I have seen Superhero themed TV shows and movies in abundance by now. There have been amazing openings in numerous shows which hooked you from the word go. But there has been no show which opened like ‘The Boys’. Within the first 5 to 6 minutes, you are introduced to the Queen Maeve (Wonderwoman) and The Homelander (Superman/Captain America) in all their slow-motion glory. You say to yourself, okay another Superhero show, let’s see how it goes. Then all of a sudden, another Superhero A-Train (The Flash or the Quicksilver counterpart) runs through the protagonist’s girlfriend Robin. Read the last sentence again. Then you realize what just happened. One has to see it to believe it. It is like you are just served a good looking delicious plate of food. And as soon as you pick it up to take your first bite, it bites you instead.
Off the Corporate Bus and into the Creativity Boat
I started reading this book at the beginning of this year and finished it only a week ago. No, it is not that big a book but this year has been particularly bad about book reading for some reasons. I had to give reading up time and again and got involved in one thing or the other. Yada yada yada, I want to apologize for not finishing it earlier. Sorry, Ashoo Ma’am!
But that cannot stop me from writing a review now when I have completed it, finally!
This book is one of the most unique ones I have ever read. It is a non-fiction and a fiction book combined into one. To sum it up, the book revolves around a conversation which 2 people have about a person lost on an island and from that conversation, the author discusses ideas which form the basis of the concept of creativity.
I won’t go into the fictional part of the book but rather I would like to focus on the non-fiction part. Most of us, I would like to believe, have a creative side of us. That gets overshadowed and becomes latent with age due to various reasons like responsibilities, family, education, and society. This book tries to evoke the dormant part of our brain which deals with creativity and encourages the reader to explore it again.
After each chapter of the fiction, there is a lesson learned which discusses various forms of creative expressions. This deals, with a lot of conviction and scientific logic, as to how our minds form ideas. Examples from Photography, Writing, Art, and Music are explored with a lot of research.
You can read this book in a couple of days while sipping tea and enjoying the rain. I am pretty sure that a book like this would appeal to everyone’s senses who feel that they used to be creative but then life happened. Certainly, this can be the trigger to reinvigorate the hidden creative part of you. You might take out the instrument you bought long back but didn’t play or finish the incomplete poem you wrote long ago and pick up a new hobby if not done yet. Although the book’s title says ‘Off the corporate bus…” but of course, not everyone can leave their jobs and become artists. But one can take some time out and try to do a bit about their hobbies which they used to have in their childhood. Sometimes, to break the monotony of life, one has to do go back to their childhood and do the thing which made them happy. That is what the book aims for.
If you want to read this, you can purchase the book from here: https://amzn.to/2wUzTB0
P.S.: My name is mentioned in the credits of this book as a contributor to the illustrations. I am so glad I could be of use for a book like this. The illustrations I made were certainly not a piece of art but rather diagrams, to be frank. When I was making them, I had no idea what they would be emoting. But after reading the complete book, I understood the clear picture, as the protagonist of the fictional story within the fictional story of this book was told, that sometimes to see the clear picture, take a step back and observe again. You might find them showing a lot more than what they depict.
When I watched Daredevil last year, it felt more like a realistic crime drama than a Comic Book TV Adaptation. When its Season 2 came, that belief got reinforced. Same thing happened with Jessica Jones Season 1. Even Luke Cage was going pretty fine till the last few episodes where it went sideways and changed the main villain just like that. When I watched Iron Fist, I couldn’t be sure whether the show was intentionally trying to be comedy or it was an accidental comedy. No problem with the acting, but the main thing the show could have given, superb fighting sequences, got disappeared after 1st episode and it became a more of business drama. Anyways, I wasn’t that disappointed because I was waiting wholeheartedly for all 4 of the Marvel’s TV Street Level Superheroes to culminate into The Defenders.
The trailer with a brilliant Niravana song had only increased the expectations. So on August 18th, all 8 (just 8) episodes got released on Netflix. I watched them all in 4-5 days.
The build up was good, they showed all the superheroes in their own lives trying to deal with their own issues. Then some events bring them together. And then they become Defenders, but nobody says that they are defenders per se.
So first, the good parts:
I mean she kills all the scenes when she makes some remark about, as Stick puts it ‘A Thundering Dumbass’ or ‘The most stupid Iron Fist ever’, the Immortal Iron Fist. Luke Cage also adds his bit when he realizes that their problems are half-criminal, half-mystical and remaining indigestible. The chemistry between the 4 is really funny. Nobody wants to believe that they can work as a team, except Danny Rand. Daredevil, who knows the threat of Hand is real, is unsure whether he should jump in or not. He has kind of given up after Season 2. His non-masked character, Matt Murdock, also stays true to his original show to an extent before falling prey to ‘Love’. The other best part is when Jessica keeps making fun of his costume as he is the only one donning it. The overall storyline is satisfactory and they will probably going to go for Season 2 as well. But that won’t happen till 2019.
Now the bad parts:
Some weird things happened in the end and they tried to make it like a cliff hanger. Fair enough, but constant fighting bad guys in half-darkness with no -idea who is beating whom was a bit annoying. They hugely improved Iron Fist’s part by making them butt of other heroes’ jokes but I still wasn’t able to find one instance of fight sequence which would be as memorable as DD’s hallway and staircase scene. The villains here, are not as threatening as they should have been. And again, like Iron Fist, they sort of ruin the climax before doing away with one main person.
Overall, the Defenders were mostly okayish because if you cram 4 superheroes in just 8 episodes, many things are left unattended. You can watch the show though, just to enjoy, the camaraderie between the team and Jessica Jones’ one-liners.
Heavy raining was an understatement for that day. It was pouring out there. I and my room-mate called an Uber and found a 2x surge, as usual. But we had to go any how. We had to go to the movie, we had booked, “The Martian”. So eventually, we found a cab and started for the 6.30 show at Cinepolis (still the best after IMAX). The multiplex was not more than 20 mins away from our place.
We had crossed half the way, zooming past the evening rush amidst the downpour. The roads were relatively empty despite evening time. We were hopeful that we will reach the Cinema Hall well in time to buy Nachos and a huge tub of Pop-Corn. And then, like it always happens, Uncle Murphy reminded us of his laws. As soon as we reached the main road, it was jam-packed like the atoms of a heavy metal. I could only see a sea of red of the rear lights of the vehicles ahead. While the rain had now slowed down and some part of the sky had cleared, I could see a tiny red dot near the horizon up in the sky. (Making this last line up, it was still drizzling with grey-blue sky).
We crawled like a sloth and finally reach Cinepolis at 7.15 PM. I was expecting that they would have shown 20 minutes of trailers and advertisements before the show and we would have missed the movie little bit.
Hustling bustling, we entered the multiplex and found our seats after disturbing at least 10 people and saying sorry awkwardly to a couple. (This line is also made up because we had booked corner seats. I just didn’t want to state that fact)
I asked my neighbour, how much did we miss? The guy said, almost everything. The first scene, I remember, was when Astronaut Mark Whatney (Matt Damon) was video blogging about how he is about to make water and his plan is to have potatoes for survival.
Which means, we had missed the first part where the accident happens. Now, a little bit of Google will suggest that the first part of the story is slightly weird. As in, (if you have not seen the movie, Mark Whatney gets stuck on Mars due an accident caused by heavy storm), the storm won’t be that intense on Mars which would lead to such an accident. Sigh. That was as hurtful as the tethering bit goof-up of the movie Gravity. Anyway, we watched the rest of the movie, enjoyed it, came back home and happily lived ever after. 
Now fast forward to present day. In fact few days ago when I got my hands on The Martian book by Andy Weir. So, out of curiosity about what actually would have happened in the beginning, I started reading this book. I will now proceed with this post in 2 sections.
How did I read this book?
Book Review (Not movie review)
As the story is quite known, I am going to directly post my views without giving story’s summary or even any context (as if the above text is nothing.).
I generally liked this book. I specially liked the part where the protagonist’s sense of humor, amidst the havoc happening around him, is still intact. And that’s most of the book. The wit in the most difficult situations makes this book memorable.
I cannot pinpoint which bit was the best but this book’s core is one message: Despite whatever happens, never lose hope. No matter how bad things look around you, there will always be something you can do. Even if you’re about to die, at least smile for the last time. The book’s first line itself says ‘I’m fucked’ but the last line says that ‘…this is the happiest day of my life’. Of course, some parts look totally impossible but how much do we know about human perseverance and will to survive! There have been many instances where life survived when everyone had given their hopes. This book is based on that idea. My only issue (apart from a character named ‘Venkat Kapoor’ (and that was played by Chiwetel Ejiofor!??!)), that some of the places and equipments depicted in the book are slightly difficult to imagine in the mind while reading the book. One, because I haven’t read much of Sci-Fi actually and whatever movies I have seen, seems to have made everything easier. Second, some geography, some vehicles, only Mars nerds would know.
But then, since this is mostly a first person book, these kinds interest me a lot. And I found myself chuckling throughout the book. But I am still not 100% sure why they called the movie based on this book ‘Comedy’. A thing is good if it is good. It doesn’t matter if it is comedy or serious. Anyways, I recommend this book if you want to read some good sci-fi which is very probable to happen in reality if Elon Musk and likes do few things soon.
How did I read this book?
Very good question.
I had read about 40% of the book at my own pace. But then my friend @anahgem_k shared the Audiobook of The Martian with me through Audible. (Thank you!)
That. Changed. Everything.
I listened to the book, while reading it. And then I increased my listening speed to 1.5x. And eventually found 1.85x comfortable.
With that, I could read, understand and enjoy it so fast, that I finished the book in almost no time. (it still took me 3-4 Sols though).
So, if in case, you are finding a book interesting but getting less time to read it. And audiobooks alone aren’t your thing, combine them both. I’m seriously.
Have taken interest in learning to speak better in public, I had heard of this book a lot from many people who kept on quoting from it. So I bought it from Amazon one day and delved into it. Here are some of the things I felt after reading this book.
This book is indeed a classic, published in 1915, it has all the information, tips and tricks to be a better speaker. Of course, being written over a 100 years ago, some parts are a bit drag in terms of millennial-attention-span. Also, at some places, some shortcomings people might have with being able to communicate more effectively can be called as slightly obsolete with the advent of visual aids like PowerPoint.
However, the core message still holds. All the basics mentioned in the book about how to make your content better, and the ways to articulate more effectively, the methods to enhance voice and tone, the importance of rhetorics, etc are all explained in great detail. The book was written for the time when there was no or nominal usage of microphones and speakers, so, in a way this is really good for a novice speaker to follow. Using mic, one can cheat a bit with vocal variety but unless one use the inflections and volume in the ideal way, the difference can be easily noticed.
For new people who want to enhance their craft, this book will help as it gives ample explanation and importance to all the skills needs. I guess, once you start speaking in a group, you may start referring from this book and then you can measure yourself as to how are you doing. It also has some case studies sort of examples which are from good speakers from that era to learn from.
All in all, I found a majority of this book useful. So could you!
Some of my Favorite Quotes from this book:
Concentration is a process of distraction from less important matters.
The first sign of greatness is when a man does not attempt to look and act great.
If you believe you will fail, there is no hope for you. You will.
The worst punishment that human ingenuity has ever been able to invent is extreme monotony, solitary confinement.
Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice.
Charles Dana, the famous editor of The New York Sun, told one of his reporters that if he went up the street and saw a dog bite a man, to pay no attention to it. The Sun could not afford to waste the time and attention of its readers on such unimportant happenings. “But,” said Mr. Dana, “if you see a man bite a dog, hurry back to the office and write the story.” Of course that is news; that is unusual.
It is not work that kills men; it is worry. Work is healthy; you can hardly put more upon a man than he can bear. Worry is rust upon the blade. It is not the revolution that destroys the machinery but the friction.
Speech is silvern, Silence is golden; Speech is human, Silence is divine.
Wilkie Collins’ formula for fiction writing well applies to public speech: “Make ’em laugh; make ’em weep; make ’em wait.
Yesterday is already a dream and tomorrow is only a vision; but today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. – Kalidas