Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Why basketball

I don't get basketball at all. And over the years, I have tried hard to get it. After all, football season ends in February, leaving a gaping void in your life till about April when baseball season reopens. So you need to like a sport other than baseball and football in order to get yourself through the long dreary winter.

In fact, as a result of my persistent efforts to "get" basketball, I got it partially two years ago when I watched about twenty Sixer games and convinced myself that I liked the sport. I convinced myself so successfully that I even called up a friend of mine, _Slime, and preached basketball to him because according to me, it was such a great game. I even gave him some great tips on how to convince himself to like it. For example, when you watch basketball for the very first time, even if you feel like bashing your skull inside with a large rock after the first few minutes, it is imperative that you continue to watch the game. Kinda like how smoking the first cigarette is difficult and hard on your stomach and throat and your fingers smell like you spent the entire day putting out forest fires but then as the nicotine takes hold of you with every subsequent cigarette, it gets easier.

_Slime began to respond to my basketball-liking lessons and became a Cleveland Cavaliers fan. At least he keeps talking about that team. I don't know if it is just an outer facade to conform with society's obsession with LeBron James.

And my other friend zambezi writes about the New Jersey Nets on his blog. He appears to be very knowledgeable about basketball and talks about various things his team should be doing in order to win such as throwing the ball in the basket and getting to the ball because it will not come to you of its own accord. Although much of his advice to his players appears to be of an abstract nature, of the "listen to the voice inside your head that should guide you to that place in your soul that will help you achieve your karma" kind. Zambezi is a very spiritual kind of guy and he is very good at dispensing such advice.

But now it appears to me that I have suffered a relapse. The game again seems to be a bunch of sweaty guys crowded together on a wooden floor trying to throw stuff inside a small basket. As far as I am concerned, the entertainment value of the game is on an equal level with watching someone throw pebbles inside a pond. Once I watched an entire basketball game and for the last five minutes, one team kept fouling the other and the other team kept getting free throws. It reminded me of that wise statement once made by another friend of mine about cigarette smoking, "even though smoking takes ten years off the end of your life, would you really be interested in living those years", and wishing there were some carcinogenic activity basketball players could indulge in that would rid the game of its final five minutes.

But the funniest thing to me about basketball is that shoe commercial where the shoe-wearing basketball star dribbles his ball alone on the court with lights darkened and so on, you know, pretending that there's an invisible player blocking him and you can just appreciate the tremendous amount of mental strength and willpower he displays very eloquently on his face as he dodges and weaves around, trying to outwit that invisible player as he attempts to get to that elusive basket. And then, when he reaches it after battling through all that viscous air, he looks so triumphant, almost godly, as he dunks the ball into the hoop and smashes the glass and hangs from the ring in slow motion and he owes it all to those shoes. And I believe him too.

But still, when all is said and done, don't you just feel like telling this guy, hey man, there's no one actually blocking you so why don't you just stroll over quietly to the fucking basket wearing your two hundred dollar shoes and gently toss the fucking ball inside. And we will all be mighty impressed. Really, we will, 'cause spending two hundred bucks on basketball shoes, now that takes some serious courage and strength of character.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No laurels for me

If you are an expert connoisseur of Indian classical music like I pretend to be, you might be aware of this very graceful, very melodious raaga called "Rageshri". Or "Rageshwari", if you are a fan of extra syllables. This raaga has the following aaroha and avroha :

ni(komal) Sa Ga ma Dha ni(komal) Sa

Sa ni(komal) Dha Ga ma Re Sa

The symbiotic and extremely rare non-hostile interaction of the komal Nishad with the shuddha Gandhar in this raaga is what gives the raaga its signature euphony. Rare because the komal Nishad is usually paired with the komal Gandhar with whom it enjoys a very close personal as well as professional relationship. This mutual chemistry has manifested itself in a number of breathtaking raagas such as Asaavari, Bageshri, Bhimpalasi, Malkauns, etc. However, this didn't sit well with the shuddha Gandhar, kind of a jealous soul who, out of spite, decided to be extra nice to the shuddha Madhyam, just to show the komal Nishad that it wasn't the only fish in the sea. And things have been bad between the two ever since. Till now. Rageshri appears to have been the moment when these two decided to lay aside their differences for a while and concentrate on making beautiful music.

But to me there was always this one flaw in the raaga, namely, the anti-climactic entry of the Rishabh (Re) in the closing section of the avaroha. It was kind of a let down. Sure, there had to be a way to connect the Madhyam (Ma) to the Shadja (Sa), but it felt like the Rishab wasn't quite up to the challenge. And so, this led to me thinking, hey, what if I were to remove the Rishab entirely and substitute it with the komal Gandhar instead?

In fact, I realized that basically what I wanted to do was to create a raaga "Jog" like effect in the avaroha. Raaga Jog, pronounced "joag", has the following avaroha :

Sa ni (komal) Pa ma Ga (shuddha) Sa ga (komal) Sa

Notice the similarity? A juxtaposition of komal and shuddha Gandhars, akin to my intent in modifying Rageshri. This juxtaposition would replace the unimpressive, vacuous Rishab with the subdued enigmatic komal Gandhar. The final result being, the avaroha would look something like this :

Sa ni(komal) Dha Ga(shuddha) ma ga(komal) Sa

After mulling it over for a while, it appeared to me that I had discovered quite a winning combination. The unrequited passion of the shuddha Gandhar for the komal Nishad, co-existing with the komal Nishad's chemistry with the komal Gandhar had created the perfect love-triangle of a raaga. I decided to call my concoction "Raaga Jogeshwari". You know, a combination of "Rageshwari" and "Jog". 'Cause "Rog" didn't appear to possess the same pizazz.

And for a few days, I basked in the glory of having a raaga to my credit. But soon, as usual, after engaging in a considerable amount of research involving Google and the enter button, the house of cards I had built came crashing down all around me, ten of spades and all. I discovered that Pandit Ravishankar, the Indian sitar virtuoso, had already been there and as they say, done that. In fact, as if to rub rusty sitar strings into my open wound, he had even named his creation "Raaga Jogeshwari". Not Bandra, not Andheri, but Jogeshwari. Goddammit.

It is said of many people that they were so far ahead of their time that they were never appreciated during their lifetimes. I, on the other hand, will be known as someone who was never appreciated during his lifetime because he was so very far behind his time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

No plans

I have no plans for Thanksgiving. I will sit at home for the next four days. It's too cold to bike and too lazy to hike. I was thinking of just catching some random Amtrak train and traveling somewhere, maybe to Pittsburgh and catching the next train back. But I don't know what is in Pittsburgh. I know it is at the confluence of two rivers, the Ohio and that other river, so that makes it geographically significant. And there's a hill nearby that you can climb in order to see Pittsburgh from above. But I can do that using Google Earth. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be antisocial.

Today was a good day to realize that my office is next door to a sewage treatment plant. It is funny how I have worked here for four years and yet, have never realized that I work next door to processed feces. It is true that I did smell something a number of times but thought it was just New Jersey from afar. You live and you learn. By the way, residents of this area, please stop eating so fucking much, and ease off on the red meat.

I went to the grocery store to buy a shaving razor blade refill. Ever since they came out with the Mach 3 turbo charged or whatever it is that runs on batteries, I haven't been able to find blades for the old one which doesn't. They told me on television that the batteries are meant to supply the power which is used to wake up those sleeping hairs so they are no longer in a reclining position, thus making it easier to chop them off. Or something. You kinda feel bad for those hairs.

I am sure there are some people like me who are not interested in waking up their sleeping hair and who just want to buy the old Mach 3 razor blades. But Gillette is not interested in catering to such people. No matter how hard I tried, I could not find Mach 3 razors anywhere in my area. I do not want electric powered razors or razors that have 5 blades instead of 4 or razors that are Ipod-compatible. I just want my simple Mach 3. Please stop being so fucking technologically innovative, Gillette.

Sometimes you feel like taking a break from running after technology and instead, just letting technology pass you by as you catch your breath. This is especially true for basic activities such as shaving, brushing teeth, etc. One example of technology running wild and trampling all over your body is Listerine. So Listerine had a good mouthwash and it burnt the inside of your mouth but it made you happy. Then, Listerine came out with their own toothpaste which burnt the parts of your mouth that the mouthwash had overlooked. That was fine as well. Now, Listerine has released a mouthwash you need to use before you brush your teeth. In short, these are Listerine's plans for your morning. Rinse your mouth with the pre-mouthwash, brush your teeth, then rinse with regular mouthwash. Repeat at night. By the way, Listerine is also unhappy with your choice in clothes. Listerine wishes you would revamp your wardrobe. Now that you know who your boss is, get used to it.

But coming back to the razor, I have decided that in the absence of Mach 3, I will let my facial hair go untrimmed out of spite. Soon I should have a flowing beard and hopefully, it will cause other shaving consumers in my neighborhood to rethink their position on facial hair, thus causing Gillette sales to drop. That is the plan. It is going well. I was initially worried about that phase in beard growth where the face itches uncontrollably but it appears that this phase came and went without my knowledge. I have a suspicion that it happened when I threw my back in gym and was too preoccupied with my back pain, thus causing the beard itch to be overlooked.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Google-related factoid of the day

If you ask Google "Do blowjobs cure headaches", Google replies "Did you mean blowjobs cause headaches".

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Happy candy

I always stock up on candy before Halloween. That's because I don't know what "trick or treat" means. When the little ones come knocking at my door and ask me trick or treat, I always answer "treat". I know for a fact that "treat" means I have to feed them candy. I have no idea what "tricking" involves but as a rule of thumb I don't like to trick people. Some day, if they were to get rid of "treating" altogether, making "tricking" mandatory, I wouldn't know what the hell to do.

So anyways, come Halloween evening, I was sitting in my apartment armed with my candy. Soon the doorbell rang and I opened my door to see a skeleton and a purple devil creature standing outside. The purple devil creature seemed to be of Indian origin. Trick or treat, yelled the monsters, whose parents were standing nearby at a discreet distance so as not to be seen hobnobbing with skeletons and purple devils. I said treat, of course, and ran up to my kitchen to get a handful of candy.

But when I returned with my stash and held it out for the monsters to partake of it, the purple devil creature seemed to be unhappy with my choice in candy. He began to rummage through my cupped palms, trying to find a piece of candy noble and worthy enough for his consumption. The parents of the purple devil creature, shocked by this display of snobbery, admonished him, still trying to pretend they weren't really there. But the devil continued to forage unperturbed.

The skeleton appeared to be the Robin to the purple devil creature's Batman. Following the devil's lead, he refused to have anything to do with my candy either. Finally, after some more feverish rummaging, the purple devil finally found something that apparently scaled his bar for candy excellence. After studying it in detail, he finally slipped it into his bag. I continued to plead the case for my candy. "Don't you want the rest?", I asked him, arms outstretched. No, said the purple devil, giving me and my candy a cold purple stare. Mission accomplished, the purple devil and his skeleton sidekick then departed, no doubt, to terrorize other homes in the neighborhood. My candy, rejected and weeping tears of chocolate, was duly returned back to its drawer.

After a while the doorbell rang again. Chastened by the purple devil's smack down, I walked downstairs less enthusiastic about the whole trick or treat thing. I opened the door to find a covey of black kids. They weren't wearing any costumes. Trick or treat, they shouted. Treat, I sighed and walked back upstairs to retrieve my sad little candy. But this time, it went down those bags as smooth as 14 year old whiskey. All those eager hands and gaping treat bags. Multiple trips had to be made to satiate those candy fiends.

Then, just as my aching back was done shoving the last fistful of candy into the satchel of a quiet eight year old who was also accompanied by an older kid, quite possibly his brother, I watched him hesitate a bit. His older brother said to him, come on buddy, let's go. The little eight year old black kid asked his brother with some concern, wait, did you get your candy? His brother replied, it's okay, let's go. And too late, I realized that in all that confusion, I had probably missed a bag. And now I was out of candy. The little boy hesitated some more before being led away by his older brother. I kicked myself in the brain for not making sure everybody had received their share of the treats.

But then, as the two kids walked away, I saw my candy smile happily through their bags and it all became okay again.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


(via Kuteev)

Which is why I always choose the blind ones.

Interesting site this, with a lot of disturbing imagery. And best of all, it's in a language you can't understand which frees up your time for just plain old gawking.


I'm wondering whether I should throw quality overboard in favor of quantity. Whether I should blog everyday and write posts like this one that go nowhere or whether I should blog less frequently and only when something of terrible import or substance occurs as was the case with my previous post. It is a dilemma, the horns of which are firmly lodged underneath the belt I'm not wearing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I was sitting in traffic today and as I was sitting and pondering, the car door in front of me opened and the driver bent over and released a globule of spit onto the tarmac.

When traffic started moving again, I just could not get myself to drive my car over this ball of spit. So I changed lanes, in heavy traffic mind you, in order to avoid the spit, thereby creating a minor traffic backup behind me in the process.

I am not sure why I didn't want to drive over the spit. I have driven over other nasty stuff such as dead squirrels, deer body parts, horse manure and so on. But I just didn't feel like getting that spit on my wheels.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I was here

After getting inspired by the photograph in my previous post, last weekend I decided that it was time for me to snap my own award winning picture of sun rays descending through dense foliage adjoining a mysterious railway line going to nowhere.

The first order of business, of course, was to find a mysterious railway line. I was aware of this unused Conrail line near my apartment, adjacent to the Main Line of the old Pennsylvania Railroad that is still in use. The problem was I had no clue how to get there from the road. This is where Google Earth came in.

I surveyed the railway line through the eyes of a flying crow and discovered that there was a faintly discernible path going from the railway station parking lot to the abandoned line. I wasn't sure of its existence, but if I wanted that award-winning photograph, I would have to find out if the path existed. So I went.

When I drove into the parking lot, I found that Google had indeed been true to reality. There actually was a path going off into the bushes. I followed it and after walking through a number of puddles, it broke through into the abandoned railway line.

Now when I embarked on this adventure, I was quite aware that my railway line would be a poor people's version of the one shown in this photograph here. But I wasn't prepared for the extent of its destitution. For one, there were no rails. I'm guessing that when the final train pulled away, they rolled up all the rails and stuffed 'em into its cafeteria car. There were no wooden sleepers either. Even the gravel had been removed, presumably by the gravel mafia, leaving a bare cinder bed. But it was a railway line and so I continued walking westwards.


Actually, it was a nice walk with birds, leaves, tiny red colored berries which were probably poisonous and past-peak fall colors with a Kim Bassingerish old womanly beauty. On my left was the railway line that's still in use. Trains whistled past at regular intervals, including the Amtrak Keystone and the Amtrak Pennsylvanian.


After a mile or so, the railway line ended in a bridge which was closed, citing the live wires of the in-use railroad underneath. Since there was no other way to go, I had to turn back. I did consider climbing over the gate but the picture of Homer Simpson getting electroshocked in that episode came to mind.


But I still hadn't taken my award-winning photograph. So I decided to walk over to the in-use line and try my luck. So here it is.


Not to criticize my own work, but compared to the other picture, this one seems to be falling short in the mystique and ambience department. After analyzing it at length, I finally concluded that it was something to do with the carbon content of the rails. I am open to any other suggestions.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I would rather be here

(picture via maru)

FSM knows

As people might be aware, I am an atheist. Yet, that doesn't stop me from using religion-friendly phrases like "God damn it" or "God knows" or "Yallah" (I'm an equal opportunity atheist) during my admittedly infrequent interactions with civilization. The only exceptions are "Oh My God", its mutant brother on the internet "omigod", or its paraplegic twin "omg". But that's just because it sounds kinda gay. (Not that there is anything wrong with it)

Which is why I find it corny when I see atheists use the phrase "FSM knows" instead of "God knows" or "Thank FSM" instead of "Thank God" and so on and so forth, FSM, of course, referring to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, fictional heavenly leader of the Godless. Why, I wonder do they do that? For one, it's such a fucking burden on the tongue if you are saying it, or fingers in case you are typing it, with all those capital letters. Are they so paranoid and insecure about their atheism that they believe that even the mere utterance of the word "God" might cause them to relapse and turn into rabid believers? Or do they say it to reaffirm their Godless faith?

Or is it that they feel they are being disloyal to their atheistic ideology by using the word "God" in a sentence? C'mon people, it's just a stupid word. It's not like your use of the word is gonna make people think "Goddamn, that guy just used the word 'God'. He must be one of those religious fundies." For instance, when I say "Jesus Fucking Christ", I am not actually implying that Our Lord and Savior has a habit of fornicating with Himself. It's just an expression of acute frustration. Or disbelief, like the time I saw Our Lord and Savior fornicating with himself.

In fact, if anything, atheists should be using the word "God" even more frequently than religious people. Kind of like how black people took away the offensiveness in the word "nigger" by adopting it for their own use. Except in this case, they would be making something offensive by adopting it for their own use. "Hey Godlover", they should call each other. "Goddy God God, someone stole my wallet". "Wotup Gawd" could be the new hip salutation, heck, the possibilities are endless.

Uttering the Lord's name in vain, wouldn't that be the best way for an atheist to celebrate atheism?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A joke

I received the following joke today in my email. It was in marathi so I will translate it for you.

A donkey climbs up a tree. He finds an elephant already perched upon its branches.

The elephant asks the donkey, "Hey donkey what are you doing on this tree?"

The donkey replies, "I came here to eat an apple."

The elephant says, "But donkey, this is a mango tree."

The donkey replies, "It's ok elephant, I brought my own apple."