Friday, March 30, 2007

my obligatory "Namesake" review

"The Namesake" is perhaps one of the best movie adaptations of a book that I have seen. Now truth be told there aren't a lot of books that I've read where I've seen the movie, and vice-versa but it's darn good. I mean I read the book for Back to the Future II (true story) and did a book report on it for school (also a true story) AND I watched the movie. That was a pretty good story, let me tell you. Any book that gives a pre-teen child the glimmer of hope of owning a hover-board in the year 2005 is a Penguin Classic in my books.

For the record people will debate often times when the future really is. Sometimes people will say it's the year 2000 because it's a nice round number; pop-culturally inclined people will say 2010 because of the movie 2010: A Space Odyssey. I guess it's a subjective question but I use B2F II as my benchmark, and hence the year 2007 is officially 2 years into the future in my books.

Seriously though "The Namesake" was special to me as a book because it was like reading out chapters from my own diary. The only thing I ever wished that was different was that the book was written about 10 years earlier in my life when it would've been particularly helpful at an age when I was thinking a lot about how my Indian identity fit into my American reality. What's interesting about the movie is that it seems less Gogol-centric than the book; instead I find that it revolves around the father. Perhaps that's just my perception or perhaps it's because enough Gogol scenes that showed internal frustrations rather than actions to be caught on a screen were edited out.

Before I go on about the father, can I just say that all the characters seemed to be cast perfectly. The dad really has the look of being an Indian uncle, looking more distinguished as he got older versus the awkward mannerisms and looks of his younger self. Also it has a great soundtrack mostly composed by Nitin Sawnhey although at times the music seems a little bit disjointed when the scenes changed. I wanted to write about the movie a little bit because I feel that too often when you read movie reviews in newspapers you end up getting a plot summary instead of analyzing the themes and cinematic decisions made to drive the movie forward. It's sorta like reading a book report in middle school versus college. I'm not saying my thoughts are a perfect academic dissection of a few issues of interest, but it's good to elevate conversation once in a while.

I mean if you wanted to just surf around on the internet and read people post about spotting goofy desis or people practicing bad elevator etiquette well then you should just read…well… this blog. But still…. Now I could be wrong about some of these meanings, but hey, it's an attempt.

I felt the movie was centered around the father because in many ways he embodies the blending of the West and East the best. Around every inconvenience or struggle both personally or as a parent brought by living so far from India, he never strays from his mantra that anything is possible in America. In some ways Gogol's Rite of Passage (which I don't think should be necessarily be placed as being more significant than the mom's, albeit it is for different reasons) results in him reaching a level of understanding at the end of the story that his father had from the beginning; Gogol doesn't view his heritage as a burden but as a source of strength.
The movie was helpful because it coyly illustrated several nuances that I think I missed while reading the book many moons ago. For example at Gogol's marriage ceremony there is the slightly comedic scene of the priest pleading to have an open fire inside the wedding hall. A wedding without a fire would not be proper….but clearly it was not going fly with the hotel staff.
Scoreboard
Fire codes of New York: 1
Hindu rituals: 0


The absense of the holy fire serves to foreshadow the fact that the marriage ultimately would not last.

Prior to meeting her husband the Ashima (the mom) placed her feet in Ashoke's (the father) shoes. This act would be replicated after Ashoke's passing when Gogol walked around the vacant apartment wearing Ashoke's shoes. What's interesting is that both characters are walking around in Ashoke's shoes. In Ashmima's case the sight of shoes made in America was a glimpse into all that is possible and the future. In Gogol's case it was a look backwards of all that was and what the past really meant.

Instead of an elaborate rating systems that pretends to think that one can judge "Curious George" on the same scale as say "Gladiator" I rank movies based upon a simple metric: Would you buy it on DVD or no? There are a lot of good movies, don't get me wrong, but I just really wouldn't want to watch some movies over and over (although it's not as if I watch a ton of movies I have over and over anyways). Allow me to demonstrate:
Dead Poet's Society: Buy
Glory: Buy
Talladega Nights: No
Castaway: No
Mean Girls: Buy
Roll Bounce: Buy
Monsoon Wedding: Buy
Little Miss Sunshine: No


….and so on and so forth. Quite simple this is a movie that I would buy and may unseat "Lost in Translation" as my rainy day movie of choice. There are parts of it that made me close to tears and often times in unexpected placed. When Ashima first comes to America and inadvertently shrinks all of Ashoke's clothes, the sadness and emptiness she felt while locked in the bathroom was deeply touching.

Anyhoo, that's enough of my feelings for the day. Watch the movie. I don't just say that from the perspective of an Indian kid watching the Indian experience unfold on screen, but rather from the perspective of a first generation immigrant family grappling to preserve their cultural values within children who are questioning them as much as their parents really had.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

DJ Shakes_2007-03-28 (marathon)

http://hbshakes.blogspot.com
theme: marathon/workout

Well with Spring starting more than a few friends are training for marathons and whatnot so I figured why not make a mix that's good for a workout. To be honest I'm not sure if this mix works but everything is upbeat so take it for it is. In the spirit of training any good mix should begin and end with Rocky themes, and this one does....

T R A C K L I S T I N G (approx 66min)

[0:00] Intro - Me
[0:00-1:10] Survivor - Eye of the Tiger ("Rocky I")
[1:10] Juelz Santana - The Second Coming (feat. Just Blaze)
[4:37] TI - Motivation
[7:32] Jay-Z - Where I'm From
[9:45] John Lennon - Instant Karma
[12:47] Rage Against The Machine - Bulls on Parade
[16:07] Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter
[19:30] Loco Dice - Jacuzzi Games
[21:45] John Tejada - Sucre
[24:05] Lo-Fi All Stars - Battle Flag
[26:45] Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child of Mine
[30:20] U2 - Electric Co.
[33:38] Pharoahe Monche - Simon Says
[36:12] Jurassic 5 - A Day at the Races
[40:10] Karan MC vs DJ Sanj vs Fat Joe - Bach Ke
[43:05] Bollywood: Beedi from "Omkara"
[47:38] Robbie Williams - Let Me Entertain You
[51:23] Devone - Energy
[54:55] Armin Van Buuren - Zocalo
[58:05] MOP - Ante Up (remix!)
[61:29] Survivor - Burning Heart ("Rocky IV")


The part I'm unsure of whether you'll like is the Indian interlude towards the end. I like the songs but I dunno if you will. Oh well. It's my mix, you'll just to deal.

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


(If the link doesn't work, just message me and I'll upload the file again)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kill Jack Kill / Jack MoFo Johnson

As the only L.A. Kings hockey fan on the eastern seaboard life this year has been painful. What they have in young talent they've given up in this year's performance. That being said the greatest hype about to erupt is the potential NHL season debut of Jack Johnson on Tuesday, a 20-year from Michigan (no not the singer).

The buildup around this kid is awesome and in fact the LA Kings fan website has even made a tracker around the kid's movements from college (where his team just got elminated) to L.A. (right now he's in Denver)

Okay well maybe stalking a sophomore in college is a bit much, but did I mention why his nickname is MoFo? Because he kills kids on the ice. You don't believe me? You think it's just some exaggeration? You wondering why you're reading this instead of my review of "The Namesake" or the Surya the Desi Apprentice's interview (both to come shortly)? Well how about this clip below where he basically decapitated a goalie with his shot:



And if you won't more hype, how about THIS.
This my friends is one of the reasons that I have for waking up every morning and smiling. This is the reason that no matter what stresses me at work, my real stress consists of whether I should be getting an Anze Kopitar jersey or Jack MoFo Johnson. Because next season is only 6 months away and oh we'll be at their season opener in London Sept 29th & 30th....

Sunday, March 25, 2007

what's the most embarassing movie you've seen with your parents?

At the risk of inflating my importance to the world, I like to consider my phone voicemail as the water cooler to the world. It is here that people can leave messages based on questions I ask, thereby enlightening everyone's understanding of human behavior and simultaneously acting as a barometer to the current state of humankind.

No I don't leave the typical "Hi, this is So-and-So, please leave your name, message, and number after the beep." If you don't know what voicemail is by now, and still rely upon those instructions to let you know what depthless abyss awaits you after the beep, chances are you probably don't have a phone either and hence wouldn't be calling me. Over the past 2 weeks my voicemail message has asked friends, family, wrong numbers, and other callers to state the most embarrassing movie that they've seen with their parents. This of course is coming from the guy who watched "Borat" with his mom...in the theatres...twice.

A selection of answers follows:

1. "Showgirls" - A friend saw it with her dad, and there's no denying that unlike the experience of watching "Coming to America" with my neighbor when I was in elementary school, you had to to know this one would be bad parental viewing.
2. "Posse" - An old black cowboy movie (big shout out to Maria Van Peebles) with a steamy sex scene. When the scene came up my friend, watching with his grandfather as a kid, left the room only to really duck behind the couch. That way he could watch it behind his grandfather's head with him knowing.
3. "Revenge of the Nerds" - Oddly enough, this is the answer I get most frequently, namely because of the nudity. I don't think there's one kid who didn't think to themselves after watching the movie that it's probably not so bad being a tri-Lam.
4. "Monster-In-Law" - with a friend's mother-in-law prior to marriage. Sometimes movies aren't just based on true stories, they really are true stories.
5. "Bride and Prejudice" - prior to an inter-racial marriage.
6. "Basic Instinct" - My friend Ryan watched it with his dad in 8th grade. No comment.

I guess the movie which weirded me out the most though seeing it with my parents was "Pulp Fiction." It was a fantastic combination of never ending cursing and a scene that can best be characterized as "The Gimp Scene" that really stands out for me. Let's just say the the time honored tradition of Indian kids making a well-timed walk to the kitchen when something awkward is on TV were plentiful over that 2 hour period.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

elevator spacial stupidity

I think many people know that one of my pet peeves is elevator etiquette, which I've written about before on several occasions (e.g. loud talkers, ladies first in a crowded elevator, etc.) but one of the more annoying habits that people have is to think they're anchored at the part of the elevator they're standing. Now I can understand that when they elevator is crowded people have to get nice and close to each other. Sometimes too close. But if I'm pinned against the wall, it's okay, I understand. But as people start getting to their floors the elevator tends to get less crowded...except for those idiots who get on only to get off one floor later....as such a lot of people act like complete idiots and don't move to fill in this magically new found space. Instead the assclowns just stand there with me pinned against the wall.

The worst part is that they'll just keep on talking and standing as if nothing is happening, as if they naturally always like to have their elbows touching me, as if I enjoy being 3 inches away from their loud conversation.

The only thing worse that that is That Guy. Oh you know who That Guy is. That Guy is the person who is the last person to enter the elevator at the ground floor and has no problem with halting the gloriously closing doors in order to pile on. They just stand there acting like they did nothing wrong while other elevator passengers who have invested valuable seconds, some as much as twenty, waiting to get to their floor of choice. Meanwhile That Guy just stands there acting like nothing is wrong. No sorry. No nothing. Occasionally a passenger will crack under the pressure and stare at the person. While this is generally frowned upon in polite company the feelings expressed are understandable. At this point the only acceptable form of communication is to give a peeved glance at other people as if to say "oh boy, the nerve of That Guy, shit."

I beg you people, don't be That Guy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

grown-ups lie

When I was in 3rd grade my elementary school teacher said that when there is world peace she will invite us back for a pizza party with donuts. She continued that every year she tells her class this and at the grand World Peace Party she would invite all the old classes back.

I had my general reservations about the whole matter. I remember thinking that the sheer logistics would be hard to sort out. I mean is she really going to have all her classes fit into the current class. I mean we were a full class of 30 kids, and this lady must be at least 100 years old or so, so that's like a lot of people in one room.

But I was quickly reassured that I wasn't offbase because that was the first question that a fellow progressive thinking classmate asked, "Will there be enough pizza for everyone?" You gotta love kids, they really cut right through all the crap and hit the important issues. The old lady assured us that there would not be a supply shortage.

Well with that issue squared away there really seemed to be no more roadblocks that I could think of. Now you have to think about how this sounds from the perspective of an 8 year old, to this day I remember sitting in my seat (I was on the far left the classroom, about twenty feet from the door) thinking that the biggest obstacle in the problem wasn't the possibility of world peace. Surely we'd have world peace, I figured it was about 2 or 3 years away max.

Lo and behold it's been more than a few years since 3rd grade and I haven't quite gotten the call yet. Yet again I think what this story really does is not shed light on how positive and idealistic kids can be. No. Instead the bigger takeaways is that adults will often times deceive and trick little children to win them over.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Desi Idol: The Worst Talent Ever

While I like to think of myself as having the pulse of the Southeast Asian diaspora, occassionally even I miss things. While I was watching the Real World in Denver and dabbling with various episodes of The Office, an even bigger cultural phenomenon was sweeping our nation. While it was not as moving as Mao's Great Leap Forward, the potential carnage, bloodshed, and/or doom may be on a similar scale. So while I was asleep at the wheel for a few episodes, I'm back and ready to guide this ship into the next iceberg. Big props to my cultural moral compass Brian Chen for getting me hip to the scene. (for the record Brian I hope you don't take offense to my Mao joke, I'm sure he was a great leader and all and that some people really did need to be "re-educated")

Well what is all the hub-bub you ask? Well ask no more. The parade of Indians/brownfolk appearing in recent pop culture has increased exponentially from one to two, as Sanjaya Malakar from American Idol has made the final 12. Unlike Surya the Desi from the Apprentice (the Great Brown Hope) Sanjaya's claim to fame is that he sucks and people keep voting him on.

For example you can view him butchering Diana Ross's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" HERE. I won't even humor you people by making the link easily viewable. Let's just say it's craptacular. India has a long tradition of incredible vocalists. Sanjaya is not one of them. While he shares the hair of Zakir Hussain, that's pretty much it. In fact, coming to think of it, he makes Surya's hair look quite tame in comparison.

But don't just take my word for it, websites promoting for the worst in their fellow human have also taken to the Sanjaya bandwagon.

The problem is that sadly Sanjaya's name in Hindi means "victory," which means either his parents were wrong in their offspring nomenclature or my culture is. Let's pray that his parents are the ones that are wrong.

The part that is even more disturbing is that someplace, somewhere in the world there are some teenage girls who think he is dreamy, perhaps even with homemade posters on their walls. Well I have news for you Jan & Marcia Brady, this guy is no Davey Jones. He's more like Sam the Butcher. Or something.

Now at this point someone is gonna claim that I'm just mean and vicious and that I should really encourage my fellow Indian. But I'm sorry, there are a billion Indians, how is it possible that one this sucky represents us? Whether I like it or not, people are gonna look at him and say "oh boy, Indian people really are bizarro."

Thanks a lot Buckwheat. Thanks a lot.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

March 17, 2007: The Day Cricket Died

While the song "American Pie" by Don McLean commemorates the day the music died (an allusion to the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. Richardson, Jr) , Saturday March 17th is the day cricket died. Not only did India get wiped out by Bangladesh, but Ireland...yet Ireland effectively eliminated tourney favorites Pakistan by soundly beating them. Is there nothing sacred
in the world?

By the way, "American Pie" should be banned at every karaoke place ever. While it's a good song it lasts approximately 4 hours long and everytime I go for karaoke inevitably someone decides to sing a rousing version of it. Good God.

...anyhoo, hopefully India can find a way to beat Bermuda today. If they don't beat them by at least 150 runs they should just stop playing cricket altogether.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Japanese people, being trapped in Atlanta, shopping madness, and Death at Chili's

If someone asks how you spent dinner for the past two weekends, the right answer should not be Chili's-To-Go at an airport. Well, say hello to me, I'm the wrong answer. A simple Friday lunch trip to Atlanta got altered into a 30 hour layover in the Gateway to the South. This only complements being in airports all last weekend

Allow me to back up.

While flying out on Friday morning amidst one cancellation already in the bags by 7am one can't help but feel like they're purposely heading into a disaster. While I was pretty sure I would make it out, getting back with an impending snowstorm to hit the East Coast would be the real trouble. Oh well, what can you do. It's sorta like walking into a room full of unfamiliar elderly desi people. Only awkwardness and pain are to ensue....and yet you must go in. At least I got the upgrade to First Class. If you're gonna be on the Titanic, you might as well be in the Queen's Suite...

One of the things which I do not like to do is talking very loudly on my cell in public areas when people are stuck in close quarters. Hence an airplane is a giant no-no. As such it curious when others do break my Internal Code #5 and I proceed to do exactly what I'm worried about, I listen. In my case there was some Japanese dude seated next to who was hollering in the native tongue. Unfortunately the only things he said in English were the comforting words of "I'm feeling unstable...unstable!" Now I'm a mature person, and I do mature things on occasion. In this situation I felt the most appropriate thing to do was to take a covert picture of him in case the authorities ever asked me about him. You can see the guy in seat 2C in the picture to the right.

Upon landing, having my meeting, and getting back to Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport the imminent delays and cancellations seemed doomed upon me. At 4:15pm while sitting in the terminal the outlook looked bleak...technically my flight wasn't cancelled yet, but I don't have to be shot by a gun to realize that it probably hurts. So I did what any rational person would do. I left the gate, I left the terminal, I hopped into a cab and left the airport.

By the way, on a quick sidenote, passengers traveling to New York may be the amost annoying people to have stuck in an airport because they end up using up any and every power socket available to power-up their laptops, blackberries, and cellphone....how was I aware of this, because I was looking to do the same.

....Okay! back to our story...

So where was I going? What was I doing??!!? Relax my friends and I shall tell you. So the Atlanta Thrashers were playing a hockey game at 7:30pm and I wanted to go. So in the cab I made hotel reservations and was on my way downtown. However surely I couldn't go wearing a suit and tie (a dashing light blue one on a shirt with splendid cuff links) while lugging around a bag. Surely. So I went to the Lenox Square Mall in Buckhead, got there by 5pm and figured that I could by a new wardrobe within one hour, cab it to my hotel, check-in & change, and then cab it to the game. Did I mention that I didn't have tickets for the game...details shmeeetails.

So my shop til I drop extravaganza concluded an hour later with jeans, sweater, shirt, boxers in hand (not sure why I bought them) and oddly enough Tiger Woods Gold 2007 for the Wii (I may be rushed but I keep my eyes on the prize). I checked in, dealt with some incompetent fool concierge tried wasted valuable minutes trying to find me a phone charger and bolted for the arena. After bargaining with some hobo/scalper on some ice level seats, I triumphantly walked into the gorgeous Philips Arena with 2 minutes elapsed in the first period. Luckily the NY Rangers were able to make the game...otherwise the irony of me going to a game because I couldn't make it to NY only to have the game cancelled because of NY not making it to the Durty South would have been too much to bear.

Within 7 minutes (real life, not game time minutes) I had a cold Bud in my hands and life was pretty good. It's Friday night, I'm alone at a hockey game while drinking by myself. I have the word winner written all over me. (
Sadly though my NY bretheren, the Rangers, did not have winner written over them as they lost 2-1 in OT)

I finally made it home today and while my flight was delayed, ruining
my chance of making the 8:30pm showing of the "The Namesake" in Times Square with my cousin (don't worry I bought tickets for it and they got to go unused...um, that was like sarcasm just now) at least I made it back home.

While brings us all the way back to Chilis-To-Go in the airport. As you can see, some poor kids
just couldn't take the pain anymore.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Past and the Pending

Watching the Shins at the Theatre at MSG is a lot like taking the first nice day of the year and deciding to shun it in exchange for sitting in your kitchen oven and turning it on high. Let's just say that air circulation is, well, a bit lacking. However this only pales in comparison to the acoustics which are about as good as someone taking a crap in your eye.

[The Shins, Madison Square Garden Theatre]

As someone sets light to the first fire of autumn
We settle down to cut ourselves apart.
Cough and twitch from the news on your face
And some foreign candle burning in your eyes

Held to the past too aware of the pending
Chill as the dawn breaks and finds us up for sale.
Enter the fog another low road descending
Away from the cold lust, you house and summertime.

Blind to the last cursed affair pistols and countless eyes
A trail of white blood betrays the reckless route your craft is running
Feed till the sun turns into wood dousing an ancient torch
Loiter the whole day through and lose yourself in lines dissecting love.

Your name on my cast and my notes on your stay
Offer me little but doting on a crime.
We've turned every stone and for all our inventions
In matters of love loss, we've no recourse at all.

Blind to the last cursed affair pistols and countless eyes
A trail of white blood betrays the reckless route your craft is running
Feed till the sun turns into wood dousing an ancient torch
Loiter the whole day through and lose yourself in lines dissecting love.
("The Past and the Pending," from Oh, Inverted World)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

why can't Kansas State have Kansas City?

One of the things that I can't quite figure out is why the city of Kansas City is in Missouri. For years I thought the football team the Kansas City Chiefs were in was....well Kansas. I mean the states are right next to each other. Why does the City of Kansas have to find a home in a different state? It's sorta like the NY Giants not playing in NY...oh wait they don't. Or the NY Jets, wait a second. Or hockey's Phoenix Coyotes not playing in Phoenix...wait they actually play in Glendale. Okay okay, what about the LA Lakers...they used to play in Inglewood, CA.

It doesn't really make sense to me and so, what better way of finding out answering for historical anomalies then to look up the history. I'm quite a bright chap, aren't I?

Apparently, according to the Kansas City website the name came while John Calvin McCoy and members of the early inhabitants of the area, who formed the Kansas City in 1850Town Company, held a meeting for a new name. The property, by the way was a 271 acre tract of land bought for $4,220. I'm not sure if those prices would lure me into living in KC today....

Anyhoo after such sparkling names like Rabbitville and Possum Trot, they decided to name it after the Kansa Indians who inhabited the area....and thus the Town of Kansas was born in 1850. It would later become the City of Kansas (and officially KC) in 1889.

See, now wasn't that informative and insightful? Good now go to sleep. I'm tired.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Surya Yalamanchili: R.I.P (Episodes # 1-8)

It was a good run and now my friends, it's all over. Surya the desi Apprentice has been fired. There will be no quote of the episode, no funny barbs, just another tombstone for Great Brown Hopes that have been assassinated before our eyes. Except this time was the first time it was done by a man wearing fake hair, the Don.

We've seen the good, the bad, and well...ahem...the first few episodes where he appeared for a grand total of like 30 seconds.

In the days upcoming we'll have an interview with Surya and try to ask him questions that don't usually get asked. So if you have any suggestions please feel free to suggest them, otherwise you will be stuck with mine.

In the meantime the pride of Rutgers has fallen and all that's left for those poor students to cheer for is their phenomenally successfull football team with their epic high school recruiting class starting this year. I have a feeling the people of New Jersey will find a way to recover. You can read Surya's post-script to his time on the show HERE.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

the Gateway Arch, feminism, & desis gone wild

St. Louis, Mo. - If you talk with some feminist urban planners they'll say that many skyscrapers in cities are phallic symbols of their male designers. Thus the quest to have taller and bigger buildings is nothing but an outward manifestation of the male ego.

In fact they would argue that many architectural designs stem from this same logic, whether it's the Eiffel Tower to the Washington monument (erect since 1884). If you think this is a bit extreme or a pure fabrication, then you should look at downtown Chicago. Amidst the tallest buildings in the world is the Smufit-Stone Building (to the right, on 150 North Michigan Ave.) , which resembles, well, the female response to a phallus. Okay so maybe this one is a bit more of an urban legend, but hey, you can't help but think that there may be something to it.

Okay if that's some of the thought behind traditional buildings, then what on Earth can explain the Gateway Arch here in lovely St. Louis? Well okay I guess we can go with the fact that a simple, inverted parabola is timeless and while its steel material is modern it stays nostalgic with its nod to classical European arches. I mean that does make sense. Plus many of the tour guides at the arch would agree. But alas my friends, such an explanation is too simple. The reality I think is the astonishing fact that there an incredible number of desis there this morning. I dunno if I was just lucky, but the fact that today was a relatively uneventful Saturday I think means that today was a good sample survey of most days here.

Thus it leaves no doubt in my mind that the Gateway Arch is a giant Desi Magnet. Brown people from around the Midwest (and further!) are drawn to the stainless steel construction, reminiscent of the "china" set of most Indian households. Also the fact that I was there and drawn to it wasn't lost upon me either.

So there you have it, the Gateway Arch is nothing more than a lure for the pigmentally gifted hailing from the Indian subcontinent. In my fleeting 12 hours left here in the Da Lou, who knows what other secrets I shall uncover. But uncover them I shall, and report them I will.

Friday, March 9, 2007

meet me in St. Louis, if I make it...

My tour of mediocre American cities is in its final stretch run, as I left Phoenix today. But let us not forget how the whole trip started, a happy 6am flight a few days back to North Carolina. In many ways the gloriousness of your travels are represented by your mode of transportation. In the olden days travelers to Americas had gigormous cruise ships. Real ships. Ships that said, "Screw Manchester, we're heading for New York."

Nowadays international trips tend to be flights on 747's. While many of them give you the experience of feeling like tuna, their sheer size says "This ain't not dog and pony show, even though many of the Indian passengers are smuggling livestock and illegal fruits, vegetables, and chutney mixes in their baggage." The planes give you a feeling that you need a lot of fuel because you're heading somewhere exotic. Perhaps the modern India that you know or love OR perhaps the vision of India portrayed in old movies on AMC where it's an exotic-jungle-living-tiger-hunting-land filled with locals who really are just wearing brown makeup.

Whoa. Where did that come from?

In contrast to those majestic vessels of transport, my flight to the upper Carolina was on a Continental Express flight, specifically an Embraer mini commuter plane.

Why resort to planes made by Boeing or Airbus when you can resort to the quality of Brazilian aeronautics? The Embraer is the mini plane of choice for Continental. But to be on one, to reintroduce the theme I brought up earlier, means a whole slew of bad fact patterns is or has taken place.

First of all you only are on these planes if you're heading for bumblefuck somewhere. Cleveland for example, is a common target. So clearly the destination is slightly...um...lacking. Also normal humans cannot fit on these planes. It's the equivalent of taking a Mini Cooper and stapling wings onto it and asking non-Smurfs to pile in. In the case of my journeys on Wednesday, amidst a backdrop of a snowy 13 degree morning in NY, lemme just say that the Embraer isn't exactly at the top of the list as the most safest things I'd wanna be on. Being a drunk while stuck in a bull riding competition would actually rank higher

...Let me put it another way; allow me to tell you an anecdote (that's right, I just used an semicolon in this sentence, and while I'm not 100% sure that that was the right use of it, I do know that if you use it with confidence, no one will question you, much like getting into clubs and using the "First Class Only" security line at the airport). This is a story which takes place last Wednesday morning, at Newark Airport. If this anecdote is sounding a lot less like a hypothetical scenario and a lot more like my real life events, you've just scored 7 Reader Points. As I was staring out my snow filled window while parked at the gate, wondering if our flight would ever take off, I heard the rather ominous alert from our flight attendant "Excuse me, but our flight has a slight weight imbalance, will some of the passengers in rows 1 through 6 please kindly move to the back row of the plane so that the plane can take off...Thank you!"

...There are times in life when you just suck up the pain, don't complain, and go with the flow. These times include road trips when you decide to skip the extra rest stop and forget about your hunger for the sake of making good time to your destination....but then there are times when no matter how old you are you just wanna cry and go home. After hearing that announcement I wanted to cry and go home. The problem is that even if I wanted to sprint off the plane before the doors closed I wouldn't have made it because I probably would've smashed my head against the ceiling the moment I stood up and then broken my neck after being tripped by my bag that was jammed in the seat in front of me because there was no overhead bin.

In fact in the whole event the irony of the fact that a flight attendant 4 times the size of most 1930s era German Panzer tanks was making an announcement about weight problems was not lost upon me. In my estimation as long as she moved to the back and did not stray above row 8 we would be in good shape. While this would mean no in-flight service for half the plane, it's a sacrifice I think we'd just have to take. Also, to be fair, I was in row #7, so I would be giving up service too.

At this point a lot of our slower readers will ask, "Hey Shakes, did you live? Did you make it?"
Yes I did Skippy, yes I did.

And with that I bid you adieu from downtown St. Louis. Good night and good luck.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

air whores

Carving out your own personal space in a public setting is the sorta thing in life which may cause the highest amount of silent stress amongst individuals. Actually I have no idea if that statement is true. I really have no idea. But, I do know this it bothers me, and that's what counts.

When flying there are more than a few potential flashpoints with fellow passengers that can cause angst. Luckily for you, I'm bothered by all of them. One of them is course is the mutual hand-rest between you and the person next to you. Who gets it? Does the person in the aisle or window seat have to automatically surrender it to the guy in the middle seat, by virtue of them having a shittier seat? OR is it acceptable to share the hand-rest, with one person take the back part of it, the other the front? While I don't think there's a clear answer to this, one place where there is not a disputed territory in my books is the ground space. If I'm sitting next to you, you sure as hell better not stick your foot into the imaginary bubble of my seat space. If you do make that mistake, it's on bitches. It's on.

If you stick your foot or toes in my area I have no problem for making things perfectly awkward by sticking my foot out to reclaim my space. If our feet and/or legs touch I'm willing to keep my foot for an extended period of time making it awkward for everyone. And while I probably hate the whole sitch and would feel more uncomfortable than you, I'm willing to make that sacrifice, are you?

The other thing which pisses the shit out of me is when you de-plane (how can people make up arbitrary verbs out of a noun?) and people don't allow alternate rows on either side of the aisle to get off first. Instead some people jump the gun and try to just race out of the plane without following the International Plane Code of Conduct. It's sorta like when road construction causes a forced merger of two lanes and instead of having alternating lanes take turns in merging, some asshole decides not to wait and go right ahead. Why do people do this? Why? Does it really pay off to be 10 feet ahead of me? It doesn't matter anyways because in the case of the getting off the plane I'm going to walk faster than you in the terminal anyways.

Furthermore I'm a vindictive mofo. I will do things that are actually a disservice to me with the sole intent of making you realize that you have failed in your quest of leaving before me. In other words, I'm willing to skip going to the bathroom once in the terminal in order to catch up to you, Line Skipper/Plane Code Violator. Stopping off at the bathroom means you will have too much of a head start to makeup without sprinting. In order to really beat you I must act like I'm not even trying hard. Hence, no potty break, even if I really have to go. That's just a risk I'm willing to take.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

reports from Iraq

Baghdad - After reports last week that English forces were going to begin a slow withdrawal from the Middle East, the Iraqi Army finally agreed and sided with the Brits' decision.... and decided to retreat as well. "At first we were critical of those blokes, but I think they are right, this place isn't safe" said Omar Shariff. When asked where they were going to go, Shariff continued "to England of course, if they can come to Iraq without passports and a visa surely we can do the same, right?"

Other Iraqi soldiers echoed the sentiment by claiming that "we're pretty much screwed, there's really no Exit Strategy here, plus you can't help question the legitimacy of a national guard which may not be acting according the wishes of those it aims to protect"

Do not feat, I'll keep you updated as this story develops.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Merry Holi

Okay people, whip out your lunar calendars, it's that time of year again...the Hindu festival of Holi. So if you see random Indian people (which Indians aren't random?) with lots of color in the hair, face, or clothing, do not fear. They are merely celebrating the protection of Vishnu-worshipper Prahlad from a fiery death through the use of his aunt Holika's shawl (sadly she burned)! Drama! Intrigue! Deities! So the next time someone tells you that the Hindu religion has mythologies that are difficult to relate to, just tell them that story. That should clear things up in a jiffy.

Well fiery deaths aside, Holi also has these of marking the beginning of the Spring season, and as such it culminates with the first full moon of the month. The real kicker about the holiday is the fact that people celebrate it by throwing colored water and stuff on relatives and strangers alike for a whole day, and no one can really say anything. How dope is that? If you were to do something like that to people in the city they would probably throw you down a subway stairwell. People are sooo uncultured, I swear.

[insert heartwarming story from my youth here]
When my brother and I were small and lived in Omaha...Oh what a glorious year that was. Our family was basically the only desi family in the region. Whenever our family had dinner at night time it could also be called a dinner for the Indian community of Omaha....but I digress. When my brother and I were younger we had this idea to cut up a bunch of colored construction paper, put them in a bag and hang it precariously from the top of our bedroom door. Then we would yell for mom to come upstairs and have all the colors fall on her head...

What a plan. Quite a good idea. Quiiiite. So we did just that and yelled for mom and sure enough she came through our door wondering what we were yelling about and the bag fell on her hand with little bits of construction paper scattered everywhere. When she glanced at her two devious children, we shouted "Happy Holi." And with that was the first and probably the last time I ever did anything for Holi outside of going to a temple.

So with that, have a hip hop Holi.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Bono on fire

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm more than a little bit biased towards anything U2 or Bono related. Well the band has been a bit quiet over the past few months but if you got a chance to watch the NAACP Image Awards last night, you missed a truly special moment when Bono (Chairman Award Winner) delivered probably one of his best speeches. What's even more awesome is that through the course of the speech you can see people in the auditorium start standing and applauding row-by-row, especially over the last 2 minutes. Pretty awesome stuff. Oh wait, you didn't catch it on TV, here ya gooooo:



[click to the top of the blog!]

Friday, March 2, 2007

update: the Secret is still not working...

...just a quick update for those of you scoring at home, or if you're alone, my thoughts for getting $27mm in a magical briefcase on my front door, as per the guidance from "The Secret" (see below) have gone unanswered. Perhaps my doorman just hasn't put the slip in my mailbox that I have a package. Mayhapsly...