Monday, 31 March 2014

Some conversations

can be so draining. You know you're not really getting through to the other person but you try anyway. In the end, you walk away frustrated and they aren't feeling any better either. Wish I could avoid these situations. Usually I'm in too deep before I know what's up and then it's too late to back out. Ugh.

In other news, I spent a ton of money on music today. Have a sweet bunch of records headed my way soon. I should start doing the Vinyl Weekend thing again. I haven't been listening to my records as much as I should ever since I moved. Need to set up my gear properly. Soon.

Here's a list of what I bought today. All good stuff that is well worth checking out, mainly of an electronic/noise/drone/ambient music persuasion.

Dino Spiluttini & Nils Quak - Modular Anxiety

Safiyya - Shareek Hayaat

Fennesz Daniell Buck - Knoxville

Robert A.A. Lowe & Rose Lazar - Eclipses

3 Derek Rogers albums on bandcamp

Also, gave the new self-titled St. Vincent album a listen and quite liked it. I think I'll try and go see her show tomorrow after all.

Update: I took a photo of all that stuff I bought. Here it is.

Sunday, 30 March 2014


Been awake for 36 hours now. Not really sure why. On the bright side, got a couple of chores done, listened to some new music (well, I've been doing a lot of that, but this time it was full albums instead of soundcloud / bandcamp track by track listens: Andy Stott - Luxury Problems, Death Grips - Exmilitary, and Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto - Insen), and finished catching up on Community Season 5.

I quite like this new season. A huge improvement over the gas leak year. Lots of laughs as usual, but what was surprising was how emotional Troy's departure was. Maybe it was because I was running on no sleep for so long, but I admit I teared up a couple of times (that Abed!).

Ok, now I go sleep. Probably going to sleep my Sunday away. Oh well. Next week is so full of happenings it will totally make up for a mostly uneventful weekend. St. Vincent on Monday (maybe), Earth on Tuesday (definitely) and the Middle of the Map fest from Thursday to Saturday. I mostly only got tickets to the latter because Wolf Eyes was on the lineup. Still not really sure who else I really want to see. Was hoping some of the local psych acts would play but looks like they aren't. Have a few days to figure out my schedule, I guess...Ok ok, really going this time. Night night!

Oh, before I go, a recent music find that I'm quite digging -

Thursday, 27 March 2014

7 Khoon Maaf

Just finished watching my first Vishal Bhardwaj film - 7 Khoon Maaf. I knew going in that it was his least appreciated film. So why did I watch it first? Maybe for the same reason I save the best for the last. Mostly though because it was really available as the local library had a copy by some odd chance.

The film had certain striking sections and one brilliant song. The twist at the end was nicely done. But other than that it left me rather cold. The tone of it was just off. I liked the actor who played the narrator - turns out he is Naseeruddin Shah's son. The son outdid the father in this particular movie, as well as most others in the cast. I found John Abraham particularly lifeless and Annu Kapoor's caricaturish performance cringeworthy.

Overall, I find myself agreeing with Raja Sen's review minus his sense of disappointment for obvious reasons. I found his line about Neil Nithin Mukesh's moustache particularly enjoyable. More enjoyable that the whole of this movie, unfortunately.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

March is for Music

This month has been a wild ride. I haven't discovered this much new music in this short a time frame since sometime back in 2006 or 2007 when a certain bunch of people threw a lot of great music my way changing my life in a very fundamental way. That may sound like an exaggeration but it really isn't. It was pretty much the big bang of my musical universe. Or rather the inflation shortly after the bang (if I understand inflation theory correctly). So I'd like to say a big thank you to all those people whom I'm sadly not really in touch with anymore (internet, heh).

But coming back to the present, today's major discoveries were Good Willsmith and Nils Frahm. Never heard of either of them before today but one listen was all it took to compel me to buy their recent records. I haven't listened to Nils Frahm's Spaces in full yet, so I'll talk about that album another day. Good Willsmith's The Honeymoon Workbook, on the other hand, I listened to not once but twice. I listened the first time, LOVED IT, immediately bought the LP online (something I very rarely do, usually preferring to buy direct from artists on tour or at local record store), then listened again all the way through. I'm listening again as I write this, so make that three times.

Despite all these listens, I don't know if I can actually describe this album. A very vague description would be noisy ambient drone experimental electronic field recording and otherworldly sounding vocals filled yet rhythm oriented crazy dark yet compelling ride. It really is something you have to listen to and experience in its entirety, which you can do courtesy of tiny mix tapes here (scroll down to the soundcloud stream). The album is one cohesive piece with the tracks flowing right into each other. In fact, I found the little hiccup in the stream during track transitions a little off-putting tbh, so I'm all the more eager to get my LP with the download code. Here is the second track from the album, which is a good taste of it, and what drew my attention to it in the first place. But really, do listen to the whole thing if you like this. And buy it (they're even throwing in a free limited edition cassette of live recordings with the LP!)

In other unrelated news, Kronos Quartet started following me on Twitter this morning! I still half-think they must've accidentally clicked follow when looking at the multitude of tweets where I mentioned them yesterday. Which is partly why I didn't even give a shout out thanking them for the follow; I don't want them to realise their mistake and unfollow me right away. So instead, I'll say wtfwhee here instead. :)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Happy Birthday, Kronos Quartet!

I've gone on about them elsewhere but they deserve a post all to themselves, especially on their 40th birthday. Despite being someone who is not particularly knowledgeable or even uniformly appreciative of (western) classical music, I'm still strangely fond of Kronos Quartet. I think this has a lot to do with their very varied repertoire and collaborations with musicians from every imaginable genre and country pretty much.

I originally wrote a couple of paragraphs listing all the different works they've performed and tried to link one of each kind, but that's a hopelessly colossal task. So I'm going to content myself with writing about their live performance today to celebrate their fortieth - Kronos at 40 at the Greenespace in NY. As it happens, their set was well chosen to showcase their versatility, so it will serve my original aim perfectly.

The first piece they performed was written by Nicole Lizée specifically for Kronos Quartet. Death to Kosmische was actually more like a celebration of Kosmische Musik. Or maybe it was named thus in the sense that people say "they killed it". Yeah, that must be it, because Kronos did just that. The facility with which they switched back and forth between their regular string instruments and some really fantastic looking instruments was a joy to behold. But the greater joy was in listening to the brilliant sounds they created with all of these. I really really need to look up the composer to whom an equal share of praise is definitely due. When the piece ended, I couldn't help breaking out into rapturous applause even though I was sitting at home watching the video stream and knew they couldn't hear me. Sometimes (or is it most times?) applause isn't about showing appreciation so much as an involuntary response to a moving experience. Much like tears - which almost fell by the end of today's performance. But more on that in due course.

After that impossible to top opening piece, they played an arrangement of an old blues song by Geeshie Wiley called Last Kind Words. While this was really good, it didn't quite measure up Death to Kosmische for me. Admittedly, part of the reason for this is that Krautrock/Kosmische Musik is a top favourite genre of mine. But I think more critically this piece suffered from the lack of vocals. What's a blues song without the singing, eh? I can imagine how good this song would be with the right vocals and lyrics (the host recited a few of the latter and they were quite promising), and I mean to look up the original soon.

The third piece was also one that wasn't written specifically for Kronos, but they nailed this one. It was a special arrangement of a Cuban song - Margarita Lecuona's Tabú. I loved it. Hank Dutt was bang on in his introduction when he called it a very sexy, seductive song that it would be hard not to move to.

The final work was specially commissioned by Kronos Quartet as part of their Under 30 Project. In her introduction, the composer Mary Kouyoumdjian said that her piece was influenced by Steve Reich's Different Trains - one of my very favourite compositions ever. Unfortunately, I missed the first minute or so of Bombs of Beirut thanks to a bit of a snag in the live stream and/or my wireless network. When the video came back, my brain immediately recognized the Reich influence, but it took me some time to truly get into the piece and feel it. By the time the part where Kronos's playing and the voices narrating faded away to be replaced by the sound of the bombings (actual field recordings from the Lebanese civil war) came on though, everything except the music and the atmosphere it created had faded away as well. The last movement/section was extremely moving and I simply had to close my eyes and listen with all my being. When the piece ended, it left me in a completely different place from when I began listening to it. This time there was no bursting into applause. Just a sense of awe and also of emptiness.

After giving myself some time to recover, my first impulse was to seek out another song which was brought to my mind by this one. Very different in style, but very similar in theme - Vidai Kodu Engal Naade from Kannathil Muthamittaal. It was hard not to feel a deep sense of frustration and almost hopelessness after listening to this song right after the other one. Hard to keep back the thoughts about how stupid and pointless war is and why on earth stupid humans keep fighting each other time after time, all over the goddamned world. But no, I won't go there again. I'll leave you instead with these videos from today's performance (skip to 11:30 in the first video if you want to get right to the show):

My heartfelt thanks once again to Kronos Quartet, The Greene Space, Q2 music, and every single other person behind this amazing show and its live webcast!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Glenn Kotche - Adventureland

I mentioned this album in my last post and how I was interrupted mid-listen. Well, I finally listened to the whole thing today, and it is really really good. Definitely picking this one up when it releases. What drew me to this album was the fact that it featured Kronos Quartet, who can do no wrong in my eyes. I love just about everything that they've been involved in that I have heard. Even got to see them live once and it was amazing. Side note here - Q2 music is hosting a 24 hour Kronos Quartet marathon on Monday in honour of their 40th anniversary, including a live video stream of their anniversary performance (squee!)

But, I digress. Given that I was listening for Kronos Quartet, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked some of the movements of the second piece, The Haunted, that they haven't performed on. The rhythmic interplay between the piano and percussion work really well in them and are quite delightful.

The album itself starts off with Anomaly, movement 1 (the piece written for Kronos Quartet), which is glitchy minimal goodness, but the album really gets going with the second track, the aptly named The Haunted, movement 5 - Dance. The momentum keeps up after that with Anomaly, movement 2, whose percussive elements really speak to me. There are also a couple of pieces not belonging to either The Haunted or Anomaly, which are also really good. The first of these, The Travelling Turtle, is a simple happy tinkle-y piece. The other, Triple Fantasy, is quite a bit more complex and will require at least a second listen before I can digest it.

I am always drawn to percussion, to the beats, the rhythm more than anything else in music. And with Glenn Kotche being a drummer, there is no dearth of that here. I really should check out more of his work. Maybe even give his band Wilco a listen. Always assumed they were your typical indie rock band and never bothered checking them out. But, given how good this album is, a band this man is associated is surely worth my while to at least give a chance to.

You can listen to the entire album (and read a much more coherent write up of it) here. If you don't want to commit to listening to the whole thing without a small taste first, try this first

Thursday, 20 March 2014

A very musical day

It's been an overwhelming day. So much new music. It all started with listening to a mixtape by a Bang on a Can All-Stars member on Q2 music. I missed the Terry Riley piece, which is what drew me to start listening in the first place, but all the rest were very good and by unknown artists (to me) to boot. The only other name I recognized aside from Riley was Ryuichi Sakamoto. Mainly because of his association with Fennesz. I also vaguely remembered coming across Alva Noto sometime or the other. So I was eagerly waiting for that bonus track Moon. As it happened, it was never played.

Today also happened to be a busy day at work, which is where all this listening has been taking place. But I was so captivated by the music that was on this mixtape stream that I didn't want to leave my desk to go talk to a co-worker about some work related stuff. Kept waiting for a boring part that I could use as a break. It never came. Then I saw that the track currently playing was the last one before the bonus track. So I told myself I would go after that one and Moon had finished playing. Just 15 more minutes tops. Well, instead of Moon, they went right into a John Adams track. It was interesting enough to make me want to keep listening, even though it didn't make me want to look him or his work up right away. What I heard after the John Adams made me sit right up. I switch tabs to see whose work was playing, and it is John fucking Cage. Of course. I really need to listen to more of his discography. I loved this particular piece - Mysterious Adventure.

Meanwhile, I had seen a link to a new album featuring Kronos Quartet by some person I hadn't heard of called Glenn Kotche. Turns out he is the drummer for Wilco, a band I've heard of but never actually listened to (that I can remember anyway). Anyway, I started listening to this and really liked the two-ish tracks of it I heard before having to step away. Should listen to the rest of it sometime.

In all this, I hadn't forgotten about that bonus track that never got played. I had actually googled it as soon as I saw they weren't playing it, found a youtube video, which I left open in another tab so I could come back to it. I finally did just that and wow. So beautiful. At first, I was only listening to it in the background while doing other stuff, but it drew me back to it. The beginning actually reminds me of a Björk song I can't put my finger on right at this moment. The video was very interesting also. Turns out that it is actually an unrelated performance of a dancer called Yang Liping also titled Moon. It fits this track so well, however. I think I've listened to this song over a dozen times today. This despite discovering yet more new music thanks to a closeout sale at mimaroglu (brain was too fried by this time to take in any more new music, although I've made note of the stuff I want to revisit there). Anyway, I'll leave you with the video/song that really caught my fancy on a day filled with so much amazing music. Enjoy!

Just realized that this is my 50th blog post. How fitting that it should be about music - my raison d'être.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

More Marx Madness

Saw my second Marx Brothers feature on the big screen today - A Night at the Opera. It was eerily like watching a Tamil masala movie (not sure if other Indian language films do this as well). Only in our masala movies, what could have been a perfectly good drama/romance/whatever is rudely interrupted by an unnecessary and jarring comedy track, while here it was the other way around.

The Marx Brothers were brilliant, even more so than in Duck Soup in places, but their hilarious, rip-roaring (I was seriously laughing so loud, but I didn't feel awkward this time thanks to everyone else in the audience also joining in) awesomeness was awkwardly broken up by this completely bland, boring and oh-so-badly acted romance plot. Seriously, even I, with my fanning-only dramatic skills, can do better than the "lead" couple in this movie. And my cat staring boredly at the camera would have more screen presence that these two with their vacuous expressions.

And those songs! Ugh. Almost yelled at the screen a couple of times asking them to shut the fuck up and get the brothers back on screen already. Managed to restrain myself with a great effort and satisfied myself with pulling faces in the dark instead.

The only musical piece I enjoyed was Chico and Harpo's piano and harp bit after the token item/hero song (they seriously showed a random shot of a woman's undies, because hey, why not) in the ship. Chico's piano playing was such a treat to watch. I was as memerised as those children were. Never have I enjoyed watching someone play the piano so much. Harpo's harp (!) piece, on the other hand, quite took me by surprise. It was such a beautiful rendition. He's always the clown - right before going to the harp he takes over the piano from Chico and does a zany bit - so I wasn't expecting him to play something so moving. He does make crazy eyes for a bit in the middle, his playing is still on point.

The comedy, like I said before, was ridiculous and absurd and amazingly funny. Groucho seemed to have fewer puns this time around. Or at least, they weren't coming at jet speed like in Duck Soup. He kills it in that cabin scene though. "Two boiled eggs. Make that three."

Give them a thousand boiled eggs, for crying out loud. They deserve that and more. These guys were so freaking talented. I am officially a fan. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Random Live Music Day

I found out about this show (Expo 70 + Midday Veil + Airport) just an hour before it was supposed to begin in a venue some 40 miles away. It was a show I really wanted to see. Only catch was I didn't have the exact address of the place. I had a vague memory of catching another show there a few years ago, featuring Expo 70 again, actually. All I remembered was that it was an art studio type place in an out-of-the-way part of the city where some of the more experimental local bands and occasionally some out of towners played, usually for free or for a small donation. I posted on the Midday Veil fb page asking for the address without much hope of an answer that late. But, lo and behold, they answered.

So I drove over thinking I was an hour late and hoping I wouldn't miss either Expo 70 or Midday Veil. I get there only to find no one but the bands inside and about 4 people hanging outside the studio. It was too cold to stay out, so I went in, said an awkward hello, sat down and pulled out my phone. Expo 70 who went first started playing a solid hour or more after I got there. Smartphones are such a blessing in circumstances like this, although I did wish I had the guts to join in in their conversation about krautrock and other cool musics. Especially when I overheard them talking about Can and Faust. Sigh.

Anyway it was a great show and a perfect way to start the week. Very glad I decided to go even though I was feeling a bit under the weather. I'll write up a more detailed review tomorrow maybe. I just got back home and it's already past 2 (I wrote up part of this post in between acts). Must hit the sack soon 'cause I have to make it to work early tomorrow so I can get out of work early as well.  Marx brothers month continues tomorrow with A Night At The Opera. Whee.

Oh, also, the percussionist from Midday Veil (dude played the bongos and a triangle(!) among other things) thanked me for stopping by on my way out. It was a last minute plan to have the show apparently, and only a handful of people turned up overall, and I was the only one aside from the band folks who stayed till the very end. It was very nice of him, but I'm pretty sure I made a fool of myself. Still, :)

And since I'm in such a good mood. Here have a song by one of my all-time favourite bands, a live version even:

Monday, 17 March 2014

Stop waffling

Why is change so scary while at the same time stagnation intolerable? You want to get out of the rut you've somehow gotten yourself into, but you're afraid to take that leap. What if what you leap into is worse than this shithole?

So you do nothing. Not yet, you tell yourself. But guess what, inaction is how you ended up where you are in the first place.

Stop. Waffling.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Music for a rainy day

Bohren & der Club of Gore is one of my top choices for rainy day music. This is music that will conjure up images of rain and drench your soul even if you listen to it on a bright and sunny day. It is like the soundtrack to an imaginary film noir, only slowed down even more than those soundtracks usually are. I guess that's where the labels doom jazz and noir jazz come from. This is not happy music. But it is seductive all the same.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Bang On A Can's 2014 People's Commissioning Fund Concert

I caught the live stream of Bang on a Can's People's Commissioning Fund concert yesterday (you can find the full audio here) and it made me so so happy. Bang on a Can is a contemporary classic music outfit based in NY. Every year they do this concert funded by, well, the people where they commission works from upcoming and established composers to be performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars ensemble. They also do other festivals and events throughout the year - one of which, the marathon concert, is one I've long longed to go to but it always either happens when I'm least able to fly to NY or I find out about it just after it's over.

Yesterday's PCF concert started out with an avant-garde piece called Lick which was apparently composed by one of the co-founders of Bang on a Can, Julia Wolfe, 20 years ago! I missed the intro and had no idea that the piece was that old. It was quite radical and rad. A joyfully cacophonous way to start the concert, I must say.

After that energetic start, they premiered the three pieces commissioned for this year, the first of which completely blew me away. It was Alvin Lucier's Firewood. Now I had never heard of this man before. The write up called him an electronic music pioneer. He spoke about the piece before the played it and he sounded very old. That's about the sum total of what I caught since my mind was wandering. The one thing he said that caught my attention was how he didn't use electronics unless he had to (none was used for Firewood). The incongruity of that struck me since he was billed as an electronic pioneer.

I paid more attention when I listened to his introduction speech again just now (I'm relistening to the whole show as I write this), and only some of it made sense to my musically ignorant brain. The gist of it is that the piece was inspired by the tracks left by insects as they crawled on firewood. He split the All-Stars into two trios that play his score in such a way that one trio follows the pattern of the tracks and the other plays tones that cause interferences that produce beats.

All this I know now. All I knew yesterday was this was a piece of music that really moved me. It was completely mesmerising. One of those rare moments that make you really glad to be alive. My only regret is not getting to experience it live in that hall. It starts just after the 16 minute mark in the audio stream. Start a few minutes earlier if you want to hear the intro. Headphones are essential for the full effect. I don't have my headphone here with me now and it really takes away from the experience when ambient noises interfere with the music.

The second piece they premiered was The Brief and Neverending Blur by Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry. I didn't really know Parry or his work, in or out of Arcade Fire, aside from the score of Her (although I think it was another band member who co-composed that). I found this piece quite underwhelming, but I think it suffered because it followed Lucier's piece. When I listened to it again today, with an adequate break in between the two pieces, I liked it more. Still it seemed to fall just short of being great.

The final premiere was Daniel Wohl's Holographic. This piece brought back the magic, the joy. A very fun and delightful electroacoustic work. It is hard not to smile when listening to it. I'm definitely looking up more of this guy's work. Quite the find.

And speaking of finds, Alvin Lucier is obviously the biggest discovery for me from this show. The best musical/artistic find in quite some time. I've looked him up since then and I'm quite keen on listening to every single piece he's ever created. I did listen to his most famous work, I am sitting in a room, earlier today. It is quite something indeed. The concept is brilliant, but what's amazing is how well it stands as an engaging piece of music in its own right. I really want to try it out in different rooms to see what I can come up with.

I know this post is already overlong and I should probably end here, but I really want to share this brilliant review of I am sitting in a room by Brian Olewnick. It says everything I can't. Read, and then listen.

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Path Less Trodden

Is always more fun to walk on than the paved one, don't you think? Literally as well as metaphorically. I took one such walk today. Started out on the "proper" trail, but soon jumped off of it and wandered around in the rugged park grounds. Not a long walk though. Only had 10ish minutes to spare. Still.

Now if only I could find the courage to do the same in life instead of always straddling the damn line. Inertia is a bitch.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Duck Soup

Today I watched my first Marx Brothers movie - Duck Soup. I got to watch it on the big screen too. It was a strange experience.

I found the movie very funny. And punny. The puns came so fast that it was hard to keep up. Almost wished for subtitles, but then I figured it would be even harder to read that fast and not miss the riot on-screen.

The strange part of the experience had to do with my fellow audience members. For one, they weren't laughing during a lot of scenes and lines that I thought were hilarious. When they did laugh, some of them laughed way too hard. Like they were determined to find whatever they were laughing at funny. It was weird. Never have I felt more out of sync at a show of any kind.

Anyway, back to the Marx Brothers. Groucho was brilliant. People who say I talk to fast ought to hear this guy go. And unlike me, he is terribly witty. Harpo's pantomime act was ridiculously funny. I'm usually not a big fan of slapstick, but his antics completely won me over. And the timing! Now I get why these guys are comedy legends. Chico didn't make as strong as impression on me, though I did enjoy his trial scene, and Zeppo was essentially just the straight guy with not much of a part to play.

I really have to watch this movie again, at home, where I can pause and rewind and watch slowly so as to properly absorb the incredible amount of funny these guys managed to cram into a movie that is just a little over an hour long.

Here's one of the funniest scenes from the movie.

People were laughing at this scene, but they actually quieted down at the part where the two guys circles each other and switch places! That was the part that tickled me the most and had me laughing out really loud. 'Twas most disconcerting to hear my own laugh contrasted with the relative silence of the rest of the hall.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Nebraska - Take Two

I saw Nebraska yesterday and wrote about it early this morning before going to bed. I made a mess of it. It was the most contrived piece of shit I ever came up with. So when I woke up I took down the post. I want to give it another go now.

I liked Nebraska. I did not love it. It did not make me want to queue up to see it again. But it did leave me with a smile in the end. I actually had a wide grin on my face throughout Woody's triumphant moment in the climax. A grin that widened even more when Uncle Albert finally got to see an actual car to wave to. A grin that didn't fade even when I felt my eyes misting ever so slightly as the camera lingered on Woody's girlfriend of yore.

That was, however, the very end. I didn't have that same emotional response to the rest of the movie. There were moments, yes. Moments when I could feel with David mainly. Moments that made me laugh out loud (there are some very funny bits). But, by and large, the movie left me unaffected while I was watching it.

That last bit is important. For, you see, unlike Her which made me feel as I was watching it, Nebraska made me think after I was done watching it.

One of the thoughts that came to me sometime later was in the form of this beautifully defiant poem of Bharathi's. The poem in a sense tackles the same universal theme as the movie. And even if taken literally, it could be describing the characters in it. Those last lines, while they can apply to Woody's need to do something before fading away, mean something more to me. I cannot but internalize the defiance. Even if a part of me suspects that it is probably a futile endeavour. I guess I'm not that different from Woody after all.

Sunday, 9 March 2014


Update: I disown this post but I'll leave it here to remind myself how not to write.

Finally got around to seeing Nebraska. Had to drive 50-odd miles to find a theater that was showing it still. But it was worth it. In more ways than one. The film itself was good, watching it on a big screen was better, but watching it at this particular cinema hall was the best. Let me try to describe the experience.

Late Afternoon. I pull into the parking lot of this derelict looking mall at Google Maps' behest with exactly 5 minutes to spare before showtime. I rush out of the car and walk in to find myself in a mall that time forgot. It looks like it belongs in a different era. And it is quite quite deserted. Not a soul in sight. But looking perfectly immaculate. I do a double take and look out then back in, feeling every bit like a new companion stepping into the TARDIS for the first time. I shake it off, recollect my purpose and look in vain for some sign of the theater.

Just as I'm about to give up any hopes of watching this movie today, I spot a map of the place. And there is the theater I'm looking for - on the second floor, way at the back on the other end of the mall. I dash up the stairs, hurry to the opposite end all out of breath and find a movie theater that is itself straight outta the movies of yore.

Old school confections, a screen more raised than is usual with curtains, good old plush red seats, long lamps that looked more like lanterns, the works. If Hawthorne (the fictional Nebraska town in the film) had a movie theater, I'm sure it would've looked exactly like this one. Hawthorne when it was in colour, that is, before it became black and white. That's why it was special watching this movie here. Special, but also eerie.

Special, but also eerie, is also how I would describe the film itself. I won't attempt to paint a more detailed picture than that. Others have done that far far better than I ever could. I will, however, say that while Her made me feel as I was watching it, Nebraska made me think after I was done watching it. And one of the thoughts that came to me was in the form of this beautifully defiant poem of Bharathi's.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Song of the Day - Kalvane from Megha

I stumbled upon this gem of a song, quite accidentally, late last night thanks to a comment on a blog discussion on soundtracks (Thanks again, Madan). I'm quite besotted with it and can't stop listening to it over and over again. It is such a swingin' track that is, in a way, unlike anything Ilayaraja has composed before. And yet, when the interludes come in with his stamp all over them, you know it can't be anyone else's handiwork.

I qualified my statement that this song is unlike anything in Ilayaraja's oeuvre because it somehow reminds me of Kurangu Kaiyil Malai from Mumbai Express. What the latter song did with keys and horns, this one does with strings. Both venture further into jazzy territory than filmi songs usually tend to do, and do so with great effect. I must admit that the Mumbai Express song does go a little further than Kalvane does what with that latin flavoured jazz freakout two thirds into the song. But this song holds its own all the same and of course has a charm all its own due to it being a romantic duet. As I commented in the aforementioned blog, it is a smooth, and yet scorching, track.

Ilayaraja's string arrangements have always been his strong suit. And here he uses them to tug at one's heartstrings almost effortlessly. Go on, I dare you to not fall in love with this song.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Play on, ye wordsmiths

I love words. They have a strange power all their own. There's something so very satisfying about reading something that's well written. The topic matters not, just the treatment, if you will.

Take, for instance, nature. It, too, moves me deeply. But, when I read a beautifully described natural scene, the joy in it comes more from the words themselves than the image they paint in my mind as I read them. Maybe this has more to do with me not being a very visually imaginative person (I tried to touch on this before and failed miserably if memory serves me right). I tend to lose interest in long-winded descriptive passages no matter how gorgeous an image they paint, if the words themselves and the way they fit together doesn't strike a cord.

There's this joy and, dare I say, glee I feel when I read a certain style of writing. A mix of archness and keen observation. A certain irreverence combined with a lot of wit. Austen comes to mind right away with such gems as:

Mr. Darcy said very little, and Mr. Hurst nothing at all. The former was divided between admiration of the brilliancy which exercise had given to her complexion, and doubt as to the occasion's justifying her coming so far alone. The latter was thinking only of his breakfast.

We're told hardly anything about Mr. Hurst before this point, but with that incisive last line he suddenly becomes real. It is hard not to grin with mischievous delight when one comes upon that deliciously droll sentence. This is just the first instance that occurred to me because I'd read it again recently. But there are so many others who've written as well. Who still write as well. And I'm jealous of them all. 

No, it's not just envy I feel. It's a sort of hero worship, I suppose. I look up to these wordsmiths. I don't exactly aspire to be like them ever because I don't think I ever could. It's more that I almost feel a kind of personal connection with them that transcends space and time. I feel like I know them. I love them. 

The strange thing is that words aren't my number one source of joy in life. That distinction belongs to music. Music can move me in ways even words cannot. Words make me smile and grin and laugh, but music makes me cry. I relish words like good food - tasty, nourishing, delightful, even sensual. But music is like sex.

And yet, I don't have this sense of connect with musicians. With music, yes, but the musicians themselves personally don't matter to me all that much somehow. Wordsmiths, on the other hand, I adore. You know what they say about the way to a man's heart being through his stomach? I guess, the way to this woman's heart is through them words. 

Well then, for me at least, words be the food of love. So, play on.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Speak now or forever hold my peace?

I'm reading a lot of articles, reviews and such on the internet these days. I mean those published by established news organizations, websites and writers. Which is why I find it somewhat disappointing that I come across as many typos, or more commonly, word omissions as I do. One would think that they would have someone proofread their material before putting it up for all the world to see. Maybe they do and the proofreaders/copy editors miss them as well.

Whatever the reason, my dilemma is what I ought to do about it when I do find mistakes? What's the proper etiquette? Posting a comment pointing out the error seems a bit rude, but I have seen people do that with the preface of "I hate to be that person but.." I would do this as well, if there were other comments on the page and/or the article in question is a recent one. However, some of these articles are somewhat old and have hardly any comments. It seems akin to bumping an old thread on a forum to point out a typo, which is just plain wrong. Except there is a difference between a post on a forum and an article that will be read long after it has been published. 

If I were the author, I would definitely want to be told so I could correct it. Actually, this happened with this very blog. A friend of mine mentioned in an email a silly omission of mine (thanks again, M!)  and I fixed it. She actually said she wanted to comment on it but didn't want to be nitpicky. In this case, being a friend, she was able to tell me in private, but I wouldn't have minded even if she had commented on the blog itself. Though, I guess, given a choice I would probably prefer being told in private. So then is that the way to go? Contact the author/editor in private and respectfully tip them off? Would they appreciate this or find it weird and intrusive? Am I only even thinking of this option  for selfish reasons, i.e., to not make a fool of myself in public? 

I'm totally overthinking this, aren't I? I know this must make it seem like I have a bad case of OCD, but I really don't. I will admit that I do have an uncanny ability to spot the mistakes, bugs, what-have-yous. However, I will have you know that I try and use my powers for good always. Really.

Anyway, I am only thinking about this so much because I respect the authors of these pieces and it pains me to think that someone else will see their slip-ups. Otherwise, I'd just shrug and think a little less about whoever wrote it and move on. Maybe that isn't such an awful fate to befall these writers and I should stop being so touchy on their behalf. I hate being inaccurate more than anything else (case in point: I actually spent a good 15 minutes or more trying to find out if "proper etiquette" was a tautology), so maybe I'm just projecting. 

For the record though, I would definitely appreciate anyone pointing out any errors in my own posts. Also, is "proper etiquette" a tautology? I never found out. :(

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

I read a movie today

No, really. Read the script of Her. First time I've ever read a screenplay. It was interesting. Sort of like a play, I guess. Except I haven't read many pays either, so it was still a mostly new-ish experience. Since I've already seen the movie, I was able to "see" the scenes in my head, more or less. Wonder how well the script of a movie I haven't seen will translate.

I've never been very good at imagining settings. Whenever I encounter long descriptive passages in books about a place, my instinct is to skim and get to the parts about characters, their motivations, dialog, etc. Reading about a beautiful place doesn't transport me there, while reading about interesting characters almost always engages my imagination completely and puts me in the thick of the narrative. Since it seems like scripts deal more with the latter, I think they'll make for fascinating reading.

Only downside is the spoilers if I ever mean to see the film. Hmm. Maybe I'll pick a movie that I'm not really intending to see. Then if the script really excites me maybe that'll lead me to watching a good movie I would've missed out on otherwise.

Also there are plays aplenty that I haven't read. Maybe that's where I should start...

Anyway, in case you want to check out some of these scripts here is the link.

Monday, 3 March 2014


Just got done watching this movie. Stayed up way too late and will probably regret it when I get up in a couple of hours to shovel my driveway and get my ass to work.

But man, what a gorgeous gorgeous film. So beautiful to simply look at even. Poetry on celluloid. And then such earnest performances from the leads. I cried in the end. Even though I knew exactly what was coming. I teared up and felt that lump in my throat once before the end though. When Pakhi turns away during their last conversation. And I very, very rarely cry when watching movies. Well done, Sonakshi and Ranveer. Much respect to the director and the cinematographer as well.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Words aren't useless

Today I want to share a review I read recently - Raja Sen's review of Nebraska.

I heard about this movie around the same time that I heard about Her. Both movies were playing at the little local cinema that shows mostly art house and independent films. I chose to see Her first as its premise appealed to me more and figured I'd watch Nebraska later that same weekend. That wasn't to be. I don't regret that choice at all, obviously.

Now until this point I only had a hazy idea of what Nebraska was about. I knew the performances were almost universally praised and that's basically why I wanted to check it out. Then I started coming across some criticism of the movie for being too American-centric. This gave me pause. Living in the heartland of the US tends to make one tired of hearing/seeing things that are solely from the American perspective. I was left wondering if I really wanted to take the trouble to go see this movie after all.

You must understand that I rarely go to the cinema anyway (I probably see an average of 2-3 films a year in the theater). So to make time for a movie that I would probably not like seemed pointless. I could always watch it on DVD or Netflix later on.

But then something strange happened. I started coming across rave reviews for this movie from Indian critics. Why would it appeal to them if it was all about the American way of life? Well, I guess it could, but so unanimously? I was now second guessing myself. And that's when I read this particular review.

It made me want to go see the movie right away. If the film was half as good as the review, it would be worth it. Even if it wasn't, it would still be worth it as a tribute to the power of those words.

So in a few hours I'm going to try to go watch Nebraska. I say try because, as luck would have it, we've been struck with another winter storm. I am hoping the roads will be clear enough and the weather not too forbidding for me to drive downtown to catch the matinee, which is the only showing of Nebraska today. Fingers crossed. 

Saturday, 1 March 2014


Okay technically I didn't drink robotussin. It was Nyquil. But same diff. Also strictly speaking I've actually taken less than the recommended dose so I'm not really tripping on this stuff. But my head's spinning all the same.

Been one helluva long day. Went back to work after a week. Did fuck all there. Came back and put together my new TV stand. Bloody thing took me five times as long as the damn manual said it should. Granted I did it single-handedly instead of the minimum of two people that was recommended. Nay, better still, I did it with the added handicap of a particularly frisky kitty jumping around and over and on everything. So go me. My hand is raw as fuck though from all the screwing (tee hee). Really wish I had a power drill (that's what she said).

Less than 6 hours before I have to be up again. Hope the best buy dudes don't call me in like 3 hours to remind me of the scheduled delivery time.

But yay, I can finally watch my criterion blu-rays that I bought 2 years ago and these hindi DVDs I borrowed from the library and Princess Diaries. Woot woot.

I wonder if there really is going to be another winter storm tomorrow er tonight. I hope not. I really want to go check out that silent film festival if possible. I guess I can have my own film festival at home otherwise, but still.

I should probably stop rambling on pointlessly and try to get some sleep. Sleeping is such a drag. Such a waste of time. A third of our lives wasted. What a shame.

Ok goodnight. Let me see if I can add a picture of my handiwork...ta da! :)