Monday, December 8, 2008

Merrill CEO looking for $10 million bonus

Unbelievable. And the reason for such a handsome bonus request? Some believe he thinks he helped the company by getting it acquired, which saved the company. Read here. How about the fact that you took the company to the dogs, got it ripped apart and managed to sell the bones to whoever was willing to help you out. Give him $10 million and ask him to pay every shareholder whose investments in Merill have pretty much come to be nothing. And that might be their entire life's savings. How's that Mr. Thain.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pandora advertising

As I am blogging and trying to finish my assignment on communications strategy for Viagra, Pandora is playing my custom station Kings of Leon (which have I mentioned are one of my fav new acts). One interesting thing I have noticed is the side adverts that keep changing once in a while. A while back it was Sprint, followed by Jameson irish whiskey & now its Jockey. I have also noticed Dos Equis at some point in the past. Amongst all the noise of how to make money on new media and especially on internet radio, I think what they have done is clever.
All the adverts come with custom stations. Now I don't know how related the music on those stations is to the brand that is advertising, but my hope is that the music would be reflective of the target audiences tastes. If the core audience of the brand in question can relate to the most of the music on that station, then the advert is a success imo. Also it would be real easy to do that if the brand has managed to clearly state its core identity. All Pandora then has to do is apply the requisite filters to that station. And since they would be tracking the user behaviour also, the brand can get some truly useful feedback I think as the model evolves. Here is a screenshot of the advertising on Pandora that I am talking about.


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All Ye Old Monkers

I am not a huge fan of rum, Bacardi or Captain. Although if I had to choose between those two, with some convincing from our little Mexican Jaime, I'll do some Captain & coke. By the way Jaime actually is born in Argentina, grew up in Bolivia and spent most of his adult life in the US. The only reason he is called a Mexican is coz he is married to one and has introduced us to one of the best Mexican restaurants in Boston: La Verdad. But Jaime & La Verdad deserve a separate post.
This post is about Old Monk. The sweet tasting rum I can say I grew up with. By grew up with obviously I mean my post alcohol discovered growth years. This is a rum I will drink out of choice, rather than out of forced choice. I thought it was only available in the cheap Indian bars at first, since most of the "upper class" bars even in Mumbai don't serve this. They believe Bacardi is a finer rum. (crap) And lo and behold; can you imagine my surprise when I found the familiar squarish bottle of this dark rum at a friend's house (American that too) in friggin Wellesley. Could not be more obscure.
Apparently there is one chain of liquor stores in the Boston area (Marty's) that carries this. And so the day after that discovery I was at Marty's to find and bring home some for myself. Thank you Marty's for carrying this and even more for "Recommending" Old Monk.
I wish more people knew about this. But really I wonder what it would take to market this rum. Build a brand. They already distribute the rum in the US. The simplest way would be to discover what best mixes with Old Monk. I am still trying to find it myself. Tried Gingerale which works well, but we would need something that is not all that sweet, but only helps enhance the sweet taste of the rum itself. And then market the hell out of the mixed drink. Hmmm.... (hic)
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yes We Can!

This is a little late, but everyone seems to have an opinion on this subject. I am going to leave my opinion out as much as possible (that can be another post another time). I want to talk more about my experience of the night Obama & America did it.
I was invited to a friends house to watch the results of this historic US Presidential election race. Obviously I took him up on it, since I have no cable at home, and there could not have been anything better to do on this night. Its once in 4 years and more importantly this one was once in probably 20 or more I think. Everyone in the room was confident Obama was going to win, me included. Most were still not sure by how much he would actually win.
Before the result was declared I knew that Obama winning important to more people than him losing. But I had not fully understood the emotions behind that. What happened in that room when the result was declared was something I was not prepared for, and was truly surprised by. Besides the screams and tears of joy and the clanking of bottles and glasses full of tequila, there was a truly emotional story told that night. A friend who served in Afghanistan said, "This is for my cousins & my friends who have given up their lives for the wrong reasons. I have been to more funerals than anyone my age should have been to." Afghanistan was the right war but Iraq is the wrong one. I do not necessarily agree with the former.
The other thing that I did not understand before I was given the context for it was, "America has chosen a Black man for President." This is not as important because it is the first time this has happened, but because Black folks did not have voting rights as little as 40 years ago. That to me is epic. But there are some implications for highlighting that aspect especially since it was not given as much attention before the election as was his Muslim origins, which he is not. And Anindita does a good job here of raising the issues related to that.
But overall it was an extremely enlightening, emotionally packed, thrilling and obviously alcohol filled night.
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Donations 2.0

Following Fred Wilson's blog I came across a new way to support education through charity. I think this is pretty radical, because it allows you to support particular projects instead of giving your money to a school as a lump sum. You now know how the money will be spent.
This can and should be translated to most forms of donations in my opinion. I think people would be giving more money if they had such transparency in what their money will be spent on. I understand it may be difficult to support really big projects which require on-going support but say someone like AID (who hosted Indian Ocean's trip to the US this year) adopted such a model. They could find schools in rural India or villages which have specific needs. Figure out how much money is required. Look for the funds. Support the project.
And what also happens is once they get the traffic on their website, they could find ways to engage the visitor to more projects.
I for sure would be interested in supporting project based funding rather than simply giving my money to a NGO, irrespective of the reputation of any such NGOs.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Who @ Fleetcenter

Checked out The Who last night. These guys are sick old mofos. They played for 2 hours. Setlist included My generation, Baba O Reilly, Who are you, and all their big hits. Encore was a 4 song Tommy set list. No Sally Simpson though; only disappointment.

Before the show, 6 of us were at Hurricane O Reilly's across from the Fleetcenter, getting pretty wasted on Captain and cokes, and Blue Moon mostly.

I'm not looking forward to today :(

Monday, October 6, 2008

Indian Ocean in Boston

Love the men from New Delhi. But tonight's show was only moderately satisfactory. First of all, I thought the sound in Kresge at MIT sucked. Not sure if it was the sound system or the room's acoustics but it just wasn't what I would expect from Indian Ocean.
They played their regular playlist where you can expect Kandisa, Kya Maloom, Bandheh and all those other crowd pleasers especially Hille Le; don't know why they play that snog. I hate it. Good lyrics but it's like saying Pink Floyd's best song is Another Brick in the Wall (read this is not their best stuff)
But the main reason I wasn't too impressed was because the music did not flow very well tonight. I've seen them do their jugalbandis before on stage. They carry it off very well usually. But tonight it seemed more forced.
And to top it off Susmit Sen was playing an electric guitar all night. His sound is much better off on an acoustic and tonight proved that.
But hey how much can one comlpain for a $15 ticket. But I'm glad I could introduce 3 more people to Indian Ocean's music. They say they liked it. Who am I to judge.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I call "Bullshit"

Apple Threatens iTunes Shutdown over Royalty Dispute

I believe this is simply a case of Jobs trying to throw his weight around for absolutely no reason. And such a release from Apple does not make sense. Not because it sounds stupid, but because they cannot afford to do such a thing. Not that Apple is making a ton of money from iTunes. No sir, they claim to be almost losing money in the store. And if the royalties are increased they say they surely will lose money on every song, because they do not wish to increase the 99 cents a song to $1.05 a song.
But there is a bigger story here and that is Apple has for the last 4-5 years been building an ecosystem around iTunes. iPod, iPhone are both completely reliant on the iTunes. Well that's not completely true. They can be run on any other programs also, but just the simplicity of using iTunes for music and other media transfer makes it important enough for Apple to have in their stable.
And if they plan to continue expanding into media and entertainment offerings, like Apple TV and Time Capsule, then they definately need iTunes to be at the center of their Household Entertainment hub. So I call "Bullshit" or "Bluff" depending where in the world you are.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Day Zero

Ok ok this is not the same pressure as in an IIT setting. That probably cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world imo. I can say that with confidence having been an Indian media witness of the IIT job forum chaos for the past 5 years atleast.
That does not mean I'm any less important, atleast to myself. Having established that, I have officially begun the job search process today. Company no. 1 who deserves my attention is W.R.Grace. Funny story, they have been bankrupt for 7 years (US style, which is funny, but about that on another day) and were sued some time back for some form of asbestos contamination. Brilliant start to a promising career I say. Whatay??!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rose Polenzani & Session Americana

Last night I went to the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge to check out Rose Polenzani CD release party. I've heard her once before at the same venue and had loved her music. And to top it off, Session Americana was the guest band for the evening. On a side note, they will also be the house band for a month at Lizard.
Rose's music is something I would not listen to normally. But there is something about her voice and her lyrics that draw me to her music. And last night was no different.
Session Americana also is music I do not listen to regularly, but these guys have so much fun playing live, it's hard not to get sucked in. Highlight of the night, cover of "So Lonely" and then the last 2 songs dedicated to the bassist Kimon Kirk about to leave. The thing about these guys is they play around a roundtable and all sing into one microphone. And keep exchanging instruments. At one point, they were trying to teach Kimon to play the mandarin.
And may I say I absolutely love the setting at Lizard and the beer. Good house beers on tap unavailable elsewhere mostly and perfect setting for a good night of music and camaraderie.
The only disappointing thing is when its a relatively small setting and the music is not all that loud, some people talk a little too loudly and the thing is their conversation decibel rises with the volume of the music. But hey, its not my house and there is only so much dirty-staring capacity in me. So you learn to try and ignore such people.

Apocalyptica

Went to check out these Finnish guys famous for playing Metallica covers. What with my faith in Metallica now re-born; not the same ole glory days pre-Reload and St. Anger, but getting there. Anyways I was at the Palladium in Worcester on Thruday night to listen to some great covers of Master, One and Nothing Else Matters, which are the only ones I've heard by these guys. The club turned out to be pretty cool and also had a full bar. And $5 beers instead of freakin $8 beers as is the norm to loot fans at any other bigger venue.
The music was good, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear them play David Bowie's "Heroes". Good cover. Among Metallica songs, they played One & Seek & Destroy.
Now I wait for January to hear Metallica play again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Metallica @ Ozzfest 2008

Oh hell yeah!! I was there!! Albeit adventurously.
So I had a early morning flight to Dallas from Logan. The flight got delayed and I still missed it. by a minute. But try explaining that to the US Airways lady who shut the skywalk door in front of me. Who in the world misses a delayed flight. So then I was stuck at Boston airport for 5 hours. Grabbed some breakfast and was generally hanging out, trying not too look suspicious.

When the time came to board the new flight, US Airways announced they are overbooked and looking for volunteers to stay back for another flight. I was almost sure if no one stood up, they would off load me first. None of that happened. Got safely to Charlotte (stop over) and in a timely fashion. Same story repeats at the Charlotte airport. The volunteers bit, not me missing the flight. But there were some people who chose to wait back. Makes me wonder, who wants to fly on random days to random places. If I am heading somewhere, I have a plan, or atleast a place to be at a time.

Anyways got to Dallas also on time, and shared a ride to get to Pizza Hut Park around 6 pm. Tons of bands I missed on stage but I wasn't there was tons of bands. I was there for only one band.

Concert ticket....$150
Flight ticket....$350
Hotel....$30
Food and beverages....$100
Watch Metallica live....Priceless

It was also half way across the US. But still priceless. They played after Ozzy. They played everything I wanted them to and much more. Sad but true, Nothing else matters, Enter sandman, One, Seek & Destroy, Harvester, Master, Ride the lightning. Not one song from Load, Reload or St. Anger. Great 2.5 hour set. On the encore, King Diamond joined them for their Garage cover of his song, "Mercyful fate". They also played one new song from Death Magnetic. I am not completely convinced about the new album from this one song. Still lacks Hammet's solos.

But all in all super good. More than worth my money, time, sleep, and hunger.
And oh Ozzy was good too.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Can't find a better man

Attended Pearl Jam's concert on Saturday night. Great great set list. They played half the songs from Ten, a few from Yield and some I hadn't heard before. Here are two videos from the concert; one is an improvised solo from Alive. The other one is my favourite moment from the concert. Eddie Vedder started strumming the intro to Better man and before he could start singing, the whole crowd sang the entire first verse of the song. Then Eddie stopped and smiled and this is where the video picks up. Great experience except for the fact that it took us 2 hours to get out of the parking lot at Mansfield in the night. Still worth more than my money.
video video

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The imitation of live

I'm just a casual REM listener. Having only heard their greatest hits collection, was enough for me to go for their concert. The National and Modest Mouse were the opening acts. Reached a little too late to watch The National, which sucks coz that band rocks. Seriously; go listen to their album The Boxer. Modest Mouse was surprisingly good. I had only heard one of their songs before on the radio. Good indie music. Although I would love to watch them in a cramped underground bar. Their music seemed much more fitting there.

And REM was simply so good. Most of the crowd was old school. More than half the crowd in the arena had been to their shows 15-20 years back also. And REM just loves to perform. Total entertainment.

And may I add I had great seats. The photo shown here is taken from my phone without zoom. This is how close we were.

So 1 concert done. Next up Pearl Jam on June 28th and then Chris Cornell with Linkin Park on July 16th. Summer in Boston rocks like no other time. Hot in the day and cool in the evenings. Rock on!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mushrooms

It's interesting how you can attach very specific memories to someone. I might have been 15 or 16 years old when I visited my dad's friends in London. I had never liked mushrooms until then. Bharat uncle perceived and found out its because I had never tried eating them.
And then he told me to try one. He said they are just like potatoes, they can taste whatever you want them to taste. And that opened up my veggie existence by probably 50%. Thank you Bharat uncle.
And if I could make 3 recommendations about mushrooms, they have to be:
1. Veg Crespella at Don Giovanni (Mumbai) - pasta sheet filled with mushrooms and cheese
2. Mushroom Ravioli at Sunny's (Bangalore)
3. Home-made Mushroom Sautee by Jayneel Vora (Best chef I know today)

Unfortunately I do not have the same memories of meat.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oh Bombay

So I did go home. Unfortunately the short trip of 11 days had to be shortened to 8 days :(
Fortunately though met almost everyone I wanted to. Glad friends could make the long trip from work into Bombay.
First 5 days I was still trying to feel like home. I didn't all that much. And then I went to Mondy's on Friday night. Great night out. Good friends, good music, and good ole Mondy's (http://picasaweb.google.co.in/dhai13/MondysSummer08). And later in the night, great Pau Bhaji on the street. Love it.
Saturday afternoon was Don Giovanni. Best Italian restaurant in Bombay by far. Had a great Maybach Merlot with the Veg Crespella and the Giovanni funghi. The night had pani puri and Ayub's paneer roll. Yum!!
The one thing I heard the most during my trip though was how fat I've become. Not exactly a rude awakening but more a reiteration of my something I knew for a while. Will pay attention to that now. Can't go fully green, though could use a little less cheese on everything.
Hardly spent anytime with the folks or with friends for that matter. But December beckons. Will take a trip down South say December 23-Jan 5 or so. Anyone interested keep dates open.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The longing

I came to Boston nine months back. I now look at the journey through 2 different lenses:
The MBA viewpoint: Never enough time to complete everything
The Bombay viewpoint: Been so long since I was home, Bombay, not Mumbai
The good thing is, 1st year of MBA is coming to a close, and within a month, I'll be back home.
Home to China Garden, Cafe Madras, Jewel of India, Cream Centre and pav bhaji and vada-pav on the streets.
Home to Marine Drive, Worli sea face, Bandstand and Carter Road.
Home to Sterling, Regal, Eros, Aurora and Metro.
Home to Cafe Mondegar's, Toto's, Koliwada and GC.
Home to pouring rain and sweltering heat.
Home to friends and family and new borns.
With whom I can share the experiences of being at all those places.
With whom I can share the experiences of being away.
With whom I can take snapshots, and hope to miss them next time.
To whom I can say, "I missed you".