Saturday, July 28, 2007

Geographically challenged

Why is my sense of direction so bad? I wanted to get my hair cut today and the hairdresser I go to is about 5-7 minutes walk from my house. I swear you only need to turn two corners to get there. Yet I spent 20 minutes walking in circles trying to find it and then gave up because I was running late anyway. What's wrong with me? I've been to that hairdresser twice before but I've got no idea what shops it was next to or even what street it's on. I'm very disappointed with myself. The only explanation I have is that I often listen to my iPod when I'm walking around my area and perhaps that's stopping me from paying attention to the direction I'm heading in. For example today I have to admit I was a bit preoccupied with walking like a robot while listening to Daft Punk's "Harder Better Faster Longer" and spent the 5 minutes after that nodding my head purposefully to Snoop Dogg's "Beautiful" (feat Pharrell). Next time I go out I'm leaving the headphones at home.

Luckily for me, with my haircut, it's hard to tell whether or not I've been to the hairdresser recently. In fact, I should really be able to cut my hair myself, which I did until recently when I found my (now lost) hairdresser that only charges 7 quid, which is a bargain too good to refuse. It's a Turkish barber shop on Harrow Road (at least that's what I thought, but it didn't seem to be there today) and specialises in shaved heads - there are always guys there getting interesting designs cut into their crew-cuts (like zig zags and Nike signs). I just get the corporate special, which is just a number 2 all over. The barbers always seem to be disappointed when I don't ask for something a little more creative. I suppose I should probably try and mix it up a little bit now and then. My latest thinking is a Kostya Tzsyu style fringe and pony tail. Thoughts?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More genius?

This is my latest artwork, which I finished this morning. It's a continuation of my "white oblongs" series. What do you think?

I know your reaction will probably be "That'll look great on the wall of my bedroom / livingroom / internationally acclaimed art gallery." But I'm afraid that Mudiwa has first right of refusal on it as she laid claim to it while it was still only half-finished (though whether Mudiwa realised that at the time is hard to tell). Of course, she now just has to come back to London in order to pick it up ...

For no particular reason, I've also included a photo of the painting in its early stages.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Too much cheese is barely enough

This is just one of many life lessons I learned on what was an amazingly wonderful weekend away in France to celebrate Joyce's birthday. The other lessons I learned are as follows:
  • When it's cold and wet in London, it's 30 degrees and sunny in the French Alps.

  • Even if your language skills are limited (like mine), it's always worth arming yourself with useful phrases such as "Gardez vos mains a vous-meme que mon mari est un policier", which (according to Babelfish) translates roughly as "Keep your hands as you-same that my husband is a police officer?"

  • When climbing a mountain, always opt for the near vertical, muddy and slippery goat trail rather than the wide gravel path with the easy gradient and clear signage. It feels so much more rewarding when you get past the tree line and realise you're nowhere near the peak and, in fact, nowhere near where you were aiming for. Just remember, if it's good enough for the goats, it's good enough for you. And the views will be spectacular, no matter what part of the mountain you're on.

  • Even when the sky is clear and sunny and there are no birds in sight, you can still get hit with bird shit. My baby-blue t-shirt is never going to be the same ...

  • Sometimes life presents you with an impossible choice. For instance, what would you do if presented with the following options: (1) hiking for an hour and a half up a mountain in searing heat to join the frenzied masses at the top of the pass to cheer on a bunch of riders in intense physical pain, only managing to stay on their bikes because of the adrenaline surge they get from seeing you jumping up and down and shouting for them; or (2) reclining in the sun on your balcony drinking champagne and eating cheese while watching a stream of cyclists hurtle down the mountain and terror-inducing speed. It's a hard choice, but there's no wrong answer.

  • There are few nicer places in the world than a chalet in the French Alps with a view looking out to the mountains and a fridge full of wine, beer, cheese and cold meat.

  • Even after a weekend full of raclette, hard cheese, soft cheese, blue cheese and more cheese, there is always still room for a quattro fromages pizza by the banks of Lake Geneva.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Killing me softly? I wish.

This is the story of two vastly different musical experiences.

Last Friday night, a group of 10 or so (extremely beautiful) friends kicked off an extended celebration of the Joyce's birthday by over-dosing on three favourite, though indulgent, luxuries: fine food, fine wine and karaoke. Lucky Voice was our venue of choice and, to set the scene, you need to imagine a dimly lit, leather padded sauna with a large flat screen, a couple of mics and a hoarde of inflatable saxophones and bright pink afro-wigs. I admit that I was slightly sceptical about the whole thing. I've only done karaoke a couple of times before and last time I chose to do "Hey Jude", which is a great song and easy to sing for the most part, except it has about 4 minutes of "na na-na na-na-na-naaaaaaas" at the end, which gets a bit tedious for both the singer and the audience. But all it took was an explosive r-r-rendition of "Boom Shake the Room" by Brendan to turn me into a believer. Who would believe that anyone could mimic the s-s-s-stutter of the Fresh Prince so perfectly? After that followed a cavalcade of hits all sung in fine style. The highlights were simply too numerous to mention them all here, though special mention should be made of Yalin (the only one of us who might actually sound good to an independent third party - the man can sing and he's got soul), Huy's (perhaps overly?) sensual dancing to "Genie in a Bottle" and Jenny's dramatic and heart-rending intepretation of "Total Eclipse of the Heart". I was blown away by our collective talent, flair and sense of drama. It was fun.

On Sunday night, I went to see Lauryn Hill, acclaimed R&B superstar, play her comeback gig in London. I was excited at the prospect of seeing L-Boogie in the flesh. And, for the 20 seconds or so between Ms Hill being announced on-stage and the time when her microphone started working (I mean who lets the lead singer get on stage without checking that her microphone works?!), those hopes were sustained. It was at that point, that Lauryn started shouting (not singing, oh no, she didn't do much of that) the lyrics to Bob Marley's "The Heathen" backed by a 14 piece band that was loud, but unfortunately not quite loud enough to drown out her squawling. She then proceeded to shout and rasp her way through what I had thought was an impressive back catalogue of tracks (including a number of Fugees tunes that she massacred by forgetting half the lyrics), before caterwauling through a number of Bob Marley covers (it took me about 3 minutes of listening to "Zimbabwe" before realising what she was singing) and then finally showing no mercy for her tortured audience by forcing them to listen to new material that sounded a whole lot like two cats fighting in a metal rubbish bin. She was bad, folks, she was BAD. Have you ever seen a crowd of several thousand people stand dead still and with their arms crossed throughout an entire 90 minute musical performance? I have. Half-way through the show, Lauryn asked why everyone in the balcony was so quiet. It was because they were LEAVING Lauryn. It's a shame. She used to be so good.

Next time I want to hear good music, I'm going back to Lucky Voice ...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Huy Le, Egomaniac - Part 2

Here is a picture of Huy Le, egomaniac, looking typically smug.

This is now three posts in a row in which I have written about Huy, which will no doubt only feed his ego further (it really doesn't take much). And my next proper posting is likely to be about our karaoke experience yesterday, and will no doubt feature a fairly favourable review of Huy's R&B stylings on the microphone. But after that I'm going to do my best to make sure my next few postings are Huy Le-free. Sorry, Huy.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Shout outs

So since my readership seems to consist predominantly of three people - Tim, Huy and Joyce - I thought it would be appropriate to give them some props by promoting their own writings.

Huy has been blogging for longer than all of us, and his experience shows. Although it pains me to say it, his blog is tremendously funny, well-written and entertaining. I strongly recommend you become a regular reader, but please don't leave too many complimentary comments, as flattery to Huy is like chocolate mud-cake to a diabetic fat man (too much isn't good for him).

Joyce is taking a slightly different approach to blogging by writing fewer entries and packing more into them. Basically, it's a necessary step, since Joyce doesn't have much free time and needs to schedule blogging entries between gigs, theatre, weekends away and culinary excursions. Reading a post on Joyce's blog makes you realise just how much is going on out there in the big city and also just how much of it involves Joyce (i.e. a lot).

Tim's blog is relatively new, but I'm sure he'll soon overtake all of us both on number and length of postings. He also tends towards weightier topics - his insights into politics, literature and film are well worth reading - even though you have to sift through the odd piece of drivel about a now-defunct football team known only as the "Bears".