Friday, December 23, 2011

Seasons Greeting

Happy holidays everyone. Hope you have a great Christmas and an even more awesome new year!




This is my all time favorite Christmas song. It's a beautiful song written and performed by a brilliant artist. Hope you enjoy.



Cheers!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Story of Christmas...

for the digital age  :)

Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Santa and I Know It! (LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It PARODY!) Key of Awesome


Awesome :D :D :D



They've got some other awesome parodies. Check them out.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa Clause Diaries


Well, it’s that time of the year again. Christmas. Bah. There is too much stuff left to do, and it's less than two weeks till the big day. Can you believe that some toys are still on the production line. Those elves are pulling triple shifts but there is still some left. On top of it all Rudolph is sick. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome. I'm keeping him in isolation till Christmas. After that he can drown in a vat 100% proof alcohol for all I care. I'm not going through the same shit as last year. Serves me right for letting a drunkard lead the sleigh. Oh lord, my stress levels are off the chart. I'm fucking too old for this crap. 

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m still a big fan of Christmas. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the smile on a child's face when they see their presents on Christmas morning.  It’s just that Christmas doesn’t have the same meaning anymore for people. 

Today, Christmas has been hijacked by commercialism. This is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, consumerism keeps economies running smoothly. Recession is not a fun thing either. However there should be a limit to everything. It's just that people are too focused on the gifts and the parties. Hey, I'm not against those. I am the big daddy of gift giving am I not? And my new year's eve parties are killer. If you are sober at the end of it, then there is something wrong with you. Anyway, my point is that don't be selfish when too many people are suffering around the world. Give up the me, myself and I thinking and think about how you can make the day brighter for someone else. 

I admit, you can't change the world by yourself. I've been trying all these years. However, you can start close to home. Come on, do you really need to buy the latest gadget that will be obsolete in a month or two? or that extra pair of shoes that you'll wear only once? That money can help a less fortunate person to spend a week or two without going hungry. Why not give that money to a worthwhile charity so that they can help those truly deserving.  

Sometimes the best gifts are not about the highest monetary value. It can be even free. Give the gift of yourself. Spend time with your family, especially your parents and grand parents. They may drive you crazy, but you are here because of them, so go spend sometime with them this Christmas. There are many people, especially seniors who are alone because they don't have anyone. I bet they would love nothing better than to have somebody to spend Christmas with. We get too caught up in the hype and forget about the important things in life. 

Don't get me started on the kids these days. They are are too spoiled. No, that's not right. Half the kids in the world are spoiled because they have too much stuff, while the other half doesn't know what the word means because they are more worried about staying alive till the next day. The disparity between these two situations is too painful. The below video is somewhat of an example. OK, may be the parents are a bit mean, but it shows expectations of kids these days. Believe me, the naughty list keeps getting longer while the nice list is getting shorter and shorter each year. I've been tempted to chuck it all out and just leave pieces of coal on all stockings, but the missus was against it. You kids are lucky she talked me out of it, bless her kind heart. 



This world is not a fair world, but people can change it. Show your children that Christmas is not about the toys that they get. Teach them to be selfless and to share their good fortune with those less fortunate than them. 

The religious aspect aside, Christmas should be about love, caring, and sharing. Those are not just for Christmas, but should be practiced each and everyday. Make the world a better place people. You owe it to your kids and grand kids. If this world ever survives that long. 

Hmmm, I must be getting sentimental in my old age, or may be its just the stress. I can't wait for this season to be over and start my vacation. The missus and I are heading for Bora Bora this time. Nice little romantic escape, if you know what I mean (wink, wink) Ho Ho Ho.

I best be getting back to work. 

Merry Christmas to all.

Peace! \m/


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Old Painting

This is another attempt at a short story. :) All characters are are fictional and any resemblance to a person or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.


“Look honey, he looks just like you, but with a little grey hair” Jessica called over her husband Tony to look at the portrait that hung in the main hall of “Kaluwella Wallawwa”. As Tony walked into the room, he felt a bit unnerved seeing the picture. There was a strong resemblance alright, but he felt that there was something more in the face. Sinister was first word that came into his mind, but he felt bad thinking like that about his ancestor. After all, who was he to judge a man he had never met based upon a picture.
                                                                                                                    
“It just goes to show that you married into a good gene pool of handsome men” Tony joked as he gave his wife a hug. “Come on, let’s explore and see what else we can find”.

Tony still couldn’t believe that this magnificent property bordering the Kalu Ganga, belonged to them. On the day he got married, Tony got a nice surprise when his father gave the deed to this property as a wedding present. Tony’s grandfather Frederick was the last to inhabit the house, where he lived with his two caretakers. There was a rift between him and his only child who had left Sri Lanka and taken his family to Australia nearly thirty years ago. Frederick, who was a staunch patriot didn’t approve of his son’s abandonment of his motherland. In the end, Frederick decided to leave all of his properties to his first grandson Tony, to be given to him on the day he got married.

He was glad that they were able to make it to Sri Lanka on their first wedding anniversary. He had only been here once before. His father was never keen on bringing them to Sri Lanka. Tony was more excited because he had someone to share it with. Although a native of Sydney, Jessica has been enthralled by Sri Lanka and its beauty ever since he had met her.  He was looking forward to exploring the country of his ancestors, and to discover all it has to offer with his wife by his side.

As an architect, the old house inspired Tony. He always thought of houses as live entities, not just bricks, mortar and wood. Like fine wine, the more time a house stands the more character it acquires. This house was no exception. A typical manor house of colonial architecture, it was a single storey structure built around a big central courtyard. The courtyard itself was beautifully landscaped, with a large pond in the middle. The rear of the house opened up into a small pier leading into the river. An old wooden raft was still moored to it, waiting silently for the ferryman.

Tony felt like the luckiest man alive. He had a gorgeous wife who adored him, a great career and a comfortable life in Sydney, and now, this amazing piece of property in this land of his ancestors. Nothing could make it better. Things were too good to be true, and he should have never gotten too comfortable with it, because fate is a dirty old bastard with a sick sense of humour.

Every night was a night of passionate love making. Sometimes as he watched Jessica sleeping, Tony wondered if he could ever live his life without her by his side, and imagined how they would start a family and grow old together. He would drift into sleep with these thoughts swimming in his mind.

***

News alert from the local daily  newspaper

Tragedy at Kaluwella Wallawwa

People living close to the old mansion were woken that fateful Saturday morning to screams of dying woman. What they saw when they went to investigate is bound to give these people nightmares for years to come.

According to the initial coroner’s report, 3 mutilated bodies were found in the house, two in the kitchen and one in the master bedroom. The bodies in the kitchen were identified as Wimalasena and Kamla, the caretakers of the house, and the body in the master bedroom was identified as Jessica Fernando, newly arrived occupant and the wife of the accused. Though details are not still clearly, sometime during the night, the accused, Tony Fernando, had gone on a killing spree, hacking his poor wife to pieces and then turning the axe on the caretaker couple.  What prompted him to do this? Nobody knows. Tony Fernando was found sitting calmly by the dock, holding on to a portrait of his Great-Great-Grandfather, and mumbling incoherently.

Stay tuned for further details as the case unfolds.

Murderer Gets Life Sentence

The trial of the accused axe murderer Tony Fernando, famous for the Kalluwelle Wallawwa tragedy, was concluded today, with the jury finding him guilty of all charges. Normally this would carry a death sentence, but giving the extenuating circumstances of the case, and recommendations by the renowned psychiatrist Dr. Gamage, the prisoner was given a life sentence at the psychiatric wing of the prison, under solitary confinement. The prisoner will also be under the care of Dr. Gamage.


***


His head hurt as the bright fluorescent light hit his eyes. Little by little consciousness took over, clearing his disoriented mind, but the world didn’t make sense to him. He knew he had done some terrible things, but the man in the painting said that it must be done. You can’t trust anyone, except yourself, and the man in the painting, of course. The world may call him a monster, but the world doesn’t see itself as he sees it. They were all going to destroy him, but he got the upper hand and got them first. He knows the truth now, all thanks to the man in the painting. He will never be alone again.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Man and Violence

The 16 Days campaign carried out by the Women and Media Collective against gender based violence is a great initiative. Violence against women and children are a problem in Sri Lanka, but not one that is talked about much. Kudos to all the people who are working hard to provide solutions to this problem and help those who are victimized.


To me, violence of any kind is hard to understand. Why do we humans have a need for violence and aggression?  The violent acts of some are causing great pain and suffering for rest of the world. I came across this interesting essay called Violence and Aggression, while Googling. Its a simple and easy to understand article for the layman, which explains a lot about violence and anger.


As this article explains it, aggression is intentional, as is done to cause harm and pain to another person. This is not just physical harm, but it includes verbal and mental violence. Aggression stems form anger and the motives for it comes from what a person is feeling. According to a theory by psychologists Roy and Judy Eidelson, these feelings can be categorized into five groups.


  1. Superiority - The belief that one is superior to another.
  2. Injustice - The belief that one has a legitimate reason to be aggressive against another.
  3. Vulnerability - The belief that one is one could be aggressively annihilated at the hands of another.
  4. Distrust - The belief that another will not honor their promises or commitments.
  5. Hopelessness - The belief that one cannot improve their condition.

There are two main ideas about where aggression comes from. One is that we humans are born with it, that it is hard coded into our gene, and that we learn how to control it fro social norms. The other believes that we are born as compassionate and  society makes us violent. However, according to Sigmund Freud, we are born with two instincts. 

  The instinct toward life is called Eros while the instinct toward death is called Thanatos. Freud believed that humans work by way of a 'hydraulic theory', where pressure builds up inside and must be released as aggression. To Freud, aggressive energy could be seen in everything from art to architecture. He theorized that society helps people to sublimate the instinct to be violent by giving them the desire to be creative and work hard. He called this theory sublimation.

My personal theory is that we are born with both violence and compassion, but our violent side is much more stronger than the compassionate side. The compassionate side is mostly suppressed, and we have to be taught to let go of that suppression and to let our compassionate side to come on top. It is part of our animal instinct for survival. The more aggressive you are, more chance of survival you have. I mean, nobody is going to mess with the angry dude now are they?

However, the social environment one is brought up does have a big impact on what kind of a person one turns out to be. If a child grows up in violence then that becomes the norm for that child. When the child grows up, he/she will act according to what they think is the norm. Similarly, if a child is brought up in a kind and compassionate environment where violence is frowned upon, then it can be expected that the when the child becomes and adult, he/she will act the same. It goes on like a cycle. Of course there can be exception to the norm. In a situation with violence, if the cycle can be broken, then the violence can be stopped. Social cultural norms and religion are not enough. Laws and  and a strong justice system are an important part of changing these behaviors. 

Unfortunately, males are more aggressive and violent. It's statistically proven. My guess it's a hangover from our cave man days. Me brave hunter, me kill animal kinda mentality. In today's "civilized" age, the question we have to ask is, whether it is really necessary? My answer is no, definitely not, but I guess it's very difficult to shake our roots. 

The normal perception is that men are stronger and women weaker. But should this be the case? Shouldn't it be that both sexes are equally stronger. With this perception, men tend to be violent towards women and children because there is a less chance of them fighting back. It's better than fighting with another man who will fight back, where chances are that you will not escape unscathed. Nobody wants to get hurt themselves, so naturally people will take their aggression out on someone weaker than them who will take it lying down. For men, women, children, animals, and even men who are less stronger than themselves are the most likely targets. They would never a pick a fight with someone stronger than they are, unless they have weapons and the other person is unarmed. They will go for it if they are certain the outcome is favorable to them.

I feel that in our culture and in Asian culture in general, children are taught to be seen and not heard. I'm not saying that children have to go head to head with adults, but if a child knows that an adult is doing something wrong, then they should be taught to speak up. Children should be encouraged to develop strong personalities who put value in truth and justice. In addition, the laws and the justice system should be upgraded to take swift action and to protect the victims and punish the wrongdoers. But more often than not, we see it working the other way around, where the criminals go unpunished and the victims are further victimized. 

Another thing that baffles me is that we tend to put a lot of stock in respecting our elders, our parent and especially our mothers, but then we turn around and harass women in society. How easily we forget that we are born of women, and we will not be alive if not for our mothers. The respect you show to your mother should and must be extended to all women. Why is it such a difficult thing to do. Where does the difference lie? I still haven't figured it out.

This world has turned me into a pessimist, and I believe that the evil in the world outweighs the good. Can you blame me when you take a look around the world we are living in?

Our generation and generations before us are totally fucked, for no better word. There is no hope for us. But there is hope for the younger generation, and generations yet to come. Hopefully we can teach them not to make the same mistakes as we did. To put kindness and compassion before violence. To put selflessness and sharing before greed and selfishness. Do I think that this Utopian society ever be a reality? No of course not. Don't be silly. We are who we are. We will never change. 


So, does this mean that I don't have any violent thoughts? Of course I do. It is part of who we are. But I make a conscious effort not to act out according to these. Do I succeed all the time. No, but I try not to fail. If everybody can do that, then we could be in a much better place.

I'm not a student of psychology, so I don't know anything about the subject matter. I might be completely wrong in what I have said, but these are just my own thoughts and ramblings. 


Cheers!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Sleepless Night




Lying on my bed
sleep eludes me
while others engage
in exiting adventures
through lands of fantasy
shaped by the Dreamlord
The world is still
covered in a blanket
of deep solitude
whistling cicadas
echo like sirens
giving a certain ambiance
to the stillness of the night
hear the distant rumble
of a train passing by
on its midnight journey
loud and clear
piercing the silence
the drone of the engine
and the clacking of the wheels
music to my ears
shattering the illusion
that the world is dead
and the cogs of the world
are still turning strong

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Improv Everywhere

This is a group of actors/artists who stage various sketches on public places, and basically entertains people. It's not exactly street theater, but in some ways it is. I guess you could also consider it as social experiments as well.

The group stage it in such a way that it takes people by surprise. Something different to the daily routine people are used to. Something absurd that makes people stop and take a look, and hopefully make them smile. The best part is looking at the reaction of the people.

How would you feel if the guy sitting next to you on a train started belting out Elvis songs and shaking his hips. Either you can enjoy it, or run away from the mad man. Personally, I hope I will be able to enjoy it. However, if I was alone, I would be vary, but if there were other people around, I would definitely enjoy it.

Their site showcases all of their projects. Worth a look.
http://improveverywhere.com/

This is their latest, spontaneous singing at the mall.


The below is a talk given by the founder of the group at TED.


There was a similar thing done in SL by Airtel (that's what I heard or read somewhere, but I'm not sure), group of people dancing in front if the Fort Railway Station.

Cheers!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Cavalcade of Lights 2011

The city of Toronto officially started the Christmas season last Saturday (26th) night with a bang. It's called the Cavalcade of Lights and is held every year in front of the new city hall at Nathan Philips Square. The ceremonies are started off with the lighting of the Christmas tree. Then there is a musical show for about an hour, and then the show stopper, the fireworks. 

Christmas decorations are coming out all over the city. Malls are showcasing their Christmas trees and decorations, along with sales. Yep, Christmas is definitely on the way :)


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Robin Williams - Stand Up Routines

Robin Williams is one of my favorite actors. The man is an entertainment power house. I found some videos of his stand up routines from the early days and watching him is like watching a tornado, without the destruction.



This is an interview he did for the "Inside the Actor's Studio" series. Hilarious :D. The man doesn't have "serious" in his vocabulary.


Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Recently Read: Twilight Eyes by Dean Koontz

Spoiler alert :)

I only recently discovered Dean Koontz. I picked up another book by his called Odd Thomas at the British Council just before I came here, but couldn't finish it before I left. So when I came across this one at a bargain price, I thought I'd have a go at it.

Twilight Eyes revolves around a young man called Slim, who is psychic. In addition to having premonitions, his greatest gift, or curse, depending on how you see it, is that he can see "goblins". Goblins are what he has named  animal like creatures who has the ability to transform into human form and live as normal humans, but in reality they live off human misery. Because of Slim's gift, he is able to see through the disguise and see their true nature. There are few other character in the story who can see, or feel the goblins, so with there help Slim goes to battle with the Goblins.

To me it is basically the good vs. evil story. The goblins are the bad guys who create various disasters around the world. They do this because they feed off the misery of the humans caused by their actions. However it also explores the fact that humans are in a constant path of self destruction. our never ending lust for power will eventually bring about our own destruction. In addition, it also deals with the differences of people, and how some people are more accepting of these differences than others. Well, that's how I feel anyway.

I have only read one and half Dean Koontz books, so I really can't comment on his other works, but these two are mellow compared to something by Stephen King.

Anyway, it is a good read, and should give it a chance.

In a non related matter, I found a a graphic novel of Terry Pratchett's Color of Magic and Light Fantastic at the used bookshop, so woo hoo :)

Dean Koontz official site
Twilight Eyes Wiki page
Amazon Link


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Toronto Santa Clause Parade 2011

Sunday the 20th was the day when Santa rode into town.

The Toronto Santa Clause parade has been entertaining kids and adults alike since 1905, which makes this year the 106th time the parade is happening. it has everything, from clowns to cartoon characters, marching bands, floats, and of course the big man himself, Santa.

Luckily the weather was good with a temperature of about 13, but there was a lot of wind, which made it much colder. But that didn't stop the people from coming in the thousands to line the parade route.

Official site
History of the parade
YouTube channel where you can see archive footage

pics below, enjoy

People lining up the parade rout

Here come the clowns

Clowns handing over panda ears to the kids


Police handing over gift bags to the kids

Po from Kung fu Panda

Some Hockey Dude

Mario

Power Rangers are in town

More Clowns


Marching band

police marching bacnd



Ronal McDonald making the rounds. McDonald's was a sponsor, so they were giving out free coffee. 

Mother Goose

Mr. Potato Head and Mr.Monopoly


On of the marching bands

Lego Men

Costumed characters

Smurfs

Hand walking monkeys

More costumed characters

Loony Tunes

A surfing Bugsy


Another marching band

Barbie float

Another marching band

Mice 



Another marching band


The Muppet's float



Dinosaur floats from the Royal Ontario Museum 



Another marching band




Tots on toy cars

Happy Feet

Coca Cola float

Tim Horton's Gingerbread house

Carollers



A marching band from NY, USA

Mrs. Clause


Here's the big man himself