This Could Be My Time

The year is 1992. I was 16 years old at the time. A musical & cultural revolution took place during those years. ‘Grunge’ was in the air, it was the main theme of the first half of the 90s. Rebellion, independence, flipping the bird at normalcy & totalitarian authority. We needed a voice. For some it was Nirvana with Kurt Cobain at the helm. For the others, including me, it was & always will be Pearl Jam. Watch a young band go wild in front of a huge crowd and don’t miss Eddie Vedder diving into the crowd from a camera crane. Awesome! Makes me wanna be 16 all over again!

Porch performed live @ Pink Pop.

Intruder Alert

I was reading about intruders & breaking-ins at my Australian friend Selma’s blog and about sleeping through catastrophes in general. While reading about a couple of breaking-ins in that article, I was reminded of the couple of cases that we have dealt with in my family. Our break-ins have been of the comical variety, some of these robbers are pathetic to say the least. Here is a trip down memory lane:

  • When I was 11 or 12, my entire family on my mother’s side (uncles, aunts & cousins included) went on a summer vacation trip to places like Bangalore, Coimbatore, Mysore etc and when we came back, I noticed that someone had tried to steal a portable tape player, from the room I shared with my sister, through a window that was left open. It was not possible for him to do so since we had bars on the windows and the space was too narrow for the player to go through. I guess in frustration, the dude tried to take a couple of cassette tapes which probably fell from his hand fell as I later found them in a puddle of mud next to the house. I still remember which albums they were – my sister’s copy of George Michael’s Faith & my copy of John Norum’s Total Control. Needless to say, we had to get new copies of both.
  • On returning from a weekend trip to my dad’s family house in Irinjyalakuda, we noticed that something was amiss in the backyard. A thief had jumped the gate or the wall but he couldn’t break in! So he stole a tubelight that was lighting the back area of our house!
  • I must have been about 13 or 14 when a drunk but known thief tried to climb the wall between my grandmother’s house and the next door neighbours’. He slipped and fell and the neighbours caught him. People came from the area and beat him up. He reportedly spent some days in a jail and then moved to some other town.
  • A few years later, I was spending the weekend with my grandmother, my uncle, aunt and my two cousins at the same house, when we heard a ruckus outside. A lot of people were coming through the gate. When we opened the doors and checked as to what it was, it seems that the hotel owners opposite the house had caught someone coming into our compound and going away with…..a wicker chair!!! It turned out that the supposed thief was a local simpleton and drug user and he was hopped out of his mind on opium at the time! He got away with a sound thrashing and we got the chair back :)
  • Last but not least and my favourite one was at my uncle’s house, who lives two houses away from my old house in Thrikkakara. When he and my aunt were away to see their daughter at her college, a thief had broken in through the back door. The evidence was there to see for us to see and the next day I helped my uncle fix a new & tough lock on his door. As I inquired as to what was missing, my aunt & uncle broke into sheepish smiles! It seems that all that was missing was a bunch of – wait for it, you will never guess it, hold your breath – bananas!!! There were two tvs there in the house, one old & one new, a spanking new computer, two huge stereo systems, many house hold appliances, some 5000 bucks in a cupboard drawer and some other stuff, but no! Our Mr.Thiefy apparently had a potassium deficiency that he needed to take care of.

Not that I am complaining, you know. I am glad that none of these incidents were dangerous.

Ammumma

My maternal grandmother passed away early this morning at around 2:30 am. I got the call at around 4:45 and quickly informed a couple of my cousins about her death. She had been ill quite a bit recently – she had a urinary infection, then she had a fracture in her hip bone for which she had to undergo surgery. She also had a battle with cancer, which was thought to be in complete remission. While in recovery from the surgery, she went into cardiac arrest on Wednesday night and then into a coma. I went to the hospital yesterday morning but I couldn’t see her as she was in recovery. The brain activity had ceased and she was hooked up to a ventilator and her heart was the only thing keeping her alive. Last night my dad confirmed to me all the talk that was happening among her children – they were to take her off the ventilator as there was nothing anyone could do. However, she passed away during the early hours naturally and peacefully.

It wasn’t your typical funeral : only a few people were crying. She was after all in her late 80s and they didn’t want her to suffer in pain as she has had quite a battle with illness. Plus her spark kinda left her when one of her sons, my uncle, died in 2001. She had 12 children but he was the focus of her attention due to his ill health and the fact that she had mostly lived with him & his family. For her, keeping on living and being able to do things, was like a huge curse when her son was dead. She found that a burden to bear.

She was a petite woman, highly religious and always living for her family. She wasn’t perfect, infact she had her numerous superstitions and her methods may not always be the best. She could use emotional blackmail like the very best of them. But she was also a sweet old lady who got married at the age of 15 and birthed 12 children – 7 sons first and then 5 daughters! Her first daughter and the 8th child being my mom. For me she was always ammumma – my mother’s mother, my mom’s mom, my mummy’s mummy. That is something special. This lady birthed the lady who birthed me.

She was a sweet old lady. My favourite memory of her is back in 2002; she was staying with an uncle of mine who lived two houses away from my old house. The football world cup was on at that time and my uncle would call me to watch the games at his house in the afternoons and early evenings as he wanted company. When we were watching the games, ammumma would sit with us for a bit until after lunch when she is supposed to take some strong medicine and then go to sleep while the meds take effect. However, she would nap for 20 minutes and then come and sit with us again. Each time we would send her back to sleep and 20 mins later she would come back and say that she prefers to sit with us. This went on for a couple of days. So I looked at my uncle and said, tongue-in-cheek ofcourse, ‘Grandma doesn’t know the first thing about obedience. No wonder the rest of us turned out like this – we were learning from her all the time!’ My uncle would start laughing & ammumma would join in. She would crack up everything I joked about that.

Ammumma means grandmother and the literal translation is mother’s mother. She was ammumma to 11 of my cousins, my sister & me and achamma (dad’s mother) to 11 of my cousins.

Couldn’t Be Much More From The Heart

First released in 1991 along with Metallica’s Black album and released as a single & in video form in 1992, this song just keeps hitting you in the heart. Still surreal after 17 years. It’s true : Nothing Else Matters.

And oh, for those few handful of my regular readers, if you want to read the protected post, just email me for the password, or leave a comment here.

Fire In The Sky

Woke up late this Sunday….tired and weary……..need an energy boost……go to Youtube.com, search for guitar fest and find G3 (Joe Satriani, Steve Vai & John Petrucci) live in Tokyo, hammering on the Deep Purple classic Smoke On The Water. Energized now, you too can do the same, just don’t be blinded by Billy Sheehan’s bright, blood red leather pants!!

Guess Who? That Funny Bird

The post about Popeye & Olive got me thinking about all the other cartoons I loved as a kid. All of you who, when young or even now, remember this loony character who went into mischievious antics at the drop of a feather. Woody is also famous for that one of a kind laugh, which is often immitated but never ever has anyone been able to duplicate it. I used to watch Woody Woodpecker as a kid in Kuwait, but can’t ever remember seeing an episode since we moved back to India, until very recently.

I must protest to Cartoon Network. My two nephews watch all these nonsense cartoons that couldn’t hold a candle to the red & blue bird. There have been very few cartoons in the last decade or so that are worth watching. Sometimes there is nothing like a good cartoon to bring back traces of your childhood & innocense and can banish all your adult worries & stress, even if only for an hour or so.

One of my favourite episodes of Woody Woodpecker is the one in which he goes to a restaunrant for lunch. The waiter there (a cat??) sees in the paper that there is $100,000 reward for the capture of a woodpecker. He dreams of the money, motorcars & women. So he sets out to capture our bird friend. When the waiter approaches, Woody asks “Can I have a Menu?”. “A menu?” asks the waiter, to which Woody replies “Yeah, M-E-N Men, Y-O-U, You. MENU!!”. Simpley hillarious and typical Woody. My sister & I used to mimic this dialogue a lot when we were much younger…..we don’t do that anymore.

The Towers

When I think of my childhood, I ofcourse think about the 11 years I spent in the city of my birth – Kuwait City. The capital city of the tiny country of Kuwait, currently has a city population of 32,500 and a metro population of well over 2 million. One of those 2 million used to be me, living with my parents & my sister in a tiny apartment in an area called Darwahza. The times I spent there will forever be embedded in my mind as some of the happiest & innocent moments of my life. Among one of the images & memories that I hold deeply in my heart, are the Kuwait Towers – the most famous landmark of the city & the country. Completed in 1979 (a few months before I turned 3) the three towers were built for multi-purpose operations.

The main tower is 187 metres high and serves as a restaurant and water tower. It also has a Viewing Sphere which rises to 123 meters above sea level and completes a full round turn every 30 minutes. The second tower is 145.8 metres high and serves as a water tower. The third tower houses equipment to control the flow of electricity and illuminates the two bigger towers. I will forever remember my one & only visit with my dad to the revolving restaurant in 1986, towards the end of my family’s life in Kuwait (we left for India the following summer). The view of the city, the revolving movement held my attention that I begged to stay back and just take it all in.

A Fan? How Many Years?

I was talking with a colleague at work about the different bands that we like and I was thinking aloud about which were the bands that I have been into the longest. That took some thinking and I was mentally going through my list of songs & albums and decided that it deserved a post. So here it is, in descending order, the bands that I have been a fan of (I’m not including bands that have disbanded but artists who have died are included, provided that they have a considerable amount of recorded material) :

Band / Artist No. of Years Year which I first heard them

  1. Bon Jovi – 21 – 1986
  2. Europe – 21 – 1986
  3. Scorpions – 20 – 1987
  4. Van Halen – 20 – 1987
  5. Deep Purple – 20 -1987
  6. Bryan Adams – 19 – 1988
  7. Def Leppard – 19 – 1988
  8. Neil Young – 19 – 1988
  9. Eric Clapton – 19 – 1988
  10. AC / DC – 19 – 1988
  11. Aerosmith – 19 – 1988
  12. Metallica – 18 – 1989
  13. Alice Cooper – 1989
  14. Warrant – 18 – 1989
  15. Poison – 17 – 1990
  16. Iron Maiden – 17 – 1990
  17. Jeff Healey – 17 – 1990
  18. Queensryche – 16 – 1991
  19. Megadeth – 16 – 1991
  20. Rush – 15 – 1992
  21. Pearl Jam – 15 – 1992
  22. Joe Satriani – 15 -1992
  23. Yngwie Malmsteen – 15 – 1992
  24. Steve Vai – 14 – 1993
  25. Alice In Chains – 14 – 1993
  26. Crash Test Dummies – 14 – 1993

These are the longest that I can think of. Among my current favourites, the Barenaked Ladies are 9 (1998). There are other bands that I like, but I either own just a few songs (like Ozzy, Judas Priest) and or never bought any of their albums (Led Zepplin). And oh, I took off Guns n’Roses cause they haven’t put out stuff since 1993! That is too long!

Home Sweet….Now Someone Else’s Home

I was planning on writing this post at the end of August but somehow it slipped my mind. August 24th marked the one year anniversary of the selling of our family home in Thrikkakara. Our house & home for 19 years and a couple of months. 19 Years might pale in comparison with my mother’s parents home of now oh, 45 years or so, but it’s a big deal to me. One need not think anything else of it other than the fact that, it was my home! My dad used his hard earned money, earned while living in a tiny 2 bedroom (about the size of a cardboard carton) apartment and working in a bank in Kuwait City. From infancy till the age of 11 I lived in Kuwait and coming back for good to India, meant living in a large house where I had my own room!

How important was your room for you when you were growing up? It was my sanctuary! I created a whole world in there, dreamt my dreams in there and wept my tears of anguish in there. It’s the place where I wrote my stories & composed my lame ass poems & songs. It’s the room where I spent most of time in. It meant so much to me, more than just four walls, an attached bathroom and a bed can ever mean.

the chase online download When I think of my room, I think about the posters of football & tennis players that I plastered all over the walls. Then it was my favourite rock bands & artists. I remember an aunt telling me that she liked the way I had placed them; I used to measure the distance of the posters’ edge to the ceiling and to each other. I can’t believe that I was that detail oriented. I remember the pain I felt when in 1995, they all had to be torn off as the walls were being painted just in time for my sister’s wedding! I also remember asking my dad if I could paint the walls black! You can guess what he replied! My room was the comfort zone I seeked when times got tough, when the outside world was ganging up on me. The place I went to hide, to leave the fucking world behind.

I have burried a few best friends in the ground next to the house enclosed by the walls. And before you have all weird images coming to you mind, I mean the animals I was lucky enough to have as pets. First there was Lassie – a puppy I only had for a few days. She was an energetic furball of pomeranian & alsatian mix. She knocked down a can of kerosene in the garage and drank it and died later. Then there were the two cats – brother & sister pair Chocolate & Lollipop! I know, I know, so sue me I was 12 at the time. The white cat Lolli died a year later and we had the male Choco for three years and I cried a heck of a lot when each of them died.

And then there was Shawny, the one I still think of everyday. She roamed the grounds within the walls of our property like a proud landlord. She ran to me with all her might when I called her. I got her in 1995 & lost her in 2005 when she died and she too is buried there next to a tree. I left a big piece of my heart when we finally moved from there last year.

Hey Stoopid – Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper released Hey Stoopid in 1991 and this album along with Welcome To My Nightmare are the two quintessential Alice albums. Well, for me atleast! I consider this album to be a classic, although I am surprised that it didn’t do as well as I used to think. But most hardcore Alice Cooper fans think that Hey Stoopid had better songs than his 1989 smash hit Trash. The album has guest performances from guitar gods Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Vinnie Moore & Slash and also Nikki Sixx & Mick Mars from Motley Crue. Lyrical themes involve strictly drug use/addiction and love/sex. The opening track & title song, Hey Stoopid, is about dumb people who contemplate suicide or a druggie who thinks that narcotics is the answer. The emphasis on ‘Stoopid’ is to show how dumb the singer thinks the two characters are.

Love’s A Loaded Gun is about taking revenge against a cheating lover, with a really cool chorus and some killer guitars. The implication is about killing the cheating woman & the guy she is sneaking out to see; having watched unseen from afar, the protagonist, shoots both of them. Snakebite is about sex and sleeze Alice style. Burning Our Bed is a song about a broken relationship. Dangerous Tonight is a song about sex, or like I would put it, the deflowering of a virgin. My favourite song on the track, lyrics wise, is the ballad Might As Well Be On Mars about estranged lovers and a man pinning for his former lover, but who has moved on in her life, that the guy might as well be on another planet.

Feed My Frankenstein is the most well known of the songs, the video having been heavily promoted on MTV & Alice singing the song in the film Wayne’s World and it being included in the soundtrack album. It features a hot, molten guitar solo from Satriani. This is another favourite Cooper track for many. Hurricane Years is about wild times. Another song about sex & love is Little By Little, while Die For You is a wonderful track about lost love and how the singer would have given up everything for the love of the woman. The sleeze returns in the form of Dirty Deeds, while the autistic character/ alter ego ‘Steven’ in the album closer Wind Up Toy, who appears in an Alice song after a 15 year gap. “Daddy won’t discuss me, oh what a pain I must be, Mommy couldn’t stand having such a wind up boy, doctors want to check me, Poke me and dissect me, What do they expect? Feelings from a wound-up toy?

With such a collection of great heavy rock tunes, I would have have expected it to be a huge hit but I consider it a classic. Here’s Hey Stoopid.

Wooden Board & Coins

Carroms is the indoor game loved by millions and being played in several homes, especially during the rainy season as outdoor games & passtimes might prove tricky with the downpour. My office has given is three carrom boards (one for each floor) in order for us employees to kill time and as the first step to bring some recreational activities in an otherwise dull environment. They have proven to be a hit, since we have no other distraction, other than restricted internet access and that too only from the supervisory level onwards. Hence everyone is wanting to have a turn at the carrom board.

Ofcourse I went and played a couple of games, although my carrom skills are very, very rusty having not played in over 7 years or so. This brings back memories of my cousins & I playing this game over several rainy days or during the late evenings when there were nothing else interesting to do to kill time during out sumer holidays. Ah, those were the days. Then when I was 21, I met some of my cousins from Scotland for the first time and some of them liked playing carroms a lot! I remember particularly my cousin Sreeharshan aka Skibby, who is about 12 or 13 years younger than me, and who used to pester me every two hours by asking “You wanna play kaaarrrrroooooms?”

And I would always indulge him and play a few rounds. Once he even told me that we should have brough the carrom board with us….we were in a movie theatre along with some other relatives watching a Malayalam movie and he was bored!

Cujo

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After waking up this morning, I walked zombie like to the wash basin, splashed my face with cold water and brushed my teeth. As coffee was being made, I switched the tv on, flipped channels until I reached HBO and saw that they were showing the 1983 hit horror movie Cujo. How many of you remember this movie, the one that put me off dogs for a couple of years and Saint Bernard’s for several more? Cujo, the titular character of Stephen King’s 1981 best selling novel, is the bitten by a rabies infected bat while he was chasing a rabbit into a cave. The dog becomes infected and, succumbing to the disease, goes on a rampant killing spree. He kills his owner’s neighbour and then his owner. A lady and her son who comes for repairs on their car to Cujo’s owner’s farm, also find themselves being attacked by the dog. Their car breaks down at the farm and over a stretch of three days they fend themselves against the attacks of Cujo, who hits the car doors with his massive head, blood dripping all over him and cracks the windshield and door windows.

The boy begins to fade as dehydration, thirst & hunger and the scorching heat nearly kills him (in the novel, he dies) and his desperate mother screams for him to stay awake. A police officer comes to investigate at the farm and he too falls victim to the rabid Cujo. The lady comes out of the car finally and attacks Cujo with a shattered baseball bat and injures him. Thinking him to be dead, she carries her son into the house and is able to revive him with water and using CPR, only for Cujo to come crashing into the house. But as he leaps, she reaches for the gun she took from the dead policeman and shoots Cujo to death.

This is one movie which stays in your memory even as the years passes by – I remembered the scene in which Cujo dies & the lady carrying her son into the arms of her husband and Cujo attacking his owner very well, despite never having the movie since 1986 or so.

And I think it’s going to be a long, long time

William Shatner spoofs the 1972 hit song “Rocket Man” (written by Elton John & Bernie Taupin & sung by John) at the Science Fiction Awards in 1978. Only Shatner can pull this off in his impeccable narrative style. Ironic also that for an actor most famous for his role as the Captain of an adventures & exploratory crew, he is singing this song about a lonely astronaut in space who misses the Earth & his family.

Song for the day – “Rocket Man” – WILLIAM SHATNER

Bewitched by Ms.Montomgery

There always is one woman for every guy, and for quite a lot of girls & women as well, who will always be the epitome of the perfect woman. No matter how many years have passed since that woman was first seen, she grows more and more beautiful as the days go by. For some it’s Marylin Monroe or Bo Derek or Raquel Welch. For me it has always been Elizabeth Montgomery – the late star of the technicolour sit-com Bewitched. She was one of the most cutest & beautiful woman to ever have graced this planet. You can’t say that she was my first crush (atleast on tv or the movies) but prehaps pretty close to it. I remember watching her in my much younger days when I was in Kuwait.

They have been showing reruns of Bewitched on Hallmark for a few months. I tried to watch some of it at night just to gaze at the lovely Montgomery. For those of you who have seen the series, she has the most adorable twitching of the nose that you could ever hope a woman to have. That trait of hers is enough for any guy to fall in love with her. This show was a huge success during its eight-year run from 1964 to 1972 and remains popular through syndication. She was born in Los Angeles, California, she was the daughter of actor Robert Montgomery and his wife, Elizabeth Bryan Allen. Montgomery made her television debut in her father’s series Robert Montgomery Presents, and her film debut in 1955 in The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell.

Montgomery received five Emmy Award and four Golden Globe nominations for her role as “Samantha” the loving wife & witch who tries her best to have a normal human life with her husband and ward off the tricks of her devious & humourous mother, who loves to irritate her son-in-law. Montgomery received five Emmy Award and four Golden Globe nominations for her role as Samantha. She received Emmy Award nominations for playing a rape victim in A Case of Rape (1974), for her portrayal of the notorious Lizzie Borden in The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975), and for her role as a strong woman facing hardship in 1820’s Ohio in the mini-series The Awakening Land (1978). She also made a chilling villain in the 1985 picture Amos, playing a nurse in a state home who terrorized residents Kirk Douglas and Dorothy McGuire.

Her final acting role was in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series untitled “Showdown,” in which she played a barmaid. Elizabeth Montgomery died of colorectal cancer on May 18, 1995, at the age of 62. She died just eight weeks after being diagnosed with the disease. At the time of her death, the media widely reported that she had ignored the symptoms of her illness until it was too late, as she was caring for Robert Foxworth, who had had hip replacement surgery. But for me Elizabeth or Samantha will forever live in my heart as the ideal woman who a guy can pine and yearn for. She will forever “bewitch” me!

Blast from the past

Boy is that a face from the old days. Ricky Schroder, one time child star and could have / should have been a huge deal in Hollywood, that’s who. He was born in 1970, so that makes him 37 years old now. You would have seen an 8 or 9 year old Ricky in his Golden Globe Award winning role in The Champ co-starring with Jon Voight & Faye Dunaway (1979). He next came into the limelight as a tv star, playing the role of ‘Ricky Stratton’ in Silver Spoons about a father & son reunited after many years and discovering what it means to be a family.

I next saw him in the 1988 movie Too Young The Hero, based on the true life story of Calvin Graham, the youngest person to ever enlist in the Navy (age 12). A few more years would pass before surprise, surprise I saw him on NYPD Blue all grown up. He stayed with the show for 3 seasons, also was in Lonesome Dove series, Strong Medicine and in a few episodes of Scrubs. It seems that at one time he moved to a ranch in Colorado instead of living in Hollywood but has since sold it for $29000000! Starting this year Ricky will be appearing in 24.