31 October 2007
29 October 2007
Once again, The Better Half's Sirius indulgence comes in handy in helping me rediscover what Rancid would have sounded like if they were still relevant to a mainstream indie-rock/pop audience.
Can't wait to hear that other song by Against Me!: "White People for Peace"!
Naturally a story on India featured in the New York Times has to include a major element of tragedy, and a seemingly archaic display of social conservatism.
Still, it's a sad story nonetheless. As the native-exoticizer Somini Sengupta (how do you say "Aunty Tom" in Bengali?) herself puts it:
A HINDU-MUSLIM love affair. A rich, well-connected patriarch. A high-handed police inquiry. And finally, a dead man on the railroad tracks.
Somini Sengupta Audio Clip
Apparently NBC Universal is taking the hoary old maxim (which, in itself, is a...hoary old maxim) "Think Globally Act Locally" to heart.
They are in the process of creating local-language versions of their most valuable franchises in different countries around the world to try and make up for the declining viewerships back home.
First up? The venerable franchise Law & Order, which is being reincarnated in France and Russia.
Can't wait for: Law & Order: Kolkata Victims Unit.
A nice little article from the New York Times detailing the changing the landscape of the music industry and how artists as varied as Madonna and Duff McKagan (yes, that Duff McKagan, formerly of Guns N' Roses, who now has his own retinue of financial planners) are trying to forge new paths into hitherto frowned-upon revenue streams.
28 October 2007
Don't look now, but Sidney Lumet (yes, that Sidney Lumet), has Before the Devil Knows You're Dead coming out in a couple of weeks with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei and the great Albert Finney. More importantly, it's actually generating some amount of Oscar buzz.
Did I mention that he's 83 years old!
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)
Night Falls on Manhattan (1997)
Guilty as Sin (1993)
Q & A (1990)
Running on Empty (1988)
The Morning After (1986)
The Verdict (1982)
Prince of the City (1981)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
The Hill (1965)
The Pawnbroker (1964)
Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962)
The Fugitive Kind (1959)
12 Angry Men (1957)
Great profile of Steve Nash in the new edition of Play magazine from the New York Times.
I totally heart Steve Nash, and he's one of my favorite players in the NBA along with Shaquille O'Neal...Dwayne Wade...Gilbert Arenas...Ray Allen...Allen Iverson...LeBron James...Luke Walton...Boris Diaw...Leandro Barbosa...Shawn Marion...Emmanuel "Manu" Ginobili...Robert Horry...Tim Duncan...
Play Magazine Profile
NBA Promo with Ali G
25 October 2007
No, not my life, but a consolation win by India over Australia in the final match of the series: a meaningless Twenty20 game.
Still, a win over Austrlia is a win, even if it counts for nothing.
Cricinfo - Chaotic but electric
Cricinfo - Australia Fail to Adapt
Cricinfo - India End Series on a High
22 October 2007
Frantic phone calls from Ma and Baba have confirmed that it is, indeed, bijoya.
So, a shubho bijoya to all, and my best wishes and ashirbad to all.
PS. And yes, I had to look it up online:
Bijoya Dasami is the last day of celebrations.
Godess Durga departs for her own house in the mountains of the Himalayas. The pandals are deserted and people move around aimlessly, looking crestfallen - even, the shine on the faces of the clay idols appear dull. The rituals of this day are the darpan bisarjan followed by the sindoor utsav. The sindoor utsav is for the married women. Sindoor (red vermillion powder) is an auspicious item for any Bengali married woman – it is normally applied on the ‘sinthee’ (the parting of the hair on the forehead). In the sindoor utsav, these women apply sindoor on the sinthee of the Godess Durga and then on the sinthees of all women assembled. While performing this ritual, each and everyone sends a silent prayer to God Almighty to bless them so that this mark of happiness is never obliterated and remains a faithful companion until the dying day! (Application of sindoor ceases from the instant a woman becomes a widow – hence, this silent prayer.)
After the sindoor utsav, the idols are loaded on to suitable vehicles and taken to the immersion spot in a procession. On the banks of the river or lake or pond, the youngsters carry out aarati and burn firecrackers to extend the celebrations as long as possible. But, all good things have to come to an end! Hence, after immersion, the people return to the empty pandal and exchange greetings – the younger do ‘pronams’ of their elders by stooping down and touching their feet. The elders return the gesture by blessing the younger ones. Those of the same age group do ‘kola- kuli’- they hug and embrace each other. The last item on the agenda is the exchange of sweets.
This exchange of sweets was what Bijoya was all about - an activity we used to look forward in our childhood. It may be hard to believe but, from the day following the immersion, the children would assemble at one spot and then move from one house to another – never wanting to miss out on the different types of sweets and snacks that our neighbors would keep ready for us. Then would follow the comparisons of what one Aunty had done and what another Aunty tried to do but failed!! In those days, unlike today, children were encouraged to learn about the world from first hand experience and not become bookworms like today.
For those friends and relatives who live out of town or are settled abroad, Bijoya greeting cards used to be sent. Now, however, it is all through the electronic medium – e-greetings, e-cards etc.. Some enterprising individuals have shortened the process still further via ‘SMS’. Things today have become instant; we have lost the person to person touch. Things have become impersonal; we do our duty as if in a trance.
In other parts of the country, Bijoya Dasami is the day of burning effigies of Ravana, the ten headed demon King. Signifying the triumph of good over evil, huge effigies of Ravana are built in prominent locations. These are decorated with concealed crackers, rockets and other such items. Once a signal is given, a wick is lighted and, in the fraction of a second, the beautifully constructed effigy catches fire and the fireworks start going off.
For the Bengalis, it was Godess Durga’s victory over the Asura, for others it was Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana. The hidden message in both cases is that of the triumph of good over evil!!
This means that when you order your Chai Tea Latte with Whipped Cream at the local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, you are, in effect, ordering "Tea Tea"...with foamed milk and whipped cream.
And just to remind how you wonderful tea can be, there is a lovely little article in the Gray Lady about traveling to the tea estates in Darjeeling (in my home state of West Bengal) to indulge in the very best teas the planet has to offer.
And yes, I do say "Chai Tea Latte with Whipped Cream" when I get my favorite drink at my local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf...all in the interest of assimilation, of course.
The New York Times ran a heart-warming story that will tug at those heartstrings about the impact of the war on the cute little cats of Baghdad.
Of course, this being the New York Times, it brings up an interesting little ethical debate that has sprung up in the military around the feeding of strays:
Animal lovers among the troops do more harm than good when they accustom cats and dogs to a regular supply of food and affection — only to abandon them when they rotate home, leaving the animals depleted in their instinct to fend for themselves.
19 October 2007
Thanks to the wife's very cool iGoogle gadget, I found this quote from a very smart man:
One of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own ever-shifting desires.
Einstein iGoogle Gadget
Sent to me by my teammate Bon Mercado.
Of course, my favorite was always the 3x3 with grilled onions and chopped chillies.
Post-vegetarianism, it's the grilled cheese.
I wonder if anyone will beat my record of the 3.5 double-doubles in the one sitting?
In-N-Out Secret Menu
12 straight post-season appearances...10 AL East division titles...6 World Series appearances...4 World Series Rings...
But in the end the only important number was 5 + 3.
As in the $5 million base salary plus the $3 million bonus for reaching the World Series Joe Torre rejected from the New York Yankees front office.
Keep in mind that the average salary for major league managers is right around the $1 million mark.
I think Joe didn't really want to come back, and instead of being accused of turning his back on the team, he can now point the finger at the Yankees for essentially firing him.
I think the Yankees didn't really wanted him back, and instead of being accused of firing the most beloved manager in Yankee history so gave him an offer they knew he would refuse, so they could claim they wanted to keep him but Joe turned his back on them.
Essentially, the two parties succeeded in making each other look bad.
I personally think that the team that was so dominant from 1996 - 2000 could never be recaptured in the ensuing years. This is because the heart of the team - Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter - eventually was replaced by money and the magic was lost.
No matter what, Joe's decision has guaranteed that the entire baseball world will be dominated by Yankees talk from now until the start of next season...
New York Times Column
New York Times Torre Press Conference
18 October 2007
Per a story in today's Variety:
Twentieth Century Fox is sinking its claws into May 1, 2009, for the release of Hugh Jackman starrer 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine,' which director Gavin Hood begins shooting later this year.
'Wolverine' is expected to feature many other mutants -- some new to the film franchise and some from one or more of the three 'X-Men' films. Liev Schreiber is reportedly in final talks to take on the role of a younger version of nemesis William Stryker, played by Brian Cox in 'X2.'
This is the first time a title has been confirmed for the next chapter in the lucrative film franchise, based on the Marvel comic strip. There's been much speculation about the spinoff, which gained speed when the studio finalized deals with Jackman (who reprises the role he played in the three "X-Men" pics), Hood and scribe David Beniof, who penned the script.
Pic explores the claw-wielding character Wolverine's violent and romantic past, and his complex relationship with Victor Creed and the ominous Weapon X program, as well as his encounters with other mutants.
Hood will start shooting in Australia before moving to New Zealand and, later, to New Orleans. Latter location is a clue that the storyline might include New Orleans-based character Gambit, who is able to make objects explode and was a professional thief before joining the X-Men.
That's right...even though my entire team gets a BlackBerry, I get nothing.
No BlackBerry for me, of either of the ubiquitous corporate accessory variety or of the rich in anti-oxidants variety.
Now, I don't actually need a BlackBerry, heck I'm not even sure I want one. I am chained to my desk, and clients seldom email me directly.
Still, how can I pass myself off as the Modern Corporate Alpha-Male, and signal to The Man that I'm ready to move up the ladder if I don't have my little digital companion to whip out the second there's a pause in the conversation?
Such are the difficulties I face in my life - and yet I go about my daily business with nary a peep nor a harsh word to my beloved teammates...who're all on their stupid little BlackBerry's...typing away to their hearts content.
Forget about being the best player in the NBA, Kobe Bryant is, by far, its most star-crossed player (perhaps,. ever).
My ex-teammate Ben Crowell sent a link to an excellently written piece that sheds a lot of new insight into the situation with some very interesting tidbits about all the behind-the-scenes machinations taking place.
Interesting, interesting stuff.
Sad news, Deborah Kerr has died.
Though, at 86, one would have expected her to have passed on with the knowledge that she has led a full life that likes of which we will probably not see for a while given the current shelf-life of actresses in Hollywood today.
She never gets mentioned with the rest of the Hollywood immortals from yesteryear, but no matter what any critic/film historian might think of her acting ability, there can be no denying the quality of the films she appeared in (to name but a few):
From Here to Eternity [yup, that was her and Burt Lancaster rolling around in the sand in perhaps the most famous cinematic kiss in history)
An Affair to Remember
The King and I [Though she didn’t sing her own songs]
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
Julius Caesar [the one with Marlon Brando and James Mason]
Tea and Sympathy
The Prisoner of Zenda (1952)
The Night of the Iguana The Arrangement
Colonel Blimp [Not a well-known film, but apparently she was really good in it]
New York Times Obituary
16 October 2007
Let's see...the Colorado Rockies were in last place in their division about a month ago, two games behind with two to play, and have now won 21 out of 22 to get to the World Series!
I mean, I was watching Game 4 against the poor Arizona Diamondbacks, it was two out in the fourth inning, with the batter on 0 - 2, I switch away for a few minutes and come back...and the Rockies had scored 6 runs...and they were still in the fourth inning!
Could they become Baseball's version of the Golden State Warriors?
Well, unlike the Warriors, no one on this team has their best friend dating Jessica Alba.
On the other hand, there are nine days left until the World Series starts, and the way the Rockies have been rolling lately, you never know...
New York Times Story
Tiger Woods, because he has mouths to feed, has entered into an endorsement deal with Gatorade for about $100 million which includes his own line of drinks.
According to ESPN, this deal brings him that much closer to his lifelong dream of earning $1 billion in endorsements...sorry, I meant breaking Jack Nicklaus's record.
That $1 billion will come in handy if Tiger is going to become the next Mahatma Gandhi (as prophesied by his late father).
Side effect of Gatorade Tiger? It's already making me queasy...
Ad Age Story
After being subject to racist taunts, Australia's Andrew Symonds smashed an unbeaten 88-ball 107 (his fourth successive score of 75 or more) to thrash India in the sixth ODI.
Serves 'em right I say. Maybe next time those idiots in the stands (along with crazier-by-the-minute alleged pace bowler S. Sreesanth) will keep their mouths shut.
Cricinfo Match Report
Cricinfo Player Comments
14 October 2007
Well...technically, Indian scientist Rajendra Pachauri heads the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore (a fact that most US news outlets have conspicuously failed to mention)...so I guess that can be counted as a win.
And, unlike Gore, he had the good grace to share the wealth: "
Maybe they can get him to run for Prime Minister!
Apparently a Durga Puja pandal built as an homage to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was too much for JK Rowling and Warner Bros. to bear and they sued the poor neighborhood association.
Thankfully, the case was thrown out by a judge.
A small, neighborhood association building a pandal (per Wikipedia: "a temporary structure set up to venerate the goddess Durga during Durga Puja") manages to go up against the richest woman in England and an American corporate behemoth and actually win.
See Rowling, miracles can happen in the real world!
The great Pakistani batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq retired from international cricket just a few runs short of becoming the highest Test-scorer in the history of Pakistani cricket.
In his typically modest fashion he downplayed this: "I wanted to break the record but Javed bhai was a much better player than me. Even if I broke it, he has played a huge part in the runs I got."
I will always remember him from the 1992 World Cup, when I saw him for the first time. While Imran Khan and Wasim Akram are the ones most often credited for Pakistan's improbable victory, it was Inzy's fierce 37-ball 60 in the semi-finals, followed by a 35-ball 42 in the finals that laid the winning foundation.
He may have overshadowed during his career by bigger names in the batting world, but there was never a better match-winner (17 of his 25 Test centuries came in wins) on the field, and a classier individual off it.
Hopefully we'll get to see him in that Twenty20 league they are trying to get off the ground in India.
Here is a great little bit from The Spin, Lawrence Booth's excellent weekly cricket email:
"Could anyone have retired from Test cricket in such tragic-comic style as Inzamam-ul-Haq? Needing only six runs in his final innings, against South Africa at Lahore last week, to overtake Javed Miandad as Pakistan's leading runscorer, he was stumped second ball for three, charging out of his crease as if someone had left a bowl of ice-cream in the middle of the pitch. Heck, it was the perfect ending, one last loveable anecdote in a career full of them.
Everyone has their own favourite Inzy story, even if the outright winner is usually the time he waddled like an angry mother hen into the crowd at Toronto with a bat to confront a man who had been calling him a potato. The Spin has always enjoyed tales of his training regime, which tended to involve watching his team-mates sweat it out from the comfort of a giant wicker chair before deigning to have a bat himself, a process which usually lasted about five minutes before he got bored and went off to munch on a biscuit.
But the best story yet emerged recently from the mouth of the former Pakistan opener Aamir Sohail. "We were at a warm-up game in Zimbabwe once," recalls Sohail, "and the fast bowlers were on with the old
ball. I was standing at slip with Inzy next to me. We crouched down as you do when the bowlers were coming in. Four or five balls later, I noticed Inzy was still crouching and, surprised, I asked him if everything was OK. He replied, 'I'm fine, just trying to sleep. The ball is old and reversing so there's hardly a chance there will be any edges to snap up.'"
It's the perfect Inzy anecdote. Idleness, pragmatism, cunning, honesty... and just a touch of Billy Bunter.
Yep, we'll miss him."
Cricinfo Match Report
Cricinfo Career Appreciation
Cricinfo Test History
Cricinfo Player Tributes
The Times Report
According to a flood of recent stories about the upcoming Charles M. Schulz biography, the cartoonist was a depressed, insecure, narcissistic, emotionally volatile man who still felt like a worthless disappointment who harbored lifelong grudges against any slight, no matter how small, despite his fame and fortune (or is it fortune and fame?).
Like I tell my Orange County teammates, money does not buy you happiness.
I, of course, have identified with Charlie Brown over the years...mostly because I equated Lucy with Life, and that football that always gets whisked away at the last minute as any Reward I have been working towards. Well, in actuality, I think it may have been my USC classmate Jason Kachel who made the observation a few years ago, but I think was I seriously leaning towards making that connection on my own (of course, I'm not sure what it says about me when a teammate observed that I reminded him more of Eeyore than Charlie Brown).
I suppose it's de rigueur for artists to cast themselves as troubled, self-destructive geniuses. Still, it must be considered surprising that the creator of a mainstream comic strip as much part of the American mainstream as one's mother and pies made of apples would be such a darkly troubled soul. On the surface of it he seemed like the perfect embodiment of the American dream, and yet achieving that dream brought him no closer to the happiness that everyone has become programmed to expect. Now that really is a troubling thought right? Untold riches, worldwide acclaim, critical acceptance, unlimited merchandising opportunities, and yet...something was missing.
I guess it's not that surprising if you consider the first panel ever published by Schulz. He was trying to tell us something right from the very start.
New York Times Story
New York Times Book Review
New Yorker Personal History
Okay, so there are very few problems with living in "SoCal" (that's what the natives call it), but there are a few problems.
To wit: Two local AFC teams.
This means that all the NFL games shown by the local CBS affiliates always include either the San Diego Chargers or the Oakland Raiders.
As we speak, instead of showing the biggest game of the year so far (the 5 - 0 Dallas Cowboys vs. the 16 - 0...sorry, I mean the 5 - 0 New England Patriots), my big-screen TV is subjecting me to a scintillating Chargers - Raiders game (already 14 - 0 in the first quarter).
This means that I have to venture out to a nearby establishment called a "sports bar" (or so I have been told by my make co-workers) to catch the Dallas - New England game.
The whole reason I bought this big-screen TV was precisely so that I wouldn't have to go out and interact with the outside world at large. I wanted to avoid the bright sunshine, the crowds of young people having fun, and that general feeling of optimism which comes from living this close to the beach and remain ensconsed in my little bubble with my little couch with my wife's little cat...but now...I...may...have...to...step...outside...
See, living in "SoCal" isn't all that's cracked up to be!
12 October 2007
Al Gore and the Gore-ettes [i.e. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] have won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
What does global warming have to do with peace? I suppose warmer temperatures only serve to amplify the blood lust that is inherent in all human beings.
In any case this the latest in a series of fortunate events for Al. Think back to 2000. He was probably at the lowest point of his life. People were making fun of him. He had apparently put on a lot of weight. I mean, he didn't even carry his home State. His father's involvement with Occidental Petroleum was causing some controversy.
Slowly, but surely, he has dusted himself off and, in the immortal words of Aaliyah, tried again.
["And if at first you don’t succeed \ Then dust yourself off and try again \ You can dust it off and try again, try again \ Cause if at first you don’t succeed \ You can dust it off and try again \ Dust yourself off and try again, try again (and again)"]
Good for Al!
I wonder if he likes this more than the Oscar he won this year?
New York Times Story
New York Times Analysis
International Herald Tribune Opinion
The Economist Analysis
Washington Post Story
The Times of London Opinion
John Cho [the Harold of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle] has been cast as Sulu.
I suppose it was inevitable, after all Cho is probably the best known Asian actor out there. I am a little disappointed that J.J. Abrams is following the racial lines so closely and not mixing things up a bit more (an Asian Captain Kirk...an African-American Bones...a Hispanic Spock etc.).
Still it could be worse, they could have gotten Kumar [the hapless Kal Penn, currently stinking it up on House]!
Now that would have been awful!
11 October 2007
Just when I was really getting excited about Star Trek XI and actually beginning to believe that Paramount (the worst studio, ever!) was going to let J.J. Abrams do his stuff without making too many untoward demands (as evidenced by the very eclectic, and not terribly box-office-friendly, cast), comes this bit of news.
Apparently they are considering Chris Pine and Mike Vogel for the role of one Captain James T. Kirk.
Pine, of course, has done stellar work in such classics as Just My Luck and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (not half as good as The Princess Diaries 1).
Vogel, of course, has done stellar work in such classics as Grind, Supercross, and two pointless remakes: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poseidon.
Say it ain't so J.J.! Say it ain't so!
Yay, the news on Star Trek XI (yep, there have been eleven films!) just keeps getting better.
Simon Pegg is going to play Scotty!
The cast is rounding out nicely.
Nero (the villain) will be played by the great Eric Bana:
Spock will be played by Zachary Quinto (he's apparently good on Heroes...I wouldn't know), but the greatest ever Leonard Nimoy will make a cameo:
Uhura will be played by Zoe Saldana:
Chekov will be played by Anton Yelchin (I hope he does the accent):
Apparently during the thumping India received at the hands of Australia during the fifth ODI Andrew Symonds (my favorite on that team) was subjected to vicious racist abuse at the hands of the fans.
Among the invectives hurled at him by the crowd were the chants of "monkey."
Classy, real classy.
But then again, the match was played in Gujarat, so we probably shouldn't be surprised.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Yup, according to the New York Times story, Big Papi (who is one of two-and-a-half things l like I about the Boston Red Sox...the other being Tim Wakefield and the half being Josh Beckett) is a good old fashioned nerd...studying every single one of his at-bats again...and again...and again...using all the latest technology.
For Bud Selig's sake Big Papi better ensure a Red Sox win. The commissioner will probably have a heart attack if he has to consider the ratings of a Arizona Diamonbacks-Cleveland Indians World Series.
New York Times Story
Everyone's favorite octogenarian (literally, he's 80 years old) football coach, Joe Paterno, got into a bit of a traffic dust-up the other day.
Apparently he got out of his car, walked up to the female driver, wagged his finger and said, "Be careful, I have your license number, and I will call the police on you."
At that point the driver's husband turned to Joe Pa and said: "That's my wife you're talking to."
And that's when good ol' Joe Pa turned to him and, without missing a beat, said:
"That's your problem."
Yup, that's Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, line-dancing away to their heart's content.
This is courtesy of Planet Hiltron (sent to me via Very Short List), which shows us what life would have been like for tabloid-era celebrities if they had just decided to have a normal life like you and me.
Very Short List