Saturday, January 19, 2008

Across the universe

It has most certainly been a long time. While I would have liked for the title to have some metaphorical context, I am afraid that any creativity left in me has sputtered dry. Here I will therefore be talking only about the movie bearing the aforementioned name.

There are some very poignant critiques of this movie released last year available online and I will thus refrain from any comments in that regard. My first reaction to the movie was that it is very similar to the movie 'The Wall' based on the Pink Floyd album of the same name. And in some way the concept is very similar. The major difference being in the feel of the production. This movie admittedly is a love story and devoid of the dark undertones present in 'The Wall'. Well, the Beatles while having socially and at times politically relevant lyrics were a pop band with mushy tunes when compared to Floyd. And to nitpick 'Across the universe' is based on a number of Beatles hits (33 to be exact) spread over the years they were active and not on a single album.

The movie is officially called a movie/musical but I feel that it is not a good enough reason to give this movie a miss. The picturisation is done very well for some of the Beatles songs (My favorites being 'Hey Jude' and 'Come Together'). The ones that I know to be precise. I am not a huge fan but I have been told that the songs selected in this movie are among the more popular ones. Perhaps a seasoned Beatles fan would have a better opinion in that regard. Either way, the movie is certainly watchable and enjoyable. This video is a clip from the movie that I happened to particularly enjoy.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


A few days after the last post, my brother had a baby girl. I got a few new pics of hers today and wanted to share them. Meet Aarushi,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Picture Perfect

This is highly irregular. Two posts on the same day. I must really not feel like studying. I was sent this song by a friend of mine months ago, today I happened to come across this show called 'Weeds' (which I recall only because of the rather provocative poster I had seen in Manhattan, during my last visit). Nevertheless, the visualization of this song, combined with the plot of the show makes the execution perfect.

I saw a film

The last few weeks have been a attempt at perseverance. An attempt to prepare for the qualifiers in September. It stays however as an attempt. And in the middle of this I find myself trying to break the monotony of books with movies. I saw movies and I saw films. This post is just an impulsive reaction to one such film. Little Miss Sunshine.

The movie came to my attention during this year's Oscars. It seemed to have a faded effect in the midst of movies like 'The Departed' and 'Babel'. Every other entry was this major blockbuster or had a major cast and in their midst was the story of this little girl. My initial reaction was that movies about kids are always a award entry. I forgot about it till now.

After watching this movie, I realised why this film deserved a place up there. Labeled as a dark-comedy, I was looking for smart situational humor. Quite unlike some of the reviews that you might read, I never did find many laugh out loud sketches. What I did find were powerful scenes with a sprinkling of light-hearted comedy which makes you smile and bring a tear to your eye at the same time. The movie does not have many characters. But the ones that are there, carve out a irreplaceable niche for themselves. My impression of the American family culture, unfortunately enough is rather negative. Many Americans agree that, family values do not command respect in this country. This movie however, displays something quite on the contrary. The idea of the family pushing the broken van to a start found its own metaphorical beauty without much effort.

That was only one of the many dimensions on which this movie is defined. Another feature that I found very striking was the craze that exists for beauty pageants. I suppose you will agree that these pageants are only means of seeking attention; finding a place on the social pedestal. In this film the idea of beauty pageant for kids made the concept glaringly obvious. The climax is a work of art in itself. On the writer's part and well as the directors who turned out this brilliant sequence of scenes which were hard to watch and hard to miss at the same time. The ending is not the perfect ending that might be expected but under the layers, the climax leaves you smiling, with the beautiful song by DeVotchka playing as the credits roll. So just as in the movie, I leave you with the song. Enjoy!!!

The chorus. I had to put it up here.

And everybody knows where this is heading
Forgive me for forgetting
Our hearts irrevocably combined
Star-crossed souls slow dancing
Retreating and advancing
Across the sky until the end of time

Saturday, August 11, 2007

My weakness

I have been smoking for a long time. Well, more than five years actually. And people ask me why I smoke and over the years I have come up with several ways of explaining the reason. They tell me its bad for my health. In the words of Ebenezer Scrooge, Bah, humbug!!. Every smoker knows its bad for his/her health. But we all smoke nevertheless. I confess that in the beginning, there was a certain cool factor attached to it. Even if I was smoking on my own time. And perhaps a large part of the blame can be placed on the media, the movie. It makes, smoking look stylish. Call me crazy but quite often in day to day life, I approach solitude as a scene from a movie. To explain better I give you this example. MY first smoke in the day is a ritualistic affair, complete with the black flat coffee. Almost always I am the sole participant of this ritual. And I imagine myself, in third person. The camera panning overhead. A voiceover running through my thoughts. A soundtrack in the background. I call it my out of the body experience. It is my way of enjoying my life. Very pathetic you might say. But then again, I guess I am taking Morrison to heart, and making a movie on my life. A series of shorts.

That was how it started. A cool fad. Intermediately it assumed certain suicidal tendencies, but I do not wish to sully this piece with those long lost morbid thoughts. Just to provide and insight that when smokers know that the smokes are harmful, it may be an effort to hurt themselves. A different way of cutting yourself. I leave it at that. Now, after five years, it is a full blown addiction. And my standard answer these days, 'Every man has a right to at least one addiction'. I think if you don't, you have just bound your life. Living one's life within the confines of a healthy living, what is the point. I am not a believer in long life. So indulging in your addictions is good for the soul. It may all sound like bullshit but these are my thoughts. I leave it at that.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hark! The sloth speaks, and it has become a full time cynic

As almost always, I write to avoid work just a little bit longer. After what can only be described as my most testing semester after coming to the US (which is not saying much since it is only the second), the summer vacations started with the unexpected discovery that I have the next four months to myself (and that was more than a month back), in no useful way I add. And that brings me back to the idea of work. I find my work to be most interesting but blame it on the summer, I do not feel like working. I will not dwell on that topic any further. It is boring. I am boring. I believe I belie notions. I believe that I am interesting. I believe I fool myself. I believe I should be committed.

There I think I have satisfied all my ego for one post. I have decided to stop trying to be smart and dazzle people with my literary skills. Fuck that. I have suffered a loss. I have lost the will to write. This draft goes along with the several others that I have started and yet never went beyond a measly paragraph. But I hear brevity is the new thing. Intelligence I was told long back is measured in silence and brevity. Well so is ineptness. But I suppose we make believe whatever sounds right to us. Whatever that makes us look good. So here is what I have done; picked up all my previous drafts and made one big one out of it. Brevity is not my style. But who really cares.

Monday, March 19, 2007


After a weekend which can only be described as the perfect getaway at home, I found myself awaiting a new week, with fresh deadlines and mundane details of grad life. It only seemed prudent to prepare myself and work a little, to rub away that guilt of wiling time. It was at this point that I was distracted by the ever so interesting concept of youtube and ran across the video by Them clones. Very few of few would know about this band from Delhi which has been maturing into quite an act. Good music is one thing but to have a music video, in my opinion is quite unprecedented.

The video as you might be able to see is not much of a technical breakthrough but at least it qualifies as one. This got me thinking about the recent developments I had witnessed in the Indian independent music scene. I remember writing about the pretentious rock culture of Delhi in the fledgling rock circuit of India. I think I stand corrected. I am sure the pretension is still laid on thick but the number of outlets amazes me no end. My claims being backed by the discovery of the Indian Rock Radio Station "RadioVerve". It is online of course, for God only knows, how many people would care for the death riffs to air over our FM waves. It is start nevertheless. A start which makes me rather hopeful because here I find a bunch of the stereotyped Indian software pros, quitting their jobs and working on popularizing the Indian music scene. The Indian bands still claim the lack of production values however I find that to be not that big a deal. But then I am no expert.

All in all, I believe things are definitely looking up and the quality of music is as good as always. I do dream of playing some of the stuff from back home on WRPI, the local radio station, but then that is just a dream. All I can hope for now is that I catch all the good stuff coming out of the Indian music scene.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Who is Kevin Bacon ?

One of my professors is fond of academic genealogy. He talks about his academic father (his PhD adviser) , his academic grandfather (who by simple logic would be his PhD adviser's PhD adviser), and all other possible relations, brothers, uncles, nephews etc. Two things intrigued me immediately. First, the absence of any aunts or sisters or mothers. Talk about a patriarchal society. And second, the tremendous geek pride palpable in every syllable. Of course, if I were to say that Einstein is my academic father, ok, grandfather or great grandfather come to that, I would stow away that nugget of information and take it to my deathbed. But in no case would I publicize this 'fact'. There are some things that a man can just not be proud of. But I thank God that such responsibility has not befallen me.

So after this class I set off on my own little hunt, trying to learn more about this curious hobby among the 'doctor kind'. I was surprised to learn about another form of this genealogy in the so called Erdős number. Paul Erdős was the quintessential and perhaps the only itinerant researcher. Extremley brilliant and eccentric to an equal degree. Erdős number of an author is a way of describing the collaborative distance between an author an Erdős. The following is an excerpt from wikipedia about the same.

"Erdős wrote around 1500 mathematical articles in his lifetime, mostly co-written. He had 509 direct collaborators[1]; these are the people with Erdős number 1. The people who have collaborated with them (but not with Erdős himself) have an Erdős number of 2 (6,984 people), those who have collaborated with people who have an Erdős number of 2 (but not with Erdős or anyone with an Erdős number of 1) have an Erdős number of 3, and so forth..."

I understand the concept, but in the process I also came across several variants of the Erdős number, the most hilarious of which was the Erdős-Bacon number. When I came across this page I was laughing to the point of stomach cramps. The reason being that the individual's Erdős–Bacon number is the sum of one's Erdős number—which measures the "collaborative distance" in authoring mathematical papers between that individual and Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős—and one's Bacon number—which represents the number of links, through roles in films, by which the individual is separated from actor Kevin Bacon.

Now who the fuck chose Kevin Bacon !!! As far as I know the guy was a star. Not a big star. Starred in a number of B grade movies and personally irritates me because he doesn't have any lips. If you don't believe me, look up some of his movies. As even a small bit of common sense would suggest, there would be very few number of people who would have a finite Erdős Bacon number. I get the impression that this is the mind work of a really bored set of indviduals. Anyway, who gives a damn.