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 snopes.com 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 cliff...it 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 Kamat.com)

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. Amazon.com'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.

(via Drudgereport.com)

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.