Arune Is Now At Twitter

Folks, as you can tell, I’m too busy to blog properly now, but you can follow me at Twitter right here. It’s not a substitute for what I do here, but consider it a bunch of Arune.Com “minisodes” till I have time to blog again.

And go see the best comic book movie ever, and one of my favorite movies ever– The Dark Knight! It’s a masterpiece and something everyone should see in the theatre.

Posted in Comic Books, TV/Film/DVD, Worldview/Life | 1 Comment

I’m Still From Canada, Eh

Yes, as many know, I’m now officially an America– and damn proud of it– but it’s not like I’ll ever forget where I came from (Canada) and my ethnic heritage (India). In the case of the former, there’s been a few things lately that remind me where I’m from.

  • GTA– as many of you know, GTA generally stands for Grand Theft Auto, the popular video game series, but that acronym always makes me think of “Greater Toronto Area,” since that’s what they call the suburbs around Toronto.
  • OPP– whenever I hear “OPP” in that song you know you’ve all heard, I think “Ontario Provincial Police”, not the real meaning.
  • Z– It’s “Zed” not “Zee”, though I must admit that saying “Zed” on the phone sure confuses people.
  • Hockey apparel– to me, it’s something you can wear year round, whereas people here have a lot more sports to support (and wear apparel for) than I did in Toronto.
  • Victoria Day– I joked about taking it off tomorrow…but know one knew what the day meant– learn here.
Posted in Worldview/Life | 3 Comments

Random Encounters In NYC

I’ve written about strange encounters around New York before and figured I’d update everyone on some of the more recent interesting meetings in my life. The above image from The Dark Knight (the sequel to Batman Begins) has no relevance to anything in this entry– I just thought it looked cool.

  1. My buddy Mike and I went to the Yankees game on Friday night, which turned out to be quite a fun time, since the Yanks finally snapped a three game losing streak. The weather was a bit miserable and I wore a long sleeve Yankees shirt to keep warm, which I was still wearing when I went to my favorite local bar. As soon as I entered the bar, I noticed a woman staring at me and ignored it—I figured I was just imagining things. The bartender came up to me, smiled and said the woman had asked if I was a player for the Yankees. Later, once a few other guys there learned I recently became an American citizen, they started asking me to flex and saying, “America’s got some more muscle now!” while squeezing my arms. Just an odd night overall.
  2. On Saturday, I was in Central Park and ran into one of the many cartoonists who hang around, offering to do caricatures for the many tourists passing by. He tried stopping my by getting very close to me and saying “You like your picture? You very good looking. I draw you.” Maybe it’s just me, but even if I were inclined to sit and be drawn, I’d be creeped out a bit.
  3. No matter where I go in New York, as long as I’m wearing a Montreal Canadiens hat, someone stops to talk to me about hockey. Some friends at work have joked that the logo looks a bit like the logo of the Chicago Cubs, but I’ve always dismissed it as them joking with me. This weekend, I was stopped by numerous people who said, “Oh, you’re a Chicago fan?” to me and really meant it.
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Thank You Canadiens

As many people probably know, the Montreal Canadiens lost to the Philadelphia Flyers, thus ending their playoff run. Yeah, it’s not fun to see your team lose, but I can’t be too mad. I know some people are probably livid, depressed or some other not-happy emotion, but I think this article sums it up well:

No one gave them a chance. Few expected them to even reach the playoffs. Even following a second-round defeat to the Flyers, the Canadiens couldn’t help but hold their heads high after proving so many critics wrong this season.

I’ve never been one of those guys to boo my own team or curse them for losing. Chances are they’re working hard and are hard enough on themselves without the fans giving them hell. Last night’s loss sure as heck didn’t make me happy– I haven’t been able to look at hockey websites till now– but it doesn’t depress me either. We gave it our all. We did our best. As a fan, my team gave me a great regular season, worked hard in the playoffs and lost to a team who played phenomenally. Only one team can win and it wasn’t our year. Doesn’t mean I don’t wish they weren’t going to win it all, but sometimes life happens and I don’t see an upside in trashing the same people you’ve cheered for when they’ve played their hearts out.

To everyone on the Canadiens, thanks for the great year and all the great memories– you’re the best to me. Next year, during the 100-year anniversary of the Canadiens, let’s bring the Cup back home!

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Go See Forgetting Sarah Marshall

I don’t often recommend comedy films for the simple reason that I don’t enjoy most comedies. In particular, I generally haven’t enjoyed most of Judd Apatow’s films– Superbad didn’t make me smile one and I turned off Knocked Up after 30 minutes because I was bored– but his newest release, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, still looked appealing to me. Jason Segel, who wrote and stars in the film, is a scene stealer in CBS’ How I Met Your Mother (and has impressed in other roles), and the idea of exploring how he gets over a big break up seemed appealing. Here’s the film’s premise (courtesy IMDB):

Devastated Peter takes a Hawaii vacation in order to deal with recent break-up with his TV star girlfriend, Sarah. Little does he know Sarah’s traveling to the same resort as her ex … and she’s bringing along her new boyfriend.

Turns out this film was funnier and far more thought-provoking than I expected. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was most impressed by the balanced portrayals of all the various characters. Normally you’d hate Sarah because she’d be portrayed as unreasonable, but she’s shown to be a reasonable person who makes mistakes but has a sympathetic rationale guiding her actions. Her boyfriend steals every scene he’s in, with some of the funniest music I can remember in any film I’ve seen. Even Peter, naked (literally) and wallowing in his own self-pity, should be the kind of character who annoys me, but he’s also another nuanced character in his own right. I credit both the actors and the script for making every character– from the main characters to some of the throwaways– completely likable in their own way.

The film tells a thoroughly comparing story that eschews the cliches of most romantic comedies. No one schemes incessantly and there’s no silly misunderstandings. The people talk, act and communicate like real people. It’s also one of the few films where I felt like the characters really cared about each other and had reasons to be attracted to each other beyond those of the physical nature. While this is a Rated R film and there is a lot of sex humor, it never feels sophomoric or immature– it’s a very mature look at relationships in our lives. Plus, I can’t stress this enough, it’s actually quite a funny film because it so effortlessly– and accurately– deconstructs the absurdity of our lives, the choices we make and the things we do.

Bottom line, see Forgetting Sarah Marshall. You’ll leave with a smile on your face and a desire to see it again because you’ll know you laughed so hard that you probably missed some of the jokes.

Finally, here’s a clip from the film that’ll give you an idea of the humor:

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Being a Habs Fan

Yup, it’s been some time since an entry, but I’ve got two good reasons—a busy time at work and the NHL. The latter has been especially all-consuming, as we’re almost done with the first round of the playoffs and my Montreal Canadiens (aka The Habs), have been exhausting of late. As of writing this, they’re heading into game 7 of their series with the Boston Bruins. They beat Boston eight straight times during the regular season, had a 3-2 series lead going into today’s game and lost in an exciting, action-packed 5-4 game.

It’s actually pretty amazing how exhausting it can be just to watch a sports game where you actually care about the outcome because the excitement is so high for that period of time. The NFL knows how to use this excitement well, keeping their seasons short and making sure fans are on their feet every Sunday, stocking up on team merchandise to celebrate each game…because every game is that important. When it comes to hockey, the 82 game season is really all about making it into the playoffs and then those best of seven playoff series become a “second season.” So not only do we cheer our teams for all these games, we’re also forced to realize it could all end really quickly if our team can’t win four games against a team they may have dominated in the regular season.

A lot of people probably think it’s stupid to get so worked up about sports since it’s just, well, sports and I can understand their perspective. “Stupid” is completely the wrong word, though the one I’ve heard most often, but when you look at the entirety of life, a sports team not winning a game seems rather meaningless. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a natural human reaction given the joy we derive from these games and if kept in perspective, it seems like an entirely healthy escape to me. I could watch a movie and immerse myself in fiction. I could read a book and create a world in my mind. I could listen to music and surrender myself to the words & voice of another. Or, as I do, I could just spend a good two hours watching skilled athletes play a game for the glory of their adopted homes. I don’t see any empirical assessment that makes my choice any worse than the other choices. I’m not saying it’s better either—just that I believe it to be a valid, reasonable choice given my many options.

So, with that all in mind, I spent this evening watching my Habs lose and, I’ll admit it, being fairly pissed off when they lost. I didn’t yell or curse. I didn’t break anything or stomp around. I did, however, just feel really pissed off. It makes no sense because it’s just a game and supposed to be a nice diversion from reality. Everyone wants their team to win and 99% of will be disappointed, so I shouldn’t expect to be in that 1% each time the playoffs come around. In trying to understand this anger, in trying to rationalize my own response and find some peace, I discovered something else:

It’s really great to be pissed of by a hockey game.

No, really. If I’m able to spend two hours watching a game (on my Montreal Canadiens recliner—thanks Mom & Dad!), giving myself over to the passion of the game and ignore any other negative things in my life, that’s pretty good. If at the end of the game, all I really have to be angry about is the result of the game, well, that means I’ve got a pretty good life, eh?

Posted in Music, Worldview/Life | 1 Comment

The Incredible Arune Returns!

Yeah folks, I’ve been busy at work and so there hasn’t been much time to post, but hopefully it changes this month. For now, enjoy the Incredible Arune’s brief return!

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“Yo, Canadians!”

This winter, I’ve spent a lot of time wearing my Montreal Canadiens hoodie, touque and hats at various times. Now that’s not because I’m so obsessive that I’ll only wear Canadiens related winter clothing during the hockey season, but the few items I own are pretty practical and the weather here has been pretty mild. But a strange thing happens when I wear these items– I’m always stopped by someone on the street who asks, “Are you a Canadiens fan?” or “Yo, Canadians!”

That’s something unique in New York, at least given my experiences wearing logos of non-NY sports team. When I wear Dallas Cowboys gear, I get razzed by strangers and get told I’m jumping on the bandwagon (never mind I’ve liked the team since I was a child, when my father brought home a Dallas Cowboys sticker for my door). If I wear a Toronto Blue Jays hat, I get Yankees fan (and I like the Yanks as well) fans making dismissive comments about the team.

But when I wear my Habs clothing? I get people giving me high-fives, asking me when I became a fan and acting like we’re old friends. It’s happened on the subway, in liquor stores, in bars and even just when I’m walking down the street. Sometimes they’re French-Canadian living in New York, sometimes they’re tourists, but no matter the origins, they’re always extremely kind. I’ve never encountered anyone in New York who’s felt the need to hassle me for showing I’m a Habs fan, even when the team’s in town to face the Rangers.

A lot of this probably relates to the lack of America interest in hockey, though cities like New York are exceptions (this place is rich with great hockey history). People seem far more passionate– or perhaps invested–in football, baseball and basketball, a theory strengthened by the pitiful ratings that hockey receives in the US. However, I’d like to think that just as hockey fans are generally far more respectful and restrained than in most other sports, perhaps hockey fans all feel a special connection in this country just because we’re a small group, leading to the general kindness I’ve experienced.

As for fans of the Montreal Canadiens, we’re the best hockey team ever, so perhaps the fans aren’t so different.

Posted in Music | 1 Comment

Happy New Year!

The title says it all. Hope you have a great 2008 and that this silly little blog can be a part of it!

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them, it’s just seemed like an arbitrary time to put my life on the right course. So I’ve got nothing to share but the resolution I make each day: to be better than yesterday and learn from my mistakes.

Any interesting resolutions you’ve made?

2007 was a great year, one in which I made many dreams come true and achieved a lot. Now, for 2008, I want more and hope to blog more often!

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The Great State Of Texas– Part Two

It’s game day! On my short list of life dreams, one of them was going to Texas Stadium for a live Dallas Cowboys game. With only one more season till the ‘Boys move into their new digs, this was a dream I wanted to make reality ASAP. I’d missed out on seeing my Canadiens in the old Montreal Forum so I didn’t want to do something similar with my football team!

Texas is beautiful. I’m not sure I’ve stressed that enough. While you see lots of open land and not the same kind of historic architecture you might see in somewhere like New York City, there’s something special about texture of it all. The way the houses line up against each other, the fields you just know are used for football by kids and the farms that hearken back to the whole cowboy image of Texas…it’s pretty awesome. While these pictures don’t tell the whole story, here are some images of the view from our hotel room.

Our hotel shuttle for the game didn’t leave till 1pm, so Nick and I had lots of time to relax before the game. Somehow we settled on watching Fellowship Of The Ring, the first Lord Of The Rings film, and took our time getting ready for the game. We did make it in time for the very impressive breakfast buffet and scarfed down some great eggs, fruit, pancakes, juice and more. All the pundits seemed to predict an easy win for the Cowboys over the Philadelphia Eagles, but I wasn’t quite buying into it, as the Cowboys seemed ripe for an embarrassing loss after some questionable recent performances.

I do wish I’d been able to stay in Texas for an extra couple of days, so I could’ve driven around the state more and really seen what it’s like during the week. I wouldn’t have become an expert, but I think it would be interesting to see everyday life and experience that instead of just being there for a busy football weekend.

At 1pm, we boarded the bus and headed for the stadium, the first thing I noticed is that the highways were packed. You couldn’t move an inch, cut in a lane or even see empty pavement—everyone was on their way to Texas Stadium.

Exiting the shuttle and walking towards our gate, it was impossible not to notice the passion of the Cowboys fans. From tailgating parties to face painting and a near one hour line-up at the Dallas Cowboys Pro Shop, these are the most devoted fans I’ve seen outside of Canadians during the hockey playoff season. I also realized I love that damn Texas accent—maybe it just reminds me of old cowboy movies or it’s just different than that New York drawl, but it’s also awesome to me.

Thanks to our father, Nick and I had great seats but we spent an hour walking around the stadium, observing all the different concession stands—Cowboys Cheesesteaks, Cowboy Margaritas—and the numerous merchandise stands. Since it’s a cash-only stadium, every ATM had long lines, so much so that even an hour early for games you could find yourself getting to your seat late if you didn’t bring cash.

We eventually settled at our seats, which weren’t too far from singer Jessica Simpson (below in a pretty crappy photo) who got blamed for distracting quarterback Tony Romo that day.

The NFL is an awesome spectacle. The game opened with fireworks, tons of cheerleader routine and our Cowboys sideline, midfield seats gave us a great view of all the action. The entire stadium came alive…but soon we bore witness to one of the worst football games I’ve ever seen. Both team played horribly, with only one touchdown scored between both sides and the Eagles winning 10-6. Beyond some women rubbing my hair all game (they said it was “perfect”), not much eventful occurred- but it was great for my brother and I to spend time watching the game together. At the end of the day, we made the trip to Dallas, went to the historic stadium and watched our team, cheering at every opportunity.

Now I don’t know what happened, but our shuttle didn’t show up for 90 minutes after game, leaving dozens of us from the hotel stranded in the cold. I can’t in good conscience not warn others about using Marriot’s shuttle service, as Marriot customers from other hotels had the same problem and I wished I’d just driven to the stadium myself.

Arriving at the hotel so late, we decided to get a quick dinner and I downed a couple more Shiner Bock beers, as I doubt I’ll ever find it outside of Texas. After packing everything into our now bulging suitcases, we watching Return Of The King and soon went to sleep, as the weekend was pretty exhausting. I also have to note that our hotel room had the Book Of Mormon and the Bible in the bedside table—I’ve never seen that outside of Utah.

The next day we returned to New York and while the Cowboys didn’t win, it was a real special trip, as I can now say I’ve completed another life’s dream and did it with my brother. I look forward to seeing the Cowboys in 2009, when their new stadium opens up, but it’ll never compare to this first experience of discovering Texas, my first NFL game and seeing this team of Cowboys. Of course, maybe next time they’ll actually play well, eh?

I wish there was something more profound, more enlightening I could say about this trip, but it’s just a great family trip to see our favorite team play at a historic stadium. Nothing crazy, no drunken escapades and no debauchery. We didn’t spend a lot of time there, but we had a great time and we’ll definitely make a return trip.

Fuckin Dallas, eh?

Posted in Music, Travels, Worldview/Life | 1 Comment