Sunday, December 16, 2007

Encounters at the End of the world

I saw rather disappointing Rescue Dawn a few weeks ago - I watched it only because it was directed by Herzog, but it was a betrayal of his temperament and style.

Man vs Nature is the prevailing theme in Grizzly Man, Aguirre, and Fitzcarraldo, but Rescue Dawn despite treading the same lines was so uncharacteristic of Herzog that you have to chalk it up as a commercial cop-out, like when Roberto Rodriguez made Spy Kids. With Encounters at the End of the World, he is back in form, back to the top of the list of my favorite people. Rarely do movies make me feel warm and fuzzy all over long after the movie's been watched.


The core of Herzog's philosophies haven't changed - Nature is still the enemy, man is still doomed, but at the southern most tip of the planet, you meet folks with the most redeeming of qualities - the hunger to be free and explore.



In his travels to Antarctica, Werner Herzog forewarns his sponsors - The National Science Foundation - that this won't be a movie about cute fluffy penguins - rather, his interests lay the other bipeds now settled in the continent - humans. The big question being, why is it that some humans have an irrational urge to travel and explore? What kinks drive them to subject themselves in high risk and pain, at the harshest climates, to the top of the world, or the south pole?

He meets the craziest freaks in and around McMurdo, a volcanic island at the edge of Antarctica. He interviews free spirits and compulsive adventurers, some of whom also happen to be Ph.D.'s, scientists, and researchers. You meet a climatologist who studies the gradual decay of icebergs, huge swathes of frozen water breaking loose and heading north. You meet a reclusive wildlife expert who has been studying penguins for twenty years. And you get to hear an unbelievable psychedelic orchestra of seals.

Herzog's interviews with the philosopher cum forklift driver, the underwater diver who discovers three new species in one trip, the mutant fingered native-Indian mechanic of royal blood, and the banker turned truck driver are highly inspirational. Each character has a unique story to tell, an interesting perspective to share.

I saw this movie at the Dubai Film Festival, so it might be a while before it is out on DVD, but if you get to watch this movie on the big screen, please do. Herzog's dry, accented narrative is hilarious, bordering on the absurd, and on many occasions the camera stays pinned on a character, long after he has nothing to say, silences rendered stark in the pin-drop silence of Antarctica.

Oh, and by the way, Herzog also destroys all illusions of monogamous love purported in March of the Penguins by asking a bunch of questions to the real penguin expert. Guess what, there are whores among penguins, some of them are gay, some of them are just crazy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Shocking Exposé of Editorial Nazism in Gulf News

When it comes to state repression, UAE's leading newspaper ironically Gulf News is right out there on the front line, cheering with pom-poms. What kind of an editorial team would lay down a poll like this?

If caught violating traffic rules, culprits should:
a) Pay a fine
b)Do community service
c)Spend two weeks in jail
d) All of the above

How about comedy option e?
e) Deported after being jailed for 4 years

I'd love to see how many votes option e) would get. As a smoker, I found this article particularly offensive: What kind of a killjoy do you have to be to say such a thing?

I hope the authorities will fully implement the ban as it will benefit not only the public but also the environment.
Roberto
Dubai,UAE

benefit the environment
. Yes! Banning public smoking will save the whales and prevent global warming and ecological deforestation of rainforests.

The Dubai government has taken the right decision. We want a permanent ban on smoking in the UAE.
Ismail
Abu Dhabi,UAE

Yes! Ban smoking permanently. For everyone. Everywhere. Forever. Problem solved.

The ban is good news. It should also be extended to bus stops, film theatres and beaches.
Rilavudeen
Dubai,UAE


It should also be extended to roads, cars, office premises, car parks, open air concerts, toilets, homes, and be inclusive of all places with or without air-conditioning.

I thought I'd leave a comment that contrasted the tone here, just to balance the debate:
"This is a very good move by the authorities as it brings the citizens of Dubai one step closer to immortality. Smokers are an obnoxious and evil bunch and a threat to civilization, I suggest we put dunce hats with "I am stupid" on all smokers who smoke in public places.

I also approve of all societies that curb freedoms of its citizens as much as possible, because my only real joy in life is to see other people miserable. "

But the evil controlling psychotic nazi dogmatic judgemental herd animal editorial team at Gulf News have not published it yet.

For more ideas on how to make life suck, read the Exile Guide to State Repression.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Lulu Center - up-selling to the downtrodden

After taking heed to what Adam Curtis had to say here, I decided to step out and take a few shots of this eyesore of an ad-campaign that I'm subjected to every day.

Much has been said about the plight of the labour class in Dubai - they're the slaves of globalization, victims of the petrodollar warfare sodomized by corruption and drought at home, and an anarcho-capitalist marketplace that ironically, is still a better option than the former.



Enough about them. Save your pity for the poor agency that had to work on the Lulu account. It is truly the lowest of the low. I like to picture the top agencies of Dubai, working overtime, overnight, ash-tray full, bidding for the lavish Lulu account. Oh the passion that would've gone into that account pitch.


For those not in the know, Lulu is the poor man's shopping mall. Lulu Center in Karama is surrounded by low-income Asian expatriates, who live in crumbling apartment blocks built 20 years ago, most of them squeezed 5-6 in a room. Their average shopper would walk half a mile to save 50 fils.

It is no mystery as to why Lulu has chosen to wallpaper their windows with royalty-free photos: They're cheap. Their whole business model is about being cheaper than the rest. Like other supermarket giants, they sell Lulu branded water, coffee, rice, detergent, and various consumables about 50p less than the cheapest branded item. That much is enough for most people. They don't need George Clooney to endorse Lulu Coffee.


But instead of cheap ads for people who don't really need to be sold on the virtues of Lulu Detergent, the ads forces its viewers to confront the horrific truth of their existence: that changing the address doesn't change one's situation. Beneath the surface, it's just the same shit in a new package.


The images of multiculturalism mock them in their face, exposed for the bald lies that they are, when juxtaposed with a ghettoized landscape that is overwhelmingly brown, and sometimes yellow.


It's the most tragic form of up-selling. An overwhelmingly white-tinted stock photo collection that is in itself a result of commoditization, used to lend credence to a supermarket giant selling generics.


You can't read the text here, it says: Lulu Rice - The Rice for Rice Lovers. Mmmhmm.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Interesting Adam Curtis Interview

Adam Curtis makes the best documentaries: I've seen the following, and learnt a lot from his history lessons. If you've got bandwidth, you owe it to yourself to watch the following:

Century of the Self
Power of Nightmares
The Trap
Pandora's Box
The Mayfair Set

Andrew Orlowski, ardent wikipedia critic recently interviewed Adam, discussing how the internet has changed media, the loss of confidence among the media elite, .

Adam is very unforgiving of bloggers:

"First of all, the people who do blogging, for example, are self-selecting. Quite frankly it's quite clear that what bloggers are is bullies. The internet has removed a lot of constraints on them. You know what they're like: they're deeply emotional, they're bullies, and they often don't get out enough. And they are parasitic upon already existing sources of information - they do little research of their own."

And critical of the TV elite:

"It started with the Berlin Wall. None of those guys predicted the Berlin Wall would come down. Ever since then it's been quite clear that most mainstream news journalism has absolutely no idea about what's really going on. It reports the "factlets" really well, but when it tries to join up the dots, it often leads you into a strange either fantasy world, or simplified world."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

And now a message from your corporate sponsor

There's plenty of ball-talk at Tedtalk; I'd rather have my molars drilled with a rusty nail and a hammer than listen to Bono yammer about Africa.

But there's some cool stuff there. Soothing powerpoint presentations about humanity's steady progress towards better health, lowered birth rates, longer life, and higher earnings. Watch it before your bedtime.

Larry Brilliant puts up a rather weak case for optimism, (100 million displaced Bangladeshis crossing the border thanks to global warming) I actually feel more pessimistic after watching this.

My favourite presentation is from Kurzweil, whose trend analysis shows how exponential technological growth brings man and machine closer together. Watch that one! I insist. On the company dime if you have to. For one, you'll give better power point presentations after watching it.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Google reader recommends that I read this blog

I love using Google reader - it's the only RSS feed reader that I've actually used on a semi-permanent basis. But what is this? A new feature?! my dayz with myself is the Top Recommendation according to the smarty pants google. Did google buy xanga and port it to blogger?

I still lie pushed down in my seat , while maroon5 in my ears croons that she will be loved (Nice floating song .Chahiye to bol de. I hate piracy , starting tommorow)
And as I lie in my seat , watching people stand on each other's feet , I wonder , jaldi kya hai yaar ? This plane blows up in three minutes ?

Why does this blog have 117 subscribers? To a banal post like this:

Now I am as confident as a Shane Warne bowling to Sonu Nigam when I say that around 4 people on this planet would be interested in knowing about the person I am , assuming my family would be interested in that . But I guess thinking about oneself once in a while clears up things , and then why should only celebrities get to talk about themselves and their favorite colors and favorite dishes ? ( Tanushree Dutta says her favorite is Rajma Chawal . I am learning to cook rajma chawal now . Things I do for Tanu.).

Ashutosh said...

U r really awesome. Very witty and very interesting.


Who are these people?!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Persuaders

Douglas Rushkoff had an eye opener of a documentary on how crafty marketing has become, this article on viral marketing is just as revealing - it shows how the pros game Youtube.

"The members of my startup are hired guns – our clients give us videos and we make them go viral. Our rule of thumb is that if we don’t get a video 100,000 views, we don’t charge." -Dan Ackerman Greenberg

It must be an awesome feeling to pull off a viral video successfully. A fellow forum goon achieved e-fame by posting with a prank video about recharging iPods with onions, getting fellow forum mates to downvote negative comments, and using Digg to provide the initial surge. He's got more than 4 million views so far.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Shoaib Chucker

Freaks make good bowlers - Mutthaiah Muralidharan who can't straighten his arm is the second greatest wicket taker, while Shoaib Akhtar's slingshot action gets him to 150 kmph.



Michael Holding compares two contemporary bowlers with hyperextensible arms - RP Singh and Shoaib Akhtar. There's a definite sideways bending of arm to Shoaib's action, as shown in this slow-mo replay. Having that kind of flexibility must add a few yards of pace, and also fuck with the batsman's muscle memory, to have the ball come out a little differently.

Also, does anyone remember Afridi's fast ball? I swear that was an out-and-out chuck and it always pissed me that nobody ever called him on it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

GiveitawayGiveitawayGiveitawayNow

Neal Stephenson saw this coming back in 1995 when he wrote The Diamond Age - a cypherpunk tale of how technology empowers. It's the story of a very special book, an adaptive, interactive toolkit that educates the user in all manners of survival and leadership skills, and crafts a young proletarian girl who accidentally receives one, into a badass who changes the world order.

Any bets on what quantum effect the XO will have on humanity twenty years from now?
If you're living in the US or Canada, they've got a give-one-get-one offer going. Which sucks, because I can't get one. I really really fancy a laptop that has low battery requirements and is rugged. I could sling it on my backpack when I'm out trekking.

This laptop is the greatest thing that you can give to a bunch of growing kids. Kids are amazing with technology; their curiosity is boundless, and they're highly collaborative. A pilot program in India shows the speed at which illiterate kids figured things out.



To test his ideas, Mitra 13 months ago launched
something he calls "the hole in the wall experiment."
He took a PC connected to a high-speed data connection
and imbedded it in a concrete wall next to NIIT's
headquarters in the south end of New Delhi. The wall
separates the company's grounds from a garbage-strewn
empty lot used by the poor as a public bathroom. Mitra
simply left the computer on, connected to the
Internet, and allowed any passerby to play with it. He
monitored activity on the PC using a remote computer
and a video camera mounted in a nearby tree.

What he discovered was that the most avid users of the
machine were ghetto kids aged 6 to 12, most of whom
have only the most rudimentary education and little
knowledge of English. Yet within days, the kids had
taught themselves to draw on the computer and to
browse the Net. Some of the other things they learned,
Mitra says, astonished him.

"They would surf the Web -- Disney.com is very popular
with them because they like games. And they would use
[Microsoft] Paint. It's very, very popular with all of
them. Because these are deprived children who do not
have easy access to paper and paint. Every child likes
to paint, so they would do it with that program.
However, that's all they could do. So I intervened,
and I played an MP3 [digital-music file] for them.
They were astonished to hear music come out of the
computer for the first time. They said, "Oh, does it
work like a TV or radio?" I said, in keeping with my
approach, "Well, I know how to get there but I don't
know how it works." Then I [left].

As I would have expected, seven days later they could
have taught me a few things about MP3. They had
discovered what MP3 was, downloaded free players, and
were playing their favorite songs. As usual, they
didn't know what any of it was called. But they would
say, "if you take this little box, and you drag this
file into this box, it plays music." They had found
out where all the Hindi music was on the Web and had
pulled it out."

Coming back to the XO, I must say, it's a freaking piece of work. This review has me very excited.


The Khairat Chronicles are very sweet.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The concept of human rights and freedom of expression is alien to India

Is anyone pained by the recent zealotry in India? It seems like mobs of people want to wave placards and burn effigies for the smallest of provocations: the defacing of a statue, televised inter-religious marriage, Salman Rushdie being knighted, Shilpa Shetty being slagged in Big Brother, Shilpa Shetty being kissed by Richard Gere, and so on.

But it's not just the people who are acting like total cocks, and I'm not gonna bitch about a failing government that hasn't the balls or the brains to get a fair nuclear deal, but Google goddammit.

This story strikes as especially unfair because Lakshmana Kailash was innocent.

Lakshmana was charged under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code for a deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings, and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act for publishing ‘lascivious’ material or material that ‘appeals to the prurient interest’.

Why aren't we taking offense to the fact that these laws are irrational and stupid?

Publishing of information which is obscene in electronic form
Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstance, to read see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and also with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees.

And what can we as citizens of the "largest democracy
" do to change this?

Monday, November 05, 2007

True Love - and the antidote.

I got this off a forward today, just spreading the love.


It was a gloomy Saturday afternoon. A flock of birds was spending great time searching for food and playing on the main road. Out of the sudden, a big truck sped through... sad thing had happened again.
__Friends - Kingdom__
Birds can feel too. Although this bird had already died, another bird flew over to her immediately, just like a family member, unable to accept the truth.

__Friends - Kingdom__
Not long after that, another car stormed in causing the dead bird's body to whirl with the wind. The spouse noticed the movement. As if she was still alive, he quickly flew beside her again.

__Friends - Kingdom__
He stayed beside her and yelled ... "WHY ARE YOU NOT GETTING UP!?"

__Friends - Kingdom__
Unfortunately, she's no longer able to hear him. In the meantime, he's trying to lift her up.

__Friends - Kingdom__
He, of course, was unable to bear the burden. Another car soon passed by. He quickly flew off. Once the car had gone, he came down again.

__Friends - Kingdom__
Although other birds told him its useles, he never gave up. He was trying his best to lift her up to see her flying again. Another car passed by, her dead body whirled again as if still alive and trying to fly.

__Friends - Kingdom__
He had used all of his energy, however...The photographer said he couldn't shoot any longer. The photographer was so worried that the living bird was going to get hurt by passing cars. So he picked up the dead bird and left it at the roadside. The live one still lingered at a nearby tree as if crying with his singing and refused to leave.
Do humans have the same feelings nowadays? I wonder.



Okay, all weepy now? Life got you down? Hear this man out.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mumbai Unplugged

How ineffectual can you get?

Mumbai Unplug requests the people of Mumbai to switch off lights and electrical appliances for one hour on the 15th of December 2007 (Saturday), from 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm in the evening.

Just one goddamn hour? Most of India has daily powercuts for periods longer than that. In a country where Gandhi fasted for weeks at a time, this is a new low.

I bet some prick will pull out his guitar at one of these candle sessions, may I suggest this song, keeping with the global warming theme?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

No Smoking


As a certified pirate and shameless copyright violator, I chanced upon a torrent for a movie that I'd a friend of mine talked about a few days ago - No Smoking. He linked me the ongoing internet drama following the release, "between Anurag Kashyap and everyone else", as he put it.

Anurag Kashyap and his cohorts were piling on all their belligerence on a blog-site called passionforcinema, which is populated by film nerds who can also write. I think it's great. Nerds need to fight the good fight, make movies that provoke, and engage other nerds in the movie-making process.

First, the Khalid Mohammed review:

You can’t make out, you don’t care, and you’re fed up of the affectations, the self-indulgence, and the fact that you even bothered to see this Dhumrapan Nishedh bandhi which tells you about Socrates, Plato and then goes Do be Do. I swear on Sinatra’s head. Hey, Kashy actually hears retro-music and wants us to know. Niiice.


Gee, the movie’s so unusual, unconventional and daring. It’s an original guys, original. Get me a double whisky yaar. Gotta celebrate. It’s so very much like Stephen King’s story Quitters’ Inc. which featured as a part of the Cat’s Eye horror movie way back in 1985. What to do Sir Genius? We Idiotic Reviewers, FOOLS, Scum of the Earth, watch DVDs too.

Nicely put there, good to know he's not using that idiotic rhyme format anymore, like he used to for his entire Sunday Times reviewing career. For the record, his debut movie, Fiza, was one long unwatchable turd. For someone who spent his entire life panning formula movies, Fiza was as pedestrian as they come. Booo! You suck too!! If only you knew!!

On the other ringside, we have Anurag Kashyap and his film-nerd clique, who are pissed off that a plebe like TARAN ADARSH (of CAPSLOCK OVERUSE FAME) has reported unfavorably
on No Smoking.

What ails NO SMOKING, did you ask. Simple, it’s the most complicated cinematic experience of 2007. Agreed, the director’s intentions are noble. Cigarette smoking is injurious to health and Kashyap wants to highlight this message loud and clear via his new movie. But what has Kashyap come up with? ”

Actually, no. That's not what No Smoking was about, you idiot. I figured that out because Anurag Kashyap told me so, well before I watched the movie. Yay for Spoilers!!

It's a tale about an arrogant man’s descent into morality.. and the architecture of the moral world is so absurd that it sometimes beats reality.. what happens in the film is a parallel to what happens in the real world.. Taran’s review talks about three E’s which reminds me about the censor board official who asked me why did i make paanch, and then he further said cinema is suppose to be healthy entertainment.. Paanch is niether healthy nor entertaining.. baba bengali is like that man, who has already deciced what kind of cinema should be made and should exist.. the film is about my struggle against the system to have the freedom to (smoke)make films..

Seen from that angle, yes, I dig what Kashyap was trying to do. He's trying to pitch in a allegory here about being creative in a system that expects cookie cutter, templatized, canned scenes. Once the belligerent K (John Abraham) surrenders his habit, he still gets tossed around and chewed up by the system. Moral of the story: There's no beating the machine, might as well get beaten on your own terms. Perhaps the movie is drawing a parallel to theism, equating Baba Bengali's Big brotherlihood to an unforgiving petulant god who is forever watching and judging, where even the smallest transgressions ensure a lifetime of suffering.

Regardless of the intentions, No Smoking misfires terribly at a few points, the sepia tinted flashback scenes with laugh tracks were god-awful, and that whole cigar smoking episode where a Cuba return friend of K holds a press conference for In Fidal castrated cigars was unfunny and sad. And that comic book blurb that popped in every once in a while was also poorly conceived and didn't add an ounce of wit or depth to the scene.

The movie is a bit of the yin-yang thing going, the first twenty minutes have K making convoluted conversation with his wife like a bad Woody Allen movie knockoff, while in second half Baba Bangali (Paresh Rawal) proselytizes in chaste Vajpayee Hindi. The magic realist/surrealist dives into Baba Bangali's dungeon in some Dharavi ghetto were well done, a stark contrast to K's pristine high rise dwelling, which I guess is a subtle way of saying that a man is comfortable when he plays the game by his rules.

I saw a Kurosawa movie a couple of weeks ago - Ran, a movie based on Shakespeare's King Lear. After reading the wiki, I found out that the reason why Kurusowawa chose to make it was because he could relate to the trials of King Lear, whose sudden fall from grace was as heartbreaking as Kurosawa's film making career, once he was on the outs.

It's these little side stories that make art-house movies tolerable to me. Herzog's movies wouldn't be half as much fun without the crazy side-stories about how he made Fitzcarraldo, or his tumultuous relationship with Kinski. No Smoking is about the bloated ego (not necessarily a bad thing) of Anurag Kashyap; a failed experiment based on a laudable stance. John Abraham is no Robert De Niro, he's probably more like Tom Cruise, looks easy on the eyes, but ultimately hard to root for, that photogenic prick. Ayesha Takia was fist-gnawingly irritating, while Paresh Rawal as Baba Bangali was the best cast character of all.

No Smoking epitomizes the new wave of Indian filmmakers who aren't afraid to take risks, or communicate one-on-one with their audience. You've read the blog, now watch the movie!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shame on a nigga who try to run game on a nigga

Pseudo-commie pamphleteers Greenpeace are under fire from an equally despicable group - Apple users.

"Gizmodo published this morning allegations by the bromine industry claiming that Greenpeace's report on the iPhone was inaccurate and alarmist. They got an official rebuttal to the bromine industry by Greenpeace, but the most interesting part is their acknowledgment that their targeting of Apple, even while they have similar reports on every manufacturers, is a deliberate attempt to grab headlines. While it's logical and not surprising, I find it quite shocking to see them be so cavalier, and even hypocritical, about it."


Who the fuck are these Greenpeace guys anyways. They exist only to provide a warm, fuzzy, feel good 'eco-friendly and scenic calendar that can be yours, for Rs. 549'.

How about NOT BUYING ANYTHING instead?
That I guarantee you, is way more eco-friendly than buying a calendar made out of oxygen bleached recycled paper. Even if that calendar is handmade by some indigenous tribe that never used fossil fuel either directly or indirectly, it eventually will be delivered to you by a logistics company that will use a bike powered by a four stroke engine, which directly contradicts the top priority action item on their manifesto.

These guys are against all forms of power except solar and wind energy. Assuming that we manage to a planet where we manage to be self sufficient on wind and solar, you will still require batteries to power vehicles, which violates point 6 (Eliminate Toxic Chemicals) on their manifesto.

Here's a newsflash guys. At no point since the beginning of last century, have we consumed less energy than the previous year. The population has grown, everyone wants stuff and electricity to keep them whirring and humming, and there is no escaping the laws of thermodynamics. Have these activists might have pondered about the inescapable logic of their ideas? But why use logic when you can profit off emotion?

Nephilium is bang on here:
The problem is that rational environmentalism has seemingly fallen to the wayside to be replaced by anti-globalization activists (who use the technology they decry in order to organize) and luddites who want to get rid of all technology after period X (where X equals their idea of the human ideal).










"Environmental extremism arose in the mid-1980s. It arose because the majority of people accepted all of the reasonable points in the environmental agenda, and the only way to remain adversarial and confrontational and anti-everything was to adopt even more extreme positions - eventually abandoning all science and logic altogether."

~ Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chaser Necrophilia

I spent a large part of my day yesterday watching Chaser's War on Everything on youtube. If you're having a slow day, start from here, and search for all these sections on youtube.

I recommend:
If Life Were A Musical
The Ad Roadtest
Mr Ten Questions
Firth in the USA

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Charlie Brooker - Screenwipe

Screenwipe is a TV show about television. On the face of it, a TV review guide is about as culturally relevant as a message board entry on gamefaqs.com, but the host Charlie Brooker gives the program such a hateful, pessimistic and witty edge that it's fun to watch even if you don't watch the telly at all. Or, if you're like me, downloading torrents of whatever is bearably entertaining.

Screenwipe is a highly editorialised cliff notes version of what's on the tube, interspersed with insider accounts, industry jargonry, and quick cuts to cameo sections like Despicable Fibs of the TV Lie Machine, and Talent Tales: True Stories of Pampered Presenters, and The Ten Biggest Cocks in Advertising.

Charlie Brooker's greatest creation was Nathan Barley, a scathing caricature for the uptown new media brat pack, ('a self-facilitating media node') so lovingly detailed in the TVGohome guide. He also writes a column for guardian called Screenburn, a lot of his best lines from these columns make it to the show.

Satire is best done by Brits; Brooker's high speed non stop TV commentary deserves a watch:



Screenwipe videos on Youtube:

Naomi Klein - Shock Doctrine










If right wing apologists like Niall Ferguson can provide a fresh, compelling, but flawed account of history, left wing demagogue Naomi Klein shows she's equal to the task, desecrating the grave of Milton Friedman.

Naomi Klein's previous book, No Logo provided a negative and bleak view of globalisation, it was a scathing attack on corporations, for its horrific effects on the diminishing quality and security of jobs provided, both in first world and third world countries. GDP-wise, the top 500 corporations are bigger than all but the top seven countries, and they've proved that they can be more powerful and more despotic than most of the governments that administer them.

From Naomi Klien's Harper article:
Blackwater’s investment in its paramilitary infrastructure. Founded in 1996, the company has used its steady stream of contracts to build up a private army of 20,000 on-call mercenary soldiers and a military base in North Carolina worth between $40 million and $50 million. It reportedly has the ability to field massive humanitarian operations faster than the Red Cross, and boasts a fleet of aircraft ranging from helicopter gunships to a Boeing 767.

Shock doctrine is a leftist viewpoint on how neoliberalists exploit disasters and often create them, for profit. She uses the examples in Chile, America, Russia, Iraq, and Sri-Lanka to support her vision of disaster-capitalism, all the above examples heinous and without question undemocratic.

So here's the Shock Doctrine pitch,

In the 1950’s, the idea of electro shock therapy caught the attention of the CIA. The agency funded a series of experiments that eventually helped produce a secret handbook detailing how to break down prisoners. Methods included both physical and emotional shock, which ultimately reduced subjects to “a child like state.”

The Shock Doctrine claims that these methods did not only work on individuals, but could also effect society on a massive scale. Events such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters or war could force us all into shock, leaving us more open to suggestion and prone to follow others.

Youtube link:

DIRECTED BY JONÁS CUARÓN. Alfonso Cuarón, director of "Children of Men", and Naomi Klein, author of "No Logo", present a short film from Klein's book "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

Monday, October 08, 2007

Brief History of Disbelief

Atheists hardly get a say in history books, since most of western history, or what was preserved of it was because of the Catholic church, which portrayed everyone not Roman as barbarians, and muted every rational mind by erasing or torturing him.

Even before that, 2,500 years ago, Greek philosophers expressed doubts about the supernatural. What absolute zingers their rhetoric has produced.

Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is god both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him god?

-Epicurus, 341-271 BCE


Fear is the mother of all gods. Nature does all things spontaneously by herself, without their meddling.
-Lucretius - 99-55 BCE


A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.
-Aristotle - BCE 348-322


No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
- George Bush Sr.

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers, as useful.
-Seneca 4-65 CE

If it weren't for Hitler, I wouldn't exist.

If you think about the thermodynamic miracles that we all are, what are the odds of exact sperm that won the Olympic swimming competition nine months before my birth, doing so without the existence of Hitler.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rage Against the Machine

"What have you contributed to the world ? Anything of real substance? Nothing. Apart from brutal might and power... and your sickening culture that is as hollow and as empty as you are."

What about that computer you are using madam, personal computing was an American idea, surely a good one, wouldn't you agree? As was the Internet, a bonafide American idea, and what's more, it was a military application at first! Also your blogger account, it was provided to you for free by Google.

We understand you are emotional but please control your feelings. How can you say American culture is hollow and empty? I present to you the dragonball z - bon jovi mashup, a pinnacle of cultural Japanese-American syncretism. Are you not entertained by this?

There is no pleasing you is there? In one wild insensitive stroke, you have dismissed the love and adoration of a million Transformers fans across the world. We fans, who enjoy cartoons, comic books, graphic novels, video games, science fiction and fantasy produced by the mythological-industrial complex.

American culture is empty? Just look at the sheer wordcount dedicated to just one character, Optimus Prime on Wikipedia. And while a million monkeys cannot produce a Shakespeare, they are free to edit Wikipedia articles about Megatron. I count this participatory mythology as a victory to democracy, and a blow to the Hindu caste system. Even Dalits can produce transformers fanfiction, would you know!

You weep for a pithy Sumerian artifact? American culture produces mythology that is millions of years old!

Optimus Prime began his life as a robot named Orion Pax, a mostly defenseless dock worker during the Golden Age of Cybertron nine million years ago, with a girlfriend named Ariel, and a best friend named Dion.




And before you rage against me, read this.

A forty foot (12.2 meter) statue of Optimus Prime has been found in Yunnan Province, China. It is located near several automobile dealerships. The Transformers cartoon was broadcast in China (PRC) from 1990 onwards and had a large following among youths of that generation.

Hundreds of years from now, this will be a UNESCO World Heritage site. May the heroic ideals of Optimus Prime and the other Autobots never be forgotten! Glory to Optimus Prime!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

In The End, Cricket Was The Winner :-P

This was to be my canned response to my Pakistani co-workers next day. I started practicing it when Umar Gul scalped Yuvraj, Dhoni, and Gambhir. When Arafat came in, with a single agenda of bowling yorker after yorker, things were starting to look bleak for us. We practiced our lines:

"It was a good day for Cricket."

"At least this cup has come to Asia."

"Anyone but Australia."

"Or South Africa."

"In the end, cricket was the winner."



With 19.2 overs left, Rohit Sharma slammed a slower ball down midwicket, almost into the hands of Hafeez who bungled it, helping the ball on its way to a six.

"Yeh Sixer unko bhaari padega." ("This six will prove to be decisive.")

It was.

157 runs on the board. We needed our bowlers to strike the opposition out. RP Singh provided the first breakthrough for India, Sreesanth provided Pakistan theirs, with 21 runs of his first over. If Imran Nazir had played for 5 more overs, I would have been blogging about quantum physics, and how ephemeral reality is, how every atom spins its own tangled web. Fortunately, Uthappa's throw overpowered Nazir's weak legs, Younis Khan mis-hit a hit-me ball from Joginder Sharma, and Pathan tilted the scales in our favour, when Shoaib Malik and Afridi were dismissed cheaply.

At 77/6, it looked like we'd choke them with an escalating run-rate, But Mizbah Ul Haq had other plans. He hit Harbhajan for three sixes, Tanvir hit Sreesanth for two, and in the final over, Pakistan needed just 13 of 6 balls.

For Harbhajan, it was too much. He had given practically nothing in the previous matches, but his yorkers weren't spearing in like before. With Mizbah on strike, the ball went to Joginder Sharma, our sacrificial lamb, a junior medium pacer who surprisingly had been spared until then, in spite of some pathetic outside-the-line-of-the-off-stump bowling.

That ball must have been real burden, a deadweight heavy enough to sink reputations, condemn the bowler to a life of ridicule and ignominy. Chetan Sharma never got a chance to coach the team, redeem himself in a 3 hour fantasy like Kabir Khan. Last I knew, he provides languid post-match analysis for Doordarshan, the lowest totem pole for cricket presenters.

The first ball went for a wide, the second was almost a wide. Third ball was a six. Mizbah skied Joginder's dolly and the ball flew and flew, all the way to the boundary. 6 runs of four balls.

And then Sreesanth's email to god was answered. God, in his all his infinite magnanimity bestowed him with a sitter. But first, God made Sreesanth realise that all glory is fleeting. God made us lose the ODI World Cup. God made Sreesanth's overs fly to all parts of the stadium in the final. Just to fuck with him. To show him who's boss. He's got a wicked sense of humour. But he's also democratic. There were a billion Indians, praying to their various gods, and then Allah and Vishnu and Jesus and Ganesha played a dirty game of coalition vote bank politics, and made that scoop shot fall into Sreesanth's hands.


We won. We did? You and me? Good on ya mate. Yeah it was your maiden over to Mizbah that made all the difference. That hatrick you bowled.

We like winners. We're all winners. Champion swimmers. But let's give credit where credit is due.

RP Singh: Devastatingly accurate, lethal pace, swing, and highly conservative in giving runs. He was the pillar of our bowling attack. Took wickets in each game, bowled well in the death overs, troubled all batsmen.

Irfan Pathan: His comeback has been brilliant. He reminds me of Wasim Akram, dangerous on any pitch, because he's always got something up his sleeve. In this series, he seldom gave loose balls, took wickets all the time, altered the pace to keep the batsmen from timing their slog hits.

Rohit Sharma
: A virtual unknown, he shouldered responsibility in a crucial match vs. South Africa, and provided us with a defendable total on a dangerous pitch, tailor made for the South African pace attack. That run out of Kemp showed us what a young bunch can do. We fielded better than the South Africans! The big 3 never looked this good on the field.

Yuvraj Singh: Six sixes, a revenge hit against England, some payback it was. You don’t need to take your shirt off to prove a point, if you let your bat do the talking. He gave India the 20 run edge that made the final difference in that match. Against Australia, he turned the tide from the moment he stepped in. The faster it came, the farther it went.

Harbhajan Singh: Dhoni’s gameplan was the same for all of our last 5 matches: post a decent enough total, and let Harbhajan and Pathan choke them. In the death overs, he took on big hitters and kept bowling right on their toes. If the batsman backed up a bit and tried to make space for himself, his ball would follow. He cramped batsmen when they were itching for bit of space to swing. He cramped everyone but Mizbah in the final.

Gautam Gambhir: He looked like a positive cricketer to me, even when he had a rather subdued ODI series against England. His opening partnerships with Sehwag gave us good starts for the middle order to capitalise on.

Sreesanth:
He’s inconsistent, stark raving mad, but when he finds his rhythm, he’s a dangerous bowler. His spell against Australia was brilliant - psyched, aggressive, and accurate. The image of him punching the ground like Donkey Kong after taking Hayden's wicket is forever burnt into my memory.

Yesterday night, we went out for a drive, to seek other Indians who shared the exhilaration of believing they’d won something. What had we won? There were celebrations in the Meena Bazar, an Indian ghetto in Dubai, where thousands of Indians were out on the streets. Flags, confetti and carbonated cola was in the air. Some chanted "Ganpati Bappa Morya"; it wasn't politically correct, and didn't catch on much. I threw in my Shaivite allegiance into the ring: "Jai Bholenaath!", but that didn't catch on much either. The loudest chants were for “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”

This wasn't patriotism. Patriotism is love for the patriarchy. Love for the motherland, we can all agree upon. Yesterday, it was stronger than religion. And that's a good enough reason to cheer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yuvraj Singh - 6-6-6-6-6-6 Broad Bashing



What a win. India has had three dramatic wins in the last 5 matches, very close matches that we lucked out on.

In the end, Yuvraj's innings was the only thing that separated England's chase from India's total. Gambhir and Sehwag did well to rack up at 100+ partnership, scoring freely and scampering for runs whenever they had the chance, but India's performance overall was pathetic. Three missed catches, ball flying just about everywhere.

What was Nasser Hussain on about, when he assured us all that a 150 total would be defend-able? It's good we put the goalpost to 220.

It's sad that superhuman effort is the only thing that assures India a victory, when consistency could do the same for you... with more consistency.

Bhajji and Pathan were lifesavers. That turned the game for us. God save us from Sreesanth and Agarkar. Joginder Sharma turns out to be Agarkar Jr. Same height, build, and bowling style. He was belted around unlucky as he was with two missed catches, one by Yuvraj himself.

This was quite a comeback from Singh, who was smashed for 5 sixes by Macacarena in the ODI series against England.

Twenty20 is a different ballgame, the bowler at death knows that he's going to be hammered, yet, Broad had no idea what to do with Yuvraj.

If we beat South Africa, we stand a good chance of seeing Pakistan all over again. Can't wait for that.

This Twenty20 world cup is so much better than the ODI world cup at West Indies. Shorter format, lasts a fortnight, and plenty of entertainment. I've been watching all the matches. Tomorrow's match is going to be crucial. But I don't think India can take on South Africa. South Africa saves 10 extras on an average, and another 15 in the field. Their death bowlers can york at will. It seems impossible.

But then again, I like being pessimistic. Saves me a lot of heartburn. Individual superstardom can win you a match, but it never wins you a series.

This goes into my top 5 cricketing moments, #1 being this.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Imagine all the people, and double that!

Q: “What happens to the idea of the dignity of the human species if this population growth continues?”

Asimov: It’ll be completely destroyed. I like to use what I call my bathroom metaphor. If two people live in an apartment, and there are two bathrooms, then they both have freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want, stay as long as you want, for whatever you need. And everyone believes in freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the constitution. But if you have twenty people in the apartment and two bathrooms, then no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there’s no such thing. You have to set up times for each person, you have to bang on the door, ‘Aren't you through yet?’ and so on.” And Asimov concluded with one of the most profound observations I've seen in years. He said, “In the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive overpopulation. Convenience and decency cannot survive overpopulation. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies, the more people there are, the less one individual matters.

Lecture on population and exponential arithmetic below:



A text transcript for the broadband deprived

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Milo Minderbinder Lives!

Matt Taibbi comes back from a two month exile, his suppressed fermented rage blasted out in a bilge of scatalogical rhetoric. His target? - war profiteers in Iraq: Private contractors.

For greater comedy I've done a web 2.0 mash up of his article:

engineering clusterfucks useless pile of rubble caked in shit and piss subpar plumbing terrible job diluted urine and feces brown splotch fiasco pile of shit bunch of toothless black survivors Iraq is still in flames Operation Iraqi Freedom crude first take blurred to the point of absurdity appalling history of invoicing orgies and million-dollar boondoggles sort of paradise of perverted capitalism obscene profits unaccountable government bureaucracy supremely idiotic military adventure Republican bona fides what this war-ravaged, malnourished, sanitation-deficient country most urgently needed was … an anti-smoking campaign. $2 million stuffed into a duffel bag Willy Wonka's paradise for contractors Republican-friendly businessmen a farce request phony "bids" failed miserably given scads of money abandoned Iraqi Airways forklifts repainted $100,000 wads of cash as toys worst case of fraud clumsiest war profiteers bilk American taxpayers brazen, two-bit, purse-snatching money caper 10,000 times with your tax dollars $12 billion in cash flown into Baghdad on huge wooden pallets KBR, the former Halliburton subsidiary phantom deliveries "sailboat fuel." burning taxpayer funds marred by serious design flaws shoddily constructed multiple layers of subcontractors handed out money "Dummy Vendor." 190,000 weapons are missing in Iraq much-ballyhooed "do-gooder" project grandstanding, self-serving, indulgent and ultimately useless monstrous vacuum of patriotism blithely disinterested rampant waste of money and resources widespread contempt for the ostensible "purpose" five years of some of the worst graft and looting in American history looting or other improprieties, totality of the thievery disposable commodities civilian contractors who surfed the Internet and played pool and watched movies all day for big dollars broken air conditioning unknown realms of moral insanity greed-fueled hijacking suckling at the taxpayer teat In the history of balls the most diabolical, shameless, tongue-twisting bullshit in history mountains of thefts and fuck-ups big steaming shit piles beyond inefficiency, beyond fraud even corrupted by the profit motive

Air Car

Clicking around Evolutionshift, I came across an article on the Air Car - apparently Indian Auto manufacturer Tata Motors is going to start production of this.

Air is better energy storage medium than batteries or hydrogen. You don't need to worry about Toxic wastes like you do with batteries. The engine is much lighter because it's made of aluminum since there are no controlled explosions in the piston bore.






Design #2 from the youtube video is mindblowing.

We Are Nature Incarnate

Howard Bloom makes for an exciting read, he's the War Nerd of evolutionary biology. I was recently mailed this article by one of his assistants, it's notable because it has hope! Bloom is not the one to shy away from making controversial statements, exposing the deepest motives that drive us, promoting the hell out of himself. I recommend you skip the first question entirely.

This interview had several rationalisations that made me balk, at first:

Evolutionshift.com: How far down the road are we regarding Global Warming. How urgent is the situation in your view?

Bloom:
I’m a skeptic about global warming.

Before you go what the fuck, hear him out. He's got a point.

In the last 120,000 years, there’ve been 20 global warmings in which temperature has shot up between 10 and 18 degrees in a decade. None of these catastrophes were caused by man. None were caused by industrial pollutants, automobile emissions, or human consumerist excess. The message? Forget about sacrificing to mother nature so she will make the earth a garden of Eden. Mother Nature, to quote a chapter title of one of my books, The Lucifer Principle, is a “bloody bitch”. She exults in creativity.


To me our fixation on apocalypse, our fixation on global warming, is a sign that we are slipping into a new dark age. Cultures that look up move up. Cultures that look down sink and die. The Global Warming fixation is our way of looking down, very far down indeed. We feel that we have sinned and must sacrifice, that we must atone. Our sin is the rape of the earth. Our atonement is the self-denial we call “conservation” and “sustainability”.


No matter how much we curb our gaseous carbon excretion, future planet-wide climate catastrophe is inevitable. It will not be a product of our sin. It will be a product of nature. And we must ready ourselves to outwit and harvest disaster… or we simply won’t survive.

Evolutionshift.com: What do you think are the most promising alternative sources of energy short term?

Biofuels. Cellulosic ethanol—alcohol made from the bark of trees, from woodchips, from saw grass, and from other “waste materials”. But the real jackpot is in the ultimate toxic waste—human shit. We produce excrement in massive quantities. And that excrement is already gathered in central points, waste treatment plants. Then there’s the pig shit polluting many a river in the midwest. This stuff is biomass, man. It’s fuel and energy waiting to be made. Remember the lesson from Reperceiving Leadership—turn garbage into gold.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The People Vs. Orkut

News travels fast, and some news stories tend to attract news channels like something that really attracts something else. I heard this kidnapping story this morning when my cabdriver told me about it. (He was insulted that a fellow keralite would malign his community so) And now I see the Indian blogosphere erupting over this story like that IIPM scandal of yore.

I don't even need to watch TV to know that most channels are probably demonizing Orkut for corrupting our moral values and destroying the virtuous fabric of our society and whatnot. Reading this blog however, confirmed this.

The discussion of course started of with the host quoting some random blog post titled that “Orkut killed Adnan”. Duh!!! When I heard things spoken by the host during the discussion like “Should Orkut be banned?”

This is just the kind of episode where the masses will agree that there needs to be some kind of censorship on the internet, and probably get it. People get the kind of government they deserve.
What about the good Orkut has done to our society? What about all the lonely internet nerds who have humped other internet nerds based on superficial epigenetic activities like books, music and movies? How many people are in long, meaningful relationships with their internet girlfriends? What about all the repressed, asymmetrical, underage/overage, underweight/overweight teens who hide behind avatars of bollywood characters, whose only pleasure comes in inarticulate cybersex peppered with bathos-ridden smileycentral gifs?

It's certainly less humiliating than matrimony sites, where they're paired with each other like some warped eugenics experiment, where the gene pool shrinks to a point that it's almost incest.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I heart Doug Stanhope

I heart him so much that I wrote about him for free here. Partly because of the guilt of being entertained for free. Partly cause I didn't want to wait on it and write a half assed eulogy after he was gone. And I'm really bad at eulogies. See example.

Manufactured Landscapes - Review

I always dismiss anyone who says America's reign at the top is over. The Americans have a habit of doing that, building up nightmare visions of an imaginary enemy to keep their own people in place. First it was the Soviet Union, and then Japan, both claims were unfounded over time, and now we're been told that it's gonna be a Chinese century.


Newsflash: It takes a long time for an empire in decline to break down completely. The Byzantine empire held on to Constantinople for 249 years before it finally fell to the Ottomans. There is something positive and uplifting about that - these Che Guevera t-shirt wearing pseudo-leftist wankers will have to successfully breed for seven generations before Pashtun prayers for death to America actually lead to fruition.

I'd wager that by then, the Internet breaks down all these nation states, and we all coalesce into a singular consciousness, always wired and connected to the entire body of experience of every other living being, dead and alive, and that kind of enlightenment puts suicide bombers, evangelists, jihads, and missionaries out of work and in the rubbish bin of history.

I have a peculiar distaste people who read, advertise, or discuss shit novels by Sidney Sheldon or Dan Brown, or worse, advertise it on their facebook app. Anyone remember Michael Crichton's Rising Sun? I read that crap when I was of an impressionable age, and lacking in the internets, and believed every word of it. At least, for a while. I forget what's there in novels quickly and only remember the cliff notes version, god bless. When this asshole wrote a book debunking global warming, I just rolled my eyes and wondered if he was a CIA agent or something. Speaking of CIA agents, if anyone's come across an uncle type personality with a copy of The World is Flat, please forward them Matt Taibbi's review of the same.

I have a red, hard bound, Soviet made novel which details Maxim Gorky's impressions and accounts of America early last century. If you'd read that, America would seem like a giant furnace, feeding the bowels of hell with baby fetuses or something. Gorky, the sad bastard had no idea that a century later, the same America would spawn franchises that was at the heart of every adolescent dream, like American Pie, and embed words like MILF into the zeitgeist for decades to come.

I wonder now what happened to his books, if anyone reads them, now that his credibility is shot to shit. I have a theory that Hunter S Thompson killed himself because he was humiliated by how off he was in this column here, where he predicted a Kerry win.

"It is now Tuesday, and John Kerry is looking good today, while George Bush is looking a little desperate. His eyes are wild and his voice is shrill and he is acting more and more like a doomed animal on its way to the meat-grinder. Young George is about to lose his first election.

JFK will win this one decisively enough to make any recounts or challenges irrelevant. If Kerry wins New Hampshire and Pennsylvania and Florida, for instance, this election will be over before it really gets started.

Kerry will win big today. I guarantee it. The evil Bush family of central Texas is about to suffer another humiliating failure on another disastrous election day."

What does all of this have to do with Manufactured Landscapes? It's a documentary based on the collective works of a photographer, Edward Burtynsky, whose beat is post industrial wastelands. It's a beautiful documentary similar in substance to the Koyanniqatsi series, with mind blowing wide angle shots, no preaching to the choir, which lets you draw your own conclusions. Ten, twenty, fifty years from now, this documentary will retain all its credibility because it commits to no statements. It just shows you a series of pictures, and lets you draw your own conclusions.

The documentary starts with a slow walk through a kilometer long walk through a factory in China, it's a chilling scene that shows the sheer madness of the scale and size of China's industrial might is unraveled. There is something scary about their discipline, their uniformity, an army of people hunched over their tables, doing a series of repetitive tasks. It hollows out all western rhetoric about individualism without saying a word.


The information age doesn't mean the industrial age is over, it's been outsourced to China, where people are cheaper and more effective than robots. Robots aren't are versatile as a woman's hands; a 20 second shot of a woman assembling a complex circuit breaker convinced me of that. Her zen like movements were like a magic trick, yet, there were a few hundred other women doing the same. If the circuit breaker factory decides to make toasters, the robot would have to be scrapped, while the human being could make mental adjustments in a few minutes.


Manufactured Landscapes is a National Film Board of Canada production, and has the ambient sound of a Warp records label artist by the same name. There's a bit of sparse, and mature commentary of Edward Burtynsky discussing his work, taking you through China, where all all the dirty, unglamorous work is done for a few cents on the dollar. In one of his shoots, Burtynsky points out that 50% of the scrapped computer parts from the world are shipped to China where laborers go at each circuit chip with a hammer to salvage precious metals, burning the remains, poisoning the soil, and destroying the water table with lethal poisons that seep through during rains. But there's no Al Gore like sanctimonious bullshit about it. Burtynsky is more syncretist, pointing out that he drove here in a car made of iron that ran on oil, his camera, tripod, and film the products of the industrialization that he'd captured.

It's this restraint that is missing in most so called counterculture websites, which I'm beginning to get tired of.

If you have HDTV, Manufactured Landscapes will be a worthy collector's item, right up there with Terminator 2 and LOTR-Return of the King.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bushwacked

Some absurd hilarity by Chris Morris. This weekend I'm gonna try and collect more of his work.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Chak De India - Hoo Haa India!

As I trudged my way to work this morning, I was confronted by one of those things that only NRI's in Dubai are privy to: patriotic Pakistanis.

I saw at least 6 cars with Pakistani flags as decoration, one of them had the Pakistani flag with a picture of Mohd. Jinnah on it. There was one super patriotic car with flags on each side of the aging Mitsubishi Lancer, like they'd just had their own Alamo. As a non Pakistani, I found it quite absurd. What's to love about Pakistan? Former cricketer Ian Botham once said, "Pakistan is where I would like to send my mother-in-law for a vacation." This was during a losing tour where a massively dehydrated England team got their asses kicked, and Botham scrambled to high ground in a sport that the Brits will always be champs at: cold, snide sarcasm.

Patriotism is like poetry. Sacred only when it's personal. To the outsider, it's ridiculous and unbearable. Nobody is fonder of India than the ones who have left it for greenbacks. NRI's mainly express their patriotism by feverishly following cricket scores, as evidenced by abundance of NRI Banking ads on cricinfo.com. But Cricket is not a very patriotic game, because it's hard to celebrate a bunch of losers who are carted out on the first round by a country we liberated.

This was a tragic rift that the Yash Raj Dynasty (1970-current) identified, and capitalised on with Chak De India, a movie more patriotic than that Pepsi Ad. The formula is quite simple: strip a game of its essence, replace it with a steroid shot of jingoism, add a copious smearing of drop D guitars (because nothing expresses youthful exuberance like a bone crunching guitar riff), and provide a roller coaster ride of drama that you know will end well, because heck, this is a goddamn Bollywood movie.

It's a story of personal redemption of Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) who misses a penalty shot in the Hockey final to Pakistan and is then branded a traitor by the news media. After a 7 year exile, he returns to craft a fractious women's hockey team into world champions.

I've had the misfortune of seeing SRK (of the quivering eyebrows fame) before, and he is still the reigning champ of hamming, ever since Sivaji Ganesan threw in the towel. Here's what the press release has to say about his beard: "Shahrukh Khan will be seen sporting a beard in the film. According to him in a recent interview, Shahrukh plays a guy who is hurt in life."

I love gross generalisations like these: Beard=Anguish.

The hockey squad of 16 is composed of a multi-ethnic squad, each of them is introduced with a low grungy guitar riff, interspersed with some horrible scat-rap which needs to be transcribed for the glory of humanity: "tothebeattothebodyyo tothebeattothebodyyo tothebeattothebodyyo tothebeattothebodyyo comeon comeon!"

Uhhhh.

The feel good factor is very important - When Rang De Basanti came out, Shankar Mahadevan made press statements like "Be the Change", like a movie is supposed to incite a youth revolution, with Chak de, every viewer is made to feel like he is noble for supporting a sport that is not cricket.

There's a catch phrase (Chak De!) a flag, and a championship that we win in 3 hours. I'm sure we can all get behind that. A movie that provides the orgasmic dopamine rush of victory for the price of a ticket and a big bag of chips and popcorn.

But I'd be a liar if I told you I didn't enjoy the movie. There's a definite improvement in the standards of moviemaking, and it seems encouraging, like the Indian 8% growth rate, but this only gets us as far as that Adam Sandler movie, the Longest Yard. However, this movie inspired me to think of one issue that is at the heart of every scenester in India. How do we support and promote Indian rock?

Nanditha Sashidharan of No Idea has a facebook forum dedicated to this very issue, and I'm glad to have her know that I've figured it out. In fact I'm gonna scrap her and let her know of this revelation after I hit publish.

Have you ever seen regional sports championships on Doordarshan? It's a really depressing state of affairs, with empty seats and the sounds of crows echoing through the stadium. You get all these Indian rock bands a bunch of amplifiers and have em play bone crunching nu-metal riffs all day. If the zeitgeist of Indian culture - Bollywood is okay with metal riffs, sports organizers will have no moral policing issues accommodating struggling Indian bands that cover Lamb of God and Metallica.

Trust me on this one: scenesters who will show up at any place where there is music, instead of empty stadiums you will have crowds of stoners pulling chillums and rooting for whoever is polevaulting or shotputting. Even archery and table tennis can billiards can do with a solid dose of heavy metal.

So this is my advice to all you bands: I'm talking to you Bhayanak Maut, Scribe, Skincold, Pin Drop Violence and Demonstealer. Get talking to these sports organisers. Hit the long tail yo.