Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 AD

Well, the turkey is but a distant memory and I daren't even approach the bathroom scales for fear of them spontaneously combusting simply from being in my orbit, so I guess that Xmas is now officially over.

Which means that attentions must now turn towards New Year, which for Mrs Wife and myself means a night in a Prestwick hotel before we fly to Brussels and our week with the party-hard Belgians.

Mrs Wife has already been on the case finding suitable entertainment in Europe's Capital, and it seems that we'll spend the final hour of 2007 watching fireworks in one of Brussels' parks, and will spend New Year's Day at a vast Xmas market.

As far as I'm concerned, as long as the holiday involves copious amounts of Belgian beer and chocolate, and perhaps a trip out to Waterloo, I'll be happy.

Because I'll be in Brussels and unwilling, unable or too inebriated to blog, I'll take this opporchanceity to wish one and all a Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays

I'm likely to be out of action for the next few days for a variety of food, drink and family related reasons, so I'll take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and New Year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The 2007 Jock Awards

Welcome back once again to the second annual Jock Awards (like the Oscars, but without Billy Crystal presenting).

Without any further ado (or any ado at all), let's get down to the awards.

The Stone Roses award for Album of The Year: (Nominees: The Enemy - We'll Live and Die In These Towns; The Pigeon Detectives - Wait For Me; Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare; Kings of Leon - Because Of The Times; The Cooper Temple Clause - Make This Your Own)
Scooping the prestigious (in no-one's eyes) Album of The Year award for the second consecutive time, the Arctic Monkeys proved they are no flash in the pan. Moving on from their classic debut, Favourite Worst Nightmare was louder, harder and grittier - Matt Helders' drumming alone is ferocious. Another faultless record from the Sheffield lads - now it's "difficult third record" time.

The Strawberry Fields Forever award for Single of The Year: (Nominees: Arctic Monkeys - Fluorescent Adolescent; The White Stripes - Icky Thump; Soulja Boy - Crank Dat (Soulja Boy); The Enemy - We'll Live and Die In These Towns; The Pigeon Detectives - I'm Not Sorry; Kings Of Leon - On Call)
A tough category to call, given that singles aren't really singles any more - they're just a means to promote an album. But for making me sit up and take notice, it would probably have to be The White Stripes' Icky Thump - one of Jack White's most finger-blistering guitar riffs shoe-horned into an odd-sounding track containing Meg White's standard mono-beat and what sound like untuned bagpipes. Sadly, the album from which the track is taken failed to live up to expectations.

The Rolling Stones award for Live Act of The Year: (Nominees: The Cooper Temple Clause; Kings of Leon; Miyagi; Go! Team; Primal Scream)
This category is also a tough one in which to select a winner, given the high standard of live performances which I've seen this year. Kings of Leon were magnificent at the start of December, whilst Go! Team and Primal Scream were both superb at this year's inaugural Connect festival. But the award must go to The Cooper Temple Clause, whose final tour I witnessed at Aberdeen's Lemon Tree, a venue which may now follow the band into the history books. It would be unthinkable to lose both in a single year. As always, the Clause gave a throat-shredding, instrument-swapping tour de force at The Lemon Tree, even without the sadly departed Didz Hammond, now a Dirty Pretty Thing.

The Goodfellas Award for Movie of the Year: (Nominees: Pirates of The Caribbean III; Transformers; The Simpsons Movie; American Gangster)
Twenty years on, and the Transformers have lost none of their magic. To see Optimus Prime, Starscream and Bumblebee in a real-life action movie was awesome. Roll on the sequels.

The Knight Rider award for TV Programme of The Year: (Nominees: Lost; Dragons' Den; Heroes)
At the end of the second series, I was starting to think that I was losing interest. But by the end of the third series of Lost, I was completely hooked all over again. They're going to get off the island - we know that much. But what happens? A special mention must also be made for Heroes, which would have been a clear winner if not pitted against Lost. Many a workplace debate has been had over the relative merits of Hiro Nakamura and Peter Petrelli.

The Marilyn Monroe award for Babe of The Year: (Nominees: Keira Knightley; Amanda Bynes; Hayden Panettiere)
Assuming that Mrs Wife has won this award from now until the end of time, we'll instead look for a runner-up. Keira's too skinny, so instead the winner is Amanda Bynes, whom I'd never heard of until I saw her in Hairspray. Yes, she plays a schoolgirl in the film (as does fellow nominee Hayden Panettiere in Heroes), but she's 21 in real life. And she's hot.

The Jet Set Willy Award for Computer Game of The Year: (Nominees: Football Manager 2008; Final Fantasy X2; Guitar Hero)
It may not be as addictive as previous versions, but Football Manager 2008 is still the single biggest drain on my free time, sleep and marriage. I WILL win the Champions League with Rangers....

The Godfather III award for Biggest Disappointment of The Year: (Nominees: The White Stripes - Icky Thump; Ian Brown live; The Cooper Temple Clause splitting; the closure of The Lemon Tree)
The White Stripes album may have been a turkey (I've decided - Jack White is a phenomenal guitar player, but a patchy songwriter at best), Ian Brown may have been in a differet time zone to the tune at his Dundee gig, and The Lemon Tree closing is a kick in nuts to all music fans in the northeast, but the biggest disappointment from my point of view was the demise of The Cooper Temple Clause. No more of their howling, roaring, electro-rock - a huge loss to the live music scene.

The Screamadelica award for Scottish Album of The Year: (Nominee: Miyagi - Lucky Face)It's been a pretty quiet year for albums of note north of the border, but the best of the lot is Miyagi's Lucky Face, released just last week at a gig in Edinburgh. They're also the only band ever to have had Groanin' Jock make a special guest appearance on guiro. Buy the record now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Xmas Is Coming

Another day, another meme - Tish from The Kat House has tagged me with the Christmas Meme, so here goes, starting with the rules:

1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.

2. Share Christmas facts about yourself.

3. Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Welcome to the Christmas edition of “Getting to Know Your Friends.”

1. Wrapping or gift bags? Presents definitely look better wrapped - plus there's the mystery factor associated with a parcel that you don't get with a gift bag. Unfortunately, like Robbie Williams, my (w)rapping is atrocious.

2. Real or artificial tree? Artificial. The same tree every year. No worrying about whether the tree you've just bought will fit in the car or the house. No pine needles to hoover. Although it might be better if we had a real tree this year, as Pepper, Mrs Wife's pet rabbit, insists on chewing it regardless.

3. When do you put up the tree? Sometime in December. Xmas decorations going up before December really bugs me. At the moment, I'm too lazy to set a date and stick to it, so it usually goes up when Mrs Wife says so.

4. When do you take the tree down? The first week in January.

5. Do you like egg nog? I don't think I've ever tried it. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing I'd like, but you never know.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? My parents were always really good at getting me what I wanted. Some of the presents I can remember are a CD player, a snooker table, He-Man's Castle Greyskull and Gameboy games. But the longest lasting and most used was probably my ZX Spectrum +3, which was my first ever computer.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? No. It may be the wrong season to say this, but I'm not religious. I like Xmas because it's a great family holiday season and the ideal way to break up the long, dark winter months.

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? There are bound to have been some horrific clothes over the years, but the trauma has forced my memory to blank them out.

9. Mail or email Christmas cards? I'd prefer not to bother, but if i have to, I'll send out real Xmas cards by mail.

10. Favorite Christmas Movie? Home Alone. I watched it last year and it made me laugh out loud, even at the age of 26. But I'm a sucker for all Xmas movies.

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually immediately after my November wages have been credited to my bank account.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Everything. I love mince pies, trifle, turkey and all the trimmings, chocolate, Xmas pudding, Yule log, that German dessert that has cream in the middle but the name of which I can't remember - as I said, everything. Prepare for several post-New Year groans about my ever-increasing waist line and weight.

13. Clear lights or coloured on the tree? Coloured

14. Favorite Christmas song(s)? All of them. Again, I love Xmas music. I have a 300-song Xmas playlist on the Magic Tunebox. Favourites include Slade, Wizzard, John and Yoko, Mariah Carey, Paul McCartney, Shakin' Stevens and Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.

15. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I prefer to stay home. Xmas isn't the same if you can't lounge around in front of the TV with the brand new Broons or Oor Wullie book.

16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? I don't know - Rudolph, Dancer, Prancer, Donner, Blitzen - how many are there?

17. Angel on the tree top or a star? It was always a fairy in my house when I was growing up, but now Mrs Wife and I have a Santa Claus.

18. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning? Christmas morning. How can you open your presents before Santa's delivered them?

19. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The sheer number of slow-moving people in every shop, street and post office. And the sheer lack of cash to cover all the presents, all the partying and all the normal day-to-day stuff.

20. Do you decorate your tree in any specific theme or colour? Nope. Our collection of decorations is a rag-tag assortment of stuff gathered separately by myself and Mrs Wife over the years.

21. What do you leave for Santa? As a wee boy, it was always a biscuit and a glass of milk for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer (one carrot between all those reindeer - Mither must have been hard up after shopping for my presents).

22. Least favorite holiday song? Hmmmm, I like most of them. Although The Darkness' effort a few years back wasn't the best. And I'm not keen on As Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night.

23. Favorite ornament? Mrs Wife has a snowman snow globe she bought in New York that is nice.

24. Family tradition? I don't think there were any traditions as such - opening our presents in our pyjamas then spending all day at home was about it.

25. Ever been to Midnight Mass or late-night Christmas Eve services? I do have hazy recollections of attending an evening service at the Episcopal Church at Tarfside when I was at primary school. Which I presume was in some way school-related.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Eight More Things About Me

My favourite Fred Astaire-loving wiseass Jooette has tagged me with the Eight Fascinating Facts meme.

I've actually done this one before, but what's another eight facts between friends? So here are facts nine to 16:

1: The first football match I ever attended was a friendly between Brechin City and Rangers in 1990 or 1991 for Dougie Scott's testimonial. I think the score was 6-4 to Brechin. Ian Durrant scored a penalty and Mark Walters, Terry Hurlock and Colin Scott all played for Rangers.

2: I have eight Standard Grades, seven Highers, two Certificates of Sixth Year Studies and a Bachelor's degree in Journalism. Oh, and National Certificates in Art, Music and Keyboard Skills.

3: I've scored two goals in the Aberdeen Oil League this season. Our team hasn't won a match yet.

4: I collect Hurricane cocktail glasses from Hard Rock Cafes around the world. So far, my collection covers Rome, Sydney, Edinburgh, Madrid, Melbourne, Singapore, New York, Cancun, Paris, Kuala Sumper, Surfer's Paradise and Hollywood.

5: Wales is the only country in the British Isles that I've never been to. For some reason, it just doesn't appeal.

6: The first dance at my wedding was Here, There and Everywhere by The Beatles.

7: This year, I'm spending Xmas with Mrs Wife's parents for the first time before jetting off to Brussels for New Year.

8: I attended four different Primary Schools and one High School as a boy. My first school had several hundred pupils, my second had nine when I started and seven when I left, my third had three when I started and five when I left, and my fourth had 13 when I started and 11 when I left.

So, weren't those facts just scintillatingly exciting? I'm meant to tag eight more bloggers to play along, but I think everyone should play if they want to and ignore it if they don't.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Groanin' Jock on Guiro

For anyone who doubted the validity of my claim that I'd resurrected my live music career, here's the evidence - I'm the frightened looking one in the leather jacket at the back, focussing completely on making sure I don't mess up my guiro part.



Sunday, December 16, 2007

Montrose 0-1 Forfar

Recently, I posted a comment on Big Rab's site in which I described Forfar Athletic as "monumentally pish".

Yesterday, in my tortured role as a Montrose FC season ticket holder, I watched this monumentally pish side beat Montrose 1-0.

It would be a falsehood to describe the match as the worst I've ever seen - I've been watching Scottish football at all levels from boys to international for the best part of two decades, so I've seen some abominations.

But at yesterday's Angus 'derby', there was little class on show. The ineptitude of Forfar's players was matched only by that of their opponents, and exceeded only by a shameful refeering performance.

Barely a few seconds would pass without the hapless whistler halting play for some minor offence, and as a result, the match was a scrappy, stop/start affair.

In failing to send off two players who engaged in a shoving match, the official indicated early on that his grasp of both the match and the rules of the sport was limited, and everyone in the small crowd was forced to suffer as a result.

It seems to be a current malaise at all levels of the game - inexplainable, illogical, inconsistent refereeing.

Maybe, as I've grown older, I'm less in awe of the whole footballing spectacle, and far more aware of the hapless individuals who officiate matches, and the difference they can make. But nowadays we don't seem to have strong, assured personalities in charge of our matches.

All I can say is that I don't envy the referees whatsoever. If the ref has a good game, no-one notices. If he doesn't, everyone does.

That was most certainly the case yesterday.

2007 Comeback Show

It's been a long time coming - almost a decade in fact.

For a long time, I thought it might never happen again.

But on Friday night, I made my first appearance onstage with a band since 1998.

Much to my surprise, and that of three quarters of the band members, I was invited onstage to play percussion with Miyagi on the track Dirty Little Monkey at their album launch party at The Ark, Edinburgh, on Friday.

Despite dropping the beat on a couple of occasions, not to mention being flumoxed by the sudden changes in pace when the song hit the chorus, I don't think I did too badly. Although perhaps the band might disagree.

I'd urge you all to check out Miyagi's website, buy a copy of the debut album Lucky Face and do your best to catch them on their upcoming tour.

Photos and/or videos of my impromptu special guest appearance may appear here if and when I find out that some exist.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

May Your Pussy Never Be Bald

As seen a few minutes ago on Graham Norton's TV show - Kitty Wigs.




We're all going to hell in a handcart.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Through The Wardrobe

In the past week, I've started reading The Chronicles of Narnia for the first time in almost 20 years.

I remember as a boy thinking that The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Prince Caspian were all brilliant, but becoming progressively more bored as the series progressed.

I'm not sure what has made me decide to start reading the books again. I bought one massive compendium of all seven whilst in Australia four years ago, and carted it around the world back to Scotland, unread in the eight months that journey took.

Maybe it's because the strange workings of my mind associate Narnia (snow, White Witch, fir trees) with Xmas. Whatever the reason, I'm now approaching the end of The Magician's Nephew, and I'm finding the experience of re-reading the Narnia books a bit strange.

Firstly, the language used by CS Lewis is occasionally archaic, as one would expect from a series of books written 50 years ago, a world before the mass arrival of the motor car, before every house in the world had at least one telephone, and before everyone in the world had a television.

And what has also struck me is the blatantly obvious Christian references, which weren't so readily apparent to an eight-year-old devouring these imaginative tales for the first time.

By the time he wrote The Magician's Nephew, Lewis had already penned five of the Narnia novels, and must have had a clear view of how the series would end. The comparisons with the New Testament, as seen through the eyes of a cynical 27-year-old cynical journalist, are inescapable.

But perhaps the strangest thing is that I can't really remember how the story unfolds. Although almost 20 years have passed, I thought I'd remembered the story pretty well. But each chapter so far has been like I've been reading it for the first time. Cinematic and television versions of the Chronicles have kept certain aspects fresh in my mind, but now I'm having doubts about how accurately I've remembered the rest of the books.

Which has set me to wondering - have I forgotten what happens in some of my favourite literature?

There's only one way to find out - by re-reading Treasure Island, the complete works of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton's Enchanted Wood tales.

I may be quiet for some time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Red Card

Xmas cards. What is the point?

You spend hours writing your own name over and over again, then licking so many envelopes that saliva is but a bitter, parched memory.

Then you spend the same amount of time trying to find people's addresses, rummaging through out-of-date address books and sending text messages to which people don't reply.

And for what purpose? So that you can cripple the British postal service by forcing postmen and women to trudge through the coldest weeks of the year weighed down by vast piles of dead trees. Then, when this forest of cardboard is delivered, you look at it once before letting it sit gathering dust on a shelf before it jumps down the back of the sideboard the first time someone opens a door.

Can you tell I just spent a couple of hours writing my Xmas cards?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Party Politics

Today has been a day of hilarity and horrors.

The aftermath of the office Xmas party, the first I've experienced since joining my current employer, was equal parts entertaining and excruciating. The whole morning in the office passed in a flurry of emails recounting Friday's festivities. The bad behaviour, drunken debates and dubious dancing were all picked over in minute detail, providing almost as much entertainment as the party itself.

No-one has been sacked yet, so I think we may be safe, for a year at least.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Nedtivity

Today is Xmas party day at the office, starting at 3pm with Secret Santa. To get you all in the festive spirit, here's Glasgow's very own Nedtivity:



Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Helping of Humbug

Aberdeen city centre is a nightmare at the moment, with herds of slow-moving people wandering in a seemlessly aimless fashion from store to store.

This is especially infuriating when someone has to make it from the South College Street car park to Bon Accord Shopping Centre, find a Xmas gift for a workplace "Secret Santa", and make it back to the car, all inside 20 minutes.

None of this would have been necessary if the fuckwit on Ebay from whom I have already purchased a "Secret Santa" gift had sent it in enough time for it to arrive before today.

During my return journey through Aberdeen's streets, I was accosted on no fewer than four occasions by people wanting my opinions on something, wanting me to donate to charity or asking me to buy a raffle ticket.

Then, having arrived at the store of my choice, the assistant, whose neck was barely visible beneath lurid purple lovebites, asked in a disinterested fashion if she could help me.

To which I managed (but only just) not to reply: "Yes, you can get out of my way so that I can do my shopping."

Good God - December 6 and I'm already fed up with the Xmas stress.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sour

Aberdeen music and arts venue The Lemon Tree is to close down, having gone into liquidation.

For any music fans in the north east, that will be devastating news. The venue was the best (only?) middle-sized venue in the area, and regularly hosted three or four gigs in a week.

Driveblind's last Aberdeen gig before they jetted off to LA was at The Lemon Tree, and the last time I saw The Cooper Temple Clause before they split, it was at a fantastic intimate Lemon Tree gig.

Now, Aberdeen's music fans will be left with only the Music Hall and the AECC to choose from - both too big for smaller acts.

Hopefully, some kind of rescue package will come together, otherwise there will be a gaping hole in the Aberdeen gigs calendar.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Brussels Out

In the past few weeks, I've been taking sporadic stick from several of my acquaintances on account of my plans for New Year.

The reason for these jibes is that Mrs Wife and I will spend the last few days of 2007 and the opening few of 2008 in Brussels.

Faced with the options of Montrose, Brechin, Oban and Edinburgh, none of which were met with great enthusiasm, we decided to look beyond Scotland's border for suitable alternatives.

We briefly toyed with the idea of a cruise to the Low Countries, but the prospect of spending two days on a boat with some geriatrics didn't overly fill us with excitement.

Consideration was also given to a package holiday, basking in the sun in some Mediterranean resort, with only the all-inclusive bar and a pile of paperbacks for company.

But instead, after a bit of hunting around and a cobbled-together plan of action, we settled on Brussels, for no better reason than it's not in Scotland.

Since then, when I've relayed these plans to friends, several have started laughing, with comments generally taking a form along the lines of: "Oh yes, the party-hard Belgians, renowned worldwide for their Hogmanay celebrations!"

Frankly, I don't care. A strange city, home to more than 400 varieties of strong beer and probably as many exciting strains of the world's best chocolate sounds as good a place as any to see in the New Year.

But now, in keeping with the spirit of my friends' mickey-taking, I challenge you, dear readers, to name ten famous Belgians. Off the top of my head, I can only really think of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Poirot, who doesn't count because he's not real. Professional footballers don't count either, because none of them are truly famous in the real sense of the word (apologies to Messrs Buffel, Valgaeren, Degryse and Albert). Good luck, and no using Google or Wikipedia.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Make Love, Not War

I managed to avoid getting into a fight at Saturday's Kings of Leon concert at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.

Is that a strange way to start a post? Probably. Perhaps some explanation is required.

Having spent the whole day in Aberdeen, Mrs Wife and I decided that, instead of aimlessly roaming the granite city's streets, we'd head up to the venue early and venture inside as soon as the doors opened.

As we were amongst the first in, we pretty much had our pick of places to stand, and chose a spot immediately in front of the mixing desk. This meant that later, when the venue was stowed out, we couldn't be pushed forwards by any surging in the crowd. (That makes me sound really old and boring. The previous two occasions I've been to the AECC for gigs - Oasis in 1997 and Ocean Colour Scene in 1998 - I was right at the front being crushed against the barriers.)

Anyway, we stood in front of the mixing desk throughout opening act Manchester Orchestra's set (anyone from Jawjah want to explain why a rock band from Atlanta is called Manchester Orchestra?) and were happy to stand there for the Kings of Leon's set.

Until an idiot with rubbish faux-indie hair decided that standing right in front of Mrs Wife would be a good idea.

Don't get me wrong - I expect to have people standing in front of me at a gig, especially if I choose to stand at the back of the hall. But this twat wasn't just standing in front of Mrs Wife, he was practically standing on top of her, and kept on leaning into her, pushing her backwards against the railing.

So Mrs Wife and I reached a simple conclusion - we'd swap places. Hairboy then goes from leaning against a slim 5'6" woman to leaning against a broad-shouldered, marginally overweight 6'1" man clad in a heavy leather jacket.

Far be it from me to suggest how other people should behave, but I would suggest that if a couple standing behind you has just adjusted their standing arrangements so that your ass is now touching the tall bloke behind you, you should take that as a hint to take a step forwards and watch the show.

But no, fannybaws continues to lean backwards. So he is given a small shove forwards by means of suggesting a more suitable vantage point. He responds by telling yours truly to fuck off. But he does so from a position where he is no longer touching me. This is fine.

Two more songs go by, and neepheid seems to have forgotten our little exchange. He again leans into me, forcing me against the barrier. He gets a second shove in the back, this time with a little more force.

It is at this point, when I am being told to fuck off for the second time in the space of 10 minutes, that it crosses my mind that this altercation may not end here. And hey, I'm a lover, not a fighter.

But, as these thoughts are crossing my mind, it becomes apparent that fannybaws' mate has realised that it's not just me and Mrs Wife he has to deal with - we're accompanied by another guy in the six-foot-plus bracket and his own Mrs Wife.

And, having taken stock of the situation, they scarper.

So, I managed to avoid getting into a fight on Saturday. Kings of Leon were rather good, although we were treated to Caleb Followill partially spitting the dummy when his guitar refused to work properly during the encore. For a moment, I feared for the roadie's safety, and thought that my peacemaking services might be required onstage.

Maybe I should start my own business as a diffuser of potentially violent indie situations.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Winner Of The World's Best Name Competition


We have a winner in the competition to find the world's best name.


Phani's moustache is also quite special.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Memories Are Made Of This

Dry, cold, cloudless winter nights like this evening remind me of childhood, staring up at the stars, the tingle of the cold air against my cheeks.

It's strange how one small thing can transport us to a different time or place. Any time I hear If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next by Manic Street Preachers, I am back in my bedroom in Napier University's Craiglockhart halls of residence during my first week of university.

The album from which the single was taken, This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours, was released on the Monday before I moved to Edinburgh, and it was on heavy rotation in my small shared room in those first few days away from home.

And so, even now, if I hear any of the tracks from that album, I can remember those exciting times when I went from living at home with Mither, Faither and Baby Brother, essentially being waited on hand and foot, to fending for myself, living on pasta, pizza and anything with cooking instructions on the packaging, drinking every day and spending every waking (and sleeping) hour in a five-floor building with 200 other 18-year-olds.

Now, more than nine years later, those songs still remind me of those first steps into life beyond the family home, Brechin and schooldays. I wonder what songs will remind me of being 27 when I reach 35?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wet Wet Wet, Cold Cold Cold, Beaten Beaten Beaten

Playing football in horizontal driving and freezing rain is not an entirely enjoyable activity.

Especially when the match ends in a 9-2 defeat.

Even if I did score an opportunistic goal with a sweetly-taken shot using the outside of my boot.

This is Aberdeen - it's supposed to be dry over here.

I am now recovering with pear cider and chocolate.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

50 Questions

Fifty questions, as seen at Big Stupid Tommy's blog.

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought? That mirror is fogged up.

2. How much cash do you have on you? The princely sum of 28p.

3. What’s a word that rhymes with DOOR? Floor.

4. Favorite planet? I've never visited any others, so I'm going to have to say Earth. Otherwise, I'd have gone for Tatooine.

5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone? There isn't one. I always delete my list of calls so that I don't inadvertently call someone just by bending over to tie my shoelace.

6. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone? My standard ringtone is an MP3 of Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode, but my favourite is probably Empire by Kasabian. I've got different ringtones set up for different people.

7. What shirt are you wearing? A dark blue cotton one from Florence and Fred at Tesco. Cheap and functional for work.

8. Do you label yourself? Probably subconciously. I tend to think of myself as friendly, funny, intelligent and lazy.

9. Name the brand of the shoes you’re currently wearing? Black leather Hush Puppies. They're looking a bit scratched and worn, but they're really comfy.

10. Bright or Dark Room? I like watching TV and DVDs in the dark, otherwide I prefer having the lights on. Not too bright though.

11. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you? I've never met him, but his blog is hilarious and occasionally seems to be like a trawl through the kind of crap that floats around my head.

12. What does your watch look like? Silver, chunky, with a round face. A gift from Mrs Wife for my 26th birthday.

13. What were you doing at midnight last night? Sleeping. I finished watching Alien v Predator at around 11.30pm, made my lunch for today, then went to bed.

14. What did your last text message you received on your cell say? It was a message about going to a friend's wedding in Las Vegas next year. Not sure of the exact wording though.

15. Where is your nearest 7-11? Probably somewhere in the USA. Thousands of miles away. But if the question means nearest convenience store, there's a Spar about five minutes' walk that sells a good selection of wrestling magazines, blue fizzy juice and junk food.

16. What's a word that you say a lot? I say "fuck" far too often. It's one of my worst, and least endearing, habits

17. Who told you he/she loved you last? Mrs Wife last night on the phone.

18. Last furry thing you touched? Mrs Wife's pet rabbit Pepper. She sniffed at my fingers this morning as I was putting fresh hay into her cage.

19. How many drugs have you done in the last three days? Do pear cider and chocolate count? If not, none.

20. How many rolls of film do you need developed? None. Mrs Wife is in charge of photgraphy duties nowadays, and we're purely digital.

21. Favorite age you have been so far? I think 18 was pretty good, but all years since then have been good. But for sheer enjoyment, the years up until my seventh birthday were probably best,

22. Your worst enemy? Laziness.

23. What is your current desktop picture? At work, it's a photograph of The Beatles taken during the I Am The Walrus video from Magical Mystery Tour. At home, it's a photograph of scenery from Southeast Asia that came as one of the Windows Vista options.

24. What was the last thing you said to someone? "There you go" as I gave him a card to sign.

25. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be? As much as I'd like to be able to fly, I think I'd go for the money. It would make life a lot easier. Although that's only 500,000 pounds. But it would make life more relaxing and enjoyable. And if I could fly, I'd probably just find that I was cold, lost and alone.

26. Do you like someone? I like lots of people.

27. The last song you listened to? The last track on the latest Foo Fighters album on my car CD player driving into work.

28. What time of day were you born? About 4am I think. I'm not sure, my memory is hazy....

29. What’s your favorite number? 7, 8, 10 and 11. Because of what they represent on a football pitch.

30. Where did you live in 1987? At the start of the year I lived in the hamlet of Kinnaber, outside Montrose, but in April that year we moved to another hamlet, Forsinard, which is south of Thurso and probably one of the most remote places in mainland Britain.

31. Are you jealous of anyone? Occasionally, but then I remember how happy I am where I am, doing what I do and being with the people I'm with.

32. Is anyone jealous of you? I have no idea. No-one has ever told me that they are.

33. Where were you when 9/11 happened? Barcelona. Mrs Wife (then known as Miss Girlfriend) and I were backpacking around Europe. It didn't really register until late in the day that something huge had happened.

34. What do you do when vending machines steal your money? Repeatedly press the coin return button, hit the machine, attempt to tilt it. Then try buying the same product again to see if I get two falling out.

35. Do you consider yourself kind? On a day-to-day basis, yes. I'm sarcastic and enjoy stirring people up, but I wouldn't intentionally go overboard.

36. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be? Probably between my shoulder blades. But I won't get one.

37. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be? French or Spanish would probably be most useful based on where I live.

38. Would you move for the person you loved? Yes. I have done.

39. Are you touchy feely? No.

40. What’s your life motto? "Enjoy yourself".

41. Name three things that you have on you at all times? Well, there's no item of clothing or jewellery that I ALWAYS have on. So I'll say hair, hands and feet.

42. What’s your favorite town/city? New York. Despite having spent only five days there in the past 27.5 years.

43. What was the last thing you paid for with cash? A Twix from the company tuck shop.

44. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it? I have no idea. Years ago. Probably a thank you letter for a wedding gift in 2006.

45. Can you change the oil on a car? No. I can top it up. But my dad's a mechanic.....

46. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her? I don't know. Haven't heard anything for a long time. Not especially bothered.

47. How far back do you know about your ancestry? Practically nothing. In fact, I don't even know much about my own grandparents, in the grand scheme of things. Although my paternal Granny claims to be related to Robert Burns.

48. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy? I donned the kilt ensemble for a friend's wedding party in Dublin during the summer.

49. Does anything hurt on your body right now? Strangely, no. Although I bet if I poke my left big toe, twist my left ankle inwards or stick my finger up my nose, I can soon change that.

50. Have you been burned by love? Definitely. But that which does not kill us only makes us stronger. Or shit happens.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cold Days and Classic Movies

There's a nasty nip in the air today (no Pearl Harbour jokes please) here on the east coast of Scotland, and it's clear that winter is most definitely either here or on the way.

When Mrs Wife and I made the decision almost a year ago to move east, we did so knowing full well that the weather would be drier, but most certainly colder. But I'd forgotten just how bitterly cold it can be over on this side of the country.

The heating in my office didn't seem to be working too effectively this morning, and hopefully this won't be an indication of things to come, as the days will certainly get colder as we reach mid winter.

And this evening, I am left to my own devices, rabbit-sitting duties aside, as Mrs Wife is in Edinburgh for training. Last night, faced with the prospect of a free evening, I decided to watch the The Shawshank Redemption for the first time.

I don't know how I'd managed not to see the movie before, but I'd heard a lot about it - with several friends placing it amongst the greatest movies ever.

And my verdict - yeah, it's good, but I don't think it's quite deserving of the legendary status bestowed on it by some people.

Certainly not a patch on Star Wars.....

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude
Pronunciation: Sha-den-froy-da
Function: Noun
Usage: Often capitalized
Etymology: German, from Schaden (damage) and Freude (joy)
Date: 1895
Definition: Enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.

Greety pus
Pronunciation: Gree-tee pusssss
Function: Noun
Usage: Colloquial
Etymology: Scottish, from greet (cry) and pus (face)
Date: Late 20th century
Definition: A face that looks as though the wearer is struggling to hold back tears.

Never in my life have I been so determined to see a football team from a country I've never visited record a victory as was the case last night.

Due to my participation in a football match with my own team, I missed the first 15 minutes of England's humbling at Croatian hands (or feet) last night, turning on the television just as John Motson picked over the bones of the visiting side's second goal.

I watched in barely-controlled glee as half-time arrived with Croatia's lead in tact, and laughed out loud repeatedly during the half-time analysis, where you would have been hard pushed to find four better greety puses than those worn by Messrs Lineker, Hansen (traitor), Shearer and (especially) Wright. Wright's defence of his stepson Shaun Wright-Phillips' performance would have been heartbreaking, had it not been so amusing.

During this analysis, Hansen said words to the effect of "We've all [ie the pundits] played in massive games when things have gone wrong."

Well, Wright certainly has - he was a member of the last England squad to fail in its bid to reach a major championships, scoring four as England recovered from conceding a goal inside nine seconds to beat mighty San Marino 7-1 in 1993.

And so the second half got underway with Beckham taking up his customary position in front of the cameras on the right. I then watched in horror as England were awarded a definite penalty and a lip-licking Lampard struck it into the net.

This horror escalated as Beckham delivered a perfect cross to Crouch, whose finish under pressure in slippery conditions was magnificent (it's REALLY easy to talk up England's players when you know the final outcome, isn't it?)

Thankfully, Mladen Petric saved the rest of Europe from the ordeal of seeing England flounder at yet another major championship. And Scotland rejoiced.

Maybe it's small minded to take such pleasure from England's misfortune. I don't care. To misquote Renton from Trainspotting, I truly haven't felt this good about a football match since James McFadden scored against France.

One of the real highlights was the increasing desperation that crept into John Motson's commentary as the final whistle drew closer, culminating in a final, helpless "Pleeeeease" as Beckham delivered a final ineffective corner. And with the match finished and Croatia celebrating an historic win, suddenly Motson and Lawrenson seized on an ingenious escape route - Andorra, who had lost their previous 28 internationals, might just find an equaliser against Russia with three minutes remaining!

As I write this, the inevitable has happened - Steve McLaren has been made the fall guy for the FA's haplessness and his players' hopelessness. Already, names such as O'Neill, Scolari, Allardyce and Capello are being bandied about. At the moment, I don't care. It's just great to know that England's "Golden Generation" is going to achieve exactly the same on the international stage as their gifted forebears Carlton Palmer and Tony Daley - absolutely hee-haw.

The end of England's qualifying dream could also spell the end of a few of the players' international careers. Beckham may struggle to find favour with a new manager. Robinson and Carson will have to work hard to rebuild their reputations. David James is surely yesterday's man. But big decisions on the futures of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard will almost certainly be shirked. Gerrard looked pedestrian last night, whilst Lampard, despite inexplicably being named man of the match last night, has struggled for England in recent years.

As for the proposed return of the Home Nations tournament - will England fancy it now that Scotland are immense and they are so patently weak? In fact, I'd be prepared to put money on both Scotland and Norn Iron having a right good go at England if the tournament was resurrected.

Bring it on.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It'll Take More Than Ear Defenders

Yet again, the search terms that bring people to Groanin' Jock keep me amused - someone from good old little Britain came here looking for advice: "stop the wife bleating with ear defenders".


Good luck my man - you'll need it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Over and Out

I don't really have the enthusiasm or desire to pick over the bones of Scotland's defeat or Israel's victory at the weekend - countless pages of newsprint have been devoted to both over the past two days, penned by wordsmiths better qualified and better paid than I am.

All I will say is that the defeat seems all the more bitter in that it came in the final match of the qualifying campaign, when we still had an outside chance of reaching the European Championships finals.

The campaign has, despite its unhappy ending, been a success - finishing in third place was more than we'd have expected when the group was drawn, and we were still in with a chance of winning it up until around 6:43pm on Saturday. The great strides taken by Scott Brown, Allan Hutton and Kris Boyd in particular have been heartening, and it's now inconceivable that a Scotland squad would be missing any of them.

So, in the aftermath of the match, the positives we can take are that we defeated France at home and away, skelped Ukraine at Hampden and went toe-to-toe with the world champions for 88 minutes, looking like the better side for much of it. And our performances in this campaign are that we exorcised the ghosts of Berti Vogts' reign, whilst also ensuring we won't be drawn in as tough a group again.

As for England - I'm currently on the lookout for a Croatia top going cheap.....

Friday, November 16, 2007

Forza Caledonia

Expect nothing of sense from me in the next few days - tomorrow Scotland face world champions Italy in a do-or-stay-at-home-watching-the-games-on-the-telly-next-summer match.

Regardless of the outcome tomorrow, everyone associated with the squad can hold their heads high at their achievements in still being in with a chance of qualifying at the final round of matches. Anyone who predicted that would be the case when the draw was made is, quite simply, a liar.

LET'S GET STUCK INTAE THEM!!



As seen at Big Rab's and about 20 emails over the past week.......

Scam Warning

I recently became the victim of a clever scam whilst out shopping at the Bon Accord Shopping Centre in Aberdeen, when simply going out to get some bits and pieces turned out to be quite traumatic. Don't be naive enough to think it couldn't happen to you.


Here's how the scam works: Two seriously good looking 18 or 19 year old girls come over to your car as you are loading your stuff into the boot. They both start wiping your windshield with a rag and Windolene with their cleavage almost falling out of their skimpy T-shirts. It is impossible not to look.


When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say "No" and instead ask you for a lift to Holburn Street. You agree and they get in the back seat.


On the way, they start having sex with each other. Then one of them climbs over into the front seat and perform oral sex on you, while the other one steals your wallet.


I had my wallet stolen on October 4th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, three times just yesterday, and very likely again this upcoming weekend as soon as I can buy some more wallets.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Religion, Politics and Sport

As seen over at BobG's site - the politics test. Apparently I'm socially moderate and economically liberal - which translates to Democrat in Americanese.

Well, if the alternative is Dubya playing at wars....

Strangely though, I'm on the borderline between Democrat and Totalitarian, and fairly close to Centrist. When, in truth, I'd be happy if the government just left me alone and charged me less in taxes.


You are a

Social Moderate
(43% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(28% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Democrat (28e/43s)




Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Even More Wicked

I recently wrote a post extolling the virtues of Wikipedia, and how it offered people the chance to share their knowledge just for the sake of sharing it.

But I suppose the site does have its downsides.....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

20,000 Board Members

Interesting news on the football front today - the MyFootballClub.co.uk website has agreed a deal to purchase Blue Square Premier Division side Ebbsfleet United.

The concept is certainly innovative - each person who signs up at the website pays £35 to become a member of the club, but not of the club's board. The club will be owned by MyFootballClub, which will essentially be a co-operative. So far, so normal - Barcelona, to name but one side, have more than one million 'members' who can vote to elect a president who is then in charge of running the club for a fixed term.

But MyFootballClub is promising an even more hands-on experience than that - each member will be given a vote on team selections and transfers. And it is here that the plan falls down.

So far, 20,000 members have stumped up the £35 membership fee. Each of these members will therefore be entitled to a vote on tactics. But how is that workable - will there be a poll on the website before each match to determine the formation? Will the members then have to vote on which players will wear each shirt? Frankly, it's unworkable.

The same applies to transfers - will each of the 20,000 members be canvassed to determine their preferred signings? Again, that's unworkable, especially in a sport where player movements are restricted to two transfer windows. Running such a system on transfer deadline day, where a single minute's delay can make or break a deal, would be a complete non-starter.

The aims behind MyFootballClub are to be lauded - to take a club into the hands of the fans, and prove that the combined will of the members can be a positive force in British football.

And, if it were simply a case of each member putting in their cash and attending the matches, it might work. But if every Tom, Dick and Harry then expects to have a say in every single decision at the club, I can only see the whole experiment descend into farce.

Monday, November 12, 2007

No, Mr Bond, I Expect You To Die

If my Sitemeter stats are accurate, around 60 hardy souls venture down to this humble outpost of the worldwide interweb each day in search of gratification, enlightenment and entertainment. (In actual fact, most of them come in search of pictures of Uluru or Evangeline Lilly. I'm not criticising those important quests, just saying....)

Anyway, with the dreaded C word just around the corner (that's Xmas, for those of you who can't get your minds out of the gutter), I've decided that, should my readers wish to reward my random mutterings by way of a festive gift, I know exactly what I want.

A man-made island located one mile off England's southern coast is available at the perfectly reasonable price of USD 8 million, which, given the current value of the dollar, works out at around £1.54. The island, originally built to defend against the French (couldn't we just have said "Boo"?), was a private residence for a time and was later reborn as a luxury hotel, complete with a heated swimming pool, jacuzzis, 21 themed rooms, two helipads and two restaurants. A bore will supply me with fresh water from the sea bed. Generators will take care of my electricity. There is also a rooftop garden that must feature some pretty hardy plants, and a gym to keep me in shape.

What says "I love your work" more than several thousand tonnes of concrete in the English Channel? If each of my daily readers wishes to contribute to the present (and why wouldn't you?), I figure that USD 136,666 from each of the strange sixty will be sufficient to secure the property. And, once I've received the keys, I'll hold a massive blog meet/housewarming party to say thank you.

I await your generous donations.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Commonwealth Games

With Glasgow having been announced as the host city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the competition itineraray has been published:

OPENING CEREMONY: The Commonwealth flame will be ignited by a petrol bomb thrown into the arena by a native of the Easterhouse area of the city, wearing the traditional costume of balaclava and shell suit.

THE EVENTS: Glasgae's previous competitors have not been particularly successful. In order to redress the balance some of the events have been altered slightly to the advantage of the local athletes...

100 METRES SPRINT: Competitors will have to hold a video recorder and a microwave oven (one under each arm) and on the sound of a starting pistol a police dog will be released 10 metres behind the athletes.

110 METRES HURDLES: As above but with added obstacles, ie car bonnets, hedges, gardens, fences, walls etc.

HAMMER: The competitors will be allowed to make a choice of hammer (claw, sledge, etc.). The winner will be the one who can cause the most grievous bodily harm to members of the public within their allotted time.

WEIGHTLIFTING: From a standing position, competitors will have various electronic goods placed in their arms. In order to complete a lift, these must then be taken through the shop door and placed in a mate's van.

FENCING: Entrants will be asked to dispose of as much stolen jewellery as possible within five minutes.

SHOOTING: A series of targets will be set up to establish the competitor's ability over a range of disciplines. The targets to be as follows:- 1 - A moving police van. 2 - A Post Office clerk. 3 - A bank teller or Securicor driver. 4 - Their next door neighbour's youngest child. NB - This target to be followed by the ritual cry of 'I thought he was a Bizzy' or 'He pulled a knife on me'.

BOXING: Entry to be restricted to husband and wife teams. Competition will take place on every Friday and Saturday night of the games.The husband will be given 15 pints of Stella, and the wife will be told not to make him any tea when he gets home. The bout will then commence.

CYCLING TIME TRIALS: Competitors will be asked to break into the Glasgae University bike shed and take an expensive mountain bike, owned by some mummy's boy from the country on his first trip away from home. Against the clock.

CYCLING PURSUIT: As above, however this time the break-in must occur at a police station and must be witnessed by an officer.

TIME TRIAL: The competitor who can waste the most of the court's valuable time before being found guilty will be adjudged the winner.

MODERN PENTATHLON: Amended to include mugging, breaking & entering, flashing, joyriding and arson.

THE MARATHON: A safe route has yet to be decided, but the competitors will be issued with sharp sticks and bags with which to pick up dog shit, crisp packets and used hypodermic syringes on their way round.

MEN'S 50Km WALK:
Q - Why does the Clyde run through Glasgae? A - Because if it walked it would get mugged.
Therefore for safety reasons this event has been cancelled.

RELAY: Each of four competitors to remove an appliance of their choice from a house in Kilbride and get it back to Glasgae using at least four different stolen cars.

ARCHERY: Each competitor will be given three needles, the winner will be the person who gets nearest to three different main veins in their own body.

DISCUS: Will be decided by which contestant can get a hubcap off a car and throw it to his mate the fastest.

In addition the following 'exhibition event' designed at promoting the local culture will be introduced:

PILLOW EATING: The contestant who can get the most pillow in their mouth after their 18 stone cellmate takes a shine to them will be adjudged the winner.

Seek and You Shall Find

I'm all for sharing the love here in the Blogosphere - that's why there is a whole host of links down the right hand side of this humble outpost of the worldwide interweb, so that I can point you in the direction of some people with writing talent.

And occasionally, visitors to this site follow my advice and head out into uncharted territory in search of new horizons, having arrived here by chance in the first instance.

Last night, at around 1am Greenwich Mean Time, someone from the USA arrived here after searching on AOL for "Jocks & sex blogs". Whoever this person was, they didn't find what they were looking for, and headed off after just 48 seconds.

Where did they go? Well, if Groanin' Jock isn't going to help you get your rocks off, why not try a Straight White Guy.....

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ronson Rant

I don't often call for musicians to be shot for crimes against music.

Sorry, that's a lie - I REGULARLY call for musicians to be shot for crimes against music.

In a world where I was king, Gareth Gates, Westlife and Aqua would all have bitten the dust years back.

But now I'm putting a bounty on the head of Mark Ronson.

If I have to listen to that abomination of a Zutons cover once more, I may be tempted to remove my own frontal lobe with a spoon.

Amy Winehouse's solo version of the same song - fine. She's a bit of a fuck up (like Graham Norton is a bit camp), with the maddest hair I've ever seen outside a 1980s metal band, but she can fairly sing.

But Mark Ronson's faux-Northern Soul horns and beats REALLY annoy me, for reasons I can't entirely fathom.

As for the horrific version of The Smiths' Stop Me that preceded the current single - it's the musical equivalent of slaughtering sacred cows on a temple's doorstep.

My hatred of Ronson was hammered home over the weekend when he appeared on both Soccer AM and that shite cookery programme presented by Tim Lovejoy. He could barely be bothered to show even the slightest interest whilst on either show.

If you don't want to promote your abysmal record, don't subject us to your mumbled nonsense. Hearing the story of how exciting it was to DJ at the Cruise-Holmes wedding twice in as many days was barely bearable. Just finish now Ronson, and spare us the sacrilege of further miserable covers.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fever Pitch

My inauspicious football career lurched onwards yesterday evening in my company's second match in the Aberdeen Oil League.

A 17-4 defeat obviously isn't anyone's result of choice. And coming on the back of a 12-2 loss, things aren't looking too bright early on.

But I suppose we need to take into account a number of factors: that as a small publishing company, we have only a squad of around 11 players to choose from, whereas our opponents last night were from a multnational oilfield operator, whose Aberdeen offices alone must contain hundreds of employees. That as a team, we'd never played together prior to our first warm-up match a month ago, and that we've never yet fielded a full-strength team.

So last night's performance, whilst tough to take, was an important step forwards. We scored more goals than in any previous match, with four different players hitting the net.

However, these goals came at a price. My first touch of the match saw me turn my marker, and my second saw me lash a shot at goal. But the marker I'd just turned smashed his foot into mine at high speed. My big toe on my left foot is now a lurid shade of purple and has been in agony since it received that kick. And my knee sports a beauty of a bruise sustained in the final minutes as we desperately chased further goals.

So now, to end this post, a question: is there an easy way to tell if your toe is broken?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wicked

Once again, I am overwhelmed at the wealth of information available on Wikipedia.

A heated email argument amongst myself and three colleagues this afternoon on the facts behind the Champions League three foreigners rule eventually sent all of us scuttling off to the internet in search of clarification.

Lest anyone think that I don't know my facts, I was convinced that the rule applied to all players who weren't born in the country in which they played - and that Rangers' historic unbeaten Champions League campaign of 1992-1993 was made all the more remarkable by the fact that the team was denied the use of several "foreigners", including Englishmen Mark Hateley and Trevor Steven, during the competition. And I was right.

Anyway, the dust has settled, the gloating has been gotten over with and I'm now reading the history of the Champions League on Wikipedia. It always amazes me that the strange people of the worldwide interweb take the time to sit down at their keyboards and share knowledge just for the sake of sharing it.

To me, it sounds like some forgotten age (that may never have existed) when learned men and women did research for research's sake, when knowledge was shared because it might help mankind progress, rather than because it possessed some commercial value.

Admittedly, the history of the Champions League is unlikely ever to advance the development of our species, but the information contained on the Wikipedia page is nothing if not exhaustive.

Except that it isn't. Not quite. No mention was made on the page I read of Rangers' incredible run during my first year of high school. Nor was there any firm description of the three foreigners rule.

But hey, nobody's perfect.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Simpsonized

The Simpsons Movie has been out for months.

I'm well aware of this.

But it's taken me a while to get round to Simpsonizing myself at this website.

Here's the picture of me:






And this is me visiting the Itchy and Scratchy studios:



Pointless? Entirely. Fun? Definitely. I encourage everyone to Simpsonize themselves and give Burger King some free advertising on the Blogosphere while they're at it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Lost In Translation

As I said in a previous post, I can quite often be found during the working day looking at websites from far-off countries as I research projects overseas.

Quite often, these sites have been translated into English from their mother tongue, and from the translations, the meaning of the original phrase isn't always immediately apparent.

Looking for information on Russian environmental agency Rostekhnadzor, I found this site. I'd ask you all to look at the sixth line down and hazard a guess at what the Russian creators really meant to say....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Voyager

Another interesting Google search term that brought someone in this direction: "Private sex voyage".

Sounds fulfilling.....

Money, It's A Gas

I'm probably risking legal action by posting this, but as it's currently doing the rounds on the worldwide interweb, I thought I'd share it with you strange folks.


Liverpool defender John Arne Riise's pay slip has ended up in the hands of someone who shouldn't have it. And they decided that the best thing to do would be to take a photograph and post it on the net.



So, what do we learn from the document? That Riise earns 120,000 pounds a month - 30,000 a week in popular tabloid terms. That for August 2006, he earned a 250 pound "points bonus" and a tidy 15,000 pound bonus for playing in the Champions League.

We also find out that an average Premiership earner, well below the top dogs like Rooney, Lampard and Gerrard, pays more than 55,000 pounds in tax in an average month. And that, after all deductions, he walks away with more than 82,000 pounds in an average month.

So what do we learn? Absolutely nothing - we already knew that Premiership footballers had far too much money. Nonetheless, Riise and his advisors have launched an investigation to find out how the pay slip became publicly available.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Easy To Ignore

"The leaders of the free world are just little boys throwing stones
And it's easy to ignore until they're knocking on the door of your home"
Leaders of the Free World, Elbow

Watching this video of the Baker underwater nuclear test in 1946, which I discovered courtesy of Videosift, should be enough to prove to anyone that nuclear weapons really aren't all that great an invention.

Yeah, sure, man now has the ability to wipe out all traces of its own species at the push of a button. But maybe that's not such a fantastic power for people like George Bush, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-il to have.

Chillingly beautiful? Yes it is. Although I'd imagine that if you were on one of the 90 vessels sitting around the blast zone to find out what would happen, you'd probably not be all that excited by the beauty, and just a tad concerned at the massive mushroom cloud enveloping everything in its path.

I'm no pinko lefty peacenik - if Iran has nuclear weapons, it's probably better that we do as well, if only to act as a discouragement. But maybe it'd just be better if all the little boys put their toys back in the cupboard, or - even better - dismantled them.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Back To School

Tish over at The Kat House tagged me for the Blue Tea Meme. Here are the rules:

“Devise a list of 5-10 courses you would take to fix your life. It’s more fun to be in classes with friends, so include one class from the person who tagged you that you’d also like to take. Tag five.”

Here’s my course schedule:

Car Maintenance - I'll join Tish and her tagger Andrew in the Car Maintenance course. Like Tish, the extent of my mechanical knowledge extends as far as testing levels, changing bulbs, replacing tyres and washing. And I don't do any of those as often as I should. So a course in maintaining my own car would save me a lot of money that I'd otherwise spend in garages.

Guitar - I can play guitar, but very badly. I'm very jealous of those people who can pick up an instrument and rattle off half a dozen tunes flawlessly without having to think too much about it. But maybe the fact that I already think I can play guitar would make me too much of an awkward student.

Singing - If I'm going to take the time to learn to play guitar properly, I should really refine my singing voice so that it is actually a voice worth hearing. Again, my deluded belief that I can actually already sing might be an insurmountable hurdle.

English Literature - When I applied to university aged 18, the two options that most appealed were Journalism and English Literature. Although I chose Journalism back then, and have no regrets about having done so, I'd still like to study English Literature at some point in my life. There are too many great books I haven't read yet, and studying them might give me the impetus to start.

French - I studied German at High School and can still hold a basic conversation. But I'd like to be able to speak another language, so I'll go with French - it would make popping across the Channel a bit less taxing.

I'm supposed to tag five people for this meme, but instead of going down that route, how about I just throw it open to anyone who fancies shot. Just remember to link back here if you do decide to go back to school.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hitting The Mark


A while back, Tish over at The Kat House presented me with the Blogging That Hits The Mark award.

Unfortunately, I've been so busy and short of blogging time that I'd almost forgotten to thank Tish on this humble outpost of the worldwide interweb. And I feel I've been neglecting the site as well, so maybe my blogging ISN'T hitting the mark any more.

Anyway, as well as presenting me with the award, Tish has also reviewed this blog over at her other site, BlogsWeLuv. Besides her very kind review, Tish also thoughtfully posted a terrible photograph of me posing with a statue of John Lennon outside the Cavern Club in Liverpool - thanks Tish!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Of Mice and Morlocks

I think I've found my ideal job.

I want to be an Evolutionary Theorist.

News on the BBC's website today tells us that Oliver Curry, who fills that role at the London School of Economics, predicts that in 1,000 years' time, mankind will have evolved into a 7ft-tall, muscular master race with symetrical faces, big penises (or penii) and pert breasts (note: most of the master race won't have both a big penis and pert breasts).

But, 100,000 years down the line, mankind will have grown so over-reliant on technology that the species will split into two distinct factions - just as HG Wells predicted more than 100 years ago in The Time Machine.

I'm not sure how much an Evolutionary Theorist gets paid for working at the London School of Economics, but I'm willing to bet it's a pretty penny. And it sounds like money for old rope - sit around reading 100-year-old science fiction, rename the two tribes, add a little bit of impossible-to-prove-or-disprove "theorising" and pass the whole caboodle off as an exciting prediction of the future of our species.

By the time we reach the year 3,000, Curry will be long dead and won't care whether his theories were right or wrong.

And by the year 100,000, we'll all just be floating brains that plug into the universal mainframe each night to listen to Elvis and The Beatles, whilst the dolphins do all the menial tasks like emptying bins and delivering the mail.

That's my theory. When do I start my new job?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Horror....

Possibly the worst Google search to have brought someone to this site happened yesterday.



At 2.22:22pm, someone from Teterow, Germany, dropped in after searching for "shitting wifes".



Whatever floats your boat you strange German freak.....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Five Things

The atomic fuckload of work I was landed with several weeks ago hasn't diminished much, so instead of a 'proper' post, I'll take part in the Five Things meme that I spotted over at Misssy's site. Feel free to play along too.

What were you doing ten years ago?
1) Getting to grips with studying for five highers - English, Maths, Physics, Computing and Modern Studies. Ended up with an A, two Bs, a C and a D. I shouldn't have done Maths.
2) Working part-time for a computer company in Brechin. Which is where I met Eric, better known to you strange folk of the worldwide interweb as the Straight White Guy.
3) Willing Rangers towards a tenth consecutive league title. Unfortunately, it just wasn't to be.
4) Listening to Radiohead's OK Computer, Oasis' Be Here Now, The Seahorses' Do It Yourself, Ian Brown's Unfinished Monkey Business, Supergrass' In It For The Money, The Charlatans' Tellin' Stories, The Verve's Urban Hymns and Ocean Colour Scene's Marchin' Already. 1997 was a great year for music, the best in my music-loving lifetime.
5) Playing too much Championship Manager 2.

What were you doing one year ago?
1) Working for a local newspaper in Argyll. It's easy now to forget that my time in that job meant working every second weekend, which I hated. I'm glad I made the change.
2) Enjoying married life - Mrs Wife and I tied the knot in May 2006.
3) Immersing myself in Lost - which I then thought was the greatest TV show EVER.
4) Training with Lochgilphead Red Star Amatuer Football Club. My poor fitness levels let me down - I'd give a much better account of myself now.
5) Playing too much Football Manager 2007.

Five songs you know the lyrics to
1) Happy Birthday - probably the first song everyone learns, isn't it?
2) Bohemian Rhapsody - Mither listened to A LOT of Queen when I was a wee laddie. I'm sure I know the whole of their Greatest Hits by heart.
3) Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier - the first song my band, Merge, ever played live, back in 1997. I was lead singer and practically petrified with fear.
4) Here It Comes - the Doves song is one of three I want played at my funeral.
5) I Am The Walrus - it may be John Lennon at his nonsensical best, but I can faultlessly sing along with this psychedelic magnus opus.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire
1) Quit my job immediately. There's be no four weeks' notice either. I'd be gone.
2) Pay off my mortgage, student loan and credit card bill. There's no point in having unneccesary debt.
3) Buy a new car, but probably nothing too flash. A nice BMW, Audi or Volkswagen would be just fine.
4) Go back to New York for a few weeks and stay in a hotel rather than the backpacking hostel we stayed in on our previous visit.
5) Buy a state-of-the-art home cinema system and a Rangers season ticket. If I'm a millionaire, I'm going to enjoy life.

Five bad habits
1) Swearing. I know I should stop, but I can't. Anyway, swearing makes you look clever, hard and cool.
2) Playing Football Manager. Maybe it is slightly excessive, but it's my favourite way to relax.
3) Being lazy. Spending your whole time rushing around just means you're more tired at the end of the day.....
4) Driving in excess of the speed limit. You'd think speeding fines on two continents would stop me, wouldn't you?
5) Abusing my work-based internet access. Ahem.

Five things you like to do
1) Eat chocolate. Well, it tastes better than celery.
2) Listen to music. I don't spend enough time doing this any more.
3) Play football. I'm quite happy just having a kick-about with friends - the prospect of getting up early on a Sunday morning to get kicked around a wet field in the pishing rain doesn't appeal much nowadays.
4) Lie in and get up when I'm ready. Instead of having to leap out of bed in darkness when my alarm goes off at 6.15am.
5) Play Football Manager 2008. Surely you were expecting that one?

Five things you will never wear again
1) Make-up. That's a different story for a different day.
2) A silver mini-skirt. See above
3) Thong sandals. Anything that goes BETWEEN my toes is a no-no.
4) White socks with ANYTHING other than sportswear.
5) A vest. I hereby promise NEVER to wear a vest.

Five favourite toys
1) My laptop
2) Sky TV
3) My MP3 player
4) My hard disk TV recorder
5) My Acergy stress ball that I chuck around at work

Five things you hate to do
1) Get up at 6.15am and go to work
2) Mow the lawn
3) Clean the oven
4) Work in the evening or at the weekend
5) Miss an episode of Lost or Heroes

Monday, October 22, 2007

Easy

Rangers' 3-0 win over the Mhanky Mhob on Saturday was more convincing than I think most people would have predicted beforehand.

The Ibrox side's domestic form has been patchy this season, having included defeats to both Edinburgh sides even at this early stage. But it was the Gers' impressive European form that was most apparent in the first Old Firm encounter of the season, with Rangers looking by far the more dangerous team when attacking.

Alan Hutton's form this season has been nothing short of magnificent, and his game has improved immeasurably since the last campaign. It is now inconceivable to imagine a full-strength Scotland squad without Hutton bombing down the wing, a feature of his game that has emerged most dramatically in Rangers' Champions League ties against Lyon and Stuttgart.

Alongside Barry Ferguson, Carlos Cuellar and Nacho Novo, Hutton dominated against Celtic, making the champions look very ordinary in the process.

Perhaps the biggest talking point in the days to come will be the lack of grace shown by the away side in defeat. Scott MacDonald was lucky still to be on the pitch even as early as half-time, as his lashing out at Alan McGregor in the first five minutes could have warranted a straight red card. Similarly, Scott Brown, Gary Caldwell and Artur Boruc failed to cover themselves in glory, as did Rangers' McGregor in a late melee.

Celtic should be most concerned by Boruc's conduct, not least because he has previous form in this fixture and in others. Notwithstanding his infantile conduct in Old Firm matches, his performances on the pitch are notoriously erratic, and could cost Celtic valuable points over the course of the season.

Which, from my point of view, sounds just fine.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dressed To Impress



In the course of my day-to-day work, I frequently have to look at websites relating to international oil and gas developments.

Doing a bit of research into a project in Angola, I found the wonderful photograph above, taken at a "blessing ceremony" for the project.

If this photograph is supposed to encourage investment in Angola, I'm pretty sure it sails fairly wide of the mark.

Between the five cheery wee souls seen here, not one of them could be arsed to crack a smile. Maybe that's unfair - we've all been caught out by the photographer pressing the button at the wrong time, making us look like we've struggling with a troublesome case of constipation when, in fact, we're merely "between smiles".

But even if these guys were caught unawares, their dress sense is astonishing. Before anyone points it out, I know downtown Luanda isn't exactly Paris, New York or London.
But none of these guys is dressed like any of the others.

Take the guy on the left - blue boiler suit, and pencil tucked into his breast pocket. So he's probably an engineer, and dressed in an appropriate fashion.

But the next guy along obviously thinks he's a gangster. Unfortunately, his look is let down bu the fact that he's wearing plastic sunglasses and an un-ironed shirt.

Next to him, we have Patrick Trueman from Eastenders. Times have obviously been hard in the Trueman household since he was robbed and left for dead, but he's determined to keep going, even with a battered hat, ill-matching shirt and tie combo and trousers pulled up to his nipples.

Then we've got former Leeds United defender Michael Duberry. He may have been an England international at one point, but now he's slumming it in Angola, wearing a shirt fashioned out of a pair of curtains. THAT's how far Leeds have fallen.

But the award for best dressed nutter at the blessing ceremony goes to the attractive gentleman on the far right of the shot. Given that this is a blessing ceremony, I'm guessing he's some kind of witch doctor or holy man. Back in the glory days of his profession, he'd have been wearing a loin cloth fashioned from rhino hide, a necklace of peacock feathers and a hat made from a human skull.

However, in these more modern and civil times, he's reduced to wearing a charity shop polo shirt, a hideous blue tablecloth and a fake Man Utd tammy, worn in an inventive "Wee Willy Winky" style.

It's rare that I can consider myself well-dressed, but I think a visit to Angola would probably just about swing it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name

As seen over at Ramblings From A Blue Dot - what would my name be in different circumstances?

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car) Pepi Clio. Sounds more French house or gay disco than rock'n'roll, doesn't it?

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie) Toffee Raspberry-White Chocolate. Doesn't that make me sound REALLY hard?

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name) M-RAE. Maybe G-JOC sounds better.

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal) Blue Dog. Not really up there with Poirot, Marple or Clouseau, is it?

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born) I don't have a middle name.... Surname would be Dundee though. So let's go with Mick Dundee. You can call me Crocodile.

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first) Rae Ma. That's Darth Ma to you.

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink) The Black Cointreau. Could be worse I suppose, although I'd be named after an orange liqeur.

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers) George David. I've no idea what a NASCAR name would be used for (presumably something to do with NASCAR racing), but it sounds fine.

9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy) Joop Lindor. Yeah, that'll bring in the punters.

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names ) Atkin William. Or William Atkin. The second way is probably better for anonymity's sake.

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter) Guthrie Grenoble. I don't know why I thought of Grenoble before Glasgow, but I'm glad I did. "This is the Channel 5 weather with Guthrie Grenoble". I like the sound of that.

12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower) Summer Snowdrop. That makes me sound like a My Little Pony.

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + "ie" or "y") Strawberry Shirty. Sounds like a pretty crap cartoon.

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree) Cereal Chestnut. That's not great, man.

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”) The Football Manager Lightning Tour. I'd get sued by Sega for that one.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What Next?

Some days, I can't think of anything to write here at this humble and far-flung outpost of the worldwide interweb.

Then there are some days, like today, when I could write about any number of things, but none of them grabs me by the goolies (metaphorically and literally speaking).

Today, I could write about how Scotland are still top of the Group of Death, ahead of both World Cup finalists and fresh from a 3-1 mauling of Ukraine at Fortress Hampden. How a team that five years ago was a pitiful laughing stock has somehow risen to become one of the best in Europe, on recent form and group standings at least.

Or I could write about how Dungroanin' was invaded by three of Mrs Wife's friends at the weekend, so that the rooms became a flutter of hair straighteners, outfit changes and gallons of wine.

I could write about how I've just downloaded Radiohead's new album from the internet and how it represents a brave new world in music - allowing the consumer to set their own price for the music they purchase. I've paid a fiver for the album, and I'll be interested to see how it compares to some of their recent patchy efforts.

But instead, I'll leave you with Darth Vader's hidden talent, courtesy of Neatorama:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Gaunnae Get Me Sumthin Good Fur Ma Burthday?

A touch of retail genius from Scotland's west coast, in the Haddows branch on Copland Road, Ibrox, Glasgow (home of the Famous Glasgow Rangers).



Yes folks, it's the Buckfast, 20 Mayfair and packet of Rizla "gift pack", for the ned who wants to say "I love you" in that unique, carcinogenic and liver-rotting way that flowers and chocolates just can't muster.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What's Wally Wearing?


This morning, shortly after 4.30am, someone from Australia arrived at this website having searched on Google for "What colour socks does Where's Wally wear?".
Aside from being a semi-tongue twister, it's a good question - why don't we know what colour socks the world's best hide-and-seek player wears? Red and white tammy, Hamilton Accies jersey, blue drainpipes, brown shoes, bulging backpack and walking stick - but what of Wally's underwear situation?
I demand answers....

Monday, October 08, 2007

To The Highest Bidder

Today, to pass a few idle web-based minutes, I dropped in on Ebay, the world's online car boot sale.

Ignoring my usual haunts of the CD, DVD, computers and sportwear sections, I threw caution to the wind and ventured into the uncharted territories of the "Other" section.

Considering that almost everything you can imagine fits neatly into one of Ebay's thousands of existing categories, for something to slip between the cracks is quite impressive. Or so you would have thought.

But there are hundreds of pages of miscellaneous rubbish being touted by the strange denizens of the worldwide interweb.

Amongst the tempting items on offer when I looked today were a bag of reindeer food (which, having read the listing, includes glitter - that must be what makes reindeer fly and shit silver stuff).

One inventive chap simply offered to sell you something worth the same amount of money you send him. Send him one single penny, and you get something worth a penny. Send him 30,000 pounds, you supposedly get something worth 30,000 pounds.

And another web-based emporium sold bondage ropes in a variety of colours and lengths, obviously intended for the more discerning pervert.

Unfortunately, I didn't come across anyone trying to sell their virginity, their wife or themselves. I say unfortunately, but to be honest, I'm not looking to acquire a virginity (I had a hard enough time shifting the first one I owned), a wife (the one I already have is costing quite enough on her own without an assistant) or another human being (unless they want to clean the bathroom and cut the grass).

But it's got me thinking - what could I sell to make some money? I reckon that I could sell the rights for any football team in the world to sign my first son. Admittedly, the complete lack of Jocklings means that I wouldn't be able to deliver my side of the bargain for a long time yet. But surely having first option on an UNBORN superstar would be worth a million or so to Barcelona, Manchester United or AC Milan?

I will discuss the idea with Mrs Wife and report back.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Walt Disnae Like That

How to get a life ban from Disney World in one easy step (or two easy steps anyway):


Lyrics Revealed

Answers to the sixth and final Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge are now in the comments on that post.

A Question

Is an orange called an orange because it is orange?

Or is the colour orange named orange because it is the colour of an orange?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Don and Dusted

Rangers have seen off the French and German champion, Celtic have beaten the European Champions (and one of their "fans" has taken a girly swing at the goalkeeper) and our national side is riding high above the World and European Champions.

Yep, Scottish football has forgotten it's supposed to be pish. Obviously a 3-0 away win against Kings of Lyon is more impressive than a last-gasp home win over lowly AC Milan, but I'll eschew any gloating - it's been a good month to be a Scottish football fan.

So can the dandy Dons complete a hat-trick tonight? In footballing terms, an away win over Dnipro would be great. But I hope they don't - I've got money on the Ukrainians, as it's a great way to wind up the hordes of Dons fans in my office.

At the time I place the bet, it seemed like an easy way to win money. Just wish I'd had the balls to bet on Rangers to beat Lyon in France....

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

On The List

Today, to pass a slow afternoon at work, two colleagues and I engaged in a lively debate on Top Five Hottest Female Soap Stars of All Time. (This discourse was similar in structure to our semi-regular debates on the All-Time Best Football XI.)

Anyway, as an overview of the general standard of the discussion, my decision to leave Kylie Minogue and Kimberley Davies out of my list raised some eyebrows, and we stepped off on a lengthy tangent as we debated whether Baywatch was a soap opera or not.

Having exhausted our mental lists of soap actresses, we threw the game wide open and changed it into The Ten Hottest Women In The World Today.

I'll spare you the gory details of the inner mental workings of three bored men in their mid 20s, other than to say that Eva Longoria is one man's pocket-sized Latina sex goddess and another man's irritating midget clothes horse.

But eventually, we reached the defining question of our debate - Britney Spears: Yay or Nay?

Do you shut your eyes and remember the Slave For U years? Or are you mentally scarred at the prospect of making Buckasaurus (the mythical grunting beast with two backs) with a drink and drug-addled, tattooed skinhead thug who's recently had their children taken away?

If I remember the discussion correctly, Mrs Federline received a unanimous thumbs down from the panel. Which, considering she's 26 and should therefore still be at her peak, is a depressing indication of how far she's fallen from grace in the past five years.

And the whole "remember the glory years" debate truly reached its nadir shortly afterwards when, returning to the soap stars theme, one member of the party (who shall remain nameless) uttered the words (electronically at least) Barbara. Windsor. - basing his justification on Carry on Camping.

That, dear readers, is why you should never allow young men to get bored.