Friday, January 30

Food: The Canopy Click for more info

A small but plush eatery in Limehouse of the "halal-shisha" variety, The Canopy isn't really that special in a market full of this kinda thing. And just like is the case with its competitors, The Canopy was chock with students (which you may or may not like depending on your viewpoint).

The food was passable if a bit pricey (EDIT: and as I found the next day gave me a belly ache), but the service and vibe was fairly good. Nothing special, but something to check out if you're in the area.

Tuesday, January 27

Video of the Day Click for more info

Here's a simple message put in accessible terms:



Who knew poetry could be so compelling?

Ta to Fug for the link.

Saturday, January 24

Film: Bride Wars Click for more info

Buddette movie about a couple of best friends who accidentally book their respective weddings on the same date, with each then refusing to reschedule for the other. What results is around 90 minutes of tit for tat as they each try to ruin the best day ever for each other.

Despite the promising set up, Bride Wars wasn't all that funny - in fact I was left wondering how Judd Apatow et all would have dealt with the same context. I was also disappointed with the lack of any romance, with the film choosing to focus on the friendship between the two brides rather than the ones they had with their respective fianc├ęs.

Still, what you do end up with is a charming and feel good enough film about friendship and forgiveness. It's hardly the deepest of flicks (it all seemed a bit of a rush job actually), but it wasn't all that bad. Recommended if you don't want anything too heavy on a Saturday night.

Game: World of Goo (Wii) Click for more info

Here's a cute little Wii Ware game, the concept of which will appeal to anyone who was a fan of Lego, Mecchano or any of those other construction sets things.

The aim of the game is basically to use Goo to construct a pathway to a pipe or goal. However, as you've probably guessed by the name, Goo isn't very rigid and so is at the mercy of gravity (Goo collapses under its own weight), wind and other environmental influences meaning that you have to construct your structure in imaginative ways to succeed.

And that's about it really. As usual it's the simple concepts which prove to be the most engaging; World of Goo is accessible to everyone and we've even been playing it as a group, huddled around the screen collectively figuring out the best engineering method to build a bridge across a chasm. Good stuff!

Game: Castle Crashers (360) Click for more info

My first paid for XBLA game, Castle Crashers is essentially Golden Axe updated for a new age. For those of you too young to remember the seminal hack and slash game, you play one of a possible four characters travelling from left to right, striking down enemies with your sword as you go along.

That's essentially it really, although there is depth in the form of new weapons and combos, magic and levelling up. Every now and then there's a boss or minigame, all welcome distractions to something which would otherwise be a bit samey. The graphics are fun and colourful and the style of the game is such that it provides a certain level of humour throughout.

It's not very difficult, although that probably defies the point really - with up to four players in the main game as well as versus modes this isn't really about challenge or depth but more about having a laugh with mates. It certainly doesn't lose points for that!

Game: Rainbow 6: Vegas 2 (360) Click for more info

You know, I never was a fan of these new fangled first person army games. They just seems way too uptight and pretentious for their own good: I didn't know the difference between an AK-47 or Mig-whatever. I just wanted to, you know, shoot and stuff.

Call of Duty kinda changed all that, and I've now begun to appreciate the drama and production of this genre - for me it's about watching the story unfold while figuring out the best way to get from one checkpoint to the other. In that sense it's kinda like an action puzzle game, something those of you who already play these kinda things would have already realised ages ago.

RB6V2 is a bit generic in that I can't really tell the difference between it and anything else, but that's no bad thing since it's always fun to snipe from a distance or defend your team from a flanking enemy. I think that there's some sort of tactical twist to RB6V2 in that you're supposed to direct the rest of your team, but I don't bother with that especially since I'm exclusively playing this in split screen co-op mode.

I don't think these games last that long either - something that doesn't really bother me as much as it should. Self containing episodic gaming like RB6V2 is right up my alley, during a time when I don't really get a chance to play for extended periods.

I'm Not So Different After All



Just goes to show, no matter how unique and alone you think you are... You're probably going through the exact same thing others have. That's actually quite comforting in a way.

Thanks to Zany for the heads up.

Friday, January 23

That's What Friends Are For

One of the biggest questions which befuddles the parents of those of us still single is the following: how can we be finding it so difficult to marry someone when we each have so many friends of the opposite sex?

This same thing was asked of me last week as I settled down with a bevy to watch Dirty Dancing and the answers are just as typical: "I just don't see them in that way", "if it was to happen it would have already", "we're just mates" and "there's no specialness there", none of which are answers at all really. And while we usually console ourselves by thinking our parents just don't understand our respective lives, I'm not sure any of us are really convinced by the arguments we give back.

It doesn't just stop at misinformed parents though. A wise friend once asked me a question along the same lines, fully expecting what I was going to say. However this time she responded in asking me why I didn't think it was possible to, consciously or otherwise, prompt a further development with an existing friend. Why the cynicism?

The thing is that, technically anyway, her and my parents might just have a point. I'm sure that no one would deny wanting to be friends with the one they finally end up with, and in that way we'd be half way there. Of course I'm not suggesting for a minute that any friend could become something more (gosh no), but to think that none would out of that many potentials is taking things a bit too far. After all if I'm confidently able to say that my single female friends would make great wives, why wouldn't that apply in the situation where I was the one married to them?

One theory is that in our lives of free-mixing and making friends of different backgrounds and qualities, some of us might just have become desensitised to what makes a boy-girl relationship so special. For example, others who possibly wouldn't have had as much friendly exposure to the opposite sex might only just need what the rest of us have in order to kick off something bigger. Put another way if we're lucky enough to have so many special relationships how can we pick just one on which to build something more on? What would make that special?

There are other reasons why we'd want to avoid asking a friend out. A fear of messing a good thing up is an important one, but I suggested this to be pretty irrational in a previous post. I think that generally there'd be little fall out in approaching a (mature) friend, whether they decline you immediately or you both find out that it's not going to work later on. Any action you take doesn't have to impact what you already have, provided neither of you want it to.

A crucial part of all this is whether or not you believe that chemistry or a spark can be created between two people at a date later than when you first met. Some of us want a relationship that had picked them rather than the other way around, to talk about how they didn't have a choice in the matter and so just knew. People generally want to fall in love, not climb up a tree, pick their spot and jump into it.

I guess that's why it's easy to assume that if it doesn't happen straight away (or at least by the time you feel you really know them) then it'll never ever happen at all, as if relationships are statically capped beasts. But if we analyse it a bit more that's not really true: sometimes we have to help things along ourselves.

You don't always have to be explicit about things though. In fact, it's reasonable to say that the trigger to a further development with a friend could just be more time, or a particular event, situation or conversation - something that suddenly makes you look at them differently without you looking for it.

An example we can all relate to is that of Monica and Chandler from Friends (and no, I don't take all my philosophical cues from sitcoms. Honestly!). They had been unassuming friends for well over a decade before an unintentional fling somewhat forced them to consider a further opportunity. For them, it was a sexual relationship which switched things into a new gear.

Sex is (probably) out of the question for many of you reading. Casual dating (as in seeing someone who you don't yet have a spark with) is another strategy some use to nurture something, but that too might be deemed inappropriate. There are other options though and not all triggers are culturally out of reach. It doesn't necessarily have to be left to chance either - all it could take is an adult conversation with someone you really like (as a friend). The point is that you might have to pull that trigger yourself if you think it's something worth exploring on paper.

Whether it's something worth doing or not is up to you. I've spoken previously about how I'd like to build a case for a potential before vocalising anything and the chance are that you already know whether you and a friend are compatible or not, but alas the only real way to see if you can build chemistry is to try to and see.

Originally drafted 30th August 2008

Wednesday, January 21

Free Newspaper, Sir?

This afternoon I managed to fulfil a long standing dream of mine: to hand out free newspapers at the exit of a popular train station. The paper in question was a local community rag aimed at uniting Muslims in the area. We spent around 45 minutes in front of Ilford station from around 7 onwards, hoping to catch the tail end of the rush hour coming home from work.

The last time I did anything like this was to collect at Oxford Circus for Islamic Relief a couple of years ago - that was quite fun and comfortable since we were there doing an obviously good thing with permission and on in an official capacity, we were indoors and so warm and it turns out that people actually liked to give and engage.

Today on the other hand was quite the opposite. We were there on our own to promote a local project and it seems that people generally have nothing but contempt for people handing out free stuff for them as they're trying to get home. It didn't help that it was freezing either.

It was interesting to see how moody and impolite some people were. I mean hey, I didn't mind the rejection much (being oh-so used to it by now) but a simple "no thanks" was absolutely appreciated every time it was said, even if it meant a newspaper would not have been taken at that time. Being blanked does hurt, and I'm glad I take the time out to thank-but-no-thanks those that try to stuff things down my passing by throat.

Still, bizarrely, it is a real test of character and confidence and by the end of the session we were giving away papers to passer-bys and pretty girls. As with anything else it wasn't as difficult as it was initially thought to have been but having said that I totally have a new found respect for those who do it on a regular, sometimes daily, basis.

Monday, January 19

Picking a Python Web Framework

A big reason I decided to work on this current project of mine was to learn new things. For that reason I had pretty much settled on using Python on the web server side - it's a programming language with lots of support and mindshare, and happens to be pretty fashionable right now too (which probably means it won't be once I get to grips with it).

There are many frameworks for creating Python-based web applications. After reading up on them all the two I narrowed my decision down to was the ever-popular Django and TurboGears in its latest and bleeding edge version 2 guise. Since I had come as far as I could merely reading about them, I decided that the best way to proceed would be to spend some time actually playing with them.

I first played with Django. I have to admit that it was a pleasure to use: the tutorial made sense, everything installed and worked first time, I felt that I was learning and could imagine how I could leverage it to do what I wanted to do.

TurboGears 2 was a bit more difficult to come to grips with. The documentation was out of date, the install broke a few times and I had to join an IRC channel to get some help and I felt like it was a general struggle to get to grips with. That said I could see how it offered more potential in the long run, having including JSON libraries, widgets and AJAX support.

This pretty much reduced my decision to the following question: do I want to to get on with things now simply and easily only to possibly reach a head at a later date, or invest in something with a steep learning curve that will allow me to do almost anything I wanted?

With time at stake I've decided to go with Django. I think I'm at a stage in my project where progress in the short term is more important than in the long term and I also think it's important that I'm actually enjoying what I'm doing. That's not to say I don't appreciate either - in fact there would have been a time when I would have relished the learning challenges TurboGears brings... Perhaps I've just become lazy in my hey day.

EDIT: It seems that there is a third option; that of Ruby on Rails. Ooo. Time for another tutorial I think.

Sunday, January 18

Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner!

Me being the big girl I am (sigh), I've been wanting to watch Dirty Dancing for a while now; at least while it's still amusing to do so and before it becomes completely weird and perverted. A generous friend of mine made a promise that she'd watch it with me (she's an expert in everything Johnny and Baby), and tonight we finally got to.

Sure, I was the only guy watching the film, but I figured that I'd keep some level of masculinity by insisting that we watch it in 1080p (the girls noticed how pretty the water was, as well as the, uh, extra detail seen on Baby during that lake scene).

Now I like to think that I appreciate a good soppy movie, but I'm still not sure what the fuss was about with Dirty Dancing. There was a bit of angst, sure, but all I kept thinking about was how a mid twenties dance instructor could get away with groping a seventeen year old on the dance floor. I guess he was a hero throughout which was a refreshing change from other stories about how the girl "tames" the wild boy. I managed to take some notes too: I'm so going to utilise the line "I wasn't using them. They were using me!". What a guy. I loved the music too (watch out for "She's like the wind" coming soon to a karaoke bar near you).

The evening was on the verge of backfiring as my company regressed into talking about handbags but I managed to contribute something by asking about the moral and intrinsic value of a handbag worth £1200. Needless to say I lost the argument. Nevertheless it was a fun night prefixed by dinner accompanied with live singing and belly dancing.

Hmm. Perhaps I enjoyed it a bit too much? Although I'm glad to report that my nails aren't painted and my eyebrows are safe.

Saturday, January 17

New Music

Broken Strings feat. Nelly Furtado - James Morrison

Poignant and bittersweet ballad. Just how I like 'em. Video here.

Local Protesting

My local mosque (or rather the one I attended for fifteen years while in my old home) was one of eight that organised a local protest for the events occurring in Gaza. I attended out of loyalty to the mosque as well as the cause and it seemed pretty successful - we had local MPs and councillors giving speeches and stuff.

Perhaps more interesting than the march was that it was organised in the first place; this "Council of Waltham Forest Mosques" that these eight have formed has been a long time coming, and if this is what they're capable of organising then I have great hope for the future.

On The Radio Click for more info

I was on the BBC Asian Network again this morning, after being asked to review Chandni Chowk to China. The film was rubbish but we had a good time slagging it off anyway. I always appreciate how difficult it is to be a radio presenter when I do this stuff; dead air galore or what?

Anyway if you want to listen back (for whatever reason) hit the link above and forward until 1:28 or so (it'll be there for the next seven days). I await your virtual tomatoes in anticipation.

Friday, January 16

Film: Chandi Chowk to China Click for more info

It's pretty clear from the start where CC2C gets its inspiration from. It manages to pay homage to all the classic kung-fu movies as well as the much later Stephen Chow. We even get a massive dose of Kung-Fu Panda too. If you're looking for originality then you're not gonna find it here, folks.

But then originality isn't really required to make a film good. No, for that you need a good story, good action and believable characters; unfortunately these are things CC2C fails on all counts with. No, wait - I'd say the story at least is passable.

Akshay Kumar gives a massively disappointing performance, especially after his brilliant one in Sing is Kiing, while the rest of the cast potter around doing their thing (where Deepika's "thing" is to just stand there and look pretty. Oh my).

But the biggest failure with CC2C is the clear lack of final care and polish that seems to have been left behind; a big surprise given the Warner Brothers label attached to it. We have bad flow and awful, unnecessary scenes (check out the one with the umbrella), a lazy plagiarising of other superior films and a bunch of actors who just can't be bothered. Even the music is underwhelming.

So not a film I'd recommend watching then? Well there is at least one... Well, technically two reasons to watch CC2C. No points for guessing what that is though.

Wednesday, January 14

Well

Although billed as a comedy, Well didn't make me laugh that much at all. Sure, there were a few times I guffawed out loud, but not quite enough to fulfil the promises this play originally made in its marketing.

That's not to say that it wasn't any good though; no, it was pretty intense, clever and out-there as it deliberately shattered the fourth wall repeatedly, laid a new foundation and then building an extension there instead. It really was a mind trip, one of those things that makes you question reality a bit too.

Natalie Casey was brilliant - as was the whole cast; it was hard enough for us in the audience to keep track of what was going on as each character grew and metamorphosed in front of our eyes, so I can't imagine how difficult and mind-warping it must have been for them. On the production side, the set was simple enough but effective, consisting of a static background and some wheely beds.

So overall I think I enjoyed this, despite not laughing my head off like I was expecting to. I'm still not sure exactly how much I liked it though - that's how weird and wonderful it actually was.

Tuesday, January 13

Snippet

Shak says (15:39):
    are these girls for real?
xxxx says (15:39):
    FOSHO!!!!!

    [...]

Shak says (15:39):
    that our new word?
xxxx says (15:39):
    FOSHO!
    hahah
    what does it even mean?
Shak says (15:40):
    quick.. ask me a question
xxxx says (15:40):
    are you gay?
Shak says (15:40):
    you ****
xxxx says (15:40):
    AHAHA
    man ... we're such kids
    :(
Shak says (15:40):
    its wicked!
    nah man
    if i couldnt laugh at my monitor...i dunno what the whole point of life is
Shak says (15:41):
    fosho = for sure right?
xxxx says (15:41):
    i t hink so
Shak says (15:41):
    FOSHO!
xxxx says (15:41):
    WMOHAMHOAW

Relationship Idealism Click for more info

Here's an article doing the rounds and causing a bit of a stir at the moment:

I'm looking for a wife - but it'll probably help if she's not human

Charlie Brooker is pretty hilarious in this piece; he also makes a fair few points. For us single Asians though I'm not sure what he's written is anything new - many succumb to both internal and external pressures to get married and reduce it to a practical exercise in living life way before they actually find someone to spend the rest of their lives with.

The rest of us tend to hold out for a bit, waiting for something that might actually be special, magical and unique - something, as Kia in her beautifully cynical way describes here, that others will be envious of. This is usually in the face of a lot of cynicism, accusations of being unrealistic and watching too much Bollywood. Faced with this kind of support, it's no wonder so many people settle in the way Brooker describes.

An ideal relationship could also be a bit of a poisoned chalice too: the closer you are to what you really want, the more troublesome any inevitable issues may be - it's kinda why we don't mind our friends acting in a way we wouldn't tolerate of our partners. The paradox is that all relationships will have issues; that much is natural and possibly healthy. They just happen to be more of a frustrating pain when you know you're so close to perfection. To put it cynically once we accept that a relationship is going to suck anyway our expectations become lower and so we become more flexible and tolerant. In that sense ideal relationships are the most unstable, and so naturally occur less often anyway.

Brooker does get it wrong eventually though - he suggests that this brand of pure happiness and contentment can only be found with someone who fulfils some pre-made list of expectations which, admittedly, many single looking people have. They know what their partners will look like, and so compare everyone they meet to them.

Perhaps it's this sense of missing a preconceived perfect target which then evolves into thinking that you're not in an ideal relationship, one envied by others? If that's the case, then perhaps all these ungrateful people should realise what they have is envied by others and they just don't appreciate it themselves - millionaires can be jealous of billionaires after all, while the rest of us just look at them both in awe. In that sense perhaps those who aren't envious of other relationships are the ones in perfect ones?

Personally I see a list of requirements as extremely limiting - and despite being asked at least three times a week, I'm still unable to pinpoint exactly what my own magical partner will look or act like. I think I've been universally criticised for this; after all how will I even be able to start looking if I don't know what I'm looking for?

But a lack of requirements is quite telling. In many ways it means it's the ideal relationship being sought and not a person to share it with; heck, I think I'd be pretty happy on my own if it was possible to have a relationship in isolation (and spare me the smutty gags please).

But here comes the gyp: we won't ever know if a person, on paper, will help us achieve a ideal relationship. The only real way is to actually try it out and see - sure, you can get an idea by being friends with them and talking but eventually the proof will be in the actual pudding, and then only if we submit fully to it. Being guarded and careful won't help much since by trying to control the relationship you'll also be influencing its direction unnaturally - you can't force something to be ideal that isn't (see Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle for more on this idea).

So where does this leave us? Well I guess the most important thing to realise is that you need a relationship in the first place for it to become ideal - I can't imagine anyone being able to determine that much without being in it. Secondly although any relationship does take effort to maintain there's not much you can do if there's no natural potential for it to be ideal - and once you realise where the one you're in is it's up to you to decide what to do. Thirdly, and most importantly, ideal relationships aren't necessarily the best, most successful or most stable; after all it's hard to be envious of something awesome when it only lasts a year. Perhaps ideal relationships aren't the most ideal after all?

Monday, January 12

Retiring My Boys

Of all the people I've travelled with, none have been in my company more than my Boys. They've been with me to Canada, the Middle East, Morocco, Spain and other parts of Europe, Singapore, China, Indonesia and Australia. The really funny thing is that they're originally from Pakistan - they've travelled more than most of my other friends!

That's not to say that we don't hang out here in the UK either. In fact during the summer days we see each other at least once a day, usually more, although things literally freeze up during the colder season.

I try to introduce my Boys to as many people as possible - in fact a good indicator of whether you really know me or not is whether you've met them or not. You'd know if you had - most people can't help but comment when they first meet them.

But a relationship as intense as this things always have to end. In some ways it was because I was in contact with them for so long that I've now had to let them go. I do feel bad of course - it's not often you have something that feels so right, that's moulded so perfectly to you.

But things did start to break toward the end. Their flexibility decreased, dents appeared and things that were holding the whole thing together finally ripped apart. I hate that I have to replace my Boys, but then I guess all good things must come to an end eventually. They'll always keep a place in my heart, and I doubt that anything new will ever replace them.

So here ends my ode to my Boys. Man, I'll miss them.


They were also useful when I forgot what gender I was. It happened more often than you'd think you know.

Sunday, January 11

Food: Indali Lounge Click for more info

Yawn. So here's yet another posh Indian - but what's this? A twist? This is a posh Indian... but healthy?

That is the main philosophy behind Indali Lounge - we have the same curries, kebabs and dals as you would find in any balti, but all made for the health conscious amongst us. As a result you have strange concepts such as a butter-free butter-chicken (patent pending), a creamless dal and a gheeless carrot halwa.

Sounds amazingly boring, no? Well actually it wasn't that bad - okay there's no way I would prefer a butter-free chicken over the more sinful variety, but as a whole we did enjoy the food somewhat.

The place is nice too, choosing a modern design over the classical Indian these places usually do. But since the food isn't that special this it's this ambience that costs the most; a decent meal here (admittedly with a mocktail each) costing over £28 per head. For what you're getting this is pretty prohibitive, and as such Indali Lounge isn't a place I'll be heading back to anytime soon - not when you can get a butter-full butter chicken for a third of the price. For those of you who want a healthy option, well there are nicer places to go for that too.

Saturday, January 10

Film: Slumdog Millionaire Click for more info

Brilliantly charming tale about a young boy's journey to adulthood, using the context of fifteen questions in a big money game show to hang it all off of - each question firing off a flashback in which we find out how Jamal came to know the answer. It's a neat trick and one which makes Slumdog Millionaire different enough from other coming of age films.

Jamal's journey mainly revolves around the twin dramatic themes of survival and love, but there are lightweight moments too, mainly comical and feelgood. While I wouldn't say you're due for an inevitable cry out by the end, I would be surprised if you didn't feel any kind of affectionate poignancy for the characters brought to life in the film. The actors have a lot to do with this characterisation, but it being a Danny Boyle film helps too; the whole thing is so well put together you sometimes forget that it's a film you're watching.

Since a lot of the charm in Slumdog is due to the situations and anecdotes within it, it's hard to say any more without spoiling it - I'll just say that Slumdog Millionaire is a wonderful film that all must see. Recommended.

Friday, January 9

Rebel Muzik Click for more info

This was the first time I had gotten a chance to attend Rebel Muzik, a monthly gig showcasing what is probably the best of breed of what is becoming known as spiritual music. Alas previous plans (like going to China) put paid to any chance of attending in 2008, but the new year finally provided me a chance to go.

It really is simple: a fiver gets you into a cosy and intimate space for three or so hours of music and performance with a message - think Radical Middle Way/Dangerous Ideas but much cooler, distilled and without a non-obvious agenda and you'll get what I mean. I thought the lack of a dancefloor and a non-alcoholic policy was especially cute and comforting.

The evening opened with an hour session of open mic - not that I could notice the lack in quality or anything. We had poetry, spoken word, hip-hop and singing, all thoroughly enjoyable. The set up the theme of the evening, and most acts were dedicated to the people of Gaza.

For the main programme though I was lucky enough to see Poetic Pilgrimage again (drool), M9, Saul Abraham and my favourite hit of the night, Rachel Rose Reid: a Jewish (noted just for the superficial irony) storyteller and singer. I honestly didn't get what a professional storyteller was until seeing her tonight. She was pretty stunning actually.

So Rebel Muzik was pretty much an excellent and hassle free night out regardless of what faith you happen to follow. If you're interested in checking it out, it's held on during the first Thursday of each month at the Inn on the Green, Ladbroke Grove. I know I'll be returning - in fact I hope this becomes a regular entry in my social diary.

Thursday, January 8

Snippet

xxxx says (15:10):
    how do you ask someone that they are gay
    i wouldnt
xxxx says (15:11):
    especially if they are hijabies
    what would you have done

[...]

Shak says (15:16):
    ive asked a hijabi her bra size before
xxxx says (15:16):
    what made you ask that question

[...]

Shak says (15:16):
    well it was the natural follow on from her dress size

Avenue Q

Think Team America live and you'll have an idea of what to expect from Avenue Q. It's a tale of, well, the harsh reality of life as we follow around Princeton, Kate and an array of other wild and zany characters as they go about and handle work, relationships, sexuality and the real purpose we have in our lives.

But before a philosophy, there's no doubt that Avenue Q is a comedy, especially if my sometimes embarrassingly loud laughter had anything to do with it. It was all so slapstick, satirical, smutty, witty, tragic (the song "Schadenfreude" was very apt) and just plain funny it could have done away with any plot or characterisation and just left us with the jokes and been worth it.

But it didn't just leave it there. The play was technically excellent too, with some of the best performances I've seen on the stage. You see a puppet character didn't just consist of the puppet but of the puppeteer also, resulting in a symbiotic character made up of the two. It was a really weird yet effective technique which both helped with the suspension of disbelief and allowed us to take the puppet characters seriously (of sorts). I can't stress how skillful the performances were.

The single set was flexible enough to represent a variety of scenarios, and the props and supporting equipment (like the monitor displays) were all used to full effect. we watched from the Royal Circle (the first balcony) which gave an excellent view for this particular performance.

The plot was simple yet effective in teaching the audience about life, love and everything in between and despite the bad language and smut it managed to get away with quite a high moral worth as well as some sweet romance as a bonus. If you liked Team America, South Park and Family Guy then you'll definitely like this. For those who think this brand of humour isn't funny, well there's also enough non-edgy stuff for you too (you prudes).

It's the first time I came away from a play wanting to see it again. And if it had been playing for another couple of years I might well have done; unfortunately it's off by the end of March so if you want to watch it you should do so as soon as possible. Get Into London Theatre are currently selling discounted top tickets, so you really have no excuse.

Funny funny funny, I loved Avenue Q and so totally and utterly recommend it. Oh and before I forget: yes there are puppets having sex in it too.

Wednesday, January 7

Snippet

xxxx says (14:27):
    so i got a scenraio for you
    you're in the toilet
    public one
    finished
    washed your hands
xxxx says (14:28):
    and you're about to open the door
    someone from outside pushes the door and the handle grazes your hand
    do you go back in and wash your hands?
Shak says (14:28):
    rewash
xxxx says (14:28):
    I KNEW IT"!!!!!
    me too
    :(
Shak says (14:28):
    of cos
    whats the point otherwise?
xxxx says (14:29):

    [...]

    so in your opionion
xxxx says (14:30):
    at work
    wha'ts worse
    the guys who just dont wash their hands
    or the ones that only wash when ther's someone else in the toilet
Shak says (14:30):
    oooh
    tough one
Shak says (14:31):
    honesty vs part time clenliness
xxxx says (14:31):
    and the fact that at least with those who just dont wash ... you know about it
    thne you can stay clear
    its' the sly ones you gotta be wary of
    like there's this dude who I'm sure only washes when ppl are around
xxxx says (14:32):
    i had some books delivered to the office
    and he picked one up to flick through
    when i got home ... I had to desanitise it
Shak says (14:33):
    maybe we should just narrow our net
    so instead of cleaning the books....
    just assume all books are dirty and wash hands after using them
xxxx says (14:34):
    nah man .....
    it's a hasle if you're reading in bed
    cos then you gotta make sure the book doenst touch the sheets
Shak says (14:34):
    hmm
    true
xxxx says (14:34):
    and then you gotta get out of bed to wash before sleeping
    unlesss you have some desanitser gel next to the bed
    that's quite useful
    yyyy did that in vegas
Shak says (14:34):
    waht do yout hink of that liquid sanitiser alcohol gel stuff?
xxxx says (14:34):
    it hink it works quite welkl
    always have them with me on holiday
Shak says (14:34):
    is it enough tho
xxxx says (14:34):
    well ....
Shak says (14:35):
    sometimes i think it just... spreads it around
xxxx says (14:35):
    if you got s**t on your hands
    of course it's not gonna help
    but this kinda thing .... it's good for if you touch money and stuff'
    I'd stil go toilet to wash before eating and stuff
Shak says (14:36):
    you know...
    its times like this that im glad i know you
    makes me feel a bit less.... normal
xxxx says (14:36):
    hey man
Shak says (14:36):
    bit more normal i mean
xxxx says (14:36):
    not doing what we do is just sick
Shak says (14:36):
    i know
    it's the rest of society who are just plain dirty
xxxx says (14:36):
    although it does mean our immune system might not be as good as others
    i dont wanan get lupis!
Shak says (14:37):
    but the point is we dont get sick cos we dont bathe in germs right?
xxxx says (14:37):
    true

    [...]

Shak says (14:42):
    hey
    is is desanitise or sanitise?
xxxx says (14:42):
    oh
xxxx says (14:43):
    good point
    sanitise makes sense
    but they call those gel things desanitisers
Shak says (14:43):
    hmm
Shak says (14:44):
    maybe ppl need the "de" bit to realise it's taking something away

Tuesday, January 6

Snippet

xxxx says (15:19):
    i was naughty today...i missed zuhor jammat
Shak says (15:19):
    lol
    no biggie, surely?
    didnt reliase you were that prudent
xxxx says (15:19):
    the guilt is killing me
Shak says (15:20):
    you go everyday? where?
xxxx says (15:20):
    in a basement of a cafe
Shak says (15:21):
    good stuff!
    you pray 5x a day?
xxxx says (15:22):
    aiming
xxxx says (15:23):
    no excuse not to...espically in winter
Shak says (15:23):
    find it sometimes harder
Shak says (15:24):
    too close together
xxxx says (15:24):
    less wahduu
Shak says (15:24):
    ohohoh
xxxx says (15:28):
    ok if you aint flatulent
Shak says (15:29):
    hey man
    i cant keep mine for more than an hour nowadays
Shak says (15:30):
    hence not reading asr till maghrib time!
    i used to keep it all day
    screwed up my insides proper... now i just let it go and rewhudu

Abstruse Goose Click for more info

Today, the things us men will do for a simple life:



The irony is that if women knew exactly how much and how deep their partners thought about things, well then they'd probably complain about that too.

Monday, January 5

Snippet

Shak has changed his/her personal message to "is going to do some work today. Honest. Look, he's one of you guys too, okay?"

xxxx says (11:02):
    poser!
Shak says (11:02):
    ?
xxxx says (11:04):
    your pm
Shak says (11:04):
    :)
    coundt resist
    if its any consolation i really do want to work today
xxxx says (11:04):
    none whatsoever.
Shak says (11:05):
    hey man
    when i get married this is all over
    when YOU get married, it begins
    i know which i'd prefer
xxxx says (11:05):
    lol.
    i actually feel better now :D
Shak says (11:06):
    lol. bitch.

Sunday, January 4

The Science Museum

I have fond memories of visiting the Science Museum. They mainly involve my dad taking my brother and me there, where we played with the experiments and looked at all the exhibits (the more technical the better). The one thing that really stood out was the multiple floor spanning periscope, I think taken from a real submarine. I think I went back just to play with that.

Which is why it's crazy that I've not been back there for over 15 years, four of which were spent studying next door to it at Imperial (we were even allowed in for free at a time when they were charging for entry; it's free to all now).

Luckily the same Canadian friend of mine who I used as an excuse to go to The National Gallery happened to be going today and since it was her last I decided to tag along. And as the memories came flooding back I'm glad that I did.

It was the same stuff as before, except new and fancy and updated for the new century. The experiments were more hands on, the demonstrations nosier and the history updated with recent discoveries. The only thing missing was the periscope.

Alas we only had a couple of hours there so didn't cover it all... but then that's just an excuse to go back for more so it's not all bad news I suppose.

Saturday, January 3

Gaza Demonstration Click for more info

Today I joined the Palestine Solidarity Campaign as well as many others in protesting against the terrible events occurring in Gaza.

I'm hardly the most political opinionated person. I find it easier to write about Islam or relationships than current affairs. This is partly because it all seems so obvious and after the usual commentary (and Facebook status updates) there doesn't really seem much else to say. Of course sometimes things need to be repeated by lots of people before they begin to carry weight, so I'm not criticising that; I guess I'm just too lazy to join in.

I haven't been to a protest this big since the massive Stop the War campaign a few years ago. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) I had met people there for whom this was the first - I remember my dad taking me to a Salman Rushdie one back in the late eighties. Although it was exciting, I didn't appreciate the gesture back then but now I'm glad that getting up and protesting isn't a new thing for me.

Having said that, there are still questions over the effectiveness of something like this. For some it was a bit of a social fad - not least myself: I first went with my neighbour and then met some friends once I got there, pretty much confirming the social aspect of the whole deal. It's quite funny actually - you know you know a lot of people when you keep bumping into them at a mass rally.

Protests like these also tend to serve as self-validation, as if spending a couple of hours (in the cold, admittedly) is enough to get us all off the hook. It's not.

Still protests are worth going - the 50,000 or so there today will not go unnoticed, especially if you multiply that number up to account for those who wanted to be there but couldn't make it. Yes there are precedents of these things being futile (and as we all got home we heard of Israeli ground forces entering Gaza), but it really is better than nothing.

The rally part of the protest was in Trafalgar Square. We had numerous speakers, each talking for no longer than five minutes, ensuring no one got bored or tired. Annie Lennox, Alexi Sayle, George Galloway, Tony Benn and other people not quite sexy enough for me to remember the names of all took the stage. I found it amusingly ironic when someone walked off in contempt when the Shia guest appeared.

I didn't stick around for the onward march to the Israeli embassy; this was fortunate as only the first 5,000 got that far.

Apparently there will be another chance to protest this weekend, so if you missed today's or will like to go again, then here's your chance to do so. It's kinda the lest we can do.

Thursday, January 1

Film: The Spirit Click for more info

A relatively entertaining comic book adaptation outlining the battle (or rather what seems like a petty feud) between The Spirit and Octopus, two near-immortal, yet rather plain otherwise, characters.

The naming of the film is pretty ironic; it's severely lacking any meat or impact and is kinda lifeless as a result. The main asset here is the humour (witness the battle scenes between the two arch-nemeses, and The Spirit's incessant flirting with anything in a skirt), and perhaps this film would have been more appreciated if it had been viewed as a comedy? Nods go to the cast either way; they do a good job making up for the lack of, well, anything else.

Otherwise there's nothing really to see here.

New Music

Umbrella feat. Jay-Z - Rihanna

Look, I know. I KNOW. Regardless how terribly late I am on this one, there's no doubting that this is a tune. Eh eh eh.

Snippet

xxxx says (18:59):
    shak...
    i just wanted to wish you happy moo year
Shak says (19:00):
    :D
    and to you
    plans? objectives?
xxxx says (19:00):
    yeah
    get a movie to a producer
    and put it into the development phase
    would be perfect... and you know go on a diet
xxxx says (19:01):
    how about you??
Shak says (19:01):
    have something out there in the wild
xxxx says (19:01):
    huh?!
Shak says (19:01):
    work wise
xxxx says (19:01):
    aha!
    got it....
    :)
Shak says (19:02):
    and of course there's get married
    but that's rolled over from last year :D
xxxx says (19:02):
    :)
    yeah....

[...]

Shak says (19:02):
    and theyear before
    poss since 2002 actually

[...]

xxxx says (19:02):
    hahaha

[...]

xxxx says (19:02):
    it's like my diet objective you know
Shak says (19:02):
    yeh well.
Shak says (19:03):
    if we fulfilled all our objectives, what else would we want?
xxxx says (19:03):
    yeah but you know
    i'd like to fulfill at least one of them
    :(