Just when the music of Sivaji: The Boss was on the verge of taking over my life, I found The Best of Apache Indian at Music World today. For those who are interested, its pretty tough to get CDs of the original No Reservations anywhere at a decent price – I had seen a copy in Landmark, Chennai for 525 INR, and some copies at secondspin.com for 3.99$. But I am off secondspin for now, so this album is the only sensible way to go. It collects the representative hits of Apache Indian, the album hits Chok There’, ‘Boom Shaka-Lak’, ‘Arranged Marriage’, the collaborations ‘No Problem’ and ‘Yeh Ladka Hai Allah’, from Asha Bhosle’s Rahul and I. And it’s only 125 INR, and I was megapissed when this went off the market about a month after it came out sometime in 2005 – just after I had made up my mind to buy a copy. So, hoo-ah!

Top Shelf comics is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a major, MAJOR sale. There is a 3$ sale for books like Jose Villarubia/Alan Moore’s The Mirror of Love ( which retails for 20$), Alex Robinson’s Tricked ( ditto), the Blankets soundtrack ( retail price 15$), all the volumes of Bughouse, which selll for 15$ each. GODDAMNIT! It’s a bad, bad time to be an obsessed collector.

And my computer at home is humped. Totally. I think the power supply’s gone bust.


Landmark, Mumbai, and a crib about bookstores

Since I’ve been flying around the country quite a bit (urm, planes, not newly developed wings), I have been able to find time to catch up on a bit of reading. And buying. Reread Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors on the Kanpur trip. Also started a Diana Wynne-Jones collection of short stories just after that got over. And graphic novels, loads of them.

Landmark, Mumbai was a revelation. I had been hearing raves about it from oceansandearth and suku. The former gave me a near-apoplexy by mentioning that not only did the place have Samurai Executioner volumes 8 and 9, which yours truly had been searching for high and low, it also had volumes 14 and 15 of Blade of the Immortal, of which I had read volumes 1-13 in white-heat some time ago. And indeed, when I landed up there, the collection sent a rush of blood to my head. It had all that, and much more. Is anyone looking for volumes of Akira? What about David Lloyd’s latest original GN Kickback? Complete runs of Fables TPBs, Y The Last Man, Flash Gordon collections, Promethea – basically whatever mainstream comics has to offer. Even the first two volumes of the Koike/Kojima release Path of the Assassin, which is just being released by Dark Horse.

But hold on a second, no discounts. Wankers. Just went ahead and bought some bare necessities, Samurai Executioner and BotI included. Glared at the hardcover edition of The Complete Conan by Robert E Howard. Wankers. I will just have to pick up the softcover version the next time I am in Blossom. My patience has run out.

It pains me extremely to realise that nowhere in Hyderabad can I buy new books with a 20% discount, like I used to in Bangalore. It’s partly a blessing, because most of my book-buying is now confined to second-hand books ONLY while in this city. And boy oh boy, Best-Frankfurt-MR do manage to throw up surprises every now and then, like the original Tideland novel by Mitch Cullin for just 50 Rs, and a beautiful fairy tale book called Wingless which I picked up the other day just because it has illustrations by Atanu Roy. I do frequent the bigger bookshops – Odyssey and Walden – every now and then, but that’s just to check up on the latest releases. If I like anything, I buy them at 20% discount the next time I am at Bookworm or Blossom. Both Odyssey and Walden have these “Sales” twice every year, in which they sell all their stock at a grand 10% off. Phoeey! Walden does one better. It takes out the worst books of the lot, the marketting manuals that were out of anyone’s radar eight years ago, Java 1.2 API guides, Windows 98 tutorials, and tags them with “special prices” – which we customers are supposed to drool over and buy immediately. They are selling unsold hardcover copies of Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince at 15% off – well after the paperback has been released. Morons.

Count your blessings, Bangalore-dwellers. For all the cribs I have against your city, there are certain things that make me gnash my teeth and wish I were still in that office on Museum Road. Ah, to be able to drop in at Blossom every day at lunchtime.

Did you know that Barefoot Gen, the seminal manga on the horrors of Hiroshima, and considered to be one of the inspirations behind Grave of the Fireflies is now available in an Indian edition? Yes, and quite well-priced at 250 Rs, also comes with an introduction by Anand Patwardhan.

Marjane Satrapi’s Chicken and Plums is also available at most bookshops, though the cost price of 600 is somewhat off-putting. I will just wait for a Bangalore trip to pick it up.

Volumes 5-8 of Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha are available quite freely in the market now. ( How freely? Even a backwaters bookshop like Odyssey, Hyderabad has them on display. The last time I asked them if they had Buddha, one of the salesmen pointed me to the “religion” section. Bah! ) Prices also seem to have come down quite a bit. 295 per book, and if you buy them from places that offer a discount, you get them for REALLY cheap. I ought to be peeved that I spent almost twice the money on the first four volumes, but this lowered price makes me quite glad because more people will pick up this superb series, which deserves hosannahs and praise and our eternal gratitude to Osamu Tezuka for creating it all. Highly recommended, folks. Storytelling does not get better than this.

I tried watching Nacho Libre the other night, but fell asleep midway. Is it just me, or is Jack Black trying too hard?


Did I mention that my discman died two weeks ago? My faithful companion since 2001 ( or possibly 2000, considering that it was originally absolut_69‘s baby that I stole away and paid him six months later), my ecape valve during final year examinations, Sunny Deol-infested bus journeys, my PRECIOUS little precious finally gave up. Was bound to happen, but I am not giving up easily. It’s off for repairs now, and the guy at the service center ( unauthorized, the Philips guys said they don’t repair discmans, especially not the Expanium, and DEFINITELY not this model.), the guy said the lens needs to be changed. I don’t have too much hope of it working for more than a year, new lens or not, and I am pretty sure it won’t be able to read any of my older Frontech mp3 CDs. But no matter. I am not giving up on you easily, precious.

It’s one of those unacknowledged laws that whenever you lack the means to listen to music, your urge to listen to music increases dramatically. I have been spending my free time ( Ha ha ha) revisiting some CDs that I hadn’t heard in quite sometime. Travis, Moby’s Play, Dixie Chicks, Bad Company, Jethro Tull, Van Morrison, Cowboy Junkies. Loads of Suzanne Vega too.

Has it ever happened to you that you hear a song, and then don’t hear it for a long time, and when you hear it again, it sounds completely different from what you had thought it sounded, in terms of the orchestration and the arrangement? That happened to me with Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, a song which I keep remembering because of the opening lyrics, that go – If I ventured in the slipstream, between the viaducts of your dream, where immobile steel rims crack, and the ditch in the back roads stop – Could you find me? Would you kiss my eyes? – the imagery just kills me, man. I heard it after a long time, and was really, really taken aback to find that it was not really as guitar-driven as I remembered it was.

And now for some venom.

I think it was V For Vendetta that did it, finally, but I realised that the ratio of returns to investment has been mindblogglingly low for all the movies I’ve seen in theatres this and the last year. Movies that I’ve loved and enjoyed, like Sin City, Hostel, The Devil’s Rejects, even The Corpse Bride have no chance of attaining theatrical releases in India. What do we get? Pap. Bile-inducing insults to my brain. Pixellated eye-candy with six tracks of digitized nonsense. So I say, enough. No more movies in theatres. No more paying inflated prices to be mentally assaulted for 90 to 180 minutes, and with cellphone ringtone interruptions too, to boot. Especially comicbook movies. I have been completely uninterested in Superman Returns ever since yada yada yada and I am not really interested in talking about it, thank you. If you see it and you like it, well, I am happy for you. Obviously you haven’t been reading Doom Patrol or All Star Superman, so I can’t really say I am too happy for you, but yeah, you should know that I have absolutely no problems with you watching Superman Returns. Nope, none at all. Not a teensy weensy bit. Honest.

The trailer for Spiderman 3? Not interested. Ghost Rider? Pah! 300? Ditto. Nacho Libre? Well, yeah, interested, but I don’t think it’s coming to theaters here, so there!

I was also more than a little pissed off because the last copy of Hanzo The Razor available at secondspin.com got sold off this week, as did the two copies of Varttina’s Miero. GRRRAH! My credit card’s maxed out, so I couldn’t pick it up. CD-WOW still has it, but it’s almost twice the price.

I am a man of taste. I shall now go home and listen to Himesh Reshammiya until I fall asleep. I have a presentation to make tomorrow morning. Er, today morning. I am in such an ebullient mood (Part of the reason: Roger Ebert gave Superman Returns two stars. I don’t really like the guy, but that didn’t stop me from grinning a lot on reading his review) that my technical presentation has taken on shades of a standup comedy routine. Wish me luck.