Thursday, June 29, 2006

an open letter to the team i fancy the most. after italy.

Dear Argentina,

I'm going to make this quick, because they're making me write peer reviews at work and I am so deep in this people-oriented spiel that I fear words like 'dynamic' and 'interface' will be coming out of my ears for some time AFTER this whole FIFA thing is over. You and I, we both know that the football association is legally obligated to make the hottest team win and so, in spite of all this Brazil and France and England (peh.) nonsense, Italy is going to take that World Cup home after distracting their opponents - and referees, apparently - to such a degree that the dazzling back and forth between the masculine distractions of Cannavaro! Totti! Zambrotta! Oh-my-god-was-there-a-football-somewhere-Del-Piero! will leave nothing to mere chance.

However.

We Malayalis have traditionally been your supporters. I'm too young to remember with anything like clarity the infamous Hand of God moment that catapulted you to immortal fame and Diego Maradona to a lifetime of drug use and unattractive fat. When you came into this World Cup alongside some serious greatness, among them Ronaldinho, whose genius even I cannot ignore, and Thierry Henry, who almost singlehandedly matches the hotness quotient of the entire Azzuri, I watched you from the corner of a distracted eye, hoping for the sake of Batistuta and all the rest of your great and beautiful ghosts that you would not humiliate the country which already had the ignominous shame of producing a first lady impersonated for all posterity by Madonna.

But now? I am rooting for you all the way, Argentina. All. The. Way. Because you play beautiful football, and because you're such a great, joyous, enthusiastic side. Although you could do with using more shampoo. Go for it, you guys. Make it a night of nights, make it all the way to the finals, and, dare I say it? Give the Italians a run for their money. Okay?

Know that I say this in spite of the treacherously boyish-yet-stoic charms of Michael Ballack.

Joga bonito, boys.

Yours,
R.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

magical me

In the wonderful world of Harry Potter, self-obsessed beautiful people write books. In the blogosphere, they meme, even if they aren't beautiful.

This time, however, I have excellent reason, since I was tagged by Aishwarya, who has been known to commit violence upon those who do not obey her. In the name of peace and fluffy bunnies, I submit my memeage, for her greater glory.

I am thinking about
Water. Specifically because I am thirsty. And also because ever since we got a television all I get to watch is commercials, and that new Gatorade commercial strikes me as thoroughly crappy. It attempts to convince the viewer that Gatorade is better than water, which is just a cracked pitch for any product, in my opinion. You can throw yourself up against any force in the world, but you don't mess like that with the old ech two oh, man. Who buys this shit?

I said
Ten 'Hail Roswithas' and committed an act of slangy hyperbole, because I didn't think I was giving myself enough attention.

I want to
Have money, and power, and also to rule the world, even if it means I'll have to push half-a-dozen heavy-duty Malayalam superstars, including one Vivek N, off the edge of a cliff to get there.

I wish
I could respect you in the morning. Actually, I just wish I could respect anyone in the morning. Or do. Anything. Anyhow. Anyone. In the morning. I - yeah. Not a morning person.

I miss
You. KIDDING. Go read a book or something.

I hear
Cake, at the moment. Not the rich sweet baked produce, although there have been times when the effect of same upon the senses has gone beyond the mere confines of touch, taste, sight and smell, because what is cake? Cake is all! In this specific instance, however, I refer to the band from Sacramento, California, whose music is often classified as alternative or indie rock, although it combines multiple musical genres, such as funk, pop, jazz, rap, and country, featuring droll lyrics rife with word play and syncopation, laconically-voiced in a rap-like style by lead vocalist/guitarist John McCrea, catchy distorted guitar riffs courtesy, until 1998, of guitarist Greg Brown and, until 1997, bass player Victor Damiani, and a solo trumpet played by Vince DiFiore.

(Heh. That Wikipedia also, no.)

I wonder
Why, ever since the animated film Aladdin came out, the word 'wonder' has been inextricably linked in my mind with Aladdin and Jasmine flying about on a carpet with their chibi eyes and cafe-au-lait skin, getting all with the romaanz and the irritating tenor-pop - oh, okay, now I get it, it's that song, the song with all the W's, what's it called, A Whole New World!

Ew.

Have a better one. Robin Williams - Prince Ali.

I regret
Rien! Nothing! Zip! Zilch! Nada! Exhausting my entire stock of exclamation points here.|-~?~~~111

I am
Oh crap, I've already taken the Memorable Quotes from Pre-Revolution Frenchmen route once. Goodbye, Descartes. And so, kids, it's the truth for you today. I'm a medieval Roman-drama-loving German nun with a penchant for fried chicken and my mother superior. My real name is not and has never been Maria Von Trapp at any point in time, though.

I dance
Like no one's watching. Cringe, cringe.

I sing
Alto parts in the Hyderabad Choral Society.

I cry
like the pissed-off, weight-gaining bitter old spinster that I am. If I was in Soviet Russia, pissed-off, weight-gaining bitter old spinsters would cry like me, though. Oddly comforting thought.

I am not always
Happy about the fact that I exchanged my peace of mind for superstardom, but I'm philosophical about it these days. I'm actually a very introspective person, you know.

I write
What I don't know. Always. It's my advice to all aspiring novelists. Stretch out a bit. It doesn't matter if you fall over a cliff, you never break bones in fiction. Plus, all the Malayalam superstars and Vivek N will be there to keep you company if you do.

I confuse
Hahahha. MOTTO.

I need
Water. Jesus, I'm still thirsty.

I should try
To go find some water.

I finish
Abruptly. It's my weekend and there's a divine plate of paani-puri somewhere on Road No. 12 that has my name written all over it in big sparkly letters eighteen feet high.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

eh give side no

ROFLMAO, Mumbai is the world's rudest city.

While rational justifications for this distinction exist, chief among them the differences between Eastern and Western civilisation, the eye-bleeding awfulness of Reader's Digest, which conducted the poll, and general Maximum City stuff, I just ... can't bring myself to care. I wonder what that says about me as a Mumbaikar.

(I was in school, skipping my way up my teacher's apartment building to get to Maths tuition, when I passed the vegetable-vendor (I don't know how this happens in other cities or countries, but in Bombay you still have a small population of people selling fresh produce door-to-door) and, flattening myself against the wall from the large-ass baskets of kaddu and padwal about her shoulders, I said, excuse me. I looked up to find the obnoxious young man who came to classes with me looking at me amusedly.

What, I asked.
Nothing, he said.
No, tell.
No nothing.
Arre tell.
You said excuse me.
Ya so.
Don't say excuse me, he said. Say give side no.)

Hopefully everyone is bemoaning this terrible RD libel back home, by being surly and pushing people out of local trains per usual.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

back, jezebels, the indian army don't want you!

This morning, I found it in my heart to blog about the salient fact that of the cell-phone-using, English-speaking, largely urban audience of an Indian television channel, fifty-six percent of the population that can be bothered to vote on these issues believe that women are not, and I quote this word, needed in the Indian Army.

So what's up with these people? Has their opinion prevailed against the public mood because of liberal laziness? Could it actually be that more than half the apparently elitist/radical/feminist or, well, more feminist-than-thou-at-least population of the nation thinks that women = pussies? Were all the ladies with powah not watching this show - making dinner, I don't doubt? Or is it just proof that only a majority of the most grievously stupid of all world populations engages with television news?

I doubt they were all pondering the problem of combatants required to remain in peak fitness every day of their lives, and the possibility of woman combatants failing daily health exams at least once or twice every month thanks to the energy-sapping power of menstruation is significantly high. Maybe it was the simple fear that if we let women drop the ladle and run off to war then we'll have no one to make the bread and babies. I know for a fact that at least one person came up with a reason to the effect that the country would never win a war with women fighters because women are too 'administration-oriented'. This has significant precedent in the Indian armed forces, where women have never been allowed in combat positions, of course. Plus, jocks hate geeks foreva.

A compelling argument, all in all, chaps, and one with a satisfying overarching argument, viz. this. The little women shouldn't be in a demned unpleasant, patriarchy-bitten spot like the military anyway. If the patriarchy had its way, preferably with some alternate power supply, they wouldn't be anywhere.

Friday, June 16, 2006

oh, for the love of

utter and banal moronism.

IS the next big thing in superheroes a masked man who leaps from skyscraper to skyscraper, saves the world and suddenly breaks into song? Audiences will find out on June 23, when "Krrish" — a film that showcases Bollywood's first fully realized Superman-style hero — reaches screens.


Well, if the NY Times commissions Anupama Chopra to ask that question, it must be one of immense import!

I can't even articulate the extent of my irritation at this flake-out. I suppose other people's fetishes are none of my business, but this tendency to dabble in the Cult of Bolly gives me hives. Because I really think its time for the world to accept the fact, objectively and without fear of regionalist prejudices, that contemporary Bollywood sucks ass in its various capacities as industry, "dream factory" and, uh, cinema. It's not pulling off some kind of escapist stunt, people! If you believe otherwise, look at the fact that, I don't know, 90% of all Bollywood produce fails commercially?

One night, Rakesh said, he sat up till 4 a.m. and watched the entire "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Afterward, he recalled in an interview in Mumbai, he asked himself, "If they can make three films on one ring, why can't we?" Thus the idea of a sequel about a superhero son was born.


I suppose it's folly to bring this up, but why can't we? sort of implies that the Krrish franchise is three movies 'on' one ring. But then, the imaginative distance between the two is negligible.

Seriously? This studied lack of irony is actually condescending. Which, considering this article comes from the reprehensible Suketu Mehta school of 'India's Screwed, But The People Are Wonderful!' writing, is expected stupid, utter, banal, moronic behaviour.

--

To change tacks, accept here pimpage of our Vivek's theatre company, which is working on one of the first of many awesome projects as you read this. If you live in Mumbai, please call them and go to auditions and give them cake. Shoestring Theatre it is.

Okay, come on, I'm not pissed off anymore. What've you all been reading? After throwing Maximum City across the room last week, I went out for pani-puri, came back with a terrific throat infection, and spent the rest of the week huddled up in bed re-reading Corelli's Mandolin, an old and sentimental favourite. I have processed nothing of note since, except the mildly amusing Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which was saddening for its failure to conceal Jude Law's fast-receding hairline. Still, got to hear someone say "Bugger!" on screen after yonks.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

anticipating X3.

Yeah yeah, dissolute reflection on the hotness of totally imaginary incredibly faux-geeky comic-book characters, move along, nothing to see here.

I watched X2 last night at the house of a friend who employs no cleaning help in order that he may employ a more-bachelor-than-thou bachelor pad. X2 is a film I have long wanted to watch but never could because a) none of my mostly-female movie buddies wanted to go to the theatre to watch Hugh Jackman in a wifebeater and a bad hairdo (a valid point when you can have same in velvet jacket and humanoid coiff in 'Kate and Leopold', if that's all you're looking for) and b) never caught it on TV because by then my grandparents had moved back to live with us and there was always a Malayalam show that seemed more urgent every time X2 was being aired. How, you may ask, did I resist the charms of a freely available film that stars Ian McKellen as an evil genius - nay, Ian McKellen rising six feet in the air and knocking out dome-shaped metal computer rooms! - for so long? The answer is: with difficulty.

To come back to the viewing experience. Bachelor-friend is a Wolverine fan. Wolverine is apparently loved not only for his hotness but also his hypermasculinity (and I assure you, the two are mutually exclusive) and general badassness. Now, I like Wolverine. A lot. A whole lot. I will avoid describing my liking for him in detail for a variety of reasons, chief among them the wish to spare my keyboard from salivatory by-products. But is he my favourite character?

No, that would be Magneto. This has no larger implication on the differences in male/female response to stimuli. It only proves my thing for bad guys with an agenda. Besides, you have to agree that a contest between Wolverine's oh-so-angsty amnesia and PTSD and Erik "every living relative of mine was gassed or roasted alive by homo sapiens in one of their periodic genocides, and I still remember them all, and now I'm going to kill everyone with my smartness" Lensherr is no contest at all.

So what is the topic at hand, wonders this blog's discerning audience? It is hotness, of course. In fact, a lot of this blog is completely redundant because I don't know anyone who doesn't find X-Men hot. The films are slick, competently acted and well-scripted. The X-franchise has a sound moral basis, plenty of lookers, some excellent female role-models - all too rare in any culture, pop or otherwise - dark pasts, and it has magic powers.

I think the one mistake X2 makes is that it doesn't give its villain sufficient motive. Even objectively, an angst contest between Wolverine and the likes of Stryker is no contest at all for the audience's sympathy. And whoa with casting Brian Cox as Stryker - what is this, connect-the-blockbuster-dots villainny? - and the accent from the Bible Belt. Suddenly the gay metaphor gets subtler and more complex! Not.

I've been reading reviews for X3 and being not-so-excited, as everyone seems to agree that Bryan Singer leaving to direct the new Superman is only one excellent reason to ditch X3 and watch the new Superman. Still, as Superman is releasing worldwide in July, it's likely to hit Hyderabad by December, which gives me plenty of time to absorb both. Superhero movies are good even when they're bad.

---

Yes, I have read some X-Men comics. Six, to be exact. I'm not a comic-book junkie, but I'm certainly not averse to them either. And they're cheap. I'm going to go looking for more this weekend.

Monday, June 05, 2006

short notes on an enjoyable weekend.

They're short. They're notes. It's Monday morning.

(Of dal fry, Franka Potente and Fanaa.)

Friday night: Neighbourly gossip, tomato Maggi (again) and reading. Fall asleep at two, per nightly routine, but without guilt or self-pity as tomorrow is Saturday.

Saturday morning: I can cook! I am the best cook in the world! One of the secret order of magical ladies with whom rests the world’s most precious culinary secret, namely that of tea, toast and scrambled eggs. I am mystikaaal and luminous. How’s that for lembas, Galadriel?

I float around in my old Beatles tee-shirt and shorts and half-watch The Bourne Identity. That is to say, I watch Franka Potente. I watch Franka Potente swearing in German. I am compelled to believe that this may be the hottest thing EVAR. I try, Galadriel-fashion, to get her to swear more by sending her powerful all-shall-love-me-and-despair mind-waves. But everyone in this film is afflicted with lockjaw and she seems to have talked herself into a corner whence escape is onl possible by affecting interest in Matt Damon. Oh hot Eurotrashy women, why do you let yourselves be so exploited? Scheiss, I say, to all that.

Lunch is dal fry and jeera rice, a weekend staple. As I wend my way through deathly sun-baked traffic on Road #1 Banjara Hills to collect it – no restaurant delivers to my home, to describe which I must include the words, ‘Take the sixth right from the main road…’ – I notice that there exists not a single spot along its upper-middle-to-working-class expanse (the really posh shopping is in Begumpet and Panjagutta, about ten minutes away), not a speck of -shoppe or -bazaar or -mart or –corner in or outside of which someone sells a newspaper. Hyderabad’s premier residential area and there’s not a bloody newspaper stand anywhere along it.

This place, gah.

Saturday evening: One of the inevitable wtf’s of life. I am eating dinner at a restaurant known for its pure Hyderabadi – meaning meat-filled – delicacies, eating a vegetarian meal. How civilisation makes fools of us all, et cetera.

Saturday night: One of the year’s best so far. I finish a beautiful, brilliant book called The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and go to bed in love, with a new addition to my list of favourite novels.

Sunday morning: Snuggle in late, still feeling happy about book. Flatmate goes to church. I wake and perform the tea-toast-eggs miracle again and switch on the telly. I’m just in time to catch a romantic comedy called Maid in Manhattan in its entirety. For reasons obvious to anyone who has read an average of three of my past posts, I watch. Of course, it’s very stupid, and poor Rafe is stupid in it. He looks bored and sheepish. It isn’t detestable or anything. It commits the usual Hollywood crimes, making shallow cues out of racial and class conflict, trying to reflect liberal sensibilities and blah-blah even though one of its central sequences involves an entirely white rich crowd swaying to the tunes of an entirely stereotyped black band. Rafe and J-Lo have so little in common even as actors – one is, the other isn’t – that watching them kiss is like watching a fish and a bicycle getting it on, only more inspid and less intellectually stimulating. But also, if you think about it, nothing close to as gross. Altogether very much in the it-could-be-worse category. No, take it from one who in her misguided youth tried watching Monster In Law.

Sunday evening: Watched Fanaa. Well, if you can call holding face over palm for a good third of the film out of sheer embarrassment for the actors, the art of cinema and most of all for self watching. Definitely not RDB-outrageous, though. The music and dancing and jingoism is all creaky, an almost deliberate attempt at trying to update some blockbuster from 1970’s Bollywood with political relevance and so on, and ending up as a caricature of itself. It kept putting me in mind of those old and elegant and hideously outdated Shammi Kapoor films in which he plays a prince-in-exile character who comes to Kashmir, reclaims his heritage and gets the girl. It's lovely to hear Urdufied Hindi on screen again. And Tabu! I love Tabu. For some reason I thought it was a Farhan Akhtar film until the opening credits rolled. Well. It wasn’t. That’s the least unkind thing I can say about it.

Three things of note in the pre-show ads. A puzzling Yashraj production called Kabul Express, starring L'Abraham and the undeserving-of-French-article Arshad Warsi. I can't figure whether this is meant to be comic or not. But then with those two, it generally ends up being one.

A new Karan Johar film is opening sometime this August. Shock and awe, no pastels and bubblegum colours, no dancing puppies, no irritating kids. People talking about sex! But still with the idealised New York and wobbly-lipped Shah Rukh Khan. Sometimes it isn’t the mockability that changes, just the nature of the thing to be mocked. Oh, well. I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised.

And the Adidas 'who will you pick' ad with the Latino kids and ‘Beckenbauer’. Is it possible not to love a well-done football ad? Well, when you consider that kids the age of the child actors in the advert are spending their lives making those shoes in the Philippines.

current musix: panic! at the disco: the only difference between suicide and martyrdom is press coverage.