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Entertainment Music

My Rock Education 1

At no point of time have I had my own music collection. Listening to bits on TV and radio, random songs stored on my computer—mostly recommended, never borrowed out of choice—tuning into classics from my parents’ collective stash, that sort of thing. Never had a shoebox full of discs or cassettes that I called mine. Still don’t. I had no preferences, no prejudices, no musical taste. Everything they showed on the telly and radio was generally accepted as good, and I was okay with that: hip hop, soul, and pop. I guess I got used to listening to all the garbage thrown at me.

I should’ve known it was meant to be when I watched Metallica’s video of Unforgiven Two on VH1, last evening. That set the ball rolling, and my roommate suggested me to watch Some Kind of Monster, a documentary that chronicles the individual and collective lives of the people who make Metallica while they were busy at work on an album, St Anger. Not that I didn’t know anything about Metallica, but admittedly, I knew very little. I didn’t know who the players were, their history, their candid personalities, not even their names; just that their music was good—Nothing Else Matters—and loud. I kinda like loud now. That wasn’t the case growing up, loudness and noise was pretty much what I associated rock music (especially heavy metal) with: harsh and uncouth on the ear, and it wasn’t my cup of tea. Who in their right minds would want to bleed their ears to death?

Much has been written about the documentary in question, more so of the band, so no point repeating. What I liked most was its amazing insight into the birth pangs of Metallica’s music. The jamming sessions of Ulrich, Hetfield, and Hammett (yeah, I know their names now) in a leased studio, digesting the day’s work, searching for the bits in there that are worthy of a song, and finally etching out the lyrics. There’s method to their madness, controlled chaos, and it was enlightening to see.

But that isn’t all the documentary covers. The album is a mere sub-plot to what the cameras ultimately capture: Metallica’s inner discord, and its struggle to survive. Broadly, it puts people and their relationships in perspective, and their attempts at exorcising their personal demons to flourish again as a group. It’s real-life events, therefore unscripted, honest and truthful and recommended to everyone who wants to know more about Metallica—arguably at their most weakest and greatest juncture. However, be warned that at the end of it, you will feel an uncontrollable urge to hear Metallica’s St Anger album. Guaranteed. Otherwise you aren’t what we describe ourselves as “normal people”.

I should’ve known I was getting sucked into a rabbit hole when I asked my roommate for his Metallica collection. It was past midnight, very unlike me to tune into any kind of music at that hour, let alone rock. But there in my room, at an ungodly hour, I heard St Anger and Death Magnetic for the very first time… and I felt at home. Over two hours of frenetic music, it never felt crude or unsophisticated, but gentle and soothing. It was peaceful in an alien way, and I liked it.

For me, I don’t think there ever was a better time or place to listen to better music other than Metallica.

Nikhil what have you done, mate?

Originally published: August 26, 2009

Categories
Bengaluru Football Places Sports

We are back!

Yeah.

That headline is for all the naysayers out there, and their jittery kneejerk reactions, daring to write off United after only their second game of the Premiership campaign. Second game!! Granted Burnley was a slap on the face—but what a cracking volley that was from Clarke—and defeat not the best result, but it was a wake-up call nonetheless. United have traditionally been slow starters, but that doesn’t give them license to be sloppy, which is what they were away at Turf Moor. The Clarets were better in all departments, and Carrick’s slip-up during the penalty chance was unfortunate.

I’ve never seen Fergie as red-faced as he was after that midweek game. The hair-dryer surely must have been thrashed around in the dressing room, and the players given a deserved earful. Wonder what the Gaffer says during times like these. Be that as it may, it surely seems to have worked. Wigan resisted well in the first half yesterday, but they were brushed aside with ease in front of United’s attacking prowess in the second. Nope, brushed aside is too tame to describe the proceedings: Wigan were annihilated, decimated, in the face of sheer brilliance. Rooney—who finally scored his landmark 100th goal for United—scored a brace, while Berbatov, Owen, and Nani, all scored one apiece. Owen’s first goal for the club was a special one, and probably off the hardest chance he’s had since the start of the Premiership. That’ll help ease his nerves and give his confidence a big boost, and the same holds true for Berbatov. All three strikers need to hit the right note early on for United to have any chance of winning a record fourth straight Premiership title.

The scoreline in the end was 5-0 in favour of United. Quite a way to silence those retarded critics, eh? Oh and Arsenal won their match 4-1. It’s going to be an exciting game next weekend. Wenger or Good Ol’ Fergie?

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That headline holds true for England as well. They defeated Australia by 197 runs to regain the Ashes, winning the series 2-1. The Poms did the Oz—again!

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Nice weekend, here in Bangalore. Had the pleasure of introducing an unsuspecting South Indian family of the nuances of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations—bumbaiya ishtyle. Oh yeah, they were amused.

Originally published: August 23, 2009

Categories
Football Sports

Premiership kickoff

A blog post after two months, boy am I getting lazy or what? Blog was ignored on account of many reasons: I was as busy as a hamster on a wheel at work, then I fell horribly sick. So sick in fact that the doctor advised me to go home; “There’s no hospital like home, and no better doctor than your mother,” he said. Cheesy, yet true.

As a result, I’ve returned from an 18-day vacation in rain-swept Mumbai, and apart from sitting around and doing nothing—which is what most sick people do on an enforced holiday—I devoted myself completely to watching the telly with unbound exuberance. I was on a healthy diet of cooking shows—Nigella Lawson, Kylie Kwong, Jamie Oliver, the lot—the movie channels, EPL flashbacks, and VH1 (MTV and Channel [V] are just hideous nowadays!). What I’ve noticed is that adverts are getting better, and news channels waste no time in labelling every cough and sneeze a “breaking news”. But they aren’t half as stupid as English movie channels, and their dim-witted attempts to weed out swear words and kisses from a movie, so that pimple-faced brats and their parents alike can watch movies like Cocktail and The Mummy together with a straight face.

But let’s keep all that craziness for the crazies. I don’t have to bear with it anymore as football is back from its hibernation, and weekends will never be the same. United are left with a big hole after Ronaldo’s record-breaking departure to Real Madrid, and one thing led to another, as Michael Owen—the one man I never imagined at United—has embraced the mantle of the #7 jersey. Carlos Tevez has gone across to Manchester City, and with no major name signed in the transfer window, there’s a big banter over United’s depleted forces and how it’s Liverpool’s season this year. We’ll wait and see about that.

So, the pre-season friendlies are gone, the Community Shield hiccup against Chelsea forgotten, everyone expected a United win over newly promoted Birmingham City on the opening weekend of the new Premiership season. And win United did, Rooney scoring in the first-half, but it was a scrappy victory—the 1-0 scoreline not as convincing as Arsenal’s 6-1 demolition job of Everton on Saturday. However, Liverpool’s 1-2 defeat at the hands of a resurgent Tottenham Hotspurs was nice to see—and so was the post-match interview of Rafa Benitez, the Man with a Thousand Excuses. But these are still early days.

Yay, for the Premiership. I missed you.

Originally published: August 17, 2009