Steve Wozniak and Stan Lee Teaming Up To Bring Silicon Valley’s Comic-Con



Steve Wozniak has joined hands with Stan Lee to launch Silicon Valley Comic-Con 2016. And the announcement has created a lot of buzz and you don’t have to look into your crystal ball to predict that this will be a successful event.

“I’m teaming up with friends to make this happen because I want to give Silicon Valley it’s very own kind of Comic Con where everyone can have fun enjoying what they love,” Wozniak wrote on the event’s website. “There are lots of fans like me in San Francisco and the Valley, and I’m excited that now we’ll have a Comic Con with our very own flavor.”

Wozniak is the co-founder of Apple Inc. Lee is the legendary figure associated with co-creating Marvel super heroes like Spider-Man, The Hulk and Iron Man. You can follow Wozniak and  Lee on Twitter

Silicon Valley’s first Comic-Con will be at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose on March 19-20, 2016.

The first Comic-Con was held in San Diego in 1970. Today, it is a 4-day event attended by  comic fans, entertainers, filmmakers, gamers and others.   Besides San Diego, there are other places that host their own Comic-Con, including one in India.


Remembering Ustad Ali Akbar Khan With Alam Khan

Ustad Ali AKbar Khan

Ustad Ali AKbar Khan

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (1922 -2009), the legendary sarode maestro was born on April 22, 1922. He would have been 93 years old today. He spent his formative years in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. His father Ustad Allauddin Khan was a court musician and is the founder of the Maihar Gharana of Hindustani classical music.

Khan sahib as he was known gave his first performance as a teenager and went to on establish a name for himself in India. Then in the 1960s he settled down in Marin county in the San Francisco Bay area, which was the epicenter of the counterculture movement. This was the time of  The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Janice Joplin. This is where music of a different kind was born that fused different genres, including Indian classical music.  This music went on to influence millions of people. And it was in the San Francisco Bay area that Khan sahib set up his Ali Akbar College of Music and taught thousands of students Hindustani classical music in the guru-shishiya or teacher-student method that is common in Indian classical music.

We spoke with Khan sahib’s son Alam Khan on how he learnt music from his father and his father’s love for music, food and cars. We also spoke about the digital archives of  Khan sahib’s music, the influence of Maihar gharana of music and what he learnt from his father as a student. We also  spoke about  Annapurna Devi, Khan sahib’s sister, whose student includes Hari Prasad Chaurasia, the famous flautist.


When Khan sahib moved to the San Francisco bay area it was the start of the big counterculture movement and The Grateful Dead were a major part of the San Francisco and Marin county music scene. The Grateful Dead did some early benefit concerts for Khan sahib’s school and also helped with the sound for his concerts. The Grateful Dead “loved my father’s music,” Khan points out. That is kind of  far out when you think about The Grateful Dead and Khan sahib knew each other. Did Khan sahib ever use slang terms like “far out?”  You will have to tune in to find out the answer.

And here is a video of Khan sahib playing an Alap in Misra Kafi at the University of Washington in 1967.

Photo credit: Alam Khan

Video: Vijaylakshmi Pandit, The First Woman As President of UN General Assembly

“I have been working with men for a long time,” responds Vijalakshmi Pandit in response to a question if men had modulated their language at the UN after she became the President of the United General Assembly in 1953.

This TV interview offers a fascinating portrait of Pandit, who was the sister of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. She joined politics in the 1930s and eventually became a diplomat. She was India’s ambassador to the Soviet Union (1947-49) and the United States (1949-52).

VIDEO: Anton Yelchin Speaks in Russian, While Victor Levin Talks About HIs Directorial Debut “5 to 7”

Victor Levin’s directorial debut “5 to 7” was the closing night film at Cinequest last evening. Anton Yelchin plays the lead in the film. Here is a highlight of our interview with Levin and Yelchin. We have a longer interview coming up with them.

The film stars Bérénice Marlohe (who played the Bond girl in “Skyfall”), Olivia ThirlbyGlenn CloseLambert Wilson and Frank Langella“5 to 7” opens April 3, 2015 in New York and Los Angeles and on April 10, 2015 in San Francisco bay area.

RIP: Vinod Mehta

Vinod Mehta

Vinod Mehta

Very sad to hear about the passing away of Indian journalist Vinod Mehta. He was the founder editor of Outlook, a weekly magazine. 73  year Mehta apparently passed away from multiple organ failure according to The Hindu.

Mehta had a long stint as a journalist working with various publications including India Post and Pioneer. He is also the author of a book on the Indian film actress Meena Kumari. “Lucknow Boy,” was his candid autobiography that traced his childhood in Lucknow to studying in Britain and his career as a journalist.

His humorous anecdotes in Outlook’s Delhi Diary was a chatty column, where he shared little personal details and spoke endlessly about his pet dog called Editor. And in his last Delhi Diary entry he wrote about Editor’s health. And ironically the last sentence in that column was titled Last week in Lucknow “I ate Tunda’s galouti kebabs. Nothing more needs to be said.” Sadly, nothing more will be said by Mehta. We will miss reading his columns.

Editor Unplugged

Editor Unplugged

Last year his new book “Editor Unplugged” was published.  Mehta spoke about his new book, Indian politics and  cricket  in this interview with

Here is an interview Mehta did with Newslaundry. And an article from Sans Serif on Vinod Mehta, the last great editor.

In the late 1990s I wrote for Outlook from Silicon Valley. I remember how thrilled I was when I heard that Mehta liked “Our Pind in Yuba City,” an article I wrote about the Punjabi-Americans in Yuba City. That feedback made my day.

UPDATE: Ajaz Ashraf’s touching tribute to Vinod Mehta.

Photo credit: Outlook Magazine.



Podcast: Academy Award Winner AR Rahman Part-1


LISTEN: Academy Award Winner AR Rahman on Slumdog Millionaire

AR Rahman

AR Rahman

In early February 2009 I caught with AR Rahman on one of his brief visits to Los Angeles. AR as he likes to be called was in Los Angeles for the big night at the Oscars. AR’s  music in Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” was a huge success and the film had won strong praise from critics and movie goers.

Slumdog Millionaire” was nominated for multiple awards in that year’s Academy Awards. AR himself was nominated in 3 categories and this was a first for a member of the Indian film industry, the largest in the world. AR went to to win 2 Academy Awards and became the first music composer from the Indian film industry to win 2 Oscars.

Like everybody else I was curious to find out about how AR came to work with Boyle and how did they work on this film that became such a big success. Continue reading

US Budget Goes Open-Sourced

Open-Sourced budget? Did you read that right? Yes. This is the first time that the US government has published its annual budget (FY 2016) on GitHub.It is is going the open-source route. Users are free to use the data from the budget in any way they want. Besides GitHub, the budget is also published in Medium, where anyone is free to read, make comments and share their feedback.

Read The White House Blog for about this new open-sourced budget.


Video: Hillary Swank on “The Homesman” at Mill Valley Film Festival

Academy award winner Hillary Swank’s new film “The Homesman” was the opening night film at this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival.

Swank was there on the opening night of the festival. In this video clip she talks about how she prepared for her role in the film and working with Tommy Lee Jones, who directed and acted in the film. The film is based on a novel by  Glendon Swarthout.

The film stars Hillary Swank, Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, John Lithgow and Hailee Steinfeld.  It releases in San Franciso bay area towards the end of the year.


Video: Tracy Droz Tragos on Rich Hill, Best Documentary at 2014 Sundance Film Festival

The gap between the rich and poor is growing. This widening economic gap is a constant refrain we hear these days. How are people trying to make their ends meet and lead a decent life? How do people deal with their poverty? What does poverty in a small mid-western town in Missouri look like? Those are the questions that went through the minds of filmmaker Tracy Droz Tragos and her cousin. They turned to a small mid-western town of Rich Hill in Missouri and that is where they made their documentary.”Rich Hill” won the best documentary award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Tragos and her cousin spent their summers in their grandparents home in Rich Hill. The two cousin had seen and heard about the struggles in Rich Hill and that became the subject of their film.  “Rich Hill” film puts a face on what poverty looks like in a small farming town, where jobs are hard to find and economic growth is a distant dream.

“Rich Hill” tells the story of poverty in Rich Hill through the eyes of 3 young teenagers – Harley, Andrew and Appachey. Each one of them has their own set of issues that includes some terrible, dark secrets. We witness how this crushing poverty dashes their hopes and dreams how it derails their families from leading a normal life. It is quite devastating to watch how these young men and their families valiantly try to stay positive through their everyday struggles. The film serves as an eye-opener to the struggles and shattered dreams of families in this small town. And Rich Hill is just one small town in Missouri. If you zoom back and look at the larger picture you have got to wonder about poverty in other towns in the US.

We spoke with Tragos, a local San Francisco bay area filmmaker about “Rich Hill.” In this interview Tragos takes us behind the scenes and shares how she found the 3 teenagers and how they let her and her cousin document their struggles. She also brings us  up to speed on how the 3 young adults are doing.

“Rich Hill” releases in San Francisco bay area in August 2014.

Update: “Rich Hill” is now available on Netflix Streaming.


Video: San Jose Jazz Summer Fest Celebrates 25 Years

San Jose Jazz Summer Fest celebrated its 25th year of its annual music festival.  The 3-day music festival (Aug 8-10, 2014) was held in downtown San Jose and featured local, national and inter nation artists. It was spread across 12 stages.  Booty Coolins headlined the show on opening night on the main stage, while the local Grammy Winning Latin group Pacific Mambo Orchestra played on the Salsa stage.

Here is a quick look at some of the musicians that played at the festival.