Welcome to Darkside Daily

When I'm not writing about my experiences in this journey called 'life', I'm singing and uploading my own interpretations of modern music. Click on "Cover Songs" to hear them, or on the YouTube logo on the right to see my YouTube channel.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Life, Death and Michael Jackson

Friday was a mournful day in every sense of the word. There I was, seated with my head bowed; silent and reflective, as is often the case when someone is confronted with a death. I looked around, and I could see a similar emotion in the eyes of those around me. When Death rears his bony head, he doesn't just take the life of the victim, he sucks a little bit out from those around as well.

Apparently it had been a heart attack, but I was hazy on the details. The doctors had worked for an hour but had been unsuccessful, and just like that the world lost a father, a husband, a human being. One minute alive and well; the next - gone.

Perhaps you think this is yet another Michael Jackson post, but that's not entirely true. Michael Jackson comes a distant second in this post.

The man I was talking about in the first paragraph was the father of one of our youth group musicians. He was just 55 years old, and yet without warning he was taken from this world, leaving behind a wife and two children, 22 and 19. Of course, I doubt that anyone would be writing about his untimely demise in the papers, nor will there be much fanfare with regards to his life. The house I was seated in on Friday afternoon was small and dilapidated, situated in some interior lane beyond Kandy. Not exactly Hollywood, if you know what I mean.

The initial reaction to the news that Michael Jackson had died was so severe that apparently it almost 'broke' Google. The international media has been a relentless onslaught of MJ madness, discussing his life and death in agonising detail, interspersed with his many music videos. Kottu was a veritable online shrine to the 'king', with a few senseless anti-MJ posts thrown in as well. Facebook is no different either; apparently they have designed a quiz to determine which Michael Jackson song best represents your life. I can't wait for someone to get "Dirty Diana".

However, what struck me the most was the depth of emotion behind MJ's death. A man that was ridiculed for the better part of the last 15 years, that hadn't released new material in 6 years, that by no stretch of the imagination was hideously disfigured after an unknown number of nose jobs, and whose music was generally considered 'so yesterday' by the masses was mourned by nearly the entire world with people breaking down in tears on television, radio and public transport. Countless parodies in the media from music videos to movies, dangling babies from balconies, and topped by the ever present child molestation charges, Michael Jackson was a superstar with issues. He made great music, I'll give him that. After listening to Chris Cornell's version of Billie Jean, I realised what amazing lyrics were behind the song. The man was blessed, and it is a shame that such talent ended up wasting away like it did.

And then I dressed up and went to the funeral of a 'real' person. A father, a husband, a hard working man that worked 7 days a week from 7am to 8pm. A man who probably sacrificed his family life just so that he could earn enough to support them. And strangely, I saw no tears. I saw no sobbing, no weeping, no children laying wreaths all over the place. His children were naturally upset, but they were not crushed. His son was in a corner laughing with his friends, discussing who was going to remove the banner that was tied across their street. There were two little girls who were running around serving tea and biscuits, giggling and laughing like it was a social event.

Makes you wonder, what is this life for? When a man that you don't know beyond posters and news articles can generate such sorrow, such unmitigated depression in some cases, despite living a lifestyle that many (until Friday) considered shameful and embarrassing, and a man that slaved for his wife and children is buried with only some "onlookers" in attendance, leaving behind a family that hardly saw the man in the last so many years.

Makes you wonder.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'll Be

A rather old song, but one that people tend to remember. The first time I heard this I was in high school, but I think it only grew on me much later. When I started covering songs for the blog, this was one of the first songs I wanted to do but never quite got around to doing. However, after a few gentle nudges from the "adoring fan base" (I'm on to you!) and some late night emo-playlists (damn you iTunes) I thought why not.

Here's Edwin McCain's "I'll Be". The original is here. Hope you enjoy it! Also, click here if you want to download it directly instead of viewing the video.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

T20 a.k.a. Cricket In The Time Of Idiots

And so the glorious T20 World Cup 2009 has come to an end, with Pakistan emerging victorious over the resilient Lankans. It was a fitting end to a spectacular tournament, with both teams playing a high level of cricket and providing the fans with some fantastic play. As the final spectators leave Lord's, I am sure they take many special memories from this World Cup that will no doubt echo through the annals of time.

Wait. I think I just threw up a little.

Let me rephrase: and so this rubbish excuse of a world cup has finally come to an end, with Pakistan leaving the field holding a massive trophy that they will no doubt cherish, seeing as they don't have any other silverware to be proud of anyway.

In case you're having trouble understanding the tone of this post, let me make this clearer: I hate T20!

When T20 first entered the international arena, I looked at it as the ICC's last ditch effort at creating the kind of revenue that other major sports worldwide were generating. It was like the all-star break in the NBA, just a show for the fans. Then some brilliant mind decided that since normal 50-over cricket was the stuff that most European and western nations were either completely ignorant about or made fun of, why not revamp the sport and throw in flashing lights, cheerleaders and explosions? After all, isn't that what makes baseball, basketball and football so popular?

And so we have T20 friendlies, and then we had T20 tournaments, and before you know it we had the inaugural T2o WORLD CUP! A few firecrackers, sixes and hours of over-enthusiastic commentary later, India (or 'Team India' as they like to be called, so as not to be confused with the country of the same name) emerge as so-called "world champions" of the super short format.

T20 has taken cricket to dizzying heights in the last year, with insane amounts of money being paid to cricketers in the Indian Premier League as well as heavy sponsorship for the upcoming Champions League T20 tournament in India this October. But as much as I love cricket, I cannot stomach this new brand that the international cricket bodies seem so desperate to shove down my throat. Sure, this may sound like the arguments put forward by many older cricket pundits, but I am not so much concerned about the 'beauty of the sport' as I am about the actual 'value' of T20.

I tried watching this years world cup, but honestly any match that didn't involve Sri Lanka was just not appealing to me. Some may say that it's more than just slogging but honestly, it isn't! Make the runs quickly or get out. And if you get out, the next person steps in and starts from there. There is no strategy, no technique, and certainly no brains! I mean, the Netherlands beat England in the opening round. The NETHERLANDS! Are you kidding me?! And then this same England squad went on to maul Pakistan (the eventual champions) by 48 runs in the very next game!

Am I just too smart for this game then? Why have we reduced what used to be a game of strategy and endurance into this one-off blink-and-you-miss-it Hollywood-ish TV spectacle? Surely we the spectators have not become so mind-numbingly stupid that we needed a shorter no-holds-barred version of the game to actually enjoy it! Can you imagine if they tried this with other sports? Surely football needs a revamp of sorts - it's been the same for decades! Why not introduce T20 Football? Make the teams line up for 20 penalties instead, seeing as the crowd only want to see goals scored anyway! Or what about T20 Tennis? Instead of weeks of competitions for Wimbeldon, why not just have a single set tie-break to decide the winner of a match? Too short? Fine, make it the first to reach 20 points with a break of two, it IS T20 Tennis after all!

It seems that in an age of microwave cooking and instant coffee, T20 cricket should fit in just fine. But honestly, once all the shine, glamour and gold have faded away from T20, perhaps you too will see it as just another gimmick that the sport really didn't need.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Like A Stone

This video was supposed to come up yesterday, but unavoidable circumstance led to its postponement. This is Audioslave's "Like A Stone" from their self-titled debut album. The original is here, in case you haven't heard it before (welcome to the world by the way).

Chris Cornell has to have one of the most unique vocals in recent history, but I guess it's an acquired taste. I suppose those that like the original may not look at this cover favourably, but still it's out there and I hope someone enjoys it!

Click here if you want to download the song direct without watching the video!


Monday, June 15, 2009

I Could Use A Hand Right Now

Writing a blog post has never really been that easy for me. As I have told some of my friends, I generally take a very long time over each one, either re-writing parts of it or changing the entire direction of the post itself. Sometimes an idea that I have in my head struggles to squeeze out through my fingers and onto the keyboard, and I am left frustrated for days on end with a half-written draft post lying around on my dashboard. Yes, it's hard work being this mediocre.

However, while I have written some rather difficult posts in the past, I feel that this one is by far the hardest post I've ever written.

Because I'm typing it one handed.

So here I am, propped against my bed with my laptop, laboriously shifting positions as I try to find the perfect balance between being comfortable and not blocking the intake fan on my laptop while pecking at my keyboard like some sort of - err - 'differently-abled' person. You see, the weekend was rather - violent - and as a result, the wrist on my right hand has completely died on me. Add to the fact that I think I slept on it wrong as well, and it's no wonder I woke up today feeling like a grenade had gone off in my hand.

After spending almost an hour trying to brush and get dressed in the morning, all the while giving my best Edward Scissor-Hands impression, I ambled upstairs and tried to pretend nothing was wrong. However that plan fell apart within minutes, as my brother and I sat watching the last few minutes of the NBA Finals; he offered me the remote and I said "No thank you."

The alarm bells went off, and pretty soon I was trying to convince mom not to send me to the doctor. She looked me in the eye, gave me a tube of Dicloron, and watched expressionlessly at my failed attempts to squeeze it with my bum hand. Maybe a doctor isn't such a bad idea. But then we're in Sri Lanka, and we all know how it works. We are at the mercy of the doctors, and not just when we're in surgery. I have rarely had to see a doctor, but the few times I have it has always been an unpleasant experience. Some of them, the specialists in particular, hardly work for 3 - 4 hours a day and yet by some miracle still 'treat' around 20 patients an hour. And then they go on strike...

So it wasn't very hard to dissuade the parents from sending me to the doctor, seeing as we didn't even know who to send me to. Our regular doctor only takes patients after 11am, and by that time the traffic would be ridiculous and I'd only be able to go in the evening, by which time either I'd be feeling better or my hand would have fallen off, thus making the trip redundant. This is the argument almost everytime when a trip to the doctor is required: we spend ages wondering if it's really worth the trouble of going to the doctor!

Why is that? As long as I can remember, any trip to the doctor or the hospital has always been met with such opposition. It's almost as if such a trip is only worth the journey and the waiting if the 'patient' is sure to die otherwise! When did taking care of people, even ourselves, become so - difficult?

I blame the doctors. We treat them like gods, they get to park wherever they want, they don't have to pay taxes on their cars and they return the favour by writing some ancient extinct script on a piece of paper and calling it a prescription.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Do Ya 'Thang!

Fact: life sucks; it always has. The real world is a ruthless, unforgiving jungle, where only the strong survive. Let your guard down for even a nano-second and you'll get steam-rolled by the relentless mob that is always trying to one-up you. However, we seem to have gotten it into our heads that this is simply a new trend, an effect of global warming or some sorts. Yet another unpleasant development which we can conveniently blame on the 'West'.

But, if all these evolutionary loonies like Darwin (not the blogger) are to be believed, we all evolved over a few quinta-billion years, or something. Yes, once we were nothing but some single-celled protoplasmic form with a name that rhymed with ABBA, bored to tears, going nowhere. Then one day, one brave soul tired of being just one of the 'blobs', broke from the pack, said "SHAZAM!" and poof! - T-Rex was born.

Today's world is no different, though the competition has become markedly more fierce. Which is why it is important to develop a 'thing'.

They say that humour/empathy/porn is what sets us apart from the animals, but what sets us apart from each other is a lot harder to pin down. See, unfortunately God did a great job of creating us all uniquely the same, hence as our lives unravel it's upto us to differentiate ourselves from the pack. Go for any interview these days and it's not so much about your qualifications as it is about how different you are from the ten other applicants before you. The same goes for one's social life; if you're not bringing anything unique to the table, chances are you'll be sitting alone at that table for a long time.

The same can be said in all walks of life really, even on Kottu. The Lankan blogosphere is littered with obscure blogs that don't really have a theme or a style that is unique to their writing, yet amongst the crowd there are a few memorable blogs. There's RD who is the 'old guy blogger' with his particular brand of humour. There's Kalusudda, who is the blogosphere's 'commentator'. There's Gypsy, the resident 'story-teller'. There are Mommy bloggers, there are poets, there are artists, and then there's Jerry, who's just weird.

As is in kottu, as is in life. Well, not really, but here it does. Being a part of the crowd is never fashionable, be it at work or at your friend's barbecue. Whether we're aware of it or not, we develop certain traits, sayings, speech patterns and sometimes even entire persona's solely to be remembered. In fact, I'm sure if you look at your own friends circle you will find that it comprises of different 'types' of people; one is the joker, the other is the serious guy, the next is the flirt, the next is the junkie, and so on. It's like those picture tag things on Facebook, where you tag friends that fit the cartoon - yes, Facebook, the social experimentation networking site indeed.

I guess what it boils down to, is how far do we go to be memorable? There are some that carry it to extremes for the attention (like 'he-who-should-not-be-named-for-fear-of-legal-action'), and some people that just enjoy being stereotyped. In a world where the rat-race has well and truly become the sole reason to be alive, people that don't have an extra edge, an X-factor so to speak, never succeed.

So what's your 'thing'?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Love Hurts

No, this is not an emo post! I've been suffering from a bit of writer's block of late, and so naturally I turn to the headless-vid department to get myself going again.

After much thought and preparation, I have decided to attempt an Incubus cover; something that I was strongly urged not to do by the 'Snazzy One' aka T, who is a devoted worshipper at the altar of all things Incubus.

Still, as with most of the songs I upload, I thoroughly enjoyed playing this on the piano, so hopefully it turns out alright. Original is here, in case you haven't heard it yet.


Click here to download the audio if the video doesn't work for you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

'Net Wars: Attack Of The Trolls

If you've ever been around middle aged or elderly people, you are no stranger to their constant bickering with regards to the way the world is today, and how much better things were back in 'the good old days', even though the so-called 'good old days' for a 50 year-old may be considered a part of the 'modern era' for a 70 year-old. Still, the premise is simple - before 'now', everything was 'better'.

Most of us cringe during these conversations, but I must say that in some ways I have to agree. However, while most of the older generation complain about music, fashion and cell phones, my main grouse with today's world would have to be the way we fight.

Travel back in time with me a couple of centuries. If modern theatre and books are to believed, living in the 19th century was a difficult proposition! If you survived child birth, it was a miracle! And then you had to pray for a succession of miracles so that you wouldn't die from smallpox, cholera or tuberculosis, because thanks to the non-invention of modern medicine, once you got one of those diseases you were doomed to spend the rest of your short life surrounded by other sick people in some dungeon quarantine. And then if you made it into your twenties, just when you'd turn to pat yourself on the back for a job well done you'd most likely find a dagger, sword or some other sharp object protruding from it. But at least that you might have deserved!

See, back then there was a strict code of honour surrounding the way we solved problems, at least among the higher social classes. If you ever insulted or mocked someone, it was their honour-bound duty to challenge you to a duel to resolve the quarrel. I'm talking about the sort of duels written about in Alexandre Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "The Three Musketeers". It may seem medieval to us now, but back then it was a socially acceptable form of conflict resolution, that left no room for errors, was swift and decisive.

Fast forward back to the present, and look around you. The world has become one where it isn't the law makers that rule the land, it's the lawyers! A few punches thrown at an annoying customer or a rude waiter and we get sued for everything we own. Hey, God bless the judicial system; they may have resolved countless disputes over the years, but for every 100 cases there's always one where somebody sues McDonald's for making them fat.

So somebody goes and says "the pen is mightier than the sword", and all of a sudden we have an answer - hate mail. Bring on the internet, and now we have hate boards for everything under the sun. Of all the sad and lamentable changes that have occurred in the last quarter century, the internet wars have to be the saddest. On kottu we have our resident trolls, and while some may find them witty, funny and/or pure evil (depending on whether you've been 'outed' by them) I am decidedly neutral about them. Faceless, nameless people pontificating from the shadows - I'm bored already. However, my concern is not so much about the trolls, but our reaction to them.

Personally, this whole drama with NB is just a reflection of how sad we as human beings have become. I'm not saying this because of what he did, but rather for the way we all retaliated. We somehow got it into our heads that this 'war of words' could actually be won by the party with the most scathing and sarcastic post written about the other. So we have a little back and forth between the forces of evil aka Bawa and his chocolate-covered minions and the forces of the little downtrodden people aka the rest of the blogosphere (except The Whackster, who is firmly on the fence). The same argument applies to the trolls, who scour the blogosphere looking for 'unworthy' posts and go on to eviscerate them in agonising detail. Then we get all offended and try to retaliate by feeding them more material to 'troll' on.

Really, what is the point? I for one am as sick of these trolls as I am of internet threats and blackmail. "Do this else I will publish your address". If you HAVE my address, why not come ring the door bell and we can settle this like men? "Look at what so-n-so wrote. It is utter tripe! Laugh with me at his idiocy!" So someone doesn't like your writing. Oh no. This means you must either a) retaliate and try to one-up them or b) crawl under a rock and die from embarrassment.


If only we had people like this in World War II. I can only imagine the look of utter incomprehension on the Polish head of state's face if, instead of being invaded, he was 'bombed' with hate mail by Hitler.

Bottom line? Bloggers are generally considered to be 'lame' - don't vindicate that accusation by getting into a virtual battle of insults.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bits And Pieces

There have been a few things I have wanted to write about but they've all ended up as half-baked draft posts in my head. So, in an attempt to do some spring cleaning (a bit late for that, I know) I decided to just stick them all together in one big post and see what turns out.

The other day I saw an auto parked near our house, and it was being used by the SLT Breakdown Crew (or whatever they're called). It was painted light blue and had the SLT logo plastered all over it, plus the SLT Breakdown Boys (or whatever they're called) motto printed across the back.

SLT Breakdown Service. One Call Away.

Which got me thinking: if someones phone DOES pack up and die, how in the world are we supposed to call the Telephone Techies (or whatever they're called) in the first place?! 'One call away' may be one call too far!

I was in class and about to drift away with my eyes open when my lecturer said something rather off topic. We were discussing 'perception' and why it's important for Organisational Behaviour (see why I was drifting?) and somehow or the other we started talking about love. "When people look at things, they have to be able to classify it as a part of their mental model. If it doesn't fit, then it negatively affects our perception of it. That's why when we fall in love, we fall in love with people that are like us. Either they are similar in looks or in personality or some other way."

When I look back on my rather limited experiences in relationships, I must say that I don't agree in that respect. I don't think any of my ex's personalities were close to mine; at best, I might admit that in some cases they possessed traits that I wanted in myself. What about you? Have you ended up digging someone that had a similar thought pattern to yourself?

As for looks, if any of my ex's looked even remotely like me, I'd be beyond creeped out.....!

Apparently I have been tagged in this 5 words nonsense that's been doing the rounds. For those that don't know what I'm talking about, I'm supposed to write down 5 words that describe how I feel about the end of the war here. Righto, here goes:

1. Cynicism (I don't think we'll ever know the full story of what happened up north)

2. Nonchalance (Sadly, I must admit that the war hasn't affected me personally at all)

3. Relief (No more killing, no more bombs, no more fear)

4. Curiosity (Does this mean no more army checkpoints?!)

5. Annoyance (Another "Proud to be a Lankan Lion" Facebook invite and I'm going to migrate)

I feel I'm getting more than my money's worth at the gym here. Yes, I'm paying for using the weights and machines, but no one told me that between sets I would be entertained by the hourly aerobics classes! Now, I'm all in favour of people trying to get back in shape; in fact, I applaud the efforts of both young and old to do so despite how daunting the challenge may be at first. When I survey the crowd in the gym, I notice that the age bracket of those enrolled in the aerobics class is as wide as some of their - well, never mind.

But have you ever really watched people doing aerobics?!

While some of the exercises are rather rudimentary and expected, some of the steps are just awkward and the rest are plain bizarre! Expecting these - err - 'spherically blessed' individuals to kick out their legs sideways and touch their fingertips in an attempt to imitate a Russian folk dancer is just cruel in my opinion. Then there's the kick-boxing routines, and don't even get me started on the mat workouts! All in all the whole thing is reminiscent of a kindergarten kids drill, albeit minus the costumes and the pom-poms! And yet they come faithfully, day after day, week after week, waving their hands about with fervour and reaching for areas of their body that haven't been accessed in years, all the while performing the most ludicrous semi-dance moves to appalling karaoke music.

I salute their dedication, but at this rate I wouldn't be surprised to see them faithfully doing the Macarena the next time I visit the gym.

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