Rage against the reads
You've probably read books that made you wonder what compelled the publishers to invest their time and money on such obviously horrible reads. Heck, you probably wished you could give the author a good solid piece of your mind. The RS team gets together to discuss their least favourite authors, and offer alternatives in the same genre.
But if you read Twilight just to see what the fuss was about and want to sink your teeth into a real vampire series, be sure to check out Charlaine Harris's 'Southern Vampire Mysteries/Sookie Stackhouse Series'. It's the books that the hit series True Blood is based on. It focuses on the fictional town of Bon Temps and a telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse along her vampire love interests Bill Compton & Eric Northman (who both burn, not sparkle, in the sun).
Avid reading friends of this writer comment, "Sidney Sheldon knows a woman more than she knows herself". This writer is forced to acknowledge that and also wants to point out that if he wishes for such content, then he does have a pretty zippy Internet connection to his rescue.
Think this is a Bangla cinema plot? Or maybe one of those ultra-sappy old Kolkata movies minus the dhishoom-dhishoom? Wait a minute, is your third guess Hindi serials? Although it fits all three criteria perfectly, the answer is no. This here is the story of Erich Segal's 'in'famous book 'Love Story'.
Now reviewing this particular book is probably the easiest task on Earth. This'll take only one Bangla word: 'Khat' (pronounced brutally, rhyming with 'bat'). Romantic novels can do many things to a person. Making one laugh one's butt off is hardly one of them.
A healthy alternative to this writer would be Jeffrey Archer. One can even give Mario Puzo a try. Emily Bronte's books can be checked out for a touch of romance. Segal's works are overall passable in a larger scale, but 'Love Story' is a definite waste of money and time.
Jackie just doesn't cut it
And it's not like Jackie Collins is even particularly readable. With oh-so-riveting titles such as 'Rock Star', 'The Stud', and 'Loves and Gamblers' she attempts - and fails - to transplant a Puzo-esque plot into a Hollywood setting. Leaving aside a few shallow resemblances with actual celebrities, her characters are your typical sex/drugs/alcohol obsessed blokes and sultry sirens with a 'past', who are as intriguing as a bedside table. Her expressions make angst-ridden adolescents sound mature...until they set their hands on her books, of course. If there is any way to come up with worthwhile reading out of this genre, Jackie Collins' insipid style is not one of them.
Alienated by Eliot
Not only did Shakespeare apply his own language, he also redefined existing words such as 'comedy'. He had some good plots, but his dialogues ruined it. And if he was such a great poet, why couldn't he rhyme? Othello would've been great if Eminem or even the talentless Curtis Jackson had written it. A Comedy of Errors had as much laughter in it as a Jewish funeral. Shakespeare ruined literature and theatre for the world. And since he didn't use any particular language, people came up with their own endings and assumed he had planned it that way. Shakespeare sucks. Period.
With my guy friends having overhyped, I was excited as I plunged into this obviously entertaining endeavour. As it turns out, not so obvious. It seemed nothing more than a flurry of testosterone-overdosed pistol-wielding pseudo-gangsters while they talk really, really, really slow. The story too, never seemed to capture my interest and as I finished it, I was cursing myself for having listened to my acquaintances (notice how they're not friends anymore). I probably come off as harsh; I do not hate The Godfather. It was merely a promise of brilliance that wasn't kept.
Recommendation: Frederick Forsythe
If you want good page-turning thrillers, turn to Ken Follet. So much better, and he's actually a writer, not someone who puts random ideas to science and hates on albinos. Yeah.
Bad reading Hobb-it
Plenty, as it appears. From the story's beginning in Assassin's Apprentice to its end in Fool's Fate, the protagonist, Fitz just goes from merely bumbling and incompetent to petty and arrogant and a complete waste of text, and he manages to drag the entire story down with him. Such a shame.
Possible alternatives? Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series, David Eddings' Elenium, Tamora Pierce's Immortals, and I can hear my colleagues shouting Patrick Rothfuss and George RR Martin.
WE humans are some tough characters. Theoretically we are supposed to be nowhere near the top of the food chain. We should be crawling on the same level as hyenas, considering our body strength and eating habits. Even if you consider brain size to body weight ratios, we are stupider than Dolphins. But surprise! We are at the peak and multiplying faster than Orcs on questionable steroids, all the while making Dolphins jump through literal hoops when they could be out saving lone whales from sharks. But the one thing that has kept our numbers somewhat in check is Nature. Recently She practically brought a continent on its knees with very little effort with the Volcano Who Must Not Be Named, mainly because we can't pronounce it's name. Anyway, let's take a look at Nature's greatest achievements over the years. For your convenience we have divided them up into mostly fictional and scarily real.
The Great Flood
The Lost Continent
In a crooked little town, they were lost and never found.
This Hurricane's chasing us all underground
Born from the loins of another storm coming from the South China Sea, this unnamed cyclone intensified from November 8 to November 11 finally making landfall on the evening of November 12 alongside the high tide. The anemometer [device to measure wind speed] at Chittagong registered 144km/h before it was blown off. A ship at port recorded 222km/h wind speed. The storm surge near the coast was 10m high. That's roughly the equivalent of a two storey building. The coastline was left in utter destruction with thirteen islands wiped out with no survivors. The airports at Chittagong and Cox's Bazaar were under 1m of water. Nearly half a million people are estimated to have died, making it the deadliest cyclone, in fact, one of the deadliest natural disaster ever on record.
When Krakatoa blew its top
In four mighty explosions within 5 hours, two thirds of the island was blown out of the water. People 5000 kms away thought they heard cannon fire, while the eardrums of sailors in the Sunda straits were shot to hell. The shockwave travelled the globe 7 times before dying down. The plume rose to a height of 80kms. If you require a reference, the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and space is at 100kms above sea level. Rain of hot ash killed a 1000 people in Sumatra while the population of Sebesi, the nearest large island, was completely wiped out. Tsunamis up to 46m in length were reported, with ships as distant as South Africa facing the waves. Even a year after the eruption, skeletons on beds of pumice washed up on the shores of East Africa. Over 36000 people were officially declared dead.
Santorini is a small circular ring of volcanic islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Much like Krakatoa, Santorini is also famed for being a caldera: a volcano where the surface landmass keeps collapsing underground and then refilled by the volcanic lava. But the eruption 3600 years ago is particularly special. You can imagine the “kabaam” from the description of Krakatoa above. In real life terms, Santorini is thought to be the cause of the destruction of the Minoan civilization of Crete. Apart from the rumoured 35-150m tsunami that hit Northern Crete, the ash cloud choked off the plant life in the region causing starvation of the Minoans. The Egyptians have no records of the eruption, giving some indication of the scale of the turmoil caused by this event. The Chinese, however, have a record of what seems to be a volcanic winter with “yellow fog, a dim sun, then three suns, frost in July, famine, and the withering of all five cereals”.
But what's really interesting is the fact that Santorini is thought to be the site of...*deep breath*...Atlantis. There was a Minoan settlement on the island going by the name Akrotiri. The Minoans were an awesomely clever race for their time, with engineering masterpieces such as 3-4 story earthquake resistant palaces, intricate air inflow and outflow systems and, best of all, flushable toilets [yes, you read that correctly]. And if the story of Theseus and the Minotaur is correct, they possessed genetic engineering as well. If that wasn't badass enough, their favourite sport was to run at a charging bull, grab it by the horns and vault over it. How cool is that?! Thought that's it? No-oh. The eruptions at Santorini are thought by some historians to have occurred around the same time as Moses led his Exodus. Remember the Ten Plagues of Egypt? Yeah, God may have acted through the volcano. And last, but definitely not the least, remember Moses parting the Red Sea? There is a lake/marsh north of Egypt called the “Reed Sea” and is supposed to have been mentioned in the Bible a few times. The collapse of the caldera at Santorini would've cause a series of tsunamis which may have alternately drained and flooded the region. We leave the rest of the deduction up to you.
By Dr Who and Kazim Ibn Sadique
CELEBRATING our nineteenth anniversary, this week we have a crazy package of mixed delights for you readers. Here's a list of anime capable of stirring multiple emotions inside the viewer. Because life itself is a mix of joy and sorrow, as has been our eighteen years side by side with you people.
Love and War
Of Conspiracy Theories and Life
How's that for creepy?
(Factual source: Wikipedia, ANN)
THERE's always a score of things to remind one of childhood in Dhaka- it could be comics, video games, toys, that little cramped store in elephant road that sold G.I. Joes, movies, the familiar man outside the school gates with his secret jhal muri recipe. But I think the biggest memory that can truly represent any given aspect of a person's childhood are of the cartoons that person grew up with.
I still distinctly remember the first day I discovered Cartoon Network- before that cartoons were only a Saturday morning affair. But now, whenever I cared to switch the channel over to it, I could watch cartoons! Back then Cartoon Network 'ended' for the day at evening time: it was pretty much like the sun. But during this span of time lay some of the best memories of any of our childhoods.
It's only natural that those cartoons no longer exist; we don't understand the cartoons that exist today like our parents didn't understand the cartoons that existed then. So this article, which incidentally is NOT a review, is dedicated to all the nostalgic old-timers out there. Take a moment, and then let us plunge head on to the five most culturally relevant cartoons of the previous decade (not most popular; not the best; the ones that made the strongest impacts).
The Huckleberry Hound Show: with faint memories of a sky-blue dog singing “Oh my darling Clementine”, one wouldn't imagine how big a cultural icon the Huckleberry Hound really is. The Huckleberry Hound was one of the first cartoons on TV, and a big reason why several other cartoons were made solely for TV. The show included three segments: one featuring Huckleberry Hound, another featuring Yogi Bear and his sidekick Boo Boo and the last featuring Pixie and Dixie, two mice who tried to find a new way to outwit the cat Mr. Jinks. Eventually, the success of Yogi Bear prompted him having his own show. Yogi Bear was a staple of Hanna-Barbera innovationthe addition of his collar meant that for a 7 minute segment, instead of 12,000 drawings, they could only make 2,000 as they wouldn't have to re-draw the neck-below.
The Herculoids: the Herculoids, often helped by interstellar cop Space Ghost, battled to defend their planet Quasar from villains both from home and from Outer Space. All of the Herculoids displayed Human-level intelligence, while Zandor and Tarra displayed a working knowledge of complex alien technologies as well as the ability to pilot interstellar spacecraft. It never mattered to anyone back then that these futuristic heroes flying spacecrafts and battling against high-tech weapons were in fact wearing pre-historic garments, and wielding pre-historic weapons; but that's just how awesome they were.
Johnny Quest: Johnny Quest, about a boy who accompanies his father on extraordinary adventures, was undoubtedly one of the darkest, grimiest shows to ever feature on Cartoon Network. For the first time ever a cartoon show featured realistic violence, adding suspense and impact to the show; it wasn't a cat getting squished by a falling anvil or a mouse leaving mouse shaped dents on a golf club after being repeatedly hit by it. The series was said to have been inspired by the James Bond film Dr. No, and its visual style was new for its time, combining a realistic depiction of human figures and objects. The series made heavy use of rich music scores, cinematic off-screen impacts with sound effects, reaction shots, cutaways and scene to scene dissolves. In whatever way we won't know unless we study into it, Johnny Quest changed what cartoons could do for good.
The Smurfs: for a show like The Smurfs, with its more than obvious positive reinforcements of communist ideals, to be such a success exemplifies the power of cartoons. Or maybe it just shows how awesome communism is. Either way, The Smurfs is one cartoon that kids from today like too. It is based on the Belgian comic series The Smurfs, created by Peyo; the show aired for 256 episodes, with a total of 421 stories. The Smurfs, clearly one of the most successful cartoon series of all time was nominated multiple times for Daytime Emmy awards, and won Outstanding Children's Entertainment Series in 19821983. The Smurfs television show enjoyed a decade of success after which it got cancelled, to many people's dismay.
Space Ghost: Space Ghost is a badass interstellar cop, with a home base on the Ghost Planet. He is equipped with a badass inviso-button on his belt, which renders him invisible while also protecting him from harm with an invisible energy field. He sports badass power bands on his wrists capable of emitting a variety of rays which can freeze, fry, shock, or just plain blast the fools who thought they could take Space Ghost on. Space Ghost can both fly and (with some effort) teleport, but his usual method of getting around is in his badass space ship, The Phantom Cruiser. His companions in adventure include Jan and Jace, and Blip the Monkey. Space Ghost saves the universe before breakfast, helps his friends the Herculoids, makes regular appearances on comic books and still has time to host a talk show- Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. On his show he can be found with his enemies, chatting with newsmakers, celebrities, and other fascinating beings.*
There will of course be some outrage about the exclusion of legends such as The Flintstones and Jetsons and Scooby Doo. But they have no place in a nostalgic article, they've been celebrated and remembered so often through various remakes, adaptations, and anything else one can think of. This article, even though it is based on personal preferences and prejudices, is about cartoon shows that didn't make the new millennium in any visible way. You can email your thoughts to RS, or leave comments on the facebook page.
*This part of the article is in the present tense completely due to the writer's personal reasons.
By Ahsan Sajid
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