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October 25, 2009

Indians Can't Write For Indians?

Caught this comment from a Sendhil Ramamurthy (who plays Mohinder on Heroes) interview with The Onion's AVClub from 2007:

AVC: One thing they should be happy about is you've helped break stereotypes for Indian actors on TV. Do you think there's still an ingrained racism in the way Hollywood writes and casts for Indian actors?

SR: I think so. There isn't any question about that. I've managed to luck out that they've given me a fully rounded character on the show, but in general, yeah. And you know, now more than ever I get everything "Indian" that's ever written. It all comes across my desk. Since Heroes started I've probably had about 15 or 16 film scripts sent to me with Indian characters, and out of those maybe one was good. And the depressing thing is, they're all being written by Indians! Like, how many more scripts can there be about an arranged marriage or an abusive husband? It's the same thing over and over again. I think that Indian writers think this is the kind of thing that people want to see, and it's kind of sad. I literally fling those scripts across the room as soon as I start reading them. [Laughs.]

Fascinating, if somewhat downbeat, observation.

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- October 25, 2009 6:38 PM // Film , TV

October 24, 2009

Michael Jackson - HIStory (J Dilla/Ummah Mix)

Despite being the title track of one of his comeback sets, Michael Jackson's "History" is one of the lesser entries in his oeuvre, not meriting a place in most of his best-of collections out there. The actual track has a Beatlesque feel, reminiscent in its opening fanfare and continuing tempo of "All You Need Is Love" with the actual melody sounding like Michael had "Come Together" on repeat rotation while composing. The lyrics are uplifting though with the chorus exhorting us to:

Every day create your history
Every path you take you're leaving your legacy

Here's the original:

A nice enough track even though portentously announcing some big dates on human history is laying it on a little thick, I feel.

Moving on to mixes, I've never listened to very many remixes of Michael's songs and whatever little I came across were not particularly impressive. The Tony Moran remix of History (from "Blood On The Dancefloor") is a case in point. This, apparently, was the single release:

I have to disagree with the YouTube poster's title. Whatever the track has by way of uniqueness is drowned out beneath layers of heavy house beats and organs - it's the sonic equivalent of slathering ketchup on jafrani pulao. No wonder this song never received its due. It took a producer of the calibre of J Dilla and the rest of the Ummah (Q Tip and Ali Shaheed Mohammed) to actually perform an excavation/reclamation and give us something far surpassing the original. Gone are the opening bombast and the voice overs. Instead, we have something loping and sinuous and, in true J Dilla style, highly understated. Listen to it yourself:

There's another version, also by the Ummah, the Urban Radio Edit, which I don't think is as good, although again far superior to the first two versions:

RIP Michael and J-Dilla.

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- October 24, 2009 11:44 AM // Music

Baby Names IV

Rant from friend, edited:

A couple of us expectant parents were talking about baby names last night and the balancing act Indian parents-to-be in the US have to perform in picking a name that retains some sense of Indianness while at the same time is pronounceable and doesn't condemn the child to a lifetime of ridicule.

Apropos of that, I just ran into a sweet indian lady at work who recently had a baby boy. She named him .... (drum roll) ... Sripadh. Now that's what I call muchos cojones! Naming your child Sripadh is basically raising the middle finger to any future trauma that name might inflict on the child.

But I don't mock her decision. Maybe that's another way to go about it -- if the name speaks to you, don't give a damn how it would play in this country (or in India, for that matter).

You want to name your child after his dada Sukhdeep? No other name but Hardik suits your cutie pie? Don't worry, just go for it!

With apologies to Russell Peters.

Also see this, this and this.

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- October 24, 2009 10:53 AM // Diaspora , Humour

October 13, 2009

Some Portland Pix

We had a whole bunch of pictures languishing in Flickr when we were reminded, yes, there are viewers out there. This picture from Shari was shortlisted by Schmap for inclusion in their Portland Guide:

Japanese Garden

Emboldened by this, I am including some more.

Sk8er Boi Street Sign

Pioneer Courthouse Square Sign

Bonus Virj picture. This was taken on the steps of the Rose Garden amphitheater:

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- October 13, 2009 9:46 AM // Travel