everyday epiphanies treated to overanalysis. plus techno-social-cultural babble from a 3rd world point of view.
Saturday, February 28, 2004
Nakshatra and how to appease them
Listening to: Hot Hot Heat - Bandages
How many times you have thought that a white trash trailer kid is better than you? I bet none. But when you are forced to endure lengthy complicated rituals in 'Sanskrit' which only 10% of Indian population understands (the priest still have to keep themselves in power by using such arcane ancient language) taking up your TV time, its time to get cranky.
A bit of a background here. Sometime back my grandmom was convinced by a priest that all my misfortune in areas of health (update: have a searing pain above right eyebrow. I can feel my brain throb and it is not pretty) was due to some alignment issues between the planets. So I was given a scary charm to wear.
As you can see it is not a particularly fine example of workmanship consisting only of some heavy duty thread and a locked capsule, the contents of which are open for guessing season. It smells good.
Predictably, I had some very teenage issues with it. I respect my grandmom and her senile behavior at 73. All I wanted was not to be involved in it. She could perform 'ashwmega yagya' for all I care if it did not disturb me. The other thing was that I did not want to wear anything on my body. I don't have any rings or necklaces or variants thereof on my skin. The last one was a silver chain passed from my Grandfather, RIP, to my big cousin and now to me.
Probably I should explain my idiosyncrasy at this point. It stems partly from teenage opposition to anything under the sun (its great fun to get my younger brother to accept that he won't eat for another 3 days or so just because we do. his is a story for another day) and mostly from my carelessness. I have lost innumerable digital watches (as Douglas Adams rightly observed, we considered it cool 5 years ago) and that bastard Family heirloom, the chain. If it's not hooked to my skin, it doesn't have a chance to survive. I remember some cafe days when I had to give up my sad excuses for burgers and 'Paw Bhaji' for all the lost watches and amulets, me being the guy who always collects footballs and guards the clothes while the physically gifted put their tight calves to good use. (That turned out a little homoerotic)
We got a sort of canteen open on 2 days every week for burgers and carbonated beverages in our boarding school which was totally residential and situated on a fort. You must now realize the importance such a momentous day has in any overworked boy's day. Now consider that the woman who oversaw this chaotic day was hot in a MILF way in a totally boys school.
Right. So we were talking about my grandmom. Well, she did go through with the plan anyway and got me the charm which I promptly kept away in my dysfunctional printer's tray with some classic movies. She did not stop at that. when it hit her that no sort of 'pooja' has ever been performed in the unholy confines of this pseudo-prison, she promptly got the priest and a guy in cahoots with him on a train from my village to come here and perform a 3 day super duper mega powerful yagya to set everything right.
This finally brings us into the present. Today all the arrangements were made. Although I planned to tell them about you bit its basically chanting a set of hymns invocating the necessary gods which we want to deal with. I like this about our mythology. We were neck deep in consumer culture before the west even learned to say, 'Dah, Dah!!' Choose which of the 36 million gods is relevant (points to ponder: does the west have enough products to compete with our gods in quantity) and start chanting. Mmmm...
Anyway, the setting would be better explained by pictures. So no big payoffs in the end. Now scamper.
Friday, February 27, 2004
Mall-Core and Postman
Listening to: Dizee Rascal - Fix up, Look Sharp
Sunday, February 22, 2004
a clearing house for quotes
Which I picked up here and there. For deciding where to use them later on.
"Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables-slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war . . . our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off."
"I had always heard that your entire life flashes before your eyes the second before you die. Only that one second isn't a second at all, it seems to stretch out forever like an ocean of time. For me it was lying on my back at boy scout camp, watching falling stars. And the maple trees that line our street. Or my grandmother's hands, and how her skin seemed like paper. And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird. And Janey. And my last thought was of Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it's hard to be angry when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes, I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and I can't take it. My heart swells up like a balloon that's about to burst. But then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold onto it. And then, it flows through me like rain and I feel nothing but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry. You will someday."
"If it’s too loud, you’re too old." --Ted Nugent
"A lot of pop music is about stealing pocket money from children." --Ian Anderson
Thursday, February 19, 2004
compulsory incidents, and the Matrix's true destiny
Listening to: Deftones - Anniversary of an uninteresting event
So its 1 year since a boring everyday incident in my life. Ok, I concede I am some days late but its potentiality to be everyday does not diminish. 1 year is not exactly enough time to give me a retrospective on it. One day, the meaning of it all will be revealed.
Leaping to a totally different thought process, its time to clear my head of what I think about 'The Matrix' and the subsequent disaster.
First of all, LOTR is way better than Matrix. Although I still believe that the emotional factor, the connection between the characters and the audience was lost in the big scale of Midworld.
Secondly, The Matrix trilogy did not suck so much. We all agree that the first is a landmark which led to a whole new generation of fans intent on finding the references and the philosophy it referred to. The books and the discussion were not all in vain.
Now here's my problem. As with all good things, leaving the first flick as a masterpiece wouldn't have been good for the studios. In fact, treating it as an art was lost and the corporate responsibility crept into them. so it became a brand and thus expanded into a trilogy accompanied with a game (which sucked major league except for filling in on Niaobi's and Keymaker's back stories) and a DVD of animations (which might be the best thing to come out of this whole fiasco. all the greatest anime artists under banner giving various POVs to the same future, sheer orgasmic joy)
I was neck deep in conversations and discussion on the net from July to November 2003 wondering where the plot will lead. You can refer to matrixessays.blogspot.com. I think Wachawoski brothers did the best thing they could in the current situation. We all had high hopes and great explanations planned but they took an old plot device, one where 2 enemies have to band together to fight a third rogue element. last time I saw such a plot was in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when they had to team up with Shredder against monster pizzas (don't even ask. I still have pr0n vidz of them). This I believe is because the brothers are going to take time and come up with something more brilliant. It may not be in this storyline but I hope will be set in the same matrix universe where probably Neo v12.6 or someone will finally battle it out against machines.
All this may be wishful thinking. Personally, I don't think it sucked that much. I still think 'Reloaded' was the best of them all like 'Return of the Jedi' featuring awesome dialogues and furthering the main mental conflict in Neo from faith to choice. Even 'Revolutions' has a great battle sequence and such epic stuff is justified only on the big screen. So now you will have to wait for the DVD.
Everybody (including me) got lost somewhere in expecting this to be the cultural artifact of my generation as the 'star wars' is to the 70s folks. Keep looking.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
gamelog III : the thing
Listening to: Converge - Jane Doe
This is time when I should have told you about the new line-up on TV. Instead what I get is a lot of upcoming festivals. One of them (the Grammies, duh) is going to happen tonight and it will be airing it live at 6:30 am. Not that fanatical about it but I can sense the pressure of dressing up the singers must be facing to create new landmark in fashion and secondarily, the validation of their musical genius. And then later on in the month, we have to deal with the Oscars too. additionally, the Wednesday primetime slots on star world are open with Ally McBeal being pulled out thus treating us with spectaculars like 'the fake shit they do on TV wrestling' (informative) and 'New York in movies' (spectacular. they featured Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee).
I also finished another game. This one is a 3rd person action adventure which brings FPS and more importantly, 'survival horror' elements into the mix. On top of all this, it has the added baggage of being a movie franchise and you can see the bars being very high for this one. On most counts, 'the thing' has succeeded. Yes. You read that right. Instead of an upcoming movie, they took a cult 1980s horror hit by the great John Carpenter (remind me to watch 'the screaming room' on HBO, a half hour series focusing on the horror genre).
For us movie fans, the game gives us the original board signifying 'outpost 31' at the start of the game and Kurt Russell's last recorded message. For n00bs to the movie, it is basically about an alien virus loose on an arctic substation. this seems pretty much the standard setting for a thousand b-grade flicks including the great 'evil dead' (bow down to Bruce Campbell who provides the over voice in 'Spiderman movie - the game'. he also got a lifetime achievement award at http://www.mutantreviewers.com/). This movie perfected the isolation hysteria subgenre. The horror doesn't come out of strange animals and creatures, although the animatronics were terrifying creating the spider-with-a-man's-head and the dog-man hybrid. The horror came out of trust or the lack thereof. Put a bunch of people (strangely, no women. not even for PCness) in a place where you can't escape and where anyone of them could be the alien masquerading as a human. Paranoia formed the backbone of the movie where dogs were not the best friend of a man. Guns were (I am no big dog lover but after seeing what the dogs mutated into, they are fast graduating to the clown phobia alert level).
If it is still not hammered in your head, the success of the game lies in porting the delusional and paranoid atmosphere from the movie. Oh and it does. Continuing in the vein of 'freedom fighters', you get to lead NPCs wherever possible. Apart from health, you have to give those guns, heal them and keep them clear of particularly gored corners otherwise they may go berserk. On top of that, they may randomly turn into the alien. On all other counts, it fares well. The guns are generic but good with a FPS option for combat. Team orders and AI are adequate. The enemy AI is a bit on the lower side where they go tripping on their own mines. some of the games I have been traditionally afraid of are claustrophobic ones (I had completed tomb raider II: the director's cut which had 4 levels underwater after the rig level. still gives me the creeps). This game was a big step for me (therapy?) considering the initial levels all where in cramped quarters and one totally in a caved laboratory. Add to that the camera which focused on the enemies and then when it was all clear, slowly crept back into position. Now if you remember the Valkyrie influenced hallucinations in Max Payne, you would get an idea of the disorientation I had to face.
Update: lost this post in other things. A week too late. I have started replaying freedom fighters and a much raped version of Soldier of Fortune II. The hacking team may get all categorical about it but there is no denying it. Instead of ripping the game, they raped it. They took out the dialogues, the music, the full motion videos (if there were any) and - horror of horrors - even the gore ability. The only reason to play this game is the advanced dying physics and the fun of killing anywhere specifically.
Sunday, February 15, 2004
pazz and jop awards 2003
The Village Voice has an excellent list of the best music released the past year along with some editorials and reader comments. they make for some very intresting reading.
On the internet fueled habit of hording music and constantly discovering something new:
The itch is palpable, a genuine jones as overpowering as any urge for a cigarette or other drug that I've never bothered to touch. I'm 45, I know more than I've ever known about music, I hear more than I've ever heard, and I just can't stop myself from wanting to hear things for the first time more than I want to hear what I've heard before. -Steve Pick, St. Louis, Missouri
On subversive attitude towards women:
It was the year of the Woman Best Seen and Not Heard. Society didn't just disagree with these women, it loathed them. Madonna wasn't allowed to be a critic of American life. The Dixie Chicks weren't allowed to dis the president. Amy Lee wasn't allowed to get pissed at radio jocks objectifying her. And Liz Phair was absolutely not allowed to go mainstream pop. - JEANNE FURY, Brooklyn, New York
On Black Eyed Peas' pop genius:
For the Black Eyed Peas to get on pop radio with a slickly produced but smart and soulful rap that associates the CIA with international terrorism and implies that George Bush is a liar would deserve our attention. That the tune is impossibly catchy, with a boy-pop pinup singing the candy-coated chorus, makes it a subversive cultural milestone. - RICK MITCHELL, Houston, Texas
On essential similarities between rap and rock:
What separates White Stripes and OutKast from other notionally mainstream artists is that neither is daunted by the obligation to make transcendent music. For them, mythic significance is just another cool toy to play with. - ARTIN JOHNSON, Manhattan
And some funny ones:
What Stacy's mom's solo album would sound like: Liz Phair.
On Corporate Bigwigs:
The sooner all of the major labels merge into one big label, the better, because when it eventually goes bankrupt it's just a matter of time before Lars Ulrich can get down to doing what he really wants: coming to your house personally to beat you up. - SEAN CARRUTHERS, Toronto, Ontario
On the state of rock:
The Strokes, Kings of Leon, Jet, the White Stripes-what do these groups have in common? Well, they're rock, for one. They all, um, rock, too. They also have very little to do with anything new. Maybe that's all right, though. They all sound pretty good and certainly point toward the possibility of somethingbetter. Then again, if rock is dead, the recording industry is dead, and two of the four Beatles are dead, maybe straight-ahead rock is new all over again. Even better, it's a little faster this time. - ALEC FOEGE, Westport, Connecticut
On Sean Paul:
If rap is about voices-as-drummers, dancehall might be about voices-as-guitarists, or voices-as-horn sections: singers working repeated melodic hooks against sparse beats. In the case of Sean Paul, though, voice-as-symphony orchestra is more like it. - SCOTT WOODS, Toronto, Ontario
guilty as charged of loving Kriss Kross as well as OutKast. what? they wore clothes backwards.
I love "Hey Ya!" But who even pretended not to? It's the most accessible hip-hop hit since Kris Kross's "Jump." It's also a hopeful sign that people still crave weirdness from pop music even in this most conformist of times. - ROB SHEFFIELD, Brooklyn, New Yor
And finally some very good roundups:
I also have no patience with and feel quite sorry for idiot rock critics who think "pop hits and hip-hop are suddenly very good!"; idiot rock critics who think "our generation's newfound ability to inexpensively download individual songs online" opens up a world of discovery that hadn't pretty much always been available on the radio and TV and jukeboxes and mixtapes and dance clubs and used record stores in the first place; idiot rock critics who think albums are any less albumlike now than they've always been; idiot rock critics who rejoice that "there are still acts out there who make quality albums built to last and not just a couple transitory hit singles"; idiot rock critics who think it was okay for Liz Phair to discuss her sex life when she was in her 20s but now it's somewhat unseemly since she's over 30 and all; idiot rock critics who think 40-year-old white guys who like hip-hop are unseemly; idiot rock critics who think grownups who like Justin Timberlake are perverse; idiot rock critics who like Justin Timberlake now but used to call me perverse for liking "Ice Ice Baby" and Will to Power and Amy Grant; idiots obscurantist enough to "still not get" the Strokes or White Stripes but who hype scores of more generic garage bands; idiots lazy enough to believe the Strokes and White Stripes are the best garage bands out there; idiots who think the Strokes and White Stripes are garage bands in the first place; idiots in the Strokes; idiots in the White Stripes; and um, lots of other people. (Many of which idiot categories sometimes include me.) - Chuck Eddy, Brooklyn, New York
Here's the link. check out the complete feature.
hung like a whale
tonight i saw american idol and i have seen the future. this is where music is going to be. the new internet sensation. my personal god and role model.
ALL HAIL WILLIAM HUNG
for more info go to http://www.williamhung.net/
Saturday, February 14, 2004
the great outsourcing debate
Finally someone with the resources has done a complete coverage of the whole outsourcing brouhaha. Wired.com has presented a complete feature on it which covers all sides of the debate especially what are my views on it as a total outsider
The obvious cycle of upgradation which people are forgetting in protectionist fervour:
But the rest of us, like it or not, will have to adjust. The hints about how to make this adjustment are evident at Patni. As I meet programmers and executives, I hear lots of talk about quality and focus and ISO and CMM certifications and getting the details right. But never - not once - does anybody mention innovation, creativity, or changing the world. Again, it reminds me of Japan in the '80s - dedicated to continuous improvement but often at the expense of bolder leaps of possibility.
history to put this in context:
A century ago, 40 percent of Americans worked on farms. Today, the farm sector employs about 3 percent of our workforce. But our agriculture economy still outproduces all but two countries. Fifty years ago, most of the US labor force worked in factories. Today, only about 14 percent is in manufacturing. But we've still got the largest manufacturing economy in the world - worth about $1.9 trillion in 2002. We've seen this movie before - and it's always had a happy ending. The only difference this time is that the protagonists are forging pixels instead of steel. And accountants, financial analysts, and other number crunchers, prepare for your close-up. Your jobs are next. After all, to export sneakers or sweatshirts, companies need an intercontinental supply chain. To export software or spreadsheets, somebody just needs to hit Return.
go to Wired.com's complete coverage on outsourcing
I am at the opposite end of the net spectrum from Cory Doctrow who is constantly plugged into the happennings and discussions. He takes an active part in the development of the net and I am one of the million observers. What makes it especially depressing is that I am aware of the progress. If I was just another guy whose main pleasure was being a exhibtionist, it wouldn't matter so much but right now I feel like a lam3r whose life (or his ideal life) is passing him by.
Anyway, It is nice to know I share some habits with alpha geeks.
All geeks have a todo.txt file. They use texteditors (Word, BBEd, Emacs, Notepad) not Outlook or whathaveyou. What we keep in our todo is the stuff we want to forget. Geeks say they remember details well, but they forget their spouses' birthdays and the dry-cleaning. Because it's not interesting.
running notes by Cory here.
Also here are some notes on the economy being spawned by MMORPG gamers which I discovered some months ago was the 56th largest in the world.
Once MMORPG users start trading goods on eBay, you create real-world torts and property interests in gamespace objects. Korean court awarded damages to someone whose gameworld artifact vanished.
running notes here by Cory
the state of my city
For some time I have been referring to my hometown as the armpit of India. A wasteland. well, here is some news to give you an idea about it. and yes, you read that right. the students are protesting and lighting up houses because they are not allowed to cheat.
Students' right? 'Dangerously wrong
PATNA: "There are no students in Intermediate colleges of Bihar; there are only examinees," said a senior official of the Bihar State Intermediate Council while reacting on the recent violence by students in the state to protest punitive action against use of unfair means in the ongoing itermediate exam. At least two persons died at Sasaramwhen the police opened fire at examinees indulging in arson and violence after their six colleagues were expelled for allegedly using unfair means. Earlier at Biharsharif, the Inter examinees turned violent after some students were expelled for using unfair means.
read more here.
Enough. HC wants people to 'decide'
PATNA: The Patna High Court on Wednesday "consigned" the case filed by the Bihar Vyavsayik Sangharsh Morcha on the deteriorating law and order situation of the state.
read more here
the great internet rummage
Listening to: Jawbreaker - Misc. Bootlegs
i have been quite busy these days. after the bloggies announcement, i made it a point to check out fellow bloggers and see what is so special about them. that eventually lead me to the indian bloggies and asian blogging awards and various such alternatives (including a Bhartiya Blog Kela for the worst of them all). this has led me to a internet trail of intresting stories and awards and blogs and what not reminding me of my whole night jaunts for anything to intrest me.
anyway, this gives me a reason to procrastinate again. but for your pleasure, i am going to post all intresting links and stories. whoever you are. hehe. also it led me to find new memes and techniques being adopted by the blogosphere and well, gave me a inferiority complex. so i went ahead with the plan to update my blog links, stats, et all. a full scale redesign is not possible right now but i think i did enough for now. the last update will be done tonight. meanwhile enjoy the stuff.
i will link to the rest of the blogs after checking them out for a week or so. for some, blogging is the new one page homepage of yesterday - embarassing and n00b. but there is one thing very special about everyone of them - their personality reflects in it. later then.
Sunday, February 08, 2004
a false ending
Listening to: Seemless - haze
You know the feeling when you bring closure to a part of your life. A feeling of finality.
Somehow, it always eludes me. I may not do things for a month or so and just when I think that its time to make it official, it starts again. I had earlier posted a list of movies I saw last year and now when I had not seen even one in over a month, I thought it was over for good. Too soon.
Remember this is December. The time when all movie channels have to fulfill their holy duty of a blockbuster screening at the end of the year. Sometimes the broadcaster may cut down n the number of specials if they are all from the same bouquet so as not to clash with each other. Also, the quality of movie (in terms of quantity of money gathered at the BO) variates with the year and this being 2004, the quality was somewhere between bad 2003 (nothing special about this year) and super humongous 2000 (when the only movie to justify the millennium transfer was the biggest grosser - yes that waterworks special - titanic).
So now I have seen one bad summer action movie - Spiderman - because I seriously had nothing else to do. They don't even try to put a decent ending these days when sequels have already been planned. Instead, we have to endure shitty no reason whatsoever separations. (What happened to peter parker? had he become impotent due to the spider or what? oh, the pain of schlock fests like this.)
On the other hand I saw 'a streetcar named desire' (the original Marlon Brando one) and to say anything would still be an understatement. I know for sure that I would be trying out a lot of other old movies now. This one was sourced from an old friend who likes such old movies, musicals and classic novels a lot. The irony is that he introduced me to the heavy side of music and then went to discover the delights of previously stated art forms. I guess I am in line too. Anyway, after watching so many bad romance movies in the past year, I wanted to see some original pioneering work. TCM (Turner Classic Movies) stopped airing some years ago thus putting cartoon network in a 24 hour slot. I lost my momentum then.
Still, ASND was not exactly what I expected. I was hoping for old school romance unlike the new ones where behind every pretense, the only story in them is that the characters had to sleep with each other and thus ease the tension built up in 2 hours. Instead, I got this landmark of a movie with contrasting acting styles. This movie paved the way for the realistic acting of Marlon Brando as I have read again and again. In retrospect (forced grandeur. hehe), Janet Leigh's acting seems overtly theatric in contrast to the others. It was a nice movie in the end. In fact, I saw it again after reading all the history behind it to understand the context. If you haven't seen it, you are missing out on an American institution.
More classics to come.
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
another old internet trend to point out my worthlessness
At age 19:
Writer, painter and filmmaker Jean Cocteau published his first volume of poetry.
By age 19, W. B. Yeats "lived, breathed, ate, drank and slept poetry."
French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud ("A Season in Hell") abandoned his writing. He had proposed that poets become visionaries by pursuing a complete derangement of the senses. Later he became a gunrunner in Africa.
Gore Vidal, who never bothered with college, completed his first novel.
Abner Doubleday devised the rules for baseball.
Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky resigned his Imperial Guard commission for a life of "meaningful endeavor" -- writing music.
Paleontologist Richard Leakey launched his first expedition in search of human fossils.
Tired of watching friends fall prey to drugs and crime, Matty Rich fought back by directing "Straight Out of Brooklyn."
Henry David Thoreau delivered a Harvard commencement address. Expanding on Emerson's 1836 essay on "Nature", he proposed that man should work one day a week and leave six free for the "sublime revelations of nature."
Horticulturist Luther Burbank read Charles Darwin's book, The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication. Inspired by this, he went on to create hundreds of new varieties of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.