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?

7 Indian Filmmakers At The Wildscreen Festival

Not all Indian filmmakers are out shooting 3-hour long wedding videos, you know. Hats off to these seven directors for choosing to focus on ecological, environmental and wildlife-related issues that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.

Link to The WildScreen Festival website.

Does A Dog Have Buddha Nature?

Animals are "not pretentious, self-delusionary farts". Amit Varma said that.

Being all three myself - pretentious, self-delusionary and a fart - I went looking for some answers. Why do animals seem happier than us?

Take these 2 dogs, for instance.

Barney forgot his Buddha Nature last week. But is he unhappy right now? I don't think so. And the owner of that Elvis Teddy? Don't even ask.

Now look at this dog. (link to a Youtube video, found on

Imagine, if you will, the dog representing a certain tiny nation that recently had two of its soldiers kidnapped and the monkey representing those bunch of thugs who did the said kidnapping. Do you see the dog vowing revenge? Do you see that grinning, Hairy Swinger launching 3, 333 rockets?


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bob Dylan Goes To The Movies

You know why some lines in Dylan's songs sound so cinematic? Because they are snippets of cinema dialogue. Duh.

It's obvious from the list (link below) that Dylan loves noir and Bogart films. If only some film fan would document movie dialogues that quote Dylan's songs, my quest for the perfect time-wasting site would be over.

As far as I know, Dylan has never used the line "tumhara naam kya hai, Basanti" in a song. It's a great line from a great film and deserves to be on a great rock album.

Go away from my blog-window and read at your chosen speed.

If The Jat is a-Rockin', Don't Come a-Knockin'

Everything you wanted to know about Virmaram Jat (but were afraid to ask) can be summed up in one magnificent line:

"I do it daily and the best time for intercourse is between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m.," Jat, whose first wife, 85, still lives with him and his new wife, told the newspaper.

Ah! The joys of a simple country life. Long walks by the river, plenty of sunshine, fresh camel milk and an eighty five year-old wife who gets jiggy with you between 2:00AM and 4:00AM everyday.

Viramaram Jat, We Salute You!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Lost Art of Conversation Is Found Again

Two mothers at the gym, exercising and talking loudly (one to my right and the other to my left):

Woman 1: "I didn't see Cody in the playpen"
Woman 2: "No, he's there"
Woman 1: "Oh is he? I wasn't looking"

The Manatee Of Manhattan

"Marine preservationists said a manatee had swam up the Hudson River past Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood and then 100 miles upstate. It was the first confirmed sighting of the mammal in New York in 10 years."
This proves one thing. Life can exist in the Hudson river.

Manatees, or sea cows are an endangered species. (link to 1010 WINS)
Nicole Mihnovets is the coordinator for the marine endangered species program run by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. She says that it's against the law to even get close to one of the massive animals, which are endangered. That, she said, ``could be considered harassment.''
The official did not clarify if a male manatee, or a sea bull, can go near this lovely but lonely sea cow.
Manatees mostly live in Florida waters and are rarely seen off the Carolinas. Nicole Adimey, a biologist at U.S. Fish and Wildlife in Florida said the manatee seems healthy and the government will not make any attempt to capture it unless it stays in New York till fall, when the Hudson would be too cold for it to survive.
(From Reuters)

Let's hope this beautiful creature makes it back to warmer waters by fall.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Raghav Mahato, You Are A Hero

I hope winning this award brings Raghav Mahato back on air in Mansoorpur. (Thanks, Uma for emailing me the story.)

If you are interested, you can also read my previous posts on this enterprising young man who deserves kudos and more importantly, an audience.

Care for some heart-rending words?
"Garibi ke wajah se nahi padhe phir bhi aapne pair per khada hue hain. Ye kaam ker ke koi chori to nahi ker rahe the (I could not study because of poverty but then also I was able to get a livelihood. By running the radio I was not committing a crime)," Raghav says.
Those are such heavy words and they make me really angry. Imagine if you had to deal with the government just to keep your blog running. And not just any government, but a government that still has a Telegraph Act.

Anyone in India interested in raising funds to help Raghav get back on the air? Ping me in the commentspace.

Memo From The HR Department

With Effect From August 7, the company has decided to adapt to youth culture. (Link to Cellular News)

Going forward, promotions will be reflected not in titles, but through body piercings. (Genital piercings are reserved for senior executive positions only.)

Demotions will be marked by tattoos across the demotee's face (the word "loser" in Japanese script.)

Pay raises are to be dropped henceforth. Instead, employees will be rewarded with even more annoying background color-schemes for their Myspace pages.

New hires will go through an orientation in an S&M nightclub after the obligatory corporate video and a couple of tabs of E.

Exit interviews must be attended in thongs (exitee only) and upon handing over the laptop and confidential documents, exiting employee agrees to licking tequila off the HR manager's navel.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Indian High Court Gets It On

An Indian Court has ruled that marriage without sex is "cruelty". (link to The Telegraph, via

The euphemisms in the story are just as amusing as the story. "Principal obligation", "biological urge" and my favorite: "cohabitation".

I hope the woman in question never actually used those words with her husband. Somehow, "honey, shall we now fulfill our principal obligation and satisfy our biological urge?" doesn't quite sound right.

By the way, if marriage without sex is cruelty, is sex without marriage kindness?

My one and only cohabitant scowled at me. I think it means she doesn't like that last joke.

Baby Did A Stupid, Stupid Thing

How much worse will things get?

I was writing something and realized I had used a word without knowing its exact meaning. No, that's not the shameful part. Who hasn't used "disingenuous" without some doubt about its precise usage?

No, the shameful part was that I wanted to look up the meaning of the word and I fired up the browser. Typed the word into Googlebar. Clicked on the link.

And all this while, a copy of the OED was right in front of me.

Not only was I aware of that fat, beautiful dictionary sitting on the shelf but for about 10 nanoseconds, I actually "weighed" the decision of having to pick up that fat, beautiful dictionary versus using the browser.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Scroll Down

No I won't scroll down to read the punchline to your joke. Not even if you add a thousand "!!!!!!!"s in the subject line. (Especially if, actually.)

Is the "scroll down" supposed to be the textual equivalent of a comic pause? Did you learn this from Strunk & White? Does Shakespeare ask his readers to "scroll down" just before the last pair of lines in his sonnets? Does the Bible have a "scroll down" between the Ninth and the Tenth commandments?

You know why they don't have it? Because it's lame. It's lamer than using "..." at the end of every sentence.

So don't make me press the down-arrow key or click that stubborn scroll-wheel on my mouse. I am this close to carpal frickin' tunnel on my right arm and you must not let your joke be the reason I can't wipe my bottom without wincing in pain. Granted, I may NEVER know why blondes fall off their bicycles at night or why Laloo won't sell his cow to Bill Gates, but we have survived for centuries without penicillin and something tells me we will survive this unfortunate gap in human understanding too.

Brother, I swear on the deluxe hardcover edition of "10,001 Best Jokes For All Occasions" that one of these days, I will send you thousands of punchlines without any setups. Your brain will be clogged with absurd one-liners. Your life will be a Beckettian hell as you wait for a context for each of those funny lines. You will be left thrashing around like a blind man searching for a black cat in a dark room.

I will look at you with mild pity and much amusement as you fall on your knees and beg me to tell you the full story of the one-legged talking horse that participated in a beer-drinking contest in Dublin.

Maybe then you will feel my pain.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Chariots Of The Harappan Gods?

This is fascinating stuff. (Link to BBC)
"This feature is shaped like the Roman numeral VI. Each arm of this feature is a trench that is about 2 metres wide, 2 metres deep and more than 100 metres long.

The feature has evoked the curiosity of archaeologists because such signs have mostly been observed so far in Peru."
Could this have been used for studying astronomy?
"The Tropic of Cancer passes through Kutch. So if this structure is man-made, it is likely that the slope of the hillock was utilised for making certain astronomical calculations in the past," explains the geologist.
I wonder if the scientists have considered the possibility of this very long and narrow trench just being an abandoned drainage construction project? Possible, no?

Any of you guys ever come under the spell of this terrible book in high school?

But I Never Pee On It!

"With tens of thousands of microbes living on each square inch, they harbour more bacteria than a lavatory seat..."
What are we talking about? Your shoes? The wheels of your car?

Potty mouth!.

(via Drudge)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

All The Monkeys Know His Name

Is there no limit to Man's craftiness?
"In an effort to keep monkeys out of the New Delhi subways, authorities have called in one of the few animals known to scare the creatures — a fierce-looking primate called the langur, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported Wednesday.

The decision to hire a langurwallah — a man who trains and controls the langurs — came after a monkey got into a metro car in June, the newspaper reported."
(boldalics mine)

Will someone please explain the difference between a "monkey" (the kind seen in Indian towns) and the "fierce-looking primate called the langur"?

The Hindustan Times is not completely accurate. I know one other creature that can truly scare these monkeys, and that is our old maali ("gardener", in Hindi.) That wide-eyed, lisping, stuttering stick-thin man who claimed to have fought a wild boar (and won) was much feared by the raucous langur community that thrived in and around our kitchen garden. I don't know if he is still alive. If he is not, I am sure he is chasing those monkeys out of that Great Kitchen Garden In The Sky.

Also to be noted: "langurwallah" is a freshly-minted word. No hits on Google. Shouldn't we be voting for a "International Petition For the Induction of Langurwallah In The Oxford English Dictionary" or something?

And someone get that langurwallah a blog NOW! (Sample entry: Aug 3: "Blogging will be slow. Monkeys stole my modem")

I swear upon the Monkey-God (link to this is the best quote I've seen this week:

"There are too many monkeys." (spokesperson of the Delhi Metro)

Baby Halder Writes A Book

It's probably old news (link to BBC) for people in India, but I read the story of Baby Halder only today in the Times. (link to NYT)

While a couple of Indian blogs (links to Kitabkhana and Blogpourri) have blogged about this story, the book has hardly recevied any attention by the usually lit-hungry desi bloggers.

The Hindu has a review of the book, calling it "a story of courage under fire".

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

She's My Bandit Queen

Wonder if Phoolan Devi would have enjoyed this as much as I did?

The Decemberists, singing "Bandit Queen".

This band's songwriting is anything but conventional (for pop music, that is.) I won't say I am a major fan, but "Bandit Queen" is a sweet little pop piece and it contains a fine example of the band's humor: "She ain't fancy, she ain't fine/While her fingers number only nine" :)

It reminded me so much of Bob Dylan's "It takes a lot to laugh (It takes a train to cry)", with its use of piano and the gentle tempo.

Could this be the only pop song ever with the words "turban" and "bandit" in it?

Speaking of Bandit Queen, director Shekar Kapur has a post about the shooting of that infamous scene from his film, "Bandit Queen". (Why does he feel the need to talk about his "feminine self" in so many posts on his blog?)

The film "Bandit Queen" was edited by Renu Saluja, a key figure behind India's parallel cinema movement. Uma at Indianwriting has a very good post about a tribute to this woman.

Woah, Man

"Dear Sunita", reads the first line of a short email. It is written to me by an acquaintance who is blessed with an abundance of awareness of my name and my gender.

Think nothing of it, I tell myself.

Then, a few weeks later.

I hold the library door open for an old woman. She smiles at me and says in a soft, quavering voice, "thank you, ma'am".

Very strange.