Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Time Is Tight

Booker T and the MGs rock out with a classic. Take note of the very special guests hanging out in the wings and watching the MGs play.

Also read the making of. (Poke around that link for more "making of" articles.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Soul-selling As A Proven Sales Strategy

Finally, a clear and scientific explanation of the Beatles' success. (Caution: it's all very scientific.)

What if every human being were to enter into a similar pact with Satan? Would that not lead to a glut of great music and just kill the damn market?

On the other hand, if we were all deprived of fame and fortune forever, would we not be a simpler, happier people? Soulless, yes, but simpler and happier, finally freed of all desires, content to be writing, painting, singing, knitting without an eye on the prize. All thanks to Satan.

I say turn me on, Red man.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Update: What does his death mean for the Beatles' catalog?

Larry King just asked some guest if MJ's death is as "big" as Elvis's and John Lennon's. Wow. That's just sad.

But fuck all that. This is my favorite MJ song. Killer riff, killer hook.

I came of age with "Thriller" and I remember how he "arrived" on the scene in India. It was sudden and it was total. A remarkable feat, considering that he became big in Indian cities and even many mid-sized towns before the arrival of cable TV (or even FM). One day, none of us had heard of moonwalking and the next day, we were talking about the fire on the sets of the Pepsi commercial.

It's fair to say that Jackson had a bigger impact on the pop culture landscape in India than Elvis, the Beatles and Nirvana put together. If you are the typical Indian rock listener, you have probably spent more time listening to "The Wall" than "Off the wall". That was, and continues to be, music for the elite. But MJ was popular, truly pop.

And 26 years later, my eyes can see how his feet move during the moonwalk but the brain still doesn't get it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why Did The Baby Deer Cross The Road?

1. Car rolling down the road, Blind Boys of Alabama blasting.
2. Baby deer very awkwardly leaps into frame.
4. Furry little cute little awkward-walking baby deer crosses over to the other lane and freezes DIRECTLY in front of the BIGGEST SUV ON EARTH.
6. BIGGEST SUV slams brakes.
8. Baby deer shivers, quivers, trembles and cowers.
10. Meanwhile, in my car: hot coffee has been displaced, magically, from container to crotch. (Externally of course..instead of its usual route from container to mouth and so on southward.)
11. Roasted nuts. Mmmm.
12. Traffic stops, baby deer unfreezes and runs - awkwardness all gone - unhurt over to the other side.
13. Deep breath. Blind Boys of Alabama back on. "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty..."

Random YouTube Insult Generator

The answer to most all of life's problems.

(Found on the blue.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Pass The Mic, Tom"

Via 3QD, a really cool mashup of Rush's "Tom Sawyer" and Beasties' "Pass the mic". (Check out 1:32 when the riff from Tom Sawyer kicks in....)

And remember when Tony the Tiger snorted Cheetos and tripped out to "Tom Sawyer" on "Family Guy"? (Just for the record, I've stopped watching "Family Guy", even re-runs. It's turned beyond unfunny for me. Don't ask me why.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Oh What Joy For Every Girl And Boy

Pic of the entrance to the Octopus exhibit in the delightful Monterey Bay Aquarium.

But the Seahorses exhibit stole the show.

Here's a sample (click for bigger image). Those leafy things you see? All seahorses. Camouflage taken to some unbelievable heights. Or depths.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ali Akbar Khan

(Image taken from this site)

What a musician. R.I.P.

Slightly ironical that I should begin this post with an excerpt from an interview with a western classical musician. Here's the guitar maestro, Julian Bream, talking about a trip to India that he took in 1963:
"He seemed to me, just about the finest musician I had ever met....his mastery was not the normal professional mastery that most of us professional musicians have.....his improvisations were so fluid, so expressive, so inventive...this was the way to play music"
Do watch the short YT video here.

Every classical music-loving family builds its own private pantheon and mine was no different. At the very top was always Ali Akbar Khan. Of course, when I was six or seven, I remember being more awestruck upon being told by Amma that he was a descendent of Mian Tansen and what kid wouldn't be impressed by knowing Mian Tansen was the man who brought lightning and thunder with his music? While I don't remember the concert too well - I was probably eight or nine - I am pretty sure that when I saw him up on stage, I was half-expecting floods.

The sitar may be more expressive and it does have a wider dynamic range but in Khansahib's hands, the sarod, as the cliche goes, said more with less. It took me a while to understand why music lovers associate his playing with depth, dignity and quiet intensity. No notes were ever wasted, nothing was overstated and the aim was always true.

Thank you for filling our homes and our lives with such wonderful music.

You can find lots of recordings of AAK on the web. One such source is this fantastic blog which has a beautiful duet between the Ustad and L. Subramaniam.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Things We Can Learn From Nature

10AM Pacific Time: A hummingbird was perched outside the bathroom window with a dead, fat, hairy worm in its beak. Then it flew off, presumably to enjoy its breakfast. It returned a few minutes later; this time with a deader, fatter, hairier worm in its beak.

HA! Now who's getting the worm, you tiresome, hyper-motivated, disciplined early bird?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

This Is MY Hum

You are humming a song and minding your own darn business when someone else listens to your humming and feels compelled to hum along - in the wrong key. I am (sort of) OK with that. Look, there are several things wrong in this world and a tuneless hum is far from being the worst thing.

But when the shameless hum-hijacker listens to a few notes of your humming and confidently launches into a different song?

I am sure if we all looked hard enough we would find the Good Book allows an occasional murder or two.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Tangerines, le Carre novels and Sigur Ros

"If you’re the kind of person who prefers freedom to security, who feels more comfortable in a small room than a large one and who finds that happiness comes from matching your wants to your needs, then running to stand still isn’t where your joy lies."
That excerpt from a column by Pico Iyer, in today's Times, about leading the simple life.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Mmm...Cloned Buffalo Milk

Garima the cloned buffalo looks really sweet but why does she have yellow hooves?

This website explains what they mean by "hand-guided cloning technique". (You can also read this technical paper about "hand-made clones". )

Doesn't the common water buffalo have a very musical biological name? Bubalus bubalis.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Farewell, Mr. Han

The cultural high-point of my childhood was a line from a little movie called "Enter the Dragon": "Bullshit, Mr. Han man". (Someone has oh-so-lovingly taped the scene and uploaded it on YT.) That line, delivered by Jim Kelly in a fine, assured drawl thrilled us kids because someone had dared to stand up to the mean, mean Mr. Han. (And because someone said "bullshit" and that seemed funny to this nine year-old.)

I bring this up today because Mr. Han, the actor Shek Kin, is dead.

There was no villain meaner than Mr. Han. And only he was worthy of an ass-kicking by Bruce Lee.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Insert Coin To Start Game

Update: How the game came together (link to CNET)

More than anything, this one sentence from the story has got me intrigued: "Another important factor was the developers' adding the ability to include vocal harmonies as part of game play."

"Their music is so much about harmonies," he said. Adding vocal harmonies was something that had never been done in "Rock Band" before, but it was considered vital to accurately representing the Beatles' music in the game.

Great, so now we will have people pretending to play the guitar trying to sing harmony with masters of harmony-singing.


Harmonix has put up a really far out animated short film to promote the Beatles Rock Band game. (link via)

Could someone please make a Saturday morning TV cartoon show out of this? I promise to watch non-stop from 9AM until whenever, buy all your sugary crap and the video game too.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Current Mood: Juvenile

"After unsuccessfully petitioning his father for two years to marry the girl, the man heated up a knife and sliced off his reproductive organ, said a police official."

And so, with one very painful chop, the young man debunked one of this modern world's cherished beliefs: that the penis mightier than the sword.

Love requires courage, but this is madness. It made the man seem a bit too cocky.

I really should go now.