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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Towel Day & End-o-May-Way - On to June Tune

Get a volcano bowl at a tiki bar

Curtain rods that wait for weight

TIL: the Matheran line is also in line for UNESCO World Heritage status (while writing/typing for IRCTC)

Case study for Google? Maybe I’ll get some author credit for this, if not for the Maharajas’ Express travel blogs and such. My words are mine anyway, what’s a byline gonna do, especially for the nonchalant tech ones I’ve spewed out loquaciously (in a manner of ‘speaking’, of course, considering I’ve often just said things to myself about the droll topic at hand and typed them out along with the responses of my sleep-addled brain).

Opened the inbox to be told that it’s an only-IRCTC project day today. Time will tell.

Finished the Frasier scripts. Touching and opportune end to the storylines of the alienist analyst and his family. Now on to Seinfeld, and other shows which preferably have references like Frasier did.

Murdoch Mysteries involves a lot of historical figures…

It’s Towel day tomorrow! I shall be traveling by train with my towel to the town of Katra, en route Vaishno Devi via helicopter! Let the fun commence!

I can’t recall where I was thinking (or writing after finding out) about the Tunic of Nessus, but apparently the blood of the centaur Nessus was only obtained by Hercules after killing Nessus with an arrow tipped with Hydra’s vitriolic blood.

25 May – Towel Day!
Samantha Cristoforetti made the most of her ISS trip not just in scientific terms but also in 42 terms.

Tau Ceta is linked to Perseus rescuing Andromeda from a cetus/sea monster. Perseus before Hercules, 4 generations according to Isocrates (I, Socrates? :D).

Stumbled onto Glomar response (neither confirm nor deny) from Project Azorian (CIA) from Nova (TV series) from Family Guy (The Sun Also Draws). Peter Griffin watches Frasier in Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater :D.

Leonardo da Vinci’s world map of octants.

Embarking on the Vaishno Devi trip with slight trepidation, mostly unexplainable but slightly due to the reason I started jobbing again. 

Back from Jammu-Katra-Reasi-Akhnoor.

SpaceX Dragon is named for Puff the Magic Dragon.

Warhol filmed Salvador Dali upon his visit to The Factory.

The owner of the company quite understandably appreciates my written word, leading to slightly nauseous euphoria, which is promptly offset by the utter stupidity of the IRCTC liaison, who (along with the luminaries at IRCTC) has hay for brains and zero constructive input.

Douglas Trumbull of 2001 fame desisted from filmmaking after Natalie Wood’s death.

Dharamshala is a location in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (but those scenes were shot near Bombay (now Mumbai). Curwen hand signs (used in the climax) have ‘doh’ as the strong/firm tone, but I’m reminded of Homer (Simpson, not the ancient Greek). George Hopkins parachuted on to the Devil’s Tower IRL!

Conan the Librarian was used in Monty Python’s Flying Circus :D

It is now almost 6 pm, and I run across a parody of Natalie Wood’s death in Family Guy [Cleveland Loretta Quagmire]. How do these things I read about keep spiraling into each other? It’s just a coincidence, I know, not a quandary, and it elates me somewhat in these surroundings of less-than-erudite people.

The techie guy seems to have a handle on what he is writing back as inputs. One less dunderhead to deal with, hopefully. Will finish off recapping the fam trip to Vaishno Devi and simultaneously tick one off the IRCTC tourist destinations chart/table/grid.

The litany of laity

I hope to see the Hemis monastery festival in Ladakh when the next Year of the Monkey rolls around in 2028.

Philip K Dick used Aboriginal dreamtime in explaining V.A.L.I.S.

Ideas and thoughts can perennate.

Aaron Paul [Dick’s Big Giant Headache Pt 2], Bryan Cranston [Paranoid Dick] and Bob Odenkirk [The Fifth Solomon; 100th episode] were in 3rd Rock From The Sun! :D

Can’t recall writing the synopses/reviews on IMDb for The Twilight Zone, Synecdoche, New York, Frasier [which I ‘read’ in the past month], Breaking Bad and True Detective. Robert Downey Sr. appeared in the episode of Twilight Zone that I have reviewed succinctly – ‘Wordplay’.

Studio Ghibli was founded by Isao and Hayao exactly two months before my birth. I’ll take that. I’ll take less than that, any day, for adding reasons to remain positive, instead of succumbing to ignominy and the drivel of other people who have not much to do except B –ve [my blood type]. The Tale of Princess Kaguya has the Buddha in the story, about whom I have recently read hours’ worth of webpages.

May Way has come to an end for 2018. On to June Tune!

Third Week of May

Voix celeste led me to flanging, which was mentioned as the slang for ADT, and coined by Lennon, from made-up acoustic-babble that a sound engineer said to him.

Frasier says “nota bene” and it is still the last of the tabs open in Chrome since I started perusing the scripts. Little coincidences that take us full circle, or part-way-spiral.

Towel Day is a week away! :D

Met the founder of the company today.

Saturday. Chilling. Frasier orders a tart tatin, which makes me search, and the intriguing pen name of a gastronome comes up: Curnonsky. His name was M E Sailland, which also raises my brows. He refers to his nom de plume as his “tunic of Nessus”, which was what killed Hercules. I click to make sure I remember correctly, and gain the additional information that Tresckow called it a robe. Reading further, I come upon the tunic/robe having been used as a metaphor in The Count of Monte Cristo, which I vividly remember reading in the smaller prep school library next to the dorms, at the back of the needlework and batik and one other hobby rooms – can’t recall it for the life of me. Sanawar was what fueled my book habit, and I remain ever grateful for that. It is important, I think, to understand what made me the person I am, from the activities that held my attention in childhood to the courses of action that I prefer over others in the present.

I also miss writing on paper, which is why I do the least I can and maintain a notebook at ‘work’ to record additions to my glossary. Glossa is also a biological term, something in insects – but the word that ‘glossary’ triggered was that ghost speaking thing…I remember mnemonizing it with ghost-o-lalala…glossolalia, that was it. It feels good when squiggly red lines do not show up when I write – type, I beg your pardon – an ambiguous word! A feeling of achievement, no matter how small, is never insignificant.

Perhaps absurdity played more than a passing part in Monty Python’s Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.
“For life is quite absurd
And death’s the final word”

So, badinage seems an appropriate addition to the work notebook. Chanced upon it quite by accident, albeit a somewhat satisfying one.

The Ring of the Nibelungen seems similar to Tolkien’s LotR

My eyes flared wide when I read Jane Leeves was in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. Uncredited, but nonetheless, my appreciation of her has gone up another notch!

‘Elide’ has seemingly opposite alternate meanings. Another word added thanks to the offshoot reading from Gravity’s Rainbow annotations in the Pynchon Wiki. Got to it while reading more on Penelope in The Odyssey.

As good a time as any to call it a (Satur)day! Emojis have made yearn for hieroglyphics in Outlook, too.

One-third of May

1 May
Epistemological apperceptions

Is any of the music by Eminem syncopatic?

Thematic apperception test (cards >> TAroT cards)

Read about Tristan and Isolde from the Frasier reference to Wagner, and now checking out Tannhauser from Gravity’s Rainbow. Classical art keeps recurring throughout the kind of creative works that click with my mind.

I cannot bring myself to inveigh at anything or anyone – bar a few temporary aggrievances. It is a good change, I am sure, from the venting of young adult angst onto the question papers of engineering exams, in the spaces between the problem statements.

The search engine at the Wayback Machine is “having issues momentarily”. What do you do THEN? When even failsafes start to crumble, does anything apart from your experience remain?

Tannhauser is Wagner, and Wagner also scored Un Chien Andalou, “written” by Salvador Dali. Found this after starting from Georges Melies’ Google Doodle homage.

A Sunday to rest my eyes from the computer screen, plus El Clasico was excellent to watch.

Slight nausea at this ennui…I routinely get bored of routine. Perhaps disrupting my routine is the only routine I follow. Still, at least this place allows me to write/type without pressure. Small steps towards amorous company are progressing as well, in my usual style of selective aloofness.

You cannot escape your name.

The laws of thought can be most intelligibly expressed thus:
1.   Everything that is, exists.
2.   Nothing can simultaneously be and not be.
3.   Each and every thing either is or is not.
4.   Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.
There would then have to be added only the fact that once for all in logic the question is about what is thought and hence about concepts and not about real things.
— Schopenhauer, Manuscript Remains, Vol. 4, "Pandectae II", §163'

The surrounding nitwits have no chill. Neither do they have the guts to say more than a sentence or two to me. It is as I prefer. Inane small talk with ignorant and shallow people does not interest me in the slightest. It is a (W.A.S.T.E.) of my mind and my time. In this regard, I invoke Jean Paul Sartre: “Hell is other people.”

What is life without whimsy, Sheldon says, and I’m inclined to concur.

Jury-rigged, jerry-built

Soylent Green showed up in The Simpsons too: Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie. In the very next episode, Marge Gets A Job, Citizen Kane homage. Also, she recommends Tom Jones, who came up in a Chrome tab from Bob Dylan’s Nobel speech, referring to the Odyssey as an inspiration for songs. In many intricate way, the knowledge that has existed from classical times percolates into my mind – pop culture or high art, it is all fair game to my mind, devouring all and assimilating most – as much as possible, but that sounds defeatist. Never Give In. J

Managed to reach Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 from Sarnath, via Lovecraft, and his inclusion in the Elseworlds (not named as such when Gotham By Gaslight was first published) comics.

Fitting that I end this week with a link to a linguistic list:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

CATCH 22 - Joseph Heller

I first read this book in college circa 2005, and it has stuck with me ever since for its dark humor and satire on corporations and bureaucracy. The real-life experiences of Joseph Heller served as the inspiration for this 570-page wartime novel.

My last re-read is timestamped 2nd to 13th September 2014, with my final penciled comment reading, "The love of a woman scorned." Most probably, I recalled William Congreve's "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" at the time, in reference to Nately's plight. The character of Nately is part of a huge ensemble of diverse specimens viz. Yossarian (who has "no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions"), pejorative takes on authority in Major Major, Colonels Cathcart and Korn, the plaintive chaplain, Milo Minderbinder with his profiteering schemes et al.

Adding personal commemorative value to Catch-22 is the fact that I had the good fortune of getting Upamanyu Chatterjee, the author of English, August, to autograph my copy at the Times Litfest in New Delhi some time ago. While on the subject of dwelling on things past, Heller, in his preface dated 1994, uses alliteration to great effect in describing his interactions with his publishers and the events surrounding his debut novel's publication. The repetition of phrases, events and actions occurs frequently in the novel as well. In keeping with his trademark morbid humor, he signs off reminding his readers that Yossarian, the central character, is mortal.

The book is easily reflective of the corporate monotony and bureaucratic fallacies that prompted Heller to create the setting - the small island of Pianosa, acting as the base for an Air Force squadron that consists of a bewildering array of idiosyncratic people. Many of these idiosyncrasies arise from the war they are participating in, and it is these quirks and eccentricities in the personas that Heller focuses upon. Employing excellent vocabulary, Heller dispenses epiphanies through his characters, especially Yossarian, as they encounter each other in pursuit of their agendas.

Yossarian serves as the existentialist foil to government machinations. He derides duty, actively attempts to disown war and violence, and unsuccessfully searches for logical reasons for the demands placed on him by his superiors. Encountering the titular dilemma at the very outset, Yossarian cannot bring himself to terms with the obvious (to him) ludicrousness of his situation. Using an omniscient narrator, Heller describes how conversations and decisions of authorities have a percolating effect on Yossarian's actions. Multiple characters accept their "crazy" reality explicitly, aware of the futility of struggling against the illogical system. Unable to escape, Yossarian stumbles through periods of rest and resuscitation while his comrades-in-arms act with abandon. During one of these reprieves, a shockingly gruesome death takes place, followed immediately by another. The detachment from logic seems reinforced after this point, and as the casualties of war pile up, the character of Milo Minderbinder comes into his own, skilfully manipulating the convoluted system for monetary gain.

Of the dozens of characters that have, directly or indirectly, a bearing on Yossarian's future, Milo is unarguably the most dominant. This is proved by his inclusion as a central character in Heller's sequel to Catch-22, aptly titled Closing Time. Throughout both stories, Yossarian worries about death, illnesses and mortality. It is Heller's masterful comedic skill, interspersed with sudden and minor physical assaults, that somehow turns "somber" thoughts into laughable situations for the reader.

The descriptions of the characters are full of opposite adjectives, and the wordplay on some names (Cathcart + 'í' = cathartic) is worthy of applause. Indeed, Catch-22 has deserved all the accolades that have come its way. It IS an awesomax piece of literature!

Addendum from annotations:

"To die or not to die, that was the question." Paraphrasing Shakespeare.

Milo: "Dunbar says there is no God". Me, I say Nietzsche says that.

Hungry Joe and Huple's cat sparked Hemingway's eponymous old man's dreams of lions.

Yossarian's "necrotic" visions of mushrooms reads like a Haruki Murakami supernatural episode.

Capisci - one of the earliest Italian words I understood, courtesy Mario Puzo.

The hospital-and-sick-people topsy-turvy situation reads in the vein of Bilbo Baggins' quip about liking half his party guests half as well as he should and so on in The Lord of the Rings.

"Try getting lit once in a while." Way ahead of its time!

A few typos (Vintage UK 978-0-099-53601-7) but Mostly Harmless, as Douglas Adams said about earth in HHGTTG.

Rorschach tests are mentioned; I've also scribbled deja-vu so they probably occur more than once.

'Medulla oblongata' invoked Fight Club in my mind, further endearing this book to me.

'Transmogrified' - immediately, I recalled Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson's gift to humanity.

In a rare Kafkaesque sequence, Yossarian muses, "What a lousy earth!" This is used in Closing Time (p.25, Scribner 2003).

"Mobs with clubs..." reminded me of A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

"I like the way you lie'' - one word away from Eminem and Rihanna's song.

All in all, an excellent read, littered with insights and verbiage.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ruskin Bond - Snappy Surprises

Published by Rupa, this collection of short ("super shorts", according to Mr Bond) stories is a breezy read, partly due to the format itself, but mainly because the twist-in-the-tale genre was handled better by authors of old. From the occult to the criminal, motives that arose from individual character exploration were a fairly common hallmark of English fiction writers.

Ambrose Bierce, whose stories have been placed by Ruskin at the beginning of the anthology, had a sharp wit by all accounts. I have had his Devil's Dictionary on iBooks since day one, and still find myself flicking through it while traveling. It certainly rips apart the contemporary political and religious landscape, with his trademark satire and acerbic wordplay. One of Douglas Adams' books, Liff, was constructed/compiled along somewhat similar lines, but to equally, if not more, uproarious effect.

Ruskin (he is a charming, gentle, all-smiles man, so I like to refer to him by first name - when I got his autograph at the Times Lit Fest in Delhi this year, he did me the honor of signing my copy of Douglas Adams' A Salmon of Doubt as well, chuckling as he scribbled his "Rusty" scrawl) mentions Bierce's mysterious disappearance in America, which had intrigued me even when I had read about it earlier. His stories, too, are puzzling - at least the ones chosen by Ruskin for this collection.

Kipling and Saki prove their exalted statuses with just a couple of stories plucked from their expansive repertoire. Rudyard Kipling is also one of that tribe of authors living out the ends of their lives in the New Continent/World. Saki (the pen name for H H Munro) was influenced by Kipling by his own admission.

Lord Halifax and Mr Bond themselves pitch in a pair of stories each, and I was surprised - pleasantly - seeing H P Lovecraft's name in the contents. The story, The Statement of Randolph Carter, is quite notable for his usual imaginations of nefarious beasts lurking under the earth's surface.

Overall, the four sections (Bierce, Crime, Supernatural and Classic) provide good options for switching genres at the tip of a hat - or a bend in the road. Great for traveling, as well as preserving for the history of words contained therein.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Television - Westworld (no spoilers)

In short: I like the show. Great production values and impeccable performances. The convoluted plotlines may put off some viewers, as might the graphic content, but it builds up to a larger-than-the-characters scenario.
Adamant viewers' patience is rewarded with unexpected (or, in the case of Anthony Hopkins' character of Dr. Ford, expected) outcomes and plot twists.
The concept has been taken further than Michael Crichton's original treatment, which starred Yul Brenner. Additionally, the later episodes are pacier, with out-of-the-blue murders (of real people, not hosts) and hidden intentions plus actions. These serve well to increase the anticipation going into the season finale, and high expectations from the upcoming season.
The trailer at Comic Con in July 2017 was well-received, although trailers are not the most accurate yardstick for the quality of TV shows.

Drawbacks: meanders sometimes. That's about it.

It's All Good, Man

Writing is going well. It is giving me peace of mind with only a few minor hiccups. This restful phase is certainly letting my body recover from the extensive stress - not damage - that it had gotten used to. Now, on to the Delhi Book Fair to stock up some new books!

Friday, August 4, 2017

New Write

Perhaps the intrinsic inability of any person to “see” neither the light entering the eyes of another, nor the sounds heard, odors smelt, skin crawls felt and palates tickled, is the reason we cannot ever empathize truly. Whilst this observation may not fall into the 'epiphany' category, I fail to see a reason NOT to put it in here on my blog, considering this is How I Wrote The Book I Never Wrote.

Expounding upon the fragments and snatches of self-conversations that continuously go on in my mind is fruitful, to the end that I make better sense of the world than before. When I re-read things I am working on, the endless urge to edit, re-write and alter comes to the fore, and I give in to it. Well, 32 is as good an age as any to get rejected for getting published, so this August, 2017, I shall print out the hundred-odd pages of single-spaced text spanning my under-construction works, and do the proverbial rounds. As I keep telling myself (and immediately ignoring), I’ve got to take the actions that will lead me to the glory I feel certain is mine. Grandiose, lofty thoughts of others can't hold a candle to mine. I think that’s a completely infallible statement, as is this.

Words. I love playing with them, teasing out their relations and connotations, ungrammarizing sometimes, sometimes neowording. This is newwrite, as opposed to Orwell’s Newspeak, which focused on brevity and censure (among other dystopian things). I am utopian in outlook, there is nowhere to go but the metaphorical up for humanity. Literally, however, it is to space that we must migrate as a species, taking other forms of life with us, to attain Asimov’s galactic scale of human exploration. His prescience is a wonder to me, more so than my other favorites, Philip K Dick, Ursula Le Guin, Douglas Adams and Ray Bradbury. His concept of Ba-lee and Da-neel is already moving to fruition, with our tech visionaries taking opposing sides in the Artificial Intelligence debate. I feel better already, even more so than when I started writing this newwrite.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Great start to 2017

Off to Kathmandu to attend Sappy's wedding, and 2017 couldn't be off to a better start.

Even if Twitter closes down this year, I will have tweeted enough to compile a repository of epiphanies (and reactions to others).

TBH, the self-imposed constraints on my tweets can be irksome sometimes. This is part of the reason behind this post.

This company has tided me over 6 months, and I am richer by 50k (already), so it's been a great half-year, especially after the momentous first half of 2016. On second thought, the momentous SECOND QUARTER (April, May, June) of 2016 were EXCELLENT. From July onward, the year flashed by in an extended session of information-devouring through the WORLD WIDE WEB - slightly different from the Internet in that my surfing was highly eclectic.

Tomorrow, if the intervening #6hourisms go well, I will take a break from this slowly-getting-monotonous office and chill out a bit. Au revoir.

Friday, December 23, 2016

nadsat, methinks

Anthony Burgess came up with nadsat by speaking imaginarily, methinks. Oh, TIL that Rudyard Kipling used methinks as a word in a science fictional advertisement for a Standard Dig [Dirigible] Construction Co., in his Aerial Board of Control bulletin.

Since this thought was longer than a tweet and I don't yet trust the prevalent threading fashion (pun intended), I thought I'll creak open the blog's attic door.

That's all for now, or as Looney Tunes ends, That's All, Folks!