26 July, 2014

Perelmania II: Poisonous Mushrooms

Note: The second part of a two-part series of articles by S J Perelman. Oh, and if you want to read more, basically the only thing by him still in print is 'Most of the most of S J Perelman'. However, the Internet Archive has a complete out-of-copyright book! It's called 'Best of S J Perelman'

Poisonous Mushrooms

Are We at the Crossroads?

Well, autumn is here again, and very shortly every Tom, Dick and Harry will be asking himself the question "Poisonous mushrooms—yes or no?" In every mossy dell, in every nook of granny, these delicious little edibles are springing up. Only yesterday I happened to fall into conversation with a stranger in the subway, an extremely well-made woman of thirty-one with Dresden-dainty hands and feet, I noticed that she was eating a small umbrella-shaped object and asked her what it was.

"An umbrella/' she replied shortly, descending from the train at Seventy-second Street. Needless to say, the incident did not pass unnoticed, and I retired in confusion amid the hearty laughter of several wealthy cattle-drovers who had come down to New York for the day on the steam cars.

I first became interested in mushrooms about ten years ago. Two friends of mine named Johnny had a little place, a sort of cellar, on Fifty-second Street where they kept coal and wood and ice. I was down there one evening bent on some coal and wood when Tony pointed to the ceiling and said "Coipo di Bacco, what's that?" I looked up and there was a whole clump of mushrooms growing right out at me. Well, I let out a scream fit to wake a dead man—as a matter of fact, it did wake up a dead man who'd been in the corner for three days and he came over and tried to bite me. As I say, I stayed in bed nearly two weeks that time, but after I was well, I got this Frank and Johnny to put aside the place as a sort of permanent laboratory where I could study the mushrooms.

It will probably come as a mild shock to no one that there are all of four hundred different kinds of mushrooms. Four hundred and one, really, because when I looked up this fact in the World Almanac, I found a new variety growing out of Page 29. Now, what are mushrooms? Nothing more or less than toadstools, though why they are called toadstools is beyond me; I have yet to see a toad sitting on a stool, although I have combed all the books dealing with the subject. Of course I haven't had a chance to study the books yet—all I've been able to do is comb them, but still, it seems a peculiar name to give an unoffending mushroom, doesn't it? It was probably made up by someone who hated mushrooms and thought he could get even. But why should anybody hate mushrooms? The little fellow goes about his business quietly; once in a while he kills a family of twenty or thirty people, but then, what right has anyone to have a family of twenty or thirty people? I was wrapping up some laundry in a newspaper recently and saw a note about a man who had had thirty children. This sort of thing can't go on indefinitely, no matter what the man says.

In the eleven years I have been studying mushrooms at my laboratory on Fifty-second Street, I have seen cases of almost uncanny intelligence among my specimens. I had a Peppery Lactarius growing in a glass right next to a Fistulina Hepatica, or Beefsteak Mushroom. (If you can imagine a purple beefsteak covered with short prickly spines growing out of a tree, you will easily see why science chose this name, and you can then explain it to me.) Well, one morning I made the rounds of my collection and found that during the night Miss Peppery Lactarius had moved into Mr. Beefsteak Mushroom's jar. I woke up my assistant, put a little ice on his head, and quizzed him. But no; he had been right there on the floor since eleven-thirty the night before. To this day we have never been able to solve the riddle, and it is still referred to by superstitious folk in the neighborhood as "The Mystery of the Migrating Mushrooms." I am thinking of bringing it out in book form, perhaps adding a mysterious puffy toadstool in a black hat who was seen skulking near by.

But how to tell the poisonous mushroom from the harmless variety, since both are found in the same localities, have the same habits, and the same dull look around the face? Ah—don't be surprised—the mushroom has a face, and if you look very closely and carefully, you will see the merest hint of an eye, two noses, and a lip. For purposes of identification, we have what we call the Alfred Zeigler test, named after Professor Schaffner of the University of Rochester. The mushrooms are boiled for twenty minutes and their jackets removed. They are then placed in a frying pan with a cubic centimeter of butter, a gram of pepper, and a penny-weight of coarse salt, after which they are subjected to 137 degrees of heat Fahrenheit in the laboratory oven, removed, and placed on antiseptic paper plates. Fifteen minutes after they are eaten, a reaction will be noted. If the mushrooms are harmless, the subject will want to lie down, remove his or her collar, and roll over on his or her face. If poisonous, the balance of the mushrooms should be thrown out, as they are unfit to consume.

The mushroom often turns up in some really remarkable forms. Sir Joseph Mushroom, from whom their name is derived, tells an interesting anecdote. A cask of wine had been left undisturbed in a cellar for three years, in some country other than the United States. At the end of that time, the cask was found firmly fastened to the ceiling by a large mushroom which had grown as the wine leaked out. The cask was quite empty when found, and how the mushroom looked was nobody's business. Sir Joseph, by the way, no longer raises mushrooms; he has settled down quietly in Surrey, where he devotes himself to raising bees, but there is still a reminiscent gleam in his eye when Irene Adler is mentioned.

Little else remains to be told. Fred Patton, the former Erie train boy, still continues to rise in Mr. Proskauer's mercantile establishment on Ann Street, and Gloria Proskauer blushes prettily whenever Fred's name is uttered. This, however, is all too seldom, as the unfortunate Fred was hit in the vertical cervix by a baked apple last New Year's Day and succumbed almost instantly. And so we leave the little snitch right smack up behind the eight-ball, and a good end for the mealy-mouthed, psalm-singing petty thief, if you ask me.

Perelmania I: Beauty and the Bee

Note: This is the first of a two-part series consisting of articles by my new favourite humorist, S J Perelman. (He's Woody's favourite too, and inspired some of Woody's first New Yorker articles. First some quotes from Perelman, who you should definitely look up, and then an article.)


“And you were cruel,” I said.

“I’m sorry,” added Quigley.

“Why did you add Quigley?” I begged him. He apologized and subtracted Quigley, then divided Hogan. We hastily dipped the slices of Hogan into Karo, poured sugar over them, and ate them with relish.

---- From “The Love Decoy”

“Have a bit of the wing, darling?” queried Diana solicitously, indicating the roast Long Island airplane with applesauce. I tried to turn our conversation from the personal note, but Diana would have none of it. Soon we were exchanging gay banter over the mellow Vouvray, laughing as we dipped fastidious fingers into the Crisco parfait for which Diana was famous. Our meal finished, we sauntered into the play-room and Diana turned on the radio. With a savage snarl the radio turned on her and we slid over the waxed floor in the intricate maze of the jackdaw strut.

---- From “Strictly from Hunger”

Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin, it’s the triumphant twang of a bedspring.

Beauty and the Bee

It is always something of a shock to approach a newsstand which handles trade publications and find the Corset and Underwear Review displayed next to the American Bee Journal. However, newsstands make strange bedfellows, as anyone who has ever slept with a newsstand can testify, and if you think about it at all (instead of sitting there in a torpor with your mouth half-open) you'd see this proximity is not only alphabetical. Both the Corset and Underwear Review and the American Bee Journal arc concerned with honeys; although I am beast enough to prefer a photograph of a succulent nymph in satin Lastex Girdleiere with Thrill Plus Bra to the most dramatic snapshot of an apiary, each has its place in my scheme. The Corset and Underwear Review, which originates at the Haire Publishing Company, 1170 Broadway, New York City, is a magazine for jobbers. Whatever else a corset jobber is, he is certainly nobody's fool. The first seventy pages of the magazine comprise an album of superbly formed models posed in various attitudes of sweet surrender and sheathed in cunning artifices of whalebone, steel, and webbing. Some indication of what Milady uses to give herself a piquant front elevation may be had from the following list of goodies displayed at the Hotel McAlpin Corset Show, reported by the March, 1935, Corset and Underwear Review: "Flashes and Filmys, Speedies and Flexees, Sensations and Thrills, Snugfits and Even-Puls, Rite-Flex and Free-Flex, Smoothies and Silk-Skins, Imps and Teens, La Triques and Waiki-kis, Sis and Modern Miss, Sta-Downs and Props, Over-Tures and Reflections, Lilys and Irenes, Willo-th-wisps and Willoways, Miss Smartie and MisSimplicity, Princess Youth and Princess Chic, Miss Today and Soiree, Kor-dettes and Francettes, Paristyles and Rengo Belts, Vas-sarettes and Foundettes, Fans and Fade Aways, Beau Sveltes and Beau Formas, Madame Adrienne and Miss Typist, Stout-eze and Laceze, Symphony and Rhapsody, Naturade and Her Secret, Rollees and Twin Tops, Charma and V-Ette, La Camille and La Tec/'

My neck, ordinarily an alabaster column, began to turn a dull red as I forged through the pages of the Corset and Underwear Review into the section called "Buyer News/' Who but Sir John Suckling could have achieved the leering sensuality of a poem by Mrs. Adelle Mahone, San Francisco representative of the Hollywood-Maxwell Company, whom the magazine dubs "The Brassiere Bard of the Bay District"?

Out-of-town buyers!—during your stay At the McAlpin, see our new display. There are bras for the young, support for the old, Up here for the shy, down to there for the bold. We'll have lace and nets and fabrics such as Sturdy broadcloths and satins luscious. We'll gladly help your profits transform If you'll come up to our room and watch us perform. Our new numbers are right from the Coast: Snappy and smart, wait!—we must not boast— We'll just urge you to come and solicit your smiles, So drop in and order your Hollywood styles.

One leaves the lacy chinoiseries of the Corset and Un< derweai Review with reluctance and turns to the bucolic American Bee Journal, published at Hamilton, Illinois, by C. P. Dadant. Here Sex is whittled down to a mere nubbin; everything is as clean as a whistle and as dull as a hoe. The bee is the petit bourgeois of the insect world, and his keeper is a self-sufficient stooge who needs and will get no introduction to you. The pages of the American Bee Journal are studded with cocky little essays like "Need of Better Methods of Controlling American Foulbrood" and "The Swarming Season in Manitoba." It is only in "The Editor's Answers, a query column conducted by Mr. Dadant, that Mr. Average Beekeeper removes his mask and permits us to peep at the warm, vibrant human beneath. The plight of the reader who signs himself "Illinois" (I've seen that name somewhere) is typical:

I would like to know the easiest way to get a swarm of bees which are lodged in between the walls of a house. The walls are of brick and they are in the dead-air space. They have been there for about three years. I would like to know method to use to get the bees, not concerned about the honey.

The editor dismisses the question with some claptrap about a "bee smoker" which is too ridiculous to repeat. The best bet I see for "Illinois" is to play upon the weakness of all bees. Take a small boy smeared with honey and lower him between the walls. The bees will fasten themselves to him by the hundreds and can be scraped off when he is pulled up, after which the boy can be thrown away. If no small boy smeared with honey can be found, it may be necessary to take an ordinary small boy and smear him, which should be a pleasure.

From the Blue Grass comes an even more perplexed letter:

I have been ordering a few queens every year and they are always sent as first-class mail and are thrown off the fast trains that pass here at a speed of 60 miles an hour. Do you think it does the queens any harm by throwing them off these fast trains? You know they get an awful jolt when they hit the ground. Some of these queens are very slow about doing anything after they are put in the hive.— Kentucky.

I have no desire to poach on George Washington Cable's domain, but if that isn't the furthest North in Southern gallantry known to man, I'll eat his collected works in Macy's window at high noon. It will interest every lover of chivalry to know that since the above letter was published, queen bees in the Blue Grass have been treated with new consideration by railroad officials. A Turkey-red carpet similar to that used by the Twentieth Century Limited is now unrolled as the train stops, and each queen, blushing to the very roots of her antennae, is escorted to her hive by a uniformed porter. The rousing strains of the Cakewalk, the comical antics of the darkies, the hiss of fried chicken sputtering in the pan, all combine to make the scene unforgettable.

But the predicament of both 'Illinois" and "Kentucky" pale into insignificance beside the problem presented by another reader:

I have been asked to "talk on bees" at a nearby church some evening in the fall. Though I have kept bees for ten years, I am "scared stiff" because not a man in the audience knows a thing about bees and I am afraid of being too technical.

I plan to take along specimens of queen, drone and worker, also a glass observatory hive with bees, smoker and tools, an extra hive, and possibly some queen cell cups, etc.

Could you suggest any manipulating that might be done for the "edification of the audience"? I've seen pictures of stunts that have been worked, like making a beard of bees; and I've heard of throwing the bees out in a ball only to have them return to the hive without bothering anyone. But, I don't know how these stunts are done, nor do I know of any that ] could do with safety. (I don't mind getting a sting or two my self, but I don't want anyone in the audience to get stung, or 1 might lose my audience.)

I've only opened hives a few times at night, but never liked the job as the bees seem to fly up into the light and sting very readily. That makes me wonder whether any manipulating can be done in a room at night.

How long before the affair would I need to have the bees in the room to have them settle down to the hive?— New York.

The only thing wrong with "New York" is that he just doesn't like bees. In one of those unbuttoned moods everybody has, a little giddy with cocoa and crullers, he allowed himself to be cajoled by the vestrymen, and now, face to face with his ordeal, he is sick with loathing for bees and vestrymen alike. There is one solution, however, and that is for "New York" to wrap himself tightly in muslin the night of the lecture and stay in bed with his hat on. If the vestrymen come for him, let him throw the bees out in a ball. To hell with whether they return or not, and that goes for the vestrymen, too. It certainly goes for me. If I ever see the postman trudging towards my house with a copy of the American Bee Journal, Fm going to lodge myself in the dead-air space between the walls and no amount of small boys smeared with honey will ever get me out. And you be careful, American Bee Journal—I bite.

01 July, 2010

Did you read the latest issue of the Yash Raj Journal?

Initially posted on facebook, and then a friend wanted me to post it here too... :)

JYRF 37 (420)

A New Young Radical Model of the Meet-Cute Paradigm

Uday Chopra, Aditya Chopra, Yash Chopra


The dynamics of the meet-cute paradigm have been explored a lot since early days of film. We construct a new, hip and fresh model of the paradigm which is gauranteed to work with the Youngistan of today. We demonstrate an effective implementation of the Item Number, Family Conflict (both inter- and intra- aspects) and Melodramatic Happy Ending within the new framework, gauranteeing that viewers are fooled into giving us their hard-earned millions of Rupees.

I. Introduction

The properties of the Meet-Cute paradigm within the Dramatic Love Story have recieved enormous attention since the 1970's in Bollywood [1], and even before within the Silent Comedy during the 1920's [2]. It was widely believed till the 1990's that no new grounds could be broken within this paradigm, and most work in the 90's concentrated on either the HLDoV (Hero Loves Daughter of Villian) model [3], either using the Action or the Melodrama mechanism, or the FHTL (First Hate Then Love) model (also known as the DDLJ model for obvious reasons) [4], work on which continues today. However, these efforts have started to turn stale, and a fresh look at the Meet-Cute paradigm is now warranted, especially within the framework of the Love Story. Previous efforts to appeal to the youth have gone in vain, and we develop a radical new model using the same old cliches, which we hope will find favour among the demographic that calls itself Youngistan[5].

II Methods and Realisation

Since our methods are to use the known principles and apparatus of the Meet-Cute paradigm to appeal to Youngistan, we use the following two packages prominently: Rocking Actingless New Bold Istylish Rishi (RANBIR)[6] and Divine Ethereal aEsthetic Plastic Indian Kingfisher Artform (DEEPIKA)[7]. They are not the most flexible packages, lacking several Emotive features [6,7], but we use them since they are among the most popular packages in use in the Meet-Cute community [8].

We first develop a tradition meet-cute situation on a train, using the Opposites Attract method, with DEEPIKA on the 'talkative, bubbly, borderline irritating' setting, and RANBIR on the 'contemplative, suave' setting (we tried other settings, but these seemed to work best with the given packages, which totally failed with other settings). We use some modules from the package Cultural Stereotypes[9] in this section, and end with a song (executed by Pritam Chakraborty[10], details forthcoming in Journal of Stolen Songs), with an out-of-place homage to the 70's work in this area being the inelastic collision of two flowers.

After the train section, we use the PF (Punjabi Family) model (since it is in favour currently, and lots of work is being done in the area [11, 12]) to raise a little dramatic tension and comical mishappenings (the PF being especially suited to this purpose) and interject a Bhangra Item number (this is completely original work, we could not find any references to a Bhangra Item number in the literature). The sequence ends with RANBIR and DEEPIKA being separated from each other, and starting to fall in love.

In the third act, we use the AF (Angry Father) [13] and IF (Idiot Fiance) [14] models to provide a bit of sympathy for our Hero (who our eyes too was getting a little annoying and a bit of a downer, and could only look good opposite the IF). The Hero then avoids the ES (Elope Scenario, looked upon as immoral by the readers of this Journal) and undertakes a Perilious Journey to be with the Heroine, and wins her back in the end (we extensively use the Melodramatic Finale approach here, as outlined in [15], and the results are outlined in the following section).

III Results

Our lead actor and actress, not to mention most of our crew, shed tears when they read the proposal for the present work [16] for the first time. The test audiences watching our trials were also immensely moved, although we cannot discount the biases caused by our paying them huge amounts of money to sit through the whole viewing.

We have been satisfied with the quality of work that RANBIR and DEEPIKA have put through, and the rest of the crew have also been satisfactory, but are not important enough to name here, except Pritam, whose very nice songs will be published in a forthcoming paper [17].

IV Conclusions

In summary, we have described above a new young model for the Meet-Cute paradigm. We used the most popular packages to give the model a fresh new feel. The fact that they are deeply in love after meeting for only a short while, the effective use of the PF paradigm, and the Bhangra Item number, will hopefully cause enthusiasm in the readers of this Journal. We hope to earn millions, especially since it is entirely made up of a mash-up of previous work on the subject, and designed to appeal to "Youngistan" [18].

The Authors would like to acklowedge the YRF Grant No. 128563 for this project.

V References

[1] Om Shanti Om, and references therein.
[2] Charlie Chaplin Collection (it's not expensive), Yash Raj Distributors.
[3] Sunil Shetty (then it was spelled this way) Movies Collection
[4] Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, of course
[5] Pepsi Public Relations guys, private communication
[6] Saawariya, also known as Blue Film (and sorry, I tried to come up with a less lame fullform for Ranbir, but couldn't)
[7] [1]
[8] Star Gold Sabsey Favourite Kaun, although we didn't really want to raise it's citation count
[9] Bombay To Goa
[10] Dhoom, and we didn't check anything else
[11] That Akshay Kumar punjabi movie we didn't watch
[12] Jab We Met, which is suspiciously similar to the present work, but we won't file a lawsuit
[13] Mohabbatein
[14] Lots of movies, but we can't recollect a single one right now, because they're all forgettable. But they idea surely can't be our own
[15] Karan Johar Movies Collection, buy it, buy it!
[16] Jo Dil Se Door Hain Woh Jaan Se Door Nahin, Yash Raj Productions internal draft
[17] Pritam Chakraborty, Journal of Stolen Songs, forthcoming. Was rejected by the Journal of Inspired Songs
[18] Pepsi, product placement again

01 April, 2010

Love, Sex aur Dhokha - a review, and some movies-related musings

This will be a weird review - mostly because I just saw the movie, and thoughts are just forming in my head about it. It is a brilliant movie, and I am hoping that writing about it will help me flesh out my opinions - and also start fruitful discussions, if I'm lucky.

So here goes: LSD consists of three stories. The first one, and to my mind the best, is the love story between a budding director at a film school and the actress in his diploma film. This diploma film itself borders on lameness, because it seems like regurgitated Yash Chopra stuff (and it is meant to be). Which presents a striking contrast with the real love story unfolding between the two protagonists in our movie. Those diploma film scenes are not a homage - rather, they're there to make a point, which is that the love story of our protagonists, unlike normal bollywood stuff, is shown in stark realism, which means things might not always happen as you expect.

The second story, also a pretty interesting one, although it gets bogged down in one or two unnecessary diversions at times (who's 'the committee'?), succeeds because it, too, is a pretty realistic tale of love. A store manager owes money to this 'committee', and the way to earn it is to make a 'scandal' video clip by recording his seduction of one of his employees. Of course, along the way, he falls in love with her, and he decides not to do it. The ending is pretty solid here too, although the first part had a truly brilliant one. The 'love story' is the sort of story we all know, like the first one. It's strength is in the realism. We know these characters, we've met them, they've fallen in love and behaved in this exact way. Which is why the film moves us - aside from the nice use of security cameras, not as a gimmick (digicams do feel out of place in certain sequences in the movie, but give the director a break, people. It's pretty hard to keep up the pretense that what we're watching for two hours is filmed on digicams without the characters bringing the cameras into sequences where they don't fit. The second story works somehow weirdly naturally in this respect - only four fixed-location cameras, and that storytelling. Brilliant.)

The third story is the weakest - it's the sort of story we ourselves might have thought of and executed - a typical sting-operations story. You don't want to know the details, you can fill them in. Although entertaining, it's been done before, and it's pretty hard (for me atleast) to identify with the characters when they are a sting operations journalist and a struggling model who does the field work for him. As I said before, LSD might have cliched stories but it wins because of it's stark realism - which doesn't work in the third part because I, atleast, haven't met such people. The third part is fun - but it lacks the ability to strike a chord with you like the first two did. It's sad when a movie ends with a whimper.

One more complaint I have about part three is that it has no real connection with the first two - it does kind of help set in motion the events that lead to the second part's goings-on, but not essentially. The first part, for example, crucially influences part two. It is a missed opportunity, in a way, because the second part also provides the emotional outlet for what the first's ending wreaked on us. The third one could've done the same for the second, but it doesn't. The ending of the second is a little unfulfilling - a contrast between what happened to the guy and the girl, and that's all. What about justice?

There I go. Asking for justice in a movie while lauding it's connection to reality, where of course there is no justice. But I don't mean the poetic sort of justice. I mean an emotional outlet, a catharsis, to our frustration, sadness and vibration of the heartstrings after they're pulled at and let go of - come on, don't leave them vibrating there. The second part lacks such an outlet, which doesn't do the brutally brilliant story at its centre - forgive me - justice.

It is an important film. It is well-written, well-executed and put together (for the most part, anyway), and, how can I forget, well-cast and well-acted. I really mean it with the last two. Our protagonists don't look like they're 30 and desperately trying to botox their way into the twenties - real youngters have these mannerisms and an awareness about them that older people don't. Heck, real people have little quirks and a naturalness that stars don't. See the movie to believe it. Watch the actors closely - haven't you seen others, in real life, in similar situations, behaving as nervously, or tenderly, or cruelly?

So it is an important film. I, in my naivette, continue to hope that mainstream bollywood starts casting such actors who look like people I know, and writes stories whose little nitty-gritties I have myself seen in real life. Maybe this film will encourage the mainstream to be more observant and less off-the-fucking-mark than they usually are in their potrayal of (cringe) 'Youngistan'. Or even Oldistan. Middle-aged-istan.

But really, I can imagine some production executive somewhere in a some skyscraper pooh-poohing my Statement Of Hopes and saying, but where is the market, buddy? See out normal bollywood movies, are they not entertaining? Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained?

If only it was the job of movies to simply entertain us. Just to make us forget out shitty lives as we lose ourselves in the richness on-screen. Such contentless entertainment has a minor flaw, though, because when I step out of the theater, I am back again in the real world. It's exactly the satisfaction jerking off gives you - at the end of it, the painful realisation that, well, Alyssa Milano resides somewhere in hollywood, dude. The rich mahals and beautiful babes I see in the movies also reside out-of-reach in Juhu or whats-the-name Hill too, and what we get weekly in theaters are products of their self-indulgent masturbation.

"But why would I go to a movie," you'll say, "where at the end of two hours I feel more uncertain about my future, sadder, less encouraged, than before? You might be a masochist, but I am not." Well, I'm no sadist though. I wouldn't recommend Antichrist or Funny Games to you, because they might scar you for life (especially the former). My point is, two-hour brainless entertainment, while okay on the satisfaction scale, is a complete and utter waste of time. Why just be entertained by fake emotions and buildings, when you can be moved, shocked, and that long-latent underused creative-appreciation side of your brain might flicker a few times too? Why settle for entertainment when you can have... an experience? (Heh. That sounded positively PR.)

 But seriously. Bad things happen in this world. They always will. I know you don't need to be reminded of them while going on with your own stressful lives. Why would you pay for being reminded of them? But picture this: you go in, you identify with the characters, you loathe them, want to befriend them, get involved, get scared, get nervous, be happy, be sad, think wistful thoughts, fall in love with a character, wish only that life were not so meaningless as such injustice might happen to such a nice person, be reminded the real world isn't like that, but you see his near and dear do mourn him, or soothe him, help him, and think nostalgically of your own family and friends, and vow to be a better person from them on because being thought of so well is what life is all about isn't it? You might introspect, or extrospect, look at some person you know in a different way, or understand other people better, or maybe not. You might see the situation as it really is, it sucks doesn't it, but the way out is this way, maybe things will be better, why get stuck in this rut? Or heck, you might disagree, that movie was so bad, while your friends like it, and you will learn more about life from the discussions that follow.

I don't know. Maybe you'll just go a screening of an Akshay Kumar comedy, and come out exactly the same person, only a couple hundred bucks poorer. Right. Just a couple hundred. Those popkorn and icecream rates are a bitch.

24 March, 2010

I love to write my poetry

Well, here comes, from the creative drylands of my brain, not so much a parody as an extension of I love to do my homework. I have tried to preserve the style of the poem, and I hope you feel it's written by an eight-year old. The moral/effect of the original I've tried to keep, but mind you this is a slightly different poem. Tell me what you think.

I love to do my homework (extended)

I love to get up early
And dress neatly for school
I love to carry books and books
And my sweater of wool

I love to wear my clothes
I wear them crisp and clean
I love the bullies dropping sauce
Those guys are just so mean

I love to do my homework
It makes me feel so good
I love to do exactly
As my teacher says I should.

I love to answer questions
As soon as teachers ask
I love to raise my hand up high,
Perform each science task

I love to top the math tests
I do it all the time
I also love my history books
And poetry and rhyme

I love to come back early
Or even come back late
I love my mom and dad so much
But they seem so afraid

I love to do my house chores
And read the books I've got
I love my mom who told me
To let the TV rot

I love to do my homework
I do it spick and span
I love to do exactly
As my mother says I can

I loved my mom and dad a lot
I killed them yesterday
I even love the men in white
Who're taking me away

31 December, 2009

An improved 'rock, paper, scissors, lizard, spock'

(Update: I don't know whether to scream at this in happiness or disgust.)

The purpose of introducing two more (or in one mind-numbing case, 22 more!) elements into "Rock, paper, scissors" is to reduce the probability of two people having a tie. (Or you could eliminate chance entirely by turning it into a strategy game!) But what if three people play RPS? If there isn't a tie, there is certainly a loop.

In the 5-element version, excluding ties (which you really can't do anything about other than memorise what 25 things do to one another), there is a 60% probability that a rock, paper, scissors, lizard, spock game will have a 'loop', in which no one emerges as a winner. Now, there's a simple way to prevent loops from occuring at all, without a) breaking the structure, and b) destroying the symmetry.

Now, the standard RPSLS game looks like thus: (image credit: Wikipedia)

Every element has two arrows going away from it, and two arrows coming into it. Just make one each pair of arrows 'weak' and the other 'strong'. So there is one weak subduction and one strong, and one weak submission and one strong. But which ones to pick? Simple: The five arrows on the outside of the figure (you can see them going clockwise) are "weak", say, and the five arrows inside (which go anti-clockwise) are "strong". (Or the other way round: doesn't matter.)

How does this stop loops from occuring?

Firstly, what is a loop? It is two arrows in the same direction and one in the opposite, which brings us back to the element that we started with. But two anticlockwise arrows actually need a third anticlockwise one to close the loop, which isn't available! This is because the anti-clockwise ones "jump" over one element, and after two "jumps", you come back to the one you started with only with a third non-jumping arrow in the same direction. Namely, anti-clockwise. Which doesn't exist, because a non-jumping arrow is an outer arrow, which is always clockwise. So there are no loops with two anticlockwise arrows. (eg. Rock --> Scissors --> Lizard isn't a loop.)

Loops do exist with two clockwise and one anticlockwise arrow (eg. Spock --> Scissors --> Paper-->  Spock). These loops have two "weak" arrows and one "strong". So there is an element which is weakly subdued but strongly subdues. And that is the winner in that loop.

The symmetry is not destroyed because every element is a part of three loops, and in one it is subdued strongly, and one it is subdued strongly. (The anti-clockwise arrows heading towards and away from it respectively). So it is the strongest loser in one, strongest winner in one, and the weak loser in one. This applies to every element, so excluding ties, we are always guaranteed a winner!

10 December, 2009

"Duur" (Strings) parody

It's not perfect, but I hope I've done a decent enough job.

(Original is here)

duuudh duuuuuuuuuudh
duudh koi pilaye
kaheen chupke se woh subeh aa jaye
duuudh duuuuuuuuuudh

Raaton mein ek glass peeke
main so jaaoon
Aur sapno mein raste
pe duudh ki nadiyaan bahaaoon
Tair bhi na paon usme main doob bhi na jaoon
Jaise koi peeta ho chai
waise use main pee jaaoon
duuudh duuuuuuuuuudh

Suraj ke kirno se jaaga hain
duudh ka deewaana
Par yehi deewaana
hain duudh se thoda naaraz-ha
Aakhein meri laal aur ab toh
duudh hain na pyaara
Lakhon litre hain jisne peeya
ab maange thoda bournvita
duuudh duuuuuuuuuudh

duuudh duuuuuuuuuudh (many many times)
duudh koi pilaye
kaheen chupke se woh subeh aa jaye
duuudh duuuuuuuuuudh (ditto)

01 July, 2009

Some comeback limericks

Anne sent me a limerick a long time back:

There was once a time when books slowly dwindled,
Bibliophiles everywhere felt nothing but swindled,
They wanted their books,
By hook or my crook,
But alas, in the end, all of them Kindled!

Which did inspire me to a reply...

The creation of Kindle is but another sign,
That everything else being idiotic, asinine,
Writing shall live on,
Or keep being reborn,
As epaper, Gutenberg, or blogs on-line!

And here are two about computer addiction:

I open my laptop and start wondering what
I should now type in the address bar slot,
Waste my time, and uncycle,
Or old limericks recycle?
But I just stare and the screen and do naught.

For now, I say, I shall stay with just chatting,
Maybe later I shall play online, combating,
And as I ignore my study,
And (the rare) offline buddy,
In the next exam, I will end up splatting!

Depressing, eh? True. But today I've got variety for you. :D (And that rhymed!)

There was once an exam in College Streets,
Everyone copied, and handed in the sheets,
When the teacher spotted it,
He promptly went into a fit,
"If you copy, do copy not John Doe, but Keats!"

Now, A limerick-poem:

Attack of the Troll

A simple forum disrupted, treated with scorn,
On youtube whether it's movie, song or porn,
Or an odd post on your blog,
Suddenly invaded by a hog
Welcome the troll, who's blowing his/her horn!

Whatever you wrote, was it well founded/checked?
Why did, if so, your world-lines intersect?
They'll stumble onto any small
Mistake on your Webwall,
And chastise you for being too politically correct!

What will you do now to gain a little traction?
And save all your posts, or the remaining fraction,
Just click the brain's 'ignore' switch,
Or maybe ban that revolting snitch,
Or just fart in the what-not's general direction!

Do comment. :)

24 June, 2009

The Physics of MRI

 I had a discussion with Saskia a looong time back about MRI, and I learnt a little about how MRI machines work, in the process. Anne encouraged me to blog on this new-found knowledge, and after a LOT of procrastination, I've finally managed it. Hope you like it: it's layman level, and not too badly written (I hope).

 Here it is: The Physics of MRI

 If you find any faults, or find some section unclear, or have any critcisms at all (even positive ones ;-) ), do comment.

13 June, 2009

Death Knocks Thrice

 Inspired by Woody Allen's excellent Death Knocks.

 Death Knocks Thrice

 By Anonick.