Friday, June 29, 2007

Yippie-Ki-Yay, And How's Life Treating You

The good news is Ph's back. The bad news is BM's said goodnight again. What the hell, Gracie? Where am I going to see outlines of a foot on a blog?

The good news is this battle is over. Or maybe not. I had fun stirring up that pot. There is no bad news

"Live Free or Die Hard" is a cinematic tour de force, a finely tuned mixture of human drama and technology. Let's face it. They don't make films like these anymore. (I was going to say "movies", but that's such a cheap word, you know?) The film works at so many levels, but it is particularly effective at the upper, middle and lower levels. Be it the emotionally charged study of the father-daughter relationship, the chilling depiction of the tragic consequences of bad computer network administration policies or the startlingly fresh portrayal of the odd-couple-caught-in-a-violent-situation scenario, this Die Hard sequel is a treat for everyone.

Still more surprising was the sheer amount of business education packed into this two-and-a-half hour film. The Bad Guy, played by Timothy Oliphant, lacks general management skills. He throws money at problems. He does not invest in good HR practices. His team structure is flat, which is good, but then he shoots all his programmers at the end of the project. I know, we've all felt like doing that at the end of some projects, but "we just kill you afterwards" is not a good recruiting slogan. Promoting your hot girlfriend to the top of the organization is good old nepotism. (He should have waited till they were married, announced a bad quarter or two, lowered the stock prices, bought back a ton of stock in her name and then hired her into the Board of Directors. That would have been so much more realistic too.) The Bad Guy team should also have outsourced their non-core operations to a good Indian offshore shop. Their (i.e. the Bad Guys') business is to blow up things and take the money and run. Why did they have to own under-performing assets like data centers, computers, networks (and all those dead programmers?)

I could go on and on but I really want you to watch this little gem and draw your own conclusions. Isn't that the whole point of Art and all that crap?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Humble Contribution To The Sardarji Jokes' Canon

Q. Why did the Sardarji have his own picture as the wallpaper on his cellphone?

A. So he wouldn't have to carry a mirror.

This kind old Praji, seated next to me on the flight, asked me what time we would land. I said "barah baje". I realized the unintended faux pas there and quickly corrected it to "sava-barah baje". Really clever of me. That's when he powered up his cellphone and I saw his handsome mug on it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

You People NEVER Let Me Perform A Caesarian!


"Yes, Dhileepan?"

"Where do babies come from?"

"Why don't you see it for yourself?"

But is Papa Murugesan already changing his tune? (read the last 'graf in the linked story)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Elevator Stories

You have heard of Hitchcock's "elevator story", right?

The other day, I was exiting an elevator and two ladies were entering it. I heard one of them say to the other: "my husband was raised by a woman who". Just then, the door closed.

I wanted to run back into the elevator and listen to the rest of that story. What kind of a woman raised that man? How was he raised? Where is he now?

Messy, unclear endings like that are so much more interesting than fully resolved ones. I *loved* how "The Sopranos" ended. In a way, it was reminiscent of Truffaut's freeze-frame in "The 400 Blows". Leave 'em guessing.

But some people don't like that. They want an answer and preferably, one meaning only. So now it's quasi-official that the Fade-out seen around the Web means Tony was whacked.

How do we know they didn't just run out of video tape?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Margaret Dumont

Global projects, names without faces, conference calls that are either too early or too late for someone, you know how it goes. How do we really know it is not all just bots talking to one another? How do I know I am not a bot?

There's this woman at work who leads an important, company-wide conference call. There is no mistaking her confidence. If confidence were to somehow manifest as bright light, this woman's confidence would leave us all blinded. That is, assuming light rays could travel through the phone lines, flow through our ears and damage our optical apparatus from the inside. The conference call begins with a very crisply intoned greeting which is all business and that is quickly followed by her opening up the always-updated checklist. No jokes about needing a vacation to recover from the vacation, no weather updates. Just business. She keeps everyone honest and follows up on every "action item" on the checklist. The calls have never exceeded the allotted time. It is true that while I am still hazy about the exact purpose of the call, it is getting the work done.

Dylan wrote about such a woman in "Maggie's Farm" (ladies and feminists, please don't take my comparison too literally):

Well, she talks to all the servants
About man and God and law.
Everybody says
She's the brains behind pa.

But that voice. Something about that voice. It reminded me of someone. Listening to her speak on the conference call the other day, I suddenly knew which Maggie she sounded like: Margaret Dumont!

Ms. Dumont was a star of the silver screen in the Nineteen-thirties and Forties. In her most well-known roles, she was at the receiving end of the world's funniest comedy team, the Marx Brothers. In fact, she was practically the "Fifth Marx Brother". She always played the stiff, stuffy, upper-crust woman in all her films, with names like "Mrs Dukesbury" and "Mrs Teasdale". Her "straight man" persona made Marx Brothers' jokes seem funnier. Take this demented exchange from "Duck Soup":

Mrs. Teasdale: Your Excellency, I thought you'd left!
Chicolini: Oh no, I no leave.
Mrs. Teasdale: But I saw you with my own eyes!
Chicolini: Well, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?

So what about it?

Nothing at all. A co-worker's voice reminds me of Margaret Dumont and I just wanted to tell you that. Here's to Maggie.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Bam chicka wah wah - BANG! (Link to CNN, via Drudge)

Clearly, the Iranian government knows a thing or two about porn. It spared the screenwriters from death penalty. (And if you don't know what "bam chicka wah wah" is, read comment #31 on this forum.)

You know who I would like to execute? People who come into meetings with their Blackberries and laptops switched on. When did it become acceptable to be on IM, browsing and checking emails in the middle of a meeting? Back in the good old days, meetings involved certain protocols, like making eye-contact with everyone in the room and asking serious questions. And playing tic-tac-toe without looking down.

It seems my blogroll has more than one webcomic artist-writer. When Scout's not writing spine-chilling posts like this one, she's busy re-discovering her drawing skills. More! More! And I didn't just spot a peacock.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Google Music Trends

If the one true aim of all rock bands is world domination, Linkin Park has just hit this one out of the park, straight into the bull's eye and scored a six. Shankar Mahadevan's close , but he'll have to fight it out with Nelly Furtado, Akon, Avril Lavigne and Green Day. (Well, James Blunt too, but I figured he wouldn't last more than two seconds against Shankar.)

The Google Music Trends page reveals a couple of things: Most Google Talk users are listening to new music. There seem to be a LOT of Google Talk users in India (or from India.)

(You can also view top songs by genres and by country. It seems the only kind of "world music" is Indian music. We are the desi world, yaar?)

Now, if fifty million of you are willing to cooperate with me, what say we play a sweet old K.L. Saigal song, tag it as "hip-hop/R&B" in iTunes and confuse the hell out of Google and other marketers?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

"Can I Meet The Edge Instead?"

Thank god for politicians like Canada's PM, Stephen Harper. He refused to meet Bono. And this is not the first time he's snubbed a rock star.
“I’m a big U2 fan,” Harper said. “Paul McCartney tried to call me once. Some of you may know I’m an even bigger Beatles fan.”

Harper was referring to McCartney’s futile attempt to discuss the Atlantic seal hunt with him last year.
Maybe world leaders should drop in at U2's recording sessions and start offering creative suggestions.

That might actually make me care for the next U2 album.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Must. Stop. Thinking.

If they created a town or a city exclusively for physically disabled people, who would get to park in first two parking spaces at the supermarket?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Updating Dylan For Frequent Fliers

"how your head feels under something like that/your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat" - Bob Dylan, "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" (lyrics)

"how your head feels under something like that/your brand new clear plastic zip top bag" - Flotsam, to a TSA agent at the airport, after being told to "eat it or lose it" (lyrics)

Monday, June 04, 2007

All Clear, Suddenly

Some people blog because they *must* express their views and opinions. I've rarely felt that compulsion. Some blog because it's "cool". Not my thing either. I came to it rather late. More than a few blog under the illusion that blogging is "writing practice". A hundred-word post a day will make them a proficient writer someday. Like running three feet a day will make me a champion marathon runner.

Then there are bloggers who like to share. Pictures from travel, cartoons (Mock Turtle: UPDATE WANTED!!!), fiction, technical expertise. I got nothing there either. I am neither a teenager nor am I lovesick, so no angst, no "I hate this world" and no sad poetry to move you. I am not raising money for plastic surgery ("help me with my growth - help me get an enhancement") and I don't always feel the need to talk about "causes".

And yet, I've had this space up for nearly 2 years. Why?

The answer came to me this weekend when I finally got to meet Tabula Rasa and the former blogger formerly known as Cosmic Elevator later known as Wildflower Seed now just known as WFS or as the Anonymous Commenter who knows everything there is to know about Grateful Dead. Anyone who has visited their blogs knows the two of them are funny, witty and super-smart - PhD's and what not. They also love music. One of them was visibly excited at picking up a jazz CD and said to the other "man, check out this lineup!". Only music geeks talk like that. (Of course, this same music geek also ordered a piece of bread as a side order with his sandwich, so you do the 'rithmetic.)

So the three of us walked around this big used-music store, browsed through all categories from instrumental jazz (Tony Williams) to electronica (Nitin Sawhney) - and I do mean *every* category. The music geek with the apparent bread fetish even picked up an Ali G DVD. Respek!

Anyway, the point in telling you all this is not to provide you with a field report of the meet-up, but to share my epiphany. Why do I blog, you will remember me asking and then saying this meet-up provided me with the answer.

It's about the conversations. I'm blogging for the conversations.

OK, I'm mostly blogging to kill time, but I am *really* blogging for the conversations. It's about ideas that are exchanged and communicated - not just in the post, but even in the commentspace. (I know, "ideas" sounds very sombre but it's not like that at all. My posts hardly generate or even require sombre discussions.) It's the pleasure of conversing with people who share your interests and passions and even buy you coffee.

I can think of no better excuse than that to blog.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Drummer Slams Band

Someone I know recently attended the very first Police reunion gig. (It was more of a dress rehearsal.) He didn't think very highly of it. Apparently, the sound was too mellow (too much tantric sex, perhaps?) and Andy was having "technical difficulties".

Now, band performances are known to improve as the tour progresses and good musicians are always self-critical, but what to make of this?

(Via Drudge)