Thursday, 23 September 2010

Same Bat time, Same Bat channel!!

No use, Joker! I knew you'd employ your sneezing powder, so I took an Anti-Allergy Pill! Instead of a SNEEZE, I've caught YOU, COLD! - Batman

The opposite of a girl is a boy! - Robin

Hahahahahaha...I just can't stop laughing.

In spite of the suave Christian Bale in  'The Dark Knight', or the immensely talented Jack Nicholson and  Heath Ledger as the 'Joker', the undeniable fact remains,  for me at least,  that the Batman 1960's TV series is the most enjoyable.  What stated off as a comic book couldn't have taken on a better shape. The shows biggest assets according to me are its dialogues,  then its characters and last, but not the least, the many complex gadgets and theories which, from a 60's perspective, were absolutely incredible. Some even seemed stupid initially, but the more episodes I saw, the more they seemed to grow on me.

Adam West(Batman) with his baritone voice and great physique, and Burt Ward(Robin) the still vulnerable teenager, are a perfect crime fighting pair. Far removed from their alter egos millionaire Bruce Wayne and his ward Dick Grayson, with the latter having to take piano lessons and have milk and cookies when not involved in any dangerous escapades :). Better known as  'The Dynamic Duo', they have their own moments of glory and peril, their sound wits and knowledge proving them superior to any adversary who comes their way. The chemistry between the two is amazing, and Batman never forgets to correct Robin and teach him manners, if  he  displays any  hot-headed or incorrect behaviour, even though it may be  trivial, thus underlying the message to young viewers. The following is a classic example:

Robin: "You can't get away from Batman that easy!"
Batman: "Easily."
Robin: "Easily."
Batman: "Good grammar is essential, Robin."
Robin: "Thank you."
Batman: "You're welcome."

Robin's pet phrase is "Holy" and ending with "...Batman!" and a whole series of these quotes has become popular like this one: 
Robin: "Holy molars! Am I ever glad I take good care of my teeth!" 
Batman: "True. You owe your life to dental hygiene."

Alfred their English butler plays his own crucial role of confidante and assistant, sometimes even giving Batman a piece of his mind.  He's the quiet unassuming kinds, who even dons on guises to help his crime fighting master in the most perilous situations. He is even stuffed inside a giant pie by one of Batman's arch enemies,  the Penguin. Among several of his duties are 'dusting the Batmobile',  'checking the Atomic reactor' and 'answering the Batphone'.

One of the cutest and lovable characters is Aunt Harriet Cooper, who is Dick's (Robin's) aunt. She cannot understand why Bruce and Dick are always so busy having their discussions and lessons in the library. She has many a  time been taken hostage by villains, being kidnapped or held at gunpoint, immediately resulting in a fit in which she comfortably drops down unconscious on a  couch and never hits the floor.

At the beginning of each episode, when the Police Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara discover some felony in Gotham City, they have a discourse by which they always arrive at a single conclusion: 'Only one man can handle this crisis, and he is Batman'. So they pick up the red Batphone(which reminds me of a flaming tandoori chicken because of its red colour and transparent glass cover), and dial Batman. What the role of the police is, cannot be fathomed.

Arrive villains - complete  with theme-based hideouts and colourful gases to render people unconscious. They hardly kill people, but steal valuables and demand lots of ransom. I like particular actors whose names I've put in braces.
Notable villains included:
RIDDLER(Frank Gorshin) - Green leotard with question mark on chest, always poses riddles for the Dynamic Duo leading to   his crime. Awesome fiendish giggle.
JOKER (Cesar Romero) - the red-lipped and face-painted criminal, who makes a crime out of minor pranks.
PENGUIN (Burgess Meredith) - says 'Quack, Quack' and deals in umbrellas to hide his weapons of crime, Dressed in black and purple tailcoat, penguin theme restaurant owner as well. 
CATWOMAN(Julie Newmar) - the nimble and beautiful woman with a 'catty' mind for mischief, her gang members are called 'kittens' . She and Batman seem to develop a soft corner for each other, and Robin remarks 'Holy mush!'.
EGGHEAD (Vincent Price) - even the furniture in his hideout is shaped like eggs, and he eats eggs only from a particular farm, which eventually lead the Dynamic Duo on to him. Egg-straordinary!
MR. FREEZE - he cannot survive above -50 degrees centigrade, owing to an erroneous chemical reaction he conducted, and freezes over objects and people.

Each of the villains manages to get hold of Batman and Robin once in a while, and employs very complicated contraptions to take them to their death. They always manage to escape, sometimes with a little help from Alfred. You sometimes wonder why the villains don't ever kill them instantly, but ultimately are grateful for that.  Some of the gadgets employed to eradicate the duo include a giant hourglass, a Chinese water torment apparatus, a printing press, a candle maker, instant freeze, an ice-candy maker and an electric chair.

Thanks to his utility belt, which houses several miniature gadgets like the Batshield and Batterang,  Batman manages to get himself and Robin out of any life-threatening predicament. Some cunning villains realise this, and then it comes down to common sense alone. The Batcave, the duo's hideout and research lab, houses the Batmobile,  Batbike,  Batcomputer,  an atomic power generator, a giant city map where any location could be traced( speak about Google Maps) , a Bat-analyser(this could detect all the properties of any fabric, paper or metal and provide details (advanced X-ray scanner :)), and several other paraphernalia critical to the duo's activities.  It is most amusing to see Bruce and Dick slide down the Batpoles and emerge dressed as Batman and Robin, whilst you are left wondering how they could don the cowls, the tights and not to mention the underpants, all while on a ride down the!  Another very interesting observation I have is that everything is so properly labelled, even one with "Secret fridge, do not open" :). When Batman and Robin leave the Batmobile unattended,  they replace the 'Ignition' label on a button which fires shots/flares so that they cannot help but be noticed stealing the vehicle.

Batman and Robin have no superpowers, they make use of intellect, detective skills, science and technology, wealth, physical prowess, an indomitable will and intimidation in their continuous war on crime. But at times, they exhibit nothing short of the good old superhero style, when they work out that shouting at a particular frequency can shatter their sound trap, or work out which of 2000 hair-salons in the city is Catwoman's hideout by the sound of 3 hair-dryers in the background. Batman is also a mathematical genius, and even calculates bullets being fired on them by several machine guns at a time. Robin is left open-mouthed in admiration.

They are friendly denizens, and as they climb up the Batrope( horizontal screen inclined shot) to reach their enemies, they even stop by to chat with the people of the city. They also grace parties, with Batman performing a jig or two in some episodes which was hilarious, to say the least. It had me in splits. The narration by William Dozier(producer) is rhymed, and parodied the breathless narration style, ending many of the cliffhanger episodes by intoning"Tune in tomorrow — same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!"

In the end, it is not the precision of the gadgets or every calculation that matters in the crime-solving job, it is the faith. And this larger-than-life series makes you do just that, believe.
Come on, Robin, to the Bat Cave! There's not a moment to lose! 

P.S: If after reading this, you get the inclination to watch, let me know.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Many things on my mind

        A mundane day - get through the assignments at work and chores at home, go to bed thinking "Why do I have to do this?". Last day of the month, cellphone beeps, salary credited to account, Woohoo! Shopping, movies, eating out, weekend plans chalked out. Reality check- however much my job sucks, I need it. Next weekend, no movie release, friends busy, lousy day. No doubt this has happened to each one of us. So I begin to contemplate "How much money does someone actually need to be happy?"   . Are our needs actually needs or luxuries. Well, there is no meaning left of the phrase 'Simple living and high thinking'. The most basic needs are not food, clothing and shelter but I-phone, MacBook pro, Blackberry etc., etc..I am not saying that a cupboard is a luxury, but where are we drawing the line,or don't we need to, provided the cushy jobs that we have landed, not by some super skill but by some miracle of globalisation called 'outsourcing'. Being on leave for almost a year now, I have, at times, had nightmares that Obama has actually banned all outsourcing, and billions of us in India have become unemployed. Ridiculous it may sound, but it is not virtual reality either, only an impending disaster. Then I begin to think, I could do something simpler in life, maybe that would give me less money, but peace of mind. What that would be, I do not know.

    The fact is, acquiring status and material possessions has become the be-all and end-all of our existence. When I was young, why, even now, I hear my parents speak to me of someone's else's plight, and what all are doing to chip in and help. Like the small pan-shop owner who lost his wife and is himself ill. With business at an all time low, he is struggling to make ends meet for himself and his two daughters. The people in his locality have made donations, and are now trying to ensure that his elder daughter gets a job to help her ailing father. "What are/ should be my priorities in life?", I begin to think. I see some friends who are involved in teaching orphans, or caring for destitute animals, and it makes me very proud, to think that they are giving back to the under-privileged in society a part of themselves. With family ties not what they used to be a few decades ago, even caring for parents or ensuring the education of siblings are no longer priorities for most of us, everyone is more or less independent. Selfishness is brewing big time, and most of our free time is either spent mulling over what we do not have, or thinking aloud on social networking sites.

   A medical study has proved that people who spend more than 30-40 hours per week on social sites need help. So what is this percentage...excluding the infants and elderly, illiterate and poor, non computer-savvy people like few of our parents, it must be definitely more than half of the India's total population. Come to think of it, companies who ban such sites deserve some credit. I never spent more than 2 hours per week on Orkut during my normal workday, but now, all hell has broken loose. With plenty of time to spare, a Facebook account, and no other creative pursuits at hand, I am spending more time planting and harvesting virtual crops than I do cooking a meal. After around 4 months of crazily pursuing various farming community goals, and landing with a frozen shoulder, I have given up, although the addiction seems to tug on and force me to play sometimes :-). I read the posts from friends and wonder, "Does our behaviour on social sites give an idea of our state of mind?". I would like to think this is true. Incessant status updates, repeating even the day's headlines, mild abusive outbursts, are people too involved or too lonely, given that all are having regular jobs. There are certain things which definitely are worth sharing, but are we getting an excess of others' minds...random quizzes and predictions, and worst of all, conversations have lost their personal and private nature. Of course we can message or call friends, but we seem to enjoy making a display of everything. Also,"are all the 247 people in my friends' list really my friends?". Agreed, there are juniors, seniors, some ex-colleagues, school and college buddies and also the few unknown personalities. But with how many are we actually in touch. It is no denying that without these sites we never could have united so many long lost friends, and I earnestly hope we are not neglecting those who are not savvvy enough(yes, there are a few of those). If someone does not put up their kids' photos on Facebook, are they not happy enough? This is just the point I wish to make here.

    Until a few years back, we took part in all celebrations and social activities but being present physically. Call it small-town mentality or whatever, going to someone's house uninvited was the norm, and people came to your house at any time as well. There was no call made to enquire if they would be at home, or if we would be disturbing them, just land on their door and knock. If they weren't around, we would go to someone else's house nearby, the idea was just to engage in some chit-chat and banter. "Why don't we visit people without informing nowadays?". There were few neighbours at whose homes we children would land up at meal times, and many friends who arrived suddenly and made a request for some special delicacy to my mother, and she would oblige, whatever the hour. You would be caught shabbily dressed, and your room would be far from clean, but nobody cared. Even with friends, a sort of pretence seems to have taken over. Or is it because we meet others  personally only once in a blue moon, that we want to put our best foot forward.

    As children, we always imagine what our future will be like, when we'll be all grown up and independent, and shape our lives the way we want. But as time goes by, I realise that I think more about the past than the future. Incorrigible me, I try to seek solace in Linda Goodman's prediction for the crab, who, she says, hold on to past memories for life. As a result, I feel that "Some people have better foresight than others". Little decisions have big outcomes, be it a decision of pursue further studies, or to change a job, or move to different city, you can very easily get caught in the web of things if you don't have foresight. One does not require a crystal ball to delve into one's future, but it is conscious decisions and foresight alone that pave your way in life. Or else icons in any field would not have been born, if one stuck to doing what their ancestors did.

    But is a person entirely free of the influence of their environment - our basic social studies knowledge tells us otherwise. "Can parents(background) decide our standing in life?". Obviously, from the economic standpoint, life poses fewer challenges up to a certain time if one comes from a well-to-do family. But in the end, its your ambition that decides whether or not you have a solid backing. If the son of a government servant set out to make films, there ought to be some hiccups. But no obstacle is too great, and people with sufficient will-power sail through. I put too much stress on 'self' because I try not to assign the responsibility or blame of my decisions on others, nor compare myself with anyone. This is me sermonizing to myself.

     'Where there is a will, there is a way', some wise soul said, and our elders have many a times quoted. People are immensely talented, they sing, dance, write, draw, click splendid pictures, perform martial arts, and play musical instruments. "So are people prodigious or is it just sheer interest to learn something?". I think one has an inclination towards certain things, which one pursues as a hobby. For most this is just one thing like reading novels. You just read, you don't have to be good or bad at reading. But the arts are a different domain. You give pleasure to yourself and much more to others, be it by singing, dancing or painting. And if you do more than one of these, you simply are exceptional. But no art comes to us automatically, it requires so much patience and practice. A good voice may be a gift from above, but learning the right notes and tuning it is just as important.

    These are just some of my thoughts that have come to mind more than once, trying to answer my own questions...

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The starting note..

I welcome myself to Blogger!!And all readers of this blog!

So much for introductions....

   I had been hosting my blog on, a site suggested to me by a  good friend in college, and for the past 4 years I have rambled on various topics. People have benignly read, given their honest opinion, and shared many anecdotes..

All fresh posts kept showing up on a home page, and it was very easy to stumble upon great pieces of writing. You could read one article by someone, and get enchanted to read lots many, enter friendly entries into contests, and forge a mutual admiration society with totally unknown people...

I haven't explored Blogger much, and I hope it hides many such facets....but only reading blogs of people you know is almost like eating the same menu week after week; you do love the dishes, but at times do care for some change of palate, something totally unexpected and awesome!

So I begin my Blogger journey, with gratitude to all readers, accidental or intentional.....if comments/criticism do come my way...shall take them with a pinch of sugar/salt :))