Friday, December 14, 2007

Read Any Good Books Lately?

The NY Times has gathered the list of books that writers have just read. Check them out HERE!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The World Without Us

What will the world be like without people?

This book by Alan Weisman is unique and although I haven't read it, ever since I heard about it on John Stewart's show, I knew this book I must have. I think it is totally my kind of book, my kind of questions which are often unanswerable. Thank you Alan Weisman!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What are YOU so grumpy about?

I am quite intrigued by children’s books, no, actually love children's books. They are simple, fun, and normally include an underlying theme, which is often subtle, but sometimes right in your face. A book can become your companion and help you be in a particular mood when you choose to. There were so many that adorned our little bookshelf. I’ll never forget ‘The Monster at the end of this book!’ which was an all time favorite. Over the years of course, you progress to older genres of books. Starting with the still basic ones, for me, I loved The Faraway Tree. This fantasy tree/land and its inhabitants were my favorite people for many years - The Saucepan Man, Dame Washalot, Mr. Whatsisname and the Angry Pixie among others. This book made fantasy a reality and made me want to skip school, my home and everything around me and head to the Faraway Tree.

One of the books that I happened to come across online today, is a book by Tom Lichenheld, the author of ‘What are YOU so grumpy about?’ The title caught my eye, and the illustration peeked my interest even further - so cute!

This book is meant to cover the many possible causes of grumpiness in a child’s world. For e.g. stubbing a toe, being touched by a sibling (me me me, I experienced this all the time!), or having to cope with gravy that touched the peas on the dinner plate (this I know!). This book is designed to get your child out of his or her grumpy mood by redirecting his or her attention to something humorous and forgetting about the grumpiness altogether. Think about it, how often have you listened to stand–up comedy and really felt better when the comedian describes a situation that you can relate to, or better still, think they HAVE to be talking about you coz noone else does a jig while waiting for the water in the shower to reach the ideal temperature, or counts the steps to your home on the way back from work for no apparent reason.

Read more of reviews. I don’t own the book, but would welcome it for my child…in about 12 and a half years. Yes, please put it on ur gift list. Ill expect to have it when I am facing my grumbling toddler.

Review excerpt: Side comments add to the fun ("Oh Poop," says one child when he gets underwear in a birthday package). Another page talks about the "dangers" of a big hug from Grandma and shows a newspaper story with a big-bosomed blonde granny and an arrow pointing to her rather-endowed chest, claiming that her grandson was "last seen here." Kids are sure to snicker with glee, feeling that they are getting away with seeing/hearing something a bit risqué.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Queer wizardry

Wizardry itself is queer! No not the type you are thinking in your head, but the type that a dictionary would explain. It means, odd, unconventional, curious, unexpected, remarkable, astonishing, perplexing, odd…the list goes on. Have you ever read a page of a Harry Potter book, or caught a movie clip and not found it astonishing? Come on, the stairs keep moving, characters in paintings sing (albeit, not so well), and the law of gravity takes a huge hit.

In any case, I am not sure what to make of Dumbledore’s (DD from now on) outing. I mean, if you think about it, there seems to be SO much more in JK Rowlings mind that none of us know. Firstly unfair! But then, when you read books like Life of Pi, and from what I hear Kafka on the Shore (its on my book rack at home), the whole purpose of unanswered questions is to keep them that way - answered. This gets the reader thinking, allows them to make decisions for themselves! As you will see in one of my previous posts on Life of Pi, I probably wanted answers too, but then I would have laid the book to rest and not absorbed it into my life consciously. We prefer to have that circle closed than leaving it open ended, but maybe open ended if done intentionally, might have more of an impact.

As you all know by now, dear DD is gay. J.K. Rowling recently implied that if it meant so much to readers to know about DD’s sexual preference, she would have shared it earlier!! Here’s where I have some questions.

- If it doesn’t make a difference to his character, why share now?

- Then again, if it does make a difference to the character and his actions, then why not include it in the

- Finally, if you go with option 3 and want the readers to decide for themselves, then let them decide for themselves, why out it? I guess what I am trying to figure out is WHY this information was shared much later…

To tell you the truth, I would love to know so much more about Wang Lang (Good Earth), and August & Lily Melissa (Secret Life of Bees). But the book ended and I was left wanting more. Maybe I should have gone for their book reading and gotten them to spill more details that weren’t covered in the book. But them, what the sequels, would I know something I should not be privy to? In terms of DD, it could be that while Rowling pieced her book together in a faraway cabin, DD the character was gay, but not knowing the potential success of the book or the social acceptance homosexuals, she decided to integrate hints in DD’s character, but decided to let society dictate when she spills the beans.

Timing is also a consideration, the book has been out for a while, so now this could generate more interest. It even targets a new niche market which are good pros. But, these past few years, the Vatican scandals and other perverse news have made us paranoid. Unfortunately, we live in a time when seeing older men with young children can be viewed perversely. Sad to say that nothing may be going on, but our minds may think otherwise. Do you see DD as a sleazy pervert? I don’t, coz I really love DD’s character, but I think it does bring up so many other questions, or hypothetical situations and analysis.

In terms of outing someone, I am totally fine with that even though I didn’t really think about it. It’s just an assumption made by youth – a person with silver hair was probably never young and never experienced love…or much rather love towards the same sex. Or rather the youth do not really want to picture it any other way! DD is a authoritative, grandfatherly type figure, how can he be anything else? I know I felt this way with many teachers growing up. I couldn’t see them as having families, children etc, especially the so called ‘mean teachers’. Come on, tell me you didn’t expect the mean one to go back home and yell at her kids the entire day? They were not moms, wives or daughters…they didn’t live a life like I did, they were teachers! Yet, my mom came home and was a mother, wife, daughter and clearly not the teacher.

I feel like my thoughts are all over the place on this one. So, just to conclude, I want say in case it came out otherwise, I am actually happy that varying sexual preferences are included in books. I am not so sure why this was highlighted though, and I think this is the issue. Also, are we doing it to prepare kids for the outside world, considering kids are a huge audience for this book (and adults), or are there other reasons? I think this opens a world of thoughts, views and ideas..but hopefully asking the right questions trigger some progress.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How many of you read Malory Towers?

Gosh this takes me back. Today I was asked to look at a *style guide for Ugly Betty, which I loved. The company Hyperdesign does some cool stuff! Anyways, I hopped upon Raggedy Ann and it took me back. For some reason I thought about Malory Towers and remembered how I totally loved the books!

I think I thought it was even cooler coz I was totally into wanting to be at a boarding school and saw that the girls in the book got to be there! Thinking back, I think staying with my family was more important at that age…being independent later on in life is imperative and as time goes on, you automatically become so.

So here’s a trip down memory lane: The cast

The main character Darrell Rivers
Sally Hope - Darrell's level-headed best friend
Felicity Rivers - Sarrell's younger sister
Gwendoline Mary Lacey - the form's spoilt martyr (Wasn’t she born to the richest parents on earth?)
Alicia Johns - sharp tongued, competitive and intelligent
Mary-Lou - small and timid, but very kind hearted
Irene - scatterbrained musical genius (loved her!)
Belinda - scatterbrained artistic genius (loved her too!)
Jean - shrewd and straightforward
Wilhelmina - completely horse-mad

What is the contemporary Malory Towers? Or is there even one?

*Style guide: a publication which specifies details of a particular topic, writing style of in industry, it is a guide to a potential licensee to better understand the brand essence and direction to make on-brand products. E.g. what is the perfect way to make a sock look like an ‘Ugly Betty’ sock.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Uncertainty Of The Poet

I am a poet,
I am very fond of bananas.

I am bananas,
I am very fond of a poet.

I am a poet of bananas.
I am very fond.

A fond poet of 'I am, I am' -
Very bananas.

Fond of Am I bananas
Am I? - a very poet.

Bananas of a poet!
Am I fond? Am I very?

Poet bananas! I am
I am fond of a 'very'.

I am of very fond bananas.
Am I a poet?

~ Wendy Cope (inspired by the painting above by Georgio De Chirico)

P.S: Look at the painting above and then read the detail HERE. Did you SEE everything?
More about Wendy Cope

Monday, October 8, 2007

Looking For Funny

Funny has a new place! NY Times has launched a new blog aptly called Laugh Lines. The one stop shopping place for all the hilarity going on around you. Remember a few laughs a day can actually change your attitude even if you LOL in your head. It’s the overall frame of mind that counts. You can also contribute to this blog and make the funny stuff funnier…remember someone somewhere is laughing at your joke. Don’t you just love him/her?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Kite Runner Movie

The release of the movie based on Khaled Hosseini’s much raved about book, ‘The Kite Runner’ is delayed until the child stars are taken out of Kabul. They say the children may never go back to their land, or I think at least not for a every long time. This is being done to protect them from the chaos that might follow upon the films release. One of the major reasons is because they are uncertain of general reaction, especially to a rape scene in the movie.

I wonder if I had a choice, to be a part of a project that tells a much needed story to the world VS being able to continue living in my home, what would I choose?

Hmm..just glad I am not chasing screen tests and auditions, coz that would not be an easy choice to make.

On the other hand, if this movie brings the kids into international stardom AND more importantly if they are able to sustain this stardom and plentiful money and all the 'good stuff' that goes with it, it might be worth it after all. Hmmm..Nayyy...Don't think so...well, projects with Colin or George Clooney, and holidays in Bora Bora...hmm ok...well....nay…. Gawd! I am so indecisive! Don’t blame me, it is a difficult decision to make. Let’s see how you do it!

For more information, click HERE

Monday, October 1, 2007

Monsoon Diary

Shobha Narayan, the author of Monsoon Diary is actually my bro-in law’s colleague’s wife. As we were chatting yesterday, he mentioned that she writes a column in one of the Indian newspapers and covers random issues like, his example, – ‘everyone has a ma-ma (aka Uncle)’. She has also come out with a book a while back called the Monsoon Diary which is basically part cookbook, part travelogue and part biography. Haven’t read it yet, but would like to check it out. I guess the foodie in me can’t resist, although I can’t say I’ll buy it just for the recipes. Any of you piglets heard of/read any of her work?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pi to the Rescue

I know that many of us voracious piglets (we’re still young) have spent time in our respective pens reading this book. So what better way to start than with a book that shares the story of Mr. Pi Patel. I loved the book but have a bone of contention. On the positives, Yann Martel definitely has a way with words. The book flowed perfectly, always with a philosophical thought OR God, yet not-God driven cloud surrounding each page. Perhaps that is why I liked it. It was an easy read, and some sentences were so meaningful that I wanted to mark them out. I don’t mark books at all, but if it was between writing this phrase down and marking it, marking was the easier option.

I actually completed the last few pages of the book on a subway ride home. In the days prior, I discussed the book a bit with a friend who had already completed it. I had to call her once I was done, she wanted to gauge my reaction. And boy, a reaction I had. As I reached the end of the book, I walked out of the subway shocked, a bit ticked off with Pi, and even felt betrayed by him in a way. Here’s a little fella that I had supported and rooted for throughout his challenging journey, and who on a whim decides to leave me with a tormented and puzzled brain. No closure whatsoever, how ungrateful! In time though, I respected Yann Martel and acknowledged that the global purpose of the book was more important than pleasing poor ‘ol me.

I am still open to interpretations of the book and very very interested in the story you decided to go with. I am so torn, on one hand I want to believe all that he went through was true, because I spent SO much time with him - as his shirt frayed, or as he woke up and crawled under and over the tarpaulin, as he tamed Richard Parker, as he visited the edible algae land (which was truly out of fantasyland), and on the other hand, I want to accept the story with the humans in it, because it was added as this nagging tick. A doubt, a question. Granted that is what the author intended to happen in the first place, but I definitely do NOT want to be the one who lives in a bubble and chooses situations just so that they appeal to my idealistic world.

I wonder also if our choice of story to live with is guided by how long we spent reading the details of each story (75% vs 2%?). The second story was perhaps meant to be a slap in your face, and it sure was. Anyways, I am left without real closure, each time I lean towards one story, the tick pulls me back.

If facts remain the same, and we know they did,

Story 1: All humans die initially, Pi deals with it and tries to survive with a bunch of animals.
Story 2: Humans survive including Pi, similar order of events occur, with humans instead of animals.

From Pi: “I wonder—could you tell my jumbled story in exactly one hundred chapters, not one more, not one less? I’ll tell you, that’s one thing I hate about my nickname, the way that number runs on forever. It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go.”

Have you let go of this book?

Pi = 22/7, Pi spent 227 days at sea
Pi = infinite decimals, implying an unreliability on Pi (absolutely right, he changed his story at the last minute)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Oink Oink...


This blog has been a long time coming - a couple of months perhaps. So here's how the idea originated - nothing too original about it. As most of my friends know, from time to time I send out random emails with my opinions, or a snippet of what I see, hear, read or think.

This has often set off a spree of comments back and forth among everyone which has been interesting and also enlightening. These thoughts stay locked up inside our heads and some may never make it to the outside world. Well, that's about to change. As simple an extension as can possibly be, I figured why not dump these thoughts and mix them up with those of others'. And voila - Oink and a curly tale!

It would be great if we had more than one (me!) poster. If you would like to post, let me know. Commit to what you can do depending on your schedule, it could be once a month, once a week or even daily. I expect wholehearted enthusiasm as you showed when we discussed this earlier, so you there reading, respond now!

One more post to follow, but for now, I couldn't have chosen a more opportune day to start this blog - today is the birthday of one of my favorite authors - Happy Birthday Roald Dahl!