Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A New Way Of Reading Films - Caption Swap

What a delightful website - both in its design and its content. While it describes itself as "..a multilingual resource for anyone on the Internet interested in movie subtitles", it really gives you, for all practical purposes, a stripped-down screenplay. It omits everything but the dialog. There are no character descriptions, not even character names. Simply the sound of people talking. This is cinema distilled into pure conversation.

This act of reproducing just the dialog (or "subtitles", as a non-English speaking person might call it) produces an interesting effect. It instantly separates "interesting" character voices from the uninteresting ones. So from the pens (or typewriters) of geniuses like Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, come lines like these:

I'm Michelangelo molding the beard of Moses.
I'm Van Gogh, painting pure sunlight.
I'm Horowitz, playing the Emperor Concerto.
I'm John Barrymore before the movies got him by the throat.
I'm Jesse James and his two brothers, all three of them.
I'm W. Shakespeare.
And out there it's not Third Avenue any longer.
It's the Nile, Nat.
The Nile and down it moves the barge of Cleopatra.
Come here.
Purple the sails, and so perfumed
that the winds were love-sick with them.

Just how ON EARTH did they write like that?

Well, ponder over that and other questions while you read some madcap comedy or some Thackeray or as you tell yourself a little Tokyo Story...

Reading films this way is so much fun. Thanks, kind people at cswap.com!

I casually browsed through for some of my favorite films. Not all of them are there and not all titles loaded up yet but I am hoping they will come up soon.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Today is World Malaria Day; No Gifts For Those Damned Mosquitoes

"...malaria is largely preventable, detectable, and treatable."
"Every year, malaria kills nearly two million people and infects 400 to 500 million, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)"
"Plasmodium falciparum has become drug resistant to chloroquine, the drug of choice against malaria earlier."
April 25 is World Malaria Day.

Also see Malaria Site's section on malaria in India and this news report in the Times of India.

I support Doctors Without Borders.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Need A Name For Your Clash Cover Band?

"The Orthodontic Clashes".

No? Not funny? How about the band's slogan? "The only band that mashes". Come on, that's priceless.

(Thanks, ??!, I owe you one. Via the utterly disjointed conversation on OTP's blog.)

This, of course, is the band that reaaaally matters.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Before The Strat Was The Strad

Antonio Stradivari, the celebrated maker of violins, made two guitars. (Two, I suppose, that are documented and known to be his creations?) And this is the exquisitely crafted sound hole of one of his master creations, a guitar known as the Rawlins:

More pictures at the University of South Dakota's National Music Museum page, where the instrument now resides. Click, drool, wipe, repeat.

(Anybody know if the museum has a "NO STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN" warning sign?)

UPDATE: Puppy Manohar: In response to your question about 5-stringed guitars, I came across this terrific page on the evolution of 19th century guitars. You may want to look it up. That site even has a picture of Rawlins' headstock (scroll down the page.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Keeping You Healthy AND High Since 2008

Is it safe to drink if you are on antibiotics?
"Any interaction of alcohol with virtually all antibiotics is nonexistent, or so small as to be irrelevant. Metronidazole, an antibiotic used for a variety of infections, is the exception to this rule. When mixed with even small amounts of booze, it causes vomiting."
The Times looks at that and some other medical "myths" (and offers a quick dismissal of the "one must finish the prescribed dose of antibiotics" theory).

Very reassuring. Now I hope they publish the DIY vasectomy article soon.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Aruna Sairam - NJ Concert - April 27, 2008

Much joy. Aruna Sairam is performing next week in NJ. Details here.

(It looks like the lady is on a US tour. Check out her other dates. Link to virb.com. There's even a lecture-concert at the Asia Society on May 11. Woohoo.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Priests Are Sick, Their Followers Sicker. And The Pope?

Describing clerics who sexually abuse children as "gravely immoral," the octogenarian pope warned that the scourge of pedophilia "is found not only in your dioceses but in every sector of society."
Benedict is right. Why must we hold these diddlers priests to a higher moral standard? No reason at all.

But unlike his predecessors, Benny the Pope is determined to prove that he is part of the solution. He offered this very well thought out plan to address the sexual abuse problem.
"It calls for a determined, collective response," he said
After your mind has de-boggled completely, read this sentence and remind yourself that this is the man chosen to lead an organization that spreads the word of Jesus:
Benedict {and Bush} expressed concern for Christians in war-torn Iraq...
Don't you wish the Pope and his bishops were actually a little bit more like the dreadful society that surrounds them? Maybe then they would be more compassionate towards all men and women and not just the Christians in Iraq.

(Full story here, via Drudge)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why I Am Reading Weather Reports These Days

"शनिवार को हुई बारिश के बाद रविवार को दिनभर तेज धूप रही। धूप से शहर तपने लगा। बीते दिनों हुई बारिश के कारण उमस जैसा माहौल होने से लोग गर्मी से परेशान होने लगे हैं। मौसम में आ रहे बार-बार परिवर्तन से लोगों की दिनचर्या पर भी असर पड़ रहा है।"
For some reason, I find this weather bulletin ridiculously literary and entertaining. It has short sentences and a flat, unemotional tone* that belong to a Simenon novel.

If I may stretch things a bit further, I will say there's even a Camusian air to it, almost like a scene from "The Stranger":
"I waited. The heat was beginning to scorch my cheeks; beads of sweat were gathering in my eyebrows.It was just the same sort of heat as at my mother’s funeral, and I had the same disagreeable sensations—especially in my forehead, where all the veins seemed to be bursting through the skin. I couldn’t stand it any longer, and took another step forward. "
Rest of the weather report is here. (link to bhaskar.com, in Hindi.)

*For best results, read the report like a voiceover in a film (a violent film about outsiders and loners, like, say, "Taxi Driver").

If it interests you, check out this essay by Paul Theroux on Simenon and Camus. (Link to Timesonline)

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's Not May 11 Yet, But Still.

Two posts on mothers and they are both lovely and moving.

Space Bar's post:
"My mother used this diary – a few pages of it – at a rather fraught time in her own life, but abandoned her entries some time in April – around New Year, in fact."
After reading SB's post, I think I now understand why my wife treasures her mom's handwritten recipe notebooks.

Then there's sex columnist Dan Savage's recent column about his mother.
"Eulogizing my mother back here with the escort ads? So let's not think of this as a eulogy. Let's think of it as a thank-you note, the kind of nicety that my mother appreciated."
(Link to The Stranger, possibly NSFW page because of ads etc.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

When I Was A Kid...

...they made sequels to Rambo films. Now they make sequels to High School Musical. (story)

Mr. Trebek, I will take "The Grand Pussification Theory" for 400 points please.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Brief History Of Acid

A retro-cool, graphical narration of the history of LSD. (I know, the horizontal scroll can be forgiven only after licking a full blotter, but it's still fun to read.)

(Found on MeFi, BoingBoing)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Pulitzer Pop

Via Space Bar's blog, this news of Dylan's nomination for a Pulitzer.

Since I have a blog and therefore must have an opinion, I say "pshaw" and "phooey" to this announcement*. (But I refuse to say "psoriasis" and "psychology".)

IMHO, in the last decade, Dylan has tried harder than before to distance himself from the whole "voice of a generation" business (though he did manage to write an autobiography of sorts) and get back to playing blues and rock 'n roll.

I hope the Pulitzer people remember that other award ceremony held in Bob's honor in 1970, especially his buddy David Crosby's words :)

*I will not be so dismissive when that Nobel finally drops in Bono's lap. And that's because I am bored by all the press he gets for his activism.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

"All Love Stories Have Been Scandalous"

Vladimir Nabokov and Lionel Trilling on a Canadian TV talk-show, discussing "Lolita". Part 1, Part 2. (Both videos are under six minutes long.)

Pay attention to The Vlad as he talks about touching the hearts and affecting the minds of his readers. Zing!

BTW, if you are considering quitting smoking, the video might not be suitable for you.

Via The Blue

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

International Dialects Of English Archive

IDEA, or the International Dialects of English Archive, collects recordings of people talking in English.

The "India" section has recordings of English speakers from Lucknow (who, we are told, "exemplifies the lack of aspiration on initial [p], [t] and [k]"), Hyderabad, Chennai, Trivandrum, Gujarat and someone from "Northern India".

You know what would be really cool? Sound recordings of all Indian languages and dialects. There are Indian languages such as "Yakha" and "Kok Borok" and "Pankhu" and I have *no* idea how they sound.

(IDEA's homepage)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Before And After

Beautiful portraits of a very unusual nature: before and after the subject's death.

Maybe I remembered the deaths of some loved ones, or maybe it's this fear of my own mortality*, but I found some of the accompanying words incredibly hard to read. Here's an example of what I mean.

*All you vicenarians, stop your snickering now. The thirties are different.

(Found on MeFi)