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 of...golf?

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 Slashdot.org)

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)

Via Metafilter.com

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 Snopes.com 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 classicalplus.gmn.com 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?