Friday, December 30, 2005

Wish you all on the very happy occasion of a new (Gregorian) calendar year. Changing calendars, new calendars have always been a good excuse to celebrate and hang loose and go bankrupt. New year? Oh I get it. But no thanks, I’d rather keep to the new year as we poor “Indians” define it. At least it’s not as arbit as the ‘new year’ you celebrate.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

loco about lomo

Him and his lomo cam. And this is a sneak peek:
Recognise some familiar faces? Familiar places? Go ahead and check out possiblymaybeprobablynot's lomo adventures here. And here to know more about Lomography. So who is possiblymaybeprobablynot is? That's for me to know and you to find out. I could tell you, but should i? Possiblymaybeprobablynot. Come over to coffee house.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was a strange boy

scary isn't it?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Three prashanths, a karthik and a shenoy

Yup that was how it was. Old friends catching up. Three Prashanths – Eyyala, TKV and Soans – in pecos and a poor ol’ shenoy stuck in between. He was later tickled into changing his name to (yup! you guessed it) Prashanth. And by the way, shenoy is married now. He married an ex-colleague of his called Smita last year, and also has a cute 3 month old daughter called Anu.

The Karthik landed up later while Soans was doing Rob Roy at Tavern. Guruji was there too. So too was a certain Rajan. And it goes without saying that the furniture was all there. In its place. Blame it on the nostalgia, but even No Excuses was ignored, and sing-a-long happened only to James Blunt’s Beautiful. Legendary stories of legendary classmates were told and retold. Jokes were shared and people said they cared. And amidst all this, a lot of dirt was dug up on yours truly by his friends(?), and an old friendship renewed and reaffirmed.

Soon the gang split. Karthik went home. A raan, a full grilled chicken, chicken kabab and a curd rice later (all parcel), the two left-over prashanths (TKV having split earlier) and the shenoy headed off to my place. Old cupboards were broken open, secrets shared, old photos which had not seen the light for ages were gazed upon. Soon, it was almost dawn. And the Gadda-man split, not before we found a friend of his on the road when we were looking for an auto and also bumped into my first. Anyway. Dawn broke…and sleep came..and here I am typing it all out in the office. Bah!

Great evening. The only pissing off incident was when a certain somebody let some things slip. So to those out there, please start thinking for yourself. Or else keep that vohpinyon of yours with you, in a place where the sun don’t shine. Sieg heil!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Season’s greetings

Wishing all you followers of Mithraism out there, if there are any of you still left unconverted or not killed, a very happy Birthday of the Invincible Sun. I wish you all the happiness on the birthday of Mithra. Do celebrate on 25 December. You were there first in more ways than one, and you had a sound reason. And try not to let that irritating, and fat coca cola advertisement disturb you too much.

comics all

One fine evening, many moons ago, 3 comic buffs bumped into each other at the comics section of Blossom. One was an artist and worked at Gotham comics. One was a techie with an insatiable hunger for all things comics. Introduction were done with, ids exchanged. The script for Batman Begins was circulated amongst them. And then came the lull.

Mostly in touch was the one known as the Beatzophrenic, (looks a bit like gollum from the LOTR movies, doesn't he?) who while not bussssy sssseducing women and buying books/CDs DVDs, went to become one of Bangalore’s resident comics freak/experts. The precioussss Beatzo was also spotted going on a Graphic Rampage at KQA’s first comics quiz, and giving away CDs and DVDs full of scanned comics. Last seen complaining to mommy about how the angst in his pangst hurts and explaining to the world what ret-con (in comics) is in excruciating detail, accompanied by interesting details, interspersed by a war dance, a war whoop, a yodel, a yabadabadoo and a tippity tappity tap, in that order.

Not so much in touch was Avik, the artist (who still looks like himself). Having quit Bangalore, he returned to Kolkata. After pencilling in some amazing stuff for a Phantom comic, among other things, he recently bumped into Enki Bilal (yup, you read right, Enki Bilal). And if all goes well, you can soon expect to see Dracula’s Bride staring down at you from a comic book rack near you. Go take a look at Avik’s Deviant Art Gallery. It’s got some great stuff. And Phantom looks the way he should. And do make it a point to tell him how great it is. And now i leave you with a couple or three of cool pages chosen randomly from Avik's Phantom sketches (to catch the complete set, click on link above.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Indian influences, western influences, whatever…

Everybody (well, almost everybody) is talking of making rock music or metal songs with Indian influences. Because they love Indian music? No way. Because it's cool, the in-thing, flavour of the month and everybody is looking to subtly pigeonhole himself into some convenient niche. And most of these guys are from India! Songs with Indian influences….heck, that’s what the firangs are doing, and they’re doing a much better job, thank you. Songs with Indian influences…bah! The way it’s done here? It usually starts at adding a Sanskrit verse or shloka, carries through (if at all) with a nominal part played by an “Indian” instrument and stops at making obscure references to somebody or the other from our vast bank of mythological characters. And that’s the Indian influence. Full stop. Context be damned. Ok fine, so they don’t want to go beyond hard rock or metal. Fair enough. So then, considering we’re all Indians here, shouldn’t the attempt be to make Indian songs with western influences, if you so badly want to pound that bass guitar and crank out a mean riff?
Or junk all the crap, and just go, make a great song mate! Influences be damned…

Take these guys. Mallus from Cochin. Phugg, they’re good. They’re called Avial and the song is called Nada Nada. It’s an out and out rock number. And it’s in Malayalam! It matters not whether their other stuff is in English and if it is good or not, this song kicks some serious ass, and this is what all the phuggers out there who want Indian influences or western sounds (or whatever combination) should be aiming for and trying to go one better. Avial’s Nada Nada – great song, and a good video to boot. Go ahead, take a look and have a listen. The video is by Poor Man Productions, Chennai and it’s available fo download from their site. Click and choose from hi-quality (512 kbps/19 Mb), med-quality (350 kbps/12.9 Mb) or lo-quality (150 kbps/5.7 Mb). Of course, there are other great musicians and good bands who've done this (and for the most part ignored by the english-o-phile elitists amongst us). But for now, and since this is so damned convenient, Nada Nada by Avial will do.

And here to give his opinion(s) on Avial’s Nada Nada, please welcome Ajay Menon, hard-boiled mallu, music lover, great copy writer, old monker and general leprechaun-hunter-at-large.
Ajay Menon: “Indian rock. There’s always a little negativity in the air when listening to one of them. Because it’s detached, metropolitan music experienced by the few brown Indians trying to sing the white man’s music. This white noise runs through all… but a few select bands in India.
The other extreme… when guys do everything Peter Gabriel in one track. Everything. It’s for the guys within the band and not for the song. It’s overdone and done with.
But somehow Avial manages to evade this by playing to the song with Nada Nada. A steady act with some eager rock. And the mallu vocals just add to this. The song simply stands out as an Indian act without going overboard in any department. A balance difficult to replicate but a gem of a rock song.

The same goes to the video which is brilliantly produced. The only complaint: could have done without the mallu-boy-beaten-exercising-and-getting-back. But then as the song says, “walk on” … it will play in your head.

Gratitude to Hamish, Rahul and Robbie for introducing the band to us."
And the shenoy agrees. Dhanyavaad.

all you readers. all you writers. go read.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

he shot it off

Yadda yadda yadda. Blah blah blah. Blather. Blather. Blather. Faff. Faff. Faff. Grandiloquent clap trap.

“Thanks mate, that was a good, meaningful conversation.”

Monday, December 19, 2005

Laal Khopdi – a preview

Laal Khopdi is an all-powerful super hero who fights for all things he thinks are worth defending, and fights everything and anyone he feels must be defeated. Having attained perfect control over his mind through intense penance, he later became an Aghori, and after many years (more details on this period of his life in a later ret-con story arc) he was able to get the awesome powers he now holds within his body and his mind. His name is a nod to his life as an Aghori, and has its origins in the fact that all Aghoris must have a begging bowl which has to be a human skull, most specifically a male human skull. The ‘Laal’ part is a tribute to one of his favourite songs, the Kishore Kumar number, ‘yeh laal rang, kab mujhe chodega…’.

Chief among his foes is the super villain (or Maha Paapi) Kaptaan Amreeka. How this came about is an interesting story. Laal Khopdi, being the master of time and space, once transported himself back in time to fight a menace plaguing his country. A villainous traitor called MahatMan G, who had hatched a nefarious plot to mass hypnotise the masses to do his bidding. MahatMan, a maha paapi, had used his powers of starvation to great effect, in tandem with his sidekick Child Lover Man. To combat him, and to be of assistance to the super group known as The Freedom Fighters, prominent among whom was Bose Man, Laal Khopdi landed up in the 30s. However, in the intermediate state that separates eras and eons – known as the Lekin – Laal Khopdi was overtaken by a sub-human intelligence, a creature of the sea of nothingness known only as Mussel Man, who with his Army of His God, managed to overpower Laal Khopdi. Mortally wounded, Laal Khopdi managed to find his way out of the Lekin, but the pathways in the Lekin were too much for even our hero. So although he landed up in the 30s, he landed up in another country (which explains why MahatMan G got away with what he did) with a severe loss of memory. Were it not for the genius of The Leader, Laal Khopdi would have surely perished. The Leader took Laal Khopdi under his wing and saw to it that he was brought back to full health. His memory not fully recovered yet, Laal Khopdi nevertheless undertook to help The Leader and this is what brought him in direct confrontation with Kaptaan Amreeka. Many battles later (details soon), Laal Khopdi soon found himself in the Lekin again, and finally found his way back to his time with both his missions left unfulfilled. Laal Khopdi, any decade now, is all set to set his failures right. But for now let’s get back to a few other details about Laal Khopdi.

Some other enemies of Laal Khopdi include Da Wooden Man, Congress Man, and all Jeevan J Kang creations. He currently lives in Sillycon City.

So that’s that for now. Further details on Laal Khopdi and more stories soon. Look out especially for the story of Laal Khopdi and the Second Hand Man.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Art, truth and politics

Although aware of his existence, never knew much about him. But it's never too late to start. And this most definitely puts "know more about Pinter" on the high priority list.

ecce homo

This my friends and foes, is a guy called Alan Moore. Now, he knows a thing or two or three about comics.
And this is his bio as written by him: Mr. Alan Moore, author and former circus exhibit (as "The What-Is-It from Borneo"), is chiefly famed for his chapbooks produced with the younger reader in mind. He astounded the Penny Dreadful world with such noted pamphlets as A Child's Garden of Venereal Horrors (1864) and Cocaine and Rowing: The Sure Way to Health (1872) before inheriting a Cumbrian jute mill and, in 1904, expiring of Scorn.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mistakes of the past…mistakes that passed

Chance encounters turn your mind back to the time that was. To an age that’s gone. The past is not a great place to live in, but worth a visit and a stay every now and then. And talking about mistakes of the past, here’s one.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all
And hides the green hill in an April shroud
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave
Or on the wealth of glob├Ęd peonies
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

to see: de Chirico. to read: Keats.
Thank you for the illuminated darkness.

memento mori

A new dawn fades. Rotting carcasses spread out on the battlefield. Some vultures wait. Flying high. Most are picking on the dead and some on the dying. The acrid smoke of burnt flesh mixes with the smoking ruins of chariots. Screams fill the fetid air. People with no legs left to walk on. People with arrows that have pierced their eyes, with swords that have gone right through their throat and stayed there. Some shriek as the laughing hyenas tear off their flesh. There is no escape. The dead are better off. For the rest, Death will come. In the form of a vulture, a hyena or maybe even an injured elephant that’s gone berserk. Hopefully, it will come before the Maggots appear. And then comes the dawn …

Monday, December 12, 2005

You, sir, are not proud of your motherland

An ad appeared in leading newspapers the other day. It exhorted the reader to prove his (or her) patriotism and love for the country. Mera Bharat Mahan! And how was the reader to prove he loves his country? By voting for Miss India-World 2005. That too via sms : message MW whatever to whichever number. And that’s the point, first they did not give the poor blokes without cell phones to prove their love for India. Secondly, if all the millions of Indians with cell phones had sent the message, many times over (given our population) Miss India would surely have won. Giving us poor third-world Indians a genuine feeling of national pride.
Hopefully by next year, more people would’ve procured cell phones and more number of people will send SMSs. Miss India will be Miss World (of course, she also has to say that she admires Mother Theresa and Princess Diana, that she would like to help the underprivileged. Plus, having a great ass would help) And India shall again take its rightful place in the world. Till then, Miss Iceland shall reign as Miss World. Silicone for world peace!!!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Burnt offerings

Don’t be misled. It’s a story masquerading as a work of art. A comic book at heart, and a damn good read throughout. Charles Burns’ Black Hole. Set in suburban Seattle in the 70s, it’s about a bunch of teenagers. It’s about Chris Rhodes, the girl that everyone likes and who sheds her skin periodically, like a snake. It’s about Keith Pearson who loves her, but ends up instead with Eliza, the artist with a tail at the base of her spine. It’s about Rob, who has a mouth on his chest. Then there are all their friends, the normal ones and the not-so-normal ones. But the biggest character of them all in this book, the one under whose shadow we see these teenagers tell us their story is ‘the Bug’ – a disease that spreads through sexual contact and manifests itself in mutations like the ones mentioned above. Mutations and deformities, some subtle and hideable, but sometimes obvious, grotesque and downright repulsive. This story is about the people who have the Bug or are about to and how their lives change. About the ones who lead a squalid existence shunned by normal society because they have the Bug. But read the book, and you realise this story is more than just a parade of sexually transmitted mutations, in a smog of weed smoke.

The art is hypnotic, surreal, creepy, sensual, psychedelic and hallucinatory – sometimes all at the same time. It’s in black and white, but that only serves to add so much more colour to the narrative. The emotions, the reactions, the dreams and the nightmares, deformities, the fear and the loathing. This book captures it all, and throws at you so many questions, most of which the book does not even try to answer. And the ending just heightens this feeling. There may or may not be a moral and a message to this story. The Bug may be a metonym for AIDS or it may be not. It just might be a coming-of-age-story, or the usual teenager’s story about wanting to be yourself and to be popular and to fit in, but then it could be neither. It’s for you to decide if you want to give it an ulterior motive or look at it as just a damn good story. I would suggest, sit back and just enjoy the experience. Get ready to be sucked into the Black Hole.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Pluck Yew!

It is unfortunate that my first post about quizzing has to be this. Making a mountain out of a molehill. Small thing, big noise. The first post about quizzing was supposed to be about a question at one of Arul Mani’s as-usual-good quizzes regarding Ganymede and all the highly imaginative and brilliantly funny guesses it led to. The question was “Identify the guy in the picture and what word, meaning homosexual, is derived from his name?” Guesses included Ganymede/ Gandu. I forget the rest, but the best one was Homer/ Homo. It was also supposed to include another question at the same quiz about hints of lesbianism in ancient India, and the equally hilarious guesses. I had it all figured out, but it never came about as the JPG of the visual in question wasn’t sent across by the abovementioned quizmaster, who was, no doubt, too busy. Speaking of quizmasters brings me to this…

One of the unwritten rules to quizzing is that the quizmaster is always right. But this could mean two things (1) It means that participants have to agree to whatever the quizmaster says. You cannot challenge the answers. Shut the fuck up, don’t crib. (2) It puts a hell of a lot of pressure on the quizmaster to get his questions and their respective answers right. It should not be challengeable by the participants and the audience, and if challenged the quizmaster should have his facts straight and provide valid, relevant substantiation. Some of the best quizmasters around choose to go with (2). But unfortunately not every quizmaster thinks so. While I do not approve of raising doubts about the quizmaster’s choice of questions, or their content and relative ease (or otherwise) – it’s the quizmaster’s prerogative – I do think I have a valid point to make when the quizmaster awards points to the wrong answer. You don’t want to give the right answer the points, at least don’t give it to the wrong answer. If the “wrong answer” was to have been awarded the points, change the bloody question; structure it around the answer you want. Change the words. Go back and look at the facts. Or just scrap the question. That’s what a good quizmaster does.

Why the vitriolic outburst you ask? This was sparked off by an incident at the quiz I was yesterday, or specifically one of the more contentious questions. Or is it, contentious answer? Whatever. What follows should not be construed as casting aspersions about the quality of the quiz – which was quite decent actually, I quite learnt a lot – this one question in question stuck in my throat. And since the quizmasters kept saying put fundaes, I guess I will.

While I forget the exact phrasing of the question, here are the basic words that made it up “English archers. Longbow. Battle of Agincourt. Loss of index and middle fingers.” So what present-day practice comes from this? I did this to the quizmaster.

Now, I did not meant to say ‘up yours’ to the quizmasters. That was the answer. It’s an offensive gesture, analogous to giving someone the middle finger if you were in England. How you ask? This is the answer I gave – This is a british sign ‘pluck yew’ which has its origins in the fact that up to the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, captured English archers, who were otherwise quite lethal with their longbows, had their index and middle fingers cut off by the French so that they could never ever draw their bows again. But once the English started winning, they gave them the ‘Pluck Yew’. Urban legend maybe, but it is so much part of the folklore that I thought this was the right answer. No matter the nonsensical pseudo-academic tripe that Scopes (the site) came up with. Our answer had all the right words – Agincourt, the exact fingers – but sorry wrong answer!!

What! No amount of protests could get us the points. Fine ok. Maybe I did give the wrong answer, I thought, and let it go. The whole team did. But then came the best part. After passing for a while, during which many gestures (read answers) were made at the quizmasters, we finally arrived at the right answer, which was this:

What?!! Ok so my answer may be wrong, but this, sir, is definitely not the right answer. I know this because the “Horned Hand” gesture familiar to millions of rock fans. It has nothing whatsoever to do with only the middle and index fingers, and definitely not with English archers or Agincourt. So what are its origins? Although most rock fans use this symbol, I knew it was satanic, so to speak, as someone had told me that if you look carefully, this gesture makes three 6s. That’s 666. Ergo, it’s satanic. Most likely concocted. But having recently read the Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey, leader and founder of the Church of Satan, I have at least a basic idea of what the gesture is all about. Having followed general trails, I came upon this. Over to the Satanic Bible.

Horned Hand or The Mano Cornuto:

This gesture is the satanic salute, a sign of recognition between and allegiance of members of Satanism or other unholy groups. The first image represents the horned god of witchcraft, Pan or Cernunnos. Note the thumb under the fingers and given by the right hand. The next image is a sign of recognition between those in the Occult. When pointed at someone it is meant to place a curse. Note the thumb over the fingers and given by the left hand.

This gesture was also used to ward off the evil eye. There’s also a cuckold connection. For more interesting things, including the Dio connection, please go here.

And here's our very own Rjanikanth doing this:

Very similar to the Horned Hand, but here the thumb supports the middle and ring fingers and is actually the Mriga (Or Mrigi) Mudra which is symbolic of deer.

So there goes. Total fundaes. Interesting fundaes. Funda-full fundaes. From almost all angles. But unfortunately nothing to do with the key words in the question for which this gesture was the answer. No archers. No Agincourt.

What this proves, at least to me, is that the Horned Hand gesture was the wrong answer. I’m not saying my answer was right, even though it covered everything and was the most satisfactory. Maybe the quizmaster was right. I am also willing (given enough valid reasons) to say I gave the wrong answer. Till then, Pluck Yew stands. That's my gesture.