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Moonrise Kingdom

By Orin

Unfortunately, 2012 has been as disappointing in terms of quality movies as its predecessor. Apart from a handful of big name exceptions, movies have been released and people have been left disappointed. So when I saw the trailer of the new Wes Anderson movie, I was excited and strangely happy, the kind of feeling you get when you know you have something good waiting for you. Was I just as happy after I'd finished watching Moonrise Kingdom? Well I was, but for some reason I couldn't help but feel a little bit unfulfilled.

Moonrise Kingdom takes us back to 1965 and is set in the little coastal town in New England, the kind of place that does not change in decades and the only way to the rest of the world is through a ferry or aeroplane. The townspeople go about their usual lives, all portrayed with the charming and colourful Wes Anderson style. Among all that, two unpopular twelve year olds, Suzy and Sam fall in love. Suzy reads fantasy and sci-fi, loves her kitten, is cool enough to wear blue eyeliners and lives in the town with her parents who find her to be 'the problem child'. Sam is an orphan moving from foster home to foster home, and was in a scout group called the 'Khaki scouts' until he fell in love with Suzy and they decided to run away together. With suitcases full of books, kitten food and survival gear, they decide to start their life in a place they call the Moonrise Kingdom while the adults frantically search the island. Can't say any more about the story without giving out spoilers.

The cast is start studded. Bill Murray is Suzy's defeatist dad, Edward Norton is as good as ever as the clueless yet goodhearted scout master and Bruce Willis is less macho in the role of the emotionally vulnerable town sheriff. But even more than them, the young newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Heyward do an outstanding job as the troubled kids floating in a quirky dream. The beautifully eccentric world that Wes Anderson manages to take the viewers into is something that is uniquely his - the colours, the dialogues, and the musical score all of it comes together vividly. That being said, Moonrise Kingdom is not his finest work; it raises the expectation and then ends abruptly, as if the entire story is not over yet. Even then, it gives a curious look back into the childhood left behind, which is a universe on its own.

RS Verdict: 8/10.
Has to be one of the best movies of the year.

It was all yellow
A celebration of the pie chart
that ran away

By Shaer Reaz

The beeping noise and the electronic chimes are all that remain in a world that has moved on to dubstep and wireless controllers. Gone is the happy yellow thing, which just wants to eat some dots. Gone too, are Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. They were the ghosts, the hunters and eaters of the yellow.

If this is starting to sound like the food-chain in Bio class, ignore. We're talking about Pac-man and how it has declined into a fond memory with the help of the newer breed of gamers: the ones who want realistic graphics, more options, and new gameplay, all the time. The gaming industry has evolved from being “just another thing you can do on a computer” to a billion dollar industry.

“Pac-man was in an era when there wasn't anything much better. Anything with colourful graphics and addictive gaming stood out. Back in the day you wouldn't need to use your head as much when playing games, as you do now. But it still had a slight strategic element and fun factor in it, which we found to be a thrilling new experience. Would I play it again? Sure. Not really worried about the newer generations not knowing what Pac-man is, because it's a matter of mainstream exposure.” Rubaiyat goes on, and talks about how Pacman isn't really enough anymore to interest the Coke and fried chicken fuelled 12 or 13 year olds.

Guinness has awarded the Pac-Man series eight records on Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. On June 3, 2010, the game's creator Toru Iwatani officially received the certificate from Guinness World Records for Pac-Man having had the most "coin-operated arcade machines" installed world-wide (293,822). (source: GWR)

As just a game though, the original Pac-man release was completely revolutionary. It inspired some of the earliest innovations, one of the first being cross-platforming. Pac-man made the jump from being a purely arcade game to being available on portable consoles like the Game Boy, as well as on PCs. It spawned millions of fans worldwide, generated a buzz that outgrew the excitement of Space Invaders. School grades and exam results went down drastically in any locality that had a computer with Pac-man installed.

”First time I played Pacman was on a Pentium 2 powered PC; it had 128MB of RAM, and Windows 98. It was very addictive, with me and my brother constantly competing for first place. He practically failed class 8 because of Pacman,” said a university student, who would rather not give away his class 8 failing brother by letting us print his name.

There have been quite a lot of new games released, with the only highly recommended ones being the Pac-man Championship Edition and the Championship DX Edition. Some of them slandered Pac-man's name by putting him (it?) through rally races in clown cars and forcing him to talk. While they've been released for almost every major platform since its initial success, the games have mostly stayed on the shelves.

Kazim, our resident sweeper-and-sub ed (we love you Kajim bhaaa) had this to say: “I never really liked Pacman. I am really old. So I was there for the whole excited-by-Pac-man-phase. I was always more of a Space Invaders kind of guy. And Pong was more exciting somehow.

I'd still like to play Pac-man again, though, because you just can't ignore its significance.”

Whether you like Pac-man or not, or whether you're bothered by the lack of interest on the part of the present generation, there's no denying the fact that it was amazing. October celebrates the first time Pac-man saw the world, in Namco Pac-man arcade form: the 32nd anniversary of that gaping yellow thing on the screen. We don't advocate piracy, but do it anyway: find the game, download, play. Or find the Google Doodle that commemorated its 30th birthday. Celebrate an icon, a legend, and an “inspiration to enjoying the simple things in life,” like Saif says.

Title taken from a Coldplay song

By Orin

Here are some gadgets for the whacky, lazy and other kinds.

Popinator: Ever got tired of eating popcorns with your hand? I mean yes, it is just the simple task of putting food in your mouth, but some of us might find it a bit tiresome. The Popcorn Indiana Company came up with a novel solution. You buy a 'Popinator', which is a voice activated, fully automated popcorn shooter. Say the word 'pop' and let it do the job for you. We don't know whether you'd have enough time to look at the movie screen while catching the buttery goodness, but it'll be memorable.

SmartGlove: SmartGlove basically captures what you are trying to say in sign language and translates it into voice and text, sending it into a smart phone or tablet. With 11 flex sensors, eight touch sensors, a 3D digital gyroscope, and an accelerometer the glove collects data and analyzes it, sending it to the devices. While this might be a swanky way of communicating with the hearing impaired, spending $400 for a pair of gloves might be a bit too much.

Concrete-O-Light: I hate the fact that most lamps are the flimsiest things on the planet. It's like their makers conspired to make something as fragile as Dhaka city's orderliness. When you are mad at someone however, they are a handy thing to throw. Apart from that one advantage, traditional lamps suck. That's why they have come up with a lamp that will last a lifetime. Made of concrete, the concrete-o-light is powered by a single 9-volt battery that will light up the LED inside for about 20 hours. It's pretty useless for other purposes, like camping or whatnot, but if you need and want a product under 20 dollars that will survive a nuclear attack, it's your go to lamp.

Fits-in-a-keychain-keyboard: If you are one of those people who cannot go without pressing some keys, tablets and touch-smartphones are nothing but peril. With this new virtual keyboard, you still won't be able to do much key-pressing, but you'll have a full keyboard laid out in front of you. This virtual keyboard works via Bluetooth, so plugging it in and out of mobile devices is easy as pie. You just need a table and the small projector (which fits in a keychain btw) and start working. For $99.99, you can get it and press away, and although we're not sure about response time, it's still cool enough to make everyone look at you twice. Although in Dhaka it's just natural to stare.



By Damon Albarn
Review by That Guy

My colleague and office retard, Shaer Reaz, once said Damon Albarn is the modern day John Lennon. Before you all get riled up, yes John Lennon is incomparable. Calm down. I personally thought he was more George than John. But nevertheless, Damon Albarn is a musical genius and he's never been one to shy away from taking risks in his work; the sheer diversity in his music catalogue is astounding. Hell, just listening to Blur, who'd be able to say the same band did Parklife AND The Universal?

So, with Blur screwing around with everyone's hopes and expectations since Hyde Park and Gorillaz recently broken up, what has Damon been up to? Well he hasn't been sitting on his bum at home, watching Chelsea park the bus (well he probably has but that's for another time). For one thing he did a pretty trippy collaboration with the Flea of RHCP fame and Tony Allen, an Afrobeat drummer for Fela Kuti. The other thing he's cooked up in that crazy still-dazed-and-confused-from-the-90s head of his is the production of a play. Yes. A play. A play that gives inspirational credit to Alan Moore. Yes, Alan Moore. The same guy that made Watchmen, yes that one. You know it's pretty damn messed up by now, don't you?

Dr Dee sounds like it's a play about a rapper, and sometimes you wish it was. But unfortunately it's about a 16th century mathematician, occultist, alchemist, aide to the Queen, etc, etc, you get the point. John Dee was a crazy dude, much like Albarn. This is a HUGE leap of faith from Albarn's usual audience, so huge that I was running to my car to look for my “All the People” CD at one point.

That being said, Albarn's latest mad concoction isn't bad. It's strange. Backed by full orchestra, this isn't Song 2 that you blare out in your car. These are easy listening tracks, mixed together with some Afrobeat influences, church organs and lyrics about godfire and alchemy. Chimerical creation, as it is, it has some very good tracks scattered through it. Saturn, has Albarn singing earnestly over a haunting church organ. In probably the creepiest duet since Dirty Dancing, comes the eerie “The Moon Exalted”, subtle harp strokes making it memorable.

Apple Carts is the best track in the album, in which Albarn exhibits his singing props over the gentle guitar. This gives way to O Spirit, Animate Us, a minute long intro followed by church organs and Albarn continuing his melodious narration of the play below. Mind you, these tracks are scattered through the album, as it continues along with minute and two minute long instrumentals and more and more church organs and creepy opera singing. You get to Cathedrals, and by now you're either in a trance induced by the surreal music or you're brought back to life by Albarn as he sings on the piteous fall of John Dee from grace. The Tree of Beauty, is well, ok look, I like trees to but it does not take me 3 minutes to say “That tree is pretty”. It's bleh, and you'll forget it as soon as you hear it. Preparation has the Afrobeat drums that are a welcome change from the dreary harp-organ-creepy opera voice combo and The Dancing King closes out the journey with sounds of birds and rivers as you end.

It's not what Albarn fans expected and we still await loyally for his soul-searching solo masterpiece, because this isn't it. That being said, as a soundtrack this is brilliant. Eerie, dark, it screams Alan Moore's John Dee, and listening to the album in order, lets the entire story unfold before your eyes. Sometimes though, you did kind of wish it was about a similarly named rapper instead of an alchemist, because let's face it, life in the 16th century was pretty rubbish.


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