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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No Room For Patriotism In Sport

As I type this post, there are a billion and a few people hunched over the tv sets, radios, and computers, watching and listening to the India versus Pakistan World Cup semi-final match, in Mohali. A few lucky thousands are actually at the ground, no doubt waving flags and banners, shouting slogans, singing songs, and cheering what is easily the most anticipated match of the tournament so far, a clash between not just two sides, but two nations with a long, chequered history between them, both on the field and off.

The build up to the match has been huge, and though I do not meet any Indians or Pakistanis at work, my social networks are buzzing with all the taunts and barbs going back and forth. Yet, out of the smoke and gunfire, I noticed an interesting trend where one or two Indians were supporting Pakistan, the 'dreaded enemy'.

This naturally drew the ire of many Indian supporters, who either a) threatened bodily harm to said offender b) labelled him/her a traitor or c) attempted to change their mind.. by threatening bodily harm to them. It was an interesting exchange, as some either had no reason for supporting the boys from across the border, while others simply thought they were a better team, and still others didn't want people being tied to their TV sets on a Saturday night.

I found all this rather amusing, because being a Sri Lankan, we don't have any real hardcore, in-the-blood-and-genes type rivalries to speak of. The closest we have is against Australia, but then who doesn't hate the Australian team and want to beat them at every chance? If you have been following fellow Sri Lankan blogger Pseudorandom's blogs and/or tweets, you will have read her rather well-documented story of dealing with criticism for cheering for both England and Sri Lanka when they played each other in the quarter finals. I don't necessarily agree with it all, but while hers is definitely a rather unique case, I think she makes one or two valid points.

Patriotism is a term that we love to use these days, and we throw it around loosely without really understanding what it means. When exactly does it apply? 

When it comes to almost any sport, there is a lot of freedom of choice. Take for example, if I were to support Manchester City, Arsenal or Newcastle, no one could really argue against it. It's my inalienable right to support whoever I choose to, for whatever reasons I choose. I could support the Lakers because they have hot cheerleaders, or I could support the Red Sox because I like their name. 

But when it comes to teams representing their country, do we really have that much of a choice? When I see anyone wearing the Sri Lankan colours, am I really able to say "Well, this other person is a better player, so I'll support that country instead"? When a team or player says they are playing for their country, do the countrymen have an option to say "well we didn't ask you to"? If we are allowed to choose who we support when it comes to national sport, do the competitors get to choose which country they'd like to represent?

Of course, these are all my personal views, and I cannot fathom all the many individual reasons that people may have for not supporting their national team. Sometimes its as simple as "I don't like the sport, so I don't really care". But while I believe 'patriotism' is not a term that should be associated with national sport, and that at the end of the day, it's still just a game, perhaps we need to re-evaluate what it means to "play for one's country", instead of simply being a fair-weather fan when it suits us. Or filling up stadiums just because the other team is 'the enemy'.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Is Today The Day The Music Died?

Music these days isn't working for me. Just the other day I spent three hours driving to Colombo while switching between Rick Dee's Weekly Top 40 and the American Top 40 radio shows, and I was really surprised at how plastic so many of the songs felt. Ke$ha almost personifies this trend; someone who can't really sing, has no real musical variety (all the songs involve getting drunk, partyin', partyin' harder, a bit of sex here, more partyin') but who knows how to make music that will play in clubs and will sell on iTunes. I'll admit, some of her stuff is catchy, but will I remember it ten years from now or request it on the 'golden oldies' show in twenty years? I don't think so.

Then there's the Black Eyed Peas, who have somehow become awful overnight. And the now-serious Linkin Park, who have recorded a song with reggae vibes. Then there's some new collaboration between Akon, Pitbull, T-Pain, Li'l Wayne, Keshia Cole, Kanye West, Keri Hilson, Timberland, Drake and Rihanna, every other week. Chris Brown singing "Yeah" not once, not twice, but "3X". Avril Lavigne telling us how all her life she's been good but now she's like, "what the hell?". I assume she had the same feelings towards actual song-writing too. Kim Kardashian singing auto-tuning something about - you guessed it - partyin'. Katy Perry with what is easily the most ridiculous set of lines strung together and labelled prose (outside of  the infamous Rebecca Black disaster), about someone's love being "extra-terrestial". (At this point I had to pull over for a minute to just scream in agony before I could resume my drive).

Normally I don't pay too much attention to lyrics, but lately with all the music that's on the charts I'm thinking that perhaps that's what is missing in music these days. Good music carries with it a message and a meaning, and you can't auto-tune or digitally add that onto a song.

Which is why I love what Jon Foreman, frontman of the band Switchfoot, did over the weekend. One of the many artists active on Twitter (I love his bio - "I play music in bands called switchfoot, and fiction family. I am grateful to be alive"), Jon asked his followers a simple question - "if you wrote a song tomorrow, what would the tune be called?"

Here is the seqence of tweets.

Click to see the full size image

Click to have a listen!

Click to check out all 125 song lyrics submitted

I thought it was a fantastic idea; so much so that if I had known about it (I was off twitter for the weekend) I may have even tried my hand at it myself.

Who knows, perhaps it's things like these that can inspire new artists to really give us some music that our generation can be proud of.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Twenty Minute Posting

In an effort to keep my blog active, I've decided to start a new 'thang' here at Darkside Daily. Every week, I'll be posting one 'Twenty Minute Post'. The objective is simple and rather self-explanatory - write a post, any post, in twenty minutes or less and post it.

While this may seem rather simple to most, you probably don't know how much thought I put into a blog post. I mean, I literally agonise over them for days, sometimes even weeks; something you probably wouldn't be able to tell from the writing unfortunately.

Either way, I doubt these posts will have any general direction, rather, they'll most likely just be a memory dump; a little space where whatever is in my head comes crashing out.

And just like that, I've only got 12 minutes left...!

Can't wait to go home today, after two weeks away due to work and pleasure (it wasn't as glamorous as it sounds). I remember back when I was in school, I used to be terrified to return home. Well, perhaps terrified is too strong a word, but I definitely did not look forward to it. I didn't know it at the time, but this was more due to my strange and fragile nature. Yes, 'fragile'. I was a kid who didn't know how to handle situations. All I had was my stubborn streak of bulldozing through whatever trials, emotional or otherwise, that came in my way. It is, fortunately (or unfortunately), a trait I still carry to this day.

Nine minutes to go...!

It's strange how things change. When you're in your teens you always think, "I'll never change, I'll always be this way, I won't become like my parents or adult friends". We really do think we'll live forever, though more in our thinking rather than in actuality. And yet, here I am, and I see my life in such a different light. My family, my life, my choices, my dreams - they look so much different now than they did a mere 5, 6 years ago.

Final four minutes...!

I guess what I'm trying to say is...

I'm glad I changed.

Have a great weekend, readers.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Brilliant "Black Swan"

At long last, I finally caught up on some of the Oscar movies of 2011. It's been a disappointing year so far with regards to movies, as almost every 'underdog' at the box office has been plain terrible. The best of the lot so far have been either big budget movies or movies with A-list stars.

(Let me just add as an aside that, after watching "The Green Hornet", I think it's safe to assume that neither Seth Rogen or Cameron Diaz are A-listers.)

Needless to say, I was thrilled when I finally got my hands on some movies that had created a buzz at the box office recently. There was Mark Wahlberg's "The Fighter", Jason Statham's trademark action flick "The Mechanic", and Aronofsky's intense "Black Swan".

I'm not going to write a review here, because you really have to go see "Black Swan" for yourself. The thing about this movie was that it was one of those stories that somehow dragged me into it and made me feel like I was more than just a casual observer. The last time I had felt that way was during Inception and The Dark Knight. While "Black Swan" isn't a story of another fictious world, it does transport you to this other life where dance, music and the stage are all so much larger than life, and it does it so well that I am almost as anxious as Nina (Natalie Portman) regarding her role in the performance, and almost as terrified as she appears when things start spiraling out of control.

Make no mistake, this is not a 'dance movie'. It is terribly unsettling and unnervingly creepy, as the viewer is taken along this rather disturbing rollercoaster ride that climaxes in a brilliant final sequence in the movie. Natalie Portman does a great job, as does Mila Kunis, and even though I had an inkling of where the story was going, even I was not prepared for the way things turned out.

I was so enamoured with the movie that I dug up some trivia on the movie, and thought I'd share a few. Some of the facts, especially regarding Natalie Portman's injuries and preparation, lead me to believe that she was indeed a worthy winner of Best Actress at both the Golden Globes and the Oscars.

=> The script took around ten years to make it to the screen.

=> Mila Kunis was brought into the project after co-star Natalie Portman suggested her to director Darren Aronofsky. Kunis had a video chat with Aronofsky via Skype and got the role without officially auditioning.
=> Natalie Portman lost 20 pounds to look more like a ballerina.
=> The budget on this film was so tight that when star Natalie Portman had a rib dislocated during a lift and she called the producer for help. She was told that the budget was so low they had no medic. She stated that if they needed to cut items from the budget they could take away her trailer, instead of the medic. The next day her trailer was gone.

=> The soundtrack, composed by Clint Mansell is a variation on Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" ballet, but played backwards and in a distorted manner.

=> Natalie Portman hit her head during the filming of one scene, sustaining a bad concussion that required an MRI.

=> Due to a dislocated rib injury, Natalie Portman had to receive physical therapy during filming. Portman is undergoing a real therapy session in one scene with Michelle Rodriguez, an actual physical therapist brought in by choreographer Benjamin Millepied. Director Darren Aronofsky told Portman to stay in character during the appointment so he could film and include the scene into the final cut.

=> Director Darren Aronofsky originally envisioned telling this story as part of the plot of "The Wrestler" (2008) and was actually developing a project that was about a love affair between a ballet dancer and a wrestler, but he realized pretty quickly that taking two worlds like wrestling and ballet was much too much for one movie.

Here's a trailer if you haven't seen it yet. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Whatever Women Can Do, Men Can Make Funner

As I write this post, I am running through all the different ways in which I can get flamed for it. No doubt you all know that today is International Women's Day, and I'm sure, unlike me, you did not realise this via the #bootyappreciationday hashtag that was trending on Twitter today. Twitter; you got issues.

Either way, the work place is a-buzz with all the activity here, since a majority of our employees and staff are women. There are posters, banners, and motivational talks during the lunch hour. I love it. I am in fact a closet semi-feminist-on-the-weekends. Many intense conversations with several lovely and opinionated women have opened my eyes to understand that yes, maybe I was wrong about some of my assumptions before. Maybe women should be allowed to drive. How else would they get the groceries?

Now, I was curious to find out why we don't celebrate the male version of this day. Turns out, much to my surprise, there actually is an International Men's Day. But after reading its purpose, I was not enthused. Surely, shouldn't Men's Day be more, well, fun? Enter my imaginary parallel universe..

I can imagine it now. As the work day starts, men enter their work places after 11am, in shorts and t-shirts, as the dress-code is repealed for a day. Sports radio is pumped on the PA system, and TV's are installed at every cooler playing old cricket/football replays. Toilet seats in all washrooms in the office are set to the upright position. Lunch comprises of every fattening unhealthy carbohydrate filled food on the planet, along with pitchers of beer. An overhead projector is set up in the conference room to play inspirational movies such as "The Godfather", "Good Fellas" and "Rambo". Charlie Sheen is invited to speak.

Of course, the ladies are not left out of the celebration. It will be customary for men to take their spouses and/or girlfriends to dinner and dancing, but not before they have taken him to his favourite electronics and sports stores, where he can spend hours deciding between Blu-ray and 3D support,  48" inch plasma or LCD, Man U or Barcelona, trainers or basketball kicks. Also, it is customary that all stores and restaurants refuse to accept credit cards from male patrons, and furthermore, men get into clubs free for the night while women have to pay cover.

What can I say, dear readers: I have a dream.

Now, please rise for the Anthem of Manhood.

note: To you readers who think this is written in seriousness - well, sucks to be you
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