Saturday, July 31, 2004

Playlist July 31 - August 6

  1. The Honeymoon - Dialogue: I downloaded the debut album by this duo from Iceland, in its entirety from iTunes and it does not disappoint. Sweet and breezy light pop, not exactly chilled-out and very easy on the ears.
  2. Toufic Farroukh - DrabZeen: I've had this CD since early last year, and I pulled it out yesterday to play by the pool then popped it into the car on the way home. I usually don't like hybrids of Arabic and jazz, but this album is executed with such class it's absolutley hypnotizing. And unlike Ziad Rahbani's compositions, there's not one stray note!
  3. Janet Jackson - All Nite (Don't Stop) : This sizzling track has lodged itself in my head and refuses to leave!

Murder Suicide!!

I was thinking it was a quiet day, with not much going to inspire me to write and/or comment. I'd just had a pleasant weekend, spent most of yesterday in a pool until I shriveled up like a raisin.

But then I just looked at Al-Watan and the front page lead with a shocking murder in Khaldiya of a 6-year old boy at the hands of his Fillipino nanny who also stabbed his sister in the neck and then killed herself!! My deep condolences to his family.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Template Wars

I've been trying to convince "new kid on the blog" (geddit?) Badou Inc. to pick another template for his raunchy blog because it's identical to mine and could risk getting us mixed up... or shut down at the rate he's going! He says it's just a coincidence that we both have "cool taste", and doesn't want to change it. I recommended he use the template shown here, which is practically identical but with different colours.

I'm usually an accomodating type of guy, and I would change mine in a second to this new look just avoid the conflict and mix-up, but in this case I've added some customization to my template that I'm really not in the mood to do all over again.

So... please head on over to Badou Inc. and try to - politely - reason with our new friend and convince him to apply the new template shown here. All it takes is one click!

Christmas in Kuwait

I know it's early, and it's so damn hot, but last night on FM 99.7, the ever-annoying Stephanie (I refuse to acknowledge her on-air name!!) was talking about an upcoming Ben Affleck comedy called Surviving Christmas, and she couldn't bring herself to say the word "Christmas"!! Is this an act of self-censorship or did she get specific orders from someone higher up? I demand to know!

For years, FM 99.7 has been playing Christmas pop songs in the mornings around the holidays and nobody ever complained... Or have they? This warped rule of not mentioning Christian holidays on the air is hypocritical at best, and probably comes from the same minds that oppose the building of churches in Kuwait while funding the building of mosques across Europe and America.

It is just one more symptom of the schizophrenic country we live in, where you can't mention "Christmas" on the radio airwaves, but you can walk into any Sultan Centre or Jashanmal and buy the full range of Hallmark Christmas cards and gifts, and then head down to the nurseries on the 4th ring road and buy real Christmas trees!

School of Rock

It's a bit late, since it's been out on DVD for months now.. but I'm curious to see if anything gets censored out of School of Rock as it shows this week in Kuwait's movie theatres. As I recall, it's a pretty harmless movie and lots of fun too. I also wonder if the Islamist forces of darkness might object to a movie about a school for aspiring rock musicians. Remember, folks.. these are the same people who want to ban music lessons from our schools and want to shut down the Music Institute!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Wind Rider

I would love to sign up for a kite-boarding course this year, but not now obviously with these extreme temperatures. It hit 50 degrees celsius yesterday!!

Censored Olympics

Under the pathetically mistaken impression that Kuwaitis will be following the upcoming Olympic games on KTV, rather than the multitudes of sports channels available via satellite, Islamist MP Waleed Al-Tabtabai has called on KTV and the Ministry of Disinformation to censor the live broadcasts from Athens so as not to show any women's sports, especially swimming and gymnastics because the female form will be on display in - GASP! - swimsuits and leotards.

I wonder what the women were wearing on the beach in Cancun, Mexico where Mr. Tabtabai almost drowned earlier this year... If he has a problem with the upcoming Olympic games, may I suggest a radical and apparently untried solution: CHANGE THE CHANNEL!!

Whenever I come across stories like this, I have to think twice before posting my comments on it for fear of embarrasing my country in front of foreign visitors to the blog.

Saddam's Sweet Tooth

It seems that Saddam Hussein has developed a taste for muffins while in custody, and insists on having them for breakfast every morning. Could express shipments of Krispy Kreme doughnuts be far behind? Now there's a convoy I wouldn't mind hijacking!

He's also passing the hours writing a "slander poem" - or "Hijaa" in Arabic - about George W. Bush, that he had hoped to submit to the Democratic Convention in Boston this week :-P

Monday, July 26, 2004

Kudos to Sheikh Nawaf!

Just so you know that I give credit where it's due... I am thrilled that our Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad refused to meet with some tribal figures who came begging forclemency (or "wasta") for the recently arrested terrorists.

Anyone who knowingly tries to influence the government to go easy on a confirmed terrorist, should also be branded a terrorist and thrown into jail as well!

The Missionary Government

No, not that kind of "missionary"! Get your minds out of the gutter! ;-P

You can always count on Abdul-Latif Al-Duaij to call things as they are and not mince words. In his column today, he recalls reading in the papers about an "anonymous source" who blames the current increase in wayward teens being brainwashed and recruited into Islamist terrorist squads solely on these kids' parents. "How can a child disappear for a whole week without his parents knowing anything?" this source snorted derisively. Al-Duaij counters with his own sarcasm: "How can extremists control the country's mosques and pulpits, not for a week or a month or even a year, but for decades without the government 'knowing anything'?"

Of course parents are ultimately responsible for how their children turn out, but they also look up to a government that has forged an unholy alliance with the Islamist forces of darkness since 1976 - the year parliament was suspended, incidentally. The past 30 years have given us a missionary government hell-bent on spreading the word of Islam across Kuwait, as if we were a nation of heathens, in collaboration with Islamists who have infiltrated every aspect of public life from schools to mosques to security forces. Instead of learning things that kids could put to practical use in their adult lives, they are taught fear and loathing and eternal damnation in hell. It's reached a point where supposedly normal, God-fearing, law-abiding Kuwaitis continuously feel they're not "religious enough" and end up deferring to religious authorities for guidance in every aspect of their lives.

In another column by Ahmad Al-Sarraf, also in today's Al-Qabas, he asks why it is that after over 14 centuries of Islam, 10 centuries since the founding of Al-Azhar, 100 years of religious education in Kuwait, and 75 years of public education.. there's still an increasing number of ignorant people who feel the need to ask so-called "religious figures" if running a red traffic light is a sin!

Is it any wonder today's kids are so screwed up? Thank God I'm old enough to have escaped that tide of ignorance and repression, and that I had the benefit of educated parents who brought us up well.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Oh Bluetooth.. what have you done?!

Unless you've been living in a cave the past few weeks, you will no doubt have heard about the latest cries of outrage from our permanently outraged Islamist MPs over the use of Bluetooth technology to "spread evil and corrupt the minds of our youth and erode our traditional values!!"

This all came about after a few guys with too much time on their hands used their camera-phones to take still pictures or movies of unsuspecting girls (and boys!) in compromising positions and broadcast them all over the place using Bluetooth wireless technology. I haven't seen any of these pictures, but they apparently run from totally harmless shots of girls stuffing their faces with french fries to other more, um, "explicit" shots.

As expected, our Islamist MPs can be counted on to call for a total ban on these devices. The question I have is this: Can we find similar incidents of abuse of Bluetooth technology in Europe, where it was invented? Or is this sick behavior exclusive to bored and repressed societies such as ours? There is a correlation at work here; the more repressed a society, the more depraved its frustrated teenagers. Hence, in Saudi Arabia the big scandal a few weeks ago was the filming and subsequent broadcasting of a video of a girl being RAPED!!

Norway has our problems too

I read this interesting article in the New York Times about Norway. You need to register for free to read it, but here's the opening paragraph:
Before the oil boom, when Norway was mostly poor and largely isolated, the country survived on its hard work and self-reliance, two stalwart Scandinavian virtues. Now, with the country still bulging from three decades of oil money, Norway is discovering that sudden wealth does not come without complications: The country's bedrock work ethic is caving in. Like the overindulged children of newly minted millionaires, Norwegians now stay home from work at a rate that is the highest in Europe, outdoing even the former titleholder, Sweden.

Sound familiar? Of course it does, but don't be fooled. When Norwegians do show up to work, they actually work very hard and are very productive. The same cannot be said about government workers in Kuwait, whose presence or absence have pretty much the same effect.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Playlist July 24 - 30

I'm back to listening to both of Alicia Keys's albums. I am in awe of her incredible talent and beauty. Long may she reign!

I also bought Amr Diab's new CD, which is a return to form after last year's disappointing release. The track "Laily Nahari" is terrific. Now let's get him a new photographer and will someone tell him to cut back on the peroxide? It's not healthy!

Other tracks that caught my interest and prompted a download:
  1. Martin Solveig - Rockin' Music: A rockin' dance tune. Unless you've got 2 left feet, I defy anyone to sit still for this one
  2. Jamie Cullum - High & Dry: A live jazzy version of the Radiohead classic.
  3. Wendy & Lisa - Are you my baby?: I've searched high and low for this one. A slinky, funky Prince-inspired gem from 1989 by - wouldn't you know it? - Prince's former bandmates.

Thursday, July 22, 2004


A friend told me that he read in Al-Anbaa' the other day, something about plans to unify the weekend for everyone in Kuwait. Whereas now the government and schools shut down on Thursday and Friday, and the oil and banking sectors close on Friday and Saturday, the proposed plan seeks to mandate Friday and Saturday for everyone.

When I worked in banking, I hated the Saturdays off because Wednesday nights were always fun and we'd have to wake up for work on Thursday. And then on Saturday I would be bored out of my skull because most people I wanted to see were working. Friday nights weren't much better either, and the last thing I wanted to do was hang out with my work colleagues.

Now I have Thursdays off and I love it, but there's just one drawback. If I want to go to Beirut for the weekend, I would have to take Saturday and Sunday off as well to enjoy the weekend there, so that's 2 days out of my vacation time.

If the weekend is unified across all sectors, it would be more pleasant and there wouldn't be any "weekend envy"! ;-)

Meanwhile.... it's 49 degrees celsius outside!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Qualitynet are morons!

A girl I know just told me that - the website for Vogue and GQ magazines, is blocked by Qualitynet.

And before some geek tells me to activate a proxy connection to bypass Qualitynet, let me just say this.... "THAT'S NOT THE F&%$ING POINT!!"

You are now fully authorized to send all hate mail to Qualitynet at this address

Zaydoun's List

Last week, my online friend Pink Suede Shoes compiled a list of her favorite things in Kuwait (mainly shopping and eating!) that also served as a useful guide for locals and visitors alike. However, as befits an overwhelmingly pink blog, it was a tad girly.. So without further ado, here's my guys' list in response to each item on hers and a few of the items listed in the comments. I then got carried away...
  1. Best Haircut: Salmiya: Hadi at GQ, Downtown: Mesbah at Hello.
  2. Best Travel Agent: Barakat
  3. Best Office Supplies: Mogahwi, Sultan Center,  and I'm told that Jarir is good too
  4. Best Men's Gym: The Palms is pretty impressive. I haven't yet seen the new one called O2, but I'll report on it when I do.
  5. Best way to get rid of your belly: Sign up for Hypoxi Vacunaut at JW Marriott. Now!
  6. Best Pool Club: The Palms
  7. Best Beach: Hilton Resort
  8. Best Dentist: Bayan Dental Clinic. Get your teeth checked with a killer view!
  9. Best Sports Injury Clinic: International Clinic, Mowasat Hospital
  10. Best Outdoor Hangout: In decent weather, you can't beat Marina Crescent at sunset. The terraces at Souk Sharq and Le Notre are pleasant during the week too, especially after work.
  11. Best Indoor Hangout: Marina Mall if you can handle the noise and the crowds.
  12. Best Private Party Space: "Hangout" at Galleria 2000, Astro Lounge in Shaab.
  13. Best Bookstore: Qurtas for Arabic books. Sadly, Virgin Megastore for English. I haven't yet been to Jarir, mainly because I hate that area, but I hear it's good.
  14. Best Outdoor Terrace: Burj Al-Hamam's terrace is spectacular. The balcony at Le Notre is nice too
  15. Best Dishdasha Fabric: Abdulla Taqi, Abul-Hassan.
  16. Best Dishdasha Tailor: Al-Mas (I've been going since I was a kid).
  17. Best Headgear: For qutras and gahfiya's there's only Abdullah Al-Musallam in the old souq.
  18. Best Dress Shoes: Go during the sales to Villa Moda, Tod's, Comfort Shoe, Emporio Armani.
  19. Best Casual Men's clothing: Villa Moda, Polo Sport, Diesel, Top Man.
  20. Best Suits: Zegna, Paul Smith, Canali, Lanvin.
  21. Best Designer Bargains: The Villa Moda sale, designer knock-offs at Zara and Top Man.
  22. Best Jeans: Diesel if you're fit, Ralph Lauren jeans if you're not.
  23. Best Sunglasses: Hassan's (have they been sued by Harrod's yet for their logo?)
  24. Best Bokhour (incense and sandalwood): Al-Marshood
  25. Best Watches: Kuwaitis have this obsession with expensive watches that I somehow escaped. There all kinds of expensive watches available here, but nothing says pure class better than a Cartier.
  26. Best Boat & Jetski servicing: Al-Sabih
  27. Best Cinema: The one at Laila Gallery for unbelievable seats. Since it's a single theatre and not part of a multiplex, this would ideally be the place to show serious arthouse flicks and documentaries... sigh!
  28. Best Audio: Fahad Bourisly can totally refit your space with premium audio equipment at half the cost of the bigger dealerships.
  29. Best ISP: Qualitynet is a misnomer if ever there was one. Gulfsat will be coming soon with a high speed DSL service that leaves the others in the dust.
  30. Best Music Store: None. Even Virgin sucks.. Buy online!

And now for the food:

  1. Best Japanese: Maki, hands down. Yes it's loud and your clothes smell like Tepanyaki when you leave.. but who cares? It's not like you're going clubbing later! Edo and Wasabi are hip and stylish, but something's not quite right there and I haven't yet figured it out. Sakura creeps me out, and Kei is just dull. Haven't tried Kamikaze yet.
  2. Best Burger: Johnny Rockets for now.. until some enterprising soul decides to open a non-franchise real burger joint. The mini-burgers at Nino have a cult following even beyond Kuwait's borders!
  3. Best Brunch: Even without Eggs Benedict, Le Notre brunch wins this one by a mile!
  4. Best Pizza: La Piazza. Blue Fig has some interesting pizzas, and I hear Nino's pizzas have improved.
  5. Best Kabab: Al-Hejja. Absolutely phenomenal! Go early because they usually run out of meat by 9 pm.
  6. Best Shawarma: Ajami.
  7. Best Falafel: Dodo
  8. Best Grill: Kabab-Ji
  9. Best Kunafeh: Kanafani, Taibawi
  10. Best Ice-Cream: Zahra Cafe, home-made with no preservatives. For commercial cravings, Baskin & Robbins' Strawberry Cheesecake!!
  11. Best Arabic Ice-Cream: For you foreigners, this is basically Arabic gelato and it's pure heaven. The best place is Bekdash.
  12. Best Cakes: Zahra Cafe, Sugar & Spice, Lorenzo.
  13. Best Bread: Bredz. And of course, any Iranian baker with a clay oven. Remember to take your own sesame seeds because they don't usually have them
  14. Best Indian: Asha's, Bukhara, Mughal Mahal.
  15. Best Italian: A tough one since none of them are really that good. Riccardo is the only one sort of close to authentic Italian but it's also the dullest, most boring restaurant in town!
  16. Best Sandwich Delivery: Casper & Gambini's. Fast, delicious, and nutritious!
  17. Best Coffee: I don't drink coffee but even I know that Starbucks is the McDonald's of coffee (i.e. CRAP) So I will recommend Blue Fig, Water Lemon Zahra Cafe and Second Cup.
  18. Best Cheese Selection: Sultan Center at Souk Sharq.
  19. Best Fish: The fishmarket at Souk Sharq. I'm a huge fan of Kuwaiti fish, in fact I think it's the best in the world!
  20. Best Fruit Vendor: The one on Baghdad Street whose name I forget, next to Dodo falafel.
  21. Best sandwiches for boat trips and picnics: Mr. Baker

Whew!! That was exhausting!!!


Syc.o.phant -  noun:

  1. A servile self-seeker who attempts to win favor by flattering influential people.
  2. A base parasite; a mean or servile flatterer; especially, a flatterer of princes and great men.

The front page of today's Al-Qabas features a nauseatingly "sycophantic" full color half-page ad placed by the Commercial Real Estate Company welcoming Sheikh Sabah back from his tour of the Far East. The ad includes some text hoping for a more postive investment climate and more support for the private sector. These are points that I fully support, but they could've been expressed more tastefully in a press release rather than this undignified manner.

I've been increasingly concerned at this growing trend of taking out ads to thank or congratulate the powers that be. Not only are they undignified, but they're a collosal waste of money too since I'm also convinced that the intended recipients of this flattery are chuckling to themselves in their offices and thinking.. "Suckers!"

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


There's a website for everything these days... even urinals!

12 Million Passengers?!

Al-Qabas reports that Sheikh Sabah issued a statement declaring that Kuwait International Airport will be redeveloped to be able to receive 12 million passengers per year. Does this mean the ludicrous land fees that sent many major airlines away from Kuwait will be reduced? Are these 12 million visitors to Kuwait or transit passengers? And how about those ugly pink signs dotting the terminals? No more of those please!!

Has anyone been to the makeshift "business lounge" (if one can call it that) at Kuwait Airport? It's run by a company I've never heard of before and the less said about it, the better!

Monday, July 19, 2004

Street Talk

Have you ever had a thought in your head or made some comment to yourself, and then opened the papers the same day to find a columnist basically expressing your same thoughts in print?

This morning I was driving out of Hawally and onto Istiqlal Street, heading towards Shaab, to show an inspector from the Ministry of Labour where our little Hypoxi Centre is located. I had given her the address, but she had no idea where anything was. I drew a primitive map for her on a piece of paper, but she still didn't understand where to go. I finally gave up and asked her to just follow me there. Bear in mind, that she goes on regular inspections as part of her job and yet she had no clue how to get from A to B!! While I was driving, I suddenly realized why she was so lost. Istiqlal Street had been renamed Issa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa Street, after the late diminutive ruler of Bahrain whose mouthful of a name belied his size... I silently cursed the ass-kissing sycophants who ordered this ridiculous renaming of a street that once had a proud name - it doesn't get any better than "Istiqlal" (Independence), you idiots! - and wondered why in the world they couldn't have named a new street in a new part of the country after him.

When I got to the office, I opened Al-Qabas and found Ali Al-Baghli making the same complaint about the exact same street! He called Kuwait the only country that changes street names like people change clothes, and lamented the lack of respect for streets whose names are part of our vocabulary and history.

In the end it doesn't matter though, since I defy anyone living here to give an address to a Kuwaiti for any place without having to give turn-by-turn directions (i.e. turn left at the Co-op, and then right at the mosque, then 2 speedbumps later turn right at the school). I know several people (mostly spoiled rich girls, coincidentally) who have no idea what their own street address is. They just know how to get there!

Sunday, July 18, 2004

iPod Nation

Newsweek's cover story is all about the iPod, and how it has changed the way we listen to music.

Does this mean it's no longer "cool"? ;-P

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Playlist July 17-24

This past week I spent some time on iTunes UK legally downloading some oldies as varied as Little Feat, Human League, James Taylor, Donna Summer and some new stuff like Zero 7 and Jamie Cullum's amazing jazzy version of Pharrell's Frontin'

Otherwise, the only CD I've added to my car player is one I bought in December and then lost and found again a few weeks. Former surfer dude Jack Johnson's On and On is such a cool and mellow record. I actually played it in the middle of a nasty traffic jam, and it had such a calming effect. Everything was alright with the world!
But let me tell you about some recent over-hyped releases that left me distinctly unimpressed:
  1. Franz Ferdinand: An arty version of The Strokes. Reeking of pretension.
  2. The Zutons - Who Killed the Zutons? A couple of good songs here, otherwise it's the type of band that makes music critics wet their pants.

Javascript Problem

Calling all geeks!! I need your help! I seem to have a problem with Javascript on my browser (IE6). Whenever I'm on a regular connection, Javascript doesn't work properly on some sites (most recently the new Blogger interface), but when I activate a proxy connection it works fine! So now I can see the spiffy new buttons that Blogger just added to make our blogs even cooler.
For months, I silently cursed Bill Gates and Microsoft for a crappy browser, and waited in vain for a fix or an update or IE7, when all along it was a proxy issue.
Still doesn't make sense to me, so I would appreciate some input here

What the @#$%?!

I tried to post something now, but all the control buttons for adding links formatting and reviewing disappeared from Blogger. What gives?!

Bureaucracy = Organized Torture

Ahmed Al-Rubei has a few words for Sheikh Sabah and his entourage for when they return from their "excellent adventure" around East Asia. He urges them to take a tour around Kuwait's ministries and government departments to get a first-hand look at the daily ritual humiliations dished out to the poor souls, Kuwaitis and foreigners alike, who have any sort of business to attend to.

Back when Kuwait was a fledgling nation with no real experience in government management, we had to look to other Arab countries for their "expertise", and we ended up importing all the rotten bureaucracy, red tape, and paper-pushing and every possible procedure created to further ruin the already wretched lives of Arabs across the Middle East, paving the way for institutionalized corruption on an unprecendented scale.

Al-Rubei says now that we're a rich country in which the private sector has made great advances in management and where we have access to the world's best management consultants, we simply have no excuse for the continuation of this sad state of affairs... Unless, of course, "someone" is benefiting from the corrupt status quo and is happy keeping things just the way they are!

Friday, July 16, 2004

House-sitting for Martha

Martha Stewart got a five months prison term today, for lying about her sale of ImClone stock.

My question is: Will her prison term begin right away or will it start after the end of the summer social season in the Hamptons? I'll gladly look after her big house while she's away!!

I didn't mention this in my postings from New York, but I was fortunate to spend a weekend in East Hampton with some friends who have a summer share (a concept I never understood until I went). I was amazed by the sheer beauty of the place; so green, so lush... and so expensive!! All those incredible houses - including Martha's - on the beach. I liked Sag Harbour too!

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Are you tired?

Are you tired? Click here. Then read this.

RKFM - Kuwait's Not-So-Super-Station

Well I had to turn my guns at RKFM eventually. How could I not when they're such an easy target? But let me start with their good points, so I'm not accused of being nasty and because - believe it or not - they're not THAT bad..

Their biggest strength lies in the sheer variety of genres that they play throughout the day. In the US, for example, FM radio stations have become so segmented that you can't possibly convince a station manager to deviate from the a playlist dictated by some marketing executive in another state. RKFM still has a free-wheeling spirit even if it's not to everyone's taste. It would be unthinkable in the US to have one station that played Madonna, Jay-Z, Metallica, Britney, Coldplay, Linkin Park and the Dixie Chicks in the course of one day. Back in the dark ages when Kuwait's FM service consisted of looped tapes repeated ad nauseam, we used to crave Dubai and Bahrain's FM services which came in when the wind blew from the south (It was disgustingly humid outside, but hey we had better music!) Nowadays, Dubai FM has the noise, the flash and the requisite loud and obnoxious British DJ's from "oop north", but their playlist is downright awful (All Atomic Kitten All Day!) and as rigid as any heavily segmented US station. Bahrain FM is now just dull.

Strangely enough, RKFM is at it's best when there are no DJs around. The music selection is so varied that you keep wondering what's coming on next, and there are always some pleasant surprises. The only downside is not knowing what the hell you're listening to. The nightly shows at 10 pm are all excellent, but I worry that they might be on too late (am I right?) Having said that, will someone please explain why it is that on Fridays RKFM turns into an easy-listening nightmare with nothing but sentimental schlock? ON THE WEEKEND?!

With the compliments out of the way - lets focus on RKFM's cast of characters (the ones I occasionally listen to, anyway):
1. Linda: Sweet, perky, over-enthusiastic Linda. How anyone can be that lively at the crack of dawn is beyond me.. I don't know how much input she has with her playlists, but sometimes her show is really good and other times it's too painfully awful. I also feel sorry for her having to shill for Al-Babtain nonstop for the past 3 months; I'm sure she's sick of hearing herself go on and on and on about the new Altima. Linda has a weakness for kiddie anthems like "Witchdoctor" and crappy theme songs from crappy movies that were hits years ago for 5 seconds and now sound as stale as week-old bread. And is it me, or does her Monday country hour always have the same songs every week? I'm sure the Dixie Chicks have other hits besides "Goodbye Earl" and why hasn't she yet played anything from Loretta Lynn's new album produced by Jack White from the White Stripes?! Overall, she does a good job. She's like a jolt of caffeine in the morning when it's needed the most.

2. Vicky: Vicky has the best show on RKFM. She's lively and entertaining and her playlist rocks by way of its sheer diversity. Now if she would just cut down the female "jack the lad" (ladette?) routine, she'd be perfect.

3. Stephanie (aka Dr. Labouche): First of all, what kind of dumbass name is Dr. Labouche?! For you non-French speakers, it means "Dr. Mouth" and boy does she have a mouth on her! I don't care if she's alluding to her Louisiana roots (she's from Britney Spears's hometown! It's true!) it's stupid and must be discontinued immediately! Also, with the untimely death of the lead singer of one-hit disco wonders "La Bouche", you'd think it would be in good taste to drop that name. Stephanie talks too much and says nothing of interest or value. She laughs at her own jokes (if you can call them that) and talks like a teenager even though she's married with kids. Aside from her chart rundown, there's no chance of hearing anything remotely interesting on her show and that's where your CD players come in.. Read her bio on the website. It's fascinating!

4. M-Star: Get back to the studio and spin your usually excellent playlist. Don't go to Virgin Megastore and chat up strangers, and don't take any phone calls from breathy 10-year-old girls. It makes you sound like a pedophile!

I can't remember the other DJs' names, so please fill me in.

I could go on and on about RKFM, there's so much to say. For example, when they "relaunched" it earlier this year (did anyone notice any difference besides the RKFM moniker? Didn't think so).. The recorded promos kept harping on about its "new image". Well that's all just fine and dandy, but how can a RADIO station have a new IMAGE that nobody can SEE?!!

Finally, what's with the cheap and hideous website?!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

8,000 bloggers born every day!

8,000 bloggers are born every day according to the article.. 360,000 people per year allegedly receive subpoenas as a result of their blogging. 1,080,000 bloggers annually piss off their loved ones and acquaintances!

Bloggers Suffer Burnout!

I bet you've read this article already..

I remember how burned out I was last year after blogging through the war, back when this blog was called "Live from Kuwait". When it was all over I kept on blogging for a bit, then threw in the towel because I couldn't take the pressure anymore. It got to the point where people from all over the workd were hanging on my every word as if I were the ultimate authority on Kuwait and/or Iraq. You can take a stroll through the archives to read my output from that turbulent period. Sadly, through some technical screw-up I accidentally deleted all the comments that I received for my various postings. Some were priceless!

After a year off from blogging, I decided to revive it again with a different look, title and objective. Also, Blogger is so much more user friendly now whereas before it was a huge pain in the ass!

But rest assured, I haven't yet reached burnout stage since I'm not too busy at work these days (bored in fact) and therefore have lots of time on my hands to keep on bloggin'. And your comments aren't yet keeping me up at night, so keep 'em coming!

By the way, I really appreciate all the comments I've been getting; they keep my motivation running so I can continue to write, so spread the word among your friends! I'd also like some comments on the weekly music playlists, though. Do you like my choices and recommendations? Do you have suggestions of your own? TELL ME!!

One more thing, I do NOT censor any of the comments on my blog but you are all free to delete your own comments if you've posted something you wish you hadn't!

Coming Soon - Highway Ambulance Centres

Better late than never, I suppose... I read today that 4 highway ambulance and rescue centres are going to be built on Kuwait's major highways. With the alarming highway accident rate, and the way most of us drive, this has been a long time coming.

And not to quibble... you'd think a rich country like Kuwait would be able to easily spend the money required for projects like this, and not rely on the private sector to "bail them out"!

Suddenly those Porsche Cayenne patrol cars are starting to make sense ;-)

Monday, July 12, 2004

Spoiled Cops

Shock! Horror! Kuwait's police force will be getting specially outfitted Porsche Cayenne SUVs to carry out their patrols. This reeks of corruption and cronyism, and you know very well whose pockets were lined by this deal.

And they've made an already ugly car even uglier, so I'm not too upset about them desecrating it. Now if it was a VW Touareg, I would go ballistic!

I Love a Good Fight!

I love a good fight as much as the next guy, but I'm appalled at this disgusting show of tribalism at its worst. This fight broke out last night between 2 rival factions (i.e. tribes) at the general assembly of Jahra Sports Club.

Several people were injured and reports say that the fight went on, despite police intervention, for over half an hour!! I think the novelty and excitement would've worn off after 5 minutes!

But I suppose this is what you get when tribalism is so entrenched in Kuwaiti society.. AND IT AIN'T GETTING BETTER ANYTIME SOON!!

For the full monty, Al-Qabas has 2-page "pictorial" on pages 42-43

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Phallic* Architecture

"Phallic Architecture" usually views tall skyscrapers as phallic symbols, even spawning an anti-phallic architectural movement in this example.

In Kuwait, the phallic concept has been taken a few steps further by this unheralded phallic structure attached to The Kuwait Port Authority headquarters' multi-story car park, which actually includes a pair of testicles (balls!) to complete the structure and thus robbing it of any "symbolism". Who knows what inspired the architect at the time? I guess it functions as a stairwell, even though I shudder at the thought of climbing up the inside of a huge concrete penis!

Come to think of it.. those Kuwait Towers suddenly look pretty phallic too, don't you think?

Many thanks to Mama Fusla for providing me with the photo

*phallic, [fal-ik], adjective: of, relating to, or resembling a penis

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Kuwait does Asia

The Prime Minister and a large assortment of ministers, businessmen, hangers-on and flunkies are on a tour of China, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan (Singapore too?), a long-overdue trip aimed at strengthening economic and political ties to those countries.

Here's a choice quote from Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah Mubarak Al-Sabah: "Corruption in Hong Kong is very low and we should learn from that".

I just can't comment any further..

Playlist July 10-16

I can't get enough of Mylo's Destroy Rock & Roll which I recommended last week.. I mistakenly called it a chill-out album, but in fact it's a highly original stomping dance record. The two standout tracks are "In my arms", which cross-samples 80's bubblegum hit "Waiting for a Star to Fall" with the opening keyboards of "Bette Davis Eyes", and "Need You Tonite" which samples the long-forgotten 1979 hit "Stay with me till dawn" by Judie Tzuke, and prompted me to track down the original to download it.

Other stuff in my car this week:
1. Sweetback - Stage 2: Sade's backing band keeping themselves busy in between their leader's albums. This is their second release and it's a very accomplished collection, with alternating lead vocals by Chocolate Genius and Aya (no idea who they are). The best tracks are all Aya's, especially "Lover", the most beautiful song you'll hear this summer and "Things You'll Never Know" a breezy pop confection!
2. Bebel Gilberto: Smooth, gorgeous Brazilian bossa nova.. Perfect for lazy summer afternoons (it works with air-conditioning too if it gets unbearably hot).
3. Angie Stone - Stone Love: Angie can do no wrong, as far as I'm concerned. Nuff said!

And of course, Keane will remain lodged in my CD player until I get sick of them, which doesn't seem likely. They're perfect for singing along to while dashing down the highway, or in my case belting out the choruses in the privacy of my car with my godawful voice!


Metronaps operates mid-day rest facilities in Manhattan - places to power nap. Using the MetroNaps method, they claim you'll be recharged and refreshed in just 20 minutes.

Now in a country where the post-heavy lunch afternoon nap is more sacred than getting work done, I wonder if this concept would take off here ;-)

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

And moving on to.... Saint Tropez!

An article titled "Saint Tropez Babylon" in July's Vanity Fair magazine (with that loser David Beckham on the cover) describes, in gory detail, the escapades and exploits of the rich and famous in that otherwise gorgeous little French village. Among the many stories/anecdotes is one about someone claiming to be "The Crown Prince of Kuwait":
That same summer, the Crown Prince of Kuwait, who travels with an entourage of 60, squared off against two Pakistani brothers. 'The Kuwaiti sent a bottle to the Pakistani table,' recalls Aram Sabet, a friend of the prince's and co-owner of the Hamptons restaurant Pacific East. 'They sent him back a jeroboam [two magnums] of Dom Perignon. Then a jeroboam of Cristal. Then two jeroboams. It goes from two to four to six to 12, at, like, $75,000 apiece.' That night, the two .Pakistani brothers set the record for spending in Saint-Tropez for one night: 390,000 euros, nearly half a million dollars. They routinely drop $150,000 a night."

And here's the email I sent to Vanity Fair in response:
The Crown Prince of Kuwait is over 70 years old and in very poor health and, therefore, in no shape to participate in the nightly debaucheries at Les Caves du Roy. He is also sensible and classy enough not to take part in vulgar champagne one-upmanship with the spoiled offspring of arms dealers. Whoever it was in your article that claimed to be the Crown Prince of Kuwait is either a junior member of the Al-Sabah family, or - GASP! - an impostor.

Les Caves du Roy

With that out of the way, I hope your article doesn't discourage people of taste from visiting Saint Tropez. The scenes (and people) described can be easily avoided, allowing discerning travellers to enjoy the charms of a truly magical little town. Maybe I'm getting old, but give me Club 55 over Voile Rouge any day!

Club 55
La Voile Rouge

Aah.. Sweet New York

I know, it's getting boring, all this gushing about New York.. but I can't help it! I'll try to cut it down to a minimum..

Anyway, I found this surprisingly sweet article in the travel section of today's Al-Qabas about New York, describing it as the most dynamic city in the world (I'll vouch for that!), and all about how it was so crime-ridden in the 70's and 80's and how nice it is now.

It also describes how after September 11 it became an even more hospitable city, in contrast with the other unaffected American cities, and then goes on to the usual NYC charms, repeated ad nauseam in every travel magazine, all of which just happens to be so true.... SIGH!

The best surprise was its mention of Corner Bistro - a place I think only a handful of Kuwaitis would like, and I'm one of them!

Kill Bill Redux

I know most of you have more sense than to go see a movie at any of the theatres around Kuwait, even though some of the theatres are really nice and have state-of-the-art sound and projection, with the most comfortable chairs around. It's sad because most of the movies shown are butchered beyond recogintion by the censors, and you find yourself suppressing the urge to scream obscenities at the screen. I know my blood pressure goes up everytime I go, so I keep my visits to a minimum and only go to see "safe" movies, if at all.

But one easy way to find out how much has been hacked off a movie you're about to see - and save yourself any disappointing surprises - is to first go to the KNCC website to look up the movie's running time (length), then go to the Internet Movie Database, look up that same movie and compare running times. If the difference is more than one minute, stay at home and wait for the DVD. You may think a minute isn't much, but trust me it is..

That said, Kill Bill Vol.2 - which is showing this weekend - is originally 136 minutes long. The KNCC website says it's only 112 minutes. So that is TWENTY FOUR F$@%&#G MINUTES MISSING!!!


The DVD is out on August 10th, so I suggest you wait..

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Arab Women - Out of the Shadows

I found this very interesting article on The Economist's website. For the first time in ages, it's not all doom and gloom and talks about some interesting developments for women across the Arab world.

This bit about Kuwait sounded bizarre, however:
In Kuwait, too, religion is being used to push reform. Five years ago, Islamists in the country's parliament blocked a law that would have granted women the right to vote and run for office. The same law is being tabled again this year, but this time several Islamist MPs have defected to the liberals. One reason is a fatwa recently issued by a prominent cleric, which questions the reliability of the source who, 14 centuries ago, reported the Prophet Muhammad as saying "A nation commanded by woman will not prosper".

I remember reading about the fatwa, but I honestly don't recall - nor can I imagine - any of our Islamist MPs coming to their senses that quickly or anytime soon!

Sunday, July 04, 2004


Not that I don't know my way to a slice of pizza perfection in New York City... but damn, this would've been cool to have on my iPod while I was there!!

Top 10 things overheard at Saddam's court appearance

This will be my only comment on Saddam Hussein's "Trial of the Century", courtesy of David Letterman's Top Ten List

10. If the mustache don't fit, you must acquit.
9. Rather than 'murderous dictator, ' I'd prefer 'genocidal maniac'.
8. Is it me or is Saddam just the most adorable thing you've ever seen?
7. He's obviously had a queer makeover.
6. If you wanted a lawyer, Mr. Hussein, maybe you should've thought about that before you had them all killed!
5. You think prison scares me? I lived in a damn spider-hole!
4. I'll be released as soon as Kerry takes over!
3. Wow, Saddam sort of looks like Robert Wagner.
2. Saddam is the most evil man the world has ever known - - not counting Dick Cheney
1. That's cute - - out of habit, Courtney Love showed up

Imagine this here..

I got this news item from Al-Qabas, and it's attributed to Reuters but I couldn't find it on their site...

Dubai International Airport, ever mindful of its millions of passengers' well-being, has just installed a live folklore band from Equador to play soothing music between 10 pm and 4 am, the hours when passengers' nerves are at their most frayed.

Now, close your eyes and imagine Kuwait International Airport innocently attempting a similar effort. All hell would break loose in parliament as one Islamist MP after the other calls for the resignation of the airport manager for allowing such a "desecration of our traditions and values". And they wouldn't be talking about the ugly pink signs dotting the terminal either!!

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Playlist July 3-9 2004

How about we start a weekly tradition here on Kuwait Unplugged? Starting today I will post a short list of what's playing on my car's CD player. I have an iPod too, but listening to it in the car doesn't pack the same punch or clarity as the CD. The playlist will also serve as an alternative source of music recommendations beyond the pathetic collection at Virgin Megastore, or what gets played on 99.7.

So.. here we go with this week's list:
1. Keane - Hopes and Fears: Soaring vocals. Killer melodies. Goosebumps. Essential!
2. Scissor Sisters: High camp cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" gives way to some surprisingly solid songs in a variety of styles. I hear their live performances are the stuff of legend.
3. Mylo - Destroy Rock & Roll: A funky, quirky chill-out CD. "Scotland's answer to Royksopp"
4. Snow Patrol - Final Straw: Moody rock. "Spitting Games" is my favorite track here.
5. Deepest Blue: Light melodic electronic pop. Totally mindless and pleasant.

Fahrenheit 9/11.. Here? In Kuwait?!

Well I hate to eat my words (even though I do that a lot), but it seems that a trailer for Fahrenheit 9/11 was playing yesterday at the Marina Mall cinema.

Whethere you agree with the movie or not, I honestly can't see it playing here in its entirety, and someone should get hold of Michael Moore to tell him his movie is about to be butchered by Kuwaiti censors!

Close Call

Apparently, Ahmed Al-Diyain was so overwhelmed by the support he got from friends and fellow columnists, that he has decided to call off his self-imposed hiatus from his daily column. Very rightly, he says he will continue to write and if anyone has a problem with his columns, they can take him to court!

Good for us, his readers, and good for Kuwait!!