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Rolling Stones Rocks On...

By Taskin

Today might indeed have been different, had the then teen Mick Jagger not done exactly what he did on that special day in 1960 he ran into his old childhood acquaintance, Keith Richards. Four years after that meeting, the world saw the beginning of what some say is the greatest rock band in history, The Rolling Stones.

Although the two separated on their ways, with Jagger going off to the London School of Economics (yes, LSE) and Richards to Sideup Art College, they travelled their music scene together. Both played in a band called, Little Boys Blue and Blue Boys for a short while, before meeting Brian Jones at an Alexis Kroner Blues Incorporated show.

At any other time, Jones might not have 'clicked' with Jagger and Richards he was a blues guitarist, favouring the more traditional blues of slide guitarist, Elmore James, and was already fathering two illegitimate children at 16 but, the stars and planets had temporarily messed up their planetary positions and it resulted with Jagger and Richards jamming with Jones.

Due to the trio's love for American blues, they started practicing their own. A short while, after moving into a tiny, about-to-collapse apartment in Edith Grove, Chelsea, they decided to form their own band along with Ian Stewarts, a boogie-woogie pianist and Tony Chapman, the band's drummer. Because, the band was heavily influenced by 'Muddy Waters' and 'Howlin' Wolf' and the fact that they couldn't think of anything else, they accepted Brian Jones' suggestion of naming themselves 'Rolling Stone's, after the 'Rollin' Stone Blues' of Muddy Waters.

Their first demo tape was rejected by EMI, but since then they have recorded a staggering t-w-e-n-t-y s-I-x Gold Discs and 9 silver. The band saw a number of change in lineup, which only added to their diversity with a reluctant Watts being coerced in after Chapman left, and Bill Wyman made his place by owning an amp. It was during their very successful run at Crawdaddy Club, that they met Andrew Oldham, a 19 year old publicist and manager, who later started the now infamous campaign, 'Would You Let Your Daughter Marry A Rolling Stone?"

Oldham's previous plan for becoming rich included kidnapping a wealthy heiress, keeping her drugged up in an apartment in Monte Carlo and selling the story to the tabloid press. Unfortunately, the family of the heiress he chose had friends in Government and managed to ban any and all mentions of their daughter in the press.

It was also in Crawdaddy Club, sometime in Feb 1963, that the Rolling Stones enthralled an audience consisting of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend and even the Beatles, who had come into the limelight during that time. From then on Rolling Stones invasion in the music scene continued, with a series of ups and downs and some of the greatest songs ever, that included the likes of Brown Sugar, Start Me up, Don't Stop, Not Fade Away and countless others.

Although, their bad-boy get up has led to the suspension of 11 boys at Coventry School for imitating their hair cuts, and several worldwide shocks due to Richard and Jagger's quotable quotes, countless arrests for drug possession, what people remember is still their music that has enthralled audiences for over four decades.

Shark Tale

Review by Gokhra

This is a movie loaded with references to other movies. It's a lot like Shrek except all the reference has been taken from Godfather, The Sopranos, Casablanca and other mostly old gangster movies. Made mainly for kids it makes you wonder just how many will have seen such old movies to get the inside jokes. But then again Godfather has been portrayed in so many movies its characters and dialogue have probably passed into common knowledge.

The plot: It is a fish out of water type of movie in the truest sense of the phrase. The setting's an ocean reef made over to look like New York complete with a red-and-white "Coral Cola" billboard.

The story's hero is Oscar (Will Smith), a lowly employee at a whale-wash where they basically wash whales like in a car wash. He is a schemer who dreams of making it rich all the while not noticing that fellow employee Angie (Renee Zellweger) is in love with him.

The whale wash is run by a puffer fish with huge eyebrows named Sykes (filmmaker Martin Scorsese,). The place is a mob front overseen by mob boss Don Lino (Robert De Niro). Oscar bets a wad on a seahorse race and loses ending up with the gangsters wanting to break his legs......er, fins. Sykes assigns a couple of Rastafarian enforcers (Ziggy Marley and Doug E. Doug) to take Oscar on a trip and teach him a lesson he will never forget.

Now Don Lino by his own standards is a ruthless but a fair shark. He has two sons. There is tough-guy Frankie (Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos) who has grown up to be a shark any dad can be proud of. Then there is wimpy Lenny (Jack Black) who is a vegetarian shark and believes that cruelty against animals by predators is , well, cruel.

Don Lino is fed up with Lenny and orders Frankie to take the lad on a swim about and teach him the life lessons of sharkhood. As luck would have it, they cross paths with Oscar and the Rastafarian enforcers. As luck would have it, a ship's falling anchor kills Frankie making Oscar a hero because the reef lives in terror of the sharks. As a shark slayer, he earns the attentions of gold digger finne fatale, Lola (Angelina Jolie). All through Oscar is abetted in this deception by Lenny, who has decided to go dolphin incognito.

The movie then revolves around whether Oscar will fall for the right girl (or fish) and whether he can hide Lenny from his family and the rest of the fish population. And what happens when he meets more sharks?

Many characters share physical attributes with the actors voicing them. There is De Niro's mole, Scorsese's eyebrows and the weirdly weird Missy Elliott. Even Christina Aguilera comes in as a singing fish during the end credits looking like her previous slim self.

This movie is a standard Hollywood product. However, it still entertains with reasonably funny jokes. It is likely to appeal to movie buffs more than to typical family audiences.

There are a lot of funny moments in "Shark Tale," like an early scene with the famous scary theme music from Jaws that is like a national anthem to sharks. But the problem remains that the movie script is borrowed too much form other movies. There comes a point when you wish the filmmakers would drop the in-jokes and the subtle Hollywood references and just get on with it. It's not really a movie for kids but more for movie buffs who like to catch the next line that was taken from another movie.

Rollercoaster Tycoon 3

By Niloy

The game walks that odd line by being both a genuinely great game while also crossing over to the non-hardcore gamer market. This, like the original Rollercoaster Tycoon, takes the concept of Bullfrog's groundbreaking Theme Park and just runs with it. You have money. You have a park full of rides and other glad-making machines. By spending the money to make the park more glorious, guests will arrive and give you more money on making your park more magnificent. Compared to Theme Park, Rollercoaster Tycoon had a stroke of pure inspiration: you were actually able to design your rollercoasters in a manner which rests half-way between art and science.

Roller coasters are a blast. They're fun to ride and they're fun to watch. It must be pretty nice for these real theme park owners to be able to sit back and watch people have fun in their park and empty their pockets while doing so. The new 3D engine allows for a lot of improvements including easier construction and being able to ride the coasters. New features like VIPs, an improved career mode, and sandbox mode also help make the game more than it was.

Filling out your park with coasters, rides, buildings, decorations, and other attractions is the core of the gameplay itself, and it works much the same way as before. The building portion of Rollercoaster Tycoon was never broken and Frontier wisely chose not to "fix" it. In addition to your usual burger kiosks and drink stands, you have ATM machines, medical stations and more, and they all play a part in the park's economic progress, as well as the happiness of your guests. You also have a healthy number of thematic buildings and decorations, and the corresponding foliage to match. Don't like the offerings built into the game? That's fine: just use the built-in editor to create and manage your own structures, choosing from different colours and textures to suit your needs.

The shallower side first. And stating the obvious: Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 is as gorgeous as I've ever seen a management game. Crowds of thousands mill around your carefully constructed pathways. On night levels, illumination is only cast by lanterns with your cursor surrounded by a pale nimbus of light.

Also you can now climb aboard any of your rides and experience it in glorious first-person-o-vision. Now, we've seen similar modes before perhaps first in Theme Park World but it's only now with this generation of graphics which it really works. For this virtual-rider, there's a genuine rush as you're around the track, corkscrewing before plummeting down a steep slope. On the slower rides, it's a supremely relaxing way to admire your park.

But the most impressive of the aesthetic additions also crosses over into the more functional sides: the firework displays. Here, you're able to arrange joyous pyrotechnics with a control system akin to a music sequence. That is, you have a number of tracks, each of which can have a different firework releasing at any one time. It's an amusing and beautiful distraction and a fine way to turn bored crowds into a giggling mob.

And now we mention it, a few brief words on the coaster design still a fascinating skill, forcing you to balance the need to excite the riders without causing so much physical stress on their forms their body snaps in two. For newcomers, expect your first few rides to be physically unbearable, until you start to master ideas like banking turns to reduce Gs, breaks to control the momentum and corkscrewing all the way around. It's a little easier to get hang of than the last game, due to an improved track-laying system and a "Join End" option which tries to connect your two ends of tracks together, ideal for checking whether there is an actual solution to the mess you've created. You can even import your old rides from the previous game in, which will clearly be a boon for its considerable community.

The game has a few bugs, but despite them, it just scrapes the nine, if only for the simple reason there hasn't been high-level management game with this level of wit, style and vision since the dear departed Mucky Foot's Startopia. This is as good as its genre gets, and deserves recognition.

Pity, that everything cannot be detailed within review. niloy.me@gmail.com for game related questions.

Anime Review

The Vision of Escaflowne

Sunrise Visual
26 Part TV series

MY first taste of Escaflowne came from clips from the first episode a friend showed me four years ago, about how this anime he'd just seen had rad animation and artwork and the like. While I had to concur with him on that, my first impression was that this was a pretentious piece of work, and I didn't particularly love the big-eyed look at the time.

The years passed, and someone on a forum persuaded me to take a look at it. And I can truthfully say I'm glad I did, because this is one fantastic journey of an animated story.

A bit of synopsis is probably due. Hitomi Kanzaki's a high school girl who's in love with her track team captain, who's leaving the country. So one fine day, when she's out trying to impress him, a brilliant white light opens on the track and a strange looking fellow (Van) appears. Things being as they are, as the light comes again to take Van back, Hitomi gets carried away to a strange world called Gaea where the Earth is called the Mystic Moon. Caught in a war fought using giant robot mecha called Guymelefs, Hitomi must find a way back home...

The world of Gaea is imaginatively created, with races and people who would fit seamlessly into a Tolkien piece. The artwork is given over completely to the fantasy style seen elsewhere in the likes of the Lodoss series and in the west with Dungeons and Dragons, which is perfectly appropriate given the setting of the story. Spectacularly smooth even by today's standard, Escaflowne is beautifully animated. It's not drawn like some happy fairy tale, because that's not what this is; from picturesque to grittily dark, every single frame is done in painstaking detail.

The plot and pacing is the best I've ever seen in a production of this length. There is hardly a moment's lull in the story telling, and the way the plot unfolds to become so much more than girl-in-other-world-has-magical-powers is something to be cherished.

The characters are believable, and there's a LOT of them. You want knights in shining armour? princes? princesses? cats? And you end up loving them all; Hitomi, despite her whining, is rather endearing, and Van Fanel is as much a king and knight as he is a hurt younger brother. Allen Schezar, when he makes an appearance, is enough of the smooth cool type to set anyone to shame; even the villains, by the end, are people you empathise with.

The music is another highlight. Yoko Kanno, of Cowboy Bebop and Macross Plus fame, sets up this series to perfection; there is not a single instant where the music felt out of place, and for every track on a fantasy OST to be even half as good as this is no mean feat. The opening theme is by Maya Sakamoto (of Hemisphere fame) who also plays Hitomi in the show, and while some people complain that the track feels reptitive, I found it very good indeed.

In fact, the sole flaw I felt in the series was Hitomi herself. At her inner-self-contemplating worst, I found her a bit annoying. But the pacing is so good even SHE can't hurt this anime.

Even if you don't like the genre of anime, or fantasy for that matter, you should most definitely watch this. It's good enough to make anyone a convert, and for living up to the ambitious standards of fantastic story that it tells easily becomes a gem in anime history.

By Lancer

Sites Unseen

By Niloy

I got a hold of the new Eminem album, and let me just say this: IT IS AWESOME. PURE RAPPING HOTNESS. I doubt anything else is going to play on my Winamp for about a month. I already erased everything else off my playlist and have this on an endless loop.

I don't recommend anything that I don't personally do or believe in, and if you are a rap fan at all, get this album. It is truly great. I don't care what anyone says, that man is one of the greatest artists of my lifetime. Here are the lyrics, if you want to check them out: tinyurl.com/3vy8f. But get the album first! Disclaimer: not for children.

I also came across a handy site named tinyurl.com. This site's extremely useful as it shortens the way-too-long URLs and makes it easier to pass them to others. Finally I'll be able to recommend sites with long links to you.

Ever wonder what the US elections would be like if a Bollywood director was in charge?
Just an extremely funny parody about the US election, created by some really cool Indian dude. Cast: John F. Sorry, Bush the bewildered, Amitabh Bacchchan, Ali G, and the Terminator. Pochafies Indian Movies, Bush, Amitahb Bacchchan, Bush, Kerry, Bush, Schwarzenegger, Bush, Ali G, Bush, Dick Cheny, Bush and some other people. Oh yeah, and Bush too. (Thanks to the Girl Next Door for the link.)

WAR, simplified
The human species would not exist without it...no matter how sophisticated we try to make it, the basic rituals of war has remained the same. Here's how it works.

Man tries to convert lions to Jesus, gets bitten
46-year-old leaps into den at Taipei Zoo, calls beasts to Christianity
Pity, the lions were probably not interested about Jesus. This is a news item, and it's quite funny!

Real time Earth statistics. Pretty scary sometimes.
6,443,227,536 was the world's approximate population when I wrote this. 45,267,759 people died this year and 110,089,358 were born. 25,794,738,144 hours were spend downloading stuff this year. 9,642,910 hectors of forest were lost this year. There are 273,750,000 hungry people right now, 9,375,103 children under the age of 5 died this year. Scary.

Bonsai: Worlds Within Worlds
It's not often that things found in nature are classified as fine art, but bonsai trees aren't your run-of-the-mill shrubs. If your knowledge of the little trees begins and ends with the "Karate Kid," do yourself a favour and take a walk through this site's luscious gardens. Can you feel the Zen? Photographs of the various types of bonsai serve as models for "Westerners aspiring toward bonsai art excellence." These beautiful photos certainly indicate an intense pride in craftsmanship and attention to detail. Even if you have no intention of growing and caring for your own bonsai, Worlds Within Worlds makes for a calming diversion during a hectic day.

If you bother about some quality illusions
Cars, good ones and lots of them
Hundreds of the hottest Ferraris and Vipers arranged in rows after rows. Can you take it?

How to fold a shirt, properly! The ancient Japanese origami technique...
With the Eid at our doorstep, I guess most of us will have to do quite a bit of packaging luggage. This site has a little video of someone perfectly folding up a T-shirt within seconds! Awesome skill and easy to learn too. Hot stuff for his Eid.

That's all for this week. Happy Eid, or in other words, Eid Mubarak. If you need to contact me for anything, mail me at miloy.me@gmail.com


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