Que Sera Sera…

There are billions of stars in a galaxy, right? The numbers are so huge, its hard to comprehend how unlikely it is that things work the way they do. I am thinking about large numbers right now because I am thinking about probability. It has taken so many chances, so many mutations and so many small decisions for me to end up here right now- in this multiverse.

Big numbers always interest me, but if I want to be overwhelmed- I don’t have to think about planets and star systems. I only need think about people. We are complicated machines. I find human interactions- strange. So many things can go wrong. So many misunderstandings… It’s almost like an infinite number of possibilities on how a conversation can go. If I screw something up, I could really mess up a friendship. And so I remind myself…

  • I am not the only one with preferences and a memory…
  • I am not the only one who can hold a grudge.
  • I am not the only with good taste. In fact, in all likelihood, my taste sucks.

I was talking to a friend today and we briefly touched upon this idea that I always live in my head. “Its not all about you”. More than a few people have said this to me and I feel I should apologize right now. I do live in my head. I think its a seminal moment in our lives when somewhere between being a kid and and an adult, you suddenly realize that the people you are interacting with are not just dummies in your world but have thoughts and emotions too. If you end up being the more understanding type- you are empathetic and what management types would call ’emotionally intelligent’. Or you could end up like me- someone who can judge the temperature of the room and adapt- but typically does so when its already a few degrees too cold due to something they have said. Damage control. I run damage control on most nights and blame it on being a child trapped in an adults body.

So here is the crux… when it comes to conversations, I often realise mid sentence that my friends are extremely tolerant listeners and that I, am the dominant speaker. They are not dummies. (I know that!)

I am the hero of my life’s movie. But, I know I am just a minor character in thiers. And yet, for the few moments that I am on screen, I talk- and talk- and talk… and they listen. It must really be awful to be my friend. And for me to imagine that they would like me or appreciate my company requires so many things to go right. Free will and all that. I might engineer a conversation, but not listening enough means I am basically leaving a lot up to chance.

So imagine me as a minor character in the life of my local barista. She is a ‘Robin’. I know she is, it says so right on her name tag. She has black hair that she has colored brown on the tips. She wears thick black glasses. She wishes me a good day and I ask her for a mocha. She is polite makes a joke about something I dont even bother listening to. I am more interested in my music. What to me is a meaningless 3 min conversation with Robin  seeing as she is after all a dummy in my life- might be a very different story from her point of view. Robin, has a mind. She has a life. She probably even has hopes and dreams like I do. I do not have an inflated sense of self importance however and I do not think I can remotely be the most interesting thing that happens in her life all day. No, I am the dummy.

So, in the end, what I am saying is… I need to be careful about how I handle conversations because I don’t want small things I do to leave bad memories in minds of others. But can I be aware and careful all the time? Can I be try and be more sensitive? Well, I sure can try. But in this infinite world- I may just have to leave this all up to chance. And… I have to trust my friends.

Its like the allo darlin track where my friends tell me, they have troubles too… but they try and keep it hidden from me. Simply because I have so much going on all the time- Or maybe I just talk about it more often:

I’ve got my troubles too you don’t know much about
I try to keep them hidden from you
So I won’t freak you out
You’re not the only one with dreams baby
And if you’re patient you will see maybe

Que sera sera
What will be will be
As long as you’re with me
It’s easy like taking candy from a baby


Uncomfortably excited about Gone Girl

There are two things you need to know about Gone Girl to be totally sold. And one of them is not the plot- which the trailer sort of hints at as being on-par with a case-of-the-week crime procedural. So boring, so been-there-done-that. But wait- it is actually a lot better than you think.

1) Its directed by David Fincher, who with a resume that includes awesome movies like Se7en and The Social Network, is easily one of the best directors around. Even his lesser known movies like 1997’s ‘The Game’ are nothing short of extraordinary.

2) The movie is adapted from a book of the same name that I completed this past week. Gone Girl by author Gillian Flynn is a really interesting, dark, suspense novel. I loved the book and we know that Fincher is great at adapting thrillers to the big screen as he did with Girl with the Dragon tattoo.

So yes, this is going to be a good movie, early reviews have been very positive: Here is the trailer.

Now, it is easy to jump to conclusions. This is just like an episode of a crime drama. It looks like it may be a story of how it is always the husband. But trust me, the novel is very well written and Rosamund Pike’s haunting dairy pages which are narrated in the trailer are maybe the best part of the book. The story is told with both the husband and wife’s point of view. And most of the problems these two have is because they do not talk to each other and explain what it is that they are thinking. They always want not to obsess about the others shortcomings, because they are not like that. But then they bottle up the anger. The husband- whom we dislike right from the start is not a likable character. This is in large part because the wife’s dairy reveals she is actually a very happy, very nice, very interesting. But, as the story progresses, we realize she is maybe not the innocent victim of a bad marriage. The husband meanwhile does nothing to improve his case. He does not appear to be the innocent guy who is being framed. There is a particular scene in the trailer where Ben Affleck smiles next to the picture of the missing wife. A man smiling while his wife has been missing? Taking selfies with pretty girls? he ignores his wife, borrows money from her, jacks up her insurance and while a lot of this is starting to sound clichéd, it is handled very well.

Perhaps a mark of how good an author Gillian Flynn is that I have basically butchered her story in that summary. I really have a lot of improving to do!

The book moves really fast and both the husband and the wife hide things from us. I am not sure how this will be handled in the movie, but I am optimistic and uncomfortably excited…

Taylor Swift would make an awesome, if irritating bestie

Oh I know I have lost so much credibility by writing about Taylor Swift on this blog when the title sort of indicates that the purpose of this post is not the internet’s favorite sport – Taylor Swift bashing. But read on. You may still be surprised.

So she was a country singer and now sings pop music. Teenage girls everywhere are devastated and bloggers are writing scathing reviews… I’m making this up as I go along. I don’t follow Taylor Swift all that much. But this is the gist of what I have gathered.

The funniest post I know about Taylor Swift is this post here on the awesome blog chartgirl: Taylor Swift Maneater


I say funniest. I meant terrifying.

But this afternoon I read this article on the latimes.

Taylor Swift fans treated to ‘1989’ listening party at singer’s home

She played her new album to her fans and “Swift reportedly made her guests pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies and had a dance party too.” Wouldn’t that be fun? And we all have seen her dance at awards shows. She genuinely looks like she doesn’t give a hoot and just wants to have fun.

She cannot dance. But how many of your friends actually can?

Later in the article when she talks about her fear that her album will be leaked, she says things like: “…Speakers put sound out … so can’t they take sound in? Or they can turn this [cellphone] on, right? I’m just saying. We don’t even know.” That’s right Taylor. We never will. Now take your medicine and go to bed. Okay- so I said I wasn’t not going to be bashing her, but it looks like I am.

To summarize, I wanted to share my thoughts on the mad fun times at Taylor’s apartment. She may be a good, entertaining person to hang around with. But there is baggage with talks about ex-boyfriends. It would be so difficult to keep track about which one she means when she says ‘My ex used to…’ Oh- okay. I had better stop before I end up being immortalized in one of her songs. Small chance though of that happening. It’s not like we went out or anything.

Ultraviolence – and other beautiful things.

There is no denying that the sound, the lyrics, the excess behind Lana Del Rey’s music is an experiment. There is the ‘cinematic’ rich sound which is grounded in 1960’s americana and it manages to conjure up some really instagram-ified pictures. And this is the whole package. The music and the videos go together. You cannot listen to a Lana Del Rey song anymore without thinking about those retro video’s and color burn effects. Or for that matter tigers and a crown and a woman who conveys no emotions from her face. Stuck in the 60’s or not, Ms. Rey has carved a niche for herself. With her new album ‘Ultraviolence’, she veers into more melancholy. But that is all good. We never expected  Lana Del Rey to be a peppy pop princess. She created a brand for herself when she gave her self an excotic name. Shedding behind the image of Lizzy Grant, she has experimented with the vintage lifestyle- which has too often been about the excesses involved.


Don’t get me wrong. I like her music a lot. But the excess that was Born to Die, (i refer to the tigers again) is quite jarring in my world. I find Lorde’s music more relatable even if she is a little weird as well. When Lorde says, ‘We will never be royals’ – I get it. I am not proud of my address either. My choice of music is a little alternative. I listen to ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’s’, ‘Sara Bareilles’, ‘Paramore’, ‘Katie Melua’, ‘The Clash’ ,’The Shins’, ‘She and Him’ – sometimes all in the same playlist. Maybe I have no idea what good music is… But it isnt me avoiding popular music. I would enjoy the next Katy Perry track just as much as you. But I would also grow weary of it pretty soon. There are a few artists whose music however is ephemeral in my books. I have discovered them sometimes by accident – ‘The Magic Numbers’ and fallen in love with them

With Lizzy Grant a.k.a ‘Lana Del Rey’, I dont even know what is the hook. With most musicians its a single track and then you continue to listen to them because they used to be good (i’m looking at you Coldplay) The best way to describe Lana Del Rey’s music is what it reminds me of- and it has always been old beautiful things. An old Mercedes driving off in the sunset. Women with big hats. Retro cameras and phones with physical dialers. Yet, all those things define her and not me. And this is why sticking to the brand is okay. With Coldplay changing their look and sound with each album I have lost track of what they started out as… atleast with Ms. Rey I have some consistency.

Her music is unique because she fills it with things she has read, likes and wants to talk about. If you will forgive me a transgression here, I am quickly going to compare her, a pop singer to the masters of progressive rock- Pink Floyd. Listening to Lana Del Rey is an experience quite similar to Floyd. And here is why…

These albums are constructions. They are not simply thoughts put together, but crafted to adhere to a vision. They have different purposes however… while Roger Waters wrote about war and loss and politics, Ms. Rey seems to confine her music to love and pretty things. Vintage is her brand. In both cases we are only passengers in what the artist wanted us to experience. We listen, we observe, we cheer and we praise how creative they are,

Maybe all it takes to make a lana del rey video is to type ‘vintage’ in google image search and pick the most beautiful images you find… here, like this-


No. You see, there is no consistency. Maybe I need more time with this stuff but clearly there is more art in this process. You maybe have to live with the idea that you can make something special, and then develop your own unique style. After all, isn’t the music derived from these tastes?

With Born to Die, I saw glimpses of true genius. ‘Video Games’, ‘Blue Jeans’, ‘Radio’ are signature tracks. There is nothing to compare the sound or the visual images they can conjure up. In fact, with Radio, I always pictured excess like one of Gatsby’s parties. So it was really apt that Ms. Rey contributed one of her the most haunting tracks ‘Young and Beautiful’ to the movie.

What followed was a hiccup in the journey. ‘Ride’ was artistic vision going a bit overboard. It made me regret liking her music. Here was a 15 minute ‘movie’ where she talked about her struggles? It was pretentious. Let’s not talk about this again.

With her new album Ultraviolence, I am hooked again. Clearly there is more coherence in her music. It is… sadder. It is still rich and cinematic. The videos still promote her as some sort of artist stuck in the 60’s. Ultraviolence has fewer ‘pop’ songs and this is good. It fits my mood and makes me want to tear some paper and throw things around. ‘Sad Girl’ could be the soundtrack of nervous breakdown. ‘Brooklyn Baby’ is the perfect song if you are driving down the road, leaving a city behind- imagining all the people you are leaving behind. And yes, the imagery I conjure up is always vast open landscapes and long drives. Maybe this is what Ms. Rey wanted to convey. Sooner or later there will be a video that will show us what she really wanted to capture. And then we will again be tourists of the past- where the fashion was a little better, the cars more prettier and the life a whole lot simpler. Until then, we are free to imagine.

Ultraviolence is a good album. An improvement over Born to Die and I am looking forward to those videos Ms Rey.

My friends, the Macbook Air users…

Most of my creative friends own a Macbook Air. They also possess 1) a pair of shades, 2) t-shirts with the latest punk metal band’s image inscribed on them, 3) a diet plan that would make most fitness trainers chest swell with pride, 4) an enviable reading habit and 5) a repulsive drinking habit.

I adore them… really. For all those reasons and more. But I never really understood why their upper middle-class, well educated, highly chic lifestyle necessitated the presence of a Macbook Air.

For all the talk of visiting wineries, playing golf, knowing the difference between what is cool and what is cool… I could not forgive this. A contentious issue often debated as mac vs. pc, I didn’t buy the argument that somehow using this device made you creative. I felt it was a signal that you aspired to creativity. Any advertising executive who dresses up like an advertising executive knows what I am talking about.

While I took issue with Apple as a brand and still believe that the Air was adopted by my creative friends because it branded them as ‘creative’- I need only look at all the women carrying Louis Vuitton handbags and the throves of young adults using Snapchat to know that this affiliation to the brand is not an uncommon or worrying trend. All of this is superficial. Using Snapchat does not make you cool and owning a LV bag does not make you more desirable. But- Am I not reading Game of Thrones simply because it is expected of every nerd to know the backstory of Lannisters and the Starks? Am I not trying to conform as well?

Yes, so my creative friends were conforming. While they endlessly praised the aesthetics of the notebook and the unique unibody design and the ‘mission control’ and ‘notification bar’ and the ‘dock’… they were really only selling the brand to themselves. How luck Apple is to have its own clan, really. 🙂

The funniest incident was a friend who asked me ‘Does windows have apps?’ and I replied, ‘Yes, for decades… only we call them programs’ I said the word programs slowly, weighing every syllable, letting the sarcasm really show through.

Anyway, for the past 10 months, I have been a Macbook Air user. No I did not acquire the device to experiment or to identify myself as a creative. I am not that creative to begin with 🙂 However, this exercise gave me the opportunity to really compare my Windows world with that of the Mac- and this is wot I think…

The Mac is cool. It is light, fast and something I use to launch Chrome and that is really all I care about. Having said that… I would not part with the Mac for any new Windows PC. The main reason for this is the latest version of Windows that I do not like… but really, its a little deeper than that. I am not a Mac convert by any stretch of the imagination. I still think I would be more productive and more creative on a PC… but that is simply because I have used PC’s for so long that I know the internals. But, the Mac has proven a worthy companion. yes- my output on the blog has reduced and I don’t spend as much time sitting in coffee shops typing a novel or a blog post…

Although the Mac demands attention… I do not provide it any.

The reason for my love/hate relationship with my Air right now is… I do not have the time to leisurely explore everything the device and do. I am determined to be ruthlessly efficient in my tasks and that entails – more of than not –  my work. Now we have been talking for a while and I believe I can say this without any judgement here, because this is our safe place – I am a workaholic. And yes- I sleep enough. 6 hours or thereabouts though every once a while I may drop dead for 15 hrs or more.

When I have the time, or am not pre-occupied by some task at work, I am able to spend some time thinking about writing a novel, or reading a new book. But presently with the Mac, I see this potential and still I squander it. Perhaps the branding can even influence my work… who knows? Maybe the next blogpost or novella I start on the Mac will actually be worth reading 🙂 Dude- stranger things have happened.

Coming back full circle on my awesome friends who adored their Mac. I forgive you. I can see why you liked it. It was convenient and it provided you with the brand. And there is nothing wrong with that. Maybe I should not have questioned the choice in the first place. So, uh… sorry.