Now and Then.

Who the...?

Harendra Kapur.
Kyra Mathews.
Tejas Menon.

Jazz, John & Collectors Records.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some months ago, I found myself in a personal slump. One of those unfortunate situations where nothing was really going wrong, but nothing was really going right either. So I walked the streets of Kingston, chainsmoking and desperately looking for some kind of answer. Clarity falling from the skies would have been greatly appreciated. Instead, I found myself staring at a poster for London Jazz Festival month. A beautiful festival that would begin at my local theatre with a John Etheridge showcase in a few days time. These were all signs. What else could it be?

So I clutched at this straw. Jazz would save me, like it had so many times before. I considered going alone, but the more I heard about the magic that was Etheridge, the more I realised that would be selfish. So I took my oldest friend and my newest friend, the latter who would soon become my significant other i.e. if we ever fight, I will blame Etheridge.

There three of us stood, in the rain, waiting for it to start - The Jazz Geek (me), The Metal Head (The New Friend - TNF) and The I-Love-Music-So-As-Long-As-I-Have-A-Good-Time-It's-Cool-Person (The Old Friend - TOF). I spent a few moments worrying about the grief I'd have to suffer if they both hated it, but before I could really do or say anything about it, we were sprawled on wooden steps, waiting for it to start.

I was right. Etheridge saved me. As soon as he started with a cover of Miles Davis' classic "Doxy", I felt waves of uncertainty and the burdens of personal disaster leaving my shoulders. Clarity crept into my freezing toes, and for the first time in weeks, I didnt worry or wonder about "what-if's" and "whys and wheres".

After a few songs had been performed, I ventured hesitant peeks at TNF & TOF sitting next to me, and I breathed even easier. TNF sat in silent concentration, enjoyment and understanding washing over the planes of his face with an occasional comment about how beautiful Etheridge's guitars were. TOF spent the entire evening whispering "Thats amazing, did you hear what he just did?" over and over again.

Im not saying that Etheridge saved me to the extent that my slump was resolved overnight. But his music and his humour cleared my head and replaced hyperventilation with steady breaths. A few days later I found myself calm enough to resolve my slump on my own, and I endured the loss by purchasing "Doxy" as a single and driving my flatmates crazy by keeping it on repeat for days.

When I started growing immune to the powers of "Doxy", again I found myself walking the streets of Kingston. This time with a friend who had uncovered secrets of Kingston streets that he was more than willing to share with me. So in the bitter cold, down lanes and through alleys, we walked.

And reached Collector's Records. I've been in love before. With friends, with men, with books, with albums. This is the first time I've fallen in love with a store. Records in racks and shelves and turntables to play them on before you decide to own them. We stayed till almost-closing time, discovering, exclaiming and placing on turntables. I left with Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel and more, tucked under my arm, beautifully preserved in their original vinyl selves - the second best thing to owning them as people, in my opinion. And they cost me less than a pack of cigarettes would have.

It comes to no surprise to anyone, that my dissertation has music at its core. I came to London for inspiration and the simplicity of yayness, and I found it. In music. In jazz, my eternal saviour. In shelves of dusty records, that smell oddly like my father. In genres of music, Id always shunned but am now growing a grudging respect for, because my significant other plays it all the time, and after days of plugging my ears, I actually started to listen.
I also realised, my experience with Etheridge, in no way applies solely to jazz. Music will always save you, as long as youre vulnerable enough to let it. Its the reason most people have internal soundtracks to&for their lives, why people listen to mood-appropriate music. We discover meaning and answers in the words and music, and adjust it to our needs. We leave our own personal imprint on the music we listen to.

I may be immune to the powers of Doxy by now (thanks to my own excessive listening), but I'll always remember it as the song that healed me. Even years later if I find it in pristine vinyl on a dusty shelf in a dingily beautiful record store.
Note: WetheWriters to YoutheReaders: Happy 2011 and whatnot.

my book, your book, our book.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My favourite part of London is how almost everyday is a burst of bibliomaniac joy.

Its the small stuff, like having manic 10 hour classes, and running home to grab a few hours of shut-eye before another class at 8pm, only to be kept awake by doors slamming and loud laughing from the kitchen, only to slam my door open to lose my temper at whomever I see first, to find that a flatmate has wedged a whole pile of packages from Amazon under my door. For me, me, me.

Its the big stuff, like trudging sleepily in the rain in my pajama's to get some coffee, only to find my tattered copy of "Howl" that I'd given up tearfully for lost, placed next to the coffee machine, with a post-it saying, "I dont know which building you're in, but I see you hovering around here all the time, so I thought this would be the best place to return it. I hope you actually find this, and if you're not you, then sod off, this doesn't belong to you"

And then its the truly perfect stuff, like becoming an accidental and active participant of BookCrossing.

I'd heard of BookCrossing in one of my first Publishing classes, where 60-odd book geeks including myself, gathered to talk about how reading is a community - a dying community in some respects, but for those who love to read, an exciting community nonetheless.

BookCrossing, essentially, is the "the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise." I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard of, and it gave me, and the other people sitting around me, goosebumps just thinking about it. We all told our professor, that it sounded almost too good to be true, and it was probably just one of those things, like the Tooth Fairy, who you truly believe is real, just because you want to believe it, when deepdown, you know its a parent who is the real Tooth Fairy. She nodded wisely, and said, "Wait and see, you won't see it coming"

And then, a few days ago, I got onto a bus and sat on a book. I hardly ever do this, since books are my personal God and religion, and well, you don't normally sit on your God. When I got up, it was a much worn copy of "The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop", which is one of those books you've always thought you should read, but it was either out of stock, or too expensive, and along the journey of all the other books you've wanted painfully, you sort of pushed it at the back of your mind. On the book, was a note stapled to the cover, "Read this and pass it on" and on the title page, were the initials of all the people who'd read it and the dates they'd found it.

I forgot I had a tottering pile of textbooks to wade through by the next day, forgot that I had groceries to buy, food to cook, laundry to do, trash to take out. I forgot social commitments and Skype dates. I forgot that it was raining and that my heater wasn't working and I was, to put it mildly, freezing. I forgot about Stoner Sam and his Stonery Sammy ways. I had been crossed with a book and nothing else mattered.

I passed it on last night. I left it on a table at the cafe I usually frequent. Before I left, the proprietor grinned at me and said, "You've picked prime property there, honey. That book knows that table well"

That book, knows more people and places than I do. And Im grateful I got to know it, and that it has KM 4-10-2010 permanently embedded in its pages.

Note: A very Appy Birday to the old man of the blog, Harry from WetheUs and well, everyone who reads us etc.

It's a Bird Day!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ello All

It's Tejas' Birthday. Wooptedoo dah. Wish him or kiss him.

Sigh! Why art thou so?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Yesterday was a bad day.
A surreal experience for me, since I had one of those moments where Art somewhat saved me. A bit. It was a perfect marriage of the emotions I had, and the emotions I felt after experiencing the art.
I lost my phone yesterday.
This is the second time in 9 months, I think. I have recently lost my kickass iPod that my sister gifted me, which had tremendous sentimental value, my nephew's mp3 player and my mom's flash drive. Yes, I'm an idiot and no this is not for sympathy. This is about the connection of art and how it manages to dig in to you, through all the clutter and crap you may have inside you and still carve a small nichè for itself amongst all the baggage you carry.

Yesterday I re-read a series that I had stopped through halfway a while ago, and had not managed to complete it. It happened like this. I lost my phone in the morning, moped for a while, then went to landmark by 1 pm and sat there reading for a good 7 hours. There is something liberating about being cut-off from the rest of the world. In my state of mind, it almost felt good, that I could escape having to tell people how dumb I felt because I lost my phone, ironically because there was no way to tell them. I did not even have the strength to feel sorry for myself or just plainly ask 'Why?'

Thus I sat and read Y: The Last Man.

Y is about Yorick Brown (and his capuchin Ampersand) the only man to survive a plague that strikes all the Y-chromosome carrying mammals(namely all males) around the world simultaneously, killing them instantly. Whats left is broken infrastructres, plane crashes, food shortages, and a whole lot of women. How Yorick survives these conditions plus a bunch of crazy chicks who are either trying to sleep with him or kill him forms the rest of the story. Needless to say a story as epic as this, has to be thought out well and thought out well is exactly what it is. In 60 issues Brian K. Vaughn manages to tell the story at a decent pace, progressing with the plot while still holding the attention of the reader. Obviously it is filled with great allegory, and social commentary but is undoubtedly and ironically going to be viewed as masogynistic and yes, chauvinistic. However Vaughn bypasses all that and continues with his story about the last man trying to reunite with his girlfriend in Australia.

But Yorick- the average everyman, still seeking his true love not knowing whether she's alive or dead, and a huge responsibility on his shoulder is someone I could definitely identify with at that moment. No, I am not the last man on earth, but at that point of shame, I wished I could just be alone, or run away. It probably sounds highly dramatic, but that my friends, is the power of art! In 7 hours I immersed myself in Y and questioned myself as he did, that is reclusiveness what we really want? or is it really the complete opposite? Maybe we just want to be accepted no matter what we do, and while that would be great, it is not fair at all to shy away from the responsibilities that each of us possess. Alas, Poor Yorick, I knew him!

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! - (Hamlet, V.i)

I keep giving this one example of how I always listen to Billy Joel before an audition, or before facing any 'music'. Why? Because for some reason hearing his voice is the equivalent of having someone older or someone I trust saying to me "It's alright Tejas. Just get in there and do your best and know I'm right behind you". Very Uncle Ben.
Uncle Ben, why do I miss him so much?

Comic back to the point. The marriage of art and the person who experiences it, is a very personal moment. It's like family, literally. Because every person has their own experience when they are in contact with the art. I cannot expect anyone to have the same feelings or emotions I did when I read it, it is probably not going to happen. But maybe you will have it with something else, maybe a great album, or a great painting, when you are at another emotional level. And it'll cause you so much pain or joy or emotions you can't even describe. It's truly awesome.

That my friends is the power of art!

Goodbye, Jennifer Crusie.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I’m a sucker for chick lit, as Ive mentioned before. But there is one author, who deserves far more than the slightly condescending tag of “Oh her? She just writes chick-lit.” Jennifer Crusie is one of the smarter, and funnier authors on my bookshelves. And well, I have a lot of books on a lot of bookshelves, so you really have to believe me.

The first Crusie book I picked up was “Faking it”, and to my eternal shame, the only reason I bought it was because the cover was incredible. I read it much later, and couldn’t believe I’d let this book simmer on my shelves untouched. Its been 6-7 years since I first read it, and it is still one of the most influential books in my life. It taught me more about relationships, about music and about art than most of the “serious fiction” on my shelves. I adopted many theories put forth in the book as my own, and one idea especially, I repeat in my head on a regular basis, especially when I know I'm going to be doing something I really shouldn’t be doing : "If you can’t be a good example, you’ll just have to be a horrible warning." So before I do anything terrible, I always ask myself if I really want to be a horrible warning. So yes, Gwen Goodnight, one of the books many protagonists, really did give me more sense than I give myself credit for.

After that, my search for Crusie has never ceased. For some reason, she isn’t readily available in most mainstream bookstores, and most people have to resort to Amazon to get her into their lives. I am not an Amazon fan myself, and instead, happily settle for the great and irreplaceable high you get when you find a much-loved author in random places i.e the last few times I found her was in the Cochin airport bookshop hidden behind Orhan Pamuk and in a cardboard carton on a Dubai street.

The best part about Crusie, is that none of her heroines are very physically attractive. So, you relate to them, and you love them unconditionally, instead of being slightly in awe and a little resentful. Some of them are overweight, some have mad hair and glasses, and they like to eat, they like to drink, they have bad tempers and are blessedly human and as far from perfect as you can get. They become your best friends and you actually listen to what they have to say. Instead of having incredible bodies, swishy hair and perfect skin, they have a sense of humour and intelligence that is approachable, not overwhelming.

The second best thing about Crusie will only be visible to the loyalists who have read more than one of her books. She hides symbols, signs and messages, (cherries, dove bars and I'm not going to reveal anymore) in almost all her books that make you feel connected to her and her mind. You’ll read it and you’ll know instantly that it’s a Crusie book and you like you’re part of a closely knit circle of warmth and humour; like you’re part of a secret club where everyone understands and knows you.

I have recently waded my way through all of Crusie’s books, and “Faking it” is still my favourite, followed closely by its prequel (yes, I read it backwards, I didn’t know at the time), “Welcome to Temptation.” The best thing about finally going through all of Crusie, is the blissful yayness she provided. The worst thing about finally going through all of her, is that now I’m done. I’ll never again feel that almost unbearable joy finding her in strange places, and I’ll never again feel that agonizing restlessness to open a Crusie book I haven’t read before. I lingered over the last book, reading the same page twice or thrice, knowing painfully, that this was it, and once I finished this, there’d be no more – especially since Crusie has publicly announced that she’s stopping her romances, and she’s only doing collaborations now. I’ve read one of her collaboration, and its lacking the Crusie spark, diluted as it is by someone else’s words alongside hers.

It’s a strange sort of grief, knowing that my relationship with a person Ive never met has reached its end. She always made me laugh when I thought I never would again, she was the woman who introduced me to Dusty Springfield oh-so many years ago, the one who taught me the difference between muffins, donuts and men, who proved over and over again that personality trumps the physical any day, and how important it is to be able to laugh at life, and at yourself.

Goodbye, Jennifer Crusie. My bookshelves and my life are more memorable and far more worthwhile, having known you.

“When Eve ate the apple/Her knowledge increased/But God liked dumb women/So Paradise ceased” – Jennifer Crusie/Gwen Goodnight in Faking it.
Note: WeTheWriters would like to apologise muchly for the lack of updates on this blog. We have been very busy being very busy, and while I'm sure that's not a good enough excuse, we'd like to think it is. And we are mostest and muchlest sorry and all that.

I have mentioned before that I can't sing to save my life. This isn't entirely true. I can't sing like Tejas can, or like Harry can. I can't sing like Norah Jones or KT Tunstall. I can't sing for other people, I can't sing to play the fool into karaoke machines. But I can sing, when I really really need to, when it seems like the right thing to do, and when my voice chooses to ignore my brain telling it that it's a terrible voice and not to humiliate me.

Carly Simon and Dusty Springfield have/had voices and wrote music that most current female artists can only dream of having/writing. When they sing, the emotion and the rawness, blares through and heals wounds, and you know, that if you have emotion and rawness, and wounds that need to be healed, then you can sing too. These women are/were brave, are/were independent, are/were magic from the moment they opened their mouths. Their music is/was the kind of music that you can imagine old men sitting on park benches and nodding their heads wisely over, saying "They dont make voices like that anymore" And they don't. They really don't make voices like that anymore.

For the past month, I have let Carly and Dusty save my soul. Imitating Brittany Murphy in "Little Black Book", I lie on my bathroom floor and belt out Carly Simon. Im alone at home, and I sound good, because Im singing my soul out, letting the wounds heal. In my room, at night, I snuggle up to the words of Dusty, crooning her words softly to myself. I lie spreadeagled on an empty beach and sing about clouds in my coffee and the son of a preacherman, while watching the clouds above me rearrange themselves and float away, leaving me cleansed and clear.

I am now wishin' and hopin'. I have fewer clouds in my coffee. I look forward to the look of love. I have no secrets. I can tell myself that I haven't got time for the pain. I close my eyes and count to ten. And, I am anticipating, that little by little, I'll know just what to do with myself.

So, thank you, Carly & Dusty, Simon & Springfield. For giving me the strength to sing, and for letting me know that my soul is worthwhile enough to be saved by both of you.

"You know when you take the paint off an old canvas and you discover that something's been painted underneath it? That's what I feel like - that part of the old is coming through the new" - Carly Simon
"I just decided I wanted to become someone else... So I became someone else" - Dusty Springfied

Invictus: A Review

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ello All

This'll be a short one again.
Invictus, for those who haven't been waiting anxiously, is the story of how Nelson Mandela asked the South African National Rugby team, the Springboks to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandela. Matt Damon plays the team Captain Francois Pienaar and to round it all up, Clint Eastwood has directed it.

As you can imagine, it's hard to conceive of anything going wrong with the movie.

Fact of the matter is, not a whole lot goes right.

It's a tremendous story and the dedication to facts in set design and screenplay is phenomenal. Even the actors (In fact they are Rugby players themselves) playing Rugby legends Chester Williams and Jonah Lumu are thoroughly genuine.

But for some reason something like 90% of the films actors are either local actors or just locals. While that certainly seems like a good authentic idea, honestly, it killed the movie for me. True the accents were real and true it's a novel approach, but there was no charm, no feel and therefore just flat delivery. Fact of the matter is, while it's interesting to try 'real', on camera it just came off as even more 'fake.' A bad fake.

Even the proper actors, failed to impress me. Matt Damon, possibly trying to be a closer rendition of Pienaar was not a typical film 'team captain'. He was downplayed and quite refreshing. I must admit though, I only think he's not been roundly slated for the role because it's a true story. In terms of film roles, it's certainly not his best.

Morgan Freeman was, as he always is quite superb in delivery and charm. The problem for him, if he is hoping for an Oscar, is that I don't think the lines he was required to say were nearly good enough, even if he did say them so well. Although that's a similar problem Forest Whitaker had and well, he managed just fine.

It comes down to this. Excellent story. But the screenplay just let it down so often. Eastwood's direction did so much to help but the lines were hammy, the story didn't have anything surprising about it (Except of course for Good Luck Bocke, which was just awesome- even if it weren't true!) there was never anything to keep you going and in the end it all seemed like a hagiographic attempt at glorifying Mandela. Yes he is deserving and yes he is awesome but for God's sake get a room. Also, the end slow motion montages seemed like they just ran out of footage. And there were several small shots and camera angles which seemed so out of the blue the film lost rhythm.

Speaking of which, may I just say Kyle Eastwood is one of my favorite new music writers. If there is one thing that makes this whole movie worth it, it is the sound track. And I'll save you the trouble, he IS Clint Eastwood's son.

In a final analysis, watch it. It's a great story. But don't expect anything huge. It's not the greatest film.

So far 2010- I'm a bit disappointed.

War Profiteering

Friday, January 15, 2010

I have always found a place in my life, for the music I love most. I have attached a song or an album to sometimes things as simple as a fleeting emotion, an entire book that I'd read or even an entire phase in my life. Let me state for the record that in the past few months I have heard at least 10-12 new albums, some which have been great, some not so much. But this obviously provided me and a population with a host of new material to attach our lives to. In any case I feel that’s what one of music’s most important functions should be. People do not want to listen to happy songs when they’re sad. They want to listen to sad songs when they are sad.
And how strange that this season I have been so lucky to find not hope or love or optimism. I found strength.

Battle studies is definitely one of those albums. John Mayer has surpassed himself and proven to be the best musician-singer-songwriter-guitarist of today, without any doubt whatsoever. He has effectively bridged old-fashioned blues and contemporary pop to produce an epic album, my favourite of last year. He described it as a ‘guidebook to relationships’, which could not be more true. If you are in a relationship, or just got out of one; if you have had your heart physically torn from out of your chest, and you feel helpless, if you feel trapped, or unloved or indifferent, remember not to lament. Don’t give up or give in, just be brave. Fight on.

Another album that has helped me so much was brought to my attention, c/o my homie Anish. In the last few months I have been thoroughly occupied with a crapload of work, family, choir (more about this later), and more recently, exams. This has been my first set of exams since I started this job, and I was trying hard to balance studying for the former while coping with work. So all in all, I did not study too great for these internal papers.
It is a 10 minute walk from my home to college, and in that time I always make sure I’m listening to some good music, and I thank my stars I found 30 seconds to Mars’ new album, This is War to help me get through that.
This album is the long winding battle cry of a soldier in the field that makes his fellow countrymen fight with all that they have for another 10 minutes. It is the roar of a hundred men, which puts fear in the enemy that has a thousand. It is the question of morality and futility, but ultimately is the guts to go out and face another day.
I took those emotions and attached it to my fear for the exams, and I think that while I did marginally better in the exams, I came out a much more relieved person.
The band produced the music and vocals in a studio, but then brought an entire hall of fans, to record with them on this album, which gives it huge sound. To hear a thousand people scream ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’ is more inspiring than I can possibly explain.

To sum up, listen to these albums only if need them. They have saved me. If not, put it away for the day when you feel you do. Fight on.

P.S. - Jared Leto is awesome.

I have never been a big fan of horror movies. Its not that I don’t enjoy them, per se, it’s just that I very rarely get scared or touched in any way when watching one. The only horror movies that have ever touched a chord in me, on a deep chilly level has been “The Exorcist” (surprise surprise) and “The Omen Trilogy”, both of which I own on DVD and have watched alone at home many a time. Since the creation of these movies, there has never been a movie that I have wanted to watch over and over again, or talk about, forget writing reviews.

I ignored the Blair Witch phenomenon. I watched the movie, sure, and while I admired the use of documentary film-making in terms of horror, I shrugged after watching the movie, and my exact words I recall was “Meh”.

However, Paranormal Activity aroused my interest for many reasons. 1) The extreme hype that surrounded it, 2) The abnormally minimal budget used to film it ($ 15,000) 3) It was being called the best horror movie of the decade. 4) The story seemed simple enough to have potential: a couple who believe they are being haunted, decide to film themselves and their home to spot any evidence of ghosts/demons.

A friend who I have always admired for his cool and calm head, lent me the DVD and warned me not to see it alone, and while I scoffed at him at the time, I'm glad I took his advice.

If you break it down into pieces (which you really shouldn’t do), analytically, the film isn’t a masterpiece. However, it does the one thing its supposed to do. It chills you. Its quiet, and theres no gore, or anything stereotypically scary but before you know it, you’re leaning back in your seat, and wondering why the heck you’re scared, because nothing has even happened. The entire film is set primarily in the couple’s bedroom, with a few minutes spent in the living room. It’s a movie based on conversation and a hand-held camera, a movie that while you say “Oh well, that wasn’t so bad”, once its done, STILL somehow has the power to keep you awake all night.

A friend and I watched the movie at 11pm, and by 12:30, it was done, and we bragged about how this was a bunch of overrated hype, and there was nothing scary about it. Then we went to bed, and managed to get sleep only at around 5am. Like the best of horror movies, there is no logic to why you should be scared. You know you aren’t possessed, you know there aren’t demons in your body, or ghouls under your bed, you also know that you’re an adult and you should really know better. Yet, like the best of horror movies, Paranormal Activity, gets you asking yourself the most creepy question of all : What if?

Ello All,
This won't be a very long post. The film scarcely deserves a decent length review.
Don't get me wrong- it's not that the film was bad or anything. It just wasn't very good either.
I read a review some weeks ago and I decided to pay no heed to it. I am a Guy Ritchie loyalist and I will not lose faith.
And it is hard to blame the guy solely. There is some EXCELLENT action in the film and he's got some killer slow motion sequences as always but beyond that there's very little he could have done.
If I had to blame anything it'd be the script. The plot line is nice and all but better suited to a 42 minute show on TV.
The acting as well is good but there's rarely anything worth remembering. Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law have phenomenal chemistry but, end of the day, you could have put any two actors and their British accents instead and it'd be hard to tell the difference.
The only actor who comes out with any real merit for me was Mark Strong.
Generally, it was just an underwhelming experience and I do believe the script was just never worth the cast or director. Yes it's a fresh take on Holmes and indeed it is funny at times but I did not come out with anything but a shrug.
His deductions are very good and him and Watson are an excellent team and yes he's quite a character with some brilliant inventions/ observations but none of that leads to anything bigger. It's just a whole lot of foreplay.
A special mention must go the awesome score, and the awesome closing credits sequence.
This movie was meant to herald in 2010's list of bad ass releases.
I hate Madonna.

Boston Legal: Clever Clever

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ello all,

Over the last few days, I have started to re-ignite certain fires I once had which had somewhat subsided. Conspiracy theories, ethics, and the long winded thoroughly idealistic pursuit of truth.

As such, seemingly unintentionally, I watched three films which have me in a 'mad' stir. The first one is Zeitgeist Addendum, the much improved follow up to Peter Joseph's first documentary. While most of what is suggested and proposed throughout the film is not entirely sound the facts and information put forth are at the absolute least overwhelming.

So I watched Good Night and Good Luck. A stunning, beautiful movie about some of the greatest journalism in modern times with just phenomenal lucidity.

Which led to the third film. I've been aching to watch it since the first Zeitgeist where we were shown clips from it and sure enough, it did not disappoint. Network, the edgy, gutsy painfully truthful film surrounding one Howard Beale. (What surprised me most, is that a film so ideological, could feature such beautiful thoughts on love.)

But what do any of these films have to do with Boston Legal?

Let me put it this way- All three films have had great critical acclaim and relatively less public appeal, therefore reinforcing that old idea that being idealistic and honest and making money do not go hand in hand.

In fact to many, me included, it always seemed like the gulf between hard hitting truth and good entertainment was too wide to bridge. So why should a television channel air facts about how horrid our world is today when they could just show you an episode of Desperate Housewives?
The people want it, they'll say. At 9 pm after a long day of work people want escapism and underwear not morality and debate.

And then Boston legal came along with the perfect balance. A quirky, funny show about lawyers and courtroom dramas that forces you to hear facts and question things. As fun and light as Ally Mcbeal and as gut wrenching as The Practise. No surprise it took the same man, David E Kelley to find the thing that'd join them so perfectly.

All three films I mentioned earlier raise the question about the responsibility of the Mass Media. About WHAT it should do WITH it's power and not how it should extend it.

And yet none of them quite utilised it's power fully. This playful drama has taken every single factor that makes television viewing exciting and used it responsibly like no other show I can think of, to get some kind of ideas out there.

I don't know statistically or otherwise what Boston Legal has achieved and I don't know whether or not it's just disguised itself intelligently. What I do know is, from the chair I'm sitting in, someone is trying and someone has found a way to make being articulate and intelligent cool again.

And even if you take away this seemingly bigger picture, the show features some of the freshest comedy on offer and has broken the fourth wall in some rather spectacular ways. Denny Crane going "Is the show over already?" Genius.

I miss the likes of George C Scott and Peter Finch. Intense, articulate actors who could shake you with a monologue.

I take great comfort in knowing the likes of James Spader are hear to lead a new line of awesome.

Norah Jones: Falling in Love with The Fall

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I have never been able to sing to save my life, and it is something I have made my peace with over the years. However, I whole-heartedly admire those who do sing, including Harry and Tejas and am content with being the only WeTheMember with zero vocal abilities.

One voice, in particular, I fell in love with some years ago, and I wished and hoped and prayed that her voice were mine. Despite the fact that after her debut album, much of her music has been disappointing, I stayed true to my love of her voice, her lazy croon, a voice that always made me want to curl up under covers with a book and a great sense of well-being. I stayed loyal to Norah Jones’ warm jazzy croon for 9 years, including the release of her new album, The Fall. 

While I downloaded The Fall in November, somehow I never found the time to listen to it until some days ago, on a long bus ride in an attempt to mar my thoughts. Norah didn’t let me down. While her last few albums have been mediocre imitations of her debut album “Come Away With Me”, her latest album shows that YES, she is willing to experiment with her beautiful voice, and isn’t afraid to step out of her comfort zone. Instead of falling back, yet again, into her jazzy/bluesy comfort zone, Jones has now stepped into rocknroll, leaving her trusty piano behind to embrace a guitar instead. 

The Fall, the result of a painful break-up, is a beautiful album that reaches out to lonely nights and heartache. Her lyrics are raw and honest, and soothe you where it hurts. Listening to this album, gives you the same comfort that a bartender gives you over many martinis. He doesn’t know you, but he exudes understanding. Norah Jones and I have never met, but in the three hours I spent with her in a bus, I knew that on some strange level, she understood. 

My personal favorites in The Fall, are “Back to Manhattan”, where in her unique voice she sings, “I’ll go back to Manhattan/ It’s just a train ride away/ I know nothing ’bout leaving/ but I know I should do it today” I identified with it instantly, because if you switched Manhattan for Sharjah, and a train for a bus, that was me in a nutshell. My other favorite is “Man of the Hour”, which is Jones’ ballad to her dog, where she croons: "And though we’ll never take a shower together/I know you’ll never make me cry/You never argue/You don’t even talk/And I like the way you let me lead you when we go outside and walk/Will you really be my only man of the hour?” A song that not only made me think of Harry and the comfort he derives from his dogs (a comfort that made me jealous sometimes), it also gave me my first smile in days. 

And since just recently, I listened to someone wax poetic on converting pain into art, my admiration for Norah Jones has now transcended into more than just coveting her voice. She took her pain, and her brokenness and she used it. She reinvented herself, removed herself from what was comfortable, and leaped. Even the most ardent haters of Norah Jones cant call The Fall yet another reproduction of her debut album. She took a risk, and emerged triumphant. She fell and is better for her Fall. 

P.S – The dog on the cover, is unfortunately NOT Norah Jones’s man of the hour. He is just a beautiful dog named Ben. Her actual Man of the Hour, is a 20 pound poodle, who according to Norah Jones, would have created chaos if allowed on any set. Ben, in my opinion however, would be the perfect Man of any Hour, non? Isnt he just beautiful? 

The All of us.

The All of us.