Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Snow Fall

Snow Fall
Snow Blanket ...



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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review: Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten



Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten


This is a review of the Kindle version.

Sharks have evolved over millions of years and have evoked both fear and fascination in man since time immemorial. While man has visited outer space and scaled the tallest mountain peaks, our knowledge of the underwater life is extremely limited. It is estimated that we have only explored about 5% of the underwater world. It does not help that sharks (especially Great Whites) have quite a menacing physical appearance.

Steve has tapped into this widespread fascination and fear that sharks (extinct or otherwise) generally incite in us. Peter Benchley started it all in 1974 with his bestseller Jaws. Steven Spielberg created the concept of “Summer Blockbuster” with the immensely successful movie adaptation of the book.

Click on the link below to buy the book:


In Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, Steve wastes no time in establishing the physical supremacy of the Megalodon by having the shark munch on the King of All Land Predators, the T-Rex! This interesting encounter between the 2 predators happens in some prehistoric time and sets the tone for the rest of the book.

The story then shifts to the present and we meet the protagonist, US Navy deep sea diver turned Paleontologist Jonas Taylor. Jonas is in depression, after unintentionally causing the deaths of his two teammates in a deep underwater submarine operation. He is soon contacted by an old friend, Tanaka to investigate the presence of Megalodons in Mariana Trench. Tanaka owns a big aquarium and is keen on adding these prehistoric giants (should they exist) for the public display.


Steve Alten, author of Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror
Steve Alten, the author

Reluctantly, Jonas joins the team comprising among others Tanaka’s son, DJ. DJ is killed by a Megalodon. Tanaka’s daughter, Terry wants revenge and soon it is man vs shark even as the Megalodon sets out on a killing spree targeting everything from whales to humans foolish enough to cross its path. Then there is Jonas's estranged wife (and news reporter), Maggie who wants to film the Megalodon and strike gold in her career.


The plot is indeed as silly as it sounds (!). It is by no stretch of imagination either high literature or even scientifically accurate, it does qualify as popcorn entertainment. I saw the movie Jaws long time back and have been quite fascinated with sharks ever since.

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Image Sources: ScreenrantThe Authors Speak 

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Persistence




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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sherlock (BBC Series) - Cast and Crew


Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Gatiss in BBC Sherlock
Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Gatiss in BBC's 'Sherlock'

This is my second post about the BBC series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson respectively.


Please click here to read the first post.


Mark Gatiss, in addition to being the co-creator of the series, also plays Mycroft Holmes and he brings the requisite command and wisdom that Mycroft has always been associated with. In a significant deviation from the Canon, the Holmes brothers seem to have considerable hostility towards each other.

Una Stubbs as Mrs Hudson BBC Sherlock
Una Stubbs as Mrs Hudson

Una Stubbs makes a bland Mrs. Hudson. Her characterization seems to be little bit inconsistent as she is reluctant to be a housekeeper initially (in “A Study in Pink”) but does so in “The Blind Banker”. Though not miscast, she does not exactly bring to mind the humble and caring Mrs Hudson, I came across while reading the books.

Rupert Graves’s Lestrade retains most of the characteristic traits of the character. He constantly needs Sherlock’s help to solve cases and is humble enough to admit it. Graves hits all these notes correctly to deliver a likeable Lestrade.

Rupert Graves as Inspector Lestrade BBC Sherlock
Rupert Graves as Inspector Lestrade
But not everyone in the Scotland Yard is a fan of Sherlock. Anderson (Jonathan Aris) and Sally Donovan (Vinette Robinson) are openly contemptuous of Sherlock. There is no love lost on both sides as Sherlock takes every opportunity to insult Anderson and even deduces an affair between Anderson (who is married) and Donovan. Aris and Robinson play their parts nicely and make sure that these two characters are the most loathed recurring characters in the series.

Vinette Robinson and Jonathan Aris as Sally Donovan and Anderson BBC Sherlock
Vinette Robinson and Jonathan Aris as Sally Donovan and Anderson
Andrew Scott's version of Jim Moriarty is miles different from the Canonical version. I was initially not very keen on Andrew's portrayal but am slowly getting used to it.

Andrew Scott with BAFTA award for Professor Moriarty BBC Sherlock
Andrew Scott after winning the 2012 BAFTA award

For canonically accurate portrayals of Moriarty, I would recommend Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and The Mortal Fight. Both Jared Harris and Viktor Yevgrafov gave amazing performances that stayed loyal to their canonical roots.

Click on the link below to buy your copy of Season 2:


Lara Pulver portrays the highly modernized version of Irene Adler. Readers familiar with the original story A Scandal in Bohemia will recognize the changes made to the character as well as the story itself.


Lara Pulver as Irene Adler BBC Sherlock
Lara Pulver as Irene Adler
Russell Tovey gave a great performance as Henry Knight, the BBC version of Sir Henry Baskerville. Tovey's performance was one of the highlights of the episode, that happens to be my favorite in the second season.


Russell Tovey as Henry Knight BBC Sherlock
Russell Tovey as Henry Knight
Katherine Parkinson made her appearance in 'The Reichenbach Fall' as Kitty Riley, the reporter who unknowingly becomes a pawn in Moriarty's scheme to discredit Sherlock.


Katherine Parkinson with Benedict Cumberbatch BBC Sherlock
Katherine Parkinson with Benedict Cumberbatch
Last but not the least, the great Douglas Wilmer made a cameo appearance in 'The Reichenbach Fall' as an elderly gent in the Diogenes Club. He portrayed Holmes in the classic BBC series (1964-65). Wilmer is one of my all-time favorite actors to portray Sherlock and it was great to see him if only in a single scene.


Douglas Wilmer with Mark Gatiss BBC Sherlock
Douglas Wilmer with Mark Gatiss

The background score by David Arnold and Michael Price is as critically acclaimed as the series itself. Rest of the crew delivers topnotch work as well. The series co-creators, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are proclaimed fans of the Sherlock canon and have incorporated a lot of references to the original works. These easter eggs are by themselves a celebration of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Click here to read all my posts about BBC Sherlock.


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Markhor - The Wild Goat


Markhor image poster picture


Kingdom : Animalia

Phylum :  Chordata

Class :  Mammalia

Order :  Artiodactyla

Family : Bovidae
Genus : Capra

Protection status : Endangered

Diet : Grasses, Leaves, Flowers and Fruits

Habitat :  Cliffs and Grassy foothills

Life span : 12-13 years


The name is derived from the Persian word Mar - Snake and Khor - Eating. Both Males and female Markhors have horns. Markhors are usually active during morning and late afternoon. They are excellent climbers.


Markhor is the national animal of Pakistan.

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Photo was taken at Columbus Zoo, Ohio.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cast and Crew - Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes

This is my second post about the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, directed by Igor Maslennikov and starring Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin as “Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson”.

Please click here to read my earlier post.


Rina Zelyonaya as Mrs Hudson in the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes
Rina Zelyonaya as Mrs Hudson
Rina Zelyonaya brings out the motherly and patient nature of the long-suffering landlady of the Bohemian detective. A nice touch is that Mrs Hudson is much smarter than the canonical one and is able to make a few deductions of her own.

Boris Klyuev makes a truly classy Mycroft, whose skills of observation and deduction exceed those of even Sherlock. He is bit on the leaner side, but nonetheless cuts a very commanding figure.

Boris Klyuev as Mycroft Holmes in the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes
Boris Klyuev as Mycroft Holmes
Borislav Brondukov brings down the house with his portrayal of Inspector Lestrade. He is probably the best Lestrade ever in terms of physical appearance: small, rat-faced and sly. Where Borislav excels is the spirit and cheer that he imbues in his depiction of the famous Scotland Yard detective.

Igor Maslennikov, the director of this TV series, has done a stupendous job. He completed his education in Journalism from Leningrad University in 1954. He has worked as editor, script writer, cameraman and director in a career spanning more than 30 years.


Igor Maselnnikov, the director of the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes
Igor Maselnnikov, the director
Maslennikov's work on this adaptation of Sherlock Holmes brought him well-deserved recognition and success. Maslennikov's passion and reverence for Sir Doyle's works are evident in the aesthetically done opening credits as well as the costumes, sets and the casting choices. It would have taken considerable efforts from the director and his crew to recreate Victorian England in Russia. Hats off to the entire team and especially Maslennikov for helming such a wonderful and elegant adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.

He is ably assisted by Vladimir Dashkevich, whose music takes the series to a whole new level. His music is an instant classic, in every sense of the word.

Vladimir Dashkevich, the music composer of the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes
Vladimir Dashkevich, the music composer

The Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes is a perfect marriage of great ensemble acting, a classic soundtrack and impeccable direction.

Click here to read all my posts about the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.

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Image Source: Lenfilm Film Studio

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Sir Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes
Review - Mortal Fight (1980)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

TV Review: Sherlock - "The Blind Banker"


Zoe Telford with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in BBC Sherlock 'The Blind Banker'
Zoe Telford with our dynamic duo in 'The Blind Banker'

This episode is not a direct adaptation or a modern update of any of the Canonical stories by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) is asked by one of his classmates, Sebastian to investigate a case of office break-in.

Soon, Sherlock and Watson (Martin Freeman) discover that one of the bank employees is murdered in his apartment.  The police force is puzzled, as all the doors and windows are bolted from inside. Sherlock deduces that the man was being threatened and the break-in at the bank was done to send him a coded message.

Click on the link below to buy your copy of Season 1:


A journalist is murdered shortly and the killer’s modus operandi is quite similar to the previous one. Sherlock notices that the killer has to be extremely athletic to be able to commit both these crimes in high-rise buildings.

The trail leads to an international gang of smugglers called "The Black Lotus". The action-packed climax befits an action movie more rather than a Sherlock mystery.

The mystery itself is not upto the usual standards of Arthur Conan Doyle. But this drawback is offset by Freeman and Cumberbatch's excellent on-screen chemistry. Zoe Telford plays Sarah, Watson's boss. Her sense of humor makes her a perfect choice and she is a joy to behold on the screen.

Click here to read all my posts about BBC Sherlock.

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Image Sources: CumberbatchwebAustenProse

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Komodo Dragon - The Giant Lizard


Komodo Dragon - The Giant Lizard
The large, curved claws are used in self-defense as well as to eat food

Phylum :  Chordata
Class :  Reptilia
Order :  Squamata
Suborder : Lacertilia
Family : Varanidae
Genus : Varanus
Protection status : Vulnerable
Diet : Carnivore 
Habitat :  They live in hot and dry places, open grasslands and mostly in lowlands.

Komodo dragons are the  largest and heaviest lizards in the world. They are native to Indonesia and inhabit just four islands: Flores, Pandar, Rintja and the Komodo island. The scientific name of Komodo dragon is Varanus komodoensis. Komodo dragons are also called as Komodo monitors, Giant monitors, Land crocodiles and Oras. Their life expectancy is upto 20 - 40 years. Their sense of smell is the primary method of detecting food.


Komodo Dragon - The Giant Lizard


The Komodo dragon's saliva contains different strains of toxic bacteria that cause deadly infections in the prey. When it bites the prey, it injects the victim with a venom. Though the prey may not succumb to its injuries right away, the patient Komodo keeps following the animal with its immense sense of smell and eventually claims its victim.

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Photos were taken at Columbus Zoo, Ohio.

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