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Sometimes the truth is not enough

In blah, Superhero, top 10 on December 25, 2008 at 5:04 pm

I’ve always been used to fairly simplistic super-hero movies. The ‘typical’ superhero has a standard set of abilities, which usually mean above average physical strength, one unique power and a monk-like righteousness. The story revolves around these as a given with a cute love-interest, a quickly-passing moral dilemma and yes, the villain, with powers that just about match those of the hero.

Its not like we don’t know how the story is going to pan out, I’ve always found they’re fun to watch nevertheless, because of the always improving special effects and the no fuss victory of good over evil that end with the superhero kissing his love interest, lots of applause all around and a burning city in the background. Makes you wonder whether only tourists form the cheering crowds given I wouldn’t be jumping around waving wildly if my home or office or both had just been leveled by marauding alien robots (Transformers), blown away by a flying man dressed in bright red (Superman) or simply punched aside by a huge pissed off green dude in pants that seem to have torn around the calves (The Incredible Hulk). More likely taking pictures for the insurance claim.

I’d done my top 4 list of superheroes way back when not all of them had been turned into moderately successful movie franchises. And since everyone loves a superhero, I didn’t pay much attention to the brouhaha over the latest DC comics offering ‘The Dark Knight’. I’d even seen it, since I and the missus have an unsaid rule about watching any superhero flick that comes out (and I do mean ‘any’, since we’ve even watched ‘The Fantastic Four’! Invisibility, biceps made of rocks and spontaneous combustibility might be very practical powers, but what self-respecting hero acts like a rubber band!). Memories of batman limited to an evidently gay side-kick exclaiming “Holy utility belt Batman!”, a long week and a 11.15pm show meant that I didn’t catch much more than the opening credits, closing credits and some exploding buildings and yet felt I’d got the gist of it.

I finally actually watched it on dvd and woah! The batmobile and the bike must be the best looking modes of transport used by any superhero. Come to think of it, most superheroes don’t rely on mechanical modes of transport so there’s not much to compare. The supporting characters are not as one-dimensional as I usually like them. The villain describes himself as “a dog chasing cars”, sets fire to a mountain of cash and extols the virtues of chaos. He oozes menace in the way he makes clear that he wants to gain nothing and had nothing to lose. But it’s the last sequence that erased all memories of brightly silly exclamations and anatomically correct outfits (remember Alicia Silverstone?). There are no wildly cheering crowds. Only the body of Harvey Dent, activist District Attorney reduced to Two-Face. Commissioner Gordon saying

“He’s the hero Gotham deserves…but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero…he’s a silent guardian…a watchful protector…A dark knight”



Life’s a roller coaster!

In top 10 on January 14, 2007 at 2:44 pm

There’s a reason for the title to the post…but for now…my top nine (am sue me) roller coaster rides ever…

9. X-Flight (Six Flags – Ohio)

This one’s on the list mainly because it was my first experience of a roller coaster outside of the dizzying terrors at Esselworld. That and the fact that you lay on your back to get strapped into this monster which then corkscrewed its way through space with your perception of the three coordinates severely impaired. They ‘decomissioned’ it last year when the park was sold by Six-Flags

8. Batman – Knight Flight (Six Flags – Ohio)

Who would think of changing a name like that to ‘Dominator’?! Sure, there were franchise issues, but certainly no clause that excluded the use of a smidgeon of creativity? Unlike most other rides where you board at ground level and are taken up by the ride, here you board almost at the top of the ride. The procedure itself is awesome with the floor falling away once you’re strapped in. Really long ride this one with swooshes and really tall vertical loops make you think its all happening in slow-motion except when the drops skims lake Michigan.

7. Dr. Doom’s Fearfall (Universal Islands of Adventure – Florida)

They say its all in the mind. And does this ride do a good job of screwing with precisely that! Once strapped in, the slow…painfully slow climb to the top…the vista of the park unfolding in front of your eyes…all other noises dying down and all you hear are the voices in your head. Or rather, those condemned alongside you. Imagine hearing the following from your ‘formerly fearless’ brethren as it almost reaches the top “Mummy!”…wasn’t me…honest. The ensuing power descent from 150 feet…to ‘land’, bounce up half that distance and to finally settle at the bottom. Makes you fall in love with terra firma, this one.

6. Big Shot (Stratosphere Hotel – Las Vegas)

“Those with vertigo, not a good idea!” The rides brilliance is its simplicity, a vertical shaft on the roof of the Stratosphere hotel in sin city. Strap you in, countdown music, and boom! Rocketed up (quite literally), you forget the unadulterated terror that makes you ask yourself if you have a death-wish as you see all of the city that’s brighter at night than it is in the day. You bounce a couple of times and when the ride ends, you’re still almost a kilometer above ground-level.

5. Magnum XL-200 (Cedar Point – Ohio)

Supposedly the grand-daddy of all the other gleaming steel skeletons at the park, its biography reading over 10 years of sterling service and the benign looking structure made us line up for it as a break from its diabolically homicidal spawn all around. I mean what self-respecting roller coaster has a thin steel bar across the seats as the only restraint?! But those thoughts subsided gradually as the chain-lift took kept climbing to its full height of what was once a record 205 feet. And ‘benign’ is not the word on your minds when its hurtling towards Lake Erie and veering aways inches (or so it seems) from the surface. The significance of the flimsy-looking restraint became clear when that was all that kept you from being launched from your seat on the coaster that provides maximum “airtime

4. Superman Ultimate Escape (Six-Flags Ohio)

Since the park was sold by Six-Flags, its been renamed to a rather vague ‘Steel Venom’ but this one brought tears to my eyes…mostly cause of the chilly spring air stinging them, partly cause of pure terror. P and I decided the only way to fly was up front and after being strapped in to the suspended seats dangling from the U-shaped frame, we barely had time to brace when the “catapult-launch” system sent us spiralling up one arm of the ‘U’. Up front, with nothing to see but clear blue sky and your own feet, just as you feel weightless, gravity beckons…back down the arm, and up the other…remember..backwards. The other arm is a vertical climb and as it reaches its full height…it stops! Picture being strapped in…abt 10 storeys up… facing vertically downward, your body weight supported by the harness across your chest…motionless. And then the inexorable plummet towards earth and no amount of logic can convince your brain that you aren’t going to be smashed into the ground. Ultimate escape indeed.

3. Dueling Dragons (Universal Islands of Adventure – Florida)

Several inversions, one zero-g roll, a Cobra roll, two corkscrews and two vertical loops. If those terms mean nothing but jargon, how about the l’il bit of trivia that this roller coaster is essentially two roller coaster intertwined in a manner that three times during the course of the ride, you come within colliding distance (18 inches) of the flailing arms and legs of the other coaster. They’re called ‘Fire’ and ‘Ice’ and when the line to embark splits off at one point with a sign that says “Make your choice”, brrr…That first time that you round a curve and see the terrified faces on the ‘dueling’ coaster hurtling towards you to veer off at the metaphoric ‘last’ moment…damn!

2. Millenium Force (Cedar Point – Ohio)

The marketing folk decided that a new term befit the first coaster to break the 300 foot height barrier and called it the first ‘giga-coaster’ in the world. Its the stereotypical old-fashioned roller coaster with huge hills, steep drops…no 360s or loops on this one. Had it not been for that other monster, this one’s quite easily the scariest ride in the world.

1. Top thrill Dragster (Cedar Point – Ohio)

It was the newest addition to the park and the banners screamed it deserved every superlative there was – tallest, fastest and yeah…frikkin’ scariest…420 feet tall, 120 mph top-speed (from 0 in 4 seconds)…90 degree drop. The damn thing stalled twice (not with people in it) as we stood in line waiting. More than twice, the bunch of us immigrants looked at each other wondering if final calls home were called for. The sheer audacity of this ride is..well…you figure it out…

The Showdown

In blah, Superhero, top 10 on July 8, 2006 at 8:14 pm

Most people who throw threats or insults my way find it to be a frustrating experience because they never stimulate responses. Mainly because I’m too lazy to…However, when people start questioning…nay..mocking fundamental tenets of life on this planet..then someone’s gotta take a stand! So, in continuation with my previous post…and not in continuation with the rantings and ravings of the zealous fanatics (who sometimes do not stop to question what it is that they believe in so fervently)…a rather objective (mostly) comparison of certain key aspects of being a superhero.



Genesis Regular bloke…irradiated spider…changes that didn’t seem like powers at first…Spider-Man! Different species…what powers?! On Krypton he’d be…just another guy!
Costume Form-fitting…black web pattern on red and blue…masked face…covered eyes…an actual costume Red underwear over tights…yes tights..nothing for the face…hmmm…quite a disguise
Love Interest Mary Jane Watson-Parker: Known Peter for years…likes the super alter-ego…has always loved the man himself. Lois Lane: Has worked with Kent for years, treats him with disdain…orgasms for him in tights…the word ‘shallow’ comes to mind? fooled by the different hairdo…bright too apparently
Weakness Loses powers when self-belief wanes…depends on himself to get it back Green rocks from home, can do jack in their presence
  • Powers don’t make you super, character does
  • Sharp objects and bullets…hurt
  • Rural America better find another hero (tall buildings a must for web-slinging)
  • You’re not from around here…automatically makes you special
  • Flight, X-ray vision, Immense power…must be a stretch beating up on others
  • Wear underwear outside to prevent accidental wedgies

For the initiated…here’s a list of some actual superheroes…With Great Power

Bring it on…

With great power…

In blah, Superhero, top 10 on April 20, 2006 at 10:46 am

comes…no..not great responsibility….but a humongous power turn the damn lights off!

“Only three others share the secret…Our friend the Sorceress, Man-At-Arms and Orko…” if none of that made any sense, that might be the cue for you to skip this post 🙂

Before there were nerdy-looking adolescents brandishing twigs to defeat all forms of evil, things were done in the proper manner, by troubled young-men with extraordinary physical strength and other ‘super’ powers.

For those who partook of a steady diet of Marvel and Indrajal…my top four in ascending order goes….:)


Real Name James Howlett, now Logan
Alias Weapon X
Occupation Former CIA Operative
Base Unknown
Affiliation X-Men
First Sighted Marvel 1974
Claim to fame
A mutant with extraordinary strength owing to a skeleton laced with unbreakable metal alloy, resulting from being an unwitting guinea-pig in a secret government military program. Given to beserker rages in combat, his feral instincts mean that he is most likely to permanently deal with adversaries. Inspite of a quicksilver temper, Wolverine has been descitbed as a warrior poet with an iron will. His mortal enemy is his half-brother known as Sabretooth

The Incredible Hulk

Real Name Robert Bruce Banner
Alias Mr. Fixit, Professor, Green Behemoth
Occupation Nuclear Physicist
Base Dayton, Ohio
Affiliation Pantheon, Avengers
First Sighted Marvel 1962
Claim to fame
The mightiest mortal to ever walk the earth. Mortals fear him, Gods respect him. Having buried his emotions arising at the hands of an abusive father, Bruce, is gamma-irradiated when attempting to save a civilian who mistakenly enters the nuclear testing facility. The Hulk represents the mortal fear of every human being; within everyone lies great, destructive rage and egotism, capable of shambolic destruction

The Phantom

Real Name Christopher Walker
Alias Ghost Who Walks
Occupation Guardian of the Eastern Dark
Base Skull Cave – Bangalla
Affiliation The Jungle Patrol
First Sighted Feb 1936
Claim to fame
The original masked superhero. Legend has it that generations of the Phantom gave rise to the alias “Man who cannot die”. Kit Walker is the 21st Phantom and has no ‘supernatural’ powers, but rather relies on his skills as a horseman, marksman and a fighter. His helpers, a mountain-wolf ‘Devil’, his white stallion ‘Hero’ and ‘Fraka’ the falcon. His prowess has given rise to ‘old jungle sayings’ like “Phantom’s anger chills tiger’s blood”, “Great cat is quick, Phantom is quicker”


Real Name Peter Parker
Alias Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man
Occupation Photographer – Daily Bugle
Base Manhattan
Affiliation Avengers
First Sighted Marvel Aug 1962
Claim to fame
The son of secret agents of agency S.H.I.E.L.D, Peter’s parents were killed by Red Skull and was raised by his uncle Ben and aunt May. A shy introverted teenager, he gained his powers on being bitten by an irradiated spider. His dual identity has him pay dearly with the death of girlfriend Gwen Stacy, though he has various love-interests culminating in the lovely Mary-Jane Watson. Apart from superior athleticism and the ability to shoot webs, his most potent weapon is a sixth sense that activates and alerts him to threats.

Feel free to share your top 3/4. And yeah, that second line indicates the secret that the most powerful man in the universe and the guardian of Eternia is in fact the rather colorless Prince Adam.

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