Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mirror mirror on the wall .....

.... who is the greatest music artist of them all ? Really tough question that, considering the fact that sales figures from around the world arent all that accurate. Apparently there isnt complete data from before the 50's and a lot of sales figures from after that are dubious. The top selling artists of all time are (in alphabetical order)
1. Bing Crosby
2. Elvis Presley
3. Frank Sinatra
4. Michael Jackson
5. The Beatles
Of these I would venture to guesstimate that one of Elvis, MJ and the Beatles would be the actual top seller.
Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, the man who moonwalked his way into peoples hearts and album shelves, is of course the freshest on peoples minds. MJ though is a picture perfect case of being on top of the world and falling to unheard of before depths. From being the man who could bring cities to a standstill when his concerts were being held there, MJ has become the sleazy guy against whom child molestation cases were filed by the dozen. Martin Bashir's controversial documentary Living with Michael Jackson was, of course, instrumental in his downfall. The shift in his skin colour from being dark to a ridiculous pale white along with his obvious numerous operations on his face havent really helped. The standard of his music has also fallen in recent years but there is no taking away from his incredible songs such as Billy Jean, Beat It, Bad, Way You Make Me Feel, Dangerous, Smooth Criminal (my fav) to name a few. The King of Pop yes, but the greatest? Far from it.

To be honest I am a huge fan of the Beatles. My Granddad had a CD of theirs which I loved listening to over and over and over again. The quartet of Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon from Liverpool certainly can claim to be the most successful band of all time. Their influence of culture is well known and they were awarded the Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II, much to the consternation of some who had been similarly conferred. The Beatles are famous here in India for having spent time at Rishikesh for studying transedental meditation. They eventually split in 1970 but not before making floppy hair ultra cool around the world (even inspiring a couple of Bollywood songs) and giving us songs that will live forever - From Me To You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Love Me Do, She Loves You, Yesterday, Hard Day's Night, Can't Buy Me Love, Hey Jude, Ticket To Ride, Yellow Submarine etc: (phew!)

Elvis Presley wasnt called the King of Rock n Roll for nothing. Elvis was a cultural icon, a man who changed the landscape of music forever. His naturally good lookshis trademark puff, sideburns and leg swaying/ gyrating combined with his unique music style to drive girls & in turn America crazy. With a unique sound - a combination of blues (with traces of gospel influences) and country music, Elvis was a phenomenal hit and eventually acted in a number of movies. In layman's terms, he was a white man singing a black man's music. His energy needs to be seen to be believed and to be honest I havent seen an artist in years who has half the screen presence and charisma of Elvis. His last few performances were admittedly painful as he was a pale shadow of his former self and health problems and addictions were responsible for his death at an early age of 42. Interestingly, during the Beatles years ('63 - '70) only 6 of Elvis's singles reached the top 10.

MJ has been quoted as the greatest artist since Elvis. John Lennon has admitted that "If there hadnt been an Elvis, there wouldnt have been the Beatles". Time then to pay tribute to the greatest of them all - The King.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Liberalization or my new concept ?????

Liberalization, as defined by wikipedia, refers to a relaxation of previous government restrictions, usually in areas of social or economic policy. Indians know how life has changed since we opened up our markets in the early 90s. From being a country that had the good old Hindusthan Ambassador, the lovely Premier Padmini & the loveable Maruthi 800 as the choice of transport on 4 wheels we have moved to a deluge of cars from the finest of car makers with prices ranging from 2.5 lacs to above 4 crores. Buying a packet of biscuits is no longer easy as there seem to be a 101 options in the shelves with the end result that I walk away from a shop after having picked more biscuits than I need. I think you get the drift. But nothing beats trying to buy mobile phones these days.
I remember the time when mobile phones came out in the 90’s. That was when pagers were the rage and just about everyone had one clipped to his waist. The advent of mobile telephony in India ushered in a revolution of brick sized boxes masquerading as communications devices and spelt the doom of pagers. Of course call rates were so sky high that often incoming calls were so much more expensive than outgoing calls. To be fair to the phones they weren’t all that bad, some of them had the snake game that kinda provided entertainment. Its just that they followed the SUV policy of bigger is better …..

With increasing competition among service providers, we now have call rates as cheap as 10 paise a minute or if youre lucky, calls to other customers on the same network might be free. From being a luxury, phones have become a necessity with just about everybody having one or more. When I had to pick up a new phone in the summer of 2007 I did a bit of research and to be honest was surprised at the number of phones available on the market. I ended up picking the k750i after a lot of spadework and I havent regretted the purchase once.
Just last week I picked up the latest issue of a mag focussed on mobile phones. I flipped to the back and was looking through the phones currently available and my jaw dropped when I realised there are 266 different phones for sale right now (Feb ‘08). How in the world do you decide on which phone best suits your requirement if you land up in a shop with cash in your hand and not too much idea about what you want? Which leads me to conclude that a majority of people will end up picking a phone that doesn’t exactly meet their requirements and as a result they will be unhappy with their choice. Imagine a generation of frustrated mobile users who wont change their phones even if they don’t want/need their current phone cause they suspect (rather rightly I venture to guess) that they will end up picking a wrong phone again. Who suffers in the end - mobile manufacturers.
Whoever talks about all this in economics textbooks while they extol the virtues of liberalization? Maybe its time for the world to embrace my idea of ‘liberafrustration’.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A different view of TAPMI

( Mc ) Ca (i) n Obama do it ?

Like the rest of the world which has had just about enough of George W Bush and his tyrannical ways, I too have been avidly following the elections in the US this year. I've been following various websites and newspapers for the latest on the elections and what are the latest predictions and whatnot. Given the front runners this time - Barack Obama & Hilary Clinton for the democrats and John McCain for the Republicans, my vote (worthless as it is seeing as i'm sitting half way around the world from America & that im not an American citizen) would go to Obama. And it isnt about him being a great orator or having well written speeches or a meticulously planned campaign. His campaign promise of change is bang on target. Thats what americans want. Thats what the world wants in its politics. And with news of his recent consecutive wins, the Obama wave seems to be closer to striding into the White House (see pic) with more and more vigour. And I for my part was extremely happy about it.

Until I read the newsweek article today that talked about the Obama delusion. The article thankfully dug beyond the Obama's clean campaign for change versus the slowly disintegrating Clinton campaign. According to the author Robert J Samuelson "He has run on the vague promise of "change," but on issue after issue—immigration, the economy, global warming—he has offered boilerplate policies that evade the underlying causes of the stalemates. These issues remain contentious because they involve real conflicts or differences of opinion." Eye opening stuff indeed. To be honest this is the first criticial article that I've read on Obama but it does leave a bitter taste in what was otherwise a very sweet (for America) proposition for a president.

So what are we left with? Mrs Clinton who has Mr Clinton do the dirty work of sniping at Obama. John McCain who believes that America's continued presence in Iraq is the way forward. And Obama, the one hope that the world had for a new leader championing the cause of goodness who it turns out isnt all what he promised to be .... Of course it is entirely possible (and i hope so) that Obama is what the world needs and America will vote him into power and he will fulfill his promises to the nation and make them proud. But if he doesnt turn out to be the harbinger of change like he promises to be, strangely I wont be too disappointed. Another politician we will all say with an indifferent dismissal. And that worries me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

AC's favourite quote " We pulled off Casablanca x3" ....

To be honest we had a terrible time deciding what play we were going to do for Dionysia (our annual inter sectional drama competition). Given our not-so-Midas-but-so-full-of-fun touch, we decided to do something different from our rather memorable Ace of Diamonds mindset. Unblessed with cousins, buddies, sidekicks or ex-girlfriends in any of India's drama companies, the internet became our source for plays. The harder we searched the less likely it looked like we were going to decide on anything. And then AC (in a rare fit of genius) exclaimed "Why dont we do Casablanca?"

Shoot to Sunday a week later and I'm going crazy running backstage taking care of the small things in my role as the (Co) director, sound boy, props arranger, prompter etc etc ....... And its only when I hear "Louie, this looks to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship" am i able to finally relax and stop and take a deep breath. Add to it the post Dionysia drama of the judge wrongly announcing the scores, thereby putting us in last position only to later invite the Directors of the team that performed Casablanca on stage to collect the runners up trophy. And there we stood on stage, team Antherdwandh (I still dont know how to spell it....) trophy in hand, grinning like school kids in an All You Can Play PS3 Gaming Convention.

Of course I would like to tell the world that its not about winning or losing but the the fun involved in getting terribly unpunctual lead actors at the same place at the same time and throwing mock tantrums to get them to get serious and all that. But I will reluctantly admit the not so good looking runners up trophy brings a smile to my face, unfailingly. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, we ended up celebrating at ......