Alexa…Get Me A Gun!

I got too busy catching up with my folks and forgot to publish this last night.

A little girl who’s become a part of our family of 3 was paying us a visit this evening. Needless to say with TO turning 10 and his cuteness factors dipping day by day; a chirping and twirling child always scores higher on the Awww scale. And they know it too!

TO was busy utilizing some unscheduled screen time when his little friend dropped by. After giving her some toys to play with, he snuck back to the living room to watch some inane crap that he’s very fond of these days.

When I asked for a quick sitrep, the little one promptly ratted him out and smugly waited till he came to play with her. Ah..girl power!

They played, they made a dinosaur park, fenced with dominoes and then they started tormenting my poor poor Alexa.

Now our Echo Dot’s a Gen One and getting on in the years. After going back and forth trying to decipher TO’s accent and then just going back to her factory settings, she now had to contend with understanding chipmunk. Because that’s how fast and perpetually talking 3 year old girls sound like.

Today Alexa had to shuffle between Baby Shark, Faded and Bulleya, which she kept interpreting as Imagine Demons’ Believer. After getting barked at by an increasingly annoyed munchkin and being spoken to by a giggling older child, Alexa gave up the ghost and just rebooted. That’s how she lets us know she’s not going to take our shit anymore!!

Soon after I was dropping a reluctant munchkin home. I’d already disappointed her by not forking over chips before dinner time and limiting the cookies to plain vanilla ones and nothing worth licking in leisure.

She was a bit miffed with me and to recover some ground with her I told her Red’s birthday was coming up and asked for gift ideas. She said, “Give him a gun. A big one.” Seeing my surprised face she added, “Give him some polos too. They come in green colors and they are nice to eat. Polos and guns are the best gift ever!”

There. It’s settled. Red’s going to have the oddest 40th birthday ever. Tons of polos and hopefully a gun. But maybe El Munchino isn’t too far off the mark. Look at Red instructing the flesh&blood in the fine art of aiming and shooting. Ah..out of the mouths of babes…

Movie Review-Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

There’s a different kind of fun to be able to see a movie as a ‘phust day phust sow‘…but when the movie ends up spanning the realm of moderately entertaining to ‘how high were they when they wrote the damn script‘, you know you’d have been fine watching it after a few weeks or not at all.

For a movie that’s supposed to be slick and exciting, this particular slice of the F&F franchise lives up to neither. It’s cliched to say the least and oh-so predictable. But let’s dissect it properly shall we?

The 8th installment of Fast and Furious reunites Hobbs and Shaw with macho posturing that’s meant to turn into ‘I got yuh back brah! in the end while they save the world and manage to inject an adequate number of quips to qualify the movie as being funny as well. That they managed to insert a tourism promotion for Samoa is a nod to Johnson’s roots and his being a producer am sure.

Here’s the story- After an ex-MI6 agent gets cybergenetically enhanced and wants to bring whoop ass down on those who get in the way of his organization and his vision of a better world, Hobbs and Shaw get pulled into the action to bring their own version of whoopass to counter the whoopassery being dished out by Mr.Quasi-Android. Played by Idris Elba (hubba hubba), Brixton Lore has all the gadgets, all the cool bikes, costumes and enough internal hardware to have metal detectors going off perpetually.

Hobbs and Shaw unwillingly get drawn into the action for different reasons. Hobbs because his agency loans him out to MI6 and Shaw because his little sister is being framed for all the havoc Brixton’s been wreaking in order to get to a biologic weapon that can…wait for it…DESTROY THE WORLD!! Who saw that coming?!

Now little sister, played oh so dully by Vanessa Kirby, has injected said biologic weapon into her own bloodstream to prevent also said baddies from getting their mean, nasty paws on it. Thankfully for her, the weapon is in small capsules which are on a timer- they will get released into her body after an ‘x’ amount of time passes. Thankfully the movie makers are nice enough to keep that happening during the length of the movie and not have it spillover into another installment.

Between hobnobbing (ooh…punny me!) with Russian arms dealers to get the lowdown into where an extraction device for the virus can be accessed to tearing up the streets of London, Hobbs and Shaw build up a camaraderie that’s fooling no one. Jason Statham should have as little of a speaking role as possible. After his less than stellar turn as Jonas Taylor in The Meg, Statham should keep his roles to those of the Handsome Rob ilk where he’s not required to win people over with his diction and ability to emote beyond a point.

The Rock’s USP is his quips and mountain man muscles and he doesn’t disappoint but neither does he set the screen on fire. Both the leads seem to be straggling with a script that has them just going through the motions and doing unbelievable things while not getting a scratch on themselves or acting like it was a walk in the park. Ryan Reynolds comes in with his inimitable brand of humor and his interaction with Johnson are some of the actual fun parts of the movie.

As for the action sequences, imagine this…a car hooking a helicopter during a chase to save the damsel. The helicopter rises higher and higher and the car achieves liftoff as well but in the nick of time is saved from going over a cliff by a line of cars ahead of it playing choo-choo trains. Instead of going whoa or even oooh…the audience was laughing or saying “gimme a break”. But over the cliff they go and miraculously no one is hurt. Would a broken bone or two be so out of place when plummeting off a sharp cliff face onto a sea/beach full of jagged rocks.

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But the objective of this review isn’t to trash the movie. It’s to say that maybe this franchise is on its last legs. Gone are the days when F&F stood for cars and actual speed. Now it’s brawn, some cars, a whole lotta destruction, uber bad guys and a rather lame attempt to keep going till the next installment. Quit while you’re ahead people.

Go see it if you’ve got a lot of free time on your hands or you really like either Johnson or Statham or are a diehard fan of the series. Barring that, there’s not much to recommend this one. It’s testosterone-laden to the hilt!

Rating 1.5 stars

Movie Review: Judgementall Hai Kya

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Kangana Ranaut has been in the news for so many things in the recent past that any movie of hers is newsworthy mainly because of the gossip around the actor. Although, IMHO, she’s become typecast for her neuroses in the earlier movies; she still manages to deliver a believable performance as person who is psychotic and yet not entirely off her rocker.

Rajkummar Rao fits well into edgier characters as smoothly as he does the feel good ones. His turn in Stree vs ELKDTAL vs JHK are varied as they are well-etched and with their own distinctive feels. He is truly a good actor in every sense of the word. He belongs in each of the movies he does.

The disclaimer at the start of the movie is also something that’s commendable in a place like India where mental health issues are a huge taboo and a dirty secret that’s more liable to be swept under the rug than be tackled head on.

Onto the actual reviewing: The movie is engrossing but it’s no OFOTCN or Nobody’s Child. It is however, a thought provoking look at a life tinged by pain and feelings of not belonging anywhere and being heard by those who matter.

The direction is fairly taut with Kovelamudi dropping the ball only when Rao starts fessing up to all his crimes which were deemed as psychotic ramblings of a delusional woman. Kangana sometimes overdoes it with the wide-eyed stare of a person who lives in a parallel universe inside her own head. Sometimes the scariest people are the ones who remain calm on the surface but are churning with maladaptive thoughts and hallucinations inside; desperately hanging onto shreds of reality.

The ancillary characters mainly make up the comic element in the movie. Whether it’s a long-suffering, hoping-to-get-laid sort-of boyfriend, or the ineffectual, obese cop (Satish Kaushik) who perpetually keeps eating; adding to his weight and his inefficacy. Jimmy Shergill doesn’t add much to the movie; gravitas or otherwise. His cameo needed to be better fleshed out. And for God’s sake, why does Amyra Dastur get work? She makes very little impact. At least someone who could breathe some life into a role needs to be brought in. She fails to strike a chord with the audience at all. The opening sequence of the movie with the blood splatters, spills and the origami is actually more poignant than many things in the entire film.

In the end, Rajkummar Rao with his sociopathic turn and Kangana in her delusional avatar, carry the movie forward and take it a step in the right direction; making mental illness lose its stigma and helping people know that it’s *not* a dirty word.

Rating 3.5/5

The Summer Of Broken Glass

I have words buzzing around in my head most of the times. Some times they come out as blogs and at other times they come out as stories. They’re all stories at the end of the day. Here’s one written primarily as a short story. Cheers

THE SUMMER OF BROKEN GLASS- A VERY SHORT STORY

It started with a tinkling sound. Followed by a deep silence. So deep you could reach out and touch it. She hated silences like that. They were eerie and there was never anything good at the end of it; of that you could always be sure.

This entire summer had been tinged with what stray but nearly regular occurrences of glass breaking. Had she been superstitious, she would have pegged them as happening due to mal ojos. Her brand new Spanish classes kicked in at its convenience she thought wryly.

From her mom’s favorite vase to the beer mug, to the little Dresden shepherdess that she had labelled as super lame; each thing broke with a bang, a smash and there always seemed to be shards of glass shimmering on the floor…dangerously pretty.

She once had a couple of those shimmery pieces jammed into her big toe and while it didn’t hurt that bad; they sent shivers down her spine when she tried to probe the wound. It had taken forever to get the splinters out and then hobble around with her toe wrapped up in gauze. Lame, lame, lame!

She shook her head to clear the fuzziness and sighed in frustration about having to clean up glass YET AGAIN. Getting up to get the broom from the closet, she heard a muted kind of smash-crunch behind her. She turned only to hear the cocking of a hammer and the barrel of gun level with her face.

Her last thoughts as she saw the finger press down on the trigger were about the stupid glass…the memories that distracted her from running and hiding or even calling 911…stupid lame glass she thought, while looking into the mal ojos that were the last thing she ever saw.

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Finis

Nuts To You!

People tend to see shapes in the clouds, some even see things with their eyes closed but I think TO kind of took the cake today.

After he got home from school today and was having his snack, he suddenly said ‘Mustache’. For a second I thought he meant I needed to schedule an appointment with the beautician and then he said, “Look Ayu, there’s a moon and a kidney.”

By then I knew it wasn’t me he was referring to…phew! And then he pointed at the jar on the table that had cashews. And pointed out where the mustache, kidney and moon were.

So why am I not gloating over my child’s sense of abstraction and imagination? Well..a few minutes later when I asked him to pick up his socks off the floor and put them in his hamper, he needed help finding them. Guess where they were? Right at his feet!

Oh me, oh my. Kids!

Saturday Morning Conversations

I crashed by myself last night…was listening to music, sorting out playlists…everything you need head space for and which can’t always be done effectively with someone staring at you with googly eyes and asking, “what are you doing?” for the millionth time.

I avoided weird bedtime conversations but couldn’t avoid them during the next morning when someone decided to wake up and smell the roses with unbounded enthusiasm before his mother got caffeinated.

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Imagine having slept off to music spanning the decades along with conversations with friends on and off till the middle of the night and then waking up to the most #dafuq question one can imagine first thing in the morning viz, “How old do you think De Villiers is?” And on seeing my glazed, semi-blurry vision starting to go the angry, snorting bull way, TO preemptively turns his face skywards and says, “Why me?!!” Nothing quite like having your angsty moment stolen and impersonated by the person who brought it on in the first place.

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So on we went with the good morning kisses and inane questions till my brain cried out for coffee once more. Red being the coffee guy at home was hollered at and he promptly went and made some for HIMSELF and not me. There’s only a few things a woman can say to her husband at such times and I tell back on Barb#1 aka ‘ I gave you a kid, can’t you even get me a cup of coffee?’

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We are fond of our drama in this household. Be it me trying to bury myself under the covers so I don’t have to hear my kid drone on about some ODI post which Tendulkar decided to retire from cricket

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or trying to bargain for more screen time or me giving the evil eye to the placidly coffee-sipping spouse who’s going to need me to find his stuff for him soon; this is just how we roll.

Slainte!

Conversations From The Back Seat

TO’ school’s set to reopen come next Monday (does a mini jig of joy). I like my kid being at home provided he doesn’t get into that mode of where he wants me to generate things for him to do and then proceeds to shoot down each and every one of them just because!

Anyhoo, yesterday we drove up to his school in a lovely semi-cloudy weather and got him kitted out for the academic year. On the way there he kept fiddling with my phone and kept changing songs like it was a speed dating event. So I kept a strict no-phone only radio policy for the ride back home. Apparently retro English and Hindi music just don’t cut it with kids who’re growing up listening to DJ Snake and Maroon 5 *rolls eyes* So we decided to chat instead. And when I say “we”, I always mean HE and HE alone.

So there we were, zipping down a good, smooth road and then comes the question, “Did Tony really die?” Now I know who the Tony is but we’re trying to teach the brat to be specific in his talk so I asked him who Tony was. In the meanwhile the radio decides that playing Ecuador would be a great idea! So there’s foot tapping music going on, a finger poking me on my shoulder and talk of some random Tony dying…all in a day’s work. By the time it emerged that Tony was actually Tony Starke and I reminded my child that it was actually a movie and not to take everything too seriously he’d moved onto something else. This is what he moved on to. Our conversation takes me to lala land sometimes…

TO:”Hey Ayu, I want to move to New York.!” ME: Cool baby…it’s a fun place…but why New York though? TO: Because that’s where the radioactive spiders live. DUH!!

Sebastian Whaaaa GIF - Sebastian Whaaaa Maniscalco GIFs ME: Ummm…there are no radioactive spiders. And if you want spiders you can stay in India, why go to New York? TO: BECAUSE.AYU. THAT’S. WHERE THE TALL. BUILDINGS. ARE. DUH! DUH!! ME: Ok…walk me through this. You want to be Spiderman?! TO: DUH! Yeah!! ME: Stop saying DUH it’s annoying. TO: Ok F-I-N-E!! But I want a spider to bite me and swing from tall buildings. New York has tall buildings.

New York Skyline Animation by Kürşat Ünsal | Dribbble ...ME: That’s true…but if you really want to bitten by a spider and turn into Spiderman maybe you should visit your grandfather (My father-in-law who lives in a less urban set-up) and just walk around the gardens there..there’ll be loads of spiders to bite you. [Yes, I did honestly say that to my only child].

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TO: Wonderingly…do they have a science club there though? If I don’t have a science club then I’m just going to get bited and not get superpowers. ME: You should ask your father…he grew up there. Am sure they had science there. TO: But he doesn’t have superpowers…I need radioactive spiders. Do you promise to send me to New York so I can get bit? ME: I promise baby. Be quiet now because there’s too much traffic for me to navigate through. TO: Ok Ayu…you drive, I’ll sit here and think of spiders.

 

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Retroblogging#67

For anyone who’s wondering about the sudden jumps in the numbers on the blog posts, let’s just put it down to outright artist license and move onto the good stuff. Here’s another post which brought a smile to my face because life has interesting ways of teaching us lessons..

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Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.”

Or something to that extent I imagine must have passed by an old chappie’s lips when four loud, boisterous kids from his neighborhood would filch his precious stack of clothes pins and make them disappear day after day..

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The more he complained to his neighbors (the parents of the brats) the more clips kept disappearing. They’d go off the clothes line and end up in the oddest places, like the water tank. Which after a point of time seemed to verily have more clips lying at the bottom than coins in the Trevi Fountain!

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Anyhow, he’d rant and rave and often cuss at them, not that they gave a hoot! It was fun to see the crusty old man finally move his potato sack of a body off the swing and lumber after them. Else it was the swing where he sat, day after day and made it squeak and squeak as if it was his life’s purpose.

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The brats didn’t know that the irritable man who always told on them was actually retired and wanted nothing more to sit on his swing and sip from his stainless steel glass of booze that would remain undetected in that wettest of dry lands. So the sight of children causing a ruckus put a cramp in his guzzling plans indeed! And if he stayed compliant and ignored them, he would have to face the task of answering his not so little woman who would wonder about the regular disappearance of her clothes pins.

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Cut to present day- one of the brats is grown up now. Somewhat. When she finished her laundry today and went to hang up the innumerable little things that her child goes through daily, she found that she was YET AGAIN short of clipsies..!
How she gnashed her teeth and wished that for once her beloved dumpling would throw something else off the balcony or find other things to confiscate instead of the oh-so important clips…

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And while seething and doubling up the clothes (since there weren’t enough clips to go around) she thought of a curmudgeon whose clips she and her fine companions would to love to chuck into the water tank or use as marks to get badams off the tree.

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And then it came home to her…what goes around definitely comes around. And there was plenty more coming her way…!

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Retroblogging#23

Another one that caught my eye from the days of yore…

Right from the time my son was born, I was struck by how delicate he was. I knew babies are vulnerable and helpless but this one seemed to embody those qualities and more. He was a thin baby, weighing just on this side of an acceptable birth weight but he never lacked spunk.

That ‘scrawny’ baby’s learnt to run now and also balance himself on his toes to reach heights hitherto out of his reach.

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One thing that’s absolute about children is that you NEVER know what they’ll do next. If you think there’s a line they haven’t crossed yet, they always manage to cross it and then some! So if you threaten your kid with that ‘last straw that breaks the camel’s back’, you’d better be prepared to have a whole herd of camels waiting out there because your offspring will find plenty more straws and with it plenty of camels’ backs too.

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I used to think of little children (infant to toddler stage) as being fragile but it’s us as parents who’re the fragile ones. The kids are resilient and how! They fall, they bleed, they sprout bumps here, there and everywhere and they still keep going even after the tears have left tracks on their face.

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And speaking of tracks, while you may not need therapy to get over the minor cuts and nicks on your child; it definitely takes some doing to see your child hurt and you not being able to prevent it. And some things do stay with you. Whether it makes you a better parent or a hovering one is anyone’s guess.

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And by the time you’re over the initial trauma and your monkey is again gallivanting off for newer places to fall down from; you tell them what’s sure to become your motto in life- “Don’t cry! You wanna cry? I’ll give you something to cry about if you dare do something like this (fill in blank with your pet peeves about your kid) ever again!!!”

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And you go on. Both of you…sometimes with one chipped tooth, a brief black and blue mark and you with a near-paranoid obsession for stuff your child could hurt yourself on again. But you do go on.

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And before you know it, they’re onto newer things, more things they could make hurtful for themselves and with you still trying to be their life-long safety net and catch them before they fall. But that’s not to be…what is to be their ever-growing curiosity, activity and ability to bounce back each time.

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Amen to that! The rest will keep I suppose 🙂

P.S: At the time of this blog being posted MLM’s graduated to TO and has had 3 surgical interventions (nothing critical) which includes one broken hand being reset. And we’re still chugging along! Phew…

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When Your Friends Are His Too…

Red doesn’t value my opinion in many things. Par for course since he’s a husband. But my choice in music (Hindi, loud and boisterous to some throat warbling that I’m ok to listen to), movies and books is where his skepticism is the highest. I can honestly say he reads stuff that’s lightyears away from being on my radar. He reads fiction, non-fiction both but it’s a bit cerebral for me. I’m more of the whodunnit, whytheydunnit and aretheygonnacatchwhodunnit– kinda person.

Now I have a friend who he gets along with quite well. She’s smart. She READS. And she doesn’t read fluff- some of the traits that have endeared her to him more than others of my circle. A few days ago I happened to see a book reco from this friend of mine and ordered it because it seemed like something Red would enjoy and I wouldn’t have to tax my fluff-lovin’ brain much either.

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I’d just told Red that I ordered a book for him and his eyes widened in alarm! I had to tell him who reco’d it and he started breathing normally again. Sheesh! You give a guy Beloved to read once and he holds it against you for life! And this from a guy who enthusiastically read about ‘electric sheep‘! Bleh.