Sunday 17 August 2008

The Landmark Quiz 2008

Every year, the quizzers of Chennai (and a few guys from Bangalore, Hyderabad and elsewhere) gather at the Colosseum of quizzing on the 15th of August, to take part in the Landmark quiz, the most prestigious quiz in the city.As usual, it was me, Mario and N.Dinesh. ND came up with a cool team name(which i wont put up here for reasons personal :P) after several hours of brow creasing thought, hoping to fetch us the best team name :) . And as usual, Mario came by bicycle, wearing his cap,only this time, he was wearing full pants :) and not shorts. We found our seats and were sittin with another team from college, listening to some nice Eric Johnson and Eric Clapton tracks. This was also the first quiz where all 3 of us brought pens with us :|.

At 330, the man of the hour, Dr.Navin Jayakumar stepped on to the stage to kick off the landmark prelims. The landmark quiz had several novelties this year. One was the concept of an all India final, after regionals were held in Bangalore Pune, and there in Chennai, and this was to follow right on the heels of the Chennai regionals. Another big thing was the fact that the quiz was going to be aired on CNBC TV. After a few words about the sponsors, Dr.Navin started off with the prelims. There were some anticipated questions, like the "Maximum Khel Ratnas for which sport"(the answer being shooting), some Independance day trivia, a question on the late Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw, The Kungfu Panda question, and yeah Kuselan. The last question was a video , where we had to identify the child artist(Imraan Khan). This one, we wrote the answer even before the question was put up,due to 2 reasons - 1.Instinct and 2. We didn't have too many options to debate about :)

Overall, the questions were very good, interesting to everyone in the audi. There was one question- geometrical term for an egg shaped curve, for which, after some high funda thought, we answered- lemniscate, while the actual answer was given by a 6 year old, who said Oval. Big bulb :) . But then, we achieved a personal best of 22 on 40. The qualifying teams were announced and there were no surprises as the usual suspects took to the stage.

Round 1 comprised of 15 questions of the infinite bounce format, starting off aptly with a question on Tamil Thai Vaazhthu. The questions,as ever, were extremely interesting and the quizzers onstage were equal to the high funda stuff that was being asked. This round was followed by a round of Buzzer questions, were teams had mixed fortunes. Then came round 3 - infinite bounce again, where a question on Sagging jeans incited some creative answers from the participants and the audience. Round 4 was the one on one which would determine the Quizzer of the day. Arul Mani (4) of Metaquizzics, Thejaswi Udupa(3)- the guy who cracks the daily questions on qfi's blog regularly,Sriram(2), Samanth(3) - know him well,one of the best quizzers around, Rajagopal(5), Vinod (2) - the mensa dude and Alagar Swami(4) battled for the title, but it went to Ravi who got 6 questions right, to claim the crown.

With that round, the landmark quiz,Chennai edition drew to a close, with QED (Samanth,Ramana and JK) finishing first and "Singh may be King, But Iyer is Higher" (Vinod Ganesh, Ram Kumar and Krishnamurthi) finishing 2nd. Since this year's edition was going to be aired on TV, it was shorter than usual, and the usual Long connects, multi level connects and floaters were missing. The quality was great, all the same.

After a short break, the National final commenced, with the winners and runners from the Pune and Bangalore editions,joining the Chennai champions. The Bangalore winners- Quizzing Gouramis (Gopal, Swami and Sumo) were actually from Chennai :). Again,round 1 was infinite bounce, the questions of higher standards. There was a question on the change in color of the yolk of the egg when boiled, one of my favorites and the last question-asking contestants to connect 2 videos (The Tara rum pum pum song and a clip from Khabi Khushi Khabi Ghum) and an audio - Polly wolly doodle (of which Dr.Navin did a replay, showing off his singing skills as well :) ) was brilliantly cracked by the Chennai runners- Singh May be King. The next round was an innovative one, where teams had to choose from topics, and as the question s read and another team goes for the buzzer, the team whose question it was, had to make an attempt, failing which the team hitting the buzzer would get a chance. A bit complicated, yes, but made things interesting.
Then came another set of infinite bounce with a very nice question about Goldilocks zones(nice funda) and Rene Higuita's Scorpion kick. The "watch the birdie" question was the pick of the lot.At the end of this round, QED, backed by the home crowd were on 90 and so too were the Quizzing Gouramis, as the teams went into the buzzer round.

In the last round, QED went for with,no holds barred, but had mixed fortunes, as they finished on 85 and Quizzing Gouramis won the quiz with 95. Singh Maybe King came 3rd. It was a great quiz, thanks to the wonderful research team and Dr.Navin's amazing on-stage presence. He is indeed my favorite quizmaster.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience. I also managed to do something useful- i noted down all the questions asked (atleast the answers). If any of you, who missed the quiz, want the prelims, mail me at pdeepak88@yahoo.co.in and i ll send it to you.

Until next time............

Saturday 16 August 2008

The Thunder Bolt


"As soon as I saw I had covered the field and I knew I would win, I was very happy and I started to celebrate."

- Usain Bolt, the fastest man on earth


A 6'5" athlete + 40 strides + 9.69s + celebrations before crossing finish line = World Record :) :)

Let s face it, the Beijing 2008 Olympics 100m dash was one of the most anticipated event of the tournament, and it did indeed prove to be one of the greatest displays of athleticism in modern times. While it was widely expected to be a 3- horse race, I doubt if any horse can outsprint the champion Usain Bolt, given his electrifying form. Tyson Gay, the reigning world champion, wasn't even in the final,due to that unfortunate hamstring injury he sustained some 6 weeks ago, despite which he clocked impressive 10.05. But that was not enough. Some 30 to 40 of us in the hostel crowded around the prehistoric television set in our block to catch the action live.

As the cameras moved across the 8 athletes gunning for the 100m gold, all eyes were on the boys from Jamaica - Asafa "The Choker" Powell and Usain "The Thunder" Bolt (terror nicknames :P, yes I have been unkind to Asafa, but he does choke at the big stage.There was another Jamaican- Michael Frater,in the starting block too). As the men started off, Bolt, in lane 7, appeared to slip slightly. For the first 40 or so meters, it was a hard race to call. But after that, came the lightning surge from bolt, as he almost waltzed past opponents,his lanky frame making graceful strides down the track. As he neared the finish line, he looked sideways, and followed it up with quite an audacious finish, arms flayed wide as if sayin- "Am I the only one running, here?" , and then thumping his chest even before he crossed the finish line.


"As soon as I saw I had covered the field and I knew I would win, I was very happy and I started to celebrate."
-the champion explaining the reason behind his early celebration


The amazing thing is, he broke his own world record(with 0.0 wind assist) despite obviously slowing down (he did this during the heats and the semis too), as if saving his best for bigger races. He could have easily broken into the 9.5 something zone, which has never been done before. One more interesting fact is that his left shoelace was untied when he crossed the finish line,believe it or not :) .

Take a closer look at the left shoe lace :). It's dangling.

Let us not forget the fact that there were 7 other athletes giving their all. Richard Thomson,of Trinidad and Tobaggo, the NCAA 2007 indoor 60m champion achieved his personal best of 9.89s (.2 behind Bolt!!), which is not too bad a time (considering Carl Lewis' one time 100m record of 9.92) and Walter Dix of the United states,the 2007 NCAA 100m champion had to come up with his best performance too, to bag the bronze clocking in at 9.91s . Asafa Powell could only manage a 5th spot with his 9.95s effort, while compatriot Michael Frater clocked his personal best at 9.96 to finish 6th. It was also the first ever race in which 6 runners broke in to the 9 point something times. But the man of the hour was the 6'5" Bolt, who is pretty much the favorite to run away with the 200m crown as well.

So for those of you who missed the action live, check this out... Sorry about the quality. This was the best I could manage at the moment. And yeah, commentary is not in English either. Watch out for the tall guy in lane 4.




Tuesday 5 August 2008

The Prestige- Review



Are you watching closely?

The first time I saw this film, I was left speechless by the sheer twists in the plot. The second time I saw the film, I was sure that this was a master-piece. The Prestige, a tale of 2 magicians, is one of the greatest contemporary movies you are likely to see. Right from the start, it grips your attention, as the movie opens with the lines-"Are you watching closely", and you better be, as there are so many sub plots in the movie, and the narration too, flits back and forth in the time-dimension. The epistolary narrative (:D a word which I ve not heard of before reading the wiki article about this movie- Epsitolary means that it purports to be a collection of real documents,diaries in this case) keeps you on the edge of suspense as each scene unfolds infront of your eyes in typical Nolan style.

Borden and Angier coming out of the Chinaman's show

Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) are small time stage hands to a magician. There developes a harmless rivalry between the 2 young, but talented magicians, which later turns ugly, duty a series of events, all starting with the death of Angier's wife in the midst of a trick, for which he blames Borden's judgment. They part ways, with Cutter(Michael Caine) taking Angier under his wing, whom he feels, is the better performer of the two, despite admitting that Borden was a superior magician.

What follows is a series of sabotage attempts by both men, as they try to run each other down. I am not gonna spill any spoilers here, as it would take away the magic of the movie. One fine day, Borden unveils a new trick- The Transported Man, which Angier acknowledges,as the greatest trick ever. He and Cutter work on a copy of the trick, but nothing satisfies Angier. He even sends his assistant to join Borden and spy on him. She gives him Borden's diary, and he starts off on a journey to America, to meet the physicist Nikola Tesla. This is another undercurrent of the movie, as it is very similar to the war of currents between Tesla and Edison.


Angier witnessing some "real magic",courtesy Tesla

Tesla sees the same obsession he has, in Angier and agrees to help him. With Tesla's contraption, Angier returns to the stage and has the audience spell bound. But his ultimate aim of going one up over Borden drives him to stage his own death to destroy the life of his rival. The movie is filled with powerful twists which will hold you spell bound. Hugh Jackman plays the role of Robert Angier with great finesse. Michael Caine, as ever, is a class act. But Christian Bale stands out with his fantastic portrayal of the often-conflicting picture that is Alfred Borden(am deliberately wording this sentence to avoid spoilers). The problems he has with his wife, the fathomless love for his daughter, the rivalry with Angier, these aspects breathe life into an otherwise dark plot. Christian Bale is definitely an actor to look out for. Watching the movie a second time bolstered my impression on Bale. He simply steals the show.

This is one of those rare movies which you ll enjoy all the more as you watch it again. The screenplay and camera work are exceptional. Christopher Nolan announced himself with The Following followed by Memento (ripped off as Ghajini in tamil). With Batman Begins, he changed the way superhero movies are made, and with Prestige, he has taken movie making to a whole new level. This is one of my all time favorites. I would recommend you to watch this movie atleast twice and please email your feedback to me at pdeepak88@yahoo.co.in.

Until Next time.....................