Saturday, December 31, 2011

last day of the year

Nice party at Robin's last night.  Re-met some of her friends, and a couple of new ones.  She served some nibbles and then some more substantial food; I could live forever on tostones with a dab of dill sour cream and a piece of nova (lox) on top.  (Non-Americans:  tostones are plantains, a banana-like fruit but less sweet -- the slices are fried, smashed to discs and then fried again.  Lox is smoked salmon.

I enjoyed the folks there, although there was one woman who seemed a touch obsessed with her ex-dog -- that is, the dog her ex-boyfriend got when they still lived together.  I love my cats, but I don't think I ever talk more than a few minutes about them.  I swear I heard  20 minutes+ about Buford the French bulldog.

I love where they're living now, in Crown Heights.  It's a typical changing neighborhood these days, bodegas and organic health food stores.  It's another one of those Brooklyn neighborhoods that's cycled around: a Jewish neighborhood where my mother and Robin's were both born; an uneasy mix of Orthodox Jews and and African-Americans (occasionally causing riots and big crime stories when one group came into conflict with the other); and now, gentrifying.  Any neighborhood with beautiful old building stock will eventually be reclaimed; if the neighborhood has become run-down, it will be cleaned up, and soon enough...unaffordable.

At home, I couldn't figure out what movie I wanted to watch, so I watched snips of a few.  Saw a bit of Don 2.  Shah Rukh Khan seems to be encroaching on Tom Cruise/Jean-Claude Van Damme territory, and I predict we will end up being Bruce Willis.  I don't feel bad about making these American comparisons because someone is trying to internationalize him and turn him into a worldwide action star.  Ra.One didn't quite manage it.

Then I moved on to what I hope is the worst movie Amitabh ever made:  Shahenshah.  It's an unbelievably cheesy masked-avenger sort of movie, a superhero without powers.  He does have a lock of silver hair and a leather jacket with a bulletproof metal arm.  His daytime identity is as a goofy, corrupt cop (these sort of characters are often identified by their chewing paan, a mild stimulant made of betel leaf and a few other substances.  This was Amit-ji's return to films after his 1984-87 political career, and he looks a little puffy, and the movie is very old-fashioned for 1984,  Behold, Shahenshah:

Then I abandoned this movie and rewatched some of Buddah Hoga Tera Baap.  It put Go Meera Go into a little more perspective, as the character of Vijuu is supposed to be something of a dandy.  Hence, the clothes.  This time, he seemed to me to look a little better in the video, as it sat within the movie.  I want to rewatch the rest and see Hema Malini again.  She's probably my favorite of his leading ladies.

In 2012:  kinder to myself and my body (diet and exercise).  Less quick to judge people, especially negative judgment.  Kinder to others.  Learn and grow.  Happy new year to all of you.

Friday, December 30, 2011

end of week

It looks like this week will end well, after I started it off feeling somewhat resentful that I had to work on Monday.  Monday was the legal holiday for Christmas, and no one was working; this place was dead.  It's true I had been a bit behind the week before.  I'd taken off two sick days over two weeks, which is very unusual, but I had a bit of sciatica on one of the days, and the second was simply a small collapse due to stress.  This week was very quiet at work and I am entirely caught up, so I'm going to see if I can take Monday.  On Tuesday, my last summer's intern, Sarah, is coming back; she very graciously offered to work here during January, before her new school term starts, so she'll be in Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  My interns tend to get jobs like filing and copying and scanning and updating lists in the computer.  My projects tend to be a little more complex, plus I do a lot of what I call "fielding batted balls" -- that is, responding to phone calls and (mostly) emailed questions and requests.  One needs to know a lot about this place to do the "fielding," and I try to get to every bit of it very promptly.  When I get in every morning, I generally have anywhere from 15-60 emails waiting for me (low number during summer break, high one early in the semester).

There's a personal advantage for me to sitting in front of a computer most of the day.  I'm able to take a few minutes and do something like this, or some bit of research, checking home email, looking at Twitter, and seeing Amitabh's blog posts almost as soon as they are up.

And speaking of Amitabh's blog -- there's an NYC resident among the EF, her name is Rochelle, and she recently posted about a Raj Kapoor film festival coming up at MOMA.  She has kindly offered to go with me, as I get a $5 ticket price (as opposed to $12) as the guest of a member.  It'll be nice to meet her, too -- don't know how many of us there are in NYC.

In general, I seem to be on the radar of at least some of the EF, and some have mentioned me and had nice things to say.

Robin is having a new year's eve eve party tonight, which is pretty much all I have planned for the weekend.  I haven't seen her new apartment yet (though I think she's been there a year) -- so much for both of us living in Brooklyn!  It is a bit of a pain to get from my house to hers, since we're on opposite sides of Brooklyn (I'm in Gravesend and she's in Crown Heights, bordering Prospect Heights).  I have to take one train toward the city and then another one back.  It's probably been two years since I saw any of her friends, so I'm sure I won't remember anyone.  (After visiting Jannah around twice a year for around nine years, I finally know her friends fairly well -- at least I can remember all their names and how she knows them!)

My analyst seems to think that I am not out-of-line obsessed with all-things-Bollywood...or I think that's what she thinks.  I have to kind of figure that out from the questions she asks, which is very typical of psychoanalysis.  They ask questions to help you to talk about the issues, and the questions are very well-aimed to get you to the desired topic.

However:  it is very difficult to get an actual answer from an analyst.  Extreme example:  when I walked in on Tuesday, before we had started the session, I asked, "How were your holidays?"  Her response:  "How do you think my holidays were?"  (If you are in analysis, I hope you are laughing your ass off at that one.)

I think it's great that some people are starting to come to this blog because of their interest in Hindi film.  I hope the other topics don't seem too weird to you.  Hang around, and there will surely be more Bollywood content.

Which reminds me:  I sent that Jugtar Singh clip to a few people who aren't necessarily Indian film fans, and they adored Jugtar. Gretchen said she would watch him interviewing anyone.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

new favorite talk show host: Jugtar Singh

I happened upon this on YouTube last night.  No idea where Singh is based or what this show is, but this interview is a riot, especially when Jugtar sings his new version of Kaike Paan Banaraswala, with all kinds of lyrics about the internet.  Amitabh also explains about ExFm and TwExFm, the blog and Twitter "extended families" to which I proudly belong.  This is probably the best interview I've seen with him, although I've only seen a handful of his English-language interviews.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I know how you got here!/the last word, maybe, on Go Meera Go

I'm a newbie at Twitter, and didn't really know how to check my "mentions," so I didn't know until today that @astroshiva very nicely recommended my blog, saying that I knew quite a bit about Bollywood and such.  (And again, thank you so much!)

And speaking of Twitter. I got a tweet response from Amitabh this morning, so I am (as Mike Myers used to say, as "Dieter") as happy as a little girl.

I hope this is a good version of the video, since as I've mentioned, I can't access my YouTube favorites from Blogger.  I've talked about this video before: how I saw it, realized that it was some sort of greatest hits medley, and researched around for a while for the information to help me understand exactly what it was.  I've learned another couple of pieces, so I think I may have the whole thing researched and deconstructed.

These are indeed four songs from Amitabh Bachchan's hit movies of the 70s and 80s, remixed and sewn together with the "Go Meera Go" hip-hop portion.  The number is sung by Amitabh himself and son Abhishek (Abhi did the rapping).

The first song is "Kaike Paan Banaraswala" from Don (1978).  Don was remade in 2004 or 2006 (too lazy to look it up) with Shah Rukh Khan; SRK's sequel Don 2 just opened this past weekend.  I'm not sure how that's going to work, since (at least in the original), Don is killed around halfway through the movie; the police replace him with a lookalike (who I'm pretty sure was called "Vijay") to infiltrate Don's underworld gang.  I saw the SKR Don some time back; is it possible that Don didn't die in that one?  or was Don somehow not really dead?  these mysteries may be cleared up once I see Don 2.

The second song is "Pag Ghungroo Bandh Meera Nachi Thi" from Namak Halaal (1982?).  I believe this song may predate the movie and may be a traditional song; the idea in the movie is that a naive country boy goes to the city and gets up and sings at a nightclub, and I think this is supposed to be perceived as an old-fashioned song (although it's all discoed up).

The third song is "Rang Barse" from Silsilla (also around 1982).  Amitabh and his poet-father wrote it.

Fourth song:  "Saara Zamana" from Yaarana (maybe 1981).  This was still a missing piece the last time I wrote about Go Meera Go.  In Yaarana, Amitabh wears a suit studded with lights, an idea he got from the Robert Redford movie "The Electric Horseman."

All of these songs were originally sung by the great Kishore Kumar, except for "Rang Barse," which Amitabh sang himself.

The last (maybe) missing piece:  almost all of the dance moves are quoted from earlier films.  I've watched Go Meera Go a bunch of times, and as I watch more and more of Amitabh's films, I keep seeing bits of the Go Meera Go dance turning up.  I found this to be extremely cool.  I was led to this realization, a bit, from a little "making-of" clip on YouTube.  Unfortunately, every time a bit of information I needed was about to be explained, whoever was speaking went from English to Hindi.  But the choreographer said something to the effect of, "There are no new dances.  This is pure Amitabh Bachchan dance."  I didn't follow this at first, maybe because I hadn't yet realized that Amitabh pretty much has his own dance style.  But the choreographer (Remo) was explaining just what I said above.

The other comment I must make about Meera is that for the most part, I don't care for the way Big B is dressed, lit, or photographed.  It isn't all that flattering.  I know that he actually likes that style of clothing, the white pants-and-colorful shirt-and-scarf thing, but it's not to my liking.  He looks a lot better, IMHO, in a white kurta or a dark suit -- or, as at the very end of Meera, tight jeans.  But for the most part, this video failed to make him look tall and slim; he may not be as slim now as he once was, but see the Jhoom video, from just four years earlier, to see how he can be photographed to look tall and slim.  Additionally, it's unfortunate that he's so rarely photographed anymore without dark or clear glasses.  He has such great eyes.  (Again, see Jhoom.)

I swear, I hope these are good video versions.

Monday, December 26, 2011

I take it back/how did you all get here?

That woman who was driving me crazy?  I'm just going to let it be.  Sometimes I'm a little oversensitive and see a slight or attack when none is intended.

I love to read the "stats" on this blog, although I'm not really clear on what they all mean or indicate, especially the part about "referring sites" and "referring URLs" and "traffic sources."  It's frustrating, because the part I can't quite get is how people are getting here.  They don't seem to keep stats for my keywords.  But I can say this:  I seem to be getting read more.  Double-digit daily pageviews (say that ten times fast) are new.  I absolutely don't get how or why I'm getting readers in Russia -- but hello, people in Russia!  And especially hello, people in India!  Considering that I've had a passion for Bollywood for all of two months, I think it's way cool that I'm attracting even a teeny-tiny bit of attention in India.

I can't figure out how to get people to this blog, although I've done better with this than getting people to follow me on Twitter.  I used to send my email with a signature file that had the web address of this blog, but I realized that I email quite a few people whom I don't really want here (e.g., my dad and stepmother).  It's listed on Facebook and Twitter (although the Twitter link led to the disastrous recent event of my oversharing being read by exactly the wrong person).  I know that a few of my personal friends do come here (hello, personal friends!); and then there was the friend I met through this blog who turned out to be my wife-in-law!  (Hello, Harriet!)  Anyway, you are all very welcome here, and I appreciate your taking the time to visit and read...since I'm kind of over-thinky and neurotic and obsessive.  But hey, we all have our shit.

what Big B said to me today

Dear Amitabh,
The photo of the Sunday well-wishers (posted to Twitter) was a little scary. I’m still amazed by the Sunday crowds that come to pay you their respects.
I don’t really celebrate Chanukah or Christmas, but I do exchange a few gifts with particular friends at my workplace (a small school). As the recipients were all women, I have what I often give, which is the handwrought jewelry I’ve designed and made as a hobby for the past nine years or so. I wear my own jewelry every day, and it’s become commonplace to me to wear something I’ve made, not bought. So I was surprised at how strongly my friends reacted to their homemade gifts, how moved they were to receive something I had made myself.
I didn’t quite get it until I received a homemade gift in return: a jar of the most delicious tomato chutney. I kept thinking to myself, “It’s so fantastic that Lee made this, it was so wonderful to get something she made herself, she’s so thoughtful…” And then I realized why those seven or eight women were so happy with their earrings and necklaces. It’s a good feeling to give something of yourself, and a good feeling to create. It reminds me of who I am.
With love,

ab says:
jennifer … homemade gifts are the best … well done on your hand made jewelry

how can this be?

I cannot believe I am at work today.  It is simply dead as a doornail.  I don't even know if there are any therapists in the treatment rooms.  The subway was dead quiet and the streets were dead quiet and even my coffee cart guy (who is Muslim) wasn't out this morning.  I keep thinking maybe I'm here by mistake, that I was really meant not to come in today and misunderstood Lucie.  I had asked to use comp time to take the 23 and 26th, and the 30th and 2nd, and she questioned whether I felt behind in my work.  I had been out sick twice over two weeks, not very usual and very much stress-related, and had felt a little behind at one point.  Now the coming week seems yawningly empty, though there will probably be therapists around for the rest of the week.  Judy should be back in tomorrow, and Lucie will likely be working from home (she only comes in here Mondays and Fridays).

I'm pleased to report that I managed to pull myself out of that dreadful self-consciousness about the perceived snub/competitiveness of that woman in the online community; the community involves Bollywood, and my "problem" with this woman was tainting the whole thing for me.  A piece of this was also that I had recently seen part of a film dealing with caste and "reservations" (basically the Indian version of affirmative action for persons from lower castes, who had been disadvantaged as far as education and employment).  I had then read a piece in the New York Times about the caste issue, and had asked something about it in this online community.  I had included my email address, in case someone felt they wanted to reply private, but I had absolutely no response, privately or online.  I started to think that perhaps it had been a rude or offensive, a topic One Didn't Discuss, and somehow this got tied in with the difficult woman.  Maybe I expected that as a fellow American, she might have been kind enough to respond to this very American question (even if only to tell me that it was bad taste to bring it up).  So I ended up posting an apology for having asked the question, in case it had offended anyone.  I had no response to that either, which was kind of a relief.

I should explain that this community is basically a cast of around 300 characters who read an comment on the blog of a particular Bollywood personality (connect those dots, if you would).  The blogger clearly reads some of the comments and occasionally replies, but the commenters seem to also communicate with each other and even build bonds and friendships.  I guess I was expecting to feel more welcomed, but maybe I'm just too new.  I suppose this was also some of the issue with this woman: we had discovered some things in common and it seemed as if she reached out to me, and then when I responded, she was silent.  This is probably a snub, or her feeling somehow threatened; one of the things that I found annoying was that she seemed to be trumpeting a very close personal relationship with the blogger.  I somehow read this, in addition to her maybe-snub, as a message that she was the "American girl/best friend," and that there was no room for me.  She did a lot of sharing (the rather uninteresting) details of her life as if he would hang on her every word, both on the blog and on Twitter.  (I did notice that he does follow her on Twitter, but this may owe to her being an old-guard fan, who knows?  Not my business.) 

However, no one else posts things like that.  Some people have been lucky enough to meet him, and there have been some posts saying things like, "It was nice to meet you, thank you for spending a little time with me," and some very gushy I-love-you posts; but no one else is acting like she is having an actual love affair with him.  I realize that she is probably bugging the shit out of a lot of people, not just me.  Additionally, if indeed they were having such a close relationship, it wouldn't be playing out so publicly; they would simply email privately.

I had a situation in the past where I belonged to a fan community which was not a blog, but simply a fan group/listserv, and it happened that I was a close personal friend of the person of whom we were fans.  But apart from passing along some news (prior to the time when he became computer-literate enough to participate himself), I didn't go on and on about how we spoke on the phone every day or what I got him for his birthday or a joke he told me or a trip we went on together.  He was a musician, so mostly I reported on things connected to that.  I made no secret of the fact that we were personal friends, and it was understood that I had special access; I did mention when I had attended a rehearsal, or a private party he played, or when he played a new song for me in his living room.  But it was never, "I'm the only one he invited!" or "No one else has heard that song yet except his wife!" or "I sat in the front row at the gig and he smiled at me the whole time!"  I mean, yuk.  My posts were more along the lines of, "Victor played a song for me that will be on his next album, a bouncy Cajun thing with anti-Bush lyrics, very funny.  The producer has been stalling, but the album should be released in June."

Anyway, I just decided that this woman was a big asshole and everyone knows it, if they bother to think about her at all.  And since I had no response at all from anyone about my caste questions, I stopped letting any of it get in the way of my participation as a commenter or my enjoyment of all things Bollywood.

I did want to say something more about Twitter.  I had joined some time back, but found the word limit very frustrating, and couldn't figure out how to get followed anyway.  I followed a handful of people, mostly comedians, who did know what to go with 140 characters.  But I probably hadn't logged on for a year until recently, again following my Bollywood curiosity.  So I'm following about 4-6 people/media outlets connected to Bollywood, and have added on more comedians and writers.  I'm still only followed by about 10 people, but have started participating in some hashtagged jokes, where I have to say I'm holding my own decently well.  There were two particularly good ones over the weekend; one was tagged something like "Scorsese Xmas," which was basically lines from Goodfellas with Christmas things stuck in (e.g., "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be an elf.  For me, being an elf was better than being president.").  The other was something like "If the movie was Jewish," which was film titles with Jewish things incorporated/substituted (e.g., "The Jewish American Princess Bride").  I contributed about the to the latter; I am most proud of "A Gefilte Fish Called Wanda," which got retweeted!

Which brings us to a third topic: movies.  My Bollywood fervor does not seem unusual to me because I am a lifelong film buff; I didn't simply become mesmerized by the pretty colors or by Amitabh Bachchan.  I come from a family of people crazy about film and theater (and in my brother's case, opera too).  I have a reasonably encyclopedic knowledge of American film, which includes actors and directors, and to some extent, screenwriters, cinematographers, producers, studios, composers, and so on.  It occurred to me over the weekend that maybe this was not a universal interest; it was during the Jewish-film thread on Twitter.  I was about to post "Our Daily Matzoh," and stopped to wonder if the other posters would be familiar with King Vidor's 1934 "Our Daily Bread."  (I didn't post it; still not sure.) 

So the Bollywood thing is just another hunk of film stuff, although it is my first deep interest in the cinema of one particular foreign country.  As a teenager, I watched my share of classic "foreign films" from a host of different countries: Japan (Kurosawa, Mifune), France (Jean Renoir and the New Wave), Spain (Bunuel), and of course all kinds of movies from England.  I'll never know about Indian film what I know about American film; there's an awful lot to take in.  Plus in Indian film, in addition to knowing actors and directors, there are also composers and singers and choreographers. 

In American films, I know actors and directors best; see Andrew Sarris on "director-as-auteur": he posits that the director is the person who is most responsible for creating each film.  It's a very American point of view, and for me, one I subscribe to as far as American film.  Different story for me with Indian film.  Except for someone like Satyajit Ray (who is more in the category of art-film director than Bollywood director), I haven't seen anything too distinctive in Indian directing -- with the notable exception of Ram Gopal Varma.  I have a feeling I like Varma a lot because he's clearly very much influenced by American film, and a lot of his movies are in American-type genres like gangster films (he directed the wonderful Godfather-inspired Sarkar and Sarkar Raj). 

I'm getting familiar with a fair number of Indian actors, of course, and already know the names of 20 or 30 lead actors and a handful of character actors.  I'm less familiar with the singers, although you can't go wrong with Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar, who are of an older generation.  I can't name a single songwriter except for two contemporary ones, Vishal and Shenar, and can't name any composers.  Of course, I struggle with Hindi names and Hindi song titles and Hindi movie titles, because they are all entirely foreign.  I've studied French and Spanish, and can make some sense of Italian, Portuguese, and even German; but in Hindi, I can't figure anything out and have to memorize words and names exactly, and watch all kinds of videos, interviews and clips to learn how to pronounce any of it properly.  (I swear it took me two weeks to learn how to say "Amitabh Bachchan" correctly, after having spent a few days memorizing the spelling.)

Understanding Hindi words is even more difficult, since song and movie titles are rarely translated into English.  I only seem to learn any meanings from a combination of hearing certain words repeatedly and reading subtitles; not knowing Hindi syntax or sentence structure, it's often hard to detect the meaning of a single word from hearing a sentence and reading its translation.  I can say with some authority that "dil" means "heart," since it turns up as much in Hindi songs as "corazon" does in Spanish ones.  There are also some cute doubled words in Hindi, like "kuch kuch," which (I'm fairly sure) means "something."  I've also figured out which words mean "father," "mother," "brother" and so on, plus certain pronouns.  I might know 20 or so words.

The idioms are beyond me, and sometimes one has to watch or listen very carefully to understand what's going on.  For instance, I watched Maya Memsahib over the weekend, and there was one playful scene between a man and a woman where the translated dialogue made no sense at all; but from listening, I realized that each person was saying something that rhymed with what had been said before, so they were kind of improvising silly verse.  Between trying to really understand the social and cultural context, struggling with the language, and simply the length of time required to consume so many very long movies, it's a pretty exhausting pursuit.

Maya Memsahib, by the way, was of some interest to me because I had read that it was a little sexier than most Indian movies, plus it was based on Madame Bovary.  I enjoyed it, although I found the ending kind of weird and confusing.  I do find I can understand the Indian point of view a little better when I see films that are based on/inspired by/remakes of American films, or a familiar piece of literature like Madame Bovary.  The familiar material helps me see what is different and unfamiliar.  (I recently bought a DVD on eBay that I can't wait to see:  Ram Gopal Varma's take on the deliciously trashy American film Poison Ivy, with Amitabh in the role originally played by Tom Skerrit.)

I also started watching Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham (which I think means something like "In Joy and in Grief"), which is the same kind of masala (mix) film as Kabhi Alveda Naa Kehna.  It's full of family drama and comedy and romance and dancing, with a host of very familiar faces:  our old friend Amitabh; his wife, Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan; Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukarjee, Kajol, and Hrithik Roshan.  It's from 2001, and everyone looks fantastic, although it's not the best hair I've seen on AB. 

I'm fairly certain that he's worn a hairpiece since the mid or late 80s -- that is, that it's a hairpiece and not a weave or transplant -- and it's sometimes very close to natural and sometimes very close to awful.  He also had his jawline tightened up at some point, subtle but very good work.  I mostly hate fake hair and hate the idea that men have to display a full head of hair to be considered attractive, but I cut AB some slack here.  For one thing, he was known from the old days for having an absolutely splendid head of hair; and even at nearly 70, he's still more of a leading man (albeit an older one) than he is a character actor.

On the topic of hair...Shah Rukh Khan is also known for having a simply gorgeous head of hair, and I found this really funny video on YouTube, nearly three minutes of clips showing nothing but Shah Rukh touching his own hair.  It's silly and yet kind of fascinating, because he really is stunning in it.  Let's see if I can dig it up...

It's a little weird getting YouTube videos onto Blogger, since for some reason, there isn't a mechanism to simply go to "My Favorites" on YouTube and select something for posting there.  The Blogger link to post videos requires you to search YouTube, so you have to look up or remember the exact title of the video.  However, a sear for "Shah Rukh hair" found this one right away.  Enjoy.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

why difficult online people? maybe try art

I wrote about this privately tonight; in fact, I wrote in great detail for my anonymous blog, but still felt shy about publishing it, so I kept it private.  I recently joined an online community where I am feeling ill at ease, mostly due to a snub by one person, and some posts by her that I felt were directed to me in a hostile way.  But I think she probably makes everyone uncomfortable, not just me.  Still, it's all making me a little queasy.  Bad drama, and with someone who does not have to be a player in my life.  I'm trying to hang in; I'd like to stay.  (I had an overt conflict with some very mean people in an online community some years back, and it was a very unhappy time.)

And something good:  I've been making jewelry again.  I do wish I knew how to photograph jewelry well enough to post pictures.  I have a digital camera that I think is as hopeless as my ability to do digital photography.  I've never taken a good photo of any of my work.

But I started again recently, mostly because I wanted to give some holiday gifts.  And although I have a great deal of perfectly lovely jewelry already made, I sometimes feel like I'm cheating if I don't make something specifically for a certain person.  As if a piece of handcrafted silver and gemstone jewelry, made by me, isn't a good enough gift on its own.  Geez.

Yeah, so I was thinking about making something like eight new pieces of jewelry, which was so not going to happen.  I ended up making only three new pieces and only gave away one of those.  Everyone else got perfectly lovely jewelry that I'd already made.

Part of it was that I was beginning to make a new style of earring, which means that the pieces I was making would be slow, and would evolve and improve.  Which is what happened and is still happening.  I made the fourth one today, the first pair that I felt was harmonious with my style.

The idea I had was this:  a wire piece like an inverted V, only with a loop at the peak to attach to an earring hook.  At the bottom of each stem of the V would also be a loop, with a short length of chain attached in-between, like a bridge.  Then beads attached to the chain.  It's a pretty labor-intensive style; plus I was doing it the hard way until I made the piece today.  I was beading the chain after it was hooked in to the wire, instead of beading it and then attaching it.  Trust me, it made a difference.

So I had to fabricate the piece with wire, which takes a lot of patience and a little more precision than I usually need.  I measured and cut the wire, then coiled it on something called a jig, a little pegboard.  The pegs are the guides around which you bend the wire, to get a uniform shape.  It's still tricky to get it right.  I had to use the softest silver wire, called "dead soft," and then hammer the shape to harden it.

Then I had to decide on the type of chain and number of links.  And then the color and shape of beads to use.

First pair: eight links of chain, one round 4mm light amethyst on each link.  This was most like the one I'd seen which had inspired me.  (My wire skills are so far behind the piece I saw that it would be a joke to call mine a "copy.")  The next one had a bigger link of chain, and four purple rice pearls; that pair I gave away.  The third had soft garnet nuggets, maybe around 4 or 5mm, also eight links, one bead to each link.  I wanted to give those to a blonde woman from work, but she had said she had trouble with heavier earrings, so I ended up giving her a different pair with garnets.  (She's an absolutely delightful student who brings me coffee and always stops to chat.)

Today, I went for eight links, with a 4mm carnelian cube on each link, then added a bright-orange rice pearl to each of the six inner links.  I like working with those colors a lot, the translucent carnelian worked perfectly, and the double-beaded links have some of that cluttered look characteristic of a lot of my pieces.  I've made a lot of bracelets and some necklaces that were lengths of chain piled up with beads, often many varied sizes and colors.  I also do a lot of necklaces on wire links where I add beads to the connections.  It's a lot easier when you're not making two pieces that have to match, plus everything is much smaller with the earrings.  I usually bead chain with beads averaging 8mm.

This is probably a foreign tongue even to other jewelers.  I actually did make a little drawing a tried to scan it so I could upload it here, but either my scanner or my scanning software seems to have conked out.

But the point is that these two sessions of jewelry-making required a lot of time and concentration, and everything else just kind of fell away.  There isn't a lot of creative bliss in the rest of my life; I work hard and concentrate and take a lot of time when I write, but that's just about the opposite of mental peace.  Making jewelry is very centering; there's something so present about creating something for use and adornment, and so restful about trading verbal for visual.  It's good to get away from words and onto color and shape.  It's good to work with my hands.

I had fallen away from it because my workspace is small and disorderly, not very inviting, and also because I don't know how I will be able to replace any silver I consume.  Silver is much more expensive now, and I am much more broke.  I probably have enough beads to work with for years, but the silver is a problem.  Still, I can't let the future stop the present.  You can quote me on that one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

questions about Indian ("Bollywood") films

Indian film question:  what is the significance of dancing with a red scarf?  I've seen it in a couple of movies.

Indian film question number two:  Why is no one making (basically non-musical) films as good as Sarkar and Sarkar Raj?

Indian film question number three:  Back to the "Sarkar" films:  what does the chant "Govinda, Govinda, Govinda" mean?

To what extent is "Bollywood" considered an insulting term by the Indian film industry?  I know that certain industry people don't care for it at all, which is why I tend to say "Indian film."

Friday, December 16, 2011

my name is Anthony Gonsalves - for real

I may have mentioned how much I enjoyed the surreal number "My Name is Anthony Gonsalves" performed by Amitabh Bachchan in the film Amar Akbar Anthony, but the number was a tribute to a real Anthony Gonsalves.

His story:

good...and bad

Well, "bad" is my ongoing concern with privacy and money.  I did decide to keep a second blog where I can rant and rave anonymously about those things that are both bothering me and attracting me too much.  And I have a second, private email address, and have been making use of "private browsing" at home, as not to leave an electronic paper trail.  Never thought I'd have to be so cautious about privacy as regards my spouse, but apparently he likes to look in on what I do and to take things the wrong way.  Really, really not good, as far as marriage goes.  I'm sure a lot of people have a lot of different points of view on this, but I think everyone needs some privacy even married couples.  For the record, I don't think I'm doing anything wrong that I require privacy, at least not at the moment.  But perhaps some thoughts and ideas should be kept private.

The money situation got a little worse because Barry fucked up on paying Verizon (which provides our phone, internet, and TV).  I let him pay the bills, which are three per month (Verizon, gas, and electric), and generally total around $300.  I knew he had not been paying Verizon in full (which I don't like -- I had been encouraging him to pay a little more than the minimum to eventually get the bill paid down to zero).  He assured me that he was paying the minimum to keep our service -- except he wasn't.  So I got home on Wednesday and the phone, internet, and TV were all turned off, and we had to cough up around $400 to get them back.  This is about the worst unexpected financial hit we've taken since I had to replace the dead computer, and it happened right at payday.  So I have to look forward to an entire month of not having enough.  Had to cancel New Year's with Jannah ($60 in train fare), any hopes of seeing a doctor ($30 co-pay), and may have to quit therapy, at least for now.  I tried to cancel dinner with Robin tonight but she said she'd pick up the tab.

The good news is this:  with all of the running around on Twitter etc, @astroshiva recommended this blog as a good source of Bollywood info, which is very flattering to me.  I consider myself a rank beginner.

So I ought to say something about the first half of Yaarana, which I watched last night.  (It's so hard to watch any more than half of a three-hour movie on a weeknight!)  I had been anxious to see this for a bit -- Netflix had it, but the subtitles were off by about three lines (that is, the title would come on three lines later than the bit it was translating), so I had to stop.  I ended up having to buy a DVD.  And it was well worth it.  For one thing, Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi do the singing.  Also, I liked the themes of solid friendship and wicked family, and the fact that Amitabh plays both a country bumpkin and a talented singer.  (He really is wonderful at playing a bumpkin.  I'd like to see him do more comedy, though he has done some awfully funny TV commercials in recent years.)  I like Amjad Khan as the friend-for-life. And although I wasn't sure that the tag from my old friend, Go Meera Go, was from an actual song, it seems it is:  Sara Zamana from Yaarana.  There you go.  So now I know all four songs from the medley, and where each one comes from. Kaike Paan Banaraswala" from Don, "Pag Gungru" from Halak Namaal, "Rang Barse" from Silsilla, and "Sara Zamana" from Yaarana.  So maybe I do know a thing or two about Bollywood -- at least about Amitabh and about Hrithik Roshan's weird thumbs.

I really need a subtitled copy of Sholay.  Have not been able to find one online, and it's not a good month to buy one on eBay...which I might do anyway.

I am honestly not finding a whole lot of friendliness so far in the BW fan community, and that's a shame.  Maybe I'm still too new.  Someone reached out on Twitter to see if I was the same person from the blog, and I responded, then didn't hear from her again.  You'd think the other nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn would like to do the secret handshake, but no.  Maybe she's not so nice. Maybe she doesn't like not being the only one of her kind.  Can't say -- it's in her head, not mine. But I never do like feeling snubbed.
I think this will be a weekend to make jewelry -- not just for holiday gifts, but for some piece of mind.  I do need to be creating again.

When I start to follow, say, a certain actor, it's not just about appreciating someone his art, it's about growing my own.  It's about being inspired.  So, let's check out that inspiration this weekend, shall we?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

not too happy

I put up a post yesterday that was too private; one person saw it before I took it down.  However, it was the one person who would have been upset by it, and he was.  So much for pushing the limits of a public blog.

In general, though, I seem to be accumulating a reasonable readership, though I don't get comments or feedback.  Maybe everyone just likes watching the clips.

I was home yesterday with a touch of sciatica - well, more than a touch.  And seeing a chiropractor is a pipe dream.  My insurance charges a $50 co-pay, although my chiropractor only charges $45 to see him without insurance.  Still, too much money.

I've been watching things other than Bollywood for the past few days.  It was getting a little rich for my blood; or perhaps over-the-line obsessive. 

Still trying to figure what to do with this urge to be creative or to reach out.  I always think about writing - lots of folks think I should - but there's no book here.  There's just no book.  There never has been.  The things I know well are too boring to me, and/or too obvious.  I would have to write about something I know but which isn't me and isn't my life.  I don't know if such a thing exists, at least in my head.  Maybe my brain just doesn't stretch enough.

I'm almost done with the new Stephen King book, 11/22/63, and it's been awfully good so far -- just curious about how he ends it.  Not sure what I'm going to read next, but probably non-fiction.  I like to switch back and forth...unless I'm gorging myself on a single author, as I did with the Preston/Childs "Pendergast" books.  But I'll probably "flip" through the Kindle and see what's around.  I'm only carrying a small number of my books on the Kindle now...if you can call 500 "small."  I have easily 1,500 more stored on my computer at home.  Too many on the Kindle makes it a little sluggish.  And when I charge it, I do trade books around.

It's payday today, and I feel like I'm already out of money.  Most of it's spent by the time it gets here:  bills, Metrocard, analysis, and some paying back (for instance, our pharmacist lets us slide until payday).  It really depresses me, especially because I always want to be able to have a little treat, buy a little something...and it's not gonna happen.  Or if it does, we'll be short.  Things would work a lot better if I weren't the only one employed in the family.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Even if Barry does think that Bollywood movies are good for me, it doesn't mean I don't have an unhealthy obsession.  But I'm starting to learn that I'm not necessarily the best judge of my mental state -- it came to me via analysis, which would mean I'm spending my money wisely. 

I've mentioned, I think, that I enjoy reading AB's blog and that there's a community of around 300 people who are daily commentors.  (The interface here marks the latter word as misspelled with either -er or -or.)  And I'm starting to see some really icky obsessiveness there.  I think that the people who call him "a god" need to get a life, or perhaps a more conventional god.  And there are clearly some women who are very much in love with him, or think they are; crushes aren't a dreadful thing, but sharing them with strangers, and particularly with the object of the crush, seems weird to me.  Some of it makes me kind of queasy, and some of it makes me feel sorry for the people involved.  AB is kind to and patient with them all, but I wonder what he really thinks about some of those folks.  If he's truly as spiritual as he seems, maybe he doesn't judge them -- which would make him a way better person than I.

That having been is a recent find on YouTube:

I think this is really funny, and the ponytail is kind of cute.

And one more:

This is an actual American-style music video, not a movie clip.  Adnan Sami is a Canadian of Pakistani descent, I believe, and living in Mumbai.  I have no idea what this song means, but I like it and the two of them are cute together.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

bad smells, odd hair and unusual fingers

I've mentioned that our downstairs neighbor, John, died about a month ago.  What still remains, alas, is a dreadful smell in the building.  He was probably only dead in his apartment for a few days, but this is my first experience with having had someone die in a small apartment building (three floors, six apartments in all), and I (fortunately) had no experience with this smell of death.  It's something like bad body odor mixed with something a little worse.  It's sad, plus it's just plain awful.  Carmine, the landlord, hung a pine Christmas wreath on the front door (right next to the door to Johnny's apartment), and while I think it was done for seasonal reasons, it did cut the smell a lot.  But it's not gone, and though it's dissipated a good deal, what's left is equally unpleasant on every floor.  Where we live on three is just as bad as it is on one.  A neighbor on two put a container of some kind of odor-absorber right outside her door, the kind of thing you'd put next to a cat box.  But even in a weakened state, the smell is still there, all over the building; I smell it every time.  At least it's not in our apartment.  It's not a good reminder of Johnny; it's a bad reminder of his sad end.

I started a second blog on another site, but I haven't really posted.  I'm not sure I really need another place to write, if you add up this blog, Facebook, Twitter, email, and the comments section on Amit-ji's blog (I add at least a short comment pretty much every day).  I also do have people to talk to -- Barry, my friends, and particularly my analyst.  Between it all, most bases are covered.  But not all of them, and not all together, and not all written.  Obviously, my analytic session once a week is where I can get out the most sensitive stuff, but I guess I feel the need to write that all down, too.  Where to find the time to do that, in addition to stuffing down three-hour movies?

Dribs and drabs of B-wood nonsense:  I finally did see a missing-link picture today, a photo of Amit-ji between his younger bushy-haired period and his present suspect coif.  His hair did get thin, his hairline did recede a bit, and though the picture I saw wasn't dated, it looks to me like the mid/late-80s, which is when he gave up film for several years and I guess wasn't photographed much.  There are differing opinions as to what exactly is on his head now:  transplant, weave, or piece/wig.  I sometimes think I see what appear to be hairpiece lines, that spot where the purchased hair meets the natural hair badly.  But by in large, he seems to have better-than-average hair replacement.

Drib #2:  Amit-ji had an accident in the early 80s where a firecracker went off in his left hand.  It had to do with the Diwali holiday, though I can't remember if it was an actual celebration or one in a movie.  He had some surgeries on it and apparently he can use it, but I found a picture today that showed it pretty clearly, and he seems to be missing the last digits on all four fingers.

Drib #3:  on the other hand, the popular and handsome Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan has an extra thumb on his right hand.  It is weird as hell.  Doesn't make him any less handsome (ditto, of course, for Amit-ji's hair and hand), but it's peculiar-looking for sure.  I'll try to take a little time to post pictures from home.

Oh, one more thing:  I finally found a source for mp3's of filmi music, and I've crammed by mp3 player with it.  (I have a Sansa Fuze which I love dearly.)  I was curious to see how much I like the music without the visuals (or, as they call it in Bollywood films, the "picturizations").  I like it very well so far.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

masala therapy

Barry pointed out to me the other day that I haven't had any of those bad mood dips or uncontrollable weeping since I started my -- some would say obsessive -- romance with Bollywood.  Additionally, I find myself doing a lot of related research so I can have a better understanding of the movies: Indian culture, religion, politics.  I probably know about 20 words in Hindi, at this point, but can also remember and say a lot of Hindi movie and song titles.  (I have English subtitles to thank for most of this.)

So on the one hand, it's a crazy obsession which includes a hard crush on you-know-you...but it's also become something of an interesting hobby and a path of self-education.  Plus, thanks to the internet, it's mostly free, with the exception of a few movies I've had to buy because I can't find them subtitled online.

I find I'm not too interested in anything else, but that's par for the course when I adopt a new enthusiasm.  There were times when I was interested in nothing but jewelry and semi-precious stones; times where I was interested in nothing but (God help me) the music of the Holy Modal Rounders; and times where my mind was totally consumed by (ditto) bottlecaps.  (Don't get me started about the connection between the latter two.)

OK, I'll pretend to be well-rounded, and post some bottlecap pictures, for old times' sake:

I've also gone back to Twitter, where I can be found as @northofconey.  It seems less difficult than it once was to come up with brief bites, though I only have a handful of followers.  If you use it, come see me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

what I am reading now and so on

I am reading the new bio of Steve Jobs. Even though I'm a PC and very suspicious of empires like Apple, I find Jobs to be a fascinating character.

I watched Bollywood movies again a lot of this weekend.  Barry pointed out that I haven't had any severe mood dips since I started watching Bollywood movies.

What I've had, however, is an increased interest in sex, or rather, increased feelings of desire.  Since I've been dead from the waist down for a couple of months, this is a very nice change -- although, as before, there's not much to do with it. There hasn't really been anything to do with it for 3 or 4 years, except enjoy it on my own (ahem).  This is a tough-to-solve issue, and my husband is not much help -- won't be the guy, and won't sit still for anyone else to be the guy (I've never asked, but his attitude about this is pretty clear).  Some months ago, he said to me something along the lines of that he was sorry he hadn't been able to provide the "intimate" part of things, and that's when I realized that there was no hope that he would even try to participate again.  I am determined not to spend the rest of my life without sex, but I'm not sure how that's gonna work.  I had something of a patched-up solution during the early '00s, but that particular scenario, as the other person used to call it, is off the table.

I'm not sure if analysis is helping with this, or if it's just my hormone replacement pills -- that is, the return of desire. Maybe it's just the Bollywood movies.

This is the part of Baghban that didn't make me cry.  What a weepie that movie was!  Here, they celebrate the holiday of Holi, big B looking his fine 2003 self.

In an earlier movie, Silsila, there's another Holi scene, featuring the beautiful song Rang Baarse, but Silsila (1983) made me squirm a little.  Amitabh-ji plays a guy who's cheating on his wife.  His wife is played by his real wife, Jaya.  His girlfriend is played by Rekha, with whom he was suspected of having a long-running affair.  In this clip, he dances at Holi with the girlfriend, where the wife looks unhappy in the back.  The Amitabh/Rekha scene are very sexy, though she barely speaks in the movie -- mostly just looks smouldering.

This song, Rang Baarse, was actually written by Amitabh and his father, who was a famous poet (and I can't remember the spelling of his name just now).  Beautiful song, though not as peppy as the Holi song from Baghban.

Rang Baarse is the third song in the Bbuddah Hoga Tera Baap medley, along with Kaike Paan Banaraswala and Pag Ghungroo.  (This is just in case you think I didn't do my Bollywood homework.)  It's interesting to see AB stealing his old steps, but some of them are the best steps ever.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

amazing! well, maybe not so amazing, but it's a first for me

Well, I've probably mentioned that I read you-know-who's blog on a daily basis, and always leave a comment, even a small one.  OK, well...I got one back from himself yesterday.  Check out, item #38.  Who cares if it's only a couple of words?  I mean, OMG.  I am having the most severe attack of fan-geek craziness.  I knew from reading the comments that he does touch base with some of the EF (extended family, as he refers to our little fan-pack), but I wasn't sure how it was done.  I guess this is the first time I ever saw him post responses.  Made me wild.