Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Woot!

Tech Crunch reports that Amazon Buys Woot for $110 Million. And display a rather awesome letter from their CEO.


Date: Weds, 30 June 2010
From: Matt Rutledge (CEO – Woot.com)
To: All
Woot Employees
Subject: Woot and Amazon

I know I say this every time
I find a picture of an adorable kitten, but please set aside 20 minutes to carefully read this entire email. Today is a big day in Woot history. This morning, I woke up to find Jeff Bezos the Mighty had seized our magic sword. Using the Arthurian model as a corporate structure was something our CFO had warned against from the very beginning, but now that’s water under the bridge. What is important is that our company is on the verge of becoming a part of the Amazon.com dynasty. And our plans for Grail.Woot are on indefinite hold.

Over the next few days, you will probably read headlines that say “Matt Rutledge revealed to be monstrous pseudo-human creation of Jeff Bezos.” You might even see this photo making the rounds. Rest assured that these rumors have nothing to do with our final decision. We think now is the right time to join with Amazon because, quite simply, every company that becomes a subsidiary gets two free downloads until the end of July, and we very much need that new thing with Trent Reznor’s wife on our iPods.

Other than that, we plan to continue to run Woot the way we have always run Woot – with a wall of ideas and a dartboard. From a practical point of view, it will be as if we are simply adding one person to the organizational hierarchy, except that one person will just happen to be a billion-dollar company that could buy and sell each and every one of you like you were office furniture. Nevertheless, don’t worry that our culture will suddenly take a leap forward and become cutting-edge. We’re still going to be the same old bottom-feeders our customers and readers have come to know and love, and each and every one of their pre-written insult macros will still be just as valid in a week, two weeks, or even next year. For Woot, our vision remains the same: somehow earning a living on snarky commentary and junk.

We are excited about doing this for all sorts of reasons. One, our business model is so vague that there’s no way Amazon can possibly change what it is we’re truly doing: preparing the way for the rise of the Lava Men in 2012. Also, our deal means that Jason Toon will finally be released from that Mexican jail owned by Zappos honcho Tony Hsieh. No, don’t lie, Tony, we’ve seen the paperwork. And we need a powerful ally in case Steve Jobs finally breaks down and comes after us for all our Apple jokes over the years. Don’t think of it as a buyout; think of it as NATO!

I will go through each of the above points in more detail later, but first, let me get to the top 5 burning questions that I’m guessing many of you will have.

TOP 5 BURNING QUESTIONS:

Q: F1RST!!!!
A: Okay, that’s not a question, but it is a good place to mention that our forums will still be policed by a team of moderators, as before. And also, Woot’s previous and always-in-effect privacy policy will still be just as always-in-effect, so don’t worry, there are no
plans to suddenly give up or merge your forum data.

Q: Is Snapster leaving?
A: Are you kidding? He’s out the door about ten seconds after that check clea- that is to say, Snapster will continue as Woot.com CEO, just like before, and the rest of our staff’s not going anywhere either. Woot and all our various sites will continue to be an independently operated company full of horrible, useless products and an untalented jerkface writing staff, same as it ever was.

Q: Will the Woot culture change?
A: Amazon is interested in us because they recognize the value of our people, our brand, and our unique style of deep-tissue, toxin-releasing massage. And they don’t want to start changing things now. Amazon’s hoping our nutty Woot steez continues to grow and develop (and perhaps even rubs off on them a little). They’re not looking to
have their folks come in and run Woot unless we ask them to, which incidentally you can do by turning off the bathroom lights and saying the word “Kindle” three times; a helpful Amazon employee will appear in the mirror. That said, Amazon clearly knows what they’re doing in a lot of areas, so we’re geeked about the opportunities to tap into that knowledge and those resources, especially on the technology side. This is about making the Woot brand, culture, and business even stronger than it is today, and we expect that any changes will be for the better or we wouldn’t bother with this endless paperwork.

Q: Where can I get one of those vuvuzelas?
A: Are you even paying attention? Several months ago, when we were all sitting on Jeff Bezos’s bumper drinking orange Mad Dog and trying not to be noticed, we heard a voice in the distance yelling “You kids better not scratch my Mercedes or I’m calling the cops!” We ran. It was later that night when Amazon came by the house and said they liked our style and also wanted to get that money we owed them for messing up the chrome. We like to think that our relationship with Amazon will continue at this level for many, many, many years to come. But we here at Woot are still a thoughtful
company, so, at the end of the day, I watched the sunset, and its golden-hued glory made me think about two questions:

1) Is there really a universal deity?
2) Does such a thing preclude free will or are we humans in control of our own destiny?

After spending a lot of time falling asleep at the library while facing the philosophy books, I determined that the concept of destiny is a construct that allows man a gentle release from facing the terror of his existence, and that a Hyundai full of twenties would pretty much offer the same benefits. And so, I ultimately said YES!

This is definitely an emotional day for me. The feelings I’m experiencing are similar to
what I felt in college on graduation day: excitement about getting a check from my folks combined with nausea from a hellacious bender the night before. I remember fondly that time when an RA turned on the lights and yelled “WHO OWNS THESE PANTS?” Except this time, the pants are a company, and the RA is you, and the sixty five hours of community service is a deal that will ensure the Woot.com experience can continue to grow for years and years and years, like a black mold behind the Gold Box. Join us, because together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son. Also, there will be six muffins waiting in the company break room, courtesy of the nice folks at Amazon.com. Welcome to the family!

Matt Rutledge
CEO, Woot

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Kamala Kamesh

Typical roles for her involved playing an old woman whose daughter invariably got raped within the first 10 minutes of the movie. The daughter's role would be played by someone like Raasi (or another ugly girl whose name I forget, who got raped in every movie she played). There should be an effort to document actresses who got raped the most on screen. Then as Kamala Kaamesh's son or neighbor (the Hero) tried hard to study, get a job, become prime minister of India, search and beat up the baddies, she would spend most of the movie near a 'viragu aduppu'. She would be sitting in a 'kundhikinu' position and blow the aduppu, cough 'lokku lokku' and say some dialog like "poor people like me ..."

Priyamani would have been an ideal choice to play Kamala Kamesh's daughter. They are made for each other. The only issue is that Priyamani has very high standards. She refuses to get raped by just 1 person or 2 people. Her requirements are that at least 10 people should rape her within a span of 30 - 45 minutes. It is hard to write stories that match the loss of 'karpu' at such a grand scale. Kamala Kamesh would have to get even thinner and poorer (not realistically possible) to reflect the sorrow caused by Nth order rape. I am guessing Priyamani is limiting her career by being so picky about the quantity of people who do her.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hidden Gem

Song not in the Raavanan CD but in Background Score.

Naan Varuven:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

59-59

Just Staggering . Some of the things that we live to see is astounding.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Raavan

1. The reason why Mani & Kamalagasan fail in Bollywood is because they go there and they shamelessly promote some tamil aspect in their hindhi movies. They ought to learn some professionalism from that Malayalatthan Priyadarshan. When in Bollywood make a Bollywood film with bollywood actors. Why not cast some upcoming young bollywood dude who can speak Hindi as Dev? Vikram's role as Dev is so poor (and Prithvi Raj's so awesome) that this casting error alone nukes the movie single-handedly. On top of all the confusion this movie throws at you, Vikram is playing a Dev Singh with abysmal hindhi and horse-riding type 'hai' 'hai'. Very irritating. I am certain Bollywood audience must be going 'whaaa'.

2. This movie could have been in normal hindhi as opposed to 'hamri' and 'tumri' stuff. I can understand indhi but not this bhojpuri stuff. I am not sure what real indhi people thought of the dialogs. I am unable to say if its authentic or nonsense or even real sentences. Mani probably has no clue either and so margin or error becomes big.

3. Movie should have been longer and made obvious many things. For example Beera's men sabotage Dev's vehicles. Next scene: Arbit village people want to enter a camp full of police. What camp is this? Where is this relative to Dev? Was Dev coming from here or going to this camp? Did they set up this camp because the vehicles got sabotaged? At moment they start this scene nothing is evident. In Raavan, you learn at the very end of the scene that Dev was trying to get to this camp and was stopped midway. Too late. In Raavanan this is not even explained that clearly. Similarly the beginning Kidnap scene and arbit bomb blasts. Before one gets into the movie , one is already left wondering at the abrupt poorly explained scenes.

4. Screenplay tactic of 'Let me first make you wonder why this is happening and then I will unravel it for you later'needs to be controlled and restricted to 1 or 2 elements. Pretty much everything in the movie is thrown over the wall first and then explained later. Non-linear narration has its limits and this movie crosses all of them.

5. I agree with Amithabh. Abhishek's role comes as weak, severely edited and a little bit wannabe.

6. Manirathnam seems to have overtightened the movie to the point of making it look disconnected and abrupt. Better off making linear movies.

7. The good aspects to Raavan and Raavan seem to be mutually exclusive. Whats good in Raavan has been left out in Raavanan and viceversa.

8. Overall I thought Tamil was marginally better. But that's because I am a thamizhan. Both Abhishek and Vikram were so-so in essaying Raavan(an).

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Raavanan: Eye Of the Beholder

The disadvantage with thinking of a metaphor first and then 'velai menakettu' developing a story that wraps around the metaphor is that the logic of the actual story is compromised. There seems to be almost no basis, logic or point for this story. The sole purpose of this movie is not to provide us with entertainment but to fullfill the need to reinterpret the epic. I wondered how this movie would look like if ramayana never existed. Without the metaphor hanging over this movie like a low-hanging dark wet cloud this story and its characters actually look slow, pointless and nonsensical. And mani does not want us to notice this point and so he over-references Ramayana in a very amateurish way. For example where in India is this story set to happen (if at all this is actually happening in planet Earth -> India -> TN). Manirathnam picks his usual Thirunelveli jilla and their accent like a reflex (yawn! - someone needs to tell Suhasini to stop mixing iyengar words in Hillpeople-speak). But there are no hills like this near Thirunelveli. What language do these hill people speak? Who are these hill people? What is their problem?

Also, If you go back to the earliest chronological point of this movie, why do the police attempt to rudely interrupt a certain marriage and attempt to arrest Veeraiyyan. What is the background for that? If I only developed opinions on this movie by just watching this movie, I would get no answers for these questions. Mani starts the movie in a jerky fashion and tells us a conveniently carved out slice of a bigger story in a very clumsy manner. Some scenes seem awefully disconnected and others unnecessary. And like Dhalapathy, Mani develops this tiring habit of creating this pseudo society which worships a non-governmental set of rowdies. The public claim (or the rowdy co-horts claim on the public's behalf) that Veeraiyyan has given them lives when they had none. And then Mani pitches a "Us Vs Them" theme that claim that city people don't know the travails of the hill people. We are just supposed to take that on face value. No core issues, no motive. Mani wants us to just assume there is some problem and would like us get to the part where he actually has something to say.

*** Extreme Spoiler Alert ***

Here is what broke my tolerance when I was willing to indulge in Mani. Raavanan gives only one side of the story. While what Mani says explicitly in this movie presents a balanced view of Dev, Ragini and Veeraiyyan, what he leaves unsaid (with regards to Ragini's actions in the end) unduly damages Ragini and favors Veeraiyyan. The gaps left unfilled in this movie seem to conveniently suppress Veeraiyyan's mistakes. If mani had a flashback that filled the context on Priyamani's marriage interruption and this context had Veeraiyyan raping Hemanth's daughter and killing 20 policemen in the process of looting a bank, things would have been very interesting. In the process, I am reminded of Manohar's bohemian attempts to bring retribution to epicVillains with movies like Lankeswaran and Narakasuran. Even Manohar realized the value of a strong story to drive a movie and didn't meddle with the actual epics. But simply developed another backstory that made you see the epic in a dfferent light. His movies gave both sides of the story. What Manirathnam does is selectively pick from the epic and seems to hint "while I believe Valmiki's characters and some of the main events in his narration to be true, I also think he is lying about the things I don't agree with"

Now to the direct comparison. Setting aside the futility of judging a prehistoric story with 21st century moral compass - The only similarity Manirathnam shares with Valmiki is that the beauty of the characters is based on the eye of the beholder. The 'kuppai' in your mind will show up as the 'kuppai' in the character. I did not think Ragini returned back to Veeraiyyan because she actually fell in love with him. While Ragini stopping a train and walking out looked silly, I thought : Dev found out that Veeraiyyan had fallen for Ragini -> decided to use her as a bait -> she just came back to verify Dev's claims. This is the only balanced view. But Mani's visuals try to make this as ambiguous as possible. Lets the kuppai in the audience mind to work: Example of where the visuals were going: ragini falls in love with Veeraiyyan - Dev's instincts were right -> answer to "nadakka koodathathu (which need not be physical) nadanthutha" is yes. So in any combination of examples Ragini cannot come out in good light. And this is a failure to deliver his stated intentions of keeping everything even keel. Hopefully, the process has taught Manirathnam how difficult it is to write a story that provides multiple perspectives and at the same time bring out the nuance that distinguishes between good and evil. Forget Valmiki, I rate this less than Manohar's story.

Manirathnam should not have read up on character of the real Raavanan so much. It seems to have enamoured him into having an unexecutable idea. Vikram's antics to project 10 different minds comes out as 'half-assed' and rather looks like over-acting. Nobody except Dev keeps it real. Vikram's mannerisms were irritating. Mani seems to have found out somewhere along the line that he can't deliver 10 personalities via Vikram's performance alone. So does a silly thing of having 10 people describe Veeraiyyan in 10 different ways. We are just supposed to 'get it'. And lastly, the forest was there for the sake of it. I thought it was overhyped and apart from providing good visuals didn't seem to be a character in the movie. Luckily Mani doesn't try picturising the already bad songs fully. What was picturised gave ample evidence that none more was needed. This was a hindi movie, not adapted but forcefitted into Tamil milieu.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reading Reviews

of Raavan(an) seems like a tiresome experience. Every reviewer puts amazing mokkai by repeatedly using the same cliches. It is hard to find a review that does not say the following (a) Movie is based on Ramayana (b) who is rama, seetha, raavana in this movie (c) history of manirathnam's movies (d) reference to Roja, bombay, dilse, yuva, guru

I haven't seen the movie yet, but it is staggering to know that every reviewer assumes the average reader has no clue about who manirathnam is or what the movie based on.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Behne De

Listening to it made me realize that there is no thamizh word that captures the essence of the word 'behne'. While Vairamuthu made a smart move of not using approximately equivalent thamizh words for 'behne' and totally writes the song afresh, as a listener it is impossible not to compare. Vairamuthu falls short. Especially when he resorts to cliches like "usure poguthe" "madipichai" and "mani kyuile" etc. It was a good opportunity for Vairamuthu to show his class and he misses. Which makes me wonder that the songs were done for hindi first and then for thamizh.

P.s1: Still maintain my prediction that Raavanan is going to be a modern 'Guna' with SPB's role given more prominence/polish. It will be interesting to see if this movie gets people discussing 'Stockholm syndrome'. I totally expected reviewers to mention it for 'Guna' in 1991 but nobody did.

p.s2: 'Sundara khandam' would have been a better title across all languages. Curse K. Bhagyaraj.

ps3: too much luck for Raavanan with the thamizh SemMozhi maanadu vacation

Narrow Escape

Sometimes, I feel someone is watching out for me. This is one of those times. I have been trading on these two puppies for the past two years. At any point in time, I usually have all my savings in one of them. The only window of time where I didn't, they got delisted.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Magma Wash

In the heat of Madras summer, one is discouraged from venturing out of the house between 10 AM and 4PM. The apartment water tank is in the terrace and gets direct exposure to the Agni Nakshatthiram heat of the sun. As a result tank water is constantly at near-boiling temperatures. One wonders why people still buy water heaters and geysers. Open the tap in the afternoon and you get boiling water. It is so hot that you get 3rd degree burn wounds if you wash your hands for more than 3 seconds. One has a sumptuous meal with 3 mangoes suffixed to it at about 11 AM. One is then called by nature to take a dump anytime between 2 - 3PM.

Madras, like everywhere else in India, has this concept of health wash.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

SemMozhi Theme Song

Thoughts

1. Attempted reference to VettEzhutthu and the conversion of that to thamizh script. Though I feel Iravadham Mahadhevan should have got at least some reference or at least a frame in the video as most of the stones with early script shown in the video were uncovered/interpreted/dated with his help.

2. Kamban gets a last minute squeeze in w/ Blaaze getting those lines and Gautham is quick to capture the moment by putting it against a Srirangam backdrop.

3. Shruthi Hasan continues to test the 8th octave.

4. Sri VilliPutthur Gopuram, the symbol of TN Govt, gets a frame.

5. Lighter side: First thing thamizh saaftwear chic does on the first day of her job is do some vetti browsing.