Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Rationalism is so 20th century. Dogma is it, man! Real men (and women) only base their arguments on half-baked theories and flashes of insight they get while sleeping (or maybe while watching the latest teen disappearance 12-hour marathon on TV). The scientific world, which
actually put in the effort to gain this knowledge is full of people who want to advance their theories at all costs.

Global warming. I mean, whoever gave these people devoting their life to the rational study of life and the earth the right to make statements that we infallible humans are screwing up this earth? I mean, Michael Crichton (he of Jurassic Park and Congo) knows better, right? If he says global warming is not happening it cannot be. We can of course neglect melting icecaps, later winters and not solid enough ice in Alaska, for it is probably an aberration, right?

And the horror! We are descendants of monkeys! Is that even possible? Of course, there has to be a better explanation, right?

To recycle an old tale, 20% of surveyed Americans believed the Earth revolves around the sun.

Science and rational, knowledge-based debating is for wimps. Saying "I don't know" and "I'm wrong" is infra dig.

I have seen the light. I now follow the religion of Pastafarianism. All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster

*The New Yorker link via Ari's blog

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Howie Day Live

I finally went to a much-anticipated concert to watch Howie Day, live at The Showbox in downtown Seattle on the 9th of August. As mentioned earlier, an insanely hectic week meant that I was looking forward to the energy the concert would provide and I wasn't disappointed.

Opening act was Missy Higgins, apparently one of Australia's top singers right now. Amazing voice and great songwriting to complement the bare orchestration - just her on the piano(keyboard) and one guy on acoustic guitar. Her songs are now familiar to me, thanks to KCRW, and seeing her live was good fun. She was surprisingly down-to-earth, staying on to sign autographs and sell CDs with her crew. The crowd lapped it up, and her CDs sold briskly. Great numbers included 'Ten Days', 'Scar' , 'The Special Two' and 'All for Believing'. Her most beautiful verse?

I remember someone old once said to me:
"Lies will lock you up with truth the only key."

Howie Day has been touring with Anna Nalick, who was up next. Again, great voice, and interesting songs. Breathe (2AM) is her single doing the radio rounds right now, and she says it beautifully:

2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, its no longer
inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to

After the customary break, it was time for Howie Day himself. He started off with "Perfect Time of Day", a lovely, upbeat melody.

Since gaining fame, Howie has a full band and doesn't perform solo with only his set of pedals and delay and echo effects to burnish his singing and guitar playing. He did use them sparingly and to great effect this time though. However, all these years of touring has given his set a certain rigor. He is able to play a great set, yey maintain his spontaneity (his shows are generally different - he doesn't do exactly identical shows) and riff off the audience reaction. He did some great songs, including staples 'Ghosts', 'Sunday Morning Song' and 'Brace Yourself'. At least twice, he played the start of the Beatles' "Day Tripper", but he admitted that he and his band didn't know how to do the song, or they'd have done it.

Howie Day's strength IMO lies in the strong melodies he creates. There are people who like his songwriting, but I find it slightly (deliberately?) obscure, though enjoyable. His melodies are awesome though, and these are songs that you can hum or whistle along. They are also incredibly catchy, a fact proved by crowd favorite "Collide", the new song "Be There" and by the encore "Morning After". A great song was also the cover of Crowded House's "Don't Dream Its Over".

All in all, an evening worth remembering.

It's the perfect time of day
It's the last day of your life
Dont let it drift away
While your heart is still racing...

Links: Still waiting for a recording of the concert to go up on the Internet Archive, but there's some photos on this fan forum (you'll have to scroll down a bit). Cameras are normally not allowed, but people get away with it in the crowd and darkness.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Voice of Summer

Even as I wonder about my restlessness and where to channel all of it, there is a set of people who deserve this restlessness all the more, and will have a harder time of it all.

For them though, the possibilities are endless, for they haven't yet bound themselves in with career choices and raison d'ĂȘtres which include mundane points such as loan repayments or a life with no summer holidays. Life at that point seems at the cusp of change, as the article states perfectly: "Like migratory birds, the young can feel the end of something. Freedom is fading fast." Which again takes me back to one of my favorite songs:

"Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown,
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way"
- Pink Floyd, "Time"

And on a cautionary note,

"Time, time, time, see what's become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities"
- Simon and Garfunkel "Hazy Shade of Winter"

Rock Show ASCII Art


Found at a completely random place online

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Why We Write

Bloggers write for different reasons. Some have ideas which need expressing. Some have a life worth sharing, and a number of people interested enough with whom they can share it. I have neither, but I have a desire to put things out there, which forces me to keep at it.

Some, though have the skill for it, which mere mortals like yours truly only aspire towards. A blog by someone with a genuine gift for words, poetry and ideas. The Girl In The Hat

(Link via various sources)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's the perfect time of day
It's the last day of your life
Dont let it drift away
While your heart is still racing*

A restlessness possesses me
An urging to do something
To grab life by the scruff
Of its neck
And give it a shaking

Life cannot
And will not
wait forever
The iron is hot
The spirit is willing
As is the flesh
Make something of it
Or forever hold your peace

The unease of a hot summer night
Of wanting more
Than offered by this life
Of creating a new reality
A desire to be something
Larger than this mere body
Of transcending space and time
To be somewhere beyond consciousness
Where only thoughts bind you
And not limitations
Where the beyond is there for the taking

*4 Lines from Howie Day's "Perfect Time of Day"

Monday, August 15, 2005

Radio as it ought to be

A chance encounter lead me to KCRW, Santa Monica's public listener-supported radio streaming online.

KCRW has a program called "Morning Becomes Eclectic" . As the name suggests, it is an eclectic mix of music from different styles and ranges - electronica, punk, latin and more down-home varieties including folk and country make their appearance here. The key feature of this is that it is music chosen by the anchor Nic Harcourt. Nic Harcourt has gained some fame for having a good nose for music, having been the person to have given artistes of the level of Norah Jones, Dido, Radiohead, Coldplay and Jem their first major breaks on radio (for some of the Brit acts, their major North American break). His taste sure is eclectic, though he has a distinct empathy towards certain sounds (Most of his selections are what you would call easy-listening - no very hard rock or metal or hardcore hip-hop here). But these sounds are wide-ranging, making for interesting and engaging listening.

To top it all off, there is Nic himself. He is really good as an anchor -extremely knowledgeable about music (a major relief after hearing inane chatter on mainstream radio stations - I know more about many of the songs I listen to than the jockeys themselves). His interviewing style is pleasant without being ingratiating, and he asks good questions about the process of songwriting and music-making.

Listening to him on radio made me realize that this is what I want from my music radio programming - good variety of music and gyan about music - not some new reality series or Ashton Kutcher pulling a new joke on someone who's famous for being credited third on some vague TV show, but is considered a 'celebrity'.

The website has a section of performances by a number of great artistes -many of them not so well-known. Give it a spin. If you are interested in good, but not so well-known music, you won't be disappointed.

I recommend: Nikka Costa, Beck, Missy Higgins, Si Se, Jem.

On a similar note, an interview of Nic Harcourt on PBS Frontline, and a great special section on the state of the music industry today

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Gym, Gigs and the Indian cricket fan's heartbreak

It's been a crazy two weeks. Features integrating upwards, downwards and laterally. Regressions and bugs hitting from left-field. To add to the hectic-ness of it all, I decided to start on a fitness regimen - a New Year resolution 7 months too late to come into action. Plus, there were five matches (go India! :-( ) to be seen in the wee hours of the night and two concerts to be attended (more on them later). By the end of it all in the middle of this week, I was happy to be standing. But rarely had I felt more alive. Adrenaline, caffeine and pure will carried me through.

That which does not kill you will only make you stronger
- Nietzsche .

Touché. Here's to more such insanity in the future.
I seem to be in a garrulous mood, so there might be a flurry of posts as I try to get things out of my head and into this blog. To start with, welcoming Abhishek aka Bunty to the weird, wonderful world of blogging. Abhishek starts over at Sidepod, and based on the first post seems destined towards nerd nirvana.

Me and Bunty go back a long way. We met on my first day in college, though we actually met in the hostel. He lived in the room next to mine, and I didn't meet him in college that day because he had slept through most of the day. It was a pattern repeated often, as he found the confines of a bed more inviting than that of a class. So did I, but I have a bad habit of being more goody-two shoes than I need to be. Fat lot of help that did me. A few more hours of relaxing never hurt anyone.

We did spend a lot of his waking hours hanging out doing nothing of note, which was the way all of our engineering years went. That we are gainfully employed is a tribute to ...what, I don't know.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


There is something about the t-shirts I wear that tend to draw reactions.

I used to wear a lot of smart-alec tees some time back. There was one that said "I see Dumb People" a la Haley Joel Osmont in "The Sixth Sense". And then there was the one which said "Scientific Theory Proven:The Universe Does Revolve Around Me". I've cut down on that, because I've found it harder to come by smart and funny t-shirts which aren't downright offensive and profane. It is hard to be smart, funny and clean.

However, it isn't these t-shirts that are causing the strange reactions. Those normally evoked a snicker, or at most "That is pretty rude" . This is more interesting.

Last month, I was wearing this t-shirt with a logo of a dragon twined over a surfboard. The guy at the local garage (where I was for an oil-change) was pretty impressed. This lead to a long conversation about how it would be a nice tattoo to get, where I bought the tee ,what kind of dragon it was (he actually knew - I forget the details) and so on.

Then I was wearing my Tantra 'Om' tee last week and the girl at the grocery checkout counter remarks - 'nice t-shirt'. Still signing my credit-card receipt, I absently answered 'thanks'. Then she says to the girl bagging the groceries 'I was thinking of getting a tattoo like that. Om, you know the universal sound. But I decided not to."

I was still digesting on this as I walked out with my groceries. A pattern is emerging here. Tattoos of patterns from tees I am wearing.hrm. I think I'll stick with the t-shirts.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe's semi-auobiographical film is a good film. It captures a great slice of life growing up during the flower power days. The band, the groupies, touring, all captured through the unflinching, wonder-filled eyes of a teenager who is really too young to be there, but being talented and resourceful means that he probably sees and comprehends more than he should.

But this post isn't about the movie itself. The extra features of the film include an interview with director Cameron Crowe, one of the few directors around with a voracious appetite for music of all kinds, who actually chooses music for a film before he even begins shooting it. He talks of recording mix-tapes of music at a younger age. He would record mixtapes every month of songs he was listening to at that point of time. Occasionally, he would go back and listen to them, and they would give him a good idea of what he felt and what he was going through at that time.

As someone extremely passionate about music, it was something that struck home. So many songs, so many moods, so many memories. Almost everything you listen to has some association. The strains of Simon And Garfunkel's "Bridge over Troubled Waters", which takes me back to C-203. Standing outside my room with my Walkman plugged into my ears, taking in the cool April night breeze - sometime around the mini-project madness phase. My short minutes of bliss before getting back to the insanity of journal-writing. The haunting lyrics of Pink Floyd's "Time"- I-420 , the restless Final Semester of Engineering. My computer in the corner of the room playing the song off a CD (I had a puny 2.1GB hard drive, and no space for more songs), and the realization of a phase in life at its end. Jon Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" and Devendra's acoustic version of it on the I-block terrace - on the night before my 21st birthday.

Memories trapped in time. I wish I'd been smart like Cameron Crowe.

My usual practice of having a CD and book list on the sidebar is obviously insufficient. It would be great to actually burn mix CDs of music I am listening to. The snapshot in time idea sounds like one that would be nice to adopt.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Mark Knopfler Live

"And 'twas a ticket I was looking for
On Every Street"
- Shamelessly ripping off Dire Straits' On Every Street

A fortnight of trying for a ticket to Mark Knopfler's sold out show yielded no return. After resigning myself to missing out, a chance email on a company mailing list on Friday helped me strike gold. Singing praises to a kind-hearted person who sold a lone ticket to me at cost, I made my way to Chateau St. Michelle Winery's open-air amphitheater on Saturday night to catch the man live in concert.

Jimi Hendrix I believe has the official moniker of Guitar God. In the polytheistic religion of music, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani et al have all been given this title at different places by different devotees. Like Hirak before me, I bow to Mark Knopfler, the finger- picking Sultan of Swing.

The setting was perfect. A bright, sunny day with nary a cloud in sight. Mount Rainier on the horizon. The sweat was dripping down my back as I made my way to sit down at a good location. Copious amounts of water was consumed, and restlessness set in as an attempt was made to pass the time.

The opening act was William Topley, who played a middling set of folk-country/rock numbers. Honestly, I was too pumped up in anticipation to really even listen with much interest. As the support crew set up the variety of guitars on a stand next to the stage, I enviously eyed the VIP pass holders who had a straight-up view of the stage. I managed to make my way through and find a place on the fringe, where I could stand within around 10 metres of the stage.

As the man himself made it on stage, I couldn't help but wonder that in his plain white shirt,jeans and glasses, he looked more like an avuncular professor of English than the virtuoso master who once set stadiums alight with his guitar. He launched into Why Aye Men, followed by the immediate crowd-pleaser Walk Of Life.

I'm a big Dire Straits fan, and haven't heard much of his solo work (barring Sailing to Philadelphia) . But the trademark plucking in What it is followed by the beautiful songwriting of Sailing to Philadelphia set the tone. Romeo and Juliet was followed by Sultans of Swing which brought the house down as expected. It was followed by a set of band introductions, and a set of songs from his solo albums (Bonaparte, followed by a couple I don't know). He showed off his slide guitar skills on one of them, and Bonaparte had some interesting Ukulele by his guitarist. Seeing him with his tea up on stage was funny, but it kind of set the tone for the concert, which was more like a relaxed summer event than a ba!!s-out rock show.

Then Boom Like That, his current single all over radio followed by Speedway at Nazareth. Then, of course, my personal favorite - Telegraph Road. Hearing that characteristic guitar riff at the beginning of the song was my Goosebump Moment Of the Day.

The encore included more Straits staples, Brothers in Arms, Money for Nothing and So Far Away From Me.

All in all, an evening worth remembering. Gripes as always - no Portobello Belle, no Twisting By the Pool or Down To The Waterline. No Private Investigations. Can't help it with a body of work as accomplished as that, I guess.

As a college-goer, I had two ambitions in life - to play the guitar like Mark Knopfler, and to dance like John Travolta. I am nowhere close to accomplishing any of them. But life is good. I saw a God in the flesh, and he looks like a quiet professor of English. Until he picks up the guitar , that is.

I'll try to get a setlist up, but it looks suspiciously identical to the one Hirak has here. I'm guessing there isn't much variation across shows. No cameras or recording was allowed (venue policy, more likely than not). The official website has info on concert downloads being available.