Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dear Blog: Goodbye

Years pass
And years pass
And then more years pass
And eventually, things come to an end

After keeping a blog for a little over four years I’ve decided to stop. QuixotiQ Writings has officially come to an end.

I want to thank everyone who took the time regularly to check my blog for updates and for those who left their comments as well. Meant a lot to me, really, it did. And I apologize for any shortcomings.

The past few months have been quite hectic. Many things happened in my life, and many others didn’t. I now barely have time to keep track of the things I should be doing, working on, organizing, writing that the last thing that comes to mind at the end of the day is writing another enter on my blog.

It’s been an interesting and entertaining journey and I’ve met some wonderful people online and learnt a lot, about my profession, my self and even, dare I say, humanity.

I went through some of my old posts and found myself smiling at most of them, the memories will certainly remain and both my old journal (on bravejournal) and this one, will not be deleted. I shall keep them online for posterity. I was though surprised to discover that over those four years I had only posted 345 entries. So, basically, I wasn’t that great of a blogger to begin with.

I considered thins a lot and kept asking myself why do I keep a blog? I realized that a) this wasn’t a personal blog; b) it wasn’t a political one either. It started as I said in my very first post in my older blog to “communicate with people, enhance my writing, and document my journey into publishing” and I feel that over the past many months, this has not been the case.

Alas, all things must come to an end.

Thank you and good night.

Oh and before I go…

EID MUBARRAK

MERRY CHRISTMAS

AND A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!



PS for those of you who wish to keep in touch with me you can find me on facebook or email me at ali_zodiac@hotmail.com

Friday, September 21, 2007

7th Monthly Elham This Tuesday


As promised, here are the details of the upcoming event on Tuesday. This is the comeback of Elham following our hiatus during the summer. So come down there and enjoy an evening or art, poetry and music.
There are other events coming up over the next few weeks. Vist our website at elhambahrain.com or look us up on facebook where you will also find info on our activities.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Week In, Week Out

One week down. Three to go.

Ramadan Kareem to you all.

Ramadan always seems to go as quick as it comes. The first week went on pleasantly, apart from the three day's that I've been sick. I was bed-bound for a while and since getting back on my feet I've been running between my new job and all things Elham-related. More on that soon. I'll be posting about our 7th monthly gathering - which will be next Tuesday - in the next day or two. Although you've likely already heard about it. It was all over the magazines and newspapers and magazines (Ohlala, Bahrain This Month, Bahrain Traveler, Gulf Weekly, GDN, Bahrain Confidential etc).

My bro is back from the UK after complete his Masters program. It's cool to have him back. That was the longest he's been away from home. So we've been hanging out since his return. I've also been watching a few DVDs including a brilliant film called Dead Man's Shoes and I also re-watched A History of Violence, one of the best films you're likely to see, gripping in its sutble violence and intense drama.

Oh and just as a side note, I've recieve yet another rejection from Succour

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blinding Beauty

I wake up and
I see the sun
Blinding bright

And I feel my heart
As heavy as a stone
Sinking in deep water

Cold and dark
Warm and hearty
Unsure of your love

And I feel my soul
As light as a feather
Swaying in the breeze

I wake up and
I see you
Blinding beautiful

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Speaking Foriegn

So we sit down, excited, finally, the long wait is over and we'll get to see the film we've been anticipating. So, the film starts, and all is well. Its brilliant.

And then the Russian begins.

Now, I know all about the film. I know that it is originally Russian. I'm talking here, of course, about Day Watch. (I've seen Night Watch and fell in love with it, awesome, kick ass film)! But I saw that on DVD, with the bliss of an English audio track.

We sit for about 20 minutes. Through which I try to translate, while I read the subtitles and watch the beautiful visuals. It was not only impossible, but extremely NOT fun. There was only Arabic subtitles.

We leave the theatre and confront the staff with the problem. They seem as bewildered by it as we were. They didn't have a clue. We did get a refund, but our evening was ruined. We were so looking forward to seeing it and now we'll have to wait for the DVD to do so.

You would think, that they would know what they are purchasing, but the folk at Dana Cinema seemed quite oblivious to the whole thing. Not least the manager, who stormed off seemingly angry at the fact that someone somewhere screwed up big time.

Anyway, so, just beware, if you want to see Day Watch. Unless you can read Arabic, or understand Russian!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Would You Die for a Larrff!

This comes with a warning... this is a likely chance that you will either burst something, fair, or overdose.... from laughter!!! (watch all 7 episodes, it is SO worth it. Ross Noble is absolutely brilliant!

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Writer of Ficion is What I Am

Am I the same person I was yesterday?
Will I be the same person tomorrow?
Life is traveling like a shooting star.
All fast and sparkling.
But, eventually, fading.
I am 29.
And I've just known what love is.
What will I learn when I am one year older?

I've been sucked into the vortex of my new job. It's been extremely busy, but the disconcerting thing is that I'm enjoying it, despire the fact that I've put in 8 hours on a Friday, something I've never done before and that I didn't think I'd even contemplate.

I've hardly had time to catch my breath. Hours and days are tinged with a sensation of timelessness, time has no more weight. And through them there is one thing that now matters to me most. One thing and one thing alone. And it's a beautiful thing.

No, I've not been writing. The truth is that I actually miss writing. I miss being a 'writer'. And all that comes along with it, the freedom, liberation, wrecklessness, carelessness... a complete disregard for reality. I am a writer of fiction. And fiction is what I write.

But I don't feel I am the same writer I was four, five or even ten years ago! I no longer write because I NEED to. There is a sense of obligation, of responsibility, an unwelcomed burden.

I want to go back to the writer I am. Go back to losing myself into the thick of it, and not the idea of it. I worry, and this is, now, my darkest worries, is that I will never be that writer ever again.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine


Little Miss Sunshine
Originally uploaded by Alizod
I went out the other day for a photo shoot through Muharraq. The last time I did that was at least five or six months ago. There is no doubt that there is a magical thing about that place, because every time I visit I discover new things to shoot.

After a bit of dabbling with photoshop, I came up with this photo, which keeps reminding me of the film Little Miss Sunshine. The film is a beautiful treasure and I fell in love with it from the first frame. A simple story of a odd and somewhat dysfunctional family, I know it sounds too familiar, been done to death, but trust me when I say this, there is nothing like Little Miss Sunshine. That's one film that will leave such a lasting impression on you that you'll find yourself remembering for days and weeks to come.

Not to mention the fact that it have one of the most sweet-beautiful-romantic-heartbreakting-sing-a-long-happy tune I've heard in ages. If you must download one song this weekend, make it "Till the End of Time" by Devotchka.

Now go do something useful. Bake a cake or something.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fools in Love

How can it be so scary? Being happy. Being in love. I'm lost in a sea of romance, a vast ocean so deep, so warm, so engulfing. A fire. A storm. A vortex. A paradox. It's everything wrapped in one. It's thrilling, exciting, frightening, comforting, like a drug of extacy.

How can she make me want to become a dream? How can she make me want to be lost in her eyes? In her kiss? Those lips so inviting, enticing, tantalizing, always beckoning me.

She's the first thought on my mind when I wake up, like a morning song stuck on repeat, like she's everything and all i know. When I lay myself in bed I could almost sense her warmth next to me. Skin as fragile as the wings of a butterfly.

How can we be so foolish as to fall in love again?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

1, 2, 3, 4... Smile!

We can all do with a Feist song every now and then... and since I'm in a happy place, I wanted to share a smile with you.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stardust in Their Eyes

It gave me goosebumps. It made me cry. It made me laugh silly. It made me giggle. It made me reflect. It painted my world with magic and colors and starlight. When you wait for something for so long, and then it exceeds your expectations, you're left in a beautiful daze.

I'm talking here about the wondrous Stardust, the film adaptation of one of my favorite novels of all time, of the same title, by the master of storytelling Neil Gaiman.




One would usually be wear of such adaptations, but the filmmakers got it spot on here. The film was perfect, a joy, a wonder, a gorgeous journey and a thrilling adventure, one that will no doubt makes you once again believe in love, in magic, and in dreams.

I can't stress enough the need for every one of us to see Stardust. And once you've seen it once or twice, go out and get the book (if you've not read it yet! shame on you!).





Sunday, August 12, 2007

To Shoot or Not to Shoot


Prep
Originally uploaded by Alizod
Started the day by having breakfast with our two actors and then driving to the location, where the crew had already arrived and been prepping things up. A few minutes before 9.30, we began rolling!

The plan was to initially shoot the film over two days but due to restrictions of the use of location, we tried to shoot the whole thing on the one day (yesterday). It started off well, and everyone was in good spirits. I've never co-directed anything before, but I thrived on the role. I loved it, and I think I did an okay job for a first timer. My previous experince was being involved as a co-producer, so being in control over the creative aspect this time was quite different.

We tried to simplify the shoot and nto try anything fancy, afterall, this is a kind of a non-budget production! But we were keen on creating something to get us into gear for bigger things. It's been a relativaly pleasant experince so far, there are still certain things that I would've liked done better, preperation wise, but we had to go with what we have.

We shot for about four hours and took a break and then restarted for another three hours. But we couldn't complete the whole shoot on the day. People started getting weary and we made a decision to call it a day, to complete the remaining scenes the following Saturday. (Not much to go though, we've shot about 70 percent of it).

It was fun, the hardest bit was when I volunteered to stand on a chair and lift the camera vertically to try and get an overhead shot as high as I could. Somehow I didn't drop the camera, crisis averted! The other bit was trying to keep the crew and actors motivated all the time. There are high and low points and as a director you'd have to constantly be on a high note.

Visit my flickr to see some production images from the day.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

It's a Question of Perception

It's strange how a writer feels about a story that he revisits years after writing it! You find things and patterns and discover elements that you haven't noticed before. One thing I noticed while I was revising QuixotiQ was how the style of writing slighty altered throughout the story, I felt the first half of it was a little more disjointed, something that others have pointed out to me.

A couple of days ago I finally finished going over the novel. I did tweak some changes here and there, but they are so small and sparse that I'd doubt they'd be noticed. The biggest change and most notable is perhaps the first line of the beginning of QuixotiQ. I like the new line better and I feel that it instantly takes the reader into the heart of the story, especially into the world of our main protagonist Guy.


Another thing that bothered me a great deal was the cheesy cover, I mean, come on, seriously, it was cheesy. Don't be nice about it! I've designed one that I feel reflects the story much better, and, as someone who I showed it to said, looks much more like a 'real' thriller novel!

I give you an exclusive first peak of the new cover of QuixotiQ, which I hope will be published soon. It's just a matter of finding a publisher now, isn’t it always the case? Ah well.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I'm a Black Sheep

My first few days at work were no more than a chillout! This is just my kinda place. Sitting on a beanbag, chatting and having three-hour lunch breaks! Heehaw!

But I've really been down lately. My writing has almost come to a standstill. No more work done on the novel. Although oddly enough I found myself starting a new short story yesterday. I discovered an old piece I had written and suddenly realized that I wanted to write it as a story. It's about a teenage boy's "relationship" with God and it's called Nancy's Wine.

I also have come up with a nice little idea of a short bedtime tale that I began telling my sweetheart on the phone. All I'm going to say about it is that involves a Star. But in honesty that the last thing I need, is to start more new stories! I need to END them! I've got several stories around awiting completion.

For those interested in Elham, the new program is being finalized and will be announced by the middle of this month. We are still looking for people to showcase their work in our monthly meetings, so if you're keen, give us a shout at elhambahrain@yahoo.com

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Catch The Big Train

I love offbeat, silly British comedies (Human Remains, Marion & Geoof, The Office, Extras, Father Ted, Mike Bassette, Max & Paddy), and Big Train, which I've not seen at all before, has not disappointed yet. I've picked the complete seasons 1 and 2 and finding it to be quite a hilarious treat, atfer all it has Simon Pegg in it!

Tomorrow is my first day as a Blacksheepian!

And I just sneezed! (Bless me!)

The novel in progress is passed the 43k mark. It's slowed down a lot and I've only written a few hundred words over the past couple of days, very lame I know. Oh, and the test shoot has been moved to Sunday now, instead of, well, it was meant to be today.

I had to take my Canon G7 to the agent's workshop a couple of days ago because it all of a sudden died on me. Apparently there was a problem with the power, as it wouldn't connect to be turned on! I'm told it must've been shaken, or stirred! Heh, careful now. Anyways, it's all fixed now, but I was camera-less for a few days.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Heart of the Matter

Last night we had the first read-through of the KEEP short film script. Both actors (Gavin & Simone) did pretty well and we had a good chat about the direction I wanted them to take with the charachters.

It was an interesting session as I've never had a read-through before, to see (and hear) someone performing something that I had written was quite fascinating. They had their own interpetations and they took onboard the suggestions I had made.

We are now set to film on August 10th & 11th. The film will be about 8 minutes long and will be shot in one location. We are meant to go visit the location in a couple of days and put together a shoot schedule. And on Tuesday we will be doing a test shoot with the actors.

Oh, and our Human Heart had arrived from across the Atlantic!

As for my writing, it had faltered a bit lately I'm afraid. Still, I managed to pass the 42,000 mark. I still think I need more writing to do! My new estimated target is now probably around 50k, as I mentioned before. I'm a bit gutted, coz now it looks highly unlikely that I will finish the novel before the end of the month.

And to add to all this craziness (my illustrated story, making of short film, completing novel, pre-planning Elham and writing articles), I am starting my new "full-time" job this Wednesday!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Illustrating Musk for Publication

I have always had a fascinating with art and illustrations, and have always wanted to have the opportunity to publish an illustrated story. My short story, Musk, will be serialized over three issues in Ohlala Arabia magazine from September and will feature illustrations by French young artist Meriem Bennani.

I am getting excited about the concept. The story is about a "giant" boy who is abandoned in the desert where he grows up believing that he was a god and encounters a "wizard" midget!

I've seen some of Meriem's work and was impressed by some of her illustrations. After I sent her the story and some of my notes, she began working on developing the illustrations that will go with the story in the magazine.

I got the very first drawings from her yesterday. These are the rough first drafts so to speak. I give you a sneak peak of Kabeer, the giant boy/god, here. I will posting the developments of the story and the illustrations over the next few weeks and take you through the process until the actual publication of Musk.

Monday, July 23, 2007

It's the Songs We Sing that Make Us Smile

I can't shake this feeling I've got
My dirty hands, have I been in the wars?
The saddest thing that I'd ever seen
Were smokers outside the hospital doors
- Smokers Outside The Hospital by the Editors

I made this half-pony half-monkey monster to please you
But I get the feeling that you don't like it
What's with all the screaming?
You like monkeys, you like ponies
Maybe you don't like monsters so much
Maybe I used too many monkeys
Isn't it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?
- Skullcrusher Mountain by Jonathon Coulton

Even Rome fell one day
And I know, some day
If we don't try to live as one
We will not out last the sun
- Catch Me If You Can by Polydream

God knows what is hiding in that weak and drunken heart
I guess you kissed the girls and made them cry
Those Hardfaced Queens of misadventure
God knows what is hiding in those weak and sunken eyes
A Fiery throng of muted angels
Giving love and getting nothing back
- People Help The People by Cherry Ghost

Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's a Story to Tell

Ladies and gentlemen, buckle your seatbelts, adjust your seats to the upright position and secure the trays. We are 5000 words away from reaching the final destination and completing our journey.

Can I do it? 5000 more words before July 31st? Hell yeah!

It's been quite a while since I heard a piece of music so moving, so gorgeous, so stunningly emotional, that I felt my eyes well up, and a swelling pinch in my heart. This band is so good Im aching to get my hands on their new record. (click on the link and listen to the first song that comes on, you'll see what I mean).

I've also just seen what must be the best music video of the year, a splendid piece of film that tells a wondrous story.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

F1 Management Aren't Happy With Me!


=
Originally uploaded by Alizod
Several months ago I was at the Bahrain Grand Prix. I took lots of photos and a couple of videos with my Canon G7. Then I went and posted one of my clips on YouTube, as one might do with such clips.

A few days ago I get this email from YouTube notifying me that the said clip has been removed. Here is what the email said: "This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Formula One Management claiming that this material is infringing" Eh! WTF, seriously!

Has anyone else had similar problems? Or are these people simply being asses?

Monday, July 16, 2007

My Happy Place

It's funny how things work sometimes. You want to get something done so bad that the more you focus on it, the harder you try to get it done, the more unlikely it seems it will ever do! Makes sense?

I've been struggling with my 2nd novel so bad that it was starting to get very frustrating. I'd spent hours and days and nights thinking about it, trying to write it, hoping that I will eventually crack it, until I realised that it doesnt really have to be that way. So I moved to the next project online.

My 3rd novel kicked alive. And I suddenly am back to writing. After months of despair and not being able to write, I am working steadily so far. I had decided that I will complete a novel this month. It's unlikely, but I am determined to give it my best shot. I was going to go for the usual 1000 words per day. So far I've written a little over 3000 words in 5 days. I know I'm off target but you have to keep in mind thet problems I've been facing with my friggin laptop.... I swear to god, if anyone as much as mentions Acer to me ever again I will take it and smack them on the head with it!

I've found my happy place. And it's in Caribou!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Cake

You're bored. You're lonely. You're fed up. You cut the slice of banana walnut cake in half and you leave it. You sip. You look. You think. You sip. You breathe. You think to yourself, what on earth are you doing in this place? In this island of lost identities and repressed souls? You dip your stick in your coffee. You lick the foam. You play with your cake. You're lost in the thickness of it. How it formulates itself to the heat. You wear your ring but you can't even feel it on your skin anymore. You whisk. You stir. Are you enjoying this? Is it what you wanted to do today? Or is it just happenstance? Perhaps fiddling with your shopping bags would help. A book. Pulled out of a small sack, which you then slip into a bigger one. You finally take a bite of the cake. It's been seven minutes since you've sat. Five since you've cut it. You rest your arm on the hardback book next to your mug. And you eat. Bit after bit. You dip and you chew and you look and you chew and you're lost in a world you don't recognize.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Our World (in a Kiss)

You make me strong
You make me weak
In the knees
You make me want
To sing louder when I'm not alone
You make me lose control
Over how my heart reacts
How my mind thinks
My hands and lips and fingertips
You make me unaware
Of the rest of the world
Because we've found our own
And it's in a car
In a moment
In a touch
In a smile
In a kiss

Friday, June 29, 2007

Fetch This

My brother and I have been 'jamming" together in the past couple of weeks. Sometimes I'd come back home and find him playing he guitar, I'd pick the acoustic and we'd start messing about. We've come up with 3 or 4 different tunes that might have potential. We'll have to develop them. I'm finding that I'm not doing horribally bad on the acoustic. The electric, well, I'm leaving that to my bro, he seems to be doing a pretty good job at it!

It's taking me back to those years when as a teenager my cousin and I tried to "form a band" and make "like, cool, rock music!"... I've always struggled with a guitar because of my broken finger. But as long as I don't try any fancy guitar work, I'm fine!

We call ourselves Fetch.*

Oh and I finally finished writing the short story "Fragile Beings" - wohoo!


*I'll explain about the name one day, I promise.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bahrain Under Water

When I was a little boy, I would laugh at our elderly who kept going on and on about how Bahrain will be cursed and will sink under water one day! Back then, it seemed such an absurd thought.

Do you believe in global warming? Some people do, many don't. Or at least, many choose to ignore the facts and the signs. Because it's the easier choice. Who can blame them? But it is a reality. And if science and facts are what we go by, then our beloved Kingdom of Bahrain should be under water by the year 2100 or maybe even sooner!


And yes, you've guessed it, I've just seen An Inconvenient Truth. The documentary film on global warming by the former next president of the US of A, Al Gore. Seeing it, will put you in stark precept ion of the reality of global warming and it's effects on our planet and, ultimately, us.

The facts are scary. The figures staggering. And even if a only small percentage of these calculated predictions become true, we are gonna be in deep shit. Hell, we already are. Anyone who dismiss it as a serious threat is delusional.

If you've not seen the film, I recommend that you do and make up your own mind about it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tough!

I was about to write an upbeat kind of post when I got the call this morning.

I didn't make it to the Iowa International Writer Program. After a couple of months of anxious waiting, they finally got back to me telling me that my application - even though was strong - wasn't selected because this year the competition was very tough. Figures. My luck aye! Well, at least that's kind of the end of that. Because since I applied, (and I so badly wanted to go) I got three job offers. So it looks like going back to a teady job for me, after almost 3 years since the last job I had. Damn, has it been that long!?

Anyway, I'm gutted, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. My hope was that I will be able to use that 3-month program to complete my two novels in progress. But I won't let that get in the way. I shall and I will complete at least one novel over the summer.

Oh, and apparently I'm supposed to go to Saudi tomorrow for an event at this exciting new coffee house called Otacuschéz. An evening-with-the-author type of thing which is part of the three-day grand opening.

I've been listening to Rufus Wainwrights "Going To A Town" - a most hauntingly, heart-breakingly beautiful song!


Going To A Town lyrics

Sunday, June 17, 2007

What Do We Want?!

What do I want from life? What do you want from life? What does anyone want from life?

Beats me. That kind of changes every so often doesn’t it? Well, perhaps the essence of it doesn’t. How often we get asked that question? How often do we ask it ourselves? We always think we know the answer. It’s somewhere tucked away at the back of our heads. Surely, we DO know what we want! We must, mustn’t we? Otherwise the world is callous and preposterous.

I want…

I want to love
I want to live
I want to dream
I want to fly
I want to become
I want to be complete
I want to smile
I want to be happy
I want to be loved
I want to have lots of sex
I want to trek the Himalayas
I want to wake up every morning and not feel that there is something missing, that there is an emptiness, that, next to me, ahead of me, behind me, there is no more than what I see
I want to take pictures, write books, make movies

I want to
I want…
I…

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Live In A Hiding Place

I'm in a lousy fucking mood right now. I don't know why. I just can't seem to shake it off. And the harder I try, the worse it gets. And I wish I could explain that. Make sense of it. It's just not right. The thing is, things have been good. Actually things have been very good. Past few days and weeks were quite pleasant. I'm enjoying the work. Keeping busy. Meeting peopl. And I think I'm in love!

So what does being in a shitty mood mean?

I've been thinking. I think it's down to the situation I'm heading in right now. I seem to fall into such state everytime I have to make a big decision. It effects me. But it's just one day, isnt it? Tomorrow I'll be fine again. I'm sure. Hell, I wrote a few paragraphs last night! HA! I WROTE. I've not written in weeks. And I'm close to finishing this short story (working title "Fragile Beings") months ago.

But right now I just want to go back in time to two hours ago, and make things better.

If you're reading this, I'm sorry.

All I could think of is these lyrics from one of my favorite Idlewild songs "Live in a Hiding Place"

There are times that I should try,
To be so much more alive
But if time was right then I would be with you again
Or do you worry that I try to avoid the point
And then deny
The time I spent deciding it was you again

It's when I live in a hiding place
It's the only way I feel safe
When I'm safe in a hiding place
(That's not hidden now)
I'm safe in a hiding place
It's the only way I feel safe
When I'm safe in a hiding place

Blush

Go on
Blush for me
One more time
For your eyes
They sparkle when you do
And they look away
With longing

Go on
Hold my hand
And sit back
For the warmth of you
Travels through me
Like air
Through my lungs

Go on
Smile for me
Another smile
Electrify me,
Shock me
Into kissing you

Make me sing your name
In the depths of the night
Watch the stars
Sparkle in the sky
Like your eyes do
When you blush

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Icky Thump is Yummy!

Jack White must be the son of the devil for coming up with riff like this! He's got the PICK OF DESTINY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The song features what must be one of the most "bitting" lyrics you'll hear this year when Jack sings: "Well, Americans: What, nothin' better to do? Why don't you kick yourself out? You're an immigrant too." Ha!

Witness the glorious return of The White Stripes


Words Fail Me


Abbrev.
Originally uploaded by *A*L*I*
This book is truly a fine little gem!

I picked it up randomly at the Jashnmal bookstore in A'ali Complex and quickly browsed and immediatly realized I had to have it. So later on I managed to get myself a copy from the new store in Seef.

It's a fascinating, smart and hilarious book that plays on words, their meanings, contradictions and how they be manipulated and how they can manipulate you!

I found myself shaking my head and laughing as I read it. Now, I can't look at words the same way! Makes you wonder why you've not noticed it before, or looked at it that way!

The book is also presented in a very visually stimulating way. It's minimal, straightforward, sweet and, again, hilarious!

Words Fail Me is by Teresa Monachino who says she made the book because of her mother's uncertain grasp of the English language (she's Italian!).

Go get it if you have the chance.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

When You Find Two Gallants

Is it just me, or the weather in Bahrain is acting funny!? We had a cold winter, and now five days into June, and the heat is still tolerable. In fact, I was walking to work this morning (from where I parked the car) and there was a breeze. Last night, it was dry and pleasant. Of what I remember of past summers, the insnace heat hits us by mid-May! And now, there is talk of a hurricane coming our way, which is already causing thousands of people in Oman to evacuate! (http://gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=184115&Sn=BNEW&IssueID=30077)

Anyway, work on the short film project I told you about previously is slowly progressing. We have now found the actors to play the two main (and only) roles. We are planning on a 2 to 3 days shoot at the end of the month. There might be slight changes in the script as we meet with the crew and cast next week.

And, on a random note, my new favorite band is...

TWO GALLANTS

Thursday, May 31, 2007

You Wana Be Famous??

You HAVE to kill somebody "important"!

What a way to start the day... giggles all'round!



Ok. I promise, I won't get carried away with posting videos. Seriously. Honest.

Maybe one more.

No?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Singing & Dancing to Beirut

It's a strange feeling. In a way I am sad, but also relieved, that last night was our last Elham monthly evening as we go on a break over the summer. Ah, no more headaches and running around and making calls and pinpointing people etc! Having said that, last night was a wonderful night. Serena, Helen and Ahmed presented some very interesting work and everyone seemed to have had a good time.

And in that spirit of goodness and merriness, I shall leave you with this outrageously gorgeous video that will make you feel like singing and dancing and acting all jolly!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Elham is Six and Counting

Once again, and for the sixth time, we have for you another Elham monthly evening. This one will be on Tuesday May 29th, usual time and place (fro 7pm to 9pm at Al Riwaq Art Gallery).

Check out the line up on the invitation card to the left (click to enlarge).

This will be our last proper monthly evening before our summer hiatus. There won't be events on June, July or August and then we will restart our programmes in the autumn.

Will keep you up to speed on the latest developments and what we plan to do with elham for the next season.

For now, come down to the gallery on Tuesday for a fine evening of art and literature.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Top 25 Songs on My iPod

Here is my first top 25 most played songs on my iPod nano. I'll be updating you with that list every now and then. Don't you just love lists!?

Some Surprise - Gary Lightbody & Lisa Hannigan
Ride - Cary Brothers
Rocky Took A Lover - Bell X1
Battleships - Travis
Set The Story Straight - Tom McRae
The Music - David Usher
Yer Not The Ocean - The Tragically Hip
Selfish Jean - Travis
Either Way - Wilco
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough - Manic Street Preachers
Baby I'm Yours - Arctic Monkeys
Four Winds - Bright Eyes
One Mississipi - Tom McRae
Elephant Gun - Beirut
I Wish That I Could See You Soon - Herman Dune
My Eyes - Travis
First of May - Jonathan Coulton
Rewind - Paolo Nuitni
Wrong - The Clyde
Brainstorm - Arctic Monkeys
Butterfly in Reverse - Counting Crows
White Light - Wilco
Seems Like Home To Me - Two Gallants
Close - Travis
Once In Your Life - Idlewild


Any of these songs on your iPod? If not, then start downloading!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

No Bread Loaf For Me

About two months ago, I submitted an application to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. The event is held between August 15 and 26 at the Middlebury College in the USA. I had just heard back from them. And it's not good news. They informed me that my application was rejected due to limited space availability.

Ah, well, better find me another one then.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Oh Please Dear Cyber Gods Not Again

Ok. I am starting to panic.

It's been two days since I last managed to loginto my yahoo account. For some reason I just can't access my inbox. And memories of my horrible experience with gmail are all rushing back to me! I can't go through another such scaring ordeal.

I am down on my knees praying to the Cyber Gods to spare my account and deliver it from the etheral cyber blackhole.

Anyone else out there having problems with their yahoo accounts? Any idea what's going on?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hollywood Can't Speak Arabic

It really pisses me off when I hear bad/broken arabic spoken in Hollywood films. I mean, whats the deal with that? Do they do it on purpose? Because, come on, they spend millions of dollars making these tacky films, and they can't even find one proper Arabic language coach! Seriously, some of the things they say aren't even close enough to resemble Arabic. It is so broken that it ends up sounding like inconsistant grunts rather than words.

The examples are way too many. Perhaps the most known and popular recently are the 24 television series, which are basically about bad-ass Arab terrorists! The list is big but other films that come to mind now are The Mummy and Hidalgo (last night there was a film called Live From Baghdad which also had strange sounding Arabic).

Also, what's up with mixing dialects! If the person is from Iraq, then he wouldn't sound like an Egyptian, and if they are from Egypt why the hell do they sound Lebanease... and for god's sake, Persians are NOT Arabs!

I am sure that there is at least ONE person who can speak proper Arabic in Hollywood. There must be! If not, then I'll move there tomorrow!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fork in Hand

I was busy being young
Until you woke me with a fork in hand

We need a translator
To make sense of this world

Would you be my Yoda?
And teach me how to fight
Those blasé monsters

With forks in hand

You were busy being in love
Until I showed you the other side

They needed a painter
To paint a picture of their dream

Would I be your Travis?
And teach you how to love again
And to remain young

With a fork in hand

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How To Write Fillumms

Over the space of a couple of hours I managed to write a 9-page screenplay; an adaptation of one of my recent short stories which is kinda/sorta about love and loneliness. I did this because I was thinking of making a short 5-7 minute film as soon as possible. I want some action and I want it now!

The whole idea was to come up with a script with no more than two charachtars and one location. The only issue with this script is that it is heavy on dialouge, which means we'll have to find a couple of decent actors... anyone interested out there!??!?! We are looking for a man and a woman. That's it. If you fancy being in a short film, drop me a line.

Speaking of scripts, remember the TV/short film thingy I mentioned here months ago. Well, its back to square one with that. We had a completed script which we realised isn't working anymore so we had to abandon the entire thing. So we'll begin working on a new one with the hope that we learnt from our mistakes. Now the good news is, I might be able to post the old (abandoned) script here for you to read, coz, I figure, what the heck aye?

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Boy With No Name

Travis are back. They are back and I'm in love. I'm in love and I'm happy. I'm happy so much I'm crying.

Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!

After the rather disappointing fourth album 12 Memories, Travis have somehow managed to put together what can be arguably their most gorgeous, perfect, powerful, solidly, wonderfully, beautifully meorable record to date. The Boy With No Name is so heartbreakingly, endearingly sweet that you'll literally feel your spirit lifted!

No person should be without this album.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I've Gone All Nano!

I am a recent convert to the iPod. A couple of days ago I bought my first iPod nano from the Apple Centre and I'm loving it! I got the 8GB black one for BD110 which is fine, as a) I don't like the colored ones, and b) the colored ones have only BD4 and cost BD104. So the way I look at it, I got an extra 4GB for BD6 only! Bargain aye.

I already got 400+ songs on it. My previous MP3 player was a 2GB Philips one that I got from the UK (cost me about BD55 I reckon) and suddenly it died on me a couple of weeks ago for no apparent reason.
And speaking of MP3s, the Fabulist website has some of the finest music you'll ever find anywhere online. The website is updated often with wonderful music videos and gorgeous tunes to download for free. Check it out. Go on.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Unfair

Do you even care what your voice does to me
Shakes my blood, perforates my heart
Do you care what your eyes make me see
Oceans of stars, skies of cream raining rose-petals
Do you know what it means to be me
Lost, heartless, confused, loveless
Do you know it, or you pretend to disregard?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Signing Little Hands & Stories


Book Signing
Originally uploaded by *A*L*I*.
The little girl sat on the chair next to me and watched as I signed copies to a couple of people at the bookstore. She then posed next to me with a copy of my book in her hand for the photographer.

"Your wrote this?"

"Yes."

"This is your name?"

"Yes."

She got excited about the prospect for some reason. Her other friends gathered at the table too. I normally get quite anxious around children.

"Can I get your book for free?" she asked me.

"I'm afraid you can't," I said, "They belong to the bookstore. But I can give you this!" I handed her a couple of Moments bookmarks and signed them for her and her friends.

Then, Yara offered me her hand and asked me to do the same.

"Sign on your hand?" I asked.

She nodded excitedly. I obliged with a big smile.

She then sat back on the chair and began going through the book. She wanted to read something so I helped her find a story. She read the first couple of paragraphs from Lemonade & Snowflakes.

I had a wonderful time at Friday's book signing. So for all those who turned up and bought Moments, and those who stopped for a chat, thank you.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Lets Have a Moment Together


I forgot to post this earlier. That's how disracted I've been. Anyways, it was in the papers today (GDN and Gulf Weekly) and you might've seen the flyers around!

Be there - at the new Jashanmal Bookstore - tomorrow from 4pm to 6pm. Even if you wana come for just a chat... just don't forget to bring with you a cup of coffee from Caribou on the way!

See ya folks

Monday, April 30, 2007

Heritage Festival a Flop!


Tunnel
Originally uploaded by *A*L*I*.
I must admit, this was probably the worst heritage festival I've seen yet. Every year, the Bahrain National Heritage Festival is held at the traditional village next to the National Musuem, and every year the organisers select a new theme for the event. This year the choose football, and with the motto "Heritage of Passion" , and me being a footy fanatic, I thought I was in for a reall treat.

What a disappointment it was. There wasn't must to do or see. There was a photo exhibition of Bahrain's football histroy from 1920 to 1970. Some memorabilia, which was neat. There was also a small dirt football pitch where some kids played.

Apart fromt that, it just seemed like a family fun day. Lots of foods, toys and cloths to buy. Some music. Some kiddie games.

It just felt as everything was just thrown in together in the last minute, as the whole thing was an afterthought that the organisers kind of forgot about and then realised that have to put something on.

Still, the kids seemed to enjoy it. Shrug.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Biggest & Better


5th Elham
Originally uploaded by *A*L*I*.
It was a blast. Thanks for all who turned up on the night for making this the best and biggest Elham yet! We had probably around 100 throughout the evening and some were still coming in well past 9!

The response both films got was good and both artists had interesting things to say about their work. It was all crazy to sort out in the last minute as there was alot of running around from our end to make it all happen. (hell, I even had to drill holes in the wall!). Nothing I wouldn't do for love and art!

It got me all excited about our next one. We've already got a pretty good looking line up.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Elham's 5th Monthly Evening



Sorry for the delay. I was meant to post this earlier in the week. Alas, I forgot! But here you go. I know it's a Thursday but we just hope that more people will join us this time. Instead of going to Seef to catch a movie, come to Al Riwaq for a screening... you'll even get to meet the filmmakers!

(click on the image to view the details)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spider-Man 3


Spider-Man 3
Originally uploaded by *A*L*I*.
Am I the only one getting overly excited about the fact that Spider-Man 3 is going to open in Bahrain two days before it does in the States? How cool is that?!

The film - from what I've seen - looks to be a fantastic/awe-kickin/super-action/hyper-thrillin conclusion to what must be the best-ever superhero franchise and none other have managed to even come close to it, not even the X-Men. God knows we've had to suffer some deadful, horrible superhero films (Catwoman, Daredevil, Ghost-rider)

I saw this poster advertising the opening of the film at Al Dana Cinema (hurray!) on May 2nd. Can't wait.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Tiny Tales

As a writer I enjoy playing with words and the idea of telling a whole story in as few words as possible has always been appealing to me, and quite challenging. This is not flash fiction, nor is it poetry. It's minimalist stories, tiny bites of tales. You could look at these as just what they are, or you can look further. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes words have differen meanings.

Here are some of the "tiniest" stories (if one can call them that) I've ever written...

----------------------

Once upon a time,
There was a storyteller
Who had no more stories to tell

----------------------

He came
From inside the house
But not before
It burnt to the ground

----------------------

Ouch, I said
But the hole was bigger
Than my bleeding heart

----------------------

The Darkness came and went
But she never moved or breathed
She remained
Waiting

Thursday, April 19, 2007

That Time of the Month

The past two months I haven't felt like a "writer" at all. Simply because I haven't written anything. When I said I haven't written anything, I mean I haven't written any new material on my works in progress/fiction/stories. All of my writing has been related to my contributions in Ohlala and my GDN coloumn and it kinda sucks.

Besides, April has turned out to be one of those months. Too much happening at the same time. The fact that I started a new part-time job (I'm now a copywriter with a major international advertising agency - yes, I sold my soul to the corporate whore, according to a friend!) means that my days are filled, spending most of the day out either at the office or in meetings and interviews and running errands related to my other work.

But lets look on the bright side. Lots of cool stuff coming up. This month's Elham will be held next Thursday. I will post all the details over the weekend so watch this space. I've also got a book event coming up in a couple of weeks' time. This is looking likely to be on May 4th in the afternoon at the new Seef Mall extension. Again, I will post the details very soon, when all is put in place.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Grand Prix Third Strike


=
Originally uploaded by *A*L*I*.
Yesterday I attended the Bahrain F1 GP for the third year in a row (and yes, I always go in for free!). I only missed the first one because I was abroad at the time. The 2007 GP was pretty good. A great race by all accounts. But it was the sheer size of the crowds that really surprised me this time around!

Never have I seen large flocks of people flooding the BIC for the GP in the past 2 or 3 years, certainly a progression from the debut race four years ago. I think people in general and Bahrainis in particular are now getting round the F1 and its become an event I think people look forward to, which I suppose is a very good sign. At least for the BIC guys. Because, lets face it, it won't last. by 2009 Abu Dhabi will have its own GP and so will Dubai eventually (they are building an F1 Theme Park after all!).

Nonetheless, it was another wonderful experinece and everybody seemed to be having a great time. And even at the end of the race, and as I and my sister made our way out, we saw more and more crowds coming in! What really annoyed me to the point of huffing and puffing and cussing, was the way the traffic was handeled. See, if you took a wrong turn and ended up NOT on the highway, you would've ended up going round the entire island to get home, just like me! It took us a little over an hour to reach home, which is in Isa Town, as all entries into the main highway were shut.

Anyway, you can see some pix from the race on my flickr and you can also watch this clip I took from the Victory stand.


Friday, April 13, 2007

She Dreams of Cake

Sophia Copolla is a very interesting director. I liked Suicide Girls, loved Lost in Translation and was overwhelmed by the beauty of her latest film Marie Antoinette, which I saw just recently. Her style is putting a film together is just wonderful, from the very first frame to the last; her use of natural light, rich colors and small, simple moments leaves a warm feeling inside you as you watch.

Marie Anoinette's story is told wonderfully here, but it still lacked a certain something at certain parts. I thought the first third of the film was simply outstanding, brilliant in every second, frame, line and shot. But the second third was somewhat repetitive and sterile, while the last third didn't have that ever-lasting impact her previous films did, which is truly a shame. In my opinion, the focus should've been kept on the awkward yet seemingly warm relationship between Marie and her king husband Luis.

Overall, a very pleasant film worth watching. I'd give it 3 out of 5.


Watch out for the Four Winds


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Another Makeover Round the Corner

I feel that it's about time to once again redesign my website alialsaeed.com so I began working on a new layout and I'm thinking of a total "tone-down" approach this time around. My current site has way too much content/pages.

So here is a sneak peak at the work in progress. I'll add a few bits here and there on this layout but generally, that's the look I'm going for. What'dya think?

By the way, some relatively good news. I managed to save some documents from my damaged hard drive. The most important ones at least! Here is what I was able to retrieve:
- Against (novel) work in progress
- Buried (novel) work in progress
- About 80% of my short stories and poems
- New book project (manuscript)
- Pillow (children's story) work in progress
- QuixotiQ rewrite manuscript (in progress)

I did lose 15 pages of new material of a feature-length screenplay I was working on and some other bits and pieces here and there, including the latest draft of script for a short film.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Clearing the Matter Once & for All

I wrote this for my Culturally Speaking colum in the GDN but then decided it wasn't good enough to be published, so I figured why not share it with my dear blog readers, perhaps they'll have a thing or two to say about it?

--------------------------------

Here’s the thing about instant coffee: it is NOT coffee.

“Of course it is.” Someone would argue. And I would give up the argument, because I realize it’s more often than not, futile. You’re either pro instant coffee, or anti. You can predict which group I fall into.

For a reason I have been trying to understand for the past 12 years, people in Bahrain – and specifically in workplaces – have this perverse relationship with instant coffee. It is if they simply have to honor it by serving it in their offices. Have you never heard of coffee machines? Instant coffee might’ve been cool in the 80s, but people should know better now.

Wikipedia tells me that: “The lowest quality coffee beans are used in the production of instant coffee and (get this!) sometimes other unwanted residues from the harvest are used in the production process.” Eww… this reminds me of the time I found a chicken beak in the form of a nugget as part of my fast food meal.

Apparently, I should blame the Japanese. A little over a century ago, a Japanese scientist named Satori Kato invented instant coffee in Chicago. The Japanese are a great people, and their inventions have had a great impact in advancing technology and life in ways never thought possible before, but on god’s green Earth, why? All their good deeds is wiped out by this one big unforgivable crime against humanity.

Yes, I do have an issue with it. And so should you. You call something what it is, and instant coffee is, I stress, not real coffee. Doesn’t taste like it, smell like it, or even resemble it. It’s a consumable substitute created to give the illusion to the masses that they are drinking chemically manufactured substances in the form of powder. I just can’t trust anything that comes in powder from.

But when you go into a meeting, visit a friend at their office, or find yourself locked in a new workplace environment, and you’re offered a cup of coffee, you don’t want to sound rude and well, a coffee-snob. So you drink that vile stuff and you squirm through its bitter aftertaste and hold your breath every time you bring the cup closer to your mouth for another undesirable sip, and you tell yourself to either learn to say no next time, settle for tea, or simply stop visiting. For good.

At my first job as a receptionist, and throughout my years as a journalist, in every single workplace, that dreadful canister of instant coffee awaited me in the office kitchen, fat with that brown-bity substance that disguises itself as coffee. They’re the plague, you can run from them, but you can’t hide. They’ll get you. Always do. Unexpectedly sometimes, and you eventually find yourself giving up the fight.

I suppose what we need is a revolt. I take this dais to call in all employees around Bahrain to revolt against their employers and demand Proper Coffee, in place of the cheap stuff they get now. Today is the day we put instant coffee to bed. All Hail Proper Coffee!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

All That You Can See & Hear!

I am in a music video sharing mood right now. So here's another cool video for another AWE-KICKIN' hot-rockin' song from Ash, which are starting to sound a little bit like Music in this one!


Online Videos by Veoh.com


So many of my fave bands/artists (Travis, Thirteen Senses, Ash, Tom McRae, Manic Street Preachers, etc) are putting out new records over the coming weeks so I am trying to save up to go on a mad music shopping spree.

I am in love with the new Travis single "Closer" and can't get enough of it, and it comes with a sweet-wonderful video too! I bet your dollar it'll make you smile.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Who Cares Who The Bees Are?

I present you with what must be one of the coolest videos for one of the sweetest little tunes you're likely to hear all year long!



How can you not care!?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Like Barley in the Wind

She smiles
Like angels do
Beaming brighter than the moon
Those jewels for eyes, they
Gleam under the faint flicker of a candle

She laughs
Like children do
She sways,
Like barley in the wind
And I melt under that gaze
Like the butter on the side plate

She speaks
Like goddesses do
Full of verve and light and buoyancy
Each word a pearl to swallow

She moves
Like angels do
She's a season
Sitting right in front of me

Friday, March 30, 2007

A Journey Into The Odd & Wonderful World of an Ancient Place Called Yemen


Children
Originally uploaded by *A*L*I*.
It was the most unusually fascinating five days of my life. My trip to Yemen was for the memory. I can't believe that I even hesitated for a second about going!

I have never in my life seen and met and spoke with such people as the Yemeni people; they are accommodating, friendly, generous and welcoming, in the sense that you read in ancient stories of true Arab values, cultures and traditions.

In this sense, Yemen is a country of people and landscape, and the two cannot be separated. They are almost one and the same.

I had a wonderful chat with a farmer, who had a Kalashnikov slung over his shoulder, about his crops and listened as he told me a story of a German tourist who ran in fear as he saw men waving rifles and bazookas at a wedding celebration.

Children love to be photographed and as soon as they catch a glimpse of a camera they put on their vast smiles and repeatedly ask you to take "Soora! Soora!"

The mountains and the landscape were simply and truly breathtaking. Standing on top of a mountain playing football with a couple of guards and young boys over the helicopter platform – breathing in the intoxicating fresh air and surrounded by white fluffy clouds – was something I had never thought I'd do in my wildest dreams!

Someone said that visiting Yemen was like being in a time capsule, and I thought that was true. A strange and wonderful world enrichened by its people.

I took a little over 300 images with my beautiful new baby the Canon G7 (I'm in love with it!) – I've posted some on my flickr. These aren't the best of the bunch as those will be used in my Ohlala article next month, once that runs I'll post them there.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In Which I Announce I'm Going To Yemen, Present You With This Month's Elham Program & Tell You About a Twisted Little Thought!

I'm going to Yemen!!!!!!!

For some reason I can't stop laughing everytime I say that! But, I am actually looking forward to this trip. I'm leaving this Friday and coming back Wednesday. Which sucks only because it means I'll miss this month's Elham which will be held over three evenings! How cool is that! Below are the details of these events:
25 March - Launch of the University of Cairo Book Fair
26 March - Culture: Wondering and Pondering (Local writers Hisham Khalifa and Deonna Kelli Sayed use creative prose to share thoughts on the meaning of culture. Additionally, there will be selected readings from book fair features.)
27 March - Expression in the Internet Age (Discussion with bloggers in Bahrain and others how technology enhances/limits creativity.)
28 March - Language: Translation and Expression (Bahraini Ali Al- Jallawi poetry reading, with translation read by Ayesha Sardhana, followed by discussion on the effectiveness of translation. In Arabic and English. Moderated by Hameed Al Qaed.)

There are a couple of very improtant developments. One of which concerns the short film I have been working on for the past several months. The decision was finally made to postpone the shoot until autumn to ensure our cast and crew are fully prepared.

For anyone who's missed my last week's GDN in which I explained how my laptop's hard drive has been damaged. I've been running around asking people to try and hopefully salvage something out of it. Staying optimistic is proving very difficult.

And as a footnote, I urge you to check the latest post on Twisted Little Thoughts about an unusually esoteric Red Apple!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

We Are Cultural Terrorists

Everybody has been talking about how farcical the parliament (and certain MPs) have reacted to the Spring of Culture, claiming it is immoral and brandishing it as the Spring of Sex (is there a bun in this?) and calling for it to be banned and investigated.

What a load of bollocks!

In my GDN column last week I talked about how absurd it was to even think that way, and to consider culture and art as another source of "devilry", another evil tool of the "West's" making!

And anyone who celebrates it – by admiring and indulging in dance, music and art – is looked at as some sort of "cultural terrorist" threatening all that our community stands for! We're sick of this maligning look we are given by those few idiots out there thinking that they are they are our "saviors"

They go on wasting valuable time and resources on an invalid case while they should really be focusing on the real important issues. Is the country really going into "darkness" because a boy and a girl wore stretchy pants and danced on stage?!?!? Come on fellas, get real, and get over it and for once let us enjoy this freedom of artistic expression instead of trying to stifle us some more. We've had enough of that and we're not taking anymore of it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Closer to You

Closer to You

Come closer
Give me your hand
Look up and see the fireworks
Explode in the cerulean sky
It’s how I feel inside
Colorful bristles sparkle and glow
Every time I am near you

Come close and
Give me your heart
I'll wrap it and keep it warm
In my honey-coated hands
I'd jump over the crowds
To give you a better picture
And I'd swim amidst the bodies
To fetch whatever it is you seek

Just come closer
Come close to me
I'm all yours
And I'm right here
Standing next to you

Monday, March 12, 2007

F*#!%ing Brilliant!


It was absolutely fucking brilliant!

The two-day Dubai Desert Rock Fest was filled with awesome rocking moments and I had a kick-ass time watching bands like Iron Maiden, Incubus, the Prodigy and Robert Plant perform as their lives depended on it!


On the first day I caught Mastdon, who were pretty alright, and In Flames who really rocked the place hard. By the time Stone Sour came on I was already starting to get weary – I had only had 3 hours sleep the night before. But they did play my fave song "Looking Through the Glass" and ended their set with the brutal "Get Inside"

I retired into the press room for a while, almost slipping into sleep (out of tiredness not boredom!), when the Prodigy came on. And man, if you've not seen the Prodigy live, you've no idea what you're missing. The whole place went wild as they played their big hits starting with the rocking "Breathe" and the intensely mad "Firestarter". I have never felt or been through what I did in my entire life during the set of the Prodigy. The music – and the ferocious way they perform it – takes you to places you never thought existed!


Iron Maiden. Well, Iron Maiden was every bit of the Iron Maiden that I grew up with 10 years ago. Bruce Dickenson is a great showman and to see him darting around the whole stage, jumping, diving, dancing and sliding, you cant help but admire the guy. They played the very songs I and my mates used to sing along while we cruised around the streets of Bahrain "Run to the Hills", "2 Minutes to Midnight", and the fantastic "Fear of the Dark" among others.

Featuring giant-sized Eddie dressed in World War gear with a machine gun and the "biggest tank" Iron Maiden could find popping out of the ground onto the stage, that was what you would call a proper rock show!

I'll write about the second day of the rock fest tomorrow. (will try to post more pix I promise)

For now I have to figure out what the hell happened to my laptop which refuses to start and makes disturbing sounds as it tries to do so!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

We Built This City on Rock and....!

I'm leaving tomorrow early morning for the Dubai Desert Rock Festival over the weekend.

I'm getting giddy about it. Bands like Incubus, Stone Sour, Iron Maiden and Robert Plant are gonna play. I used to listen to a lot of Iron Maiden in my cousin's crappy Huyndai hatchback ten years ago.

It’s a two day line-up, so it should be a lot of fun, considering that I've got a press pass and all that and I'm gonna meet up with Samar who's gonna use her artistry with a camera to cover the thing.

Run to the hills people, run to the hills…!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Cock & A Bull

Last night I attended a musical performance unlike anything I've heard or seen before.

Kamilya Gubran's evening could've been enjoyed even more if it weren't for those inconsiderate idiots who kept chattering and whispering and giggling and moving about through most of the performance. I wish people would just grow up and stop acting like children.

Once those irritants departed, it was easier getting into the music. Kamilya's way of playing the Oud is refreshing, teasing the tones out of it with seemingly the slightest touches of her fingertips, while her voice traveled high and low with each verse.

******

After waiting to see it for several months, I didn't expect to be in for such a disappointment. M. Night Shaymalan's Lady in the Water is likely to be his worst offering yet. The film lacked a whole lot of magic and it was no more than an average exercise that didn't amount to what it should have, which is a real shame. I wanted to like the film so much. Signs is one of my favorite films of all time and Unbreakable was excellent. So I was looking forward to this.

But I was in for a wonderful surprise in Tristram Shandy: a Cock & a Bull Story! The film was hilarious, intelligent and extremely human. Rob Brydon in a wonderful actor who's work I enjoy a lot, seeing him in the likes of Human Remains and Marion & Geoff

Lady in the Water (2/5)
Tristram Shandy: a Cock & a Bull Story (5/5)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

One Side of My Face


One Side of My Face
Originally uploaded by *A*L*I*.
For some reason, reaching 10,000 views on flickr seems to be a feat worth marking! So, when I found out I had passed the mark, I thought I should do something. But I just sat and stared. I wasn't sure if I was meant to do a little dance or sing the 10,000 views anthem (there must be one surely!), or what. Then I figured that would be silly.

This apparently is my most viewed image (214 and counting).

Thursday, March 01, 2007

How To Save A Website!

My main website alialsaeed.com was hit by a virus recently. It was inaccessible for about two weeks or so, I only knew about it a few days ago and have been trying to fix it. Thankfully, the guys at the hosting company were quick to act as soon as I contacted them and the site is now up and running again without any problems. So, apologies for anyone who's tried to log into the site recently, if I knew earlier I would've put up a warning!

Anyway, the third Elham night was a tremendous success and a whole lot of fun. The Saudi poet Nimah Nawwab was awesome; watching her perform was a real treat. And the "chopper"-like bicycle was a talking point! We've got big plans for this month's event as we focus on film.

Speaking of film, Samar, Hisham and I are preparing to shoot a short on Friday. We're finalising things tonight. It's gonna be crazy! We're doing the whole thing in a couple of days!

Last night I watched: The Squid & The Whale (3/5)
Recently I've been listening to: The Fray "How To Save A Life"

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Explode

I feel as if I can stare
Into your eyes for eternity
As if all the people around are no more
Than specs of exploded stars
And your eyes are their sun

And it's starting to hurt
To see you there talking to strangers
To not be able to touch you
To not have all of you

You tease me with your smiles and
You lead me on
But in the end, you leave me
Right where I was

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Desecration Smile

Our third Elham Evening is upon us!

Check out this month's line up, including a special "international" guest featured for the first time. We hope we'll be able to attract more established international writers/artists in the future alongside new and upcoming talents. The event start from 7pm this Tuesday.

The image provided for this month's invitation-card is by student filmmaker-photographer Samar Ameen. Please also check out the new content added to the Elham website.

I don't think I've achieved much the past couple of days. All I know is that I'm once again trailing behind with deadlines fast approaching.

And just because I feel like it, I give you the songs that I've been playing constantly on my mp3 player/laptop for the past week or so…
Top 5 Songs of the Week:

Desecration Smile – Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Trouble – Ray LaMontagne
Crazy – Ray LaMontagne
Rewind – Paolo Nutini
Grace Kelly – Mika

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Should My Fiction Be Responsible?!

Recently, I keep being told to be more "responsible" in my writing which I'm finding it rather difficult to digest the probable implication of what that might mean.

A couple of days ago I finally finished my latest short story Keep, which is about Love, literally. I've written 90% of it and got stuck at the ending (typical!), and what I ended up with is not what I had in mind to begin with.

So far, especially when it comes to writing short stories, I've been relaying on instantaneous instincts, taking a impulsive and random approach in writing them and I am yet to really, fully decide if that is a good or a bad thing. I suppose, just like everything else - like Love, like Life - it has its pros and cons.

My submission has been accepted to appear in the upcoming anthology Strange Stories of Sand & Sea, to be published by Fine Tooth Press later this year.

My presentation/reading at the TARA Conference will be held on Saturday, Feb 24th, from 11.15am to 12.15pm at the Crowne Plaza Convention Centre (Upstairs Room 2), during which I will be talking about our group Elham, my work, experience and read a short story. You can view the full four-day programme by visiting the website.

I will let you know how it all goes!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Other Such Writings

An idea for a new project occurred to me a few days ago and I've been working on it since then. I'm not certain it's a great idea, but I'm nonetheless getting excited about it. I've decided to put together an illustrated book of poems, songs and "other such writings" and try to get it published sometime late this year or early next.

These are very personal and intimate pieces I've written over the years and have not been published or even publicly shown before. The current working title for the project is Sad Man Dancing. Will keep you informed on it's progress.

Meanwhile, you can finally log onto the Elham main website at www.elhambahrain.com so go ahead and check it out. It looks pretty good, if I may say so, having come up with the original design/concept for the WMP people to work with.

Bookmark the link for future updates and loads of new and exciting content over the coming weeks and months. Speaking of Elham, I've been told that the City Tribune will run a piece on us in today's (Thursday) paper, and of course you can check out the feature in Ohlala this month as well.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Six Sentenses

I've been asked to talk at the upcoming TARA (The Arabian Reading Association) Conference here in Bahrain on February 24th. The conference is targeted more towards educators and teachers and aims at promoting reading and writing at schools.

I shall also be having a book signing session during the two-day program. I will post more details as soon as they are confirmed but in the meantime you can learn more about the conference and how to attend it by visiting the TARA website.

There's not been a lot of writing news to report lately, but I have actually been working on a new short story over the past week or so. It's basically completed now, but I still need to lock in a solid ending to it.

It's strangely been one of the easiest, smoothest stories I've written yet and at no point did I struggle with where and how it was going. It's just the wording of the ending I'm not happy with. Also, the current title sucks. (I'm not saying because it's self-explanatory!)

By the way, can you tell a story in SIX sentences? Well, check this website out. It's cool and some of the stories there are excellent. You can read my contribution here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Quirk


Quirk
Originally uploaded by *A*L*I*.
I've never had my portrait drawn before so I was a bit hesitant at first, when I was asked. But I'm glad I did. Turned out to be a very unusually rewarding experience.

Phoebe Boswell first 'drew' me in a three hour session which was uncomfortably engaging, she told me it was for her next show. I hadn't seen the painted version until the opening night at Al Riwaq Art Gallery a couple of nights ago.

So it was an odd feeling to encounter your painted self. As a representation Phoebe has done a brilliant job. Her portraits always have this exaggerated, surreal almost comic sensation to them. I loved my painting and it makes me smile when I see it, and I'm glad that, by the response we gauged at the opening, that others did too.

Phoebe's show at Al Riwaq also features installation, video screening of the film 'Faces' – which I helped make – and the original drawn portraits featured in the book. So I suggest you go down there and have a walk around, because you're likely to like it. It’s on until the 11th.

As I tried to explain in my recent column, people can be a bit suspicious of portraits, for their own reasons. How would you see it?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Something Gud

I figured after the rather dreary poem and somewhat depressing posts, I'd share some slightly good news.

I have sold my very first artpiece! A new journal for fiction, poetry, are and more, called GUD "Good Uncommon Denominator" magazine, has selected one of my photographs to be featured in their next issue. I have never sold/published a photograph before!

Also, Gold Dust Magazine, which comes out of the UK, and which previously interviewed and published me, have accepted another short story of mine "Where Was Woody Guthrie?" to appear in - I believe - the autumn issue.

Finally, I heard again from the editor of the Strange Stories of Sand & Sea anthology, letting me know that my story has made it to the final stage and that I will be informed if it's accepted for publication or not, within a few weeks.