Tuesday, June 30


xxxx says (23:18):
Shak says (23:18):
xxxx says (23:18):
too hot
Shak says (23:18):
AC baby
no wait
can we do this again?
xxxx says (23:18):
uh huh
Shak says (23:18):
start again pls from the top
xxxx says (23:19):
Shak says (23:19):
xxxx says (23:19):
nothing...too hot...
Shak says (23:19):
wah thanks, youre not so bad yourself
xxxx says (23:19):
i knew you were gonna say that!!

Monday, June 29

Link of the Day Click for more info

Rating attractiveness: study finds consensus among men, not women

In short: women are confused beings who will reject what they say they want but end up with what they say they don't want, while guys are willing to take whatever comes close.

Well that's how I read it, anyway.

Sunday, June 28

Food: Masa Click for more info

Definitely one for the meat eaters, Masa is a straightforward enough Afghani restaurant located in Harrow. The food is wonderful and relatively good value with the red meat remaining soft and succulent even after they had gone cold. Amazing.

But if BBQ'd lumps of meat isn't your thing there are plenty of other gems in the menu here. I wasn't too clear on the names of all the dishes but the Afghani pasta was lovely and creamy, while even boring things like rice and dahl satisfied. Service was equally impressive, with a waiter making room for me to pray on the restaurant floor itself.

So definitely one that's recommended, although it is a bit of a drag to get to. Yum.

Wednesday, June 24

Film: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Click for more info


Actually the biggest surprise with this film was realising that it's been a whopping two years since the last one came out. Two years! Feels like yesterday.

And not much progress seems to have been made in those two years. We have the same battle scenes involving larger-than-houses-robots, the same "it's not quite how I remember it to be, but it's cool anyway" feeling at the back of your mind and the same weak script, crappy acting and inconstant plot (even more so in fact: why we're forced to attend to the lives of so many puny humans in a film about robots I'll never understand). Except this time, after the initial awe of seeing Robots in Disguise, it didn't quite wash.

Which is strange, since I usually don't mind "more of the same". I guess Revenge of the Fallen is different since the poignancy that the first film relied on so heavily had all been used up - the sequel had to offer something more than awesome action scenes but didn't and I was left feeling a bit frustrated with the whole thing. That it lasted around two and a half hours didn't help either. It's all about as disappointing as finding out that a hottie has toe thumbs.

That said it is worth a watch anyway, if only for the transforming robots and not-so-accurate fanservice. Just fast forward past the bits in the middle and you'll be fine.

XKCD Click for more info

You don't lose if you don't play!

I used to boast about having a 100% record with relationships. I then realised that this, the trivial case, is less than impressive.

Sunday, June 14

Film: The Hangover Click for more info

I was pleasantly surprised by this film about what could go wrong when you have a bit too much to drink at a bachelor party. The whole film is based around a bunch of the party goers waking up with no memory of what happened the night before, and then spending what little time they have before the wedding to piece it all together.

If that sounds shallow it's probably because it was. I can only describe this film as a series of random and largely irrelevant set pieces, most funny but some not as much. The mystery of What Actually Happened last night is supposed to be what drives the film forward, but by the end of it it's the pure nonsense that end up being The Hangover's main asset - that and the surprisingly complex, interesting and complimentary characters doing the sleuthing.

A nice easy going out film that doesn't demand much from its audience, I'd even go as far as giving this a recommendation.

Go Ape! Click for more info

Nothing quite beats an aerial assault course. Not that I regularly go on them mind, but it was clear that all of us were excited about this afternoon's shenanigans. Everyone wants to be a Tarzan I guess or challenge themselves physically. Of course it goes without saying that more than a few lost their vocal enthusiasm once they had climbed their first ladder, but then only one or two didn't recover after the initial shock of having to traverse various obstacles at such a height.

For those of you who haven't heard of them, Go Ape! run various aerial obstacle courses throughout the UK, each essentially made up of strong wire and then with a liberal helping of swings, traps and ladders putting it all together. The basic layout of the six or so sites at Woburn was to start off climbing a latter, do a couple of rope bridges or plank crossings or the like and then finish off with a zip line back to ground again (the longest here was 156m).

It's all tremendous fun, and that mainly for one reason. No, it's not challenging and overcoming your own mental and physical limitations. And no, it's not even the thrill of swooshing down a zip line at 20mph or so. It's tremendous fun because you get to see your friends crap their pants, especially when they were the same ones boasting about how they were going to carve up the place. That's not to say that there's anything to be afraid of; both the equipment and training were top notch and we were soon all safely juggling our carabiners like we had been doing this kinda stuff for years.

It's pretty good value too - the six sites took us an amazingly lazy 4 hours to get through. I wouldn't say that the experience itself was worth 25 quid but since we all got in on a 2 for 1 offer I wasn't about to complain. Going in a large group (ours was 14 odd) is a mixed affair too; unfortunately you're all too thinly spread to experience it totally together. I'd advise buddying up with someone throughout, if only to get each others backs when attaching and reattaching to the various safety wires.

In conclusion then: Go Ape is a brilliant way to spend half a day, whether you find yourself tested by the experience or not. It's definitely physical, enough to be fun but not too much too overwhelm, and at the end of the day it's worth going just to see your manly mates scream like little girls.

Woburn Safari Park Click for more info

Man, I can't even remember the last time I visited Woburn. This was the safari park of the 80s, the place where the more initiated parents took their kids instead of the zoo. Personally I prefer the latter since you're able to go at your own pace instead of waiting in a line of cars each spending five minutes in the only prime position to see a lion sleeping from miles away. But still it's a different experience, one we only really participated in as we were going to visit the on site Go Ape anyway.

So yes, there were elephants and tigers and lions and monkeys. The weather was fine and we got to see most of the animals laze about in the sun. Thinking back, I don't recall there being much of a variety both on the car safari and the by-foot leisure part. Facilities wise, Woburn is pretty cool and clean and a nice way to spend a lazy weekend day chilling out and picnicking, but overall I don't think it would have offered much value for the 17 odd quid normal price, but luckily we got a reduced fare based on our Go Ape tickets.

Still, it was worth it just to remember the good times: you know, when we used to do these kind of things with family instead of friends.

Wednesday, June 10

Rebel Muzik Click for more info

This evening's Rebel Muzik was a pretty special and unique affair and one we would have missed had we not planned on meeting for dinner at Makan down the road beforehand. Rebel Muzik had actually been cancelled tonight due to a Tube-strikeful lack of showing; the thirteen or so of us we were oblivious to this as we merrily munched away on our Green Curries, until Mohammad Yahya, Poetic Pilgrimage and a few other acts from tonight's show walked through the door. We thought that they were there for a pre-show dinner but it turned out that Rebel was no more, well for this month anyway.

Perhaps it was our visible disappointment, or perhaps the pent up creative energy of the acts that did turn up needed to be vented, but Mohammad suggested that we have a bit of a jam anyway. No audience? We didn't need one. No stage or venue? Ditto. What could have been a massive let down, especially for the six in our group who hadn't been to Rebel Muzik before turned out to be a special treat that even the most ardent Rebellers weren't around to be a part of, exclusive to a select few who happened to be in the right place at the right time.

So there we were outside, on the street, jamming away. Those who were scheduled to appear tonight did their bits including some beautiful readings from Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak, a new book brought to us by the U.S Female Spoken Word Collective, while Brother Dash ripped up the floor with his words. Ethel Cee was gracious enough to do a bit (and she was good too), but it was Mekka who really contributed the most tonight, not counting the bro on the drums whom I unfortunately can't quite remember the name of.

But this wasn't just about us watching them. The intimacy of the situation meant that we were also a big part of it, whether than meant clapping in time (we failed miserably at some points) or just generally participating with our positive energies. Whatever it was we really felt a big part of what was spontaneously happening. We only had drums at first until someone (whom some of you may or may not know) pulled out their guitar and added some strings to the mix. Sweet.

So it was a banging evening, just how these spontaneous, intimate and free flowing things usually are. My only regret is how most of today's line-up were internationally sourced and possibly only touring here for a while; it's unlikely that we'll see them in a more professional setting which is a shame. But otherwise it was a wonderful thing to have witnessed, and I'm pretty honoured to have been a part of it.

Food: Makan Cafe Click for more info

I finally got to be a part of the already established pre-Rebel Muzik tradition that is Makan, a cute little Malaysian place on Portobello Road. Simplicity is the name of the game here, with straightforward dishes being mixed and matched (I had the rice and Green Chicken Curry) and served with a friendly smile. Although it's very much a cafe, I'd hold it's level of standards a bit higher than the usual greasy spoon, although this is reflected in the ever so slightly higher than cafe prices.

That's not to say it doesn't offer value for money since the food was great, the vibe perfect for chilling out on a (not-so-warm) weekday evening and the service good. It's a perfect match up for Rebel actually and somewhere I'll undoubtedly eat at again.

Tuesday, June 9

Netherlands vs Pakistan, Lords

A last minute offer of a pair of tickets had me scrambling to get to Lord's in time to see Pakistan's make or break group game in this year's Twenty20 tournament. It was unmissable (well, potentially anyway), and the fact that I had yet to watch a match at Lord's meant that I just had to go.

I failed in getting there in time though - we reached the ground during the 18th over of Pakistan's innings. On the bright side we arrived to see Afridi strolling on to replace the just-caught Younis Khan; if there was any single Pakistani batsman to see it was him. Unfortunately we only saw the one six from his innings, but seeing as we only had a few balls left that was enough I suppose.

We ended with a tally of 175/5, a grand score by any measure. But the twist in today's game was that not only did Pakistan have to win, but win by a large enough margin to prop up their meagre run rate (a result of their match up with England on Sunday). 175 meant that the Netherlands had to be pegged to 151 or below, no mean feat if Pakistan's performance on Sunday was anything to go by.

But they did it and they did it well. The second innings was a joy to watch with some brilliant stumpings from the rightfully picked man of the match Kamran Akmal, and a whopping four wickets from Afridi. Fielding was hilariously abysmal, but we didn't mind seeing how powerful position we were in throughout Netherlands' innings. Any misgivings on missing the first half disappeared, our only regret being how Pakistan cheated us out of a clutch of overs; but hey at least they did what they had to do and qualified.

I think I've written before how I don't really feel Twenty20 that much. I much prefer one-dayers, if only 'cos they give you a chance to see a good proportion of match if you come late! But apart from this lack of depth today's match (at least what I saw of it) was brilliant and I'm glad I went.

Wednesday, June 3

Film: Terminator Salvation Click for more info

It goes without saying that the first two Terminator movies were classics. Then came the third, which seemed to have been universally panned for, amongst other thing, not giving the franchise enough respect. This kind of set up this, the fourth film in the series, as a bit of a make or break - will it compensate for T3's shortcomings or end The Terminator as an ongoing concern?

Well it's probably safe to say that, no, Salvation isn't as good as T1 or T2. However unlike T3, it is a good film in its own right and manages to pay good homage to the Terminator universe and overall isn't as much a let down as that last one.

The story is shallow and possibly nonsensical, but the acting is of a good enough standard. The biggest problem I had was in the film's structure, with its heavy beginning and end but a noticeably absent middle. However where Salvation shines though is in its direction and imagery - once you get past the special effects and magic you do actually find yourself in a post-Judgement Day hell. Oh, and the action scenes are pretty sweet too.

So yes, a heartily recommendation from me, with it's only curse being it had a lot to live up to, what with previous instalments in its series. If that can be forgiven, well then I think most will enjoy this.

Tuesday, June 2

Film: Drag Me to Hell Click for more info

I adored the Evil Dead trilogy. They each bizarrely managed to mix some pretty creepy and non-shallow horror with fun, fantasy and accessibility. In many ways the films held your hand while scaring you and it gave them all a charm that hasn't been replicated in recent times. Until now, of course, as Sam Raimi goes back to doing what I think he does best.

So Drag Me to Hell is funny and scary at the same time, it's accessible enough for everyone to follow and certainly doesn't bore at any point. The plot is pretty thin, with the film relying on it only to prop up the zany hilarious-cum-frightening set-pieces, but otherwise it's pretty solid production-wise too (and I fast became a fan of Alison Lohman too).

So yeh, I liked it. The film dragged me back to early memories, a time when it was fun to be scared rather than a chore. I totally recommend this for fans and non-fans of the genre alike.