Pandora’s Box of Slumdog Qawwali

I was very pleased to see “Slumdog Millionaire” sweep the Oscars. I was even more pleased to see Francesca coming out of the showing before us, at the Alamo. It touched on a dizzying array of India-specific realities. One of which lept out of the screen and into the laps of the film makers – the BBC reported that the boy and girl who played Salim and Latika still lived in the slums (one in a tarp under a bridge), and only recently were relocated to permanent houses.
The closing dance number in the train station (Jai Ho) was also ek dam pukka accha hai, although this one may beat it:
Didn’t know he spoke Hindi? Now you do.
Actually, what got all this started today was being Facecrack-tagged for a list of 25 favorite albums of all time (not done yet). I included ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s “Live in Paris,” which got me thirsty for some tenor qawwali wajad, leading me in turn to create a Pandora station using his name, resulting (to my delighted bewilderment) in a series of club-DJ productions of Bollywood-style songs. 
So that’s my favorite new station. Amanpreet Kaur’s Bhabi Meri Gut all day, baby.
Published in: on February 25, 2009 at 7:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Your Pedagogy Ran Over My Demagogy

Here at Conglomerated Golden Handcuffs ‘R Us Ltd, I have the skull-splitting task of translating hypertechnical database, scripting, and code requirements into standard American business English. I’ve been doing it for awhile, and can usually just cut-and-paste snippets from memory, and, like a vast colon (heh), break down dense technobabble into digestible brain bites.
Like any job, once you master the shortcuts and tricks (what gamers call “cheats”), work becomes more like play. For instance (and shake a geek stick at me if you need to), I have a knack for the spiky line dance of sentence diagrams – my high school comp teacher woke me to the same cool feeling with diagramming as Mom did with Scrabble. They can be more satisfying than crosswords, if you know what you’re doing; plus they keep my English mechanics chops all axle greasy.
But every once in awhile, developers barf up blocks of content that make my train of thought jump track:
The product should allow filtered query of the messages + messageArgs by partially ETL’ing the message data by means of a background process (like blockstoreunhexer) that left joins from messages to the translated tables (new tables by lang or not, containing the ‘final form’ messages), uses that as the “todo list”, and final-form-s the translations into the read-tables for filtered querying.
And if it weren’t for the elegant utility of the sentence diagram, it’d take hours to sort subject from object from banana peel.
Feel free to point out my errors: that took me ten minutes to create longhand, and about 30 minutes to transpose with Dia. About half the time it took to write this post.
Listening to a loop of Ronnie Montrose’s Mach1 helped.  All four and a half minutes of it.
Published in: on February 18, 2009 at 7:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lemon Gloria Interviewish Thang

Lisa was interviewed by Lemmonex, and it was cool, so I played along.

To join in, follow these instructions:
1. Email me w/“Interview me.”
2. I’ll email you five questions.
3. You post the interview somewhere, and link back to this post.
4. Then you also post these rules and offer to interview someone else

I’ve known Lisa’s family since before both of us were born. Francesca and I went to her wedding last year. Annnnnnnnd here we go:

1. I know you love to travel.  So in a fictional scenario, you and your wife have a child-free week (If you choose to – they’re with relatives, who are delighted to have them), the time off work, and unlimited cash.  What do you do?

It’s true I love to travel, but in the same way I love to go backpacking or have marital relations – I successfully feel love for it far more frequently than am actually successful at it. I haven’t been back in Asia for 25 years. That’s what I consider traveling. It may be awhile again to pick up where we left off, to be honest. Mexico’s a 4 hour drive. I went to Amsterdam for 10 days. Those don’t really count. What would count would be to fly to Chennai, visit Kodai Kanal, and a week later train it north to Agra, Veranasi, and Delhi. A quick email to our parents, and train west to Rajesthan – Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur. Then fly to Kathmandu for a week, and do some trekking – like Solo Kumbu, where you went. Kala Pattar. The last week we’d stay in a house boat in Kashmir, somewhere relatively safe. That’s a good solid “week” or so. Kids might wonder where we are, but relatives have them, you say? 

If they’re so delighted, they can keep it up for a month or two. They got used to it, right? I’m kidding, grandparents reading this. We’d be back in 3 weeks.

2. If you could have dinner with any famous person, living or dead, who would it be?

I’d want it to be an enjoyable time, so I wouldn’t inter any dead people to prop up at the table; also I can’t pick someone I’m in awe of, who would make me feel like a blubbering groupie. Like Ani Difranco. She’d probably be super cool, and try to put me at ease, and actually try herself to have a good time with me. But it would fail. I’d acquire Alzheimer’s, rickets and Turret’s right quick. Also, even people I eat with who are considered famous secretly complain about what a pain in the ass it is to choose a restaurant that has a good vegetarian selection to accommodate me, so I’d actually suggest dinner at my house.

Ultimately, I think we’d have a pretty good time having Patton Oswalt and his wife over for dinner. I’d fix the fake-meatiest courses he’d ever seen, and get him to admit hippy abominable deathless duck, sausage and steak can be as sumptuous, filling, and tasty as anything that rat he played would aggressively push on his menu. Two loaves of fresh bread, infused with barley that I’d brew a beer with specifically for the meal; and a homemade oaked-up Californian red. Tiramisu. Plus we would get lit the f*ck up after, more likely than not. Just to take the edge off of the gig – someone like Patton obliged by this question to eat dinner with someone like me.

3. Imagine yourself on The Daily Show.  What are you famous for?  What is Jon Stewart interviewing you about?

I’d be invited because of the speed at which I rose to fame – simply by writing and recording songs with my laptop for the web, I sold millions of downloads without performing once on stage, like an actual legitimate musician. Plus all my novels. And movies I wrote, directed, produced and starred in. Oh, and I cured malaria while brokering the permanent Israel-Palestine Peace Accord. Then he would hire me during the interview, while we’re on a roll here. As Bill Hicks said, “why don’t you pretend? You get paid more than me, you fantasize.”

4. How has having children changed your view of the world?  Has it changed how you see yourself in the world?

Before switching to English, I was going for an Education degree, and worked at a preschool during most of my college years (I never actually graduated, of course, slacker I am). Same school Francesca went to for kindergarten and summer camp. Teaching young kids and training with child experts changed my understanding of the purpose of the world, and how we’re supposed to act in it. I feel lucky for the people who taught me how to get a head start on early childhood ed, now that Parenting’s who I am. All the choices made about work, friendships, family events-everything I do is for the kids. Which for me is an improvement, because I didn’t lead a very safe or uniquely interesting life before them. I will say that I bust my ass to score software and engineering gigs solely because they pay well, and I probably wouldn’t if I didn’t feel I had to. So that’s a nice perk when I’m drooling over a new toy or $15 microbrew.

Jodie insists that my life hasn’t changed that much, meaning I still can visit my friends’ houses, go to a pub, see the occasional band, and all the stuff she can’t because of bedtime with The Boobs (her boobs). Not that I do any of those but once or twice a month – just that I can. Truth is, today I’d be able to stave off an infarction for about a week living like I did in my 20s and 30s. And though still an asshole, getting older I feel relieved I didn’t turn out to be the old broken-down asshole I would’ve been without kids.

Having daughters saved my fatherhood. I don’t know how my parents raised my brother and me. I can’t tell you how it feels  like, watching my capacity for love expand every year, as my kids and marriage grow older. I’d probably have lots of love in my life without them, but I can’t imagine living with that trifle amount, when I hold the two up. I bow down a hundred little ways every day for every woman in my house. I have a great appreciation for, and sympathize to pity with, my parents for raising us two boys. We were terrible, smelly, violent, reckless, rude young males in their life.

My daughters can be hellions, but they live in a world of pastels and lace and makeup and fairies and horses. They’re in constant conversation, and they love us actively; they’re peacemakers; they listen. I’m almost ashamed how easy it is to raise them. 

I don’t know who I’d be without my children. Sometimes I work really f*cking hard at it, and some days it just comes about, for free, but in the end I got what I wanted. Jodie says she agrees. All that feels pretty good, most of the time. How has it changed me? I don’t know, I’m not that interested in the person I’d be otherwise. Compared to him, I kind of win.

5. If you had to choose a flavor of ice cream that most fits your personality, what kind do you think you would be?  Feel free to make one up if necessary.

Bhang ki thandai gulab jamun.

Published in: on February 9, 2009 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pipie and Toots Paint Hands

Scout is almost 4, and Piper’s around 2.
Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment