Monday, March 30, 2009

Dylan. New Song. Free Download (24 hours only)

From his new album, "Together through life" comes a brand new song Beyond here lies nothin'. (Link to; opens a zip file)

I know it seems impossible (or maybe it's the crappy speakers on my laptop), but the Croak here is heavier than on the last album. That's a good thing, of course. As is the crunchy guitar on the track. (Courtesy Mike Campbell, who plays with a certain buddy of Bob's..)

But it's the accordion in the song that really gets you. (A touch of J.J. Cale's "Sensitive kind"?) It's played by David Hidalgo* and it rocks.

The Telegraph has a blog on the song. The blog also links to an interview with Mr. Z on his website. Read the whole thing. He makes some great comments on politics, imagery in his music and even talks about James Dean's "Giant".

*True story: I was at a concert once and David Hidalgo came up and stood right next to me. I instantly went slack-jawed, tongue-tied and bug-eyed. I wasn't quick enough to get an autograph or a cellphone picture. They opened the set with a terrific "Bertha" that night.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ramin Bahrani

Ebert calls him the "new great American director" and his latest film is a NYT Critics' Pick.

I have only seen Bahrani's Man Push Cart and it was simply brilliant. (Link to Ebertfest website.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


According to this source, there are only 424 words ending with "ch". (Link to " Well, they can now add one more word to that list.

John Gardner, in his wonderful book "The Art of Fiction" uses a word that had me playing word detective. The word is "oonch". (By the way, if you are in the mood for inflicting some serious damage on your gentle, creative self, I would strongly recommend reading this book.)

When I first read it, I could not help but associate it with the Hindi word "oonch", a word meaning "up" or "high" ("oonchai": meaning altitude or height; also, "oonch" + "chai" = "high tea", har har. Just kidding.)

This is how Gardner uses the word:
"Leave nothing--no slightest detail--unexamined; and when you discover implications in some image or event, oonch those implications toward the surface."
Unable to find any references in my beloved OED and on the Web, I turned to and that paid off.

The Dictionary of American Regional English defines "oonch" as:

(The wonderful Dictionary of American Regional English)

So there you go. "Oonch". It's a bit like "oomph" minus the sex appeal.


Here's a really good interview with John Gardner. (Link to Paris Review, pdf of the full interview available in the story.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

"Benares, 1969-1971"

From a Duke University photo archive, a collection of black-and-white prints, all shot in Banaras between 1969 and 1971. All pictures by William Gedney. There are lots of pictures in the set, so let me point out some favorites. (I will not be linking to the JPEGs directly. So click on the thumbnail for a larger image.)

This one looks like the opening of some great play. If you've ever been to Banaras, you know the city has an entirely different character at dawn.

Rickshaws in the rain. A faceless man. (Probably a hot, hot summer?)

Back roads and crossroads.

And finally, two urban Banarasis doing what Banarasis love to do: talk. (Note the poster in the background which translates as "teeth make life enjoyable")

Sunday, March 22, 2009


The other day, I found a copy of John Cage's lectures and writings, titled "Silence" at a used-books sale. (Link to Amazon)

I just skimmed through the book and came across discussions on The Art of the Fugue, Stockhausen (and "Klavierstuck XI"), Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, Satie, atonality, why much of the East bypassed harmonies in its music, Zen, Robert Rauschenberg, D.T. Suzuki, wild mushrooms (Cage was something of a wild mushroom enthusiast - who knew?) and of course, his favorite topic, silence.

Do they still make intellectuals like him?

The book also reminded me that though the Nineteen-sixties are celebrated - fetishized - for their accomplishments and daring experiments, the seeds for that decade were actually sown much, much earlier. And John Cage was one of the giants on whose shoulders stood the artists and intellectuals of the generation that followed.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Werner Herzog's Blog - HURRAH!

Update: Well, I am now certain that the blog is a parody (but a very funny one). I don't see the Herzog writing a post titled "LOL". He might write a post called "ROL" (ranting out loud) or even "EMOL" (expressing moral outrage out loud) but LOL? No way.

The last entry on the blog dates back to December 2007, but that's ok. There's plenty of "Herzogness" around the place.

Like when he calls a studio executive "a clown in a circus of pathetic starving animals". Or when he proposes they change the name of "Tour de France" to "Fete des Imbeciles".

And remember, if you ever run into the man, DO NOT say "blah blah blah".

I am tempted to link to every single one of his posts, but let me link to just one more: LOL (Read the comments.)

Is it just me or does everyone find themselves hero-worshipping this man?

(via metafilter)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Art Browser"

A really simple and elegant website for browsing art by art movements, artists and eras: Art Browser

(Found on MeFi Projects)

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Out Of Office"? More Like "Out Of That Vital Stuff"

"...'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!!"
That's what they will be saying - minus the laughter and high-fives, hopefully - when they receive your Final Email. (Link to LifeHacker)

For best comedic results, you should consider attaching massive video files to the message. Also use a "cute" HTML template (dancing skulls, black background with red text) with a Real Player file featuring a "poignant" MIDI interpretation of "Forever young".

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Big Picture's Holi

Bet you've never seen Holi pictures like these before. (Link to's Big Picture; and if you have seen better Holi pictures, please post links in the comment.)

I also loved the tautological echo in the caption for one of the pictures:
"Women tear off the clothes of men as they play huranga in Dauji temple near the northern Indian town of Mathura March 12, 2009. Huranga is a game played between men and women a day after the Holi festival during which men drench women with liquid colors and women tear off the clothes of the men."

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Handy Guide To A Modern Tragedy

A very handy blog post titled "A handy guide to what the hell just happened in Darfur".

I think I brought this up the other day on Black Mamba's blog - Dave Eggers' novel What is the what is an excellent place to start reading about the Sudan conflict.

By the way, MSF is one of the relief agencies that has been expelled from Darfur and they are also now dealing with the abduction of three of their staffers.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mahanthappa's Blues

I am about to go into fanboy mode here: saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa rocks.

The New Yorker calls his new album "astonishing".

While the words "intricate" and "brilliant" are often used to describe his music, don't let that intimidate you. This is not your "typical" avant-garde, free-form post-bop jazz. Rudresh's music is very enjoyable if you just want to lose yourself in the melodies and in the strange, Coleman-meets-Carnatic atmosphere. But if you choose to focus on the sheer virtuosity of his playing, well, there's just so much to appreciate.

NPR's Terry Gross did a fantastic interview with him yesterday. There are all kinds of musical goodies buried in that 30-minute interview. Like hearing Mahanthappa talk about talas (beat cycles) and even tapping out a 21-beat cycle on the air. (You don't get that too often.) Or hearing him talk about how ragas aren't really modes. (Western music critics writing about Indian music: please note.) And also in the interview, Rudresh gushes over a collaborator and a living legend. (He even mentions Fermat's theorem. DUDE!)

All About Jazz has covered him quite extensively. Do check out this interview from 2007 (which originally appeared in an Indian magazine called "M".)

Rudresh Mahanthappa also blogged recently on a jazz blog. It's by no means a serious analysis of Indian classical music, more like a 101 course, but it's still fun to read and has some great audio clips.

For more music and videos, follow these links to Kinsmen (on MySpace) and Rudresh's website.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

First We Save Them, Then We Kill Them

(image courtesy

The Obama administration has taken the Gray Wolf off the endangered species list. (Link to NYT).

All right, this cannot be filed under "a few choice examples of changes that have come to Washington DC since January". Why can't the new administration adopt a more sensible approach that protects these creatures while it recognizes the ranchers and cattle owners' right to protect their property?

What is amusing (if I may use that word) about this story is that while the Gray Wolf is no longer considered endangered in two states - Montana and Idaho - it remains on the protected list in Wyoming. Don't these beasts walk around? How does a wolf know if it's in Montana or Wyoming? (Answer: train them to read license plates)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Kutiman: Must See, Must Hear

Kutiman (link to MySpace) mixes YouTube videos and how! The site is just *inundated* today but keep trying. It's well worth it. (His MySpace profile also has some of the videos.)

BTW, Pitchfork loves the mixes.