Sunday, December 04, 2016

BookMarks #18: Wuthering Heights

Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Bronte
Genre: Fiction
Setting: 18th Century English countryside
Published: 1847

Young Mr. Lockwood rents a cottage in remote countryside where his nearest neighbour is his landlord Mr. Heathcliff who lives in Wuthering Heights. He in very intrigued by the occupants of Wuthering Heights. His housekeeper at Thrusscross Grange, Mrs Ellen Dean then narrates to him the history of the place. 

How Mr. Earnshaw brought in an orphan boy Heathcliff into his home and raises him with his children Hindley and Catherine. As they grow up Heathcliff falls in love with Catherine but is detested by Hindley. With time Heathcliff through his schemes and charms manages to take ownership of both Wuthering Heights and  Thrusscross Grange. In the meantime, all his peers die while all remain are the younger children who are all victims of Heathcliff's revenge.

The book ends with the death of Heathcliff and the later generation living happily.

In my opinion, it is quite a dark and depressing tale of unrequited love. The lead character is the key villain of the piece and how is revenge seeking wrecks havoc on all those around him, including the one he loves. 

But the one bright spot in this sad tale is in the end we have some signs of normalcy returning to the messed up lives of the survivors.

We have two narrators in the story - the main narrator Mr. Lockwood and the secondary narrator Mr. Dean who. retells the story to Lockwood.

Previously on BookMarks: Treasure Island

Sunday, November 20, 2016

MovieNotes: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (IMDB)
*ing: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell
Language: English
Director: David Yates
Genre: Fantasy

For a Harry Potter fan, any new material is always welcome. Even if it is a movie which is named after one of Harry's textbooks.

Basic Premise
A wizard lands in New York with a bag full of strange creatures who are accidentally set loose. He has to recapture them while at the same time try to maintain the fragile peace between the magical and non-magical communities and saving New York from complete annihilation.

The Highs
  • The Fantastic Beasts were a visual and cinematic delight especially the niffler. Only wish they had more airtime.
  • Overall visual effects in creating the magical world. However, they overdid the 3D stuff by continuously throwing stuff at the audience.
  • It is part of the Harry Potter world but yet a distinct spin-off, given that it is set much before Harry's time. Although the movie does reference a few characters and incidents from the main storyline. And yes it is all setting up for the major war referenced in the Potter series.
  • The surprise cameo at the end [Not revealing who]
The Not-so-Highs
  • There were too many things going on in the story at the same time. In fact, one could completely cut out the "fantastic beasts" and still get the same storyline. 
  • Unlike the Harry Potter series, the characters are not so memorable.
  • The wizarding world at confrontation with the no-majs (as muggles are referred in USA). This is more out of the X-men franchise rather than Rowling's world. [Aside - Why do Americans do everything so differently]
And the Others
Now that they have announced four more movies in this series, waiting to see how the story unfolds and the familiar characters come into play.

Rating - 7/10. Good visual effects combined with a confounding storyline. In all a spin-off which gives the feel of being just a cash-grab.

Previously on MovieNotes - Doctor Strange

Saturday, November 05, 2016

MovieNotes: Doctor Strange

Title: Doctor Strange (IMDB)
*ing: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams
Language: English
Director: Scott Derrickson
Genre: Comicbook Superhero

And the Marvel Cinematic Universe rolls on introducing a new lead character, adding new inter-connections in their increasingly complex world(s).

Basic Premise
Dr. Stephen Strange is a genius neuro-surgeon who suffers damages to his hands in a car accident. His search for a cure leads him to the Ancient One and discovers new powers in himself. But on this path of self-discovery needs to put in his powers to saving the world.

The Highs
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, playing Dr. Strange. There is no other actor who can play quirky geniuses like he does. 
  • The movie's focus on the fun element specially in its interactions between the major characters. Which is how a movie based on comics should be. After all, the real world is dark enough, we don't need our superheroes to be brooding all the time.
  • The special effects (needs to be seen in 3D), which reminded of Inception with scenes showing folding streets and buildings and entire city.
The Not-so-highs
  • A superhero movie needs a strong villain, which does not seem to be the case here. More than the viallin, it was the support cast who were the main antagonising forces amongst themselves. In fact, its a recurring issue acorss the Marvel films with only Loki being the one memorable antagonist.
  • The story could have been a bit more fleshed out and the run-time extended.
  • For a movie with a great part set in Kathmandu, there were no Nepali characters
And the Others
  • Time travel, space, universes, dimensions, space-time continuum, tapping your inner powers - thats too many heavy-duty concepts being touched upon in a single comicbook film.
  • When going for a Marvel movie, always wait till the end of credits. You get a teaser of the things to come. Also be alert for lots of Easter eggs and cross-references to past and upcoming movies.
  • Doctor Strange will return, so said the end-credits. (Eagerly waiting)
Rating - 8/10. Overall a fun watch.

Previously on MovieNotes - Sultan

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hindi Diwas

१४ सितंबर - हर साल हम इस दिन को हिंदी दिवस  के रूप में मनाते  हैं. और आज हिंदी दिवस के अवसर पर मन में आया की क्यों न हिंदी में एक ब्लॉग लिखा जाए?

हिंदी दिवस का इतिहास  -  १४ सितंबर, १९४९ को भारत के संविधान सभा में ये निर्णय लिया गया था की हिंदी ही भारत की राजभाषा होगी.  और राजकीय कार्यों  के लिए हिंदी का प्रयोग देवनागरी लिपि में होगा और सारे अंक अरबि लिपि के होंगे.  १९५३ में राष्ट्र भाषा प्रचार समिति ने ये तय किया की पुरे देश में १४ सितंबर को हिंदी दिवस मनाया जाएगा.  

वैसे हिंदी तो मेरी मातृभाषा है, परंतु हिंदी का प्रयोग अब धीरे धीरे कम होता जा रहा है. कंप्यूटर के आने के कारण हिंदी में लिखना तो बिलकुल ही नाम मात्र का रह गया है. शायद आखिरी बार दसवीं की परीक्षा थी तभी लिखा था. उसके बाद से तो देवनागरी लिपि में लिखना लगभग छूट सा ही गया है. शायद कुछ फॉर्म में बस हस्ताक्षर करने के लिए देवनागरी लिपि का प्रयोग किया हो. पर transliteration सॉफ्टवेयर्स आ जाने से काफी मदद मिली है. इस कारण कभी-कभार देवनागरी में एक-आध सन्देश डाल देता हूँ. 

हालांकि बोल-चाल के लिए अभी भी हिंदी का ही प्रयोग काफी करता हूँ, पर उसमे भी अंग्रेजी के शब्द बढ़ते ही जा रहे हैं. सिनेमा और टीवी धारावाहिक अब ज्यादातर अंग्रेजी वाले ही देखे जाते हैं. हिंदी का उपयोग कम ही होता जा रहा है. 

वैसे हिंदी भाषा में पिछले कई वर्षों से कोई  नया लोकप्रिय लेखक भी नहीं आया है. आज भी जो हिंदी साहित्य हम पढ़ते हैं, ज्यादातर पुराने हो चले है. प्रेमचंद, जयशंकर प्रसाद, देवकीनंदन खत्री, महादेवी वर्मा, सुभद्रा कुमारी चौहान, रामधारी सिंह दिनकर जैसे लेखकों को आज भी पढ़ा जाता है. पर नए युग के लेखक नहीं मिलते. हिंदी साहित्य में को चेतन भगत या अमिश जैसी लोकप्रियता वाला कोई नया लेखक भी नहीं है. ज्यादातर युवा लेखक अंग्रेजी में ही लिखते है. हालांकि उनकी रचनाओं पे आधारित फ़िल्में हिंदी में ही बनती है और उनके हिंदी अनुवाद काफी बिकते है. तो हिंदी के उपभोक्ताओं की कमी तो है नहीं पर उसके मूल रचियेताओं की कमी तो ज़रूर है.

हिंदी सिनेमा में पहले सारे कलाकारों के नाम तीन भाषाओँ  में आते थे - हिंदी, उर्दू एवं अंग्रेजी, अब सिर्फ रोमन लिपि वाली अंग्रेजी का ही प्रयोग होता है. 

पता नहीं हिन्दी भाषा और देवनागरी लिपि के लिए ये उदासीनता क्यों बढ़ती जा रही है? शायद हमारे पाठ्यक्रम में  दोष रहा है. हिंदी जो हमारी बोलचाल की भाषा है उसे तो हम ठीक से बढ़ावा नहीं दे पा रहे हैं. और हम संस्कृत जो की लगभग लुप्त सी हो गयी है, उसे प्रचलित करने की बात करते हैं. 

एक सुझाव है. जिस तरह ज्यादातर अंग्रेजी साहित्य अब kindle और google play  पर निशुल्क उपलब्ध है, वैसे ही क्यों न हिंदी के भी लोकप्रिय साहित्य (जिनके कॉपीराइट समाप्त हो गए हो) को भी निशुल्क उपलभ्द करा दिए जाए. 

बस आज हिंदी दिवस के अवसर ऐसे ही मन में विचार आया तो बस लिख डाला. सोचता हूँ बीच-बीच में हिंदी में कुछ लिखता रहूँ. 

सारे पाठकों को हिंदी दिवस की ढेरों सुभकामनायें. 

P.S. Transliteration Software की जय. आखिर पूरा ब्लॉग रोमन लिपि वाले keyboard से जो लिखा है.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

BooKMarks #17: Treasure Island

Title: Treasure Island

Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Genre: Fiction, Adventure
Setting: 18th Century England with pirates as backdrop
Published: 1883

Jim Hawkins is a pub-owner's son. One of the residents is an old sailor, who is worried for the contents of his chest and keeps Jim as a lookout. He is visited by his old shipmates and suffers a stroke and dies. Jim finds a map in the sailor's chest and takes it the local physician Dr. Livesey, after escaping a search of the pub from the sailor's former fellows.

The Doctor believes it to be a map showing treasure buried by pirate Captain Flint. He enlists the squire, Mr. Trelawney, who plans to buy a ship and go in hunt of the treasure. They take Jim along with them. Trelawney hires a crew to manage the ship with Long John Silver, a one legged fellow with a parrot as the ship's cook. Captain Smollett is in-charge of leading the ship but he is wary of Silver and the rest of the crew. As they approach the island Jim manages to overhear Silver's plans of mutiny and warns the Doctor and others.

Once the ship reaches the island, the mutiny is out in the open. Jim and his friends are heavily outnumbered by Silver's crew. At the island Jim runs into Ben Gunn, a marooned sailor, who was part of Captain Flint's crew, who agrees to help him. Jim's friends in the meantime abandon the ship and take fort in a stockade at the island. Jim rejoins his friends and Silver's men take control of the ship. Both sides suffer losses in the battle that follows.

During the night, Jim quietly goes to the ship and cuts her anchor, making her drift away, but has to get onboard to prevent being drowned himself. With the aid of the remaining mutineer on the ship, he steers it into a secluded area. In the ensuing fight, he kills the mutineer and makes way back to the stockade only to discover it having been taken over by Silver and his men and with no signs of his friends.

While the others want to kill Jim, Silver saves his life. The next day the crew alongwith Jim go in search for the treasure. On reaching the spot they discover that the treasure has already been removed by Ben Gunn. The Doctor and his team had met up with Ben Gunn and attack Silver's party. Silver tags up with them while the remaining mutineers are abandoned on the island. 

On the return journey, Silver gives them the slip having made off with a share of the treasure.

An action adventure tale which has become the basis for nearly every pirate tale. A book which has been in my to-read list for ages now. Finally managed to complete it.

It is also a sort of coming-of-age story where a 15 year old boy goes on an adventure. He does things on impulse, which sometime land him in trouble and sometimes bring good fortune to his friends. 

Map of Treasure Island - as drawn by Robert Louis Stevenson - Source Wikipedia
Previously on BookMarks: A Game of Thrones

Friday, August 26, 2016

BookMarks #16: A Game of Thrones

Title: A Game of Thrones
Author: George R R Martin
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Setting: Fictional continent of Westeros, in medieval times
Published: 1996

“In the Game of Thrones, you win or you die”

That’s the central theme of this epic plot set in the fictional continent of Westeros. It is a tale of seeking power, in the background of political intrigue and conspiracies, with alliances being forged and broken, sworn duty and deaths (lots of them). Multiple plots are in progress across the seven kingdoms of Westeros in a gigantic chess board where each player plays his/her own game. 

We follow the tale of Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark and his family as they are torn apart having been caught in the eye of a raging political storm. King Robert Baratheon and his family arrive in Winterfell to offer Ned the position of the Hand of the King thereby setting up a series of tragic events for the Stark family, which culminate in Ned getting beheaded for treason post King Robert’s death, his son Bran crippled, his daughter Sansa kept near-hostage as new King Joffery’s bethrothed, while younger daughter Arya goes missing. Meanwhile his wife Catleyn and eldest son Robb seek revenge. The book concludes with Robb being appointed as the new “King in the North” by his fellow northern Lords. 

Ned Stark discovers the incestuous relationship of Queen Cersei Lannister and her twin Jaime. He also learns that Robert had not fathered any of Cersei’s children, thus the rightful heir to Robert's throne would be his brother Stannis. But he is betrayed by Petyr Baelish leading to his arrest for treason and later beheading on the orders of new King Joffery, Cersei's son.

Meanwhile, Ned’s bastard son Jon Snow, becomes a sworn brother of the Night’s Watch, at the Wall, which protects the realm from wildlings and mystical creatures. The Wall has its own troubles with frequent disappearances of their rangers, the appearances of undead creatures and the wildling army being raised by Mance Rayder, a former member of the Night’s Watch. Jon’s loyalty to his oath is tested when he hears of Ned’s beheading and Robb’s battles. Jon is also troubled by the disappearance of his uncle Benjen, who had gone beyond the Wall and not returned.

Catelyn captures Tyrion, the younger Lannister brother, the dwarf, accusing him of attacking Bran. This leads to Tywin Lannister unleashing his forces on Catelyn’s family. Tyrion is released with the aid of a sellsword Bronn and joins his father’s forces. During the battles, Jaime gets captured by Robb’s army. Robert Baratheon’s brothers Stannis and Renly also stake their own claim for the Iron throne.

There are multiple references to the events of fifteen years before which led to Robert Baratheon taking over the throne from the “mad” King Aerys Targaryen, with the aid of Ned Stark and Jon Arryn and other Lords. During the rebellion, Aerys Targaryen was killed by his own Kingsguard Jaime Lannister, thus earning him the derogatory title of kingslayer. 

Meanwhile Aerys’s son Viserys is plotting to take back his “rightful” throne. He marries off his sister Daenerys to a tribal warlord Khal Drogo in hopes of gaining control of the Dothraki warriors to mount a challenge for the throne. But his over-eagerness leads to his death at the hands of Drogo. Later when King Robert attempts to kill Daenerys, Drogo is ready to take on the Iron Throne for Daenerys and his unborn child. During a raid, Drogo gets wounded and is attended to by a healer who sacrifices his unborn child for Drogo’s life. But Drogo is left in a vegetative state which lead to Daenerys killing him out of mercy. Drogo’s funeral pyre is lit. Daenerys walks into it clutching the three dragon egg which were her wedding gift. When the pyre burns off, Daenerys is seen with three baby dragons while all remaining Dothraki and Ser Jorah Mormont swear allegiance to her.

This is the first book in the series “A Song of Fire And Ice” and also the basis for the megahit TV show – “Game of Thrones”.

The book is filled with a huge number of characters, too many to fit in such a short summary. Each chapter is told from a central character’s perspective (known as point of view character).

I started reading the books after having seen all the six seasons of the TV series. And also knowing about how the story unfolds makes the reading even more interesting. I could enjoy the details without losing grip of the tale. 

The storyline of the book and the first season are broadly matching. Although the books present a more vivid picture. The biggest difference is that the characters are much younger in the book than in the TV adaptation. Thankfully the TV Show-runners decided to age the characters, otherwise it would have been a show all about teenagers doing adult stuff (which would have been very weird to watch)

Although set as a fantasy in a fictional realm, the storyline has quite a few parallels to the history of Britain. 

Previously on BookMarks – Infinite Sacrifice

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

BookMarks #15: Infinite Sacrifice

Title: Infinite Sacrifice
Author: L.E. Waters
Genre: Fiction, Spirituality, Religion
Setting: Across timelines
Published: 2011

The story begins with Maya having died, finds herself in a place which is different form her idea of heaven. She meets a spirit guide, Zachariah, who explains to her the rules of gaining salvation from the cycle of life and death. Maya has to review everyone of her re-births.

We see Maya in different forms in different births. First, as a priest in Egypt, who breaks the temple's rules but condemns another for his crimes and meets his end.Then as a lady in Sparta, who tries to protect her progeny from the strict Spartan traditions. In the third stage, Maya is an Irish boy who gets kidnapped by the Vikings and lives amongst them before returning to his own village. In the fourth part, she is an English woman living in the times of plague.

The book ends with Maya moving partially out of her confusion and gaining some insight to her lives. But there are still more re-births to go through.

1st book in "The Infinite" book series.

The story is based on the concept of karma and souls undertaking multiple births before getting salvation. We see the character of Maya empathizing more with her srroundings as we progress through here many births. Also there are certain physical characteristics which pass on in each life and act as a continuity for the soul.

And I wonder, why London is always depicted as filthy and dirty in almost every book that I have read set in the 19th century of before.

Previously on BookMarks: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child

Friday, August 19, 2016

LearnNBlog #9: Repechage

Sakshi Malik's Bronze winning effort at the Rio Games, makes it the 3rd successive Olympics in which India has got a Wrestling medal through the repechage, after Sushil Kumar in Beijing and Yogeshwar Dutt in London. In fact, repechage is fast becoming India's favorite sporting terminology.

What is Repechage?
Repechage is giving a second chance to those competitors who failed to make through the initial qualifying rounds. It is a French word meaning "rescuing" or "fishing out". 

In sporting competitions it is done to give a second chance to those strong competitors who might have been eliminated at an early stage because of the bad luck of draw. (a la Djokovic getting knocked out by del Potro in the first round of the Olympics Tennis tournament. Unfortunately there is no repechage rule in Tennis). 

There are multiple forms of repechage with different formats being used across sports.

In Olympics, it is used in the sports of Wrestling, Judo and Rowing.  Wrestling has a knock-out format with only one winner going through to the subsequent round. When the two finalists are identified, everyone who has lot to them enters the repechage rounds. The loser in the first round plays the loser in the second round. The winner of this bout takes on the losing particiapnt of the subsequent round and so on till the semi-finalist. The winner of the repechage is awarded the Bronze medals. Wrestling has two sets of repechages (one for each of the finalist).

With the repechage action, Wrestling embodies Olympic spirit. The moment you lose, you start hoping that your opponent goes on to win every successive bout and reaches the final, thus giving you a second chance.

Further Readings

Previously on LearnNBlog: Gerrymandering

Sunday, August 14, 2016

India @ 69

15th August, 2016 – Time for my 10th annual Independence Day blog post - a little round-up of all things India. (Here is the 2015 edition).

How is the nation doing as a whole? Current mood of the nation seems quite grim, especially if one is in the habit of watching TV news and following social media. Apparently, intolerance has been rising to new Himalayan levels while the nationalistic pitch is reaching the moon and hyperbole on every single topic has piggy-backed to Mars riding the Mars Rover. Meanwhile there are intense debates (mostly hot-air) on freedoms of expression, choice of food etc. And there are new folks demanding different forms of "Azaadi". Oh, and there are intellectuals who are disturbed enough by the goings-on to return their well-earned awards. Where we begin wondering how many awards are given.

The country seems to be in a perennial state of elections. And that means that our elected leaders are in a non-stop campaign mode rather than in actually running the country. Hunger for quick take-over of power has resulted in a couple of states having governments changed and then reinstated via court interventions. In fact, we are seeing too many court interventions, certainly not a healthy sign for any democracy.

Governance of the country is being done through Twitter. While it feels good to see ministers addressing individual grievances, it also shows a lack of proper complaint redressal mechanism in our massive bureaucratic set-up. From missing passports to trains running late, if every complaint requires ministerial intervention, there is something terribly wrong in the system.

Its becoming increasingly difficult to separate the real from the presented news. There is a media version and there are multiple social media versions (depending on the ideology). Not sure which is more dangerous, the message shaped by conventional media (whatever their agenda) or the more extreme one shaped by social media based on one's belief. Add a multitude of whatsapp forwards which are mostly in the nature of garbled version of truth. Why people join online (and in some cases real) lynch mobs  and outrage without doing any basic fact-check is something beyond me. And there seems to be a constant need to fix the narrative has led to history books being re-written.

Meanwhile nature has started fighting back. We have had played enough with nature. It was a year of drought in many parts of the country. And followed by floods all over. Floods in multiple cities (Chennai, Bangalore, Assam, Gurgaon) have shown up the reality of our mismanaged development. World class IT parks surrounded by medieval drainage system, certainly a recipe for disaster. That the monsoon is still the single largest factor in the economic indices in a telling comment on the state of infrastructure development of the country. The sensex maybe growing at a steady rate but it hasn't been able to keep up with the food prices.

Start-ups are the new cool thing in the business domain. Everyone seems to be starting up something or working in a start-up. And there is a whole industry of start-ups. Start-ups seem to mushroom out of nowhwere and many either get absorbed into another company or simply disappear. Anything and everything is coming under the aegis of start-ups. A fellow running multiple blogs is now termed a "serial entrepreneur". Lets see how much longer this cash-burn continues.

On the sporting front, we have sent our biggest contingent to the Olympics, which is a tremendous achievement. But mid-way through the Rio Games, things haven't exactly panned out in our favour. Michael Phelps has now moved ahead of India in the Olympic medal tally. Well, there is always cricket to fall back onto for the Indian fan.

The most tragi-comic news of the year -  ISIS considers its Indian recruits inferior to those form other countries. (Indian Express). Hmmm!

All said and done. things not looking so good. But we are relatively better off given the goings-on in other parts of the world. And one always carries a sense of hope. After all, tomorrow is another day!

Happy Birthday India

Monday, August 08, 2016

BookMarks #14: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Author: JK Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne 
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Play
Setting: The Parallel world of Witches & Wizards
Published: 2016

Official Synopsis
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn't much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

All of us thought that the journey of Harry Potter and his fight with Voldemort was over. And they all lived happily ever after, but as in real life, that is not the case. 

The story continues from the epilogue of the concluding book of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We follow the paths of Albus Severus, Harry’s son and his new-found friend, Scorpius, the son of Harry’s old school nemesis Draco Malfoy. Both of whom are seeking to survive in the wizarding world, burdened by the names of their fathers’ reputations. Meanwhile, efforts are on to revive Voldemort once again but this time the Dark Lord has a different ally.

We live in the times of cinematic universes with stories spawning from one central theme and going on and on. Seems the Harry Potter universe is also expanding along similar lines with spin-offs and sequels adding to the original tale. And in multiple media - books, movies and now a play [As a fan of the series, I am not complaining].

Lots of references to the previous stories, as would be expected in any fictional universe. Always brought a smile while reading, whenever anyone of the old characters makes a cameo appearance in the tale.

This story is different from the others. After all it is a play and not a novel. Thus we find more dialogues and less action. And that changes quite a bit of the reading of the story. Also necessitating jumps in the storyline. [Reminded me of reading Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice & Hamlet – compulsory part of our English Literature exams]

I do not like this business of time-travel as a plot device. It is too convenient, creating alternate realities. Although in this case somehow we are spared changes in the main timelines. Add the “Interstellar” inspired source of sending a message through time. Playing with time adds its own share of plot-holes.

Plot-holes (or maybe not)
  • Whose wand is Albus using in the climatic duel?
  • In one of the alternate timelines, how are they taking Voldemort’s name?
  • And with so many illegal time-turners floating around (and in the hand of death-eaters), why wasn't any similar attempt made in the "past"?
Aside - I like the word discombobulated.

After many years, actually managed to read a whole book in a day. In all a fun read.

Previously on BookMarks: The Privateersman