Gee Whiz!
  • Since they were first reported in the 17th century, crop circles have left humans dumbstruck. These mystery phenomena, which occur overnight leaving cornfields and wheat fields stamped with enormous insignia, have been linked to aliens, ley lines, paranormal activity and UFOs. Approximately 10,000 incidents have been reported from all over the world since the 1970s.

    In the United States, where individuals and cults have routinely invested in alien abduction insurance, public imagination has run amok, sparking debate among irate rationalists and a gullible public sold into unquestioning belief. Seemingly authoritative books have been published by "experts" attempting to validate the otherworldliness of the phenomenon while scientists have relentlessly opposed them. Most memorably, the phenomenon inspired the M Night Shyamalan sci-fi film Signs (2002), starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix.

    M Night Shyamalan's 'Signs' was inspired by crop circlesM Night Shyamalan's 'Signs' was inspired by crop circles

    The majority of crop circles have been reported from southern England, including the first

    Read More »from Circles of reason
  • If you haven't heard of Govind Tiwari yet, you can't be a Net junkie. He's a Twitter celebrity who has brought joy to millions since yesterday. Today, he has been the subject of several articles. His claim to fame: A blog that stands out for its tackiness.

    No one in the media seems to have caught Govind Tiwari in flesh and blood yet. If they had, he would have made it to the TV channels as well. Is he real at all? We don't know. First Post believes he could be the creation of a smart, search-engine savvy blogger somewhere.

    Many are saying whoever created the blog could have made Rs 15 lakh in just a day, thanks to the traffic frenzy that even crashed Photobucket, the site hosting his pictures. I don't believe he has, but then, social media experts have their own estimates.

    Nishad Ramachandran writes in First Post: "To me Govind Tiwari is truly a well worked experiment in Transmedia story telling. Perhaps the best we have seen from India, or done by an Indian somewhere. Create a well

    Read More »from Why Govind Tiwari makes us feel good
  • Real life 'fiction' by Naomi Datta

    I sit in the fiction department of the production house I currently consult with. The fiction department isn’t a euphemism for the finance department - it means the department that works on conceptualizing and producing fiction shows for various entertainment channels. I am not a part of this department – but it is a small office, so you pretty much squeeze yourself into whichever corner you can find. My corner happens to be bang in the middle of the noisy world of fiction.  In my neighbouring corner is Nikhil, the creative producer on a long running soap. He is in crisis mode –the lead couple in his soap is now happily married after a stormy, intense and protracted love affair. That is bad news for the ratings – viewers don’t want to see a blissful domestic after life. (Though domesticity and bliss are perhaps contradictions in terms as the much married would testify but never mind that!)

    Ideally the soap should have ended at the marriage – but no soap really ever ends – so now

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  • Take 5 is jazz in jhap taal

    If you're a jazz buff, you'd know Take 5 as a concert standard.  The Internet has quite a few video recordings of the Brubeck Quartet playing this famous sax-led number from their album Time Out (1959). You'll also find more recent musicians playing the six decade-old track with style.

    A Pakistani studio has now uploaded a lovely rendering of the jazz classic on YouTube, testifying yet again to its enduring appeal. (American president Barack Obama is among Brubeck's admirers. He attended one of the pianist's concerts as a ten-year-old, accompanied by his father). It features a sitar, sarod, guitar and a string ensemble, besides a tabla. Sachal Studios, based in Lahore, has produced the video, and the sound is remarkably Indian (or sub-continental, if you want to keep in mind the sentiments of our Pakistani brethren) , with the sitar and sarod interpreting the jazz melody with the lyrical bends and graces so characteristic of our music.

    The 5/4 time signature, rare in western music, is

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  • I don't know if you've seen these pictures from the sets of Mission Impossible 4. Producers of the action film created a Bangalore street in Vancouver for hero Tom Cruise to run through. It couldn't have been easy for Hollywood to build an Indian city in Canada, and it seemed a good approximation of Bangalore, where I live, when I saw the pictures from a distance. When I looked closer, I had some quibbles:

    Too many cycles
    Look at Pic 4. Have you ever seen so many shiny new cycles in front of any mall in Bangalore? I haven't. Bangalore is a city that's always erasing its footpaths to widen its roads. It is insensitive to the needs of pedestrians. V S Naipaul, the Nobel laureate, once described Bangalore as a city without footpaths. Likewise, it is a city without cycle paths. I drive through south and central Bangalore to reach office, and as I make my way through the city's car-choked roads, I hardly find any cyclists. In the south Bangalore neighbourhood where I live, we had numerous

    Read More »from Tom Cruise’s Bangalore and ours
  • How to play the Google guitar

    If you are a musician, and were wondering how to play the Les Paul guitar doodle that Google created yesterday to mark the fabled guitarist-inventor's 96th birthday, here's some help.

    Huffington Post has put out a tutorial, and added some videos samples of how you can pluck out such melodies as Mary had a little lamb and Twinkle twinkle little star on the virtual guitar. If your playing tastes are more sophisticated, you could try the PC Mag article, which shows you how you can do The Beatles.

    Go enjoy!

    * Google keeps Les Paul doodle for an extra day
    * How to play 'Mary had a little lamb'

    Read More »from How to play the Google guitar


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