Sunday, March 29, 2009

Review Blog: Trust is the key

Hello friends,

My short span of holidays have ended with a grand 'Euphoria '09', which is our college cultural event. The day had been great every hour being eventful. We received our Practice Material for the 'preparation phase for the reshuffling test.' Reshuffling test can be aptly compared to a compulsive enrollment into the popular reality show 'Fear Factor' (probably that was a little too much).
The test is up in the first week of may and I need to show what I really am, since the past year had been bleak for me. This test would shuffle us into batches based on performance cut-offs and we'd be in those sections/classrooms till sametime next year!
Looking into that short span of holidays, I read a large part of Atlas Shrugged, after which I got a little heavy headed with the work. Hence, I put the book down and picked up some light-reading material. No prizes for guessing.  Ptolemy's Gate.


Book: Ptolemy's Gate
Author: Jonathon Stroud
Genre: Fantasy/Young Fiction

At the outset, this book contains a story weaved using a number of elements. The highlighted ones are politics, history and ambition. As a matter of fact, the broken journey through Atlas Shrugged helped me understand this story better than I would have, have me reading in between lines, words, grasping the true emotions, qualities and other abstract features portrayed in Ptolemy's Gate. 

To start with, Ptolemy's Gate is an apt title for the book, since it completely revolves aroung this 'gate' that connects two different worlds. (I could relate to the earlier versions of The Silent Paradise by Klaus :P ) Ptolemeus was one of the old master's of Bartimaeus, one which Bartimaues had honoured for ever.

The story starts three years after Golem's Eye. Nathaniel (or officially, John Mandrake) is promoted as the Information Minister. The actual beginning is a historical note where Bartimaeus helps his master Ptolemy in escaping death when four assassins attack him one night, sometime in 125 BC. 
The first chapter is a perfect irony, where the strength of Bartimaeus reaches an all time low, where he is trapped under the rubbles of a public lavatory. He has been kept on earth for about two years under the service of John Mandrake, since the master has his own fears of letting his djinni out of grip. London fights a war against the Americans, and don't seem to gain an upper hand at all. This puts John (Nathaniel from now on, please) in difficult political situations. To add to it, the Prime Minister is crazy and holds a party almost every fortnight, and also invites all the council members for all those boring plays by his playwright Quentin Makepeace. The situation between Nathaniel and his demon (one of them, which is Bartimaeus) is tensed.
All the while, Kitty, who is presumed dead by the government is under a hideout and works for a local Inn at London in the name of Clara, and also ends up as an assistant-cum-apprentice for a magician, as Lizzie. During these years, with the help of magicians, she has learnt a great deal about the djinn and other demons(sorry...spirits) and also strives to know about the history of Bartimaeus. She also learns more about The Other Place, and what Bartimaeus has to do with it. 
So the story progresses into where the djinn plan a strike-back against all the earthlings, particualarly Magicians, for enslaving them for thousands of years. It is then, when all the three protagonists come together, and make a difference in their lives, and those of others.

My Rating:

Story 5/5
Jonathon Stroud presents you an excellent story that has a thick plot, which is completely linked to the previous volumes of the series. He also answers several questions from the prequels of Ptolemy's Gate without boring the reader, or deviating from the actual plot. And what more...there is Bartimaeus with his wonderful footnotes, and historic descriptions which give a proper finish to the book.

Characters: 4.5/5
This is the best book in the trilogy as it gives a wonderful ending to the series. Nathaniel and Kitty work on their ambitions throughout the book, and Bartimaeus keeps us entertained with his groans and cribs on how weak he is getting every second.  For the protagonists, good enough. But for the negative part...Makepeace didn't do a very good job, though the characterization of Hopkins as a the most forgetful appearance was innovative. Something that I have come across in no novel. 

Concept: 5/5
Series as a whole, Bartimaeus Trilogy holds good to its name. The whole plot involves Bartimaeus in many ways, apart from the mere fact that the main character summons him every book. The whole concept of Ptolemy's Gate (not the book, the element) is wonderful and original. Besides, equalling this marvellous creation is the idea of djinn entering human bodies and working...all I can say is...FREAKING RAD!!!

Description: 4.5/5
Description has got a very new dimension in this book. The way Jonathon describes The Other Place, well that's amazing indeed. I've not seen any such thing even in the Inheritance Cycle, a series that I had fancied for a while, sometime back. In a nutshell, the author has successfully described the nothingness of a place. Often, description of a place gets bigger as the place is more ornate with different elements, but this one is bland. It's just like the quantum theory in a more comprehensive way. The bland parts were when Nathaniel goes with Barty to the park of some sort....I had to read those narrations more than once to get a clear picture.

Sense: 5/5
Sense, you mean sense? Of course, it's completely sensible. Nothing is out of the box, except for the author's thought process. The story is also constructed to a large extent on human tendencies, and characteristics, which gives a very nice shape on the whole.

End Note:

This is the only book I've completed in my short vacation, and I'm proud of having read it. The story portrays one particualar moral very beautifully: Trust. Trust is what works around in this world. How do you accept that prescription your doctor gives you...? Now, you don't go around looking for his qualification, whether he passed his medical exams by fair means, or cheated...we just TRUST him, and it does work. This is what the author has conveyed, that the humanity is constructed, connected, and now fuctions only on trust, faith and acceptance, qualities one should never abandon, lest he shall never live a good life.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dew Point

Hello friends,

My final examinations are finally over, and I'm quite glad it has. My chemistry has got blown out, but I'm expecting a decent score in the others.

By the title, I'm not referring to the physics books by any chance. In the past one year, I've listened to music by about 40 bands, ranging across different genres. Inspired, I set out to make music.
Last year, I had featured an online music sequencing software called 'Musicshake.' It is the one I've used to make a few songs. I've also compiled all of them to make a playlist 'Dew Point.' It's not an album, as the whole playlist does not stick to one single concept.
The whole process was interesting, and has allowed me to explore different aspects of music. The software has a very easy to use interface unlike other music sequencers. Klaus had once stated "Making music isn't a walk in the park," it sure isn't, but it's fun all the same!

I'm embedding the playlist into this blog, but before that, let me tell you a little about each song.

The Chase: This was the first song I had made using the software. The concept of the song is a car chase, set in a little gloomy background. I had used different effects to get it out right.

Evry1: It stands for Everyone, as most of you would know, in the Texting-Language. This song is a typically Linkin Park inspired song with distorted guitars and growling rap. My first song of hard rock/nu metal genre.

I Know: I Know is an alternate rock song with rap and vocals, with an electronic-drum beat. Also contains a scratch track in the closing bars of the song. Personally, it's my favourite.

My Way: I composed My Way as a song to have many acoustic tunes together, but I ended up making a soft ballad-like song. Do comment on this, particularly.

In My Life: In My Life is a song composed keeping thrash metal in mind, a song inspired by Linkin Park's Breaking the Habit, and Metallica's Battery(though riffs aren't as great).

In:Ma:Lyf Rmx: This is a sort of Remix-ed version of In My Life, with dark bass line in the beginning, opening into rap, and then a metal/alt. rock.

Do listen to all the song, and comment. And one more thing, I haven't written the lyrics, but just have selected the vocal and rap pieces, and secuenced them. The only things I've done are the chords part, and programming the drum beats. Well, I'm using complex terms, but once you people check out the actual software, you'd realize how absurdly simple all these things are actually are.


Alright then, off I go and write a little bit of The Templar of Light. I'll post an excerpt out of it soon.

Till then,
Keep Singing,
Templar AKA Sumanth

Friday, March 13, 2009

Good News - Bad News

Hello all,
Yes, I can assure that the heading justifies the content of this blog, with good and bad news that I've come across recently. My pre-boards are over, and I got a mediocre 85%, yeah...sucked at chemistry as ever.
The All India Test Series that I had taken, has fetched a decent result. I've got a 70 percentile, among all the IIT aspirants in India...which gives me something bright to look at.
My board-examinations have started, and we've done so far with our languages, and math. Science left. I'm looking forward for these days to get over fast so I can start with the things I've planned this vacation they are:
1. Study for the 'grand' reshuffling test ( sorry, but that's inevitable!)
2. Proceed on with another major part of my story
3. Music(yeah, I'm waiting to get hold of many new albums and songs, as suggested by Klaus.)
4.Guitar Lessons- I'm planning to start learning solos now that I'm fairly able to switch between the chord progressions..

Alright, now to the main part, I've got a few good and bad things to talk about. 
First, my dad recently got a new Blackberry  Pearl 8110, and it is simply freaking! The very interface is convinient to use, along with the softwares and other applications which indeed are the reason for Blackberry's greatness. The music quality is also impressive, very comparable to an iPod Shuffle, the camera is a nice 2MP with flash. Originally, there was only one game, which is a brick 'n' ball game, but other games are available on the net, and I'm waiting to download and check how they work, though I don't really fancy much of games, especially on handhelds that are meant for some other purpose.

Now for the bad part of the good news (that's little funny...yeah, sometimes I do end up being pesimistic): The bluetooth feature of the Blackberry is absolutely troublesome. I tried pairing with my mom's phone (and somewhat mine), which is a Samsung E250, and there were no leads, all I could do was transfer the address book, or send things. But the actual purpose I paired them for, which was transferring other multimedia files from the Sammy to the Blackberry, failed. Yeah, I'm trying to find out what the problem is. Anyway, it did work with my cousin's Nokia Express Music. Let's see.

Other bad news are actually news for me, which are bad. I mean, two new things that came out recently, and gave me a bad impression. First, is Amazon Kindle 2, and the all-new iPod Shuffle.

I've not yet seen any sense in buying oneself a console, separately for reading eBooks. Actually, I'm not for any gadget that has only a single functionality; one only ends up having multiple gadgets at a time, and the word 'portable' goes irrelevant there. Amazon Kindle was a so-so piece of science, but Kindle 2 astounded me more. And I thought only apple did such foolish things. Yeah, they indeed resorted to stupidities in Kindle 2 such as sealing the device, so memory cannot be extended. Moreover, the device does not support .pdf or other files that are generated by popular word processors. WTF?

Second thing I wanted to talk about is, as I mentioned, the new iPod shuffle that came out very recently. It has no buttons on the device. The piece costs a $80 and gives you a decent memory of 4GB. I also heard, that the buttons are fixed to the earphones, and thus sealing the accessory-part. Now even if the earbuds of ur new piece gets spoilt, and you gotta' shell out flat $30 for new ones! That's indeed atrocious, but no surprise from apple :P. Apple has also drastically shrunk the size of Shuffle to the size of a U-clip, which can easily slip out of your pocket and fall on the cushions! The clip provided is made of stainless steel, so a firm grip can be expected. The new shuffle also comes with voice menu that will read out the title of each song as you browse through the list. Yeah, no screen in this one, which is one big similarity to the old shuffle. Ergonomically, the new Shuffle seems to be much more uncomfortable, as you would have to raise your hand to your ears each time you want to jump a song, or pause, or play...which is...aweful indeed!

Anyway, these are just my opinions. Agree? Differ? Sumanth's all ears!


So off I go, I gotta' take my lunch, and gear up for the preparation of my next exam, which is Physics. Yes, it's easy, but Sumanth, the Templar does not believe in taking many risks.

Templar AKA Sumanth