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Friday, October 27, 2006

Cassette Nostalgia

(Warning: Geekazoidical)

I was checking up to see what Varahagiri Venkata Giri actually looked like (on account of this) and in this endeavour I had hopped to those fine folks at Wikipedia, and ran into this piece
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_Cassette as their featured piece on the home page, and it opened up a whole lot of memories (since I am a sentimental fool).

I think most people of my age group (kids in the 80s, teens in the 90s) would have grown up listening to music on cassettes (unless their folks were either cool enough to have a record player, or progressive enough to have a CD-player). From the early days on the folkses Sharp GF8989 boombox, music to me equalled tapes. The first tape I ever owned was Michael Jackson's 'Dangerous' bought in 1992. (yes yes, I confess I was a Michael Jackson fan, and still am). Through the years of Madonna, Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Learns to Rock and so on the tape was the highly frustrating medium on which all music was served. Tapes broke, tapes tangled, tapes got fungus on them, and most irritatingly tapes disappeared, but like Doordarshan and Indian Airlines in the 80s, we really had no choice.

To be fair to them they did a fairly decent job of playing the music, and at that age, in those times (and on those systems), the 'fidelity' of the recording really didn't make much of a difference to me. Plus they were infinitely involving to the geek in me. Hours were spent opening up fungus infected cassettes, swabbing fungus off the reel with earbuds and ethyl alcohol, carefully replacing the reels and rollers on the base of the shell, guiding the flimsy tape across the transport notches and grooves, and resealing the shell with a Phillips screwdriver, and playing it over a few types to 'really clean it up.'

Further more hours were spent transplanting the tape reels from a broken shell to an intact one (thereby making an MS Subbalakshmi tape play Michael Jackson), involving all the delicacy of the previous operation, plus the added frustration of tangling tape, and what to do with MS Subbalakshmi's innards after the transplant.

Grand felonies committed included recording malayalam film songs from Radio over parents' ancient recordings of Pritish Nandy's poetry (which they never listened to anyways, but for which I got the shelling of a lifetime). Crimes on humanity included recording my own singing and playing of percussion instruments such as the Bisleri bottle and the cricket bat. Silly fun included 'high speed dubbing' [where tape to tape recording happens in a dual deck system where the source and destination tapes move at approximately twice the regular speed] which made all music sound like "the chipmunks," which I liked, and which spawned the idea in my young entrepreneur's mind to make a collection of "High Speed Dubbing Hits", songs that sounded good at double speed. However, as the capital and infrastructure was lacking this concept never took off.

Then of course, the regular excitement of head cleaning, applying earbud soaked in nail-polish remover to magnetic head, capstan, pinch-roller etc., etc,. to make the sound sparkle.

My folks got a CD-player in 1995, but CDs were still too expensive to completely replace tapes, and so throughout school and most of college (before MP3s came and knocked everything for a six) tapes were all I had and most of my tapes are still lying aroudn in shoeboxes at home (pssst....shoeboxes were DESIGNED to store tapes....no kidding....try it out). Tapes went up from costing 40 bucks for Michael Jackson's dangerous to 50 bucks for Europe's Greatest Hits, to 75 bucks for Michael Learns to Rock, to 100 bucks for Blood on the Dance Floor to 125 bucks for Best of Mr. Big to 150 bucks for Best of Ocean Colour Scene....and that was the last tape I bought.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Simmi Post

Simmi, I'm alive and well thank you very much. Was kidnapped by work aliens for a bit, but they've sent me back to earth for Diwali, with a promise to return to captivity on Monday. And since you've given me so many things to write about I thought I might as well!

What is in between heaven and earth?

Ooh deep, I don't do deep very well, I'm shallow you see. So I'll pass this question!

What book would you take to a deserted Island?

The problem with this question is that I almost never re-read books, if i've read it once, it's unlikely i'd want to read it again, and even if i do, I don't enjoy it that much the second time, and in the great world of books that I haven't read, I really don't know what would be worthy of taking to a deserted Island, but if I can do a sneaky lawyerly thing, I'd probably take the Encyclopedia Britannica....since I'd also need material enough to read till I am rescued, and a novel or something of a few hundred pages may not last me long enough.....but leading off from here, I think I'd name my top 5 desert-island discs...not in order (at the moment, it keeps changing):

1) Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms
2) Mr. Big - Japandemonium -I (Live in Japan)
3) Dream Theater - Images and Words
4) Queen - A Night at the Opera
5) Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence

Of course, if it weren't so uncool, I'd take 'Best ofs' since they'd have all my favourite songs, and they'd have more songs than single albums...but that's not allowed for Desert Island discs....so..

Who would you take to a deseted Island?

Hmm....interesting question....there's no one at the moment who occupies the 'love of my life' position....so I'd probably take M, since she was the last occupant...and she's still the closest thing to a 'love of my life' right now.....

Whats your favourite food and post the recipe?

erm....too many things here.....Appam with a Chicken stew or something.......recipe? hahaha.....I know the recipe for nothing!! oh wait I know the recipe for something we once made at the Bappi's place.....we called it the Scarborough Omelette.....you'll understand why.....it was to serve 5 stoned souls and two sober ones (SS and me)....with lots of bread.....

Ingredients

12 eggs
Chillies
Onions
Tomatoes
Parsley
Sage
Rosemary
Thyme (yup.....all of this was available at the Bap's house)

Method

Erm.....beat the eggs together..........put some oil on the pan.......when it gets hot...put onions, chillies and tomato on it......sautee it for a bit.......then pour the eggs over it.....and then dump the parsley, sage , rosemary and thyme.....while singing the canticle in the background.....put salt and pepper to taste......put in some tomato sauce if you are so inclined.....flip it around and stuff.....and it's ready!

Your worst nightmare?

Nothing of note.....

and what do you dream of?

Bizarre things......always bizarre things....never the same things....familiar characters in unfamiliar settings , or unfamiliar characters in familiar settings....always doing incomprehensible things.....with lots of magic and lots of fast movement.....warp-speed.....lots of evil and tragedy......lots of love and excitement......monsters, magicians, ......somtimes it's just some prsosaic events with familiar characters.....with just one vital thing odd.....for instance there's no ground beneath our feet.....or no one's wearing any clothes......or no one has mouths....or something....