Dec 312006

Most of my listening this year was classic [tag]Hindustani Classical Music[/tag] (HCM). Some phenomenal stuff available in the market place. Of all the music that i heard there are two sets of series that gave me the most joy & pleasure – and if you like HCM – escpecially vocal HCM – then these are definitely worth a hear. 20th Century Baithak Series – a complete set of gems. The long form of Hindustani Vocal, where the raag is lovingly, enchantingly, and seductively explored. As the blurb on the rather simple website puts it:

As an offering to Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande, whose methodology, insight and non-partisan approach has been the source of our inspiration, we present selected material from our archives. The content is musically and historically relevent. It has been minimally restored and remains unedited to maintain its original identity.

Our first Publication presents 6 masters representing Dhrupad, Khayal and Thumri. Check out the female vocalists – Kesarbai Kerkar, Siddheshwari Devi & Rasoolan Bai – and get transposed to a different time and space. And, there are some rare & exotic ragas that are explored – raga Gandhari or Savani, Deshi (not Des) – fabulous stuff. The other series is by Virgin RecordsThe Royal Collection of Mewar. Dhrupad worth dying for. To hear the Dagar Brothers of Jaipour sing

More Saiyan Utrenge Paar ho, Nadiya Deere Baho

in raga Pilu is a trip.

Dec 302006

I am not shedding tears at the death of Saddam. Nor is this a rant on the inappropriateness of the death sentance. Instead it is a lament for justice.

‘Justice’ that is delivered without due process being followed is vigilantism – and there is no worse example for Democracy (let’s not forget that Iraq was invaded to restore Democracy) – than a seeming kangaroo court delivering a pre ordained sentance. This is not the poster campign for the ‘restoration of Democracy’.

To say that the Americans and the British have screwed this one up beyond measure is an understament beyond compare.

Dec 302006

This from Kuro5hin

Filmmaker Brian Flemming and the Rational Response Squad are challenging YouTubers to upload videos of themselves, blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Whoever does so and follows the instructions will receive a free DVD of Flemming’s film, The God Who Wasn’t There, a documentary which puts forward the hypothesis that Jesus never existed.

An interesting way of promoting the film. I wonder if there will be a time when we can use such ‘shock’ tactics to promote products. I hope there is, but it doesn’t seem like any time in the near future!

Dec 272006

This year, primarily due to the joys of high speed internet, a swanky new Landmark near the office, and KD coming home to India for a holiday – i was able to indulge in a rather expensive hobby. The first lets me download and sift, the second I buy in rupees undiscounted material, and the third enabled me to buy on line at different points in time – sales – and allowed KD to bring back a treasure trove. Essentially this was the year that I indulged my hobby of collecting tag]Graphic Novels[tag] & TPB’s. My top buys and reads this year: [tag]Watchmen[/tag] – a long time favourite. I read it an awfully long time ago and at an age when Indiana Jones, Batman, James Bond & Han Solo were more attractive than an unpleasent vigilante called [tag]Rorschach[/tag]. A few months ago I saw it at Landmark and purchased it. Its the kind of graphic novel that you read once in a few years, get depressed at the sheer prescience of the narrative. A fabulous story of heroes in the real world and the moral and ethical compromises that they make. This is not about [tag]Superman[/tag] or [tag]Batman[/tag] and their unerring ability to do the ‘right’ or heroic thing. It is about a flawed humanity and its flawed choices. A fabulous story, a great narrative style , a scary creation of an alternative (yet plausible) reality and a kick in the guts ending. Definitely worth a look. Watchmen [tag]Pride of Baghdad[/tag] – Can freedom be granted through invasion or is there more to it? This is the essential theme of the Pride of Baghdad that looks at a pride of lions ‘liberated’ during the American bombing of [tag]Baghdad[/tag], and their different perspectives about allies, liberators, freedom and captivity. Based on a true story of escaped lions shot dead by invading American Troops, the Pride of Baghdad is an allegory on many levels. Brian Vaughn the author of the amazingly witty, wry, and fantastic "Y – the Last Man" gives us another great story. Not so much [tag]Animal Farm[/tag], as Chandini (the little story about the goat, that was a part of 4th standard English, written by former president Zakir Hussain). The artwork by Nico Henrichon is worth killing for – great earths and ochres create the impression of a city under seige. Again worth buying. Pride of Baghdad [tag]Infinite Crisis[/tag] – DC’s magnum opus that sought to reset the continuity of the last 2 decades. A great concept – when continuity gets unwieldy reset the universe. An epic tale of honour, loyalty, bravery, sacrifice and the unerring ability to do the right thing. This is a tale about heroes at their heroic best. Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman and possibly the entire DC cast join hands to battle evil and save the universe. A rip roaring read – the graphic novel equivalent of an old fashioned Eroll Flynn Film. Infinite Crisis (DC Comics) [tag]Batman – Hush[/tag] – . Write Jeph Loeb ( Long Haloween & Dark Victory ) teams up with Artist Jim Lee to create a visual extravaganza. Batman has never looked better. Catwoman looks like she has been poured into her costume, and you have probably never seen better looking art (as opposed to better art) in a Batman book. And like all other Loeb books, every major villain in the book turns up, and there is a new one. The plot has holes that you can drive a truck through – but it is a jolly good romp. The Dhoom of comic books. Looks good, great pace, and you will probably come back to it at some time for a quick, non brain straining read. Batman: Hush, Vol. 1 [tag]Captain America[/tag] the new series by Ed Brubaker (writer of the Sleeper, sometime writer of Batman, and currently on Daredevil). A super soldier in a time he doesn’t understand, working within a legal and moral framework that he can’t comprehend, and with a tormentor who knows just a bit too much about him. Out of synch, out of phase out of time, and yet very human. For the first time it seems that Captain America is more than a symbol – it is a person, a hero – flawed, yet a hero. Somehow this entire run works very well as a lead up to the current Marvel magnum opus [tag]Civil War[/tag] Captain America: Winter Soldier, Vol. 1 Next year, the plan is to get the entire [tag]Preacher[/tag] series, and the Y – the last man series – but, that depends on picking up a lot of new work. btw – wordpress tells me that this is post number 666 !