Speak Friend and Read Tolkien

Write of Passage

Happy Tolkien Reading Day! Today is the day to celebrate with your favorite passages and works by the late and great J. R. R. Tolkien.

MV5BMTkxNDQ0MjQ3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDE1NTE1MDE@__V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_AL_The theme this year is friendship, which I think is really appropriate considering friendship is an important theme throughout his works, not to mention the movie about the famous friendship between Tolkien and C.S. Lewis comes out April this year.

The theme of friendship in Tolkien’s works has been studied by critics who have debated whether or not his friendships are based on his own personal relationships and if there is homo eroticism in his works.

When I think about friendship, the Fellowship of the Ring immediately comes to mind, but the theme of friendship appears in Tolkien’s other works as well. You don’t have to read an entire book to celebrate Tolkien Reading Day (impossible to do in one day). Just read passages that focus on friendship. Here are some of…

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Camp NaNoWriMo! (and Non-fictions)

So April is here. And so is Camp NaNoWriMo.

And I am all pumped-up. One, because it is NaNo, of course. But more importantly… because it has been a while since I have done some serious writing. I mean I am a copywriter so major part of my days are spent writing, but it is not the same as writing a fiction. So this Camp, I am attempting to write under a super-tight schedule for the first time.

It has also been a while since I have reviewed a book. That’s because I’m currently reading three non-fictions at once and I really have no clue how to review a non-fiction. So, I also wanted to write about these books. Not a review, just a simple… idea sharing?

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

This book is about human thinking process. The basic premise of the book is about the two styles in which the human brain functions. Although traditionally termed as “left side” and “right side”, Kahneman begs to differ. He states that mind thinks in two ways: System 1 and System 2. 

According to him, System 1 is responsible for carrying out the intuitive thinking, whilst System 2 does all the analytic thinking. Based on this idea, Kahneman describes our thinking process and various illusions that befell upon it due to the functional differences between these functions.

So far, this book has taught me a great deal of practical solutions for everyday problems. Most of those are concerned simply changing the way you think.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Anyone even remotely interested in Behavioral Economics knows Dan Ariely and his Predictably Irrational well enough. In this book Ariely talks about the irrationality of human beings. He states, and goes on to prove, that no matter how much we would like to think that we are well-functioning, rational thinkers… we actually are not.

He also suggests that human beings are prone to repeat the same sorts of mistakes over and over, with almost predictable accuracy. That is to say that they are “predictably irrational”. His researches teach us how we can remain cautious of such irrationality and enrich our life.

Influence (The Psycology of…) by Robert Cialdini

Influence warns us about the psychological triggers that compel us subconsciously to react in a particular way. Robert Cialdini gives accounts of how a human mind is trained to react to certain events in a particular, predictable way and explains that those who know these triggers can have a dangerous influence over us. His book is both a way that explains the art of influencing, but it also is about knowing these triggers and staying safe, in case someone decides to use the similar triggers on us.

Besides these, I’ve also been reading (too slowly, in fact) Feast for the Crows (Book 4 of ASOIAF). Want to finish that up before its 5th season begins this April 13 on HBO.

So, yeah. Busy April. Just the way I love it.

Three Quick Reviews

Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!): How To Unleash Your Creative Potential by America's Master Communicator, George LoisDamn Good Advice (For People with Talent!): How To Unleash Your Creative Potential by America’s Master Communicator, George Lois by George Lois
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When one of the greatest ad man and art director in the history of advertising brings out a book called “Damn Good Advice”, hardly you can get your hands off it. George Lois is one of my big inspirations and this book gives a deeper understanding of his philosophy regarding the creative process that helped him yield years after years of great advertising.

When you’re reading this book, it feels like George is shouting down on your face. So, yeah, it reads like a charm. I finished the whole book in about one hour. It’s not that long but full of great wisdom for not just an ad guy, but anyone involved in a creative field.

Red DragonRed Dragon by Thomas Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I only read ‘Red Dragon’ to be able to read ‘Silence of the Lambs’. I had no idea what the book was about or that I was going to encounter Hannibal Lector there in the middle of it! Goes without saying what followed certainly blew my mind.

Red Dragon is an engaging story, although the writing is a bit too omnipresent for my taste but the thrill makes up for it. It takes us into the deepest and darkest parts of human mind and shows us its true potential.

I enjoyed it and would have probably given it 3 and a half stars had Goodreads allowed!

Tao Te ChingTao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

That which cannot be reviewed isn’t good book. That which is a good book needs no review.

View all my reviews

Movie Review: Kingsman The Secret Service

Based on The Secret Service (Comics) by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar

Screenplay: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn

Directed by: Matthew Vaugh

Cast:  Colin FirthTaron EgertonSamuel L. Jackson

Most of the times you could almost hazard a guess from the trailer just how awesome (or dull) a movie is going to be.

I predicted Kingsman: The Secret Service to be a no-nonsense entertainer that would give me a good value for money.

Turns out, Kingsman is one of those movies that even surpasses your wildest expectations. (And I definitely got more than just the value for money!)

It was an entertainer, all right — but not just a clueless, bang-bang flick. It was an amalgam of a great story, a unique execution, and a genuine tension builder, that keeps you at the edge of your seat all the way.

Synopsis (Very tentative, no spoilers!)

Kingsman, an International super-secret service just has a hit on the disappearance of VIPs from different countries across the globe.

In a solo mission to save one of such VIP, Lancelot, one of Kingsman’s top spies, dies in the line of duty.

The secret service now must quickly replace him.

This replacement is assigned through a contest between few young boys and girls, chosen by various senior spies that includes (code names): Arthur (Michael Caine), Galahad (Collin Firth), and Merlin (Mark Strong). The winner of the contest becomes the next Lancelot.

Enters Eggsy (Taron Egerton), an everyday Brit street kid, who is full of potential. He is chosen for the contest by Galahad, who also becomes his godfather to repay an old debt he owed the boy’s father.

Now, as a global terror lurks in the form of Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a tech genius looking to “save” the planet, the young man Eggsy must struggle to prove his worth to his mentor, to the Kingsman, and most importantly, to himself.

Afterthoughts

“It’s not that kind of spy movie.”

It’s a famous line in the movie, that comes up quite often. And, ironically, it stands to be true.

Think of irreverent movies. Think of Quentin Tarantino. Think of Kick-ass (also by Matthew Vaughn).

Kingsman is in the same line. Yes, including the violence. (Awesome violence, I might add. Shhh!)

Matthew Vaughn, after establishing his impertinent mark with Kick-ass, has now taken on the realm of spies. And he does it ever so brilliantly.

The movie has all the gadgets and the techs one would expect (poison-point pens, shoes with knife, grenade-lighters, bulletproof umbrella… you name it), and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. For me, that was the best part about this movie. Ever the funny, it builds with great pace and takes the audience into the world of gentlemen spies, who are the “new knights with suits as their present day armor.”

The plot is good and story even better. The conflict is genuine and gets you hooked from the first few scenes itself. Of course, that is only true if you can digest a little violence… like, say, someone being vertically sliced into two?

If a global-warming frenzied psycho trying to save the planet by wiping out the population isn’t enough conflict for you, the movie also has a young street kid having to prove his worth. Then you have the mentor (Galahad) himself trying to right few mistakes of the past.

Major Characters

The brilliance of Samuel L. Jackson cannot be praised enough. As Richmond Valentine, he portrays a superfreak villain, who keeps us smirking with his dialogs and then scares the shit out of us with his actions. Keeping a fine balance between comedy and terror, Jackson shows us exactly why he’s so much in demand these days.

Collin Firth is equally exceptional in his role as Galahad. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine anyone more apt for this role. He has taken on from his subtle and classy performance in The King’s Speech and added a lot more style and action to it.

Taron Egerton is a surprise package in this movie. He is excellent in delivering the emotion that his role requires, and when he puts on the suit, he does seem a little Bond-ish. He looks more than believable… he is perfect as Eggsy.

All in all

Kingsman is an all-round entertainer. From action scenes to stunning visual effects, acting mastery to well-developed characters, great storytelling to a well-balanced pacing, from belly-tickling humor to jaw-dropping tension… the movie, like a real good spy, has successfully got all its grounds covered.