Monday, 27 December 2004

Tsunami help

Please pass this URL around:

http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com/

You can use it to post any info you have on:

where to send money,
what kind of help is needed,
aid organisations,
helplines,
infolines,
email addresses,
phone numbers
news updates
etc

You can post it in the comments section, or post yourself. Mail me at zigzackly@gmail.com and i'll send you an invitation.

Sunday, 26 December 2004

Plus ça change...

A year ago, when i had just started blogging regularly, i said:
If you're dropping by today, you need a life.
[...]
A very happy Christmas to all of you. And may the spirit of the season last all year through.
Hm. The fact that i'm posting today - what does that say about me?
So this is an appropriate time to figure out out whether this thing is more than just a thief of time. And it's also year end, when everyone's doing this, so indulge me, please.

i haven't blogged with any degree of regularity in the recent past. Because i've been busy, yes, but also because i've been [shudder] introspecting.

When i started, i was pretty sure i wanted to do a filter blog, not a Dear Diary - after all, the workings of my mind are not of interest to the world at large, unlike a certain multidimensional artist and author, or this talented young writer i know. When it came to specialist blogs, i knew i couldn't hold a candle to Hurree's hugely well-informed and entertaining lit-blogging, or Dina's well-researched and comprehensive views on networking and social issues, to name just two.

So Zigzackly became a generalist blog, one of many, many, many. The numbers haven't been that interesting - a little short of 4k vistors since i installed a counter in March. Zz hasn't become a must-read to thousands (which may not be a bad thing - the pressure!), or got me a book deal (again not a bad thing, because i honestly don't have a book in me), and i haven't acquired a life that's different in any major way (this i wouldn't mind).

The positives.

My belief in blogs grew, and along the way, i also archived some of my press work in another blog and started a secret blog in which i unleashed my poetry on an unsuspecting world.

In August, i midwifed a CollaBlog that has grown, both in readership and participation, beyond anything i expected. And there's another community blog that is also showing signs of going places that Zig would never be able to get to alone. And i'm also into a collaboration which has helped me produce some verse i'm actually happy with.

i also discovered blogrolls, and RSS readers (and now subscribe to more blogs than i have time to read) and got involved with a group of writers via Ryze, and started a site that i hope will soon grow into something big...

And here's what i've been asking myself. Is this blog any more than a personal set of bookmarks that's easily accessed as long as i'm near a net connection?

And, Faithful Reader, i guess i'm asking you that question too. If you visit regularly, or subscribe to this feed or this one, what do you like about this blog? What do you want to see?

i shall have to think about this a bit longer, i think. Meanwhile, i'd love to hear what you have to say.

Won't be blogging much for the nonce. Next week, i go North, to maybe scout around for some rich clients and gullible editors and suchlike in our nation's capital, but mainly to laze around and eat the Babu and Partner out of two houses and homes for a bit, and perhaps meet for the first time MarginAlien and Putu, and maybe Jabberwock and all my other Delhi buddies.

Hope you're having a great Christmas season, love to you and yours, and in case i forget to post, may 2005 be wonderful for you.

Monday, 6 December 2004

RSS feed

Nope, not the kind that we have so kindly provided for you on the left so you can use a reader to get updates from this blog.

We're referring to them gents in the starched, ballooning khaki shorts. Aside from their efforts to rewrite history, they're now revolutionising science, with their tests on, er, bovine excreta. Some excerpts from Manu Joseph's article in Wired News:
Bhanwarlal Kothari, a senior member of the RSS, said, "Our tests have shown that distemper made out of cow dung and spread over walls and roofs can block nuclear radiation."
...
Sunil Mansinghka runs Go-vigyan Anusandhan Kendra, an outfit "devoted to R&D on the role of cows." At four every morning, VHP workers stand with bottles beside their cows, waiting for them to urinate voluntarily so that the workers can collect the waste for future research.
...
"We believe that cows' urine can cure cancer, renal failure, arthritis and a lot of other ailments," Mansinghka said. "We are working hard to test and prove these claims."
He summoned one of his researchers, an Ayurvedic physician named Bharat Chouragade, to explain the benefits of cow urine. "I don't think cows' urine can cure cancer," Chouragade said. "What it can do is enhance the effects of the modern cures for cancer." That disappointed Mansinghka, who later said of his Ayurvedic physician, "some people are misled by too much learning."
...
Mansinghka also spoke with great adoration about "the stunning work of professor Madan Mohan Bajaj, who has clearly proved how important cows are."
Professor Bajaj is from the Delhi University's department of physics and astrophysics. He has spent 14 years investigating the effects of animal slaughter on earthquakes, air crashes and other disasters. "The killing of animals causes natural and manmade disasters," Bajaj said. "But, since the cow is so useful to human beings, its slaughter causes exceptional seismic activity. The cries of the animals go down to the earth through Einsteinian pain waves."
[Via Sepia Mutiny]

We would like to draw to your attention our restraint in not using the obvious headline for this post.

Sunday, 5 December 2004

Defenestrate this

And while the entire blog world is throwing its collective hat into the air over the fact that "blog" was Merriam-Webster Online's Word of the Year (why the merriment, i'm not exactly sure - that citation simply means that more people didn't know what the hell that word meant than any other), we were thrilled to see "defenestrate" creep in at number ten on the list. (You: "So, like, you're dumping on bloggers getting whooped up about people being confused enough about their raison d'etre to go look it up, but you're happy that an obscure word that you actually remember the meaning of - having looked it up dozens of times, thereby probably single-handedly pushing it into the top ten - also confused people, but less?" Zig: "Erm, uh, well, yeah.")

Friday, 3 December 2004

Remembering Bhopal

Greenpeace activists in fifteen countries, and seven Indian cities, including Bhopal, will hold candlelight vigils and form human chains. In Switzerland, they will deliver an exact replica of the memorial statue in Bhopal to the DOW European headquarters in Zurich. Photo exhibitions showing people impacted by the poisoned gas and the contamination of the site are being held in Belgium, France, Australia, India, Slovakia and China, among others.

Here's the India schedule for today:

Bangalore:
Join the dharna on Dec 3rd morning 11 am to 2 pm at the same venue as above.
Paint the Solidarity Canvas on Dec 3rd morning, 11.00 am to 2.00pm at the same venue as above.
Sign the petition in support of the International campaign for Justice for Bhopal.

Chennai:
11am to 1 pm
Human Chain from Gandhi statue to Light house
2pm to 5pm
Bhopal Show at Diocese Pastoral Centre, New # 25, Rosary Church Rd (Kutcherry Road) towards Santhome End. Mylapore, Chennai-4.

Delhi:
Candle light vigil at Amar Jawan Jyoti, 'C' Park India Gate

Pune:
Candle light vigil, at Balgandharva Rang Mandir.

Chandigarh:
Non-violent protest & candle light vigil at Sector 17 Plaza.

Mumbai:
Candle light vigil in front of the Gateway of India.

Bhopal:
Take part in 4 day activities - we will have a booth to showcase GP work on Bhopal on one day

Kanpur:
Raghu Rai Photo exhibition at IIT Kanpur at the International Conference on the 20th Anniversary of Bhopal Gas Tragedy "Bhopal and its Effects on Process Safety."

For more info, contact:
Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace India campaigner in Bhopal, + 91 98 45535418
Zeina Al-Hajj, Greenpeace International campaigner, + 31 6 531 28904
Cecilia Goin, Greenpeace International media officer, +31 6 212 96908
For photos, Laura Lombardi: +31 6 46 16 20 09;
for video, Hester van Meurs: + 31 6 29 00 11 35

We will be at Gateway, influenza permitting. See you there?

Thursday, 2 December 2004

Tuesday, 30 November 2004

Life's a bitch, and then you permalink

There's a bunch of people bitching about Big Media at DesiMediaBitch, at the invitation of that human dynamo, Rohit Gupta, including (but don't tell any of the magazines we write for), this blogger. Do drop by.

Monday, 29 November 2004

We don't need no education, but we'd like some of the royalties, please.

ThisisLondon reports:
A group of former pupils at a London comprehensive school are poised to win thousands of pounds in unpaid royalties for singing on Pink Floyd's classic Another Brick In The Wall 25 years ago.
The pupils from the 1979 fourthform music class at Islington Green School secretly recorded vocals after their teacher was approached by the band's management.
Now the 23 ex-pupils are suing for overdue session musician royalties, taking advantage of the Copyright Act 1997 to claim a percentage of the money from broadcasts.
[Via Indian Dope Trick.]

Sunday, 28 November 2004

Finding Griffins...

...and Yara-ma-yha-whos, and Yofune-Nushis and Vilkacis and Amphisbaena and Nahuelitos and Simurghs and Kulshedras and Bunyips. Try the Bestiary at the Encyclopedia Mythica.

Dilemma for the day

We just read on Ananova that coffee can cure baldness.
But wait. Apparently you have to smear it on your scalp. Adolf Klenk of Kurt Wolff cosmetic research said "One would have to drink between 60 and 80 cups of coffee a day for the necessary amount of caffeine to reach the roots."
Oh well. Better to go around reeking of beer and saying its conditioner?
And there's this. "Men who are frightened that they may lose their hair should start treating their scalps with caffeine while they are still young."
So that leaves us out. We'll just continue swilling the stuff down our throats. Which you ask? The beer now. The coffee, lots, strong, tomorrow.

Greek tragedy

Go see this.

Kiss my chuddies, man

Our fave cat, Putu, has fun with the Dalrymple-Guha spat.
Hurree, of course, has all the links, including the retort to the reply to the response, plus a third voice. Here. And an update here.

Friday, 26 November 2004

idle, or switch off?

Adam Kotsko has a question that has often crossed what passes for our mind:
In general, is turning off one's car rather than idling, for instance at a long stop light, an effective way to save gasoline? Does restarting the car take such a significant amount of gas that the wait would have to be unrealistically long to produce a net savings of gasoline?
Go read the comments to that post. And do come tell us if you have a different opinion. (: Adapted for Indian road conditions, of course. :)

Thursday, 25 November 2004

The We Are Not Worthy Department

We just learned that the worthy folk at Blogstreet India are running out of blogs to feature. No, really. In case you click that link and find they've corrected their mistake, we took a screen grab for posterity. Not that it's got us huge spikes in traffic, or anything. Or even a measly book deal. But we'll take what we get. Maybe we'll even blog more regularly now. Sigh. What suckers for publicity we bloggers be.

Friday, 19 November 2004

Search. For the bright ones in the class.

Google Scholar (Beta) "enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web."

Link via Amardeep Singh, who says "Scholars are increasingly prone to googling subjects before going to library catalogs, World-CAT, or the MLA Bibliography. Google is just faster, simpler, and more up-to-date than slow, CD-ROM based databases that require log-ins and proxy servers. If you can find a book on a topic you're looking for through Google, why go to the library website?

"Of course, that short-cut often creates a problem, which is that you get a lot of personal websites when what you really want to know is: who's published something serious on this? As much as I enjoy doing this blog and am pro-blogging in general, sometimes you want books, not blogs. Scholar.google fixes that problem, and cuts out anything that isn't a journal or a book pub."

Sunday, 14 November 2004

But Dr Desai, we already have Page Three people

P.B. Desai, former director of the Tata Medical Center, proposes that we breed headless humans that can be used as a source for organs. and other forms of commercial exploitation. "Science is moving at such a fast pace that scientists have proven that they can create headless mice through removal of genes in embryo that control development of the head," said Desai "But the body would have the capacity to keep the organs functional for use as transplants."

Thursday, 11 November 2004

It's never too late folks

We know they finished "counting" in Florida, and that Kerry conceded and all that. But our candidate is still in the fray.

Wednesday, 10 November 2004

Poetry exercise

Let’s Write a Poem.

That might be fun, mightn’t it? Here’s what you do. There are eight lines.
Line 1 - Write down something that happened this morning. But make it an out and out downright lie.
Line 2 – In the spirit of 1 – write a sentence with a sound in it.
Line 3 – Write a sentence with a colour in it.
Line 4 – Write a sentence with a number in it.
Line 5 – Write a sentence with a character from a book in it
Line 6 – Write a sentence with an animal in it.
Line 7 – Write a sentence with an emotion in it.
Line 8 – Write a sentence to do with the past, present or future.

You might want to go away, write it, cut and paste it. But write it quickly! Go for the first things that come into your head. But by all means do a little work on the finished result. The result may not be great poetry - but hey, it should be fun.
Blatantly lifted from Searching For Blue Sea Glass, where you should go to join in. Or perhaps i can unashamedly steal it and tell you to play right here in the comments box? Your decision. :)

Did we tell you the one about the time our Lonely Planet fell on our toes?

Some of life’s funniest experiences happen on the road. Whether they take the form of unexpected detours, unintended adventures, unidentifiable dinners or unforgettable encounters, these experiences can give birth to our most profound travel lessons and illuminations, and our most memorable – and hilarious – travel stories.
LonelyPlanet.com is looking for humourous stories of exceptionally high literary quality that illustrate this theme. We are especially interested in stories that fall under one of four themes: Food, People, Accommodation and Transportation. But if you have a wonderfully funny story that doesn’t fall neatly under any of these, we also have a fifth category – Miscellaneous – created just for you.
...
Submissions must be original, unpublished stories of from 1,000 to 3,000 words, and must be received by Nov. 30, 2004. All entries will be read by a panel of Lonely Planet editors. Winning entries will be announced and published on LonelyPlanet.com.
There are also cash prizes ranging between US$25 and US$100. Go here for more details, and here to enter. [Via Random Notes]

Saturday, 6 November 2004

Like guns aren't enough of an advantage

We're anti-blood sport, but from what we hear, the thing about hunting is supposed to be man against nature and the elements and all that. Right? Apparently not, as Wired discovered. You can even get yourself electronic ears, mp3 drives full of animal and bird calls, and 'scopes that let you hit targets two miles away.

For your Christmas list (for us, natch)

TV-B-Gone is, according to NYT, a $14.99 keychain fob that is "Essentially a one-trick remote control [that] quickly spits out roughly 200 infrared codes and, within customary remote-control range, turns off most televisions in a few seconds." Wired's been talking about it too.

Hopefully the world has four more years

A friend [thanks Rajesh] pointed us to this blog, by Comedian Adam Felber. And after turning a colour similar to the right panel on the page at the sheer number of comments he gets, we decided to share it with you. Particularly his Concession speech [an extract: "I concede that I misjudged the power of hate. That's pretty powerful stuff, and I didn't see it. So let me take a moment to congratulate the President's strategists: Putting the gay marriage amendments on the ballot in various swing states like Ohio... well, that was just genius. Genius. It got people, a certain kind of people, to the polls. The unprecedented number of folks who showed up and cited "moral values" as their biggest issue, those people changed history. The folks who consider same sex marriage a more important issue than war, or terrorism, or the economy.."] and his invitation to join the "Predict Headlines From Bush's 2nd Term Game." [BUSH TO RUN FOR 3RD TERM, SLAMS DEMOCRAT JESUS His Second Coming seemed promising at first, but today the Bush campaign lashed out at Mr. Christ, branding him as "out of touch with mainstream Christian values." Polls show an increasing number of voters feel that Christ is soft on defense, and it seems that the ads from "Last Supper Diners for Truth" has done some real damage...]

Tuesday, 2 November 2004

You have a new message

herez d rulz.up 2 160 charctrs,includng spaces.NE subjct.SMS abrevs & bad spelng encuragd.prizes:2 Gmail inVt8ns.entries only via commnt buttn.
Caferati has a just-for-fun SMS verse contest on. Wanna join in?

Saturday, 30 October 2004

Oh God!

This article in The Times of India:
In a major security scare, an SPG sub inspector and a CISF constable were spotted riding a scooter at the IGI airport runway even as an international flight was about to take off.
According to sources, sub inspector Ashok Bhat and constable Kusumlata were spotted on a scooter on the runway around 6.55 am by flight safety superintendent Ashok Muthiah. 'This was even as the Royal Jordanian flight 192 stationed behind them was about to take off. The operation area vehicle was immediately alerted which forced them away and allowed the plane to take off safely,' said a senior airport official.
The two staff were immediately arrested for security breach. Bhat later told the police that he and Kusumlata were going to the Pir Baba shrine located near the cargo building on the other side of the runway. They were, however, unable to produce the pass which must be carried by any individual who is going there
...prompted Sepia Mutiny to observe:
Since the shrine is only open in the afternoon, and only with a special permit, and the female constable was not assigned to the airport, 'm guessing that security was literally screwing around.
...and got us to wonder if there should be a ground staff chapter of this club.

Wednesday, 27 October 2004

And their number was "Seven."

It all starts one quiet afternoon at the brew-pub. I'm sitting with my associate Bobby, enjoying a pint of the house ale, when Stephen Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) suddenly appears on the bar television. I can't quite describe the level of annoyance that the bald business guru brings to a room of gentle drinkers, trying to enjoy themselves while the rest of the populace is at work, but a sudden wail from a man in the far corner, similar to that of a small dog yanked forcefully by the tail, alerts everyone that something is terribly wrong. In a matter of moments all eyes are fixed in distress upon the television.
Soon customers with clenched fists start to share horror stories of managers who force-fed Covey's book to them. And of group leaders who scurried around the office pasting up signs like: "Synergy!" or "Be Proactive!" or "What would Covey do in your situation?" Rage and desperation had finally forced our fellow drinkers to leave their professions and find solace in the thick, rich ales fermented by the pub's microbrewery.
Bobby and I are amazed. Having spent ten years carving out lives as professional grad students, we've been oblivious to the rising tide of worker despair. I remember seeing a Covey infomercial several months back; it seemed harmless enough. Watching employees become automatons spouting Covey's catch phrases at every opportunity was the funniest thing I had seen on television in quite a while. But now, as the man in the corner begins weeping, Bobby and I realize larger issues are at hand.
Covey is no business guru, but rather the result of a world gone awry -- the world of work made worthless. Gone are the large expense accounts. Gone are the smoke breaks and three martini lunches. Gone are the innocent office flirtations. Good lord, who would want to work in an environment like that?
I slam my fist on the table. "We need a book about the Seven Vices of Highly Creative People before the whole country ends up in a straitjacket!" Bobby agrees enthusiastically, grabs a stack of napkins and begins writing. All the years we've spent studying history and literature are finally paying off. It isn't easy. But after six hours and five pitchers we finish the job. The pub closes so we gather the napkins and head for a late-night bar to celebrate. It isn't quite a book, but what the hell. We have better things to do than write another damn self-help book.
And so:
Vice One: Be a Drinker
Vice Two: Begin with a Smoke
Vice Three: Put Gambling First
Vice Four: Think Oysters
Vice Five: Seek Fashion First, Then seek to be Understood
Vice Six: Sex
Vice Seven: Abuse the Card
Go read the complete text at The Seven Vices of Highly Creative People.

Tuesday, 26 October 2004

Blorgot

Blogging has already given the language a few new words. Starting with "blog" itself, and of course, blogger and blogging, going on to hybrid creations like blogosphere, blogroll, moblog, and cyborglog (glog for short).

We obviously have too much time on our hands, so here's some more we thought up. (You venture capitalists can queue up on the right, please.)

Collablog - a term we invented to replace Group Blog (hasn't caught on yet *grin*)
Kleptoblogger - someone who uses your links without attribution
Bloglugluglug - too many blogs, too little time, drowning in blogs
Hobloglin - blog reader who makes mischievous comments
Glob - typo on blog that the blogger attributes to dyslexia, not to too many hours spent staring at the monitor

Got more?

Monday, 25 October 2004

They shoulda told him to just Puck off.

NBC has decided to remove exterior shots of this New York City building from Will & Grace after a viewer complained its sign looked like the name began with the letter F. [Source: The BBC Comedy Blog]

Saturday, 23 October 2004

Dubya v/s that Heinz chap. And the winner? It's AB, baby!

Badmash (well worth a bookmark, by the way), the Weekly South Asian Comic Strip has a hilarious new offering. Go see Dishoom. Lots of little in-jokes, cool animation. [Thanks Roma!]

Friday, 22 October 2004

Wot's dat werd?

Normal dictionaries wait until a word is old and stale before publishing them. They need to have proof that a word has written, published citations, or is in wide popular use.
The Dicshunary aims to provide a home for all the small, endangered werds that might only exist in the language of one neighbourhood, one family or even one person.
Via The spectacularly obtuse blog.

Monday, 18 October 2004

Our fan club

A place to go when we need to bask a little. Stirring music, smoothly scrolling supers... Oh well. Might as well confess. Just take replace zigzackly in the URL with your own name (if you prefer it formal, separate first and second name with a dot, like so :http://firstname.secondname.youaremyfriend.com/) and you get your own personalised tribute.

Sunday, 17 October 2004

Profiling

From Sean Keane's Scenes From a Blockbuster Action Movie Featuring a Technology Expert With Approximately My Own Real-Life Skill Level, at McSweeney's.
'O'Henderson, nice surveillance work. The report you put together was incredible. Friends, associates, even his favorite movies and bands. We're a lot closer to finding that bastard Santiago now.'
'It's what I do, Lieutenant.'
'How'd you get all this information? Wiretaps? Hacking into the cartel's database?'
'No, sir. He's on Friendster.'

Thursday, 7 October 2004

In which we get our teeth into this writing thing

A college campus is the setting for Vampire Kisses and where Bimbette La Fleur and Zig Zackly first cross paths. It’s love at first sight, but as they become closer Bimbette discovers that Zig has a horrifying secret – he’s a vampire doomed to a bloodthirsty immortality! Although Bimbette senses danger beneath his soft-spoken manner, and even after Zig himself warns her away, Bimbette is drawn to this creature of the night and loves him as she has loved no other.

Bimbette and Zig meet at the library...
Spying a dusty red binding on the lower shelf, Bimbette pulled at the tightly wedged volume. Unbeknownst to her, her jostling had caused a book to dislodge and tumble from its precarious position on the top shelf. Then she heard it – the sound of a sudden movement and leather against flesh. She looked up, surprised.
“What?” her green eyes widened as she took in the sight.
“If I startled you, my apologies.” The man in dark silk smiled at her through electric black eyes and then reached up toward the skewed shelf, adjusted it, and returned the book. His voice was like his clothing, soft, rich, almost beckoning. The dim light fell gently on his black hair and shoulders. Impossibly wide shoulders...
Bimbette felt her heart skip a beat; how picturesque. His arms seemed not to stretch as he reached to resettle the shelf. Watching from below, comprehension dawned, she tucked her auburn hair behind her ears in nervousness. Ah, the noise. She eyed the angle, and a shudder wracked her body. The whole shelf could have toppled were it not for this curious stranger. She had to clear her throat before she could speak, her mind filled with images of heavy, sharp-cornered objects landing on her head. “Thanks for the rescue.” Bimbette said. Then with a grin added, “Quick hands.”
“Only when there is need, I assure you.” Zig Zackly smiled, teeth reflecting bright in the dusty air, those broad shoulders casting a shadow over Bimbette. He nodded in what might almost have been considered a bow and then turned sideways and was gone. One moment there, the next he’d vanished as though he’d never been...

Bimbette and Plainejane: a little intellectual repartee...
A lascivious grin was spoiled by the frothy mustache Plainejane wore; cross-eyed, she glared at it, twisting up her mouth, remnants of her latte still clinging to her lips.
“Do stop licking your lips that way; some man might get the right idea about you, and then where would you be?” Bimbette was only half kidding, green eyes ablaze.
“Where every cat longs to be, my sweet innocent little bookworm. Completely in the cream.” She batted her eyelashes outrageously making Bimbette laugh.
“So, your date last night?”
“Oh, it was perfect. A perfect catastrophe,” Plainejane grinned. “I told you he was in the adult education program, right?” She waited for Bimbette to nod, all-the-while choking on her own laughter. “Well, we finally got around to talking about what he studies.” Giggles began to emerge, making her slur her words. “That yummy little Brad-Pitt-in-Thelma-and-Louise I was drooling over is here studying to become a priest!”
“Oh, no!” Bimbette sat back and burst into laughter of her own. “What did you do?”
“Oh, I merely suggested that an in-depth knowledge of temptation and sin might help in his work. I even offered to give him a guided tour.”
“You didn’t!” It was purely rhetorical; knowing Plainejane, Bimbette was quite sure she had. “What did he say?”
“I thought I heard ‘get thee behind me’, but he was running the other way, so I could be wrong.”
If Bimbette hadn’t already finished her drink, she’d have choked...

Zig has vampire lust...
Zig sighed. He longed to go to Bimbette, to comfort her, to caress her, but he could not, and so he remained outside, just below her window, watching and listening. He thought of her silky auburn hair and dancing green eyes. His mouth filled with the bittersweet taste of longing. The first flush of dawn chased him away, but before he left, he thrust a note beneath her window sash:
I have watched from the shadows;
you are brighter than sunlight.
It might have been more poetic than literal, but he meant it truly; hers was a warmth that would not burn him to ash – though it did seem to have seared its way into his heart.

Zig – the first bite...
Zig looked at Bimbette, black eyes bright with passion; his hands shook. “Are you sure?”
She took his face in her hands, drew him near for a kiss as she gazed into his black eyes. His fangs fully extended; she traced them with her tongue, loving the taste of him. “I am.” It felt like a vow. “I love you.” Bimbette ran her fingers through his black hair then pulled him to her.
He stood it as long as he could, then another moment longer. But finally he had to move, or come undone.
Zig trailed kisses along her collarbone, nibbled her earlobe, making his way to the nape of her neck. Bimbette moaned beneath his attention, the sound making him shake with yearning, thirst, desire, and love. He hesitated for one eternal moment, fangs extended to their full length, throbbing, dripping the essence of his need onto Bimbette, her perfect skin glistening in the dim light. Slowly, but with nothing of uncertainty – he bit down not quite tenderly, knowing she would enjoy the feel of his teeth – but carefully to cause no pain. His fangs sank within her, pressed home, revealing incredible sensations for both lovers, a new consummation. Her heartbeat raced through them both. Bimbette kept her back straight and her shoulders remained still, but her thighs and hips rolled sensuously as music moved through her and her blood sang...
Nay, your humble blogger hasn't lost it. We just happened to chance upon Book By You, which apparently makes quite a decent living out of creating personalised 180-page romance novels. Here's how it goes: you pick your story, you enter details about the characters on an online form, you pay your US$30 plus postage, and bingo, you have a book starring you and your significant other. The extract above was from the demo section of one of their latest, er, books, Vampire Kisses. (They also offer kids' books, by the way, if you want take-home presents for the brat's next Happybirthday.)

Wednesday, 6 October 2004

Caferati moves home

Caferati, the website, is now at the URL it was supposed to be at in the first place, http://www.caferati.com/.
Please update bookmarks accordingly.

"Maa!" "Beta-tester!"

Be a poppet and go to http://getaforum.com/forums/?mforum=indiawriterscaf, register, and mess around a bit.
It's an experiment - a free message board facility to be part of Caferati. There are a few trial categories and fora already up, but you can add your own topics, or reply to topics, etc. Have fun. Use the Gossip topic for general faff. The other categories are self-explanatory.
Nothing you do will be seen by the world, aside from your fellow bakras - er, beta testers - and anyone else you invite to check it out. Will delete the entire board later (once some feedback is in, and we have learned a bit more about tweaking the controls) and create a new one for caferati.

Tuesday, 5 October 2004

Monday, 4 October 2004

To the diaspora - and Resident Indians too.

We'd like to point you to another subcontinent a forum on South-Asian art, film, food, literature and music. Why those and no others? It's a choice based on an excellent reason: "that is what the site's founders would like to talk about here." Quite an interesting place, from the brief while we've spent lurking in the woodwork, and what recommends it even more strongly, IOHO, is we didn't see a trace of lame desi jokes clumsily adapted from old Jewish-, Polish- and Italian-bashing forwards. Arnab, one of the site's founders, told us over e-mail that it's not just aimed at the diaspora, they hope to attract people who still live on the sub-continent as well, and encourage a multiplicity of views.

Sunday, 3 October 2004

Authors: here's how you save on airfare and avoid the bad food

As lit blogs get more and more powerful, it was, we guess only a matter of time before it came to this. The Virtual Book Tour has been offering authors the chance to be talk and be talked about in the blogosphere, with interviews, guest-blogging stints and the like. There's a rate card for the general tour, with guarantees and all, and even a matchmaking service, where VBT brings the less mainstream authors in touch with the blogs that are just right for them.
We're consumed with jealousy. We wish we had thought of this. Ah well. Blog on, Zig, blog on. Your time will come.

Friday, 1 October 2004

Got fiction?

And yes. Caferati launches the site with a contest. If you have any original, previously unpublished short fiction (up to 3,000 words) in English, please mosey on over to the Stories at the Coffee Table section.
For those of you in Bombay, the contest formally launches this evening at 7 p.m., at the Cha Bar in Oxford Bookstore, near Churchgate.

Here's my sick note, teacher

The week just past has been crazy. Haven't even had time to get the comics fix for the last five or six days. And here's the reason:
Caferati - a collaboration over too much coffee is now a full fledged site. Lots of exciting plans on how it's going to grow. And of course you'll hear it here first.
Your comments and feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Talk about put downs

Apparently, there's something called the Page-50 Club for people who have never been able to get past the first 50 pages of a Rushdie book.
Mid-Day asked a few authors "Which book have you abandoned and why?"
One wonders whether the question was framed in a rather more, you know leading way, considering that Rushdie popped up in quite a few responses. (Perhaps a certain author who has been known to comment on these pages could throw some light on that, considering she was one of the respondents?)
Anyway, they spoke with Mala Sen, Anurag Mathur, Ashok Banker, Manjula Padma, Anita Nair, Ruskin Bond,Sagarika Ghosh, Shobhaa De, Amitava Kumar, Farrukh Dhondy, Manil Suri, Ardeshir Vakil, and Ramachandran Guha.

Wednesday, 29 September 2004

Droolworthy

Uncle Phaedrus, Finder of Lost Recipes, can tell you how to make Fudge, fruitcake, pickled eggs, diabetic, food allergy and other special diet recipes, Chinese Walnut Chicken, Moustakouloura, Kashk Bademjan, Tropkapfen, Zweiback, Coquilles St. Jacques Crepes, Croatian Hrstula, Strawberries Romanoff... the list goes on and on, and we haven't had dinner yet. Warning to ye of delicate aesthetic sensibilities: get past the loud, clumsy site design, there's plenty inside that's well worth the trip. [Via Rebecca Blood]

Tuesday, 28 September 2004

Lad lit

At McSweeney's, Wendy Molyneux tells you how Maxim's would do the classics. A sampler:
A Tale of Two Cities
Two identical dudes fall for the same chick. The chick is none the wiser that there are two dudes, so they can both get the chick and get a little action on the side. Was it the worst of times? No way, it was the best of times, dog.

Monday, 27 September 2004

Holy comic book, Batman

Rohit Gupta of Apollo Bunder Comics writes in to tell us that Mid-Day has finally got his SOS (Special Officer Savant) strip online. This is the second story in the series, The Towers of Silence. We'll let you know if he manages to get the first story up as well.
And more in Indian comics: thanks to Putu, we can point you to the Pavitr Prabhakar Preview. That's the desi Spiderman, for those of you who are out of the loop.

Sunday, 26 September 2004

One more for our wish list

Check out the Oakley Thump. And don't be deterred by that horrible name. It's an MP3 player built into the arms of a cool pair of shades. Transfer your music by USB connection, and you're good to go. The earpieces flip up so you can, say, take a phone call, or drive without wrapping yourself around utility poles. It even lets you flip the dark lenses up, so you can keep listening indoors.

Wednesday, 22 September 2004

Time flies when you're having fun

While we go find a can of tuna to send to Putu the cat as a token of our fawning gratitude for pointing out this link, you go feast you eyes on Rolling Stone's 50th Anniversary of Rock picture feature. Pause for a second, though to consider this. Fifty years? Already?

Tuesday, 21 September 2004

Coupla shots, anyone?

The General who invented the AK-47, which is believed to have caused more deaths than the Hiroshima atom bomb explosion, has lent his name to a new vodka. Not surprisingly, the world's sub-editors are having a ball churning out witty headlines. Erm, yes. We know.

You keep your nouse outa my business

Here's the latest in Perceptual Vision Technology (in English, "the computer 'looks' at you and figures out what you want it to do"), the Nouse.

Do you have US$ 1900 that you want to give us?

You must see Stuart Goldenberg's cartoon take on the iMac G5. It comes with the NYT's rather tardy look at the lust-provoking machine.

Class, discuss:

Drop by Seth Godin's post on who you know as opposed to what you do. Here's a quote:
In a world where things are viral, you're more likely to succeed with passive networking (strangers recommending you) than the old school active kind. In other words, make great stuff, do your homework, build your audience and when you've got something worth talking about, people will talk about it.
So you know who you are in this blog's plans for world domination, right?
And while you're there, see the preceding post on Lies to protect the status quo
1. Canadian pharmaceuticals are dangerous
2. Piracy is killing the ongoing creation of music and movies (notice I didn't say anything about the movie and music businesses)
3. Dental work lasts forever
4. A bottle of Evian is dangerous to airline security and must be surrendered
5. The Microsoft monopoly pays dividends to all users (like IE, for example)
6. You can’t start a business without venture money or a big bank loan
7. Working hard for your boss and following instructions is the best way to get ahead
8. We need to spend taxpayer money on support for traditional factory farming
9. It’s impossible to make a fuel efficient automobile Americans will accept
10. Who you know is more important than what you do
We'd probably change that first one to "Drugs made by anyone other than US-based pharma giants are dangerous." And, based on what we hear, add another "Outsourcing will kill American industry." Got any more suggestions?

Aye, Robot

Heard about biomimetics? That's what they're beginning to call the branch of robotics which develops robots inspired by animals. Is this another case of science following art? We recall one of the Asimov (who coined the term "robotics") robot stories dealing with something like this. Generations after Dr Susan Calvin, when the world had turned against humaniform robots, a robot - was it R Daneel Olivaw? - develops a new branch of robots based on insects. In the story, it was a tiny flying robot that pollinated flowers. Anyone remember the name of the story? Anyway, here's the The New York Times >NYT story on biometics. And, while we were checking our spellings of Olivaw, we found Greg Bear's must-read essay on Asimov, and the moral problems he presented us with via his robot stories and the Three Laws, their inherent contradictions, and the Zeroth Law.

Monday, 20 September 2004

Ftv is so yesterday. We're switching to ESPN.

This from the Onion:
In the wake of the Summer Olympics, during which many American women achieved a level of media attention often reserved for men, sports fans are pleased to report that female athletes are continuing to make great strides in their personal appearances.
And we thought it was just us that noticed.

Wait till we write our first book

She resolved to end the love affair with Ramon tonight . . . summarily, like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail . . . though the term 'love affair' now struck her as a ridiculous euphemism . . . not unlike 'sand vein,' which is after all an intestine, not a vein . . . and that tarry substance inside certainly isn't sand . . . and that brought her back to Ramon.
Terribly sorry. We forgot to link to the Bulwer-Lytton 2004 winners.

Sunday, 19 September 2004

What about deconstruction, then?

Some people think that when you're interpreting, you're trying to figure out what the poet intended in the poem. Others say that you can't ever be sure what the poet intended. But you can come up with intelligent ways to account for the feelings the poem gives you when you read it. Try to explain what you think the poem is doing and how the poem does it.
When you interpret poetry, you do the same thing you do when you interpret anything:
* Understand the explicit, literal meaning.
* Consider what's implied, unsaid, or suggested
* Build an interpretation based on your speculations about what's implied.
You may not take these steps in this order, and you may do some steps more times and other steps fewer, but all these steps are involved in the interpretation of poetry.
For the bright students in the class, be warned: this is from Dummies.com's Mastering Three Steps to Interpreting Poetry, and for the Rest Of Us.
And for the budding poets, you might also like this one.

How William made it in the big city

More than any other writer, Shakespeare's influence on the language lingers on to this day (also, see this).
Stephen Greenblatt, in The New York Times, takes a look at the makings of his legend.

Stiletto Science

Who said scienctists aren't practical, hm? Here's a formula for all our female readers.
h = Q.(12+3s /8)

h is the maximum height of the heel (in cm)
Q is a sociological factor and has a value between 0 and 1 (see below to work this out)
S is the shoe size (UK ladies sizes). This factor makes sure that the base of support is just good enough for an experienced and sober, high-heel wearer not to fall over.

Q = [ p.(y+9).L ] / [ (t+1).(A+1).(y+10).(L+£20) ]

p - the probability that wearing the shoes will help you 'pull' (in a range from 0 to 1, where 1 is pwhooar and 0 is stick to carpet slippers). If the shoes are a turn-off, there's no point wearing them.
y - the number of years experience you have in wearing high heels. As you become more adept, you can wear a higher heel. Beginners should take it easy.
L - the cost of the shoes, in pounds. Clearly, if the shoe is particularly expensive, you can put up with a higher heel.
t - the time since the shoe was the height of fashion, in months (0 = it's the 'in thing' right now!). One has to suffer for one's art, and if the shoes are terribly fashionable, you should be prepared to put up with a little pain.
A - units of alcohol consumed. If you're planning on drinking, be careful to give yourself a little leeway for reduced co-ordination.
Read the article here. [Via Rebecca]

(: 19/09/04 :)

How to review a book. *grin*
Yup, mebbe we should get us a nice outdoorsy wallpaper on our desktop. (Aside: That's the problem with using old economy words in a digital age.)
Well, it seems to have worked for synchronised swimming.
Us feeble minds are staying outa this one.
Goes straight into the Cartoon Inventions We'd Like To See Really Happen file.
Yeah, yeah, we'll clean our room later.
'Coz we're all like grown up now, we never say things like this.

(: 14-18/09/04 :)

Now this one can only be seen by people who come here and don't say a word.
"Liar, liar / pants on fire" doesn't scan well enough?
We better get some shuteye. It's Sunday tomorrow.
And we don't know where the coffee machines is either, darlin.
Print this one up for your softboards, cube dweller.
We never could win, chaps.
That's a field in which we wrote the definitive doctoral thesis.
"State of denial" would be too, too obvious, no?
For NSR and DD. It's about time, isn't it?
Except, we think, "Is that ad/article/brochure ready yet?"
If you get many SMSes from us, it's because we're commuting...but we don't drive when we're messaging...but there's a thought there.
We miss Ftv.
Happy food does that to you.
Ours turn up that way.
We can see it now: KillZig 5.1 The shootemup that's taking blogreaders by storm.
Now don't you start.
Except Reality TV participants.
Opinions wanted here: is Antakshari the only really original game show on Indian TV?
Ah, that's like August 15th in NY?
And that goes double for you, blockhead.
But they sure have fun trying.
Meet deadlines, get up early, exercise...
Now that we think about it, what about Wonder Woman?
Yeah, we hate being disturbed when we're on the comp.
Oooo! Why didn't we think of this before?
You know, this is the one thing they should have outsourced to India before anything else, right, James?
He's probably googling it.

Saturday, 18 September 2004

Suketu Mehta reading

This just in via SMS from pal Naresh Fernandes, of Time Out magazine.
Time Out invites you to a reading by Suketu Mehta on Tuesday, 21st September, at 7 p.m. at NGMA, Colaba.
Mr Mehta will be reading from his new book, Maximum City.

Kitabkhana features an excerpt, and points to other excerpts here and also on Mr Mehta's own site.

Wednesday, 15 September 2004

Gmail invitation for a rhyme

Gmail contest 1
Write a poem, any style - haiku, ballad, limerick, free verse, quatrain, sonnet, couplet, vilanelle - saying why you need a Gmail account. The funnier the better. Parody of a well-known poem or poet or style gets you extra giggle marks. Perhaps you could touch on how it will improve the quality of your life, get you dates, job offers, etc.
Since the person who suggested this doesn't want an invitation, there are three invitations available here, for the best three poems.
Use the comments section (not the Comment This link - planning to discard that), and don't forget to leave your email address so we know where to send the invitation. Your email address will not be used by this blog for any other purpose except perhaps to ask you to buy us a drink sometime.

This just in: to get yourself published, first publish yourself

Apparently, if you want to catch the attention of a big-time publisher, you should self-publish first, and create a bit of a flutter.
Blogging doesn't count, i guess? But then we're not creating much of a flutter anyway, so sucks to us.
[Via Galleycat, who we found thanks to that other literary feline, Putu.

Tuesday, 14 September 2004

*Beep* "You have new novel"

Saw this in the TOI today, from NYT.*Qian Fuzhang, well known Chinese author, has just given push button publishing a whole new meaning.
[His] Out of the Fortress, showed up on tens of thousands of mobile telephone screens on Friday. It is the text-message novel, a new literary genre for the harried masses in a society that seems to be redefining what it means to be harried.
Weighing in at a mere 4,200 characters, "Out of the Fortress" is like a marriage of haiku and Hemingway, and will be published for its audience of cellphone readers at a bite-size, 70 characters at a time - including spaces and punctuation marks - in two daily installments. Other "readers" may choose to place a call to the "publisher," hurray.com.cn, a short text-message distribution company, to listen to a recording of each day's story as it unfolds. All this for a small fee charged, like any text message, directly to the readers' mobile phone accounts.

R I P

Aaron Hawkins, pioneering black blogger, passed away. [Via The Desi Bridget Jones's Diary]

(: 08-13/09/2004 :)

Yeah, work has been getting in the way of the important stuff again.
Which reminds us, we have a client meeting tomorrow...
...And our efforts to leave will have similar consquences...
...And we have a deadline.
No, you can't play with our comp when we're out.
Now if you make us your default home page, we'll give you, let's see, how does "VP Comments" sound to you? And the corner office?
This is probably why we don't get invited out very much.
Or maybe it's this.
And they told us it was a problem with our ATM card.
Nope. That's Barbara Bush.
And that, my friends, is our raison d'etre.
(hic) Yeah, we totally don't understand thish either.
We tried swimming last year, but the paunches there were bigger than ours.
That's we switched to blogging through the night.
After all, that's why we have two comments sections.
Best explanation we've heard yet. Now we want someone to explain Daylight Savings Time to us.
Yo, Meera, you there?
Gotta patch them shorts.
Depends on which, er, end you're looking at.
Now in India, we avoid that spot of confusion by getting them to actually stand for elections. No, wait, they had the Gipper, and now, Ahnuld.
Did we tell you about the palace we stayed in a little while ago?
Oliphant on outsourcing.
Grin.
Dear blog...
Life's good with us too. Thanks for asking.
We're waiting for the Feeding Zoo, actually.
Now here's an idea for the Indian tourism industry.
Sigh.
Hm. That's why we haven't heard from her.
That's why, most of the time, we just stick to links.

Kook Central

When your nasty government
(Or aliens with nasty intent)
Are trying to read your every brain wave
Well in those circs,
Aluminium foil works
They won't know when you rave.
Alternatively, aliens
studying homo sapiens
Abducted you to study your, er, body,
Doesn't matter if your tale
Is way beyond the pale
This site is worth a click.
[Link courtesy Eric Mahady, via the Bartman.]

When you gotta go, you gotta go

Know anyone who pees
Everytime they sneeze?
Who sometimes loses control
When doing a forward roll?
Who needs diapers, adult,
To face the daily tumult
Of life in the big bad city?
Don't waste time on pity.
Science now has a cure.
It's safe, it's quick it's sure:
Yentreve; or duloxetine to its pals
Can save the blushes of the gals
With stress urinary incontinence

Now you try rhyming incontinence.

The days are just filled

For our fellow Calvin and Hobbes fans, here's a couple of databases that will help you find that particular strip which you remember everything about except what date it came out on, for instance. No small feat, if like us, you've painstakingly saved them as United Comics doles them out online and have about 3000 of them squirrelled away on your hard disk. Here's Calvin and Hobbes monthly and Anurag Jain's helpful list of Calvin and Hobbes subjects. Also check out his Calvin and Hobbes gems page.

Thursday, 9 September 2004

The Gmail Contest Gmail Contest

Anniversary time!
We just realised that tomorrow makes exactly a year since we first started blogging. (We're ignoring the fact that it was a single post and we only really started posting properly in December.) To celebrate, we will simply do what we've been doing all year. Lift an idea. So, following in the footsteps of our betters, we'd like to tell you that we have, oh, ten Gmail accounts to offer you. And rather than just give them away, we thought we'd do our usual pathetic thing and milk this for hits and comments. But we're lazy and lacking in original thoughts today.
So.
One Gmail invite each to the best three suggestions (or their favourite charities) for what the contest should be. And once we have that up, six more for the winners of those three contests.
Use the comments tag, please. Let's keep this transparent and open and fair, like the US Presidential elections. Ok? Start your engines.

"We," the royal pronoun

Please see our poor - but earnest - homage to The Master.

Comment or CommentThis?

While we waffle between Blogger's native comments function and the 3rd party "Comment This" add-on script, we're leaving both on for a bit to see which one people like more.
The advantage of Blogger's comments is that comments show up on the individual post's page, along with the post they're commenting on. Disadvantage: if you're not a blogger member, or choose not to log in, it means people show up Anonymous.
CommentThis lets you enter e-ddress and URL, and offers to remember them for you. Or comment anonymously, all without any extra choices needing to be made. But comments are in a separate pop up windows.
Additional dilemma: if we ditch Comment This now, it means we lose all comments made to date, all of which, we assure you, we value. And it will be too much grief to copy them into blogger comments. Plus anyone trawling the archives will see acres of comment-less posts.
Which, come to think of it, is what we're seeing now.
Ah well.
Your thoughts welcome. Use whichever comment link you like.

Goa gets even better. We think.

Such a lovely idea. Live jazz in Goa.
But, but, but... terribly drab site design, and copy that reads like it's been through a P&G focus group. (Like this "Jazz currently has a niche audience in Goa and one of Jazz Goa's goals is to broaden the listener base by encouraging general music lovers to experience and enjoy the magic of spontaneously improvised music through workshops and interactive sessions with performers. Spontaneous improvisation are the keywords to jazz and very often jazz musicians create some of the most memorable music in live performance as opposed to recordings produced in clinical studio sessions. Future plans of Jazz Goa includes releasing live recordings of selected performances in Goa, sourcing corporate sponsorship to launch deserving local jazz musicians at an international level and scholarships to finance talented youngsters who would like to study jazz at some of the worlds best institutes.")
Anyway. We're sure it's the thought that counts. Please go see Jazz Goa. It is with great, er, expectancy that we are, um, anticipating our next sojourn in that great littoral former Portugese colony.

Wednesday, 8 September 2004

The music of the net

Want to know what's happening in the online music world? Bookmark the Online Music Blog, which promises to guide you to music news, services and downloads. A quick glance through shows comprehensive linking to news. We haven't checked out the music downloads they offer yet. That awaits our broadband upgrade.

Tuesday, 7 September 2004

(: 05-06-07/09/2004 :)

We have been remiss. Earning a living and all that. Here you go, comics junkies.

We're hoping to be the talk of the geriatric set now.
Except mum, and she's changed her mind.
We'd like to inform you that we also do targetted corporate presentations.
Which reminds us, we have a deadline.
It's a little trick we learned from our MBA pals. It's called changing the bar, as opposed to raising it. Like so: "People rarely comment on this blog because the stuff we post is unquestionably good."
Happens every day in Hollywood.
But mom, we like to find interesing stuff to blog. It's fulfilling.
Have we made any marketing or MBA cracks lately?
...Or little in-jokes?
To our teacher pals: we're sorry our homework is a bit late.
It's not just our silly fondness for self-referencing humour, we relate to the deadlines bit too.
We're told this one ran in 2000, approx. Shudder. Prophetic.
We want one of these.
Plus ça change, and all that.
Actually, we think American Idol leads all the rest.
To which we'd add, hm, computer games?
Now about those other blogs you read...
Hm, do we have one like this in India, people?

Cat literati

Zig jealous, Zig forlorn,
Zig wondering why he born.
Fame passed without knocking
About Zig blog no one is talking.

Bloody Putu cat literati
Going to all the Page Three party.
All are coming to see damn cat,
Scratching ear and giving pat.

Damn billi is media hogging,
Zig thinking, damn this blogging.
Putu discussing publishing terms
Zig going garden to eat worms.

Please go see Putu the Cat's hilarious Literary Saga with Happy Ending. We're still chortling.

Saturday, 4 September 2004

Now if we had these instead of bandhs

Dave Barry on one of the protests in New York, home of the Republican convention.
This media crowd -- which, you will be surprised to learn, was overwhelmingly male -- formed a semicircle around the protesters, keeping a respectful distance and behaving with the decorum and almost reverent solemnity of guys who know that, if they don't mess it up, women will show them their panties.

Also on hand were some Wall Street workers who had paused on their way home to be part of this important protest. I stood near two guys in suits who were inching their way forward to the front of the crowd when one of them grabbed the other's arm and said, ''Jesus, there's a camera straight across.'' The two of them quickly melted back into the crowd, apparently not wishing for their spouses to see them on the evening news. (``Working late, Frank? IS THAT WHAT YOU CALL WORKING LATE?'')

Finally, after much respectful media anticipation, the protesters began chanting a chant that I cannot repeat in the newspaper except to say that it utilized wordplay involving the president's last name. Then a spokesperson read a statement, which I couldn't hear, although her tone sounded very sincere. Then the protesters flashed their panties, and chanted "THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!" The press corps, performing its vital First Amendment role of keeping you, the public, informed on the issues, took 174 billion close-up photographs of the various panties. Then the protesters chanted several more chants, the most printable being "THE PANTY LINE'S BEEN DRAWN; WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?"

(: 03-04 /09/04 :)

File this one away pranksters.
God help America.
We suggest "No more war." Or better still, "No more McDonald's."
And we're not too hot on work either.
Trudeau's on a roll.
Encore.
Amazing how we feel nostalgic about things we didn't have.
Video chat's gonna screw this up.
See, truth in advertising works.
Why the dinosaurs died out.
Could there be a thought in the Alien Terminator, you think?
Women, you gotta love 'em.
How else do they get on to Page 3?
That's how we get the not-guilty verdict.
Er, we don't have kids...

Friday, 3 September 2004

Is nothing sacred?

Time was when you went to an ATM to (a) withdraw money (b) dump money into the bank (c) withdraw money (d) see how much money you had left to withdraw.
Now, aside from actually getting crisp, staple-free notes tumbling into your sweaty little palms, you can do most anything via your phone banking and net banking facilities. If, that is, you're not with a PSU bank, and provided you can remember your phone PIN, your phone password, your Net banking ID, your net banking password, your customer service number, and Demi Moore's vitalstatistics. And ATMs now give you other facilities too. For instance, ICICI Bank now offers you Anytime Blessings. Click a few buttons and send a donation to the temple of your choice. No tedious pilgrimages. [Link via Amardeep Singh - do toddle over and check out his take on it.]

You had me with "iPod."

If you're trying to figure out if somebody is a gadget freak, try this simple test: work the phrase 'video iPod' into a sentence. If the subject hyperventilates, salivates or passes out, you'll know.
Hand held video is here

Made you look!

In the New York Times, Kirk Johnson writes about the philosophy of spam
The very basis of the spam wars is a search for better analysis of the way human beings think. Those on the defensive side seek to understand what we want to block by analyzing our choices, while the offense tries to find the ever more perfect mirror of what we will actually pause to look at. Each in its own way is trying find a model of human perception: spammers countered by filters countered by spammers, with no goal or destination in sight, only the ever-accelerating process itself.
...
And perhaps at the same time, by scooping up the tiny crumbs of our privacy that we leave on the Net every day, spam will eventually be a mass medium no more. The spam that arrives will be unique, directed to each individual, personalized and custom-fit. Spam programmers have found, for example, that professors at M.I.T. tend not to block e-mail poetry from their in-boxes, so some spam is now getting through in verse.
In my case, I'm still deeply enjoying the irony of anti-spam spam. As I thump away on my delete button each morning, I find myself pausing at the spam that says it will rid me of spam, and I often feel I'm being offered a glimpse into a kind of M. C. Escher print in which the iterations continue on forever into some golden braid of mist and meaning. And maybe that means the anti-spam spammers have got me figured out. They've learned how to make me look, and that's their goal.

Shameless self-promotion
(And no, it's not about us this time)

At The Village Voice, Tony Perrottet writes about that first great self-publicist, Herodotus.
Recommended reading for all our writer buddies. And try not to let this get into the hands of the marketing types, or we'll never hear the end of it.

(: 02/09/04)

Never argue with a depressed wordsmith.
We miss that feeling.
Soon to be "adapted" for Indian screens.
Pretending that you go see these.

My land

Ever wondered how much "nature" your lifestyle requires? You're about to find out.
This Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard. After answering 15 easy questions you'll be able to compare your Ecological Footprint to what other people use and to what is available on this planet.
CAUTION: THIS QUIZ MAY SURPRISE YOU, SHOCK YOU, OR MAKE YOU THINK. PLEASE REMAIN CALM...BUT NOT TOO CALM!!
Take the Ecological Footprint quiz.
(Our results:
CATEGORY GLOBAL HECTARES
FOOD 0.3
MOBILITY 0.1
SHELTER 0.4
GOODS/SERVICES 0.2
TOTAL FOOTPRINT 1
IN COMPARISON, THE AVERAGE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT IN YOUR COUNTRY IS 0.8 GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.
WORLDWIDE, THERE EXIST 1.8 BIOLOGICALLY PRODUCTIVE GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.
IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 1.0 PLANETS.
Whew.
And you?)

Thursday, 2 September 2004

Where you win even if you lose

Go to the Fact microsite for more details CRY's annual quiz, Fact, is coming up.
Since 1998, FACT has been a fun way for corporates to be a part of the movement for a better future for Indian children. It is a trivia quiz for a social cause, not a social cause quiz, considered one of the toughest in India.
Here's the basics:
Two-person teams.
A company can send multiple teams.
Entry fee per team - Rs 8000. (50% tax exemption under Section 80G), which will educate ten children.
At each regional round, a written test will be conducted.
6 teams will go through to the regional finals.
Regional finals will consist of various question rounds including audio rounds and audio-visual rounds.
Mementos will be awarded to the winning teams.
One winning team from each region will make it to the national finals to be held at Delhi on September 26th 2004 at the British Council Auditorium. Arrangements will be made for the travel and stay of the finalists.
National winner will receive the CRY FACT 2004 Trophy, plus other attractive prizes, like free holiday packages, gift vouchers, coupons from leading stores, etc. You can download, fill out and mail in a PDF form or send in an online entry.
Fact 2004 Schedule
Regional Finals
Bangalore   Sept. 05, 2004, Sunday
Hyderabad  Sept. 06, 2004, Monday
Kolkata       Sept. 07, 2004, Tuesday
Chennai       Sept. 09, 2004, Thursday
Mumbai      Sept. 10, 2004, Friday
Delhi           Sept. 11, 2004, Saturday
National Finals
Delhi           Sept. 26, 2004, Sunday

Jazz like dat

It's not often that we get jokes in the mail that (a)we haven't seen at least thrice a year before and (b) make us laugh. Here's one of those rarities. [Thanks Susan.]
Stevie Wonder is playing a gig in Tokyo.
He's just finished playing his seventies classic Sir Duke. The crowd is still going wild when a young man at the front says, "Stevie, you play a jazz chord, you play a jazz chord!"
So the amiable Mr Wonder plays an F# minor on his keyboard and goes off on a jazz riff. Done, he turns to grin at the audience, basking in the applause. As the cheers die down, the young man stands up again. "No Stevie," he says, "You play a jazz chord please!"
So Stevie tries an A and off he goes with the band on this amazing improvised moment. When the blind musical genius finishes, the crowd goes wild once more. But the young man pipes up again: "No Stevie, a jazz chord, a jazz chord!"
By now old Stevie is a little confused. "What do you mean, play a jazz chord? I've just done two for you!"
"But it best song of Stevie Wonder! It velly famous!" comes the reply.
"Ok, well how does it go then?" Stevie asks. The young man clears his throat, closes his eyes, and starts to sing:
"A jazz chord...to say...I ruv you."

The art of titling
How "how" can target your readers

At the Guardian, David Aaronovitch has been noticing that there are a lot of political books on the shelves. And that most all of them have a subtitle, which, most of the time, starts with "How."
The subtitle told the possible purchaser what side the book was on. So marked was this polarisation that the bookstore had mounted above its display a diagram created by a Chicago social networks analyst, Valdis Krebs. He had analysed book purchases to look for patterns among bookbuyers. He then plotted these purchases, and created two separated clusters, looking something like two testicles - one blue and one red.
What he showed was that there was almost no crossover at all. Liberals read only liberal books and conservatives only conservative ones. Their authors were not just preaching to the converted, they were marketing their works specifically at the converted.
...
But thinking about it, this is a great business opportunity. If an American publisher is reading this, may I offer them my own forthcoming bestseller: Big Fat Stupid Lying Liars and the Big Fat Stupid Lies They Tell (subtitled: How the Other Side Are Destroying Everything You Hold Dear, Whatever That Is). Open the book one way round and it's a blistering condemnation of Bush and Fox News; open it the other and Hillary and the Washington Post get it in the neck. As ex-CIA chief George Tenet would say, it's a slam dunk and yours for half a million bucks.

Finding Blandings

This, says one study, is Blandings Castle, not this. So there.
And while we were checking that one out, we found these lovely pieces by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, the actors who played the title roles in Jeeves and Wooster. And there's more articles on The Master here and you can check on which of his books you haven't read here.

Dave was there

Mistah Barry, covering the Olympics like only he can:
Ready, set . . . TIPIYOTKI!
Looking for ruins? Pick a Tipiyokti and start climbing
No naked athletes in modern times
Take the bus? Yeah, if only it were that easy
At hot-hot-hot sailing, a search for inner yngling
Taking a taxi in Athens is taxing
Life's a beach at volleyball venue
This Olympic shuttlecock is no poppycock
Allow me to burden you with weightlifting facts
Drug-free losers embarrassing to United States
Statue of limitation: Greece wants its marbles back
Indoor cycling: It's a learning experience
Thirst-quenching sponsorships are aplenty in Athens
An apology -- and thank you, before leaving

(: 01/09 :)

So, what do you people think of this blog, then?
We have a Kermit somewhere.
We plannned to clean our room.
This is playing right into your hands, Gentle Reader.

We're in love

Or maybe it's just lust. Sigh. Anyway, the new iMac G5 is here.

The man who made Windows possible

In 1975, David Bradley wrote the code for what is arguably the best-known computer keyboard combinations ever, Ctrl+Alt+Delete. It forces obstinate computers to restart when they will no longer follow other commands. He retired from IBM early this year.
And here's a snippet from an article a friend sent in [thanks Sunil]
At a 20-year celebration for the IBM PC, Bradley was on a panel with Microsoft founder Bill Gates and other tech icons. The discussion turned to the keys.
'I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous,' Bradley said.
Gates didn't laugh.

Tuesday, 31 August 2004

Greece is the word

So here's our take on the Olympics, then.
Synchronised swimming? We approve of fit young women in swimsuits any day of the week, mind you, and we kinda get it when there's more than one person in the pool, and they're all doing roughly the same thing. But individual synchronised swimming? Who on earth is the lass with the plastic smile synchronising with, fercyrinoutloud?
Hm, is it my overheated middle-aged imagination working overtime, is it just packaging, or are women athletes getting better looking?
Doordarshan's commentary. Shut Urrrrp! 'Twas ok when the feed kept the commentary that one assumes came with the feed. The Kiwis seemed to know what they were talking about. But when events of "national importance" came around, you'd get a couple of DD's finest bellowing over the airwaves, the brief being, from the evidence: Imagine This Is Radio And The Audience Needs You To Spell Out Everything. Camera zooms in on anguished Anju George (BTW, good on you, lass! You bettered your previous best. No more can be asked of you.] who has not been able to improve on her first jump: "She is looking disapointed." And that's not counting the bloopers - at the start of the 4x400 relay: "And representing Ukraine, [quickly reads out names from screen, only first names, because there isn't time], all from Ukraine!" - and, er, witticisms - during the closing ceremony as fireworks go off and music plays [roughly, from the Hindi] "Diwali is being celebrated in Athens too!"
The victory wreaths: lovely idea.
Oh, are we done yet with the One Billion People And Only One Medal essays in the papers? Well, actually, carry on. It makes for a change from the bloody cricket and what Sachin Said Next.
Right, now we shall go see if we can find you some funnier Olympic roundups.

They'd love him in New York

We didn't underestimate them, they were a lot better than we thought.
Nay, not W. That be Bobby Robson. Two more:"He never fails to hit the target, but that was a miss." "There will be a game where somebody scores more than Brazil and that will be the game they lose."

(: 30/08 :)

The problem with trying to do that connected-yet-disconnected intro thingy is every now and then, you want to link to a cartoon, but can't think up something snappy enough.
Yeah, you gotta talk to them first, and if they still don't listen...
Gotta show you guys some of our poetry some time.
In the city where we live, most everybody won't get this 'un.
Shudder. Been there.
Ooh, i lurhve my room.

Monday, 30 August 2004

Cover story

Something that's always bugged us: seeing a reprint of an old favourite book with a scene from a TV show or movie adapt on the cover. It somehow seems to take away from the book, shoving actual faces into the mind's eye. And this is true even of film versions we loved, like Yes Minister and Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in Jeeves and Wooster, and Jeremy Brett in the Sherlock Holmes stories.
What say you?
Oh yes, the article that got us on to this mini-rant - well, more a grumble than anything, really: at The New York Times, Verlyn Klinkenborg notes that "The Penguin edition of William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair has a new cover. It shows Reese Witherspoon, who plays Becky Sharp in the new film version, staring balefully at the reader." Klinkenborg reread an old copy of the book with the illustrations intact, and concluded that "...compared with a comedy as rich and sprawling as 'Vanity Fair,' a movie nearly always shows us too much of the world and not enough of the story. Compared with the way we moderns get to read 'Vanity Fair,' with an almost puritanical lack of ornament, the Victorians may have been better off."

Moore fire

I have written some new ads you can use on TV. People will soon tire of the swift boat veterans and you are going to need some fresh, punchier material. Feel free to use any of these:
ANNOUNCER: "When the bullets were flying all around him in Vietnam, what did John Kerry do? He said he leaned over the boat and 'pulled a man out of the river.' But, as we all know, men don't live in the river -- fish do. John Kerry knows how to tell a big fish tale. What he won't tell you is that when the enemy was shooting at him, he ducked. Do you want a president who will duck? Vote Bush."
ANNOUNCER: "Mr. Kerry's biggest supporter, Sen. Max Cleland, claims to have lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam. But he still has one arm! How did that happen? One word: Cowardice. When duty called, he was unwilling to give his last limb. Is that the type of selfishness you want hanging out in the White House? We think not. Vote for the man who would be willing to give America his right frontal lobe. Vote Bush."
Pop over to Michael Moore's blog for his letter to Bush.
And Moore is going to be covering the Republican convention for USA Today, so watch this space. Unless you're the GOP's candidate, in which case Mike has volunteered: "If you don't want to read it, you and I will be in the same building so maybe I could come by and read it to you? Lemme know..."
p.s. Pictures of of the anti-Bush march in NY.