Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Year: 2003 (page 1 of 2)

“Ladies and Gentlemen… We Got Him”

Saddam Hussain in custodyHow charmingly American. Yes, that was Paul Bremer’s opening to the news conference in Iraq where he officially confirmed that (7 months after the war’s official “end” in May, mind) Saddam Hussain had finally been captured. Well, I’m sure we’ll all sleep more soundly tonight. In fact, more interesting was Tony Blair’s assertion that Saddam will be tried in Iraq, not an international tribunal à la Milosevic. One would have thought the Americans would have different ideas, but Blair seemed quite adament that te Iraqi people should and will be able to deal with him themselves. Now, these days I trust Blair’s promises about as far as Stuart Little could throw him, but we shall see…

I was at the Old Palace production of Oliver! last night, which went down extremely well. There was an exceedingly large chorus all on stage at one time, which meant some of the choreography was a little static, but organising that number at once is an impressive feat! Congrats to Rad and Friya in their capacity as assistant directors, and also Ally, Sarah and Lily in the band (may I have a chocolate? ;o). Very enjoyable evening, and great to see a bunch of the OP 6th formers before Christmas.

For Opeth fans who have not yet bought their first three albums (and even those who have!) now is most definitely the time to do so. The band have just made a limited pressing of about 2000 copies of each album, presented in an embossed circular tin case which looks very cool. Not easy to get hold of (I found one copy of Morningrise in the whole of Croydon, and that was it) and they’re likely to disappear extremely fast, so get your mitts on ’em now!

And so now there’s just four days left until I leave for the states. One of things about spending Christmas abroad is that it makes things much cheaper, since there are so many fewer gifts to buy! (Well, cheaper if you ignore the £400 plane tickets, that is…) I may have sporadic internet access while I’m away, but I doubt there will be any opportunity for posting updates. However, I may post occassionally at the forum to let people know what I’m up to instead.

Merry Christmas.

Riddlesdown Cabaret Evening

Went to a charity musical performance thing at Riddlesdown last night at Katie’s request. It was all done in cabaret-style with drinks served at the audience’s candlelit tables (by scantily-clad waitresses to really fit the theme…although that may not have been their intention!). The musical quality itself was, well, varied – more through lack of preparation/dodgy CD players than lack of talent though, I hasten to add.

A number of gorgeous voices made the night quite enjoyable, even though much of the music selection wasn’t quite to my taste (yes, I even liked one from Grease!). I would comment on the dancing too, but would probably be accused of perving…which should give you some idea of how accurate their performance of Aguilera’s “Dirty” was!

So it was a good night, and all in aid of a Croydon charity for children with learning disabilities and mental illnesses whose name elludes me at the moment. A worthy cause, nonetheless, and one of the variety that I like, which aims to help both the sufferer and their family.

Oh, and work has been extended. Again.


My job at Vodafone has been extended so I’ll be working at least until the end of next week, and possibly longer, since our Supervisor says he’s taken a look at the work queue and it’s still rather full. I’m not complaining since the money’s good, but it is getting duller and duller. The company is good though: my group has had the best supervisors (one who loves action/gangster/japanese films, and one who loves computer games & hi-tech kit), and Toby & Gem have been keeping me sane, whether it’s verbal sparring, flirting (that’d be me and Toby!) or just chatting about the most trivially insignificant things we can come up with (such as people wishing to end their phone contracts because they didn’t get the nectar points they expected…)

Well, to break the boredom I’ve been making wallpapers to brighten up my work desktop, including a kill bill replica made entirely using Microsoft Paint! The current one is my favourite and may amuse a few of you, so here is my Yodafone wallpaper. What!? They should give me more interesting work…

As for spending this (hard earned?) cash, I made a sizable dent today by buying up Seasons 1 & 3 of Angel on DVD. In fact that means I know own £210 of Angel DVDs: that’s 18 DVDs and 2910 minutes! Actually I didn’t pay nearly that much, since I bought very good condition second hand copies from Gamestation: it’s worth taking a look over their DVD stock as there’s some interesting stuff in there, including another Japanese film for my collection – “Beat” Takeshi’s directorial debut Violent Cop. And I finally managed to get the Echo & The Bunnymen 4-CD box set that I’ve been after for about 2 years now. HMV just happened to get a copy in (last time, once I managed to get the money together, Virgin helpfully sold off their only copy about a week before I could buy it).

So, off to Gareth Kay’s party this evening. It’ll be slightly weird since I’ll know a bunch of the Whitgiftians from the year below me, but possibly no one else, unless the Old Palace girls turn up like last time. Actually, even weirder will be the fact that the last time I was there was with a certain young girl…memories I’d rather not bring back.

Joining the Revolution

Well, I couldn’t wait, so I went to see The Matrix Revolutions last night after work, having bought my ticket the previous day. I’m not entirely sure where this stigma against going to the cinema alone comes from (we watch films alone at home all the time – and for us film fanatics, often in silence in the dark too!), but it’s wonderfully self-indulgent to have a big bucket of popcorn to yourself and gigantic screen with a sound system that rumbles all around you!

I actually enjoyed Reloaded more than many, but knew that due to some shakiness in that film, the fate of the trilogy as whole depended entirely on this final segment. I wanted to love it, and I wanted The Matrix to earn its place amongst the great trilogies (Star Wars, Back to the Future, and by the looks of things at the moment, Lord of the Rings too).

When I left two and a bit hours later, I was sorely disappointed. Don’t get me wrong: this was a phenomenal sci-fi war off the scale in its stunning visual effects, and I appreciated every moment of it, along with the awesomely crafted street-fight between Smith and Neo, where every raindrop is perfect. But there was so much more it could, and should, have been.

For anyone familiar with the world of The Matrix, go see the film, because there are many sequences that will only be done full justice on the big screen, and you just need to see the conclusion to the series (which is fortunately not a cop-out ending). I have spoken to a few people who loved it, and many who were unduly harsh to it. The problem is that The Matrix raised hopes so high, and the result is that it will always be remembered for the original film, not as a trilogy.

Moving (Virtual) House

Firstly, I want to apologise to Rad for missing her birthday do in Croydon last night. Working without sleeping properly had taken its toll and I was shattered last night, not in any state to go out at all. But happy birthday all the same, honey: I’m sure you made it a good one! =o)

Things yesterday were also disastrously complicated as I realised brinkster, my old web host, have decided to plaster member sites with advertising (having previously claimed to be utterly against such action). Due to the highly intrusive design of these ads, they utterly ruined the aesthetic of both sites so it was time for me move once more. In fact I managed to engineer the entire move in under a day, sending an application to a self-selective community at I’d highly recommend this free host, which offers 200MB of space, your own cgi-bin, very speedy linux servers, and of course, no bloody advertising! As I said, they select the sites they agree to host, so you write an application with a little about yourself and preferably with some examples of previous websites. They seemed happy enough with my request and I was set up the same day!

Then came the gargantuan task of actually moving the sites. Sounds simple, just copying a few files, huh? Well, in the case of P-2004, yes this is true since there are only 189 files. But the Crypt consists of 559 pages, with 1896 files to upload! Fortunately beigetower offer their users a program that allows secure FTP uploading at a pretty good rate, so I could just leave it ticking away folder by folder. So it’s all (hopefully) done now, and much quicker than I was expecting. I’d definitely recommend to anyone who’s interested in upgrading their website.

So, off to Church now, and then a dim sum lunch at the Tai Tung Chinese Restaurant in the Wing Yip Centre. But before I go, I feel it is my duty to inform anyone who does not yet own Tarantino’s back catalogue on DVD that are selling the box set (that’s Reservoir Dogs, special edition 2-disc Pulp Fiction and special edition 2-disc Jackie Brown) for a ridiculously cheap £18.99. Go buy it. Yes, now!

Training Days

Not only am I now earning money and working full-time (albeit on a temporary basis), but I’m also making some serious cash. For two days of training I’ve just earned about £100. Minus tax, of course. I guess it’s only once you start losing so much cash to the government that it really pisses you off whenever you see it being wasted.

It’s all been a bit of a laugh, despite the boring work that all involves a custom-designed database system to handle Vodafone’s customer information. Lots of staring at grey boxes on computer screens. But the training has been fairly straightforward, and I’m just thankful that the company of the other trainees has been interesting enough to keep me awake!

In fact, it turns out two other Whitgiftians are also working in the same batch, Rayhan and Greg. But even stranger than that was to discover that the spiky-haired guy in my training pool was Toby, an old friend of mine from primary school who I hadn’t seen for about seven years! So I’ve had an interesting bunch to keep me entertained and to hang out with over lunch breaks (which today ended up being a pint at The George…just because) and so forth. So it’s all good. Boring, yes, but I’m earning enough that whenever it gets too dull I can just close my eyes and think of all the wonderful goodies I’ll be spending it on…

Yesterday’s pre-Hallowe’en party was low-key but enjoyable, especially getting to see certain friends after a long while. Unfortunately, at Alexia’s request, Chris’ dance-mats made an appearance (so the danger has spread beyond his own house it seems…they’re portable!) and were completely destructive to any spooky atmosphere that Sophie’s glowing carved pumpkin may have lent the room. My “costume” which consisted of a suit & fangs was received with the right sense of humour when I extravagantly introduced myself as a “bloodsucking lawyer”. Yes, it was poor. But so poor that you had to laugh.

Sleepy Hollow was the film of the evening, played through Chris’ PS2 (after the worrying discovery that Sophie couldn’t play DVDs in that room). It received varying levels of approval, good from those actually watched the film, and bad from those who chatted the entire way through. Funny that…

TRIVIA: did you know that “Benjy’s” tends to hire all the Russians in Croydon?

The Headless Horseman

Went into Reed again to get things sorted out and I will now be starting work tomorrow (short of a last-minute catastrophe like last time…) and incidentally the new work should pay slightly better. Nothing exciting, just a data entry position for a week with Vodafone.

While I was out in Croydon I also picked up Sleepy Hollow on DVD for £7.99, just in time for Hallowe’en. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a Tim Burton classic, undoubtedly one of his best. Beautifully filmed, sumptuous sets, awesome Danny Elfman soundtrack, rather freaky, and of course the unforgettable Headless Horseman. So those of you who may be at the same Hallowe’en bash as me…you have been warned! If only I had a Headless Horseman costume too…
On that note, I have decided on a simple costume for this year, since I haven’t had much time to prepare one. I’ll let you know how it goes down next time.

Americana*For those who enjoy classical music, I’d also recommend my other purchase today, Leila Josefowicz’s Americana*. She’s one of my favourite violinists who plays a nice mixture of the new and old, sweet and fast: very versatile. I discovered her through a CD called Violin for Anne Rice, where she plays some of Rice’s favs and it makes a great accompaniment to reading her work. Anne Rice actually said her novel “Violin” was largely inspired by Josefowicz’s playing. Anyway, Americana* is definitely worth it for a great set of Gershwin arrangements.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

…it’s off to work we go. Yes, they called to confirm. I will be working by tomorrow. Something stunningly mundane, no doubt, but money is money. A few invitations have popped up so hopefully my friends’ll be able to keep me sane…I’m relying on you!

Amongst other things it turns out I do need a hallowe’en costume after all; I’d been sort of hoping that I’d get a year off from having to come up with something. The last two years’ über-vamp (cape and all!) and vampire hunter went down rather well, but I can never really win: if I go as a vampire, people complain I haven’t really “dressed up”, while if I don’t people complain I haven’t brought my fangs…

I’m serious considering opting for the Wednesday Addams method this year, and it’s a winner for anyone who usually looks out of the ordinary. Just dress as “normal” as possible and if anyone asks, stare at them blankly for a moment before explaining in a bland, serious, deadpan voice, “I’m a homicidal maniac…they look just like everyone else.”

The Black AngelWandering through Beanos, I found a DVD by a Japanese director I’ve been trying to hunt down, Takashii Ishii. His masterpiece is supposedly Gonin which I have not yet been able to get hold of, but The Black Angel which I bought and watched is a rather dark but stylish revenge thriller. If Tarantino has a Japanese counterpart, then Ishii is definitely it: inventive cinematography, skewed camera angles, semi-close-ups, but with Japanese touches involving long atmospheric sequences without dialogue. There’s an awesome seven-minute scene during which the camera never cuts away, following the disoriented heroine as she struggles to escape, traumatised by torture.

My other Japanese flick this weekend was Battle Royale. I’d recommend this one too for its weird brand of dark amusement. Think Lord of the Flies on steroids. And then some. A bunch of Japanese schoolkids are dumped on an island, told to kill each other and only the last surviving player will be released. Violent mayhem ensues naturally, but the film looks at how humans (and more specifically, adolescents) might react under such circumstances. Friendships are strained and ruined, some will happily stab others in the back, a few would kill themselves rather than classmates, while some remain more worried about lovers (or even crushes) than themselves.

UPDATE, 5:17PM – Just got a call to say the work’s been postponed. >=o| Will hopefully have something by Thursday…

Surprise Test

Had a meeting with the Reed Employment agency yesterday, just register to register with them and fill out a few forms, I’d been told. Arriving there sharply at 10am, I chatted to a consultant for few minutes before he said, “So, you’re good with Word, Excel, that sort of thing?”.
“Yes,” I reply, assuming he was just referring to my CV.
“Good, I’ll just set up the test and leave you to it,” he says.
“Oh crap,” I think, fortunately keeping this to myself…

It was only once I started their typing speed test (a data entry exercise) that I realised just how cold it was outside. My fingers were frozen stiff, and this test room wasn’t particularly warm either. Nonetheless I had a decent crack at it, and Nicky, the woman who checked over my scores and is now the one who contacts me about possible work, seemed fairly pleased. The Excel test was rather more daunting, since I haven’t really touched the program for about two and half years. Fortunately it’s all a practical test so a task appears on the screen and you perform the required operations to complete the task until “Correct answer” or “Incorrect Answer” appears. Since I live hooked up to computers, interfaces come naturally to me, so I can guess how things work even if I don’t really know, and so my residual Excel knowledge combined with some intuitive guessing gave me a cool 91% (apparently 60% is the average test score). The Word test was more of a breeze since I use it regularly enough, and I clocked up a wicked 97%.

So Nicky was rather pleased with these results, and I was breathing a sigh of relief since I really hadn’t been expecting tests (I haven’t had any since my A-levels). On the other hand, the feeling of having just blagged a test that I hadn’t “revised” for was all too familiar – brought back some memories! She suggested that work at the Home Office might suit me and that it should be possible to get me in there with what I’d demonstrated, so I filled out a few extra forms about how I was a model citizen with no criminal convictions and so forth (I suppose technically that form is more of an “I’m intelligent enough that they’ve never caught me!”).

And now I kick my heels and take some less interesting temp. work until that goes through. In fact I got a call from Nicky late that afternoon saying that I could be working as early as Tuesday if I wanted because something new had come up. A week’s work at £6/hour. Sounded reasonable to me. So, despite all those “lazy arsehole” complaints I’ve been getting from my fellow gap-year students, it looks like I am about to become a working man after all…

Here Comes The Bride…

Kill BillThe anticipation surrounding Kill Bill was made resoundingly clear by the fact that the teaser posters, just a few months before the film’s release, needed no picture what so ever. The words “4th film from Quentin Tarantino” were enough to make any fan drool. And now his first directorial outing for six years is out there for all to see. But more importantly, for me to see. Last night.

Almost as amazing as the film itself was that despite the fact it was all arranged on the day, six of actually managed to turn up, all accounted for and with tickets without any trouble at all. Well, almost. Guy had to come half an hour late, Matt had to wait eight minutes in his car for cheaper parking, Peter was trying to call from a train in to East Croydon with dodgy signal, and Chris needed Haribo. But at least I knew where everyone was.

And then the film itself. Outstanding frantic action sequences to out-kung-fu The Matrix, another awesome Tarantino soundtrack (which I actually bought before seeing the film, purely on the basis that it had the music from the trailer!), but above all it oozed pure style. The excessive gore was never the point of this film. What mattered is that it looked stunning. Every moment. And juxtaposed with the carnage was an incredible sequence where Thurman steps out into a Japanese tea garden, midnight blue sky, virgin white snow, Lucy Liu dressed in white, gracefully levelling her katana as the snow gently, slowly falls around her. Spellbinding beauty as only Tarantino could capture. You’ll know precisely what I mean when you see it. Yes when, not if.

Read my full Kill Bill review.

And tell me, who else but the uber-geek Tarantino could open a kung fu film with:

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

Old Klingon Proverb
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"Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has."

(CC) BY-NC 2004-2024 Priyan Meewella

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