Friday, January 28, 2005

Ad Nauseum..

Not too many years ago, I was convinced that I was headed for a career in advertising and marketing. Even today, I admit I am intrigued by the thought of manipulating words and pictures to create brand equity and images that sell. I tried my hand at it when I was selected to be a copywriter in one of India's premier ad agencies when I was 17 or so. Oh, what an experience that was! I can't remember when I have had more fun (apart from college, of course)! I met the most interesting people, saw some really cool work, and experienced a lot of great things. What I didn't do a whole lot of, of course, was work! That summer helped me realize that I didn't want to get into the industry because I thought it was dirty, corrupt, and built on shallow images despite its glitz, glamor and excitement. (And today I am at the threshold of entering another dirty, corrupt industry - consulting..go figure!)
Anyway, I still think of some advertising as art, and today I came across
a collection of ads on the CBS website which are kind of a countdown to the Superbowl. Superbowl Sunday is the day lots of highly anticipated but highly hush hush ads are released, so I guess it's a big deal for the advertising industry here.
While few of these can be mistaken for real art, I still recall some ads that have an irreplaceable place in my mind. I remember sniffling at one of the Titan watch ads in India, smiling at the Pepsi ad with Cindy Crawford and Norman Pheeney - Pepsi drinker for life! Speaking of Pepsi, can't forget the ad with Aamir Khan, Mahima Chaudhary and Ash..Sanju?! I remember chuckling at the Ericson "One black coffee please" ad, and launching a mad hunt for the background track on one of the old Levi's ads (FYI, the mad hunt lasted for years and resulted in this little detail - the song is "Glory Box" sung by a group called Portishead). I still think I got a lot of news from the Amul butter ads on the billboards, that changed with the times, and were sure to get a laugh out of you. Some ads you remember thanks to their being repeated ad nauseum (pardon the pun), while some you remember for their pure genius, like this ad.
And that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Green Day for blue days..

Nope, not talking politics again..Just my current hot new find..Green Day's new song...totally matches my mood for the past 2 days unfortunately. Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
It's a great song though - reminiscent of real rock, where the pain and the anger and the energy all blend in so u feel uplifted yet strangely, as if your depression is strangely validated by this strange group of strange-looking strangers.
I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I'm the only one and I walk alone...
My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
'Til then I walk alone...
On a happier note (please note change in color), I found out that Sting is coming to town in April, so guess where my hard/hardly-earned money is going for that month!! That would be a definite addition in my list of concert dreams fulfilled, not broken - adding to my favorite conquest Dave Mathews, a very surprisingly good one by the Corrs, Alanis, the BareNaked Ladies. I guess music doth have charms to soothe the savage beast and all that..

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

From the written word to the moving image...

I have been strongly influenced by books - from the time I first picked up my brother's Asterix and Secret Seven books, to the time I tried reading Sartre and Kahlil Gibran in college and now I seem to have come a full circle and thrive on "kids'" stuff like Harry Potter and Calvin and Hobbes and Lemony Snicket.
For the last 5 or 6 years especially, however, my reading has been taking a severe beating thanks to the world of cinema. Ahhh..the thrill of getting lost in a different world for a few hours. The brief but sure escape from reality is an absolute addiction for me. However, just like a new fancy videogame that will never replace the rag doll or the broken train set, some movies can never really match up to their book versions. Here's my short and definitely incomplete list of some to additions/editions!
Books that were better than their movies:
1. High Fidelity - highly enjoyable/thought-provoking book by Nick Hornby (who also wrote "About A Boy" which could also be an entry here, and "How to be good")
2. Lots of John Grisham books - especially "Runaway jury", "The firm", "The client", with "Time to Kill" perhaps being an exception.
3. Disclosure - a brilliant of my favorite Michael Crighton books.
4. Love Story - the movie's nice too..just that I love the book.
5. Horse Whisperer - really touching book..I wish I had never watched the movie, it ruined the book experience for me!
Hmm..that's funny..I thought this list would have been longer than the next one, but let's see!

Movies that were as good as/better than their books:
1. The Shawshank Redemption - actually a so-so novella by Stephen King, the movie is one of my all-time favorites.
2. Under the Tuscan Sun - I could not even move beyond the first few pages of the book, but the movie took me by was a really good and smart and beautifully shot feel-good movie.
3. Lord of the Rings - Actually, I am not so sure about this one. The movies definitely could NOT have been made better, but the flavor and the magic of reading LOTR is something that can't be captured any other way.
4. Harry Potter - Ditto
5. Jurassic Park - such a great movie!! Unfortunately, the sequel(s) were hopeless..The Lost World is a good read though.
6. Forrest Gump - lovvvvved the movie..can't say the same about the book even if u paid me to. Really depressing. Or maybe I just didn't get it.
7. Object of my affection - Actually, both movie and book kinda sucked!
8.Primal Fear - the movie ending is classic..of course, lots of things were changed from the book.
9. To kill a mockingbird - Probably one of my favorite movies of all time and favorite books of all time too. This is a great example of how reading the book only makes you appreciate the movie better and vice-versa.

What sucks is I feel like there's soo many other movies/books that I have thought about in this respect but of course, none of them come to mind right now! And what's probably worse, is that I haven't read enough books that ultimately made it as movies to be able to compare and contrast. Anyway..that's it for me now..I have to go back and read a book on Structural Equation Modeling that I hope to goodness nobody makes a movie out of :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Return of the Jaded

So..finally, after over a month, I lift my blogging fingers..The 1st 3 weeks, blame it on a fabulous holiday in India. These past two..blame it on the hangover :)
Since I am a big fan of bullets and point-wise presentation (which surprisingly has gotten me through grad school so far!) I will put down some highlights from my life these past few weeks, most of which will have taken place in India.
1. My brother got engaged. I realized for the first time what they mean when they say a marriage is not between two people only, it's between two families!
2. One of my best friends got married three times - to the same guy fortunately! I was a bridesmaid at the church wedding :)
3. My family and I went to Kerala for a holiday - after years,and possibly for the last time.The four of us relaxed and enjoyed each other's company and felt soo peaceful and had such a good time, I am still in shock! We went to Trivandrum (I saw a giraffe and a zebra in the zoo there - first time ever!! and some Ravi Varma paintings at a museum and all sorts of interesting stuff), Allepey (where 2 days after we left it, about a 100 people died in the tsunami), Kumarakom, Cochin, Ernakulam, Paravur. Kerala is BEAUTIFUL and green (except for the Red which is anything but missing!!) and surprising and utterly calming.
4. The Kerala holiday started and ended in Bangalore, a city which was quite a revelation to me. I had visited it last in 1993, and my, has it changed!! Everyone around me it seemed, was my age or younger than me, a million times richer than me, much trendier than me, with far less restraint on spending than I would have imagined, and far more things to spend on than I could possibly have imagined. India seems to be truly shining, and Indian cities are definitely looking like many Western cities - my eyes popped out at the TGI Fridays on Airport Road in Bangalore! Some things don't change, though - one of my favorite moments was in a swanky mall called the "Forum"...we went to the Food Court to eat and just outside was this message "Outside eatables will be prosecuted"!!
5. On my way to Bombay from here, i had a day's layover in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The airlines gave us a GREAT hotel on the beach..I had a cottage to myself! We went to the city in a tuk-tuk, (auto rickshaw) which promptly broke down 10 minutes into our journey. So there I was, in a foreign country, pushing a tuk-tuk in the middle of nowhere with 3 strange men!!
Colombo city was crowded, polluted and had crazy traffic consisting almost entirely of imported vehicles - BMVs, Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans. They apparently don't manufacture any there, they get them all imported! On my way back to the US, I was in Sri Lanka for a few hours, and by then of course, the tsunami had hit, and as a result, the airport was jam-packed with tourists legging it home!
6. As a result of "refooling" ("refuelling") problems at Colombo on my way back, I missed the connection from Frankfurt and spent New Year's alone in a really good hotel room in a foreign country! Something like this always happens to me on my travels and I end up meeting interesting people and going to cool places for free :)
7. I read some interesting stuff recently - a book called "Einstein's Dreams" which is a really poetic and descriptive look at different conceptualizations of time, a book called "Galileo's Commandment" which is a GREAT collection of essays and works by some of the most influential thinkers of all time, currently reading Dan Brown's "Deception Point" which is much better so far than A&D and DVC.
8. I got some fabulous movies and music for cheap in India - including a CD with songs from almost 40 recent movies for Rs30! Fun stuff!
As soon as I got back, I had to get some work done, with pretty darn good results if I may say so myself! This is going to be a busy year for to start on my dissertation. All that's sustaining me right now is my visit back to India in May..seems like everytime I come back, it gets more difficult! I know, the grass is always greener on the opposite side, but somehow, it seems like there's very little green grass here! Maybe it will grow greener when I get done with my degree and actually get a life! Well, cheers to that, and Happy New Year to all of us!