Sunday, May 27, 2007

The jazz chameleon at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

Herbie Hancock was the final act at Piedmont Park on Saturday, May 26, 2007 as part of the 30th Atlanta Jazz Festival. Although the bill read "The Herbie Hancock Quintet", there were just four people on stage: Nathan East (more familiar to me as EC's regular bassist) on bass, Lionel Loueke (guitar), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) and the man himself challenging time and harmony with the piano, a Korg synthesizer and a strap-on synthesizer that he wielded in a question-answer jam like a guitarist. The set was short, thanks to delays that seemed to set in early in the day (the band didn't get on stage till about an hour after schedule). They started off with Actual Proof (from the 1974 album Thrust); two tracks came from his 2005 CD Possibilities with Nathan East offering some wonderful vocals on both: Stitched Up and an engaging improvisation on When Love Comes To Town. Wonderful jam-a-thons took off from the classic Watermelon Man and Cantaloupe Island; an inebriated dame and her beau put paid to part of my concentration and I think I missed out on the promised 17-beat cycle experiment that the quartet attempted during Watermelon Man. The most interesting track of the evening belonged to Lionel Loueke whose "soup" (as Herbie Hancock refers to it) was a two-course journey beginning with a blend of African vocal refrains and sounds (clicks, pops, growls) mixed with various sounds elicited from his electric guitar (taps, muted note sequences) (did he also elicit the aid of digital samples in all this?) and moving into a crescendo of improvisation led by some breathtaking work from Vinnie Colaiuta on the skins. I think the name of this track is Virgin Forest, but I'd have to listen to the cut on Loueke's album to know if I'm right or wrong.

I've been reading reports of other concerts by the Quartet (was there ever a fifth on this tour?) and can't help wondering if the constraints on time denied us an encore that might have featured Hancock's famous electronic jazz-funk classic Chameleon. Sigh.

One must note the usual annoyances: the usual crowds, the drunk dodderheads lacking basic social etiquette, clogged streets, lack of suitable parking (a general NP-hard problem with the sprawl and a specific problem for the park -- the proposal for a parking deck faces opposition from the Friends Of Piedmont Park). Something similar happens on game weekends and good sense is slated never to prevail. A future of a wave of cars drenched in strata of smog losing the race to a snail awaits the sprawl.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

inconsistent googling

Google recently revamped its search portal to allow you to issue searches across more of its data stores. This extends behaviour you saw before when you extended searches from the Web to Google Groups. All you had to do after seeing the Web search results was to select the Groups option from the dropdown at the top and Google would issue the search across all the newsgroups it offered/archived. You could then select the Web option to return to your original search results.

The recent portal changes have affected that final return. If you now select the Web option to return to your original search results, Google takes you to its main page with the search words intact in the text box, but you have to click the "Google Search" button again in order to see your Web search results. Minor usability annoyance. Things work fine if your order of operations is Web->Groups->News or Web->News->Groups. Consistency begs that the extra click for the Web path be eliminated.

update [june 05, 2007]: I just played with the sequence of operations and it looks like the inconsistency has been addressed. Cool!

Sunday, May 20, 2007


[cross-posted on the Passion For Cinema blog]

Bollywood DVDs continue to scale new depths in transfer quality and new heights in the quality of subtitles. The people working on these subtitles seem to have no clue about the language that the dialogues are being spoken in -- or if they do, they've decided that the original text was too boring and decided to improvise. Here are a few items collected from the numerous hours watching evidence that the idiot box deserved its name.

Consider the odes to surrealism served up in movies like Shabd (kyo.n becomes why? 53 15) and Shikhar (the appearance of the cryptic 0618 10:46:5:12 10:46:54:00).

Consider the influences of jazz in the improvisatory liberties taken on lines of dialogue or fragments of lyrics. In Zeher, saahil kii tarah kaaTe mujhako chaahat kii har lahar is translated as every wave of love hits me like a bank; In Chocolate, beggar outside a temple is offered as the subtitle of ma.ndir kaa pujaarii. The gargantuan Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena took sirf arjun chaahiye? usakaa to ham shaam ko hii ##encounter## kar dete hai.n? and gave us why don't we kill his friend Shyam?. Jaan-E-Mann offered several howlers: ye kitaab mai.nne chaar baar pa.Dhii hai became i've read Picasso four times and i like self-made men became i like good manners. Shrabani Deodhar's made-for-TV-but-didn't-even-deserve-that Pehchaan (The Face of Truth) didn't stop at kachchii umar hamane saath guzaarii hai becoming we spent our prime together; dialogue in the courtroom scenes suffered as well (acts like a drug on the brain becomes the radical astra-block in the brain). In addition to being laden with belly-aching tropes of stupidity, Madhur Bhandarkar's Aan: Men at Work offered a lyrical experiment: ek lailaa ne dil uchhaalaa hai/saare aalam ko maar Daalaa hai ... haaye haaye re cha.Dhaa (etc etc) nashaa nashaa nashaa morphed into one juliet has offered her heart/she has killed the whole atmosphere ... hey, the inebriation has taken effect.

Subtitlers love dealing with profanity: they often bowdlerise screen dialogue, but make up for it by introducing cuss words in subtitles for scenes that were milder in contrast. In Lage Raho Munna Bhai baapuu ko jo karanaa wo kar le became the much stronger i don't give a sparrow's fart!. A wrong keystroke (intentional or not) often serves to introduce profanity in a harmless movie: In Sardar, the innocent junagadh's a mere pawn in the game of chess became the historically egregious junagadh's mere porn in the game of chess.

If you thought this was a problem assailing new movies, think again. In Yash Chopra's Kabhi Kabhie, har ik pal merii jawaanii hai in Sahir's mai.n pal do pal kaa shaayar huu.N got translated as i am the fountainhead of eternal youth. In Sitamgar, Majrooh's lyric took a severe beating (kisake liye marataa hai kaun / jhuuTh se log lete hai.n kaam / sab hai.n ta.Dapate apane liye / dete hai.n usako pyaar kaa naam became no one's dying for anyone / it's just a pack of lies .../ each to his own, orgasm... / yet they call it love...).

Consider now how names and numbers changed. You see a vehicle's licence plate on screen and yet the subtitle insists that it's another number. Mehra becomes Verma (Zeher), 987 becomes 973 (Aitraaz), Indu becomes Andy (Corporate), unniis saal becomes 20 years (Family: Ties of Blood) and Leela Sharma becomes Leela Heera (Film Star).

It ain't over yet folks. It wasn't bad enough that Jag Mundhra's Provoked took drastic liberties with the truth; the subtitlers had a ball twisting the lines of dialogue: they even offered alternative English subtitles to the existing English subtitles for the Hindi/Punjabi dialogue: we've had a tumultuous relationship at best became we've had multiple relationships.

Now's your chance to make a difference. Head over to Bombay TV's page dedicated to movie subtitling and take a shot at adding subtitles to a movie scene: you can choose to become yet another incompetent subtitler or you can do a world of good.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

loneliness is killing

If you've been wondering what shocking vistas the Raja Of the Rhinogenous Roundelay has in store for you with Aap Kaa Surroor -- The Moviee -- A True Luv Story [remember the rickshaws], wonder and fear no more. The nimiety of narcissism is on display in video clips from the song sequences available online. The video clip for tanhaaiyaa.N, which features Il Naso in various poses that could be fuelled by self-absorbed angst or reticent rumination. The clip opens with a fusion of populist kitschy tasteless Hinglish and Shahryar's sher that was reused by Nida Fazli in a popular Hindi film Gazal:

bhagawaan kaa screenplay bhii ajiib hai
kabhii kisii ko mukammal jahaa.N nahii.n milataa

In deriving the infectious predictable annoying core of the song (a single word repeated ad nauseum), the Pinch Singer sought inspiration from a mix tape of recordings from Bruce Lee movies. What comes out is a fervent tan-a-haii-yaa.N (or in H-speak, ta.Nna.N-haii.n-yaa.N). Each time he hits the haii you can see bricks being shattered. As your ears cringe, your eyes are subjected to a blend of some of the most common, boring and predictable cutting approach (cut before each line or short refrain) and camerawork based on the misplaced swoops and looms recently seen in RGV's Nishabd.

Bollywood loves violins. So it seems like a good idea to cue up a bunch of fair-skinned lassies in black playing air violin (with real violins, no less) with such deadpan inspirational words as the following:

you've witnessed the agonies of tragic love stories
you've witnessed the ecstasies of immortal love stories
it's time you witnessed mine

One hopes that agony visits him instead of ecstasy.

An assault on the senses is on its way. One hopes that this film is adequately bad and that the much-hyped de-cap-itation is sufficiently hilarious and inconsequential. We don't want another Love in Nepal; we want intellectually depraved trash. kacharaa.N dikhaa.N jaa.N.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

oz does dead trees

Oz, the engine driver of DesiTrain and vader of PFC is now a published author with The MBA Gang. Despite the eco-unfriendly vibes of the title of this post, the book, in accordance with current publishing practice, is also available in electronic form. Way to go! Hey JR, you've got company.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

hashmi movie HOWTO: The Train as a case in point

The headlines/titles of articles dedicated to a movie featuring the Goofy Octothorpe (previously referred to hereabouts as the future of savvy) should be enough to help you get to the core of the film. Since this is Bollywood, be not surprised at finding no reference to a ghost of a plot, a whisper of a narrative, a whiff of a story.

The Train isn't just about adultery: aha! So it's basically about adultery and then some. {article}

Kissing Emraan wasn't that scary: Sayali Bhagat: a chill ran down your spine ... but a moment later you were fine.

Kissing is part of my job, says Emraan: merely reminding you, dear filmgoer, that your money might be better spent elsewhere (like paying someone to fill up the potholes in Pune -- a breeze of a task when compared with filling up the plot holes in Bollywood's flicked flicks)

I am attracted to negative roles: Emraan Hasmi[sic]: To be used in a term paper titled "Female roles in Bollywood: The dark side of orbicularis oris"

I'm building my career all over again: Emraan: Why bother? As long as you look like Dopey crossed with an emaciated camel, you'll be fine.

And then we have a set of headlines that tell a strange tale: It's a great opportunity to have Emraan as an onscreen husband ... / I said I won't kiss but I did: Emraan Hashmi / Lip lessons: Emraan turns kissing coach / When Sayali tought [sic] Emraan how to kiss! / Sayali Bhagat slapped serial kisser / 'I play the lead, not Geeta'/ Geeta Basra unhappy over being sidelined? / Kissing your co-star is a part of your job: Geeta Basra

Wimpy and The Nose parted ways on this project and Aap Kaa Surroor: The Moviee: The Real Luv Story (more about this film that has already won the award for Most Outrageous Title for 2007) and the foundation for the rift seems to have been laid by complaints from each side that personal styles and limelight were being usurped ("I thought I sucked on screen ... you tried to ape my moves and now you make me look good!")

This film is reportedly the first Hindi film to be shot in Bangkok's Sky Trains; The makers of this film also made The Killer, didn't they? Expect another filch.

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