Archive for November, 2008

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stephen_leacockChuck Palahniuk’s Rant was the last novel I had the pleasure of devouring. And that was nearly four months ago. Like Chinese food, I think literature too can get a bit redundant over a period of time. This morning as I was reading The Mutt, I stumbled upon the word “Peacock” in a quirky piece called BIC HOK TAM …and for obviously limmericky reasons, I got reminded of Canadian writer and humourist Stephen Leacock.

I first heard of Leacock during those years of utter boredom in Loyola College when Bertram Hall and its library gave me solace from the sociopathic monkeys I had to mingle with during class hours. Granted the Loyola library had more cobwebs per square metre than it had decent books, but still if one looked hard enough, a fantastically obscure piece of literature was always around the corner. I came across a collection of short stories titled Nonsense Novels by Stephen Leacock. Three days later, the Great Group Email Frenzy of 2000 began as I couldn’t help but copy and paste Leacock’s tremendously funny anecdotes on hotmail and send them to as many people as I could.

Not many people read Leacock these days. In fact, most of them are convinced that Hector Hugh Munroe is the funniest short story writer that ever was. Well, Saki’s short stories could dance circles around O’Henry any day of the week, but I would still consider them a work in progress when compared to Leacock’s archive. Not that it matters too much, but the titles of his stories are way more intriguing than any of Dog Fashion Disco song titles; unless someone is of the opinion that Valley Girl Ventriloquist sounds cooler than than Hellements of Hickonomics In Hiccoughs Of Verse Done In Our Social Planning Mill.

My Remarkable Uncle and Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town are my personal favourites, and Sorrows Of A Super Soul Or The Memoirs Of Marie Mushenough is probably the funniest short story ever written.

And muchos gracios to www.online-literature.com for having online copies of his Stephen Leacock’s works. You can read them here.

Wiki says a rumour spread in 1911 that said, “more people had heard of Stephen Leacock than had heard of Canada”…well, fast-forward to 2008 when public relations consultant Terry Fallis won the Stephen Leacock medal for a friggin’ political satire.

I guess, the world just isn’t funny as it used to be.

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800px-batman_turkeyExcerpts from an article that appeared in the MSNBC website…

The mayor of the real city of Batman — an oil-producing city in southeast Turkey — is reportedly suing “Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros.

“There is only one Batman in the world,” Kalkan said. “The American producers used the name of our city without informing us.” Kalkan claims he has evidence, which will show the city of Batman was founded before the 1939 debut of Bob Kane’s DC Comics superhero by the same name.

Excerpts from my mind…

What the fuck?

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A pocketful of flashy fun

pocket-tanksI trash-talk while playing flash games with my office colleagues. I think there’s a special place in hell reserved for me.

Anyway, Pocket Tanks rules in so many ways.

Download it and you’ll see an entirely new perspective on the concept of working overtime.

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9780786267538I am an arrogant person. Most people who know me really well would testify to that. Maybe it’s my presumption that I am more perceptive than almost everyone else or perhaps it has something to do with how monstrous my ego can be. Whatever it is, it seriously inhibits me from appreciating new forms of art that my fellow brethren (and soul sistas!) have discovered before I did.

But I’m thinking that it’s not entirely my fault; especially with respect to movies. I have been exposed to a plethora of horrid films over the years that came with very high recommendations from friends. Citizen Kane, Unforgiven, Cold Creek Manor, The Air I Breathe, As Good As It Gets, and pretty much any film by Akira Kurosawa – each of them came with a recommendation tag but ended up being thoroughly disappointing. Jerry comes with some decent recommendations every now and then, as the ninja from Darjeeling once did. But it was never enough to become a habit.

During my yearlong stint in one of those online marketing firms in Bangalore, I met Vivek Pinto – a mild-mannered Manglorean, quiz master, blogger, film enthusiast and probably the most versatile writer I have worked with. During the first few weeks, I gave him a really difficult time with my alarming lack of understanding of the industry and terms such as “data warehousing” and “enterprise application management.” Like the workhorse that he is, Pinto even picked away at my brain until I stopped being stubborn about getting Jack Kerouac to sell Wipro’s IT solutions and started using words like “best-in-breed”, “cost-effectiveness” and whatnot. Soon enough, we recognized each other’s undeniable qualities as film geeks, which eventually led to the very first time I had a thorough discussion about David Cronenberg without the other person looking quizzically at me in utter dread.

For the next 11 months, from Monday to Friday, we talked about films. Our favourite thread of discussion often centered on Werner Herzog, Roger Ebert and American Indie culture. The geekdom further gained credibility with the inclusion of D – Bangalore’s version of The Talented Mr Ripley – in our morning discussions.

7184pngSo a month ago, Pinto calls me frantically in one of his “dude, you have to watch this or you will suffer a terrible death that even Beelzebub wouldn’t wish upon his enemies” tones. He told in length about this television drama series called Dexter. Based on Jeff Lindsay’s Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the series chronicled the life and times of Dexter Morgan, a blood splatter analyst working for the Miami Police Department. But what he really does is track down serial killers and wreak bloody havoc on them. Despite it’s outwardly quasi-Seventies film noir vibe, Pinto assured me that it was anything but that.

I think I’ll take a rain check on elaborating further on Dexter since Pinto’s alter ego – Papa Bear – would do a better job at that. In fact, he already has. Read his review here. He was also nice enough to send me copies of Season 1 and 2 and after seeing the debut episode, well, I can safely say that I am thoroughly intrigued. It seems to have everything that made Six Feet Under fantastic…melancholy, claustrophobia, great music and actors who know when they have to take themselves seriously.

To paraphrase Ebert…Thumbs way, way up.

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Conjuring up the spirit that inspired Kat Williams to tell us that people like Steve Irwin, and James Brown were indeed “gangsters”, I’d like to mourn the death of another such man.

Rest in peace, Sir M.N Nambiar …you truly were a motherfucking “gangster.”


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In life, there are quite a few certainties in life. For instance, it is always ironic. And you can bet your ass that you will learn more from your first day at the job that you would have from three years of college. Art too has certainties without which it will probably be better off, but that’s a story for another day. When it comes to films, you can be sure of a lot of things. For example, About Schmidt will remain the finest testament to Jack Nicholson’s talent and Charlie Kaufman is the best scriptwriter in Hollywood bar none. It would also be safe to assume that Wolf Creek is the best Australian outback film ever made.

With the sheer enormity of its content, it might be a bit foolhardy to make the same assumptions about music. But there are a few undeniable cases. For instance, there is no denying that Nina Simone had the loveliest voice that side of the Atlantic. Or how Beach Boys made some of the most melodious pop music that ever was. Also I believe that Bob Dylan’s “Masters Of War” will reign supreme as the greatest chetatkinstommyemmanuel-thedayfingeprotest song ever written.

Last week, another such certainty crawled up to my ears. I heard what I think is the best Beatles’ cover of all time.


Tommy Emmanuel & Jake Shimabukuro – While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Tommy Emmanuel – an Australian guitarist known for his intricate fingerpicking style and Jake Shimabukuro – a Japanese American ‘madcap’ ukulele player with his roots in freestyle jazz – performed this version of George Harrison’s classic at some random concert in Sydney.

The Beatles crafted harmonies that were ridiculously simple and just as effective. I’d prefer The Rolling Stones to the Fab Four any day of the week, but still I can’t help but have a ton of respect for their dedication to create pitch-perfect melodies.jakeshimabukuro_11

Through the ages, musicians have covered them to hell and back. Right from Joe Cockers blistering version of “With A Little Help From My Friends” and Aretha Franklin’s awesome rendition of “Eleanor Rigby” to a really weird cover of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by William Shatner and Siouxsie Sioux’s gothic take on “Dear Prudence”, diversity has been the keyword when it comes to Beatles’ covers.

Emmanuel & Shimabukuro’s instrumental cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is stunning with its simplicity. If Jimi Hendrix got brainwashed Don Felder and drank Absinthe through a ukulele, he might approve of this. And that can never be a bad thing.

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