Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Getting old: another birthday

So, 90% of the way to 30. This time last year, I was enjoying my mid-twenties watching world cup rugby in Paris. This year I was meant to be sunning myself on a weekend trip to the Italian coast, but due to an unplanned change in personal circumstances, I ended up sunning myself in London. Yes people, the sun actually came out on a day that begins with S. Twice.

The celebrations kicked off with a fashionably disastrous bowling night. Only in North London (or perhaps South London) would you be frisked upon entering a bowling alley. Still, the unexpected grope was well worth it for the cheese factor of Rowans bowling emporium and leisure centre, complete with DJ and a dance floor that really fired up after midnight. Congrats must go to Mel - winner of the bowling comp, proving that wii is no substitute for the real thing, Mark - air hockey champion, proving that even a child's game can be turned violent and foul-mouthed, and Nick - for the fruit tingle drink, proving that 3 wrongs can make a right.

The big day itself was spent making the most of the sun: american football in the park with some mates in the morning, followed by riding around the one-day-only cycle friendly streets of London, and capped off by sneaking in to (sort of) one of the corporate schmooze tents and enjoying their free booze and cheese cake. Oh, and I saw Boris Johnson (he looks even more ridiculous in person). Thanks also to my flatmate for cooking up a healthy dinner to make up for all the junk eaten while bowling.

After such a pleasant weekend, it's been a bit of a come-down. I'm now waking up to my 'late-twenties' status, and figure I should start making and checking off some sort of 'before I'm 30' list. I imagine these lists tend to have things like:
  • get a degree: check. Twice. and a bit. Don't mention a PhD though.
  • learn a second language: check. Although I'm finding that courses on French linguistics aren't that useful in everyday conversation. I should have taken "FRNC4601: How to console someone after a break-up."
  • represent Australia at sport: check. It counts!
  • move to a different city: check. Although after a year in Canberra I came scurrying back.
  • move to a different country: check. Although the jury's out on whether it was a good idea - scurrying is still an option.
  • find love and settle down: yeah, well, see the point above.
  • find a job that you love: Baaahahahahahaha!
  • buy a house: stop it, I'm laughing too hard!
  • save the world: not likely, although my mother keeps telling me I should. I'm not sure it's worth saving.
  • kill a man: check. sort of.

Anyone out there got suggestions for the list?

Thursday, 18 September 2008

And I thought I was having a bad week...

In a rare nod to current events, I'd like to draw everyone's attention to this particular vignette from the Lehman Brothers collapse (it was reported in the Standard stable of papers, so it must be true):
Frenchman Edouard d'Archimbaud, 24, was due to begin his first day as a £45,000-a-year trader at Lehman Brothers today. He said: "I had trouble getting here because of the Eurostar fire. When I finally made it I found out I was fired. We are all fired."

I can't help but laugh. But to be honest, he seems to be taking it all in stride with a gallic shrug of insouciance.

Since I'm talking current events I'd also like to pick up some great writing on contests for the two most important political positions in the Western world: premier of NSW, and the less important post of US president. The first is from a blog-post from the BBC's Sydney correspondent on Iemma's 'retirement':

Soap opera does not even begin to describe what happened in New South Wales politics last week, as the unpopular Premier Morris Iemma stepped down in an orgy of factionalism, blood-letting and tears. It had shades of the The Borgias, The Sopranos, Monty Python, and now, with the elevation of Nathan Rees, the rag and bone of Steptoe and Son.

The rest of the post (entitled "the west-wing-isation of politics") is well worth a read.

The second tidbit, on the US contest is also in blog form - you MUST check out Sarah Palin's own blog Palindrome (the name alone should win an award). In particular have a look at the post with her preparation notes for an interview.

OK, it's not really Sarah Palin writing it. But you had to check didn't you? As an added bonus, google Palindrome blog (ok I've done it for you) and check out the site's by line. Had me in tears. But not in the same way that the thought of her leading the Western world does (and she will - McCain can't live another 4 years... can he?)

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The future of music is... silence?

... and if it is I don't like it.

Thanks to Londonist (my favourite source for all things London) I scored a pair of tickets to see the Fun Lovin' Criminals playing at Koko. But this was no ordinary gig - it was a gimmicky 'silent disco' sponsored by Smirnoff. Basically, instead of plugging the instruments and mics into amps, they're all fed directly to the mix desk and then broadcast to the headphones you're wearing. And the drummer is locked away in a soundproof box... so now you get the idea.

Given only a few hours notice that I had in fact received tickets, I called on Mad Mark - music punter and critic extraordinaire - to join me on for this surreal concept in live music. It didn't take long for us to make up our minds that the old ways are still the best. The headphones weren't exactly top notch and gave a tinny sound experience, the mixing was either poor or couldn't cope with the fact that the instruments and vocals weren't being sung properly (not that Huey was messing it up, but amping up someone singing under their breath doesn't produce the same sound as someone singing properly). So, the 'silent' part of the gig definitely hampered the sound. The one saving grace of the headphones was that we could take them off to ignore the utterly atrocious Dutch DJ (perhaps I missed the joke, as others thought he was great). What would have been a great gig was sadly ruined by the gimmick.

Sound quality aside, the headphone gig also destroys one of the quintessentially valuable aspects of seeing music live - the sense of community and collective experience. Instead of feeling like you've shared a musical moment and thereby connected with the masses around you, everyone is at the same place, listening to the same band, but isolated in their own little 'ipod bubble'. Instead of stumbling out the doors overjoyed after a collective aural orgy, you hand back the headphones and leave feeling slightly dirty after a session of mass musical masturbation.

Friday, 5 September 2008

These people have well-paid jobs

Working for a faceless multinational with it's seat in the US, I've been privy to a number of company-wide announcements from top brass so riddled with jargon and buzz-speak that they become meaningless. This one is so special I thought it should be shared:

We are working with an external consultant to conduct a review of the working environment at the London office. The aim is to develop ideas on how we can optimise the way we work and utilise our office space. The review will focus on the following key areas:
* Flexibility – using modern working practices and leveraging technology to improve fluidity in the workplace
* Mobility and space usage – usage of desks, meeting rooms, break out areas, and how the space can best serve our working patterns

The mind boggles. I've cut off the rest of the mail to preserve your sanity. The second bullet point has a smattering of the bleeding obvious to it (desks? people sit at them; meeting rooms? people meet in them...), but the first point has led to the following possible interpretations of "leveraging technology to improve fluidity..."
  • using your laptop as a crowbar to burst the emergency water pipes
  • knocking over a full cup of coffee with your keyboard
  • throwing your PC tower through the window on a rainy day (which is any day in London)

Any other suggestions out there?

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Getting Old: the 10 year reunion

While I may bemoan the bad weather and high cost of living associated with life in London, it did mean I didn't have to wrestle with the dilemma of whether or not to attend the 10 year reunion of my high school class.
Realising that it has been a full decade since the halcyon days of high school was still a rude shock, and I haven't achieved anything (I still maintain that arts degree was the best 6 years of my life!), at least I didn't have to be subjected to witnessing first hand the literally mind-boggling success stories of those I used to watch throwing food at each other, in truly sub-simian lunch time displays.
While I wasn't there in person, I did have my spies on the ground, and thought it would be worth noting some of the reactions and comments that made me chuckle, and made me wonder if perhaps it wouldn't have been such a bad idea to go along and catch up with some of them... I'm sure most people have similar reactions to such events and seeing people for the first time after a long break. The sources of the quotes, and persons named in them, have been suppressed to prevent reprisals.
On how people have changed, or not

Some of the gronks have actually developed normal personalities. Check out thephotos on Facebook. Based on the photos, you will have to tell me who the two people are you think won my "Who ate all the pies" Awards


...the funniest thing was that 95% of people looked exactly the same as at highschool (even if you couldn't remember their names), 2.5% are just stupidly fatter / balder, and 2.5% I couldn't recognise at all.
Ahh, reunion - that must have been.... revealing. I still prefer to think that those who were c-nts at school are still, and will always be, c-nts. Except that obviously X is now a fat c-nt.
On not recognising people

Also, what was pudding's real name? I forgot, but overheard everyone else calling him pudding so called him pudding also.


I don't know how to describe him. weedyish looking guy, I think I sat next to him in year 11 science or something

On funny ways to report a class-mates death
(this actually happened*)
[Interior. Lounge room. T, J and P variously seated on the couch or floor]

P: T, tell him about Person X

J: Person X... man, I'd forgotten that guy even existed

T: Well he doesn't any more!

[General laughter, followed by a brief sense of guilt, followed by even more laughter]
*It's ok, we didn't like him anyway.
If anyone else attended the event and has something to share, or has similar anecdotes about their own reunions, get in touch.