Monthly Archives: April 2006


I’m off to India for two weeks tomorrow — I can’t wait, I really need a holiday.

My primary motivation for the trip is that Johnny Diamandis, my oldest friend (we’ve known each other almost 33 years, since we were 5 years old), is getting married at Surya Samudra Beach Garden in Kerala on Sunday.

But India’s been gradually rising towards the top of my wishlist of places to visit for some years now anyway, so this is the perfect opportunity.


My pre-ordered copy of Collected (Special Edition), the new Massive Attack “best of” album, arrived today.

By the time it arrived, I knew exactly what to expect thanks to the Collected teaser website, which had been incrementally releasing more and more of the album’s content over the space of some months.

Since this is a “greatest hits” compilation and I already have all of the band’s other albums, the main CD has only one new track for me: “Live With Me,” a melancholy ballad with vocals by Terry Callier. The rest of the tracks are largely what I’d expect — all of the classics are there (Unfinished Sympathy, Protection, Teardrop etc.), although inevitably a few of my favourite tracks were passed over due to space limitations.

The main reason I bought this album, however, is for the bonus disc that comes with the Special Edition version; it’s a double-sided disc with CD audio on one side, and DVD video on the other. The CD layer contains 11 “new” tracks, although there are only a few tracks that are actually genuinely new — most of them are essentially remixes of older tracks. But they are all still very good nonetheless.

The DVD side contains 16 music videos by Massive Attack. Again, I have most of these already on the “Eleven Promos” DVD (the new disc even uses the same menu interface). However, the Collected bonus disc includes five videos that are not featured on Eleven Promos: Special Cases, Butterfly Caught, Live With Me (two different versions) and False Flags.

Collected is packaged beautifully, resembling a small hardback book with pockets for the discs and 24 pages of glossy artwork from the previous four albums.

This is definitely a great introduction to one of my all-time favourite bands. If you’ve been meaning to investigate Massive Attack but didn’t know where to start, this would be a great way to get a broad overview of their best work quickly and economically. And if you’re a fan that already owns all their albums already, there’s enough new material to make this worth purchasing anyway. I recommend it without hesitation:

Walk the Earth

Do you remember that scene towards the end of the movie Pulp Fiction where Samuel L. Jackson’s character Jules says that he wants to give up being a gangster in order to “walk the earth”?

Well according to this Guardian Unlimited article, some crazy Brit guy, a 36-year old ex-paratrooper, has been trying to do exactly that: Become the first person to walk all the way around the World. He’s already covered about 17,000 miles by walking for the last 7 years, and is not quite half way there yet — he has another 19,000 miles to go.

Unfortunately he might not make it, because he just got arrested in Russia for having the incorrect immigration paperwork after crossing the frozen Bering Strait from Alaska — plus a gun and a GPS system, both of which are illegal in Russia.

Ghost in the Machine

I’ve just spent a tedious evening doing computer maintenance, after Apple’s iPod Updater screwed up all the USB drivers on my laptop.

I tried various strategies to fix it but couldn’t figure out how to get USB working again, so in the end I reloaded a good clean image of my drive C: from last October using Norton Ghost and then reinstalled or updated all the software that had changed since then.

Not a fun way to spend an evening, but certainly better than re-installing the OS and all the software from scratch, which is about a week’s worth of work instead of a few hours!

Clean Power

On Friday I signed up for more expensive but cleaner electricity.

By subscribing to Sterling Planet’s NY Clean Choice plan, I pay a flat fee of $10 per month (33 cents a day) to force ConEdison to buy 400kWh more power per month from clean renewable NY sources: 40% wind, 30% small hyro and 30% bioenergy from recovered methane.

Generating electricity from these sources results in no carbon dioxide emissions, no sulfur dioxide emissions, no nitrogen oxide emissions, no mercury emissions and no nuclear waste.

New York Dating Story

I don’t normally divulge information about my love life on my blog, because I generally consider it to be too personal and private for open publication, but I had a ridiculous New York dating experience recently that’s just too funny not to share.

D_ is a very attractive Italian-American from New Jersey that I met online. She is a temporary receptionist, although she was unemployed and interviewing for jobs on the day of our date.

We had a few ‘phone conversations, during which I learnt that she was living with her parents after separating from her husband, who had custody of her 8-year old son. She seemed bubbly and fun on the ‘phone, although there were a few “high maintenance” warning signs.

Anyway, we arranged to meet for dinner in the East Village. However, when I emerged from the subway, there were three frantic voicemail messages from her explaining that she’d left a floppy disk with her resume on it at an Internet cafe in midtown, and that I should instead meet her at a Starbucks on Madison and 36th.

When I got to the Starbucks, the staff were cleaning up, and told me that they were closed. I told them that I was there to meet somebody, to which the manageress replied “Oh, are you a friend of D_’s? She’s in the bathroom, you can wait for her.” As I sat down to wait, I could hear her voice shouting from the bathroom –she was having a fairly heated exchange with someone on her mobile ‘phone.

This went on for a while, then it went quiet. I continued to wait, as the Starbucks staff neared the end of their shifts and started wondering aloud what she was doing in there. Eventually I called her on her mobile to ask how much longer she was going to be.

Finally she appeared, smiling and looking very put together but also somewhat flustered, and immediately launched into a story about how she had not been able to go to the gym that night because of the disk fiasco, so instead had taken a Stacker (some kind of extreme weight loss pill) that her hairdresser had given her on an empty stomach, and had then started to feel ill, hence the visit to the bathroom in a Starbucks that was about to close to get changed and compose herself..

As we gathered up all her various bags, she showed me a little fake alligator bag/purse thing that she had bought for herself earlier at a nearby Duane Reade drug store, and once outside she asked if I minded going back to the store to get another one as a gift for the Manageress of the Starbucks who’d been so nice to her. It was about 10pm by now and I was getting pretty hungry, but of course I said “sure, no problem.”

Things were going pretty smoothly as we chatted and walked around the block to the drug store, and we quickly located the little plastic purse — the last one in the store — and a bottle of Jessica Simpson perfume before heading to the check-out.

However, this is where the fun starts: She puts the stuff down on the counter, and then takes two steps back as the cashier rings up the sale. He says “that’ll be $24.99 please.” A long awkward pause ensues. I’m looking at the cashier, who’s looking at me. Then I’m looking at D_, who’s also looking at me. Eventually the penny drops and I ask D_, somewhat incredulously, “Oh, so you want me to pay for this?” to which D_ replies, completely deadpan, “If you wouldn’t mind.”

For a moment or two I’m so confused that I get my wallet out. But then sense returns, I put my wallet away, turn to D_ and say, “actually, I do kind of mind. Why should I pay for this?” She looked a little bewildered for a second, then left the shop, telling the cashier that she’ll come back shortly.

Our exit from the shop is hindered by the fact that, in our haste to leave the awkward situation, we both end up trying to squeeze into the same compartment of a small revolving door, tripping over each other’s feet as we exit. Once we were outside in the street, the dialog went something likes this:

D_: “That was really embarrassing. Why did you do that?”
Me: “I’m very confused by what just happened in there. Why would you expect me to pay for your gift to someone else?”
D_: “It was only $25, if you can’t afford that, you’ve got problems.”
Me: “It’s not that I can’t afford it, it’s the principle. Why should I pick up the tab for your stuff?”
D_: “But you said before that it would be OK!”
Me: “I thought you were asking me if it was OK to come to the store to get the gift before we got dinner, I didn’t realize you were expecting me to pay for it too!”
D_: “You were going to pay for dinner, weren’t you?”
Me: “Yes I was planning to. But to be honest, I don’t think this is going to work out. You’re obviously looking for someone very, very different than me. I think this is the end of the date.”
D_: “Yes, I think so too.
Me: “Well, goodnight.”

With which I turned around and walked away from my first date that failed to last 20 minutes.