Archive for Tennis

Resonance of Fate and Ashes to Ashes

Posted in Culture, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , on 07/11/2010 by arabrhizome

So I finished Life on Mars. It’s very good. It’s an excellent series that I highly recommend. I am now going to start watching the sequel, Ashes to Ashes. This one is set in 1981 and stars a woman psychologist and police officer. Gene Hunt, the bigoted yet loveable DCI from the Life on Mars, as well as two officers from the first series and is set in London this time. As an aside, I never thought I would use the two words bigoted and loveable in the same phrase before. The thing with Hunt is that he is loveable because he is so damaged and his disgusting behaviour and attitude towards women and minorities is never presented as a good thing in the series. It’s not like his attitude is promoted or encouraged. It is, in fact, used to give more life to the setting, the 1970s for Life on Mars and the early 1980s for Ashes to Ashes.

I had heard that the denouement of the series was seen by many as very disappointing. I am going to wait and see. I was very disappointed by Lost, for example, but wasn’t by other stuff that people really hated, I can’t remember any of the top of my head right now. So far it does seem to explore the phenomenon of this strange time-travel/coma/death/something else completely thing that Life on Mars introduced. As you can see I was very noncommittal about which one it is, as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. suffice it to say that it seems to have as many creepy moments as Life on Mars, maybe even more then.

Also today, well yesterday if I’m being honest, I started playing Resonance of Fate again. If you scroll down my blog you’ll find at least one post about it. I had left my playstation alone for a while, and then only picked it up again to play God of War 3. I was convinced by A to try and finish Resonance of Fate. He’s been playing it and has almost finished it. I’m still quite far from the end. I did pick it up again, yesterday as I said. I was afraid of not remembering how to play it properly, but it came back to me very quickly. I have now finished the chapter I was on, and will hopefully keep progressing as I play in the evenings.

I did some work as well today. In fact I decided not to go to tennis in order to do some work. I need to focus on finishing the reading I have to do, I have a lot of stuff to read at the moment. I also need to get some books from the library tomorrow, yup that’s right more reading. I am thinking that if I’m able to read three or four books this week, then I’ll be fine. The problem is, I’m not a very fast reader, and the texts I’m reading are quite difficult and need full attention, as every word that is used in them, or almost, is significant.

So this week is reading week, I do think that it will involve me going to uni at least a couple of days though. I need to keep myself excited about work, and so I need to keep changing my work setting. I think that if I stay home all of next week, then I won’t be as productive as I need to be. So that’s about it from me today, I am going back to play a bit of Resonance of Fate now, and hopefully sleep on the sooner side.

Slow Day, Tennis, and God of War 3

Posted in Culture, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 24/10/2010 by arabrhizome

So I had a very slow day. I woke up naturally with the sun rising up. And by naturally, I don’t mean it is natural for me to wake up with the sun, but that I woke up without any external stimuli. I thought fuck that I’m not getting out of bed this early, it’s Sunday for fuck’s sake. I actually said those words… out loud… to the universe… from my bed. Then I stayed in bed in a half sleep state until about 10:30 when the pain in my bladder forced me to get out of bed. I had a slow lazy morning and then went to tennis.

It was the first time I’ve been in three weeks. Actually I missed three sessions, so it was the first time in four weeks. I was a little rusty at first but by the end I was getting all my serves in and was having a lot of fun playing. I am looking forward to playing more tennis. I hope my health doesn’t get in the way, as it’s been for the past month. It was fun to move around and do something that requires physical energy expenditure. After tennis I went back home to see that while I enjoyed playing tennis my intestines didn’t. So I ended up staying home even though I had plans to see friends. I stayed home and did what I had to do, I played God of War 3. And I am ashamed to say, not really I’m very proud of it, I finished my first playthrough.

What follows is what I hope to be a spoiler free review of the game. I know some of the readers of this blog don’t know the story and haven’t played the first two (I’m talking about the ones who care not the ones who don’t. You know who you are!). So in an effort to not spoil their soon to come enjoyment of the series I will try not to spoil anything.

The first God of War came to the PS2 a few years ago (it’s this kind of accurate and thorough reporting that will no doubt get me a job as a newspaper editor). It took the world of gaming by storm. It is an action RPG that delivers on every level. It was epic and grandiose. The sets, the music, the story, everything set the game to be a classic. It was one of the first games, at least the first I’ve seen, to incorporate quick time events in the gameplay. In fact, almost everything was done by the player. Opening doors involved pressing buttons and doing things, rather than just pressing a button and watching the character do everything. It was very effective in immersing you in the game.

The gameplay in general was great. The combat was ruthless and, while it was possible to go a long way with button mashing, one had to master the combos and think about what button to press in order to win the game. The battles are huge and epic. The character Kratos is a great character. All in all, it was one of the best games ever made.

The thing is though, it was supposed to be the only god of war game. But sony felt they could make tons more money and so made a second one. Now the second one is a fantastic game as well. But it lacks the genius of the first one. It felt a little bit laboured, especially with the story. While the first one comes to a natural and fitting end, the second one, while having a great story, does seem to try too hard. But anyway, this is only a minor complaint. The second one was in many ways even more pretty than the first one. Also, it involved very minor changes to the gameplay, which was a good surprise. Sequels in games sometimes are ruined by designers breaking a system that works very well by introducing new gameplay mechanics.

Anyway, the third one starts where the second one ends. Literally, it begins at the moment the second one ends. And it is epic from the first second. Everything is beautiful, grand, and just eye popping smack you round the face pretty. Also, like all God of War games, it starts with an epic battle. That’s a trademark of the series. But this one, unlike the previous two, has so many of these epic battles in that it is dizzying at points. Clearly the fact that this game is on the PS3 shows. It has used the machine’s, if not full then damn near-full potential. I mean the other two games, being on the PS2, could not support so much stuff happening.

The bosses are wonderful and the puzzles are just, for lack of a better word, epic. I have to say some of the puzzles were proper crazy. They involve brain power, and crazy platforming, and some quick thinking. The final battle is everything you want it to be. The game ends in an expected way, though still satisfying. There is however, one loose end that I don’t understand properly. I hate to admit it, but I think they left it in in order to give themselves the possibility of making another one. The last scene of the game seems to indicate as much. I mean I’d be very happy to play another God of War, but I’m sick of this trend in games. Why can’t a game just end? Why do we always have to have an open ended ending.

Anyway, apart from that minor complaint, the game was fantastic. I highly recommend it. Although it is incredibly gory. The God of War series has always been gory, but this one takes it to new levels. Some of the finishing moves of the bosses are very hard to watch. In the end this game is my second favourite of the series. The first one still reigns supreme. Not for its graphics or anything like that, but because it was so original and its story was so well told.

Hatred

Posted in about the blog, Food, Friends, Me, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/10/2010 by arabrhizome

It is official, I hate my intestines! So they’ve been acting up for a few weeks, on and off, as was documented in one of my posts from a few weeks ago I think. But this last week has been really bad. Well I say really bad. The problem is everytime I think about calling a doctor it gets better, and I think it’s just a bug and now it’s over. So I never get an appointment. However, I’ve decided that enough is enough and I will call for an appointment tomorrow. I made that decision yesterday.

Today I woke up and was feeling a little better, as usual. But I thought I’d still call tomorrow. I also decided not to go to tennis today, as I didn’t want to do something that would upset my body too much. I think my intestines didn’t like my resolve. I ended up feeling very faint and light headed after lunch. I also had a lot of pain all day. I just felt week and unable to function properly. On the plus side, Z took care of me and made me a nice chicken noodle soup. I feel a little better now, but I’m still not okay.

The worst bit is that I had set today aside to clean up my flat. Now this will have to wait until tomorrow. So I think I will stay in tomorrow and work on my flat. I don’t believe I have an appointment or anything tomorrow, so that’s okay.

I also watched the first two episodes of Planet Earth, the documentary. It is brilliant and Sir David Attenborough’s narration of it is just fantastic. I love nature documentaries and find them strangely comforting. So watching it this afternoon made my tummy ache feel less bad. I am still very much a child.

In more depressing news, Israel continues its inexorable march towards fascism and its apartheid system is becoming more intrenched. The israeli cabinet approved a law that forces all new citizens to swear an oath to israel as a ‘jewish and democratic’ state. While this might not seem at first site to be a problem, for those who know nothing of the region and its history, it is actually a very worrying development. You see about 20% of the actual population of israel is arab, and some more percents (I don’t know the numbers) are non-jews. What this oath is saying, is that these people aren’t really citizens, because they aren’t jewish,

Now there are many problems with this oath in and of itself. What does Jewish mean? Are we talking about religion, ethnicity, culture, or something else? Does a religious Jewish person, who is black, have more rights then a secular Jewish person, who is ‘ethnically’ jewish (I put ethnically between parenthesis because the question of jewishness as an ethnicity is very much an open question as this book, by an israeli academic, for example argues)? Where does that leave the Arab and non-jewish populations of israel? Is it the first act in the eventual deportation/population swap that Netanyahu and Liberman have been talking about recently?

The most worrying thing about this is that only 100 people protested this law in israel. This tells you to what extent the population of israel is complicit with the apartheid system that has been getting more and more entrenched in israel. The argument made by Prof. Gavriel Solomon comparing this law to some of the laws passed in Germany in 1935 is very strong. Gideon Levy wrote and interesting piece about it in today’s Haaretz. His argument is quite interesting, especially that it is coming from someone who still identifies himself, more or less, as a zionist. The truth of the theocratic, dispossessing, and violent regime that is israel is finally becoming clear for everyone to see. I have said it before and I will say it again, it is time for us, the citizens of the world, to do something about it. Our governments and international bodies are not doing nearly enough to combat the suffering that this state has forced on the region and the world. We therefore need to take matters in our own hands and through non-violent protest do everything we can to put pressure on it to change. The BDS movement is getting stronger but has still a lot of room to grow. So stop buying products made in israel or from companies that whitewash israeli crimes, or at least those that deal with the illegal settlements or are made in them.

Packing, Meet and Great, and Saying Bye

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Food, Friends, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 30/09/2010 by arabrhizome

So I’m done packing for my trip to Algiers. It’s not like I need to pack a lot, I’m only going for a few days. I also had to clean up my flat a little bit. It’s quite a small flat and so gets cluttered very quickly and very easily. I am quite a weird worker as well, in that I need to have a bit of chaos around me to be able to work well. So I had to clear up the mess, as I wouldn’t like to come back to a messy flat. I have all my papers in order as well and I’m quite sleepy. So hopefully I’ll be able to sleep soon and wake up early tomorrow.

Before all that I went to the Work in Progress (WIP) plenary session and meet some of the new post-grads. It was nice hanging out with A and talking to some of the faculty. Also, it’s quite weird being one of senior post-grads. Me and A will have to act as the fathers to the new crop of students. I am not ready to be a dad! Especially with regards to the PhD. I don’t feel like I can guide them or give them any useful info, which is doubly bad as I have to prepare with A a session on good work habits and writing for next week. It’s okay though, as I had worked on a similar session last year with B. My WIP has also been scheduled for the end of October. I think I will rework the chapter I just finished and make it into a 40 minute talk, more or less.

We had to leave a little early though as we were going to meet up with Cy to say bye to her. She’s moving back to Paris to start a new job and I won’t be able to see her after today. We had fun at the bar/restaurant and enjoyed a few laughs. The food wasn’t great but the company was excellent and that’s what counts. Although it’s not really what counts at a restaurant. What counts is the quality of the food and it was a little sub par. I had the seared tuna which wasn’t very good. It just didn’t do it for me at all. So I’m not very happy with that place as a eatery.

I am looking forward to going down to London tomorrow and sleeping in the same hostel I slept at the night I started this blog. I haven’t decided when I exactly I will go down. I guess I’ll see how tomorrow goes and pay it by ear. I need to pass by Uni and claim one of the desks though. So I might do that tomorrow and get done with it.

I’ve downloaded season one of a series called Sanctuary to have something to do in Algeria when my dad is sleeping, which is very often. I’m hoping to do some work down there as well. I am now slightly regretting that I’m going, but nothing to be done about it. I really feel like hanging out with Z and spending a bit of time with her this weekend. But I guess it’ll have to wait for next weekend, if we have time. I am also regretting the fact that I will miss my tennis lesson on Sunday. I am going to play tennis next week though and try to make up for it.

Well that’s pretty much my day for you. I will be writing tomorrow’s post from its place of rebirth down in London. Now to go to sleep.

Fondue Night

Posted in about the blog, Food, Friends, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 26/09/2010 by arabrhizome

So we had a another lovely evening tonight. I made fondue for everyone. It was nice because it’s been so cold today. I’m still refusing to put m heater on. I will put it on in October but not anytime sooner than that. I just don’t think it’s right to have the heating on before then. Anyway, the evening was a lot of fun. We had a lot of laughs. As I said yesterday, my posts will be short for the next few days, I hope you all understand.

I am getting ready as well to go to Algeria to visit my dad. I will be blogging from another country soon. That’ll be another first for this stupid experiment. I am quite proud of myself though, because I am finding something to write about almost everyday. I realise that some of the posts I made are quite inane and uninteresting. But on the whole I have been able to keep this up.

Also, today was my third tennis lesson. I am getting better at it as time goes by. I am able to control my back hand and forehand strikes, more or less. Now I just need to control my serve, which is still all over the place unfortunately. I am going to have to miss next week’s one though, as I’ll be out of the country. I need to pay attention to that next time I decide to travel. I think that I will start establishing my routine next week for the rest of the term. Hopefully I’ll be able to produce a couple of chapters in that term, or at least a chapter and a half. These are my goals, starting tomorrow.

Well that’s about all I have to say today. I have to do a few things before I go to sleep. Soon I will begin blogging properly again. Thank you all for reading this, it does mean a lot to me, and I am enjoying it a lot. Anyway, bye for now.

Tennis Lesson Mark 2.0

Posted in Culture, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 19/09/2010 by arabrhizome

So I went to my second tennis lesson today. It is getting interesting now. We learned how to serve today. Well I say learned, we were told how to serve and then made a series of unsuccessful attempts at it. The point is I now need to do this about a hundred times so that I can get the ball to fall where it should. I did make some progress throughout the hour and found that when I don’t think about it too much, I’m able to get it right… more or less. But it’s okay, Rome wasn’t built in a day, although being able to serve in tennis should take significantly less time than that.

The only problem I’m having with the classes is that they seem to finish very quickly. They are an hour long each, which is an appropriate length of time for a lesson. I find though that they end quite abruptly and I’m left wanting. I’m sure that if they went on for longer I would be complaining about them being too long. I guess the fact that I feel time to be flying is a testament to how much fun I’m having. I can’t wait for next week’s lesson.

While we were there there was a tiny child on the court adjacent to ours. He looked like he was 7, but we later found out that he was actually 12. The child was amazing and made us all feel completely inadequate, or at least made me feel inadequate. He was hitting every ball with the confidence of someone his age who is not bothered with self doubt or the angst that comes with the years. I think children are able to learn these complicated skills much better than us because they do as they’re told and don’t really bother with embarrassment like us adults. Our teacher told us that he’s been playing since he was 5, which again explains his lack of self doubt, this was natural to him.

It seems that today was some kind of showcase event where the best children in the East Midlands were here showing off their skills. Our teacher told us to go watch if we want, but after my inability to serve for a hour, I though I’d rather not damage my already low self esteem, with regards to tennis, any further. I did however feel a little sad that I hadn’t discovered this when I was younger.

When I was very young I remember wanting to learn piano. We didn’t have one and so I couldn’t practice. A friend of the famillly was getting rid of their piano and I remember begging my parents to get it. It was old and needed some repairs, but nothing impossible. But my parents are lazy and subscribe to the dictum why do something today when you can fuck it up tomorrow? So we didn’t get it. And I had to wait until I was about 11 to get a Casio keyboard and start taking lessons. Of course a keyboard is not a piano and after 6 months, in which I did the equivalent of 2 & 1/2 years at the Algerian conservatory, I found that not having a proper analogue, as it were, instrument was impairing my learning so I stopped.

It wasn’t until I was 16 that I picked up a guitar and started learning on that instead. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guitar, and I’m very happy that I learned that, but I still feel a little bit sad that I never continued my piano lessons. Well if I ever live in a house I will buy a piano and start taking lessons again. This is one of my regrets and I shouldn’t let it be so.

Well this post was quite a journey. It started with my tennis lesson and ended up with me blaming my parents for not playing piano, I’m not crazy. I need to go back to work now, I have a couple of things to do before I sleep.

Andromeda, Tennis, AIOTM, and Lateness

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 12/09/2010 by arabrhizome

So I went for my first tennis lesson today. It started at 13:00, so I thought I would leave my house at 12:40 and take the bus there. The bus comes every ten minutes and it would take about 7 minutes to get there, so I thought I’d be fine. However, I forgot that there was a marathon in the morning so the bus schedule was thrown a bit. I waited about 15 minutes and no bus came. The bus stop was full of people and the little digital display that tells you when the bus will arrive kept changing and lying to us. I was a bit cross and so decided to walk there, knowing that I would be late. However, by the time I got to the next bus stop the bus was almost there. So I got on the full bus, by that time it was 13:00 already, but I thought my lateness would not be too bad if I was on the bus. Unfortunately it turned out that there was a lot of traffic and it took us 10 minutes to get there. I ran to my lesson and arrived about 15 minutes late.

The instructor was nice about it and it seems was expecting this to happen. I had only missed the warm up and so was quite happy. The lesson consisted in mainly working on getting our contact point right. In other words, it was about being able to hit the ball when it’s waste high at the right body angle. We kept switching partners and worked on both our back hand and our forehand hits. The last ten minutes involved a nice game that made sure we all got a go at playing. All in all the tennis was very enjoyable. I was able to keep the ball in the court, more or less, and I wasn’t the worst one there. I was kind of afraid of that, but I’m glad to see that I don’t suck that much. I am now looking forward to my next lesson, and kind of wish it was more than once a week.

The tennis involved a lot of exercise and I found myself quite tired by the time I got back home, I walked back by the way. Look at me all sporty and shit. I spent the rest of the day pretending to work, but mainly listening to Richard Herring’s ‘As It Occurs To Me (AIOTM)’ extras DVD, that I bought a few days ago. AIOTM is an internet stand up and sketch show that he writes and performs, with a cast, and puts out on the internet for free. I have written about it before, as I went to see the first show of the second season. In fact, I started this blog the night before that show I believe. Anyway, what he did this season is that he started with an exclusive stand up set that you got to see if you went down to the theatre. This DVD/CD is basically these performances plus a video of one of the podcasts. I really enjoy his stuff, plus he gives so much for free on the internet that I am more than happy to pay for this kind of thing. It only seems fair to reward his dedication with a tenner once in a while. So I highly recommend you subscribe to AIOTM on itunes and buy this DVD from here, especially if you like rude and sweary comedy.

I think that this would be a good post in and of itself. But as I had two very short posts not so long ago, and feel that I only made up for one with yesterday’s serious if somewhat disjointed and slightly rambely post, I feel that I need to write more. So I thought I would tell you about Andromeda a bit more. As I said a few posts ago, Andromeda started as a great scifi series. It seemed to be doing what Star Trek The Next Generation, which is most probably the best scifi series of all times, didn’t do. So it sowed the building of a democratic multilateral civilisation from the ground up. The Captain, Dylan Hunt, was an idealistic character who refused to compromise on his ideals in order to rebuild civilisation, as he saw that by compromising on the ideals he was defending would irrevocably tarnish what he is trying to build. He seemed to be a Picard+.

However, by season 3 he turned into a Kirk-. I had asked myself if the effects of 9/11 and the change in the attitude of the US to things like torture and pre-emptive wars would find its way into the series, and it sure did. There were a few episodes that even used the 24 split screen thingy. Hunt seemed happy to beat information out of his enemies. As I said before Picard was the epitome of a good leader who always tries to talk things through and find the best solution for everyone involved. I very much ascribe to what the comedian Stewart Lee once said ‘when faced with a moral dilemma I don’t think what would Jesus do? I think what would Picard do?’ Hunt seemed to be made from the same cloth as Picard, but that went to shit.

Also, It seems that Captain Hunt started ascribing to the Kirk school of thought on dealing with women in the universe. Mainly getting off with as many as he can. He even started a whole race of aliens by sleeping with their queen. He snogged a different woman in almost every episode of season 2 and 3. He literally became a complete arsehole after being quite a nice guy. However, he lacks the status of James T. Kirk and that’s why I say he is now a Kirk-. Also, the writers seemed to be pushed into finding a few catch phrases and came up with two of the stupidest catch phrases I have ever heard. One is ‘it’s never easy’ and the other is ‘let’s bring it’. Just typing them makes me feel a little bit dirty.

However, the over arching story is still quite good. There is an absolute evil that must be defeated and the civilisation he is rebulding is the only thing that can save the universe. It’s quite standard stuff but I care enough to want to know what happens. Also, the more minor characters are quite interesting and I find myself caring about them a lot more than I care about Hunt. So I’m hoping to finish this series by the end of the week and will finally let you know if it is worth watching or no.

Well that’s about it from me. I think I have now made up for those two disgraceful posts, but I was ill damn it. Now I will go and sleep hopefully. Bye.