May 29, 2006

Apple Sweeeeetness!

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Spankin' new Apple iPod Nano.

This happens to be my first ever Apple product and I am hooked for more. The finesse, the eye for details, and Steve Jobs is evident in the iPod Nano. And the interface is sooooo smooth.

My brand new iPod, in all its sleek-black goodness, holds upto 240 songs. That's near-about 1 gig. I also get a USB cable for downloading music from my PC. A soft leather-like case. A CD with iTunes 6 + Quicktime 7. And it is a gift from a great friend. Thanks man. You are making my day, every day.

iPod Flickr Set

May 28, 2006

A Different Beat

Music is books for the ears. Just like any book I read, my music takes me places. Places I have been, places I want to be, places I haven’t been, places I never want to be in. It acts as the same portal that books are.

And as with books, my music choices are a bit slicker than your average. Not just slicker, they are everything from rustic to fresh to all-out industrial. I am Rock. I am Pop. I am Jazz. I am Electronic. Heck, I am even Country. If there’s one genre that I am not all into, it should be hip-hop. I listen hip-hop, but it sticks to Eminem and Shaggy. People are always asking me, why don’t you listen to hip-hop? I can only say, it’s not my kinda music. They ask have I listened to 50 cent, D12, Jamelia, Kevin Lyttle. I say, no. And they consider this to be so uncool.

Well, being uncool is no-problems with me. That’s part nature for a geek. What’s bad is that people presume stuff about you. They presume you want to act as if you don’t listen to what everyone listens to. You act like you are different. And what have I to say? For starters, Yea, I am fuckin’ different.

HELEN STELLaR is a great Chicago band doing some great music in L.A. I love their music. And when you go over to their official website and read their bio. This is what they have to say.
In an age where style is rewarded over content, cynicism inevitably becomes second nature. Passion and originality have given way to cut-and-paste songwriting and carbon-copy imagery churned out for commercial mass consumption. All is not lost. There is a light that still shines. This is HELEN STELLaR.
This is exactly why I do not like Hip-Hop. There is no originality in hip-hop. Their sound, their style, even their videos are same.

A Car comes the singer gets out singing. He hits a party. Hot Chicks. Ok-looking singer. Huge shirts. Huger Pants. Black-Culture-Gone-Wrong. Gasgsta Rap. Discotheques. Dancing.

This is surely not my kinda music. But then you would say, Ok, you are a fuckin’ Racist. Racist, I am not. If you really want to listen to Black music, listen to Jazz – the original and classy black cultural contribution to Music. I listen to Jazz. To Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Dianne Reeves.

To know what’s behind all this shit-talk, you need to know that International music isn’t easy to find in Hyderabad city. You could get the newer stuff, all those boy bands and hip-hop rappers. What you don’t get is the older music. You get Bryan Adams, you get Michael Jackson, and you get Nirvana, but not everything from them. So when I talk about Duran Duran’s Ordinary Life or the oh-so-lovely Moon River, I get a “huh!" People do not listen to this stuff. People don’t want to. And when they don’t listen that, they reflexive-ly do not listen to great music like Tom Petty, Elton John, Sting, John Mayer, Coldplay, James Blunt and many more great musicians and bands who are available in every record store in the city. Instead, they listen to what’s playing on Top 10. They listen to whateva-lyric­-ed hip-hop. They hear what they see.

It’s like they are acting sheep. One jumps the stick, all the others follow.

This, however, is not a critical analysis of music choices. This little write-up is not in anyway offending the hip-hop genre or the true hip-hop lover, the one who’d listen to both Kanye West and MC Hammer. It’s not about people who jump on the latest bandwagon hitting the block. This is about people who jump on the bandwagon and get off. People who listen to hip-hop because it’s cool and would not listen to it when its off-trend.

People don’t want to experiment. They want what is served, meaning, they don’t have a choice in the first place. I’ll talk about myself, I am no hypocrite. Most of my choices are borrowed, acquired taste it’s called. But I guess, everyone’s choices are acquired one way or the other.

I’d never heard the Dark Side of the Moon or Heathen Chemistry or Led Zeppelin I or II or III. I’d never known Mark Knopfler, Sting, Duran Duran or Jim Morrison. I’d never heard tiny dancer or Free Falling or Free Bird. It was other people who made me listen to these records, these bands, these artists.

Other people who might be my friends, people who put these great music into their collection, into their movies, into their car stereo and at the back of their notebooks. People I knew as friends - Rahil, Shakeel and Moid. People I know online but haven’t talked to - Nouman Mohammed Khan, Paul Ranix, and Joe Hesketh. People who are famous like the film makers - Quentin Tarantino, Cameron Crowe, Sofia Coppola, and Robert Rodriguez. Like authors whose books I read with music playing – Tom Spanbauer, Stephen Graham Jones, Christopher Baer, Alex Garland and Douglas Coupland. I don’t know what they listen to but their work inspire me some music.

Yes! I jump on these bandwagons, each and every one of them. But I never get off. I am a geek. And geeks by nature are fanboys. We are loyal to stuff we like, fiercely loyal. Books, Movies, Technology, Theories, Music, whatever it is we remain with them. We remain because whatever our choice is, we know, it is US.

Music isn’t about choices it’s about feelings, emotions, ideology, perspective. Music is about you. Just like the books you read, music defines/instigates/improves your emotions. And just like books it means different to every person. It’s never the same, the music. It’s complex yet simple. It’s just like us.

P.S. Check out Helen Stellar’s io (This time around) on the Soundtrack of Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown. Also check out some other music on the official website of Helen Stellar.

May 10, 2006


|| This is a pause.

I've been busy lately. I've been writing. Two Tests. Will return, pretty soon.


May 02, 2006

Intelligent Suffering

Oh, is it not but intelligent suffering when you read Edgar Allan Poe with despair and melancholia? Is it not love, when you suffer at the words of Maupassant or Kafka, out of willingness and anxiety?

I have, in my early reading years, read through many an insomniac nights the works of Poe and Maupassant. These are two great authors who share more than their genres – the art of weaving a tale of morbid fear, gloom and hopelessness around everyday life. Edgar Allan Poe, I would later find was sort of an inspiration for Guy De Maupassant.

There is a kind of an enigma that surrounds tales of a darker nature. For me it is one “genus” that is most close to our hearts, most human. But dark for one is not exactly dark for others. Simply saying, dark is not a genre in itself. It is evident, not by saying, but by reading something that would seem dark to you. I’ve read those fat plot-driven novels, stories taken from the pages of the daily newspapers. I read the Da Vinci Code, I was ecstatic (until I read other books by Dan Brown). I read Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, I was clueless. And these are best sellers by best selling authors. Not one of the many books I’ve read had any effect on me. Alternatively, I read a short story by Maupassant. A story which has neither a plot nor a shred of reason. A story about a well-to-do French man who wanders around Paris one night and ends up starved to death. By the end I felt as if I had gone through that deadly ordeal myself. It was so powerful that I kept reading it again and again, till I lost the book, and lost the name of the story in my memory. I still don’t remember the title, yet I consider it as my favorite Maupassant story ever.

The thing about dark tales is they are, in essence, sad and emotional. Because in the end you aren’t afraid, you are just sad. But people don’t want to feel that emotion. I look around book stores; I look at people buying books. Everyone wants a book that makes them feel happy. Ah! They so love their happy endings. Even when people go “over the edge” they buy a sappy book, books loosely written to induce emotions that are not true to the soul of both the writer and reader. People are “afraid” to read books that feel true. So, they indulge in best sellers. I do too. If I ever get to lay my hands on the darkest of tales, I would never read the best sellers. But alas, is all I can say.

Books these days are full of cheesy plots and character-less characters that do not dwell in my after-thoughts. I mean, when was the last time I thought why Robert Langdon did what he did or why were there so many goddamn characters in State of Fear. The characters of these best sellers are just characters. What they lack is the humanness, the soul that exists in every character of a dark tale, be it French men, Princes, Hobbits, Wizards or humanoid mask-wearing villain who makes breathing sounds. And each of these characters, no matter how far from being human, is truly human.

When you read The Masque of Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe you can’t help but feel the movement of the story. The description, which goes from flamboyant to the darkest red, is simple and stark. The story is roughly a narrative description of a Prince’s party while the outside world rages through a plague. By the end of the short story you are as horrified as the Prince himself. Only Poe can make horror out of a series of rooms.

I love it when it ends like this. I am no sadist or pessimist. I am just more human than human. More sensitive to emotions those are rare and sad. And I suffer out of my will, out of my intelligence. I enjoy this suffering, this feeling of despair and eventual sadness. I enjoy them in my books, in movies, music, games, and in writing. I wish every passing day, I wish I could write such tales but I digress or am afraid. Of suffering what these men have suffered to flow words that are an intelligent suffering to the rest of us.

Franz Kafka once wrote, in a letter to his friend, Oskar Pollak
I believe one should read only the books that bite and sting. If a book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a punch on the head, what are we reading it for? … We need the books which affect us like a disaster, which pain us deeply, like the death of someone dearer to us than ourselves, like being lost in the woods, far from everyone, like a suicide…