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, June 28, 2009

Rio I

We have broken for lunch on the first day of the shoot. After days of cloudy skies, and surgical procedures and brooding around in our 12 ft. by 10 ft. enclosed space, staring at a mounted TV with glazed eyes, talking to us in Portuguese, it is great to be able to shoot. I feel an almost cinematic rustiness. The sun is playing hide and seek from behind the clouds, moving during a shot at times, thus justifying the random lighting changes, carried out by the Weatherman.

Sambaman's couch is rather comfortable. Rabbit is trying to nap through the noise. The rest of the crew are eating Brazilian Chinese food. Sambaman's mai, in her sweet bumbling way, is feeding me mashed potatoes, chicken and rice along with her son. Sambaman's house is beautiful. If I ever made a movie version of the boardgame Clue, I would shoot it here. There is a hole in the wall showing a staircase going up, while the foreground is a usual living room. It is as beautiful as a painting, the color palate that of red bricks. Jesus thinks the house looks like the Godfather's house in the movie, with sparse overhead lighting.

The five day shoot has been compressed to a three day shoot, because of the reasons mentioned eariler in the post. The rest of the days will not be as relaxed. Sambaman doesn't do too many takes. So, we'are moving fast. I don't want to go back to LA. Rio reminds me too much of Bombay - the weather and the cobbled streets (Rabbit says Rome is like that too, leading me to believe the US is unique with its paved sidewalks). The women are nice and smile back at appreciative eyes. My little knowledge of Spanish allows me to understand the language if its spoken slowly. Hunger doesn't allow me to go on any further.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


One of the two protagonists of this story, ArSENik has spent the last seven years of his life in the US, three of which have been spent on the inimitable West Coast of the US. And yet, he is part of the 5% of the population that belongs to this dynamic that hasn't visited Vegas. Before you start 'tsking', hold on, because that's not all. He also has the rare distinction of belonging to the 0.32% of the population worldwide whose parents have visited Vegas but they have not. Hence, the pressure of visiting Vegas, built up over years of sitting around the coffee table in the living room back home over oedipal photographs in front of the pyramids of Egypt at the Luxor or the Champs-Elysees at Paris, is immense, to say the least.

Chapter 1: "F!@k it! Let's Go"

Establishing shot of the parking garage of ArSENik's apartment complex. The camera jibs down to a shot of a navy blue Nissan Murano from the rear, with two figures, silhouetted by the car light, occupying the front seats.

ArSENik: Hurry up! I want good seats.
Sambaman: Yeah, yeah. Relax. Didn't 'The Hangover' come out last week? I am sure the theatre will be half empty.
ArSENik: Well, um yeah, but I don't wanna take a risk. It looks funny and (attempt at superficial emotional blackmail) you know it takes place in Vegas, and (with a tear trickling down) I am a Vegas Virgin!
Sambaman: You are what?!
ArSENik (breaking down completely): There! I said it. I haven't told anyone else.
Sambaman (with a distant look in his eyes): We have to change that. You know, (pause for dramatic effect) we could just go there.
ArSENik: It's Vegas MAN. It's not your uncle's house down the street where you go to sneakily stalk your hot cousin.
Sambaman: She's my third cousin! And you promised you would never bring that up ... ever.
ArSENik: OK, but it's Sunday night. I have a shoot on Tuesday.
Sambaman: C'mon. DBG (Don't Be Gay).

After a few futile moments of debilitating, ArSENik sighs heavily.

ArSENik: F!@k it! Let's Go.

What ArSENik didn't know was that Sambaman had no intention of driving, and also that he had forgotten his camera while packing hurriedly. Montage sequence of the two booking a room at the Mirage, rushing to the airport, buying tickets and catching the flight occurs.

Chapter 2: The Promised Land

ArSENik has a window seat in the exit row and is thus excited about the impending bird's eye view of the Land of Sin. Unfortunately for him, he is on the wrong side of the plane and doesn't get a glimpse of the tallest odes to Capitalism since time immemorial. Nevertheless, the sparkling yellow lights still hit his sensitive eyes, as if enticing him to a money pit. The airport is clean, just like your average Midwest airport, except that it is frequently punctuated by 25 cent and 1 dollar slot machines, with middle aged tourists in loose pants gambling away, with hope that would have impressed even the emancipating Lincoln.

The duo have been promised a 2009 Dodge Charger, but the keys to the only available one cannot be found anywhere in the premises. And so, they set off hand in hand like a couple in Massachusetts, in a family van, out to loot the Promised Land. The strip assaults their senses with its thousand giant structures and lights and whitish pink wedding chapels, as the cynical ArSENik scoffs at the trigger-happy tourists clicking away in front of the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign. And then, tucked away from all the brightness and the grandeur, they see a sliver of reality - pregnant hookers patrolling construction sites and their pimps chitchatting with unkempt drug dealers.

The Mirage cannot offer them the promised non-smoking room with a view, and thus, now they have the luxury of spending $50 on the minibar, which throws up an assortment of expensive day to day edibles. They go down to the hotel casino and gamble, but just a little bit, like shy lovers flirting on a first date. They try to hunt down the waitresses serving the free drinks, but upon being asked the order, are mesmerized by her raw Russian beauty and can only order White Russians, on repeated occasions. ArSENik, as usual, looses money on Blackjack, the slots and Roulette, but Sambaman, taking his advice on Roulette, makes quite a bit, preventing ArSENik from projecting, and thus lifting ArSENik's spirits. They finally go to bed as the sun is waking up lazily, engulfing their room with its first rays, like an epidemic taking over a city. Thank God hotel rooms have thick curtains.

Sambaman LOVES to sleep, even if he is in a different city that his fellow travelers want to explore, and thus, the duo get out of their hotel rooms as late as two in the afternoon. At lunch, ArSENik is impressed by Vegas' sensitivity to natural meat and also how much cheaper fast food is, compared to California. To show his gratitude, he buys a lovely pair of Nike tennis shoes - a crisscross of different shades of blue, since his current pair has been destroyed from years to exposure to washer/dryer. Shopping with the picky and nowadays, miserly ArSENik is a pain for any mortal. Sambaman manages to survive somehow.

Sambaman and ArSENik are huge Beatles fans, and are thrilled to be living in a hotel that has a lounge called Revolution. They obviously go watch Cirque de Soleil's Love - a psychedelic roller coaster of emotions with eastern music, specifically, Indian music, fused with some of the Beatles' hits . ArSENik is thrilled and wished he had mushrooms to make the event even more spectacular as angles literally transcend from the heavens and young ambitious men leap from one trampoline to the other. Nevertheless, he still sheds tears at its whole awesomeness.

Dinner is at a posh Italian restaurant, where the female maitre d' pushes your chair as you sit down, making ArSENik uncomfortable and men in suits and rimless glasses rub their palms against one another and laugh socially, displaying sets of sparkling teeth, sipping sparkling fluids in front of an unnecessary crackling fire. The octopus appetizer tastes like overcooked kababs to ArSENik but he loves the spinach salmon of the main course.

Sambaman then assures ArSENik that in order to obtain the complete Vegas experience, they need to visit a club. Naive and wet behind the ears, ArSENik nods excitedly with big sparkling brown eyes, much like a puppy, about to be adopted from a homeless shelter. They visit Jet, and almost loose each other in the ensuing noise pollution. Sambaman is sad because he can't get wasted and dance himself silly on the poles, because of their flight the next morning. ArSENik is just sad. He has a pre-mid life crisis on seeing the young nubile things gyrating hypnotically, glowing in the dark, dancing their troubles away, living in the moment, as he sips his incredibly overpriced Corona with lime.

The next morning is anticlimactically routine as they return their family van and try their luck oe last time at the slot machines at the airport. However, there is no reversal of fortunes for ArSENik and they board their flight in silence and sleep on the way back, dreaming of winning fortunes, that would help them produce their future films. On landing, they return to the flatness of LA, one now a Vegas Veteran, the other not a Vegas Virgin anymore.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A Nosiy Typewriter and Tomatoes

My grandfather was not a man of emotions, and so, this moment seems very inorganic. Nevertheless, the rest of us aren't as strong as he was, and we need to let out from time to time. My earliest memory of my grandfather is us watching Australia play a one day international on TV and me being infatuated with the team's yellow uniform. After the game, we made our way to a nearby sports shop and he bought me a yellow cap. I remember jumping on our maroon couch several times excitedly with the cap on and him smiling from ear to ear, enjoying the abnormal antics of his 5 or 6 year old grandson.

My other early memory of him is him teaching me advanced arithmetic from the off white pages of an imageless textbook. At times I would get a little frustrated at his ability to play the hard taskmaster and questioned myself as to why my parents had left me loose with him, but I am grateful today as bemused classmates look on as I can tell them within seconds that adding that extra kicker light will blow the circuit, and thus we would have to hook it up to a different circuit.

I also remember being extremely stimulated by his spotless black and creme typewriter. And when I was a little older and got to climb onto a chair, bring the beauty down, and type up some nonsense, with the sweet sound of the keystrokes resonating off my fast beating heart. Later, my father insisted that Dadu, as I called him, buy a computer, but somehow the mechanical silent keyboard lacked the poetry of the typewriter.

Dadu and I never really spoke much about his life (the only conversations we have had which deal with similar subjects would be the first names of my ancestors). What I know is from what my grandmother has told me. Apparently, he had a decently comfortable life in his village, but his hunger for success took him to Calcutta, where he studied more than anyone else in his family ever had, and got a job with the Indian Railways and thus, has seen most of India, and later most of the world. After him, my father made his way to the Middle East from Calcutta, and I have now reached the US, from the Middle East. After marrying my grandmother, Dadu encouraged her to study further and later to work, which at the time, was very rare, at least in Indian society. Eventually, he procured clerical jobs in the companies he had worked, for members of our domestic help, setting them and their families up economically.

My grandfather was an out an out atheist, which almost made him a pariah in Indian society at the time (even today, if you ask me). What I admired the most in him was his questioning of the illogical (like religion and Communism), and refusing to join the bandwagon like the rest of society. He was also one of the strongest men I knew, refusing to take taxis and still riding the bus even in his 80's.

After, we had moved to the Middle East, I saw him just once a year, observing how age had caught up with him. Each time, there was this fondness in his eyes, as we sat in silence, or engaged in smalltalk, proud (I hope) that I hadn't turned out that bad after all. In his last few years, he had developed a hunch and physically wasn't the imposing figure I had grown up with. I usually visited him in winter. So, he would have this faded green cap and a cloak, reminiscent of desert sand. And he would have shaving cuts. Also, he would turn up the volume on the TV when the eight o'clock news came on, resulting in arguments with my grandmother if she was on the phone.

It's been almost five months since he has passed away, but even today, when I feel lazy about shaving, or see one of those noisy typewriters on TV, or see someone enjoying tomatoes, I can't help but think of him, and fight back tears, because he would have never tolerated tears.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Four Thumps UP!

I have just watched Pixar's latest creation - UP and there is this unfathomable levity in me suddenly. A spring has materialized in me from somewhere and I want to shed my lazy inhibitions and springhop down the street like Jim Carrey. I want to flashforward to graduation and go work for Pixar, even if I get offered only a sweeper's job. Screw realism when you can create such UPlifting art that, with its million colors wows the kids, and with its story inspires the adults. I can skip meals and go watch it again, and again, and again I think. This is not really a blogpost. It is just an expression of joy that I have to share, even if it materializes in the spray of just a few words here and there. Films like this can cure alcoholism and chronic depression. Governments should cut healthcare budgets and use the money to support Pixar. OK fine, I'll stop before you think I have gone crazy (but really so that I can go hopskipping down the road :D).
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