Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"What a girl wants...

Listening to: nothing her very own Mark Darcy, who'll like her just as she is."
OK yes yes it's soppy I know. Don't blame me, blame Jane Austen, BBC and Colin Firth.

Monday, October 26, 2009

No one does period drama like the BBC

Listening to: nothing

I just finished watching the final episode of the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma (available on the iPlayer here if you're in the UK and you missed it...and I think it's on youtube here). Oh. My. God. How does the BBC always manage to do this? They take a guy who's ok looking, put him in Regency England attire, add some sexual tension and transform him into this totally and utterly irresistible man-god. Most famously they did it with Pride and Prejudice's Mr Darcy, and now they've done it with Mr Knightley. I mean let's be honest here, Jonny Lee Miller's all right, but he's nothing special. But as Mr Knightley? hubba hubba, *swoon*, *drool*, weak at the knees...and so on and so forth. Sexy is an understatement.

But now I'm left with a dilemma. Should I go to sleep (and no doubt have very pleasant dreams), or satisfy my now-whetted appetite and indulge in a bit of lake action with Colin Firth?

"Well hello there, Mr Darcy..."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shameless plug

Listening to: Radio 1

So I know I haven't posted any songs recently...I just haven't had the time. I have an idea for one song and bits recorded for another song, so hopefully I'll get around to completing them soon.

In the meantime, it's business as usual over at the Darkside...Gehan's just done a beautiful rendition of Rob Thomas' Ever the Same, and in case you're one of the few ppl that follows my blog and not his (eh? what's wrong with you? :P ), this is to plug the fact that the backing vocals on the recording are by yours truly. So go check it out here!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Quick Update

Listening to: 'Hypercaine' by DJ Fresh [Kryptonite]

About a month back, I blogged about my 'philosophy of teaching', as part of my application for the Teaching Associate Programme. The essay I handed in was more or less what I put in that post, if at all slightly modified based on the feedback I received. Apologies for those of you on Twitter who have heard this already, but I just wanted to say, I GOT IN!!! It's been a while since something good happened without any heartache, so I'm chuffed, to put it mildly. The introductory session is next Wednesday, so only then will I know what's in store. It doesn't matter though...I'm one step closer to doing what I want to do with my life, and that feels good.

However, it's not all hunky dory. I had an interesting meeting with my supervisor this week. The good news is, the end of my PhD is in sight! The bad news is, I have tons of experiments to do before I head home for xmas. And by 'experiments', I mean those of the 22-hr variety. So I'm in for more than a few sleepless weeks. I'm worried that my body won't be able to handle it, but I have no choice. I'm going to have to banish the word 'tired' (and its various synonyms) from my vocabulary. But if it means I can have a proper guiltless holiday at home (with some proper sleep thrown in), it'll be worth it.

OK gotta run now. The wonderful Ajahn Brahmavamso is giving a talk in half an hour...I've never seen him live so I'm looking forward to this!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Doing my bit

Listening to: 'Take Off Your Cool' by Outkast ft. Norah Jones [Speakerboxx/The Love Below]

I found out about Blog Action Day via this post by Whacko. It seemed like a cool idea, so I registered my blog on the website, thereby making a commitment to blog about Climate Change today. Now that I'm sitting in front of my computer, I can't think of what to say. Oh well, I'll just ramble as usual then.

I can't say I was that bothered about Climate Change when I was growing up. What with exams, friends, boys etc., environmental responsibility was a non-issue. Then I came to the UK and my room in College had a recycling bin, the student body had an 'environmental officer', and we had a course on 'sustainability'. I was being more environmentally responsible, but not consciously...I was doing so simply because the infrastructure was in place.

Things are a bit different now. I carry a shopping bag with me at all times so I don't have to use polythene bags, I have a compost bin, I recycle paper, glass, cardboard, batteries, and plastics (at least whatever the Council has the facilities for), and I'm conscious about energy consumption. British Gas' 'Zero Carbon' option is pricey, but it ensures that my consumption is matched with renewable sources. And I really don't know what everyone's complaining about - the light from the energy-saving bulbs I'm using isn't harsh at all!

I'm not sure why I started doing all this. The infrastructure was available, yes...but it was by no means 'in place' like it was at College. I could've easily ignored the green wheelie bin and just dumped everything in the black bin. But something's switched inside. Environmental responsibility has kicked in.

The climate is changing. No matter what the cynics say, society's impact on the environment will someday blow up in our faces. We could lobby governments, criticise politicians for not making a genuine effort, blame everything on the oil companies...but at the end of the day, this is our planet, and we are responsible for our actions. I think the productive (and responsible) thing to do, would be to follow the 3R's in our own little way.
  • Reduce consumption
  • Re-use assets
  • Recycle waste
I mean, why not?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Please Make it Stop!

Listening to: 'The Long Day is Over' by Norah Jones [Come Away With Me]

Don't you just hate mood swings? It's the loss of control that gets me. I strive to be level-headed, rational...and the idea that a simple setback could reduce me to a blubbering emotional wreck is rather unnerving, to say the least. And by 'simple setback', I mean something trivial like a bad hair day. Or a traffic jam. Or a supervisor meeting...oh wait, that last one's not trivial, is it? Damn.

Oh well...I used to think that it was meeting my supervisor that triggered my bad mood. Maybe I should just time my meetings better?
"I'm afraid I can't meet you next week. I'm going to be in a bad mood then."
That'd work, yeah? Hmm.

The good news is, after listening to some pirith and some Norah Jones, I'm calm. The bad news is, today's 'episode' was just a warning: the next few days are gonna be jam-packed with stomach cramps, back aches and nausea. I guess there's only one thing left to do...

The images are by Half Moon Bay...their stuff is hilarious!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Show me how you get down

Listening to: 'Horchata' by Vampire Weekend [Contra]

The UK loves choreographed 'group' dances. Whether it's a traditional ceilidh, the Hokey Cokey or the Macarena, a fun song with easy steps (and some alcohol, presumably) will be enough to get the crowd on the dance floor. The latest song to feature its own dance moves is Migraine Skank, by Gracious K. Melodically, it's nothing special...but I just can't get enough of that grime beat!

Can you spot Diversity and Flawless, of "Britain's Got Talent" fame?

Gracious K happens to be the cousin of possibly the UK's most commercially successful grime artist, Dizzee Rascal. He's just done a remake of the early '90s track Dirty can see his version, as performed on the Live Lounge Tour, here.

Moving on from grime and on to...drum n bass. I am absolutely loving this track by DJ Fresh.

Check out the crazy dancing!

Another dnb track I'm really liking is the new one by Chase and Status featuring Plan B. They collaborated before on Pieces (which was awesome) and now they've come together again for End Credits, which is scheduled to feature in the movie Harry Brown. I haven't been able to find an official video for the single, but you can listen to it here.

I realise I've been quite heavy on the beats in this to finish off, I'm gonna throw a curveball and go for something more chilled. This track is off the soundtrack to (500) Days of Summer (which I loved; how cool is Zooey Deschanel?!). It's a cult-ish soundtrack, with the likes of The Smiths, Belle & Sebastian and Regina Spektor, but my favourite is Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap.

Trippy, huh?

Sigh, this song makes me wanna fly. Equally cute and trippy is Vampire Weekend's new one Horchata, which you can listen to (and download...legally!) here.

OK so yeah, those are just some of the songs I've been obsessing over lately. There are others, but I'll leave them for later. A family of frogs seems to have taken shelter in my throat, but hopefully home remedies will rectify the situation soon. I can't believe I've got freshers' flu before I've even met any freshers. How lame is that?! Ugh.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Identity Crisis

Listening to: 'Time After Time' by Eva Cassidy [Time After Time]

I've wanted to blog about the British National Party (BNP) for a while now. Aside from the usual excuses, I've been putting it off because I didn't actually want to check out their website, but I also didn't want to base my opinion on hearsay. Today Radio 1 ran two interviews on Newsbeat: a pre-recorded interview with two 'young' BNP members (you can read the transcript here), and a live interview with the BNP leader (based on listener responses to the first interview). After hearing those interviews (and - as a result - wanting to punch something for most of the afternoon), I had a look at the website (which I won't link to; google it yourself if you must) and decided it's time to blog about it.

The BNP presents itself as a political party, but it speaks like a lobbying group. It seems to base all its solutions to Britain's problems on one principle: that Britain exists solely for the ethnically British - everyone else is unwelcome. The mission statement begins with -
The British National Party exists to secure a future for the indigenous peoples of these islands in the North Atlantic which have been our homeland for millennia.
Their definition of indigenous Brits is
...the people whose ancestors were the earliest settlers here after the last great Ice Age and which have been complemented by the historic migrations from mainland Europe.
They go on to say that -
The migrations of the Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Norse and closely related kindred peoples have been, over the past few thousands years, instrumental in defining the character of our family of nations.
OK yes, technically they're right. Descendants of these European communities are the only people qualified to call themselves ethnically British. The problem I have, is that they believe that Britain doesn't belong to anyone else. Not the descendants of African slaves forcibly brought to the UK by these 'pure-bred' Brits themselves, not the offspring of mixed marriages between pure-bred Brits and others...not anyone that considers themselves culturally (but not ethnically) British.

The BNP seems to think that everything bad in this country is the fault of immigrants. There appears to be a fear that ethnic Brits will be wiped out because of immigrants (though considering the birth rate amongst chavs, I think that's highly unlikely). Multiculturalism is bad for Britain, apparently. OK, if that's the case, let's get rid of every single foreign influence in modern Britain. We're left with half a national cricket team, half a national football team (and virtually no Premier League), no 'favourite national food', no spices, no tropical fruits, no Guy Fawkes' night, no tea, no coffee...I could go on. Yes I'm exaggerating, but you get my point. The idea that someone could think that multiculturalism is bad for a country is beyond me. Positive evidence is all around us. I'm not saying that there aren't negative repercussions of heavy immigration, but to replace one extreme with another is totally and utterly, for lack of a better word, daft.

What the BNP is doing (and scarily becoming more successful at doing) is exploiting the xenophobic tendencies of the average ethnic Brit. I've said before that xenophobia is rampant and normal in a multicultural society...the BNP are acting as firestarters and turning that xenophobia into racism. As disappointed as I am that people are voting for the BNP, I can't say I'm surprised. Different sections of British society have been let down time and again by the major political players, and this romantic notion of birthright is attractive to many. I just hope Labour and the Tories (and the LibDems, in theory at least) wake up in time.

But all this talk of being 'ethnically' British versus 'culturally' British has got me thinking: do we have to be ethnically linked to a place in order to call it home? Using a similar definition to that used by the BNP, I am 'ethnically' Sri Lankan (they don't differentiate between races, so neither will I)...but 'culturally'? I guess Sri Lankan and British. Now does being culturally British mean I have to stop thinking of myself as culturally Sri Lankan? Does being ethnically Sri Lankan mean that I can't think of myself as culturally British? Does one have to be both ethnically and culturally 'pure' in order to be accepted by a society? I have touched on this topic before, but I'm nowhere nearer to finding an answer. Will I ever find one? Only time will tell.