So you think you can dance

Like a meticulously choreographed, rigorously rehearsed dance, the IPL imbroglio is finally heading towards a pre-scripted, dramatic finale.

It started out with the board wanting to use the excuse of governmental investigations into the IPL’s functioning to trim Modi to size, clip his wings a little, put a layer of oversight [that is to say, a governing council in something more than name, one that functions not merely as a rubber stamp] on the functioning of the commissioner (suspended), and get back to business as usual.

Modi’s combative responses to the series of show cause notices [one, and two] and, more crucially, his determined effort to fling mud helter skelter [his claim that Manohar and Srinivasan were dirty and hence could not sit in judgment over him] changed the choreography of the dance: the BCCI at that point figured that he was more trouble than he was worth, and that it could not work with him even in a curtailed role.

At that point, the Board put into motion a series of moves aimed at a predestined conclusion. Step one was the BCCI laundromat kicking into life, with Manohar giving a clean chit to Amin — very necessary, as Amin had been designated as the next head of the IPL with Bharat Patel as his ‘advisor’. Having exercised his authority, Manohar then grandly recused himself from the disciplinary committee that will hear Modi’s case — in one shot, fulfilling half of Modi’s demand while prima facie injecting an appearance of impartiality into the further proceedings.

Srinivasan, who was named with Manohar as an interested party and hence in no position to sit in judgment on Modi, had earlier covered his particular base by saying he had taken then BCCI president Sharad Pawar’s permission to be part of an IPL bid: in other words, the BCCI secretary had sought, from his immediate superior who was himself heavily conflicted, permission to be similarly conflicted — a proceeding possible only in the looking glass world of the BCCI. Besides, he is in any case not a member of the disciplinary committee, so Modi’s strictures against him sitting in judgment are meaningless.

All of that was part of the set up — the BCCI then got into the climactic part of its performance today, with Srinivasan’s ‘rejection’ of Modi’s responses. I so totally love this bit, don’t you?:

“Since Mr Lalit Modi has accused me of being biased against him, after a thorough and careful reading of his explanation against the charges, I have passed an order that it was not acceptable.”

Laugh-out-loud funny, that bit: the first part of the sentence, regarding the accusation of bias, has no bearing on the second half of the sentence, which is Srinivasan’s determination. In other words: Modi says I am biased; let me, in totally unbiased fashion, say he is full of bull. Right.

The final steps of this dance have already been choreographed. Tomorrow, Amin will meet with the franchise holders and, irrespective of an agenda that includes, among other things, rationalizing the norms on player retention, discussing the revised schedule for IPL4 when two new teams enter the mix, and similar issues, the unstated agenda is to clearly signal the changing of the guard, to finally acquaint the franchises with the fact that the Modi era is over, and that they now have a new dispensation to deal with.

Fast forward to July 3. At the Special General Body Meeting, Srinivasan’s ‘rejection’ of the charges against Modi will be taken up. The SGM will ‘determine’ that there is prima facie cause to refer the issue to the disciplinary committee. The SGM will also nominate someone to take Manohar’s place in that committee, and to join Chirayu Amin [see why Manohar had to clear Amin’s name? Else, the same objection Modi raised against Manohar, of bias, would apply] and Arun Jaitley in determining the nature of action.

Irrespective of who the third wheel is, that committee will determine that Modi is in gross violation of BCCI guidelines, that a pattern of irresponsible behavior exists, and that therefore he should be stripped of all powers and either retained in the Board as an ordinary member, or expelled altogether — that final determination depending on how Modi acts from here on. Fling more mud, and it is finito; pull in your horns and lie low, and we’ll leave you with some sort of role within the board.

What I don’t understand is this: why stagger this drama out? All the decisions have already been taken. [If Modi’s position as IPL commissioner were still in doubt, Amin — who is one of the troika who will render judgment — wouldn’t be actively stepping into the IPL boss’s role with his meeting tomorrow, would he? There is nothing so pressing that it couldn’t wait till after the June 3 meeting, and a final determination of Modi’s fate].

So why this drawn out charade? For whose benefit is this drama being played out?

PS: Noticed some folks asking about posts relating to the whatever-cup played out in Sri Lanka, where yesterday they played the final before the final. Sorry, folks — haven’t been watching. Largely because I am swamped with some stuff I need to finish before the half yearly deadline, and partly because I found the whole thing immensely boring, and largely pointless. I’ll pass; am off to Chennai on some urgent personal work tomorrow, and will be back at work, and on blog, Monday. Be well, meantimes…

Lights! Camera! Animals!

Got a box of tissues handy? Here you go:

Done sniffling yet? Jai Arjun Singh [if you are into books and cinema, you really need to be following his blog] in his latest Yahoo! column riffs off Moti the almost-human canine of Teri Meherbaniyaan, and contrasts the kitschy with the artlessly artistic use of animals in films. Lovely read. And while on lovely reads, haven’t had much time these last few days to point at other good reading material — so here’s a portmanteau link, to the Yahoo Opinions home page — considerable good stuff has gone up there since we spoke last.

Staying with animals for a beat longer — and reprising something I had posted earlier — here’s Joel and Ethan Coen, in a clip from a *roflmao* interview to Playboy magazine some years back. This part relates to the Coen brothers’ experience of filming with animals, in context of Raising Arizona:

Playboy: Was it challenging to direct all the babies you had in that movie?

Joel: It was bizarre. Whenever you have an infant, you have to triple or quadruple them. When we had five kids in the movie, we had to have 15 babies on the set.

Ethan: The picture babies and the standby babies. Cacophonous, nightmarish.

Joel: We had the baby pit—a big padded pit they were tossed into when we weren’t using them. The mothers all sat around the perimeter knitting.

Ethan: Whenever we needed a baby we reached into the pit and grabbed one. It was kind of like a barbecue pit.

Joel: You can’t really direct a baby, which is the problem. You take one out of the pit, put it in front of the camera and see if it behaves. If not, you toss it back into the pit and get another. It’s a lot like working with animals, actually.

Ethan: Yeah, if an animal doesn’t do what you want it to do, you just grab another one. But the rules for working with animals are a lot more stringent than those for working with babies.

Joel: There is definitely no comparison.

Playboy: What can you do with a baby that you can’t do with an animal?

Ethan: A million things.

Joel: The pit. You can’t do that with animals.

Ethan: Believe me, it is remarkable thing to see how animals are monitored. You cannot kill a mosquito on screen.

Joel: When you do a Screen Actors Guild movie that uses animals in any way you have to get the American Humane Society to sign off on it. We blew up a cow in O Brother, which meant we had to send the Humane Society work tapes while the film was being shot. When they saw the cow scene they didn’t believe it was computer generated, but I assure you it was.

Ethan: There is a rule that you can’t get a cow anywhere near a moving car.

Joel: It might cause the cow stress.

Ethan: You can’t upset the animals.

Joel: We had to have a lizard crash pad for Raising Arizona.

Playboy: What’s a lizard crash pad?

Ethan: A lizard shoots off a rock in the movie, and we had to have a preapproved soft place for it to land.

Joel: Yeah. With babies, you don’t have to bother about all that stuff.

Unrelated, except perhaps tangentially — a while ago I’d done a post on Psycho; here’s Kim Morgan in fine form, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the seminal film.

Browsing time has been somewhat rare these last few days, but two resources, and one good read, for you relating to soccer: ZonalMarking, for impeccable analysis of the World Cup games, and Supriya Nair’s Treasons, Strategems and Spoils for more general, equally compelling reading on the game. Any personal favorites among soccer blogs? Links, please?

On my way out the door, the Bangalore-based Joe Christy treated me to this lovely link: Henry Kissinger on soccer.

Got to run… have a good weekend.

The best book on football. Ever.

Thanks so much for the recommendations attached to yesterday’s query about great books on football — discovered some new titles, and new ways to put a dent in my credit card.

Meanwhile, my post on the best soccer book of all time is now up.  Thoughts?

I’m heading back to work — need to finish all there is to do well in time, so I can quit early, shop for beer and other essentials, and settle down in front of the TV by 7. Christiano Ronaldo’s Portugal plays Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast and then, on the stroke of midnight, the first look this Cup at Dunga’s Brazil.

Must confess I’m equal parts dread and anticipation about that second game. Brazil, at its best, invariably spell magic; for all that it lost in the quarterfinal to a combination of its own arrogance and the opportunism of the resurrected Paolo Rossi, my favorite Brazil team of all time [picking only from the ones I’ve seen in action, not experienced through reading and the grainy clips on YouTube] is the 1982 version. Equally, my least favorite lineup has to be the trophy-winning lineup of 2002, the year the team eschewed its flights of creative fancy for a hard-nosed pragmatism that produced results, but personally turned me off. Much pre-match punditry suggests that Brazil circa 2010 will be more akin to the 2002 team than to the earlier one led by the majestic Socrates — but one can still hope. [Oh, and while on hoping, I hope the samba in the stands is not stifled by the monotonous drone of those damn vuvuzelas].

Right — off to finish work. Be well all.

Do it yourself interviews…

…with Pele, Maradona, and Zidane: Here you go. If you’ve ever wished to interview a celebrity, this is your chance: direct interviews with three of the greatest footballers in history. And don’t blame me if your productivity is shot for the rest of the day. [An earlier post, that also references the Louis Vuitton ‘Journeys’ series.]

A post, and a request

Why, exactly, did India lose its once chance to play on the World Cup stage? Hint: it is not because barefoot players were banned.

Thanks to a bunch of friends on Twitter, I’ve got a comprehensive post up on the Yahoo India blog, rounding up interesting stories from the world of the Cup.

As follow up tomorrow, I was planning on introducing you guys to my favorite soccer book of all time. I have referred to that book earlier — here, and here. Time now to give you an extended look inside those pages — but meanwhile, a question for you, the answers to which I hope to incorporate in the post: which is the best book on soccer you have read, and why?

So who needs football?

We had done a post yesterday on Nike’s latest cutting edge commercial on the soccer world cup. While looking for stuff related to that post, a colleague stumbled on this:

Unrelated, but worth your time: in his latest column, Amit Varma points out that all of us, every single day of the week, gamble in various ways with our lives. So why is gambling with our money illegal?

If gambling *was* legal, how much would you bet on the likelihood of a shark attack during the soccer WC? Oh okay, there’s lots of other whacky bets to chose from — here you go.

Back to foosball — and a closer look at some of the specific skills showcased in that video:

Unrelated, but fun — my colleague Tenzin has a post up, on football songs to rock to. Any additional suggestions?