Monday, June 27, 2005

I've been SUDOKED!

Yes ... it's happened ... after a couple of weeks' resistance, I finally succumbed to the SUDOKania reportedly sweeping the world. To mark the change in all our lives, I have compiled a short list of indispensible SUDOKISMS for the days to come (I am never the first to do anything, so I'm assuming there are already whole SUDOKUtionaries in existence. This list, however, represents my own modest little offering, compiled without reference to or knowledge of any other).

And also, just to be generous, I am going to post the template for a puzzle I found especially taxing ... (it should appear above or on the left of this text) I created a copy of it in clunky old MS.PAINT. If you copy the image to your computer (by right-clicking on the pic, then SAVING AS), you can fill in the blanks by dragging the blue numbers provided on the right-hand side into their (potential) locations in the grid. I am assuming you already know what to do? In case you don't, the idea is to fill in the grid so that every horizontal and vertical line has one and only one representative each of the first nine integers (excluding the zero). Additionally, there are no repetitions in each of the nine small 9x9 squares.

This particular puzzle appeared in the ASIAN AGE, on June 15th 2005. I hope I'm not violating any copyright laws by publishing it here ...

And here's my list:

TO BE SUDOKED: seduction by numbers
SUDOKUDOS: the praise that comes from a completing a puzzle successfully
SUDOKIAN: one who solves/struggles to solve SU DO KU (variant: SUDOKUAN; SUDOKAN)
PSEUDOKAN: one who fakes success at SU DO KU
SUDOVOCE: the soft voice in which a SUDOKIAN speaks whilst in the midst.
SUDOCANCAN: in which pretty girls fling their legs up while solving SU DO KU (see also: SUDOCOULOTTE)
SUJUDOKU: in which serious-minded types practice martial arts while solving SU DO KU
SUDOJOJO: a very young kangaroo who solves SU DO KU in a martial arts club
PSEUDOJOJO: a toy version of the above
SUDOCOO: a SUDOKIAN's romantic wittering
SUDOKOOKY: a SUDOKIAN who has lost her/his wits to the puzzle
SUDOCAB: in which one sits while solving SU DO KU, while also, incidentally getting from point A to point B
SUDOKUDU: African antelope with a bent for numbers
PSEUDOKUDU: a goat pretending to be an African antelope
SUDOCTOR: one who specializes in ailments of the puzzling variety
SUDOKIDDING: silly puns involving SU DO KU
SUDOKAY: response to the question: HOW'S YOUR SU DO KU?
SUDOCOOK: one who finds it difficult to cook
SUDOCUCKOLD: one whose spouse prefers puzzles to spouses

*I prefer it this way to the way it was. I've been wanting to amend it ever since posting the list. It's like wanting to scratch an itch in the middle of one's back ... ahhh. All better now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Musings on a Special Day

A friend who is also a June baby sent me this charming item -- it perfectly expresses my thoughts on mortality as I slide over into my 52nd year(no, not today). I saw The Sound of Mucus when I was an extremely cynical and unsentimental 12-year-old, and HATED it. But I saw it another 6 times with all the friends and family who adored it, it was the subject of a mega-musical at the American School in Kodaikanal (I went to Presentation Convent, on the neighbouring hill) and eventually, after much time had passed, I had to concede that Julie Andrews is a wonderful star even if I DID continue to think that particular film was diabetic-coma-sweet.

So here's a toast to Julie! And here's her current version of MY FAVOURITE THINGS:

To commemorate her 69th birthday on October 1, actress/vocalist Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall for the benefit of the AARP. One of the musical numbers she performed was "My Favorite Things" from the legendary movie "Sound Of Music." However, the lyrics of the song were deliberately changed for the entertainment of her "blue hair" audience. Here are the lyrics she recited:

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts and hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak,
When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favorite things,

And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets, and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heat pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no fear of sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache,
when the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,

And then I don't feel so bad.

Ms. Andrews received a standing ovation from the crowd that lasted over four minutes and repeated encores.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Guess who's been flirting outrageously with JAI ARJUN SINGH of Business Standard? None other than my unpredictable friend (umm ... okay, we have a slightly more intimate relationship, but I won't embarrass her) SUKI. She agreed to be interviewed for Saturday's (June 18th) weekend supplement of BizStan -- it was all done in perfect virtuality -- Jai sent along his questions and a photograph, Suki obliged him rather more familiarly than I would have expected. *sigh* She always was a difficult character ... Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Carpel Diem

I've been planning to compose a post about two events-to-be later in my year, but I realize most visitors are only peripherally interested in news-bulletin-type posts. Okay, so I'll just blurt it out, very quickly and then you can get to the funnies: my play HARVEST (do I hear a groan from those folks who saw the Delhi production?) is going to be performed in the US in two entirely separate productions. The first will be in Philadelphia (dir. Erin B. Mee) in September, and the second in Berkeley (dir. Sudipto Chatterjee), in November. The Philadelphia show will move to New York's LaMama, in January 2006. This is all very cool news. I have been containing my gladness rather well all these weeks, but am finally starting to freak (oh very slightly) around the edges, as I'm forced to think of practical issues such as tickets and travel.

Okay, and now we can get on with the jokes.

I found this list in my private joke archive -- yes, folks, there are some nerds so atrociously far gone that we will save our jokes for a rainy ... um ... well, okay for a day when the modem's not working.

These are from a NEW YORK magazine contest.
Contestants had to change ONE letter in a familiar non-English phrase and redefine it...

HARLEZ-VOUS FRANCAIS? - Can you drive a French motorcycle?
IDIOS AMIGOS - We're wild and crazy guys!
VENI, VIPI, VICI - I came, I'm a very important person, I conquered
J'Y SUIS, J'Y PESTES - I can stay for the weekend
COGITO EGGO SUM - I think, therefore I am a waffle
RIGOR MORRIS - The cat is dead
RESPONDEZ S'IL VOUS PLAID - Honk if you're Scots
QUE SERA SERF - Life is feudal
LE ROI EST MORT. JIVE LE ROI - The King is dead. No kidding.
POSH MORTEM - Death styles of the rich and famous
PRO BOZO PUBLICO - Support your local clown
MONAGE A TROIS - I am three years old
FELIX NAVIDAD - Our cat has a boat
HASTE CUISINE - Fast French Food
VENI, VIDI, VICE - I came, I saw, I partied
QUIP PRO QUO - A fast retort
ALOHA OY - Farewell; from such a pain you should never know
MAZEL TON - Lots of luck
APRES MOE LE DELUGE - Larry and Curly get wet
PORTE-KOCHERE - Sacramental wine
ICH LIEBE RICH - I'm really crazy about having dough
FUI GENERIS - What's mine is mine
VISA LA FRANCE - Don't leave chateau without it
AMICUS PURIAE - Platonic friend
L'ETAT, C'EST MOE - All the world's a stooge

(my offering for the evening)
CARPEL DIEM - Enjoying the pain in my wrist

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Michael Jackson's Acquittal

I'm delighted that MJ got off without even a slap on the wrist -- unlike the OJ trial, in this case I really don't think there was any manipulation: his accuser didn't have a strong case and Mesereau was able to prove it. Not that I think MJ's innocent -- I'm sure he's got an altered definition of what's "normal" in this world -- but surely it was the accuser's family which was totally twisted for leaving their boy alone with MJ, knowing that the guy had a ... shall we say ... history?

I was surprised to hear (from my niece, in Boston) that there are lots of people out there who believe that the BAD boy should've been locked away forever.

Why? There are millions of people who are much more dangerous on account of being less obviously twisted, in whose care children are entrusted: lecherous priests (of all religions); untrained nannies; untrained teachers; irresponsible parents. I'm not even getting into the issue of children used as slave-labour in all kinds of unmonitored industries, from glass bangles to fireworks, from carpets to rag-picking.

MJ was being used as a scapegoat for all the guilt people feel about the dreadful ways in which children are used and abused by adults. Even the atmosphere of fear in which children are being raised today is, in my opinion, a problem. Sometime or another, surely we have to face the truth about the dangerous and rapacious world in which we live -- rather than save ourselves the effort of looking in that direction, by focusing upon one or two scapegoats and crucifying them.

If Michael had gone behind bars, it would have been tantamount to shooting him -- or sentencing him to rigorous torture -- I doubt he'd have survived it. For all those who think he did something wrong, perhaps it's worth asking the question: how come such a twisted individual (which is apparently what many people think he is) became a mega-celebrity, anyway? Why do we reward freaks for being what they are -- then burn them at the stake when their freakishness ceases to amuse us?

Dance on, Michael! Thank you for the music.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Eight Words with THREE Meanings

Okay, time to lighten up ...

1. THINGY (thing-ee) n.
Female...... Any part under a car's hood.
Male..... The strap fastener on a woman's bra.
Me..... Being senile means never having to remember the names of anything. Or thingy.

2. VULNERABLE (vul-ne-ra-bel) adj.
Female.... Fully opening up one's self emotionally to another.
Male.... Playing cricket without a box.
Me..... Like the dhoti-clad man I once saw, many years ago, asleep on the grass of Bombay's oval maidan, curled up on his side, with his masculine equipment neatly displayed on the white cloth of his dhoti.

3. COMMUNICATION (ko-myoo-ni-kay-shon) n.
Female.... The open sharing of thoughts and feelings with one's partner.
Male... Leaving a note before taking off on a fishing trip with theboys.
Me..... Updating my blog.

4. COMMITMENT (ko-mit-ment) n.
Female.... A desire to get married and raise a family.
Male...... Trying not to hit on other women while out with this one.
Me..... Updating my blog regularly.

5. ENTERTAINMENT (en-ter-tayn-ment) n.
Female.... A good movie, concert, play or book.
Male...... Anything that can be done while drinking beer.
Me..... Visiting other blogs.

6. FLATULENCE (flach-u-lens) n.
Female.... An embarrassing byproduct of indigestion.
Male...... A source of entertainment, self-expression, male bonding.
Me..... A thingy that rhymes with "art"..

7 MAKING LOVE (may-king luv) n.
Female...... The greatest expression of intimacy a couple canachieve.
Male.. Call it whatever you want, just as long as we do it.
Me..... Sharing icecream.

8. REMOTE CONTROL (ri-moht kon-trohl) n.
Female.... A device for changing from one TV channel to another.
Male... A device for scanning through all 375 channels every 5 minutes.
Me..... Getting people to buy my books by doing nothing more than update my blog regularly.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Someone ELSE's Nasty Violent Thought

-- or maybe I should call it an "invention"? Coz it's not just a thought. A link was posted by a.a. in a comment to a post that has moved off the front page of this blog, and I figured that most visitors here would miss it if I didn't high-light it (my link takes you to the comment, where there's a link to the article) -- thanks a.a.

In case you're feeling lazy about following the link, the gist of the news item is that someone has invented a device that women can wear inside their dings which would cause grievous damage to the dongs of would-be rapists. Actually, just "rapists" not "would-be", since the rape would have to be well underway for the gadget to work. Basically a sort of hollow metal tampon, which clamps the offender's organ and requires medical intervention to remove. The news item isn't only about the gadget however: apparently the invention was the subject of intense debate and even fury at a South African convention on the subject of AIDS and rape in SA.

I am surprised at the anger reported in the article. I can see that such a gadget would not be useful to (say) young virigins (many of whose parents would consider even a tampon a violation) -- but what about women in combat situations, or professional sex workers who might want potential attackers to get their share of anguish, or just any women who feel they might be at risk? The opponents of the device claim that it would only cause an extreme escalation of violence against women -- presumably by wounded men seeking revenge. Perhaps. But I can see such a gadget providing a woman with a sense of having some line of defence when all else has failed -- I believe lack of confidence is partially responsible for making women vulnerable to rape. Maybe something like this would help provide the determination to fight off an attacker. And -- crucially -- it could also provide an absolute defence against the painful charge so frequently levelled at women, that they "didn't say no". A man with a metal sheath attached to his dong would find it difficult to prove anything aside from his guilt.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Sticky Fingers

My current project is something fun -- a picture book for TULIKA, a Madras-based publishing house exclusive to children's publishing. They've been in the business for around ten years, I think, and have done more for children's books than all the moaners and complainers who curse the lack of children's books, but rarely make the effort to buy local titles.

Radhika Menon and Sandhya Rao of Tulika have been inviting me to do a book for them for years but it's only in the last few months that we finally got around to discussing specifics. It really got underway after Radhika came to see my show in Madras last December and suggested that I could do a book in the style of my multi-media collage paintings. So that's what I'm doing -- hence the sticky fingers. I've just got past the page-layout stage (i.e., setting up the pages of the right size and sticking in the coloured backgrounds in readiness for the images and text that'll go over them) and am now fiddling with little bits and pieces of coloured paper, cutting them out of different sizes shapes. There is something tremendously satisfying about collage! I think it's probably because the results far outstrip the effort required to achieve them -- it really doesn't take a whole lot of time to cut up paper and stick it down on yet more paper -- but at the end of that hour or two, ta-daaaa! Cool stuff happens.

I'm deliberately not discussing the title of the book and it's principle idea, because I'm always paranoid that someone quicker and smarter than me will immediately produce an identical book based on my concept, before I can get around to finishing mine. Then I'd have to start out all over again, which would be a bore. I promise to be more forthcoming when the book's ready to pop ... Which should be in a couple of months from now.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

One More New Book

Yup. This one really is a whole new book (rather than a compilation of old work). Three rather weird stories about three rather weird little girls -- but actually the thing I'm pleased about it is that I finally got a chance to do something that I really like to do -- as blogged several weeks ago -- which is fill a whole book with pictures, rather than be confined to just one miserable postage-stamp-sized chapter-opener. I don't like the cover-art too much (mainly because I wasn't happy with the title a/w -- I didn't do it, and by the time I saw it, it was too late to change)(also I didn't want the artist who produced it to feel discouraged. This is a very unprofessional reason for deciding to go along with a title design. But then ...)

The name of the book is UNPRINCESS!, published by Penguin. If I can manage to scrape together the energy, I'll post the link in the column on the right too (groan, moan, complain). All this wurk ...

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Curse of the Babu

Let it be known that I HATE chain letters -- mainly because I am a total patsy and often find myself obeying commands in an utterly robotic fashion. This post owes everything to being "tagged" by Hurree Babu of Kitabkhana (if no link appears here, look in the column to the right of the main column). I've got to comply with commands that go entirely against my DNA, but there you are: the trials of being a social animal.

Here's what I've got to reveal:
Total Number of books I own: About 1500 I think. All but 50 are in cartons and effectively lost to the world, except that I have them entered into a Carton List made 6 years ago, at the time that I/we moved from Sunder Nagar to Friends Colony (where I currently live) and never unpacked. The fifty that are uncartoned have remained that way because we've run out of cartons and can't be bothered to buy new ones. If you're starting to think I/we live an unusually slovenly life, you have completely normal powers of perception, and are correct.

Last book I bought: Was actually ten copies of my most recent publication DOUBLE TALK, five copies of the one that appeared before it, last year, KLEPTOMANIA and three copies of Mishi Saran's CHASING THE MONK'S SHADOW -- bought as a favour for a friend, who gave me one of the copies as a gift, but being a lousy, ill-mannered friend myself, I have not read it yet. The multiple copies I bought of my books is what I find myself doing routinely: I give copies away because I have so many friends and relatives who believe they are owed a signed copy. *sigh* This is a terrible admission to make, because it means that at least a couple of friends who read this may feel they can rightly claim free books being card-carrying members of my friendship-ring ... but that's JUST TOO BAD, okay?? I have two sisters, a mother, two nieces and a nephew -- and they ALL WANT THEIR OWN SIGNED COPIES!! Is this not unfair? Not that they get 'em ... I have pared the list down to one-per-household, not including my nephew, who lives (inconveniently enough) in Bombay. On the other hand, I find that giving away one of my books is an excellent way of saying "thank you" for pretty much anything, as a result of which I have pretty much stopped buying any other kinds of gifts.

Last book I read: Make that "am currently reading": Ira Pande's DIDDI, a warm and well-observed biography of and compendium of stories by the author's mother, who was better known to the world of Hindi letters as "Shivani". If I say anything more about this book, I won't have the energy to review it (which is the reason I have a copy: I think it's only fair to say here that I hardly ever buy books any more except when I go to Madras, because I know I'm going to buy books there, from Giggles Bookshop, in the Connemara Hotel and since I always spend far too much money when I go there, I try to save on that extravagance by not buying books anywhere else)(besides which, I never go to bookshops any more, if I can help it. Instead I call up, ask about the book/s I want and send my Person Friday across to collect it, with a cheque. Add "terminally lazy" to slovenly).

Five books that mean a lot to me: Errrm ... unlike the Babu, I will attempt to stay within calling distance of that number "five" and say ... errrrm ... well ... there's a little pocket dictionary called A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS that I've kept by my side for about 20 years now. That's got to mean something. There's John Fowles' THE MAGUS that's pretty much the only book (other than children's books) I've read more than once (i.e., twice) -- oddly enough, I've never owned a copy. There's GÖDEL, ESCHER, BACH: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hoffstadter that's described on its back cover as "The best mental gym in town" -- and I'd agree -- except that I don't think I'd be able to read it now, having opted for Early Senility. *sigh* And then there's so many contenders that I'll just reach out and grab wildly -- THE SEA OF FERTILITY by Mishima and GORMENGHAST (the first two books; never got around to reading the third) by Mervyn Peake.

Tag five people: Okay, I'm not going to do this. Sorry, Babs -- I'm just badly behaved, incompetent and dull besides lazy, slovenly and senile.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Star Worries

Well I saw it yesterday, the last of the Star Wars series, REVENGE OF THE SITH. I was practically catatonic by the end of it, what with the rollercoaster ride -- the dialogue was wooden, the acting was barely above B grade, the FX were distracting -- but the story, like gravity on an actual rollercoaster ride, kept me pinned to my seat.

I believe that's the appeal of Star Wars -- it's set in a galaxy "far, far away" and "long ago" but its emotional politics are as local as daytime soaps. Now that we've been given the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle, we are left with at least one important gap -- who was Darth Vader's father? I would place money on the possibility of it being Chancellor Palpatine. He even refers to Anakin as "my son" during this movie.

I was also interested to notice the insertion of a favourite Judeo-Christian theme, i.e., the negative role played by women in the affairs of men. Look at it this way: if Anakin hadn't fallen so desperately in love with Padme, he would not have had the fatal weakness that made it possible for Palpatine to turn him towards the "dark side". Palpatine plays the role of the serpent to the hilt -- he even is the one to suggest to Anakin in "War of the Clones" that he should be Padme's Jedi escort to a safe haven -- I believed even then that he was the evil one.

Though there are women warriors, of a fashion, represented in the series, and even though Princess Leia (Darth Vader's daughter) is one of the leaders of the rebellion, as a whole the series refers only to male warriors and the female presence is (in visible terms, anyway) pretty much limited to prettiness. Poor Padme's role is just that of love interest and/or sex-object -- and how can it be otherwise for someone who dresses like a Carnivale float whenever she's required in her official capacity as the representative for Naboo?

Of course, it could also be argued that it is Anakin's WEAKNESS that causes his downfall, that the mysterious "midi-clorians" (whose spelling I'm uncertain of) are to be blamed for everything and of course the Jedi provide a charmingly Zen-like flavour to the entire galaxy -- they're hardly manly men, despite their beards and swashbuckling skills, more like warrior monks.

But atleast that's one more series over with, one less thing to worry about that I won't see the end of, when I pass on to another dimension, far, far away.