Monday, January 31

A Paradox

Why do I hate having to go to bed at the end of the day, yet hate having to get out of said bed at the start of one?

Sunday, January 30

Film: Meet The Fockers Click for more info

Considering I didn't quite rate the first as much as others might have, I was pretty surprised at how much I enjoyed this film. Don't get me wrong, there's lots on offer at your local multiplex that you should watch first, but after you're done with those there's no reason you shouldn't give this a try.

Saturday, January 29

Cold Callers

Y'know I sometimes enjoy getting cold calls. Whether they're sales people, surveyors or prank callers[1], I'm always up for a random natter. Maybe it's 'cos I know how to end the call before I get annoyed, or perhaps it's 'cos I'm bored most of the time, I don't know.

Anyway I got a call from some telly broadcasting survey company today. The girl on the line was Asian, and since I was only watching a football match (i.e. nothing too important) I thought: "Wahay, I've something to do for five minutes".

But it turned out that she wanted to talk to someone between the ages of 18 and 24. After a brief moment I realised that there was no one in my house of that age let alone me and when I told her that she thanked me and hung up. And here I am, left feeling old and dejected, while some other 24 year old bored guy gets to talk to her instead. What a gyp.

[1] Many years ago I kept a prank-calling-girl on the line for a good ten minutes. Obviously whoever put her up to it (and although I had my suspicions I never actually found out who that was) didn't realise exactly how rare for me any call, let alone one from a girl, was; I wasn't exactly about to let this one go so easily. She eventually hung up on me, probably 'cos I was running up her One2one bill (this being in the time before inclusive minutes). Which was a shame actually 'cos she sounded kinda fit.

New Music

Dil De Diya Hai - Masti

Not really new, and I'm puzzled as to why I didn't have this already.

Caught Up - Usher

At last, a recent Usher song that I actually like. Perhaps I was just being another "Usher Hater", but frankly I thought his last few songs (all from his latest album) were derivative, overly soppy and therefore a bit dry. I reckon that Caught Up takes us back to his older and better stuff and hopefully its release is a sign that those in charge agree.

Thursday, January 27

Some Sympathy, Please

Today, I've taken a sick day off of work. Now that's not very interesting in itself, till I tell you I don't think I've taken a day off school/college/uni/work due to illness for over 10 years.

So here I am at home, laying down with my security blanket (does anyone still have theirs by the way?) listening to the radio wondering what I'm gonna be doing for the rest of the day. Any ideas? Remember, I'm ill...

Wednesday, January 26

Film: Elektra Click for more info

Better than I thought it would be, which isn't actually saying much. Avoid.

One to Watch

Point Pleasant, E4, 9pm

Yes, it's another new show coming at a time that I wish to not watch (even) more telly. But this looks kinda interesting, and E4's American imports tend to be in tune with me so I will at least give it a try.

Zubs also mentions that it's based on Point Horror, which makes it even more of a curiosity. Dawson's with Devil worship? Yes please.

Tuesday, January 25

One To Watch

The OC Season Two Premiere, E4, 9pm

Yeh, ok, I'm being a tad retroactive here, but at least it gives me a chance to talk about what I've seen already. And that, dear readers, is pure goodness.

Gone is the banality/wackiness which cursed the tail end of the last season, the makers of the show choosing instead to return to the quick-fire dialogue and intelligent storytelling which I enjoyed so much before that.

Anyway, if you're watching you'll know what I'm talking about - and now that the ad break is over I think I'll go join you.

Monday, January 24

Train-Girl Is Back!

I haven't seen her since I got back from Bangladesh (which strangely is when I started this blog and should explain the lack of posts about her) and yet all of a sudden five months later, she's appeared on my route home again. It's the same hair, the same Nike ruck sack and the same indifference to her neighbour.

Yes, I ignored her. But give me a break; it was kinda unexpected seeing her again after so long, and so I need a bit more time to reformulate my game plan. All sensible ideas welcome, but the first person to mention Harold gets a kick in the nuts.

Can you bring about world peace now, Ish?

One To Watch

Smallville Season 4 Premiere, E4, 9pm.

Ok, I'll admit that I've been watching Smallville out of loyalty for a while now. Let's face it guys - it's pretty dire and a shadow of its former self. However promises of a darker story, new characters and Other New Things have convinced me to give the show another chance.

It best beware though; my new policy of not-watching-stuff-I-don't-want-to is in full effect, and I'm just dying to try it on something I've followed since the beginning.

Sunday, January 23

Film: Closer Click for more info

Pretty, flirty, sexy, promiscuous and everything in between I found this film wonderful. Acting as if it just got off the stage, the film is beautifully delivered to its audience; amongst other things it was shot well, using tried and tested set pieces and cinematographic devices instead of anything adventurous (and potentially spoiling), had a fab plot and minimised the irrelevancies. But what makes this film is its characters.

Strong, varied, interesting, complex, yet superbly flawed the four protagonists are amongst the most real I've ever seen on film. Don't misunderstand - I doubt that there are many people like them in real life, but that doesn't matter; I believed these four. They were living in London, they were saying these things to each other, they were feeling what they said they were feeling. I guess what I'm describing here is their depth, of which they had buckets.

Portman stole the show again but only just, with the rest doing a great job too. Yes, even Jude Law. But then he did play a tosser in the film so it was probably easy for him.

Definitely recommended.

Saturday, January 22

Spammy's Choice: B4U's Amandeep

Last year's winner of B4U's Find a VJ competition and currently the host of the same channel's Desi Sutra and Uninvited, Amandeep is pretty(ish), funny(ish) and smart(ish) which, let's face it, makes her quite the unique catch already.

What's surprising is how hard it is to find a pic of her on the Internet. So for now, here's one of her with some bloke. Chi.

New Music

Kanoo Mardan - Simon Nandra

Not immediately recognisable by many, but this has been playing on B4U for a while. Quite powerful (well compared to what I usually listen to anyway), and as expected the only track on the album worth listening to.

Baby Boy

Congrats to Al on becoming a dad. I think he's the first of us to spawn, while the rest are still trying to overcome the first hurdle... Good to see some people are getting on with business!

Nice one mate, and remember that Shakil is spelled with an I.

Friday, January 21

Playin' Hard To Get

Right, you guys ain't been treated to one of my theories for a while, and here's something that just came up in a conversation with a friend (names withheld, of course).

Basically the age old adage that it's "hard for friends to become anything other than that" came up. This person, for example, had "great mates" who had shown an interest in them, but whom they just didn't see in the same way. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for attraction and a bit of lust and stuff, but I'm not quite sure that "we're mates, innit?" is a valid enough excuse when everything else that matters is present.

Quite the opposite, in fact. When looking for a partner I think you should be looking for a yes to the question "are we mates?", not the opposite. On the other hand, yes, I admit that one shouldn't have to force themselves to like someone and if you don't, you don't.

Anyway, enough preamble. Here's my take.

Let's start with the whole playing hard to get tactic. We all know about this one: how attractive those inaccessible to us can be (possibly the older woman, or that Muslim guy who wants you to convert, yada yada); the whole grass is greener mindset. Now let's reverse this for a second - if someone who you can't get is so attractive, surely it makes sense that someone you can won't be?

I think it's human nature to want more than you're able to offer in return. It's a basic, but understandable, form of greed. So generally someone saying that they like you is tacitly admitting that you're a better person than they are. "But surely this isn't the case with everyone, especially our friends whom we, and they us, know inside out?", I hear you ask. Well, no. But although the details are different, the results are the same.

This results from a combination of our insecurity and pride. I mean they're such good mates and if you want anyone to have the perfect partner it would be them, right? And as we all know, being perfect isn't really an easy thing to be, especially for us. That's the insecurity bit. Some of us may find it difficult to see ourselves as others do, but that isn't really the point here. What is is that you just don't think you're good enough for your mates.

This in turn implies that there's something wrong with them for liking you in that way. Why aren't they aiming a bit higher? Are they desperate or something? Do they have to take the easy way out and ask a mate? This, friends, is where the pride comes in. Suddenly they're not good enough for you and in some cases you're insulted that they even ever considered that they were.

It's a strange paradox, a Heisenberg for Relationships if you like. Unlike the Uncertainty Principle though, this is governed by us, not physics. So the next time someone shows an interest in you, feel free to say no to them if that's how you feel. Just make sure you're doing it for the right reasons, and try not to think that this makes you a better person than they are; there's a chance that they had the guts to do something you never did.

Thursday, January 20

Eid Mubarak

Jeez, it just seems like last week that we were celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr. Still, that was fantastic and hopefully this one'll follow suit. Nothing is really planned, but that's a good thing; I shall be playing by mobile phone again. I guess the only bummer is that it's a school night so there won't be any late kotching tonight...

Anyway, whether you're celebrating today or tomorrow, have a good 'un.

Tuesday, January 18

We're Just Friends, Dammit.

Here's a tip for blokes: Never go to sign up for gym membership with another guy. We went to two today, and both made the same presumption ("So how do you guys know each other?", "I guess you're gonna go home and discuss it?"). Of course I blame Steve and his camp ways, although I suppose I should stop dressing so damn well too.

But hey, if it means we get a 2-4-1 discount (LA Fitness), who am I to complain? Sup sup.

Sunday, January 16

Southall (Or How The A406 Blows)

Fcuking traffic. It took us 45 minutes to get as far as what usually takes 15. Now we're not a proud bunch, so we turned around to look for fun closer to home. How we fell though; Kebabish for lunch followed by DAYTIME Poker at one of the regular venues. Ah, but we did go to Green St to pick up dinner as a release for some of the pent up frustration after being denied Southall.

Still, maybe it was a good thing. We've now decided to go on a Saturday instead, and earlier than we did today. Plus, unlike today, the girls will have a chance to join us then too. And finally today wasn't written off and I reckon we had as much fun as we woulda anywhere else. Just goes to show, I guess.

Saturday, January 15

Film: Team America: World Police Click for more info

Way surpassing expectation, this flick had me in stitches for most of its running time. Funny on so many levels and in so many ways, I'd advise anyone with a sense of humour to watch this one.

Oh, but remember to leave your political correctness and sensitivities at home; if you've found that you just don't get satire you might want to stick to Friends.

Whistleblower

Last night I went to a talk by David Shayler. Some of you may have heard of him already, but if not a quick google will bring you up to speed.

Now apparently he didn't tell us anything new or exclusive; anyone who follows the BBC website woulda known all that he said. However, it was still worth going (mainly 'cos I wasn't clued up on the facts myself) and it was presented well. There was a good turnout too.

After I also went for dinner after with a few of the attendees. I only knew one of eight, but the crowd was really good and made me realise that there are actually interesting people with my mindset right here in London: from the girl who was in Risk IT (like me) to the filmmaker who worked on the last Harry Potter movie to the Genetics PhD student and everything in between, all Muslim. I guess what I've been told is true - these people are out there, you just gotta look for them.

Friday, January 14

Yasmin

Well I liked it anyway. As a film of fiction it was really good, and kept me gripped, engaged and feeling for all the characters till the end. Much kudos to all that brought it to the screen. I didn't even have to chuck anything at the telly this time...

But as a naive and insular Londoner, can someone tell me if this is what it's like up North? 'Cos it's a totally different world to the one I belong to and so I can't really comment on how accurate or fair this portrayal was.

If it was accurate... Well I'm glad I wasn't raised in the sticks.

New Music

I Can Feel It - DJ Sanj Feat. Sabrina

Tune.

The Streets Of Bollywood - Various

Some of you may have already heard the medley comprising of the first 3 tracks of this album on the telly. As expected they're the only real tunes in this set, the rest being fillers (even the last two are just instrumentals of the first two tracks). Still, the tracks which are good are really good.

Thursday, January 13

iCynical

I'm glad I'm not alone. My opinion in a nutshell:

Image courtesy of http://www.dasmirnov.net/

Bonus Day

Oooo.

One to Watch

Yasmin, 10pm Channel 4

Don't know too much about this one - something about the struggle of a woman who found her religion (as we all did, apparently) post 9/11. Not sure if this will be any different to all the other programmes which tackle this issue (badly, that is), but it has Archie in a hijab, so it might be worth watching just for that.

Tuesday, January 11

On The Front Lines

Yesterday a friend's cousin came back from her holiday. In Thailand.

There the rest of us were, crowded around her, our eyes wide open as she told us tales of her living in tents on the beach, anticipating disaster and holding onto tree when the four metre high waves struck. Fortunately she wasn't too shaken, and her whole party made it out. She did tell us of people she had met who had lost though, as well as stories of heroism, cowardice and just plain human nature.

But anyway, thanks for that Sindy. It was valuable insight and certainly made me feel closer to the disaster.

Monday, January 10

Biorhythms

I haven't yet had a chance to blog my Sine Wave Theory. Those that I've bored with it in real life would have heard that I think happiness (and so negative feelings) go up and down with time, following a strict sine wave, whose peaks may vary. It's all very complex, but generally explains my own moods and feelings, as well as giving me comfort when I'm going through a bad patch.

Messing around with some PHP, I've come across an example which asks the user to enter their birthday and generates a Biorhythm graph for them. If you don't know about these then you may have already guessed; these are a measurement of various metrics (like emotion and intuition) which happen to follow a sine wave. In short, it's my theory.

I'm not sure how long Biorhythms have been around, but I'm certain they predate my own observations. But it still feels nice to be validated (even though there is no scientific evidence for it).

Anyway, I dunno how many of you believe in this stuff - you may even pour as much scorn on it as I do on horoscopes and the like. For me, my theory (hey, I still came up with it independently) means that for all the bad times, there are good ones to follow. It also helps me accept that a person can have bad times for no apparent reason.

Anyway, I'm probably sounding like a crackpot now, so I'll stop. But if you are interested google Biorhythms, generate a graph for yourself and see how closely it follows your own behavior. Better still do this retrospectively and generate the graph for a previous time and see if it backtests ok. I'd be interested in any results you find. Oh and if you ever want to know whether I'm in a bad mood or not, check mine.

Sunday, January 9

Film: White Noise Click for more info

This weekend's theme seems to be one of disappointment. Unlike the book and the game however, I wasn't expecting much from White Noise. It had its moments, but eventually turned out to be quite farcical.

One to miss.

Book: Iron Council, China Miéville

Y'know, I always find it tough answering those "what's your most favourite...?" questions. I mean I dunno which film, song, game etc I like the best. I don't have a collection of any of these things, and I don't watch a certain film (for example) over and over again.

I can tell you, however, that Perdido Street Station (the book that put Miéville on the map) is one of the best books I've ever read. Even if you're not into fantasy it's a fantastic read; the manner in which Miéville brings his characters to life, fills them with depth is unique.

The Scar was also good, but not as much. Iron Council is his third set in the New Crobuzon universe. Unfortunately, this book continues on the same gradient that the previous two set.

Based around a political situation spanning a couple of decades and containing an equal amount of story arcs, IC just isn't as exciting and bravado as the last two books were. There were points where I actually dozed off; I didn't care that much (although admittedly I haven't had much sleep the past few weeks). The plot was a mess at times, jumping between the two strands and I even found it hard to follow at times. On a more positive note, actions scenes were superbly described as expected, and the characters all showed the same amount of depth that Issac and Bellis both had.

One good thing that has come out of this book is that I now have the urge to read Perdido Street Station. And that's no bad thing, since it's one of my most favourite books.

Game: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

What the heck is wrong with videogames today? Maybe I'm just getting old, but I'm struggling to enjoy myself whilst spending time with many of them these days. Echos recently got the chop off my play list, as did KOTOR (both critically acclaimed games). The only recent game which I'm still playing and expect to reach the end of is Half-Life 2.

Take the MGS series. Considering the previous two, I would have thought it impossible for any sequel to disappoint me. In fact, I've been waiting to play the third iteration, Snake Eater, for a good while now, hoping that this would be the one that fills my current need for a good gaming experience.

Instead I find myself writing a blog about how it is exactly that: A disappointment. Ok, I've only been playing for 50 minutes or so (and 30 of these were for the intro. Bear in mind that unlike other people, I don't mind lengthy cutscenes, provided they're of a good quality. And MGS's have always been and still are superb), but I'm already thinking that, like Metroid Prime 2, I may not see the end of this game.

I really don't know what it is. No wait, I do: Egotistical and arrogant games designers who think they know what we want to play without ensuring that we do. MGS3 is a masterpiece in game design - the locations, game mechanic and story are all polished and you can see that a lot of time an effort has gone into creating them. But it's just not fun to play. In their mission to come up with the perfect gaming experience and pushing the boundaries, the developers have literally lost the plot.

If you're looking for objective reasons, here's a couple:

  1. There's no radar. I mean, what the hell? That's just MGS1/2 on super-hard mode. Instead you get three useless devices which don't really help with enemy avoidance and on top of that run on a battery which you have to keep your eye on. Stupid.
  2. Enemies are bloody good. Ok, we're all looking for improved AI and enemies which test you, but so far it's been impossible for me to play this game how it's asking me to. I've tried sneaking around, but no I still get caught. I try stalking an enemy, but he manages to hear me nonetheless.
  3. The whole stamina mechanic is just dumb. As are backpacks and the cure system.
  4. Stunning as the environments are, they're outside and are harder to navigate than the corridors and rooms of the last two games. The maps are counter-intuitive (and a jungle would be) and it's also not always clear in which direction you should go, or where it's even possible for you to reach.

I dunno, maybe it is me. Maybe I'm just not willing to put in the time and effort into the games I play like I was used to. Maybe the reward isn't enough anymore. Whatever the reason, games had better change if they're to satisfy me, 'cos right now they ain't. I'll keep playing MGS3 'cos I owe the series that much, and I really hope I'll be eating my words. However, if recent experience is anything to go by I'm not sure I will.

Friday, January 7

Link Of The Day

http://homepage.mac.com/demark/tsunami/9.html

Harrowing before and after pictures of areas affected by the Boxing Day floods.

Thursday, January 6

One to Watch

ER 10pm, E4

Winter is here and therefore so is new telly. Today witnesses the season premiere of one of my most favourite programmes EVER (others include TNG and DC). I wonder when it'll all end?

And don't forget to watch the Season 10 finale at 9pm if that's your thing.

Desperate Housewives

Well, I loved it. A wicked premise, funny and intelligent this is definitely something I'm gonna keep watching.

I can't quite figure out what it reminds me of though. It's nothing like SATC (thank god), and is more of a funny, easier going Melrose (but that might just be 'cos of Marcia and Doug). It also has mild DC undertones (but with Big People instead).

Whatever the reason it's this apparent sense of familiarity that makes it so appealing. Being easy on the eye helps too, of course.

Wednesday, January 5

One to Watch

Desperate Housewives 10pm C4.

Yeh, I know it's a bit short notice, but most of you'll be watching this anyway. I'm expecting good things from this - hopefully it's not totally aimed at the SATC crowd.

Oh and don't forget the second episode straight after on E4.

Monday, January 3

I'm Unhappy

After a week or so of frivolous antics and carefreeness, work starts tomorrow. I'm not sure I've had a Christmas break as fun as this year's. In fact most of it is a blur.

A taste of things to come maybe?

Saturday, January 1

Merry New Year!!

Dinner in Leyton + Pineapple Dessert + Bongos + Karaoke + Boggle == wicked start to the new year!