Thursday, September 28, 2006


couldn't hold myself back from posting this video. Looks like our house-favourite is going national, and international big time. And I am not apologizing for this cheesy image. See the video and judge yourself: The Stewart Factor on MSNBC.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

tragedy as art & soliloquy, part I

Inspired by Toski's post, I hereby dedicate a portion of my day-to-day posts to the great Shakespearean tragedies. This section will time-travel into the minds of the valiants who refused to die "many times" before their death, through pre-raphaelite and neoclassicist images that sought "refuge" in tragedies.
Please listen to
Tchaikovsky's SwanLake while going at it, to heighten your sense of sadness.

She shall be buried by her Antony.
No grave upon the earth shall clip in it
A pair so famous...

Antony and Cleopatra. This was true love, in a true love-hate relationship fashion. After losing the war to Octavius, Antony denounces Cleopatra. "This foul Egyptian hath betrayed me". Cleopatra stages her own death to get Antony back in her life which backfires on her. Antony, not being able to bear the pain, takes his own life. His asks Eros, his aide, to do the dirty deed for him (which drives a guilt-ridden Eros to commit suicide) and finally after several failed attempts wounds himself bad enough to die in Cleopatra's arms. Not one to back down, Cleopatra, refuses to surrender to Octavius, and intends to meet her love in her afterlife. She silently takes the bite of an asp in her hand. "Where's my serpent of old Nile? For so he calls me".

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
Julius Caesar. A story of envy, ambition, power, honour and patriotism. Ignoring soothsayer's premonitions, Caesar faces death at the Senate in the hands of the conspirators, who have taken oath to save Rome from a supposedly corrupt Monarchy. And such treachery is too much to bear for Caesar. "Et tu, Brute?" says Caesar, and "Then fall, Caesar..." says Shakespeare. "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears...", says Marc Antony at Caesar's death and drives the Romans against Brutus. Caesar's ghost haunts Brutus to warn him of his impending defeat in the war with Antony and Octavian "thou shalt see me at Philippi". Brutus and Cassius commit suicide rather than falling into the hands of enemies.

Monday, September 25, 2006

in these times of guns...

Omakara and Company...both neither new nor lacking in reviews (favourable and unfavourable). But after six hours of shootings (very aesthetically conscious, stylistically earthy, etc etc), it was fitting to encounter other inventive ways of killing fictional characters, most favoured by Shakespeare [simply titled "Murder Methods"]
  • Othello apparently strangles Desdemona or smothers her with a pillow. (The stage directions say he "stifles" Desdemona.)
  • In Antony and Cleopatra, Cleopatra commits suicide via the bite of an asp.
  • In Richard III, Clarence is drowned in a barrel of wine.
  • In Macbeth, hired assassins inflict "twenty trenched gashes" upon Banquo's head.
  • In Cymbeline, Guiderius decapitates Clotan.
  • In Titus Andronicus, throats are slit and Aaron the Moor is buried up to his chest, then starved.
  • In Hamlet, Claudius murders his predecessor by pouring poison into his ear.
  • In King John, a monk poisons the monarch in the conventional, oral way. The latter murder method has been a favorite of assassins since ancient times. It is said that the custom of garnishing food with parsley originated in the time of the Caesars. Parsley was a secret sign from a friend in the kitchen that food was uncontaminated.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Do as the Romans do?

De famed American architect Richard Meier at the opening of the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome. 2006.
Not on your life!
Because we would not wait for a humungous piece of ego [h.e.] to be built and then trash it through reviews.
It is not as though that stuffy (even tought it claims 'airy' in its description) monstrosity landed in the middle of, oops, at the edge of, a Roman piazza, one random morning...
We would not commission the work to that h.e. in the first place! Shame!

sunday forum - ask gollum

Sméagol cannot answer any questions today... my Preciousss. Sméagol is busy having biriyani at Toski's place. Happy Birthday to Api !
Sméagol must eat. All he gets is filthy oxens. And they doesn't taste very nice, does they, preciouss? No, not very nice at all, my love...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

It-All: the follow up

Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words. The winners are:

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedlyanswer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are runover by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, whenyou die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take anyword from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's winners:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops brightideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little signof breaking down in the near future.
2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose ofgetting laid.
3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subjectfinancially impotent for an indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and theperson who doesn't get it.
6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
9. Karmageddon (n): It's like, when everybody is sending off all thesereally bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consumingonly things that are good for you.
11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you'veaccidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in thefruit you're eating.
And the pick of the literature:
16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.
[Friday e-mails at work have proven once again to be good for junking it all.]

The Boss of It All

No, Lars von Trier maynot be THE boss of IT-ALL, but a recent interview with him reminded me of how good he was in at least presenting the Boss of IT-ALL to us.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

moo-cho freedom

...speaking of bovine freedom, guess what I found when I got home this evening...
Slacker!!!! Picasso would turn in his grave

j-pod? Aucune façon!

So - ever since I have demoted my TV box to basic, basic cable, I have been watching way too many reruns, and of course you-tube. Unthought-of accessibilty comes along with you-tube. Take for instance episodes of The Office. Amidst hackneyed opinions of how, of course, the Brit version is so much better (how can it not?), I discovered, to my "why-bother-amazement", that apart from the American digression, the French and German have their own versions as well. Now obviously one would expect a why-bother response; after all, isn't that the whole point of making deadpan fun of a globalised pod culture - homogineity? And if the Brits have got there first, seriously, why bother?
Same difference? Not quite!

... and the cow goes moo

Bringing color to a mundane existence, a means of self expression, symbolism, or feeling beautiful, for whatever reason, the live body has, time and time again, become a canvas for art. On top of that, 'live' body and 'dead' paint, share a symbiotic relationship of the static and the dynamic.

my body is a wonderland

collage cow
of London

give me a live elephant anyday

These days, cows seem to be our greatest sources of artistic inspiration. Dull, inane cows with body paints [CowParade] are taking over the world (Denver being the latest victim), and I find that disturbing... even more disturbing than lip plates. Somewhere, there is a disconnection. The last time I checked ART 101, there was a distinction between body paint and body art.

I ask myself, why have cows suddenly become our sources of inspiration? Have we turned towards cows for our symbolic or spiritual means of expression? If so, what good will come out of cows turning into rockets or stegosauruses, or ovens? Do we relate to cows more than any other animals for that matter?
How will these awaken me, you ask? I look at it and all I get back is a bland "moo". Now, go figure!

Boston Moo

Denver Moo 01

Denver Moo 02

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife..."

All this wine, no opener......................................

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


"Isn't the ultimate treasure a child's smile? Isn't a drop of rain on the wing of a butterfly worth a million doubloons?
Yours, Calico Jack."

- A brief note found in Calico Jack's Treasure Chest, which he buried for safekeeping on an island just off the Florida keys. [ The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab]

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Here's splicing the mainbrace to Ol' Chum Bucket and Cap'n Slappy!
More Pirate Lingo

Sunday, September 17, 2006

desperately seeking absurdity

An hour-long lunch spent at the yielded this - The World Next Week. Reporting on news that has yet to happen. (Of course some of you may wonder why an hour to find what was on the first page, but my ritual generally goes sport-cricket-tennis-news-entertainment-[sometimes]science/nature-technology before I hit the news...that way if I run out of the hour, I don't miss the important happenings). the wise have said before me, that's so sex!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Have you apologized to Geraldo yet?!

They exist in a small little place where they account for nothing..." Geraldo had said about Stewart and Colbert on the O'Reilly factor. Stewart's response? "... Aaah, where's the flying aluminium debris when you need it!". [ video 01 ]
Never make fun of people who run a "Comedy" show. Geraldo Rivera learnt that the hard way. Here's how Colbert makes Stewart apologize to Geraldo in 4 parts. Hilarious!

Colbert to Jon Stewart, "You sir, are on notice!"
[ video 02 ]

Daily Show "Stooge" Colbert! [ video 03 ]

"Jon, why are you closing yourself off from
Geraldo?" asks Colbert.

Jon walks a mile in Geraldo's moustache.
[ video 04 ]

Monday, September 11, 2006

Centennial Celebrations!!!

naked chicks with guns
Well done girls! Didn't think you would last a 100 posts!
The Precious will be ours...once the hobbitses are dead!!


...amidst the rubble of Gollum's distress at the possible demolition of the Buckingham Mall, the incessant bombardment on TV of certain other buildings that were demolished, um, a bit differently and Api's observations of the blog's "interludes in the political" - an article by Slavoj Zizek.

On 9/11, New Yorkers faced the fire in the minds of men
Slavoj Zizek
Monday September 11, 2006 The Guardian

Two Hollywood films mark 9/11's fifth anniversary: Paul Greengrass's United 93 and Oliver Stone's World Trade Center. Both adopt a terse, realistic depiction of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. There is undoubtedly a touch of authenticity to them and most critics have praised their sober styles and avoidance of sensationalism. But it is the touch of authenticity that raises some disturbing questions.
The realism means that both films are restrained from taking a political stance and depicting the wider context of the events. Neither the passengers on United 93 nor the policemen in WTC grasp the full picture. All of a sudden they find themselves in a terrifying situation and have to make the best out of it.
This lack of "cognitive mapping" is crucial. All we see are the disastrous effects, with their cause so abstract that, in the case of WTC, one can easily imagine exactly the same film in which the twin towers would have collapsed as the result of an earthquake. What if the same film took place in a bombed high-rise building in Beirut? That's the point: it cannot take place there. Such a film would have been dismissed as "subtle pro-Hizbullah terrorist propaganda". The result is that the political message of the two films resides in their abstention from delivering a direct political message. It is the message of an implicit trust in one's government: when under attack, one just has to do one's duty.
This is where the problem begins. The omnipresent invisible threat of terror legitimises the all-too-visible protective measures of defence. The difference of the war on terror from previous 20th-century struggles, such as the cold war, is that while the enemy was once clearly identified as the actually existing communist system, the terrorist threat is spectral. It is like the characterisation of Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction: most people have a dark side, she had nothing else. Most regimes have a dark oppressive spectral side, the terrorist threat has nothing else.
The power that presents itself as being constantly under threat and thus merely defending itself against an invisible enemy is in danger of becoming a manipulative one. Can we really trust those in power, or are they evoking the threat to discipline and control us? Thus, the lesson is that, in combating terror, it is more crucial than ever for state politics to be democratically transparent. Unfortunately, we are now paying the price for the cobweb of lies and manipulations by the US and UK governments in the past decade that reached a climax in the tragicomedy of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Recall August's alert and the thwarted attempt to blow up a dozen planes on their way from London to the US. No doubt the alert was not a fake; to claim otherwise would be paranoiac. But a suspicion remains that it was a self-serving spectacle to accustom us to a permanent state of emergency. What space for manipulation do such events - where all that is publicly visible are the anti-terrorist measures themselves - open up? Is it not that they simply demand too much from us, the ordinary citizen: a degree of trust that those in power lost long ago? This is the sin for which Bush and Blair should never be forgiven.
What, then, is the historical meaning of 9/11? Twelve years earlier, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin wall fell. The collapse of communism was perceived as the collapse of political utopias. Today, we live in a post-utopian period of pragmatic administration, since we have learned the hard lesson of how noble political utopias can end in totalitarian terror. But this collapse of utopias was followed by 10 years of the big utopia of global capitalist liberal democracy. November 9 thus announced the "happy 90s", the Francis Fukuyama dream of the "end of history", the belief that liberal democracy had, in principle, won, that the search was over, that the advent of a global, liberal community was around the corner, that the obstacles to this Hollywood happy ending are merely local pockets of resistance where the leaders have not yet grasped that their time is over.
September 11 is the symbol of the end of this utopia, a return to real history. A new era is here with new walls everywhere, between Israel and Palestine, around the EU, on the US-Mexico and Spain-Morocco borders. It is an era with new forms of apartheid and legalised torture. As President Bush said after September 11, America is in a state of war. But the problem is that the US is not in a state of war. For the large majority, daily life goes on and war remains the business of state agencies. The distinction between the state of war and peace is blurred. We are entering a time in which a state of peace itself can be at the same time a state of emergency.
When Bush celebrated the thirst for freedom in post-communist countries as a "fire in the minds of men", the unintended irony was that he used a phrase from Dostoevsky's The Possessed, where it designates the ruthless activity of radical anarchists who burned a village: "The fire is in the minds of men, not on the roofs of houses." What Bush didn't grasp is that on September 11, five years ago, New Yorkers saw and smelled the smoke from this fire.

sunday forum - ask gollum

Gollum, the grapevine reports the Buckingham Mall in Denver is going to be taken down to build new apartment housing and shops. Is this the end for KJ movies in Denver? What will happen to us, KJ fans? Please help!
Gollum: Now we can eat fish in peace. No, not in peace, Precious. For Precious is lost; yes, lost. Curse them! We hates them! It's ours, it is. And we wants it! We will protest, my love. We will internalizes the "think globally, act locally" mantra—something often repeated but rarely acted on.
September 15 will be a day of action, Precious... focusing on social and economic issues domestically, teamed up with the Hip Hop Summit Network to organize the "March on Denver: Buckingham Mall, Still We Rise." The rest of the week will be rounded out by a series of marches, rallies, counter-conventions and concerts, including repeated showing of new KJ movie "Kabhie Alvida na Kehna"... We will get SRK for our publicity campaign. "Take down the fence, and flip over the barricades"... Sméagol did it once; he can do it again. We must get the Precious! We must get It back! ...

Gollum, what do you think about the movie "Munnabhai MBBS II " that the desis are going crazy over?
Gollum: They are horrid fat hobbitses who hates Sméagol and makes up fat lies! Dip them in cold water... Dip them all, yes, if we gets chances... !

Gollum, looks like you had a nasty fight with the contributors of this blogsite. Good to see its all a thing of the past, and you are back to work.
Gollum: We'll be nice to them, if they'll be nice to us. They agreed to give Sméagol a raise! Now we swears to do what you wants. We ssswears!!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

experimental historians?

The cover story in this week's TIME magazine seems to have raised a bit of a stir in my head. There seems to be indignation, mostly at the debasement of the authority of the historian or the profession of [writing?] history. There maybe a logic to the indignation though. Speculative future-historiography is a bit too fantastic (and trendy?).
But even given that, I suppose my uneasiness is with a historian (Niall Ferguson, in this case) experimenting with history. Is it even possible for a historian to seek to cleave open a space within official accounts of the relationship between the past and the present within which the possibilities of the past (and the future) can be re-imagined and re-explored? On the other hand, if the subversion of the authority of the historian is indeed the beginning of experimental histories, then what is Mr. Ferguson experimenting with? Outcomes?

Finally, is there any difference between imagining and experimenting?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

freedom [of sorts], the double-edged sword

Let the games begin: "Have you no sense of decency, sir?"

keywords to play with:
freedom of speech, freedom of press, patriotism, terrorists, fear, manipulation, evil, un-american, nazi [latest addition]

Cards to draw to start a new round:
"My enemy's enemy is my best friend"

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

Return Flight

Another vacation over. Hard to say goodbyes so I suppose it is best that I had an early morning flight. One is invariably late getting to it and is sufficiently distracted from the task of saying goodbyes..."call me when you get home", "I'll call you when I get home"...seem to be the logical things to say. Direct flights help get away from the vacation and back to daily routines faster - I don't have one. Not much else remains to be done at airports these day - the business belongs to the TSA entirely. My transit is a dreary pause. It seems hot and parched, especially with all the golf courses.
I hope to have preempted the inevitable pretzel with a biscotti today. I am chuffed, and cannot get the grin off my face - never mind that I had to throw away a half-full cup of coffee (the viscosity, obviously, didn't pass the benchmark). But as someone has wisely said, in the war on beverages the best one can do is to keep one's head above water. Finished Alec Guinness's second autobiography - a two year paper blog / journal of daily records - prematurely. I was hoping it would last me through the two flights. I am amzed that he didn't have one arguement or fight or serious disagreement for the twenty-four months! Life holds a peaceful promise at 80, it seems. I am waiting for the beverage cart eagerly; then I can bring out the biscotti with a flourish!
[15 or 20 min. later]...Couldn't wait...ate the biscotti (yum), and am empty handed. Big disappointment.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Better late than never

Finally saw it. The interview that brought the show down.

Did Jon Stewart actually call Tucker Carlson (that bow-tied guy from MSNBC) a d**k on National Television?? LOL!
TC reminds me of one of those puberty-angst-ridden, arrogant bullies trying hard to act like an adult, or sound intelligent. And you either try to yawn him away, or wish some other kid would come and beat the daylights out of him... right in front of you. Job well done, Jon!!!
[Jon Stewart "Crossfire" Transcript ]

So, Crossfire gets canned. CNN cut ties with TC. [No, not Tom Cruise, that's Paramount ].
And here is Jon's own spin on the show, "[Crossfire is] named after the stray bullets that kill innocent bystanders in a gangfight"... ending with a "... but tomorrow I will go back to being funny. And your show will still blow".
<- TC and his bowtie


Main Entry: com·mit·ment
Pronunciation: k&-'mit-m&nt
Function: noun
1 a : an act of committing to a charge or trust: as (1) : a consignment to a penal or mental institution (2) : an act of referring a matter to a legislative committee b : MITTIMUS
2 a : an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; especially : an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future date b : something pledged c : the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled ...
"He has that commitment when he throws [the racket]," Ivanisevic said, self-nominating Safin as his heir in the racket throwing sub-genre within tennis. "When he throws, it will break. No halfhearted throw. He has perfect follow-through."


Gollum, this is the second time you have not shown up for our weekly reviews. You forgot to publish the Sunday Column on time. We received a bill of $6.50 which both you and Mr. Egg incurred at some dinner. We go off to some distant land to recuperate during our labor day weekend, and you cannot cover our rear end for us. You said you lost the chart, the one that was handed over to you before leaving for my annual trip to Mauii. Well, that is one sorry excuse, and I refuse to believe you. And a simple apology won't do. Cough up that dough before this week is over, or you will lose your administrative rights to this blog. You can also forget about your privileges over our refrigerators. Cable is off-limits too. You are all Phissh and no substance. And no, seriously, not falling for your Smeagol schtick anymore.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

"How was your flight?"

In anticipation of being asked the inevitable question, that is so often thought to be mandatory to anyone who has recently journeyed via airplane, I thought it worthwhile preparing a record for how indeed my journey by fligh was. Here then is that account:
0:00 min: In the cabin. Bored passengers filing down the aisle looking for their seat, and the next best opportunity in the overhead baggage storage. The best, of course is always taken. The same can also be said of the seat next to one's own. All these happenings happening to Indian tabla music, piped to an apologetic volume; and to Africa women, with breasts hanging like ripe fruit off of a tree,with heavy baskets on their heads walking in slow deliberation towrds some documentary filmmaker's camera, trying to overcome the static onthe overhead TV screens. Could a moment be any more random?
0:07 min: Moving on...From Africa to the banks of the Yamuna and the Taj appearing, small on the TV screen. In the background, the shrill, nasal voice of the stewardess warning about safety and security procedures of the flight. Does anyone realise the morbidity of a mausoleum appearing alongside " case of an emergency..."?
0:09 min: This is out of control! The TV has now moved on to a pair of feet walking through a wheat field - gliding, almost " [Russell Crowe's]Gladiator-style". What are they trying to do here? Mr. Crowe can wish for that blissful afterlife, but I would prefer if such dreamings were differed until after I reach ___.
0:11 min: I realise that all the crew seem to love to speak into the microphone. We just heard went through the same [damn] announcements for the thrid time! How many more instructions can there possibly be for a single flight?
0:15 min: We still haven't moved. And the ___ sun, piercing through my window [yes, I have a window seat!] is hot. 110F, I believe. Like I said, announced three times already.
0:16 min: Hooray! We are moving!
0:18 min: After an on and off and on and off of the TV, merry crewmembers appear on the screen to give a pretelevised safety instructions (that makes it four times). They seem cheery, and helpful. Quite a contrast from the ones standing outside the screens.
0:22 min: Waiting for take off. Engines revving up. Fingers tighten around the armrests - well, only momentarily.
0:24 min: Waiting...
0:25 min: We're off!
0:30 min: My seat is inconvenient for a bird's eye view.All I can see is a shiny airplane wing. I put on my shades.
0:...losing the sense of time here: There is a single little puff of a cloud floating around in the sky. Cute. Wonder where it floated from?
Much to the dismay of my embedded reporter avataar, I either doze off for an indefinite period, or get bored. Either way, that was my flight as far as it was recorded.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

my weekend indulgences

began with Slavin making sense in her TV interview on C-Span [sept 01, 2006], PBS Washington Week, and at some other places: view from Tehran , pink revolution, internet boom.

and Colbert playing "the Fool" [Bravo Colbert! Bravo!] in Roasting President Bush - 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner or presenting at the Emmys with Jon Stewart

Barbara Slavin and Stephen Colbert

Friday, September 01, 2006

ouch! you hit the wrong nerve!

Salman Rushdie
threw a fit when New York Times scribe Guy Trebay insulted his wife, Padma Lakshmi. The "The Satanic Verses" author told Trebay: "If you ever write mean things about my wife again, I'll come after you with a baseball bat!" [ Page Six ]. Blog correspondent and author Gollum could not be reached for his thoughtful response to this article as of presstime. My guess is as good as yours.

footnote: Gollum is the co-author of Rushdie's forthcoming book "The First Amendment: Modifications since 1988", due Feb 2007 . Whether this particular incident will create a rift between the two and jeopardize the book's future is yet to be seen.