slipgun's den

everyday epiphanies treated to overanalysis. plus techno-social-cultural babble from a 3rd world point of view.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Recognition : deconstructed
Listening to: The Smoking Popes - I need you around

Here is something to be happy about. My brother went to school few days back. He keeps taking my CDs (which I burnt over the period of last year) to exchange them for required game CDs. so there is this one guy who wanted it and I had explicitly negated the option the previous night. You should see how he keeps his CDs. the dye in the CD-Rs have peeled off or become jelly like. Others become substitute for Frisbees and coasters. Its a miracle how he has not invented a CD-Origami art.
Anyway, in this argument another guy overhears him. Now this guy has shifted to my town only 2 years ago and was in a relatively very well off place. An avid fan of rock music he had every issue of the magazine where I was working. Every. So he overheard me being named by my brother for authority and asked him if he was talking about the same guy who was on the crew of the magazine. On confirmation, the usual appreciation and small talk followed.
YES! My place under the sun. Hey, a little recognition in this godforsaken town can do wonders for the spirit, and I am still talking of the unbottled types. And as usual these days, it set me thinking on the dynamics.

Now lets take a famous celebrity. He is recognized on a wider scale. He has a bigger place under the sun. Maybe his light bulbs are the sun. An element of worship takes form here and the person's achievements and talent is forgotten. There are fan clubs in South India who have formed temples for their movie stars/deities. Now take a niche culture. Specially rock music in India, which is a lot like Linux. It will never go away, the ones who convert will never go back, and it will always seem a weird thing to outsiders. Now getting appreciation in such a circle where everyone is appreciative about your efforts and you know the other knows what he is talking about is a special joy.
What I am driving at is the difference between worship and appreciation. But I have one more condition to put up here. We will borrow a term from nuclear physics and call it critical mass. The amount of people in such a niche culture to make it important in its own right. E.g. - Indian fashion circle that is just a lot of media circus without any trade doesn't reach the critical mass. But then I am not in the circle so judging it would be wrong.

And then there is the ever-running debate of blogging. I have heard so many people lamenting its stupidity and its overkill. The critical mass must have precipitated by now as I have seen less and less arguments against taking it seriously over the past year. Recognition by peers here would be welcome and constructive. Blogging for me is important now. Still not a daily feature but in 3-4 days I write for some hours. Against when I was writing in a physical diary which I only managed in a few weeks. There is a flow of words in your mind and for me, typing them on a PC is faster and more effective than writing it down. I loose a lot less trails of thought.
I can see a lot of purists running for my blood. I know what I am doing is just keeping an online journal. I tried my hand at blogging on music related culture news and discussions but on a dial-up, it's not possible for me anymore to continue it.

I look back at this grotesque passage and see how I deconstructed a little bit of happiness and lost the joy somewhere in the process.

Monday, September 22, 2003
lesbian acceptance
Listening to: Dry Kill Logic - Darker Side of Nonsense

So IronButterfly's recent frustration over men has forced her to explore the more uncatholic sides of life. A big ahem to that and it also causes me to examine some ideas of my own.

I saw something that I had been hoping for a long time. On MTV India, unplugged featuring performances from MTV2 airs around 1.30 am on Sunday morning. So here I was and guess who were performing? The only respectable people in the hip hop industry - the roots and Pharell Williams from N.E.R.D featuring guess artistes like Jay-z and Mary J. Blige. W00t!

Now all of us have been seeing movies for a lot of time, and me in a particularly large number (like I am going to watch 'frequency' after writing this). And to me, the chemistry between a lead pair is important. Be it male bonding in macho flicks or slightly pedophilic super group combos (you know Gotham city) or traditional male-female pairs. For instance, I may site 'somebody like you' here where the chemistry between Ashley Judd and wolverine from x-men was absent. Now here is the scary part. I was watching 'girl, interrupted' and had begun to see shades of 'one flew over cuckoo's nest in it'. Now Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie were fine but after maybe 30 mins, I was thinking of them in a very conventional sense of a couple. I expected them to kiss. Till now, I had not realized but when they DID kiss (although in the haze of drugs), it hit me. How lesbianism had become so very normal to me and almost expected between 2 pretty females. Now you have to understand that is not A VERY normal thing in my region and the first gay march probably happened some days ago in Calcutta.

I still have to find out why it has become so normal to me suddenly. Maybe its the overdose of pr0n flicks. Boojum, damn you for the playboy specials and 'good will humping' and 'wild wild chest'. Au contraire, gay men are still off my imagination. Although I am totally with it and pass off myself as one in most places just to see people's attitudes. Its strange. Whenever I talk about homosexuality, its by default taken as men involved and the questions asked are even more funny:

  • hey we still have women around so why go after the same sex?
  • it is unnatural. Nature has made us this way and we should stay like that.

And more. There was this forum once where this pr0n store clerk used to post her stories and the customers she used to encounter. And there were a lot of crazy trends. How guys liked to rent she-male videos (her reason: well, these were women with dicks so they probably know how to handle it) and only lesbian flicks (reason: guys didn't want to see dicks). TOI (Times of India, the newspaper I get) has started this series of articles on accepting homosexuality in the law, as sodomy is still outlawed. Maybe the linguistic intent of the word should be outlawed. But what about consensual anal sex? Anyway, the most recent survey states that 50% of males who have studied up to college have homosexual experiences.

Maybe its the line. The barrier across which someone considers something homosexual. When I tell people I used to bath naked with my batch mates (its a lie. only my school was this prudish), they see me in a totally different light. And on the other side, I know boarders who used to shag together and its a very tight friendship. Then there is the hero-worship factor. I went cycling for 1200 kms once in 2 weeks and there was this guy who was one year senior to me. He used to talk strange about one of my batch mates. He seemed to like him too much in a look-up way. People considered him gay. I knew what he was going through. 2 years before that, I used to have a friend one senior to me. In his last year, I had developed this crazy obsession towards him. It was like I was worshipping him or something. Its a big leap back in time and I don't remember a lot how I felt during that time but the guy left for US after some time. When he came back for a visit, he thought I was still crazy but I had grown out of it. Now you have to understand we were really good friends. And there was nothing gay about how I was feeling. Maybe I will have to bring in the movies again. If you have seen 'the fan', then I was Robert De Niro's character with a fraction of his obsessive factor.

The really strange thing is that I was in this school for the last 9 years and I have never looked back or seen it with retrospect. There are a lot of ghosts around me that I have to exorcise before moving forward. And I have forgotten most of them. They are coming back to me in small platoons. Every day. I have never asked myself questions to most obvious things. Where did my obsessive search for music and before that 16-bit games come from? What was I reading back in grade 9? Why all that nonfiction which I never understood about metaphysics? Why I have never written one fiction piece - prose poetry - in my entire life? (Although this is not entirely true. I had written one but it was in a physical diary around grade 10. It was dedicated to my brother who wrote for the school newsletter regularly. I showed it to him and he tweaked a few trivial things and sent it to the school review as his.) For that matter I don't know a lot about the 8 years from my birth till I went to school. As I said, there a lot of spirits around me. The bottled ones have been left behind but the uncorked ones are always floating in my brain. They trigger off wrong questions at totally irrelevant times. And I have to exorcise them.

To round this thing off, I am still wondering to the absence of literature on lesbianism. It has led me to conclude that it has been an accepted fact since Sapphic's private island (which is my favorite fantasy tourist spot after the island in the 'the beach' (and yes I know it is for real)). What are your views?

Sunday, September 21, 2003
Orwellian Passage
Listening to: Offspring - Ixnay on the Hombre

Maybe I have written earlier that I was reading 'a brief history of time'. Well I read another book after it. This one is not known very widely but is by a very well known author, George Orwell. Its called 'The Road to Wigan Pier'. A scathing criticism of pre-WWII British middle class snobbery and probably the most horrifying portrait of the living conditions of miners during that time. There is a claustrophobic strain in me (reference anyone) and his description of 5-mile long mines 500 feet under gives me the jinkies. he he. Actually 'What's new Scooby Doo?' just started on cartoon network and I just love that dog. Probably the most doped character in cartoon history. But back to Orwell. I saw 'east is east today set in 1971 Manchester and the living conditions described by Orwell then and in 1971 didn't seem very different to me. Bath was still alien and keeping buckets in bedroom for toilet doesn't exactly excite me.
My main praise is for the language. As the introduction states, along with Samuel Butler this is where modern prose originated. Informal, directly asking the reader and a lot of tangential threads in brackets. Go Orwell. And now for 'animal farm' and '1984'.

On another play, I finally finished MDK2 2 days ago. It wasn't too hard and considering its intent to be a throwback to the 80s 16-bit and arcade game play, this one was one of the more humorous games. Although I believe it lacked a degree of intensity in the game play. Not as much as Max Payne, where the Valkyr induced states of hallucination were too terrifying.

I didn't wait to decide the next game. Its a very underrated game and is based on the half-life engine. Its called Gunman Chronicles and I don't think a lot of people know about it. It started out as a mod and the company behind it, Reowulf SW doesn't even seem to have a website now. A unique case of mod turning sweet instead of sour, it has 70 levels across 4 worlds. I finished the second world today and I am thoroughly enjoying this game. The best part I haven't even played the original half-life till now. Maybe after this.

As I have been asking people and converting them, I got FeedReader installed and it rocks. I unsubscribed from at least 5 newsletter and don't have to visit another 10 sites. Although I was using another web based aggregator [url][/url] before but this absolutely rocks. I totally agree with Chris Pirillo that this is the next killer tech. the usual suspects feature - kuro5hin, wired, TEOTI (he he), lockergnome, register, BBspot, etc. my main problem is trying to track down music feeds. Till now, there is an Amazon Hard rock featuring the latest releases, antiMUSIC and Noise Pop for indie music. I am hoping that and [url][/url] get their feeds out soon.

Saturday, September 20, 2003
die durst
Listening to: GlassJAw - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang EP

I saw limpbizkit's new video. It has left a really bad taste in my mouth. Come on. This was the original frat rock band. They were rocking in a party sort of way. Even when everybody washed their hands off chocolate starfish, I thought that it was better than their previous release. And now look where they are headed. Is everyone jumping on the emo bandwagon? Granted nu-metal had its share of scream but they look so obnoxious. How can I take this guy seriously trying to eat a person alive? No, I do not like your songs Mr. Durst and it shows your bankruptcy.
And as the header shows, I think I have discovered one of the better bands of this decade. At the start of this year when I heard 'cosmopolitan blood loss', I hated it. And in one year I have come around full circle to punk/hardcore. This change started with snapcase and now I am constantly listening to fugazi, at the drive in, and the rest.

It set me thinking as to what was good music. On another forum, there was a thread on good protest songs that eventually sparked a minor debate on generalized ranting and protest rock. Almost everyone in the emo-numetal world keeps screaming about his child abuse days and I am so sick and tired of it. This led to finding the difference between a song and a poem. I believe a song is more personal. A poem has a lyrical touch and is best read loudly but it is almost always more identifiable. The subject can appeal to a lot of people. Like the beauty in nature. Agreed most songs are about relationships and they are also identified with. But I believe they are more empathized with than appreciated.
And well, the bottom line is the language. You really can't appreciate 'breaking my heart', 'baby you love me and I love you too' and on the flipside, 'tormented', 'breaking like glass' (punctuated by screams from the drummer) like lines.

Another realization. I am currently studying organic chemistry and after being deeply engrossed in it for eternity to me, I went to the loo. Now here I was in an air-conditioned room and as soon as nature asked me to make love to it, the electricity went off again. You may have heard of Il Nino. After the monsoons, we have something called 'October heat' which started to make its presence felt. In these extreme saunatic conditions, it hit me. That reactions - chemical - are not absolute. In a lab, we are not causing one reaction. We are creating a situation where from all the random reactions happening in a certain room, a certain reaction will be amplified exponentially for observation.

It may not be clear to you but its just that I don't like determinism and absoluteness.

Friday, September 12, 2003
idiot box
Listening to: Talvin Singh - OK

So I checked up on Twin Peaks and it seems that it was a groundbreaking serial. But that is expected of David Lynch. That reminds me of Liam Lynch. Has anyone heard his 'United States of Whatever'? That is one amazing track. But coming back to twin peaks.
Like twin peaks was set in real time and one episode covered 1 day in the town, 24 covers 1 hour in the day. This concept was originally what got my attention. But I started watching it pretty late, around 1 pm. and now season 1 is going to end. The last hour is left. It seems in India, AXN keeps us one season behind. I started following CSI too and its season ended last Wednesday. CSI: Miami is slated to replace it.

Apart from these 2 serials, AXN was the only channel where I could see some alt. culture based serials, i.e. - skateboarding, music, BMX, and such punk stuff. There used to be this slot called 'Core Culture' which used to show all these skating freaks, computer geeks and DJs. now, there is this late night show called 'Passengers'. And it is by far the best such show I have come across. Last Wednesday, they featured the yamikaze - a high jumping group from Paris, a German in Jamaica making big in reggae, a Radio Jockey in Serbia, and some amazing videos. One was by a French rapper who was doing these emergency deliveries in the car for his girlfriend. I say 'these' because the whole car was covered with soiled, newborn kids complete with the excreta, blood and the epidermis covering and fallopian tubes hanging out. And in the end, the message is 'use condoms'. Got that dude. Check out their site at ] It's in collaboration with PlayStation2.

And then there are the comedy serials. Simpsons, Friends and 'just shoot me' are on a daily basis. 'The 70s show', 'dharma & Greg' and Becker come on Mondays and I have really fallen in love with Becker. This guy doesn't have a heart. It's just too fucking good. And unlike some serials (read friends) where blacks don't exist but expatriate Germans do, it's got a really good line-up. But by far my favorite is still 'the Drew Carey show' and 'whose line is it anyway'. I may occasionally laugh and scoff at all the other fare but the improvisation skills of this cast is far too good. And the sense of humor is totally un-mainstream. On Sundays, I get futurama. w00t. I agree with angry_babs about matt groening. This guy is really good. Also I used to watch 'Malcolm in the middle' but it has been replaced by '3rd rock from the sun' which is an old favorite.

And apart from all this American fare, we have some UK imports. 'The Kumar's at no. 42' and 'goodness gracious me', both made by people of Indian origin. While 'the Kumar's...' has maintained a very delicate balance between a sitcom and a talk show which is a very strange concept. But it is pulled off successfully. 'Goodness...' has random samples of Indian life and Indians in UK. The title track is by Nitin Sawhney, a very respected electronica artist. This serial kicks some serious ass with its very apt portrayal of my nation, wherever they may be geographically. From picking up towels to anything available for free in airlines and hotels to taking a leak or spitting on the road. Sometimes, TV seems to be good.

And what's up with these Russian channels? All they show is pr0n round the clock.

Monday, September 08, 2003
geriatric worries
Listening to: Whippersnapper - America's Favorite Pastime

After my sleeping pattern became regulated, I thought anxiety attacks related to bad sleeping and chronic headache would away. In fact, being in such a regime where I had 3 meals at the same time everyday, slept at the same time and ate fruits almost constantly, I thought probably this is better than detox. But I had one today and the scary reason was that I had very less time. Time as in the scope of years. I am already 19 and I have so many things lined up in my 'to do before dying' list that I know I will have to skip some things. Probably the cause can be traced back to a Good Charlotte video that had all these punk septuagenarians. I have never made a list of my 'to do before dying' things but I know its very long. And mostly some very athletic things. Like surfing, etc. which would be better done young. No thanks to the influx of American culture in every part of globe and Discovery/Travel/National Geographic channels. For the record, I have done skiing, cycling for 1200 kms in 12 days, rafting thrice and keep a skateboard. But after this scary disease and the knee condition I am probably scared of never getting into sports again. Plus the added bonus of a paunch for which I will most probably get a poncho from hedonist, right? Hey when are you coming back?

I guess somewhere this has something to do with 'the brief history of time' too. I had that book and the last time I read it was 4 years ago in grade 9. My progression in books would be another story altogether. Anyway, so I reread it now that I was officially the guy that had been kept in mind while writing the book. And in conclusion, Stephen Hawking echoed what I think. Or maybe I picked it up 4 years ago from him. He ponders about how in a previous age - around Newton - human knowledge in matters of science and philosophy were small enough for a man to know what was happening at the frontiers of both the fields. But in today's world of super-specialization (Bertrand Russell said that man would start learning something about everything and keep specializing in chosen fields and the scope grew smaller and smaller until he knew everything about nothing) one man can never know enough about two entirely different fields like physics and philosophy. And know when theoretical physics is asking about the creation of the universe, such metaphysical interrogation requires a vast knowledge in everything.

How is this related to me? Maybe I still have to learn a lot. Anyway, if Tofegrat is reading this, I would like to let him know that I am reading 'Sophie's world' now.

Sunday, September 07, 2003
what is Twin Peaks?
Listening to Down: NOLA

Please would anyone give me some information about twin peaks? Yes I know that it is a TV series - something modeled around twilight zone - but I am so sick and tired of it. Max Payne has a reference to it, Raymond (everybody loves Raymond) and his brother were discussing about it and I don't have a clue. If someone could compare to it to some more recent serials or an overview about it, I would be really happy. And please, no links. I have gone through the twin peaks Usenet group FAQ and somehow I just feel like it's missing something. Its intro tune is the most sampled among rap guys. It just feels like I missed this whole cult phenomenon.

Speaking of rap guys, what has happened to their videos? Every last one of them shows these guys and their bunch of homies partying. Its trash on a humungous scale.

So anyway, is it just me or did everyone who played Max Payne has found out that it is too short to be justified for the hype, never mind the mods. I am not really such a big ace in gaming and that I have progressed through 8 chapters of part I and 4 chapters of part II in 2 days is pretty amazing for me.
Maybe I got hooked on to this game after IGI was because it was the most intense. People who haven't played should check out the tight story - although a bit Bollywood in nature - and the really scary drugged sequences. People are on the record that it is scarier than silent hill 2. I hope to get some really good titles after this. (Red Faction, Ghost Recon, Rogue Spear)

I was talking to boojum. He is still in Delhi while I have returned to my hometown. He has been out stoned for the past 3 days. Some of his cousins are in town and they had one really wild party yesterday. Boojum had a bong coupled with rum. Now this party was happening in a satellite town of Delhi called gurgaon. So while returning he took the highway to another city. And he seemed in a bad shape this afternoon to post it himself so I thought I would let you guys know.
And well I noticed that some trends are slacking off. Like migrating to US. Thats still 'the dream' for a lot of Indians but people from the big cities are not so enthusiastic now. Higher studies still have to be done outside but settling down is not such a lucrative option. Personally, I would never settle down in a foreign country. I mean where else can u get doped/drunk without being the legal age, without IDs and keep 80 CDs of pirated mp3s, games and videos and the police would give a squat about it. Do I love this place.

Friday, September 05, 2003
Game Discussion
listening to: Jamiroquai - the return of the space cowboy

So finally one of the greatest dilemmas in the history of my gaming has been solved. I just could not bring myself to start another game after project IGI. All I wanted to play was some rainbow 6 type game but all I had were the following choices:

  • Serious Sam - again. I had already finished it once
  • Max Payne - a huge hit which had never been played. sort of like nobody ever watches those mainstream summer action flicks but they still seem to have record sales. another one I missed was half-life
  • MDK2 - hugely entertaining game but never had the intensity that I wanted right now.
  • heavy metal FAKK2 - did anyone like this game? my brother was so into it - he has a thing for half naked computer generated non-anime-inspired adventure games with female leads, namely, Tomb Raider - but I skipped it.
  • undying - this is one scary game and I usually don't play in the morning.
  • hidden and dangerous - its like a war/spy game but I just don't like it. will try.
  • f-22 lightening 3 - somebody reviewed it on as having realistic graphics. well I didn't know a Braille version was out.

and the winner it seems to be Max Payne for now. It's intense. too intense with that entire anti-drug thing going on. a slimy neo-noir feel. and life goes out more realistically in 3-4 shots where range matters, unlike some 100-health games. I completed 3 levels and to be on the safer side I completed some levels of MDK2 and Serious Sam. I am grounded because of my bad health and my brother is having his exams. so only when it ends on the 10th Sep. will he be able to get me some Tom Clancy games. maybe Red Faction too.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003
chronic gamer
Listening to: Jamiroquai - a funk odyssey

It seems like every last drop of blood would be taken away from me. Or at least attempts thereof are made every week or 10 days. Although there have been only 3 blood tests till now, I guess I must have failed in all of them. Sorry for the corn. But this disease has been an entirely new thing for me. I am used to doing things and sticking to my routine come what may. But now I have been assigned bed rest and I am stuck staying in the house. Either I am studying, or watching TV for few hours that it tries to be entertaining or I am on the PC.

Wait a minute. That's what I was doing before this shit hit me. Guess it hasn't been that much of a problem. Hehe. Anyway, the initial signs were definitely scary. First I had itching all over my body followed by fever and body ache and a weakness so powerful that I was lying on the floor for one whole day. And when all this passed, I woke up in the morning and found my eyes yellow. How I had hated that damn 60W bulbs and how they made the whole environment reminiscent of jaundice. And now I had it. So I checked up my skin and it all was a bit yellow on the hell raiser side.

I thought a bath would take it away but like David Hasselhoff, it just stuck to me. The vagaries of life. And then I finally had that right leg checked to have my fears confirmed.

So now, I am doing things in a very ordered manner. I am playing games sequentially and keeping track of them. Today I finished project IGI, a covert rainbow six type game. It was pretty easy with more emphasis on spy like techniques reminding me of thief (which I plan to play again). Before that I finished crimson skies, which was for me a surprise. I had never expected Microsoft to come up with something actually good, that too with the creators of 'recoil', one of the most boring games ever to be given away with Compaq PCs. but a nice story, nice secrets, excellent storyline and classy flying and dog fighting, this was one game worth it. Apart from that, there was this one pseudo-arcade dog fighting game, pacific warriors. They tried to have innovation but it was only worth 1 coin.

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