Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

DJ Shakes_2007-05-28 (eclectic)
theme: eclectic

Well, it's summer and I wanted to mix. So I did. I sorta played whatever I felt like and for the first time in a while it was relaxing to play music that I wanted to hear versus worrying about whether other people will like it or that it had to be a definitive mix on a certain genre or theme...

T R A C K L I S T I N G (approx 61min)

[0:00] Intro - Me
[0:55] Nas - Nas is Like
[4:09] Common - Invocation
[6:14] Brother Ali - Lookin' At Me Sideways
[8:53] Mika - Love Today
[12:41] INXS - Suicide Blonde
[15:08] The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary
[18:57] Arcade Fire - Keep The Car Running
[22:00] Smashing Pumpkins - Untitled
[24:32] Sufjan Stevens - Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, IL
[26:34] Bebel Gilberto - Momento
[30:38] Nancy Sinatra - You Only Live Twice
[32:20] Robbie Williams - Millenium
[34:04] Ini Kamoze - Here Comes The Hotstepper
[36:47] Bollywood: Aap Jaisa Koi from "Qurbani"
[40:17] Royksopp - What Else Is There?
[42:50] Michael Jackson - The Way You Make Me Feel [45:04] Garbage - Vow
[48:37] Oasis - Whatever
[50:58] Snoop/Boogie Pimps/Young MC - Who Am I (What's My Name)/The Music In Me/Know How
[54:10] A Guy Called Gerald/Mylo - Voodoo Ray/Drop The Pressure
[56:25] The Lovin' Spoonful - Summer In The City
[57:30] Connie - Funky Little Beat

...The mix moves from hip hop to pop to 80s to indie to alternative to folk to bossa nova to oldies to dance hall to Bollywood.....and that's just the first 30 minutes, so I hope you enjoy it. I had to add "Summer In the City" because it is summer in the city right now. And by the way if you don't know "Aap Jaisa Koi" is like of legendary proportions as far as 70s disco-Hindi songs go.

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

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

[click HERE for the top of the blog]

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Burberry = Taco Bell; math fun

Burberry is one of the most incredible designer brands ever. I say this not in some deep reverence to the brand or anything but because they have to be the biggest crooks. They basically have made one design pattern and apply it to all their clothing...and people love it. I mean at some point ya sorta gotta make other designs.

I know at this point someone is going to point out that "Hey Shakes, they make their trademark plaid design in other colors!" Whatever stupid muppet. It's gotten to the point that it makes me sick when you see guys wearing Burberry ties around. It's one thing to wear name brands and have the name barely noticeable (if at all)....that's called classy...but having high end names pasted everywhere is a bit crass. It's kinda like the Hugo Boss syndrome. For such a top shelf designer why do they ruin it by making these loud shirts that has their named plastered over it in 120 point font? It's these very shirts that find their way in discount bins at Marshalls and Filene's Basement where the People of New Jersey then celebrate in its full glory. Barf.

Burberry is different because they don't even attempt to change their design. The beige background with black and red stripes is almost like the approved attired for city residents to wear while visiting the MoMa.

As I was walking 30 blocks to the in the sweltering sun today while counting the number of Indians I passed (nearly a family per every block!) I started wondering what other company has been able to go sooo far with such little innovation.

The answer: Taco Bell.

Taco Bell is nutso. The border is definitely in order. I can't think of one food joint that has gotten more people excited over the various iterations of 8 food ingredients. Each week TB seems to unleash a new food structure that turns the world on its head. We salute you taco bell. The staggering thing is that people like me proceed to get excited about such things.

Roughly speaking the 8 ingredients (aka the "Holy 8" or "Great 8") are as follows:
1) tortilla (shell or wrap)
2) brown beans
3) ground beef
4) chicken
5) lettuce
6) cheese
7) tomatoes
8) sour cream

Now mathematically speaking there are a finite number of combinations that these 8 items can make. Assuming that a menu item at least requires 3 items, the number of distinct permutations ("8 Choose 3") is shown from my friendly schematic I put to the side. (please note how my "fig. 1" makes it look like it's some ancient manuscipt written my Galileo). So there is a logical end to this nonstop bonanza

Now I know a lot of people are thinking the same thing, what about Quesadillas? They only utilize two items, burritos and cheese. This quandary of course is known in mathematical circles as the Quesadilla Exception (QE). Since that is really the only 2 item combination we should really be more precise about things So really to be more precise we should add up all the distinct 3 item combinations with the 4 item combos with the 5 items combos.....and so on and so forth until we reach 8, and then add the QE.

Using a handy dandy Excel spreadsheet, which I've shown some of the outputs in (fig. 2), we can see that the answer is 220.

Thus once TB's menu is mathematically limited to 220 possible items....unless of course they add another item to the Holy 8. But math can't predict such anomalies...although it can get pretty close.

In conclusion I think I have made 3 valid points:
1) A designer at Burberry's has the easiest job known to man. Just take the same fashion design and apply it over and over again.

2) Taco Bell, much like the aforementioned Burberry's, also repackages the same thing over and over again
3) Math is both exciting and fun in a social context.

Case closed.

Friday, May 25, 2007

traveling in a vomit comet & race relations

When I was an analyst I went on a car trip with one of the senior bosses and he saw our Middle Eastern car driver with an American flag hanging from the rear view mirror, looked at me, and said "Wow he must really love America....or it's a giant front where some Arab thinks he can trick me."

This my friends is a good sign that progress is being made in the wonderful world of race relations.

That being said, at some point you gotta call a spade a spade. There is nothing more blatantly suspicious than seeing cab drivers draped in the stars and stripes. I'm not saying that they're terrorists in disguise (although with the way my cabbie drove while taking the picture I wouldn't be lying if I said he did terrorize me) but c'mon, they're no reason to think you can fool people into thinking that you're totally uber patriotic. If that were the case the events of 2001 (with subsequent non-tolerant American behavior) had the perverse effect of increasing anti-American sentiment everywhere.... except in NY where it allegedly galvanized the entire taxi driving community.

Now I understand that these people are merely doing it for their own safety. Sikhs and Muslims weren't exactly treated well before the past 5-6 years, and it has only gotten worse. In fact the only time most people have really thought how shitty brown people are treated was probably during this scene from "Inside Man" when Waris Ahluwalia* curses at some cops (including Denzel...he's soooo f-wiiiiine). But at some point ya gotta say it's a little overboard. I must say that having my cabbie today cover his seat headrests with the flag was a little overkill if I do say so myself.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Temporary Sanity, Bloomberg, and my first years as an analyst

This week's exciting new Bloomberg developments went one notch higher! On the back of Monday's epic changing of fonts today the new service Bloomberg's charts changed (picture right)! This my friends is exciting news indeed. While this is a startling or groundbreaking discovery in a vacuum, Bloomberg's significance to me (and hence and changes to it) can be even more apparent with a little bit of background context. If you don't know why I care so deeply for Bloomberg, allow me to elaborate...

When I was a young analyst on a marketing desk my daily life was punctuated by large periods of verbal abuse coupled with moments of utter disillusionment with my vocation of choice. However often times my introspective moments would be interrupted by further verbal abuse. This was helpful.

In some ways working under such conditions is akin to being in an abusive relationship. As much as you hate your tormentor when they leave you find yourself thinking "oh they're not really that bad, they're doing that for my own good…that's just how I learn and understand things." That being said, being asked to "cheer up!" the day after a grandparent passed away isn't exactly constructive advice

In any case this led me to channel my internal angst in a couple of directions. One of them was practical jokes on fellow analysts. Why other innocent fellow analyst were the target of my jokey jokes is beyond me. Hey, life isn't fair. I mean why do prisoners commit crimes versus each other? Why do postal worker go…well…postal on others? I didn't create these moral quandaries, I just follow my role.

Now I guess I could say that I've matured past the stage of rearranging keyboard letters or making bizarro signs around the floor, but I haven't. I'm the same 29-year old who goes home each night and spray people walking along the riverfront with a Super Soaker out of my window. If criminals can argue that they suffered from momentary insanity as a cover-up for out of character behavior, I think normal citizens in the workplace should be able to argue that Momentary Sanity is a plausible reason for acting out in a such a manner.
Listen if all this sounds a touch overly dramatic then just think about this: if you need to take extra toilet paper from work because you're never able to get home in time before the late night drug store near your apartment closes, you'll understand the messed up mind state that you can find yourself in.

The other unfortunate way that I would exhibit Momentary Sanity was through the the kind people at Bloomberg. In some ways there is nothing funnier that messing around with people who's sole job is to be kind and helpful. The best part is that you don't even have to subscrive to the news service to get in on the action! Pranks included:

1) Calling the Bloomberg operator (212-318-2000) and trying to order a pizza, repeatedly.
2) Conferencing in two Bloomberg operators so that they think they're helping each other...this one works best if you conference an operator from the UK (+44-20-7330-7500) because the accent makes everything so much funnier
3) Calling the Bloomberg operator on the West Coast (415-912-2960) and claiming that all your market information is being delayed by 3 hour versus the NY market levels

...and so on and so forth. While Mike Bloomberg may be our city's mayor, his little news service has been keeping one Indian kid sane for at least 7 years...

Monday, May 21, 2007

sugar, my diet, Bloomberg's new font, & the fact that Times New Roman is soooo last year

When I was in 4th and 5th grade my walk home from school included a trip past a 7-11 and liquor store. Aside from the glories of learning new things and edu-ma-cating my brain, the highlight of my day was getting candy before I got home. Now the 7-11 of course offered your standard cadre of food treats, randing from M&M's (both standard and peanut filled) to Snickers and more exotic items like Whatchamacallit's. The liquor store was a bit more interesting because while it did sell liquor (it's most notable sales item) it also sold other goods like hot rod magazines and the crown jewel of all candy…the number one arch nemesis of all dentists….Now & Laters

Today was a bit of a throwback day for me, allow me to elaborate. My diet consisted of:
1) 12 packets of Smarties
2) several handfuls of Gobstoppers
3) one package of Bugles

What's even more ingenious is that a good portion of items 1 & 2 had been consumed by 10am. Being on a sugar high for the better part of a day is fantastic feeling. The only downside is feeling frightfully ill. But do not fret, a nice dose of cream soda around noon time can push off those pesky feelings.

You know it's amazing how acute your senses can be when you're hopped up on sugar. It made my discovery of the change in Bloomberg's font style seem that much exciting. No more Arial font no more. Arial is sooo played out.. Bloomberg was all like "Yo Arial, why don't you go meet your boy Times New Roman on the curb. Beat it, bitches." I guess it's the only thing exciting about the market these days when rate movements of like 5 bps is considered dramatic. But I digress..

Sunday, May 20, 2007

my barber

Keepin' it real is just one of my hobbies that I partake in on a nearly regular basis. It ranks up there with keepin' it fresh and keepin' it retro. Also I like soccer. One way in which I keep it real is by getting my haircut at the mall. No fancy shmancy male salon for me. No no no. The mall barbershop, "The Clip Joint" is like a a magical land where shady people and hair care intersect.

While the haircuts are only like $15, the entertainment is priceless. In the course of my last haircut on Thursday my barber proceeded to hold 3 conversations at once; one with me, another with a rival barber, and the third with various people on his cellphone. The cellphone earpiece is a must-have for any barber (and/or taxi driver). Sadly even though I'm the one paying for the barber's time, I tend to get the lowest priority. But that's understandable, he's just trying to get his. His phone conversations were a bit more exciting as over the course of 30 minutes he tried to peddle:
1) speakers for an iPod

2) car stereos

3) phone cards

4) his meal from Panda Express that was just sitting on the counter

....and no I can't make this shit up...

The keepin' it real part really came through with his conversations with the rival barber at the seat opposite to me. There diss session included barbs about who can give a smoother fade and who does the best beard trims. Sadly my demands for a "simple short hair cut" did not allow the artists the proper palette to express their [mad] skillz. It was sorta like both guys were hoping for the occurance of one of the final scenes in the aptly named movie "Barbershop" when the Italian guy and the Black guy have a like a hair cutting faceoff....except like without that really happening.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

turning sickness

At some point in the life of every child, it happens. It's a moment that defines all of us and that we all share. Usually it occurs when you're sitting at home, eating dinner with the family, and you realize that there are basically no TV shows that everyone in the family would actually enjoy together. This usually results in people splitting off into different rooms of the house to sit in front of a TV of their choice.

However in the scenario where the family actually eats together everyone quickly realizes that the only forms of safe programming tend to be something on the Food Network or the news. This is a bad sitch indeed. No one wins with the news. No one. However, there does exist one glimmer of hope, one chance of actually watching with excitement, chase scenes, violent deaths, and soporific narration. I'm talking of course about nature channels, and at some point in every child's life you have seen (at least once) the epic life and times of the wildebeest.

Now the wildebeest is far from being one of nature's noble animals. It sorta looks like a consortium of spare parts slapped on together in an odd Darwinian joke. Be that as it may, there is something weirdly alluring about the wildebeest that makes you watch for over an hour about their migration patterns, mating, and eventual deaths. It is in the struggles however that a curious scene is played out repeatedly in all wildebeest specials, it's a scene that provides one of the rare common threads that tie all of humanity. While nature shows tend to have a ton of facts the one thing which sticks in everyone's heads, according to my empirical analysis and research, is the fact that elder wildebeest can be stricken with Turning Sickness.

Yes, Turning Sickness. I know many of you hadn't thought about this since you watched the Discovery Channel in the 5th grade, but you read my words correctly. Little do you (the reader at home) know that we (the collective "we") all know about Turning Sickness.

For those of you who don't know (perish the thoughts!) in a cruel joke to the 2nd tier all-stars in God's animal kingdom, some wildebeest are afflicted with this disease that enables them to only walk in circles. Basically they will walk in circles until they collapse from exhaustion or hunger and die. It's really quite sad. But for whatever reason that is the one thing you think about when wildebeest come up in everyday conversation, whether on the street or at a lounge. Turning Sickness, Turning Sickness, Turning Sickness

Try it sometime as a pick-up line, 60% of the time it works every time. Why is it that a staggering amount of kids have heard about this, as opposed to some fact about lions and tigers? I dunno, it's beyond me, but I just know that it's true.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

a public service annoucement

Dear Indian People/To whom it may concern,

As many of you know Indian film stars have a quasi god-like status to them by the adoring masses. As such the the recent wedding of Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai is probably the most noteworthy thing to happen to the subcontinent since Partition and that whole milk drinking Ganesha phenomenon about 10 year back.

Now I know this I know this is going to come as a shock to a lot of you but at some point receiving rampant emails with "exclusive photos" of the married couple can get old. Particularly when there are new emails everyday that get sent to me...which are the exact same picture.

So please, fight your primal desi urges of forwarding every random email to all of your loved ones.

Thanks you
- Shakes

PS: But just in case you wanted to see a picture...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Asian Honkies

At the end of last week I learned that sometimes Hong Kong is sometimes referred to as "HongKy" for short. I dunno why but this strikes me as very definitively more exciting than the prospect of being a Hong Kong/USD foreign exchange trader ("7.8...7.8....7.8...") but it does. The idea that Asian people can perhaps be called "Hongkies"...or much better "Honkies" shoes that maybe there really are similarities between the people of the Far East and those in the Deep South besides a need to stress cardinal directions (I mean you don't see Nordic people call themselves the Really Really North). But do you know who the real winner of my personal amusement to this Honky phenomenon is? Not me, no no no's you. The viewing public.

As such I think it would be thoughtful to take pictures of people from Hong Kong and write the word "Honky" on them. Of particular help in this useful exercise were pictures from the Hong Kong tourism board. Big ups to yourself.

one Honky

two Honkies

multiple Honkies

Monday, May 7, 2007

Spot The Desi #9: American Chai??

So I was watching TV, as I'm wanton to do, when the new Citibank commercial popped up. Now this of course is nothing unusual. Citibank has a big role in my life...not professionally but rather because that's where I do my banking. Also the good people of Citibank are kind enough to have their Indian office call me nearly every Saturday morning at like 8am to tell me about how much of a valued customer I am.

Anyhoo so I was watching the new Citibank commercial, which I must say is pretty damn good. It actually does what very few commercials can do which is to create an emotional attachment to an ice cold heartless firm. But that in it of itself is not remarkable, what's neat is that tucked away in the first half of the commercial is a shot of two Indian of them with curly hair. No it's not Sanjaya and it's not Surya The Apprentice but it's a fellow who may seem a bit familiar...I THINK it's Aalok Mehta, better known as Sureel from "American Chai"

Oh, by the way, you can see the commercial HERE, where our hero makes his appearance within the first 10 seconds.

Now there is a distinct possiblity that it's not the dude from "American Chai" and it's just one more person in a long line of big-haired Indian actors (e.g. Rishi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha, me, etc.)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

european, i'm-a-peein', wouldn't you like to be a-peein' ?

One of the weirdest places for human interaction are public restrooms. For whatever reason all normal and civilized behavior gets checked at the door, revealing people in their true state of nature. What's weirder is that people tend to act weirder at work bathrooms then in bathrooms open to the general masses.

One moment you're in a meeting someone the next moment you're standing next to them at the urinal and they feel the need to completely remove their pants. It's like "whoa, hey now, stop it there." Other popular moves include when guys decide to put one hand on the wall and one hand at their hip while peeing. It's as if they're in some police line-up and the cops asked them to assume the position. Also interestingly it looks like they're acting up the little children's song "I'm a little teapot, short and stout, here is my handle here is my spout..."

Meanwhile the sitch in the stall is a bit different. Usually the most prized stalls are the ones where someone has fortunately left a newspaper or something on the floor for you to read as you sit there. What's funny is that I don't like touching the paper because (1) it's on the floor and (2) it's in the bathroom, so I end up reading whatever the paper is opened to...over and over again. At the most if I'm a bit daring I'll try the suave move of using my feet to turn the page, but that has varying degrees of success.

Back at the urinals things can only get worse though. While peeing you become a captive audience as others sometimes feel comfortable having conversations with you. I'm sure there's a Supreme Court First Amendment argument here about speech to captive audiences, but I digress. I'm sorry but there are three sacred recurring events that happen in my day: when I shower in morning, when I'm eating lunch, and when I'm in the bathroom. If people are talking to me in the bathroom I find it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Peeing. So usually I end up just standing there... waiting...waiting....not being able to pee....and waiting for them to stop. I'd like to think I'm not alone in this, or at least I hope I'm not.