White noise is a random signal (or process) with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal's power spectral density has equal power in any band, at any center frequency, having a given bandwidth. White noise is considered analogous to white light which contains all frequencies.

Who am I?

Neo-hippie cinephile. Follower of the great Jim Morrison who once said "If the doors of perception are cleansed, everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ragged Doll

I promise we'll only laugh
So that you don't push me away
Like that ragged doll that made you feel,
Only to haunt that poor little girl
And all of her helpless mates.

We'll escape to the moon
And bounce off mushrooms
As we see the earth burn away
Far away, reversing time
To its nude infancy.

I won't call you from your tree
While the others drown down here
In toxic pools of quicksilver
Until there isn't anyone to bounce off
Up into lonesome inner space.

But quicksilver is my kryptonite too
And my sturdy wings fail me
At this fortuitous Neanderthal end
As everything burns itself
And hides me in the engulfing smoke.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Incredible Americans

Crossover literature, or that of the Indian diaspora scattered all over the US has been done to death. This is probably why I was apprehensive about "Inscrutable Americans". Nevertheless, it was authored by Anurag Mathur in 1991, whose hilarious "Making the Minister Smile" had made me more than smile when I read it, and if anything, "Inscrutable Americans" was one of the few books to probably start the genre anyway.

The initial pages didn't help in allaying my fears. I found it too corny to be funny. True, the story revolves around Gopal, who is after all from a small town called Jajau, known as the "Paris of MP", and his reactions to America forcing itself on him culturally, would elicit a different reaction than a product of a bigger city like me. And this is acknowledged by Mathur through Gopal's distant cousins, who hail from Bombay. Having said that, I would be lying if I said that nostalgia didn't make passes at me and take me back to my first year in the US as a freshman on a college campus - 2002 in Atlanta.

Gopal is relatable to since he is the quintessential horny desi Engineering nerd (the phrase is probably a redundancy), using his brains to come up with innovative ideas of reaching out to women, and yet, when the opportunity presents itself on multiple occassions, there is a lack of courage to ride on. Randy, Gopal's host (read partner-in-crime) is a stereotypical American young man most of the time, who warms up to Gopal instantly and makes it his ambition to get Gopal laid. There is also a range of other American characters, some colorful like the Peacock, some bland like the Dean, some polite, some rude, but all of them very interesting.

Mathur uses Gopal's letters to his brother in rustic Indian English wonderfully to show his character arc. As the story unfolded, I started falling in love with the book, with the pace rising to a climactic crescendo as the last few pages go by in a whiz, much like Gopal's reactions towards the new country. What starts out as a series of slapstick events slowly turns into mature introspection and more importantly, a very honest comparison between the two countries. This book is a must read for any Indian who has studied in the US.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Too Long a Halloween

As I have mentioned in some of the recent posts, the great aspect of The Dark Knight was its focus on the villains, or specifically, the circumstances that led them to their villainy, at least for me. Bandit referred the graphic novel The Long Halloween to me keeping this in mind. However, after Watchmen and The Killing Joke, this one was a disappointment, in comparison. I found it uni-layered, and very serial in its storytelling, probably because it is not a work of Alan Moore.

The story starts off intriguingly with the Falcone crime family of Gotham and its brooding head, known as The Roman, bearing too much of a resemblance to The Godfather Don Vito and his Corleone family. Some of the storyboards, like the sequence where Gordon, Dent and Batman meet on the roof of the police HQ, seems straight out of the Dark Knight, or the other way around I should say. At the end of the day, it is a whodunit of a series of murders, with the deranged murderer striking only on public holidays, like Christmas, Thanksgiving etc., starting on Halloween. There are way too many characters with little cameos, including a whole bevy of crazed criminals attracted to the city by the big Bat, as each one passes under the investigators', and thus, the reader's suspecting magnifying glass.

I kept wondering when the story would end, after I had gotten over the initial hook of excitement. Also, found the gimmick of a murder every holiday too blasé and "oh look, I am a crazy murderer"-y. Personally, I don't enjoy whodunits as much as the ones where we know the killer all along, but the real mystery is how, or why. There is a certain element of chill in that. The last couple of pages had something I wasn't expecting, but still didn't do enough for me to change my view of the entire novel, much like Farhan Akhtar's Don. It seemed like a stroke as a result of an afterthought of how to salvage this a bit.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Thrilling Joke

When I entered the theater to watch The Dark Knight last summer, I had expectations since the previous Batman film had been the best one and director Chris Nolan seemed to be making the characters layered. What ended up happening was that I almost forgot Batman was in the movie and was completely emotionally vested in the bad guys, especially The Joker. Recently, Bandit told me that the character of the Joker in the film was inspired by a comic book called The Killing Joke. I just had to read it.

The Killing Joke is a short story about The Joker escaping from a mental asylum after he had been put there by Batman. The Joker proceeds to take revenge on Commissioner Gordon, to prove his theory that everyone is bad, and can be made to do bad things, if pushed hard enough. He makes it personal and his methods are so violent and dark, that it makes the film look like a children's Disney movie. The Joker takes over a theme park and turns it into a nest for all birds of dark feathers. There is also a chilling epilogue to the story, that doesn't involve any of the usual Batman villains, but a common man, like you and me.

Written by Alan Moore, it uses his parallel story-telling technique that he employed to great effect in the Watchmen; this time concentrating on The Joker's past, circumstances that led a sane man to become The Joker. A lot of the dialog in the film, especially those between The Joker and Batman were reminiscent of the movie. Questions are raised in the reader's mind whether the two characters are just two sides of the same coin. The illustrations by Brian Bollard, are very 3D-like, making the characters pop out of the book, and making it more real. The end, again, like Watchmen, champions the cause of the human spirit.

Who Watches the Watchmen?

Mandrake the Magician - that was the name of the last comics I enjoyed. Also, read a few of the Tintins. However, these were around 18-20 years ago. Pop culture graduated me to adventure stories, and finally, "more mature" literature over time. Recently, through peer pressure, and aggressive movie marketing, I ended up reading Watchmen and discovered that there is a whole parallel universe out there for the adult comic book reader.

Written by Alan Moore, Watchmen is essentially a tale of morality at the end of the day. It questions our act of handing power to the watchdogs of society. Set in NYC in the simmering political period of the Cold War - 1985, with Richard Nixon leading the country, everyone is convinced that the world is pummeling towards World War III - Armageddon. The events are observed by a group of middle-aged ex-crime fighters from the background in their own individual homes and perspectives. And then, one by one, the "watchmen" start dropping dead like pins. The conservative ones among them, start extremely private investigations, and over time, uncover the monstrous truth.

There is the Comedian, whose name and character combo itself, is a not too funny joke. He is the all-knowing street smart, who is smart enough to know, but too lax to do anything about it. There is the unlikely Silk Spectre II, who reluctantly joined the line of work after her mother. She feels used by the system. The Night Owl is the technical guru. Along with Silk Spectre II, he represents the naive common man on the street. Rorshach is a conservative like the Comedian, but doesn't know as much, and his curiosity actually starts the investigation. Dr. Manhattan used to be a man, but again, got taken advantage of by the system, and was turned into a warhead and a bargaining chip in the Cold War. He is going through a midlife crisis, so to speak, and is fed up with the vagaries of the human nature. Finally, there is Ozymandias, my favorite character. Initially, much isn't explained about him, and he seems to be a flame in the past, misusing his fame to collect fortune in the present. Later in the book, his whys are explained. He is the Comedian's adversary, possibly because they are the same people with exactly opposite political alignments.

Brilliantly written, Time magazine calls it one of the top 100 novels of all time. There are a lot of passages in the book where the writer uses literal parallelism to get his point across, which can be a little confusing, but all ties in together at the end. There are also visits to the past, and various mediums other than comic strips - like newspaper articles, letters, journal entries and excerpts of autobiographies, used to convey the back story and thus the mental state of the protagonists. I believe the writer is telling us that it is the system we need to change, and that all human beings are not white and black characters, but essentially gray. The most important thing in the world is the human element, and thus, can be molded like clay, to profit. Some readers will find the end very preachy, but I didn't have a problem with it and actually loved it. It identifies the greatest problem today, and provides a very unlikely solution, again taking advantage of the human element.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Jack

Hello,

I was gonna write something on the Watchmen novel, but don't feel like it right now. Promise to do it before the film releases and I catch the phirst day phirst show at midnight on Thursday. I like Ozymandias. Jack is awesome. He makes the world colorful. I think alcoholism is born out of boredom. Life is unboring. There is Jack at 6 in the evening on a weekday and I am watching Knocked Up for the umpteenth time, after just watching the commentary version just now.

Had some Trader Joe's Biryani, actually it's just called "Indian Fare" since TJ, unlike most of it's customers who I would imagine are politically correct. Some products of their creativtiy include "Trader Giotto's", "Trader Ming" (which doesn't even sound like Joe) and "Trader Arabian" (no that doesn't sound right, but something equally politically incorrect). This is essentially a diary entry. I don't think anyone apart from WIAN reads this, but he seems to be on vacation, but maybe some stalker somewhere does, coz the hits counter (read, blogger ego booster) go up every time I visit to write something. Hello stalker, I like cricket and Indian food, the latter of which I miss off late.

Jack even helps you financially. I mean sure, 750 ml costs x amount of dollars, but it keeps you warm, and then you don't need the heat, but that's only in winter. I mean, right now, I am warm, but I am lazy enough to not open the balcony door. Story of my life - the fight of laziness against boredom. The laziness almost always wins, preventing me from playing video games I like. I think that's why I really like movies. You just sit there and are fed information and all you have to do is think, but nothing physical. Oh stalker, if you are a straight female, I do like sex though. Genetic burden! Darwin and all. Jack made me eat that extra cookie, coz everything tastes great, or alright, if it's bad, with Jack. But hey, lemme ask you this, if I got 750 ml for the sake of art - for a shoot, is it wrong? One shouldn't waste, hell no, that's the biggest faux pas of our generation. Does Jack take pleasure to the next level; that's true with almost everything else he does? He is like Lucious - hovering around like a bog brother, making sure you are happy.

They are showing Geisha House now on Knocked Up. Pssst, go there if someone else is paying. A little expensive - a Sushi place, you know. However, it is dark, not well lit, as they show in Knocked Up. Great desserts too. Hahahahaah. "I am pregnent. Fuck off". Funniest response in the history of cinema. Sorry, female stalker, if that makes me sound like a chauvinist, I am willing to watch Sex and the City, the movie to make up for my chauvinism.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Two Existential Films in a Day

Khush Hai Wahi Jo Thoda Betaaab Hai
Zindagi Mein Koi Arzoo Kijiye

Some of us are pot-bellied contented folks, resting our fat asses on cushioned lives, and then the creativity goes away, leaving us disillusioned and ignorant of our loss. But then, happiness hardly ever lasts forever, and then we get hungry again and start creating. So, technically, if you are happy and satisfied, you can't really create anything of significant value, thus the adage of the hungry artist in rags - the brilliant poor, intellectually rich, but materialistically void.

Happened to see a couple of superb existential films yesterday - Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist and Blade Runner (I know the latter is a classic and I am a film student, but I am weird like that - I just saw the Back To the Future trilogy for the first time the other day!). Nick and Nora takes place in the course of a single night in NJ/NYC. It also champions the cause for gay rights, effectively IMO, but then again, apropos to my companions these days, I am extreme left, so maybe my opinion is biased. There is also the universal search for essentially nothing but Lewis Carrol's century old White Rabbit, and a time when two right people meet each other during the wrong time in their lives. As the script suggested, Michael Cera was rightly overshadowed by Kat Dennings. The movie was not a commercial success and only has a rating of 6.9 on IMDB (that oracle of an invention).

I don't know if it was the Jack or not, but Blade Runner, I thought, was phenomenal. I had read Asimov as a kid, and thought it to be pretty straightforward - let's not get carried away with technology, it'll fuck us over some day. Peter K. Dick's Bladerunner is that along with a few more layers. Harrison Ford doesn't play Harrison Ford for a change. The director's cut helped, doing away with the redundant voiceovers, I am told. In any case, I think it was a very mature piece of art, especially, for 1982. Little details like the blood mingling with the liquor into a shot glass when a bleeding Ford drinks from it. Set design was phenomenal, and the film was almost like a film noir set in the future. Would have loved to light that film. Didn't pinpoint the ending because it is a departure from the mental thriller that the rest of the film is, IMO, or probably, because the twist was so huge that it turned 360 degrees. Indeed, the greatest trick the Devil played was to make the world believe he didn't exist.
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