31 December 2008

OMG It's New Year's Eve Already?!

I just was not prepared this year and they're already celebrating in India!

Here, then, are the perfect words to ring in 2009:

"Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles (words and music by George Harrison)

Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear

Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun, and I say

It's all right

Hope 2009 is a great one for you!


NYT: World Bids a Relieved Adieu to a Rocky Year

07 December 2008

The Sweet Bruising

I ran across this in a Vanity Fair blog post just before the De La Hoya - Pacquiao fight (which was sad, BTW):

Boxing’s nickname, “the sweet science of bruising,” was coined in Boxiana, a monthly journal about the London prizering begun in 1812.

So that's where "the sweet science" comes from. Not sweet for DLH though, so sad, so very sad!


Vanity Fair: Anatomy of a Fight

The Better Half Totally Agrees

Courtesy of The New Yorker:

Coldplay Are A Bunch Of Cheats!

So, Chris Martin and the boys from Coldplay are being sued by Joe Satriani, the Guirar God worshipped by such luminaries as my old suite-mate Kerry Denver.

According to Joe, Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" sounds too much like his "If I Could Fly." After watching this video on The Huffington Post (really? HuffPo?) I think I agree with Joe on this one...

Click below to play the video:

HuffPo: Coldplay Sued For Plagarism

03 December 2008

I'm F**king Neil Patrick Harris

The Better Half found this on her friend Amy Sullivan's Facebook page: Prop 8 - The Musical (starring Jack Black, John C. Reilly, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph, Kathy Najimy, Andy Richter, many more that I couldn't quite catch...and the incomparable Neil Patrick Harris).

This could be the next I'm F**king Matt Damon-esque viral hit!

You heard it here first...well third...

BTW, isn't this all a bit of "too little too late"? Where was all this when we needed it?

Click below to play the video:

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

27 November 2008

Bombay Update 6

More updates from Harsh Rohatgi:

Toad and Sam and their baby left the same time as I did and are back
at Sam's folks' place in Cuffe Parade. I just got back home. Driving
down Marine Drive was awesome! No traffic in sight! All well
otherwise, though its going to be messy with the hostages in both the

26 November 2008

Bombay Update 5

Thank God, Toad is all right:

We are fine thanks. Harsh was with me, stuck at statiras house last night. Heard a lot.

Bombay Update 4

This from Harsh Rohatgi:

Would you believe it? Toad is in town and a friend of his was hosting
dinner 2 buildings from the Oberoi. About 10 of us been stuck here all

Hope Toad is all right.

Bombay Update 3

From Roopak Saluja:

I heard about that from bonx right now. Yes all fine though. Disturbed
and livid but safe. Thanks

Bombay Update 2

From my friend Ashvin Kumar:

Am fine Basu thanks. But its nuts over here.

Bombay Attacks: Update 1

Here is the update from my friend Kedar Mehta:

They all are fine, thanks. Pretty crazy stuff. My parents saw the
oberoi blast and samantha's cousin is still at the taj. She is okay
but not able to get home. Awful to think that my town is under attack
like this.

Just Awful

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone back in Bombay.

I'll try and update as I keep hearing from those I know.

16 November 2008

Rediscovering Kings Of Leon On Saturday Night Live

Wow, just saw a repeat of the Saturday Night Live episode that James Franco hosted and realized how good Kings of Leon are.

[PS. That Bill Hader - Willem Dafoe sketch was great!]

I loved their live version of "Use Somebody." Apparently the song is on heavy rotation on Left of Center on Sirius (Channel 26) according to The Better Half, but that was the first time I had heard it.

Click below to play the "unofficial" video (the official video has disabled its emedding function):

I have to admit, though, I kinda liked their old Allman Brothers-esque look, the new "look" just lumps them into all the other trendy, faux-"indie" rock bands playing on KROQ these days.


Use Somebody Official Video (YouTube)
Kings of Leon MySpace Page
Left of Center Official Website

11 November 2008

A Band I Love More Than The Better Half: Glasvegas

Okay, so it's not like The Better Half discovered Glasvegas...my colleague "Bad" Andy Abdelmalek alerted me about them a while back, and iTunes had them as a Free Download a little before that.

However, it was The Better Half who told me that they were going to be at the Troubadour in January 2009 (get your tickets now!) the other day, which made me check out their song clips on Myspace, which made me finally listen to the free iTunes download...

...and I haven't stopped since.

Catchy melodies, soaring guitar riffs, pounding drums, cute Scottish accents, cheesy and inane lyrics...it's perfect!


Trust me, this is the kind of stuff that lives on in movie trailers for years to come (often accompanying shots of people looking skywards, their arms open wide).

"Geraldine" is now on an infinite loop on my iPod Shuffle (1GB, First Gen).

Click below to play the "unofficial" video (sorry, couldn't find an embed code for the official video):

Soooooo good...

PS. Okay, I mis-wrote, I don't love the band more than I love The Better Half, I just love them more than she loves them...umm...okay?


Glasvegas Myspace Page

Geraldine Official Video (YouTube)
Troubadour Official Site

A Band The Better Half Loves: Noah And The Whale

The Better Half "discovered" the very catchy Noah and the Whale. They're coming to our favorite live music venue in LA: the Troubadour.

Check out their excellent slightly Talking Heads-esque "5 Years Time (Sun Sun Sun)".

Click below to play the video:


Noah and the Whale Myspace Page
Troubadour Official Site

A Band The Better Half Loves: Little Joy

The Better Half did some digging and figured out that Little Joy is, in fact, comprised of members from The Strokes and Los Hermanos.

Which means they are going to be insanely buzzed about in the indie rock scene shortly.

Check out their laid-back groove "Keep Me in Mind".

Click below to play the video:

Oh yeah, they'll also be at the Troubadour!


Little Joy Myspace Page
Troubadour Official Site

Kenny Mayne Has A TV Show But It Is Only On The Internet

Kenny Mayne is my favorite SportsCenter anchor (though, he's not on it much anymore). The Better Half and I caught a glimpse of him at the Breeders Cup. I shouted to him, but he didn't hear me.

Anyways, ol' Kenny has a show debuting on ESPN.com called Mayne Street. I mean the amount of dreck ESPN puts up (lumberjack competitions, cheerleading competitions, bowling, etc.) you'd think they would have found a place for a show starring Kenny Mayne in their lineup.

Anyhoo, the show debuts today and I am super excited!

PS. In Kenny's own words:

I wanted to call it “Kenny Mayne has a TV show but it is only on the internet.” No one ever listens to me.

I love you Kenny!


Mayne Street Official Site
Kenny Mayne ESPN Blog

10 November 2008

"Bat"Manuel Just Made My Year!

The great "Bat"Manuel Bermudez just made my year!


This is what he wrote to me recently:


I saw Slumdog Millionaire tonight based on your recommendation.

I drove half an hour to get to the theater and waited in line for an hour to see the movie. I spent as much time getting to and from the movie as I spent in the theater watching it.

And you know what?

It was worth it. You were right: it really is a terrific movie.

Thanks for turning me on to it.



What a guy! Sigh, makes me so happy!

Everyone should watch Slumdog Millionaire!


Rotten Tomatoes: Slumdog Millionaire (100%!)
Wikipedia: Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog Millionaire Official Site

Ben Lauter Is No Longer My Friend

Ben Lauter is no longer my friend.

Why? Because this is what he wrote to me:

Oh basu!, no! "The Dark Knight"? :)

Best movie ever? While I agree that TDK is indeed a very good to great film, it is by no means the ultimate masterpiece it was made out to be by the internet "geek" mafia.

As an internet-based purveyor if all things film, you know that we live in an age of instant, and unbridled hyperbole that, in reality, probably should be tempered by the passage of time and subsequent reevaluations.

Honestly, I'm surprised more people haven't trumpeted "Iron Man" as an equal, if not better, film of both the summer and superhero varieties.

Nolan is a true talent, though. He's probably got carte blanche in this town right now.



Marc Clark Knows His Movies

My old USC TA, and Emmy-winning editor of Top Chef, Marc Clark sure does know his movies.

To wit:

Did you not catch "Frozen River"? It's the best American Indie I've seen this year. It won Sundance last year.

Have you seen "Let the Right One In"? It's fantastic. The Swedish vampire/childhood love story is haunting and original.

You can skip "Changeling" and "Blindness." They're both horrendous. "The Duchess" is watchable, but ultimately mediocre.

And we'll have to disagree on "Rachel Getting Married." Anne Hathaway was great, but the film lacked a core and any honest raison d'etre.

Two great films I've found on Netflix (via friends) are "The Proposition" (Australian Cowboy movie written and scored by Nick Cave) and "Bus 174" a feature documentary from the writer of "City of God."

Krazy Krish Is My Hero!

"Krazy" Krish Prabhakar is my hero.

Why? Take a look at what he just wrote me:

We saw "Changeling" this weekend----another solid Eastwood film with a strong performance from Jolie, rather dark film. Also saw "Zack and Miri," good comedy. Liked Stone's "W"---I expect Brolin to get an Oscar nom for Best Actor. Thought "Burn After Reading" was good, not great.

And, oh yeah, he has a one-month old daughter! A one-month old!

Now that's a man who has his priorities straight!

My hero...

You're Welcome Barack

Look, the President-Elect emailed me personally to thank me!

[Redacted] --

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,


They Were There!

A couple of people I know where actually there at Grant Park in Chicago when Barack Obama gave his victory speech.

Here is an account from my colleague Elizabeth:

At the rally? Oh yes I was! It was freaking..magical.

1 M people descended upon the park, but everyone was incredibly peaceful and patient - nobody got rowdy. It was like a total love fest.

When it got called, people went nuts. When he came out to speak, everyone bawled. It kicked a**.

It felt like the world became a better place instantly.

Here is an account from The Better Half's friend Isabel:

I KNOW IT!!! It was the biggest "WOW" to hit Chicago in its history!! It's finally sinking in today how lucky I was to be a part of such a magical night! I was talking to a friend on the phone on the way into work and started crying because it's a dream come true! And I don't cry very easily.

I must admit that I was pretty nervous going in with this huge crowd because I'm small and I was with a friend who is even tinier than me. Plus she has a bad back from a car accident. We had three big guys in our group but still was nervous.

Well, what a HAPPY, peaceable, amicable and beautiful crowd of people! I too just looked around and felt like they were all my kindred spirits and my friends! Everyone was just grinning from ear to ear and SOBER! So we were all on this natural high!!

And of course, I LOVED his speech. He is the first candidate, excuse me, President in my lifetime that I can truly say that I LOVE. I've liked others before but I LOVE Obama. How wonderful for him to say this was our victory, for all those who went door-to-door or got on the phone.

We were toward the back of the crowd because we went later. Even though all we could see was the Jumbotron, I'm glad we weren't up front. One of my coworkers was and he said that it was a bit miserable. 5 hours with no food or drink in standing room only.

Afterwards, we came back and had champagne and just reveled in it.

I wished everyone could've experienced this night. It was a dream come true for me because ever since I was a kid, racism has always galled me. It feels good to feel good about being an American again!!!

04 November 2008

A Truly Transformational Moment!

Obama, President Obama!

Jon Stewart called it!

I don't believe it!

Senator Barack Obama has now become President Obama.

I think, I'm not sure, but I think I felt a little tear in the corner of my eye.

PS. Chhoto (a.k.a. my little sister) was watching from India...great, I wanted to have bragging rights but she already knew.

Finally, Some Blue On The Board

Wait, could it be that I was panicking too early?

Oh Good God No! NO!

I knew it, I just bloody knew it...

It's all coming up Red...

See what happens when you get your hopes up? They always get dashed.

Will He Be The One?

Polls are closing and the first bit of results are beginning to filter in.

Oooh, exciting...

Politics as Reality TV, love it!

28 October 2008

The Dickensian Aspect...Of A Slumdog

I just got back from a special screening of Slumdog Millionaire.

It's 10:32 pm PST out here in Southern California.

What did I think?

Let's see, if there was a checklist to make a "third-world" movie a Hollywood-sized hit (City of God, Born Into Brothels, etc.), this is how Slumdog would do:

Slums? Check.

Abject poverty? Check.

Poor street kids? Check.

Poor, cute, street kids? Check.

Living in filth and squalor? Check.

Getting by with their wits and small-time mischief? Check.

Outrunning the law? Check.

Violence? Check.

Communal (or is that religious?) violence? Check.

Violence against kids? Check.

Kids with guns? Check.

Predators? Check.

Beggars? Check.

Prostitution? Check.

Child near-prostitution? Check.

Poor children filled with the kind of saintly exuberance, naivete and hopefulness that the West objectifies to help it deflect the shattering reality of the situation? Check.

But yet, here I am, my synapses firing, my heart soaring, my legs twitching, my soul throbbing to the pulse of a truly visceral cinematic experience.

(Yeah, I know, cliched, but then again, it's not like I'm a professional critic or anything).

I heart Danny Boyle.

He is a master craftsman, and boy does he make this film run, dance, and sing. True, he has a lot to work with here, a huge canvas to paint on, we are talking about the mythical, exotic land known as India.

I have to admit that I was getting mad in the beginning. It was one thing after another after another after another after another after....well you get my drift. And when they added in some good old secular (or is it communal? religious?) violence into the mix, well I was ready to give up.

I'm so glad I didn't.

Because, you see, Danny boy has a way of keeping things going; this energy pulsating through a film, of a throbbing, propulsive, kinetic life-force (these are the cliches you'll see in the movie's marketing campaign) that eventually makes you drop your guard and give into the fairy tale.

Because that is ultimately what we have here, a fairy tale, an ultimately life-affirming fairy tale based in the sort of heightened reality that Bollywood has come to embody (as so expertly analyzed by The Better Half). Danny uses all the tricks in his sizable bag (including perhaps the greatest time lapse I have ever seen, when the boys are on the train and...well, you'll have to see), but really it's Simon Beaufoy's expert puzzle of a script that brings it all home in the end.

[The movie is based on Vikas Swarup's debut novel, Q&A. Yes, that's right, I said debut novel. Makes you crazy doesn't it? A British director goes to India, where he had never been before, never!, and adapts the debut novel of a part-time writer, (Swarup was a diplomat before the novel was published). Pretty crazy, huh? Makes you wish that you could, you know, do something like that...]

And yes, even though I could see it coming from a mile away, even though I knew what was about to happen in the end, my heart was in my throat and I got a wee...bit...choked...up...

What can I say? I tend to get sentimental in my old age.

Any "propulsive" movie "throbbing" with energy needs a pulsating soundtrack, a soundtrack with the "pulsing rhythm of life" (see how I did that...nice, no?) and everyone from A. R. Rahman to Shankar Ehsaan Loy, to even M.I.A. herself (wonder if she is going to become Irrfan Khan-like de rigeur for these Hollywood/Bollywood movies?) contribute mightily to this effort. I don't think there was ever a more appropriate place for "Paper Planes" (that great Pineapple Express trailer notwithstanding) than how it was used in this movie.

If the now-great (yes, I have dubbed him a "great" so I will use that little prefix every time I mention him in the future, and yes, great will be italicized) Anthony Dod Mantle is not nominated for Best Cinematography come Oscar time, then that will be a tragedy of Emmanuel Lubezki proportions!

The acting is good, with a stellar turn by the great Anil Kapoor (I hope this puts him in the Irrfan Khan category where, by law, every "Hollywood" movie made in India has to give him a part...). Thank god Shah Rukh Khan reportedly turned down the role.

Irrfan, as always, was good, with some nice work turned in by the likes of Raj Zutshi, Saurabh Shukla, and the very frightening Ankur Vikal.

Ironically, the hitherto unknown lead Dev Patel (discovered by Danny's daughter from the British show, and apparent cult hit, Skins) is somewhat of a weak link. It's not really his fault, the movie actually doesn't give him, as in the character at that age, much of a backstory, so ultimately it is a little hard to make the inevitable narrative leap with him.

Ditto the female lead, Freida Pinto, and male co-lead Madhur Mittal, who, to be fair, were both making their film debuts. Actually, come to think of it, this was the first film of all three of them so fine, I'll cut them some slack. So, okay they were all good, fine.

I hate to say, I really do, but the kids...man were they heart-breakingly good. They really were.

Why do I hate to say it? Because, it seems that they are all slum kids...for real.

Yeah, I know. Danny has promised that he has put them in good schools where he hopes they will stay. Once you give them a taste of this life, of the possibilities that are now open to them that they could not have previously dared to even dream about, it would be a tragedy, a real tragedy!, for them to go back to the way things were.

I sincerely hope that Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Rubina Ali, Farzana Ansari, and Chirag Parmar use this opportunity to make a better a life for themselves.

The other "kids" were great too, I haven't read through the production notes in more detail to know for sure if they were "slum" kids or just your average, run-of-the-mill Indian kids who just happen to be terrific young actors. They definitely rate a mention: Tanay Hemant Chheda, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, and Siddesh Patil.

I will concede that it is very easy to be clear-eyed and objective here. I will grant you that the film does, in fact, fall prey to the exact things I often rail against: it exoticizes India; it amplifies the very worst Western stereotypes of India; it perpetuates the one-sided depiction of India that persists in Western media; it uses easy stereotypes; it is lazy in its shorthanding of the many complexities that bedevil urban Indian living; it provides a sanctified halo around the "noble" suffering it shows; it leans on the children to provide the easy emotional connection; it resorts to the oldest narrative tricks in the book; it...

It sweeps you away.


...it is 11:57 pm PST out here in Southern California...

...and an old man is twitching with energy...

...pulsating with this so-called rhythm of life...

...basking in the afterglow of that rare cinematic experience...

...where it was all right, for once, to believe in fairy tales.

What can I say?

I am getting sentimental in my old age.


Rotten Tomatoes: Slumdog Millionaire (100%!)

Wikipedia: Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog Millionaire Official Site
Wikipedia: Vikas Swarup
Wikipedia: Q&A
Amazon: Q&A
Wikipedia: Danny Boyle
IMDB: Danny Boyle

23 October 2008

I Heart John Hodgman

John Hodgman (you know the PC to Justin Long's Mac, from those commercials) is one of my most favorite parts of The Daily Show (up there with the great Lewis Black and soon-to-depart Rob Riggle).

The Better Half pointed me to a very cool, in-depth interview with Hodgie (that's what I like to call him) at The Onion A.V. Club where he talks at length about his beginnings and his career now.

Love that guy.


The Onion: John Hodgman Interview
Wikipedia: John Hodgman

22 October 2008

India Does Some Checking And Mating

India thrashes Australia, goes to the moon, and now we're on the verge of reclaiming the Chess World Championship.

Our very own Viswanathan Anand is in the process of, um, thrashing Vladimir Kramni. He has won three of the last four games, and has taken a 4.5 - 1.5 lead in the 12-game series (12?!). Apparently in the world of chess this is virtually unheard of as most games end in draws.

That's right world, you can't hope to stop us, you can only hope to contain us. Actually, you can't even contain us.

You go Vishy, you go boy!


NYT: Anand Has Commanding Lead at World Championship

Take Me To The Moon, Manmohan!

That's right, India thrashed Australia, and now we're sending spaceships to the moon.

And I mean, the moon!

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, according to The New York Times, has not ruled out a space race with China.

Which means, that's right, Mars you're next.

Widespread poverty, crumbling infrastructure, communal violence, stifling pollution, systematic corruption...what's that you say?...sorry I can't hear you, we're going to the moon!


NYT: India Launches Orbiter to Moon

India Thrashes Australia!

No way!

Not only did India beat Australia in the second Test, we thrashed them.

Thrashed them.

The shoe is on the other foot now, eh?

How's it feel, you arrogant Aussies? Not too good huh?

I mean, it's laughable that Matthew Hayden complained about Zaheer Khan sledging him after being dismissed by that "little obnoxious weed" Harbhajan Singh (Hayden's words, not mine, literally). The Aussies practically invented sledging, and now their feelings are hurt? It's not as easy when you are the ones at the bottom.

This one had everything go right for India. There were some sterling batting performance all around (Sachin Tendulkar even chipped in when it mattered), there was some tight bowling, good captaincy (MS Dhoni did well, but I hope they don't use this as an excuse to phase out Anil Kumble), and a fantastic century by the Prince of Calcutta himself, Sourav Ganguly (so memorably named by his biggest fan, Geoffrey Boycott), playing in his final Test series.

Let's not get too ahead of ourselves. If I know one thing about the Aussies, they never give up, never, and they're going to come roaring back in the next Test.

But until then...we thrashed Australia!


Cricinfo: Match Home
Cricinfo: Match Analysis
Cricinfo: Scorecard

Chinese Democracy Is Here!

I know, I know, we all thought the real thing would come before that epic Guns N' Roses album (15 years in the making!).

And now, finally, it's here!

It's here!

Okay, so not all of it, but the title track "Chinese Democracy" is out now, and I like it. I do! Too bad at this point GNR is Axl Rose and bunch of mopes because I have high hopes for this.

The actual album will be sold exclusively through Best Buy on 23 November 2008.

Mark your calendars, on 23 November 2008, democracy will be spread...

Here is the tracklisting:

1. Chinese Democracy
2. Shackler's Revenge
3. Better
4. Street Of Dreams
5. If The World
6. There Was A Time
7. Catcher N' The Rye
8. Scraped
9. Riad N' The Bedouins
10. Sorry
11. I.R.S.
12. Madagascar
13. This I Love
14. Prostitute

Click the player below to listen to "Chinese Democracy":

Chinese Democracy - Guns N Roses


Billboard: Radio Reacts To Guns N' Roses Single