Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rush - Grace Under Pressure

Finally, a review of a Rush album :)

Grace Under Pressure
This ranks as my favourite Rush album, from their impressive roster of 17 studio albums. Released in 1984, it deals with the concept of resilience in the face of doom, using examples such as the Cold War. Even though it's from Rush's synthesizer era (Signals to Hold Your Fire), it still prominently features Alex Lifeson's tango on the fretboard.

Distant Early Warning deals with the nerve-wracking job that radar operators on the DEW line in the Canadian arctic had to deal with. The fate of the world literally lay in their hands, they decided the fate of billions, all while sitting alone in a cold, desolate station in the middle of nowhere.

Afterimage is about loss and carrying on. Easily the best song on the album. Lifeson's solo is the highlight, it's like he channeled all the sorrow and negative emotion he could into those chords... awesome.

Red Sector A is based on bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee's mother's imprisonment in, and liberation from, a Nazi concentration camp. After years of suffering, when she was finally free, she believed they were possibly the last of humanity1

The Enemy Within is about how the worst fears we have are the imaginary ones in our own heads, and about the inner strength required to overcome them. Absolutely fantastic bass guitar work, Geddy's the king!

The Body Electric, one of my favourites, is very offbeat, detailing how an android, simply referred to as "Unit 1" breaks free of it's routine, monotonous existence, and becomes self-aware. Here's an interesting bit of trivia: the chorus goes "one zero-zero one zero-zero one, S.O.S.", 1001001 in binary translates to 73 decimal. The 73rd ASCII character is "I", and the android is self-aware. This is hard enough for most geeky-types to come up with, but Neil Peart (drummer and songwriter) is a highschool dropout, and this song was written in 1984, well before the Internet. How does he do it???

Kid Gloves, I'm still working on this one, but I believe it's about how a big part of growing up is the schoolyard posturing that we all indulge in, and how it's a struggle just to fit in. Again, includes a masterful solo by Lifeson.

I think Red Lenses is about the cold-war hysteria that got drummed up mainly by media reports that got blown out of proportion. Living under constant fear of "The Reds" requires "grace under pressure". Much like today's "war on terror"

Between the Wheels deals with how all we have is the memories of good times, while we live from one source of pressure to the next. Holding on to memory is all we can do to cope with all that life throws at us.

So here it is: in my opinion, the best collection of eight songs ever made. All I can say is "get it, get it now!"

Rating: 6/5? ok, ok, 5/5 :)

[1] see the Wikipedia entry on Red Sector A

Sunday, April 23, 2006

MyFirstTag™

Been blogging (if you can call it that) for only three months now, and I've been tagged already by Quills, so let's see how this goes.

Five people who top your shit list..... and why:

Only two are specific people. The rest, well, I thought long and hard and couldn't come up with any more people who I hate, so:

  1. My room mate who complains about everything I do
  2. Pseudos and other associated vermin who like to pretend they're someone they are not
  3. People who take me for granted
  4. Religious leaders who guilt-tripped me into believing in their deities.
  5. Me (sometimes)

Close brushes with death/danger:

I lived nice cushy, closeted life, so there aren't many. The closest, I would say, is when I got under the rail at Niagara falls when I was five. Apparently it took a lot of chocolate to get me back to safety.

Five Preferable modes of suicide, in descending order:

  1. Abduction by aliens
  2. Doing the superman thing
  3. Organophosphates
  4. Sodium Thiopental
  5. Sawed-off shotgun to the mouth (why hello, Mr. Cobain)

Five guilty pleasures:

  1. Onam Sadhyas :-)
  2. "Death by Chocolate" at Corner House, B'lore
  3. Peach Cobbler
  4. Penguin Caffeinated Mints
  5. Spending excessive time on that potential special someone

Five things you never want to forget:

  1. The hurt I felt the first time I let my crush know how I felt
  2. Finishing 12th standard and thinking "School's out forever"
  3. My first trip out to the Pawnee site and taking in the immense open space that's the American mid-west
  4. My trip to Paris :)
  5. Getting paid for the first time (well actually, using the ATM for the first time!)

Five things you wish to forget:

  1. See #1 above
  2. That I once ate duck food. This one's funny: it was at Sea World, SFO, I was five. The duck food dispensers worked the same way as gum ball machines, but didn't need a dime. So I turned the crank and stuffed my face with the resulting "free gum balls"... ouch.
  3. That my greatest dream once was to become a plumber. Stupid Nintendo...
  4. All of 7th standard.
  5. An incident in 3rd standard: we had this system of "demerits", teachers could award demerits for bad behaviour and when you accumulate three, you get detention that Friday. The school was run by sadistic harpies in habits who loathed the sight of us boys (was a girls school where boys studied up to 3rd std), one of whom gave me two demerits for hiding behind a pillar and screaming "boo" at my friend. The week that I got my third demerit, the principal introduced a rule that those who get detention must announce in front of the school why they got it. So I march up, knock-kneed, to the microphone and say "I got one for wearing the wrong shoes and two for scaring a boy". The whole school took about five minutes to calm the heck down.

Five really exotic dishes you have tried:

Downside to the cushy life: I've never tried anything particularly fancy, so anyway here goes:

  1. The "Mumbo" and "Rambo" rolls at Fanoos, B'lore. A friend made the disturbing observation that there are no stray dogs in that area...
  2. Pâté de foie gras, on a boat on the Seine :-) I almost missed this coz I didn't have a dinner jacket. I was all "wtf is a dinner jacket?"
  3. The samosas at Ashmath's canteen, SJBHS
  4. Fried Squid (yes, Quills, Calimari is a euphemism for wimps :-p )
  5. Cactus (thanks, Miguel!)

Five crushes/loves in your life... in chronological order:

Suprisingly, I've had only five real crushes in my life. Well, six, if you count one before my voice even cracked... lol!

  1. 9th standard. Ultrapopular girl from the school-across-the-road. The kind who had at least fifteen guys tracking her every move. I believe the only thing I've ever said to her is "Hi"
  2. 9th std to 11th std. Another one of the above. This time, I think I spoke one more word, which was "no", an answer to a question she asked someone else. This one was very bad, I asymptotically approached making a fool of myself.
  3. 12th std. Very sweet girl who lived nearby. We had the same bus route to school. She was going through a hard time, and I got entirely the wrong idea. Nuff said.
  4. 12th std. This one actually toyed with me, led me on and then gave me the finger. Ouch.
  5. First sem, BE. Love at second sight. Remember it like it was yesterday. We had something going for six years. Now we don't. (cue The Smashing Pumpkins' Muzzle)

Strangest dream you ever had:

Not exactly the kind who remembers dreams. I tried once to keep a 'dream log' (eek!) and it's sole entry documented this dream during Crush #4 (see above), how she hired someone to track me down and beat me up. Something about a railway station and lots of running.

Five most valued personal possessions:

  1. My 45 GB of music
  2. My iPod Nano and my Shure E2C earphones
  3. Beast and my Onkyo
  4. What's left of my sanity
  5. The fact that I took so long to come up with this list :)

Five favorite superheroes..... and why:

Not being the comic-book hero type, mine are a bit offbeat

  1. Batman: Dark. Brooding. Mysterious. Driven by revenge. Everything I always wanted to be.
  2. Spaceman Spiff: Bravely going where no six year old has gone before
  3. Captain Linger: Captain Linger, Captain Linger, the day he saves may be his own!
  4. Invader Zim: My almost-namesake. Not really a superhero (more like a bumbling idiot, actually), but loveable nonetheless.
  5. Motoko Kusanagi from "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex"

Now then:

DJ K, Harish, Karthik, Karthik and Vaishnavi

Rise, for I dub thee TAGGED!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Life minus Vestiges

First off, I'd like to say there's nothing like a few comments to make me realize I actually have a blog... thanks all :)

Damn Sinuses!On with the topic: I wish that once we're maybe past the age of self realization (5-6 for most of us, possibly 18+ for a few "duuuhs"), we should be given a choice to get rid of vestiges we don't need. Like nasal sinuses, for example. Every now and then they painfully remind you of their meaningless existence, by filling up and hurting like effing hell.

Days go by where all you think about is "careful not to make sudden movements with your head", drugged out on painkillers and coffee (to stay awake through it all). Supposedly they make your skull lighter. Hogwash! Why then, does it feel like a ton of quick-drying concrete poured down your nose while you were asleep??? Must be aliens behind all of this. Yeah. Should keep those windows locked at night...

The worst part is that it leaves you frustrated and crabby, snapping at people for very little reason, if any. Routine things like winblowz crashing (yes, it's almost periodic!) which I'd otherwise brush off and treat with a three-finger-salute, blow up into episodes of blinding rage. Almost like Mrs. Joe in Great Expectations. Which may be why my keyboard's missing a few keys :(

Speaking of keyboards, methinks I should treat myself and get me one of these. Still, at $149 a pop, I'll make sure it's safely stowed away before the next sinus attack.