New books

Best Book Stall has another sale going on right now, at YMCA Secunderabad, and I happened to drop in about 5 days into the sale. Much astounded at the clearance sale section which occupied one side of the huge hall – you could select any 5 books for hundred rupees, ten books for one hundred and fifty. A cursory search yielded gems like hardcover editions of Robert Silverberg’s Valentine Pontifex AND Lord Valentine’s Castle. Volume 3 of Brian Lumley’s Necroscope, assorted parts of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, two Patricia Highsmith novels, Tim Dorsey’s Cadillac Beach, which I am looking forward to reading – I hugely enjoyed Hammerhead Ranch Motel. El Doctorow’s Billy Bathgate, Gregory McDonald’s Son Of Fletch, and I hate to say that I haven’t gotten around to reading any of the Fletch novels yet. John Berendt’s Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil which, to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have picked up had it not been for the price. And interestingly, found this out-of-print book called Mrs Coverlet’s Magicians by Mary Nash. I don’t really remember where I had heard of this book – probably while amazon-surfing some day….

The rest of the sale yielded some great finds too. Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish, which I read immediately, and which, like I expected, has very little in common with Tim Burton’s movie except for the broad theme in general, and the ending. John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which I also finished immediately. An illustrated 1946 hardcover of Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, (John Tenniel’s drawings, of course!) I had resisted buying this for quite a long time. An illustrated unabridged version of The Three Musketeers, and the only children’s book William Faulkner ever wrote, called The Wishing Tree. The Encyclopaedia of the Occult, which seemed much comprehensive when I browsed it on the spot, and a book on the early Warner Brothers’ directors. Yukio Mishima’s Sound of Waves, a love story set in Japan, which I had been hearing good things about ( seems it has been adapted to film some five times). Two Shel Silverstein hardcovers – When The Sidewalk Ends and A Light In The Attic. An interesting children’s book called The Philadelphia Chickens – this came with a free CD that had songs sung by folks like Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep and Laura Linney.

Also picked up quite a few random books on music criticism. Had to go there again later, because I ran out of cash.

Spent the long weekend peacefully completing four volumes of Buddha. Can’t wait to get my paws on the remaining four – and I now understand that the term “Godfather of Manga” is one not easily bestowed on a person. Do yourselves a favour and try reading Buddha if you can. Scans are not available online, as far as I know. The storytelling alternates between cartoony goofiness and gut-wrenching realism between pages, and goddamnit, why is so less Tezuka available on eBay?

Which reminds me, I won a lot of 18 comics that included a signed first edition of Craig Thompson’s Goodbye Chunky Rice, a signed copy of Slow News Day by Andi Watson, and Matt Madden’s One Faraway Beach, also signed. Loads of other stuff too, and all for 22.5$, woo hoo!

And there was also the package I received from mikester, containing multiple copies of Solo, each signed by Sergio Aragones, and a trade paperback of Fanboy, that has a sketch by Aragones inside. Why multiple copies of Solo? Because there are rabid Aragones fans in Delhi, Bombay and Kolkata, and it just didn’t seem fair for me to have a copy and them not having it. Now, now, is my halo showing?

What is Solo, you ask? Oh, well, you don’t, but let me tell you anyways. It’s a series published bimonthly by DC comics, with 48 pages and no adds, and correspondingly has a higher price point of 4.99$ per issue. What really sets Solo apart is that every issue is done by one artist, who is given free reign to do whatsoever s/he wants with DC characters. I believe the series has been cancelled after twelve issues, but each of the artists who have contributed so far are legends in their own right – Paul Pope, Tim Sale, Howard Chaykin, Mike Allred, Ted Kristiansen, Richard Corben, and on issue 11, Sergio Aragones. Coincidence department: I bought the first 10 issues issues of Solo from a comicbook fan at a dollar each just two days before Mike mentioned that Mr Aragones was signing at his bookshop.

I had to play a game this weekend – one of these insane urges to trounce virtual meat that crop up from time to time – so I began Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Excellent gameplay, which was kind of expected when I found out that the game was produced by Tigon games, a company founded by Vin Diesel himself ( I remember asking a question about this company in some quiz or the other when it was launched). Currently midway through the game, and enthused enough about gaming to install Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend, the latest TR game. Graphics are superb, but the camera angles are killing me. Is it time to pick up a controller?


Gratituous self-promotion in the name of nostalgia deptt.

I used to draw and paint, once upon a time. Even went to art school when I was a kid, and found out that watercolours was the only medium I had some amount of control on. Until of course, I discovered the joys of pen and ink and trying to imitate John Totleben’s artwork.

After buying a scanner ( along with the computer I bought my parents the other day ), I spent some time scanning whatever of my samples I could find.



Of Surprise Gifts

Someone seems to have anonymously gifted me a paid LJ account for two months.

I know I should be really happy about getting a free gift ( What? Oh yeah, also moaning and being outraged about the violation of my rights to Free LJing), but what really scares me is the thought of what exactly I am going to do with a paid account. Frankly speaking, I have never even considered getting myself one. Partly because I am a lazy something of a some-other-thing LJ-er who would rather click refresh on his friends’ page the whole day instead of musing about life or venting my ire at things that annoy me. ( No, Kisna doesn’t count, O Unkind Dissenters to the previous statement of mine.) In fact, I have realised that I am quite happy not musing about life and indulging in fanciful consumerist rampages every other day. Most people I know, including myself, treat these rampages as impending signs of my landing up someplace where the jackets are strait and people carry electric prods in their back-pocket, or ending up bankrupt, or both. Writing about my acquisitions are thereupatic. I write about, say, one of every ten things I buy, and when I look at my LJ later and read about how less I seem to have bought the past couple of months, the juices begin flowing, and eBay beckons yet harder.

Sorry, got sidetracked there for a moment.

So, a paid account. Lots of iconspace, which means I will have to spend some time searching for those tiny pics that make me laugh. The only ones I like seem to be taken by other people, and I dunno, it seems like a very personal thing to do, stealing using someone else’s icon. Not that I would use them anyway. Somehow I seem to forget all about the “change userpic” option everytime I leave a comment on someone’s post, and end up using the default userpic. It’s not funny, I know, seeing Gollum’s leery face accompanying a rather serious comment from yours truly ( *giggle* “serious” comment), but I convince myself that the expression on my default userpic can be interpreted in multiple ways. Try looking at him real hard, can you detect that vein of emotion in his evocative eyes? Can you? Bah, you weren’t looking hard enough.

There are also these neat customizable options I can now apply to my Livejournal and make it really spiffy, but I went to the “manage” page and got a headache. Tried reading the FAQ, and then figured that reading my friends’ page and clicking “refresh” was a more entertaining option. Besides, I always thought the minimalist, black-and-white approach to my main page really kicks ass.

Voice posts – you crazy? I already have people looking at me strangely everytime I am reading through vrikodhara‘s old posts, and now I am supposed to talk to myself in my cubicle and have all my colleagues, on top of gazillions of unknown people ( well, that was just a random number I thought up, to be honest) listen to what I have been doing? No way, Jose!

Erm, in case you are reading this, O anonymous gifter, and wondering at the ingratitude I seem to be displaying at your gesture of goodwill, allow me to assure you that ingratitude is the last thing on my mind. I was really, really zapped when I saw the mail in the morning and, with emotions ranging from euphoria to unbridled curiousity, I called up a couple of friends I know to figure out if they were responsible for this. It turned out to be none of them, and I was even more enthused. My, my, Houston, we have a secret paid-account-bestower, and probably I will never know the reason why I have been gifted one.

Then, of course, familiar beatzoian paranoia won through, and I waited for sometime for a mail from LJ that said – “We are sorry, there has been a mistake and this paid account was meant for someone else.” Or one from some other LJ guy named “beatz” or “beatxo” that said “eh, I misspelled my name while filling in the paid account form, give me my money back.” Even did a quick check around other users to figure out if this was LJ’s idea of a Christmas gift. All the time remembering to click efresh on the friends’ page every now and then, yes.

None of this happened, and by the end of the day, I became pretty sure that I had indeed received a gift. MINE, ALL MINE!!! Which is when it hit me, the question of what exactly I would do with a paid LJ account.

So I thought and thought, and came to a conclusion. ( Part of me itches to say “And the conclusion is – I am shutting down my LJ. Bwahahahaha!” We be thinking nassty thoughtss, precious) The conclusion being, yeah, I will pay better attention to my Livejournal. I will not neglect it the way I have this year. Not that I will blather meaninglessly, but expect the frequency of posts to increase. In other words, this will be a live Livejournal, instead of the intermittently-zombified Journal that it is right now.

Whoever you are, thank you for your gift.