PODCAST: ALEX WINTER ON “DEEP WEB: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BITCOIN AND THE SILK ROAD”

ALEXWINTER

Filmmaker Alex Winter’s new film “Deep Web:The Untold Story of Bitcoin And The Silk Road,” highlights the story of Ross Ulbricht the founder of Silk Road, the underground marketplace,  his arrest, the charges brought against him, his trail, bitcoin, and the intersection of technology, privacy and law. A final veridct on Ulbricht’s case is expected from the court on May 29, 2015. Could Ulbricht become a poster boy just like Aaron Swartz?

Embedded in this film is a complex web of stories and issues that Winter raises and addresses. There are questions about who is Ross Ulbricht, what led him to create this underground marketplace, online privacy, the war on drug, Fourth Amendment, the way Ulbricht’s case was handled and how Ulbricht’s family is fighting back agains the charges. Then there is the whole story of Silk Road’s Dread Pirate and bitcoin. And if you zoom back at look at the world there is this whole issue of a fundamental change that is taking place in the world points out Winter. We are in the middle of a huge change that is not going to be an easy one he adds.

We sat down to speak with Winter when he was in here for the San Francisco International Film Festival. We spoke to him about the film and his fascination with technology. What is his fascination with technology? You will be surprised by what he has to say on the subject. His previous documentary”Downloaded” was on Napster.

LISTEN: ALEX WINTER ON “DEEP WEB: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BITCOIN AND THE SILK ROAD”

Deep Web: The Untold Story of Bitcoin And The Silk Road,” premieres on Sunday, May 31, 2015 on EPIX at 8 pm EST.

This audio is the full version of our interview with Winter.  We have a TV version of the interview coming up. Here is a highlight of the interview from our YouTube channel.

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VIDEO: NEW SCI-FI NETFLIX SERIES “SENSE8” BY THE WACHOWSKIS AND STRACZYNSKI

Imagine being connected to another human being in a different part of the world and you can hear, feel and see everything about them. You know their secrets and their history. Well, imagine no more. Michael Straczynski and the Wachowskis have created a new Netflix original series called “SENSE8” where 8 strangers around the world are connected to each other. They can hear, feel and see each other. How do they live in this connected world of “Internet of Human Beings?” and not the “Internet of Things?”

This new science fiction series is about  politics, love identity and religion. You can bet your bottom dollar that this is not a simple tale and there will be quite a bit of metaphysical questions thrown in there.This is a creation from folks that have worked on comic books, sci-fi films and like to look at our world through a very different set of lens. I wonder if the series will look at the role of technology in our lives?

Season One will be available on June 5, 2015.

PODCAST: MADHUR JAFFREY ON FOOD MEMORIES AND DELHI

Madhur Jaffrey

Madhur Jaffrey

Meet Madhur Jaffrey –  an award-winning actress, cookbook author and the host of TV cooking shows that helped demystify Indian cooking. Born in British India, Jaffrey went to London to study acting and relocated to the USA in the late 1950s. She currently lives in New York with her family.

When Jaffrey moved to England she had no inkling on how to cook. A craving for Indian food prompted her tentative culinary journey in her English kitchen. She started off by making a simple dish of potatoes with asafoetida and cumin   with the help of her mother’s cooking instructions sent via Air Mail. Soon, Jaffrey improved her culinary skills and became fluent in the kitchen. She cooks every day and her favorite meal is dal, chawal or rice and lentil soup.

LISTEN: MADHUR JAFFREY ON FOOD MEMORIES AND DELHI

A few years ago I got an opportunity to talk to Jaffrey about her memoir “Climbing the Mango Trees.” During the course of our conversation we spoke about her taste memories from India, her extended family and Dehi. Taste memories is something she discussed while working with James Beard, a well-known food writer and chef. Beard like Jaffrey was an actor, who branched off into cooking.

What were Jaffrey’s taste memories growing up in Kanpur and Delhi? She remembers her mother’s large kitchen garden in Kanpur and the abundance of tomatoes that grew there. She fondly recollect her mother serving them fresh tomato juice with salt and cumin. The smell of basmati rice wafting from the kitchen signaled lunch was getting ready. Andt he smell of simple moong dal. “This was soul food for us” Jaffrey says. In winters the family kitchen served various kinds of meat that were redolent with various spices. Besides Indian dishes, there was toast with Rumble Tumble omelete with green chillies and cilantro.

Jaffrey’s family is from old Delhi and she spent many summers with her extended family in the city. She has fond taste memories of going to Chandni Chowk’s Paranthewali gali famous for its paranthe or paratha, a type of Indian stuffed bread. This was one of her mother’s favorite place. Although her maternal grandfather frowned on eating at Paranthewali gali, their mother would take them to the place for a treat. The only instruction their mother gave was “Don’t drink the water.”

One of the biggest changss came to Delhi after 1947, when Indian became an independent country. When India was partitioned there was an infusion of people from Western Punjab and Northwest frontier says Jaffrey. The Punjabis came with bright ideas of opening restaurants. They came like a breath of fresh air and introduced their cuisine of nan, tandoori, paneer and kali (black) dal she adds.  Moti Mahal opened in Chandini Chowk during this time and it became synonymous with Indian food says Jaffrey. Within a span of 60 years Delhi and its culinary landscape has changed quite a lot when compared to her childhood days says Jaffrey.

I wondered on what were some of the surprising and unexpected things she remembers when she looks back at her life. The partition was an unexpected turn, her own travels and studying in England and coming to America.

 

SAN FRANCISCO TRAVEL POST CARD

San Francisco

San Francisco

Post cards. Remember getting those colorful post cards from your family and friends when they visited a new place or city? As a kid I used to collect these post cards, and pester folks to send them to me. Sometimes, a kindly neighbor would give me their old post cards their “foreign” friends sent them. Somewhere in my house I still have a couple of shoe boxes with a stack of post cards. And then there were the colorful calendars with pictures and captivating images of places and people from different parts of the world. I remember those intensely vivid Eastman calendar that featured scenes from Germany. Or, was it ORWO calendar? These postcards and calendars transported me to different places around the world and kindled my curiosity about their culture, food, music and food. A picture speaks a thousand words was so true for those of us who grew up in the pre-Internet age.

Anyway, I digressed. In this digital age those old tyme postcards are not cool. What is cool are video post cards. Every week I shall (attempt) to share a video postcard from my travels. Hope you enjoy these travel cards.

Here is the first travel post card from San Francisco. San Francisco, or the city by the bay is a compact place filled with interestingness. Here is a quick dekho at San Fran, please don’t call it ‘Frisco. We zip across the city from the iconic Golden Gate bridge to the Bay bridge, Nob Hill, and Land’s End.

Quick Travel Suggestions:

If you have less than 24 hours in San Francisco here are a couple of things you can do. San Francisco is a food obssessed city and there are lots of neat little cafes, dives and wonderful restaurants to suit your budget. Head down to the bottom of Ferry Building Marketplace on Market Street to grab a coffee from Blue Bottle Coffee and a sandwich from Cowgirl Creamery. Don’t sit in. Head straight out to the back of the building and park yourself in a sunny spot and  do some people watching. Maybe you can play Otis Redding’s “Sitting By The Dock Of The Bay,” while you are noshing that sandwich?

Alternatively instead of the Ferry Building head to the Fisherman’s Wharf area  in a cable car.The best part of riding the cable car is you will catch tantalizing glimpses of the city and its steep streets.At the wharf grab one of those famous San Francisco sour dough sandwiches at Boundin Bakery and then head down to taste that famous glass of Irish coffee at Buena Vista Cafe. Be warned, it will be crowded.  And if you still have some room then mosey over to Ghiradelli Square and indulge in a sweet treat at the famous chocolate store.

Now, if you are a little bit adventurous mosey up to China Town and the neighboring Italian neighborhood of North Beach. And if you are really, really adventurous then head over to Golden Gate Park and Cliff House. All these places are easily accessible via public transportation or by foot. Let me clarify – you can reach both these destinations by bus and then walk around to explore.

Wear comfortable shoes and don’t forget to grab your jacket. San Francisco weather can be very deceptive and it can go from being warm and toasty to cold within hours.

FILM NOTES: “SPY,” “LOVE & MERCY” and “THE BATKID BEGINS”

Love & Mercy

Love & Mercy

Summer is here, which means a whole lot of new films are coming your way. And if you live in the San Francisco Bay area you are in for a treat with a clutch of film festivals ranging from San Francisco Green Film Festival (May 28-June 3, 2015),  SF DocFest/SF IndieFest Festival (June 4-18, 2015)  to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (May 28 – June 1, 2015), which is the longest running one in the country.

Here are my 3 picks of films releasing in June. Each belongs to a different category. I have seen two of the films and watiing to see the third.

The first film is Paul Feig’sSpy,” starring the funny lady Melissa McCarthy paired with Jason Statham. Now, this defintely is an unlikely pair since we associate Statham with action films. Others in the film include Jude Law, Rose Byrne and others. The film is written by Feig, who loves making  funny, women-centric films. He made “Bridesmaids,” and “Heat.” I have not seen “Spy,” yet. But, I have seen a trailer of the film and it looks like I might enjoy watching it. The film releases on June 5, 2015.

Director Bill Pohlad’s Love & Mercy,” is about Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, an incredibly gifted composer and singer. But behind that beautiful and peppy music was lot of pain and suffering and that is what we get to see in “Love & Mercy,” Pohlad focusses on two important segments of Wilson’s life and shows us how Wilson dealt with his inner demons and addictions. This is a touching film and I came away learning so much about Wilson. And if you area a fan of  Beach Boys like I am, you will want to see this film. Yes, one has read the stories and seen TV interviews of Wilson, but Pohlad’s film brings it all together and helps  you understand Wilson a little better. The film releases June 5, 2015. Stay tune for my interview  with Pohlad about the making of the film.

Dana Bachman’s “The Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around The World,” was the opening night film at this year’s Cinequest Film Festival. This is a touching documentary that shows how Make-A-Wish Foundation and the city of San Francisco came together to make Miles Scott, a 5 year old boy’s dream come true. Scott was diagnosed with leukemia and fighting for his life and one of his wishes was to hang out with his super hero Batman. His wish came true in such an incredible way that it reinforces your faith in the kind and generous spirit of human beings. The cynic in you is pushed to the background for a few second when you watch this film and see how the entire city of San Francisco changed into Gotham, and Scott got to hang out with Batman as Batkid and rescue quite a few people. The mayor San Francisco pitched in, as did the Police Chief, the San Franciso Giants and others. This was a moving and inspirational film and it was wonderful to see so many people come out to support Batkid realize his dreams. The film releases June 26, 2015.

“SPY”

“LOVE & MERCY”

“THE BATKID BEGINS”

 

Photo courtesy: Roadside Attracations

VIDEO: PHOTOGRAPHY & INHERTIED ART IN INDA AT SAN JOSE MUSEUM OF ART

There is a fascinating exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Art that features 9 artists of Indian origin called “Postdate: Photography and Inherited Art in India,” This is the first time such an exhibit has been put together that looks at how modern Indian artists look back and interpret their inherited history in India.

We spoke to Sherill Ingalls of San Jose Museum of Art about the exhibit and how they chose the 9 artits for the exhibit. Eight of them live in India, while one of the artist teached at the Rhode Island School of Design in the US.

The artists featured in the show include Vivan Sundaram, whose aunt is the famous Indian artist Amrita Sher-Gil. Others include Jitesh Kallat, Gauri Gill, Pushpamala M, Surekha, Anna Palakunnathu Mathew, Madhuban Mitra, Mansas Bhattacharya and Raqs Media Collective.

The exhibit is on till August 2, 2014. For more information visit San Jose Museum of Art.

VIDEO: WHY THIS KOLAVERI DI GOES VIRAL IN TURKEY

Indian actor Dhanush’s Tanglish song “Why This Kolaveri Di,” went viral in November 2011. It has over  90 million views on YouTube. This Tanglish (Tamil and English) song became quite the rage and spawned all sorts of  remixed and new versions right from an R&B number to an Arabic version of the “Shorba Song.” There is a Japanses version of  the “The Soup Song,” which is an alternative name for the song. Interestingly the translation of the song is “Why This Rage Girl?”

Now, the track has gone viral once again, but this time in Turkey for a Coco-Cola advertisement. “Aç Bir Coca-Cola” is the Turkish version sung by  Özcan Deniz and SilaThis one is set in a beach party setting, and the original one by Dhanush is set in a recording studio. The song was uploaded on YouTube on May 4, 2015 and has already got over 3 million views.

This is an interesting turn of events because Turkish music is a source of inspiration for Bollywood music folks. Remember Turkish singer Tarkan’s Shikadum and the Bollywood version of Shikdum, Shikdum If you dig deeper into Google you will uncover gems like this Turkish version of Raj Kapoor’s song “Awaara Hoon” and there are videos of Bollywood and Turksih mixtape.

And here is the original version of “Why This Kolaveri Di,” by Dhansuh.

 

San Francisco Is Obsessed With Food?

Taj Campton, San Francisco

Taj Campton, San Francisco

With a title like this “San Francisco is obsessed with food and that is an understatement,” how can you not read the article? This was not published in a local San Francisco bay area paper, but in the Washington Post and it brought back memories of a conversation I had with a chef in Manhattan. This chef worked in a Michelin rated restaurant and was totally taken aback when I mentioned that on average I had access to better food in San Francisco bay area when compared to Manhattan. He, of course, disagreed with my point of view and made a case on why Manhattan was “the place” for food lovers. We agreed to disagree. I digressed, Back to the WaPo article.

Tom Sietsema captures San Francisco Bay area’s obsession with food in his WaPo article.He begins and ends his culinary journey with the airport that offers an interesteting selection of food, which I am sad to report is not the case with the airports in New York city when I was last there.

Sietsema mentions a mix of well-known restaurants, cafes and the shops in Ferry Building in San Francisco and a couple in Berkeley and Alamdea area. It would have been nice if he had included places in the Mission, Sunset and Richmod districts.  All these places have some hidden gems and some of them are reasonably priced.

Besides the restaurans and food trucks, the various farmers markets are respobsible for fuelling or rekindling our interest in food for folks in the bay area. This constant and reliable supply of fresh fruits and vegetables through out the year has spoilt all a bit and that might also explain our obsession with food. Oh! I forgot our obsession with artisenal bread and baked goods.

By the way, if you just have a few hours in San Francisco you may want to head to the bottom of Market Street and into the Ferry Building, where you will discover a cornocoupia of sorts of food. This is where you will find Blue Bottle Coffee, Acme Bread, Cowgirl Creamery, Straus Ice Cream, Humphry Slocombe and much, much more.

Take a look at the bounty that we see in our local farmer’s market in the bay area.

 

FIRST LOOK AT STEVE JOBS BY DANNY BOYLE

Here is our first look at Danny Boyle’s new film on “Steve Jobs.” Written by Aaron Sorkin, the film stars Micahel Fassbender, Seth Rogen, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels and others. Earlier this year Boyle and his crew spent a couple of months in various parts of San Francisco bay area shooting their film.

The film is slated to release on October 9, 2015.

 

 

FILM NOTES: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

 

With a title like this “The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared,” your interest is piqued. Your interest is further kindled when you hear the opening lines of the film. Pardon me if the dialog is not verbatim, but it went something like this.

“No one has meant to me more in my life than my dear Molotov.”

“And then I lost him and suddenly I blasted my way into a retirement home.”

And thereby hangs the tale of  Allan Karlsson, played by Robert Gustafsson, a 100 year old man. Karlsson has led a fairly unorthodox life and you can imagine that he hates being confined in a retirement home. So, on his 100th birthday he simply decides to climb out of the window and disappear and thus begins a wild and improbable journey filled with stolen money, thugs, murder and detectives. And the story is laced with generous flashbacks to Karlsson’s life that takes you through World I, Spanish Civil War, World War II, Stalin’s Russia and The Manhattan Project. How does Karlsson get to be in all these important historical events? It has to do with his penchant for explosives.

I was not sure what to expect when I sat down to watch this hit Swedish film based on a famous novel by the same name. This was a funny and quirky film that I quite enjoyed. The film is a bit understated in its humor and action, and at times does remind you of Tom Hanks’ “Forrest Gump.”  The film has English subtitles.

The film is directed by Felix Herngren.

“The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared,” released on May 15, 2015 in San Francisco Bay area.

  • Title: The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
  • Running Time: 114 minutes
  • Status: Released
  • Country: Sweden
  • Genre: