The Archives

American Beauty

Thursday · 30 Jan 03 · 01:40 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

Yesterday evening, I came home from project work at around 8 PM or so.  I wrote replies to some of my emails, etc., and then at around 9:30 PM I went to have dinner.  At that time they were showing Face/Off on STAR Movies, and I watched some of it before watching the news.  And then I watched the last part of that movie at 11 PM.  Then I thought, let me see what's up next, and it was American Beauty.

I had first seen part of this movie some months back on the same TV channel.  But this time I got to see the whole movie.  I liked the movie a lot, it was very nicely acted, and it was always interesting to see the characters and situations in it.  There was a nice mix of dramatic scenes and funny scenes, not to mention a fantastic music score!  When I first saw the movie it reminded me of Fight Club, because I thought there were similar themes touched upon in both films.  Next I'm waiting to see City Hunter on Friday!

Our project will be completed by mid-February.  On Saturday we have the first Project Presentation at college.

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Movies Redux

Monday · 27 Jan 03 · 01:45 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

I watched a couple of movies recently - first of all, on Saturday night, at 11:30 PM, STAR Movies showed a movie that I saw back in 1996.  It's been a long time since then and I actually thought they would never show it again!  It was made by Orion Pictures, that's why.  Over the past few years, STAR Movies seems to have stopped showing any movies made by New Line Cinema, Concorde Pictures or Orion, for some reason.  That's a pity - there are lots of movies I remember fondly... for that matter, I even remember there was a time they used to show these movies uncensored!

But I'm drifting.  The movie in question, is The Dark Half, which stars Timothy Hutton and is based on a novel by Stephen King.  Frightening movie about a writer called Thaddeus Beaumont, who decides to "kill off" his pseudonym, George Stark - but the alter ego comes to life somehow and starts going on a killing spree!  It kept me involved throughout!  Today I watched the premiere of Enter the Dragon on HBO.  This of course is a martial arts and action classic!  Great fun.  It was censored in a couple of places though.  Just before that movie started (9 PM), there were two John Woo movies going on in two channels.  HBO was showing Mission: Impossible II again, but I chose to watch the better movie, Face/Off, on STAR Movies from 8:45 PM.  Finally, I watched an episode of Beast Machines: Transformers (episode was "Prometheus Unbound", written by Marv Wolfman) on Cartoon Network.

Must-see movie on STAR Movies Friday 7 PM - Jackie Chan's City Hunter!  I've only so far watched this movie on a videotape that is missing about 20-30 minutes of scenes, so I'm eagerly waiting to see the complete movie!

I also started working on an episode for Doom II.  Possible title: Forgotten Cities.  It's going to have a Karthik Art Gallery, heh.

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And then...

Thursday · 23 Jan 03 · 12:30 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

HBO was showing M:I-2 again tonight, and I watched the second half.  I like the second half of the movie more than the first.

Project work is going on well now and our team has started on the documentation.  Other than that, there hasn't been that much else going on in the recent days.  I just installed Internet Explorer 6 today.  I know it came out ages ago, but I never got around to updating it.  I happened to get my hands on a couple of Digit CDs (November 2002), and it had IE6 on it.  So I installed.  This means I now use Outlook Express 6 as well.  I was hoping for a glitch-free installation, and that's what I got except for one annoying thing.  You see, in Windows Explorer, the left pane, showing the tree view of the folders, has disappeared.  In it's place is a blank grey box.  Maybe IE6 is too advanced for Windows 98.  Or maybe it just wants to trouble me.  Anyway that CD also had a video for Duke Nukem Forever, which was nice to watch.

As for other things, I watched the Golden Globe Awards recently as well (not the whole thing).  On Monday and Tuesday, I came home late from project work (9 and 10 PM).  Strangely, last night, I was not tired at all, probably because of the Doom special effect that I found.  It was around 2 AM that I decided that I would finally go and sleep.  But before that I wanted to listen to Breath, the song by Swollen Members featuring Nelly Furtado, the music video of which I'd downloaded recently.  I not only listened to it, I also took about 30 minutes to do a drawing of Nelly Furtado from that video.  I don't know whether I will upload it on this site, because I did it directly in pen and it doesn't look that good.  Or maybe I will upload it.  I shouldn't be judging the merits of the drawing too much anyway, after all everyone perceives this kind of thing differently.

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M:I-2 and John Woo

Wednesday · 22 Jan 03 · 09:26 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

I watched Mission: Impossible II on HBO on Saturday.  This of course, being a John Woo movie, had some terrific action scenes and a nice touch of style, but I liked his previous movies better.  My opinion on M:I-2 hasn't changed now since when I first saw it - it's a good movie, but disappointing when compared to other John Woo films.  Face/Off is a superb film and hard to better, but every film that John Woo has made in America after that hasn't even come close to matching that movie.  What's going on?  Maybe they're just not letting him do what he does best.

Hard Target was a good action movie, and had interesting characters to keep the viewer involved.  Woo's movies always have a certain "emotional impact" theme which I look for - in Hard Target it was the skilled hunter Fouchon (Lance Henriksen) and his group, pursuing the elusive prey, Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme).  Broken Arrow may have been a "fun" action movie (meaning that it wasn't like Woo's other more serious movies), but even in that I found the theme of the mentor (John Travolta's character Vic Deakins) betraying the student (Christian Slater's character Riley Hale) - two powerful characters.  Both of them can literally anticipate the other's move - yet they must try to outwit each other.  Face/Off went one step further with that theme, and it had probably one of the most inventive ways of characterisation that I have ever seen in a movie - Woo literally has his two central characters (FBI Agent Sean Archer and terrorist Castor Troy - both superbly played by John Travolta and Nicolas Cage) BECOMING each other by exchanging faces!  But then after that came Mission: Impossible II.  There is one scene in this movie where the rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) anticipates how his enemy, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) will break into the Biocyte Building to defeat him.  The scene is great, but since we don't get to see the two characters' relationship fully developed, it doesn't have as much significance as it could have.  There are interesting ways of emphasising the characters in the movie - such as the use of masks to assume somebody else's identity - but overall I didn't like it as much as Face/Off.  To me, M:I-2 seemed quite "routine" in parts.  Windtalkers was a well done movie but I felt it didn't really have anything that made it stand apart from other movies.

I really hope John Woo's next movie will have characters, situations and action scenes like Face/Off!

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Wednesday · 22 Jan 03 · 09:16 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

I should have updated about this on Sunday.  Anyway, on Sunday morning, I wrote yet another entrance test for a management school, this time it was NITIE (National Institute for Industrial Engineering).  I was very happy after this, because this is the last of these tests that I am writing!

But I probably shouldn't have written this exam, because the questions in it were not at all what I had prepared for.  In CAT and other management exams, the Quantitative Ability section consists of questions on normal Mathematics (percentages, profit and loss, time and work, etc.) but this time it was Engineering level Mathematics, which I learnt a long time ago and happily put out of my mind.  Also, there was a section on Engineering and Technology, which contained questions largely pertaining to Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.  So I probably need not have bothered applying for this exam, because I wouldn't have been able to do well enough anyway.

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A Doom Special Effect

Wednesday · 22 Jan 03 · 08:50 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Doom

Last night I was experimenting with my Doom editor, DoomCAD, and I found out some pretty cool stuff.  First of all, about using new textures.  When I made my level Congestion Control, I used a couple of textures from Final Doom: The Plutonia Experiment and some other ones.  To use these, I replaced the Wolfenstein textures in Doom II - I didn't actually make NEW entries in the TEXTURES lump of the WAD.  Basically, you can specify a WAD that contains new textures while editing in Doom CAD.  But in the textures selection box, the new entries are marked with a *, and whenever I tried to preview them, the editor would crash.  But now I've decided to use the "Switch Game" and "Alternate Graphics WAD" options more flexibly (choosing the main WAD as doom.wad or plutonia.wad, etc. and tricking the editor).  In the past few weeks or so, on and off, I've converted some graphics from other games into Doom textures.

The second thing I did last night (mind you, I came home from project work at nearly 10 PM, and I was doing all this at around 1 AM) was to find out a very cool special effect.  I made a small WAD for this, running on Doom II MAP07.  There's a mancubus in it, and you get a super shotgun.  Now the effect is this.  Just when you kill the mancubus, no matter where you are in the map, you will magically get a yellow key to complete the level!!  The only drawback is that it doesn't work with Doom Legacy (it does work with doom2.exe, Boom, ZDoom, prBoom, etc.).  This effect would have probably been done before, but I am happy that I thought of it and got it working!

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Video and Film

Saturday · 18 Jan 03 · 06:48 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

About three days back, I went to, and downloaded a video.  This is the music video for a song called Breath, by Swollen Members featuring Nelly Furtado.  The video was made just recently and is directed by Todd McFarlane (creator of the Spawn comic character).  I liked the song, and I thought Nelly Furtado's vocals in it were terrific!

Last night, we were playing a video tape with some old episodes of Mr. Bean on it (followed by Rowan Atkinson Live), all recorded a couple of years back.  Well, after all that was over, I realised that Varun had recorded Spawn on it too (when it had come on STAR Movies a couple of years ago).  So I watched the whole thing again.  Interesting movie though on watching it again this time I thought the computer generated effects weren't that convincing.  The best part about the movie was of course John Leguizamo's performance as the disgusting Clown from Hell!

The past few days there has been a lot of, say, turmoil, as far as out project is concerned.  A lot of brainstorming is going on and we found that we had drifted away from our original design, trying to do things that wouldn't be expected of the hardware we were dealing with.  Anyway, hope things all work out well.

Today at college I finally got to see the video documentary that was shot at our college a few months back.  The documentary is basically to promote our college to overseas students.  I thought it was actually pretty good, some parts of it were exaggerated - but since it's basically advertising, that is expected.  There were a lot of places where the audio and video were unsynchronised though.  But I'm happy because I can be glimpsed briefly twice in the video!  I do hope I get my hands on a copy of that CD eventually.

Tonight at 9:30 PM on HBO I'll be all ready to watch Mission: Impossible 2, which I am watching basically for John Woo's action scenes.  I saw the movie a couple of years back and I don't remember that many details about the plot or characters.  It was the action scenes that made the impression!

Finally, to conclude this update, there's a new site which is going to be launched soon,, which will be dealing with all of id Software's games including, of course, Doom!  There has been some, shall we say, interesting talk about it going on at their forums and at the forums at Doomworld, and I'm waiting for the site to actually go online.

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We all go a little crazy sometimes

Monday · 13 Jan 03 · 11:44 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

The headline is a reference to all the crazy things me and my friends do during our project work.  Can't always be serious, can we!  I believe this is also a classic line from Psycho?  And Scream as well.

I watched a bit of Scream 2 yesterday (which I had recorded earlier).  And tonight I saw Beverly Hills Cop again.  Watching this movie is always nostalgic for me - reminds me of some ten years ago!  Luckily I recorded it when they showed it on HBO a couple of years back.  It's a terrific movie, great fun, with nice music and an awesome soundtrack (80's pop music).

Besides The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, there is another movie that I am eagerly waiting to see - Narc.  This movie has just been released in the U.S. and I hope it will get released sometime here.  It's a dark, violent cop thriller, and I'm obviously looking forward to it (Training Day is one of my favourite movies)!

Changing the topic - I forgot to mention this earlier...  A couple of days back I played through Chris Hansen's Flay the Obscene - The Third.  A great level indeed, and I've mentioned this before - it is a must-have for anyone who plays Doom levels!  His upcoming level is going to be a combination of this style and the style of the Doom II city/industrial themed levels.

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SnQ2 /newstuff Review and more

Sunday · 12 Jan 03 · 09:08 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Doom

The eleventy-first edition of The /newstuff Chronicles has been published at Doomworld, with Steve "The Ultimate DooMer" Clark reviewing a total of 11 WADs.  I'm mentioning it here because of the fact that my brother Varun's recently released level, Short 'n Quick 2, has been reviewed.  It got a good review, which is not at all surprising because it is a highly detailed, fun, very well made level!

I also watched the Martin Scorcese film Bringing Out The Dead on Friday (STAR Movies).  I liked the movie, though I thought it became sort of abstract at the end.  Very well filmed and acted!  And American Beauty started a few minutes ago on STAR Movies, and I really want to see this.  I'll watch it when I next get the chance.

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New Site Theme, New Drawing and other Site Additions

Sunday · 12 Jan 03 · 08:50 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

After a while since the last one, comes another site theme from me, called Mixing Things Up Part II.  This one's got a white background and black text in Tahoma, and news headlines and page headings are highlighted in beige.  Try out the theme!  As always, all the other six themes are available on the Customise page.

There is a new addition on the Drawings page - it's one image, but there are two drawings in it.  They are of the infamous Jason Voorhees, the killer from the Friday the 13th movies.  I did them in (DURING) class on Friday, because I'd read the script for Jason X (by Todd Farmer) the day before.  I didn't like the script very much.

I made a couple of small updates on the site other than this - on the About Me page, I added the country and area code to the phone number.  Just in case you want to give me a call.  Heh.  And the Congestion Control page has been updated with the information that it is part of Chris Hansen's The Best Doom Releases of 2002 list!

Speaking of Chris, he has posted a set of eight screenshots of an upcoming level for Doom II, which is currently untitled.  The screens look really good, the level seems to be set in a dark, desolate, industrial/mountain-type area.  It uses a sky from Quake 2 (the sky is one of The Ultimate DooMer's), which seems to go really well with the actual structures in the level.  The fourth screenshot in particular, is an example of this.  I'm waiting for Chris to release the level soon (*hint**hint*, Chris)!

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FMS Test

Sunday · 12 Jan 03 · 08:41 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

This afternoon I wrote the entrance test for yet another management school - FMS (Faculty of Management Studies), Delhi.  The test had 175 questions to be answered in 120 minutes.  There were certain differences between this exam and the CAT (and other management tests I've written so far).  In all the other tests, the questions were divided into sections - and you had to do well in every one.  But here, there were no sections, so you could just go ahead and do all the questions in the areas you were comfortable in, and forget the rest.  I sort of distributed my attempts over the entire thing, and in the end I had about 107 questions attempted, which I think is OK (?).  In this test you'd get 4 marks for every correct answer and -1 for every wrong one (in CAT it was 1 and -1/3; in SCMHRD it was 1 and -1/4; in XAT it was 1 and -1/3).

Next exam (and the last I'm writing) is the NITIE exam, next Sunday.

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Blair Witch 2

Thursday · 9 Jan 03 · 06:44 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

Last night (11:15 PM), I watched Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 for the second time on STAR Movies.  I first saw this movie in August 2002.  I think this movie's far better than the first one - it's a more conventional horror movie than the first, and it is more scary.  That too, yesterday I saw it with all the lights off (best way to see a horror movie on TV), and I had also read director Joe Berlinger's interpretation of the movie on  So the movie was even better this time!

The Blair Witch Project was an unusual, experimental movie, for which I do appreciate the filmmakers.  But when I saw it on TV I was, most of the time, waiting for something scary to happen and it didn't.  And the continuous talking of the characters got on my nerves a bit.  Anyway, the underlying theme behind the second movie is mass hysteria and group delusions (that's basically what's happening to all the characters).  A group of Blair Witch fans go out in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland on a "witch hunt" and all kinds of weird things start to happen.  I thought the movie was well made and I liked the unusual approach to the story, and also the "video never lies, film does" thing.

Off-topic again, I updated the Daniel Movies page with a couple of video clips.  I've told Daniel that I'll keep 5 videos on the page, older ones will be replaced by newer ones.  Anyone who wants to see a particular video can always email him.

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Toby's Card, Doom Website Mergers, and other stuff

Wednesday · 8 Jan 03 · 08:24 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

A couple of days back, there was a big surprise for Varun and me - it was a New Year Card from Tobias Münch.  What was special about it was that it was an actual card (not an email one), which came by "real" mail, all the way from Germany!  It seems Tobias had found our home address from my site here, so he sent us this card.  It was really thoughtful, what he did, thank you very much Tobias!  By the way, Tobias has updated his photography site with new pictures also.

Just after I came home from project work today, Varun asked me "did you see the news?", and the way he said it indicated that it was something important!  I was surprised to see it - bigd and Bloodshedder of Doom Center have now joined the staff of Doomworld!  It seems MGON, the company that hosts Doom Center is planning some changes to their network of gaming sites (so the fate of Doom Center is uncertain) - which is what prompted them to move.  Personally, I have great respect for bigd and Bloodshedder, because of the way they ran Doom Center these two years, so I look forward to what will happen when the DC and DW staff work together.  Will Doomworld become THE site for Doomers?

Off-topic, I didn't go for project work on 7th because I wasn't feeling well.  Anyway by that night I felt better and I watched Three Amigos on Zee MGM.

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Varun's Short 'n Quick 2, and Chris' 2002: GDR

Tuesday · 7 Jan 03 · 08:42 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Doom

On 3rd, my brother Varun released his latest level for Doom II, called Short 'n Quick 2.  It's a very good map, almost the whole level is set outdoors (which is very difficult to make), and it is highly detailed, requiring the use of an enhanced port.  The thing that makes this level interesting is that it has a totally non-linear layout, so you can follow any route through the level you want.  This also makes it fun to play on Deathmatch, which I did a number of times using the new ZDoom version.  Varun had trouble logging on to his Tripod site's FTP, so he has uploaded the level here.  Download it, play it, and tell Varun what you think of it!

Christian Hansen has updated his site with a list of his selections for the Great Doom Releases of 2002.  It's a pretty long list, covering many notable levels - each entry has a small review to go with it too.  Now the interesting thing is that one of my levels - Congestion Control (a.k.a. CCT) - is also part of the 2002: G.D.R.!  Obviously, this makes me very happy, thanks a lot Chris!  I'm glad you enjoyed the level!

Congestion Control is one of the best levels I've made till date.  But personally, I like my Out of Phase 3: One Cloudy Afternoon a bit more than CCT.  I guess this is because I like the overall feel of the level, and the style is something that I hadn't done before.  I want to mix elements of both these levels (and new ideas of course) in my future levels.

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Many Movies

Tuesday · 7 Jan 03 · 08:26 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

I watched two movies recently.  First was STAR Movies's Friday Night Premiere of Steven Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence: A.I., which I thought was an excellent movie.  I initially thought this was some sort of children's movie, so I wasn't too anxious to watch it.  But about a month back, STAR Movies started showing advertisements for it and the thing that got me hooked was the short samples of John Williams's music which was in them.  When I finally saw the movie it was something totally different from what I'd expected.  It is rated PG-13 in the U.S., but I thought it was more of an adult-oriented movie, a true science-fiction story presenting a bleak view of the future (the look of the movie reminded me of Minority Report, Janusz Kaminski's photography is brilliant).

I also saw Final Destination on Sunday night, after recording it from HBO a day earlier.  This movie was not bad, it was a well-made thriller, but somewhere about 3/4th of the way through, I had trouble accepting what was happening.  While it never got to the point where events became ridiculous, I still couldn't take it as seriously as the first part.

Tonight, STAR Movies is showing the Mark Dacascos movie Brotherhood of the Wolf, which I think I will watch.  And they are showing Martin Scorcese's Bringing Out The Dead on Friday, which seems very interesting!  HBO is showing Mission: Impossible 2 on 18th, and Enter the Dragon on 26th.  Good stuff, eh?

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What's XAT you're talking about?

Tuesday · 7 Jan 03 · 08:15 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

I wrote the XAT exam (entrance test for XLRI Jamshedpur) on Sunday.  The XAT 2003 was different from the CAT and SCMHRD exams in that it didn't have any section based on Maths.  It had 200 questions divided into three timed sections.  The first one (started at 10 AM) was Verbal and Reading Comprehension, 80 questions and 40 minutes.  This was pretty easy and I answered almost all the questions.  The third section was of 30 minutes, with 60 questions on General Knowledge.  This was not so bad, I thought.  The second section however, was a totally different story.  This had 60 questions to be answered in 50 minutes, and it was very difficult!  Very complicated stuff, I just answered some 15-20 questions or so, and I am not 100% sure about any of them being right.  There was also an essay to be written in 15 minutes, the topic was "To do real service you have to add something that cannot be bought or measured - and that is integrity and sincerity" (Donald A. Adams).  I think I wrote that one OK.

The next two management exams I am writing are the FMS and NITIE exams, which will be on this Sunday and the next.

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Happy New Year

Friday · 3 Jan 03 · 12:34 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

This is the first update I'm making in 2003 on this site!  Happy New Year, everyone, I know I am late in writing this, but better late than never, eh?  Thanks for all the New Year Wishes, the emails, ecards and Instant Messages.  Well, I've made a greeting card too, for this occasion, and you can view it here.  This card is similar to the one I made last year, but this time I tried to give a more personal touch to it.  Also, there's background music in it as well.

I watched The World is Not Enough on 31st December on STAR Movies.  I actually didn't like the movie that much when I first saw it (in 2000), but the second time around, I liked it more.  Speaking of James Bond, I didn't do any more work on that drawing I was talking about last time.  I have scans of two "iterations" of the drawing so far.

Apart from that I don't really have much to talk about.  I got my results for the SCMHRD exam (which I wrote on December 8).  I'm a bit disappointed because I didn't qualify in this.  But I did my best, so there really isn't any point in thinking about that now.  I've also been busy sending and replying to emails, and of course, with project work.  This is coming along nicely.  Actually I'm finding this a lot more interesting and fun than going to college (which I have to, on Fridays and Saturdays!).

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The Author

Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

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