Thursday, January 31, 2008

Beijing National Stadium: A bird's nest

Well, we've had a lot of instances in which man has been inspired from Nature (Radar from Bats, Flight from Birds and lots more), and here's another quintessential case- a naturally cooled Olympic Stadium for the upcoming 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Built on a plan that won the design competition in 2002 for the sole purpose of an Olympic Stadium, the Stadium's specialty is the natural breeze that can be felt from any seat, providing a natural cooler and ventilation system for it, which is expected to seat a 100,000 people. The prize entry came from Herzog and de Meuron, they went onto win the Pritzker Prize.

The Beijing National Stadium, or simply the National Stadium will undoubtedly host the opening and closing ceremony, and the main track and field events. It may also host the finals of certain important events.

It is expected to be completed by March 2008, and it shall look like this when it is finished. A Bird's Nest indeed!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bubble wrapped Watercube unveiled in Beijing

The National Aquatics Center also called as the "cool" building of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was unveiled today with great fanfare. It will host two events (Good Luck Beijing 2008 Swimming China Open and American Standard the 16th FINA Diving World Cup from 31 January to 05 February) prior to the Big Fish- All water events of the 2008 Olympics.

It is one of most astounding structures that China has constructed (in record time) for the upcoming Olympics. We must not forget that the official Olympics stadium for 2008 itself is supposed to be a marvel of engineering, inspired from the nest of a bird.

This one resembles an incomplete congregation of bubbles before they become one large bubble and burst (due to the internal pressure greater than the external atmospheric pressure), and hence it is aptly called the "Bubble Wrap".

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nostradamus, the Oscars and I

Well, the nominations for the Academy Awards for 2008 are out and what you can expect in the coming weeks everywhere in country- from local bars to five star restaurants, from golf courses to corporate canteens is the debate of who is going to bag which. Here's a list of some of my predictions:

I've not seen most of the nominated films, so I can't comment on those categories. But in some categories it is blatantly clear as to who will win- like for example the best makeup award- surely you would find no better makeup than in the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

There is another curious fact in this year's nominees- we find Cate Blanchett (Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator) in the verge of a first in Oscars- the chance to win the award for an actress in a leading as well as a supporting role (for different movies, of course). Suffice enough to say that that would be the ultimate certificate for your acting talent. The very fact that she has been the first to have been nominated such shows her versatility. Let us see if she is able to pull it off (I've no predictions to make regarding this as I've not heard about, let alone watched those movies).

The best animated film and associated categories might be swept by Ratatouille because funny movies for children usually appeal to the committee more than others. And Ratatouille was as good a movie as Shrek etc. and with its old style graphics- it was a refreshing experience to watch.

Although Ratatouille may do well in its own den (animated films), it wouldn't stand a chance against the biggies, where it has been nominated for the best original musical score (general category). It's true that it had a good musical score, but it wasn't so good enough to be noticeable. Besides, selection committee in this category don't like funny themes for music. They expect scores to be emotional, passionate etc.

Anyway- this year's Oscars is expected to spring a lot of surprises, especially with none of the films nominated have struck big at the Box Office internationally, and so that leaves the competition wide open (except for the above predictions I made). So let's see how the drama unfolds.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Advent of Indian Motifs in Hollywood

India has always influenced West in a lot of ways. India has been a perennial theme in Hollywood films from times of yore- what with epic movies like The Discovery of India, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Octopussy etc. But these were movies that heavily revolved around Indian settings and characters, and I wouldn't call them an influence in the actual films.

They were Indian because they had to be.

But, there has been a noticeable trend in the mainstream films- like Dirty Harry, Scarface, Matrix etc where despite of their clearly Western themes, they are heavily dosed with Indian motifs.

Here's a list:

1. Scarface:
This movie needs little introduction- Al Pacino's bete noir film that set the trend for the many movies that followed with the bad-man-with-a-heart theme.
As much as the movie was famous- it's flagship song "Push it to the limit"
was phenomenally popular (in fact the whole soundtrack is a classic in 80's music). In what is primarily a Rock song, you find a short Veena interlude in the song to slow down the tempo of the song once it reaches a peak. Veena as we all know is a variant of a traditional Indian instrument.

2.Dirty Harry (Magnum Force):
In what is considered to be a quintessential American cop film, it is surprising to find that the background score is a medley of Western instruments with a dominating tabla score. The music is used to portray suspense and from the success of the film you can be assured that it was a good combination.

3. A Little Princess (Ramayan: Morning Raga):
This is a highly emotional film involving an orphaned little girl as the central character, and it's score derives itself from many Indian themes, one being the Ramayan. This musical piece- a flute rendition depicting sunrise is a lilting and soothing number, one which can be found only from Indian songs.

4. Matrix Revolutions (Navras):
The most famous of all Indian themes in Western films- the Navras song from Matrix Revolutions- a strong and powerful completely Indian song in a western movie. It was a revelation that shook the world as much as it pleasantly surprised India. The song was more talked about than the whole movie.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The girls are ready for Bond 22

It's always been a perenial search for Bond producers to pick the new Bond girl. She needs to be picked like Diamonds from an ocean of Quartz. Aishwarya Rai, the Bollywood beauty, now wife of Abhishek Bachan was once approached for this once-in-a-lifetime role, but just shooed it away like a vegan would refuse meat, in a matter-of-fact manner, all because she didn't want to figure in passionate scenes with the then Bond Pierce Brosnan.
Anyway, the search for that Bond girl was one of the longest, and it ended with Halle Berry being offered the role which she gleefully took as the icing on the cake after having won the Oscar for Monsters' Ball the same year.

The more important search for the last edition was for the man himself-the new Bond. Now that we all have accepted Daniel Craig as the Bond for life, post Casino Royale, the search bounds back to the girls, who for some strange yet pleasurable reason need to be changed for each movie (Not once have I seen the girls make a 2nd appearence, except in some rare instances).

Anyway the search for the girls of Bond 22 is over. Maybe due to the experience with Aishwarya or due to the tremendous success of Eva Brown as an old fashioned European beauty (less of glamour and more of substance) we have the new consignment of beauties from similar roots- 28 year old Olga Kurylenko from Ukraine is confirmed to be the lead actress with English belle Gemma Arterton in a side role. The 20 yr old Gemma was first talked of being in the lead until the ravishing Olga was favoured. I'd suggest the old suggestion- of Gemma playing Bond girl with Olga in the side role would've been perfect, but well, you dont always get what you want, and believe me- you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you get.

Olga has already been part of such accomplished franchises like lead roles Hitman alongside Timothy Olyphant, and a french movie with Elijah Wood. This role of bond girl would be the piece-de-resistance of her career.

Arterton though is just about in the early stages of her career, and it remains to be seen as to how people would find her choice of opting to this role. It either skyrockets your career (in the case of Ursula Andress), or quietly sidelines you into oblivion (take the case of Luciana Paluzzi).

Paluzzi admitted that being a Bond girl is a double edged sword. She was amazed at the level of fame, publicity and recognition she got from Thunderball, but as a result of being in such an outlandish film, she was taken less seriously as an actress by her peers.

So let's wish luck for the latest entrants to the Hall Of Fame for great success in their careers.
All pics are of Olga Kurylenko. She's already fitting well into the job. I must say she does look like Sophie Marceau in the 1st pic, and a lot like Denise Richards in the 3rd.

Java for making wands: A HP fan's dream

Well every HP fan out there knows there's only one thing that can go beyond the experience of reading about the magical world of Hogwarts and Co., and that would be wielding a wand that could perform "real" magic. Now we must understand that we do have devices that perform certain wand-like functions.

Take for example your simple TV remote control. At a distance that can be described as quite far off, you are able to subjugate the idiot-box (as the TV is fondly called) to heed your commands. Likewise we have remotes for all kinds of purposes- for driving cars, for operating appliances, even for triggering firecrackers.

So why not a wand? What is the difference between the common remote and the magical wand- just the shape right?

We must take into account nature's most important law- "No one gets a free lunch".

To make something listen to your whims and fancies is something. But to materialise something out of thin air is against nature's principles.

Forget such "trivial" limitations, let us suppose we do have power to create things, how would we humans be able to produce a wand that has the functions so wonderfully described in JK's seven classics?

At the site called previosuly named they do provide us a simple answer- fabricate control systems using Java as the programming language and voila, you have the answer.
It's a very informative article that explains concepts of Java with the well known example of Wands. If you are a novice you'll understand the concepts better with a casual reading of it, and if you're well acquainted with Java already it could provide comic relief.
Just check out the article at: