Friday, 23 April 2004

The Pun Also Rises - Playtime II

The rules are wide open.
The Victims: Titles of books, movies, TV shows, plays, even poems.
Modus Operandi: Change, add or subtract ONE letter, or transpose any two letters, to come up with a new title, and tell us what it's all about.

Meanwhile, from the Comments section and the inbox, here's some contributions.

From Hurree Babu at Kitabkhana:
Rave New World Aliens land on earth and flee when they discover the barbaric earthling practice of clubbing
Animal Form Snowball and Napoleon take over the classroom
To Bill A Mockingbird From the old South, a tale of racist corporations out to bankrupt a fine and upright man by overcharging him for everything
The Wind in the Pillows Tragic love story centering around what happens when flatulent hero sleeps with head the wrong way around
Mom Jones Chicklit goes grey when a dissatisfied suburban housewife decides to craft her own picaresque adventure
Withering Heights The king of the killer review gets his comeuppance on the moors
The Call of the Mild The ultimate gerbil adventure story

From mjones of scribblingwoman:
Spamela Young girl of modest background rises to fame and fortune by selling generic Viagra on the internet.
The Dairy of Samuel Pepys The comprehensive manual for dairy farmers.
Sensei and Sensibility After her sister is seduced by a rake, a young woman journeys to a monastery to learn martial arts before seeking revenge.
Greet Expectations The story of a young man who goes to Edinburgh seeking to better himself.

From vivian:
The Starch for the Perfect Language Prescriptivism runs rampant in this rejoinder to Umberto Eco' s entertaining novel.
Boing and Nothingness Don't bounce too high.

From aurora of garlic and gravy:
Lucky Jam a story of hardship and marmalade
The Raves of Steel robots get into hip hop

From R at Words in a waltz
The Ford of the Rings Where rubber meets the middle-earth road

From bArt:
Brainspotting A stunningly raw insight into the search of one TV journalist for an IQ above 40 in a Miss Universe Beauty Pageant.
The Scarlet Wimpernel The boring expolits of a sunburnt, ageing English actor and his pet whore
Finnegan's Cake 700 more pages of half-baked drivel
The World According to Carp A very weird tale of a goldfish whose mom shagged a vegetable
Block Beauty The biography of a ghetto-born juvenile criminal who finally finds fame and fortune playing defence for the L A Lakers

From Anwar Alikhan and friends, via the margin alien:
Of Human Bandage Medical treatise on early skin grafting techniques.
Our Mutual Fiend Turns out Silas Wegg and Mr Venus have sold their soul
to the same minor demon.
Lord of the Flues Group of errant schoolboys get stuck up a chimney.
The Unbearable Lightness of Boeing Spiritual awakenings in airports.
Lady Chatterley's Liver Minor gentry drinking too much.
Animal Fart Radical thoughts on alternative energy sources.
The Man Who mistook His Wife for a Cat Miaow.
The Complete Woks of Shakespeare The masterwork of the man who introduced Chinese cooking to Elizabethan England.
Of Rice and Men Autobiography of above.
Men and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Proofreader cocks up million-selling opportunity.
The Red Badger of Courage A heroic small mammal's exploits during the American Civil War.
Slaughterhouse Jive You work it out.
Atlas Drugged Turns out that he was on steroids all the time. (Hmm, that figures.)
The Wife of Johnson Boswell's neglected biography of the great lexicographer's spouse (3 vols, 877pp).
Finnegan’s Cake Long stream of consciousness novel about a Dublin baker.
Sing Lear Musical Shakespeare.
To Hove and Have Not A tale of penury on the Sussex coast.
Paradise Loft Milton redecorates his Clerkenwell conversion in the latest trendy style.
The Old Man and the Pea An epic struggle set in a kitchen garden.
The Cruel Pea Sequel to above.
A House for Mr Tiswas Chris Tarrant searches for new accommodation.
Bride and Prejudice Lizzie gets married in Chapter One. Darcy doesn't like the look of the vicar. A very short novella.
Lord of the Pings A humble hobbit saves the world in a final climactic game of table tennis against the Dark Lord.
A Secret Gent Russian emigre hides his class origins in C19 London.
Bridget Jones’ Dairy Single woman decides to sell butter and milk
Lear and Loathing in Las Vegas A reworking of Shakespeare's classic in the subculture of 1970's USA
As I Lay Dyeing Experimental account of relaxed hairdresser.
Kiss Me Mate Musical rendering of coming-out story in Elizabethan England
The Catcher in the Wye The angler’s guide to Wales
Claudius the Mod Grave's tale of debauchery, incest and madness in Brighton.
Shot the Dog Early learning book introducing children to guns and rifles, and offering ideas for suitable game
Ann of the Greek Gables A child's guide to classical influences on architecture
Decline and Fall of the Roman Umpire (c) Wisden MCCLBW
Mansfield Pork Repressed desires and nice frocks on a North Nottinghamshire pig farm.
Watch 22 Those who end up on the Midnight Watch tend to go mad if left there for any great length of time.
Where the Wild Thongs Are Small boy visits island of untamed underwear.
Aspects of the Navel E.M. Forster introspects
Sods and Lovers Miner's son grows up to be turf cutter, but loves his old mother a bit too much
The Sub Also Rises Hemingway’s final, semi-autobiographical novel about hunting German U-boats in the Caribbean. (Later re-published as Islands in the Stream)
Nuked Lunch William S. Burroughs experiments with microwave cookery. And drugs, of course.
String Awakening Wedekind's shocking yet sensitive account of the
coming of age of a small ball of twine.
Finnegan’s Cake Joyce's take on Proust
Hairy Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone The plot is the same, except that Hogwarts is now a college of Ceramic Arts and the hero has a beard.
American Psyche A scientific examination of the inner life of the modern American, told through the metaphor of pornographic violence.
The Brother Karamazov Black power explodes in Tsarist Russia (with soundtrack)
Jif on a Winter's Night Calvino's cure for the common cold
Homage to Catatonia George Orwell’s introduction to altered states, reached through meditation and/or drugs
Read Souls Gogol's epic about a psychic serf in Tsarist Russia
Pert Goriot Balzac's tragic tale of an 18th century Parisian nymphet.
The Turn of the Shrew Terrifying Gothic tale of what happens when small furry critters turn mean and nasty.

From the margin alien:
BEING, BEING Frolicksome '60s comedy about existentialists swapping theories and airhostesses* while flying around the world.
(*it was a 'sixties comedy and hence cheerfully unconcerned about attitudes that would be heinously sexist today)

And we came up with:
Jurassic Pork Stars Miss Piggy. Kermit guests as amphibian with a taste for the Other White Meat.
Bone With The Wind Rhett follows his libido.
The Princess Ride Another set of Princess Di revelations. The butler did it, apparently.
A Suitable Toy A comprehensive guide to Christmas shopping on the internet.
Vernon Dog Little Dyslexic boy framed for incident in the city pound.
A Stud in Scarlet Holmes helps a metrosexual accused of a crime of fashion.

Keep 'em coming, via the comments section, or the mail.

Tuesday, 20 April 2004


Got this from our buddy, the Margin Alien, who got it in the mail from Anvar Alikhan, and we decided it needed a place in the sun. Or at least in the sweetness and light this blog radiates. (If you know where it originates from, do tell)
Change one letter in a book title and you get a whole new story..
The Bobbit
Small man with big feet tries frantically to find someone in Middle Earth who can re-attach his penis.
The Catcher in the Rue
Sensitive French kid walks the cold Parisian streets, filled with angst. He has a beret with big earflaps, which he insists on wearing backwards.
The Gropes of Wrath
Sexual harrassment in the Depression.
One Hundred Bears of Solitude
Alas, there are only about 8 dozen of them left in Colombia today.
The God of Small Thongs
Arundhati Roy's haunting story of a South Indian lingerie tycoon.
The Fridges of Madison County
The history of refrigeration in Iowa.
Sour Man in Havana
Disgruntled tourist in cold war Cuba.
700 pages of drivel.
The Sound and the Furry
The only really useful guide to healthy animals in the American Deep South ...
Got more?

Monday, 19 April 2004


For the geek in your life who's also a man's man type lad: Victorinox's SWISSMEMORY® USB, 64 MB, compatible with Windows, Mac OS, Linux and Zigzackly.

Wednesday, 14 April 2004


And this one's from our friends in CRY.

As part of our 25th year celebrations, we are organising a concert of Indian Classical Fusion music. The concert features Zakir Hussain- Tabla and other Percussion, Fazal Quereshi-Tabla, Ranjit Barot- Drums, Selva Ganesh- Kanjira, U.Srinivas- Mandolin, U.Rajesh -Mandolin.
Mumbai details:
06.45 p.m., 20th April, 2004, Shanmukhananda Auditorium
Donor Passes Main Level: Rs 1200, 1000, 500, 300; First Balcony: Rs 200; Second Balcony: Rs. 100.
For donor passes, please contact (at CRY) Melissa Walavalkar / Latika Prabhakar on (022) 23096845 /23063651 (Board) or 23096222 (Direct). Passes also available at Rhythm House (22842835), Hiro Music - Bandra (26407234), Planet M - Andheri (26236061) and the venue (24015164).
There are also concerts at Chennai (18th April, 2004, at The Music Academy); and Delhi (19th April, 2004, Siri Fort Auditorium). Go here for more details.
Ah the power of the meme. Found this one at Kitabkhana, and in the time that Blogger took to load up, i traced it back via Maud Newton, Return of the Reluctant,, David Chess, Long story; short pier, Notes from the Tundra, Happy Potterer, and then i got fed up. Anyway.
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
And i picked up Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet and the chapter on Children, and got:
Let your bending in the Archer's hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves the bow that is stable.
And you? (To those of you who don't blog, feel free to use the Comment link.)

Tuesday, 13 April 2004

I read an article a while back which suggested that the people who write all this supposedly "dark" comedy are dark types themselves: cynical, miserable old goths who see the world as an awful place, while those responsible for My Family or Last of the Summer Wine skip through meadows singing about how wonderful life is before falling backwards, giggling, arms flailing, into a village pond. My experience is different.
Peter Baynham at the Guardian, on black humour.
But at eight, 10, 12, you don't realise you're going to die. There is always the possibility of escape. There is always somewhere else and far away, a fact I had never really appreciated until I read Gitta Sereny's profoundly unsettling Cries Unheard about child-killer Mary Bell.
At 20, 25, 30, we begin to realise that the possibilities of escape are getting fewer. We begin to picture a time when there will no longer be somewhere else and far away. We have jobs, children, partners, debts, responsibilities. And if many of these things enrich our lives immeasurably, those shrinking limits are something we all have to come to terms with.
This, I think, is the part of us to which literary fiction speaks.
Genre fiction says: 'Forget the gas bill. Forget the office politics. Pretend you're a spy. Pretend you're a courtesan. Pretend you're the owner of a crumbling gothic mansion on this worryingly foggy promontory.' Literary fiction says: 'Bad luck. You're stuck with who you are, just as these people are stuck with who they are. But use your imagination and you'll see that even the most narrow, humdrum lives are infinite in scope if you examine them with enough care.'
Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night on writing for children, Jane Austen, religion, technology, and, oh, just go read it.

Monday, 12 April 2004

And some shameless self-promotion, if we may: scroll down to the third extract. (-: Then go buy the mag and/or write to them so we get to do more of this :-)
Even most dramatic roles for women, when viewed not as entertainment but as, if I may, art, are drivel. Now, Voyager and Sophie's Choice treat us to the noble spectacle of women either crying or bravely not crying. Is this writing for women? Well, it is writing about women. Or about their simulacrum. Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Noël Coward wrote women characters that were fantasies about homosexual men. Can real women be written by men? Well, who is to say? The terrible voices of that coercion known as political correctness cry - but they cry not for parity, let alone humanity. They cry for power.
David Mamet, whose play, Oleanna (about a woman who claims she was raped) enraged feminists and scandalised audiences, wants to know why he can't "show a woman telling lies?"
Over the past thirty years, a new breed of “anthropometric historians” has tracked how populations around the world have changed in stature. Height, they’ve concluded, is a kind of biological shorthand: a composite code for all the factors that make up a society’s well-being. Height variations within a population are largely genetic, but height variations between populations are mostly environmental, anthropometric history suggests. If Joe is taller than Jack, it’s probably because his parents are taller. But if the average Norwegian is taller than the average Nigerian it’s because Norwegians live healthier lives. That’s why the United Nations now uses height to monitor nutrition in developing countries. In our height lies the tale of our birth and upbringing, of our social class, daily diet, and health-care coverage. In our height lies our history.
Burkhard Bilger takes a look at how our heights show our levels of economic prosperity, with fascinating rambles into World War Two refugees, slavery in the USA, Van Gogh in Holland and the French Revolution. At The New Yorker.
On the 12th April, 1961, Yuri Gagarin made the first manned space flight. That's why there are gonna be Yuri's Night celebrations all over the globe today. If your response is "Poyeholi!" (Yuri's classic quote from his launch day, which means "Let's go!") The nearest one is in Pittakotte, Sri Lanka. (Via this Wired News article.)
Build a better moustrap...
If you ever need to know the most effective glue to use when sticking two materials together, try This to That.
"For the parallel-parking challenged, the car also has voice-activated sensors that check to make sure the car will fit in a space -- then the car takes control of the wheel while the driver handles acceleration and braking." Wired News takes a look at a concept car designed by eight female Volvo engineers and marketers and currently on display at the New York International Automobile Show.

Yeah, i know, "Stick it in your ear."

If you've cashed in your Esops and are wondering what to get us for our birthday next year, here's one suggestion. And here's another.
At last we found something that explains to us the possible benefits of Daylight Saving Time. Not that we're convinced, you understand, just that we know now.

Friday, 9 April 2004

For those of you in Bombay:
Writers' Bloc - Weekend Master Classes
At Prithvi House, 1st Floor, opposite Prithvi Theatre
Sat 10th April (11am-1pm) Beyond Translation: Adapting The Script - with Javed Siddiqui and Naushil Mehta
Sun 11th April - (11am-1pm) Starting With Nothing: Devising Theatre - with Atul Kumar and Rajat Kapoor
Sat 17th April - (10am-3pm) Adapting The Play Script To Cinema - with Amol Palekar, Govind Nihalani, Neena Gupta and Rajender Gupta
Sun 18th April - (11am-1pm) - Interpreting And Exploring The Text: For Directors - with Makarand Deshpande and Anurag Kashyap
At The NCPA Rehearsal Room, above Tata Theatre
Sat 24th April - (11am-1pm) Making Drama For Radio: Creating The Radio Play - with Anish Trivedi
Sat 25th April - (10am-1pm) Demystifying The Playwrights Words: For Actors - with Sohrab Ardeshir
--Entry Free - on a first come first served basis--

Tuesday, 6 April 2004

This article has no connection with this one.

Clever F******s

Werner Habermehl, from the Hamburg Medical Research Institute says that sex, "besides giving excitement to the body also provides brain with plenty of excitement. Consequently, the increased amount of adrenaline and cortisol hormones that are produced in the brain stimulates the grey matter and improves sharpness of mind." In The Times of India.

'Snot that bad

"Picking your nose and eating it is one of the best ways to stay healthy, according to a top Austrian doctor."

Another, er, tasteless celeb story

"Jamie Oliver burnt his penis while cooking a St Valentine's Day meal for his wife - naked. He stripped off to treat wife Jools, but wound up in agony when he got too close to the oven." On Ananova.

The Times They Are A-Changin' Their Underwear

"Bob Dylan appears in a new series of commercials for Victoria's Secret, his grizzled face intercut with shots of model Adriana Lima cavorting through Venice in a bra, panties and spike heels." At

I got music, i got algorithms, who could ask for anything more?

Sony's 58-centimetre-tall humanoid robot, QRIO, led the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in a unique rendition of Beethoven's 5th symphony. And QRIO is versatile. Apparently four of them performed a complicated dance routine in December 2003. In New Scientist.
It had to happen some time: a hack-and-slash computer game based on Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. But there's hope. "Human malevolence remains creepier than anything animators have yet to come up with."

Monday, 5 April 2004

We wish we could write so mean and funny. NY Press's list of the 50 most loathsome New Yorkers.

With their history of wonderful, complex, painstakingly executed April Fool gags, we were kinda sceptical when we heard the buzz about Google Mail, but this is from the horse's mouth. Ten One gigs of webspace. Yeeha! But the word on the street isn't all good. Main bone of contention: The Goog's gonna pay for it by automatically reading your mail and serving you ads. Class, discuss.
Call me Laughing Ent. Or as an Elf, Nursoronion, as a Hobbit, Hildigrim Smallburrow from Tuckborough, as a Dwarf, Trán Granitehammer, and the Adûnaic: Arîdtrahâru. Try The Middle-earth Name Generator.

Saturday, 3 April 2004

And a bit late, but...
Also, wander by this blogpost which is all too chillingly possible. (via Many-to-Many.)
Wired News also reported that there are now ways to block them flash ads.
"The most-read webloggers aren't necessarily the ones with the most original ideas, say researchers at Hewlett-Packard Labs. Using newly developed techniques for graphing the flow of information between blogs, the researchers have discovered that authors of popular blog sites regularly borrow topics from lesser-known bloggers -- and they often do so without attribution."
Wired News on infections and epidemics in the blogworld and this study. Do read the FAQs, especially if you want to know why bloggers kill kittens.
"The talks almost always take place in the dark. During the first 10 minutes, the scientist-presenter fumbles with a bulky laptop computer in an effort to get the PowerPoint program to work. During the nonext 30 minutes, the scientist, who has never been trained in the art of public speaking, explains, often through a very thick Chinese, German, French or Italian accent, why the mass of pinkish cells on the right is the surprising and highly significant result of the procedure performed on the almost identical mass of pinkish cells on the left. Line graphs are shown.
"The final five minutes is taken up by a question period. Colleagues stand at a microphone in the middle of the aisle and, using the polite code phrases of science, ask the presenter if he has considered the possibility that his head has unaccountably become entangled in his ass."
An extract from Brian Alexander's Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion as quoted in this Wired News article, which also asks, "Do most Americans lack the attention span to follow science news more complicated than the latest antidepressant or flu shot?" (The article is about CSN: Cable Science Network, which in an ideal world, we'd be seeing instead of The God Channel or whatever that bunkum is called.)
Over in the USA, fans of Hongkong martial arts films have a quibble with Disney.

The Blue (Wind)Screen of Death

System crashes and Fatal Errors will take on a whole new meaning. Or to put it another way, Objects in the Rear-view Mirror better be running the Mac OS. Somebody stop us. Or better still, you got any more?
Dean Kamen's Segway may have competition.
Re: our post on product placement, our pal R. of Words in a waltz writes in to say:
Whoa! Now here's something WE can speak volumes about. The allusion to product placement in books leads bang on to new-fangled trends in covert advertising that have come under critical surveillance in recent times. In the US, it began when writers of sitcoms started churning out plotlines devoted to selling jewelry or perfume, for instance. A few years ago, an entire evening of sitcoms featured Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds perfume.
And now to Fay Weldon's book - one of the first scenes in this British writer's novel takes place amid "the peaches and cream décor" of the Bulgari jewelry store on Sloane Street in London. There, attended to by “charming girls, and men too,” the real estate mogul Barley Salt pays £18,000 to buy his scheming second wife, Doris Dubois, “a sleek modern piece, a necklace, stripes of white and yellow gold, but encasing three ancient coins, the mount following the irregular contours of the thin worn bronze.”
Initially, readers probably didn’t know that Bulgari, the Italian jewelry company, paid Ms.Weldon an undisclosed sum for a prominent place in the book, fittingly entitled “The Bulgari Connection.”
The bottom line on this, is simply that marketers believe implied credibility of a presumably unbiased endorsement is the most effective kind of advertising.

Thursday, 1 April 2004

BTW, what's the "H" in Jesus H Christ stand for?

At Slate, Katie Roiphe on The Maiden Name Debate.
Which got us wondering about bureaucracy in this country. About a week ago, we had occasion to file a report in our local police station, and had long (and in the end, fruitless) debate with the constable who wrote out our complaint in Marathi (a rant for another time: we were not allowed to write it ourselves in the only language we can write competently in) about the difference between one's father's name and middle name. Tried to explain that, being born Christian, we have a middle name, and that's how we feature in any legal paperwork, but the man was having nothing of it. And that got us thinking about women in this country who have to fill in forms that only accept their existence as a adjunct to a man with the compulsory "Father's/Husband's name." Tell, me, does this piss you off? And does this happen only in Maharashtra? What about the North-Eastern states with matrilineal systems?
We, in the course of 10+ years writing ads, have churned out the equivalent of several volumes of paid-for words. But it seems we missed the real opportunities. John Darkin, in New Zealand News, on product placement in books. (Aside: wasn't there a book sometime last year that had a jewellery company's name in the title?) Via Kitabkhana.
Reading Two Books at Once? Combine Them. Some of our favourites:
The Dog of Small Things. Top of the dyslexic reading list.
The Secret Diary of Anne Frank, aged 13 3/4
Anne hides in a loft from the Nazis, while sneaking a crafty look at Big and Bouncy.
Mister God this is Anna Karenina.
A wealthy army officer falls in love with this girl. The trouble is, she already has this *special* friendship with God.
Alice in Wonderland Avenue Teen girl follows Lizard King through doors of perception, finds bags labeled Inject Me and Snort Me.
To Sir with Love in the Time of Cholera Two people finally get it on after years of fannying around. Soundtrack features Lulu.
Five Go Mad In A Slaughterhouse Timmy gets what's coming to him, little canine fucker.
Green eggs and Hamlet breakfast's off in the state of Denmark.
(Via Bookslut.)