Thriller): this is seriously twisted
  • What's this obsession with the statutory warning about cigarette smoking? The opening has the English and Hindi warnings presented on the screen with Rani Mukerji reading them offscreen; this shows up again after the intermission; each time we see Meenakshi's chain-smoking (literally!) Dad, the statutory warning reappears at the bottom right of the screen: This is just as bad as those tickers marketing cigarettes in those videotapes from the Gulf in the 80s and 90s. Please, Mr. Ramadoss and ilk, stop it!.
  • Sachin Kundalkar does really well expanding a story from ga.ndha into an oddball romantic comedy, but just needed some tighter editing and shuffling of sequences in the second half (ijjat paapaD, allthough quirky enough, just feels like a drag in its fuller form: it might have fared better intercut with another scene, waakaDaa could well have become the song for the closing credits)
  • most awesome device that later goes unused: the voice of Vividh Bharati providing introduction to and commentary about the goings-on
  • You can see Kashyap's universe growing in the references: John Abraham, Dev.D
  • +1 for featuring The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction, Volume 2. Make that +2.
  • subtitle goof: Azharbhai Chawl for Azerbaijan
  • which part of Tamil Nadu was Surya's mother from? I thought I spotted some Malayalam in her Tamil

Saturday, October 13, 2012

playlist for an autumnal walk

  • a gypsy's kiss (deep purple, perfect strangers)
  • friends (led zeppelin, the bombay sessions (bootleg))
  • a.Nkhiyaan (füzon)
  • johnny gaddaar (shankar-ehsaan-loy, johnny gaddaar)
  • ruu-ba-ruu (a r rahman, rang de basanti)
  • kandisa (indian ocean, kandisa)
  • drive (r e m, automatic for the people)
  • four sticks (led zeppelin, the bombay sessions (bootleg))
  • knocking at your back door (deep purple, perfect strangers)
  • everybody hurts (r e m, automatic for the people)
  • man on the moon (r e m, automatic for the people)
  • help (deep purple, shades of deep purple)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

why viacom?

dear mr kashyap, Weeks have gone by since Gangs of Wasseypur never hit the marquee in the US. Weeks have gone by since "rumours" that this was part of some innovative strategy for handling releases overseas. Weeks have gone by since Gangs of Wasseypur II failed to hit the marquee in the US. The official DVD of part I is now available at Theatre rips and the like have already been making the rounds at Indian stores in the US. I resisted getting one, because I really wanted to watch these films in the theatre.

I got the feeling that I'd even watch each twice. Just like Kill Bill. I watched both parts twice. In the hall. Call me nuts. And I loved the soundtracks of both. Same here. Sneha Khanwalkar helmed what I think is the best, most original soundtrack of the year. I do not anticipate anyone mustering anything remotely close to this.

But alas. When movies like Paan Singh Tomar and Shanghai and your own That Girl in Yellow Boots (but neither Gulaal nor No Smoking) made it to the marquee here with ease, what stops something so much bigger? The machinery of releasing Indian films in the US seemed to have improved over the last few years instead of making obvious overtures to profit by importing mind-numbing product starring known names and stars of various candelas? Did Viacom want to release the two parts as a single unit (like Grindhouse) and test the limits of the patience of the fidgety Indian audience and the uninterested owners of weather-beaten theatres screening Indian flicks? I have no way of knowing. How long did Viacom plan to wait before sending prints (or packets of bits) over? After the last DVD bearing an illegal rip from a theatre has been sold? After the last torrent for these rips has been left without seeds online? I have no way of knowing.

What I know is that I am extremely disappointed. A few years ago, I'd envy my friends back home each time a smaller more interesting film hit the multiplexes (the saviours for such small films). Things seemed to be improving but now with this film, I wonder if we're heading back to those days.

If this is how Viacom 18 plans to treat their projects, I hope that you and other directors whose work I find interesting will find alternatives that will allow your films to reach a wider audience and generate more revenue so that you are not treated as financial risks. Even UTV (whose DVDs are unfortunately sullied with watermarks just like the rest of them) would do.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

for the benefit of m/s IT

Here are a few things that I think, will help you, oh well-paid-person-of-the-IT-profession-for-whom-English-is-a-language-undeserving-of-attention.
  • You update things. Not people. You are also a person. So stop asking people to update you. Ask people to simply "let me know." Stop offering to update people. "I will let you know" is a simple alternative
  • You are not a batch processing system. You are not a terminal. You are not a text box waiting for data. So stop asking people for input. Stop thanking them for it. People offer suggestions, hints, advice. Take the appropriate thing and thank them for it
  • The words gentle reminder can never be gentle for the reader. One could bet the universe that the person you sent that to is even less pleased to work with you than before. Try writing something that you would actually say to the intended recipient, if you had to pick up the phone and talk to him or her.
  • Stop writing PFA or Please find attached. This is not a treasure hunt. This is not a request. You have attached something to your email, because you thought it would make your email more useful to the reader. Most modern email clients make it very clear to the reader that the email has attachments.
  • Stop looping people into an email thread. There is no known meaning of the word that can explain what you are trying to do. Add their email address to the CC field of your email and explain clearly why you have added more people to the thread. Be nice.
  • Stop asking people to revert to you. Here is a summary of the different meanings of that word. I hope that will explain why what you have been doing is funny, grotesque and rude at the same time. Respond and reply have not yet been excommunicated from the English language. Please consider these more appropriate words.

I wrote a post a few years ago about some other things that you may have ended up saying or using. If you can ignore the venom in the post, you may find some more useful tips there.

Consider also this site that serves up several samples of writing that you may find familiar. Although the site presents them for a few laughs, it can also serve an instructional purpose: if what you write in emails or what you say resembles any of the samples on this site, consider changing your ways.

Thank you for your kind attention. I remain, humbly yours, suffering in silence.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

the legume of love

When the hit item song aa a.nTe amalaapuram made it over to Maximum from its original home, the Telugu film Arya, all it needed was lyrics in Hindi to support the main catchphrase that made it over as is without translation. And Raqueeb Alam obliged. The girl objectifying herself in the song offers herself as a pliable cool car, as an explosive firecracker and tightly guarded unexplored territory while constantly reminding her prospective driver/lover that she is an atom bomb. The cornerstone of it all lies, however, in the chorus:

haTaa de chhilakaa aa mere dil kaa aa khaa le muu.Ngaphalii

Loosely translated, that's strip away the shell of my heart and relish the peanuts (roasted, presumably).

Thursday, July 12, 2012


All the three leading contenders for stealing the torch away from CVS as the version control system of choice have names that no marketing department would have ever chosen. Corporations who sell software invest a lot of money either in their in-house think tanks of agencies specialising in branding and only names that are optimistic and positive, names that suggest innovation and aspiration are chosen.

Who would pick the name subversion? The word means an attempt to overthrow authority. It's also a nice pun on its purpose (version, my dear lost reader, version!).

Who would pick the name git? The word has only pejorative meanings.

And then you get mercurial. The word has both marginally complimentary and often uncomplimentary meanings.

Which brings us to ClearCase. Commercial. Bloated. What a deceptive name!

The moral? If it's got a sly name, it's probably better for you.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

where are the gangs?

Friday, June 22, 2012: Gangs of Wasseypur hits the marquee. I go to Google Movies to check the showtimes in my area. Zilch.



No dice.





Saturday, June 23, 2012: According to NowRunning, the film is not playing anywhere in the US of A.




What happened?

Did the producers and distributors of Teri Meri Kahaani (puke!) strike a deal with their associates to delay the release of Kashyap's opus so that they could get a few more dollars?

Did the irate masses of Wasseypur take over Congress and the Indian film distribution circuit in the USA?

नाम बोल! कह के लूँगा!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

shanghai: whither progress

As the red-on-black end credits for Dibakar Banerjee's Shanghai started scrolling up in an otherwise empty theatre, that rare feeling of wanting to sit in for the next show kicked in. I also wasn't sitting through the end credits out of habit with an open eye for trivia and familiar names; I was also thinking about what I had seen.

I was thinking about all the attention to little details to embellish almost every scene. I was thinking about that ball bouncing into what should have been an otherwise serious hearing; I was thinking about the desperation in every pore and crease of Anant Jog's face. I was thinking about the chaos of protest, of impassioned mobs and of fervent futile idealism presented in the brightest hues. I was thinking about each song loaded with the sharpest lyrics in many months. I was thinking about the item song that fit so well in the narrative, that was interrupted (as it would have been in real life) by the appearance of a political biggie. I was thinking about Abhay Deol's accent and how it added the extra something to his poise and demeanour without standing out as an acting exercise. I was thinking about Emraan Hashmi turning a new corner and doing what might be his best work as the pornographer/video photographer with horrible teeth. I was thinking about how almost no character in the film really seemed truly white or truly black. You could understand the futility of those driven to ill deeds in the quest for something better than their wretched conditions. I could understand (and perhaps not stomach) the pragmatic path that some people had chosen. I also saw how justice could seem as rich as skimmed milk. I liked how the last time we see the hospital is introduced as a sound that makes sense later and then continues as a long shot tracking faces and ending with a tear.

This is a fine film worth every anna (or whatever the lowest meaningful denomination is today in inflated India) of your ticket's price. But this film is not going to entertain you in the least. You won't really enjoy the fervour of bhaarat maataa kii jay because it's after all a paean to dengue and malaria as well as to the Golden Bird of yore. You can't ogle at the lady sashaying and wiggling away in imported kamariyaa because the song is never allowed to stay long enough to titillate you. You don't have a 5-minute obligatory sad song running over a montage of sad people. You don't have jingoism making it easier for you to take sides. You just sit and squirm each time you laugh or smile, because you realise that it was no laughing matter at all.

And because this is hardly an entertaining film, I fear that Dibakar Banerjee's brilliant adaptation of a Greek novel that already sired a classic in 1969 will find few takers. It will get the good notes from people who cannot influence the masses enough. It may survive with a recommendation or two from the few that may have ventured to the cinema halls and picked this instead of Ridley Scott's compelling Prometheus or that execrable piece of dung called Rowdy Rathore. But it will not change the inevitable results this weekend: Prabhu Deva's latest directorial venture will surely triumph. And India will continue to progress.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

madagascar: lucky the third time in 3D

They walked in for a free preview screening of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted on a nice bright Saturday morning. There were lots of kids in attendance, as expected. The usher welcoming everybody said "Disney" instead of "Dreamworks" (or did he?). As soon as the Dreamworks logo appeared, everybody in the theatre realised that this was the 3D version and not the 2D version (which was what the organisers of this preview had planned to screen).

Guess what was missing? 3D glasses. Oops. Scramble! Confusion. Voila! A box of 3D glasses is procured and packets are distributed in two flavours -- one for kids and the others for the grown-ups.

The lights go dim again and the logo appears. Oops. We still have a problem. The 3D on screen does not mix well with the 3D glasses and what you get is a mix of blurs, offset contours and general distraction. Screen off. Lights on.

They finally go and fix the projector (presumably this was 3D streaming out of a 2D lens). The third time is a charm and everybody sits back to enjoy a fun-filled romp in 3D. Dreamworks does a great job with the colours. There are a lot of good jokes and sequences and Frances McDormand makes a great splash as the villainess of the piece. Some of the jokes clearly work only for grown-ups: there are jokes that just expect you to know things that only a grown-up would; there are also jokes that challenge what kids should hear and see. Pixar manages a better balance in this matter. The crew of the first two films is back, but the penguins don't get to show off much. King Julien XIII gets more to do and his sub-plot offered the most fun of all the sub-plots.

If you're a fan of Clerk, there's a sequence that will look familiar (No, I am not kidding!). This is surely just a wishful coincidence. The makers of this film can hardly be expected to have seen Manoj Kumar's cult classic.

If you're an Indophile, stay for the end credits and watch a long roll for the Dreamworks crew from India.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

lanka: good ideas don't go all the way

Lanka opens with a young doctor (Tia Bajpai) who, after treating a wife beaten up by her husband, goes berserk and treats the husband to a mixture of rants and punches. Evidently, she has done this before and is now forced to take a leave of absence to cool off. It's a very heavy-handed sequence delivered with camera setups, staging and dialogue that make you wince. These are the awkward trappings that often mar the product of low-budget films with good ideas and a crew with barely functional chops and not enough inspiration. Back at her house, this young doctor looks out at the city and, with a very stilted waxing inner voiceover starts the familiar journey into a flashback as she pens the story that forms the core of this film. You then see the first glimpse of Manoj Bajpayee, the villain of the piece and the reason you are crossing your fingers for this film.

Bajpayee's character Jaswant Sisodiya is the big powerful baddie in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh. Our heroine Anju is here because her father is the Chief Medical Officer. Unfortunately Anju is also Sisodiya's keep and the family cannot escape thanks to constant guard by Sisodiya's men. All this sets the stage for a saviour -- our hero, chhoTe (Arjan Bajwa). Sisodiya dotes on chhoTe, because he is in debt to chhoTe's father, who cared for him and even went to fatal blows for him. chhoTe also happens to be rather hot-headed and this helps us with the obligatory fight sequences.

The fight sequences are not the only familiar element from mainstream cinema that you get. There's also the item song and the song to adorn the burgeoning of love (the lovely shiit lahar). Mercifully, except for the item song nobody else indulges in on-screen lip synching.

It's a pity then that Bajpayee still does not get enough of his due from the script. We all know how this is going to end and we are just waiting for things to unfold before the flashback ends. Yet director Maqbool Khan does not take advantage of the film's running time to explore our primary characters, and Sisodiya in particular. We always tend to see Sisodiya in the context of other players. It is to Bajpayee's credit, however, that even in such scenes where his character is likely to be lost in broad strokes, we get hints that there's more to Sisodiya than the clichés would have you believe. We can see that he cares for chhoTe; we never see him behave like a violent thug exercising his power and yet his love for Anju has taken ugly proportions. It's an unhealthy possessiveness. The impassioned retort near the end of the film gives us a chance to see what makes Sisodiya tick, but unfortunately it's two hours too late. You only have to look at Ronit Roy in Udaan for an example of how to do such a "bad" character right. Someone like Vikramaditya Motwane is what Bajpayee needs and not the slumming in Inteqam, the exploitative mess of Jaago, the regressive drama of Swami or the futility of an enterprise like this.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Roger Ebert ends his review of The Raven with
The use of sensational effects may be a temptation for a director like James McTeigue, whose first feature, "V for Vendetta" (2005), was actually pretty good. They create a problem of proportion for a period film like this, where personality and atmosphere should create suspense; extreme violence is unnecessary, although I realize that at least some Friday-night moviegoers will be hoping for it and have only a vague notion of when 1849 might have been.

I quit the Friday Night Movie Club years ago. Morning shows and matinees are more rewarding. There's also a second-run theatre hereabouts that I can visit to get a regular fix of the experience of "going to the cinema" -- and it also helps me wash away the sterile experience of the mainstream chains.


I never could warm up to Ishaqzaade's soundtrack. I always found myself listening to Housefull 2 (the eminently silly and yet catchy papa to band bajaaye.n, the pointless Hinglish of Know and Now and anaarakalii Disco chalii, the latest edition in the line of souped-up street item songs. Ayushmann's version of paaNii daa from Vicky Donor kept me on that soundtrack. But there was nothing to keep me on Ishaqzaade. And then today morning, I made a smooth segue from Ishaqzaade's title song into another Amit Trivedi song, paradesii (JR has a nice post about it) from Dev.D. Now I can see myself just going back to Dev.D. I didn't even mind Aisha's soundtrack, which didn't have much of Trivedi's trademark rocksy texture on its songs (I love the programmed loop on the title song and the fusion on gal miTThii miTThii bol). I hope Ishaqzaade's an anomaly. I await Trivedi's next. I can survive on an IV drip of his past ouevre till then.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

write as I say

Sudarshan points me to a superior display of mondegreens (yes, you've seen the written word hereabouts before). The writer of this post was either sincerely trying to generate a pot of laughs or completely clueless (and thus armed, uninformed and completely hilarious).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

the future of coding practices: bad is good

When you run your searches using your favourite search engine, not all the results ranking high are useful, unbiased or even accurate. Sometimes you need bias to understand what most people think is a good idea. Sometimes, even with bias, it's often difficult to figure out that what most people do is a rather bad way to do things. So you find yourself going to portals like TheServerSide and StackOverflow to get answers that are reasonably sane, answers that you can trust (with a good degree of confidence). Of course, you also stay abreast of articles posted in places like DeveloperWorks,, JavaLobby and Dzone.

A post came up on dzone a few days ago and it portends a dark future for sensible software engineering.

It's laced with idioms (Though .. but still) that are now getting increasingly common in IT writing thanks to the growing number of people from Patil's Estate, who are able to churn out code like a cow with a bad stomach churns out you-know-what, but never really bothered to get competent in the department of technical writing (or perhaps -- the horror -- even writing itself).

And then we have egregious advice that, one hopes, anyone with a modicum of common sense will ignore. Consider a few samples:

Add comments for each ending block so that it is clear which code block is going to end

Clearly, this gentleman does not use an IDE.

Comment out the code which could be reused in future but could not be implemented this time

Surely this writer has either never used version control or uses it without really understanding what purpose it serves.

The comments on the post are encouraging -- here's hoping that this is not a trend and just an aberration.

abrash resurfaces: at valve

After Michael Abrash (who's he, you ask? click me) quit Id Software, I lost track of him until this post shows up on Hacker News. He covers a lot of stuff -- the past, the connection Valve had with id Software and company culture. It's good to see Abrash back online and if you're following things like Google's Project Glass, you might even consider following what Valve is up to.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

trailer trash

Department: RGV returns with the Big B, ropes in Sanjay Dutt, tosses in the familiar shots and crazy Dutch angles, drums up the throbbing tropes of background music and gives you a vaguely satisfying dish of interesting elements that, unfortunately, you know too well as broad stereotypes go. It's like Tolkien writing another edition in the LOTR soap. One wonders: can RGV break out of the genre he created or is he a victim of his own sandbox?

Rowdy Rathore: annoying slow motion, cars rising vertically after an explosion has hit their underparts, people rotating in the air after being punched with a feathery touch, top shots zooming into desii Busby Berkeley setups, furiously infectious South Indian percussive music. Despite the annoying presence of Akshay Kumar (was the moustache the only creative element of this enterprise?), this smells like another remake of a South Indian hit. Is it? Check. Did they get a South Indian director to direct this? Check. What's the point? Despite the poster art and credits paying homage to the pulp of yore, there's nothing but noise here. Go watch a Michael Bay film instead.

Shanghai: I've watched Z just once and my memory is dim, except that I remember liking the film a lot and regretting not knowing enough about politics to truly appreciate it. Dibakar Banerjee transplants the source novel by Vassilis Vassilikos to India and this trailer only offers a great portend. It's nicely edited, shows off some great makeup, promises some good character work (imagine not being irritated by Emraan Hashmi!) and some welcome familiar faces of yore (Farooque Sheikh!). Then there's Vishal-Shekhar's first soundtrack for the talented Mr. Banerjee. Where's the credit for the lyrics? Why not include Khosla ka Ghosla in his credits? The red on black titles are strangely familiar. But सोने की चिड़िया / dengue malaria is enough to make me await the soundtrack. Bring it on!

Monday, April 02, 2012


blunder is an anagram of brundle. Who knew. Who's Brundle, you ask? Seth Brundle. Don't you remember the eccentric scientist who decided, under the influence of alcohol and fear, to use himself as a guinea pig for his Telepods and was transformed into a genetic hybrid of man and fly?

The Fly comes to the South Asian cinematic woods as Eega (Telugu for fly) courtesy director S. S. Rajamouli. Is this a tribute to Chitti and the mosquito in Sivaji? Who knows?

The trailer tells us more. Lover boy gets snuffed out only to return as ... a computer-generated fly with bulbous red eyes. If bullets moving in bullet time, video-game style chases, slowed-down crashes of vehicles defying physics and money wasted on rather obvious computer graphics is what tickles your spine, look for further than this ambitious venture of dipteran proportions. Don't swat it. Just watch it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

the machine! it spoke to me

and it said
Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.
Exception Details: System.Runtime.InteropServices.COMException: <nativehr>0x80131904</nativehr><nativestack></nativestack>
Source Error:
An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below.
Stack Trace:

[COMException (0x80131904): <nativehr>0x80131904</nativehr><nativestack></nativestack>] Microsoft.SharePoint.Library.SPRequestInternalClass.GetFileAndMetaInfo(String bstrUrl, Byte bPageView, Byte bPageMode, Byte bGetBuildDependencySet, String bstrCurrentFolderUrl, Int32 iRequestVersion, Boolean& pbCanCustomizePages, Boolean& pbCanPersonalizeWebParts, Boolean& pbCanAddDeleteWebParts, Boolean& pbGhostedDocument, Boolean& pbDefaultToPersonal, Boolean& pbIsWebWelcomePage, String& pbstrSiteRoot, Guid& pgSiteId, UInt32& pdwVersion, String& pbstrTimeLastModified, String& pbstrContent, Byte& pVerGhostedSetupPath, UInt32& pdwPartCount, Object& pvarMetaData, Object& pvarMultipleMeetingDoclibRootFolders, String& pbstrRedirectUrl, Boolean& pbObjectIsList, Guid& pgListId, UInt32& pdwItemId, Int64& pllListFlags, Boolean& pbAccessDenied, Guid& pgDocid, Byte& piLevel, UInt64& ppermMask, Object& pvarBuildDependencySet, UInt32& pdwNumBuildDependencies, Object& pvarBuildDependencies, String& pbstrFolderUrl, String& pbstrContentTypeOrder) +0
Microsoft.SharePoint.Library.SPRequest.GetFileAndMetaInfo(String bstrUrl, Byte bPageView, Byte bPageMode, Byte bGetBuildDependencySet, String bstrCurrentFolderUrl, Int32 iRequestVersion, Boolean& pbCanCustomizePages, Boolean& pbCanPersonalizeWebParts, Boolean& pbCanAddDeleteWebParts, Boolean& pbGhostedDocument, Boolean& pbDefaultToPersonal, Boolean& pbIsWebWelcomePage, String& pbstrSiteRoot, Guid& pgSiteId, UInt32& pdwVersion, String& pbstrTimeLastModified, String& pbstrContent, Byte& pVerGhostedSetupPath, UInt32& pdwPartCount, Object& pvarMetaData, Object& pvarMultipleMeetingDoclibRootFolders, String& pbstrRedirectUrl, Boolean& pbObjectIsList, Guid& pgListId, UInt32& pdwItemId, Int64& pllListFlags, Boolean& pbAccessDenied, Guid& pgDocid, Byte& piLevel, UInt64& ppermMask, Object& pvarBuildDependencySet, UInt32& pdwNumBuildDependencies, Object& pvarBuildDependencies, String& pbstrFolderUrl, String& pbstrContentTypeOrder) +589
Microsoft.SharePoint.SPGlobal.HandleComException(COMException comEx) +27698978
Microsoft.SharePoint.Library.SPRequest.GetFileAndMetaInfo(String bstrUrl, Byte bPageView, Byte bPageMode, Byte bGetBuildDependencySet, String bstrCurrentFolderUrl, Int32 iRequestVersion, Boolean& pbCanCustomizePages, Boolean& pbCanPersonalizeWebParts, Boolean& pbCanAddDeleteWebParts, Boolean& pbGhostedDocument, Boolean& pbDefaultToPersonal, Boolean& pbIsWebWelcomePage, String& pbstrSiteRoot, Guid& pgSiteId, UInt32& pdwVersion, String& pbstrTimeLastModified, String& pbstrContent, Byte& pVerGhostedSetupPath, UInt32& pdwPartCount, Object& pvarMetaData, Object& pvarMultipleMeetingDoclibRootFolders, String& pbstrRedirectUrl, Boolean& pbObjectIsList, Guid& pgListId, UInt32& pdwItemId, Int64& pllListFlags, Boolean& pbAccessDenied, Guid& pgDocid, Byte& piLevel, UInt64& ppermMask, Object& pvarBuildDependencySet, UInt32& pdwNumBuildDependencies, Object& pvarBuildDependencies, String& pbstrFolderUrl, String& pbstrContentTypeOrder) +28077583
Microsoft.SharePoint.SPWeb.GetWebPartPageContent(Uri pageUrl, Int32 pageVersion, PageView requestedView, HttpContext context, Boolean forRender, Boolean includeHidden, Boolean mainFileRequest, Boolean fetchDependencyInformation, Boolean& ghostedPage, Byte& verGhostedPage, String& siteRoot, Guid& siteId, Int64& bytes, Guid& docId, UInt32& docVersion, String& timeLastModified, Byte& level, Object& buildDependencySetData, UInt32& dependencyCount, Object& buildDependencies, SPWebPartCollectionInitialState& initialState, Object& oMultipleMeetingDoclibRootFolders, String& redirectUrl, Boolean& ObjectIsList, Guid& listId) +1750
Microsoft.SharePoint.ApplicationRuntime.SPRequestModuleData.FetchWebPartPageInformationForInit(HttpContext context, SPWeb spweb, Boolean mainFileRequest, String path, Boolean impersonate, Boolean& fGhostedPage, Byte& verGhostedPage, Guid& docId, UInt32& docVersion, String& timeLastModified, SPFileLevel& spLevel, String& masterPageUrl, String& customMasterPageUrl, String& webUrl, String& siteUrl, Guid& siteId, Object& buildDependencySetData, SPWebPartCollectionInitialState& initialState, String& siteRoot, String& redirectUrl, Object& oMultipleMeetingDoclibRootFolders, Boolean& objectIsList, Guid& listId, Int64& bytes) +26593489
Microsoft.SharePoint.ApplicationRuntime.SPRequestModuleData.GetFileForRequest(HttpContext context, SPWeb web, Boolean exclusion, String virtualPath) +608
Microsoft.SharePoint.ApplicationRuntime.SPRequestModule.InitContextWeb(HttpContext context, SPWeb web) +132
Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls.SPControl.SPWebEnsureSPControl(HttpContext context) +564
Microsoft.SharePoint.ApplicationRuntime.SPRequestModule.GetContextWeb(HttpContext context) +27
Microsoft.SharePoint.ApplicationRuntime.SPRequestModule.PostResolveRequestCacheHandler(Object oSender, EventArgs ea) +918
System.Web.SyncEventExecutionStep.System.Web.HttpApplication.IExecutionStep.Execute() +80
System.Web.HttpApplication.ExecuteStep(IExecutionStep step, Boolean& completedSynchronously) +171


Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Suresh Gopi and Mammootty team up together screams the headline of yet another slideshow from Team up together? As opposed to teaming up separately?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

genre ghosh

Sujoy Ghosh's pulpy compact thriller Kahaani makes up for all the leaps of faith in narrative and character with a confident engaging pace, great performances and a wonderful milieu. It is heartening to see more films that respect the importance of characters and locations. Not as ambitious as Home Delivery (really, I am not kidding; go watch that film again), this film pays what might be the first diegetic tribute to the late R. D. Burman: while Jhankaar Beats was all about fans of the Sultan of Song, this film takes advantage of being set in the city of Calcutta and drenches the background with one Pancham tune after another (tere binaa jiyaa jaaye naa from Ghar, tuu meraa kyaa laage from Oonche Log, lekar ham diiwaanaa dil from Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, jethe jethe pothe and the Bengali versions of aaj kii raat (Jagir), jiivan ke har mo.D pe, apane pyaar ke, jaan-e-jaa.N (Jawani Diwani)). Although this is a Vidya Balan vehicle (and deservedly so), Sujoy Ghosh gives us supporting characters, who as in Kaminey, are just as memorable (or perhaps more): Parambrata Chatterjee's Rana, Nawazuddin Siddiqui's Khan, the manager of the Mona Lisa Guest House, Ridhi Sen as Polut the little kid at the Mona Lisa Guest House (move over Shekhar Kapur; Sujoy Ghosh is here to join Vishal Bhardwaj and Gulzar as a director who works well with children) and, of course, Saswata Chatterjee as Bob Biswas, who, unsurprisingly, has developed a following of his own. This is the most realistic hired gun you will ever see in a long time. Aside from a few moments that felt false (the sequence about a person having two names seemed like an uncomfortable take instead of a scene that fit well) and some damage to character development by the ending, I must confess I had a good time right from Usha Uthup's voice for the misleading song on the opening credits to the role of the city in the narrative to the Chekhovian guns on display (if you pay very close attention). Way to Ghosh!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

it all comes down to money

Pay $100 and you can now skip all the security theatre that has made flying so painful. With this new development, the TSA has finally reached the next stage in its evolution to the eventual state of all things that thrive in the US of A: when everything crumbles, cookiewise, the dead presidents are all that matter. The rule of thumb was: Introduce impediment and then offer people the option to pay an additional amount to make it go away. See also: the word extortion.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

the basis for inevitable linguish

I have ranted (as, I am sure, have countless others) about the rise of crapspeak and the decline of simple lucid conversation and writing. A fresh exhibit today not only underscores my concern but also makes me shudder at the inevitable consequences -- soon people will not understand why they are using an idiom that should never have been allowed to thrive.

Ask your favourite browser to open up this page and then scroll down to comment #34. I quote:

At least you're only riled up on a daily basis. It could be worse: it could be every day!

Let us assume that this sentence appears exactly as it was meant to be (no typos, no missing words). We must also assume that the person responsible for this comment was not mocking the example of crapspeak. What we have then is the failure to comprehend that on a daily basis was an unfortunately more verbose egregious alternative to the much simpler and shorter every day.

This is tragic. Very tragic.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

connelly tosses in another cinematic reference

But without challenging the temporal dimension. In the latest Mickey Haller novel The Fifth Witness, Connelly tosses another nod of appreciation to Matthew McConaughey's fine performance as Mickey Haller in the very watchable adaptation of The Lincoln Lawyer, the first Mickey Haller book. Connelly had been very pleased with the adaptation and McConaughey's performance so this reference is no surprise. It also happens to be very current -- the film was released in March 2011 and the book was released the following month. Connelly's note of appreciation was dated November 12, 2010.

(page 115 of the hardbound edition) "One more thing," the producer said. "I was thinking of going to Matthew McConaughey with this. He'd be excellent. But who do youthink could play you?"
I [Mickey Haller] smiled at him and reached for the door handle.
"You're looking at him, Clegg."
I pulled the door closed and through the smoked glass watched the confusion spread on his face.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

manneys memories

Reading an eloquent blog post from JR is how I find out that one of the defining bookstores of my life in Pune is closing down. After all these years of standing strong while chains sprung up around it. While Adidas stomped over Naaz. While Planet M came, conquered and collapsed. While Landmark appeared and crossed the street. While Crosswords sprouted and withered across the city. I am sure more happened, but all this is what I remember from my visits back to the city. The distance made a regular yet infrequent relationship with Manneys even more thin-strung.

The last time I was there (a few months ago), I still enjoyed browsing the sections generous in their selection; I am sure I would have found some gems in stacks of the discounted books. I had, however, found succour in the marvellous library sales here in the US and there was no way any bookstore back home was going to beat a box of hardbacks for $10. I still enjoyed digging through the large section devoted to Indian fiction in the English language, only because this was one of the few bookstores that did not think Shobha Dé defined the section. I still enjoyed browsing through the offerings in the entertainment section. I didn't have to reach up or squat anymore. I had grown taller over the years. The shelves also did not have as much dust as memory told me they did years ago. This was the store that I had bought my cherished copy of Hitchcock, the collection of interviews of the master by Francois Truffaut. A gift coupon (won either in a competition of some kind or in one of the games of general proficiency in school) helped, because it was an imported edition (no Eastern Economy Edition for such things).

Jaunts to various raddii stores also yielded gems of different kinds, but Manneys was one the places that I liked going if I wanted a fresh edition and not a used book.

Things have changed so much since then. Flipkart has started changing the way things work and I had found myself using Flipkart more during my last visit and refraining from buying things on impulse from Manneys (or from Crossword or Landmark, for that matter, except for a few items languishing unfairly in on a discount table). All the other chains got my attention only for the music and the movies. With the kind of product that companies like Moser Baer and the like are churning out, however, it seems more prudent and unfortunate to go seek uploaded rips and spend the money at special film festivals or second-run theatres.

But I digress.

With Manneys shutting down, we are left with just a few bastions of yore. The International Book Service near Sambhaji Bridge is one of them. Once again, it's all about the memories. For a generation that is more used to the chains and the air-conditioned inclusion of toys, music, movies and a host of other things that really have nothing to do with books, neither Manneys nor TIBS will have much to offer. The bibliophile, on the other hand, will once again find out what it means to be in a minority. You might just find yourself joining the crowd.

Thank you Mr. Mani for something that was an important part of growing up in Pune.

Monday, February 06, 2012

RMIM Puraskaar 2011: the results are out

The results for RMIM Puraskaar 2011 are out. A big round of applause to Vinay for continuing to nurture this wonderful idea. (Disclaimer: YT was on the jury this year). Take a look, vent, rave, applaud, curse and do whatever it is you'd like to do. It's all in good fun and nothing faux serious like the Filmfare Awards.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

agent vinod: chor machaaye shor

A new teaser is out for Agent Vinod and this one is handled by the Bollywood machine. T-Series stamps its logo in the most innocuous top right corner on every single frame so that when you blink after the teaser, you will see the logo in the darkness. Good job, morons. We get a rehash of items we have already seen and relished in the first trailer and then a wave of déjà vu rises as the club song hits us. A set that looks nice and is lit well cannot elevate the spirits already dampened by the customary scantily-clad lass covering her knockers with a low-cut pair of disco ball shoulder-boulder holsters, sashaying away and tossing lusty looks at the camera (or our hero, or both). The annoying voice of Neeraj Shridhar (as trademarked by Pritam, who, unfortunately, is the music director for the film) stomps the rusty skewer even deeper. And then your jaw drops. You recognise the melody that all the male posturing, the female wailing, the loud electronic beats have been trying to hide. It's Boney M's Rasputin. Pritam's back to his old tricks. No wonder the song's called Steal the Night. A little Googling tells you that this time Pritam's got the official stamp of approval. It's called "buying the rights":

"We have taken the rights of Boney M's Rasputin. However, our song is based more on the Serbian folk song Ruse Kose Curo Imas. Even Rasputin draws inspiration from this song. A Turkish folk song Uskudar'a Gider Iken also has the same melody. Famous Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam's song Shukno Paatar Noopur Paaye is also based on this folk tune."

The short version: hey, look I've been inspired by so many things and have created a wholesome earful by blending my influences so well. The other short version: Remember how Anu Malik played five songs based on Raag Shivaranjani to counter the accusation that he was a copycat? This is my version.

If this is a sign of times to come, I am worried. I just hope that video was just a piece of promotional fluff and won't feature in the final film in whole. I don't mind a diegetic appearance (because Agent Vinod seems to be busy with other things during the song).

Monday, January 30, 2012

it's vinod now, not johnny

(notes on the first trailer for Sriram Raghavan's next film Agent Vinod)

Trust Sriram Raghavan to modestly refer to his own work in another trailer loaded with references to old Bollywood. The trailer starts off with the same question that kicked off the teaser for his last film, Johnny Gaddaar. A series of quick cuts introduce you to some promising action sequences and Raghavan keeps returning to the central joke of the trailer: the name of Saif Ali Khan's character.

The first name he throws is Freddie Khambatta (spelling?). Does anyone know if this is just an ingenious invention, a tribute to some character in some obscure cult film of yore, a portmanteau to Freddie Mercury and Persis Khambatta (Bambai Raat ki Baahon Mein, Star Trek: The Motion Picture), a reference to Farrokh Khambata the chef or a nod to a real person?

The second name he reveals with another smirk is Mahendar Sandhu. Of course we fans know that he's referring to the actor who played the original Agent Vinod.

Then it's time for a tribute to Manmohan Desai (and obviously not to that shamefully bad rip-off from 2006).

The last name is the closest we get to the truth (or is it the truth?). Vinod Khanna. Priceless.

They could have done without the sound of the fireball from Doom when we see the logo and title, but that's a minor quibble for the first of (hopefully) many enticing breadcrumbs to a film that had its genesis in 2007!

I wonder if the next trailer is going to have that R. D. Burman classic from Kati Patang playing the background? Unfortunately, it might just grind the joke about names a bit too deep for comfort.

The worrying bits? It has Prem Chopra (yeah!), but it also has Kareena Kapoor (ugh!). The official website is not as much fun as it was for Johnny Gaddaar. It also credits Pritam as the music director -- I wish he had picked Daniel B. George (who did a fabulous job with the score of Johnny Gaddaar), Amit Trivedi or Ram Sampath. But who knows? If Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy could manage a winner with the title track of Johnny Gaddaar, Pritam might get a lucky stroke of the creative kind too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA: the first salvo

By now, many more people know about SOPA. Thanks in no small part to how Wikipedia and Google pushed the day-long blackout planned for today into the faces of their visitors. They joined online fora like Slashdot, Hacker News, Reddit, Mozilla and the EFF. This crescendo had its consequences (read this and this), two more measures of success for the wave of protest that had started rising over the last several weeks from all quarters great and small in forms both raw and polished. Thanks to Wikipedia and Google, however, more people are now wondering what the big deal is about something they really had not heard about all this time. Several people have, as recommended, contacted their representatives in government to request that they not support SOPA and PIPA. Unfortunately, not all people can be expected to do this -- being vigilant, well-informed and politically active is a combination of qualities that no government, in its present form, expects its citizens to possess. The rise in the number of people who agree that SOPA and PIPA represent something bad is encouraging and this is why the grey/black page Wikipedia redirected you to and Google's innovative logo have been very useful today.

Unfortunately, it won't end here. The people pushing SOPA and PIPA are very rich, very powerful and will push them back in with different monikers or as addenda to innocuous resolutions. They can afford to wait for a short while until all this noise dies down, before they bring the twins back. One can only hope that all the vigilant forces that were active over the past few weeks will remain vigilant, active and interested should the twins return. The average person will soon forget this.

This reminds me of the case of Arun "Demolition Man" Bhatia in Pune in 1999. With a history of having fought and exposed corruption, Bhatia began his tenure as the Municipal Commissioner by ordering the demolition of illegal construction in the city. Anyone who was around in Pune then will hardly forget the sights of extensions of familiar restaurants and the like reduced to rubble near the sidewalks. A bulldozer became more commonly seen on roads than otherwise. It took less than a week for the political machinery to kick in and he was transferred. The twist in the familiar story appeared in the form of a public interest litigation (PIL) to get him back. The middle-class denizens of Pune rose as one and achieved a democratic victory when the Bombay High Court responded to the PIL by reinstating Bhatia. I remember noting a slight rise in my faith in the power of the public, should it choose to "wake up and act." Unfortunately, things were too good to last. The machinery kicked in again and he was impeached. No denizens, no victory. What the people had done once, they could not do again. Persistence in such matters is a virtue that cannot survive without strength and encouragement. The battered could only do so much. I fear that SOPA and PIPA might triumph like that machinery. I pray that I am wrong.

PS: There is enough information online for you to understand what evils lurk behind things like SOPA and PIPA (here's a Khan Academy video, if that's what will work best for you).

Your elected representatives have done shocking things like this before. Remember when most of the libraries of Cobb County faced extinction?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

any which monday but this

Tadka is an Indian restaurant in Alpharetta that shares space with Bamboo Garden (an interesting development in itself) and offers high-priced low-spiced Indian cuisine with ambience (if you go there in winter, choose the couches by the fireplace). What it lacks is just that extra dose of seasoning to elevate the dishes from bland and classy to lip-smacking delicious.

If you wanted to find out what time their location was open, however, you would see something that was either the product of creative genius or just the result of bad editing. You just have to ask yourself one question: which Monday will Tadka be open?

Mondays at Tadka


Has MARTA considered approaching MSFT to help it survive instead of descending ever so slowly into oblivion? Evidence (see below) suggests that the big M might already have support for the ill-fated transit system in its popular operating system

Microsoft's MARTA provider

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

too secure for you

First it was something like Password must be between 8-10 characters with at least 1 numeric value/digit, 1 capitalised letter and no more than 2 consecutive repeating characters. and now we have this: you will have to write your password down on paper to do this

WTF were they thinking? Are you playing games with your user? Are you trying to revive the business of the human teller? If you don't have hidden fees for stepping into the hallowed buildings that house your branches, nobody would mind. Or perhaps, you've just hired a person with some ostentatious ideas of security to design this. That link for Help to the right might as well be labelled Get Me Out Of Here!.

Intentionally Bombastic and Misguiding

I love some of the pages in the IBM Support Portal. They are exhibits of sheer audacity. Can you imagine continuing to pay these guys after the way they treated some of the tickets that people log for their products?

Consider this APAR. An APAR is one of the many acronyms that you get for free when you sign up to swim in the IBM pool. It stands for Authorised Program Analysis Report (aka "yeah, whatever") and (reference) is "an IBM-supplied program that allows you to create a diskette or tape file that contain information from your system to help software service representatives to correct programming problems."

But I digress into the marsh of minutiae. This APAR has been classified as a Permanent restriction. Also known as a feature. (You remember that lovely cartoon, don't you?). In plain English, "we are not going to fix this, so suck up and deal with it. And, by the way, don't forget to send us that cheque for quarterly maintenance and premium support"

As if to assuage the wounded soul who had boldly dared to log this ticket, the conclusion reads After analysis of this APAR we have determined we will not fix this issue due to: low priority/severity. A priority decision has been made that this defect cannot be addressed without neglecting issues of higher importance. Thank you for your understanding. In other words, another three-finger salute while gleefully taking payment for another round of sadism.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

once a pun a film

If Imtiaz Ali had made Rockstar in the 80s with Govinda instead of Ranbir Kapoor, Farha instead of Nargis Fakhri and Dharmendra instead of Shammi Kapoor, the title would surely have been Pop ko Jalaakar Rock kar Doonga

Monday, January 02, 2012

a nitpicking new year to you too: a review reviewed

Stephen King's fiction enjoys a large readership not just in the US but abroad and especially India. His forays have primarily been in horror and Indians love horror. He also manages to take interesting ideas, observations and characters and explore them in a rather simple welcoming style. Despite almost always working with a few genres, he manages to churn out books that are notches above the average bestseller.

Unfortunately, reviews of genre fiction in India still have miles to go before they reap. There are the unfortunately few reviews like this and then there are people who don't understand the works of Stephen King and foolishly dare to review them. It seems fit to begin my new year in this neighbourhood by ranting about a piece of fluff that, when all things are considered at Judgement Day, will be quite inconsequential. Yet, it is to griping about people and things that don't even deserve a modicum of attention that I am destined to devote my time.

The exhibit for the occasion is a review of Stephen King's recent novel 11/22/63 in the Deccan Herald by someone named Payel Dutta Chowdhury. If this public LinkedIn profile is the right one, the reviewer is a professor at Garden City College in Bangalore and also the head of the English department. This also makes a lot of what follows even more unpleasant. This is someone who should have known better.

We are off to a flying crash with the opening

Stephen King's latest magnum opus, 11/22/63, promises to be a rare juxtaposition of facts, fiction and much more.

The use of magnus opus is troubling. Does the reviewer wish to imply that King has been churning out great works for a while? There is no doubting that this is a work on a larger scale than perhaps anything that King has tried before, but have there been others?

Does anyone know any of the other rare juxtapositions of facts, fiction and much more? (I know only one: the coefficient of the linear).

The second sentence darkens the lentils even further

A master of the science-fiction genre, King's recent novel blends historical fiction and real life events.

Let's pick the grammatical nit first. Any editor worth his or her salary would have fixed this sentence. As it stands now, A master of the science-fiction genre refers not to King (as it should have) but to his recent novel. Let's now look at a problem that's arguably a more important one. I wonder if anyone familiar with Stephen King's ouevre would call him a master of the science fiction genre. It's a perfunctory label that only suggests that the writer's knowledge of King's work might be limited to a subset comprising either his works like The Gunslinger and Firestarter or absolutely nothing at all.

What follows next is a complete synopsis in précis, which reduces King's novel to basic elements of the plot, stripped of everything that actually made the novel interesting. The synopsis also pays tribute to Taran Adarsh in its completeness. It also constitutes the majority of this review. That should tell you that if you were looking for an interesting examination of the novel, if you were looking for reasons to read this novel (or not), if you were looking for a useful point of view, this is the wrong county to be in. Unless a grammatically incomplete line like Definitely, an interesting and insightful read is enough for you (in which case, just scroll down to the bottom of the page, read that line and get on with your life). The synopsis owes a lot to the Wikipedia page for the book (search for "recently-divorced high school English teacher"), King's reason for abandoning the idea in 1971 and other bits about the background of the novel (search for "price of a pint of root beer").

This brings us to the rest of the bits in the review, which, thanks to that very popular search engine called Google, were clearly swiped without attribution from elsewhere. A few bits come from Janet Maslin's review in the New York Times: the opening (which means that I must redirect my criticism above to Ms. Maslin), the premise (search for "revisit and even revise"), the description of the book's cover (search for "happy and unscathed").

With all this plagiarism, one wonders why the number of pages of the novel according to this novel (850) is different from the actual number of pages (849; 842 pages for the actual novel starting from chapter 1 and 7 pages for King's afterword). When both Ms. Maslin and the Wikpedia page agree that 849 is the right number, why would someone invent a different number? If you add the extra pages between the hard front and back and subtract the two protective thicker sheets, you get 864, which matches the number listed on the book's official site. Since no official paperback edition appears to have been released yet, the plot, as they say, only thickens.

The seemingly original contributions only offer more evidence that the amateur writings on Rediff are not alone; consider this:

King wants to remind his readers that the past does not want to be changed and in order to reaffirm his views, he examines the "butterfly effect" — a phenomenon whereby a small change at one place in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.

Something tells me that King's novel is likely to lose a few readers thanks to this review. I only hope that the book reviews in the Deccan Herald do not have a large bunch of faithful readers.

Meanwhile, let us mourn the fact that someone got paid for this sorry piece of plagiaristic piffle.

PS: I wish someone from the New York Times would fix the date in the title of Ms. Maslin's review; the date (and the title of the book) is 11/22/63 and not 11/23/63.

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