Weak Humour

The other day as I was driving around the neighborhood I spotted the following sign at the entry of a neighboring town:
Road Sign

Red Light Photo Enforced Community – Hmmm.. that seems odd and contrived I thought. But I knew what it conveyed. In that community, at certain traffic light intersections. cameras and sensors monitored whether cars came to a full stop on a red light – exactly where they are supposed to (e.g. going over the white line is a violation). If you did not follow the law to the tee, you get a surprise in your mail a few days later. A ticket with a hefty fine, along with a photograph of your car “caught red handed”! You can even go to a website where they will have a video of you caught in the act. Obviously, I am speaking from experience 🙂 !

This was done in my town last year and everybody raised a big hue and cry because it was seen as a big money making racket for the town. For example, they installed it not in intersections which were already considered dangerous (from past accident history), but ones where they expected more crowd etc. – and ones where more affluent folks from other towns were expected to visit – i.e. better revenue stream. It was also argued that these caught more of the very minor violations (e.g. you did stop but went over the line) rather than the real dangerous, major ones as in someone clearly ignored the red light and shot through the intersection. There is also the “big brother is watching” feeling this gave to common folk. Eventually the PR was bad enough that they stopped it. But this is good business for the towns, and they can always say “hey, laws are meant to be followed”. In US, if it is good business, it is usually unstoppable.

Anyway, enough of about that, as that is the not the true intent of this post. It is instead about something far more trivial! I felt that the ordering the words red light photo enforced community read odd and seemed contrived. If one wanted to convey that in your community, stopping at red light was enforced via photo, is this how one would word it? My English isn’t super strong, and so maybe, this is fine, but it still seems odd. As I was thinking of alternate ways, I broke out into a broad smile and guffawed, because I am sure they must have thought of the another ordering and immediately rejected it as it immediately would have been appeared at FAIL blog as follows:

Road Sign Fail

Road Sign FAIL

“Photo enforced Red Light Community” – Now that reads quite funny if you think about it 🙂 !

PS: If you have not checked out FAIL Blog (http://failblog.org) you must. It is hilarious and will keep you occupied for a while!

Isn’t this sobering (in an ironic way)? Today I stumbled upon a definition for my net moniker as indicated http://www.urbandictionary.com (warning: content is risque. Don’t ask me how/why I stumbled upon this)

1. arunk
A state beyond drunkeness (sic), the level above brunk.
Well, I was def a little drunk after those pints, then the rails, the chron, and that x pill have taken me right up to arunk

Now I wonder where how it all got started 😉 ?

Ok, a controversial post and one that also reveals my political inclinations although that was made somewhat obvious in my rant long ago (at least Babu saw through that 🙂 ).  This post may not be to your liking depending on your political inclinations, but I just found the connection mentioned below too enticing! But in case this gets your blood boiling, be assured that the connection below could potentially be adapted to a different version that can make you smile too 😉 !

There is a song by Pink Floyd in their Animals album called Pigs (Three Different Ones). It is an awesome song which really should have been mentioned as one of my favorites in my earlier post on the Floyd.

The Animals album’s main concept is to portray different sections of society as animals:

  • Pigs, who are the (scheming, sleazy)  people who influence/control society/system – i.e. typically politicians
  • Dogs, who are the enforces of the schemes of the Pigs
  • Sheep, who are the common folk at the low end at the order and thus helplessly manipulated by the other two.

The song Pigs (Three Different Ones) is an angry, menacing outburst at Pigs. It is in three stanzas, each talking about a (different) pig, a certain politically/socially influential person. A couple of stanzas actually refers to specific people in England (see here).

But I think with a little modification, this song fits three people who have been prominent in the US political spectrum in the last decade or so:

Karl Rove
(Initially thought of Donald Rumsfeld but the lyrics maybe fit Rove better? Or may be I could have picked Rush Limbaugh?)

Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are
You well heeled big wheel, ha ha, charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
With your head down in the pig bin
Saying “keep on digging”
Pig stain on your fat chin
What do you hope to find?
When you’re down in the pig mine
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry.

Dick Cheney
(fits him like a glove – except for the hat pin part)

Bus stop rat bag, ha ha, charade you are
You f****d up old hag bag, ha ha, charade you are
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost worth a quick grin
You like the feel of steel
You’re hot stuff with a hat pin
And good fun with a handshot gun
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry.

George Bush
Hey you Whitehouse, ha ha, charade you are
You house proud town mouse, ha ha, charade you are
You’re trying to keep our feelings off the street
You’re nearly a real treat
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?
You gotta stem the evil tide
And keep it all on the inside
MaryDubya you’re nearly a treat
MaryDubya you’re nearly a treat
But you’re really a cry.

Although very raw and menacing (certainly dicey in the current political climate), the correlation is still interesting isn’t it 🙂 ? I though the second stanza with “Radiates cold shafts of broken glass”, and “Hot stuff with a handgun” was just too good as-is in the orignal. Same with Whitehouse and “house-proud town mouse” – to be funny.

Now, if you are on the other end of the spectrum,  am sure, if you think hard enough, you could come up with three liberals/democrats to fit you needs too 🙂 !

Oh btw, you can catch the (original) song itself here. Even if you don’t enjoy the correlation, enjoy the song!

In the recent Tamil blockbuster, Dasavatharam, Kamal plays 10 roles – one of which is George Bush. By now, you may have heard that the makeup job for most roles in that movie was sub-par. Probably, the worst was for the George Bush character (or maybe a toss-up with the patti). However, I do see some blog reviews giving him credit for playing a funny Dubya, i.e. being “true to the role”. Yes, he certainly did get the spirit of it, but it failed to impress me. The Dubya related jokes were okay – but in a way too easy, a bit too obvious. However, I think he failed to impress me mainly because I have seen some terrific Bush impersonators here in the US. After all wouldn’t Americans know their President better 🙂 ? Anyway, here are three of the best:

Frank Caliendo
Frank Caliendo is the latest sensation among impersonators here in the US. He does an uncanny Bush – in my opinion, the best.

Frank Caliendo also does a very good Clinton (as seen in that clip), and also many sports personalities including John Madden, which I believe is his claim to fame. I used to look forward to his Madden impersonation (“Monday Night John”, and then “Sunday Night John”) on a local Chicago sports radio station .

Steve Bridges:
Steve Bridges is probably the most popular Bush impressionist – he is even “Dubya approved” as he has appeared with George Bush himself at a “press conference”. He has also made appearances in several TV shows.

As you can see, unlike typical impersonators, he comes with a make-up job – much much better than Kamal’s. I am not sure he has any significant natural advantage in terms of similarity in physical traits here as he also “transforms” himself effectively to the other characters he does. With Bush, he certainly has got the voice with the accent, but in my opinion, Frank Caliendo’s pulls off the mannerisms better. Steve Bridges actually does a very very good Arnold (as seen in the second half of this clip), which in my opinion is easily his best character.

Will Ferrell
Of course, Will Ferrel was probably the earliest one to do Bush – while he was on Saturday Night Live. Here is a more recent clip:

So how do you measure Kamal’s Dubya against these?

Warning: There is a good reason why this is tagged under Weak Humor.

As everyone knows, writers (particularly bad bloggers like mua) experience Writer’s Block frequently. The most irritating form of this is when you come up with a nice train of thought, something funny or profound or powerful, but then you all of a sudden you start losing gas, and soon hit a wall. You are unable to finish it with the punch you had envisioned when it all started.

Now, I would guess that most people simply bang their heads, pull their hair, swear at their computer screens and so on until they come with something decent, or they just give it up for another day. I mean that you don’t see people still ending that thought with gibberish like “and blah blah blah blah”.

I think music composers (lyricists included) must also experience such blocks, but they also must be quite bold and daring to end those fine musical thoughts with gibberish. That can be the only explanation for blabber to find a place in some songs. However amazingly, the gibberish seems to have an accentuating effect on the music. At the least, I think the composers seem to fall in love with it and get carried away. And this happens even to the best of them. Here, I present some examples:

Example-1: Deva’s Achakku and Gumukku
Here, the evidence of the block that this music director experienced, and and how he got out of it is quite obvious:

Phase-1: He comes up with a killer tune, a pulsating beat, the beginnings of a sure hit:

But, he runs into a wall – he just cannot finish that train of high-energy musical thought. Those last two phrases – he has even got the bleeping tune but no !$#@$ words that rhyme! The blasted lyricist is no help as he seems to be stuck in a do-loop and can only up with more of the same stuff – photo-kaaran, moto-kaaran, motto-kaaran, lotto-kaaran, thoatta-karan, ralph-lauren etc. What to do?

Briliiant – isnt’t it? But he is not done! For the ending of the song, he feels that the energy must be taken up a few notches, and so he simply goes bonkers:

Example – 2: Maestro’s Jagajagajaalam
Now some of maestro‘s fans (mua included) may shake their heads and go Tsk tsk tsk! What else would you expect from normal, mortal, non-genius music directors?

However, it shocked me to find out that even the maestro has succumbed to this 😦 .

Phase-1: A nice tune, catchy beat:

Phase-2: But for the next two lines, the maestro wanted something else besides the violin response. Some other instrument maybe? But he was obviously unhappy with cello, flute, veena etc. or any known instrument the world had produced till then – acoustic and electronic. The search must have been hard and painful. It ended with the selection of that uniquely Indian alternative to the synthesizer – the jagajagajijer.

Phase-3: He obviously fell in love with the sound of the jagajagajijer, and hence decided to forge new ground. I suspect that he must have hooked it up to some sort of an effects rhythm processor to create new, funky rhythmic sounds like jaangu, jakku and chajakku. However note that he is respectful to intellectual property and plagiarism laws, and avoids using the obvious “jaambajaar jakku” that would have jelled perfectly here.

BTW, Deva above also uses the human jagajagajijer in the Sample 1 song above, but out of respect to maesrtro, he morphs the ja to ya as in yayayaaayaya yayayaayaya yayayaayaya (perhaps he used a Hispanic version of the jagajagagjijer). He also respects maestro’s intellectual property and uses more new rhythmic sounds: jumku, juppadi and jumka (check it all out here).

Example-3: Dahler’s Th(k)unuk(ku)
Now some of our north Indian friends may say – Well that is Tamil music for you. Meaningless, silly stuff!. But we must inform them that this is not something that afflicts only the proud tamizh makkal. Let us look at Dahler Mehndi.

He has a nice raag going setting a calm mood. He also has the words and tune for the opening line – the storm following the calm as he envisioned it. But something probably didn’t feel right. He needed a bridge over babblebrook.

Sidebar: Coming to think of it, the lyrics sound vaguely familiar bringing back nostalgic memories of me begging my grandpa for that South Indian snack called kunukku. BTW, are there any restaurants in Chennai that serve kunukku?

Example-4: The Greatest Bladi Band
Now maybe some of our western friends want to pooh-pooh all of Indian music because of all this. Besides the obvious point that they just simply don’t get our music, allow me to present the greatest band of all time:

I heard that Desmond went “Oh bloody Molly! Shut up!” but Paul didn’t know about it.

There are of course many more examples – perhaps more outrageous than these. So feel free to chime in.

The title may seem like a post that you would run into krishashok‘s blog – but mine is not even going to half as funny. It just reflects a memory association I made when I thought of Thanksgiving, the upcoming American holiday.

Thanksgiving is (yet) another American holiday whose significance is sort of lost on me and probably to most Americans. Only one thing is plain obvious. On that day, the entire US population (with some exceptions like Indian vegetarians like me) takes it out on one bird – the turkey a.k.a. Vaan Kozhi in Tamil. You even have advertisements during these times where turkeys joke about their impending doom – although somehow I think the turkeys themselves won’t think Thanksgiving is funny. There is certainly historical significance to Thanksgiving but to the casual observer like me that simply has given away to cooking and eating Turkey, and watching American football. I will certainly participate in the latter – watching football. But I love Thanksgiving anyway. Why you ask? Hey – a four day weekend during November. So who cares why?

Anyway, like I said earlier, the “Vaan-Kozhi Biriyani” is a nostalgic reference for me. Ha! When I phrase it that way, it sounds ironically funny even to me – being a vegetarian and all.

Long, long long ago in a land far way, I was in my high school volleyball team. Before you may be tempted to think “wow – not bad”, I actually sucked – I was in the team only because some of my friends literally ran the team. We went to participate in a district tournament. We knew we will get our butts kicked, because, in reality, our entire team sucked. So this was just like a nice picnic trip – to “exotic” Dharapuram.

We were put up in some high school. We arrived late evening, and spent the night in a classroom. No bedding of any sort, just slept on old creaky classroom benches. I remember the benches havning a lot of creative scribblings on all the swear words in Tamil n various permutations and combinations, and used in the context of different teacher’s body parts. Like a refresher course on how to creatively swear in Tamil – not that our group needed them. But we soon decided these weren’t as creative as our own high school benches and went to sleep – although not adding a few scribblings about our P.T teacher, our coach, who was snoring away happily.

Next morning, we did our morning duties near the river amidst lush green paddy fields. We then went to the best (since it was the only) restaurant nearby – a “pottikkadai” styled Military Hotel”. As we walked in, we see the sign (in tamil) – “Today’s special – Vaan Kozhi Biriyani”. Half of us did not even know what Vaan-Kozhi was, and thought it was some wild forest bird, and that we were walking into some sort of a slaughter house where “anything that moves gets eaten”. Sort of like some “road kill Cafes” in US, where “you eat what you kill”. Anyway, this half of us were real “Thayir Saadhams” – had not even eaten an omelet in our lives (well, things have changed for me since then …).

I can still remember the uneasiness in our faces as we ordered Dosai, knowing that the Dosai was probably made on the same stone, where the guy has just then sauted the Vaan-Kozhi. Some skipped lunch altogether. But not me – I loved and still love Dosai too much. And it was tasty – vaan-kozhi flavored or not. I still remember us laughing about the vaan-kozhi Biriyani, maybe because that was the last time we laughed in Dharapuram that day as we got steam-rolled an hour later by the best team of the district.

But for this thanksgiving, not even vaan-kozhi Biriyani for me. But Dosai and some American football is good enough for a road-trip down memory lane.

Indian CofeeCoffee house CoffeeExpresso Cup

Sometimes I wonder how come South Indians, particularly Tamilians, get hooked on to coffee so bad. We love coffee, and love to yap about coffee (like I am about to). We are in general very finicky about the taste of our coffee, and very stingy with our coffee ratings. These characteristics seem magnified among South Indians in the US, i.e. my kind. This is mostly about that kind.

Before I begin I must note this: I see a disturbing trend among youngsters from Tamil Nadu. They are not drinking coffee because (gasp!) they don’t like it . Some of them prefer (gasp! gasp!) Tea, and some prefer just milk (what the ?). Parents – please respect our traditions! Raise your kids the proper South Indian way so that they don’t end up like these!

I think I can say that most South Indians are in general stingy with money too. However, you see pretty much all of them hooked on to the trendy coffee shops i.e. Starbucks Coffee and its brethren – the modern success story on “How to repackage and market an age-old product and rip-off everyone”. When it comes to coffee all the South Indian stinginess is gone. We readily shell out $2.75 or so for a Cappuccino or Latte. For those in US, you know that means slightly more expensive than a decent lunch at Taco Bell!

So you pay $2.75 for a drink that comes in a cup that looks fairly large. But the first time you hold the cup, you know something is wrong – it is feather light. You soon realize that of course this is because 75% of the cup is foam and there is only 25% of coffee (albeit strong). But it’s dressed up in a cool sounding foreign name, sold in a classy joint, and we Indians (mua included of course) can’t seem to see through the charade. At least in Europe, they play it straight – teeny weeny amount of coffee comes in a teeny-weeny cup with a teeny-weeny handle. I suspect that Europeans raise their kids the “right way”- since the handles on the coffee cups seem appropriate for a five year old.

Anyway, I don’t get the point of this foam business. It is fluff and only for look. To generate more of it, Starbucks etc. use cold milk – which of course brings the temperature of the coffee down. That is a big no-no for the South Indian coffee palette. Worse – the foam takes up most of the cup, and so end up with mostly looks and little substance. But the looks apply only if you are drinking the coffee at the store itself out of a regular cup where at least you can see the foam. But most people take it “to go”, and the fluff is completely hidden by the cup. So unless you plan to practice for an audition for those “Got Milk?” commercials, you are getting ripped off badly. You are paying a lot for fluff which has little to no taste, is not even visible, and has the potential of making you look silly if you are not careful. But it is indeed marketing genius at work as even the smart, thrifty Indian continues to get fooled.

The South Indian home brew:
The South Indian in US is usually proud of his coffee at home. When you make a new acquaintance with an Indian friend, it is not uncommon for him to brag about how strong the coffee he makes at his home is, and how close to authentic Indian it is etc. He usually offers his coffee with the proud statement You cannot get real coffee like this anywhere else. Most of us Indian coffoholics are constantly looking to come with a US brew that is closest to what we have in India. I have searched high and low and finally settled on this: Melitta Classic Brand only. This is 100% Arabica – this is important for me. Three scoops for just 1 cup and only brewed in a small coffee maker (i.e. 4-cup capacity). This makes a super strong “decoction” an absolute necessity for South Indian style coffee.

It is strong, smells divine and is quite good. One puzzler though is that it tastes divine at 7 AM, the exact same brew tastes quite ordinary at 3 PM. Somehow my taste buds seem to behave differently between mornings and afternoons.
I brag about my home coffee brew. I serve it to my friends. They all seem to like it – but I wonder if they are just being polite, and are really thinking This sucks. This guy doesn’t have a clue about strong Indian style coffee. He should come to my home!

Of course, the fall back to reality is when I visit Chennai and take that very first cup of coffee made by mom (as soon as I arrive of course). I take the first sip and I go – Now. This is coffee. I have been drinking crap in the US.

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