mr. zilla goes to town

Monday, July 25, 2005

daze off

I'm off work this week and we had planned to be in India this weekend at the wedding of a very good friend from DC. However the peak-season summer airfares were unconscionably ghastly for a trip that could have been a week at most. It did provide a few weeks of serious head scratching and muttering over airline sites to see if it was at all possible though, I mean, how often in your life do you get invited to a full-on Punjabi wedding in India? On the other hand, since airfares to Australia are about the same cost at the moment, if we're saying goodbye to that many squids why not fly home to visit family, in particular, the fine hemispherical figure of a woman who's about to make me a giddy uncle?

Speaking of which, could you hurry up with that S-W, my ankles are killing me.

So it's a little disappointing not to be off on a monster transcontinental dash this week, but they're the choices that kinda come from opting out of the fat-of-the-land government salary to a more modest non-profit pay cheque. We're hardly struggling from meal to meal, but I'm sure it's my mum's Scottish blood that's sending us off on a wee bargain jaunt to Prague instead for a couple of days instead of Parag's wedding.

Word is that the local beers go for somewhere south of 40 pence a pop, and since when we arrive back in Oxford on Friday night a certain chaos butterfly from Sydney is due in town, it could be August before I'm sober enough to sit in front of a computer again... so to keep yourselves amused till then, spend an hour of your workday playing this marvellously entertaining little flash puzzle game called Grow RPG.

from the mouths of babes

Glenn McGrath brought his two young children to the post-match press conference.

His daughter Holly fiddled with his man-of-the-match medal and fidgeted on his knee.

She whispered in his ear while Ricky Ponting was talking, so Ponting fixed her with an amused stare.

"Go on, ask her a prediction," he said to the press.

"Are you going to win the Ashes five-nil?" someone said.

Cue uneasy English laughter all round.

The little girl blushed and hid her head in her hands.

Between English incompetence in the field, and the weeping from the heavens by English cricket greats of old, a proper weekend sprawled in front of the test on the teev was never on the cards. I wonder if a polite letter to the BBC and the MCC would convince them to move the first days of the rest of the series to Saturdays? Perhaps not.

But at least the Australian dominance reminded me of a conversation over dinner in London a few weeks ago I meant to relate. After breathlessly discussing Bruce Reid's left hand action, sub-25 average with the ball and tragically injury-truncated career, a Pakistani friend of a friend from Leicester mentioned that she fell in love and married her first husband owing to his understanding of, and sympathy with, her adoration of David Boon.

Honestly, how on earth are a bunch of trembling-chinned English schoolboys supposed to compete with a team storied in global mojo like that?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

swim to the moon

Sure it's easy to have fast downloads with broadband these days, but did you ever wonder how fast the internet can swim?

Can you swim? Do you swim laps? Do you swim laps regularly? Know someone who does?

Not content to merely work on her D.Phil as well as collaborate in all kinds of my mischief after hours, Ms Z has decided she's going to swim to the moon. Since that's somewhere in the order of about 400,000km or 8 million laps, she's looking for some help. It's early days and so far she and a few friends from here to Philadelphia have made it across central London. I understand the plan is to swim from Waterloo to the Sea of Tranquility, but one doesn't immediately fly off on a tangent of course, it takes at least a lap of the earth to build up a healthy escape velocity...) Head over to swim to the moon and see how it works if you've got some laps to donate!

Friday, July 22, 2005

live from rummyworld...

This strip would be funny instead of tragic if ideologues in Washington didn't actually take the flypaper theory bullshit seriously, in spite of the CIA debunking such claptrap even prior to 7/7. But as usual Doonsebury is right on the mock.

Which reminds me, don't forget about General J.C. Christian's innovative efforts in Operation Yellow Elephant to put an end to the US military's recruiting crisis and avert a draft.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

panic and alarm

My first thought on hearing about the small explosions today and eyewitness accounts of strange burning smells was: holy fuck, they're radiological or chemical... and it seems I wasn't the only one:

Thankfully there's reporting now of the discovery of unexploded, botched devices, people fleeing at least one scene, and it seems that only the actual detonators blew...

If this is the case I find today's bungled attacks strangely heartening. To me this indicates that the terror cell(s) in England have been rattled by the police rapidly identifying the Leeds-based cell, and these devices may have been quickly put togther and put into use without the assistance of the highly expert explosives work of the previous attack, presumably carried out by person(s) still outside the UK. So it's not just the public that can get panicked and alarmed.

To me this implies that the organisation involved doesn't have much depth in their personnel roster and though they seemingly may not have a shortage of willing suicidal fucktards, they may be reliant on a very small number of highly competent individuals to effect a successful mass casualty attack.

It's reminiscent of AQ's failed missile attack on an Israeli passenger airline a few years ago. It makes our foes more vulnerable, less implacable, less daunting, less fearsome.

There's an awful lot of conjecture in the above but one thing we know for sure, like the previous botched attack we know that there are certainly more to come.

15 seconds of (blog) fame

So you go and post a pic of yourself on your blog, and three days later a friend of a neighbour you're having beers with before they go home to Canada recognizes you from said pic and turns out to be the quorn-loving orlando catastrophic, a man of letters, charm, and subtlety in his cock-peeking in the gents. And to think that I could potentially introduce him to Mosley - the undisputed mancandy of Oxford bloggers - on the weekend...

Monday, July 18, 2005

generation why not

A weekend of scorching sunshine, three days and nights of music on nine stages, and literally about 10,000 happy campers. Nip over to flickr to have a rummage through my pics from Glade taken for Oxfam and the Make Trade Fair campaign.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

the weekend has landed

Atomic hooligan
Rennie Pilgrem and his TCR Allstars
Koma & Bones
Soul of Man
Richie Hawtin
Speedy J
The Orb’s Alex Paterson
The Bays
Layo & Bushwacka

& a whole bunch more
& a psy-doof tent for the people who find reality fairly optional
& a hardcore bangin stage for the people who can’t sit still
& a spiegeltent chill for the people who can’t stand up…

should be slightly fun. See you next week!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

nice NASS noises

Fortunately I'm flat strapped this week in order to get out of the office for Thursday and Friday to be at the Glade Festival, so don't have time to rabbit on much about NASS. Except to say, whether it was the good tunes, the great weather, or the sick tricks and airborne skaters on offer, the numbers of people at NASS exceeded even my wildest estimates. I think there were actually upwards of three, maybe even four million people in the chillout tent where I was playing ;-) Branded and sponsored by Oxfam's Generation Why campaign, it looked a bit like this...

...And thanks to the highly portable plug-n-go powers of the bit of silicon I find myself continually and affectionately calling The Gizmo, you can have some nice noises to go with this picture too! Ready to go on is the final hour and a bit of Saturday's 3 hour set. It's chilled out but not comatose, and apparently was just the thing for the kiddies to lay about on the lounges and share spliffs to. Right on!

If you want a version that you can burn to a CD, right click to save Live at the NASS festival.

If its for your PC and/or iPod instead, you get a bonus track too! (The first cut I sliced off the 3 hour file is 83 minutes - just too long for a CD. I'd go for this one if you can, the extra track is sweet, and just for kicks its at the start not the finish.


Monday, July 11, 2005

NASS festival 2005

a great weekend. more to follow soon...
(kick arse photo credit: ms z)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

music for life

If I stop crapping on about the nightlife malarkey I’m getting up to, then the terrorists have won, right? Right.

You know how in the news reports following major events like Live 8 or the Olympics, you hear massively inflated claims of the world wide audience. You know, like Bob Geldof crapping on about how 3 billion people were watching the Live 8 concerts. Excuse me? 50% of the world’s population? Newsflash Bob, that’s a lot of rural Chinese, African and Indian peasants you’re counting on to both have a pedal-powered television in the village, and be bothered to down tools for the day with their mates to watch Western pop stars ponce about on stage. Riiiight. And that's before we do a demographic breakdown to determine exactly how many Americans were actually watching a NASCAR race instead.

You see it also with events like the Olympics, claiming a global cumulative audience of 473 billion, blah blah, total rubbish that TV networks puff to their beady-eyed advertisers. Now these figures are a complete load of old cobblers, and while the one I’m about to give you also needs to be snorted with a line of salt as long as a Canberran private school drama teacher’s arm, it is perhaps marginally less a load of tripe than the above. It’s not total bollocks, but perhaps merely bollock.

This weekend, I’m DJing live in front of over 90,000 people.

Departing Oxford at lunchtime tomorrow, over Friday and Saturday nights I’m playing a total of five hours in a chillout venue at the Nass Festival out near Bristol. The Nass is basically the UK’s equivalent of the X Games. So it’s a case of headphones and half pipes for a day and a half at a 45,000 person festival (45,000 x 2 nights, geddit?). I’ll be dishing broken beats, Fila Brazilia flavoured mellowdic mischief, future jazz, scruffy cuts, kinda whatever springs to mind really. I am, he says with a particularly poor attempt at careless nonchalance, looking forward to it just a little.

Closing out the trifecta, Sunday night I’m playing at the Notting Hill Arts Club down in London. If topping a bill is headlining, then by golly I’m more than happy to go in and footnote at NHAC -- as a way to have a London debut its seems mighty fine to me. Sure the promoters spelt my name wrong and assumed that when I said I played in DC they therefore made me an honorary seppo for the weekend, well you can’t have it all eh?

Which brings us to the name of the night and the title of this post: Music 4 Life.

And after today’s events I can’t think of anything better to go down to London and play for.


Last night but I was having vivid nightmares about a serial killer who knocked on random doors and went about his murders with a small camera affixed to his upper chest to record his grisly acts and final moments of his victims. In the dream for some reason I was being forced to watch all the gruesome footage.

Walking into the office just before 9.00 this morning -- oblivious to what was going on down the road in London at the same time -- there was an unattended black box and some electrical equipment in the empty foyer. Working four blocks from the White House for a couple of years kind of sensitizes you to these issues. I pointed it out to someone else entering the building at the same time who made a comment along the lines of ‘ha ha, maybe we’re going to get blown up’.

Yeah, ha ha. I went and opened it a tiny bit for a look in -– which is exactly what you get told never to do, but it was empty -- before going up stairs.

And then I came out of a meeting at 12 and was told about the news from down the road.

Ha, bloody, ha.

I think it’s a defensive response to look at things like this and feel like you had a sense of foreboding and say, well gosh how intuitive and attentive I am and therefore feel some (utterly false) sense of comfort in the idea that well getting blown up on a train could never happen to me, I am the star and central role in the movie of life! This is of course total bollocks but I’ll allow my hindbrain to carry on with the fantasy for the rest of the day so I can get on with getting work done.

The short version is we’re fine here in Oxford but thank you to the many friends (and of course family) who have called, emailed and texted. Still some friends in London I haven’t heard from but am putting my faith in the fact that its just because the phone networks are jammed.

Continued 6pm. OK, everyone on my list seems to have reported in ok... sadly there are many hundreds if not thousands of people who will not be so lucky, left feeling the loss of friends and family tonight and tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

high crimes and misdemeanours

Played a fill in spot for a friend at one of the bigger clubs in the centre of oxford here last night. It’s got a fairly monstrous capacity and yet having seen the doormen’s clickers on the bar after close I know that literally under a hundred people walked through the door in 5 hours. Great sound system but I could have almost pulled out some cards and played solitaire in the booth instead of playing tunes without anyone noticing. But only almost: big ups to the guy who wanted (more) James Brown and the girls who came and asked for anything by The Who or The Clash. Your wish is my command!

Since I’m now into the twelfth year of pay negotiations with Liverpool FC and still holding out for a better offer than “get lost pal, stop calling us” before starting my £50,000 a week football career, plonking down the required crap tunes to a near empty room is as close to money for nothing as I can imagine. (Indeed it’s a very nothing experience.) The tasteful tunes I play on weekends and around the other traps pay quite reasonably but at the end of the day it doesn’t have the earning potential in this town compared to devoting yourself to dishing out dross. It’s a dangerous temptation – putting up with crap nights like these pays for (or more honestly, pays off) a bunch of new records, gizmos, CDs…

The downside is the mental reverberations in my head today at work after about 3 hours sleep. The mental defences get a bit shonky and the internal monologue seems to be occasionally slipping out: how do you apologise to your female co-workers after sitting at your desk singing along with the high decibel Jay-Z jammed in your head: “If you’re having girl problems I feel bad for you son, I’ve got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one, hit me!” I’m very lucky they’re quite nice people and don’t, and are also readily placated with M&S morning tea snacks.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

and another thing

Here's Dubya giving a speech in front of the massed ranks of military at Fort Bragg in North Carolina last week.

His cheerful visage must have something to do with his current poll numbers, which rank him as the least popular second term President since Nixon.

The reason I show this face that launched a thousand dirty nappies, is not merely because of the deep and abidingly joyful schadenfreude it gives me, but to remark upon how pathetically and monumentally stupid it is that this UTTER GIT was QUOTING OSAMA BIN LADEN in his speech to support his line of argument to stay in Iraq! You can't make this shit up!

Well actually, you can make it up as well:

"It's like this troops. I've just been on the hotline to Osama in Baluchistan, and since we're giving him the apocalpytic battle in the middle east he wanted and turning every Arab in his favour, he's asked if we could stay and fight for an indeterminate period of time , for which he's promised - said he crossed his heart and hoped to die and all - not to attack America. Sounds pretty fair to me. Now don't forget to say a proper goodbye to your momma's before your next rotation over there."

Do the people dying for your stupidity the courtesy of honesty, George. Tell them that its all WMD under the bridge amonst friends, but now you've made the world economy's testicles hostage to the insurgency's meat grinder. Tell them that if the 2 million barrels a day of oil from Iraq stops flowing they'll have to mortgage their SUVs to buy a tank of gas. Tell them that they're going off to die to make sure a $100/barrel oil spike doesn't tsunami the US economy and put their wives and kids out of work or on the street. Tell them that and they might believe you. Tell them that and they might want to go.

the other white band

Ms Z and I have just returned from a fantastically peaceable gathering in Edinburgh. Scottish socialists, girls wearing 'Make Poverty History' underwear on their heads, regiments of colander-helmetted clowns reporting for the war on poverty, samba marching bands with beats so good it simply HAS to thump some sense into the g8, all marvellously entertaining.

With all of seventy black-bloc kiddies, a single broken window, and a single drug-possession arrest all day, on its own terms it was quite a success. However, with all the celebrity oriented media focus on the Live 8 events and 200,000 people in Hyde Park in London, you'd be forgiven for not noticing that there were the same number of people in the heart of Edinburgh yesterday as well.

Unfortunately stewarding and marshalling duties throughout the afternoon meant that I missed seeing a live performance of Da Lata but one supposes one must make the occasional sacrifice for the cause, hmm.

Given that ten million people in the streets of the world couldn't head off the Iraq War, I'm realistic about how inured mature democracies can be to mass public gatherings. It's quite ironic that its repressive dictatorships that are more susceptible to their charm, isn't it? Moral weight needs a fulcrum to lever upon and the reality is that it will also take arm twisting and compromise behind closed doors to see real change.