Monday, July 31, 2006

Saturday, July 29, 2006

paintball, hygiene, & Pretty in Pink

America is pretty jacked up in a lot of ways. We don't really have great fashion designers that don't revolve around denim. We haven't really embraced the concept of siestas, like the progressive Spanish and Portuguese. We have a famous ice cream chain which has artificially constrained itself to only 31 flavors while our burger technology is capable of adding an endless array of meat patties.

But nothing shows this point more than paintball. America may be the only place where people conduct war as a hobby. Grown men will bring their own army-like camoflauge, buy light body armor, drop hundreds on paint guns, and shoot their family and loved ones. That being said my first foray into paintballing was fantastically fun and painful. The perverseness of being enthusiastic about war aside, there is something cool about walking into a forest, with a group of friends, holding guns, with your helmet propped up on your head. It's the thrill of feeling like a real badass which years on my high school debate team never seemed to provide. After watching more than my fair share of war movies, it's kinda cool to feel like a soldier.

However it's funny how pain has a way of changing your feelings about something in a hurry. For some it's the pain of breaking-up with a loved one. For others, it's the pain of seeing a child drop an ice cream cone. For me it was getting shot in the neck by a paintball within the opening 30 seconds of battle.

Being shot has a way of changing your mentality towards people who were arbitrarily placed on a team against you (editor's note: that was a subtle hint at a deep thought). Suddenly it becomes a lot less about the pain you feel and more about the joy of inflicting pain in others. Finding your friends hiding behind bushes makes your heart race for pleasure because you have a glorious opportunity of making them clutch their face in bruised anguish.

Needless to say that after getting Zidaned in the face, back, thigh, and slightly twisting my knee, my gung-ho spirit sorta evaporated by lunch time. If that didn't crush it the sweltering 90 degree heat probably did. Perhaps the only thing funny about the whole adventure were our ganja-happy "Refs" supplied by the paintball place who acted & talked like dungeons and dragons veterans. Their seemingly endless and repetitive babble about high-tech guns and all-night paintball missions in the woods was equaled only in the enthusiasm brought out in several of us to plot to shoot them.

All of this which which leads to my next point: people have a selective policy of hygiene and often display the most leniency in the places of highest risk. For example, if you're in a nice restaurant and your bread falls off the table, there ain't no way you're gonna stick that dough in yo' mouth. You'll just let it sit on the ground, maybe kick it under your table, and ask for more bread. But at the paintball fields they lacked a faucet to wash your hands with soap and water. After running around in the mud and dirt all day under the sun the presence of hamburgers makes you gladly dig in with your mud-hands and ingest rat-meat burgers without thinking twice about the germs mom had always warned us about.

The 5-second Rule for ingesting fallen food is a standard set to rationalize the fact that food that hits the ground doesn't become instantanously contaminated with anti-human germs....there are enough airborne germs to provide that. The problem is that when you're desperate and hungry the 5-seconds expands to something more akin to 5-days. Furthermore you find yourself rationalizing things which would've seemed inconceivable a few moments earlier. "Well dirt is natural, and mud has nutrients, why else would people pay money at spas for a mud bath? ...So surely eating it is actually good for me."

Several more hours of play resulted in my wrist getting bloody, both knees being shot up from point blank, and some asshole firing at my bum twice after I was already walking off the field helped break me. I am merely a shell of my former self.... and no I don't think that even Crocin could've helped...

I was reduced to the state of canning any Saturday night festivities and staying-in to watch "Pretty In Pink." (I know a link isn't necessary but there's always that one person who's never seen it or Sixteen Candles) Any punk can shoot a gun, but it takes a real manly soldier to spend an evening with Molly Ringwald. I hadn't watched the whole movie for a long time and the funny thing is that I always felt sorry for Duckie because in the end Molly (or Andie as her character is named) goes for the rich dude instead of him. This on a sidenote is one of the most debated moment in all of American cinema. Should Molly have chosen Duckie instead? In a way isn't there a little bit of Duckie inside of all of us.

However upon further review, Duckie is a real weirdo. He's not a sympathetic loveable loser, he's actually a dorky stalker. Heck I'd choose the thoughtful rich guy. Duckie never stood a chance at getting Molly. Duckie was a real ass-clown. That being said I don't think anyone should feel too sorry for him, he ends the movie walking out with Kristy "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Swanson.

At least Duckie can walk though. After my wargame adventures my back is killing me, I'm walking with a limp, and my neck looks like it got a hickey... well I guess it wasn't so bad afterall.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Reggie Benjamin: the man, they myth, the tatti

People who are pigmentally gifted are sometimes placed in precarious position of having to support people just because they're brown. While I'm in favor of showing some love to the brown peeps to a degree, if someone sucks they suck. (to all my 12-year old fans in England I know you don't want me to say it, but that includes Raghav & Jay Sean, they're just corny)

Enter Reggie Benjamin, Indian-American pop hero extraodinaire. I first had the misfortune of hearing him at some tsunami relief benefit concert in LA in 2005, and my life hasn't been the same since. Somehow in a lineup that included Karsh Kale and Nitin Sawnhey, Reggie was the show's grand finale. He was awful. Incidentally he looked like a cross between Michael Jackson and Alien. Okay okay that's a bit of a low blow, but unfortunately that's the best part about him. Although he allegedly had "a hit song in Europe" he would bring shame upon any wedding band.

Sometimes life mimics bad reality TV. Sometimes things are so awful that you just want to see more of it. It's like watching little children fall in airports. It's disturbingly enjoyable. Although this may be sacreligious to say, "Saved By The Bell" may be placed in the same category of the "it's so bad it's so good" phenomenon. My interest in Reggie perked up when I saw an article about him in the reliable India Abroad which gushed over the newest (and only) Indian youth sensation who was set to perform at the Grammy's!....errr...jigga what?

Lo and behold somewhere between U2 and Coldplay's performance, Reggie was mysteriously missing. Maybe CBS censors had edited him out. Where could he be. He couldn't have been lying could he? Hmmmmmm. After a good tip off I decided to investigate. For those of you still reading, this is where it gets good. Your reward for flamboyantly showing off your literacy skills are about to come to fruition.

If you goto Reggie's website ("the man of inspired expression") it portrays our hero as being not only a superstar in the making (which honestly any good public relations effort should do) but a patron saint. More striking is the fact that he actually seems to be making inroads. He gotten letter from Jesse Jackson saying "how proud he is of an Indian making it," he was named the sexiest Indian alive according to some magazine, and he has his own charitable foundation for India. Quiiiite a resume. Quiiite. Surely that whole Grammy lie was the exception, right?

Let's go to the fact sheet:
  • The Jesse Jackson named is not the Reverend Jesse Jackson but rather some random dude in Illinois (well he's still a Congressmen, but who isn't these days?)
  • While I don't usually rank the sexiest Indian males alive, I'm pretty sure if I did it would not be Reggie (Abhishek Bachchan has him beat hands down). How could any magazine, in this case the South Asian-centric "BiBi" magazine, think that? Well as it turns out they did. (technically he's only one of 6 sexiest Indians, he's not the sexiest one) I'll say it right now, if this magazine is legit I'm ashamed to be an Indian. For the record in Bibi's top 6 rankings, one of the guys is only half Indian. WTF? There are 1 billion Indians in the world. More than 500 million of them are males. Are there really so few sexy Indian males that we have to resort to people who aren't fully Indian? Although to be fair, after some cursory observations in Bombay and Delhi, that may be true. Do we really have so few qualified people that a non-Indian can be considered a real challenge to be Indian Prime Minister? Okay so maybe that's true too...
  • Okay, on to the charitable foundation. I know some of you may think I'm stretching this hatred a bit too far, but seriously this is where it gets ridiculous. According to his website, Reggie's foundation "Hands 2 India Foundation was created to support and nurture America's 1st Amendment rights in India." Say what? Newflash! How can you promote Constitutional rights in a different country? Hell England doesn't have those rights, we should work on them first. You could even argue that we have to work hard to preserve those rights in America, and we're the ones who are supposed to have them. The site goes on to say "grants and awards are given to honor individuals in India whose actions have made signicant contributions" to this goal. Um, okay. This all just begs the question, who exactly has been recognized by such a noble foundation? The answer: Two people. The first, Playboy's very own Hugh Hefner. You've gotta be kidding me. When I think desi, I think Hugh. WTF. Reading between the lines Hugh's award only really came because Hugh allowed Reggie to film a video at his mansion. (this is what our parents meant by saying there's only low quality stuff in Playboy) You scratch my back I'll scratch yours. Okay, so maybe that's understandable...but who got the second award? Hmmm, I'll give you a hint, it's Reggie! Yes it's true, Reggie gave himself an award for being "The First Indian Pop Artist." I can't make this stuff. Sorry Bombay Vikings, Lucky Ali, Asha Bhosle, Lata, Kishore Kumar, or even Sonu Nigam (Nigam what?) As Bad Religion said, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
Okay so maybe I've gone a bit of out of my way to mock good ol' R.B. but someone had to say it. , I'm not alone in my disdain towards him. My favorite comment about him was on Sepia Mutiny where a comment about him prompted a reader to simply say "ugh this guy again?"

I heckled him at the tsunami charity event along with some others and I'll do it again. After watching his epic three song set I was left wondering, hadn't the millions of people affected by the 2005 tsunami already endured enough pain?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

DJ Shakes_2006-07-25 (picnic)

http://hbshakes.blogspot.com
theme: Picnic Music

Sorry for the hiatus between podcasts, but this one is rather timely. It's summer, it's hot, and what could be better than a picnic.... all you need is some music. Hopefully this helps. The music is mostly laid back, but there's nothing wrong with a little bit of noise and a beat here and there.

TRACKLISTING (approx 62min)
[0:00] Intro - Me (Lemon Jelly in the background)
[1:35] Jurassic 5 feat Dave Matthews Band - Work It Out

[5:17] T.I. - Why You Wanna
[8:37] Ben Folds Five - Battle of Who Could Care Less
[11:48] Arcade Fire - Haiti
[15:33] Wilco - Kamera
[18:58] Ray LaMontagne - Shelter
[22:51] Smashing Pumpkins - Thirty - Three
[26:38] Primative Radio Gods - Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth
[30:55] Jack Johnson - Good People
[34:14] Stereolab - Pop Quiz
[38:02] Brazilian Girls - Lazy Lover
[41:23] Amon Tobin - Stoney Street
[44:55] Etta James - At Last
[47:33] Alice in Chains - No Excuses
[51:55] Fragile State - Barney Street
[55:01] Toot & the Maytals - Monkey Man
[57:50] Slick Rick - Children's Story


DIRECTIONS: Right mouse click on the tracklisting above to save the entire mix (mp3) directly or Podcast Me! Simply drag the orange podcast icon on the top left of this page into your iTunes. Or:
  1. goto iTunes
  2. click on Advanced
  3. click on Subscribe to Podcast:
  4. paste this URL http://feeds.feedburner.com/EngineEngine9

Monday, July 24, 2006

things that make you go hmmm

Isn't it ironic that the word monosyllabic has 5 syllables? It's like ten thousand spoons, when all you need is a knife.

(speaking of 5, be on the lookout, the new Jurassic 5 album drops tomorrow)

Meanwhile for your viewing enjoyment, try this on for size, which I first mentioned a while back....

Sunday, July 23, 2006

IMAX

New York is so great that it has seemingly two of everything. We have two baseball teams, two football teams, at the time two towers for the WTC, and two locations that claim to be the original John's Pizza. But for whatever reason we only have one IMAX theatre. Oh the humanity. Well to be clear only one that play normal movies (i.e. Superman).

The other IMAX is a part of the Museum of Natural History. But that one is lame, it just plays random shit. Is it some law that all IMAX's have to play some random nonsense about space and animals? First of all, all nature shows need to get past lions and cheetahs. They've been milking those two animals from day one. It's like some producer for Animal Planet is thinking somewhere "Dang it, I have no idea which animals to film anymore....and it's so diifficult to get those tiny cameras to dig inside ant hills.... okay okay, let's just film some lions on the Serengeti again."

While we're at it, how is it possible that nature cameras always seem to catch random animal huntings. I've taken pictures of animals before and never once did I film a hawk spontaneosly clubbing a seal. If I were some defenseless prey, I would start running (or swimming or flying) the moment I saw a cameraman. A random camerman in my habitat could only mean trouble. NEWSFLASH CUTE LITTLE DEER ABOUT TO GET MAULED, nature shows don't pull in high ratings by watching animals prance around on screen for 60 minutes unscathed. The only place that happens is on movies like "Madagascar" or "Finding Nemo," and the last time I checked, that shit was animated. Hell, even Bambi's mom died. Bambi's mom! I bet you Walt Disney pulled some strings to make that happen on screen.

But I digress. IMAX theatres in general are never used to their full potential. At the most when they grow weary of space and animals, there is always some show about volcanoes or China (with an obligatory fly-over shot of the Great Wall). I'm sorry, but much like lions and cheetahs, China is getting a bit played out too. I don't know who made China the darling country of IMAX, but they need to start seriously reassessing that one. For all I know it's probably the same guy who made the China film for Disneyland's Circle-vision theater like 20 years ago. I remember going to it as a kid and continuously turning around and around to see all the screens until I felt sick. That was the first time I had experienced getting sick by the Chinese. Years later it would be on account of the cooking quality at Sen Hai restaurant

That being said I was sitting at home the other day and they showed an IMAX film about Mexico. I mean it was nice and all, but definitely not IMAX-worthy. Seeing some churches and huge-ass sombreros doesn't really warrant surround sound and high definition coverage.

Maybe stereo sound at best.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

good morning

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'm a desi Eric Estrada

If you're not a communist, then you're a lot like me. You can be even more like me if you grew up watching the greatest cop/buddy show/LA lifestyle show ever, CHiPs.

CHiPs was pretty incredible for a couple of reasons, most noteably it was the only daytime re-run TV show that I religiously watched where for the life of me I can't vivdly remember the plot for any single episode. In fact the only episode that I can always think about is the one where Ponch (Eric Estrada, pictured to the right) was in some roller skating fundraiser or something. God knows why. Believe me, I've seen my fair share of CHiPs, and the fact that TBS (back when it was stil called "SuperStation TBS!") would play it everyday at from like 3rd grade through high school is a testimony to my love for the show.

The other weird fact is that even though Ponch & John were California Highway Patrolman, they seemed to handle most crimes in the entire state, highway or not....and hang out with cool chicks, like all cops do. Can you imagine how much the state would've saved on law enforcement if they were real cops. All you'd have to pay for would be two cops, gas for the motorcycles, and a part-time job for the Sargent. His primary job was to tell the boys to stop goofing around. I never

After the show ended it's glorious 6-year run Estrada never really did make it big in the way that Macauley Culkin or Bronson Pinchot did... Well he eventually did surface in a Spanish soap opera several years later ("Dos Mujeres un Camino," or translated, "Two Women, One Street") The funny thing is that it was revealed that he doesn't even know how to speak Spanish. I kid you not. Even I can't make this stuf up. Can you believe this? He's a guy of Mexican heritage and he can't even speak his mother tongue properly! This guy is really something else. What a bozo!

But then, one day I got home early from class in college and flipped on CHiPs, and it hit me (ide repente!). I am Eric Estrada. I know this is a bit shocking, so let's say it again. All together now, I am Eric Estrada. Just like Ponch, I can't speak my mother tongue fluently either. It's something that's bothered me tremendously and I've tried to rectify it, but it never struck me as being hugely bizarro that I just speak English well. (meanwhile on a sidenote, there is a subtle underlining message that is borderline racist, which is the assumption that all Mexicans know perfect Spanish)

Now it would be a stretch to say that Ponch helped me come to an interesting crossroads with my own Indian identity. He was a cop after all. He drove past all types of crossroads. But I digress. He at least helped put somethings in perspective. I think as a somewhat culturally aware desi person you sorta think that you're the only one who goes through any identity crisis. As much as you feel like you are always fighting an uphill battle to figure things out, there's a side of you which is thankful that at least you have a struggle. You almost assume that no one else goes through the same pains. But the reality is that more often than not, you have a lot more in common with other ethnic groups than you realize. Why else do so many kids identify with books like "The Namesake" ?

So in conclusion, a careful examination of Eric Estrada can be more revealing about the ethnic mindset than intra-state California law enforcement policies, procedures, and practices.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

ZooTV

(and no I didn't mean to write ZeeTV...)

One of the most exciting aspects about conflicts and wars is the TV coverage. But in today's world of sensory overload sometimes we all need little hints about when to pay attention to something. I mean frankly there are wars everywhere, how am I supposed to know which one to focus on? (editor's note: thinly veiled political commentary covered in the guise of a flippant joke about to follow...) Should I pay attention to a few dozen Arabs & Israeli's dying each day or should I think about the tens of thousands who have died in the ongoing Sudanese Civil War this year alone unnoticed because they are in a region that is not strategically important to the G-8 countries?

As such, the easy rule of thumb that I use is to only care about current events when newschannels have a special graphic in the corner of their screen at all times. The original Gulf War was so dope and groundbreaking because for anyone who watched CNN's coverage, it actually had its own theme music. It was like Friends, except it was more like Enemies. Plus Wolf Blitzer always reminded me of a Ross-like figure, I mean no one would ever name him as their personal favorite Friend, but everything sorta revolves around him and nothing would be the same without him.

But I digress. Instead of analyzing the issues around the current conflict, I thought it would be better and more constructive to analyze the different "Middle East conflict" logo graphics being used by newschannels.

We start off with CNN. A classy graphical piece which uses the Israeli & Lebanese flags as a backdrop to their famed "crisis" font. Also note the hip use of the angled "Day 7" stamp. It's fresh. It's hot off the presses. This ain't your momma's CNN.





The BBC never wastes time making snazzy graphics. They just rely on their tried and true formula of a 100pt font saying the breaking news of the day. In this case it's "MIDDLE EAST CRISIS." This font size just yells out "this is important, read me!" Although I must say the flags in the background are a smooth touch. The funny thing is that they use the same 100pt font for other important news items like "WEEKEND SUN FORECASTED IN IRELAND" or "SQUIRRELS RAVAGE HYDE PARK"

MSNBC-LMNOP, ("where no letters are enough!") uses a graphic that several local school children put together on PowerPoint as a part of their Summer Community Service Project. Sadly enough these children won't get to see their own work because no one watches MSNBC. On a sidenote, why is Tucker Carlson reporting from the Middle East for this entire week? He should stay there. Forever. Even after his fledgling TV career is over.


Telemundo chimes in with...well... okay so maybe this isn't exactly their war coverage, but I always love watching the weather forecasts on their nightly news. The people look nicer. As we know, the nicer people on TV look, the more credible they are.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Spot the Desi #5 - Letters from the road

I just got this email from my friend Amit who is currently taking 6 months off of work to travel around the world and find himself. Oddly enough he is finding that no matter where you go, you can always tune your desar. Also, as a terminology reminder, a POHIP is a Place of High Indian Probability. Read and enjoy:
"After reading your blog, I've started playing the game "Spot the Desi" across East Asia. And as a result have found quite a few POHIPs- the two most important ones are cheesy tourist spots and bargain shopping arcades. Places like the "Chinatown" in Shanghai would qualify for first (yes, they have a 'Chinatown' in Shanghai), and the MBK center in Bangkok definitely qualifies as a second. The MBK center is a huge sprawl of a mall, selling watches, souveniers, and hand-bags at ridiculously chreap prices- before bargaining. It also attracts desis like flies to honey. From the bag store where Goochee and Barrberry bags can be found for 199 Baht (a little less than $5), where you see aunties comparing how many each one of them have bought (arrey, you bought only five yaa... I bought seven, its so cheap, no!). Or walk a little ahead and find the uncles at the electronics stores, trying to figure out if they can take flat screen TV's as check-in luggage!" [Amit, 7/17/06]
After reading that I think we're all left wondering the same question, "What, they don't make bootleg Bata chappels or Colour Plus shirts in China?"

Holy F@#!ing Sh#t !

Oh my! My last post created quite a firestorm. Quiiiite.

Never in the history of man has so much anger built up so quickly and so needlessly (well, current events in the Middle East notwithstanding). Moreover my random idea of commenting on another bloggers webpage and making her Hate List was totally thwarted before it got off the ground because she already found out about it by seeing my post (she's the first commenter)

So first things first, to the author of Love & Haterade I just wanted to say that I hope you got the fact that my whole post was a joke and that I don't really hate anyone, least of all you. I think your blog is pretty damn funny.

Now on to other business, a certain Anonymous person seemed quite pissed off at me. At some point I think someone has mistakenly gotten the idea that my blog is only for serious news and analysis. I can see how my indepth discussions of "Spot the Desi" and the Val Kilmer/Burger King connection may have led to this conclusion. But this strikes me as being akin to the time that Jon Stewart was accused by former CNN member Tucker Carlson of not being a serious journalist.

Now I'm not going to go into some long diatribe rebutting everything that was said, that would be boring. In fact the only thing which really annoyed me was when she/he/it (or "s/he/it" which once provoked an English prof of mine to simple say "sheiiiit") labeled me as being a "hip-hop wannabe loser poseur." First of all mucho props for consulting the Urban Dictionary on the proper of poseur. Big ups. Fer shizzle. That terminology you dropped was mad tight. Holla back boo. You must be straight trippin'.

Second I know this is gonna come to a shock to you, but most people in the civilized world recognize the phrase "Konichiwa bitches" as being a Chapelle Show reference. If that means everyone is a poseur than so be it. (by the way, do you also pronounce the word "mature" as "ma-Tooor" the way learned people do?).

Be that as it may, name-calling is not really important here, nor is it good for ratings. Instead it makes me a bit more curious as to who "Anonymous" could really be. After analyzing Sheiiit's beautiful two-parted piece of prose for a moment, let's see what clues we are left with as far ascertaining their true identity:

  • she/he/it seems to lack any ability to detect not-so-subtle humor
  • she/he/it gets easily upset over trivial issues
  • she/he/it has no problem in being illogically critical of me
I think we can all know that the answer is pretty clear. In fact I'm a little ashamed at myself for taking so long to figure it out....

..."Anonymous" must be my mom.

Somehow, someway mom has apparently found my blog after rummaging through a myriad of Indian matrimonial sites (caste no bar) and internet super discount coupon links and blammo, she ended up here. Well hello mom, welcome to my blog, and for the final time, I know this is counterintuitive, but oddly enough on Windows in order to STOP the computer you have to actually press the START button to turn it off. Don't just hit the power switch.

Good night and good luck

Monday, July 17, 2006

e-War: my new mission in life

There are times when a rudderless life is suddenly given direction. There are times when your life comes into focus after dancing on the periphery of cloudiness. I have just had one of those moments.

For years now I've been writing this blog rather aimlessly, as you all know. A comment about desis here, a view on Sino-Russian political hagglings there, but never anything that has spurned me on to real action. Okay, so to be clear, I haven't been writing for years at all... more like 6 months. Work with me. But to be fair, writing for you people has felt like years.

Anyhoo, much like the foxtrot, allow me to take a step back before we move two steps forward. Some time ago my friend pointed out that I should "totally" talk to the person who runs a website "Love & Haterade" because we seem to be very similar (editor's note: valley girl lexicon of "totally" has been added purely for emphasis). From what I can gather, the writer in question is brown, from the the DC-area, and in her mid-20s. So I happily obliged and replied, saying I liked her website and thought it was funny, which I actually do think. Basically along with various rants she puts writes down new things she loves and hates. Cute, real cute. However after my heartfelt comment, I got no response whatsover. This is poor poor form.

But from the ashes of this e-dissing, I have a new mission in life, to be singled out as one of her daily sources of hate. I know this is a lofty goal, but it's crazy enough that it just might work. As with any good war plan I figured I should draft some rules of engagement to help provide dignity to my cause. Furthermore it will help you, the reader, to see that I am being guided by a code of ethics.

Rules of Engagement
    1. I shall never explicitly ask her to be added to her "hate list." This would show a lack of dignity on my part AND more importantly it would diminsh the integrity of her list (hence making my mission less meaningful)
    2. All my posts shall be made under the pseudonym (or nombe de plume if you prefer) of "General Tatti." The pure joy of seeing her write at some point in the near future "I Hate General Tatti" is too funny to even comprehend. Much like the space/time continuum.
    3. On my profile I shall refer my URL to another one of mine, "http://mytatti.blogspot.com" which I randomly reserved a long time back... this helps push forward the tatti theme.
    4. I shall never be malicious or just outright mean . This isn't really out of any moral obligation but I think it would be funnier to have someone hate "me" without being able to point at one truly mean thing written. That is true comic genius. In the Art of War Sun Tzu says "100 victories in 100 battles is not the most skillful. Seizing the enemy without fighting is the most skillful." I couldn't have said it better myself, even if all my words had to be translated from Chinese.
    5. I shall begin my interactions by appearing to be friendly yet a little bit eccentric, akin to Borat in many ways. (if you're doing a college thesis on this, use this link instead)
    6. The goal is to be named on the hate list within 2 months. This of course is subject to re-evaluation. After all, the girl may decide not to post anything on her blog during this time period and I'll be locked out from achieving my goal. (although judging from her history, it seems as though she does in fact blog regularly)
      There you have it. Further rules may be added as necessarily. I shall give you the play-by-play on my progress as things develop. God speed.

      Let the war begin. Konichiwa bitches. It's sooo on.

      Sunday, July 16, 2006

      observation of the day

      Entourage is the male Sex in the City. Moreover it's like Sex in the City, but the opposite:
      • Entourage: about young guys; City: older women
      • Entourage: based in LA; City: Manhattan
      • Entourage: has Turtle; City: no Turtle.
      Basically I just watch the show and think "look it's guys doing cool stuff...look it's guys driving badass cars...look it's guys at cool clubs...look a dingo ate my baby." AND it's based back home in LA (i.e. the greatest place in the world).

      That is all.

      Friday, July 14, 2006

      text message etiquette

      In the olden days people had to actually communicate face-to-face with other people. I know this sounds like crazy talk but it's true. You'd actually have to get the guts to a random person, look them in the eye, and talk. Luckily technology has helped eliminate this awkward and inconvenient aspect of meeting people.

      One big step was IM'ing and emailing. IM'ing is brilliant because if the person you like actually is online with you, you can boldly say things you'd never have the courage to say in person. Come on, I know everyone knows what i'm talking about. Yes, it's the concept we all know about but don't have a phrase for (until now), e-Courage. Random flirty comments seem a lot easier when you're typing rather than saying it. That's the power of e-Courage. Not having an awkward moment in front of someone helps to encourage e-Courage. Previously the only form of artifical courage supplement known was liquid courage (i.e. booze, sharaabi pani, fun punch, etc.).

      The problem of course is that the major caveat in this whole e-Courage nonsense is that the object of one's desire has to be online as well.... not to mention also a member of your chatting platform of choice (aol, msn, yahoo), not that I've ever had to think about this or anything (not because I'm not a nerd but rather because I'm on all three).

      And then, shining down from the heavens, came a little thing called text messaging...and now you can take your mobile e-Courage with you while you go out. No longer do you have to stay at home endlessly on Friday & Saturday nights....again, not like I ever did that.

      Text messaging takes sketchiness one step farther than any other form of communication because you can randomly text poeple while you're out drinking. In otherwords, it combines e-Courage with liquid courage to create a nearly unstoppable force. However as Superman would tell you, with omnipotent Courage comes the responsibility that goes with it. One should not abuse their powers.

      While I dont profess to have all the answers, I'd like to explicitly bring up some key questions which I'm sure you all think about. Just take this simple little quiz:
      • When you go out drinking, who do you think about texting the most? Is there a person you want to text message but feel like you shouldn't?

      • When you get a text message from someone desireable, how quickly do you send your reply.... do you wait a lil while so as to not seem desperate, or do you hit send right away in the hopes of getting a quick response?

      • If you're dating someone, do you have an e-mistress (or I'm not sure what the guy version is), someone who you playfully text but would not tell your Significant Bother about?

      • Do you feel more comfortable texting people versus actually calling them (perish the thought! god forbid)
      These are all questions that we have wondered at some point or another. The other key function of text messaging is that for anyone who has ever been dragged to a party where they don't know anyone or feel uncomfortable (e.g. anyone who lives in NY), text messaging gives you a chance to stand in the corner, like the loner you are, without looking like a loser since you're so concentrated on checking your phone for messages (even when you know you don't have one... but hey the new message feature could be jacked up like it always seems to be with Friendster) or typing away.

      And for this we salute you text messaging, for being the social crutch and conduit to sketchiness that you are.

      Thursday, July 13, 2006

      just me (and my subway rules)

      It's sorta difficult finding big topics to write about and as such I can't help but say that I feel a lil pressure sometimes.... not like anyone reads this or anything, but I guess since I do get like 150 or so hits a day I feel like I have a responsibility to entertain. The problem is that if I don't have anything groundbreaking to say I just might not say anything...that is until my friend convinced me that even my random thoughts are noteworthy.

      Clearly no one really gives a damn about what I ate for dinner or how my day was, hell I wouldn't even read that. It's not exciting enough. There's no glamour. People need glamour to get high ratings...just ask my Asian Friend Alice. Well at the risk of satisfying one fan, here is a thought right from the top of my head...this is my yesterday. This is what's it's like to be me for 7 hours.

      After going to bed last night I suddenly woke up texted a friend happy birthday and passed out again. Three hours of bliss was interrupted at 2am, looked around, made some Tang, and went back to sleep until 5:45am.

      I then watched a video of hockey fans singing the Canadian national anthem and then proceeded to get ready for work in order to make the 6:45am train. The next train is at 6:55am and usually there is this weird Russian couple who boards at the same door that I do and I don't like them for some reason, that in it of itself is reason enough to make sure I get the normal train....of course I could just take a different door on the train, but why should I have to move? They should. They're the ones who enjoy being lame together. Some may say that I worry about little things, maybe borderline minor, but I'll let you be the judge of me.

      On a similar note I hold train etiquette as being very important and there's nothing more annoying that people who violate what I deem this silent code to be.
      • Rule #1: Please let me get off the train before you try to enter. I feel like hitting people who try to board the train and stand in my place before I get off.
      • Rule #2: Sketchy Public Displays of Affection on public transportation is frowned upon. Especially if it's with people other than me.
      • Rule #3: I have no idea how some lucky bastard is always able to get phone reception on their cell 100 feet underground in the subway but for the love of god they're always on my train. Please do NOT talk loudly for all to hear. This applies to people on planes too.
      • Rule #4: People who listen to Madonna too loudly on their iPods
      Oh yeah, as if this post couldn't get more vomitously personal, I ate Cheez-It's and a coke for dinner.

      Wednesday, July 12, 2006

      the wonderful world of me

      Stress is a pretty weird thing. I know everyone feels like they have too much of it in their lives, and the term is definitely relative, but life is sorta weird without it. Now I know what you're probably thinking "But Shakes, why is the word Chipotle everywhere I look, whether it's the Mexican restaurant or the sauce? I'm pretty sure that word simply did not exist 4 years ago." Well that question is neither here nor there. Furthermore you're quite rude by changing the subject in the middle of my writings. Quiiiite.

      So I know this sounds strange, but when was the last time you took time off from work? Chances are that it took you a few days to feel vaguely relaxed and then after the one day of enjoyment you start looking for things to get stressed with. In fact if you've ever quit your job or had a career break in your life you start making up things to stress about. Your comfort level depends on it. The absense of stress is more stressful than stress itself. At least you know what to worry about when you have it, but when you don't, the unknown can drive you crazy.

      If you're like me and are tall, Indian, & handsome, going to the Motherland for a vacation is a perfect example. I'm not quite sure why but for some reason in the absence of work I will start stressing over which relative I'm supposed to spend time with or the problems of visiting different aunts back-to-back in the same day because I will somehow have to eat two full meals in a span of a few hours. Normal people don't worry about stuff like this.... but then again normal people aren't Indian.

      My adventures in being a second rate psychologist will continue as I'll make the underlying caveat that different places have a different tolerance for Required Amount of Stress (RAS). I would venture to say that the RAS is rather high amongst NewYorkers and quite low in say....hmm... Jamaica. I'm not quite sure what a stressed Jamaican looks like. Maybe that's what Puerto Ricans are, stressed Jamaicans. New Yorkers rarely look relaxed...hell even going to Central Park on a sunny day is stressful.

      Monday, July 10, 2006

      Smack my Zidane up

      So did you watch the World Cup final, get outraged at Zidane, and now don't know what to do? Well fear no more, you can re-live the experience over and over! Just click HERE and try to smack as many Italians as you can! (it works only on Internet Explorer)

      Use your mouse and click away at the barrage of diving Italians! And the best part is that Zidane never gets tired!

      Sunday, July 9, 2006

      Desi parties, world domination, & how I broke up with my first girlfriend

      Until I went to college the term "going to a party" meant, in large part, going to some other Indian family's home with your parents. This was supposed to be where fun happened. Arriving at an Indian party basically meant that you'd be spending the next 7 hours of your life hanging out with seven kids between the ages of 6 and 34. These would be your friends, as determined by your parents. A good time would be had by all.

      That being said for some reason, we would always play the game Risk. I have no idea why, but that was always deemed to be the time waster of choice. Risk, as we all know, is the boardgame of total world domination which brings laughter and hilarity to all those involved. Six players randomly divide up territories on a map of the world and then proceed to battle each other through dice rollings. War used to be so nice and simple.

      There are many ways that you could neatly characterize my childhood. The struggles. The achievements. The glories. Here are a couple of popular themes:
      • Shakes, the boy who used to get paid by his parents if he agreed to completely eat all of the food on his plate at meal time for several days in a row
      • Shakes, the person used to be so obsessive compulsive that he wouldn't sleep at night until he recited all the teams in the NFL in alphabetical order by division within a self-imposed time limit of 22 seconds
      • Shakes the tragic hero who never won a game of Risk. Ever.
      While the first two bullet points are certainly interesting, let's stick with #3 and the Risk theme. Perhaps it was a misfortune of my battle strategies or simply unlucky dice, but in all my years as a kid I never once won a game of Risk. If you think about the fact that each game lasts about 6 hours multiplied by perhaps 10 or so "parties" a year where Risk was played, and then multiplied again by 10 years of my life (most notably between the ages of 8 and 18) you hit upon a pretty sizeable chunk of failure at a single boardgame. 6 x 10 x 10....Something like 600hrs of suck.

      Fast forward to my third year in college and on one particularly uneventful Friday night several of us, my then-girl friend included, decided to play Risk. What else could be better on a cold late winter night, right?

      Well over the course of the next 4 hours, the unthinkable occurred. For whatever reason the Great Black Army (me) was crushing armies left and right. You rolled a pair of 4's, I'd roll 5's. You roll a 5 and a 6, I'd roll two 6's. I was on fire. Step up biznatch. Konichiwa. It's a celebration.

      All the other players started falling like flies, leaving only my girlfriend and me. At this point she began to insert a bit of drama into the whole proceedings by pretending that her slowly disappearing army of plastic pieces were in fact real people who were fighting for a real cause. "Oh my the people of Ukraine will proudly defend their heritage against the evil Black Army...!"

      This of course is a bit ridiculous, but I happily obliged this newfound by claiming that her Green Army deserved to die. Risk, like war, is amoral. While this was humorous at first,I started to really pile up the wins. And as I was piling on the wins she started getting emotionally distressed until she finally said..."okay okay, I give up, you win."

      This is where the trouble began.

      Allow me to place things in perspective. During World War II did the Polish people ever sheepishly tell the Germans "You're gonna win, just take us over"? No.

      During every Super Bowl that the Buffalo Bills were involved in, did they ever tell the Redskins, Giants, or Cowboys (twice) that "You know what, we're gonna lose this game badly anyways, how about you just take the trophy right now." No.

      When Martina Luther King gave his "I Have A Dream" speech, did he simply say "I find it difficult to sleep at night these days on my poor mattress and hence I don't have any good dreams" ? Absolutely not.

      When George Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 to Al Gore did he say "Oh shit, most Americans don't like me"? No, he became the President instead.

      So think about what was going through my head when the opportunity of vanquishing a decade of Risk failure was within my grasps. I wanted the pure joy of seeing my armies cover every single territory on the board. Every boy should have this experience.

      As such when Caitlin made her offer to quit, I refused to accept. Many years later scholars would argue that I could've simply accepted it, placed my armies everywhere, and all would be okay. But I did not. I forced her to keep playing and she began crying. There is no crying in Risk and furthermore it would not thwart my campaign of invading Australia. With each lost territory the crying got worse until I finally won.... at which point she bolted out of the room crying.

      Three days later we broke up after going out for a year. It takes a big man to win under such adverse conditions.

      The morale of the story is this: they say it is better to have loved and lost then to have never have loved at all. That person is wrong. It sucks. But winning at Risk proved to be a comforting, albeit temporary, way to go down in flames. If only the great poets like Thoreau & Rainer Rilke could have had such an emotional crutch they wouldn't have wasted so much time writing about heartache.

      As a final postscript, for whatever it's worth, I have yet to play Risk in the ensuing 8 years.

      Thursday, July 6, 2006

      Soccer Dating

      Dates should be like soccer games. I'm not saying that they should involved a whole field of guys battling over one guy with a ball...not that there's anything wrong with that. I happen to love San Fran. But rather I think dates should only last 90 minutes. Plus a short intermission. At the most if there are some random disturbances an extra minute or two is added here and there.

      For better or worse I form opinions of people relatively quickly and as such who needs to go through an entire meal with someone for no reason? Even more to the point is that if you don't like the person you can grab your ankle, drop to the floor, and roll around in pain in the middle of the restaurant/bar/library or wherever you are. At this point your date will be yellow carded. If she causes two such infractions she will be sent away and will have to miss the next date as well.

      However, if you sorta think she's cool but she commits a serious infraction (e.g. takes calls from other people, doesn't like sports, she's a Republican, etc.) she will be immediately red carded.

      You on the other hand will be treated with some magic spray, which looks eerily similar to a non-stick cooking spray, and allowed to continue meeting other people.

      Wednesday, July 5, 2006

      Shakira Shakira

      I just had to say that because everyone has that on their minds anyway. For the record the moment my name becames the chorus to a song, that's when I'll know that I've made it...and please don't tell me that my name has already been used in "Rump Shaker" by Wrekx-N-Effect or the "Milkshake song" by Kelis.

      Tuesday, July 4, 2006

      Monday, July 3, 2006

      the faux ignorant american tourist

      Son of a Bitch. My flight home on Sunday morning got cancelled after 9hrs of waiting in the airport and an aborted takeoff (while cruising down the runway). As such everyone has been placed in a hotel for the "night." I use the term "night" loosely because the flight has been rescheduled for Monday morning at 6am, thus requiring all the passengers to leave the hotel via a shuttle at 3:30am. I hate Germany.

      Oddly enough having an extra evening in Hamburg meant that this is the longest time on this weekend trip that I've spent in Germany without being at a game or in transit. Seeing that it's a Sunday evening when most places are closed and I'm without any form of transportation, I did the most logical thing that anyone who knows me would expect me to do: I went walking around to try and find a music store.

      After walking some 4 kilometers the reality set in that my search for gold in the New World was turning up fruitless. As such I decided the next best thing would be to take picture and make fun of Germans.

      No this is not a sandwich depository. I just can't make this stuff up, no matter how much I see the word Hamburger I can't stop laughing. Sadly most of the inhabitants of Hamburg look as though they've had more than their fair share of ground beef.





      Old rock stars never die, they just endlessly tour in Germany








      Being subtle is definitely a skill that most people in this country lack...well that and having an emotion chip. As such most of their advertising doesn't really beat around the bush...






      Don't fart!








      Let's see, it's a Sunday evening, you're stuck in Germany, and you're Questlove of the Roots and your hair is not cooperating, presto you've come to the right place.

      Afro-Shop. For now. For later. For always.




      German words are composed of many vowels surrounded by gibberish. There is really nothing funny about this picture but I just took it in case I got lost during my walk and didn't know how to get back. At least I could show someone this picture.

      Sunday, July 2, 2006

      Wayne Rooney, Germans, & Love

      [editor's note: since I just get home, these are my musings from this weekend that I'm just getting them posted now, so I'm dating them as of the time I wrote them]

      from Sunday, July 1st, at around 3pm'ish, at Hamburg Airport

      As I sit on my godforesakin plane in Hamburg delayed by at least 6 hours because of engine problems, I figure now is just as good as to reflect. Like so many things in life usually times of reflection occur when you're not really having fun. Rarely do you say "oh boy this is fun, lemme put try to put this joy in context with the rest of my life and try to create a framework of understanding that could be helpful in the future." Although technically speaking I had done that several months ago and even then I was able to depress myself about it ("this is the most fun I've ever had...surely this will not last and I'm just gonna be depressed for a long period of time."...and I was right!)

      At this point you're probably wondering what reflection is noteworthy as to appear in this humble collection of thoughts, pictures, and music (i.e. this blog). As you'll recall of course, my previous notes have spanned a wide variety of pressing issues, such as how to spot desis, investigative work into a restaurant called Cafe Shit, and of course my recent work on the game theory involved in using urinals. Clearly only writings of the highest quality make it through the filtration process. So what am I gonna talk about?

      Well lemme satiate this digression with another one: today as promised I'm wearing the red English soccer shirt of my beloved #9, Wayne Rooney. The 20-year old represents everything anyone who's a sports fan would want in their teams: tireless, always has a look of determination, he scores a lot (not at the World Cup though), and for whatever reason he always always always plays as though he's pissed. He could've scored twice on a team well on their way to winning a game and he still looks like he's ticked off. He's like a young English version of former Yankee rightfielder, Paul O'Neill.

      Well I bring this up because after watching the England/Portugal match yesterday I decided to wear his shirt despite their loss. Real fans stick by their teams when they lose. The problem was that the German people did not view my gesture as sympathetic. If there's one thing no one ever accused Germans of having, it's emotions. Everywhere I went people teased me from the hotel to the airport. Hell even the security guy for another line came over to my line just to say "Hey how are you feeling? haha." This of course is after the passport control snickered at my shirt and just said "Wayne." I hate Germans.

      But all this joking is okay, you have to support your team....which brings me to an interesting fact that most of you are aware of ...I'm not British, I never lived there, and I don't have any family there. Heck these are the same people who colonized my people in India (okay I know some bastard is going to call me a hypocrite because I've lived at length in India aside from holidaying, but you just shutup). And so for whatever reason, I loyally sit here in seat 10A wearing my Rooney shirt.

      But in the airport it struck me, wearing my red shirt is a lot like dating someone (as opposed to "dating no one"). It really makes no rational sense. It just places you in a position of purposely being open to some pain and humiliation. Furthermore it's unclear if there's a good reason to go through it at all. Why put yourself through the misery when you can save yourself a lot of pain and heartache...and coming to think of it money too. I know if anyone is still reading this far they're probably thinking "but it's all worth it in the end when when it works out." Well, I'm not gonna concede that point because I'm a bit skeptical about the whole thing. Oh well.

      I don't have a cute conclusion or resolution to tie up this up. It's just that the dating/shirt similarity seemed uncanny and kinda resonated with me. As it often happens in life, events which shouldn't be connected in any way whatsoever somehow morph together to form our thoughts on things.

      If this all sounds perfectly depressing, then I think you've missed the underlining point in my dating/shirt metaphor. I was wearing the shirt.

      Saturday, July 1, 2006

      Que sera sera....

      England lost, booo..

      (Portugal vs. England, 7/1/06)

      My funny Indian commentary of the day is that I pointed to a section with Portugese supporters and said to my brother, "look there's Goa." If the analogy is lost to you allow me to explain. In many ways the stadium is a metaphor for colonial India. Amid a subcontinent dominated by the British, there in corner was a small Portugese outpost. (click on the picture to englarge)

      The neatest moment of the game occurrred right before penalty kicks were used to determine the winner and they played "Que sera sera" in the stadium and everyone sang along together. Sadly what was to be was Eng-ur-land losing. Again.

      Signs you're from NY

      I just drove over 7 hours here in Germany and just got back to my hotel room in Hamburg after watching the England/Portugal quarterfinal game. It struck me that it's funny but true that one sign that you can tell you're from NY is when you leave town and you still take along a copy of "Time Out NY" to see if you're missing anything happening in the city over the weekend.

      Okies I go sleep sleep now. I have a flight home to catch at 9am. Despite the sad defeat I shall proudly wear my England Rooney shirt on the plane ride home. If it's wrong for a man to love another man, then so be it, I don't care because I love Rooney... even if he did stamp on another man's groin.