Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Reflections on an Ian McKellan weekend

Poor Ian McKellan. His characters seem to be getting a raw deal nowadays.

In one movie, he loses out to people who could’ve helped his cause, but have fundamental differences with his views. And ultimately he’s the loser.
In the other, he loses out to people who could’ve helped his cause, but don’t, because they have fundamental differences with his views. And ultimately he’s the loser.

The movies in question, of course, are X-Men: The last stand and The Da Vinci Code, respectively.

Watch X3 for some good action and the introduction of new characters and see some old characters lose theirs. The stage is set for more. If not anything, X3 looks like a clean-up act before an even better X4 turns up. The Da Vinci Code, not surprisingly, suffers from the usual limitations of the medium of cinema. And Tom Hanks’ habit of swallowing up syllables doesn’t quite help the cause either. Neither does the irritating and melodramatic background music which though ostensibly to heighten the ambience does nothing of that sort and instead just ends up irritating the viewer. But it doesn’t matter, because you’ve already read the book and know the ending. Do however , look out for the howls of laughter and snide comments and smart-alecky views expressed when the famous Disclaimer comes on before The Code.

But all said and done, both movies are worth a watch. Poor Magneto! Poor Sir Teabing! Well, the world needs losers, who might need a reason to get back in the sequel. At least, the Ian McKellan weekend ended on a good note with HBO airing yet another rerun of The Two Towers (no, not The Twin Towers!), the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and it was nice to see Gandalf the White charge down with the Eomer, and the Rohirrim to end the Battle of Helm’s Deep on a victorious note.

Well, here’s looking forward to X4, and the Magneto movie, and more LOTR reruns. Three cheers to Ian McKellan!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

how do you explain this?

What’s the difference between Casteism (discrimination based on caste) and Social Justice?
“Lower caste” people penalised for being born into a lower caste. That’s casteism.
“Upper caste” people penalised for being born into an upper caste. That’s social justice.

And what is Affirmative Action? Anything, just about anything, that looks like it may get you votes, give you power and feed your corrupt, anti-national vermin soul. No matter the high cost of such an action. The country be damned. Its future be damned. Reservation zindabad!

Jai Mata Di! Let’s metal!

HE smiles! Yes! Smiles in his new video for ‘I love you o Sayyoni!’ featuring the luscious Candice. Listen up as he goes “One time!” a la Wyclef. And for those of you who could not get enough of HIM, he’s acting!! Yes, Himesh is going to act in a movie next year. 27 hits in 6 months he’s given us. And now a hit movie? Wait and watch.
Also, Himesh has promised to compose a Heavy Metal song (whatever that is) for his new movie Hostel. So that should bring the metal boys into the HIM-fandom. Here’s wishing HIM all the very best.

This has been a Himesh Reshammiya update. What? You want to see him one more time? Ok. Here goes. Let it not be said that theBekku did not give you a glimpse of HIM when you needed it. Enjoy!

lost in translation?

The 'Legends of Khasak' has been read and loved. A masterpiece. The english translation, by none other than the author himself, i am told is good. The immortal characters, the eternal philosophy just touched upon, I lived in Khasak when I was reading it. In english, it's a great masterpiece (i reapeat) but the how and why the original created a storm in Malayalam literature is lost on you. As much as I understood the book – maybe because I have been to the Palghat area, or because I was born and brought up in a village, or because I know all the cultural/mythological/spiritual references OV makes – at the back of my mind, I felt I was missing something. Something more evocative. Something more closer to the heart. And all because i know not Malayalam. My bad. Because now the heart that wants more wants to read this:
Because at the end of the day, ‘similar’ does not mean ‘same’. Because an imitation, no matter how good and true to the original, is still not the original. Because...'The Legends of Khasak' is not the same as 'Khasakkinte Ithihasam'.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Branwell Brontë’s “Thorpe Green”

For no particular reason, but...
Because a beautiful poem such as this deserves to be read, understood and appreciated.
Because Branwell Brontë deserves to be read, understood and appreciated.
Because this poem had no place and it deserves much better.
Because Branwell Brontë deserves his due.

Thorpe Green
I sit, this evening, far away
From all I used to know,
And nought reminds my soul today
Of happy long ago.

Unwelcome cares, unthought-of fears
Around my room arise;
I seek for suns of former years,
But clouds o’ercast my skies.

Yes–Memory, wherefore does thy voice
Bring back old times to view,
As thou would bid me not rejoice
In thoughts and prospects new?

I’ll thank thee, Memory, in the hour
When troubled thoughts are mine—
For thou, like sun’s in April’s shower,
On shadowy scenes will shine.

I’ll thank thee when approaching death
Would quench life’s feeble ember,
For thou wouldst even renew my breath
With thy sweet word “Remember!”
Patrick Branwell Brontë
March 30th 1843, Thorpe Green
And Branwell Brontë is slowly getting his due. As more and more people come to know and touch his tortured genius through his words. Across the ages, you empathise. A broken man, a man who lived not up to his potential or his dreams. And he came to know that. Perhaps it was a sign of this perception that he should choose paint himself over in the portrait that he painted of his illustrious sisters. See this famous painting of the Brontë sisters? It was painted by Branwell.
See that patch of paint in the painting? That is Branwell painting over what would have been his self-portrait. Erasing himself. But they say the paint is peeling over, and soon maybe the world will see Branwell again. Just one layer of paint. It is a good sign perhaps, that this silent, self-effacing soul will once again see the light of day. If only through his beautiful words.

Friday, May 19, 2006

India First - An illustrative example

As was bound to happen, at a discussion the whole Da Vinci Code business and religion playing censor and all that, the name of a certain Hussain cropped up. Yea, the same one who shares his initials with Samuel L Jackson’s favourite 12-letter word. Anyway, his depictions of Saraswati and other goddesses came up. The whole goddess topic is a topic for another day. But what I want to focus on is what came next. As expected, his depiction of Bharat Mata came up. And not just was She included in the list of goddesses, but the question was also asked if it was “insulting to Hindus?” and “what do Hindus think?”. That my Motherland is nothing short of a goddess, I agree. But what’s with the “Only Hindus should take offence” thing?

Now, unless I am drastically mistaken and the meaning of these words have changed, Bharat Mata in Hindi is Mother India in English. Our land. Our mother. And since when did the personification or the term for our Motherland become a Hindu thing? Unless I am drastically mistaken again, no matter if you are a Hindu, Christian, Parsi or anything else, people of this land are all Indians. Hmmm…or is that not the case?

All this raises certain uncomfortable questions in my mind:
1) Should only Hindus take offence at an insult to our Motherland? And if she is depicted obscenely? Why? Why did not one member in that television audience (which is not saying much) have the sense to point this out? Should not Indians who are Christians, Muslims and Sikh be equally incensed? Or are you not Indians? I am not insinuating that only by being incensed at hussain’s depiction of our Motherland can you prove your Indian-ness, but it would help don’t you think? Especially when you were a member of the audience and supposedly have a brain and a voice. C’mon, in today’s times it’s the “minorities” that can claim anything and have more power. Use it for the best.
2) Shouldn’t everybody have said, “what do you mean Bharat Mata is an Hindu goddess?” I am not a Hindu, but I do think I respect my country and my country is as much mine as anybody else’s?” Or do you not think this, people?
3) Or are you agreeing that India is a Hindu country (which it ceased being a long time ago). It is not now. Not least in the way we use the word Hindu nowadays. We are “secular” now aren’t we? So in effect, you agree your duty lies with your faith first and your Country and your Motherland much later? For one, I think we are and should be Indians first.
4) Is the media and the so-called intelligentsia muddying the waters by equating Saraswati with Bharat Mata? I might even in some weird fashion reconcile myself with his other depictions, but not Bharat Mata. Because I see a basic distinction between Saraswati and Bharat Mata. Or is it just me?
5) More disconcerting about all this is the fact that by keeping quiet and not thinking, and not speaking when given a chance, this is will only give credence to the fact or the truth in some (fanatical) minds that at the end of the day people of other faith are “outsiders”. At this point, I do not think it amiss to mention one of the things that Hitler had against the Jews (whether true or misguided is not the question here). What he felt was that “The Jews are Jews first and Germans later. Not the other way round. The Jew is always a German Jew, not a jewish German.” You get the point. Are we walking down that path? Why feed the flames people?

Thus, in the small and little ways, we are letting ourselves be whittled away when it comes to national identity and a common object of pride and joy. This whittling away will not just erode our sense of unity, but also pare down our feeling of one-ness, and grow our minor distances into an un-crossable chasm. But by then, it will be too late to build any bridges. Let us nip these small things in the bud. Let us not let our narrow mindedness distract us from the larger issue. Let us oppose those people hell bent on creating differences among us, and are anti-national. Let us learn from our history before it’s too late. We don’t need another partition – either in our hearts or in our land.

So there you go, whether you are angry at or appreciate the art of depicting Hindu goddesses is your personal prerogative. But no matter which faith/religion we belong to Bharat Mata is still our Motherland, and even if it pleases your aesthetic sense, I think we should oppose his depiction of Her, which I must say even by itself is cheap, publicity-oriented and a piece of worthless crap. She is our Motherland, and let no one get away with insulting her, even if it supposedly happens to be one of us.
We may have enough chances and reasons and grounds to curse and kill each other based on our differences, but when the opportunity to rally behind a common love and to stress our inherent unity presents itself, let us grab it with both hands. And oppose Hussian's depiction of Bharat Mata. Now and later, even if we're disagreeing about something else.

sacrilege and a link to redemption

Finally just what we all wanted. A True Christian™ talks about the DaVinci Code movie. Straight from the sanctified keyboard of Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian. Read and understand.
And while you're at it, why not give a look-see to Spidey's (yes! Spiderman's) greatest bible stories, here and here. And remember to keep the faith. Remember to forgive those that have sinned, for they know not what they do.
'nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within[a] you."
Luke 17:21
Enter the Bible Gateway. For it is a long road to hell. Regret. Repent. Now.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Just because….

….when the rains come down in nostalgic torrents during eventide, and the sweet smell permeates your emotions, you feel...
nahin nigah mein manzil to justajoo hi sahi,
nahin wisaal mayassar to aarzoo hi sahi...................................

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Like Mary said, “Come again?”

To “you” who opposes the release of just another movie. I will repeat myself, in the briefest way possible.

Da Vinci Code the movie may be delayed, and most likely never see the light of day in India. But don’t you realise that by opposing it, you are just drawing attention to the movie? It’s a work of historical fiction, dammit! The Eyyala in return wonders if the Vatican controls the country through St.Sonja. You would do good to look up Karunaidhi’s oft quoted expansion of the acronym AICC. Now coming back to the issue at stake, it’s just another viewpoint dammit. 40 million people have already read the book as per published figures. That does not includes the millions and millions more who have read it in pirated copies and through PDFs circulated worldwide. How much more damage, if any, can the movie do?

Also, under the guise of being secular, you are just acting so damn orthodox and ultra-conservative, not to mention insecure. The notion/theory that Jesus married Mary Magdalene is not anything new. It has been around for ages, centuries even before Holy Blood, Holy Grail or the Templar Revelation or even The Da Vinci Code came out. Ha! How long do you think it is before Holger Kersten’s Jesus Lived in India catches the world’s imagination? How long before the publishers of Prof. Hassnain’s A Search for the Historical Jesus realise that they can capitalise on this controversy you have created yourself. Or for that matter The Second Messiah or Freke & Gandy’s Jesus and the Goddess. Imagine John Allegro’s publisher bringing his book into the spotlight again. And you know what the book says? Let me summarise it for you in one sentence – Jesus was a magic mushroom.

You say The Da Vinci Code will tarnish the the religion’s image? Wake up! Nobody could or can tarnish the religion’s image any more than you yourself and your predecessors have done. The countless genocides, the complete destruction of many cultures, forced conversions, through the centuries, across the world. All in the name of Christ who preached love. Do you honestly think that this did or does credit to your religion? To Jesus the Christ. And you say a movie will “tarnish” the image! Sir, if you truly believe that just a piddly movie can tarnish your religion's image, I don’t think you have too high an image of your religion in your own head.

Theologically speaking, you have put one too many eggs in a none-too-big box. And what is happening now is just the logical flow of history. And it will continue. Of course with the collective IQ of the world falling, may be not. Maybe your numbers will increase. All the best. Go man, read Baigent’s The Jesus Papers, that does more damage than a well-written pulp book like Da Vinci code can ever can.

Tell me, do you honestly think that a true Christian will stop being a Christian once he sees this movie? No, you say. Then why do you bother? Oh! I forgot, you need numbers, not believers or true followers. Is that the case?

Let me ask you this? Is the firm belief in Christ’s celibacy / single-man status a prerequisite for me to believe that he was The Son of God? Does the fact that he was married take away anything at all from what he said in The Sermon on the Mount? Think not. Yes, you may have some cause for concern say if somebody came out and said “Hey look at me, I am the descendant of the person who sprung from Jesus’ loins.” a la the Princes Anastasia case.

So let the movie release with all its fanfare. Don’t worry. The Christ you hold in your heart will still be the same. The Christ that you so adore will not change. Believe in your delusions, but don’t get in the way. Please. We need our mindless entertainment, thank you.

Hah! But in the end, all I can say is “Oh Lord! Protect me from your followers.”

Holy Boner Batman!

Time for some juvenile fun of the boner kind.

This classic sequence comes to us from 1951, Batman issue 66. Way back when Boner meant “An embarrassing mistake” or “A blunder”. Today of course with all the slang it means something else. What, you ask? Well….it means…umm…an erection, a hard-on, you know…atttenshun!!! So you can imagine the hilarity in this sequence when all go BONERS!!! Batman’s Boner! Joker’s Boner! Boners, boners everywhere. Whose boner is the biggest? Boners on the papers. HILARIOUS!!! Imagine. Joker trying to force Batman into a Boner!! And Batman hot on the case, studying the greatest boners of all time. And then Batman’s greatest BONER! And don’t miss the lat panel where Robin wishes and hopes that there will be no more BONERS! Go ahead.
Freak out on you-know-what. To see the panels in greater detail for better visibility, just click on the panels

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

get rid of (insert name here)

Presenting Permanent Solutions to Common Problems! Because the best place to put your problems is in a grave, all you have to do is give them a picture, and they'll give you an autopsy report! Just get in touch with them.

Credit cards accepted!
Note: Hitman is a cruelty-free organization. None of their services have been tested on animals (i.e. non-humans).

Many thanks to the Shanu for bringing this to our notice. little does he know. hehehe. *evil grin*

Friday, May 12, 2006

Butter fruit jam

The boys are back! A couple of songs have been listened to and it’s all good. Impatience as to the purchase of the CD is happening. Rocking!! The new album, some of the older, more experienced Pearl Jammers say is kick-arse, to put it mildly. Not that the new album will make any difference to almost 80% of Pearl Jam's fans here, they who have have no PJ experience beyond Ten. Anyway, the new album rocks. Except for the cover. Coming from guys whose art has always been as great as their music, this one, kind of sticks out like a sore thumb.
Just the name of the album (which is also the name of the band) and a butter fruit. The feathering is amateurish, the lighting and the shadows even more so? What do you graphic designers think? Is this a good cover? Is this a good design?

Wonder what Ament was thinking? Him of Ames Bros., being the brains all those awesome concert posters, previous artwork. Wonder what Eddie wants us to know? Or is telling us?Because the back cover features the same butter fruit, albeit without the seed.

Knowing Pearl Jam, its significance/ symbolism is something that will hit you right between your eyes when in the middle of the night when you’re savouring a cool breeze when you’re racing through half-empty streets after a long session with the boys and the songs from this album are playing in your head and the lyrics are gently drumming the sides of your skull. And then you’ll wonder “why did I not get this before?” and of course most likely you’ll be wrong. But still.

And while we’re on the topic, here is all those hundreds of great PJ concerts you’ve missed over all those years, in one place for your listening pleasure. Each concert in full, in totality. Eddie’s speeches and ramblings included. Crowd remarks, applauses, screams and all. A few nice radio interviews as well. Not to mention those live-only covers. So till we get our hands on the new album, let us make do with this. Turn those speakers on. And LISTEN!!

Someday, we’ll figure out the butter fruit.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Revenge of the Natives

English not your mother tongue? Does reading books by Indian authors who are only out to prove that they know English give you a headache? Are you still using outdated words like “shaped like a leaf” when what you actually want to say is “oblanceolate”? Then read on.

Do you often find yourelf at a loss for words, expecially adjectives and synonyns? Do you find your comprehension levels fall when reading something written by a person with a PhD in grandiloquence? Do words like pernicious, visceral, synaeresis, and postmodernism leave you stumped? Is there somebody you know who uses big words in a conversation that leaves you frustrated, because you don’t understand it and you’re too embarassed to ask and show your ignorance? Then read on.

Because now all your troubles are at an end. Now there is a solution! You can now increase your comprehension levels and add to your serverly limited vocabulary with just one simple download and a simple installation of a tool called WW. Simple to use, the only thing that will not be simple is your knowledge of English, or at least the words. Look at what happy users have to say:
• “Sooperaagide magaa” says Ramesha, a typist from Bengalooru who used this tool and is today the undisputed master of the adjective in his locality.
• Shreethamma from Kodagu says, “Now I can actually understand the meaning of the words that my city-bred, convent-educated cousin uses. What he’s trying to say is beyond me, but at least I understand the words. Thank you WW!!”
• Even Kaavya Vishwa from D-harvard uses our product. “I just internalised the words from about 5 books and used WW to find synonyms which I then pasted above the original words.”
• T.G.Shenoy in his usual magnificently obtuse and oblique fashion says, “The felicity of syncretism, in a neo-classical context when juxtaposed with the post-modernistic paronomasia and the dichromatic expression of the Fauvists is unfeignedly an augury of anaclisis and a splendid modus vivendi. Pederasty not included. And yes, the noetic prestidigitation of conjugal propinquity is not a sine-qua-non for the discernment of the zeitgeist of the present age and the ethos of the introuvable and the ineffable.”

See! As Mr.Shenoy has so kindly shown us, by using WW, you can even say intelligent-sounding stuff that doesn’t even have to mean anything. Total nonsense, as you can read in the para above. Yet, you will look like a star, a thinker and a true social commentator because the other ignoramooses will not want to admit they never did understand a word and will instead bow down to your superior intellect (read vocabulary) and nod their heads like Chennapatna dolls.

There you go. The wonders of WordWeb – the saviour for those of us for whom English is still a foreign language. Download now! Satisfaction guaranteed.

revelation of the month


Monday, May 08, 2006

why people are not categorical

When You stick your neck out
When You put your neck on the line
Fools and enemies bring out the guillotines.

Isles of the Dead

This is a painting called Isle of the Dead. By a painter who was acknowledged as a master and an influence by none other than Di Chirico himself.

And this is the supposed homage, a variation of the painting above. By a great modern artist.
Just goes on to show you that no matter how brilliant and original the person – doing the 'cover' so to speak – is, he can never quite capture the emotions, the stories, the torment and the tranquility that the original artist captures in his creation. And all of it and more that went into its creation. In this case, Arnold Böcklin, whose original doesn't so much tell you things as much as it invokes ineffable emotions. While the 'cover' that is so cold, so precise and so impersonal is surprisingly by HR Giger. Yes. HR Giger.

It is not about technique, not about mastery or skill, but about what the creations is saying. The person who is covering may have his heart in the right place, but still. And speaking of covers and reworks that don't quite get or convey what the original says reminds one of that great song Diamonds and Rust. And in this context worth a mention, as another case-in-point. Originally by Joan Baez, D&R was her song about Bob Dylan. Which she wrote after they broke up, and the song that captures her hopes, her pains, her heartbreak, her love and hate and her fond and not-so-fond memories of Dylan. Ok? And then there is Judas Priest. Acknowledged masters of their art. The masters. And they cover Diamonds and Rust. Metal-ify it, so to speak. Nothing musically wrong, but can Priest's cover ever cover even half the territory and the emotion of the song? What were they thinking??? What was Giger thinking???? So there you go.

And speaking of variations, it is best left to the original artist himself. Like nobody could or can do better variations of Isle of the Dead than Böcklin himself. Just like Pearl Jam. No one covers or can cover Pearl Jam songs better than Pearl Jam themselves.

Friday, May 05, 2006

musical links and a download

One of the greatest advantages of having friends who don’t wake up, breathe and go to sleep on English songs is the little things musical that they throw your way. Of course it helps if you are ready to listen to them with no baggage in the head. Like this guy here, the Mall-Bong a.k.a Victory Janardhanan a.k.a. Viju. Not only does he bring to my notice one of the bestest songs in recent times ‘Bheegi Bheegi’ from Gangster, but also slowly tells me that the basic tune for that came from this 70s Bengali band called Mohiner Ghoraguli. And then goes out and gets the MP3 of Mohiner Ghoraguli’s Prithibi for you to listen. In one stroke, you get to listen to the bestesht song right now, it’s inspiration, get to know and listen to another great band in the form of Mohiner Ghoraguli.

Now coming to ‘Bheegi Bheegi’ which features the superb contemporarising and arrangement skills of Pritam, the awesome lyrics of Mayur and the amazing vocals of James, a Bangladeshi singer. In totality, a gem of a song. Apparently James and his band are a big name in Bangladesh. Listened to a few of their songs and they’re nice.

Another interesting nugget yours truly dug up was that when recording James was so petrified that the composer had to get him drunk to get him into the studio. So if James sings like this when he’s drunk, keep him drunk I say!! Bring on the whisky!! For James in this song has by far the best whisky-soaked voice i've heard in a long time. Even the Axeman agrees. So go ahead, Download it here. Sit back. Close your eyes. Listen to the song. See the emotions.

H for ?

This is the logo of the History Channel.

And the H does stand for History. Not Hitler. Really.