Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Much needed downtime

While most people will curse servers, sites and the like for going down to perform maintenance related activities, I quite thank them for doing so. At least, it gives me some enforced time off from these all consuming webs. When the internet is like a drug to you, these supply side downtimes are much like checking into rehab. Without these mandatory breaks, the sites on the net that I feed off and can't get enough of will destroy me. And they say, marijuana is a drug. I say, what isn't?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sri Linka: What say, you?

And now for something funny. Very funny.

I don't know about you but there's something about lists that I find irresistable. I suppose one of the reasons for this is the reader-friendly way in which they present a lot of information. And two, the inevitable debate they give rise to. Both of which, as an aside, are essential elements for the proper blogging experience.

Someday, when I get old and free, I'll put my feet up and watch the movies on this list I haven't had the pleasure of, or the time to, guffaw over. Of course, by the time I get around to it, they'll be another batch of lists I'll have to catch up with. Sigh.

Sri Linka: Observer's Top 50 comedy films of all time.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Überviews #51: The Simpsons Movie

Like we care how much it rates/10: Which, happily enough, makes it just the kind of movie you'd expect from the creators of The Simpsons.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sri Linka: The truth about Advertising

After more than a few years in advertising, I've come to believe that reinventing the wheel is, pretty much, all we do. Oddly enough, in my view that's also a fair, albeit overly simplistic, representation of life.

Every piece of advertising is, for better or for worse, a different visual, verbal and storied execution of a solution for an ever-present human problem in a deceptively repackaged avataar. It makes sense then that the way we look at them and the solutions we seek to tackle these constant issues take on variant forms. Maybe I'm wrong.

That said, here's a revealing presentation on the 12 categories that every piece of advertising can be categorised into. Perhaps it better illustrates what I was struggling to articulate. I suppose somewhere in there is a Doctoral thesis of a few hundred pages which doesn't say much more than Plus que ca change, plus que c’est la meme chose.

Sri Linka: Master Advertising

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sri Linka: Scrabulous

Nothing like link love to spread the internet fever. From today, I start yet another category of posts few people will bother to read. It's called 'Sri Linka', and it's all about doing what the great ÜberM loves to do. (For details, look to the top right hand corner of this blog.)

I remember the many afternoons I spent playing scrabble with my grandmother. Were it not for her, I'd never have made the mistake of falling in love with words and harbouring delusions of being a writer. This one's for her. And for the wordsmiths and wordiots of the world. A great new way to scrabble. Online. Here's to yet another activity turning into a verb. (No, don't thank me. Thank Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, the developers of this application.)

Sri Linka: Scrabulous

Friday, July 20, 2007

Überviews #50: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

?/10: I suppose it must be a good film because the people in the cinema hall clapped when it was over. I wouldn't know - I dozed off a few minutes after it started and woke up a few minutes before it ended. Will I try and catch it again? Probably not. I think some phenomenons are best left to the imagination.

Überviews #49: Black Friday

8/10: Unmissable if you're from Bombay. On second thoughts, just unmissable.

Überviews #48: Tsotsi

7/10: Salaam Bombay from South Africa.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Überviews #47: The 40 year old virgin

7/10: A great film about waiting for the first time that makes you want to do it again. (The film.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Who are you?

Different people have different reasons for using an alias. Most of the time, it's to mask their true identity and save themselves from getting into any kind of trouble, professionally or even personally. So why do I opt for one? Certainly not because it helps me hide who I am. Quite the contrary, actually.

I've been exposed by other points-of-view and aliases as a blog troll, someone who defends plagiarism, a person with no beliefs and a gadfly who is best ignored. Google the words 'Übermaniam' or 'The Daily Unusual' or 'Dopppsy' and you'll get to the posts by various people whom I don't know - in a manner of speaking - mouthing off the aformentioned opinions based on superficial experiences of my so-called sins. Needless to say, these attacks have hurt me in ways I haven't been able to fully comprehend.

The thing about not using an assumed name is you can never be yourself. As your 'Professional name', you've got to make sure you are careful with what you say. You've got to be, mostly, nice to people. You've got to cultivate an audience and so, you have to lie. Honestly speaking, I find that quite impossible to do. In fact, I find people who don't feel the need to hide their name, in a hard-to-explain way, rather difficult to trust.

I would argue that people with the ability to be in public what the world knows them as, are more adept at hiding their true selves than the people who are diseased enough to speak their mind and so feel the need to protect themselves with pseudonyms. It's a well-known lesson of life that if you want to be popular, you cannot afford to be frank. Put not-so-simply, be very afraid of taking a popular person at face value.

So, why do I choose handles? Two reasons. One, because they demonstrate my ability to proudly indulge my schizoid self. And two, so I don't besmirch the public image of a certain 'Mr. Avinash Subramaniam'. Happily enough, the latter is all over bar the shouting.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


While reading a confessional piece in the Times, UK in which the writer blames alcohol for ... umm, liquidating her mother, I wondered whether it's the vice that ought to be blamed for destroying the person or the person who should take responsiblity for letting it do it to her. The way I see it, the vice is just a device in the hands of the abuser who is allowing it to overcome her.

I've smoked a lot - and when I say a lot, I mean a lot - of drugs in my not-so-long life. From past experience, I can say that blaming the drugs is just another symptom of the foible that pushes people like me towards the substance and abuse. It's not the drugs, the liquor and the like that destroy you. It's you who let these things take charge of you.

I believe it's important to draw this distinction because saying 'Alcohol consumed so-so' or 'Drugs ruined my life' is avoiding taking responsibility for what you have essentially sourced, rolled or poured and then ingested, inhaled or ... well, consumed.

As someone who has spent a fair number of years earning a living crafting appropriate words to sell ideas of different kinds, I would argue that confessional writing - the purpose of which is often to help other people in similar situations benefit from it - might serve its brief better if it addressed this matter with a lesser degree of compassion.

If I were to ever get around to writing a book on the different things a drug addict goes through, I'd write it in the words of the drug and adopt a condescending tone of voice in which the substance mocks the devitalised abuser for her vice. Hmm ... now there's another idea someone with a little more skill and discipline might be tempted to do something with.

All that said and done, this round of introspection has been most humbling. It has dawned on me just how impuissant I must have been. How could I have sunk so low? Boy, this is most depressing. I need a toke.

Überviews #46: Broken English (2007)

6/10: Much like love, this love story, too, sags in parts but is, for the most part, fascinating, disturbing, frustrating, satisfying, engaging and overall rather engrossing. Standout: Parker Posey.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The gloves are off

When people ask me ... no, make that, if ever people deign to ask me what kind of a writer I am, I'll start by telling them a few things I won't tell them. For instance, I won't tell them I'm a good writer. I won't tell them I'm a powerful writer. I most definitely won't tell them I'm a logical writer. What I might try and get by them is that I'm an unconventional writer.

Yawn. I suppose anyone with pretensions of being some kind of a wordsmith, would like to think of herself as, if nothing else, at least, unconventional. In that case, am I just a boilerplate slinger? After all, if every pen-pusher is in one way or another unorthodox, doesn't that make a writer who's not much more than different, same? It most ineluctably does. Yaysoos! (There, I even managed to, for a change, use words I just discovered the meanings of, properly. I think.)

In my brighter moments, I like to believe there's more to my writerly posing than just ... well, posing and atypicalness. When I look at my samples of writing, admittedly, with some trepidation, I see in them an Ali-esque quality. A jab here. Followed by a quick right hook. A step back to take stock. A sway to one side for a different point of view. A comeback from the other to restore equilibrium. A disarming moment of seeming weakness. A devastating counter. And much braggadocio.

Hold on a minute, did I just call myself the Ali of writers? Looks like I did. I guess all those punches I've taken on my head, in the gut and to heart during my years in advertising have ... well, gone to my head.

Girls from Mumbai just wanna have fun

As someone who has been a bit of a quizzer oftentimes and a misogynist other times, it gives me ... umm, immense quizzical thoughts when I look at the roster of top performers at the BQC. Why so few women?

I've known a few women in the Chennai and Bangalore circle of quizzers who'd beat the pants of my little quizzing ass, but what's with the women of Mumbai? Next to no finishers near the top of the table. Hmm. Out with it girls. Too busy doing other more important things than quizzing? And pray, what might these so-called more important things be?

I guess it would be hazardous to draw any hasty conclusions from this latest set of revelations, so I wisely shan't. Instead, I'll let you arrive at your own. Incidentally, if you want to check out some really smart female quizzers, you ought to check out my friend Unantha's quiz blogs.

PS: What's with the picture of the jugs? Well, when I typed the words "Female Quizzers' in Google Image Search, that's one of the images that came up. Nuff said.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Überviews #45: Raid on Entebbe

6/10: Clinical, like Operation Thunderbolt. And the Israelis.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Überviews #44: Harsh Times

6.5/10: You wait for something to go wrong and, in the end, it doesn't disappoint.

When I met Sir Salman

As a wannabe writer, I was understandably over-the-moon when I discovered that Mr. Rushdie (then, not yet knighted) was going to be present at our New Year bash. I immediately imagined all the conversations I was going to have with him - about writing, about The Satanic Verses, about what it takes to be a published writer and about why I didn't care as much as the rest of the world did for his books.

Unfortunately, cometh the hour of the get-together, Mr. Rushdie didn't seem to care much for our company. Maybe he didn't find Chennai quite conducive to his otherwise ordered life. Maybe he didn't appreciate all the attention his then-partner, Ms. Lakshmi was getting. Maybe he was just too big for our little Ogilvy, Chennai party. Whatever it was, he looked far, far away from a happy camper we were trying our sincerest to help him be.

An hour and a bit after the buzz around him had dissipated, I walked up to him and introduced myself. Sadly, I didn't register one bit on his radar. (I suppose I was too low-flying an object to make any kind of impression.) A few uncomfortable minutes later, I fished out a table napkin and asked him for his autograph. Thankfully, he didn't decline my request. I made some hesitant noises about how much I admired him and such like, but soon realised that my words were lost in the air of indifference he had surrounded himself with. Still, I wasn't totally crushed - at least, I had something to show for my troubles.

The next morning, I looked expectantly at the coveted napkin Mr. Rushdie had signed his name on. What stared back at me was little more than a well-disguised 'S' and a careless 'l' somewhere in the midst of a slapdash doodle - I imagine he was worried I might try and sell it on ebay or something like that. All of which only confirmed the first impression I took away of Mr. Rushdie, as a cynical, highly vainglorious man who didn't care much for humanity. Here's hoping I'm never so scarred by my experiences.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Walking on water

Email friend, travel writer, aspiring film-maker and powerful imagist, Vinoo Krishnan has this to say about what the land mafia, and we, have done to what used to be Hebbal Lake. The great headline to this post is his. All I can say is pure Gore. Enough said.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Vermaji, this is why I blog

In a wittily constructed aside, the very articulate Vermaji takes off on the equally expressive Vir Sanghviji for declaring a marked inclination for the Beatles over the Stones. Now, pray, why should that be so hard to stomach?

The Beatles, in my not-so-humble opinion, created better melodies than the Stones. And if, God forbid, it came down to who I'd prefer for company on a Desert Island, I, too, would plump for them. Does this make me a counfounding antithesis of the person who writes with great skill about olives or other fine things in life? I hope not. I suspect there are more than a few fine food critics who'd prefer the Beatles and olives to the Stones.

The way I see it, it's a simple matter of taste. And not the lack of good taste, as Vermaji tries to make it out to be. All this in no way justifies my blogging on about it for an audience of one. That said, I find it very hard not to stand up for the Beatles. (Much like Vermaji for the Stones.)

Tube light: Oh, hang on a minute. I get it. The whole thing is not much more than an engaging artifice for a few more pageviews. As you can see, these age-old face-offs are a great tactic to get people going. (Link: Vermaji vs. Sanghviji)

Überviews #43: Transformers

5.75/10: Slowly changes from extraordinary to ordinary.

Überviews #42: Dead Silence

2/10: If you watch the film, it's best to keep quiet about it.