Sunday, December 31, 2006

LPOY '06

A happy New Year, everyone.

(Hmm. It looks like most bloggers are not too crazy about observing this ritual.)

The First Hangover of '07 shall be soothed by viewings of Kieslowski's "Red" and "Blue" at home. Nothing boring about that, I tell you.

"Party on, Wayne"

"Party on, Garth"

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Textbook Marriage struck me - ok, gently patted me - while reading a news item about country singer Tim McGraw and his wife Faith Hill that the duo could be referred to as "McGraw-Hill".

That triggered an association: buying my first copy of "Resnick and Halliday", which I though was published by McGraw-Hill. (But a Google search shows otherwise. Was only the Indian edition published by them?)

I tried to get other celebrities "married" to arrive at more book publishing firms' names, but in vain. (Oh yeah, if Sean Penn married Ursula K. Le Guin, it would give us...Penn-Guin?)

Bored with the word game, I said "Tata, McGraw-Hill" and went back to watching the execution on television.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Paging Dr. Page

Top this, YT treasure-hunters: a video of Jimmy Page, at the age of 14, playing in a skiffle band! (Link courtesy Metafilter)

At around 2 minutes into the video (2:15, I think), the kid introduces himself as "James Page" and expresses his interest in doing "biological research" and admits to not having the brains to be a doctor.

A *lousy* rendition of "Cotton Fields" can be seen and heard in the second half of the video, with Little James Page whistling in harmony.

This kid would go on to play "Black Dog"?

Look here, I too was in a band that played a *lousy* cover of "Cotton Fields" and I too did not have the brains to be a doctor....never mind, here's the video.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Former US President Mauled Senselessly By A Circus Lion

Oh, such an inappropriate joke and such an opportune time.

I am sure a million bloggers will post (and re-post) this SNL sketch, but the Internet is all about mindless repetition, ain't it?

(For those who haven't seen this episode of Saturday Night Live, circa 1996 - the premise, and it is no longer a fictional premise now, involved a TV news show trying to "pre-write" Gerald Ford's obituary.)

Anyone got a video clip of this Dana Carvey sketch?
Found it! Turns out there is another source for videos, after all!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Unsafe And Unhealthy, And Consequently, Happy

"Have a safe, happy and healthy Holidays"

I don't recall anyone ever wishing me a "safe Diwali" or a "healthy Holi". It's just preposterous.

As if the weak-assed word "Holidays" is not bad enough, must I be reminded to enjoy these last 2 weeks of the year "safely, happily and healthily"? Didn't I do that for the rest of the year? (No, not really.) Those three words are like the "cheap, fast, high quality" joke in product design. You can pick two, but not all three at the same time.

Look, there's people serving me good food and alcohol and they've got electric wires running all over a plastic tree. You want me to be safe and healthy? And even if I do manage to keep the binging under control (or find a designated driver), just what can we do about the fine spring-like weather at Christmas this year?

I don't know if the Universe talks to you or not, but it certainly does to me. Right now, it's telling me global warming is here and a million penguins just disappeared, so you better have yourself a very Merry Christmas.

Oh I am sorry, did that sound cruel and heartless?

OK then, let's make a million chickens, turkeys and lambs disappear and have ourselves a very Merry Christmas.

There, much better.


Did you know that to some Hindus, Jesus is an avataar of Vishnu's? I did not know this, until I read this post written by my super-clever (and now famous!) blogger-friend about the origins of Christmas in India.

Must say, that puts the song "Blue Christmas" in a very different light.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Play "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" On The Guitar

Someone's put up a cool instructional video (with helpful closeups of finger positions etc) of this great John Lennon song on YouTube.

You really have no excuse for not learning to play it, you know? (Unless your excuse is "I got so wasted at the Christmas party, I couldn't tell the fretboard from my ass". That's a perfectly valid excuse.)

Forget all that reindeer and Santa business. This is the real Christmas song. Simple chords, great lyrics, everyone loves it.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Make Mine A Double Shot Of Snake-Oil, Please

Me: "What's the kind of talk-time on this phone?"

The salesman scratches his left ear.

"You can talk all day."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Exact Chronology Of Events Leading Up To My Enlightenment

6:45AM: I sit down for meditation.

7:30AM: I open my eyes and look at the clock. Wow, 45 minutes. There was a time when I couldn't meditate for 10 minutes continuously. Look at me now! 45 minutes! I am awesome. And so wise.

I also feel rested, at peace and very, very still inside. I am hyper-aware of everything, and yet, there is not a bit of restlessness in me.

8:00AM: I drive to work and notice an SUV doing about 30mph in the fast lane. I wait patiently. I don't have to honk anymore. Peace, love, stillness.

8:01AM: The SUV driver is talking on the cellphone.

8:01:01: It's easy to forgive. The driver must be dealing with some really important issue on the phone. That's how easy it is to let go of the anger.

8:01:03: "Oh shit"

8:01:04: I honk.

8:01:08: The SUV refuses to clear the lane.

8:01:10: "Fuck you, you globe-warming, ecological terrorist shithead, get out of the fast lane NOW". That not-so-rare bird - Flippera Avis - is sighted once again on the asphalt.

8:01:19: I take a deep breath. Tomorrow, I meditate for 90 minutes.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pig Will Fly

A "Lost Pet" poster on the wall of our town's public library. It's a beautiful parrot.

Answers to the name "Pig".

Sir (or Ma'am), can you handle the truth? Your parrot, like Mrs. Hogwallop, simply up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T. (Warning: link to an 57K mp3 file)


Monday, December 18, 2006

The Vault

Did you know about the existence of the Vault? I had never heard of the Vault. Why didn't anyone tell me sooner about the Vault?

Most pleasant surprises arrived like a superfast maglev train when I heard about the Vault. I don't know about you, but I could spend my New Year's Eve just browsing through their Top Rated Concerts page.

(Fans of the heavy, fear not: there's some classic Sabbath in there.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fruit Flies Like Banana

A trip it was and what a trip it was.

India was one revelation after another. No, I don't mean all those fancy malls in Bombay or the new money or the 400-dollar cellphones in people's hands. These were revelations - mostly minor ones - of a personal kind. Like how travel is so much more fun after the camcorder breaks down. Or that after being blogging-free for more than 3 weeks, it just loses some of its, uh, sheen. I mean, what exactly are we doing here? (All right, no more meta-blogging. It's just not cool.) Or that being in a boat in a river with 5 crocodiles floating around you is exciting for exactly six seconds. (After which time a question exploded in everyone's minds: do crocodiles attack singly or do they attack in groups?)

Ah, there's just too much to write about in one post. But as we all know, that is really another way of saying I don't quite know what to write, so let's do this another time, shall we?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Can I Have Your Attention Please?

For the first time since the invention of hard luggage, I've been entrusted with the Task of Packing The Bags. I feel like I am solving a Sudoku, a crossword and playing the highest level of Tetris, all at the same time.

I am India-bound after a long time ("don't know if I am goin' or leavin' home") and will be hitting the pothole-covered road for the next 3 weeks. So updates here will be slower than Rohmer's films (Harry Moseby said it, not me. I *love* Eric Rohmer's films. "Six Moral Tales" is a work of genius. And could an American director have made "Claire's Knee"? I think not. But that may or may not be the point of this post.)

So, until the next time.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lemmings Threaten Suicide If Elton John Does Not Retract Analogy

Elton John should know better than to compare one urban legend with another.

I don't know if organized religion (link to India Uncut) turns people into "hateful lemmings", but I know this hoary analogy of suicidal lemmings deserves a Zidane headbutt. (Last documented usage of the headbutt joke in 2006. Thank you.)

This is what the all-knowing has to say about lemmings:
Lemming suicide is fiction. Contrary to popular belief, lemmings do not periodically hurl themselves off of cliffs and into the sea
Read the rest of the entry on lemmings and note that a film crew actually induced lemmings to fall off the cliff. (Werner Herzog could teach these guys a thing or two about truth in film-making.)

I bet the documentary film's director must have said something along the lines of "boy, if only we could photograph these damn critters falling off the would make our film so much more shocking...think of how many more viewers we could attract!" and that's when a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed assistant must have rubbed his hands like Uriah Heep and whispered "boss, if them fellers don't fall, we can make 'em".

This sort of behavior is common in other professions too. Bad scientists fudge experimental data to fit their hypothesis. Bad accountants play with numbers so the quarterly results resemble the CEO's projections.

Just regular, intelligent people blindly following their ego and greed.

What is the word for such behavior? Damn, I have it on the tip of my tongue.


The news story on Elton John closes with him making an unintentionally funny remark about John Lennon, saying "If John Lennon were alive today, he'd be leading it with a vengeance". What is this "it"? Why, the peace movement, of course.

Yes, sir, John Lennon would be leading the peace movement with a vengeance.

And you could even get a bullet from the peace-keeping force.

Ghalib Got Ghazals

And this nifty site lets you read them in different scripts.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Indian Taxman Is A Genius...

...for employing eunuchs as tax collectors.
Accompanied by police officers, the eunuchs approached shopkeepers and large defaulters on their first foray into tax collection.

"Pay the tax, pay the Patna Municipal Corporation tax," the eunuchs sang as they approached Ram Sagar Singh, who owed 100,000 rupees (£1,180), the AFP news agency reported.
A brief explanation might be necessary for non-Indian readers: a eunuch is often feared and despised by "respectable" people in India. Rather than trying to explain how and why, let me just point you to an excellent post on the subject. (And if you have the time, please read the rest of the series on that blog.)

Maybe this engagement with the Tax department further reinforces the eunuchs' image as freaks who exploit the society's fears, or maybe it will help raise their visibility in the society. At least now they have a shot at making a living from a government job.

The Beeb has the full story.

Friday, November 10, 2006

But Are They Painting The Passports Brown?

Oh, Calcutta!

Yes, you can re-enact a historical event *even before* it has occurred. Come on, you intrepid Pirate-Sons of Bengal, get your miniDVs out and put this sucka up on YouTube!

(link via Drudge)

Note To Self

Never ever play "Bitches' Brew" in the car after a fight with the missus.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Let A Billion Dogs Bloom

China now has a one-dog-per-family policy.
In selected areas, large dogs, such as doberman and labradors, will be prohibited.
I bet members of the Chihuahuas and Pomeranians lobby in Beijing are high-fiving each other.

But some Chinese don't think this is such a good idea.
"It is wrong to consider dogs as a threat to human beings. There are no evil dogs, only bad masters," said Meng Xiaoshe, editor of the Dog Daily website.
Did you hear that? There are no evil dogs, only bad masters. Now there's a powerful allegory for Chinese democracy.

BTW, what happened to that Guns 'n Roses album? Not that I care anymore.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

With A Name Like

Jonathan, you have little chance of succeeding in any organization. Probably the funniest sketch by the "Goodness Gracious Me" gang.

(link found on

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Cale/Clapton: Road To Escondido

Bet you didn't know this: JJ Cale watches "a lot of TV".

Wildflower Seed has put up a lovely collection of JJ Cale's music and a performance of my favoritest Cale Song ever: "After Midnight" (on which he reveals his TV-viewing habits.)

Back when I was a hopeless fanboy, I'd come up with these fantasy bands. One of my fantasy bands had Clapton, Cale, Knopfler, Levon Helm and Garth Hudson. Americana meets British blues. Every now and then, I'd invite Sam Cooke or Al Green to, uh, sing a little :)

Well, what do you know. Cale and Eric Clapton have a joint album out on November 7, titled "The Road to Escondido". And who are some of the musicians playing on the album? Billy Preston, Derek Trucks and Taj Mahal. Su-weeeeet!

The album seems to be getting good press.'s Hal Horowitz says EC hasn't sounded "this relaxed or involved in his own material for years".

Has Cale ever done anything on which he doesn't sound completely relaxed and involved yet totally detached? Ah, there's the zen of the Cale.

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Bird At The Bush...

...could cost you your job.


Needless to say, if people got fired for flipping other drivers on the road, about 93% of all drivers on the NJ Turnpike would be cashing in their unemployment checks.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Man, It's Like, Far Out, Man, Real Groovy, Man

I was pulling into the parking space in front of our township's municipal office yesterday when I saw a police officer walking along the sidewalk. I was driving slow enough to notice that he packed a gun, a 2-way radio, a taser, a baton and who knows, maybe even a light sabre. I don't know why, but a little nervousness crept into me. (Think of that scene from "Annie Hall" when Woody gets pulled over by the cop...)

Anyway, I almost drove past the policeman, half-expecting to be stopped for violating some secret traffic rule ("Sir, are you aware that it's against the law to be driving less than 4 feet from a uniformed officer of the law on a Wednesday afternoon? "N-no" "4 points and $10,000 fine".)

That's when the most ridiculous thing happened.

The cop flashed me a "peace" sign. Not a "hi there" wave (which would be pretty odd too), but a proper fingers-in-a-V sign.

I had to make a quick decision. Should I reciprocate his gesture with the peace sign? What if my index finger was suddenly paralyzed and only my middle finger remained up in the air? I would get ticketed for flipping a police officer in daylight. What if my middle finger failed me? I would look like a biblical figure (or a cricket umpire), pointing a finger to the sky. That could confuse the poor man. And if both my fingers refused to cooperate, it would look like a symbol of dissent. Not a good thing.

Thankfully, my finger-brain-eye coordination was perfect and I flashed a peace sign right back at him.

By some coincidence, a Beatles song came on the radio right at the moment this social transaction was made. (All right, it came on way before the peace sign business, but it sounds more dramatic and meaningful this way.) I am just glad it was not "Piggies" or else my brain would have exploded at the unscripted double irony of that moment.

You know, this may be a crazy world, but every now and then, someone goes against the grain and gives us a glimpse of the possibilities. Cops and robbers citizens trading peace signs. Now that is a beautiful world.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Back To The Garden: 50 Greatest Moments

Anytime I am walking by Madison Square Garden, I wonder: what if I could pick another time to walk past the famous venue? Would it be -

1969, just as the Rolling Stones took stage for the first time in NYC? Well, that would be Moment # 26.

Wait, give me 1962. There is, humana humana, Marilyn singing, no, breathing out her birthday wish to JFK in 1962. Moment #21. Mama, I want a greeting card just like that!

How about George and his friends raising money for Bangladesh? Moment #25. (When George put out the call, everyone came. When he passed away, everyone came. Now there's a great life.)

Or Moment # 20, to catch that merry bunch of San Franciscans who played MSG 52 times! How cool would that be?

I am absolutely, positively certain I'd give anything - a kidney, my liver, all my limbs - to catch Moment #1. Of course, I wouldn't have been able to applaud or dance (not to mention the over-frequent trips to the boys' room, what with one kidney and no liver), but goddamn, I would have loved to see Elvis take the stage in Madison Square Garden. ELVIS AT THE GARDEN! Shivers run up and down my spine.

Oh crap. I forgot all about Moment # 17. Led Zeppelin's appearance at the Garden. For that, I'd give up my only remaining kidney and one eye.

An anonymous commenter corrected me. Thanks, man. That is Moment 43, btw. I just remembered. The folks at MSG deserve a kick on their asses. How could they forget John Lennon's final concert appearance on Nov. 28, 1974, when he showed up on stage during an Elton John concert? It is a historical moment and could they get a more awe-inspiring New York figure than John Winston Lennon?

Top 50 at the MSG.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Six Sixes

Some of my favorite responses to the Six-word SciFi post:

Falstaff takes a potshot at, who else, the POTUS: "You fool! The President's colour blind." Read his other stories here.

MockTurtle's politico-economic SF: Lines of Americans outside Indian embassy

Tabula Rasa gives us cyberpun: Man bites dog. Giga bytes man.

Then there's Patrix's apocalyptic, Twilight Zone-ish "Everyone died. Why did I survive?"

Salil's "For sale: Half a bed. Used." proves there's no such thing as a good deal even in the future

And finally, Tabula Rasa's despondent "this challenge is killing me. thud."

There are kids at the doorstep *demanding* candy and I'm blasting Miles Davis on the stereo. That should run their voodoo down.

Waste Is A Terrible Thing To Mind*

"Cranes use it for courtship, hippos to mark territory, and frogs for camouflage. Humans mostly flush it as fast as they can."
Look out! Going to the Miami zoo is a crapshoot.

What if humans used defecation for courtship? It would make first dates so much less fraught with anxiety and suspense.

Friend 1: "So, how was your evening?"

Friend 2: "I think she is *really* into me. After dinner, she took a dump right at the table and then circled around it six times in clockwise direction."

Friend 1: "What about you? Do you like her too?"

Friend 2: "I don't know. I tried hard, but after much sound and fury signifying nothing, I gave up. Besides, the restaurant was out of paper napkins."

The first time I ever encountered "feces as natural history" was at the Betla National Park in Daltonganj (in Bihar.) I was probably 8 or 9 at the time and walking into that room containing jars and jars of feces made me feel like I had entered the Musee D'Orsay.

Sweet memories.

*It is all right. You can groan at the over-used pun.

Monday, October 30, 2006

They All Died Of Death

Can you name even one musician who died while farming? Or a very famous singer who died while playing the dangerous game

I bet you don't.

Why, you little ignoramuses, drink up your milk and visit this site.

And after you're done reading that list, you can spend even more of your precious time reading a wonderful poem on the very same subject.

(Poem courtesy my co-blogger at Blogolepsy.)

To Whomsoever It May Concern

Having just watched John Carpenter's Halloween again, I hereby resolve never to go up to the bedroom alone and never to enter the walk-in closet without first equipping myself with a shotgun. Or at least a very strong wire hanger.

And yes, honey, you are braver. Next week, let's watch "The Little Mermaid".

Relax, it's only a movie!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Elvis Introduces His Band. What Is Sheryl Crow Doing In It?

Now this is a fantasy band. Puuure fantasy. (Link to Youtube.)

The King has clearly made some questionable choices. Noel Gallagher on rhythm guitar? Sheryl Crow on the bass?


(link via Lost Melodies, which has some cool links to jam music. Wildflower Seed, Tabula Rasa et al, take note.)

Sex, Drugs (But No Rock And Roll)

Schools in conservative India will teach children as young as five years old about sexual health and drugs from next year to boost awareness of the dangers they face in a changing society, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Admirable, but also a little scary.

My elementary education involved learning really important stuff - like this. How did sex and drugs get into the mix?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Future, In Just Six Words

(Cross-posted on Blogolepsy*.)

Never got past the first page of first book in the Foundation series? Then you will love Six-word Sci-Fi that appears on Wired.

Some excerpts:

We kissed. She melted. Mop please!
- James Patrick Kelly

Lie detector eyeglasses perfected: Civilization collapses.
- Richard Powers

(Via BoingBoing)

Feel free to pen your petite SF masterpiece in the commentspace. (Story-lines involving an evil computer that runs on Windows Vista will be automatically disqualified.)

* Which reminds me. You are all hereby requested to "prod us into some activity" over on Blogolepsy. So sayeth zigzackly. He has also put up some lovely pictures of the Konkan coast, which he assures me, were posted only to make us all jealous.)

Food For Pod

The story so far:

I escaped from the clutches of the evil Lord Muzaq, when somewhere near the icy mountain ranges that flank the kingdom, I was arrested by the fierce Lavender Guards. One of them wanted to know my name, my title and our hideout. I divulged only the Most Played Songs on my 'pod. Long live the revolt!

1. Deep Purple - "Burn"
2. Ray Charles - "Hit The Road, Jack"
3. Eruption - "One Way Ticket"
4. The Staple Singers - "Respect Yourself"
5. Billie Holiday - "Don't Explain"
6. Arctic Monkeys - "Fake Tales of San Francisco"
7. Drive-by Truckers - "Never Gonna Change"
8. Wyclef Jean - "Gone Till November"
9. ABBA - "The winner takes It all"
10. Dean Martin - "On An Evening In Roma" (why don't songwriters write about exotic, faraway places anymore? Or has the world simply run out of exotic, faraway places?)

So that's my Most Played (till about a week ago, that is.)

Tell me what's spinning on your pod/radio/Victrola.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Remembering The Self

Identity is memory. Because we can remember who we were a second ago, we can exist in the next second. I think, therefore I am.

But what if one forgets the I?

Maybe it was this question that prompted artist William Utermohlen to capture himself on canvas, as he slid into Alzheimer's disease.
The paintings starkly reveal the artist’s descent into dementia, as his world began to tilt, perspectives flattened and details melted away. His wife and his doctors said he seemed aware at times that technical flaws had crept into his work, but he could not figure out how to correct them.
The full story on NYT and an older article on the artist that appeared on BBC in 2001.

46% Of Men Lie To Kinsey Institute Researchers

Three things will happen now.

1. The name Kinsey will make many of you click here for the full story. (Third story on that page. Link updated. Thanks, Wildflower Seed)

2. You will try hard - very hard - to remember a moment, from today or yesterday, when you did not think about sex.

3. After you accept or reject the findings of the report, you will find yourself thinking about sex and the study all through the day.

"Kolhu Ka Bail"

Forty-six-year-old Yadav is the only survivor of five villagers accused of stealing a pair of oxen from a house in Nawada Ben village on 19 June 1973.
And how is he paying for the crime?
Every three months, Surajnath Yadav treks 20km from his village to the district headquarters spending 50-100 rupees($1.11 to $2) on travel and lawyer's fees.
But that's not all.
The court case against the surviving accused continues even though the stolen oxen were recovered seven months after the theft.
BBC has the story.

(For non-Hindi readers: "Kolhu ka bail", a Hindi phrase, means "an ox that turns the oil-press", i.e., major drudgery.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Subterranean Yankovic Blues

Weird Al's brilliant parody of Bob Dylan's SHB video. (Pay attention to the words: they're all palindromes)

(found on

Tabula Rasa calls "Modern Times" (the album, not the Chaplin movie) an "old, familiar place". Paradoxical, no?

Monday, October 23, 2006

So A Baby From Krypton Lands in Bombay....

"Superman is one of those rare movies that manages to offend on every level. It is badly acted, badly directed, badly filmed, and makes no sense whatsoever."
Really? Donner's Superman?

No, of course not. They mean the Hindi version.

(Thanks, Mock Turtle!)

The IMDB link to the film contains a priceless user comment titled "quite the thriller".

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Well, That Explains Everything

(posted originally at Blogolepsy):

The Dark Knight, deconstructed - in a hand-drawn comic strip, not a dull, 3-hour, $200 million flick.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Scariest Diwali memory: Placing an "unwrapped" "atom bomb" on a servant's palm and setting that little box on fire (remember that ridiculously loud "green twine around the box" firecracker, marketed as "Jolly Atom Bomb"?) No serious burns, luckily.

Kim Jong-Il says sorry and so do I.

Second-most scary Diwali memory: setting a very large, dry Lantana bush on fire, thanks to a couple of exuberantly flung sparklers.

Victory of stupidity over common sense.

Coming-of-age Diwali memory: I was 15, already too old for firecrackers but too young to be hanging out with the "seniors" at school and participating in their rites of passage (virgin sacrifice and stuff like that.) So that Diwali, I walked around town all alone, hands in my pocket, feeling completely lost. Faces look ugly when you are alone. I can quote the Doors if I want to.

A Diwali memory that still gives me goosebumps: Diwali morning, sister arrives from Bombay and gifts me a copy of "Abbey Road". I've received far more expensive gifts than a cassette tape but I've never received a gift that has affected me so deeply. And it happened on Diwali.

Wherever you may be on Saturday night, I hope you have a memorable Diwali.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Like I Give A Fu

ck about it.

Some comments on the movie's site are noteworthy, and all sic, of course:
"Shahrukh has done some realy very good stunts in the movie.One of his amazing stunts is jumping from a height of 15,000 feet"
(One can only hope the props guy forgot to pack a parachute.)
"Urvashi Ashar feels the script of the orginal Don 1978 is exceptionaly interesting one which is not based on the theory of sentiements and emotions."
(Or even the theory of original scripts.)
"The new Don Shah Rukh Khan is a drug mafia of Malysia and is a stylish and dynamic icon and is comparitively a tech savvy guy."
(You mean he uses IE7.0?)

Peter Gabriel Gets It

Gabriel did something close to revolutionary for an established musician. Back in March, he posted a so-called sample pack of Shock the Monkey consisting of vocals and other pieces of the original multitrack recording. For most people in the music business, that is the commercial equivalent of hiring kidnappers to babysit.
Excellent! (link to Businessweek, via Slashdot)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Super Super Super Super Super Supergroup

It's the Rockestra!

McCartney, Gilmour, Bonham, Jones*, Townshend, Marvin****, Jones** and Lane***. Should I throw in another couple of "supers" in the title?

Even though the album on which this appears (Wings' "Back To The Egg") is dull beyond description (at least that's how I remember it), the video is interesting for the "what-if" factor. Plus it gives us a chance to watch the late, great Bonzo. I could watch a 4-hour biopic on Bonham simply warming up before a concert.

It is worth noting that two of rock's most important drummers (Keith Moon was the other one) were associated with this project and neither of them are alive today. You are welcome to draw your own conclusions.

* - John Paul, Zeppelin
** - Kenney, Small Faces
*** - Ronnie, Small Faces
**** - Hank, The Shadows

(Names of the others members need no clarification)


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

DesiPundit Goes To Atlanta

I hate meta-blogging, so bear with me this one time.

Desipundit called it quits.

I really enjoyed visiting DesiPundit. The site's breadth of interest was what made it so much fun. Even though some complained that the site was "not democratic" (whatever that means), I found DP to be way more open in its submission policy than many other sites.

Other than the minor nitpick that, of late, DP often featured already well-known blogs, hats off to the site for doing a stellar job of being the focal point for Indian bloggers. Cause celebres like the IIPM controversy or the Blogspot ban simply could not have attracted the level of attention that they did without DesiPundit.

I hope there's a DP replacement waiting in the wings. Gettin' Diggy with it isn't all that fun, so don't even try to convince me there's a desi Digg-clone out there that can replace DP. I've tried using them. They suck major donkey ass.


Sunday at Walden Pond was simply gorgeous. But why do drivers in Boston always hear a different drummer?

The POTUS signed the Torture bill and this Thoreau quote is quite apt:
"How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answered that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it."

Apropos of nothing, if a certain St. Bernard happens to be reading this: please allow me to offer my respectful respects in the most respectful manner to your most respected self. You could have swallowed that pusillanimous chihuahua whole. But you didn't. You chose to roll over on your back and won yourself several admirers in the process. Very classy, big guy.

Friday, October 13, 2006

History of Mankind, 15 Words Or Less

On the wall of the toilet (in a Manhattan pizzeria) is a poster of the new "Scarface" video game. We've all seen the photograph.

And on the poster, right below Pacino's picture, a heartfelt plea: "why u killin' people for something so trivial as $$$?"

And below the plea, a harsh rejection of the first scribbler's philosophy: "Fuck you, hippie".

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Iggy (And The Three Stooges?)

If you don't laugh your ass off while reading Iggy And The Stooges' backstage rider, you must be D.E.D dead.

Here's Iggy's dressing room requirement.

Then this page here is the band's absolutely demented preface to the instructions for the lighting designer.

And how about their detailed instructions for sound mixing? The band wants the guitars to sound like "jackboots upon wet cobblestones".

Iggy may be the Father of Punk, he is most certainly the Father of the Stage Dive, and now, he's helping create backstage comedy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Jesus Fans: 1, Jesus: 0

Mumbai-based EMI Virgin India Ltd. said it will recall all copies of the new Slayer album, "Christ Illusion," following protests by a Christian group, the Catholic Secular Forum.
The Catholic Secular Forum are, of course, a group of well-known idiots. They are protesting against an album that will probably sell a few thousand copies in the entire sub-continent.

But it is their display of secularity that warms the cock of my heartles.
The CSF also sent a complaint to Mumbai's police commissioner saying that the album "will affect the sensibilities of Muslims on the track 'Jihad' and secular Indians who have respect for all faiths."
Actually, sensible Muslims will whole-heartedly endorse listening to "Jihad" and secular Indians, who respect all faiths, will enjoy Slayer's anti-war, anti-violence message, what with Gandhiji being in such vogue at the moment.

I hope members of the Catholic Secular Forum roast in Hell. Complete with darting flames and Ozzy singing "Changes" over the PA system :)

But is it all bad news for Slayer? This incident does get them publicity. After all, how many copies would Slayer would sell in a miniscule metal market like India? I lived in India when Slayer played and sounded like bastards (around the "Decade of Aggression" period) and only about one metal fan in ten knew their songs. Too bad this publicity won't bring them revenue. Not unless they can start charging for the downloads...

40 years ago, another musician had a run-in with religious idiots over a harmless remark.

Before Jong's nukes get us, mob righteousness and censorship will.

Bowdler's Angels

McGee, who taught art at an elementary school in this sprawling Dallas suburb, has drawn national sympathy and disbelief since claiming she was let go last month because a parent complained that a student saw a nude sculpture during a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art.
The sculpture in question was an abstract nude.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

Doesn't anyone believe anymore in moral corruption through non-abstract nudes?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Zimmerman, Superhero

Oh yeah. Robert Zimmerman, as a superhero. (Link via Metafilter)

Page 8 of the comic is pure National Lampoon. Vicious, fearless satire. Not that "European Vacation" crap.

Boeing In Pop Music

I recently drove past a billboard featuring the new Boeing 787 which got me thinking (and later googling) for how many pop songs include references to Boeing planes.

Does anyone know?

I was, and still am, stuck at the obvious ones. "Travellin' Band", (737, CCR, and have you heard Jerry Lee Lewis's new version of that song? Woah.) "Jet Airliner" (707, Steve Miller Band) and I vaguely remember a country song and it had to do with a 747 (I think.)

Only three songs from Pop's 50 year history?

My Googlefu was also not of much help, except it threw up this insanely addictive word game based on something called "hapax legomenon" (link to messageboard), where another tortured soul like me confesses to wondering about this same question about Boeing planes in pop lyrics.

And where are the 717s, 727s, 757s, 767 or the 777s in pop music?

There's gotta be at least a dozen more pop/country/rock songs praising/condemning life on the road or about a tearful farewell to a lover at the airport or a song about flying back home.

List them, please. I need to know.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Popcorn Sellers' Future Suddenly Lacks Crunch

George Lucas plans to quit making blockbuster movies.

Too bad he waited till after he unleashed The Phantom Menace on the world.

All right, so Phantom Menace jokes are old and Lucas co-created the Indiana Jones series. Who doesn't enjoy Indiana Jones? Between him and that Other Bearded Wunderkind, they pretty much perfected the Art of The Blockbuster and were it not for them, our summer vacations would be less memorable.

And lest we forget, Lucas also helped produce Kurosawa's Kagemusha.

(Thanks to Arun Verma for mailing me the link to the original story on Variety.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

By August She Was Mine

A video of The Hollies, singing "Bus Stop" because I just FREAKING love the Hollies. (link corrected. Thanks, VB)

I love "Bus Stop" because it's terribly archaic and because it is about umbrellas, buses and falling in love in a queue. Who sings about such things now? (Here's a beautiful Bollywood song, circa 1975, also about a love affair that starts at a bus stop.)

There are a couple of interesting things in the Hollies' video. There's Graham Nash playing a Gibson Les Paul. I always thought "Bus Stop" was all acoustic guitars. (Interesting how different British bands captured the same electric guitar sounds. Right around this time (1965), you had Beatles with their bright, shiny, treble-y production, Yardbirds (and the Bluesbreakers) doing the blues/rock sound, Stones doing the muddy, blotchy guitar thing and then you had bands like the Hollies with their own gentle, folksy sound.)

Oh, then there's drummer Bobby Elliott doing a very Keith Moonesque cymbal crash at 1:59.

There's a lovely counterpoint guitar solo that Nash and the other guitarist play in "Bus Stop", very much in the vein of twin-guitar attacks by Iron Maiden or Metallica.

Could this sappy little pop song be the real Mother of Prog/Metal? Were there any other bands, circa 1964-65, excluding Yardbirds and Bluesbreakers, that had two lead guitars and played contrapuntal lines?

Sherlock Holmes Wears Boxers And Does Cocaine

When you want to read a deep, really interesting analysis of pop culture, what's the first name that comes to mind? If you answered "Times of India", read on, brother.

In a strange, disjointed, pop/psych/Joseph Campbellian piece entitled "How Superman Saves The World?" (the title, I've just come to accept, is beyond my comprehension), we learn some amazing things about comic book superheroes, including the key distinction between American comic book superheroes and Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes to a large extent solved crimes before they happened, but comic books focus on crimes that have already happened and the concept of apt revenge.

The action is not thought out or premeditated. Just like all things American, the action is a pure response to a 'barbarous' act.
That's not half as brilliant as this observation on comic books:
One of the most popular and enduring forms of art, comic books have the power to zoom their central characters right off their pages on to the silver screen.
Mom, Dad, thank you so very much for not subscribing to Times of India when I was growing up.

In case you still want to read the article....

Update: Via Zigzackly: Video of an Indian superhero. A South Indian Superhero, to be more precise.

And The Red Light Will Put Them Back In Black

If you believe this FT article headline, prostitution helped boost Greece's national output by 25%.

The Financial Times has to pay writers to come up with such trite and misleading headlines? May I suggest they outsource this function to Indian newspapers, who, I am confident, can do the same job for half the money.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"All Is Grace": Diary Of A Country Priest

A couple of observations on Robert Bresson's "Diary Of A Country Priest".

Bresson's narrative device and structure is very similar to a famous horror novel. Which one, you ask? The one that Mr. Stoker wrote. Very odd, isn't it? (The Toothy Count's story is also being blogged.)

Doesn't Claude Laydu, who plays the young priest, bear a strong resemblance to Johnny Cash, circa 1954? (A gentler Johnny Cash.)

The Wiki on the film has some good links, so I won't link to any other page related to this film. Here's a great profile of Bresson, the "patron saint of Cinema".

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sharing Some Link-Love With All Y'All

If your response to the question "what kind of music do you like" is usually a quizzical stare followed by "uh, the good kind", you are going to love this page. There's enough jazz (look! Django!), blues, gospel, pop, soul, international and classical music (including Indian classical) on that page to keep you entertained for several months. So don't you ever complain about your iPod playlists being repetitive and same ol', same ol'.

Not all links on that page work (none of the links open, so ignore them), but the ones that do will take you to some exceptional music.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Don't Believe Everything You Read

Roger Ebert is one of the most influential film critics out there and everyone wishes him a speedy recovery, right?

SO ROGER, WTF IS UP WITH THAT ONE-STAR RATING FOR ABBAS KIAORASTAMI'S "TASTE OF CHERRY"? (End of shouting.) (Gigli received 2.5 stars, btw.)

How can this masterpiece be called "excruciatingly boring"?

"Taste of Cherry", in case you haven't seen it, is a fun-filled, comical depiction of a hapless dog trainer's attempts at reigning in a rambunctious dalmatian. It is the kind of a film every family should see together at Christmas, Thanksgiving, Yom Kippur and Dusshera.

I think Ebert was never more wrong. ToC is the reason why God invented cinema.

Delete All Cookies

Your talents will be recognized and you will be suitably rewarded

I wonder if that fortune cookie writer's fortune cookie read: "you are likely to be delightfully vague and unconvincingly optimistic with a mildly sarcastic undertone" (Remember when Homer wrote fortune cookies?)

Speaking of fortune, why not stuff cookies with stock tips?

Friday, September 29, 2006

How To Be Man's Best Friend

Yes, there exists a self-help article that will help you be like your dog. (Link fixed, Thanks, Salil!)

There's so much more on WikiHow, but it's a Friday, so I will let you explore its embarrassment of riches all by yourself.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Buddha Vanishes; Inspector Clouseau Is On The Job

India has alerted Interpol after 18 priceless antique Buddha statues were stolen from a Bihar museum, police say.
The museum, btw, is right next to a police station. And how about this paragraph from the article:
Forensic experts are examining fingerprints at the gallery and police say they suspect the involvement of a major international criminal gang.
How did Bihar's Finest figure that out? Did the thieves leave a monogrammed glove?

Well, the police better start rubbing Maitreya's belly if they want good luck for this pursuit. (Above image taken from an page)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Watch Me Watch You

A PERSON'S GAZE has weight, resistance, muscularity. Clearly, there are people who use their eyes well. You know them: the sales rep, the fundraiser, the tyrannical supervisor. Their eyes force the question. These people may be as dumb as streetlamps, but they are an undeniable presence in the room. They know they must be dealt with. You know it, too.
Establishing and maintaining eye contact is hard for most people. Nervous foot tapping can be ceased, nail-biting stopped, tightly folded arms can be loosened, but eye contact? It's either there or not there. And when it's not there, it usually points to a "problem".

More here. Read it to get rich, get laid or even just to avoid work. (Link to SmartMoney)

Monday, September 25, 2006

How The Gods Kill

Kamat's Potpourri has an interesting post titled "Rama's Mistake" about Rama killing the King of the Monkeys, Vali. (The full story. Kamat's site has a more "reader-friendly" version of the legend.)

Moral of the story: If you monkey around with your brother's wife, be prepared for some fatal ass-kicking.

Ever wonder if Rama attracted these violent situations into his life by virtue of being so moral and upright?

During my Ramlila-watching days, the Vali episode would always leave me just a little cold. Why couldn't a God distinguish between Sugreeva and Vali? Why did he shoot that arrow at Vali's back?

But this, and a couple of Rama's other equally disturbing choices, make the epic more "real". And maybe Ramayan is not about a "fully actualized God" but about a man on his way to "Godhood".

Bela Believes

This week's "I Believe" on NPR featured the guru of the Banjo, Bela Fleck. Ever the unusual interpreter of things, he talks about music, Gershwin and his grandfather's plumbing and about figuring things out his own way.

I Believe. (Link to NPR)

(According to Bela's website, he's working on a new album with his new friend)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

When A Fondle Becomes A Squeeze

"Based on general life experience alone, it is indisputably clear that a 25,500 euro charge is disproportionate to the compensation in question," Judge Hasse Hakki, who heard the case, told Reuters Friday.
Your Honor, we would love to hear more about your general life experiences. (SFW. Link to Yahoo)

A Glistening Drop Of Dew

Bohu din dhore, bohu krosh dure,
bohu byay kori, bohu desh ghure,
Dekhite giyachhi parbotmala, dekhite giyachhi sindhu,
Dekha hoy nai chokkhu meliya,
Ghar hote shudhu dui pa feliya,
Ekti dhaner shisher upore ekti shishir bindu.

(Trans: I traveled miles, for many a year,
I spent a lot in lands afar,
I’ve gone to see the mountains, the oceans I’ve been to view.
But I haven’t seen with these eyes
Just two steps from my home lies
On a sheaf of paddy grain, a glistening drop of dew.)
Joyful arrives at a very Zen-like conclusion about the city of Hyderabad, and on the way, quotes a beautiful Tagore poem. He also has a little gem of information in his commentspace about this poem and Satyajit Ray.

Doesn't that poem remind you of the atmosphere from Led Zeppelin III?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ring My Friend I Said You'd Call Dr. Riley

Uh-oh. Another Beatles' mystery solved. How long before someone tells us Paul is not really dead?

And just how does a dentist go from "Mr. Lennon, you must brush your teeth every night" to "would you like some LSD in your Listerine"?

Think about it for a second - were it not for a bold dentist, there would be no acid rock. The antiestablishment needs the establishment.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Now They Tell Us

It's official. Homework is "at best a waste of time and at worst a source of tedious vexation." That sound you hear is the sound of a billion parents sobbing guiltily. (Link to

I am proud to say that I had figured this one out all by myself at the age of six.

I'm Thinkin' 'Bout The Lions

What do you get when you cross an Asiatic lion with an African circus lion?

A sickly, dying, immuno-deficient cat.

Story at Uma's.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Filling All Fruit With Ripeness To The Core

Fall is almost here and with it come friends and relatives. Colors! We want to see Fall colors! Why doesn't that tree have more colors! They want nothing less than a kaleidoscope-on-acid experience.

The Independent Traveler has a short but very handy guide to foliage viewing in the Northeastern USA. (link via Yahoo)

The best Fall colors I've ever seen are on my television - in the opening shots of Douglas Sirk's masterpiece melodrama, "All That Heaven Allows".

Just kidding. I prefer the mid-Atlantic/NJ area to the more popular New England sites because this area has a greater variety of trees, and therefore, a greater variety of colors on display.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Cinema Cinema

Anyone noticed a curious bit of dialogue in "Lage Raho Munnabhai"? The DJ character asks Munnabhai if he has ever lied in his life. The character responds, "only once, in 1992".


But no, I was not all that impressed by the film. The first film was *way* superior.

I was, however, more than "all that impressed" by Mike Nichols' "Wit", which I also saw over the weekend. Emma Thompson takes the (cliched) cancer patient role and turns it into something sublime and painfully funny. She co-wrote the screenplay. Harold Pinter appears in the film too. Much rock and roll.

After I've watched a good film, and my senses are still buzzing, I start hankering for another fix. So, post-"Wit", I felt like re-visiting the little town of Rimini. The film was "I Vitelloni". I didn't know De Sica was initially offered the role of the aging (gay) thespian in this lovely film.

Naturally, after such a terrific film, I wanted to watch another film, and pulled out Louis Malle's "Au Revoir Les Enfants". The Wife being all-too familiar with the symptoms of my terrible addiction, suggested we go for a drive, and we did.
Have you noticed how watching a Fellini film changes the outside world?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Thus Spake Woody

Schopenhauer railed against the aimless nibbling of peanuts and potato chips while one engaged in other activities. Once munching has begun, Schopenhauer held, the human will cannot resist further munching, and the result is a universe with crumbs over everything.
Classic, classic Woody Allen riffing wildly on all his favorite topics. It doesn't get much better than this. (Link to New Yorker)

Also posted on Blogolepsy.

Redefining Poverty

My 13-year old nephew goes to this village (somewhere near Nasik, I think) for "2 days of social work". The kid's weltanschauung (thanks, Alok!) is completely altered when he learns the villagers make do WITHOUT "Ruffles potato chips" and "Pepsi".

His feeling of shock is soon washed over by a warm wave of relief when he spots a little shop in this village selling "Mirinda". So, next day, these parched city slickers line up outside the shop to drink up their Mirinda. At the break of dawn.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Zappa The Conductor

My previous post on the conductor's job.

Cosmic Elevator, aka Ventilator Blues, pointed me to this delightful piece of video featuring Frank Zappa in which he talks about his method of conducting. As with all things Zappa, you are never sure if he is being serious or just pulling off a musical prank. Or both.

So laugh and learn. Why isn't there a cultural figure like Frank Zappa anymore?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cronenberg on the Andy Warhol Exhibition

The images of people jumping out of the buildings - he had already done paintings like that. It was a bizarre prophecy. He was very prophetic and accurate in his understanding of America, of commercialism, of capitalism, of its flaws and strengths.
Director David Cronenberg is curating an Andy Warhol exhibition in Toronto. (link to the Guardian, via the excellent 3QuarksDaily blog)

What Does A Conductor Do (And How Does He Do It?)

Back when Metallica played with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, a comedian on TV made a very funny observation: if a bunch of metalheads could play without a scoresheet, why did the orchestra need one?

The other logical question that he did not raise, but people often ask is, if the music is already written down, why does an orchestra need a conductor? Can't a group of 100 musicians just pull out the scoresheet for Beethoven's Ninth and start hammering away?

The Aug 21st issue of The New Yorker has a superb article titled "Measure For Measure" that examines the job of a symphony conductor. The article isn't online, but "Hard Drive" has a 27-minute video featuring clips of great conductors and the article's writer (Justin Davidson) talking about the conductor's work.

When people say they prefer Beethoven as conducted by a Mehta or a Karajan or a Solti, just what do they mean?

If you cannot access older issues of the magazine, watch the video and you will know just why an orchestra needs a conductor. (Link to New Yorker's Hard Drive)

Editor Saab

Who's dressed in green, yellow and purple with a pink, polka-dotted scarf around his neck and makes the most godawful movies?

The guest editor of BBC Hindi website.

I'm telling you, this man's earned so much good karma in his early years...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chicken Chettinad Preceded The Interrogation

Indian waiter, to a friend who was eating lunch with me:

"Sir, are you finished?"

"yeah, you can take that plate away."

"Are you sure you are really finished?"

I half-expected the waiter to switch on two powerful lamps and direct their beams into my friend's eyes.

"If you are really finished, like you say you are, then what are these 2 pieces of semi-chewed chicken bones doing by the side of the plate? ANSWER ME!"

Identifying A Not-So-Rare Bird: Indians Visiting India

Disclaimer: I've carried a bottle of Bisleri ONLY ONCE while visiting India. I had consumed some heavily poisoned chicken curry and before the attending doctor could say "E.Coli", I was squirting fluids out of all orifices at once. Fantastic pressure too. So as soon as I gained a hint verticality, a mineral water bottle was thrust into my hands.

My mother says the clothes are a sure giveaway. Others point to the much-maligned Bisleri bottle, or the alarming habit of saying "howzitgoin" to the milkman, the maidservant and the newspaper boy.

What are we talking about? Identifying an Indian visiting India. Hmph. (link to Churumuri)

Sure, some of it is stereotyping, but it is funny and true. Not so funny is the comment thread (at the end of the linked post), which, predictably, devolves into a dull India Vs. the West debate.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ramana Athreya And The Technicolor Dreambird

Bugun Liocichla is the latest multi-colored, feathered discovery from North-eastern India.

(I like how that story starts: "A professional astronomer has made the most sensational ornithological discovery in India for more than half a century." How does one go from astronomy to ornithology?)

Arunachal Pradesh, you may remember, was also the site of the most recent monkey species' discovery.

High Ate Us

Scout's "bring-me-back" campaign proved to be all too brief but successful. I am back.

Actually, the 5-day blogging break included travel, a wedding and the much-needed post-wedding recovery. For reasons that shall remain entirely private, I do not wish to hear the words "Jagermeister" and "Patron" ever again. Also the phrase "now let's get the golf cart out".

But let me tell you, you haven't lived if you haven't heard a New Orleans band play in a fog-shrouded field on a full moon night.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Kashmere Stage Band: Old Funk, New Again

"This ever-changing crew of high schoolers recorded music that funked with the best of the best – forget high school bands, we're talking about sixteen-year-old kids who would give the JBs a run for their money!"
(excerpt from

Read that last bit again, will ya. A bunch of high schoolers could give funk and soul legends, The JBs, a run for their money.

The 2006 re-issue of the band's 2-CD retrospective has got rave reviews. (Links to Austin Chronicle and NPR.)

Do you dig it, man? (Link to free Napster track. Too bad if you live outside the US and get only a 30-second sample. Music this sweet and funky deserves to be heard all around the world.) has an excellent review of the re-release.

Attention Definition Disorder

My brain performed somersaults for at least a few seconds when I heard someone say "if the little girl has ADD, why don't the parents give her more attention?"

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Sepoy Jihad Of 1857

"..but it is now unambiguously clear that the rebels saw themselves as fighting a war to preserve their religion, and articulated it as such."
BBC has an interview with writer-historian William Dalrymple, in which he talks about the role of religion, "suicide ghazis" and rebellion in the so-called "First war of Indian Independence".

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I'm Trying To Break Your Heart

My one and only breakup song is The Rolling Stones' "The Last Time" (from their "Out Of Our Heads" album - how appropriately titled, I thought to myself, several tears in several beers later.)

The events preceding the breakup are hardly important now, but when I held that heavy wedding invitation in my hand, it's like I had alighted the train at Cliche Central.

I lit a cigarette with trembling hands, wiped fat, salty tears with my shirt-sleeve and having lost the ability to breathe, I stood by the tape deck and flipped through a gazillion tapes till I found "The Last Time". I wanted the perfect song to tell the world - and myself - that we had ended as lovers. When the song started playing - Brian Jones' recurring, circular guitar riff is burned into my memory - I sat down on the edge of the bed and thought about her, and us, over and over again.

There were a lot of tears, snot too, and when I could no longer stand the funk I was in, I decided to work my depression through not liquor or drugs, but through laundry. Nothing like a dash of Surf to dull the pain.

A few dirty shirts later, I grew tired of Jagger's voice. So I stopped the music, walked out of that room and felt tremendous relief - at being able to wear a clean shirt after ages.

Even now when I hear "The Last Time", I remember not the minor tragedy, but the warm suds around my fingers, the snot running down my nose and a stiff, over-soaped cotton shirt on my back.

My breakup ruined a great rock and roll song and I am not happy about it. You can read more stories of ruined breakup music here. (Link via Yahoo Picks)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin, RIP

This is sad news. (via Drudge)

Many of those creatures at the receiving end of his patented "woo hoo, isn't he a beauty" could hardly be called beautiful, but when Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, said it in his inimitable way, they did appear beautiful.

Workingman's Dead

We wake up on a beautiful Labor Day Monday and the first thing the Wife tells me is "I think I'm getting bored with my job".

Raaga Bhatiyar: I Want To Kill You

I have not read a funnier analysis of Raaga Bhatiyar, or any other raaga, for that matter.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Long Night's Journey Into the Day

We were up till 5:30AM. Drinking, naturally. By the end of the party, the Grey Goose vodka tasted like exceptionally sweet spring water. Or maybe I was drinking water. Anyway, thoughts are not very coherent right now.

Why is Bob Dylan ripping his fans by giving them unrippable music? (Link to BoingBoing) It is a shame. If I weren't so badly haungovered right now, I would write a letter and mail it to my local DJ.

On the other hand, the storm has cleared and I can see clearly now.

Friday, September 01, 2006

"We dedicate this one to the soldiers fighting in Milwaukee, and, uh, Chicago"

There's an entire blog dedicated to Jimi Hendrix's banter. It's called, not surprisingly, Jimi Banter.

My favorite Jimi banter is the one before "Machine Gun" on the "Band of Gypsys" album. It's both funny and touching - but after that 10-minute Stratocaster blitzkrieg, that banter sounds so meaningful.

It's sad that I am such a Jimi fanboy I find even his banter profound.

Feelgood Friday? Or A Self-Loathing Long Weekend?

All the world loves an underdog who fights back. And this guy is one heck of a fighter. (Link to Indianwriting.)

Why do I feel guilty after reading a story like this? Aargh. That terrible feeling that I just take my privileges for granted. A soft, rich, spoilt asshole.

Show Me Your Non Sequitur

Warren Buffett got married again. Good for him.

But look how that news story ends.
For her part, Menks has said Buffett is "the most wonderful man to live with," Lowenstein wrote. Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT - news), is the world's richest person and a Berkshire director.
So, are we to conclude that Gates may be the world's richest person and a Berkshire director but he is not a wonderful man to live with?

Thursday, August 31, 2006


A really passionate argument in favor of creative passion (and freedom) at work (Link to Arun Verma's blog.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Turn Off Your Mind, Relax And Float Downstream

Have you read this lovely little (free) e-book about the Beatles' "Revolver"? (The question "just how did the Beatles discover Indian music?" is answered in there too.)

"Unfaithfully Yours"

If I said a film's funniest line was "I hate dry, white bread", you would probably question my sense of humor and my taste in films. But that is the funniest thing I've heard recently (not counting that news item about a woman who was arrested for teaching her dog to drive a car. What if she had succeeded? It could have destroyed the market for designated drivers.)

"Unfaithfully Yours" is the film that's said to have ended the great Sturges' career. The film, a fearless black comedy, does not play like the typical screwball fare. Unlike most "comedy of remarriage" films, its plotline is uncomplicated: a music conductor, played with great aplomb by Rex Harrison, suspects his wife of cheating on him. And for about 80 minutes, he plots revenge. En route to the climax, he burns down a dressing room, trashes a hotel room (so clumsily that I kept hoping someone would send Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd as the emergency crew) and of course, expresses his strong distaste for dry, white bread. There is something very Wodehousian about all this and that is part of the fun.

The film's structure, however, is very unusual. Sturges uses three classical music pieces as both the background as well as a narrative device. At one point, it almost felt like it was a program film set against a great score and not the other way around. Imagine a modern mainstream comedy touting itself as "Rib-tickling comedy set to a Tchaikovsky score!"

While the laughs were aplenty in this film, Sturges himself felt "the audiences laughed from the beginning to the end of the picture. And they went home with nothing. Because nothing had happened." (Courtesy:'s review.)

But who wants anything to happen. As long as Sturges' rat-a-tat dialogue delivery and the biting humor are there, I am happy. "Unfaithfully Yours" may not be "The Lady Eve", but it has plenty of all that makes a Sturges film.

Jonathan Lethem has a terrific essay on the film at Criterion's website. (Did you notice - Criterion has "Jimi Plays Monterey" in their collection now. All bow to the Gods at Criterion.)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Four Skulls, An Owl, A Corpse And A Snake

Look who turned 60. (Link to Indian Writing)

That little magazine was in a league of its own - a hodge-podge of Gothic fantasy, mythology and fairy tales. (The Wiki is very sparse on details. Indian Comix/Fantasy fans, please note.)

I mostly remember the magazine for the creepy illustration accompanying the classic Vikram-Vetal series. (Link to Rediff)

Kamat's Potpourri has a graphic from the magazine, circa 1979.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Thank You For The Movies

Hrishikesh Mukherjee, dead at 84. (link to CNN-IBN)

So many films of his are a part of that collective memory shared by a family.

If my family remembers "Gol Maal" with great fondness, it's partly because that summer, our inseparable unit of four was changing form. It was the year my sister was going away to college. We sat on a dusty ground that hot night in May and watched the film under a starlit sky. All of us knew just how terrible it would be to not have sister around the house. But for those 3 hours, Ram Prasad Dashrath Prasad Sharma had the family in splits and it is that memory I'll always carry in my head.

The bio note in IMDB gets it exactly right when it says
"His magic lay not in the glamor or largeness so often associated with cinema, but in its simplicity and warmth."
Here's the video of that song from Gol Maal, undoubtedly one of the finest Hindi lyrics from "new" Indian cinema. (Link to Youtube)

Neha remembers this song for different reasons and calls Gulzar, the songwriter, "halwa for the soul".

Songs My Father Taught Me

Tabula Rasa has a beautiful post about his father's music collection (and the hardware it was played on.)

It's a fine, nostalgic piece and it immediately had me thinking about the music collection I grew up with as a child. All those Hindustani music records (remember those far out, groovy Ravi Shankar-via-Rubber Soul record covers?), old jazz albums, film soundtracks (could any household be complete without "Sound of Music" and "My Fair Lady"?) and of course, the early Beatles.

As Hendrix put it, that really was "music, sweet music".

Friday, August 25, 2006

Everybody: Say AWWWWW

To be read in a movie-trailer voice:

Owen, a baby Hippo, was rescued from the deadly 2004 Tsunami and brought to a Kenyan sanctuary where his best friend was Mzee, a 130 year-old tortoise.

This is their blog. (via Yahoo Picks)

Bull Sheet

"Previously, at the place of Taj Mahal, there was a Shiv Mandir and in Shiv Mandir we do not offer sheet. We offer milk to lord Shiva.
Oh no. (link to Indian Express)

Lord Shiva, the Stoner Supreme, surely must want to lie down sometime?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto, We Hardly Knew Ye

8. (link to BoingBoing)

Going from nine to eight planets will undoubtedly affect both scientific education and the minds of future generations of mankind, which, let me tell you, are simply going to rot.

When we studied science, we had to remember NINE names. Yes, N-I-N-E. Remembering eight names? Pffh. Easy as walking on a giant piece of firm and non-slippery cake.

Armed with that extra memory cell (and all that spare time - just imagine!), I am afraid these young minds will be filled with mischief and with that something my middle school English teacher used to call "hanky-panky".

But I am grateful that Uranus has not been affected by this whole "define a planet" business. Its status, both as a planet and as a joke of sub-astronomical proportions, is safe. For now, at least.

By the way, ever heard of Venkatesh Ketakar? Me neither.

So read up and show this now-forgotten Indian stargazer some respect for accurately calculating Pluto's orbit in 1911.

Single Indian Male Loves Dogs (And Goats)

Is it ok to laugh at this?
Chained by his family members for the last 15 years, Rahul Amin Dhali, who used to bite dogs and goats besides gnawing at the feet of relatives and neighbours, has at last landed in the Pavlov mental hospital. Pavlov hospital Superintendent Dr. Umesh Bose said, "We are treating him and he has been identified with severe mental retardation and behavioural disorder. "He did not bite any of the staff members of the hospital. But he is tearing his clothes", he added. Rahul was just six when he first bit a dog in Biramnagar village, 60 km from Kolkata. A few days later he bit his family members too. "Initially, we ignored the issue since he was just a child but it turned worse with every passing day", Rahul's father Rahman Dhali said. Rahul later wandered off into the village and bit a goat grazing in a field before nibbling at the paws of the neighbour's pet dog", Rahman said.
Pavlov Mental hospital? I always knew Calcuttans rocked. Did I know they rocked this hard?

This human interest story found on Star of Mysore.

There's been some press coverage on the boy about a week ago. Yahoo News has a particularly interesting detail towards the very end.

All Akira, All The Time

Vili runs an excellent blog about one of my favorite filmmakers.

There's plenty of AK goodness in there - like his watercolors and storyboards and this superb analysis of Yojimbo's opening shots by Jim Emerson.

I also learned a rather surprising fact about pre-1953 Japanese films from Vili's blog.

Check it out!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hey Joe

Hey Joe.

Picture Your Interviewer Naked

While that is not one of the strategies listed in this interview-hack, there's some useful stuff in there. Take a gander, if you are likely to be interviewing in the near future. (Via Lifehacker)

The list misses an oft-ridiculed but important question: "where do you see yourself 5 years from now?" ("5 years older", "being escorted by the FBI on a plane from Thailand, "on a desert island wearing a grass skirt and a coconut bra, singing Bali Hai" are all perfectly valid responses. If you are interviewing for The Onion.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

From Highway Star To Political Thrillers

It used to be said that all comedians are frustrated rock musicians. But no one ever said successful rock musicians hope to become political thriller writers. (No, they go on to write children's books or they become radio DJs.)

Arun Verma, who's recently put up some excellent advice for entrepreneurs, sent me this link about England's newest novelist: one of Rock's greatest voices, Ian Gillan.

Check out Ian Gillan's website. (Interesting that he should bemoan the death of the gatefold LP cover on his site. I hate CDs for that reason alone.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Spider's Web Castle

(This is not a review or a critique of "Throne of Blood". I just wanted to write about a very minor aspect of the film. Go look up IMDB for reviews.)

While watching Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood" (or "Spider's Web Castle") recently, it struck me that almost none of the conversations between characters are filmed using reverse shots, or over-the-shoulder shots (by which I mean: when Character A talks to Character B, we see B's face from over A's shoulder and when B speaks, vice versa.)

Of course, this is by design. This theatre-like approach (AK wanted to shoot the film like a Noh theatre production) prevented me from taking sides with any character immediately. It also distanced me from the action in a way that I felt I could not intervene in these people's bloody lives and stop them from reaching their tragic conclusion. Which makes it even more tragic.

But the artist that Kurosawa is, during a critical point in the story (during the celebratory dinner sequence), he puts us in the shoes of a non-existent being for a few seconds. And what do we see? Mifune's eyes widening in disbelief and fear, as he sees the "ghost". The sudden removal of that carefully calculated distance gives us a close look at Mifune's guilty conscience.

And only then you feel truly sorry for that character.

"Throne of Blood" is not always faithful to "Macbeth" (which diminishes the complexity of Mifune's character) but Akira the Emperor always leaves you with at least one or two things that are simply unforgettable. For me, it's the sound of Asaji's silk kimono swooshing in the still of the night and the startling cry of the birds.

Here's a good essay on the film, if you want to compare "Macbeth" and "Throne of Blood".

Heard About This Terrific New Place In Bombay?

“This place is not about wars or crimes, but where people come to relax and enjoy a meal,” said restaurant manager Fatima Kabani.
I suppose staring at a huge poster of Hitler is a grrreat way to relax and enjoy a meal.

But why stop there, dear restaurateur! How about playing video clips from Auschwitz during Happy Hour! Call your strongest drink Zyklon B (how cute is that!), give your customers a special discount if they come dressed in concentration camp uniform and sic a dog on them if they don't tip the mandatory 18% for a party of six.

Here's the owner of Hitler's Cross explaining the reason for this unusual theme:
“We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different.”
Hey, Punit Shablok, idiot, didn't someone suggest the equally different "serial-killer/rapist" theme?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Om Mani Padme WHAM! POW!! SOCKO!!!

I hope someday all stories achieve this level of hilarity:
"Some more moderate Buddhist monks, protesting for peace, were already on the stage when punches were thrown. Soon, monks' robes and fists were flying, although no one was badly hurt, witnesses said."
I am sure Mahakasyapa had more than just a smile over this incident.

And speaking of a melee, PLEASE don't EVER listen to this song while sipping a beverage.

A Death in Bhopal

"The end came without him realising his dream of seeing anyone brought to justice over the world's worst industrial accident."
Such sad words in this man's life's story, a man who bravely fought the fight despite poverty, physical and mental illnesses. Rest in peace, Sunil Verma.

I wonder how much there is still to be discovered about the long-term effects of this disaster. For example, this line from the BBC story came as news to me:

"He was finally diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia - a mental illness which affected many gas survivors"...(emphasis mine)

And there are still 20,000 Indians affected by the Disaster who have received neither compensation nor medical aid.

While the Beeb carried this article only today, The Independent ran this 2 weeks ago.

I'd Start At Heartbreak Hotel

Oh bayy-buh-baby, there's a $3 million reward for finding Elvis alive (link via Yahoo News)

If I did find him, I'd first make him sing "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" (in what Paul McCartney often referred to as the "Elvis voice") and then the "American Trilogy". To me, there are few emotional moments in live pop music greater than Elvis singing the famous medley.

And never mind the $3 million dollars.

"Musically Speaking"

Have you heard of this series of Western classical music releases called "Musically Speaking"?

I was really *desperate* to hear some Bach yesterday. I can't quite explain that mood, but there are days when I can almost hear notes in my head and I simply. must. play that music. It's like the music is calling me (CUT TO: me waking up from bed at night, arms outstretched like a zombie and walking up to an open window. Lightning and thunder. And then...)

So Bach it had to be. After nearly 40 minutes of poring over the CD racks, I found an interesting CD: it had the Brandenburgs (2 and 5), Concerto for Two Violins in D minor and the Orchestral Suite No. 3. What's more, it had a supplemental disc featuring commentary on Bach and his music by Gerard Schwarz.

The commentary is just fantastic (as is the conducting by Sir Neville Marriner and the performance by Academy of St. Martin in the Fields - btw, why are they still out in the fields? It's a joke, ha ha.) It covers Bach's biography and a very erudite but easy-to-understand lecture on Bach's composition style, the Brandenburgs - their structure, highlights, the Fugue etc.

All the major points in Mr. Schwarz's talk are punctuated by short musical excerpts from the actual performance and for this, one cannot thank enough the producers of the series. So when you play Disc 1 and hear some Universe-altering (no exaggeration) contrapuntal figure, you know exactly what the the right hand and the left hand are doing on the piano.

Even if you don't care much for music theory, the performances are more than solid.

Just in case you didn't notice, Musically Speaking is giving away their "Beethoven" CD for almost nothing.

But for now, it's Brandenburg #2.


I am quite certain there's a significant market for a series like this for Indian classical music (which, btw, suffers from a lack of well-written liner notes, let alone musical analysis.) Anyone know if there's something already available?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Hindustani classical music goodies here.

Here's the same list sorted alphabetically (by Raag name.)

(I cannot vouch for the quality of recordings or the performances but with names like Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Mallikarjun Mansur and Bismillah Khan, I am sure it will be more than just OK.)

But...12th Graders Can't Handle The Truth!

NCERT wants to tell it like it is. (Link to Hindustan Times)
"The 2002 Gujarat riots, the Ayodhya dispute and the 1984 Sikh carnage will be a part of the class XII curriculum for political science..."
All good, I think. But just how real will they get? Listen to this:
"The chapter on Gujarat riots will deal with an overview of the incident and the large-scale killing of "people of a particular community.."
There, the Euphemism Fairy returns to bite them on their asses. I hope they also include Orwell's "Politics and The English Language" as part of the curriculum.

Some credit is due to India's premier educational policy body, however.
"The book will have a chapter "Crisis of the Constitutional Order," which will highlight Emergency, its context, constitutional and extra-constitutional dimensions, and resistance to the Emergency."
And look who's also made it to CBSE textbooks. Interesting. Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy is recommended as "must watch films for Elective English students"

Pardon, monsieur? Why not include some of his Feluda stories or his SF stories? Better still, if those Elective English students must be exposed to good films that in turn will expose them to good English literature, how about Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" (or even "2001") or Laurence Olivier's "Hamlet"?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

For The Mamas and The Papas

This could be the death of the Nursery Rhyme: lullaby renditions of rock albums. (They even have lullaby renditions of Radiohead, The Cure and Tool!) (Via the mad, mad, mad, mad Blog)

But why no lullaby renditions of "Marquee Moon" is what I want to know.

Listen to the clips from Nirvana - funny and so not boring. (I just wish they cut back on the use of glockenspiel. It's so 19th century, man.)

I cannot imagine the baby's reaction when he or she grows up into a teenager and discovers the originals.

Minor Key Afternoon

Seen and overheard at a guitar shop, where I spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon:

"I don't need to plug it in" (A 40-something man to his wife. But just how do you evaluate an electric guitar without plugging it in, hombre?)

"So tell me, what's the deal with Fenders?" (Soul-patched rich banker type who probably hadn't touched his guitar in 10 years but was ready to plonk 3000 dollars right there and then, to an over-tattooed salesperson.)

"Can you show me that one?" (a serious 12-year old, dressed in a standard-issue black Iron Maiden shirt, pointing at a Sunburst Gibson Les Paul on the wall that costed about 4000 dollars. Who buys a 12- year old a Gibson Les Paul?)

"Brother, can you give me the high E?" (Meek, soft-spoken man with a really jagged haircut, to me)

Monday, August 14, 2006


An amazingly rare piece of Beatles' memorabilia: the band congratulating India on its Independence Day on the ticket-stub of their famous Shea Stadium concert!

Therefore, in honor of August 15th, I am prepared to sell this ticket for exactly $151,515. It breaks my heart to part with the ticket, but I need the money.

All right, so you too can create your fake concert tickets. (Link via Lifehacker)

Exactly four years from the date of the Shea concert, another famous music festival happened. Here's a scan of the original program guide.

This One's For the Humble Silverfish

Dhiraj, in his characteristic funny and surreal tone, says no one writes for the silverfish.

Say, that might be a whole new market for publishers: books published exclusively for Lepisma Saccharina. Starch-flavored paper with starch-scented covers and what not.

Did you know silverfish can survive for a year without food? I know some book-worms who can live without food at all. Same difference, right?

Sometimes I Feel... an Automatic Monty Python Quote Generator.

The Pope cracked a good one. (Link to Yahoo News, via Drudge).
The pontiff also offered some insight into his own personality and ministry, saying being pope is "really tiring" and that it is important to "see the funny side of life."
Do you really need the link to the song?

Aww, why not. (Link to

I wouldn't leave you without the video clip from Life of Brian. (link to YouTube)

BTW, the pained expression on Graham Chapman's face, just when Eric Idle starts singing (around 1:10 maybe), to me is the very definition of comedy. Imagine being crucified next to a positive-thinking type person!

And how's the Monday looking?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

David Remnick on "Reporting"

NPR has an excerpt from the book.

An excellent book, and of course Remnick's profiles have oodles of that "sprawling New Yorker shit" quality to them. (Link opens a PDF file.)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Donor 3066

This is a scenario straight out of a creepy SF story.
...the sperm bank tests for major infectious illnesses such as hepatitis and HIV, but not more exotic medical conditions, and it is not required by law to do so. The sperm bank relies on donors to fill out medical histories extending back three generations.
You can probably guess what happened here.
So far, the mothers who were impregnated with 3066's sperm have been frustrated in their attempts to find out more about the man and confirm their suspicions that their children inherited their medical problems from him.
Is it not amazing that one can trace a used car's accident record and ownership history at the click of a button but not a sperm donor's family medical history?

A 6-Page Article On Goofing Off: My Irony Detector Explodes

I know NOBODY reads a 6-page article on the Web, but on the off chance that you need to re-acquaint yourself with the joys of goofing off, there's a 6-page article on the Web that can really help you.

At the end of the 6-page article will be a written quiz followed by an hour-long introspection on why we can't really goof off anymore in this post-9/11 world and this is America, baby, so we will have 10 Power Tips for Faster, More Efficient goofing off.

Now for the 6-page article.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Boy Howdy Lives Again

Creem is back. Check out their archives for some classic columns.

My favorites are Lester Bangs writing about Kraftwerk and Black Sabbath and Nick Kent's interview with Jimmy Page.

These guys were definitely not writing about "rock 'n roll for the sissies" (their words, not mine.) After all, as an urban legend goes, this was the magazine that invented the term "heavy metal". (Much debated fact. After all, Steppenwolf had used it in that song in '68 and novelist William Burroughs had used the term - not in this specific context, though - in '59. And chemists have used it since the 19th century?)

Has a music critic ever changed your opinion about an album or a band? Ever go from "Phil Collins SUCKS!" to "Phil Collins RULEZ!" after reading a critique?