Archive for December, 2005

ChangeThis has new manifestoes

There’s new stuff on ChangeThis – in particular, Josh Shipp‘s How to speak a teen’s language, even if you’re not one.

Speaking “teen” is not easy. It means knowing the difference between Beyonce, Britney, Ashlee and Jessica. Josh Shipp will help you become fluent in “teen”. He’ll teach you to entertain, inspire and empower.

What’s interesting about this manifesto is that it’s as if a teenager himself has written it. All the tips Josh gives is accurate and exactly like they’re supposed to be. I was really absorbed in this manifesto and well, I sort of felt connected to it, if you know what I mean.

I was so impressed that I even sent Josh a short email, praising him a little.

Anyway, I highly recommend How to speak a teen’s language, even if you’re not one.

My crazy notebook

Sometimes an idea or two pops into my head.  I would then say:

“Hey, I’m going to write about it, first thing when I’m at home in the afternoon.”

Except that when I’m home in the afternoon, I’ve already forgotten about that crazy, awesone ideas.  So I’ve decided that I’m going to keep a notebook and a pen in my back pocket.  And man, it’s awesome.  I get some many ideas these days.

But the thing is, although the notebook is being filled at an exponential rate, I haven’t written about any of these ideas I’ve taken note of.  I really have to pull myself together.

52 projects

On a side note, there’s a great idea on 52projects.com.  It’s basically writing down what other people are shouting/swearing while you’re on the train.  Good idea!

Submitting is no problem but the wait is agonising!

I’ve always dreamed about getting published on sites like Flakmag, Black Table, Opium Magazine and Wordriot, amongst others.  I believe that I started dreaming about that a little too early.  But that is no matter now.  Because I think I’m finally ready, prepared and good enough to try my luck and try to convince the editors that I can.

Of course, I’m published at backwash and The h2g2 Post.  And yes, I am contributing behind-the-scenes at The Simon.  But being featured on those other literary sites will rock.

When I joined The Simon as circulation editor a month ago, I knew that I had taken my first step into the world of literary websites.  In addition, writers like Claire Zulkey and Will Leitch, in particular, opened my eyes.  I don’t mean to offense, but they were not known to anybody before they started to submit to Flakmag or Black Table.  They were just like me: a simple person on this planet.  At this point in time however, both writers have published books.

Backwash introduced me to the world of Internet writers two years ago, when my application was accepted.  From then on I wanted to spread my wings and started to explore.  I started to syndicate to The h2g2 Post over at the BBC and became more interested in literary websites.  The Simon then was my following step.  It would get me closer to those literary sites, I’ve always loved.  And it got me closer.

Being circulation editor means getting in touch with people, more specifically with editors of those literary sites.  I have emailed Todd, editor in chief of Opium Magazine on behalf of The Simon and I’ve also contacted ChangeThis, Sal editor of the compilation publication Free Words and writer Elizabeth Crane, amongst others.  I now really fell like a member of the elites and cool literary people on the Internet.  My next step is now to create a name for myself as writer.

You may notice, at the top of this blog’s sidebar, that there’s the link, My Poetry.  I started writing poetry this year and as I should have recounted on my poetry page, some of my friends and my parents thought that the poems were actually of a good standard altogether.  I started to believe that they indeed were but I never thought of actually getting them published somewhere.  Never, until two days ago.

I sent five of my best poems to Opium Magazine’s print edition and a couple of others to Wordriot.  But that’s not the end of the story.  Apart from my poetry, I’ve also written a game review (I hope Wil Wheaton is proud of me) for Opium Magazine .print #2.  As I clearly stated in the email I sent to the editor, it was the absolute first time that I had ever written a review of whatever sort and also warned him that the review either totally sucks or is pretty cool.  I however am pretty satisfied about it.  I mixed the real game and some fiction to make the review seem unique, you know.

Apart from sending some poems and a review, I’ve also pitched Flakmag.  I’ve pitched them a couple of times before – and between you and me, I really feel ashamed about it right now.  In case you didn’t know, this Saturday is the Human Rights Day and the local branch of Amnesty International is organising a walk to sensitise people about human rights, obviously, and also to spread the word about Amnesty International and what it is exactly that it does.  I emailed Eric at Flakmag on Monday with a pitch of the story I’d like to write about the day.  I’m still waiting and crossing fingers on whether I get the green lights to write this article.

From: Khalil A.Cassimally     Mailed-By: gmail.com
To: eric@flakmag.com
Date: 05-Dec-2005 16:02
Subject: Pitch: Amnesty International and Human Rights day

Dear Eric,

Next Saturday, the 10th of December, is the human rights day.  And here in Mauritius, a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean with a population of 1.2 million, the local branch of Amnesty International is organising a walk.  I personally am not (yet) a member of Amnesty International but I’ll be taking part in the 5km walk nonetheless.  In fact, the walk will be opened to anyone who feels concerned about human rights, whether in Mauritius itself (police brutality, mostly) or throughout the world.  Amnesty International Mauritius is expecting around a thousand walkers on Saturday.  There is also the possibility that the Mauritius Minister of Justice and Human Rights will be participating.  He has been contacted although there has been no word confirming his participation for the time being.

I am planning to write about the walk (NOT a first person account) itself in the article to show readers of Flak that the youngsters are actually doing worthy things and that they care – contrarily to what the traditional media seems to think.  Indeed, this walk has been organised with much help from teenagers (like me) and many of the walkers will actually be teens.  With this perspective I hope to catch the attention of the young and less-young readers and push them to get involved with Amnesty International or any similar organisations.

However I was thinking that this walk might prove to be a good excuse for writing about Amnesty International in general.

I could write about how it came into being and the landmarks of the organisation up till now.  And of course, how people can contribute.   In fact I am planning to make this the core of the article, with the walk as the subject/peg which will bring me to the topic of Amnesty International, if you know what I mean.  I should add that I plan to personally contact Amnesty International Mauritius and work with them for this article.  I have many friends who are involved with the organisation and I already have Amnesty’s contact phone number on my desk.

I should think that an article of about 2000-2500 words is a good estimate and I’ll have it ready on Tuesday, the 12th of December, if you so wish.  Also, some friends of mine will take pictures while we’re walking on Saturday and I can can get them for the article, no problem.

Any suggestions and further ideas on how I can improve this possible article are welcome.  So, if you are interested in publishing this article, please let me know.

Thanks.


Khalil A.Cassimally/NotScientific
Circulation Editor
The Simon
http://www.thesimon.com

[Not Scientific Science: http://www.backwash.com/content.php?id=358 ]

But in any case, this article will be written whether Flakmag is interested in publishing it or not.  My friends over at Amnesty International Mauritius suggested that I publish the article on the local branch’s own journal, as soon as I shared my idea of writing about it with them.  So, I’m definitely going forward with this.

To summurise, I’m waiting from Flakmag about my proposed article about Amnesty International, Wordriot about my poems and Opium Magazine about some more of my poems and a game review.

Well actually Opium Magazine did email me back.  And they didn’t reject my poems! However I was sending the poems for their print edition and apparently the following issue will be devoted near-entirely to interviews.  But Heather, co-editor of Opium’s print version, made it clear that some poems are going to be featured in that special edition.  That edition however, may well be published in about eight months or so and she kindly asked me whether she should keep the poems or whether I would prefer to try my luck on getting them published on the web version of Opium Magazine.  Nah, I wouldn’t give up getting published on paper, in a magazine, for anything.  However something isn’t too clear in my head.  Has Heather decided that my poems are good enough to be included in the print version or has she just short-listed them for inclusion in the print version? Well, in any of these two cases, that’s the closest I’ve ever been to seeing my name in a print magazine.

Ah, almost forgot: I received my caricature for my backwash column.  It’s pretty cool and I’m really very excited about it.  I can’t put the caricature here sadly, but you can always admire it by visiting my column at backwash.

Entitled: About the only Wil I know

I am writing this entry but I don’t even know what I’m going to write about. Ever had this compulsion to write? I mean, you’re just watching a local documentary on tv, about the emerging writers of your small island, and then suddenly you just feel like you have to write. It just falls on you and moments later you’re in a cage. A cage that can only be opened if you write it open.

“But what to write about??
“That’s why you have a blog.?

“Yeah, I know.?
“But others don’t. Write whatever’s on your mind.?

That’s not what happened however. I had many ideas of posts for this blog but I am lazy and with the PC around, I find that I’m just pushing everything worth doing for later hours only to surf on the net. And you know what happens next if one conceal the writer in ones? Writer’s block.

But this time around, there won’t be any writer’s block because I’ve discovered the magic of podcasting. No, I’m not doing any radio shows but a certain Wil Wheaton is. I’ve been a fan of Wil’s for about a year, I think. In fact, I can’t recall when I started reading his blog. But man, I’ve been hooked, not by my first visit though.

People say that one shouldn’t make an opinion of others just by looking at them. I suppose, that’s true for a website as well. When I first visited wil wheaton dot net, apparently a year ago, I had never heard of this guy. I’m 17 and I’m not a Star Trek fan. Whereas Wil was well-known for his role in Star Trek (I forgot in which one of the different series he’s been playing). So I first arrived at his site and it seemed so old-fashioned. I read the latest blog entry – can’t remember what it was about – but I didn’t like it either. I was off.

I don’t how or when but I think I arrived at Wil’s website again some months later. When the page was fully loaded I had this sensation: hey, I’ve visited this site before. I had in the intervening period, completely forgotten about the Wil Wheaton and not even the name appeared familiar to me. However now that I saw the site design again, it came back to me. I nonetheless read the then-latest post. I liked it. I think it was about Wil’s family but I’m not too sure. I came back regularly and I officially became an addict when Wil was posting from Vegas while playing at the World Series of Poker.

Between you and me, I like wil wheaton in exile’s layout better than wil wheaton dot net but hey that doesn’t matter now. The posts are still good but lately there’s been something else: a podcast.

I never was a fan of podcasts. I didn’t connect with the hype. When I tried to listen to some of them, I thought that the persons doing the podcasts had nothing interesting to talk about. Besides, listening to somebody read an article wasn’t for me. But considering that it was Wil Wheaton’s podcast, I knew I had to try and I also knew that I would like it. I was already biased.

And I liked it. I liked it so much that I even downloaded two hours of Wil talking to an audience and reading snippets from his two books from IT conversations. And at night (or rather early morning), at 2 a.m. after having watched a Uefa Champions’ League football match on tv, I listened to Wil take about his books.

I had switched off the lights and was in my pyjamas. The family was sleeping and the family thought I was sleeping. But instead I was grinning from time to time while listening to Wil through one earphone. One of my hands was on the “stop/pause? button of my mp3 player. The other was ready to remove the earphone from my ear and conceal it beneath the sheet if ever mum came around. She didn’t and I listened to the first one hour silently – except for some giggles here and then.

Now, of course, I want to read his books. And that’s another problem of being below 18. You can’t buy anything from Amazon. Naturally I asked my mum to buy me a book and she said yes. But only god knows whether she’ll actually buy the books.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could get it for free somewhere? But I guess that would be like cheating on Wil’s hardwork. Oh well, I solemnly swear that the first thing I’ll do when I’ll be 18, will be to make a purchase on Amazon. I hope that it isn’t one of Wil’s books though. This would mean that somebody else has already gifted it to me.

Salaam Namaste or the ideal youngsters’ dream?

Update: A mildly edited version of this film review has been published at The h2g2 Post. 

I’m not a big fan of the mainstream Indian movies or Bollywood movies, if you prefer. Never was. The problem with these films is that most of them appear to be divided in two very distinct parts. The first part is the good one. Usually the guy meets the girl and they fall in love. There is the relationship more than anything. The second part is the one full with problems. There’s particularly loads of crying about stupid things. I suppose that’s an ingredient for film success in India.
Salaam Namaste

Salaam Namaste, which mostly is a pair of greetings in Hindi, Arabic and Urdu, is a film, released earlier this year, that I’ve always wanted to watch because of the actress. Preity Zinta, my favourite actress, is just superbe in this film, to put it mildly. I remember the first time I saw her in the Salaam Namaste poster. Phew. She isn’t the sexy girl, you know, she’s amazingly cute however. And that’s what I like. I never put much emphasis on the body shapes like other sex-addicts out there. I appreciate the real beauty, the enchanting smile and the lustrous hair.

Another reason – very irrelevant when compared to the first one – I wanted to watch this film was because I sincerely thought that it would break away from the other mainstream Indian films. I was partly right. Salaam Namaste is much more adventurous than other mainstream Indian films but unfortunately the film’s second half is no match with the marvellous first hour or so.

Preity plays Ambar (not Hambar, it’s “Ambar? without an “H? but starting with an “A? – watch the film) a RJ (radio jockey – I think that’s what the abbreviation means) and has her own show on “Salaam Namaste? radio show. The actor, Saif Ali Khan, plays a chef named Nick.

The film begins with Nick being late to a radio interview with dear Ambar. He doesn’t show up because of his inability to wake up early. Ambar is furious that Nick doesn’t even bother to apologise and takes her frustration out on the restaurant Nick works at.

The two protagonists are at war but they haven’t even seen each other. They finally meet at one of Ambar’s friends wedding – being celebrated on the seashore. They flirt and fall in love. When it’s time to go, Nick has a brainstorm: why not ask Ambar to move with him in an appartment? Afterall, she’s studying (to become a surgeon), and she’s single. After some frustrating times for Nick while he tries to convince Ambar that’s it is the best idea (of course, they will have separate rooms), they eventually move in, in the ideal appartment. Special mention goes to their lanlord, who’s just like the Crocodile Dundee guy.

That’s it, they live the ideal new lovers’ life. The boy likes the girl. The girl likes the boy. They move in together, with no parents around, and live under the same roof. The relationship quickly evolves and then there was that scene: the scene where Ambar actually kisses Nick on the lips. It may not appear as a big deal but believe me, for the mainstream Indian film, it definitely is a big deal. The ironic thing about mainstream Indian cinema, is that many are now featuring near-naked women dancing under the rain but none of them ever have the courage to show a simple kiss on the lips. Well this one does and it was just great. Got me a little bit jealous but nevermind that…

And then there comes the inevitable second part where Ambar is pregnant. She wants the child (children?) but Nick doesn’t. They split but live in the same appartment nonetheless, each claiming that they both equally paid the one-year rent. One the less bad side, there isn’t much crying.

In the end, of course…

Overall Salaam Namaste is a very entertaining film. I won’t watch it again just for the moment only because I have the bonus DVD, packed with behind-the-scene captures, cast interviews and even cut scenes!

To summurise it, Salaam Namaste is my personal best mainstream Indian film of the moment dealing with relationships. And I recommend it to all of you people who are dreaming about that ideal close relationship.

Short story writer. Me?

I started a novel called Literary Block exactly a month ago. I’m not even midway through it. It’s hard. Terribly draining. But I swear to anyone who is reading this that I’m going to complete my writing of this novel. And I’ll get published as well.

In the meanwhile, I need a break. I need to focus my attention on other things. I need to write other things. And that’s why I started a short story. A story about a balloon. The story of a balloon. The formidable life of a balloon.

The idea isn’t mine but nor it is anybody else. My kid brother, Salman, comes up with interesting ideas frequently. The games he invents are out of this world, for instance. That’s for any blog post though. Salman also is a fan of the “continue the story? game. Basically the family sits around the table and somebody starts a story. That means anything that pops into his head. Then, depending on whether we are moving in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction, the following person continues the story. After some time, a story has been recounted.

Well the other day, the story was about a balloon. A balloon that was talking to the vegetables in the garden. It was interesting and I thought it would make the perfect story. The perfect short story. I think it’s about 3500 words long – not that it matters.

That was it, I thought. I comprehended that the Flamboyant was going to be my place for as long as I wished it to me. For as long as felt like it. For as long as I would wait before embarking in the next adventure. Before jumping into the adventure of afterlife.

I shut my senses. I thought I was ready to go. But then I wasn’t. I was still afraid and was still clinching on the thread of life. I wanted to go but I didn’t want to go nonetheless. I was still incomplete in my soul. At least I still felt incomplete.

I dreamed (whether it was a daydream, I know not). I dreamed about my friend, the man. I dreamed about the pomegranate trees. I also dreamed about Little robin. And that dream was so detailed and passionate that I thought it wasn’t a dream at all.

I saw Little robin hopping towards me, just like the first time, except that we were on the Flamboyant instead of in a muddy pond. I saw Little robin approach. It stared at me for some time and started to chat, just like last time. However, the sound it issued was more peaceful, almost reassuring. I think I smiled. Little robin came closer still. It watched me again for some seconds. Then it pecked me just like it had done. It didn’t hurt this time. It didn’t hurt because I was ready. I was ready to go. I was ready to leave. I was ready to die.

P.S. If you’re wondering about the exam results, it wasn’t too good. Wasn’t too bad either. More later.

Oh la la

Today is result day and I’m waiting.  How bad did I work in the exams? And let me just say that the wait is really depressing.

Just wanted to mention this.


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What’s up in my life?

1. Best friends: I love you people.
2. My own company: sky media
3. Science is so very cool
4. 6 month sabbatical.

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