Saturday, December 31, 2005

What's In That Juice Again?

This morning, while walking through the dairy/juice section of the supermarket, I noticed the label on a bottle of Tropicana's Sweet Grapefruit juice. It read: "made with not from concentrate juice".

Read that again.

Mr. Orwell, your neighbors are complaining about your spinning motion.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy Endings

No, no, it's not the kind of a post you think it is.

I am talking about my last-working-day-of-the-year ritual: cleaning up my desk.

I've been guiltily eyeing a pile of papers that has occupied a corner of my desk for a year now. I have no idea why or even how that pile formed there. Must be a result of those massive geological forces they keep talking about. Resting on that pile are two boxes of thumb-tacks, I don't know why I bought them. There's also 3 CDs with no labels, a pen holder with two unsharpened pencils, adhesive labels, business cards of people who do not even set the clapper of the bell into oscillation and a piece of paper with a phone number and no name. Now all I need is a corpse and I've got a pretty decent crime scene here. (Say it really fast like Bogart and it does sound like a line from a B-noir film.)

Motivational blogger Steve Pavlina has a few tips on creating a productive workspace.

Here's to a great start to 2006.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

"Looking For What I Knew"

Metallica's "Master of Puppets" still sounds frightfully, delightfully heavy. It's 20 years old. But I must have played it after 200 years and that fat thrash riff that follows the quiet intro to "Battery" gave me a most severe adrenalin rush. I was in such a state of rage that I knew I simply had to reach for another Godiva truffle to calm me down. And I did.

Led Zeppelin's "III" has always occupied, in my mind, a (slightly) higher place than I, II, IV and everything else they ever recorded. It's the sound of a band cooling down. It's the sound of a band sitting under a tree and writing music for you and me and the fishes and the flowers. It's the sound of a band firmly connected to their roots.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Will the Newspapers Stop Snooping On Me?

The headline on Drudge Report this morning: "11-year old may have face transplant" (link goes to People's Daily.)

Now guess what was I watching last night? Georges Franju's classic "Eyes Without A Face", a creepy horror-thriller about face transplants*.

Really, get off my back. Or must I invest in an extra large sheet of tinfoil?

*My gross-out threshold is pretty high. But that one scene - I won't describe more for the sake of those who haven't seen this film - made me really glad I am not in the medical profession.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Constraints To Set You Free

Arun at Cre8iveIgnition writes passionately about creativity. There's lots of other art goodies on his blog too. But this post is the one I want to talk about.

Arun's point is this: Rules are necessary for creation. Without rules, you can get lost and even frozen for ideas.

I would never have believed the above statement had I not played - no, inflicted - live music on some listeners.

Ever got together with a bunch of friends and started an impromptu jam on a chord sequence? You know how it goes. "We'll play a few bars of A minor, do two bars in G, then 2 bars in F and then do a turnaround to A minor". It's bloody awful, both for the musicians and their unfortunate listeners (unless their ears and minds are sufficiently lubricated with alcohol.) After about 10 minutes, the fearless musical exploration turns into a vulgar display of guitar effects pedals and amp wattage. It happened to me every time.

See, without the predictable verse/chorus/verse and the dependable 4/4 beat, the listener gets bored and restless. The musical idea needs to exist in a recognizable form and shape. Listeners respond to the form. The form or the structure is the artist's best friend. And when the artist violates the form in unexpected ways, his or her work becomes really exciting.

A fine example of such a violation is the Beatles' "A Day in the Life". The first verse leads us safely to the second verse - no surprises there - but the second verse changes the form completely with the line "Having read the book/I'd love to turn you on" line (not just musically, but also lyrically - those were considered "naughty" words in 1966.) The bizzare bridge that follows the second verse takes us into another world with a sharply different tempo and mood. What the hell is going on? Well, you stick around for the comb-dragging, hat-grabbing, stair-climbing character to tell you his experiences through the which point, the familar verse-form comes in again to tell you about more inspired lunacies. Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. Yeah.

Now, Lennon-McCartney need the verse-chorus-verse form to create this bit of dizzying psychedelia. On the other hand, the deliberately designed psychedelia of Revolution # 9 often fails because of a lack of a recognizable structure. (It does have a structure, just not a well-known structure.)

Imagine a musician's plight if he were handed 7 notes and asked to make rain? Won't do. What he or she needs is the familiar structure of the Malhar group of raags. (And the audience needs umbrellas.)

Similarly, a film genre is a structure which is used by great writers and directors to explore new stories and worlds. Like Fred Zinneman's "High Noon". A standard western structure (Good marshall takes on some bad guys) is used to explore highly political and personal themes (honor, integrity) with almost unbearable suspense of a murder-thriller.

But structure and genre often get a bad rap. "I hate westerns" and "I hate chick-flicks*", are two commonly heard statements (uttered usually by women and men respectively.) What they usually mean is they hate westerns and chick-flicks that do not tell a fresh, compelling story. Why is Kurosawa's "Stray Dog", set in the "old cop/rookie cop" genre a great film but not the dozens of cop movies that have used (and will continue to use) the exact same set-up? (Well, see the film and you will know why.)

(*Is David Lean's "Brief Encounter" a weepie chick-flick? Of course not. It's a great film. But the basic structure of the film is a classic weepie, all right.)

Rules, constraints, form, structure - call it what you will - are necessary for creativity. Only when we have a destination can we take those fun side-trips. Or else we are stuck listening to ambitious but pointless guitar jams for 2 hours.

P.S.: Here are the famous "Vows of Chastity" taken by the so-called Dogme 95 film-makers. Again, rules and constraints that force the artist into exploring new and often unsafe creative options.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Morning, Sights & Sounds

I woke up hoping for snow. It is much too warm this Christmas. Still, I looked through the blinds to see if there was any white at all. Not a chance. Even the snow on the ground had melted. But there was a thick, white-grey fog on rooftops, treetops and over the field behind the house. So what if we didn't get a white Christmas in 2005, the fog is pretty impressive.

I discovered the film "A Christmas Story" a few years ago. I suppose Comedy Central was running it as a counter-response to this standard. Since then, this film has become my holiday staple. It's wistful, quirky, funny and not sugary at all. Perfect film for a Christmas morning.

UPenn's radio station WXPN has been playing non-stop in the living room since last evening. Wine tastes so much better with music like Nat King Cole Trio's "All I want for Christmas (is my two front teeth)", pianist George Winston playing a stunning version of Doors' "Crystal Ship", Flaming Lips, Neil Young doing "Imagine" and a spoken-word bebop Christmas song.

If I had to pick a favorite Christmas song, it would be John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)". War is over, if you want it. Those are very hopeful words.

Any festive occasion can be elevated by playing Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World". I wish the WXPN DJ would find his copy of Satchmo reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas".

The local Barnes & Noble is running a terrific book-gifting drive for disadvantaged children. You pick up these little name-tag-like cards that contain a kid's name, age (and gender). The idea is to buy a book suitable for that child and gift it. Barnes & Noble then delivers the book to the children. What can be greater than a 3 year-old or a 5 year-old receiving a book? Like Jack Black's character says in "School of Rock", a great rock concert can change the world. Well, a great book can blow a little child's mind and change the world.

Jeff Buckley's singing "Hallelujah". The song always makes me want to stop and listen to the lyrics again. There must be a secret chord.

And so we reach the last 6 days of 2005. So fast? Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My Goal Is To Avoid Saying "Zeitgeist"

Everyone's heard about 43 Things. They have their yearly Top 100 goals' list (which, thanks to Google, is no longer a list, but a Zeitgeist. Ugh.)

The Top 10 on the list are: Procrastination, weight loss, write a book, fall in love (it's a goal now?), be happy, drink more water (wow, yeah, like, I know...this is America, after all), take more pictures, get married, get a tattoo and finally, read more books.

Yeah, we get the idea. Who doesn't want to be thinner, richer, happier, well-hydrated and covered in ink?

But check out Goal #87.

772 people want to fulfill #87. These 772 people - they don't care if they are overweight, single, lonely, illiterate, unpublished, unhappy or if their digital cameras lie unused between New Year's Eve and July 4th. All they want is Goal #87.

Now that's zeitgeist. Oops.

P.S.: And #17 is a classic :)

"Liar! Liar! Black Liar!"

During the opening robbery/shoot-out sequence in Peckinpah's masterpiece, "The Wild Bunch", comes a truly bizarre bit of dialogue.

The scene shows us two grizzled, raggedy hired guns arguing over who really shot the man lying on the ground. Both men claim to have shot him. There is prize money involved, naturally. Dirty world and all that. Suddenly, the two break into this conversation:

Man 1: Liar! Liar! Black liar!
Man 2: Don't talk like that to me
Man 1: I'm sorry...

Now why would a brutal shoot-out feature such an exchange? The 35-minute documentary on the DVD explains it. It was a tongue-in-cheek joke planted there by the writers, just to make these 2 men seem, well, a little gay and by that they certainly didn't mean happy.

Yes, even a great, bloody film like "The Wild Bunch" can have such silly, goofy moments. As can be expected, Filmsite has an in-depth analysis of the film.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The 10 Most Dangerous Guitars In The World

Take a look at these 10 beauties (link goes to a Fender UK site) and tell me you wouldn't stab yourself with a plectrum or strangle yourself with a Phosphor-bronze E string for a chance to hold them in your arms.

For those click-challenged among us, the Top 10 are: Clapton's Brownie and Blackie, Jimi's Woodstock Strat, Dave Gilmour's 001 Strat, Buddy Holly's (last) Strat, George's Rocky, SRV's Number One, Rory Gallagher's Strat, Hank Marvin's Flamingo Pink Strat and finally, a Strat owned by Jimi and Zappa (holy moly, some pedigree!)


Monday, December 19, 2005

Sasura, Kya Phillum Industry Hai!

I don't quite understand why this is news in 2005 (link to BBC). But it is.

Remember the early-80s quasi-Bhojpuri blockbuster"Nadiya Ke Paar"? Well, I do. I lived in those neck of the woods back then. People were lining up, some for the 4th or the 5th time, outside that little tin-shed of a movie-hall. Let me tell you, this film was more important to the sugarcane-chewing citizen than "Citizen Kane" to a bunch of film-schoolers.

The success of "Nadiya Ke Paar" should have been an obvious sign of a serious paucity of regionally-relevant entertainment, but it was almost completely ignored by the film industry. It is understandable. If you didn't live in the heartland, you just wouldn't know or care about the fuss over this film.

Theoretically, two hundred million viewers represent 20% of Bollywood's potential market. That's a Kong-sized market. (And if you've worked in the IT industry long enough, I know you are doing the "200 million times 2 dollars a seat" calculation. Shameless old farts.) But it is a market that the present p.o.s. producers in Bombay CANNOT entertain well enough.

Well, supply, say hello to demand.

Is That A Standard?

A "jazz standard" is a composition that is held in continuing esteem and is commonly used as the basis of jazz arrangements and improvisations.
A simple, succinct and satisfying defintion, I'd say. Here's a terrific exploration of the rich and delightful world of Jazz Standards. I discovered this wonderful site via this page.

(And for the Lazy Jazz Geek in you, this is the list of the Standards.)

P.S.: Any other music geeks miss the good old All Music Guide?

Friday, December 16, 2005

"Something Else"

"my dream is something else", "this is *just* something I do...", "i am a realistic person", "I work because I need the means to do that something else..."

Just why are so many people torn between the *this* and *something else*? Are they waiting for some kind of permission from the Universe?

"I Was Misinformed"

Rick: I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Insp. Renault: But we’re in the middle of the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

Some good Noir fun here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


*Laughing My Ass Off While Driving To Work

So Zappa's "Absolutely Free" (link goes to Ground And Sky, an avant/prog/experimental music review site) is playing in the car. I know there will be tons of shoot-coffee-out-of-my-nose moments. It is, after all, a Frank Zappa album. "Absolutely Free" does not disappoint at that level.

After the mind-bending hilarity of classics like "Call any vegetable" and songs about prunes, comes a song called "America Drinks". For those who haven't heard it, the song kicks off with Zappa's voice counting "One! Two! Buckle My Shoe!". I don't know why, but it cracks me every time. The mental picture of a serious, avant-rock musician using a nursery rhyme for the count is pretty funny. Think I will just keep the intro to this song on a never-ending loop till Friday.

Listening to Zappa reminds me of hanging out with a really smart and really disgusting kid in middle school. You know, the one who knew all the really filthy, funny jokes involving the unholy trinity of booger, shit and farts. Of course, Zappa's music is *so* much more than just jokes and novelty songs...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Wong Kar-Wai Times Two

What can be better than watching a Wong Kar-Wai film? Watching two of them in one weekend. "Chungking Express" and "Happy Together**". (link to Senses of Cinema.) And the icing on the cake: Clouzot's "Wages of Fear" sitting in the DVD player. (link to Wiki)

** The Ghost of Frank Zappa must be watching me. I pick up "Happy Together", which features a Zappa song, and Mothers of Invention's "Absolutely Free" at the same time. Weirrrrd, man.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Hat, A Tie And No Pants On

No, that's not how I went to last night's party. That's Homer Simpson, making a reference to Yogi Bear (link goes to NYT has a good story on the "bear who was there at the start of it".

(The Simpsons' episode the article refers to is "The Day The Violence Died", and the complete quote is: "Animation is built on plagiarism. If it weren't for someone plagiarizing The Honeymooners, we wouldn't have The Flintstones. If someone hadn't ripped off Sergeant Bilko, there'd be no Top Cat. Huckleberry Hound, Chief Wiggum, Yogi Bear? Andy Griffith, Edward G Robinson, Art Carney.")

Isn't all art built on plagiarism? Homer's character is wholly original and yet it is a composite of so many TV dads who came before him. Aren't all sitcoms essentially a re-working of "I Love Lucy"?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Pope Says a Virtuous Life Is Not 'Boring'"

...and he flashed a mischievous grin as he whispered:

and by "virtuous" I mean "the life led by groupies backstage and in hotel rooms during Led Zeppelin's second US tour"
Read all about it here. (link to, via Drudge.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Well We All Shine On

The above picture (circa 1968, White Album) was practically etched into the first wallet I ever owned and stayed there through 4 years of electrical engineering lectures, numerous films, concerts, drinking sessions and trips. It even kept me company a couple of years after college. I found it in an old issue of SPAN magazine. (Remember Span?) The picture was my good-luck charm. Considering that I survived those teenage years and college, I think it worked very well ;)

Wish I could be at Strawberry Fields tomorrow for the 25th anniversary of his death. There's something very cool about that place. I once saw a father reprimand his kids because they were not showing "proper" respect to the famous mosaic on the ground! How many places in America do you see such reverence?

What I also love about the place is how connected I feel to everyone who stops there to remember the man. There are tourists from all over the world (and - ahem - New Jersey) and we all know how deeply the other person feels about John Lennon. I am not the first person to say this, but Strawberry Fields does resemble the Brotherhood of Man.

Thanks once again for the music and for showing us the possibilities, John.

Aristotle's "Poetics"

If there is anything worth knowing, Artistole (link to wikipedia) has already figured it out and written about it. His book, "Poetics", is only one such example. I randomly opened a page in this fine little book this morning and came across the following lines: is not the function of the poet to relate what has happened, but what may happen....The poet and the historian differ not by writing in verse or in prose...The true difference is that one relates what has happened, the other what may happen.

Poetics rawks. (link to downloadable version on

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Thelma and Marty

A long but insightful interview (link goes to an AOL member-page) with the always-articulate Thelma Schoonmaker, editor on so many of Scorsese's films. (link goes to's site; an audio interview with Terry Gross.)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Wish All Critics Were This Honest

Along with the "did you find this review useful", Amazon should now incorporate a "Did you find this review entertaining" option. How else to tag the following user-review?

i made a bet with someone who didn't believe me that the pet shop boys did a cover of "where the streets have no name." i won, of course, and now the guy owes me a beer. i give this album five stars for the free beer it won me.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bihar, On The Screen

Uma, of Indianwriting, has an excellent post on Prakash Jha, whose new film "Apaharan" is now out in theaters (including here, in New Jersey.)

Friday, December 02, 2005

I Love Nosferatu

While watching the credits roll at the end of F.W. Murnau's creepy-as-a-rat Nosferatu, I saw a name that rang a bell: Director of Cinematography - Karl Freund.

The name was not just familiar, but VERY familiar. No, I didn't remember his name from his work on Fritz Lang's Metropolis. I remembered it from some other film.

So I had to google for his name.

Ah. So that's why his name seemed so familiar. And what a resume! He worked on Nosferatu, Metropolis and this classic too?

Clue: The title of the post will give you the answer :)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dear Mr Prime Minister...

Neha's post on e-Governance (are we still allowed to prefix words with "e"?) has got me thinking. Chin-scratching, pen-chewing, horizon-staring kind of thinking.

Now, local government officials that deal with practical, real-life issues (as in: highways are jammed, water tastes funny, post office must be kept open past midnight etc etc) are obviously good candidates for blogging. They deal with very tangible problems. But what about central or federal government officials, who deal with larger issues? Should they be encouraged to blog as well?

Consider a sample blog entry from a Finance Minister's blog:

June 18, 2005: The Prime Minister wants us to seriously consider joining the WTO. My head hurts from having to educate him about the pitfalls. Also, my kitten keeps clawing my assistant's legs.

One can imagine the comments on such a blog:

June 19: "Anonymous" says: Dude, wtf is wto?
June 19: "MeanMrMustard" says: heh heh, your pussy got claws?

Or take this entry from a Defense Minister's blog ("Boys With Toys")

August 6:

Current Mood: Aggressive
Listening to: Napalm Death

I don't know what to dooooo :( He says launch the attack from the west. His under-secretary also says west. I keep telling them (and I can't reveal names here, LOLZZZ!!) west is not the best. South-east is better. I hate when he acts all bossy. I mean, who does he think he is? Wait, he's the PM!! :)) Wish I could drink my gin and tonic and chill...just like we did in college!!!! Now where's the nuke-launch button I ordered last week from Amazon?


August 6: HwyToHell Says: Recently came across your blog! Loved it. Do visit our accupressure site and tell us what you think!

August 6: GanguliHaiHai Says: When did India last win a match in the south-east?

See what I mean?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

So I Married an Axe-Obsessed News Site

Both "heads" courtesy BBC's front-page today:

Headline #1: Youth guilty of racist axe murder
Headline #2: BA to axe one-third of managers

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Everything Looks Better in Black and White

I am crashed out on the couch. My legs, neck and back hurt. Even the imagined sound of the doorbell hurts my head. I figured I must have read about a possible alcohol famine in the Northeastern parts of the USA. Why else would I drink so much the night before?

Anyway, not wanting to punish ourselves with anything too heavy, we start playing a DVD of Dev Anand's songs. Turns out to be a wiser decision than opening that last bottle of Cognac.

The melodies of these songs - and these are some of the greatest songs out there - are lush, the rhythms gentle, the women honey-sweet and The Dev - always eccentric and funny.

Time has been far kinder to Navketan Studios' "song-videos" than to some of their films. It is easy to see why. The videos are shot very artistically, i.e., with a plan and passion. Attention is paid to details like camera movement and editing. It makes some of the songs look surprisingly modern. For e.g., that well-known song set inside the Qutub Minar - played on mute, it almost passes off as a sequence from a 1950s Neo-Realistic European film.

Many of the songs are shot outdoors. Even here, the artistry is obvious. (Pay attention to some of the newer songs shot in outdoors. The camera actually crops out the scenery from the frame because cleavage and butt demand top billing. The landscape barely even registers on our minds.) The lighting is mostly muted, except for close-ups, when the then aesthetic dictated a glowing soft-focus. Makes Madhubala's face glow like the moon and no complaints about that one.

The editing of these songs, very gentle and leisurely, makes the song so easy on the eye. Forget smashes and jump-cuts. Long-shots are common. Close-ups occur only for a Madhubala or a Sadhana and that too, to accentuate a lyric. The camera is not afraid to look away from the hero and the heroine.

It is true that Bollywood's only motivation is to produce song-videos with the main film as the filler. But why must it forget what it once knew? Why can't they make them appealing to the multiplex goer and the terribly hungover movie-lover?

Read this excellent technical analysis (opens a PDF, link to on some the key Indian cinematographers. The essay also tells us how the changing dynamics of the studio business and the growth of the advertising industry pushed Bollywood films into adopting their present look and feel.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Bullock-Cart Drivers Clarify They Are Not Balloonists

"This goes to show to the world that we are not bullock cart drivers."

This week's pat-on-the-back comes from Vijaypat Singhania, who reached a new "high" in aviation. (Link goes to the Independent UK.)

Hate to break this to you Mr. Singhania, but not many people outside India think of Indians as "bullock-cart drivers". Now, they do think of us as software engineers, doctors, convenience store owners, motel owners and maybe even think of us as nation of snake-charmers and blissed-out Gurus. But not once have I encountered the question "was your grandfather a bullock-cart driver"? (In case you are wondering, no, he wasn't. He was a doctor.)

Besides, what's wrong with being a bullock-cart driver? Last time I checked, it was an honest profession.

Pritty Pritty Pritty Pritty Peggy Sue

Even as I sit facing it directly, the heat from the 2PM winter sun can barely be felt on my skin and my eyelids. Still, it is something to be thankful for. And to show the sun my appreciation, I pump up the volume. It's Buddy Holly singing "Peggy Sue". (Yes, my tribe thanks the elements by turning up the volume on its CD players.)

I find it funny how my opinion of Buddy Holly's music has changed over the years. When I first discovered rock and roll, I thought early rock and roll was just great fun. Simple stuff, right? Then when I picked up the guitar and discovered 60s and 70s rock music, I began finding the music from the 50s too limiting. Too many ballads and filler on those albums. I was happy to lose my way in that dark jungle of blues, metal, classical, jazz blah blah. Then suddenly, all this 50s music began showing up again in my collection. I love how that happens. Great music just manifests itself without warning.

I again started paying attention to Buddy Holly's songs. What a revelation it has been. How the hell did he figure out that intro to Rave On? It's so damn modern in its feel (or has rock not grown up in 50 years?) The delicious groove on Peggy Sue. Or the guitar parts on "Words of Love" (George practically duplicated it note for note on "Beatles For Sale"). Or the vocal styling on "It Doesn't Matter Anymore". Or the evergreen "Not Fade Away", which was covered so beautifully by both the Stones and by the Dead in so many great shows. So much musical treasure is buried in those 2-minute songs.

Between Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, I feel at least one of them deserves to share the title of the "King" with the - well - the King.

Sabrina, Or What Rhymes With Glass

I need a Billy Wilder fix every now and then. So, couple of days ago, I rented "Sabrina" (link goes to Turner Classic Movies.) Normally, I would pick "Sunset Blvd.", but it is the start of the holiday season and dead chimps make me sad.

I love "Sabrina" for the genuine moments of surprise in the screenplay (the great Ernest Lehman wrote it. The same Mr. Lehman who also wrote North By North-West.) I love "Sabrina" for Wilder's wit and his trademark directorial touches all through the film.

Sabrina is the reason God created Film. Sabrina is the perfect excuse to build your own little temple for Billy Wilder. People of Tamil Nadu, are you listening?

Just to counter the sweetness of Sabrina, I also rented the great F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, Which explains the smell of garlic around the house.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Little Classic Rock Quiz

A question for fans of '60s rock:

(Challenge: no Googling or using the Wiki on these names. Feel free to browse through your CD or LP collection. Your MP3 collection won't save your souls.)

1. What is common to Mahatma Gandhi, Purna Das Baul, Yukteshwar Gigi, Sri Paramhamsa Yogananda, Sri Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Mahavatara Babaji?

2. Why is Gandhi also the odd one out in this list?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Death By Guitar

From the Scarier-Than-Death-Metal dept.:

A 16-year-old Chinese boy studying in Singapore fell to his death from a hostel room after jumping up and down on his bed while playing a guitar, a media report said on Thursday.

Yikes. For a guitar-playing kid to fly out of a window, either the window was wide enough (or else the guitar would have hit the window-frame first) or the kid flew out of the window sideways (so the fretboard was perpendicular to the plane of the window.) Look at it any which way, it is bizarre.

Read the story here. (link to Star of Mysore)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

How to Win the Desi Pundit Slogan Contest and Influence People

First Blogger to Second Blogger (whispers):
"Dude, that's the blogger who won the Desi Pundit Slogan Contest"

Second Blogger (craning his neck to catch a better glimpse):
No way!

First Blogger:

Second Blogger:
But..but...he looks just like US!

Flash bulbs popping. Screams, catcalls, whistles. The two bloggers try to duck under the velvet rope.

A HUGE BALD BOUNCER stretches out his muscular, tattooed arms and grabs the two men by their necks.


A tuxedoed blogger (or an off-the-shoulder, Versace-gowned lady blogger..)
making the acceptance speech, then jumping into a black, shiny stretch-limo to get to a computer to blog about the awesome prize-giving ceremony, about the celebrity bloggers in attendance and why Amit Varma has finally decided to enable comments - in his real-life conversations (just kidding, pardner..)

Yeah, the Slogan Contest is that cool.

A glance at the comments section on that sticky indicates that janta has got off to a flying start. They are busy polishing their rhyming skills, replacing well-known product slogans with the words "Desi Pundit" and even suggesting design ideas.

Only one problem. There are way too many similar-sounding slogans out there. Differentiation can be your best friend.

So why not try something really different? Like an anti-marketing angle, the negative psychology trick. For instance, a slogan like

"Because Desi Baba Is No More"
"We Suck Less Than IIPM"
"ToI Thinks We Are Great!"
"#2 in a field of 1"

is sure to stick longer in the panelists' minds than just puns involving the words "Blog", "Desi", "Pundit" and "India".

Slogans like "Hamara Blogistan", "Hum Blog", "Blogz By Sand Niggaz" are all awfully obvious. As are word-plays involving India's population ("One Billion Served"), spoofs of Bollywood titles ("Kyonki Main Blog Nahin Karta") and plain lies ("DP: Serving Tasty Blogs Since 1857")

On the off-chance that you can't come up with anything catchy, try bribing. Cash, iPod Nanos, DSLR cameras or an Ivy league education for the panelists' children. Try it. You will be surprised by the response!

Should they turn down your kind offer, use threats and intimidation. Send them scary emails. Like the ones that begin: "Hi! I have a new blog with pictures of my cat"

If gifts, sticks and stones don't get you the coveted prize, then, my dear friend, you will just learn to live with the bitter taste of failure.

Better still, open that bottle of Chivas you got for your imaginary Thanksgiving dinner, take 6 fast shots and blog about your hangover. You know whom to tip-off about that fine post, right?

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Brave Mr. Shanmugham

A sad story involving the usual immiscible elements: ethics, politics, money and oil. (via DesiPundit)

Practically a replay of the Satyendra Dubey murder. (link to

Rhymes with Ice Cream

Driving up to work this morning, I noticed a truck with a red logo painted on its back: "Jack and Jill Ice Cream".

Jack and Jill? They of the broken crown and the after-tumbling fame? I can understand Jack and Jill bandages, adhesives and buckets. But ice cream?

Guilty Pleaures

Driving around at night, listening to Carpenters' "Singles (1969-1973)".

Never have I felt such strong urges to both sing along and trash the CD. No point fighting either one, is what I have learned.

A great singer, and Karen Carpenter is a darn good one, makes you want to sing along. So I sang along on every chorus and verse, tried singing harmonies and even played air-piano to "Close to you".

But I am proud to say I made no attempt to fight the second urge either. As soon as the New York city skyline appeared in front of me on the turnpike, I switched to a monstrously beautiful Sabbath gold: "War Pigs". Devil signs were flashed (at myself), re-assurances given that I was not a hopeless case yet and teenage years were desperately relived as the volume was raised to near-deafening levels for the scary-good outro of that song.

So, how was your weekend?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Revolution 10

I was googling* for some analyses of Beatles' chords and song structures when I stumbled upon a page containing these shocking words: "During their years together, the Beatles released roughly 10 hours of music with scarcely a loser in the lot." (link goes to a page)

Did I read that sentence right?

I did. It does say "10 hours".

That's an average, typical working day for most of us. Or say, the time it would take to watch 3 or 4 films. Or less than half the time it takes to reach Mumbai from New York.

How will they measure our life's work? In fractions of picoseconds?

*I also realized that I really miss some of these fanboy geocities sites containing really good analysis, like this one (link to a geocities page, thankfully with a non-blinding background and text color.) Check out the chapter titled "Theory". Also recommended is the superb analysis of Revolution 9.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bruce Springsteen on "Fresh Air"

No show has more interesting guests than "Fresh Air" and few hosts have the interviewing skills of Terry Gross (link to Wikipedia.) Her interview (link to NPR's site) with Bruce Springsteen this evening was just so damn cool.

A very insightful quote from the Boss about the structure of his songs (and I am being a fearless and a shameless paraphraser here): "...the details of the characters and their stories are all in my verses. But my choruses are about hope..." (wish I could remember the exact words.)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Countering the Counterculture

Yesterday, I saw this punk with a spectacular mohawk. I know punks can't live on anarchy, three chords and safety pins alone, but watching this thin, white figure covered in black leather and metal shopping in the cereal aisle at the supermarket and then ducking into the organic foods section was more than just a little funny. Did I mention there was Elton John playing on the PA system? Fuckin' A for Irony.

Standby for the segue, please.

Saw this post by the chart-bustin' toppermost of the poppermost, aka Amitbhai, who points us to a post by Prufrock The Second. They both wonder why there isn't a counterculture in India. Prufrock does list some important Indian counterculture movements (like the one led by this uber-punk or that other one), but that doesn't quite feel like a counterculture movement, does it?

Really, why don't we have a counterculture? Answers like "we are like this only" and "but that's Hinduism, stupid" sound glib (and sometimes, true.) As far as I remember, Indian teenagers also feel disenchanted, angry and helpless like teenagers do, all over the world. But only a tiny fraction of them get to sublimate that energy through rock music, blogging, film, literature and humor. What do the rest of them do? Does anyone know?

There is another level of difficulty to this debate. When we say India lacks a counterculture, are we really complaining about the absence of a western-style counterculture? Did that sound like western-style toilets? OK, so we never had Greenwich Village poets, no Mods and Rockers, no mohawk-sporting punks and no fists-in-the-air-Hell-no-we-won't-go marches. But what is India if not paradoxes. After all, are we not a nation of laid-back counterculturists who learnt learned learnt to chant Mr. Leary's mantra way, way before the Summer of Love. And wasn't India the destination of choice for these rebels once? Woah, counterculture for the counterculturists!

I think the discussion is pointless without us asking this question: is there a monolithic entity called "Indian culture" and can there possibly be a single counterculture in response to it? This title by Mr. Naipaul comes to mind.

There are as many Indian countercultures as there are Indian cultures. You hate the culture of conspicuous consumption? There's a counterculture for that. You hate the counterculturists opposed to the flashy, material consumers? There's a contra-counterculture for that one. Loathe the mixing of politics and religion? Welcome to the counterculture of secularism. Can't stand the yellow-bellied, English-speaking, fence-sitting secularists? Join the orange fringe. And so on.

It may or may not match the romantic picture of the western counterculture that we carry around in our heads, so what, it's still a culture.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Indian-Politician Trifecta of Death Is On

First it was K.R. Narayanan, now Madhu Dandavate. Both rarae aves, these were politicians who cared about the nation. RIP.

Who will be the third one?

Sidenote: Not even a wiki stub on Prof. Dandavate?

The One In Which Nothing Happens

This story has such Zen-ness about it. Almost as if it is saying, you keep your big, loud stories about explosions and hurricanes and economic miracles to yourself, we have some real urgent issues at hand. Like correct change.

Seriously, bus conductors without change are like bicycles without religion.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Won't Get Fooled Again"

Great song to drag one's ass back to work after lunch.

It is also a great song to hear Keith Moon's artistry.

Observe how he skips one beat after another till he's so far behind the rest of the band that to catch up with them during the chorus, he has no choice but to grind out this super-condensed, furious roll-pattern. It is classic Keith Moon, a style that is used on several Who songs and it is one that sounds very "satisfying" (to me.) I suspect it is because unlike a drummer playing in a 2-guitar band, he doesn't play mere rhythm. Instead, he plays it like a "lead" instrument, as if he is playing a melody. So much so that anytime I hear a Who song now, I find myself mesmerized by Moon's rhythmic mathematics. There is always a dangerous moment in some of the Who's songs that suggest a loss of control (even if it occurs for a tiny fraction of a second.) Somehow, Moon the Loon ties it all together.

Why am I, a guitar lover, talking about drummers?

**Temperature/Pulse check**

Monday, November 07, 2005

Great Brainfart Moments in History

Passing on a perfectly good copy of Sam Cooke's "Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963" costing just 3 bucks. THREE dollars. Shame on me. (BTW, rock critic Peter Guralnick has a new bio on Sam Cooke. Link goes to, whose Site Pass thing never seems to work for me.)

I hope finding a Fritz Lang DVD - "Woman in the Moon" - for 3 bucks! - makes up for my ghastly blunder. Yes, I promise to view it again and again and again to make up for my unforgivable error. It will be a steep price to pay, but it has to be done to balance my karma.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

"Mighty Rearranger"

Robert Plant's highly-rated "Mighty Rearranger" is not just the best album Zeppelin never recorded after IV and Houses of the Holy, it is a terrific new album. Judge it by any standards and the album delivers, song after song.

How refreshing it is to hear a musician avoid the very genre and sound he practically created, and yet not be confused for anyone else. Plant's band (Strange Sensation) doesn't completely discard the Gibson-into-Marshall sound of Zeppelin, but re-imagines it. This is the new soundscape of bendirs, tehardants, sample loops, Moog bass-lines and of course, cock-rock wall-of-sound guitars. So what we are seeing now is that the new (and young) guitar-based bands are once again digging the late-60s proto-rock/garage sound from England and a 56 year-old rock God is exploring musical frontiers way, way outside Europe.

In case you have any doubts, just one bar of "Brother Ray" will tell you this album comes from the same mind that wrote that super-bizarre tribute* to Roy Harper on III. (And one heart-pounding drum phrase in the album will remind you of the Incomparable One. But that's not the point here.)

*described by one British critic as "suitably impenetrable"

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Indian Literary Trifecta of Death Is Complete

Celebrity Death Trifecta was obviously in play when writer Nirmal Verma died and Amrita Pritam followed. And now V. K. Madhavan Kutty's joined them at the Great Writing Desk in the Sky.

Damn you, Trifecta, damn you!!!

Bad Headline Wednesday

From the Tasteless-But-Probably-Unintended -Pun Department: "Bangaloreans all set to have a blast"

From the WTF Department: "Shah Rukh turns 40, plans to quit smoking"

From the "It's-Diwali-So-No-News-For-You" Department: "NO UPDATES"

Friday, October 28, 2005

Plume! Plame!! Wilson!!!

I am a little dizzy. See, all these days, I thought the poor woman's name was Valerie PLAME. Then this afternoon, on CNN's scrolling thing, I read PLUME. A few seconds later, it read PLAME.

Google for "Valerie Plume" and "Valerie Plame". See how many sites and blogs mis-spell her name as PLUME (well, 788, if you must know.) It includes this listing on IMDB also.

It is PLAME, not PLUME. The letters A and U are not even that close on the QWERTY. So what gives?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"Marooned in Iraq"

Bahman Ghobadi's "Marooned in Iraq" proves a couple of things. One, that people will seek out humor and music, inspite of (because of?) everyday tragedies and horrors. Two, the big-mustache look rocks. May the thought of a naked philtrum never cross my mind. If you don't know what "philtrum" means, look it up. It's a good word.

Great road-trip films affect us in ways that may not be obvious at first. Like "Easy Rider". (My first viewing of that film - at the age of 18, in college, under influence, naturally - was completely different from subsequent viewings.) And the bad road-trip films? We have met the "oil and water" road-trip partners, yawned through the montage set to an 80s-ballad and received the Grand Lesson in Love And Acceptance from dozens of road-trip movies. "Marooned in Iraq" gives us none of those.

Set in the early '90s and in the Iranian-Kurdistan region, it features two musician-brothers who accompany their musician-father on a trip into Iraq to find his wife, Hanareh, a name which means "anar" or pomegranate. Hanareh has left the old man for another musician. Why? To sing.

The film follows the Three (Kurdish) Stooges across borders, refugee camps, snow-laden mountains and even a village wedding. As it must happen in road-trip films and indeed, on any memorable road trip, mishaps occur. The weather makes for a formidable opponent, not to mention land-mines, Saddam's chemical warfare and highway robbers. So does the trio succeed in its mission? Yes and no. That is what separates a good road-trip film from a bad one. The film may have to end, but not the journey.

By the end of the film, I was thinking, how could there not be humor and music in the Kurds' world? How else could they hold a big, bold middle finger to Saddam and the weather Gods and poverty and mass graves? (and you dare not ask me my views on the current war in Iraq. I am more confused than ever. See the film and you will know why.)

The closing shot (a 6-hanky sequence) makes you realize how our definitions of hope are so limited and narrow. To me, dreaming of another set of circumstances is hope, imagining a better life is hope. But if I put myself in the trio's shoes (I DON'T have 3 pairs of feet), I realize my definition is more of a fantasy. To accept one's situation fully, to be unafraid to give up some dreams to fulfill others, to sing and to persist - that is something approaching these people's definition of hope.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Blog Quake Day

If the walls are shakin', the earth is quakin', your mind is achin', then we must blog about it, says the Pundit.

One of the great relief organizations working on the Quake '05 is Medecines Sans Frontieres, aka, "Brave Men in Scrubs Travelling to Really Far-off Places To Save Lives", aka, Doctors Without Borders, Nobel Prize winners for Peace in 1999.

As always, Due Diligence Must Precede Charity.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Guru Dutt's Yin, Bachchan's Yang

It's easy to see why Amitabh Bachchan was branded the "angry young man". He possessed a certain stature and could easily turn up the thunder in his voice. His hands were the hammer of the gods. He could smash a chair, throw punches, kick, swear and shoot. When AB got into a fight, God was in heaven and all was right with the world.

We were watching "Pyaasa" on DVD last night and while thinking of Guru Dutt's character, I was struck by how he and AB really are India's Yin and Yang of angry young men.

Most of us are familiar with Pyaasa (even those that have not seen it.) The neglected and suffering poet's story is probably as much a part of our film mythology as any of the popular AB films that came before the dreaded 80s. Though it seems almost fantastic now that back then, Indian audiences actually wanted to see Artists (and their Tortured Souls) up on the screen. (Or not - "Kaagaz Ke Phool" was a flop.)

Here's an interesting coincidence: AB, in many of his films, was simply "Vijay". Guru Dutt's poet in "Pyaasa" is also a Vijay. It's a harmless, generic, everyday Joe kind of a name. Vijay also lacks a surname, so Vijay could be a Konkani, an Allahabadi, anyone really.

Dutt's Vijay does not fight with his fists. He does not even fight with his words, even though he plays a poet. Like any introverted passive-aggressive, he rejects. That which he cannot accept is rejected. He is very angry, but what can he do? What can anyone do? When it all becomes overwhelming, he simply turns his back to the world.

That is where Guru Dutt's angry young man is so different from AB's character (GD was 35 when Pyaasa was made; AB, a wet-behind-the-ears 33 in Deewar). One Vijay fights like a wildcat. The other Vijay could easily audition for Hamlet. The poet, the intellectual and the coolie, the dockyard worker. But they are not very different. If one Vijay will not pick up a shoeshine tip that was casually tossed, the other cannot stand to see his poetry in a trash-can. It moves their souls, it makes them mad.

The poet Vijay's rejection of the world make me uncomfortable even after so many viewings, but it is probably because I cannot help but watch his films in the context of his suicide. (In fact, watching some of those scenes reminded me of another artist and I could not figure out who it was. It is Kurt Cobain, of course - another famous passive-aggressive.)

Is it accurate to say that the poet's anger is really more representative of Indian anger, and AB's anger just a fantasy? After all, what do most of us do when we hear about corruption in the government - we turn on the TV, listen to music, refresh our browsers, discuss fine art, propose grand political and economic solutions - anything but confrontation. Confrontation is the younger Vijay's business.

Two such wonderfully complex and different "angry young men" prototypes have been available to Bollywood for 4 decades, yet anger is no longer a sellable emotion. Do the audiences not care? I thought summer's here and the time is right for fighting on the streets? There must be an angry lot somewhere in India. Where are their stories? Who is their Vijay?

A fine bunch of pussies is what we seem to have become now, fixated on weddings and receptions. Imagine that - weddings and receptions! "Domesticated Young Indian", isn't that the incredible new "us". How sad - my generation - the one raised on AB films, and the generations that followed - seem to be capable of neither walking away like one Vijay nor taking it outside like the other.

3 sidenotes:

October 10 was Guru Dutt's 41st death anniversay. Not one major online news outlet gave a rat's ass.

Are there words to describe SD's music?

I find Pyaasa to be a satisfying film, but not a great film. I know, genre conventions must be respected blah blah, but still...

Friday, October 21, 2005

That Marvellous, Long-Titled Korean Film

I'm talking about this.

The film blows your mind in so many ways (the background score isn't one of them, though), but what impressed me the most was its confidence. A film with about 5 minutes of dialogue needs that quality. A film with nameless lead characters needs tons of confidence. The director must know something that we, the viewers, do not and he must be brave enough to ask us to join him for 2 hours. Without such a brave director, there would be cheap epiphanies (which reminds me - why can't I find cheap epiphones?), morals, plots, character-arcs and climaxes.

Such confidence on the part of director Kim Ki-Duk is what gives us this beauty of a film. William Goldman once said screenplays are structure. I don't believe I had really understood that line till I saw - what the heck, might as well type the whole title now - "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring". It is just terrific.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

CrassOver Films

As jargons and catchphrases go, the term "crossover films" is the very bottom of the septic tank. I first heard the phrase in 2000, just about the time when those hyphenated films started popping up in multiplexes and (on DVD) in grocery stores. Indo-British, Indo-American (which prompts the question: why not an Indo-Indian film?) The idea is beguilingly simple and attractive: one stone, two birds. To put it even more bluntly, Indian costs, American revenues. The offshore model, in other words.

Every Indian film producer-type in America wants to make crossover films. They want to pick an Indian story that will appeal to two very different sensibilities. Two sensibilities and thus two revenues. So they go after the ever-reliable fish-out-of-water plot, or the Clash-of-the-Generations plot. It's as if these poor Indo-whatever people have no other stories in their lives.

In their eagerness to cash in on the so-called trend, the producers overlook a very basic fact. "Bend it Like Beckham", arguably the Citizen Kane of crossover films, worked not because it is a crossover film. It "crossed over" because its protagonist's story worked. Producers, financers and marketers can be excused from this usage. After all, they have to promote the film.

But when scriptwriters start using the term "crossover film", it sounds ten times as repulsive. Aren't all films crossover crossover films? The story of Apu or the hapless Italian losing his bicycle or the wandering samurai warrior who gets hired as a bodyguard - they all crossed over from the personal to the universal. And if a film doesn't, what is the point?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Interpreting The Ass

Fear not, this is a family-friendly post.

Here's an eye-opening post about the Intergalactic Battle from a blog I found via the Mothership.

I am mostly clueless about law and its implementation. But now thanks to Mandar Nalvekar and his legal-eagle buddy Amod Paranjpe, I know a little better.

The good news? The now-infamous notarized e-mail is as serious as a Nigerian 419 mail. The bad news? Interpretation of the law is still the key. Read the paragraph concerning exceptions to freedom of speech (the one that ends with "However this right is subject to the following restrictions".)

Free speech ain't a free ride, but exception-items #1 through 8 are disturbing in the power they wield.

Anyone else find it ironic that a system that judges, a system that separates every situation into two neat halves (good/bad, right/wrong) must depend on interpretation?

Too Cool For School

The "lifestyle" dictates that all festivals and celebrations be observed on weekends, and so I found myself at a "dandiya night" at a local high school this past weekend. A lady (Gujarati) singer (accompanied by a band, of course) was at the mic who could easily put Robert Plant or Ian Gillian to shame. Her epic 30-minute jams would be interrupted by a screeching "HELLO!!!" to work up the crowd. This was the dandiya equivalent of "putchyerhandsupintheaiiir" or "IIICANTHEARYOU!". Whatever it was, it was working. The only unfortunate bit was that this rousing battle-cry was followed each time by a massive stab of feedback, making the whole affair very punk. Post-modern dandiya, I guess.

Here's something I learned: some kids will always be too cool for school and they WILL not dance. Instead, they sit in the sidelines, playing with their Gameboys or iPods, eyeing everyone in the crowd with contempt and pity. I bravely fought the urge to give them a poetic, poignant talk on one of life's great lessons (the kind that you receive in forwarded emails under the title 'Gabriel Garcia Marquez's last words' - idiots!), namely, "when in doubt, dance". Put aside your shyness and jump into the fire. Carpe Diem. The girls are not impressed with your aloofness. Speak softly and carry a dandiya stick.

Next time, maybe.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ozu's "Early Summer"

Silence and space are such powerful tools in the hands of artists. Yet both are pushed out by over-busy film frames, over-busy musical arrangements, over-busy plots and stories. It seems to me that it's not the audiences that lack the attention-span, but the artists themselves. They are afraid to pause and breathe.

Yasujiro Ozu was not one of those artists. Watching his masterpiece "Early Summer" (1951), you cannot help but marvel at the extraordinary weight of silence and the use of space. The camera lingers on an empty chair or just a drawer long after the character has left the scene. Shots are composed at eye-level (a signature Ozu technique: the now-famous "tatami" shot) making the story, the story-world and the characters utterly intimate and believable. This could be anyone's house: a deaf grand-uncle, grandparents that no longer matter, parents with their own hidden agendas (and emotional needs) and of course, the big question. Is it right to let one's happiness be subsumed by the interests of the family?

There isn't much by way of action or plot in "Early Summer". Noriko has reached that age where she calls herself "an old maid", if a little facetiously. Her brother, a doctor who is emotionally absent from his own marriage (and from his children's lives), is all in favor of a match suggested by Noriko's boss. The family too is happy for Noriko. The groom is successful and a respected member of the community, just that he is pushing 40. Noriko does not see herself leading a happy life with this man and agrees to marry a neighbor, a divorced man with a kid.

That's all there is to "Early Summer". This minimal plot is used by the master to study the family and the heartbreak that accompanies transitions within a family. But this is not some melodramatic "family" film, but a very funny one.

Silence, pauses, space- all the great film-makers use them. Even a hyper-kinetic Tarantino employs them ("Jackie Brown" is filled with such stunning moments.) But one must watch "Early Summer" to see how Ozu takes it to a whole new level.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Light Bulbs, Anyone?

Q. How many IIPM Student Council members does it take to change a light-bulb?

A. 267. 255 to burn laptops, 10 to set up spam-blogs, 1 to send notarized e-mails to bloggers and 1 to...oh screw you, we will simply burn the bulb if you call this room dark.

Future's So Bright (They Gotta Wear Shades)

No summaries or analyses here, others have already done it.

With each passing day, L'Affaire IIPM rises to Everestian proportions of stupidity. Let's put it this way: if countering a magazine article was the toughest business challenge these guys have faced up until now and the best they could do was respond with aggression, pathetic verbal shots and intimidation, then their company is doomed. Kaput, khatam.

I don't care one way or the other about the institute, its alumni ("alum", as one of them referred to their institute, perhaps confusing it for "Alu Mutter") or even the veracity of JAM's reporting, though I hope it was a fair report. No one likes to read false claims - not the prospective (or current) students and certainly not IIPM's promoters and its faculty.

But it is the quality of response that disappoints me. This response is now practically a reflex action among mobs, Indian or otherwise. Don't like a film? Burn the theaters down! Don't like a book? Kill the writer!! Don't like the article? Harass the journalist!!!

Come on, MBA wizards of IIPM, should you not be just a wee bit, a teensy-weensy bit, an itty-bitty bit more articulate than threatening to set your own laptops on fire? What next, you will hurl your feeding bottles at the wall and soil your diapers in serious protest?

Are the heads of companies in India following this important thread? They should be. Because from this rather ludicrous episode one thing is clear: these graduates lack managerial talent, so hire them at your own risk. Not all of them, of course. Just the few who went around posting anonymously on blogs and the group that wanted to burn down things...

And one more thing: Gaurav Sabnis is a braver man than I. So is Rashmi Bansal, except that she is a woman and a tough one at that :)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Delhi HC: The Girls' Best Friend

15-year old girls in India must be squeaking with delight.

Does anyone know wtf is going on?

Since the courts are on such a roll, they should also take a fresh look at dowry, sati (or suttee, if the purists like it old-school), untouchability and just announce their merger with the freaking Taliban. Or maybe I have just not understood the nuances of this genius "nod on Child Marriage" ruling.

The Tourism Minister, Renuka Choudhury who is "baffled, upset and angry", gets it right: "you might as well allow them to drink, vote and drive".

Girls, remember to write that thank-you note to the Justices at Delhi High Court.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sticking It To Them For 39 Years

Densmore strikes again.

So the "ex-Door" doesn't believe in getting his kicks before the shithouse goes up in flames. How refreshing.

(via BoingBoing)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"Frata Mon's Life Is Hard"

Bust a gut.

Speak, Memory

"wet, beneath the blue suburban skies I sit and meantime..."

It's a Yahoo Groups thing. We are about 180 members and what brings us together is Space and Time. You see, we all grew up and lived in this little town in Northern India. Many of us were born there and some moved there when their parents found work in our little town. We love this place dearly.

Everybody in the group is desperate to relive the past. Remember, remember, remember. We remember names of pets and dead friends and plaster of paris statues of women; we remember our teachers, our crimes and their punishments. It's like a never-ending school reunion party except there are no jokes about receding hairlines and no drunken confessions made to the ladies in the room.

"So", one of my friends writes in, "does this place even exist or am I imagining it?" He is talking about this park that he visited once as a child. It was high up on a hill, overlooking some river and there were picnics under a giant bargad-tree.

Some members post helpful suggestions but none seem to satisfy my friend. "Are you talking about this park by the dam?" No. "You mean this park and this tree?". No, that's not it either. Another person thinks my friend is indeed imagining things.

I think there is some anxiety in his question. Our childhood memories are a huge mash-up of sounds, smells, textures, photographs, paintings, films, pictures from story-books and descriptions that we have only heard from other people. So how the hell does anyone know anything for sure? We are so convinced of our past. After all, we lived it once, didn't we? So why can't one of you tell me where this goddamn park is!

Every community grows closer with memories. Be they memories of songs, films, books, TV shows or even news stories. For example, if you too remember the Ranga-Billa case, you and I have something in common. Culture is memory, tradition is memory, even nationality is memory. But how much of our memory "really exists" and how much is imagined? If everyone remembers the past differently, how is it still a shared past?

Still more worrisome is the fact that if a sufficiently large number of people challenge your memory, it becomes (at best) a product of one's imagination, something insubstantial. Truth is heavy. Imagination, being lighter than light, floats on the surface of our memories.

I carefully read the responses to my friend's question. Every new response convinces me it is the correct answer, but sadly, everyone is wrong. I am disappointed but I am also delighted to read about all those places. And even though we all remember it completely differently, this is a community. By some fantastic coincidence, we travelled through the same Space at the same Time! How do the details matter, there is something much more important than just names, locations and street addresses - all mere facts.

At every such intersection of truth and imagination probably sits a beautiful park (with an infinite number of empty swingsets and see-saws) high up on a tree-covered hill, overlooking a sparkling river and on the tiny island in the middle of the river stands an old bargad-tree with millions of inseparable branches and roots, and under that tree stand our mothers with their battered Milton water-coolers and casseroles and badminton rackets.

And somewhere in a battered old temple sit three men on a rainy afternoon, swapping stories, each insisting what they saw was the truth.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Eight Hundred and Eighty Five

When XPN carried the "885 Greatest Songs" last year, it was beyond cool to see some really unusual songs popping up. Like so many music lovers, I was sick and tired of the stranglehold of those classic rock tunes. So when they announced the "885 All Time Greatest Albums", I knew this would be fun.

The list cannot be matched for its sheer variety of styles and sounds: Lou Reed, At The Drive-In, Zap Mama, Frank Zappa, Sly & The Family Stone, Modest Mouse...

You think you know rock music? Well, check out the list as it unfolds (they'd reached 560 or so today) and see how many you have in your collection.

This, my dear friends, is why we need Public Radio.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Songs I Don't Want To Hear

Bruce Springsteen's Townbound Drain: A haunting, melancholic song about a man whose life is going down the toilet.

The Beatles' Lee Shoves You: An infectious, high-energy song about a brawl in a 13th century Chinese bar.

The Doors' Fight My Lire: An epic-jam about foreign currency fluctuations and Italian nationalism.

Led Zeppelin's Hairway To Steven: Zeppelin's mysterious song about - who cares, I just like to make the devil-sign. (btw, that is a real title of a GREAT album by The Butthole Surfers)

Johnny Cash's I Lock The Wine: The Man in Black keeps his woman away from the boozin'.

Prince's When Coves Dry: The irrepressible funkster's lament on the devastating climactic changes along the lakes of Minnesota.

Elvis's Railhouse Jock: And finally, the King's unforgettable ballad about life in the railhouse as he fights the resident Jock over a girl they both love.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

So What Did You Watch Last Night?

"Kurosawa's 'Yojimbo'"

"Liked it?"


"So you liked it"

"Pass me the butter"

"So why does this guy on IMDB message board say that the Whitney Houston version is better?"

"He WHAT?"

"He said the WHITNEY Houston version was better"

"Promise you won't ever say that aloud in public?"

Supremo Stalks Nightingale; "He creeps me out", Diva Complains

You know something's up when a guy sends a girl flowers. But to send an eight-foot tall bouquet? To be fair, we don't know, he may have promised her a rose garden, but an eight-foot tall bouquet is just too much.

It was her birthday. Her phone was off the hook, she says out of exasperation, and the very first calls she received were from these two two men.

She moaned some more: "Ideally I'd have liked to keep it completely low-key. But there are people to whom you can't say no."

You mean guys who send girls 8-foot tall bouquets, no?

Friday, September 30, 2005

Easy on the "ise", Mann

Found on Indian Express, via

‘RSS looking to Hinduise Sikhs, Christians’
By sermonising to the church to Indianise, RSS Chief was trying to intimidate Christians...
Indianisation of the church is tantamount to Hinduisation of Christians..

The sound of "DOO-I" in the center of the word "HinDUIsation" is not very, er, tongue-friendly. Also remember, there is no "I" in Hinduism. Bad Philosphy joke.

I therefore propose the term "Hinduzification". Somehow, it sounds more, what's the word, robust and teutonic and solid. See, it has a "UZI" in the middle. As far as I know, there has never been an "Uzi" associated with this religion. So, now those same syllables, instead of sound ing like "DO I" sound like "DOO-ZY", a sound that just drips down the tongue like molten butter on a hot July afternoon.

What's more, it even means something. According to, a "Doozy" is "something extraordinary or bizarre". Everybody wins.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Chup Ho Ja, Tommy, Chup Ho Ja

Uma blogged this funny cartoon from my favorite magazine.

I still remember chuckling over the "no one on Internet knows you are a dog" joke in 1994 (or was it 1499?) Now in 2005, not only does no one care if you are a dog, but no one cares if you are a dog with a blog.

Milk In Nehru

Even my spammers enjoy whimsical, surreal poetry. From a mail in my inbox today:

felicitous try gravitate it try lamprey ! ! britten some
be peale may it can it's be countdown ! a
snug ,not soccer it.
milk in nehru in may parent and and axisymmetric on
not belladonna a see tidbit in or mot may try
woodhen andand rend it's.

My Famous Ancestors

What's common to Hanuman, Herr Nilsson and Iwazaru? If your answer was "they are all famous monkeys", buy yourself a banana.

But for the rest of you who thought Herr Nilsson was a semi-famous singer-songwriter from the 1970s, you need this database.

But hey, where are Sugreeva, the King of Monkeys, and the tragic Vali?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fun With Numbers

Which country is better suited than Britain to produce a TV show about India's pivotal role in world history as the "birthplace of numeracy", and what Britisher better than a Python to host such a show?

It seems to me that BBC has perfected the art and craft of producing TV shows that combine diverse topics like Science, History, Architecture and Geography (coincidentally abbreviates as SHAG.) And so the Beeb rolls out another very promising show called "The Story of 1" about the history of numbers, hosted by Terry Jones (who, we are told, employs "slapstick, quirky humour and learning".)

I wish my math teacher employed more slapstick and less slap and even less stick.

It is now a well-established, scientifically proven fact that the Pythons always insert themselves in Pythonesque situations, and fanboys like me will always find an exactly corresponding situation from one of their films or TV shows.

Here's Terry, then:

"The numerals we use are from India. We think they are Arabic but they aren't," he says.

"We travelled miles to a temple to find the place where the first ever zero had been written on to a wall," he says. It was a Pythonesque quest.

"When we got there it was locked and the gatekeepers were on holiday," he explains.

"Anyway, we managed to get into the right room and looked at this inscription and it was early Hindi writing.

"But without a guide we had no idea what it said or which one was the nought.

The words "Joseph of Aramathea" and "aaaaarggggggghhhhh" are still ringing in my head.

Will the kind lady at Within/Without do us a favor and post a little review of the show?

A good example of Terry's "quirky humour" at the end of BBC's article.

No Direction Home - Part 2

How did he find the narrative in the voluminous raw footage given to him, Charlie Rose asked Martin Scorsese, after Part 2 of the film aired last night. Scorsese replied by talking about spending three-and-a-half years on assembling, editing and shaping the film, while he was making Gangs of New York and The Aviator and shooting his new film in Boston. After all, this is the same man who once "stole" studio equipment to shoot "The Last Waltz".

After seeing Part 2 of the film, the narrative became clearer. The film is as much about the artist's pursuit of discovering his "true voice" as it is about the artist. Dylan, ever the cryptic Zen monk, says an artist should never feel he has finally arrived some place. Rather, he should accept that he is always in the "process of becoming".

Hence the (double) significance of the title, "No Direction Home".

Goddamn sweet punk moment in the film: Dylan instructing the band to "play it fucking loud" as the audience begins to boo the band.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

No Direction Home - Part 1

Last night was the premiere of Martin Scorsese's "No Direction Home" on PBS. A few days ago when I posted about it, I decided, rather smugly, that this was going to be a Scorsese event for me, not a Bob Dylan event. There was nothing I didn't already know about the man. Now that my foot and my mouth have been re-introduced and they are co-existing happily once again, let me say this: there is not much I know about the man.

Part 1 follows Dylan's early years, leading up to 1964-65. This is a look at the musical influences, his transformation from an "average" folk-singer-guitarist to a songwriter who could fingerpick, play harmonica and sing, a transformation that Dylan only half-jokingly attributes to "a deal with the Devil at the crossroads". He knows that many fans enjoy such allusions to blues mythology and he knows how some take it too literally.

Some images, words and sounds that made me sit up during the 2 hour film:

Woody Guthrie in the "hospital" (a mental asylum). Bob (and what would later be known as The Band) exploding into "Ballad of A Thin Man" in England after much heckling and booing; the dark, gloomy, suspended notes of the opening riff already sounding scary and crazy. Dylan referring to himself as a "musical expeditionary" with no past. The girlfriends who gave him shelter from the various storms ("they all brought out the poet in me" he says, and cracks the famous half-smile.) Dylan and Robbie Robertson on stage in England. Dylan and Robertson in the back of a limo, bona fide rock stars already, and Dylan complains "I can't stand the booing" (and at the exactly same time, in America, the Beatles complained that they couldn't stand the cheering). Dave Van Ronk's humility as he talks of young Dylan's sophistication in matters political. Billie Holiday singing "Strange Fruit". The great Studs Terkel interviewing Dylan on radio and asking him if "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" was about atomic rain and Dylan replying, "no, it's just a hard rain" and "I'm not a topical songwriter".

A musical puzzler moment for me: Joan Baez and Dylan at the Newport festival singing close harmonies. How on earth can ANYONE sing harmonies with Dylan? Sung individually, his notes are not exact but when sung in a phrase, they are exactly right. To sing just an octave higher than him is tough because Dylan's phrasing and timing is also very loose. But to sing thirds and sevenths harmonies? God. Joan Baez, while I am not crazy about her songs, must be a musical genius (and Dylan acknowledges it, saying "she was an excellent guitar player".)

Part 2 of the film airs tonight and now I can't wait for it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Justice Beats of America

Here be some delicious mixes. I especially enjoyed the Christopher "Flux Capacitor" Lloyd mix.

And who can resist anything featuring Walter Sobchak?

You're welcome.

I Don't Want To Be Called NRI

The term "NRI" has bothered me ever since it first began showing up in Indian newspapers, probably in the late 80s or early 90s (Anyone knows its "first-usage" history? Devraj of DickandGarlic, that's your assignment.)

I am certain the term was created for administration purposes. That's how governments see things when it comes to framing laws for property ownership, assets etc. The 1980s witnessed the first visible wave of temporary migration from India to the Middle East and pretentious words like "diaspora" and "hyphenated identities" weren't invented yet. Mother India didn't want to let go of her sons, it seems. Ergo, "Non-Resident Indian".

Fair enough.

But the way the Press uses it, "Non-resident" isn't an innocent, neutral description, but a strong modifier. It is an artificial gap between two humans. We, resident, They, Non-resident.

Take this headline appearing on "NRI Slays Family, Commits suicide in UAE".

How does it matter if the said slayer was a non-resident Indian? Does that tag of "non-resident" attract more readers? If so, then what does it say about the readers? Could it be a secret condemnation of the Indian who isn't "there"? Look at him, they seem to be saying, he crossed the seven seas and now he slayed his family! This is the fate that awaits those who leave their homes!

If the headline simply read "Man Slays Family....", it would become yet another horrific-crime news item. No one reads those anymore.

If it read "Indian Slays Family..." (as it does above the body of the story in, it piques our curiosity. Indian did it? But with it also comes the unbearably strong stench of complicity. After all,'s readers are mostly Indian. See, this was no ordinary killer, this was an INDIAN! What's worse, this was no ordinary crime, it was a MURDER. And get this - the INDIAN killed his FAMILY!

MURDER, INDIAN and FAMILY - Three supposedly incongruous ideas. Almost as unbelievable as the headline "Kalahari Tribesman Discovers Cure For AIDS".

So this where I come in: the rambling, drifting, rootless, immoral Indian whose sole defining characteristic ("salient feature", as our biology textbooks called it) is - what? His NON RESIDENCE, of course! (If this were the mandatory exposition of the Criminal's Motive in a detective novel, picture our hero exploding with those words while prodding his slightly-dense sidekick in the side, with a sharp cane.)

Cliches and pre-packaged truths neatly conceal the really important issues. We can find at least a million of those around us ("Islamic terrorists", "Sexy Pop Diva Britney Spears"...) But what are they really saying? More importantly, what are they not saying?

(Full credits to Public Enemy for the headline of this post.)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

What's Going On?

Remember that more-infectious-than-smallpox song by 4 Non-Blondes? Sure you do.
And I am sure you remember "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe". Just why it kept us glued to the TV, I will never know.

So here's some hilarious combinatorial goodness: He-Man singing "What's Going On".

Campy fun aside, pay attention to the last minute (or less, maybe) of the animation. Great use of "camera" cut-away and sound.

(found via Russell Lichter's blog. Lots of other linky goodness there, like the Bill "Calvin & Hobbes" Watterson interview and the link to BigElf's music, which is guaranteed to raise a smile if you miss the extremely loud Sabbath sound.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Number Two

I spot Dylan's "Biograph" box-set in the library and decide to borrow it. It has been ages since I have heard funny, goofy stuff like "Jet Pilot". It is Bob doing stand-up comedy with a guitar.

The last time I heard the entire box-set end to end was in the final year of college. Or was it the third year? No, wait, it was the year Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine. Long ago. It was the winter semester, the sunlight was kind and beautiful and my grades neither. All I did that semester was listen to this album, nurse a broken heart and scrounge for chump-change.

So I bring the CD over to the check-out desk. Like an efficient surgeon, the desk-lady cracks open the case and in it, we both see Disc 1. So far, so good. Then she opens that unwieldy flap-like thing on the back of the jewel-case holding Disc 1 and we both see Disc 3. So where is Number 2? Where the HELL is Number 2? Why won't Number 2 be around when I need it the most?

The desk-lady shrugs her shoulders and apologizes: "Sorry, but Disc 2 is missing". It has all the solemnity of "sorry, but we could not save your friend". Once again, Lady Fate had dealt me her trademark Rotten Cards. "Jet Pilot" is on Disc 2.

That Lady Fate, I tell you, you've got to watch her closely, cause she ain't no woman, she's a man.

Awakenings of Pedantic Feelings Upon Listening to the First and Sixth

Something is afoot. Proof follows.

I was listening to Beethoven's Sixth, enjoying the florid prose of the liner notes and I see the words "program music". OK, so the Sixth is considered "program music" by some. To hell with liner notes. This is LVB, not Yanni.

Then I am watching the opening night of the New York Philharmonic's season last night on PBS and the great Beverley Sills asks Lorin Maazel, the program director, if Mahler's First Symphony is not program music? She could have asked him so many other things about the symphony, but that question about "program music" is her first question.

See what I mean about things being afoot? Anyway, an excellent performance of the great "Titan" by the NY Philharmonic and I read up on "program music".

Program music is called so because these are "Compositions with extra-musical content that directs the attention of the listener to a literary or pictoral association" (source: Virigina Tech's Music Dictionary.) It also means there is some kind of a story-line that provides a context for the music, or, the story-line connects the various movements, if it is a symphonic work.

Opera is program music. Most lyrical pop music is program music (unless it is an album by the Sigur Ros, in which case it is absolute music. These guys once released an album WITHOUT song titles.) Most modern (or "cool") jazz aimed at absolute music. Song titles and songs rarely had any connections. I remember listening to "Kind of Blue" for the first time. Till "So What" hit that blissed-out, nirvanic-manic moment when Coltrane enters (you will know it when you hear it), I wondered if "So What" was not a sly, ironic title. Then I knew better.

Program music tries to convey specific images. Absolute music conveys impressions of images. Like Van Gogh's skies or Monet's flowers, musical compositions can be freed from the oppression of formality and "literalness".

In classical music circles, programmatic or program music is considered somewhat inferior to "absolute" music. So, if you want to impress another snob, simply say "oh, it is program music" and wrinkle your nose just a little. Not too much, just a little, lest the Mahler Mafia strike down upon thee with great vengeance.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Scorsese on Dylan

Martin Scorsese's film on Dylan plays on PBS on September 26/27. I am excited not because it is a docu on Dylan, but because it is a feature-length docu by Scorsese. This man helped define rock film-making not once, but twice.

Biographies on Dylan don't interest me. There is nothing I want to know about the man that I have not already heard on the albums. Things that I do want to learn about are the years '66 to '74 (which are *not* covered in the film) and his musical partnership with The Band.

Roger Ebert may find "Don't Look Back" less than flattering, but to me, that film is still the real deal. Dylan's arrogance and aloofness captured in that film still makes me uncomfortable, but somehow, it also makes him "more real".

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

No Respect for the Bachelor Boy

This man was once a big deal in Britain and used to be practically worshipped in India. You could not pick up the guitar without being asked "play Bachelor Boy, men". I hated it. That waltzy rhythm drove me nuts, not to mention the happy, shiny, cheery sing-alongs the chorus would prompt. So I would refuse to play "Bachelor Boy". And how could we sing "Lucky Lips" when we all knew what Candy was doing in the back-room?)

Have I proven my street-cred? Well, I would be lying. Sir Cliff's music - that song in particular- was a chick magnet. It's a loathesome song but it is a chick magnet. And it seems some Brit radio stations are hell-bent on depriving nerdy kids of their chick-magnet songs. Thankfully, Sir Cliff is made of stronger stuff and he has announced his intentions to go on performing and recording.

I don't know ANYONE who has heard new Cliff Richard music since 1843 (the joke's on me too, I know), so I don't blame the radio stations. But the man has spent nearly TWO THOUSAND weeks on the singles charts. He's made a ton of money for everyone, including EMI, the radio stations and the DJs. Just play the goddamn songs and let the girls join in for the chorus and make them nerds feel all right for 2 minutes.

A Week's Supply of Tinfoil Hats, Free

I had just typed "Staples" in the google toolbar when I heard an idling truck engine. I look out the window and what do I see? The red and white Staples delivery truck.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

An Impossible Task

Rediff asks its readers: "Tell us which are the worst films you have ever seen!" (the exclamation mark - is that even appropriate? Shouldn't there be a "frowney", or "reverse-smiley" face?)

How does one pick the worst film?

By "worst", does Rediff mean the most boring film? I've slept through dozens of films. Or by worst, does Rediff mean the most absurd, ludicrous, over-the-top film? But some of those can be quite entertaining, right?

Then there are some films that disgust us. Perhaps a shameless exploitation flick, or a blatantly manipulative film (think of all the Big Tragic Themed pictures - cheerful survivors of Holocaust, the heroine dying of cancer, boy loses puppy - ok, that one still makes me cry.) Or some pretentious auteur-director's film about a 30-something character who Finds Himself. And all those cliched coming-of-age films.

The trouble is, unlike Tolstoy's unhappy families, all bad films are alike. They are all bad, they are all boring. Yes, they are *all* worst. They may be bad for different reasons, but make no mistake - they are all equally bad.

If some of them are so bad that they are memorable, they slip into the so-bad-it-is-good category. If some of them are so bad that they are memorable, they could be merely ahead of their time. If some of them are so bad that they are memorable, they could actually be challenging the audience's beliefs and values or challenging the accepted norms.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dancing With Tears In My Eyes

BBC carried this series called "Day in Afghanistan: Daily Lives". The (really terrific) idea is to document one day in the lives of different Afghani people: teachers, dairy farmer, orphanage head etc.

Here's one that caught my eye ("Naseer Mansoor, 15, from Mazar-e-Sharif"):

"All the boys were making jokes and laughing because the teachers weren't around."

So now boys raise hell in the schools of Mazar-e-Shariff. How cool is that? Freedom tastes sweet. (Moral dilemma #1 for me: are wars inherently evil?)

But this next one is even cooler:
"I am really looking forward to going to the party. But there's one problem. My family always force me to dance at wedding parties, but I am not a good dancer. I've tried but I have failed. One time they put me on the stage and I just couldn't do it".
Naseer, you speak not just for yourself, but ALL boys blessed with two, sometimes even three, left feet.

Even my family often forces me to dance. Not just one time, but several times they put me on stage and only after half a bottle of gimme-whatever-that-is is consumed, can I dance.

Here's to Naseer Mansoor, to freedom in Afghanistan and to all my brothers who have tried to dance but failed.

And Nothing But

Bombay police recently administered sodium pentathol, aka truth serum, to Bombay's Public Enemy #1, aka Preeti Jain. Why?
In a narco-analysis test, a suspect is injected with sodium penthanol, a chemical that numbs powers of perception and supposedly makes it difficult for a person to lie during questioning.
Does it really work? "[the police] have received some interesting leads", says the Police Chief.

I had *no* idea Indian police makes use of such *interesting* techniques to get to the truth. Are there any guidelines that regulate the use of such techniques?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Portrait of An Artist As An Old Man

"Madadayo", (which in Japanese means "Not Yet"), was Akira Kurosawa's last film. He was 88 and probably a tired man. Suntory whiskey can do that to you. But "Madadayo" offers no such clues, for it opens wide its arms and embraces both life and death. This is no sentimental look at a life well-lived, neither is it pessimistic. It is simply beautiful. You wonder, was this written and directed by the same man who attempted suicide in 1970?

Most of us know at least one venerable, all-knowing Guru. Whether a favorite teacher from school or a music teacher, these were people with a fine mind whose influence on us extended well beyond the narrow circumference of their chosen subject. The protagonist of the film, a German Lit professor, is such a teacher. His students love him dearly and go to great lengths to make his life after retirement secure and comfortable.

Mr. Kurosawa simply observes the Sensei's life with its ups and downs. A house is burnt down, a cat is lost, a garden is built, a big mug of beer is had....tiny vignettes that are small films in themselves. But look past the surface and you will see deep observations on identification and attachment. Enjoy the warmth and lightness with which Mr. Kurosawa handles the interactions between the sensei and the students: they are filled with humor, grace, wit and startling zen-like wisdom at times.

There are some who find the film sentimental and consequently, find it "too" accessible. I am not one of them. "Madadayo" is a great director's great goodbye. If you have never seen an Akira Kurosawa film before, watch "Madadayo" and get to know the great Sensei.

Why OBL hates MTV

Syed Firdaus Ashraf learnt that Osama hates MTV.

When asked why, Osama is said to have replied
"man, they hardly play any videos anymore. I hate watching those reality shows. I wish they would play more Mili Vanili and Mariah Carey videos. I hate emo and I hate democracy and freedom of press too, though I hate emo more"

The Unluckiest Madrasi In The World

Rediff ran this headline: "The Beatle from Madras" but left the HTML tag intact: "Pete Best, the drummer the Beatles forgot". Of course, the Beatles forgot no such thing. They dropped him is what they did. You don't just "forget" a full-grown drummer.

But here's an interesting insight: ...the boy from Madras whose mother told his bandmates remarkable stories of living in India.

So did Mrs. Best's stories of India lead to John and George's infatuation with mysticism and India? That cannot be confirmed, nor have I read any references to such stories in the biographies, but like many stories in Beatle-mythology, only two people in the universe know the truth.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Generation D(eaf)

Remember that hoary cliche enacted by all stadium and arena-playing rock bands everywhere: "I can't hear you!", at which point the audience is supposed to drown out an electrically-powered PA system with a spectacular off-tune rendition of the chorus?

Turns out it may not be an act. He really may not be able to hear you, thanks to loud headphones.

My (g-gge-gen-) generation was probably the first one to plug one of them into over our ears. A favorite trick was to turn up someone's volume wheel all the way to MAX before they put on the headphones. It would be doubly funny if the cassette in the player was something like Van Halen's first album (where do you think Robert Zemeckis got that joke from in Back to the Future?) But eventually for most users of the Walkman, the volume wheel would be turned up slowly, notch by notch, as the music got louder and harder and your parents' cries to "do your homework" had to be quickly and efficiently drowned out with soul-rattling guitar. And later, when the Blueness of Our Souls and the Despair in Our Hearts had to be erased with a carefully chosen album like "Dark Side of the Moon", headphones were a damn necessity.

If only deafness turned us into another Beethoven!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

What Was That Again?

Steve Wynn, talking to Charlie Rose on PBS, about his hotel-casino: "I want it (the hotel) to be a destination. Because a destination is a place people go to be in".

What is the sound of one hand clapping? If you don't care where you are going, any road will take you there. We are searching for a black cat in a black room, only there is no cat.

Given enough Coronas, infinity is attainable.