Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Listening to: nothing

I'm still in thesis hell, so apologies to anyone who's contacted me and not got a response. I appreciate all your good wishes and I promise I'll reply when I'm done.

As an apology, please accept this video from my future husband Plan B -

Merry Christmas everybody! Stay warm and stay safe, people.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Yet another filler post

Listening to: Radio 1

In the spirit of just posting random youtube videos until I submit my thesis, I randomly remembered this video today, and was surprised to find that I haven't shared it on here before.

Behold the king of cover versions that is Brett Domino.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

It's December

Listening to: Radio 1

...which means it's officially OK to share the best Christmas song ever made.

Back when she was normal and awesome. Oh god how I loved her.

Chris Moyles played it on Radio 1 and I danced around my room like a right loony...15 minutes later, I'm still short of breath. And that's how it's done, boys and girls.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Move over, rick-rolling!

Listening to: nothing

So in case you've been living under a rock for the past few days, the Ashes have begun. Now I know that a lot of non-English/Aussie cricket fans like to rubbish the series as being over-hyped and overrated, but I think there's something magical about the tradition, the history and the rivalry. And this time we've even got good cricket! Day 1 saw a hatrick for Siddle and a lower order batting collapse for England, Day 2 was pretty even (if I recall correctly), Day 3 saw a batting masterclass from Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin, much to England's chagrin...followed by a lower order collapse for Australia (which went pretty much unnoticed, for obvious reasons). And then when all hope was lost for England, Day 4 saw some brilliant batting against what must have been a rather mediocre Aussie bowling attack...I can't say for sure, 'cos I went to sleep when they stopped for lunch.

Which brings me closer to the point of this post (there is one, promise). I've found that music is pretty ineffective at keeping me awake during late night thesis-writing, but a potent mix of Test Match Special on BBC 5live Sports Extra and the #theashes hashtag on twitter is exactly what the doctor ordered. It's quite a bizarre feeling - in reality I'm sitting in my flat, all alone, listening to the commentary...but with the live twitter feed from people who are listening to the same commentary or watching on TV, it's like I'm in a room full of cricket fans, cheering, jeering and discussing every minute detail of the match. And considering the time difference, you know that everyone tweeting from the UK is a genuine cricket fan, which is always nice. It's all general camaraderie, lots of retweeting of funny quips (of which there are a lot) and friendly banter.

Ah yes, banter...the reason I started typing this post. Ladies and gentlemen, meet @theashes. She's some girl in the States...and possibly therefore completely clueless about the significance of her username, especially over these few weeks. What probably started out as a mistake (someone typing '@' instead of '#' when tagging the match in a tweet) has turned into a bit of a meme. I'm not sure how many followers she had before her account was 'discovered', but at the time of this post, she has 3,914. And I don't even want to try and count how many mentions she gets...every second. Of course she tweeted this early on in the hope we'd take a hint -

Yeah can't fool us!
- wishful thinking, eh? ;-)

I hope she takes it in good is just friendly banter after all. And if it gets too much (which I suspect it has already) she could just change her username. Although life would be a lot better for all her fans if she didn't ;-).

Anyway, 10mins before final day's play. I'm gonna go get settled into my thesis. Come on England!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

You are my medicine

Listening to: Radio 1

Quick mini post 'cos I'm in the middle of a productive day. I'll blog about the Gorillaz gig later, but for now, treat your ears to 3 minutes and 14 seconds of pure awesome.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

When I'm down and I feel like giving up

Listening to: Radio 1

There are two songs that I can't get enough of right now. And as per usual, they're completely different.

Whip My Hair - Willow Smith

OK let's forget the artist for a minute, and focus on the song. It is a CHOON! The hook is catchy as hell...and if the beat doesn't get you bouncing, I dunno what will. I can't embed her music video, so here's her performance on Ellen.

Now let's go back to the artist. She's ten, and the daughter of Will Smith a.k.a. the nicest, coolest guy in the universe. Child stars like her worry me a bit...I'm concerned that she might turn into the next LiLo/Britney/Demi Lovato etc. etc...but her parents seem pretty grounded, so hopefully that'll work in her favour. *fingers crossed*

Your Song - Ellie Goulding

When I heard Fearne Cotton mention that there was a cover of Elton John's 'Your Song', I died a little inside. It's one of my favourite songs and a cover that didn't show due respect would be a disaster in my books. Thankfully, Ellie Goulding doesn't disappoint. Obviously it helps that the track was produced by one of the guys from Mumford & Sons, but I think Ellie's voice really shines here. Her album is good, but sometimes the electronic production eclipses her unique tone, which is a shame. In this track, however, it's laid bare for all to appreciate. John Lewis have struck gold by making this the soundtrack to their Christmas TV ad, and although I think the iTunes release is a bit premature, I'm hoping this'll be a contender for xmas #1.

In other news, I've had 3 1/2hrs' sleep, I'm currently in the lab, and I'm off to London in the evening to see Gorillaz at the O2! Oh the rockstar life I lead.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

To-Do List

Listening to: 'Like a G6' by Far East Movement [Free Wired]

  1. Finish experiments before my collaborators go all juvenile (again) and say I can't use their lab any more
  2. Write up so that my supervisor has enough time to read my thesis properly before I submit
  3. Get a viva date before the degree committee meeting
  4. Get a visa appointment before my student visa expires
  5. Pass my viva (hahahahahahaha - I don't know why I find this so funny)
  6. Get the confirmation letter before my visa appointment
  7. Apply for my new visa before I get deported
And you wonder why I'm stressed.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Listening to: 'The Heart Never Lies' by McFly [McFly: Greatest Hits]

I've been so stressed lately. Like a sumo wrestler is sitting on my shoulders. I've been trying to find quick fix stress relievers, but I haven't had much luck...until this evening. I was walking back from the lab (I left my bike at home today 'cos it was so windy) and listening to some music, when the following song came on. I pretty much sang along out loud and skipped all the way home. And now I'm feeling all energised. Not necessarily motivated, but I'll take what I can get :D

Anyway, here it is:

"There's nothing on Earth that can save us, when I fell in love with Uranus" :D

And since seeing them on the Chris Moyles Show Access All Areas Tour (which I'll blog about in more detail soon) yesterday, I am properly in love with McFly. Specifically Harry.

L-R: Tom, Dougie, Danny, Harry
Ladies (and gents), if you'd like to see more *ahem* revealing pics from their Attitude shoot, click here (they're totally NSFW, in case it wasn't obvious from the above pic). You're welcome.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Happy tears

Listening to: Nothing

I dare you to watch this and not be smiling at the end (or crying, if you're as much of a stressed bunny as I am right now).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

In retrospect

Listening to: 'Me and You' by Nero [-]

I'm on a self-imposed TV ban at the moment...I have enough distractions from the thesis as it is, without feeling compelled to scream "bus wankers!" at no one in particular for a few hours after watching Inbetweeners. That said, I do allow myself exceptions...the MoBO Awards show was one, and the latest instalment of 'World's Strictest Parents' on BBC3 was another. I mean after RD told me that the priest at our meditation centre was in it, how could I not?!

The premise of the show, from what I could gather, is this: two wayward British teenagers are packed off to some far flung place for a week, where they will live with *drumroll please* the WORLD'S STRICTEST PARENTS *dun dun dunnn*. In Monday night's episode, a quintessential Essex girl and a posterchild of David Cameron's 'broken society' were sent to live with a family in Colombo. I enjoyed the show, partly 'cos the two chavs were hilarious and partly 'cos it made me long for home. And of course I got all excited seeing the priest on TV. And the doggy.

It also made me think about my own upbringing: were these parents really that strict? How strict were my parents in comparison? Would I have done anything differently?

I'm not sure if I can remember each and every issue that came up, but I'll list the ones I do recall.
  • No cellphones
    The mother said that their children don't have cellphones. I can relate to that - I only got a phone when I came to university. It's not that I asked and my parents said no - there just wasn't a need for one. At my old school, none of us had phones. When I switched schools for A/Ls, suddenly loads of people had phones. I still didn't see the need for one though. I remember walking along the corridor once and I heard this girl in a lower Form telling her friend how her mother's a bitch 'cos she wouldn't let her have a phone...I was horrified! One, because what do you need a phone for at that age?! and two...well, see the next point.
  • No bad language
    This is something that always disturbs me - children using bad language when talking to or about their parents. The two girls in the show...oh my word I wanted to slap them (or wash their mouths with soap #corporalpunishmentFTW). I dunno how that couple stayed so calm. If I had used that language in front of my parents, I would've been slapped silly. I've been slapped a fair bit, but never because of bad language - I just don't use bad language in front of my parents. Never have, never will. My parents know I use all sorts of words when I'm with my friends...but they know that I respect them enough not to let them hear it.
  • No smoking
    Erm...that goes without saying, no?
  • No birthday presents
    I guess that's unusual but then I didn't get birthday presents either. My parents worked on the principle that if I had been a good girl and they could afford what I was asking for, I'd get it regardless of the time of year. But seeing as I was being punished for most of the year, I didn't get much :P Which brings me to the next point...
  • No TV
    Another supposedly extreme one. True, there was no TV ban in our house...except when I was being punished. When I was about 14/15, I had a nasty habit of talking back to my parents, especially my mother. My mother now assures me that it was normal teenage behaviour, but I'm still ashamed of it. Anyway, if I had been especially rude, my TV rights were the first to go. I was rude so often that I think I got used to not watching any TV at all! Then my radio started getting confiscated...that's when I calmed down and started to behave :P
So yeah, that's it. Were these parents strict? Yeah I guess so. Were they the world's strictest parents? Hell no...I had classmates whose parents were muuuuuch stricter than this. How about my parents? I'd say yes they were strict, but fair. Very fair. And looking back, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Guiltless pleasure

Listening to: 'Love You More' by JLS [BBC Children In Need]

In all honesty, if I could call anything a 'guilty pleasure', it'd be this song. I mean seriously, the lyrics are truly atrocious.

"...Day three was the same as day two..."

Really, Oritsé? Was that the best you could do? And I thought Craig David was bad *shakes head in disbelief*

But yeah, cheesy lines aside, JLS' newest offering is perfect. Soaring melody? Check. Beautiful vocals? Check. Marvin Humes a.k.a. Mr Sex-on-Legs? Mmm check.'s the official single for this year's BBC Children In Need, so all proceeds are to charity! Everyone *awwww* in unison, please? Thank you.

Anyway, enough chatter from ol' sarcypants here. Here's the video. Don't you just love the return of the quintessential 90s boy band? The Wanted ain't got nothing on these guys.

And to all the haters, I shall give you a Cowell-esque reply:

Now excuse me while I return to my spot in front of the mirror. Clenched fists, outstretched arms and pointy fingers, here I come!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sexy Rock/Pop/Punk

Listening to: Radio 1

OK so I may be a little late to the party, but I am LOVING this track by Sleigh Bells! As a group they're like a rougher Ting Tings, which isn't a bad thing by any means. As a song, I can hear elements of Cage the Elephant...also not a bad thing. I think what does it for me is the heavy beat. The beat is similar to the dubstep bass in that slow, pulsating way that makes your head bob up and down of its own accord.

Anyway here it is - 'Infinity Guitars' by Sleigh Bells. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tightening the belt

Listening to: 'Leaving Blues' by Bombay Bicycle Club [Flaws]

So today, I sat down at my PC in the office and watched the Chancellor George Osborne outline the proposed budget cuts in the government's Spending Review...while eating my home-made ham, cheese and mustard sandwiches. Yup, gone are the days of popping over to Boots for a lunchtime Meal Deal (sandwiches, drink and chocolate for £2.99, for the uninitiated)...Cambridge City Council has decided that since I've passed the four-year mark of my current degree, it's time for me to start paying Council Tax. As a result, my expenses have increased overnight by £96 per month. Now the easy thing to do would be to ask my parents to increase my allowance...but I decided that wouldn't be fair. They didn't budget for me to be in my fifth (?!) year of a PhD...I was supposed to be fully employed by now. So I'm cutting down. The first thing to go was internet on my's not like I used it much anyway. And I started using the Dialog website to send free SMS to SL. Next up was's actually quite nice to have fresh sandwiches, although I've decided I hate Hovis with a passion. I could make better bread, and I don't even know how to make bread! I'm yet to see exactly how much I'll save, but it should be a substantial amount. I'm also cutting down on socialising in a big way. No meeting up for coffee (unless it's with someone who's working and therefore likely to buy my coffee out of sympathy ;-) ) and no going out to dinner. To be fair, I don't have time anyway. Finally, and possibly most obviously, no shopping. So the £50 black boots (well, £40 with student discount) that I've been eyeing at Dorothy Perkins will have to wait, as will the amazing debut album by the XX and the Season 1 DVD of Glee (which I had planned as a post-PhD treat). Things will change after submission, when I find myself a part-time job somewhere, but for now, this is it.

But like I said at the beginning, I'm not the only one cutting down. The Coalition is aiming to save £84bn with these budget cuts/freezes, and a lot of people are unhappy. I am, perhaps surprisingly, less unhappy than I thought I'd be. The pre-Review rumour mill speculated that funding for science would be cut by 25%. That's over a billion pounds less than what we're getting at the moment, and what we're getting right now is definitely not enough. Scientists and engineers around the UK decided to fight for the future of research in this country, and around 36,000 signed the Science is Vital petition. There was also a protest. Now I generally don't agree with protests 'cos I think they're a lot of fart and no shit, but I think in this case, the protest was complemented by enough constructive action to make it worthwhile. I dunno if it was the petition, the protest, or the support from Britain's eminent scientists...but Whitehall listened. Instead of a 25% cut, the science funding budget has been frozen. Of course this means there'll be about a 10% reduction in spending because of inflation, efficiency savings etc., but compared to what we were faced with, this is good news. I'm not opposed to all cuts, 'cos I think something has to be done about the deficit, but this seems like a fair decision. And we all know how much the Coalition likes the word 'fair'.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Marry me Strickland...again!

Listening to: 'This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)' by Ellie Goulding [Lights]

You may recall that I've proposed to Mr Banks before. You may also recall that I got myself a ticket to his gig at the Cambridge Corn Exchange a while back. When I booked the ticket, I thought that by now I'd be living in London with some new letters at the end of my name, searching for jobs. I'm still here, though, rocking the 'PseudoRandom is an epic fail' all I had to do was walk around the back of my department to the concert venue.

After some initial hassle with seetickets (seriously, Ticketmaster is so much better), I made my way into the hall. I'll admit it was a bit weird...not because I was alone or 'cos I had literally just walked out of my lab...but 'cos I'd only been to the Corn Exchange twice before, and one of those visits was for the university-wide Health and Safety briefing *groan*. Can someone say 'major buzz kill'?

But back to the gig. The support act was Clare Maguire. I'd heard her single Ain't Nobody (check out the amazing Breakage remix too), so I was looking forward to her set. I have to say her other songs weren't as memorable (maybe I need a few more listens) but OH MY GOD her voice. So powerful, so rich, so...oh I dunno. It just grabbed my insides and didn't let go until the end of each song. And I could definitely sense that she was channelling Florence with the flowing dress and the wavy hands, which is definitely not a bad thing (although I'm not sure what the writhing on the floor bit was about).
Clare Maguire and her cape-y dress
Anyhoo, her set finished at around 8.30 and then by about 10 past 9, the lights went back down. Everyone thought it would be Plan B himself, but it wasn't. Instead, it was the absolutely fabulous FaithSFX. WOW. Anyone who can beatbox tracks by Chris Brown, Lil' Wayne and Tinie Tempah, and then freestyle with helicopter and explosion noises and Arnie impersonations gets my vote. He kept the crowd entertained for a good few minutes, and then introduced Plan B and the band.
FaithSFX beatboxing his way to my heart
The brilliant band
Now the problem with this 'review' is that I've only just got to the main act, and I've already run out of superlatives. I shall have to resort to OMGWTFBBQ...'cos there really isn't any other way to express how 'out of this world' Plan B's set was. 10 out of the 13 album tracks, including a reggae version of Prayin'; an unreleased track; a revamped version one of the more popular tracks from his first album, Charmaine; a complete reworking of Paolo Nutini's Coming Up Easy...and a phenomenal soul medley with stuff like Tracks of My Tears, My Girl and Stand By Me. It doesn't stop there though, 'cos half way through Stand By Me, FaithSFX came back on stage and the set went into dubstep mode. I had never heard Stand By Me or Ain't No Sunshine done in a dubstep style, but now I wanna hear them again. The soul medley was followed by a dubstep remix of Seal's Kiss From a Rose, and then Eminem's Forgot About Dre. As predicted, he finished with Stay Too Long...and while the crowd was moshing away in the pit, Plan B and FaithSFX were having their own moshing session on stage...while still performing, mind you! The atmosphere was incredible.
*hubba hubba*
So yes, I have now fallen even more in love with Plan B, if that was at all possible. As I announced on twitter soon afterwards, that was officially the best gig I have ever been to. And to top it all off, Plan B retweeted me! Oh don't look at me like many famous people have retweeted your tweets, eh? :P

Monday, October 11, 2010


Listening to: Radio 1

I LOVE this. Spread the love, not the hate, yo.

Taken from the youtube channel of The work-safe version is here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I found a love electric

Listening to: 'Stylo (Labrinth SNES Remix)' by Gorillaz ft. Bobby Womack, Mos Def and Tinie Tempah [On Melancholy Hill]

I happened to visit today, and I noticed my 'top artists' list for the past twelve months. I figured I'd share it here.
Cool huh? What caught me by surprise is that despite only getting the album yesterday, Tinie Tempah's already #10...shows you how much I've been listening to Pass Out since it came out in March! The album is amazing, BTW. Heavy beats, catchy melodic choruses and oh so quotable rhymes...what more could you want?

Somewhat related, you should totally check out the SNES remix of Gorillaz' Stylo, done by Labrinth (and featuring Tinie Tempah). It is HEAVY.

In other news, I still haven't got my Plan B tix. The gig's next week! WTF Seetickets...sort it out.

Aaanyway, back to work.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Put your hands up in the air!

Listening to: Radio 1

Continuing with my Tinie Tempah obsession, and adding that to my love for repetitive beats...I give you Miami 2 Ibiza - I dare you to resist hitting the 'Replay' button (unless of course you don't like Electro House, in which case...*meh*)

Warning: NSFW
And I thought they couldn't beat One.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sick to my stomach

Listening to: 'Wonderful Life' by Kylie Minogue [Radio 1 Live Lounge ('Hurts' cover)]
"A New Jersey college student has leapt to his death a day after authorities said two students secretly filmed him having sex with a man and broadcast it over the internet."
I'm disgusted. I mean so disgusted that my stomach feels tight. I'm not sure which bit I find more distressing: the fact that there are creatures vile enough to such a thing, the fact that there was no one who could convince the poor kid that it would eventually be ok, or the fact that I have a feeling this wouldn't have happened if he was straight.

I mean what kind of sick fuck live-streams his room-mate's private life? Voyeurism is one thing, but this is a whole different level. I feel violated just thinking about it. And then I just think about the guy. The media is focusing on the fact that he was gay but seriously, that's irrelevant. It doesn't matter if you're gay or straight or anything in between or beyond, no one would want intimate details of their lives broadcast on the internet without their consent. It was a betrayal of trust, an invasion of privacy and a violation of common decency. He was only 18 for goodness' sake...we have enough internal struggles as it is at that age, without having to worry about all this. I can't even begin to imagine how he must've felt.

And then there's the matter of his sexuality. This only matters to me because, like I said, I don't know if it would've happened had he been having sex with a girl. Which is awful, because it illustrates society's attitude towards non-heterosexuals. Legislation may have changed to provide equal opportunities to non-heterosexuals (unless of course you're in the US military, in which case you're considered a liability...WTF), but the mindset of the people is still pretty homophobic. It has reinforced my opinion about all social issues - legislation can only do so much, and change will only come when the people desire it (which is not yet, by the looks of it).

The hardest thing for me, personally, will be to wish the perpetrators well. Loving kindness and compassion, even for the most despicable among us - that is what is required of me. Hard as it might be, that's what I'll try to do.

RIP Tyler Clementi.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hand over your money, your phone and your Pokémon cards

Listening to: 'Written in the Stars' by Tinie Tempah ft. Eric Turner [Disc-Overy]

Nah, the title isn't relevant...I was just listening to Plan B's 'Kidz' on the way home.

I cleaned my keyboard. Not just a wipe down like normal...a proper 'unscrew the back and take all the keys out' job. Oh. My. God. I have never seen so much dirt. Ewwwwwwwww. Exactly how many eyelashes am I supposed to have?

Anyway it's clean now. Smells quite lemony too. Some of the keys are a bit stiff - only the ones with springs though...maybe I put the springs back the wrong way or something. I might investigate before going to bed tonight. The spacebar is definitely dodgy.

In other news, I think I'm just a little bit in love with Tinie Tempah. He's sooooo nice! And his speaking voice *swoon*. And his body *drool*. And he likes Michael Bublé...have you ever heard of a rapper admitting that they like the Bublé? So cool. I love the new video. I know he's just jumping around on a rooftop, but still... #suchasuckerfortheswaggeryo. If only he'd lift his trousers up a bit and get rid of that earring, he'd be perfect.

Oh oh oh and remember the fit drummer of Bombay Bicycle Club that I was going on about? Turns out my mother did ballet with his aunt or something. I don't care that it was almost half a century ago, I'm using that as my claim to fame. You heard it here first.

OK I should get back to work. When will this ennnnnnnnnd?! *sigh*

Paris photo post

Listening to: Radio 1

I need to go to sleep now but I thought I'd get the trip photos out of the way first. For those of you that I don't know personally, here you go...

If the slideshow's playing up, the Fluidr set is here

Highlights of the trip?
  • Day 1 - seeing Marie and Pierre Curie's tombstones at the Panthéon; feeling my knees go weak as I entered Notre Dame; almost being squashed to death on the Metro; seeing the Sacré Coeur; walking around Monmartre
  • Day 2 - being pleasantly overwhelmed by the Louvre (I say pleasantly 'cos I was overwhelmed by the Met in NYC as well, but not in a good way); being predictably underwhelmed by the Mona Lisa; feeling chuffed that I managed to climb up the Notre Dame towers without my heart going into overdrive
  • Day 3 - The Eiffel Tower...everything about her is pure heaven for an engineer; feeling almost sickened by the grotesque opulence of the Palace of Versailles; getting rained on at Versailles; eating escargot
  • Day 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 - lots and lots of mother-daughter and father-daughter bonding time :-)
And there we have it. Sorry I don't have time to write a full account - hopefully the pictures will speak for me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Post-PhD To-Do List

Listening to: 'Let The Sun Shine' by Labrinth [-]

Yes I've already begun. So far, I have...
  • Buy the Glee: Season 1 DVD
  • Get a TV (and a TV License)
  • Watch Glee: Season 2 (it starts in the UK in Jan)
  • Learn to drive
  • Learn to play guitar
Oh and there's also that other one...
  • Get a job

In the meantime, I shall get on with my thesis while listening to this awesome choon. Hate Simon Cowell all you want, but I for one am thankful that he signed Labrinth on as not just a producer.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bonjour, mes amis!

Listening to: 'Tomorrow Never Dies' by Sheryl Crow [OST - Tomorrow Never Dies]

No, I haven't suddenly become a francophile...but yes, I have returned to the UK. I had a wonderful trip. Paris was ace, and catching up with the parents in Geneva was bliss. I wish it could've been at least a week longer, but no such luck.

As expected, I went a bit apeshit with the camera...the photo count currently stands at 817. It's gonna take a while to sift through them all, especially considering I've got 3 months left until my actual final no-more-faffing-about thesis deadline. So far I've just done all the Project 365 pics from the week, so I'm up to date on that stuff. The rest will have to wait.

Anyway, I'm off to bed now. Will blog about the trip soon, maybe this weekend. Till then, au revoir!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The greatest of the greatest

Listening to: 'All About You' by McFly [Greatest Hits]

I went on the Amazon website 'cos I needed to download some music for my father...and I saw that they were selling a bunch of 'greatest hits' albums for £3. I am now the proud owner of...



and not forgetting...

Cheesetastic, baby!

Oh and to counteract the cheese, I also got the greatest hits albums by Stereophonics, Texas and Aerosmith. Now excuse me while I go shimmy around the room to McFly.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Bullet points

Listening to: 'Evening/Morning' by Bombay Bicycle Club [I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose]

I'm not in the mood to blog. Too stressed. But there's stuff that needs to come out, so I'm gonna be the stereotypical engineer and blog in point form.
  • I'm 17.3% through my Project 365. That's two 31-day months and one day, for those of you who are not mathematically inclined. Some of the photos are good, some of them are awesome, and some are just plain pigeon shit. But they're all up there. If you haven't seen them yet, what are you waiting for? Go go go!

  • I bought two albums recently - Who Needs Actions When You Got Words by Plan B, and the one I've got on now - I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose by Bombay Bicycle Club. They're both awesome. The former is scary and satirical at the same time. He's like a less glamorous, less messed up Eminem. You listen to this, and then Defamation of Strickland Banks...they could be by two different people.
    As for the BBC's lovely. It just makes me want to jump around. I think if I had to describe the boys in 3, 4 and 5 words, it'd go something like this:
    • 3: quirky Brit indie
    • 4: Vampire Weekend meets Editors
    • 5: ohemgee Suren is so fit.
    So yeah. Their new album 'Flaws' is on my wish list already...I am loving Rinse Me Down.

  • I had my first lab accident today. Which is pretty good going, considering I've been doing lab work for almost 4 yrs. I was wearing the appropriate PPE, and I'd closed the fume cupboard...else there might've been trouble. And I'm pleased to report that safety training does work! I didn't panic, I just did what had to be done. I'm quite proud of myself. People give me grief for being a goody-two-shoes and stuff, but whatever man. If not for my 'sticking to the rules', I might be in hospital now, or worse.
Hmm...I think that's it for now. Incredibly sleepy. Will try and squeeze in another post before Paris.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nuu moosiks!

Listening to: Radio 1

So I was in a right mood yesterday...I think I've underestimated how stressed I am, and my brain has just lost the ability to cope. Sigh. Anyway, I was wheeling my bike through town feeling properly awful, when I heard some buskers - a band called Arabella. Their music made me stop and rest my bike against a lamp post and listen...and I felt a wave of calm wash over me. Yeah I know that sounds clichéd, but it's true.

Anyway, I managed to find them online, and in particular, the song they were playing when I heard them. Being the lovely soul that I am *cough*, I've already bombarded all my twitter followers with the link, and I shall now do the same for you. Enjoy!

If you like this, there's more on their website.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My life is a comedy of errors

Listening to: 'Katy on a Mission' by Katy B [-]

Yeah I've been MIA. Not really in the mood for blogging...each post that comes to mind just feels like too much of an effort to construct. So apologies in advance if this post makes no sense.

Anyway...I've started the procedure to defer my thesis submission. I felt my stomach do somersaults when I clicked on the request page...I felt like a big fat fail whale. I mean four years on this bloody thing and I'm still not done?! WTF. Anyway, the sup doesn't seem too bothered about it, so I guess it's not all bad news. The fact that I have to finish before my visa runs out at the end of Jan, however, is another matter. Nose to the grindstone, pedal to the metal, and so on so forth.

Which is all well and good, except for the fact that I'm taking a week off next month to go travelling. No it's not entirely my decision, and no the timing couldn't have been worse, but let me explain. The parental unit is visiting Switzerland next month, on work. It's far too expensive for them to add a stopover here, and to be fair it's not worth the hassle. So I'm going there. So far so good. Except that Switzerland only bloody went and joined the Schengen zone two years back! So I need a visa. Now if you've been following this blog since before the dawn of time, you'll remember that I've been to Geneva before, when there was no visa requirement. £75 for a visa to a place that I've been before? Not cool. But wait...with a Schengen visa, I have free passage through all Schengen states...which means I can go to Geneva via...(wait for it)...PARIS!!! So oui, mes amis, I will be off to Paris in a few weeks' time - 3 nights there, and then on to Geneva for 4 nights with my mummy and daddy. My mother has major plans that involve us working on my CV. Oh dear.

I'm quite excited about exploring Paris on my own. No I don't speak a word of (useful) French, apart from "Parlez-vous Anglais?"...but I've been assured that the locals are a lot more accommodating of us ignoramuses than they used to be. Three whole days isn't a lot, but hopefully it should be enough to cover the basics - Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur, Notre Dame etc. I should probably get a guide book or something. And I should probably also tell the sup. Hmm.

So...what else? Oh my mobile contract's up so I'm thinking of going in for a new phone...all the normal nokias seem inferior to my wonderful 6300, so I think I might go for the 5230. The ovi maps will come in handy in Paris! My computer's being a dramaqueen. Keeps messing up some updates. I need to sort it out soon...but not before I backup everything thesis-related. Stupid technology.

Oh and I've developed a love for dubstep. I used to hate was too slow, too hypnotic. I much preferred the fast-paced intensity of dnb. But now dubstep is my friend. Well a few songs at least - notably 'I Need Air' by Magnetic Man, 'Rescue Me' by Skepta and the song I'm listening to now (on repeat) - 'Katy on a Mission' by Katy B. Check 'em out.

And I think that's it. All that's left is for me to go get another slice of cheesecake (as featured here in my Project 365) and get back to my 'Materials and Methods' chapter. Yawn.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Aberdeen Chronicles pt.3

Listening to: 'Crossfire' by Brandon Flowers [Flamingo]

You might wanna check out Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 first.

So I'm back in Cambridge, and have been for about a week and a half now. I was so knackered on the Monday after the trip. I was in the office and just staring into space...I was afraid to go into the lab in case I broke something. Hardly surprising, I guess, considering the round trip was about 900 miles.

There were a few amusing incidents that didn't make it into the last two posts. The first one was on Friday itself, during my jaunt around the city. I had just finished dinner at a quaint restaurant on the promenade, and I decided to take an alternative route back into the town centre, rather than just retracing my steps. With my by-now-somewhat-faded Google Maps print out in hand, I head off in my chosen direction...only to find that I had wandered into an area that wasn't on my map - the dockyard. It was about 9 o'clock and getting a bit dark, and there I was on a lonely street consisting of warehouses, warehouses, and more warehouses. Joy. I was contemplating whether to forge ahead (potentially stupid) or head back to the restaurant and retrace my steps back into town (definitely boring), when I saw a forklift truck moving in a nearby yard. I wandered over to the entrance to the yard (I didn't want to trespass) and put my most innocent smile on and waited to catch the driver's eye. I think I must've found the nicest forklift truck driver in the whole world - not only did he acknowledge that I was standing there, but he stopped his truck, got out and came round to where I was, to ask how he could help. Oh and did I mention that he was adorable?! He had the most amazing smile on the planet, and the softest eyes...I melted then and there! Anyway, turns out I wasn't lost...and had I forged ahead as planned, I would've ended up exactly where I wanted to. But least this way, I got to see some eye candy. Such a beautiful man *sigh*.

Unfortunately that was my only encounter with dashingly handsome men. The amusing incidents, however, just kept coming. The next one was on Saturday, at the wedding. It was about 11pm and the reception was in full swing, and I was chatting with the bride's 17yr old brother about his potential university choices. He was asking me about my work, and then the following conversation ensued:
Him: It must be difficult being a similar age to your supervisees
Me: Hehe it used to be, but there's quite a few years between us now
Him: Wait, how old are you?
Me: I'm your sister's age, why?
Him: WHAT?! I thought you were just a few years older than I!
*Sigh*. A 17yr old thought I was just a few years older than him. I dunno if that's a compliment or an insult. At first, Shorty said it was a good thing, 'cos it meant I had a better chance of getting a toyboy...but then we realised that the whole point of a toyboy is that the age difference is this 'looking young' business doesn't work. I think I've decided that it's a tragedy of epic proportions.

Sadly, the final anecdote from the trip is also a tragedy of epic proportions. Partly my fault this time, but still. It was Sunday night and we had just got into Stevenage. I was standing on the platform waiting for the train to Cambridge, when I noticed that there were some people next to me looking very confused about the trains. There were three of them - an American couple and an Indian man. So, being the helpful soul (read: glutton for punishment) that I am, I asked them if they needed any help. Turns out they did, so I explained how the departure boards on the platform worked, and then just as I was about to get back to my music, the Indian man started to make smalltalk. I was tired and bored so I thought 'ok whatever' and I chatted with the group until the train arrived. It was packed. I was looking into the carriages for any free seats and I saw some wonderful eye candy, so I thought I'd try and get a seat in his carriage. Turns out my new travel buddies had picked the same one...and as luck would have it, I got a seat across from the Indian man (I could still see my eye candy, so I was happy). I stuck my earphones in and took my thesis chapter out of my bag and proceeded to read. Suddenly I realised that the Indian man was talking to me. So, to be polite, I took one earphone out and answered his question, and then quickly went back to my music and thesis. But noooo, he was in a mood to tell me his father's life story. I mean WTF? I'm wearing my earphones. I'm reading. That's supposed to be a signal that I'm not in the mood for conversation. Why do you keep talking to me, old man? Stop iiiiit. AAAAAARGH! I practically jumped off the train when it pulled into Cambridge station and ran for a taxi. Creepy Asian men...ugh. And my eye candy didn't make eye contact even once. What a waste of energy.

So yeah, those were my random highlights from the trip. Oh apart from the time I overheard some guy introducing himself to the girl next to him, and then proceeding to introduce her to the dot product. I was laughing so hard I had to call Shorty for distraction. I couldn't even contain my laughter long enough to figure out if his explanation was right...d'oh! But seriously...who in their right mind thinks that explaining vector calculus is the way to a girl's heart/pants? El stupido.

OK I think that really is a full account of my trip. Turns out I had underestimated my photographic skills (either that or I'd overestimated my standards), and there were not 10, but 28 photos from the weekend that made it onto flickr. I've put them all in a slideshow in case you're interested.

It was a good weekend and in the end I'm glad I went, despite the insane cost. I really need to get some work done though. But maybe after I go to London this weekend to see Inception at the IMAX. D'oh!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Well, um, I wouldn't say no...Part er...

Listening to: 'Clair de Lune' by Philadelphia Orchestra [OST - Ocean's Eleven]

...three. Yes, I'm still going (here's one and two, in case you missed them).

"I bothered to listen at school; why didn’t the rest of you?"

David Mitchell is not my idea of good looking. Also, he's
David Mitchell (L) with his comedy partner
Robert Webb
snobbish, pedantic, and he whinges. A lot. But oh my, he's bloody hilarious. And I don't mean just on Peep Show, That Mitchell and Webb Look, or any of the other shows he's on. Even his interviews are hilarious (not sure if that's visible outside the UK - soz!). There's just something about him that makes me happy. Maybe it's that pathetic smile. Can I become a groupie? Do comedians even have groupies? I dunno. Anyway, yeah. ♥ David Mitchell. Maybe it's 'cos he's from Cambridge? Hmm.

"I came here to drink milk and kick ass…and I’ve just finished my milk."

Richard Ayoade. Well, specifically his character
L-R: Moss, Jen and Roy are The IT Crowd
Moss in The IT Crowd. How adorable is Moss?! I'm watching Series 4 at the moment (really really good so far) and I just grin like a jackass every time Moss is on screen. He's just And loveable. Aww. Maybe it's 'cos he's from Cambridge? Hmm.

"If we don't get served, I will be humiliated in front of the girl I've lusted after since she was eight."

Aww...sweet, pathetic Simon Cooper, off of
Simon in Series 1
The Inbetweeners, played by Joe Thomas. I ♥ Simon. So yes he's obsessed with that useless Carli, and yes he did puke all over her little brother, but he's so unbelievably nice to Will. Even when Will's being a complete 'briefcase wanker'. And he's so cute! In an 'I-have-way-too-much-gel-in-my-hair teenager' kinda way. He makes me laugh so much. Maybe it's 'cos he's from Cambridge? Hmm.

Actually, no. Cambridge has nothing to do with it (although I am very chuffed that I have some distant connection to these guys). It's just a coincidence that all three are alumni (the first two are past-presidents) of Cambridge Footlights, that well-known hit factory. If you think you don't know any other Footlights the names Douglas Adams, Emma Thompson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry ring any bells?

Anyway, this wasn't supposed to be a totally Cambridge-related post. I've recently (as of a few days ago) developed an obsession with yet another TV character. You know how I said the BBC worked some kind of magic with Mr Darcy and Mr Knightley, and somehow turned decidedly average men into absolute sexpots? Yeah well they've done it again.

"Because you're an idiot. No no no don't be like that, practically everyone is."

No I don't think he's good looking. But in his role as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC's absolutely brilliant Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch is pushing a lot of my buttons. Here's the trailer.

He's just so interesting. The arrogance with patches of concern, the extreme intelligence, the voice, the way his shirt fits just perfectly...I can totally relate to Molly Hooper. *sigh*

I've seen him in other movies (most recently, the equally brilliant BBC adaptation of Small Island) and there was nothing. And I enjoyed Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, but I didn't fancy Sherlock in that (despite how adorable RDJr is). So I dunno what it is. But who cares, I've got another two episodes (why only two?!) of this series, so I'm just gonna sit and enjoy him it.

Oh and is 'Benedict Cumberbatch' the most awesome name ever or what?!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Aberdeen Chronicles pt.2

I wrote this in my notebook on Sunday...(continued from here)

Listening to: 'Mardy Bum' by Arctic Monkeys [Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not]

1.50pm. I'm sitting on the train - the 13:50 East Coast rail service from Aberdeen to London King's Cross. I'll be reaching Stevenage at 20:53 (assuming there are no delays) and then on to Cambridge - I should be home by about 10pm.

I wanted to write another update from Aberdeen, but frankly I was having too much fun. I've had a wonderful weekend, full of exploration and matrimonial joy (not mine)...oh and babies (also not mine). Between the time I left Cambridge on Friday morning and the time I went to sleep last night, I'd taken 275 photos. They'll probably be whittled down to about 10 that are worth flickring, but still, it's been an excellent trip.

My verdict on Aberdeen can be summed up in three words:
  1. grey
  2. fishy
  3. seagully (yes, I know it's not a real word)
Oh and one more word:
 4.  omgtherearesomanygoodlookingmenhere!!! (what?! that's not a word either? bollocks)
I did a lot of walking around on Friday - about 5 hrs in total. My 'room' at the SYHA hostel was in fact a dorm with two bunk beds, and when I got to my room, the top two bunks were already occupied. I attempted to make small talk but my roomies were a tad unresponsive - they were pleasant enough I suppose, but the subtle-but-not-so-subtle-really rolling of the eyes when I told them I was from Cambridge was a bit of a giveaway. I txtd Shorty and we had a little laugh about it, and then I went to sleep.

Saturday was also fun but tiring, albeit in a completely different way. I hurriedly straightened my hair and painted my nails (which looked disastrous, but *meh*) and found my way to my friend's place. I got dressed while he went off to buy a new shirt (easier than ironing the ones he had, apparently) and once I was dolled up and ready, we made the 45 min taxi journey up to Crathes Castle for the wedding ceremony.

I love Sri Lankan weddings (except when I get pimped to all and sundry) but I must say, British weddings are growing on me. There were less than 50 people at the ceremony, which was in a quaint garden at the castle. The ceremony itself was simple and intimate, and the couple looked relaxed and happy. We spent a few hours at the castle - most of the guests sipping champagne, and me broodily gazing at one of the bride's colleague's one year-old baby.

After the couple had been sufficiently papped, we moved on to a nearby hotel for the 'wedding breakfast' and reception. The food was exquisite. The atmosphere, once again, was relaxed and happy. There was a quiz about the couple and their favourite songs, places etc...our table annihilated the competition and won some yummy chocolates for our troubles - I really think 'pub quiz person' is my new calling.

The reception was a good laugh. About 50 more people turned up, and there was a lot of merry making at the bar (or chatting/gurgling with the bridesmaid's 8 week-old baby, if you were me). The band was excellent - I've never seen a band that can perform Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Clash, Bryan Adams and a host of Scottish ceilidh dances with such ease and perfection...and I've never seen a man (the lead singer/keyboardist/accordian player) looking so incredibly sexy in a kilt! I watched the ceilidhs from afar, partly because I didn't want to lose my footing on the slippery floor, and partly 'cos I was worried about any possible wardrobe malfunctions. You'll be pleased to know there were no accidents.

So yeah, that was my weekend. Photos will follow. I'm not sure where I am at the moment, but I know we're somewhere between Dundee and Edinburgh - 1 1/2 hrs gone, 6 1/2 to go!

To be continued...

The Aberdeen Chronicles

I wrote this in my notebook on Friday...

Listening to: 'Like the Sea' by Alicia Keys [The Element of Freedom]

10.05am. 3 1/2 hrs done, 4 1/2 to go. I'm on the train, somewhere between York and Darlington. A few things are running through my mind:
  1. I love train travel in the UK. Especially when I have a window seat that's facing the back of the train. I dunno, there's something about relative motion that excites me.
  2. Man did I choose some awesome music for this weekend! So far I've had Arctic Monkeys, Gorillaz, John Mayer, Alicia Keys and Florence. And Tinie Tempah. And I know there's some Plan B and Girls Aloud on the way at some point.
  3. Wow this train is packed. It's the East Coast service from London to Edinburgh, and I can't see a single non-reserved seat in this coach.
  4. I really need the loo, but the middle-aged gentleman next to me is busy checking facebook on his laptop and I don't wanna disturb him.

I've spent the past 3 hrs or so talking to Shorty, reading some journal articles (yes, I brought work) and playing with my camera. Oh and people watching (the lady in front of me is wearing gorgeous nail polish - I WANT!).
The 'almost-exact' route
(colour change = train change)

It's a beautiful day outside the train - blue skies with plenty of white fluffy clouds, and plenty of sunshine. I hope it's the same in Aberdeen, though I doubt it. Yes, that's where I'm headed. A batchmate from my undergrad days is getting married tomorrow, so I'm using the weekend to explore Aberdeen. It's the first solo touristy jaunt I'm doing since NYC, so I'm quite excited. There's something liberating about travelling and exploring alone.

OK I'm gonna stop now...another update from Aberdeen, perhaps. But what's this? miniha nidi ne! (the man's asleep!) How am I supposed to go to the loo now? Haiyo!

To be continued...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why can't my body just behave?!

Listening to: 'Squealing Pigs' by Admiral Fallow [Boots Met My Face]

Blood tests and ECG tomorrow. I'm not worried...needles don't really bother me. And the ECG...well it's been about 15 years since I last had an ECG, and all I can remember is stickiness. Or was that an Echo? Meh. I'm rather desensitised to these medical thingies anyway. I just hope the tests are conclusive. In a weird way, I'd rather be told that there's something (minor, and treatable) wrong with me, than be told that I just have to 'live with it'. It's not that I have some unrealistic expectation of the scope of modern medicine, or a repressed death wish...but I'm fed up of inexplicable phenomena...I have enough of that in my own research, dammit!

And let's face it, I haven't really been doing a good job of 'living with it' so far. I can wear three pairs of socks and my feet will still be (literally) icy cold in winter...and I can wave them in front of a fan and sprinkle water on them and they'll still be red hot and swollen during summer. I can wear two pairs of thermal gloves and my fingertips will still go blue and hurt like hell in winter. And I can sit peacefully and sip water and do nothing else all day and I can still get palpitations. Hello, I'm 27...I'm not supposed to be getting 'old people' ailments. Gah.

Anyway, time for bed. I won't see my Dr till next week to discuss the results, and unlike in SL, the nurse is unlikely to let me bring the reports I'll just have to continue 'living with it' (or not) until then. Ugh.

P.S. For the initiated amongst you, yes I am a suspected Reynaud's case, but my Dr said there's no point doing all the tests 'cos the 'treatment' is just treatment of the symptoms. Joy.

I ♥ Admiral Fallow!

Listening to: 'Taste the Coast' by Admiral Fallow [Boots Met My Face]

I heard these guys on the radio during the T in the Park coverage, and today on the insanely cool Fearne Cotton's mid-morning show. I am in love with these songs!

I know I've been rubbish at regular blogging...will try and find something to blog about soon.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Well, um, I wouldn't say no...Part DEUX!!!

Listening to: 'Dangerous Animals' by Arctic Monkeys [Humbug]

Ha! And you thought I was done with my list of weird celeb crushes. Hell no. Let's pay another visit to the somewhat disturbed mind of your favourite evil babushka.

The 'Special' One

Liking the pensive look, José!
Yes I know he talks nonsense and I know he's old but...oh I dunno. What I do know is that he looks damn good in a suit. And I'm seeing shades of Jude Law. Maybe that's it.

Coach of the year

From manager to coach. Except this one's not really a coach. In fact, he's not even real. But the actor who plays him? Definitely real. There's something about James Corden that's just so...cuddly.
I'm not usually into 'cuddly' guys, but I see James Corden and I just go 'awwwwww'. Though not when watching the BBC Sports Personality of the Year sketch he did for Sport Relief. Then I was properly ROFLing. You need to check it out. It features a lot of my more conventional crushes - Jenson Button, David Beckham, Freddie Flintoff, *ahem* Gary Lineker and Tom Daley...

But yeah, a cuddly man who's hilarious...who can resist?

If you believe, you can achieve...innit?

Next up is one of James Corden's buddies. No, not his comedy partner Matt Horne, but the collaborator on his #1 hit single, Shout. Yup that's right, Mr Dizzee Rascal himself. I wasn't a 'fan' as such initially, though I thought Old Skool, Flex and Fix Up, Look Sharp were pretty cool. And then Obama became president. And Paxman decided to interview the 'coolest' black person he could find in Britain. And since then, I've been chanting "Dizzee for Prime Minister!" with the rest of them.

I don't really find him that good looking, but he exudes this fun-loving positive energy that just makes me feel good when I see him. And in case it wasn't obvious before, I am a sucker for boyish charm.

I'm Pro, I'm no intermediate!

And now, one of Dizzee's contemporaries. I'm really really not into tattoos, let alone tattoos on a person's neck...but I seem to be able to ignore them in this case. Again, he's not that good looking. And again, I have no idea why I fancy him, but I do. I'm currently loving this remake he and Lily Allen have done of Beats Internationals' Dub Be Good To Me. Lily Allen's a bit trashy, but she looks pretty with make up on, and I love her short hair in this video! And the scenes of them together...maybe it's the perfect height difference or the lighting or something, but I'm sensing some serious chemistry.

Random thought: he probably has the best dentist in the world. I mean check out this video...maaajor dental work alert!. I probably wouldn't have fancied him had I see him like this first. Good song though. Perfect reworking of Brahms' Hungarian Dance #5, and nice use of the meter from Forgot About Dre.

Alright, Treacle?

Ah...the love of my life, Scott Mills. Scott presents the drive time show on Radio 1, and to be honest, if it wasn't for Radio 1, I probably wouldn't have got so attached to any of these celebrities in the first place. But I digress. Scott's voice and his on-air personality are simply adorable (as is his face), and I find myself using his catchphrases in everyday life. I am obsessed. Which would be fine, except for the fact that crushing on a gay guy is a bit of a waste of time, no? *sigh*

So there we have it. Five more bizarre celebrity crushes. Will there be more? Only time will tell.

Sunday, July 04, 2010


Listening to: Radio 1

I just finished watching an almost clinical (well, save a few unnecessary unforced errors and 2nd serves) Wimbledon Final performance by Rafael Nadal. Rafa is my absolute favourite and I'm thrilled that it was so easy for him, but I had kinda hoped that Tomas Berdych (who is actually quite cute, btw) would rise to the occasion. He did against Federer and Djokovic, but not today. He's got potential though, and as with most of the players on the tour, he just needs to work more on his mental game.

While I was screaming words of encouragement at the monitor, my mind went back to a time when I wasn't into tennis. Yes folks, believe it or not, there was a time when I couldn't stand the stuff. Or cricket, for that matter. Oh how things have changed.

I used to be really into my Premier League football. I was a steady Spurs supporter (two words: 'Gary Lineker'). Tennis, in my opinion (if you can count the opinion of a 9 yr-old, that is), took far too long. Realistically though, there was a deeper reason. My father worked long hours, and I cherished the time he was at home...but with Wimbledon on TV, he might as well have been at work. I still remember that famous '92 Wimbledon final between Agassi and Ivanisevic. I was in the middle of a very tough 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and I wanted Thaththi's help. But nooooo, he and Ammi were screaming words of encouragement at the TV (sound familiar?). Hmph. I can't remember why I went and sat next to them, but I did. And I followed the ball, and the cheers. And the scoreboard. Before long, I had grasped the basics of the game. And you know what? It wasn't that bad. In fact, it was actually quite enjoyable. Maybe I would learn to like this tennis malarkey after all.

Or maybe not. We moved back to SL in '93, and had no contact with tennis for a while (except through the papers). But then somehow, we managed to catch the 1996 US Open. I saw Pete Sampras play, and I was hooked. For a while at least...I briefly lost interest when Sampras retired, and it took the first of the Federer/Nadal encounters to reel me back in. Their rivalry, combined with the excellent BBC tennis coverage, has turned me into an addict.

Like I said earlier, tennis isn't the only sport that I learnt to love. Considering that I thought tennis took too long, you can imagine why I didn't like cricket! Again, the Ashes would steal my father from me, and it irritated me that he would rather sit and watch some weird moustached man (Graham Gooch) instead of playing Scrabble with me. Double hmph.

Fast forward to January 1996. I was in hospital after my surgery, and utterly bored in my room. As luck would have it, the TV in the room would only show one channel. The same channel that was showing Sri Lanka's infamous tour of Australia. I had two choices: try and follow the cricket, or die of boredom. And so I followed. I listened to the commentary, and tried to figure out what the hell was going on. I filled in the gaps by quizzing my father during visiting hours. And then I was discharged, just in time for the World Cup. The rest, as they say, is history.

So yeah, what started out as a way to have some quality time with my father, or to relieve my boredom, resulted in a lifelong love affair. And now I couldn't care less about the Premiership. Funny how things work out, no?

Saturday, July 03, 2010

It's all about the bird shit

Listening to: 'Self Machine' by I Blame Coco [The Constant]

So I was in London last weekend, and Shorty suggested that we try for Wimbledon tickets. For what I believe was the first time, Wimbledon was releasing a small number of show court tickets online every night, so we thought we'd give it a shot. Unsurprisingly, we missed out. We weren't willing to queue up at 4am, so we decided to drop by in the afternoon and have a snoop around, in case there were any return tickets. If there was nothing available, at least we could wander over to Wimbledon Common and lounge around in the sunshine.

We got to Wimbledon station just after 3pm, and decided to walk to the grounds. Along the way, we saw 2 Ferraris and at least 4 Bentleys! And OMG the houses! They were enormous! We were on proper 'rich people' road. No litter, no chavs, no nothing. Oh except for some incontinent birds, that is. We were happily walking down the road when suddenly one of my friends said "ha ha PR you just got shat on" and then almost collapsed in a heap of laughter :-|. Thankfully Shorty was far more sympathetic, and one wet wipe later, she had removed all traces of the poop from my head. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is what best friends are for - to wipe shit off your head.

So anyway, we carried on towards the All-England Club, chatting about how birds shitting on one's head was supposed to be lucky or something. Well, turns was! After walking for what felt like an eternity (actually only about an hour), we got to the starting point for the queue to get ground passes. The extremely helpful stewards told us that the wait would be about an hour, so we figured we might as well try our luck. We got our queue cards (I was the 12,745th person to join the queue that day) and hung about until the gates opened. When they did, we moved pretty swiftly - past the surprisingly clean 'toilet trailer' (the flush worked and everything!), through the airport-like security and on to the turnstiles. I think Shorty and I each gave a little squeal when we got our tickets...Wimbledon, baby! w00t! Dare I say I love having bird shit on my head? Hmm.

Since ground passes only provide access to courts 5-19, we missed Rafa, Andy Murray, Soderling and Sharapova. And the Williams sisters' doubles match. We did, however, manage to get up close and personal with a lot of other doubles matches. In fact we had pretty awesome seats for the first set of Sania Mirza/Caroline Wozniacki v Daniela Hantuchová/Cara Black. Mrs Malik and C-Woz played pretty well, but it was obvious that they were no match for Cara Black. The woman was amazing. Hantuchová just had to stand there and look pretty! Which she does anyway, to be fair.
[L-R] Caroline Wozniacki and Daniela Hantuchová: check out the different serving stances!
(click on image for corresponding fluidr page)
But back to 'my' experience of Wimbledon. We had a wander around the grounds - near the show courts (where we saw Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara), up onto Henman Hill/Murray Mound, and of course the now legendary Court 18. It's been a pretty special Wimbledon this year, hasn't it? Federer pushed for 5 sets by a random Colombian, Rafa pushed to 5 sets by a random Dutchman, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut mistaking tennis for test cricket...and that was just Week 1! Week 2 has brought its own surprises - Henin and Roddick out in the 4th round, Clijsters, Venus and Federer out in the QFs - and in almost all cases, the upsets have been caused by total nobodies. Unlike previous years where unseeded players would tremble at the sight of a big name, this year there seems to be this confidence, this belief that winning is an option. It's fascinating to see.

That said, some have crumbled. Like Tsvetana Pironkova against Vera Zvonareva, and Petra Kvitová against the mighty Serena Williams. And it's not just the inexperienced that freeze when playing 'the greats'. I think that's what happened yesterday with Andy Murray. He had definitely brought his A game, but so had Rafa...and anything less than a gutsy A+ is not enough to beat Señor Nadal on a good day. But what struck me as peculiar was Rafa's post-match interview. When being asked about Murray, Rafa praised his opponent and said he deserves to win a Grand Slam...the interviewer pounced on this and asked "so you think he can win a Grand Slam?". It's like he was seeking reassurance from the world #1. Why? We don't need reassurance from anyone that Andy can win a Grand Slam. We know he can...if only he believes it himself! It's an affliction of British sport - this lack of self belief. The influx of South Africans seems to have brought about that confidence in the cricket team, and they're doing well. But in almost every other sport - be it tennis, football or rugby, it's a big problem. All the talent in the world is insufficient if we're not convinced that we're good enough.

So yes, Andy Murray has to wait another year to aim for that coveted Wimbledon Final spot. And even if he does manage to work on that self belief, he'll need a lot of luck with the draw. Maybe some bird shit would do?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Take a picture (or 365?)

Listening to: 'Bang Bang Bang' by Mark Ronson & The Business Intl [Record Collection]

It is the 1st of July, and I am jumping on the 'Project 365' bandwagon. The coming twelve months are likely to be the most unpredictable I've had in a while, so why not, eh? Also, I feel like I've been neglecting my photography since of late. Not good.

Now I thought rather than just having a bog standard Project 365, I'd spice it up a bit - else I'd end up with 365 images of Cambridge colleges, no doubt. So I decided on some categories - one for each day of the week. And because I'm procrastinating, I've named them all using song titles. Behold!
  • Your Body is a Wonderland
    Well no, not yours...mine. Basically, a fancy way of saying 'self-portrait'. But not quite. The only condition is that some part of my body should be in the photo. It doesn't even need to be in focus - it just needs to be there. As someone with a very negative body image, it's gonna be an interesting challenge to depict my body artistically. But I guess if I can use this sack of bones to create art, it can't be that bad eh? :-)
  • A, B, C
    I got this one from here. Once a week, I have to find a letter of the alphabet in the world around me...but it shouldn't be a letter (that'd be way too easy). So shadows, clouds, trees, traffic jam get the picture. The idea is that after 26 weeks, I'll have an entire alphabet in photos. And then I can start again! lol
  • True Colours
    This one's easy; there just has to be a colour scheme - either one of the VIBGYOR colours, or B&W. And I'll repeat the colour schemes every eight weeks.
  • It's My Life
    Another easy one. This is possibly more along the lines of the 365 that most people do - documenting their 'day' for a year. This category might include my lab, my flat, stuff I'm cooking, my clothes...that sorta thing.
  • Earth Song
    Yeah they're getting a lot easier and more predictable, I know. Anything natural (and non-human) qualifies.
  • Mad World
    Why did I say 'non-human' in the previous item? Well, 'cos it comes in here. This one's anything to do with civilisation - people, buildings, machines etc.
  • Freedom
    And on the seventh day, I'll be slave to my mood and take whatever I want to take...or whatever YOU want me to take. Yup, if you've got any ideas, you can leave a comment either on this post or on the dedicated page, and I'll see what I can do.
So yeah, there we have it! I'll try and update my flickr every day, and the photo should appear on this blog too.

I dunno if this will be a really cool project or if I'll get bored, but either way, it's ok. The last time I had the same attitude to a 'project' was when I started blogging...and that was almost 4 1/2 years ago. So we'll see how things go.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Plaid Shirts and Skinny Jeans R Us

Listening to: 'Always Like This' by Bombay Bicycle Club [I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose]

You know the look. Yes, that one. Plaid shirt, skinny jeans and canvas sneakers. Coupled with bed hair and geeky specs. Soft spoken, bordering on socially inept. With a guitar (or manbag) slung over one shoulder. Oversized headphones. Playing something depressing by The Smiths...well, pretty much anything by The Smiths. The quintessential 'quirky indie boy' look.

OK I just thought way too much into that. Aaaanyway, the point I was trying to get to was that the boys that fit this mould seem to have created a musical sub-genre to match their outfits. I call it 'quirky indie boy rock'.

So, what qualifies as 'quirky indie boy rock'? I hear you ask. Well here are a few that have caught my eye (or ear, rather) -

Vampire Weekend - Giving Up the Gun

Vampire Weekend are probably the most established out of the bands featured here. Their first album had gems like A-Punk, Oxford Comma and Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (the music videos for the last two were directed by Richard Ayoade - Moss from The I.T. Crowd - and there's your random fact for the day). Their new album has produced equally catchy tracks such as Cousins, Holiday, and this one. I think Cousins is probably my favourite single off the new album so far, but I decided to put 'Giving Up the Gun' here because...well watch it, and you'll see why ;-) (I wasn't a fan before, but after seeing him in this video...*sigh*).

The Drums - Let's Go Surfing

Like Vampire Weekend, these guys are also from New York. Are they breeding quirky indie boys over there or what? Hmm. Anyway, I haven't heard much from these guys, but I do love this song. I'm guessing the use of the playground chant has a lot to do with it, but I'm not complaining.

Stornoway - Zorbing

Wahey, something from the UK this time! These guys are from Oxford (I'll try not to hold that against them :P ). I had a tough time deciding which of their tracks to include in this post - they're all so cute! Anyway I think I'm gonna stick with Zorbing, simply because of the trumpet. But please check out I Saw You Blink as well.

Bombay Bicycle Club - Always Like This

I'm gonna end with another British band - these guys are from London. They're probably my favourite out of the bands listed here. I'm not sure if it's 'cos of the music, or 'cos their drummer's name is the suspiciously Sri Lankan-sounding 'Suren de Saram', or 'cos said drummer is actually kinda fit. Must be the music, yes *innocent look*.

I've liked all the singles they've put out so far - Evening/Morning, Dust On the Ground, Magnet and the newest release, Ivy & Gold - but my favourite is still this one. The hook is unbelievably catchy. Here, see for yourself.

So yeah. I think that should be enough quirky indie boy rock to keep you going for a while. I'm not sure what genre I'm gonna cover next. We'll see.