Friday, May 31, 2002

Friday night, mundane night

Apart from my roommate getting a new TV set for himself for his new room (he's moving out tomorrow), the evening went off sans events. Everyone else watched the basketball game, which I was least interested in.
A moving evening, an obscure drive, dinner and an allegorical film

So my roomate (Mahesh) spent most of his evening packing his stuff while Harish spent his time moving his stuff over. Sandesh dropped over with his car to help with moving all the stuff. After achieving the goal in several trips everyone decided to drive to Denny's for dessert. The closest Denny's is located in a tricky spot off an exit and sure enough although my memory served me right for the exit, we missed the place and were soon driving on Cheshire Bridge Road (which for the unaware is known for a high density of adult entertainment avenues). Sure enough, a rather bizarre drive past stores and bars with often hilarious names (The great Sundown Cafe is also on Cheshire Bridge Road). Finally we settled on Bamboo Luau's Chinatown. The food was good although service was a little slow (which, according to the reviews) is not unusual. Back home we settled down to watch Kalyug, Shyam Benegal's flawed interpretation of the Mahabharat in the corporate world.
Did you know that Greek composers were inspired by Indian film songs of the 50s?

Well, Helen Abadzi discovers in Hindi Films of the 50s in Greece:The Latest Chapter of a Long Dialogue: Most people know that Alexander the Great conquered northwest India in 327 CE. But very few people know that India conquered the heart of Greece around 1960. Not even Indians know of this remarkable event. ... The invasion started in 1954 and took place on the screens of working-class movie houses. It was an invasion of spectacular colors, music, dances, songs, and gorgeously dressed actresses.
Netchecking and some Psychology

Chris pointed me Chad Lundgren's blog entry on Google and Psychological Reality. Chad refers to John Rhodes' post on netchecking, which essentially means checking their facts using Google or some other search engine. I liked the following section of Chad's post (before he wandered off on a merry tangent): Google does not find the most authoritative source. It finds what people believe to be the most authoritative source. It is a good meter of what people believe something to mean. This is the psychological definition of reality: someone can have an intense belief that seems to them as real as anything else, but only they see. For some things, the only physical manifestation the rest of us can see is chemical level in the person afflicted.
E3 bits

John Carmack talks to Gamespy about Doom E3 and also makes his video card recommendations. More comments on E3 can be found on ShackNews and there's some delicious audio as Wired discovers that Doom III has a story to tell.
The winner of the First Google Programming Contest is Daniel Egnor, a former Microsoft employee. More details about Daniel's winning entry and other notable entries can be found here. More information about the contest itself can be found here.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Carolyn Keene is no more

Well, actually Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson, the first writer to be commisioned as Carolyn Keene by the Startmeyer Syndicate, is no more. Didn't care much for Nancy Drew, but if you want to know more I would recommend reading The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, which, if you reside in the US, may still be found in the clearance bins of the nearest BORDERS. {source: Chris}
Obscure Apple Knowledge, Served Up In One Place

If you're into Apple nostalgia, you're in luck. Check out The Apple Museum . Here's you'll find information about Apple people, products, and code names.

This site is divided into four parts: history, products, biographies, and codenames. (The biography section isn't finished yet so we'll skip that.) The history section is a timeline, the front page of which is divided by pictures: pre-1975, 1975-1979, 1980-1989, 1990-1999, and 2000-present. The timelines get more detailed as they get more recent but even the pre-1975 page has plenty of information.

The products page will appeal to you old-timers. It's divided into several categories (personal computers, portable computers, personal digital assistants, etc.) Each category opens up with a page of introductory information and a list of products in that category. The PDA page includes the Newton, for example, and the printer page includes those old noisy Imagewriters. The software section doesn't look complete, though, and I wish some of the pictures were a little larger.

Finally, the codenames section describes all the codenames Apple products have had over the years. This section includes the story on codename BHA as well as some pretty surprising choices ("Hulk Hogan"?) The whole site will take you down memory lane even if you're not a big Mac fan. Worth
a look. {source: ResearchBuzz}

Searchable, Browsable Directory of Medical Eponyms

An eponym is "a word based on or derived from a person's name." Medical eponyms are conditions named after people. is a searchable and browsable directory of almost 5500 medical eponyms.

You can browse categories, view people by last name, or search by keyword. A search for Asperger found Hans Asperger, Asperger's Disorder, and Asperger's Syndrome. (You can also search by symptom or other keyword; a search for "thyroid" finds 35 results.) Search results include a brief description of the condition; click on the name of the condition for more extensive information including an extended description, synonyms, and bibliography. {source: ResearchBuzz}

Yet another Pancham site

Shailendra Musale, a member of the Pancham Yahoo! Group, has a little Pancham tribute site, which includes screenshots of a recent interview with Marutirao Keer, longtime assistant to the late R D Burman, by the Maharashtra Times.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Pancham fans unite...the magic of electronic communication and music conjure new friendships

So I met Renu Thamma, an RDB fan from Boston on the Yahoo! list. The thread that brought us in contact was an interesting discussion about 'Aise Na Thukrao' from Zabardast. To quote Shashi from his post:

Nasir Hussain's insistence in once again adding more commercialism to his last venture ZABARDAST led to the ignorance/cancellation of
the originally composed song 'Suno Sitamgar'. Not finding it commercial enough, Nasir preferred to picturise this song as Jaya-teases-Sunny song - an oft repeated theme of Nasir Hussain's movies. Hence Pancham was forced to re-record a hashed-up Genesis inspired 'Aise Na Thukrao' - which was too late to make it to the original soundtrack print. Hence you find this number in T-Series compilations - not in the original T-Series/Venus soundtrack.

We exchanged information and song listings for some rarities that we had each unearthed and in one of her last emails for the day, she talked about how she ordered CDs from Rhythm House and had them shipped to her home in India. She had praise for them because their online catalog seemed "to be linked real-time to their inventory" But their search engine (to quote her): "... words fail me here .. the exact same keyword on two consecutive searches will produce different results. Searching on 'burman' will not return 'Amit Kumar sings for R D Burman' but a search on 'amit' will return the same CD. The bloke (or bloke-ette) who they hired for their e-commerce site should be tied to a chair and be made to listen to Sridevi sing, IMO... Touché.
Pancham inspiration for the week

I visited the Music Listening Room (aka MLR) at the Georgia Tech Student Centre today and finally got a chance to listen to Donna Summer's I Feel Love (Her second Top 10 R&B and pop hit from 1977, also to be found on I Remember Yesterday) off the live LP Live and More. Why was I listening to this? Well, listen to that chord progression and the rhythm programming and if you are an R D Burman your ears will perk up -- Pyaar Karnewaale Pyaar Karte Hain Shaan Se from Shaan {bollybob review} { DVD review}. One can almost picture him sitting there working on a tune for the lyrics and then hearing this song and jumping up to finish off another entertaining composition. The melody has nothing to do with the Donna Summer original, mind you. Listen to Shaan on MusicIndiaOnline and a clip from I Feel Love (track #8) off

An interesting part about Donna Summer's song is the extensive use of a flanged tone spanning the speakers/headphones, almost like the wind in an airfield. When we had performed this song for our college gathering, I had ventured using the flanger for a similar goal as an embellishment, without having ever heard the Donna Summer original (although the RDB song has generous little sprinkles of processed guitar sound throughout the song too). Delicious coincidence.
Blogosphere: the emerging Media Ecosystem: John Hiler has a great article on How Weblogs and Journalists work together to Report, Filter and Break the News (includes the Google/Church of Scientology business too). {Blogosphere defined}

And if you're interested in a map of NYC Bloggers and a distribution breakdown, check this cool site out.

Jon Udell has a lucid article on Social networking in Radiospace and his channelroll.

The New York Times reports that a problem in Carnivore fouled up an F.B.I. investigation two years ago that was apparently linked to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

They Weren't Careful What They Hoped For: Barnaby J. Feder discovers what children are learning from Internet e-mail experiments.

Vitamin Shoppe is moving into a big industrial building in North Bergen, N.J that had been leased to Webvan (now defunct) and lay unused for over two years.
Teaching début

I filled in for my guitar instructor yesterday for a few classes (two beginner level classes and one intermediate level class). Quite an interesting experience. Occasions like this present great opportunities to learn about musical tastes, influences and cultures (especially since Georgia Tech has a sizeable international student mass). I even had a left-handed guitarist in one beginner's class. Of course, since the guitar is re-strung for left-handed playing, there's not much to instruction except getting the strumming and fretting hands right. The rest of the evening was the usual day in the life of PIGS (Poor Indian Graduate Student[s]): cook dinner (eat to survive), watch some TV, read a bit and turn in.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Unicode URL Spoof

Scientific American has an interesting article about how a pair of students at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology registered "" with Verisign, using the Russian Cyrillic letters "c" and "o". Even though it is a completely different domain, the two display identically (the article uses the term "homograph"). The work was done for a paper in the Communications of the ACM (the paper itself is not online). The article characterizes attacks using this spoof as "scary, if not entirely probable," assuming that a hacker would have to first take over a page at another site. {slashdot} {slashdot: why Unicode won't work on the Internet}
Yet another asian cinema site

Just discovered Cineraider, which includes a little section on desi cinema too.
Film Comment on Bollywood

The May/June 2002 issue of Film Comment has gone Bollywood. Sushmita Sen adorns the cover (a little feather in her cap). The special section, guest-edited by David Chute includes Bollywood: Further Research by David Chute, an interview with Aamir Khan and Bollywood Abstracts by David Chute (which includes capsules from the articles not available online).
I2FS plug: Karthik has posted the Karz/LP find on I2FS and even referenced my post:
A pretty good (read blatant!) find for the day. Laxmikant Pyarelal's Karz theme tune (and consequently the song 'Ek haseena thi' based on that tune) happens to be a direct lift from George Benson's 'We as love' (part of his 1977 album, 'Weekend in LA', written by his keyboard player, Ronnie Foster). Thanks to George Thomas for the info. George has also posted this info in his BlogSpot [Third entry under 'Thursday, May 23, 2002]. Other relevant trivia: Karz, the movie itself was a lift from the 1975 movie 'The Reincarnation of Peter Proud'. Subash Ghai's website talks about this tune too, though, as George adds in his blogspot, they could sure do with a decent proofreader..."The signature tune on the Guitar is still one of the most haunted tunes ever composed in the history of Indian Cinema"!!!
Dinner Déjà Vu

Well, since it was Memorial Day most of our options for eating out went to nought, what with the stores closed. Eventually we ended up back at the same place as yesterday and just switched our orders. Caught a lot of reruns after dinner: Seinfeld, Friends, Just Shoot Me.

Monday, May 27, 2002

Customer Service Jokes and User Manuals

Remember all those jokes about weird complaints to customer service? The Washington Post has a hilarious article on why people don't read manuals. The simple reason: combine impatience and the time it takes to pore over manuals.
Movies on Memorial Day Eve

So Sunday evening was auspicious since the TV didn't conk off, allowing us to watch The Tingler and Sleepless in Seattle.

The Tingler lives up to every expectation I had from a William Castle film. Be it the noirish edge where everyone seems to be destined for ruin or the fairly serious face Vincent Price keeps on camera as he handles the Tingler (I recall legend that he could barely contain himself while handling the fly with David Hedison's head! He plays a scientist (again!) who discovers the hidden organism that creates fear in all of us, of course violating the ethics of scientists in the process. The reflexive moments when the Tingler actually enters the theatre are priceless. As with every Castle film, this one used a couple of theater gimmicks: Whenever blood-curdling screams occurred in the movie, hidden buzzers vibrated the seats. (This feature was called "Percepto.") Shills planted in the audience let out their own screams. The film is also supposed to be the earliest to feature an LSD trip (if you notice the title of the book that Vincent Price is reading it includes the words "lysergic acid"). The tape we had was the reissue, which meant that we could relish the brief colour sequence originally included in the film. It's grainy (being 8mm versus the fine 35mm in the rest of the film), but it includes that splendid shot of the hand reaching out of a bloody bathtub. Camp homage to Edvard Munch before the opening credits unfold. The opening notes of the score (which also form the musical motif in the film) recall Herrmann's score for Vertigo. Maybe not. This is the quintessential William Castle film. {more William Castle}

Sleepless in Seattle is everyone's favourite chick flick (it would seem!). What's a chick flick? A movie about and/or for women. Although that doesn't mean everyone can't enjoy the film. Lots of great references in this one. Rob Reiner (who made the classic modern chick flick When Harry Met Sally (WHMS), also number 23 on AFI's top 100 comedies) stars in this film. Nora Ephron who directed (and wrote the screenplay for) this film also wrote WHMS. Want more? Countless similarities between this one and Frasier. Great lines, good laughs and competent performances. Enjoyable, unless you think people will call you a sissy for watching movies like this (in which case, you could go watch The Dirty Dozen).

As Promised, Microsoft to Offer Concealable Icons: An update to the Windows XP operating system will let users hide the computer screen icons of some Microsoft programs. {my last update}

Venture capitalists Still on the Lookout for New Technologies: When Paypal's chief technology officer, Max R. Levchin, accepted Technology Review magazine's award for innovator of the year in Cambridge, Mass., on Thursday, it was an indication that innovation on the Web, while not close to its level of two or three years ago, is far from dead.

New Order of Web Researchers May Rise From Jupiter's Ashes: Components of Jupiter Media Metrix, once one of the most prominent Internet research firms, are being bought by rivals who want to continue in the same business. Yes, that's right. They sold their key patents and international contracts to NetRatings, their main competitor.

From a Few Colored Lines Come the Sounds of Music: A new software called Hyperscore lets the musically illiterate compose complex works. No musical notes and notations required.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Cannes Winners

Well the Cannes Winners have been announced. Roman Polanksi clinched the Palme D'Or for The Pianist. Get the complete awards list here or as a PDF. There's an Indian winner too: Manish Jha shared the Jury Prize for A Very, Very Silent Film. Paul Thomas Anderson (remember the frogs in Magnolia?) won Best Director for Punch-Drunk Love (starring Adam Sandler !!!). Allen joked about France's fondness for him, saying the French have two misconceptions: ``that I'm an intellectual, because I wear these glasses, and that I'm an artist, because my films lose money all the time. Neither of those things are true.''
Blaxploitation resurfaces

For Fun, a Mucho Macho Black Hero: Undercover Brother, a comedy opening on Friday, is a parody of early 70's African-American macho familiar from the blaxploitation films of that era � Shaft, Superfly and Black Belt Jones.

Mike Myers is also planning to use themes from the genre for Goldmember, the new Austin Powers film.

Degrees of blog separation

So, a friend of mine from college just dropped me a line. Turns out he was searching for information about Devdas at Cannes {my old post}. Keeping in touch has been such a pain in general, and now a blog acts as a catalyst. What more can one ask for?

Saturday, May 25, 2002

Collectors over the phone, a triple thick shake and a great compilation of rarities

So I had an hour-long conversation on Friday over the phone with Mrs. Manorama Pandit, who has been hosting the 2-hour long "Music from India" radio show on Sundays from 11am to 1pm on WRFG 89.3 FM {see: Radio Pancham}. Turns out we are collectors of the obscure, except that her time frame begins from the 1940s, while mine would start from 1961 (Chote Nawab). Besides, I have an R D Burman focus, while she has a more general palette. Still, there seems to be a possibility of exploring and exchanging collections.

Skipped dinner and settled for a triple-thick milkshake (from the MacDhaba, desi lingo for MacDonald) thanks to Harish, who wanted the fudge sundae and (as always) they were out of it! Back home it was time to open up another of my RDB purchases, and I chose Anokha Pancham. Didn't regret it a bit. A great compilation of RDB rarities from the 70s, it included the title song of Dheeraj Kumar's 1970 film debut Raaton Ka Raja (yes, I remember the film too!). The compilation betrays RDB's soft corner for the bossa nova, which he introduced into Hindi film music with "Maar Dalega Dard-e-Jigar" from Pati Patni (1966). I followed that up with another combo of RDB scores: Anamika(1973)/Paraya Dhan(1971).

Library hauls and an evening of music, mystery science theatre, and some great ice cream

So it's getting warmer now and summer will soon be in (sweat and dread!). Got a few hauls at the library
In the evening Vijay (a friend from the guitar class of Spring 2002) came over and we spent our time exploring my little CD collection: Starting off with the blues roots of Clapton and Led Zeppelin (Listen to Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe singing 'When the Levee Breaks' and then switch to the Led Zeppelin version: sheer magic), we proceeded (inevitably) to R D Burman. Here's what I remember:

* The Kronos Quartet covering Aaj ki Raat from Anamika (with Zakir Hussain on tabla)

* O Maajhi from Bandhe Haath (the 'cabaret boat song')

* Teri Meri Yaari Badi Purani from Charitraheen (the tea saucer hitting a tympanum)

* Listen to the Pouring Rain (as covered by Usha Uthup in Bombay to Goa. A tune that RDB later used in Double Cross as did Anu Malik in Sir for 'Sun Sun Sun Barsaat ki Dhun Sun')

* Mere Liye from Raaton Ka Raja

* O Jaaneman from Chhalia (with bonus dialogues from Shotgun Sinha and the infectious RDB-favourite bossa nova surfacing again with some great horns and his impeccable 'everything but the kitchen sink' instrumentation)

* Dil ka Darwajja Khol De from Hifazat

* Nasha Husn ka from Mardon Wali Baat (which seems like the seed for 'Bholi Si Surat' in Dil To Pagal Hai) (A Planet Bollywood reviewer also seems to have noticed!)

* Our recordings from Firodiya 1996: The Workshop (How I wish I had the other recordings!!)

* Rangé Mehfil from Samundar (guitar solo picturised as a sax solo)

Post-dinner I paid a visit to Ara and Pari as they watched Hera Pheri, Priydarshan's Hindi remake of Siddique Lal's Malayalam monster hit Ramji Rao Speaking (which even had a sequel called Mannar Mathai Speaking). Priyadarshan has done this a lot -- adapting Malayalam/Tamil films for Bollywood, that is. Remember Gardish (from Sibi Malayil's Kireedam, which also had a sequel, Chenkol), Viraasat (from Thevar Magan)? Although the film did well at the box office (why oh why???) Priyadarshan had differences with the producer, especially since they added two songs into the film without his consent (and let me tell you, the songs stink and stick out like fat sore thumbs). That doesn't excuse him though. From what I made of it, the film was tired, the comedy flat and there was just no chemistry anywhere. Add to that some extremely strange cheap wide angle shots and fast first-person camera without reason; an underused unfortunate Om Puri; a performance of Paresh Rawal that soon goes from exciting to interesting to bearable to irritating, especially since he has to bounce off two fine pieces of wood as Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty. A perfect candidate for Mystery Science Theatre, which is what we indulged in, as I downed some generous ice cream.

Friday, May 24, 2002

Desi eBay (NOTE: links are active only for the duration of the auction)

Laparwah / Indian Soundtrack: Laparwah � Bappi Lahiri (EMI, India, 1980) Includes a funny mix of Electronics and trad music on �Tumko Mainne sapnon men to dekha tha�, plus a funny easy track called �Background Music� between Ennio Morricone�s spaghetti soundtracks and John Barry�s James Bond music
The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies became the top response for Roger Ebert's Answer Man request for the funniest movie title. My favourite long one was: Carl Andersen's Austrian z-grade flick entitled "I Was a Teenage Zabbadoing" (alternative title: "I Was a Teenage Zabbadoing and the Incredible Lusty Dust-Whip from Outer Space Conquers the Earth versus the Three Psychodelic Stooges of Dr. Fun Helsing and Fighting Against Surf-Vampires and Sex-Nazis and Have Trouble with This Endless Titillation Title"). Wow!

September 06, 2002: Carl Andersen found my blog in an internet search and dropped me a line to include a link to his website. This film is available there.
Devdas, Copsite and the old Chemistry Laboratory in Fergusson College

Elizabeth Bunt reports on Devdas at Cannes and the new global market that Indian films are looking at.

In local news, the city police pf Pune are all set to make their official website more interactive and community-oriented. {source: Chris}

Fergusson College pressed the panic button for a few hours on Thursday afternoon after their chemical laboratory caught fire due to a cleaning mishap. The principal A K Wagh suspects the unholy union of sulphuric acid and phosphorus. No fire though, just a lot of chemical smoke. Sigh! Memories of that cloistered stuff lab where everyone took delight in producing weird colours at their fingertips and noxious odours like never before. {source: Chris}

Aaron Swartz (see earlier post) has a weblog dedicated to all things and happenings Google. Check it out!

There's a Yahoo! IM GoogleBot called YIMGoogle based on the new Google API and Praya.

And the Sets demo on Google Labs passed the Borges test. {results on Google} {more about Borges' Animals}
Netflix went public yesterday

Netflix, everyone's favourite online DVD rental portal, went public with 2 other technology companies (for the first time in almost 20 months, says Kenneth L. Gilpin). Way to go!
Ringtones for mobile phones based on popular film songs

Just caught a post on ramli about Imran Shnawer's site listing several ringtones based on your (ostensibly) favourite tunes.
Sona, Gump and two loud dogs
So, thanks to the interest I generated in a friend about Sona Imports, an Indian store for audio/visual material in Decatur, GA, I got a free ride again to the place. Thankfully my friend was impressed as well. Made a few more purchases (what else can you do with so much to choose from)

Evergreen Hits of R D Burman (CD | T-series) {which was the catalyst of my trip. See Radio Pancham}

Karm/Mukti (CD | HMV)

Dil Tera Hua (with 3 songs from Parinda as a bonus) (CD | Weston)

Anokha Pancham (Audio Cassette | HMV) {This one has an interesting gramophone logo and the recording company is actually called GCIL - Gramophone Company of India Limited ... strange}

My roommate has reached the first leg of his long drive west -- Fortworth, TX. Great going.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Essential Blogging is up for review. For those not in the know, it shows how to install and use the major weblog tools: Blogger, Radio Userland, Blosxom, and Movable Type. They are also looking for contributions.
Doom III: First impressions
GameSpy has a sneak look at Id's much-awaited Doom III. The emphasis this time is on atmosphere and scares and a gentler pace to the game versus its previous traditional shoot-em-up (FPS) approach. Screenshots are interesting, but this is Id we are talking about, so should we have expected less? And yes, it supports Dolby 5.1 surround sound!
Famous desi song lift for the week

No one who has seen Subhash Ghai's 1980 hit Karz (itself a remake/rehash of The Reincarnation of Peter Proud) will forget the soundtrack, especially the theme riff of the film that forms the backbone of the Kishore/Asha song Ek Haseena Thi. Well, guess what, composer Laxmikant-Pyarelal filched that from "We as Love", the last track on George Benson's acclaimed 1977 live album Weekend in L. A. composed by his synthesizer/keyboard player Ronnie Foster. Check out an audio clip of Benson's track on CDNow (song #11) and of the Karz piece on MusicIndiaOnline. Incidentally, the LP score won the Filmfare Award, becoming the only disco/pop Hindi film soundtrack to win the award. More Karz trivia on Mr. Ghai's site. Mr. Ghai must get someone to correct the English on the site: The signature tune on the Guitar is still one of the most haunted tunes ever composed in the history of Indian Cinema.
Digital Cameras have revamped the idea of a 'Family Album'. With their associated technology and ilk, they typify the traditional American value of convenience. Katie Hafner has a nice little piece on this in the New York Times {note: free registration required}
Dinner, a fresh fruit juice chain, innovative marketing and departure: As of 0630 EST my roommate is finally on his way on the road to Stanford. We had a great dinner (again!) at Malaya we spent most of the evening and night discussing issues as varied as movies, music trends, political upheavals and marketing strategies. We even came full circle to what we started.

It's interesting how much interesting information you glean from such diverse conversations. I found out about Odwalla, an innovatively succesful fresh fruit juice chain that takes its name from a musical piece entitled "Illistrum", composed by Malachi Favors, and performed by The Art Ensemble of Chicago. ("Fanfare for the Warriors" Atlantic SD 1651, April 1974).

Jamba Juice, a chain responsible for delicious, nutritious, convenient meals filled with enticing fruit and vegetable flavors, vital nutrients and total convenience (their smoothies bear similar qualifications), decided to save on investing millions in figuring out good locations to set up shop by just posting themselves next to every Starbucks outlet. Since Starbucks was (and is) doing well, so could Jamba Juice. Seems to have worked!

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Bollywood breaks onto U.S. screens: Moulin Rouge (with a fragment of Anu Malik's 'Chamma Chamma' from the China Gate soundtrack) and Ghost World (which opens with 'Jaan Pehchaan Ho' from Gumnaam and credits rolling against Thora Birch dancing to the song running on a TV screen in her room) have done their bit in pushing Hindi film music from cult status to mainstream acceptance: In a scenario derived from Agatha Christie, a murderer is bumping off the survivors of a plane crash on a deserted island. So what do people with their lives in danger do? Among other things, they have a beach party and perform the exuberant song-and-dance number "Jaan Pehechaan Ho."
A Classic City, 19 at Wild Wings, a Car Wash, Rock-Bottom Prices and Dicksian Dreams

Took a drive to Athens, GA with my room-mate who leaves town today. A farewell trip for both of us in a way. Being there was cathartic. The classic city defines everything an ideal city should have. Atlanta has always been a pretentious attempt to masquerade as a metropolitan/cosmopolitan progressive city, but has ended up as a confused melange of old town, sparse desert, ugly environs and desolate distances. As if the walk through classic downtown wasn't pleasant enough, we entered the Wild Wings Cafe for dinner. It being a Tuesday, they had a deal on their wings, which meant you could have twice the number of wings in an order for the price of a single order (and your choice of the two types of wings). I had a great mix of habanero wings and a mild ranch variant, with homemade bleu dips and celery. The jukebox blared out one hit after another and we left the place shortly after the karaoke had started. After a generous car wash we drove over to the Athens WAL*MART super centre (which is the biggest one I have ever seen) and relished the low prices and wide range of items. Desolate dark vegetation peppered with occasional bright spots that marked a Waffle House (the ubiquitous American milestone), a chain gas station, or a car dealer's lot (what a waste of power!). Just the qualities of a boring drive. We had music to keep us company, and the local radio station didn't fade out for quite a while after we entered Atlanta. The confused mix of meat I had ingested could only contribute to the eclectic obscurity of my dreams -- too involved and tiring to describe, except my house wasn't what it used to be, and neither did the occupants. Time and space had no meaning. All this cranial overload peaked (on schedule, as always) as the alarm clock launched into its cacophonous revival riff.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Interesting news group thread: Authenticity of music in Historicals
There's a nice long thread on rmim about the authenticity of music used and performed in Hindi film historicals.
Open Content Network: P2P Meets Open Source

The creators of Swarmcast have announced a new peer-to-peer content delivery network called the Open Content Network. The OCN will allow users to download open source and public domain content from multiple peers and mirrors in parallel. The system is designed to augment the existing mirrors with bandwidth from the p2p network and should eliminate the "Slashdot Effect" for popular open source content." {source: slashdot}
The Top 10 Hot Jobs

As people live through the economic slump and dread stories of pink slips, Chris Taylor looks at what the top 10 Hot Jobs will be in the near future. The presence of more than one CS job is a welcome sight.
Linux, GNU and Freedom: RMS (that's Richard M. Stallman) responded to Joe Barr's account of the FSF's dealings with the Austin Linux users group. {source: slashdot}. His constant insistence on calling the system GNU/Linux, although well-founded (read: not completely unreasonable) may rub a *lot* of people the wrong way, but I respect his courage in sticking to his stance. Had a chance to attend his talk in Pune when he visited India (although I missed a chance to have dinner with him). Very entertaining speaker, although he was disappointed when he came to the part of his story about GNU and Linux where he said 'all that the system was missing was the kernel'. Clearly, people thought more of the kernel than he did!
Dilbertian Google

Should have posted this yesterday. Starting Monday (which is yesterday, of course) Google has teamed up with Dilbert creator Scott Adams to create a set of Google Doodles peppered with Dilbert and Co.

Monday, May 20, 2002

New Registered Hindi Film Titles: Just took a look at Taran Adarsh's list of new titles registered, as of May 03, 2002. The list is short and hilarious enough for me to just dump it below. I discovered the list in February.

Adhura Pyar* (lsha Films)
Kaho Na Turn Mere Ho (")
Good Morning (Varma Corporation Ltd.)
Phir Mile Na Milen (Numero Uno International Ltd.)
Mile Na Milen Hum (")
Piya Ka Ghar Pyara Lage (Aditya Entertainment)
Khule Aam (Kabeer Production)
Parchhayee (Khushan Nandy)
Dil Dil Hindustani (Simple Minds)
Thoda Sa Deewana Mai (")
Thodi Si Deewani Woh (")
Bahut Khoob (")
Sagar Jaisi Aankhon Wali (")
Lets Play The Game of Death Deewar (V.R. Pictures)
The Game Of Death Deewar (V.R. Pictures)
Let's Bring Our Heroes Home Vijay (")
Operation Vijay Lets Bring Our Heroes Home (")
Vijay Let's Bring Our Heroes Home (")
Kambakht Mohabbat (F.K.F. Productions)
Dil Dushman (")
Kyaa Koi Hai (Mohan Movies)
Mere Gareeb Nawaz (Vardhman Entertainers)
Rajguru Bhagatsingh Sukhdev (B4U Entertainment)
Mauka (Seven Plots Present)
Bollywood remake for the week (well it's a forthcoming film, but early news reports never hurt anyone)

After their desi ripoff of Consenting Adults that bore the moniker of Ajnabee (where the cat was let out of the box in the previews of the film featuring the song 'Mehbooba Mehbooba'), the brothers Abbas and Mastan proceed to take apart yet another Hollywood assembly-line product with their forthcoming film Humraaz (not to be confused with the Sunil Dutt-Raaj Kumar starrer for which B. R. Chopra became the first recipient of the national award for best director) starring Akshaye Khanna, Amisha Patel and Bobby Deol. The source? A Perfect Murder, the Michael Douglas/Gwyneth Paltrow remake of Hitchcock's 1954 classic Dial M for Murder (or if you want to try being desi, the 1985 Suresh Oberoi-Raj Babbar-Dimple Kapadia starrer Aitbaar from late director Mukul Anand, which came there first!). Nice ground to cover. As an innovative (read: merciful relief from trite mushy pointless Hindi film songs) strategy, the promos of the film are action-only (read: no song snippets or the like). So people who want to find out how audio-visually bad Himesh Reshamiya's songs are can wait for the film to hit the theatres.
The Clowns didn't break Spidey's opening box office record, but I'm sure it's going to recover every worthless cent invested in it. Sorry for being overtly critical/cynical about it, but ever since Herr Lucas decided to digitally touch up his 3 contributions to the list of top blockbusters of all time with CG foundation, I stopped following the magic of the series. The principles for dispute are not unlike those behind the endless LP vs CD debate. And who needs prequels anyway? The mysterious Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader should have stayed mysterious. And since when did CG supersede good old-fashioned storytelling?? Needless to say, Herr Lucas has gone and put in more racial stereotypes (remember Jar Jar Binks in the ghostly menace?) in the latest prequel (Prequels made in sequence, ha!). I can hear rumbles from the SW fan club right now: wasn't Spider-Man screened in over a thousand theatres while Ep2/AOTC made it only to theatres equipped with digital projectors.
Aaron Swartz has uploaded session notes from the recent Emerging Technologies conference {source: blogdex}
Yet another addition to the blogging community
I guess my enthusiasm for blogging is infectious. Another friend of mine, Ramanand has gone ahead and entered the blogosphere. Great going!
Beyond Bob Tedeschi discovers that there other sites on the Web that provide useful weather information (minus the glorified packaging). {free registration required}

Keeping Fans Logged On and Tuned In: The Web has become a hangout for many theatre lovers, judging by the popularity of numerous sites that have sprung up. As Ben Pesner, the man behind the Tony website is fond of saying: The world's oldest art form meets the world's newest technology

Trying to Keep Computers in Line: Bob Tedeschi revisits the infamous $5 airticket sale off the United Airlines website and provides a for-the-layman introduction to the usefulness of web log files in monitoring site activity and identifying bottlenecks in content delivery.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Movie for the night: Spider-Man!

Took the MARTA with my friends to Phipps to catch Spider-Man. We got there late enough for the 7:45pm but too early for the 10pm. I was adamant on not wanting to watch the Clowns instead (even if it had Samuel L. Jackson, the film seemed as interesting to me as Changing Lanes). So we settled on the 10pm show. At the ticket counter we found out that there was a 9:15pm screening, which we promptly got tickets for, before walking out for dinner at the Bucket Shop Cafe a block away. The good weather for the day had progressed to a cold night, forcing us to sit in. I was already kicking myself for missing the season finale of The Simpsons and the grand finale of the X Files (which I had lost interest in a long while ago, ever since Mr. Duchovny upped and left for a movie career that never existed) {slashdot: The Truth Revealed} {the X-Files timeline}

Dinner delayed us enough so that we switched to the 10pm show. After a stock of previews (including the cool MIIB and the atrocious Mr. Deeds [Winona Ryder with Adam Sandler????]), Sam Raimi's slick commercial spiel launched off with some cool titles (predictably incorporating the web and pieces of spider web in them). I followed three comic book heroes a lot: Superman, Spider-Man and Batman. Of the three, Superman was the least believable, since he was (a) not of this earth (b) super. Batman was the most believable, because he had no super powers, was human and had his own share of the problems of everyday life (of course, he was a playboy, which distanced him a bit from the common man). Spider-Man was a cross between the two: the super powers he had as a result of a bite from a radioactive spider were not too fancy -- they only augmented his senses and abilities (if we forget the wall climbing bit, of course). Add teenage angst to the cauldron and the fact that his "gift" seems more of a curse to him (the deaths of Uncle Ben Parker and Gwen Stacy), and we have the trappings of a good engaging comic. Apart from a few liberties (which were more acceptable than the outrageous campy liberties that Superman took and the unfortunate ones that Tim Burton took with Batman), the film sticks to the established comyth (that's comic myth) pretty well. As soon as I get some more breathing time, I'll key in a few more thoughts. For now, check out the Spider-Man comics database to brush up on your Spidey basics and clear the cobwebs of your mind.

Bhagat Singh, a restaurant that serves dinner under a different name, CD shopping, Cinematic Time

So, Sunday has been good for me. The radio show {see Radio Pancham} airs 'Mera Rang De Basanti Chola' from 23RD MARCH 1931 SHAHEED (This bad-mouthful-of-a-name film stars Bobby Deol as Bhagat Singh) and from THE LEGEND OF BHAGAT SINGH (with Ajay Devgan essaying the title role). The former is scored by Anand Raaj Anand and the latter by A R Rahman (who deserves plaudits for being less synthetic on the song). It was easy to spot the Rahman composition, and I see a clear winner on his hands. Now to hope that the film isn't another China Gate.

Soon after the Indian Radio Show had wrapped I went out for lunch with Chris to Candler Park. The place was Gato Bizco, which is interesting in that for dinner it takes on a different menu AND a different name, Gato de Noche. Great food too. The neighbourhood is a slice out of the older times. More homely houses and clearly a not-so-affordable place to live in, almost like a little Koregaon Park (which Atlanta has a lot of, separated by pseudo-metropolitan patches of car roads peppered with uniform mundane red-brick houses). A walk after lunch brought us to Full Moon Records (voted in the past by Creative Loafing as the best place to sell CDs). All tapes go for $3.99 and the CDs go for $7.99 (that's the same for used or new CDs). A decent variegated selection, unlike most used stores/zones that house a lot of junk! Got myself the original release (1972, single CD) of Deep Purple's awesome live album Made in Japan (NOTE: If a good rock band tours Japan, the CDs are a world apart. Mr. Big seemed to enjoy similar success with their Japan tour).

The next stop was Sona Imports. Finally! I was not disappointed. Take a medium-sized Indian grocery store. Now, take out everything that does not classify as audio/visual. Replace that with audio/visual (read: audio tapes, CDs, DVDs, VHS) material and voila you have Sona Imports. They had a great collection of rare R D Burman compilations too, especially the one I heard on the radio. To add icing to this cake, there was a shelf slot devoted completely to Mithun Chakraborty starrers. What more could a B-film afficionado wish for?? That said, I couldn't leave empty-handed. Here's what I got

The Golden Collection: Asha Sings for R D Burman (4-cassette/HMV)

Enchanting hour with Amit Kumar vol I (CD/T-series)

Duets all the way: Amit Kumar vol I (CD/T-series)

Evergreen hits of R D Burman (CD/T-series)

Kalakaar/Agar Tum Na Hote (CD/BMG)

Bhanwar - Rakhi Aur Hathkadi - Imaan - Dil Ka Raaja (CD/HMV)

Jaise Ko Taisaa - Rickshawala (CD/HMV) {The CD interestingly features a snapshot from Biwi O Biwi instead of Rickshawala}

Jawani Diwani - Yeh Vaada Raha (CD/Polygram)

Disco Dancer/Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki/Tarzan (CD/HMV)

As we drove on Ponce, Studio 360 was running a show on Cinematic Time, about how films have used or played around with time as we (the viewers and filmmakers) understand it. They used Memento, Run Lola Run, Timecode and Rashomon as examples. Several interesting viewpoints there, including one that looked at these films (especially Memento, with it's everyone is using me and time has no meaning take) as representing current social conditions. This was followed by a little feature on the Long Now Foundation, which is designing a clock to tell time over 10,000 years. It will tick once a year, chime once a century, and play music once a millennium.

Since the weather was SO good, we drove to Freedom Park . In addition to a nice walking/jogging/cycling track (except for this randomly placed orange fence that destroyed the colour composition wherever it lay), the place includes a bunch of faux-Victorian houses with a merciful variety in colour schemes). We had a merry walk to the Jimmy Carter Centre (didn't go in for a tour, but just sat outside and took in the great weather and well-groomed gardens). We then drove back to Midtown. The Freedom Parkway traffic stop has the best daytime view of Downtown, a vision that threatens to consume you as you drive into it!

Saturday, May 18, 2002

Movie tonight: Forrest Gump. A wonderful film that I wish I had seen in the cinema halls. Great soundtrack (It's a fun exercise to understand how the songs push the narrative by trying to figure out what the song means in the context that you hear it). Tom Hanks doesn't disappoint (compare this restrained performance to the over-schmaltzy take by Sean Penn in I Am Sam), and neither does anyone else in the cast. The editing aids the screenplay in never letting you feel the length of the movie. Although Zemeckis doesn't spend too much time developing characters, he lets the historical tapestry of events involving Forrest take centre stage. Alan Silvestri's score is subdued and only surfaces in full force as the closing credits roll up the screen. the second DVD adds to the mirth with special behind-the-scenes features from the production design, sound engineering and visual FX departments. Cool outtakes: the edited encounters with Martin Luther King Jr. and George Bush Sr.
It's been yet another day of great weather today. I don't mind the cool/cold nights either. Some good hauls at the library this time.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Sangam is Dinesh Raheja's choice from classic Bollywood today.

As Hrithik upstages second lead Saif Ali Khan in Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (read: another postmodern pastiche of tired plots, tired songs, tired stars, and bored audiences aka the Bollywood ad fest for Pantaloon), Subhash K. Jha looks back at other instances, this time choosing films that people would like to remember.

. . .while Dinesh Raheja revisits some classic Kaifi Azmi lyrics and the charm of Shashi Kapoor.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali talks to Screen about Devdas which will premiere at Cannes next week

Manna Dey turned 82 on the first of May this year. Rajiv Vijaykar takes a look at the impressive career of the oldest living legend in playback singing history.

As Ramesh Taurani talks about The Legend of Bhagat Singh, I just found the fifth Bhagat Singh film. It's directed by Sukumar Nair and stars Sonu Sood as Bhagat Singh. The producer is Iqbal Singh Dhillon, who earlier produced Shaheed Udham Singh. This is slated to be the first of the five films to hit cinema halls (May 24). {see Bhagat Singh films exhibit Dalerism}

Monojit Lahiri wonders if yesterday's heroines were better

As Miramax readies a restored negative of A Hard Day's Night, the film debut of the Beatles, director Richard Lester reminisces.

Inane Bollywood interview for the week: Rediff talks to Bobby Deol on his role as Shaheed Bhagat Singh in 23RD MARCH 1931 SHAHEED (produced by his brother Sunny Deol and directed by ... Bad punctuation only underscores outrageous retorts like Well, I won't lie that I read encyclopaedias on Bhagat Singh. Frankly, I am a bad reader. . Awards are supposed to be based on popular choice. Gadar -- Ek Prem Katha was the biggest film of 2001 in terms of collection. Why didn't Gadar win the Best Film Award?. Bleargh! {my old post: Bhagat Singh films exhibit Dalerism}
Worldcom Ripoffs: As my roommate discovered first-hand, Worldcom customer service reeks of ripoff experts. The Bad Business Bureau/RipOff Report actually has 539 cases reported about the wireless service provider merrily charging customers for a service they forgot(!) to provide.

Movies from yesterday

Since our blessed television set was accomodating I got to finish off watching a couple of movies lying around at home.

The first was the director's cut (although unfortunately still massacred by pan-and-scan) of The Wild Bunch. The tape also had the nominated documentary The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage. Truly a great movie, matched in its hard-edged portrayal of social outcasts bound together by friendship and a code of honour by few other films. The violence shocks and stuns but never seems copious or unnecessary. Able performances from Hollywood regulars William Holden and Ernest Borgnine, a serviceable background score from Jerry Fielding, numerous edit montage sequences (the film set a record for more edits than any other film up to its time) mark this effort from maverick director Sam Peckinpah who later went on to make the shocking Straw Dogs and the cult favourite Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia. Some great lines too: We all dream of being a child again, even the worst of us, perhaps the worst most of all. and the memorable (and pivotal) exchange between Pike and Dutch that ends as
Pike: It's his word!
Dutch: That ain't what counts. It's who you give it to!

Do Chor: Produced by Raj Khosla and directed by his assistant Padmanabh and set in Bombay and Goa.

Synopsis (source: elsewhere): Dharmendra and Tanuja are two petty thieves. Tanuja, impersonating a boy, is in the 'business' to take revenge on the three men who duped her father and killed him. When Dharmendra learns of Tanuja's true identity, he falls in love with her and decides to help her. An impish Tanuja and pleasing songs, like Yaari Ho Gayi Yaar Se and Kaali Palak Teri Gori, make the film eminently watchable.
The good parts about the film are Tanuja's different disguises, which work rather well (unlike the pretentious audience-knows-who-I-am-and-so-should-these-goons-but-then-let-us-assume-these-guys-are-blind disguises like the refulgent coiled fake white beards and moustaches that adorned the face of Akshay Kumar in his memorable [read: forgettable] action flicks), the on-screen presence of Dharmendra (why oh why did he become an action star??) and Tanuja (the enthusiasm and bubbly charm has worn off on Kajol. Wish all film heroines had such a lack of pretense). The songs are nice enough (to add to the list: meri jaan meri jaan kahna mano), and the Goa-hippie-club dance fest (yaari ho gayi yaar se) is hilarious. Tanuja is also surprisingly bold slipping from delectable Indian saris, to men's suits, to revealing costumes. Gulp! The climactic chase/fight sequence set in a construction lot is typical low-budget Hindi stock, quite laughable and brings any credibility that any character has achieved in the course of the film to rubble. The villains of the piece are the standard 70s villains respectable members (especially K. N. Singh) of society, without machismo or over-the-top menacing grimaces and over-evil catchphrases. Passable entertainment. My biggest grouse is with the plot device that gets Tony (Dharmendra) and Bob/Sandhya (Tanuja) together for the rest of the narrative: after all she could have pretended that Bob never existed, but then we wouldn't have 2+ hourse of film and song. Grating comedy by Dhumal as Trikamdas, who blackmails the villains and names his ever-changing girlfriends after culinary items (machchi fry, jalebi kichdi pulao, biryani). And none of the respectable villains need to provide the police with their address when they report the burglaries!

Trivia: Veteran Shobana Samarth, Tanuja's mother in real life, plays her mother (hamming away at a standard now-I'm-nuts-now-I'm-not role. nice filter though), who has been the victim of the cunning Gopinath, Charandas, Bhagwandas, and Tribhuvan Singh.

In-joke: When Tony (Dharmendra) is called to the police station and asked for his alibi at 11 pm on the night of the burglary at the residence of Seth Gopinath (which forms the backdrop for the credits, presented with a blinds-in effect against a serviceable motif from R. D. Burman), he replies that he was watching Mera Gaon Mera Desh at Supreme Cinemas. That was a 1971 film directed by Raj Khosla (producer of this film) and starring Dharmendra.

Unanswered question: What does 'lak-tunu-tunu' mean anyway? Not only does it feature in the 'yaari ho gayi yaari se' song, but also in the final conversation between Tony and Sandhya.

Thursday, May 16, 2002, based in Los Angeles, promises not only to "help you prepare reliable legal documents online," but also to review those documents for "consistency and completeness." all in a $55 will package. And they aren't practising law. {nytimes}

Bluetooth is back: No, not the 10th century Danish King but the wireless utopian technology named for him. Notorious as the technology that cried wolf, Bluetooth is out in a new avatar -- version 1.1. And a host of products to boot. Look out world, no wires ma! (Still expensive though)

Religion is going hi-tech as members of the cloth explore new electronic avenues to reach out to people: webcasting, peppering sermons with movie clips, augmenting discourses with top-notch sound systems, and even PowerPoint. Wonder if rock is still frowned upon by the church... {nytimes}

And Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is exploring the issues involved in the Microsoft case before making a ruling ... {nytimes}

A new reason for familial strife: The Computer. Families wrestle and argue over using the phone, downloading MP3s, messaging friends, checking email and the like. I can see surveys and polls focusing on the dynamics of politics in the context of technology in homes. Researchers anyone?

Google/Yahoo Deal up for speculation: Come June 2002 and Yahoo's deal with Google will expire and the future of their partnership has been up for speculation: Is Yahoo using Google to get Inktomi to bid higher? Will the Google/Overture patent lawsuit affect Yahoo's decision? Most people like Tara Calishain and Stefanie Olsen seem to believe that the contract will not be renewed.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Faiz hits US charts: A Times music album by Abida Parveen comprising six nazms and ghazals by renowned Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz has hit #12 on a top 20 world music list published by published by AOL Time Warner.
The Acura Integra topped a new study listing the most stolen passenger vehicles for the model years 1999-2001, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. {source: Aditya}
Holy Sleaze!: Sunbather mistaken for Kournikova (NOTE: Content may offend some people)
I seem to be turning into a tabloid/sleaze zone. Aditya just sent me this rib-tickling newsitem about a case of mistaken identity (read: body). Frank Ramaesiri, a St. Louis jewellery salesman, sold Penthouse Magazine a video of a topless sunbather misidentified as Anna Kournikova. Turns out she was actually Judith Soltesz-Benetton, the daughter-in-law of Italian fashion designer Luciano Benetton!
I finished reading Philip K. Dick's Solar Lottery two days ago. His first novel, and it contains all the elements of a typical Dick novel: distorted reality, a strange future (World leaders or Quizmasters are chosen by random chance and probability, with Heisenberg thrown in. Some people have found a way to 'beat the bottle' as he calls it. A twitch in the bottle displaces the existing Quizmaster and promotes a new leader, Every leader has a Corps of teeps (telepaths) to anticipate any assassination attempts orchestrated by (this is perfectly legal and expected, mind you) the previous Quizmaster. Ted Bentley is a hapless individual sick of the yoke of fealty caught in this power struggle. Fast-paced, an enjoyable read.
DavisDVD is a good stop for DVD faqs, reviews, easter eggs, crappy cover art, and dvd cover ripoffs. {thanks: Chris}
More Bollywood auctions on eBay (note: all links valid for the duration of the auction)

INDIAN BOLLYWOOD FUNK JAZZ FAKIRA ILL BREAKS!: rare indian ost called fakira, cover is VG+ with edgewear and shelfwear, vinyl is EX+ except one song tota which has 3 clicks at the beginning, that song is VG+. 1976 gramophone co of india release. tota maina is ill big asian orchestration, sounds like a bruce lee flick. dil men tujhe is right after that and continues the vibe of ill asian sounding orchestration, fairly dark and hardcore, dope. finally, the INSANE bossanova track and the winner on this lp is ye mera jadu, crazy sax, xylophone and guitar all over, with kooky organ thrown in! i cannot describe this enough to do it justice, sounds like bossa meets psych, ill SH*T!!!! soundtrack scored by ravindra jain. this is the bomb soundtrack, my second copy, that's why i'm parting with it. i photographed the back side because it was the "funkier" side.get it now, doubtful you will see it again or at least for a long while! this is WORTH IT!!!

BOLLYWOOD INDIAN SOUNDTRACK JAANEMAN JAZZ HOT : crazy soundtrack by laxmikant pyarelal, vinyl is EX-, cover has seam split along bottom very minor VG+. the TRACK on here is a song called maza lijiye, ill jazzy track from the dynamic indian duo second only to kalyanji anandji. maza lijiye starts off with ill percussion break, then slips into more percussion. then who i believe to be mukesh starts to sing, throughout the lp it sounds like he says buss it! mad loopable for your samplers. then middle towards the end, it happens.. the beat slides off and an ill bassline comes in with crazy glass sounding percussion, clay percussion?! then the song starts all over again going faster and faster. ridiculous. the rest is jazzy laid back sitar stuff, pretty good, sampleable throughout with the sitar. maza lijiye!!!!! rips it!! this song takes a few listens to fully digest. crazy.
Musical Instrument of the Week: Obviously the fact that I finally managed to watch Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (incidentally my first video rental from the Georgia Tech library) yesterday might have something to do with my selection of the Theremin as the instrument of the week. Especially considering that my favourite film composer (Bernard Herrmann) used it, as did Jimmy Page from my favourite rock band (Led Zeppelin). {other bands}.
Perhaps the first electronic musical instrument invented, the Theremin was a creation of Russian inventor Lev Sergeivich Termen (something French happened along the way) the Victor Theremin paved the way for electronic music as it is today, inspiring people like Robert Moog (inventor of the Moog synthesizer), and making it onto the soundtracks of numerous famous films.
Rob Siegel, editor-in-chief of The Onion told a packed Fisk auditorium of people that the reason for the newspaper's success was an incompetent staff. {this and more}
With the proliferation of music disc copyright protection schemes (an idea ostensibly based on good intentions, but working out as an annoyance even to sincere music lovers), one can only expect crackers out there to come up with a workaround. Sure enough, Cactus Data Shield 100/200 and Key Audio can be circumvented.
Konrad Hilbers quit as Chief Executive of Napster along with its founder Shawn Fanning and several top executives. A prequel to the imminent bankruptcy of the company. {related: the last rites of napster} {may 26, 2002: Bertelsmann's Quest to Harness Napster}

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Number One on Google: Just hit a search for my blog on Google, and came up tops! Yeehaw!
Techie dress code changes: Cool T-shirts and a 'dude' atttitude no longer cut it thanks to the IT bubble bursting and showering us with cold water, waking us from our self-induced stupor of economic highs. A few months ago, software major Infosys Technologies issued a circular to its workforce that techies had to dress formal __ formal shirt, tie and decent footwear, if the client was in a sector that demanded it. {TOI} {source: Aditya}
Yet Another BlogMate: Another friend of mine, Gaurav Sabnis, currently back home in Pune, has been bitten by the blogging bug, thanks to little me. Way to go Gaurav. Since he's currently in Prep Leave for his finals (almost done though), he has found a lot of time to wax eloquent on keystrokes.
Blog news

On CNN, Bruce Burkhardt speaks to a self-proclaimed blog enthusiast. Josh Quittner, editor of Business 2.0, tells Bruce Burkhardt why he thinks blogs are journalism for the future...

* Use the blog, Luke: What makes blogs interesting is precisely the way in which they're not journalism.. Well said. So now people can stop saying that blogs are an attempt to bring down the New York Times. {discussion on}

* Blog World: Are weblogs the blinking neurons of an emerging, chatterbox superbrain? Or are these proliferating online diaries merely podiums for bush-league blowhards? Truth be told, they're a bit of both -- and that's precisely what makes them so damn addictive.
Jeff Jarvis is proposing a Weblog Foundation for the advancement of weblogs and online media.. Do we need this?
Automated Online Abuse Conversion: Chris sent me a pointer to Burnmaker. Paste valid respectfully written text and watch the backend script churn out invective-laden cussword-filled writ that would "make a sailor blush". {CAUTION: Potentially offensive material}. I tried a few of my cover letters for my job applications, and the result was rather calming.
The US Supreme Court continued in effect a Federal District Court order that has blocked enforcement of the law, the Child Online Protection Act, since February 1999, citing possible violation of the First Amendment when applied to the worldwide community of the Internet. {nytimes} {may 16, 2002: followup}
Chris just sent me a link to Microsoft Cement. Howlarious.
Chacha Chaudhary now has his own TV show: As Jyotsna Singh reports from Delhi, Raghuvir Yadav is going to play the frail, elderly but remarkably intelligent man, always wearing his trademark red turban and accompanied by his trusty street dog. . Praveen Kumar (who played Bheem in Mahabharat on the tube) is set to play his sidekick Sabu. Check out my earlier post on Chacha. {courtesy: Chris}

Monday, May 13, 2002

horrible Writing at its best

After the carnage: the predatory 'intelligentsia' by Rajeev Srinivasan. Yes, he tries to make several points all over the place with the palette of a surrealist, but gets nowhere. Coherent thought is the essence. Take an idea, nourish it, nurture it (as Gulzar once said), and you will have fodder for a dozen articles. Squeeze in too much into a single writeup and you end up lost and losing readers.

After some drizzles today, the evening gave in to a cold sweeping wind. Which was nice for a change, but I'm sure a lot of people would have wished otherwise. All said and done, with the TV set being amenable and not crashing out on me, I could watch UNFORGIVEN (on VHS, but letter-boxed, before I got too ticked off with the old irritating 'pan-and-scan'. Great movie with its gentle pace and mild unobtrusive background motif. Lots to study for film schools, especially the interesting takes on the established Western genre (even the final dedication to Sergio [Leone] and Don [Siegel], who respectively defined Eastwood's on-screen persona with 'The Man With No Name' and 'Dirty Harry'). Deserved every ripe tomato it got on Rotten Tomatoes. {AFI Top 100: #98}
Desks harbor more germs than toilet seats: Yes, that's what a recent U of Arizona study found out. "I don't want to create a paranoia about touching anything, but we can go a long ways to increase awareness about the benefits of washing your hands or wiping down your desk," said Scott Harper, environmental health and safety director for Pima Community College.. Thank you very much Mr. Harper.
Athens, GA: Classic City: I guess I'll never live down my move from Athens, GA to Atlanta, GA. There are still strong reasons to justify the move, but I left behind a nice little happening town. The virtues of a small town far outnumber those of a large vibrant city. Accessibility, familiarity, and on an oblique note, a better school library. Wish I had switched to the fine arts while I still had the chance. Wrestling in a technological milieu when your alter ego is a burgeoning luddite isn't very pleasant. But I would be pleased to recommend the city to anyone. For a nice nutshell view of what the birthplace of the B-52s and REM has to offer (besides the stark absence of a chain-store-laden downtown), check out 36 hours in Athens, GA.
Another tale of different film endings: As a post on ramli tells me, Aankhen {earlier post} actually has TWO endings: one for Indian audiences (which has Amitabh being carted off to jail) and one for the overseas market(Amitabh bribes the police and is back on the trail of Kumar and Rampal) . Director Vipul Shah calls the latter a Hollywoodian ending, saying that it wouldn't work with the audiences in India. Well guess what Mr. Shah? Didn't work for us either. The turnaround device involving Sushmita Sen in the second half works to move the film forward, but sadly lacks enough motivation (but of course, since this is a commercial Hindi film, who needs motivation?). The actual robbery has its moments but comes off rather tame. And the rest of the film actually falls apart, not to mention the added copout of an ending.{hindustan times} {my other post on different endings}

{june 13, 2002}: Just found an old rediff article that cites the name of this film (at some point in time) as Ankhmicholi.
Over idle conversation yesterday, Aditya mentioned the 1996 Caroline Link German film Beyond Silence, which was a dead ringer for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 1996 film Khamoshi: The Musical. The problem is that both films were released in the same year, and the question arises: who inspired whom? Or was it a common source? {rediff: scroll down to 'Strange as Fiction'}
Bhagat Singh films exhibit Dalerism: Yes, I just coined that word. Remember that Daler video (Tunak Tunak Tun) where he multiplies on screen? (what's worse than one Daler? two Dalers... what's worse than two? three ... and so on)? Well, seemed appropriate to describe the different versions in the making right now: Sunny Deol's 23RD MARCH 1931 SHAHEED and Rajkumar Santoshi's THE LEGEND OF BHAGAT SINGH. This is what happens when old camp friends have a fallout. The audience has to bear the brunt of it. Santoshi's take has Ajay Devgan essaying the title role music by A. R. Rahman. That's a lot of brownie points. Sunny bhai's film has Bobby Deol in the lead (the descent begins) and is directed by Guddu Dhanoa (ground zero and continuing). The other two versions in the fray are from pop singer-turned-actor Harbhajan Singh Maan directed by Tarun Wadhwa and Keval Kashyap's film scripted by Mr. Bharat/ex-Bhagat-Singh Manoj Kumar (who incidentally opted out of Sunny bhai's venture). {more on the tussle: yahoo}. While on the subject, remember the black-and-white classic Shaheed, scripted by Mr. Bharat himself with great songs written and composed by Prem Dhawan?
Ron Howard acquires rights to Playboy archive: Just for the articles mind you. Ostensibly a good idea since writers such as John Irving and Ray Bradbury have had work published in the magazine and the successful films Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The World According to Garp and The Hustler were all based on material originally published in Playboy. Stephen King wrote for Playboy too. Can't help but laugh at the irony of the association though! {source: Chris}
The Microsoft legal battle is drawing to a close

Credit Card theft is a thriving online global market as Matt Ritchel discovers

Just discovered an old slashdot post about Despair Inc. suing 7,000,000 email users over trademark infringment for using the :-( 'emoticon' based on their registered trademark. As John Schwartz discovered, the lawsuit was a hoax, but the trademark is real.
Hidden messages in classic texts
We have all heard about the portentous texts residing in the Bible. But sometimes people (with a lot of time on their hands) read meanings in the unlikeliest of places. Like Melville's classic Moby Dick, as Brendan McKay and friends discover. {thanks to Chris for sending me this link that surfaced in a newsgroup discussion on one-hit wonders in classical music recordings}
Tired of long URLs? Well try out Make A Shorter Link. The site provides a simple service. When you find a web page with an address too long to paste in an email or another document, this free service can get you a shorter, simpler AND usable address. Really cool. Devised and created by the Pants Collective (nice name there), this is a useful production, Incidentally, Useful Inc. hosts a set of nice articles on XML, the hype and it future. {source: Chris}

Sunday, May 12, 2002

Bollywood musical memories: Khaiyyam
Veteran music composer Khayyam on some of the people he worked with.

Tributes to Kaifi Azmi on rmim and alup. {his collaborations} {may 14, 2002: bollyvista tribute} {may 15, 2002: a growing filmography}

a new kind of science

A Man who would shake up science: In his 1,197-page tome, "A New Kind of Science," Stephen Wolfram (the man behind Mathematica) claims he has discovered underlying principles that affect the development of everything from the human brain to the workings of the universe, requiring a revolutionary rethinking of physics, mathematics, biology and other sciences. He believes he has shown how the most complex processes in nature can arise out of elemental rules, how a wealth of diverse phenomena -- the infinite variety of snowflakes and the patterns on sea shells -- are generated from seemingly trivial origins. { entry}

And John Bennett from the University of Colorado testified that Windows could be altered.

Old Personal Computers Never Die; They Just Fade Into Deep Storage: The first step toward understanding that in a pre-Internet world a PC was nothing more than a glorified typewriter was the discovery that I could own such a technological marvel and still be a mess..

In Searching for the Perfect Pitch Harry Shearer discovers that perhaps tone-deaf corporations' anthems and mini-musical productions could be America's only true indigenous art form. {my old post}

Last week, federal regulators released documents showing that Enron, and perhaps other energy companies, helped cause California's recent power crisis by artificially driving up prices. {nytimes}

In Free-Music Software, Technology Is Double-Edged: The sad tale of Kazaa and Sharman Technologies. Turns out people who register domain names through Tokelau, a group of islands north of Western Samoa, (like the distributor of 'Kazaa Lite') are not required to give their names. And Sharman Tech lawyers don't like this. But guess what? Sharman Tech is registered in Vanuatu. That's a group of South Pacific islands, which, she said, offers favorable tax status. Let she who has not sinned throw the first stone?

Global Village Idiocy: Thanks to the Internet and satellite TV, the world is being wired together technologically, but not socially, politically or culturally. At its best, the Internet can educate more people faster than any media tool we've ever had. At its worst, it can make people dumber faster than any media tool we've ever had. And that is dangerous

California Officials Face Unprecedented Budget Gap: The shortfall could well force the state and local governments to slash an array of services, including police protection and mental health, state and local officials say.
.NET concerns
Aditya sent me the following post from the ASIS Special Interest Group for Information Architecture list:
If you ever wanted a soap opera on the unlikely topic of Internet architecture played out in public involving Microsoft chicanery, global namespaces, search-against-keywords and people who never learn, may I point your attention to a letter by CEO of RealNames, the company that gaveMicrosoft the ability to resolve keywords entered into IE browser. There's a lot there for anybody involved in web development, especially with delusions about .NET.. Here's the site in question. Interesting indeed. {slashdot followup (may 22, 2002): sometimes, microsoft is right}

Radio Pancham

aka What a small world we live in

I'm sure each one of us has had some little experience that testified for the almost-trite adage "it's a small world". Well, I just had my own personal favourite today.

Some background first: WRFG 89.3 FM is a non-profit community-sponsored radio station that runs, among other interesting shows, a 2 hour 'Music from India' show every Sunday from 11 am to 1 pm EST. The show comprises selections of indian classical music, new Hindi film and Indipop releases, a 'down memory lane' segment featuring old Hindi film releases, and a tail segment that features bhajans and ghazals.

May 24, 2002: A little more about this (source: WRFG):

Hosts: Manorama Pandit,Jagan Bhargave

Co-host:Asha Bhoomkar

Perhaps the longest-running non-commercial and listener-supported radio program of South Asian music in the United States. Music From India offers a complete range of musical variety, from the classical to pop.

The first segment offers the best in classical music, both vocal and instrumental. The second segment features modern popular music from movies and other pop artists. The third segment goes back to more traditional forms of popular and semi-classical music including music from films, ghazals, geets, and devotional songs.

Community news and events, as well as live artists and interviews, are also featured.

Today, out of the random blue, in the old releases section, they played a song called 'chor tera naam' (kishore, lata). Yes,
obscure isn't it? Well, if like me you were as seeped as I was in RD Burman music, you could at least recognize the composer's touch. Sure enough, when they announced the credits, it was an RDB composition. from the film JAGIR. I must admit, it isn't one of his popular albums. But then, I'm a collector. Turns out one of the hosts on the show had purchased a CD titled "Evergreen Hits of RD Burman" and just played one of the tracks. She even wondered why they were called 'hits' (obviously she wasn't a collector, and yes, the song wasn't exactly popular material). So I called in with the information about the film. Incidentally, it's a 1984 film starring dharmendra, mithun chakraborty, zeenat aman with lyrics by anand bakshi (which was the information they were missing). For trivia buffs: It was the first hindi film soundtrack that T-series released . Being the chronic collector I am, I even got details about the CD and filled in some more credit blanks for them. Soon, I merited a mention on the program, but (the horror! the horror!) as a 'non-indian' who seemed to know a lot about Hindi films (especially la obscura JAGIR). Of course, I had to call in again to rectify their faux pas. This time the lady who actually bought the CD came over to the phone and began chatting with me, finding out more about where I came from and so on. Of course, I waxed eloquent about my being a fan of R. D. Burman (was it justification for the guilt of having known about so obscure an album?). As it turned out, she graduated from the same University back home as I did (The University of Pune). This doesn't say too much, since the U of P is an umbrella for a large number of different discrete architectural structures called colleges scattered all across the city that you could graduate from without even having seen the blessed structure (which is far-fetched, because everyone ends up taking a lot at this rather stellar structure/institution of the city). Turns out her daughter is a housewife in Pune right now and lives in close proximity of my residence back home. How's that for a small world? Now I have another contact in this foreign land.

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