Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Two of a Kind

I have always loved bands like Heart, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Janis Joplin, Bangles, Cranberries. I think it's something to do with the women in the bands - they were very spunky and gutsy.

Two ladies burst into the music scene in 1995. Both of them were lead singers of their bands. Their music a blend of hip-hop, techno, rock and blues. They were both very pretty. They were also very good songwriters. I am talking about Gwen Stefani and Shirley Manson, of bands No Doubt and Garbage.

The two were very different too. Garbage had a dark, doleful sound to them with songs like Stupid Girl, I Think I Am Paranoid, Queer. Manson also looked that way - with all the dark eyeliner around the melancholic eyes (She had a very troubled childhood it seems - something about being skinny and having no confidence).

No Doubt was more chirpy sounding with Just a Girl, Sunday Morning (Though there was underlying sadness in a couple of their songs of the breakup of a seven year relationship between Gwen and Tony Kanal - the band's bassist - most audible in the song Don't Speak). Their videos also were bright and colourful with Gwen in trackpants or lively frocks.

Spiderwebs was the first No Doubt song I heard and Happy When it Rains formed my introduction to Garbage. Somehow I have always associated one with the other since the very first time I heard them - like Tom and Jerry - You can't think of Tom without Jerry intruding your thoughts and vice versa.

Garbage had two successful albums - Garbage and Version 2.0. I liked both equally but I tend to lean towards their second album. I feel that the band were at the top of their form then. Garbage's drummer Butch Vig is also a record producer and was behind Nirvana's Nevermind success! He has also produced albums for Smashing Pumpkins and Soul Asylum (Runaway Train!) among others. He was also the one who spotted and inducted Manson into the band. Garbage came out with the title song for the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough. Their later albums didn't go down well with me. I didn't like the songs too much and more importantly Manson had her hair sheared and dyed. That was such a bummer. I hear that Manson might come out with a solo album soon. I hope she lets her hair grow back by then.

No Doubt did extremely well with Tragic Kingdom and Rock Steady. Their second album Return of Saturn did ok (Gwen turned thirty that year. The planet Saturn takes thirty years to complete one revolution around the sun - thats heavy trivia!). Gwen was well known for the way she carried herself, for the clothes she wore, for style. She popularised the bindhi. She wears one in most of her videos. She came out with her solo album in 2004 - Love, Angel, Music, Baby. The songs are nice (Hollaback Girl, Cool) but I like her more for her No Doubt days - before her L.A.M.B clothing line and fashion dolls days. Seems that the band might get together and come out with an album next year. I can't wait to lay my ears on it.

Been a while since I have been able to do any associating - at least not pairing that happens subconsciously. Alanis Morisette and Sheryl Crow? Madonna and Kylie? Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey? Can't think of any in this century - Avril Lavinge and Pink maybe? None of them match up to Manson and Gwen, not for me.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Painter Man

Why would one buy a painting? To adorn the walls of a house so that home looks better? Because one loves paintings just like someone else likes music? To cover the broken plaster? Because one's brother painted it? Because one is cultured? I can try and maybe eventually relate to all these. The tricky question is how much would I be willing to pay for one...

The most expensive painting ever sold was for $135 million - Portrait of Adele Bloch - Bauer painted by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. Paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso sell for upwards of 60 million dollars. The Mona Lisa may be worth more than 700 million dollars (so Wikipedia says)! There may be hundreds of paintings in the ten million dollars range? Highly possible.

I have to admit, though I have tried, I have never understood why someone would pay so much for a painting. Is it because they have tons of cash lying around and don't know what to do with it? Does looking at a picture indeed provide so much pleasure or satisfaction? Or it the pride that comes in owning something that absolutely noone else in the world has ?

(Is there any other collector's item in the world other than paintings / sculptures that is absolutely unique - coins, stamps are not. Books (original manuscripts) I consider different. A book, unlike a painting, can be duplicated since the essence is in the text not in what kind of paper, font, pen or ink the text was written with. Ming vases? Am not sure but I don't think so).

If someone had only(!?) 100 million dollars with him would he spend all his money to buy a couple Renoirs or Monets and live the rest of his life in penury? Can someone want a painting that bad? Can someone love a painting that much? I am not sure that any of the current Rembrandt or Salvador Dali owners would fall into that category and somehow I cannot picture anyone doing that.

Ego - We don't need Ayn Rand's Anthem to tell us about it. It is one of man's best and worst trait. To have something that noone else has - that would certainly feed the big E. I find this very believable. And I certainly wouldn't think it bad if someone bought an expensive painting just for the pride in being it's owner.

Does looking at the painting provide a subliminal or a spiritual experience? From my experience at the Louvre, I don't think so - at least not for the average man. All everyone wanted to do was rush to where the Mona Lisa was and click as many pictures as they could of her. I was actually expecting a sombre atmosphere with people gaping at the lady in awe and the lady smiling back at them. Instead there I was, blinded by all the camera flashes and found myself elbowing and avoiding elbows to get anywhere close to the picture. I don't think I was able to look at it for more than 15 seconds and I hadn't stopped e and avoiding e during those 15 seconds either. Maybe there were no real art lovers there. Maybe I can never look at a painting with an art lover's eyes and mind. So I can't answer this one. But I certainly would like to think that this plays the biggest role in someone paying a ton of money and picking up a painting.

Whatever be the real reason, I am sure there are enough and more people in the world who will keep the Christie's and Sotheby's very happy in the ages to come.

[Boney M didn't predict a rosy life for the painter man and they may have been right. The most expensive paintings today are those whose creators are long dead.]

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why I like the BBC

The BBC site has live coverage (more of a list of frequent updates) of most sporting events - football, tennis, cricket. It has been the source at office to keep abreast of the scores. Not just because we can't access the sites like cricinfo, rediff cricket etc from office since they have been blocked, it's also because it's fun.

Snippets from the site reporting on the happenings during the second ODI between England and Pakistan being played at Lord's.

1143: Here come the umps. Interesting decision from upstairs - the game has been shortened. By two overs. That's right - it's now 49 overs per side. No way we could have squeezed in an extra 12 balls, old boy - simply impossible. Why, it would have taken a good six minutes.

Someone in a position of influence has been reading these updates - they've now cut the overs per side to 46. Good work, bigwigs.

2nd over: The ball is moving around like a ping-pong ball in a gale. Mohammad Asif has Ian Bell and Trescothick edging into their pads, and the only runs come from hurried singles.

1207: A heavy shower, this one. Every brolly in the house is up. The forecast isn't great for the next few hours either, but we'll keep everything crossed. Except eyes. Otherwise I'll end up typing phrases like this: jdd odfofere, dhepvpbt eiwza.

1235: Still raining. If you've got any urgent odd-jobs to do - de-scaling the kettle, cutting back your toe-nails, phoning your aunt to thank her for the card she sent on your birthday - now might be a good time to get cracking.

1245: Two of the six covers are off! Aunt Veronica will have to wait - we're suddenly looking at a re-start in about 15 minutes time.

8th over: WICKET Trescothick c Younis b Asif 6
It was only a matter of time, and not very much time at that - Trescothick drives wildly at Asif and edges straight to second slip. His feet finally move, but only to take him back to the pavillion.

The blokes there have a wry sense of humour.

Friday, September 01, 2006