Saturday, February 28

Courchevel, Day One: A Convincing View

Having to leave your house at 5am for the airport can easily put you off going holiday altogether. Of course it's nonsense to actually give in to that feeling, but I was wondering whether I wanted to go skiing or not this morning. I had also become pretty productive at work which didn't help (funny how the timing with that is, eh?).

All that disappeared once I arrived at Courchevel, despite the coach from Grenoble airport being longer than the flight to France itself. Seeing the slopes alone bumped up the excitement; there was no time to actually ski today but the mountain views and seeing everyone in their ski gear got the imagination flowing.

I've not actually been to France as often as I should have done. Despite that, everything seemed so familiar and friendly; safe if you will. This impression carried on into the chalet in which us six were staying (another two were in another chalet) - it was cool and homely, with the chalet girls' food completing the sense of belonging. It was immediately clear how the whole chalet thing was a big part of the skiing experience; it would have been awesome if there was 12 of us, but as it stood we were lucky enough to cohabit the place with some lovely guys from London.

Having to leave your house at 5am for the airport can easily put you off going holiday altogether. Actually getting there makes you forget all your misgivings.

Friday, February 27

Penny Arcade Click for more info

Oh Joss, please don't make us out to be blind fools.

Things That Pee Me Off #12(b): Self-Lolling

Now here's something that's so annoying that I'm having to write about it once again. This time however, I'd like to focus on a particular instance of this self-congratulatory behaviour, one which only really happens over text based media; that of self-lolling:

Them: Hello!
Me: Yo, wasuap?


Me: And that's why I think we should adjust our attitudes toward the rishta process.
Them: Actually I think it's 'cos you're so obviously gay! Haha! Looooooool! LMFAO!!
Me: Haha, you're so funn... Wait a minute, what?

You get the idea.

Just because at least one person is laughing hard (namely you), that in itself doesn't make something funny - no, that actually takes wit, relevance and (possibly) a little bit of thought. Likewise, if something is funny then other people will laugh at it. On their own. Without prompting. If you have to fill that role, then the chances are that your humour isn't as, well, accessible as you think it is.

Of course we shouldn't need other people to validate ourselves. And I'm not saying that you're not allowed to find yourself hilarious either (I certainly do myself). I just find it a bit over-compensatory to let other people know this, and perhaps a bit insecure. And in the worst case it could make something that would have been funny on its own, not (assuming you care that is): I mean if they didn't laugh then I probably would have (although I will say that the majority of the times it's as funny as the reaction suggests it is).

But let's assume it's not about being insecure, but that it just generally stems from bad manners. Call it e-bravery or cyberguts, but people generally don't lol at their own jokes in real life but find it acceptable to do so online. Add to that the fact that these jokes are usually at the expense of someone else and you end up with something pretty close to classic misanthropic cyberbullying.

What's really upsetting is that, in the online world anyway, it's the women who tend to self-lol the most. Check your Facebook and count which status messages end with a lol or a winky and you'll see what I'm talking about. This is pretty ironic seeing as it's the men who are usually accused of finding themselves funny but more than that it's a shame since it's also a pretty immodest thing to do. I guess modesty is another casualty in the struggle for independence, and as long as you're laughing it doesn't really matter about anyone else.

In conclusion then, whether you are genuinely funny or not, you don't have to prove that you at the very least think you are by self-lolling. Patting yourself on the back is never a good idea, so how about letting someone else do that instead? At the very least remember this much: that self-lolling doesn't make what you said kind, clever, acceptable or most importantly funny, what you actually said in the first place does.

Thursday, February 26

Film: He's Just Not That Into You Click for more info

A charming tale, or rather bunch of tales, about various folk trying to figure out what their significant (and not so significant) others are trying to tell them (or not tell them). This film is all about communication, be it of your needs, feelings or something mundane

It's a bit like Love Actually, actually, albeit with a couple of major arcs supported by satellite ones. And don't let the title fool you though; HJNTIY is just as much about the guys as it is about the girls.

Although it's slightly more rom than com, it still managed to make me laugh out loud more than a few times. It's literally funny 'cos it's all true, and I defy anyone to watch this without relating to (and possibly even learning from) at least one of the characters or anecdotes in it.

As a production the film had little to complain about, and the acting was up to scratch too - I guess it's easy to pull off a character when they're not the main focus of a film. I didn't even mind Affleck doing his bit, while Scarlett was smoking hot.

A definite recommendation, even if you'll only get to watch it with a guy mate.

Joke of the Day

I would correct the spelling but I reckon it just adds to the funny:

Pakistani man rings da local paper 2 place an obituary 4 his dear late wife.He only had £1 wich wud gt him only 3 words.He said write"Parveen is dead"da guy at da paper felt sorry4 him & said "u can hav3more words,I won't charge u 4 them".The Pakistani man sed,"OK...put- 'Parveen is dead, Nissan 4 sale'.

Thanks to Syra for the joke!

Tuesday, February 24

Film: Push Click for more info

Ambitious tale about a world where psychics are powerful and aplenty; enough to be a threat to governments worldwide, in fact. So yes, you have a bunch of rebel psychics being hunted down by turncoat psychics, and the powers they each have are so varied that it's easy to forget you're not watching an X-men film.

But Push isn't really about psychic powers, it's more about rebellion and standing up to the man, blah blah blah. It actually does a pretty good job of this, until it goes well over its own complex head and ends up a confusing mess.

It's a shame because other than the wild (and unnecessary in my opinion) ending the film is good. Dakota Fanning does brilliantly again as a sassy teenage girl, while the others keep things ticking along.

If you're looking for something resembling fantasy drama then this will probably fit the bill; just don't be too miffed if you don't quite get the ending - ignore that and you'll enjoy what else Push has to offer.


Shak says (21:56):
who are you?
luluul says (21:56):
are you girl or boy
(21:57) luluul has been blocked

Video of the Day Click for more info

There's nothing better on a Tuesday morning than a healthy dose of misogyny:

I still don't understand how women get cheaper insurance. Perhaps they're just oblivious to the carnage they leave in their wake.

Cheers to, uh, Steve for the link.

Monday, February 23

Link of the Day Click for more info

The Eligible-Bachelor Paradox

In conclusion, it's just a complicated way to say what we all know; that women are fussy. I've always said it was a woman's market out there, but for some reason many shoot me down, claiming it's the men that choose them. Maybe mathematics will finally convince, although I do slightly disagree with how it's only the strong bidders who wait. Heavens no.

Thanks to Zany for the linkage.

Sunday, February 22

Game: Street Fighter IV (360) Click for more info

I was actually lucky enough to play this way back in July at Battle of Destiny; you can read my initial impressions here; in fact you should as I'll mainly be talking the specific console additions here.

The game is as great as it was back then. Not being capped by a maximum of three wins and a ten minute queue meant that I now have a deeper understanding of the game; focus attacks now play a major part of lulling people into a false sense of security, cancelling and chaining are now respective sciences rather than exploited bugs and the new characters are all deep in their own right. This game really is a masterpiece, and I can't wait to learn it's every detail.

It's also pretty much been made for home consoles. The 360 version is wonderful, running at a full 60fps at HD resolutions; any slowdown is deliberate, mainly for you to link in a super combo or two. Sound is also up to par with pumped up soundtracks doing their bit to encourage a fiery fight.

Versus mode is where I'll be spending most of my time. Unfortunately there still isn't a proper round robin manager - it would be so handy (perhaps just for me) to be able to enter names and get the CPU to assign controllers with winner-stays-on rules. Arcade mode is fun and exhilarating; until you meet the major **** that is Seth, the final boss. One word: cheap.

A challenge mode rounds off the single player experience, with further timed, survival and trial modes to hone your skills on (regular training is also available). Rewards are in the form of unlockable art, colours, tags and characters, the last of which is particularly frustrating. Live online play is supposed to be impressive, but my subscription has expired so I can't say for myself.

A note about controllers: I managed to procure two Hori sticks a while back in preparation for SFIV, and they're pretty great. I will say that they're not perfect - I do miss moves sometimes and get myself in a muddle as I lose the instructive muscle memory I had with SNES and PS pads. I'll add to that the the 360 pad isn't all that bad provided you use the analogue stick over the horrid d-pad.

Anyway SFIV is awesome. It's already a classic if the roars of pain given off both sides as someone makes a heroic comback are anything to go by and I can imagine many a late night playing this (perhaps I'll get my 100+ streak again?). It's a game I already want to invest time and effort into, a buck in the trend of me wanting to get through a game as fast as possible. Absolutely and utterly recommended.

Game: Wii Fit Click for more info

Meh. "It's a damn gimmick" I kept telling my dad (although without the damn part of course). "If you want to get fit then do some exercise!". Of course no one ever listens to me (I'm the youngest born you see) and before I knew it, a Balance Board sized parcel was delivered to our door.

I have to admit that it's a pretty smart piece of kit, in a simple and effective way I mean. For those of you who have an idea of what the Balance Board does, it's not just a scale, but four: one in each foot. This means it can tell you which way you're leaning - the "balance" part - and this in turn opens up some pretty nifty minigames.

Some are more effective than others. You have the Yoga and Workout ones, which rely on you to keep still on the board in order to indicate that you're holding a position correctly. The other games are literally for fun, with things like hula hooping, skiing, dancematting and tightrope walking. All very clever and very fun in a group.

But as fun as it is, will it make you fit? Well I'm convinced that it would have some kind of positive effect if done daily and properly (as always it's easy enough to cheat). I still think it's a gimmick in that sense, and that you're much better off going for a jog or something. But people don't jog and judging by the use Wii Fit is getting in this house they do use this. In those terms it is better than nothing.

Saturday, February 21

Film: Bolt Click for more info

Standard top class Disney CGI about a dog without super powers (you'll see what I mean if you get the chance to catch it). There aren't many surprises here - we have the same universal appeal, the same cheesy plot and lines which may make you well up (not me) and some awesome action sequences making full use of the medium. I won't say that Bolt is best of breed or even memorable, but it was certainly a blast while it lasted.

What did make Bolt special was that we watched it in 3D. Now all these optic-altering gimmicks usually give me headache, and there was nothing different here. Still the 3D was effective when I wasn't straining my eyes, and I'm guessing that it was just me who was having problems.

Bolt is definitely worth a watch, and pretty much compulsory if you have nephews to take. Recommended.

Thursday, February 19

The Unconsidered Implications of Uploading

There's been a lot of flap about Facebook's daring change in Terms of Service this week, most of it a step behind what's actually happened. For most of us it had all been done before, Google's Chrome being the last to fall foul of idiotic God-like claims to our content. And like Chrome, even the mighty Facebook had to back down. Whether they originally knew what they were actually asking for is still up for debate; I for one think the distribution argument is a cop out. And just in case you didn't know, most content driven sites lay some kind of rights to the content you create or upload to them. They almost have to by definition. The problem I have is that this whole news story, and the frenzy we've all whipped up, is totally missing the point.

This Wired article concisely and clearly explains what happened and what needs to be done next, but the real message is in the comments; in short: "You either sign up & lose privacy, or you don't sign up at all. Is that simple.". Anyone thinking otherwise is being terribly naive; even if a website's intention is for the best, that alone will not stop bad things from happening. How many pictures have you accidentally seen on Facebook that you know was probably not intended for your eyes?

I hate to say I told you all so, but I blatantly did. To be frank I don't care whether someone puts pictures of themselves up on the Internet or not, but I don't think anyone has the right to compromise the privacy of others so flippantly. It's almost on par with Governmental "Big Brother" invasion of privacy which we often complain about. There's no difference between the two if neither considers your wishes.

To be fair I don't blame the people; well not directly anyway. Technology is moving so fast that people are failing to educate themselves - they literally know not what they do. Without being too dramatic it's actually disrespectful of the power such a global network like the Internet puts in your hands. At least one good thing about this Facebook fiasco is that people now have a clue, some idea of the implications that their actions have. On the other hand, there are very few of us (I hope) who would freely create multiple hard copies of their holiday/party snaps and send them to all they know either. There's no real justification for doing this over the wires either, yet we so easily do.

The solution is to make a change to your assumptions - instead of thinking that there's a small chance that the things you release into the wild will reach the attention of people they're not supposed to, think that they most definitely will at some stage. Expect the worst, even if it means compromising your lazy little attention-seeking social network and maybe then you'll not worry about a website claiming the inevitable truth - that once you tell someone a secret, it's no longer yours to keep any more anyway.

Monday, February 16

Shades Click for more info

During a reading of plays written by young Muslims way back in October, I had asked the writers when any of them would make a full production. Their reply was ominous; basically there was no guarantee any of them would make it further than they already had. I said back then that I'd watch any of them if they did make the stage, and when I found out that Shades was running at the Royal Court, well I had to put my money where my mouth was.

Not that it was easy to get to see it at all - I managed to snag the last saleable ticket of the whole four week run this morning (it ends on Saturday). To be honest I was in two minds going on my own; it turns out that it would have been a massive mistake if I hadn't gone (not least because it turned out that I happened to know other people there anyway).

The Jerwood Theatre Upstairs seemed like a perfect forum for Shades, with its stage flanked by two sets of audiences. Maximum seating (all communal and unreserved) can't have been for more than 100 (Wikipedia reckons it's 85), and it was intermediately clear why you can no longer buy tickets for the play. It's a bit disappointing actually, since Shades deserves to be seen by as many as possible; a friend on the reserve list had been turned away already, and I know others desperate for tickets too.

Shades was quite simply wonderful. It was well written (although I had known that already from its reading), well acted and well produced; from an academic point of view there was very little to complain about since it was so well put together. The set was simple (as in, non-existent), with minimal props and costume and clever lighting used to create ambiance instead. This was a clever move, since it allowed writing, acting and story to shine without dilution. The talent were well picked, each doing a class job of their roles although I did find that a part of me was a bit irritated at how none of them were Muslim. Perhaps that's ironic, or perhaps that's not.

It's worth talking about the script in more detail, and not just because of how it came into being. Essentially Shades is just another modern take on Romeo and Juliet. In fact I wouldn't give it many originality points, and the ending was especially inevitable. This didn't take much away from the play at all though, I was on the edge of my seat with my knuckles in my mouth a fair few times as I eagerly awaited to see how the people I recognised handled the situations I didn't. It didn't hurt how ingeniously funny it was in places either.

I've seen a fair few "Asian/Muslim" plays (not least the one I saw on Friday) and Shades was one of the very few that I recognised at least part of myself and others that I know of in. Similarly instead of noticing how wrong a writer got it, or how they knew nothing about what they were trying to talk about, I was left nodding in agreement while silently screaming "at last". In fact there was at least a couple of scenes which had pretty much been played out word for word in real life; it was uncanny, reassuring and vindicating to have our contrasting opinions and attitudes so accurately portrayed. But regardless of familiarity the play did manage to express a fair few non trivial moral points regarding subjectivity and perspective without being preachy and it deserves an award for that alone.

As an aside I was lucky enough to sit next to Alia Bano during the show; although I didn't get to talk much to her about her brilliant work I did unashamedly do the groupie thing and got her to sign my copy of the script (for her part she recognised me first from Unheard Voices, but that's neither here nor there. Ahem). It was good to see the whole thing come together so brilliantly, especially after seeing it at such a seminal stage before. I'm not ashamed to admit that the whole thing was pretty inspiring.

And I think that's it really - I liked Shades. I liked it a lot. The trouble now is how to recommend a show that's totally sold out. The Royal Court do run a returns list but you have to get there pretty early (around 6:30pm should do it) to stand a chance of getting in. So I guess that's it then: I totally recommend you make all the effort you can to watch Shades; it really is that much of a rare treat and I can only hope that it gets developed further enough to be seen by the numbers it truly deserves.

Sunday, February 15

Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East Click for more info

A bunch of us once again returned to the Saatchi Gallery down on King's Road to check out what we thought was a collection of Islamic Art. When we got there we realised that what we had in our heads wasn't what was put out on offer; this stuff was more modern, abstract and possibly controversial than what one might classically imagine Islamic Art to consist of. I think that this was new art by Muslims, rather than art derived from Islam, a stance that know can't be an absolute one.

The overriding theme was that of liberation - be it women from oppression or the West Bank from occupation. They were all striking, although some more than others; ironically though I can't quite remember much of it and am finding it difficult to pick a favourite.

However, almost cliche like, the art did generate debate amongst those of us who went. We found ourselves talking about honour, liberation, gender justice and other things - discussions completely triggered off by what we were seeing. As thought provoking art this was definitely it.

As is the case with all the Saatchi exhibitions, Unveiled is free so you really have little excuse not to check it out; although I won't say that it's worth going for alone there's plenty of other things to do in the area to make a day out of it.

Saturday, February 14

The Annual Inevitably Cynical "I Hate Valentine's" Post

It's an especially hateful Valentine's Day this year - I won't bother explaining why and I won't be responding to any questions either so don't bother. I'm serious. Cough.

So what can us singles collectively bitch about this year? Commercialism is lame (and easily avoided by celebrating the day before or after), complaining about how difficult it is to find someone is annoying (I'm sure) and just stating that those who happen to be in relationships are losers is just too easy (no matter how true it is). You do all realise it's just a matter of time before you break up, right?

So how about we flip the script a bit? I think that conventionally this annual post shouldn't be deep or long, so just bear with me on this one: how about I make the suggestion that those of us still single are such purely out of choice? Make it due to laziness, high expectations, fear or whatever you want; the point is that if any of us really did want to celebrate VD (snigger) with a loved one then they totally could. It's in our hands people.

Still, at least I won't be totally and utterly alone watching a film this year. No, tonight is all about curry, poker, foos-ball (and bitching about those in relationships whatever their gender. We are equal opportunity haters). I guess I should be thankful for having such lovely (and chronically single) mates. And you know what? There's no reason whatsoever that we can't celebrate the unique love that exists between friends during this day either.

An Impromptu Half-Marathon

This morning my running partner neighbour surprised me by challenging us to run an impromptu half-marathon.

Now there's nothing wrong with the distance itself; I've done it many times before, mostly during marathon training, but sometimes as an individual race and came away with some pretty decent times.

Just to give you some measure though, my last race time was just over 2 hours, with my fastest being around 1 hour 33 minutes (although again, since that was during training that's not an indicative time really). The longest I've run out of competition/training was nine miles a couple of weeks ago, during which I managed just under 8 and a half minute miles; the aim was to match that today (and so get a total time of under 1h50m.

Conditions were not ideal. For a start it was a surprise mentally, but I also hadn't really stretched appropriately, had zero carbs and water loaded and had some bad quality sleep last night. But since I had missed last year's Roding Valley Half Marathon (due to being in Israel) and will be missing this year's too, I thought I should give it a go.

It was pretty tough going. The first half (quarter marathon?) was positive, with us hitting 8 (and a bit) minute miles and going strong. The Roding Valley track is undulating (something that makes it quite popular) and the ups were painful with the downs not really giving as much back as they should have been. The second half was much worse, my knee beginning to buckle bringing my pace down to around the nine minute mark. By the end of it I could feel my tank literally empty with hunger and dizziness arriving in equal measure. I reckon my knee will be out of whack for a week at least.

We finished our adapted circuit in 1:47.30, something which certainly surprised me; I wasn't anticipating a pace that close to the 8 minute mark. It turned out that we had miscalculated the route - we had actually run 12.1 miles which brought my pace back up to a more understandable 8m53s. Still it was under 9 minutes which was better than my last competitive half-marathon, although I suspect an extra mile would have battered that pace.

I'm glad I went out today. Considering the conditions I think we did alright and I no longer feel that I'll be missing out on the annual Roding Valley event twice in a row. Under race conditions and with more adequate preparation I'm almost certain I could hold a pace of 8m30s, and quite possibly do even better than that.

Friday, February 13

Where's My Desi Soulmate? Click for more info

An Asian play about single people striving to find their other halves? 'Cos, sure, that's not been done before, right? I guess relationships really are all us lot think about, eh?

So no, I was never going into this with high expectations of originality; instead I was hoping to rely on a good script and acting to get my money's worth. Unfortunately Desi Soulmate failed on all this counts (and then some).

I guess the biggest problem was that of energy (or rather a distinct lack of the stuff). The play was slow and punctuated with massive silences, certain scenes went on for way too long and the acting was wooden and confusing. Stage-wise, the set was simple yet versatile, although I felt that video was overused especially on the shabby screens they were projected on. Further technical glitches (one dropped to Windows at one point) further highlighted the amateur quality of the show. I think it turned out a bit too clever for its own good.

There was also a distinct lack of insight; it all had been well trodden and discussed territory (imagine GGM live and you'll come close) and so nothing was fresh. You could probably get more sitting in on one of our infamous local relationship group chats. In a nutshell then, the play wasn't very good.

HOWEVER: there was quite a bit of audience participation during the show, with Cherry Mirza (geddit?) coming down to us often and getting us to talk into her mic. One experiment involved pulling up two random single guys and two random single girls, giving each boy girl pair matching tokens, and then asking them to find each other during the interval. The concept was quite amusing in itself, but perhaps more so considering how I was stitched up and picked as one of the boys.

Alas it took a massive fifteen minutes for my matching girl to to meet me at the stage, under the big floating heart like we were asked to - and even then it was only to get her share of the sweeties were all rewarded with; I didn't even get a name. Still, even with that I managed to do better than the other guy, whose match didn't turn up at all (it turned out later that she was a relatively public figure so perhaps that had something to do with it?).

But it still wasn't over as we were publicly asked during the second part how it all went. The other obviously didn't have much to say except how his date sucked for not turning up. I'll spare you my embarrassment, although needless to say I was, or at least tried to be the perfect gentleman and so didn't release too many non-existent details. I did score massive sympathy points though (and a friend told me later that she overheard people talking about little ol' me in the ladies bathroom. I'm choosing to totally believe this blatant lie).

So yes, that much was pretty fun. The play though was rubbish. Avoid.

Happy 1234567890 Second! Click for more info

Just in case you missed it, the clock just struck 1234567890 since the beginning of Epoch/Unix Time. For those of you who already know, where were you when this arbitrarily unique event ticked over?

For the rest of you, please move on.

New Music

High School Musical Special! But first, the normal stuff:

Avenue Q - Avenue Q

From the previously watched theatre production, the lyrics still have me in stitches. And as an OST it's top class too!

Use Somebody - Kings of Leon

My current rock ballady track. Crap lyrics but who cares?

Run - Leona Lewis

Far superior to the Snow Patrol version which she covers, this is even more class from the girl from Hackney.

And now what you've all been waiting for:

High School Musical - High School Musical

Only Breaking Free and Stick to the Status Quo, mind.

High School Musical 3 - High School Musical 3

Now or Never, I Want It All, Can I Have This Dance, A Night To Remember, Just Wanna Be With You, High School Musical.

Camp Rock - Camp Rock

We Rock, Here I Am, Our Time Is Here.

All feelgood, teeny boppy, and musical. I won't say any more since I've already lost any street cred I might have had. I'm going to go jump off a cliff now.

The Great Debate

A bit heavy for a Friday night, but since it's so important it has to be discussed as soon as possible. A picture paints a thousand words though so:

For me there is no debate. The most correct way to hang your bog roll is B: there's a larger "grab" space, it's always easier to roll towards you rather than away and due to the angles, it's easier to "swipe" and tear just the amount of paper you need (and so you don't have to touch the paper at all).

Of course I still respect the opposing stance (even though I take it upon myself to switch As to Bs whenever I can and wherever I happen to be. You mat think this weird, but apparently I'm not the only one who does this). No, the real criminals are the fence sitting morons who don't have an opinion at all, as if this isn't an issue worth thinking about at all. The only thing worse than a wrong answer is an inconsistent one.

Thanks to Steve for the tip.

Link of the Day Click for more info

Nokia Cupid

Be romantic and send a free Valentine's message to your unsuspecting target's mobile phone number (assuming you actually know it of course). The the thing for those of you too cheap or cowardly to do something better. My only regret, of course, is that I have nobody's digits to plug into the website myself. Hopefully someone reading will find a use for it though.

And don't worry; the hate will resume tomorrow as normal.

Food: Osteria Italia

A cosy yet swish Italian down on Golders Green Road. Clean, with nice and friendly service I would say that the food is a slight let-down - my jaw had a bit of a workout getting through the dough in the pizza/garlic bread.

Cost wise, it came to 15 per head, slightly pricey for what we got, but considering we were left to our own devices and allowed to chill, it's not a totally unreasonable price.

Thursday, February 12

The Kelvedon Hatch Click for more info

Deep in Ongar ways there's a not-so-secret nuclear bunker, originally built to house the Prime Minister in times of war. It was functioning in some role or another all the way up to 1994 (presumably they've built a more swish place for our heads of state now), but is now privately owned and open to the public. Interestingly though it can still be activated at any time - amusingly there was a colour status thing on the outside indicating that the country was at level "Special Black", which isn't the colour for peace.

It was pretty much what you'd expect from a pre-war building - dingy and dank, with that smell of rotting dust in the air. It didn't feel as deep as I expected as we took the long sloping corridor down to the lowest level of three. We saw the radio stations, the emergency broadcast rooms and communications and operations facilities; most of it was tarted up with shabby props and the like, but you could still imagine the history there. I was especially impressed by the fail-safe and redundant communication infrastructure they had at that time; pretty ironic since I assume back then it might have been seen as a waste of taxpayers money, just like similar initiatives are seen as now.

War rooms, dormitories and medical centres made up the rest of the place, the building capable of housing 600 of the most important people in the country. All in all it was a decent way to spend a couple of hours; one of those things with enough character to give you a feel of the history it represents.

Tuesday, February 10


xxxx says (22:42):
    Blanka btw
Shak says (22:42):
    i reckon youre a fake
    youre just saying random stuff to get boys hot under the collar
    it's okay, i do the same with ladies fashion
xxxx says (22:42):

Film: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Click for more info

It's films like this which make me wonder how others can claim to be feelgood. Nick and Norah is pretty much just that; it's classic boy meets girl at its core, with a full coating of charm, wit and music on the outside.

I wouldn't describe Infinite Playlist as deep though - there's isn't no insightful moral commentary or point here. You're just hanging out with a bunch of kids as they look for Fluffy as well as themselves (aww).

Michael Cera and Kat Dennings do a fine job as the young Romeo and Juliet, with the supporting cast doing enough not to be completely sidelined. The film was well put together if a bit random, but that turned out to be something which just added to the charm of the film as a whole. I have to say that I was underwhelmed by the soundtrack, but not enough to have been left disappointed.

Forget the rest; if you really need something feelgood and easy going look no further than Infinite Playlist. Totally recommended!

Saturday, February 7

Film: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Click for more info

First things first: this film is long. It feels long. There were times I fell asleep and didn't miss much. I'm not saying the film is boring but, well, just think about taking a pillow if you decide to watch it.

A quick google shows that I'm not the only one to draw parallels between Benjamin Button and one of my favourite books, The Time Traveller's Wife. Both introduce a weird time warping twist to their respective stories, neither are science fiction novels and both are almost totally character driven. In fact I'd probably ask you to have a read of my take on TTTW since it largely reflects how I felt about TCCBB. In short the curious affliction Benjamin has been afflicted bit is secondary to his (and his wife's) coming of age story.

Which leaves us to the other, more filmy, parts of the film. The acting was superb, with Brad Pitt once again showing us that he's not just a pretty fa...body. Cate Blanchett is equally good, as is the production as a whole really. The story and script present plenty of laughs and tears, as each anecdote of Benjamin's life is told in a particular and unique way (Benjamin's take on causality part way through the movie was of particular interest to me).

In fact the only gripe I really have of the film is its length. Ordinarily this isn't of much concern - I've seen more than enough Bollywood to have become accustomed to sitting on my bum for that long. No, it's more that the film seemed a bit laboured at times, as if it was trying too hard to make very simple points. I guess it's safe to cover all the bases and make sure your whole audience is on the same page, but personally I would have preferred a good half hour or so to have been trimmed off.

But in the end I will recommended Benjamin Button. It's different and enjoyable enough not to pass up; just make sure you take a pillow and blanket with you.

Friday, February 6

Abstruse Goose Click for more info

Aaaah good ol' Alice and Bob. I always knew Bob was a romantic:

A fine use of asymmetric cryptography if I ever saw one.

Rebel Muzik Click for more info

February's edition of Rebel Muzik was just as cracking as the last: once again we had an open mic session stuffed with talent you could hardly describe as being amateur; and once again we had a fantastic main show with talent like Manage and Kingpin busting up the mic and J.Kas providing some awesomely eclectic stuff too.

There were two hits for me this time. Ottoman Empire Soundsystem, four guys from Germany, were just plain fun - their performance was charming, amusing and full of quality and we laughed and sung along with the group.

Secondly there were the beautifully talented Pearls of Islam; a poetic/spoken word duo who seemed as brilliant off stage as they did on it.

So yet another fantastic night out, with Rebel Muzik once again cementing its guarantee of providing spiritually uplifting, inspiring and most importantly brilliant music each first Thursday of the month.