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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Chevy Chase quits Community and other stories

Chevy Chase quits Community and other stories

More bad news for Community. First, Dan Harmon getting fired, then season four pushed to February; Now it seems Chevy Chase has quit the show. It isn’t a surprise of course, Chase was already disgruntled and in trouble. But Community definitely won’t be the same without the racist, sexist and creepy Peirce Hawthorn.

The nominations for this year’s Bad sex awards are out and The Guardian has some excerpts here. Some of them made me cringe and some of them, well, I didn’t really know it was about people having sex. I’m not even kidding.

The folks over at McSweeney’s did a great job of explaining the meaning and uses of punctuation marks. I love that they say the semi-colon “is actually a very masculine mark, due to its origins in the business of truck driving, erections and firearms.”

In the wake of news about the two girls from Palghar who were arrested for putting up a facebook status about the bandh following Bal Thackrey’s death, here’s another story that brings social media and responsibility into sharp focus. Allister Alpine is seeking libel damages over incorrect and defamatory insinuations that he was linked with child sex abuse from 20 ‘tweeters’. The opinions are completely split over this issue. Most people believe it threatens freedom of speech and some believe that people must be responsible and held accountable for what they say on a public platform.

– Sharanya

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Thanks for all the fish

Thanks for all the fish

This past week, everything on the internet was about turkeys and thanksgiving. And though we don’t do thanksgiving here in India (except for a few people on Twitter), it IS November and that signals the end of year. The  Guardian already has a list of the best books of 2012, so this is my list of things I’m thankful for this year.

The writers of Community, The Newsroom, Mad Men and Homeland:

Personally, I haven’t had the best year. But as always I find distraction and solace in television and books. And I have to thank Community, The Newsroom, Mad Men and Homeland for getting me through it without going batshit insane, growing dreadlocks and living in a tree. It’s probably not the healthiest thing to do; being so invested in fictional characters but it just makes me feel so…so alive and so…you know, I’m just going to give my hard drive a big hug right now.

Books that find you:

As you might have gathered, my life decisions don’t always lend itself to a well-fed bank account. But that’s what second hand bookstores, sales and friends are for. This year I have read borrowed books, books I picked up for Rs 50 at a sale, and books that I abandoned or never got around to reading. And I have been consistently surprised and happy. They have been books I have picked up grudgingly because I was too broke to buy what I wanted. But the good ones just found me. In many ways, I’m an old lady who is afraid of new things. I like finding my comfort zone and sticking to it and sometimes have a closed mind. I don’t want to listen to your new favourite band; I don’t want to read an author I’ve never heard of before. But almost every time I have done it, I have been rewarded. I’ve read a great deal of books this year, even signed up for a post graduation course in literature (not made a dent in that list yet though) and I do hope the next pay cheque is big enough to do some splurging. But till then, there is always my Flipkart wishlist to check and sigh everyday.

Amy Pohler:

Amy Pohler is not only television’s funniest woman, she is also the personification of woman power and an example for girls all over the world. Along with being the super ambitious and funny Leslie Knope on Parks and Rec; she also has her own youtube channel. Called, Smart girls at the party, it encourages young talented girls to be themselves and be proud of it (the last episode had a Sikh girl explain her religion and what her culture entails).  I imagine Pohler in real life to be something of a superwoman. Incredibly talented, funny, confident and amazing. Even if she isn’t, I’m just glad she’s on one of the best sitcoms I’ve seen this year.

The interwebz:

On a regular day, I spend about nine to ten hours on my laptop. I can find and read this on Wednesday, laugh till my ribs hurt at this the next day and watch this on the weekend. And I can sit here in Mumbai and read the New Yorker and The Slate and The Guardian and Flavorwire. I can spend hours looking at cat videos and I can also spend hours talking to a friend in San Francisco. We talk about dependence, we talk about how the internet has us by the balls (metaphoric ones) but I don’t see the problem. The good things outweigh the bad, a million times over. The internet is filled with vile and disgusting things offset by art. Beautiful art in the form of music, videos, literature and so much more.

2012

What a great time to live, I think sometimes when I’m standing inside a matchbox sized room and listening to the Bombay Bicycle club or when I feel gooseflesh on my arm from watching The manganiyar seduction on stage. I think about the lives my parents must have led when they were my age and I can’t believe my luck. International artists aren’t just those mythical creatures forever stuck on records (or iTunes library) any more. India isn’t just a far, exotic land of elephants and snake charmers anymore and every month we hear announcements of international artists performing here, international films being screened, international brands setting shop and we are here to witness this. It fills me with such a rush to realise that we are part of a turning point of sorts, for this country in the cultural field.

Yes, the world is still listening to Justin Beiber and One Direction, but you know what, fuck that. Every small singer, songwriter and trumpet player now has opportunity. Opportunity to reach out and make themselves heard (whether they’re good or not decides how far they go) and that’s as good as it gets. A million music, art, theatre and literature festivals have sprung up. Can’t find an audience there? Put your work online and somebody in a tiny town in Brazil may just become your fan.

I can tell my very tambhram family that I want to be a writer and they don’t automatically assume that all is lost. Just that much is great. I live in a time when I don’t have to mind my manners, wear corsets that cause asphyxia or be ‘married off’ when I turn 18. I don’t have to rebel. I know, most people don’t see the appeal in that and find rebelling against society and their parents very cool but really it’s not. We have been born in a time when it’s not rebellious to cut your hair real short and come home at 5am. It’s normal. It’s great that we don’t have to fight these tiny battles because the previous generation already paved the way for us. They fought to break out and now it’s up to us to take that chance and go as high and as far as we can. We owe it to so many, many people.

Old school forever

Old school forever

Hey, remember when Reader’s Digest used to be good? Remember when there used to be fights about who got to read it first, till things got ugly and there were time slots allotted to each family member? Remember when the joke page used to actually make you laugh? Remember when there were bleeding heart stories about how a mother helped her five year old son fight cancer, or adventure stories about how someone fought off a grizzly bear? That slim, notebook sized volume had such a great exhaustive tank of good reading, that I remember certain stories even to this day. Ooh, remember the one where…ah never mind. I don’t recall exactly when it was that the magazine just straight up stopped being as entertaining as it used to be. I’ll wager it was around the time Brooke married her 700th Forrester husband on The bold and the beautiful.

But the magazine had some glory years, I’ll tell you that much. Reader’s Digest and the National Geographic were the only two magazines that my household didn’t give away to the raddi waala. You just didn’t do that kind of stuff. For years, a falling down bookcase in my grandmother’s house held editions from the early eighties. Tattered things that held great big-hearted true life stories. And we even had a separate shelf that held those special edition RD Volumes- you know the ones that were denser than the Bible. Yeah, we were purists all right.

Sundays were spent at my grandparent’s little cottage back then and there were three main events in the day. Lunch, which was always amazing. A 3 o’clock, kids movie on Star Movies. And then going to the bookshelf and choosing a dusty, hard cover volume of Readers Digest, special edition. The dust would stick to my fingers and mix with the sweat on my palm and form a kind of grimy paste, but I would read lovely illustrated stories like Good Morning Miss Dove, My son Goggle, Old Yeller and Mr Hobbs Holiday. There was no greater joy than a Sunday and reading.

I was reminded of this exhilarating joy when I read this argument recently. Its heavy stuff, but let me sum up the essence of what Piper is saying. A real book, a paper and jacket cover and ink book, actually stands for something larger that what it is. It’s how your body acts when it’s reading. How you lie down on your back, holding your book up on your stomach, or on your stomach with your ankles crossed in the air, or propped up on your elbow, or sitting up at a table or whatever. When you’re reading a book, your whole damn body is reading with you. Your fingers feel the paper, the paper yellows over time and the heavy weight of a book in your hands can never ever be replaced by some cold, chrome thing. In any case, I’m fighting a lost cause. Technology will be technology after all and it will go on ahead and change lifestyles and values. But it gets me upset, because when it comes to certain things, nothing beats old school. Reading and literature is one of those things. A grandiose Forrester wedding is another.

Television’s best sex scenes

Emily and Naomi from Skins

It’s really hard to say what the plot of Skins is but it’s mostly about a bunch of angsty and troubled teenagers having a lot of sex. Lots of great scenes, really wild sex in the principal’s office (Effy and Cook) and random naked chick who’s we feel like we know quite intimately since we’ve seen her butt way too much (Tony and random chick) but our pick is Emily and Naomi on a picnic. For great music, for really pretty girls, and for Naomi finally dropping her I-like-boys-and-I-don’t-care-what-you-think act.

Zajac and Kitty from Boss

Season one, episode one. When you’ve just started understanding this web of politics and lies, boom! A sex scene to throw you off. In slow-motion too. Standing up. Lace panties. Kitty is Tom Kane’s personal aide and Zajac is a potential candidate for the post of Governor in Illinois.

Fiona Galleghar and Jimmy/Steve from Shameless

Finally someone has convinced the overworked eldest Gallaghar sibling to take a day off. Her boyfriend Steve who is actually Jimmy, takes her to a fancy hotel and they have some pretty cool pool sexy time. Of course, they come back home to her father in a coffin, but hey, we never said post coital was pretty.

Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones

She’s all big, earnest eyes and blonde hair, he’s all huge and manly. Shes just passed How to seduce a khal 101. There’s a fireplace (of course). It’s a recipe for awesome adult fun.

Some vampires from True blood

True Blood is a show about vampires so there is no way in hell we’d watch it. But we have seen this scene. And a few others. Maybe.

Alice and Rose from The L Word

“Something something US Army policies” “Something something, you think I want to kill people? “Then why are you there?” “I think the question is why the fuck am I here” “Because we want to fuck each other.” Followed by good music and a “shut the fuck up.”

Salman Rushdie and John le Carré end their fight and other stories

Salman Rushdie and John le Carré end their fight and other stories

Politically and civically, this has been a pretty messed up week for Bombay, but in all the confusion and the hullabaloo we still found a bunch of things on the internet and several stories of general interest that we liked and you would too.

We love it when highbrow writers feud. Not because we love controversies in general but because the more intellectual the fighter, the more high-larious the fight and later the reconciliation. “Pompous Ass,” is the height of insult apparently. We would recommend “stupid fartface”, courtesy Leslie Knope but that’s just us.  Here, read about this writer feud which has ended, thankfully. And other literary feuds that came to an end after years of sparring.

We love Matthew Inman for real and here’s his very, very realistic portrait of being a writer for the internet versus being a writer for a publication/organisation. We’re a little reminded of what Roald Dahl said about writing fiction in Boy tales of childhood. To paraphrase, it was something about how a writer’s life is the most difficult life in the world but a writer is free. He answers to no one.

Following the news of Obama’s re election into office, everyone’s all about whether he will see his second term through with shining policies viz health, employment and foreign policy. Well, this one’s important too.

TS Elliot’s widow died earlier this week. Yeah, someone who knew Elliot was still alive till last week. Hot damn. To be that old and die having lived with someone that great.

Buffy the vampire slayer fan? Limerick lover? Here’s what happens when both your interests come together.

If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo, try these on for size. They’re elaborate and amazing.

We know you’re waiting for Game of Thrones season  3 and trust me, we are too. Maybe this will pave the way for the long hard winter.

Placeholders

Placeholders

My internet browser is full of pages starred and bookmarked for later viewing and things that I save because they inspire me or blow my mind.

I have never bought bookmarks for myself (although I have gifted them) because I genuinely do not see them point. I use them all the time, I reuse them and more often then not, I lose them. I’m the kind who grabs anything in the vicinity to use as bookmark. Here are some I found recently, during Diwali cleaning:

Old bills fashioned to serve as bookmarks for some of my favourite strips in my Calvin and Hobbes set. I don’t remember what I even bought and what the bills or for but, hey, they served their purpose.

An old worn out crossword bookmark I used while reading Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the shore. If I line appealed to me greatly, I jotted down the page numbers on the bookmark. I can barely figure out why anymore. I’ve read those pages again and can guess which line I might have loved but I can’t really be sure.

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A strip of paper I tore from some magazine and signed twice for some strange reason was used to read Rabindranath Tagore’s short stories.

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A strange piece of paper I found still stuck inside my copy of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. It was all bent out of shape and dusty when I took it out because I never did finish this book. (But then again, I do remember lending it to a friend, so it’s entirely possible that this bookmark is his.)

—-

If I remember correctly, I read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom so greedily and eagerly I possibly couldn’t have required a bookmark at all. But I did find this business card (of a hair dresser) in the last page. The timing is lost to me, but maybe I read it after my ‘I don’t care about feminity, I’m going to cut my hair real short and be free” haircut. Maybe.

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What I’m reading right now and that boring flipkart bookmark I’m using.

Mad moments from Mad Men

Mad moments from Mad Men

You know what we don’t talk about enough? Mad men. It’s a great show and we still only mention it in passing. Well, yesterday, I realised that would have to change. If you haven’t watched up till season five, this post may contain spoilers.

I am all caught up with the series now and though I’m a little late to this party I allowed myself to be swept up in a decade of great fashion, old timey advertising, office politics and great, nuanced characters. Seemingly against my will, I found myself disliking some characters at first and then slowly growing to respect them (Hello Megan Calvet Draper). Through these five seasons I have laughing out loud, cried and actually come to terms with all the mainstream fuss about how Don Draper is the sexiest man in shoe leather (see what I did there, with that old timey phrase?)

Here, according to me are the best moments in the series:


How Roger and Draper met. The story is pure back handed humour. Oh Don, you crafty old dog you. Its great how the writers show that the young Don still had that kind of steel edged ruthlessness to him, though it always presents itself cloaked in charm and manners,

Joan Holloway Harris playing the accordion for her douche husbands doctor friends. Zou bisou be damned. If I had to pick musical highlights, this one wins hands down.

The boy Dick Whitman and his conversation with a passing tramp.

Betty Draper taking a shotgun out into the garden and cigarette firmly in mouth, aiming at her neighbours birds.

Pete and Trudy Campbell doing the Charleston.

Every single thing that ever came out of Roger Sterling’s mouth.

Peggy Olsen being adventurous, whether it was with her sexual identity or her lifestyle.

That moment when Don and Megan announce their engagement and the phone rings. “I’ll get it,” she says after there’s a huge pause where no one knows what to do. AWKWARD.

The way Don breaks up with people.

The way Don hooks up with people.

Roger’s LSD trip. How great is it, that an orchestra plays every time he opens a bottle.

The way the writers mixed up the timelines in season five. Example: Far away places.

Megan Draper angry. Now now, there’s no need to throw the plate at the wa…oh. well, that’s that I suppose.

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