Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Brother on God

After Ashok and I spent an afternoon annoying my mother in India last month, the following exchange happened.

MOM: (looking at the sky): God, why did you give me such annoying children?!?

ASHOK: (looking at Mom): There is no God, bro! If there is one, why don't you ask him why he's a racist who hates Black people so much!

(HARI laughs and writes this down.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

In Case You Missed This in February

Here is me on the cover of February's India Currents Magazine. There is also a lovely story about political artists where I am profiled with visual artist Schandra Singh and writer Samhita Mukhopadhyay.

"Hari, it's been months...why are you mentioning this now?"

Why? Because of this story in the Khammam regional version of the Andhra Pradesh newspaper Eenadu. The story is, in part, about me being on the cover of India Currents Magazine in February, which is indicated by...the picture of me on the cover of India Currents Magazine in February on the top left.
(Click to make larger)

Also, notice the strange picture of me and my family eating lunch in the top right ("They live in America, but still keep it real by eating with their hands!") and the lovely picture of the Kondabolu Brothers posing in the middle ("Haircuts need not apply.").

Unfortunately, I cannot read Telugu, but there's a possibility, if I heard my father correctly as I was passing by him talking to the reporter, that it says I worked for Barbara Bush. This is UNTRUE. It is also IMPOSSIBLE since I would never let this happen.

Now, if someone could just write an article about the article about the article. And then an article about the....oh, you know where this is going. It's an infinite mirror joke.

UPDATE 3/23/09: No joke:

Thanks to Gordon Gartrelle. BTW, No one can just get by on baloney and cereal, Theo.

Beverly Hills Crap

I just watched the first Beverly Hills Cop movie again and I enjoyed it as much as I did when I was growing up. Eddie Murphy in his peak is really a treat to watch and this film, along with Coming to America, will never fail to entertain me.

Afterwards, I decided to watch the casting special feature on the DVD and learned a few interesting details. Apparently, the lead role of Axel Foley was set to be played by Sylvester Stallone and most of the cast was selected with this in mind. After Stallone pulled out, Eddie Murphy was chosen, leading to some scripting and casting changes just 2 weeks before shooting.

One change was that Axel's best friend gets killed, setting off the chain of events in the film, and not his brother. Apparently, Sylvester and Frank Stallone were set to share a screen, but when Sly left, this changed. I'm a little confused as to why they didn't just recast the brother part instead of removing it, but apparently without the Stallones sharing screentime, somebody thought "what's the point?"

However, it was one other change that I find a bit alarming. Lisa Eilbacher was set to play Axel's love interest, but that relationship was inexplicably changed to a friendship when Eddie Murphy was cast.

In the DVD, all casting director Margery Simkin says, quite matter of factly: "There were a few other things that were looked at a little bit differently. Obviously the girl was a love interest in the Stallone period and she became a friend."

Why was this "looked at a little bit differently?" Why exactly could this woman no longer be Eddie Murphy's character's love interest?

Was a scene of interracial romance, like the one shown above, too much for most audiences in the 80s to handle?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Rob Gordon is not Lloyd Dobler

Whenever I watch the film High Fidelity, I have to make an active effort to remind myself that John Cusack is not playing Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything. Here are some thoughts I had from the last time I saw High Fidelity, ironically enough, when a flight cancellation allowed me to spend a night in Chicago where the film takes place:

"Lloyd Dobler would not behave this way. Damnit, I need to remember he is not playing Lloyd Dobler right now. Lloyd Dobler may still be in London as we speak, teaching kickboxing basics to young people, living with his life partner Diane Court."

"Rob makes elaborate mix tapes to explain how he feels. Lloyd Dobler just needs a boombox that blasts Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes."

-"Rob just called Charlie a 'bitch.' Lloyd would not call Charlie a'bitch.' Lloyd would not find a woman like Charlie attractive."

"Yes, Rob is standing broken-hearted in a payphone in the rain right now, as Lloyd did after he and Diane Court broke up, but Rob deserved it. Lloyd Dobler is not, to paraphrase what Rob calls himself, "a fucking asshole." Lloyd would not cheat on Diane and cost her a baby."

-"Say Anything and High Fidelity are just films. Why am I having trouble remembering this? Their realities are frozen and it's bizarre to highjack someone else's imagination and create new imaginary realities. This is what leads to the 'fan fiction' phenomena."

"I am not Lloyd Dobler."

At the bare minimum, these FICTIONAL people have led to two of my favorite film quotations:

Rob Gordon on Music and Misery:

"What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"

Lloyd Dobler on His Future:

"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought or processed. Or repair anything sold, bought or processed, y'know? As a career I don't want to do that. So, my father's in the army, he wants me to join, but I can't work for that corporation. So what I've been doing lately is kickboxing."

This entry would have been more appropriate if I was in the 18-21 demographic. I am 26.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On a Commode in India

My grandmother's bathroom in Tenali, Guntur District, Andra Pradesh, India is private in that there is a door that is supposed to prevent other humans from entering it while occupied, and public in that there is a window that allows for the entry of other living things.

While sitting on the commode, you are forced to confront nature. Lines of ants in the window sill. A lizard climbing up the wall. A fly buzzing around aimlessly. And then there are the mosquitoes. Oh... the mosquitoes.

This got me thinking:

If one was to subscribe to the Hindu theories of karma and reincarnation, and specifically to the notion that our current lives are the result of the state of our past lives and will result in the state of our future lives, how does one explain a mosquito that bites a person while they sit on a toilet?

What kind of life did such a creature lead to end up here and where can it go from this point?

What's lower in the reincarnation hierarchy than a mosquito that bites people squatting on a toilet?

If I was a bad comedian, the punchline for what was meant to be a rhetorical question would be "a lawyer."

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Monday, March 09, 2009

F (U) Train!

I overheard this brief interaction between two young people on the F train after it stopped at 71st and Continental. They were probably not older than 14.

Teenager 1: Yo, we just missed the other train!

Teenager 2: Damn, that shit left us? Heartless train.