Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The 2008 Jock Awards

It's Christmas time, there's no need to be afraid.
 
At Christmas time, we let in light and banish shade.
 
And we also rank the year's best records, bands and movies to determine which will be remembered forever more and which will be consigned to a bargain bin in a high street store other than Woolworths.
 
Like the Oscars, except Roman Polanski is allowed to attend the ceremony if he wants to.

The Stone Roses award for Album of The Year: (Nominees: Kings of Leon - Only By The NightElbow - The Seldom Seen Kid; AC/DC - Black IceThe Fireman- Electric ArgumentsPortishead - Third; Glasvegas - Glasvegas)
It's been a cracking year for albums, and in any other year we could have expected Oasis, Primal Scream, Coldplay, Supergrass and The Verve to be amongst the leaders for the first award. But once again it was Elbow who proved to be probably the best band in the country, their fourth record standing shoulder to shoulder with its three classic forebears. The Seldom Seen Kid also helped belatedly vault the band to the next level of their careers, scooping the Mercury Music Prize. Opening track Starlings is as good a love song as I've ever heard, and One Day Like This was the soundtrack to the summer's festivals. Simply put, The Seldom Seen Kid stood head and shoulders above every other album released this year.

The Strawberry Fields Forever award for Single of The Year: (Nominees: Oasis - The Shock Of The LightningOasisI'm Outta TimeThe Verve- Love Is NoiseElbowGrounds For DivorceElbowOne Day Like This; Kings Of Leon - Sex On Fire; Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah)
"I remember the days when a single was a proper CD - yes a CD - and it had FOUR songs on it - yes FOUR SONGS." I can already foresee a future when I'm telling young, impudent, relatives that things were so much better in "my day". Anyway, in the download era, any track available on iTunes can top the singles chart, as so nearly happened with Jeff Buckley's rendition of Hallelujah, propelled into the chart for the first time by the anti-X Factor masses. But for me, the defining track of the year was The Verve's comeback single Love Is Noise, complete with odd hooting noise looped throughout the whole length of the song. I picked up the album the day I flew to Norway with four colleagues, and drove them to distraction by "singing" the hooting part on repeat. And every time I hear it, I'm back in the Stavanger sun, drinking free beer.

The Rolling Stones award for Live Act of The Year: (Nominees: ElbowOasisGomezGlasvegas; The Dusty Rhodes River Band)
Unusually, I've not been to many gigs this year - holidays in China tend to soak up large swathes of time and disposable income. Nonetheless, Oasis gave a solid performance at the AECC to bring back memories of the first concert I ever saw, the same band at the same venue in 1997. But the best performance I witnessed all year was Elbow's mid-afternoon slot at the Connect festival in Inveraray. Far too short, the band were nonetheless spectacular, opening with Starlings and closing with One Day Like This, with the cracking Leaders Of The Free World in between. A performance that really whetted the appetite for seeing them again in March. Although next year they'll be up against AC/DC at Hampden and Robert Zimmerman at the SECC....

The Goodfellas Award for Movie of the Year: (Nominees: The Dark KnightNo Country For Old Men; Wanted; There Will Be Blood; Charlie Wilson's War; Wall-E; Quantum of Solace)
Absolutely no contest. Daniel Day Lewis may have won an Oscar for There Will Be Blood, and the Cohen brothers for No Country For Old Men, but one movie stood cowl and cape above the rest during 2008. The Dark Knight may end up being most famous for being Heath Ledger's final, frightening swansong, but the movie kicked ass from beginning to end.

The Knight Rider award for TV Programme of The Year: (Nominees: Spooks; Desperate Housewives; Lost; Fringe; Heroes)
For the first time in the three-year history of The Jock Awards, Lost fails to take the top TV programme gong, and for the first time a British show leads the way. Spooks may be a dramatised version of life within MI5, but it's created in such a way, with believable characters, absorbing back stories and gripping action, that it draws the viewer entirely into the world of British and international espionage.

The Marilyn Monroe award for Babe of The Year: (Nominees: Megan Fox; Hayden Panettiere; Salma Hayek; Nadine Coyle; Cheryle Cole)
Assuming, as always, that Mrs Wife is the genuine winner of this category from now until the end of the Blogosphere, Salma Hayek lifts the crown as the hottest woman on Earth. Why? Here's why.

The Jet Set Willy Award for Computer Game of The Year: (Nominees: Football Manager 2009; FIFA Soccer 2009)
Probably the only two "new" games I've played this year go head-to-head for the title. And, as ever, Sports Interactive's glorified spreadsheet scoops the gong. Now with an added 3D match engine, Football Manager continues to go from strength to strength.

The Godfather III award for Biggest Disappointment of The Year: (Nominees: The Verve - ForthDirty Pretty Things livethe death of Woolworths)
It was a comeback that promised so much. The early glimpses of The Verve's new material, courtesy of the free download Thaw Sessions, suggested a swirling psychedelic thunder of guitars and Richard Ashcroft's booming baritone. Then came first single Love Is Noise, the best track of the year and the soundtrack to my summer. But the album fell flat, lacking direction, attitude and excitement. A big disappointment from a band capable of so much more.

The Screamadelica award for Scottish Album of The Year: (Nominee: Glasvegas - Glasvegas; Primal Scream - Beautiful Future) Slim pickings north of the border once again, with The Fratelli's second record failing to set the pulse racing. Glasvegas stole the show with their tales of heartbreak, social workers, flowers, fitba taps and lost daddies.

Monday, December 22, 2008

THE NEED FOR CONTACTING YOU

It's Christmas time, a time for giving and for sharing. That being the case, I'd like the advice of both my readers on whether I should help Miss Glory Favor from Sudan, who has just this minute sent me a sweetly-worded email begging for salvation. What think you, dear citizens of the blogosphere?  

Hello Dear,
Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into financial transaction with you for our mutual benefits hence i write with do respect, iam Miss Glory Favor from Sudan, I am a lady,with black hair,brown eyes,5fts 1inches tall,weigh 50kgs.

I wish to request for your assistance in a financial transaction, dear i got your contact in a cause of serious search in internet for a transaction partner,i wish to invest in a manufacturing and real estate management industry in your country, i have ( five million,five hundred thousand united state dollars ) to invest in industry and i will require your assistance in receiving the funds into your position in your country.
 I will gladly give you 10% of the total sum for your assistance,please it is important you contact me immediately for more clearifications on the next step hence it is my wish to relocate to your country as soon as this transaction is concluded.
Awaiting your immediate response,contact me,
Thanks,
Miss Favor

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 14: Montrose v Albion Rovers


Last week, I suggested that if Montrose's results didn't improve, caretaker manager David Hannah would find his tenure would be very short.
In the seven days that passed between that game against Cowdenbeath and yesterday's match with Albion Rovers, Hannah fell on his sword, having won four and lost four of his eight matches in charge.
Director of football Kenny Black, father of Montrose's best player Stephen Black, took charge of the first team yesterday, and the team looked solid and dangerous.
That was for the first five minutes at least, as it took winger and top goalscorer Kevin Bradley only six minutes to receive a straight red card for kicking out at his marker. It was the second red card a Montrose player has received for that same offence in the space of two weeks.
The curious thing about Bradley's sending off was that it came with Montrose having ben awarded a free kick for a foul by the Albion Rovers left back.
So, once Bradley had completed his trudge of shame across the pitch and down the tunnel, Stephen Black whipped the ball into the box and on-loan striker Calum Smith lashed it into the net on the half volley.
In the space of 30 seconds, Montrose had been reduced to ten men and had taken the lead.
From then on, Montrose actually looked quite assured in possession, forcing Albion to rely on shots from long range to test goalkeeper Greg Kelly.
But in the second half, tired legs and the numerical disadvantage cost Montrose, who succumbed to an equaliser in the 56th minute and a beautifully-taken winner from Bobby Barr four minutes later.
I've always liked watching Albion Rovers, not because they play like Barcelona (they don't) or because I've got an emotional or geographic tie to them (I don't), but because their strips always remind me of Melchester Rovers.
Albion certainly don't have a Roy Race figure leading them towards glory, and I think a full-strength Montrose side would have crushed them yesterday. But Rovers do have what passes for a celebrity fan in the Irn Bru Scottish League Division Three, with stand-up comedian (one of the funniest men in Scotland and a club director) Pat Rollink watching from the stand as Albion moved to within five points of their hosts.
Hopefully, the latest change in leadership will be enough to rejuvenate the Links Park side. There were enough good signs on show yesterday to suggest that a run of good results is just around the corner.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Odd Product, Great Comments

The mind boggles

Friday Ten: My Ten Favourite Christmas Songs

It's the last Friday before Christmas, so the time is right to give a festive spin to the Friday Ten. This week - my ten favourite Christmas tunes, both traditional and modern.
 
1. Merry Xmas Everybody - Slade
 
2. Happy Christmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon & Yoko Ono
 
3. Silent Night
 
4. Fairytale Of New York - The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl
 
5. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
 
6. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day - Wizzard
 
7. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
 
8. All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey
 
9. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
 
10. Merry Christmas Everyone - Shakin' Stevens
 
I'd have put Stay Another Day by East 17 in, but it's not reaaaaaaalllly a Christmas song, is it?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If You Don't Ask, You'll Never Know

Time is of the essence and I'm short on both inspiration and energy, so, in lieu of a "proper" post, here's a meme I spotted at Parkway Rest Stop.

Do you remember your first favorite song? If so, what was it?
I think it was probably "Flash Gordon" by Queen. Mither played Queen's Greatest Hits all the time when I was a wee lad, and this song about an intergalactic superhero battling Ming The Merciless stood out to a four-year-old's ears. I was also convinced that "Bohemian Rhapsody" was four different songs. I went off Queen a loooooong time ago.

What do you refuse to eat?
I'm not a big seafood fan, but I don't know if I'd refuse to eat it at a dinenr party if there were no alternatives. But given a choice, I'd pass. I can happily leave most green vegetables as well.

Have you ever injected any kind of drug before? 
Nope. I've had vaccinations given to me by doctors and nurses, but I've never injected myself and hope to avoid doing so if at all possible.

Do amusement park rides make you sick? 
The waltzers have left me queasy a few times, but I've never felt sick on any others.

Who is your favorite Star Wars character? 
Darth Vader. The best fictional bad guy ever, and the most stylish.

What kind of cheese do you put on your sandwiches? 
Scottish mature cheddar.

What was the first thing you ever learned how to cook?
I'm not sure. I'd imagine we learnt to make rock cakes, scones or something similar at primary school. Otherwise, probably a boiled egg.

Did you ever collect beanie babies?
No. But I do collect loads of other stuff (stuff generally referred to by Mrs Wife as "useless shite").

When was the last time you got a haircut? 
About a month ago I think. Baby Brother's girlfriend did it as a homer.

Have you ever been to a bachelor/bachelorette party? 
Several, in locations as diverse as Newcastle, Skye, Inverness, Aberdeen and Amsterdam.

Where are you most ticklish on your body?
I'm not sure. Ask Mrs Wife.

Have you ever bailed anyone out of jail? 
No. I might do if asked, depending on the person and the offence which they were suspected of.

What’s the last board game you played?
I'm not sure. Possibly Monopoly or Scrabble. It's been a while.

Do you still own any VHS tapes?
Yeah, an atomic fuckload of them. We don't have a video player set up anywhere in Dungroanin' at the moment, but we've still got one somewhere. And a lot of tapes that we haven't replaced or digitally backed up yet.

Do you shop at JC Penney’s ever? 
Never even heard of it. I suppose it doesn't exist in Britain. 

If there was a real Jurassic Park, would you visit it?

Damn right! A chance to see real-live dinosaurs close up - try and stop me!

Do you ever read the newspaper? 
When I get the chance. I do like reading the Sunday papers, lounging around Dungroanin' with the football on, a cold drink and Football Manager running quietly in the background. I don't really get a chance to read the papers during the week, but I read The Guardian and the BBC news pages online.

Do you eat your mac & cheese with a fork or a spoon? 
I rarely eat macaroni and cheese, but on the occasions I do, I use a fork. A spoon for pasta? What am I, three?

Is there any medicine/pill you take every day? 
None. Hopefully that will remain the case for a long time.

How many 20 dollar bills do you have on you right now? 
None. I do have a ten pound note though, which until recently was worth about 20 dollars. Now it's worth about 15.

Would you do meth if it was legalized? 
I might try it once, just to see what it's like. But probably not, in all honesty.

Do you think Obama will be assassinated? 
I certainly hope not, but I think that there's a huge risk of it happening.

Have you ever made out with someone and then never saw them again?
Yes. Obviously before Mrs Wife (or her previous incarnation Miss Girlfriend) came along.

Do you drink egg nog?
I've never had it. Not sure it would appeal.

What are you wearing? 
Black trousers, black shirt with white checks, black socks, black shoes. I'm rocking the Johnny Cash look at work today.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Smashing

The "benefits" of a second floor city centre office - best seats in the house when bus meets lorry and comes off second best.






Sunday, December 14, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 13: Montrose v Cowdenbeath


Yesterday, it felt like it had been ages since I had been to the fitba, a feeling that was due to missing the Angus derby with Forfar due to unforeseen circumstances, and the fact that Montrose's schedule seems to have worked out in a two weeks home, two weeks away system.
Montrose and Cowdenbeath lined up yesterday level on points, although the Fife side had a game in hand. Both teams are, on the face of it, promotion contenders, but Montrose have been haemoraghing goals and points at an alarming rate recently, and any hopes they have of even making the play-offs are evaporating fast.
In fairness, the home side dominated yesterday, but could do everything except put the ball into the Blue Brazil net. By contrast, Cowden had one genuine goalscoring chance and took it.
Montrose played some nice football at times, with the guts of the side more than capable of keeping the ball on the ground and playing fast passing football. But none of the players yesterday looked like a genuine striker, which will be of particular discomfort to striker Roddy Hunter. He was dismissed ten minutes from the end for aiming a kick at visiting goalkeeper David Hay, a red card that Montrose could well do without as they attempt to get their season back on track.
Unless things improve soon, David Hannah may find that his caretaker role as Montrose manager will be over all too soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With

I'm sure that those of you who have visited Amsterdam won't need me to tell you that it's a crazy place.

But amid the city's relaxed attitude to sex, drugs and other nefarious activities, the strangest sight I spotted was the record sleeve below in a second hand vinyl emporium.

No further words can do it justice.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Damn Dam

Once again, I have returned from foreign climes thoroughly exhausted, and on this occasion the exhaustion is both physical and financial.
 
Seriously, seven Euros a drink? That puts Amsterdam ahead of Dublin in the "most expensive places I've ever been drunk" list.
 
Nonetheless, a great time was had by all, especially spending eight hours in a sports cafe on Saturday afternoon, where we were able to watch eight matches simultaneously from 4pm until 6pm before enjoying watching Sunderland frustrate Manchester United for 91 minutes, not to mention a whole dose of Dutch, Spanish and Italian football on top.
 
But now my eyes are heavy, my muscles are sore and my throat is burning. And I'm as financially robust as Woolies.

Friday, December 05, 2008

He's gone, He's gone, He's go-oh-one

ROY Keane resigned as manager of Sunderland yesterday to spend more time with the 26 voices that echo around the inside of his head.

Image
Keane says his nuclear programme will be used for peaceful purposes
Keane quit his post after advice from Sir Gerald Basketball, an invisible scientist who Keane has been having conversations with for over a year.

He said last night: "It was a difficult decision so I consulted everyone - Sir Gerald, Billy the Mouse, Arthur the African Astronaut, Edwin and Trevor the 20ft twins, and, of course, the floating ghost of Ernie Wise.

"Sir Gerald kept saying 'It's your duty Master Roy' while Billy the Mouse said I should hang on in case all the other teams exploded.

"Ernie was great. He was the one who told me to grow a beard so I would look like President Ahmadinejad of Iran."

Keane said this season's poor performances were not entirely his fault as for the last six weeks the team has been picked by a bottle-nose dolphin that pops up in his bath every Friday night.

He added: "You know it's time to go when you're taking selection advice from a dolphin with absolutely no Premier League experience."

The former Manchester United captain said he would now be taking some time out from football to concentrate on a demanding programme of electro-shock therapy.
Blatantly stolen from The Daily Mash

Friday Ten: My Ten Favourite Bass Players

1. Paul McCartney (The Beatles)
 
2. Mani (The Stone Roses & Primal Scream)
 
3. Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones - for Sympathy For The Devil alone)
 
4. Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
 
5. Didz Hammond (The Cooper Temple Clause & Dirty Pretty Things)
 
6. Bruce Foxton (The Jam)
 
7. Noel Redding (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
 
8. Jack Bruce (Cream)
 
9. John Entwistle (The Who)
 
10. Krist Novoselic (Nirvana)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Clockwatching

In just over 24 hours, I'll be en route to Aberdeen airport to catch a flight to Amsterdam for a stag party.
 
Which makes the fact that I'm currently sitting at my desk staring out the window to pishing rain-soaked Aberdeen bus station all the harder to take....

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wake Up, There's A New Day Dawning

Thanks to The Tomahawk Kid for creating this "word cloud" for this far-flung outpost of the worldwide interweb. I'm presuming that it has collated the words based primarily on the front page, hence the sizeable contribution made by "insomnia", but it's interesting to see which words I use most frequently during my semi-literate and occasionally coherent ramblings.
 
[GJBlogWordle.jpg]

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Twelfth Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge

It's been quite a while since we delved into the darkest recesses of Magic Tune Box, and I think today might even mark the debut of Magic Tune Box III on the Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge. The premise of the game is simple - five tunes picked at random from MTB3, with a portion of the lyrics revealed. Identify the tracks, leaving your answers in the comments - no Googling!
 
1. What I feel, I can't say, But my love is there for you anytime of day, But if it's not love that you need, Then I'll try my best to make everything succeed.
 
2. Gasping - but somehow still alive, This is the fierce last stand of all I am.
 
3. The highway is for gamblers, better use your sense, Take what you have gathered from coincidence.
 
4. I'm a rolling thunder, pouring rain, I'm comin' on like a hurricane
 
5. So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind, Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time

Monday, December 01, 2008

Tag-A-Thon

It's been a while since anyone on the worldwide interweb decided I was worthy of tagging, so thanks to Billy The Kid for this one, for which he was tagged by Rantz.

And this one's simple - five things about me.

1. I have no middle name. Mither never liked the fact that hers was her mother's maiden name, which isn't a standard girly-type name, and so decided that Baby Brother and I wouldn't have middle names. Which means that my real name has, in total, seven letters.

2. I've visited 21 of the world's countries (24 if you count England, Scotland, Norn Iron and Eire as separate nations). My first foreign trip was an exchange trip to Germany with the school in 1994, which also took me to Belgium and the Netherlands, sailing into Zeebrugge and out of Rotterdam.

3. The most recent new addition to the list above is Norway, which I visited with work in August. Stavanger reminded me of the town from The Goonies, albeit with more drunk Norwegians and £9 pints.

4. My first football match was Brechin City v Rangers for Dougie Scott's testimonial match in 1991. If memory serves correctly (and it probably doesn't) Brechin won 6-4. Ian Durrant scored a penalty for Rangers as he made his slow comeback from his horrific injury.

5. If I could only watch one DVD on repeat for eternity, I'd probably pick the first disc from the Fawlty Towers box set. Familiarity should really breed contempt, but not in this case. Communication Problems is actually funnier with every subsequent viewing.

Now, who to tag? Like Billy, I'll pick three of my favourite Scottish bloggers - The Tomahawk Kid, Big Rab and Mike Smith from Auld Reekie Rants.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Ten: My Ten Favourite Drummers

1. Ginger Baker (Cream)
 
2. Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters & Queens of the Stone Age)
 
3. John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)
 
4. Ringo Starr (The Beatles)
 
5. Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
 
6. Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys)
 
7. Bill Ward (Black Sabbath)
 
8. Reni (The Stone Roses)
 
9. Jon Harper (The Cooper Temple Clause)
 
10. Keith Moon (The Who)

Tearing Off Tights With My Teeth

I returned to the office yesterday after a self-imposed two-day quarantine.
 
In truth, I think that the burning throat and thumping head to which I awoke on Tuesday morning were as much products of exhaustion as they were of anything contagious. Two days spent recuperating on the couch at Dungroanin', rather than inflicting myself upon my colleagues, has done me the power of good and I'm back to something approaching full strength.
 
But sleeping through the day on Tuesday meant that I struggled to drift off on Tuesday night, lying awake as the clock continued its steady progress beyond the early hours of the morning. Insomnia seems to be a self-feeding monster - the more you try to fall asleep, the harder it becomes. As I was lying in the dark, my brain was rattling through all the big issues - life and death, love and hate, Ren and Stimpy.
 
Unable to force myself to sleep, I wandered around Dungroanin' in an effort to avoid keeping Mrs Wife awake. The stillness that smothers the house during the witching hours is different to that which exists during the day. Having spent the afternoon alone in the house, I had become aware of how silent modern houses outwith town centres can be. The double glazing excludes all external sounds, the rabbits spend most of the afternoon dozing silently and I was in no mood for music or television.
 
But at night, though Dungroanin' is to all intents and purposes silent, the darkness seems to make even the smallest sound more easily identifiable. After a hard day's work of providing shelter, the house seems to creak for no good reason, arching its spine to iron out the kinks and stretching its extremities as it contracts in the clear, frosty night. Those electrical appliances that remain plugged in overnight emit a low hum that seemed inaudible during the day, to the beat of the kitchen clock.
 
Insomnia - the best mind-altering drug in the world.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

One Two, One Two, This Is Just A Test

I'm currently testing Blogger's remote posting wangdoodle to see whether I have the ability to submit my text-based tripe to the worldwide interweb from anywhere on Earth.
 
I've been a bad blogger recently (well, I've been a bad blogger since I started blogging, but I mean bad as in frequency as well as in quality), so hopefully this new step on my path to sustained mediocrity will be a smooth one.
 
I may return....
 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sweat Shop



You know how it is - it's wearing towards 10pm at the start of the Canadian winter, there's nothing on TV, so you decide to have a look on the internet for something worthwhile to get your juices flowing.

So you sit down, Google up and type in "old used jock cup sniff sweaty".

We've all been there, right?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Load Of Bull

101 Reasons Why 500lb Bulls Don't Make Good Football Mascots: Reason 47.....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beauty and The Beast

As I write this, Mrs Wife and I are watching Desperate Housewives on Sky+.

At 44, Terri Hatcher looks almost as good as she did at 30. Which must be nice for her.

Unfortunately, many of Hollywood's leading ladies can't say the same.

I'd imagine that for the first four years of his marriage, Guy Ritchie woke up each morning thinking: "Holy shit, that's Madonna".

But towards the end of the eight-year relationship, I'd imagine it was more like: "Holy shit, that's Skeletor".

OK, Terri Hatcher has a six-year advantage over Mrs Ritchie, but still, there's no question as to which would be the better catch, even with Madge's millions.

Desperate Housewives all the way.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Arrivals



It's always interesting to see what brings the strange denizens of the Blogosphere to this far-flung outpost of the worldwide interweb.
The selection above from the past day makes for enlightening reading. Two people looking for pictures of John Lennon's beard; someone searching for the world's best name; another looking for the world's scariest name.
But my favourite is the person looking for "Disney midget" - they must be in the market for one of the seven dwarves.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ginger Twat

I saw this when I was in Groucho's second hand record shop in Dundee the other day, and I had to share it with you.

The picture is a little out of focus, but the hand-written tag adorning this limited edition vinyl picture disc version of Simply Red's Picture Book album reads: "Free abuse from shop staff on purchase. £4.99".

Friday Ten: Ten Bands Whose Second Album Was Better Than Their Debut

1. Radiohead (Pablo Honey & The Bends)

2. The Bluetones (Expecting To Fly & Return To The Last Chance Saloon)

3. The Prodigy (The Prodigy Experience & Music For The Jilted Generation)

4. The Verve (A Storm In Heaven & A Northern Soul)

5. Super Furry Animals (Fuzzy Logic & Radiator)

6. Gomez (Bring It On & Liquid Skin)

7. Happy Mondays (Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out) & Bummed)

8. Coldplay (Parachutes & A Rush Of Blood To The Head)

9. Nirvana (Bleach & Nevermind)

10. Queens Of The Stone Age (Queens Of The Stone Age & Rated R)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bis repetita placent

I saw this site courtesy of Rachel Lucas, and I found it most amusing - Latin mottos and phrases, many of them lifted from modern society, including songs and movies.

Examples include:

Braccae illae virides cum subucula rosea et tunica Caledonia-quam elenganter concinnatur
Those green pants go so well with that pink shirt and the plaid jacket

Braccae tuae aperiuntur
Your fly is open

Capillamentum? Haudquaquam conieci esse!
A wig? I never would have guessed!

Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse
You know, Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Time For A Change

Well, one chapter has ended and another has begun.

Finally, the longest, most expensive election campaign this planet has ever seen has come to an end, and Barack Obama can begin counting down the days to becoming the most powerful man on Earth.

Whether or not America has made the right decision, only time will tell. And I'm not about to start sticking my neb in - people's political beliefs are their own affair, and I rarely think less of someone for theirs.

But what I will say is that this election has captured my interest like no other from outwith the British Isles. And it seems as if politics just got interesting, one way or another.

Lets just hope that the new president is allowed to get on with the job without fearing for his life - especially from his fellow countrymen.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Up In The Sky

I'm a tad weary today, as last night saw me turn back the years by visiting the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre to watch Oasis.

Oasis at the AECC was the first concert I attended (discounting festivals) back in 1997, shortly after the release of Be Here Now.

Since then, I've seen the band a further three or four times (unlike my friend Billy, who accompanied me last night, who has seen them 20 times). Since the last time I saw them, they've released two albums and seen the emergence of Liam Gallagher as a songwriting force to match his brother in quantity if not quality.

There's an atmosphere surrounding Oasis gigs that's unlike any other. For a start, it seems more Neds come out to watch the Gallagher touring circus than attend other gigs - it's not always entirely pleasant, but it's unique.

Furthermore, the number of people considerably younger than me who attended was quite surprising - we spotted countless youngsters who weren't even born when Definitely Maybe was released - and that's not an entirely pleasant thought either, given that it soundtracked my teenage years.

We opted against watching the support act, arriving in the concrete and steel shell of the AECC around fifteen minutes before the lights dipped to signal the imminent arrival of the band on stage. The taped intro of Fuckin' In The Bushes blasted out of the speakers and Billy and I launched ourselves into the crowd in a manner not befitting our combined 55 years walking the Earth.

The setlist was a curious one - Live Forever and Acquiesce, both of which would be regarded as amongst Oasis' best work, were omitted, while The Meaning of Soul and Slide Away were both given rare run-outs. The Masterplan and an acoustic guitar version of Don't Look Back In Anger were highlights, as were the furious blasts through Supersonic and Morning Glory.

The Shock of The Lightning suffered from a false start, the band stopping halfway through in an attempt to stop people being crushed against the barrier at the front of the arena (Noel: "Hey, hey, hey, hey, don't start booing. Everyone take one step back. We can't have the people down the front dying before they've bought a t-shirt.")

Champagne Supernova, as always, was a highlight, before the encore closed with the now-traditional cover of The Beatles' I Am The Walrus.

There was little banter between the band and the crowd, and at times it looked as though they were going through the motions - but how easy can it be to motivate yourself for a gig on a cold Sunday night in Aberdeen?

Nonetheless, Oasis and their singalong anthems are still a big part of British life. They won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

(I may post video footage if I can work out whether it's possible to rotate videos recorded on my phone.)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 12: Montrose v Stenhousemuir

Last week, I wrote that a week is a long time in football. Today, that proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Last week, Montrose, under the guidance of new caretaker-player-manager David Hannah, defeated Huntly by two goals to march onwards in the Scottish Cup (sorry, Homecoming Scottish Cup).

But today, they were ripped apart by league leaders Stenhousemuir, who took the lead after only three minutes thanks to a mistake from the new gaffer.

Montrose were turgid and lacking in ideas throughout, their ineptitude matched only by that of referee Garry Hilland. His greatest error was allowing Stenny's second goal, scored almost on the stroke of half time time, to stand, despite a blatant foul on Montrose goalkeeper Greg Kelly.

The visitors killed the tie off in the second half, Kelly himself at fault when he failed to hold a long ball into the box.

Montrose seemed unsuited to Hannah's 3-5-2 formation, especially with Jamie Buchan pushed into a holding midfield role, leaving Hannah himself at centre back. He no longer has the pace to match the pacey young strikers he faces week in, week out in Division Three, and was regularly found lacking when challenged one-on-one.

Hopefully this week's result was a minor blip, and Montrose can resurrect their promotion push in Annan next week.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Ten: Ten Bands Whose Debut Album Was Better Than Their Second

1. The Stone Roses (The Stone Roses & Second Coming)

2. Oasis (Definitely Maybe & (What's The Story) Morning Glory)

3. Massive Attack (Blue Lines & Protection)

4. The Clash (The Clash & Give 'Em Enough Rope)

5. The Libertines (Up The Bracket & The Libertines)

6. The Coral (The Coral & Magic and Medicine)

7. Doves (Lost Souls & The Last Broadcast)

8. Travis (Good Feeling & The Man Who)

9. Stereophonics (Word Gets Around & Performance and Cocktails)

10. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC & Take Them On On Your Own)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Joe Kinnear





Although it took place almost a month ago, Joe Kinnear's first press conference as Newcastle's interim manager still makes me laugh.


JK: Which one is Simon Bird [Daily Mirror's north-east football writer]?
SB: Me.
JK: You're a cunt.
SB: Thank you.
JK: Which one is Hickman [Niall, football writer for the Express]? You are out of order. Absolutely fucking out of order. If you do it again, I am telling you you can fuck off and go to another ground. I will not come and stand for that fucking crap. No fucking way, lies. Fuck, you're saying I turned up and they [Newcastle's players] fucked off.
SB: No Joe, have you read it, it doesn't actually say that. Have you read it?
JK: I've fucking read it, I've read it.
SB: It doesn't say that. Have you read it?
JK: You are trying to fucking undermine my position already.
SB: Have you read it, it doesn't say that. I knew you knew they were having a day off.
JK: Fuck off. Fuck off. It's your last fucking chance.
SB: You read the copy? It doesn't say that you didn't know.
JK: What about the headline, you think that's a good headline?
SB: I didn't write the headline, you read the copy.
JK: You are negative bastards, the pair of you.
SB: So if I get a new job next week would I take the first day off? No I wouldn't. If I get a new job should I call my boss and tell him I am taking the first day off?
JK: It is none of your fucking business. What the fuck are you going to do? You ain't got the balls to be a fucking manager. Fucking day off. Do I want your opinion. Do I have to listen to you?
SB: No, you can listen to who you want.
JK: I had a 24-hour meeting with the entire staff.
SB: Joe, you are only here six weeks, you could have done that on Sunday, or Saturday night.
JK: No, no, no. I didn't want to do it. I had some other things to do.
SB: What? More important things?
JK: What are you? My personal secretary? Fuck off.
SB: You could have done the meeting Saturday night or Sunday. You could have had them watching videos, you could have organised them.
JK: I was meeting the fucking chairman the owner, everyone else. Talking about things.
SB: It is a valid point that was made in there. A valid point.
JK: I can't trust any of you.
Niall Hickman: Joe, no one could believe that on your first day at your new club, the first-team players were not in. No one could believe it in town. Your first day in the office.
JK: My first day was with the coaches. I made the decision that I wanted to get as much information out of them.
NH: But why Monday, no one could believe it?
JK: I'm not going to tell you anything. I don't understand where you are coming from. You are delighted that Newcastle are getting beat and are in the state they are? Delighted, are you?
NH: Certainly not. No one wants to see them get beaten, why would we?
JK: I have done it before. It is going to my fucking lawyers. So are about three others. If they can find something in it that is a court case it is going to court. I am not fucking about. I don't talk to fucking anybody. It is raking up stories. You are fucking so fucking slimy you are raking up players that I got rid of. Players that I had fallen out with. You are not asking Robbie Earle, because he is sensible. You are not asking Warren Barton? No. Because he is fucking sensible. Anyone who had played for me for 10 years at any level ... [but] you will find some cunt that ...
Other journalist: How long is your contract for Joe?
JK: None of your business.
SB: Well it is actually, because we cover the club. The club say you are here to the end of October, then you say six to eight games which would take it to the end of November. We are trying to clarify these issues. We are getting no straight answers from anyone. How long are you here for. It is a dead simple question. And you don't know ...
JK: I was told the length of contract. Then I was told that possibly the club could be sold in that time. That is as far as I know. That's it finished. I don't know anything else. But I have been ridiculed. He's trying to fucking hide, he's trying to do this or that.

There follows an exchange regarding the circumstances under which Kinnear had met the owner Mike Ashley and executive director (football) Dennis Wise.

Steve Brenner (football writer for the Sun): We are all grown men and can come in here and sit around and talk about football, but coming in here and calling people cunts?
JK: Why? Because I am annoyed. I am not accepting that. If it is libellous, it is going to where I want it to go.
Newcastle press officer: What has been said in here is off the record and doesn't go outside.
Journalist: Well, is that what Joe thinks?
JK: Write what you like. Makes no difference to me. Don't affect me I assure you. It'll be the last time I see you anyway. Won't affect me. See how we go at Everton and Chrissy [Chris Hughton, assistant manager] can do it, someone else can do it. Don't trust any of yous. I will pick two local papers and speak to them and the rest can fuck off. I ain't coming up here to have the piss taken out of me. I have a million pages of crap that has been written about me. I'm ridiculed for no reason. I'm defenceless. I can't get a point in, I can't say nothing, I can't do nothing, but I ain't going to be negative. Then, half of you, most of you are trying to get into the players. I'm not going to tell you what the players think of you, so then you try and get into them in some way or another, so I've got a split camp or something like that, something like that. It's ongoing. It just doesn't stop.
Journalist: It's only been a week.
JK: Exactly. It feels more like a year.
Journalist: It's early days for you to be like this.
JK: No, I'm clearing the air. And this is the last time I'm going to speak to you. You want to know why, I'm telling you. This is the last time. You can do what you like.
Journalist: But this isn't going to do you or us any good.
JK: I'll speak to the supporters. I'm going to tell them what the story is. I'm going to tell them. I don't think they'll interpret it any different, I don't think they'll mix it up, I don't think they'll miss out things. I mean, one of them last week said to me ... I was talking about in that press conference where you were there, I said something like "Well, that's a load of bollocks ..."
Journalist: "Bollocks to that" is what you said.
JK: Bollocks to that. And what goes after that?
Journalist: That was it.
JK: No it wasn't, no it wasn't. What was after it? I don't know if it was your paper, but what went after it?
Journalist: I don't know.
JK: It even had the cheek to say "bollocks to Newcastle".
Journalist: I didn't write that.
JK: That was my first fucking day. What does that tell you? What does that tell you?
Journalist: Where was that? Which paper said that?
JK: I've got it. I can't remember. It was one of the Sundays, not a Saturday. It was a Sunday.
Journalist: But you didn't say that to the Sundays, you said that to us. That was during the Monday press conference.
JK: I'll bring it in and show it to you. Why would I want to say that?
Journalist: Are you saying that someone has reported you saying "bollocks to Newcastle?"
JK: Yes. Lovely.
Journalist: I don't know who's reported that.
JK: I'll tell you what, I'll bring it in.
Journalist: That's obviously going to damage you. That's not a good thing. But I don't think someone's done that. We have to have some sort of relationship with you.
JK: So have I. But I haven't come in here for you lot to take the piss out of me. And if I'm not flavour of the month for you, it don't fucking bother me. I've got a job to do. And I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. I'm not going to spend any more time listening to any crap or reading any crap. Stick to the truth and the facts. And don't twist anything.
Journalist: You know, you know the game ...
JK: Of course I know, but I don't have to like it.
Journalist: Today we'll print the absolute truth, that you think we're cunts, we can all fuck off and we're slimy. Is that fair enough?
JK: Do it. Fine. Fucking print it. Am I going to worry about it? Put in also that it'll be the last time I see you. Put that in as well. Good. Do it.

Much, much later after long discussions over whether Kinnear had promised Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan would be returning to the club

Press officer: Let's get on to football. Let's have an agreement that everything said so far, if anyone has got their tapes on, it's wiped off and we're not discussing it.
Journalist: But that's what Joe has said he thinks of us.
Press officer: I'm saying don't push it. Let's accept what's been said and try and move on.
Journalist: Move on to not doing any more press conferences?
PO: No, to doing something now.
Journalist: What, one press conference only?
(Silence)
Journalist: Any knocks?
PO: Come on, let's go football.
Journalist: What are your plans for training in the next three days? How's the training going?
JK: It's going very well. No problems at all.
Journalist: Enjoyed getting back in the swing of things?
JK: Absolutely. I've loved every moment of it.
As read several times at The Guardian.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 11: Montrose v Huntly

They say a week's a long time in football, and today seemed to prove the point.

After last week's inept performance against Dumbarton, Montrose today eased into the third round of the Scottish Cup with a win over high-scoring Highland League Huntly.

Since last week's match, Montrose have appointed former Dundee United and Celtic defender David Hannah as caretaker player-manager, sent last season's top goalscorer John Baird on loan to Second Division side (and local rivals) Brechin City and taken Calum Smith in the opposite direction.

If last week saw Montrose lacking focus, this week they coped admirably with a feisty Huntly side. Hannah selected himself at the heart of defence, and remained a vocal figure throughout.

But on the day, it was the weather that was the talking point. Montrose played against the gale-force wind in the first half, a wind so strong that one goal kick flew back over goalkeeper Greg Kelly's head and out for a corner. Huntly also tested their luck from long range on several occasions, with three shots from 40 or 50 yards coming close in the first half.

The first half was extended by almost five minutes due to the number of dead balls delayed while the kick takers attempted to get the ball to sit still long enough for them to take the kick.

Referee Mat Northcroft, who spent most of the game behaving in an over-pernickety fashion given the conditions, engaged in a "wind inspection" during the break, finally concluding that abandoning the match wasn't necessary.

And so Montrose, already ahead despite playing against the conditions, saw out the match with the wind at their backs. A 2-0 win over a side scoring for fun in the Highland League was a good result for Hannah's first match in charge of the Links Park size.

The two men who were arguably the biggest influence on Montrose's promotion push last season, manager Jim Weir and goalscorer John Baird, have gone, but the Hannah reign has at least started in a winning way. With the gaffer on the pitch, Montrose seemed more assured of themselves than in recent weeks, and new loanee Calum Smith, signed as part of the deal that took Baird to Glebe Park, looked lively throughout.

Yep, a week's a long time in football.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Ten: Ten Musical Acts I Just Don't Get

In what may be a semi-regular feature, here's a random list of ten things off the top of my head. This week - 10 musical acts that have been critically lauded but that, to varying degrees, I just don't get.

In some cases - The Beach Boys, Strokes and New Order - I can appreciate the odd song here and there. But in others, I just don't see what all the fuss is about.

1. The Beach Boys

2. The Strokes

3. Captain Beefheart

4. Bruce Springsteen

5. Love

6. Joy Division

7. New Order

8. Foals

9. Neutral Milk Hotel

10. Snow Patrol

In which bands and solo artists do you struggle to hear the genius that apparently everyone else immediately gets?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Favourite Books: Number 1: Lanark: A Life In Four Books - Alasdair Gray

Some works of art amuse the viewer, listener or reader for a few minutes - most pop songs last barely five minutes, paintings are generally looked at then passed by.

Even books can have a limited effect on the reader - I've read hundreds if not thousands of books, but I couldn't begin to recount the plotlines of most of them - once read, they're consigned to history, never to be thought of again.

But then there are works of art so sprawling and so absorbing that they command full attention and draw you into their world, demanding repeated revisits and setting a benchmark by which all others must subsequently be judged.Alasdair Gray's debut novel, Lanark, published when I was only a year old, is one such work of art.

Attempting to sum the book up concisely would, I think, prove to be impossible - it's futuristic, almost sci-fi novel, half of which is set in pre-war Glasgow and half in the mysterious town of Unthank, which may be heaven, hell or neither. It's four books in one, where none of the books makes complete sense as an individual entity - but the books are read out of chronological synch (Three-One-Two-Four). There's an epilogue four chapters before the end.

The titular character suffers from a disease called Dragonhide before he is swallowed by the Earth. And in the Epilogue, he meets the author. The novel also draws comparisons with the Bible, for reasons I won't divulge for fear of spoiling it for those of you who haven't yet read it. (And if you've not read it yet, do so now.)

I first read the book, which took more than 20 years to write, on the recommendation of my sixth year English teacher in 1997, and it formed a major part of my CSYS English dissertation that year. I've since read it once again in its entirety and dipped in and out of it on an almost constant basis over the past 10 years.

No other book has ever had the effect on me that Lanark did the first time I read it, and I'd be very surprised if another ever did. Quite simply, it's the greatest book I've ever read.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Awesome Cat

A colleague emailed me this today, and it amused me no end.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Flapping Around

A wee trawl of the referrals that have brought visitors to this here humble website has revealed another corker.

Shortly after midnight on October 19, someone from the USA arrived here having searched on Yahoo for "big pish flaps".

Well, that's just swell.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Meeting Of Minds

As well as having the misfortune of watching Montrose lose their first league match of the season on Saturday, I also enjoyed the company of two of my fellow Scottish bloggers, The Tomahawk Kid and Big Rab of The Ben Lomond Free Press.

Both Rab and TK are Sons of the Rock, and both had made the pilgrimage to Montrose to see Dumbarton continue their push for promotion to Division Two. I worked with The Tomahawk Kid for a year or so when we were both employed by A Major Engineering Company, but Saturday was the first time I'd seen him in a few months.
TK and Rab have known each other since they were just wee boys, but it was the first time I'd had the opportunity to meet Rab.

So, an hour before kick-off, we met in the British Legion adjacent to Links Park for a mini blogmeet.

I believe a good time was had by all, although Rab and TK were more pleased with the result than I was. Oh, and Rab did voice displeasure at cups of Bovril that were described as espresso-sized.

And I thought it was us east coasters who were supposed to be grippit.



Big Rab, Groanin' Jock and The Tomahawk Kid in the Legion before Saturday's match.

Photo courtesy of Tomahawk Kid Junior.

Season 2008/2009: Match 10: Montrose v Dumbarton

What's the best thing an unbeaten side pushing for promotion can do to ensure their season remains on course?

Whatever your answer to the question above, it's probably not "sack the manager who's taken them closer to success than anyone else in the past decade and who got them to the play-offs last season".

For reasons described in this week's match programme as "a non-footballing matter", Montrose parted company with Jim Weir a couple of weeks ago, leaving the side in the temporary care of Steve Adam.

The change in leadership apparently hasn't worked, as Montrose were dire yesterday, struggling to get a foothold in the match and generally failing to create anything of note. Despite that, when Dumbarton took the lead with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, it was against the run of play.

But by the time Paul McLeod ploughed straight through the middle of Montrose's defence to add a second, it seemed that the home side had given up. Stephen Black grabbed a consolation goal in injury time, but it was too little and too late.

Montrose are still sitting in a top four position, but if they play like they did yesterday, that won't remain the case for long.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oktoberfest

As of 4.30pm this afternoon, I'm on holiday, and it feels like it's not a moment too soon.

For some reason, I feel knackered, so it'll be good simply to be away from 6.15am wake up calls if nothing else.

Mrs Wife and I are heading to Skegness tomorrow to see her relatives, so a lengthy road trip is in the offing. But at least we'll have a selection of quality tunes to see us down the road, amongst them the latest offerings from Oasis, Glasvegas, Elbow and Santogold, plus whatever Mrs Wife deems necessary for entertainment.

After a few days in sunny Skegness (well, hopefully sunny), we'll head north again, stopping in York for a night to break up the journey and see a bit of culture - if a cathedral and some wax works count as culture anyway.

Then it's back to Montrose to watch the Gable Endies shaft the Sons in the Division Three title race, a match that will also act as a mini blogmeet, with Dumbarton fans The Tomahawk Kid and Big Rab likely to be visiting Links Park.

The same night, I'll be down in Edinburgh for a reunion commemorating the tenth anniversary of starting universary. I can scarcely believe a decade has passed since we first left home in search of education, enlightenment, sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. I predict a messy night in store involving cheap spirits and chicken kebabs, all consumed in the vain hope of recapturing lost youth.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Random Mutterings

Note to McDonald's - I don't know what an M Burger is, but the stupid advert you're showing roughly seventeen times a second is enough to put me off buying one.

I'm pretty sure my right leg is going to fall off before I hit 30. A baldy-headed twat knackered it two minutes into a "friendly" football match last week, and it hasn't been the same since. There may be trouble ahead.

The first five tracks of the new Oasis album are pretty good, but there's a dramatic tail-off until Liam's final track, Soldier On. Better than Heathen Chemistry and Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants, but not up there with their greatest work, not by a long chalk.

Driving to work sucks ass. I've been forced to this week because of the strikes affecting Scotland's railways. I miss reading my book and relaxing on the train to work, especially as the book I'm reading, The Sum of All Fears, is getting REALLY interesting.

How To Lose Friends and Alienate People isn't a great movie. Not horrific, but by no means great. It has its occasional funny moments, but they're few and far between. But any movie that boasts Megan Fox in her underwear can't be all bad.

Think that pretty much sums up the contents of my head at the moment. Roll on Scotland v Norway tomorrow.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

On The Pull

I've just arrived back at Dungroanin' following a visit to Dundee Dental Hospital.

I was sent to the hospital on the recommendation of my dentist, who spotted that one of my wisdom teeth has come through squint and is pushing against the molar in front of it, causing damage and decay.

In truth, I hadn't felt anything, but the dentist thought it best if I get the wisdom tooth checked out by the folks at the dental hospital, so I found myself there today for a preliminary examination.

And it's not good news. The molar has been damaged pretty badly, but nothing can be done to attempt to save it until the wisdom tooth has been removed. And dentists prefer to remove wisdom teeth in pairs, so I'm to find myself back in the chair before too long to have the upper and lower wisdom teeth on one side of my mouth whisked out.

I was offered three options for having the work done - a local anaesthetic injection that will numb my mouth but keep me fully aware during the procedure; a general anaesthetic so that I know nothing about it until I wake up with two gaping holes in my mouth; and a halfway house that would make me pretty groggy but keep me awake during the procedure, albeit leaving me away with the fairies afterwards.

I've had a few fillings in my time and have always managed just fine with the local anaesthetic injections, so I thought I'd brave it out and have the teeth removed while fully aware of what's happening.

Which maybe, on reflection, isn't the best idea - the dentist explained that the problem tooth will be split in two and the two roots removed separately, while the one that is being removed to make a matching set will be ripped out in a single effort.

When I described what was going to happen when I undergo this oral smash'n'grab, Mrs Wife baulked a little and reminded me that she had a general anaesthetic when she had her wisdom teeth removed.

But it's too late now, so I'll just have to remember that it'll all be over in less than an hour and I'll be fit to engage in retail therapy afterwards. And that I should get between two days and a week off work to recover.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Fuel Economy

A recent study conducted by Aberdeen University found that the average Scotsman walks about 900 miles a year.

Another study by the Scottish Medical Association found that Scotsmen drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year.

This means, on average, Scotsmen get about 41 miles to the gallon.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Looney Tunes

My recently-acquired iPod is a hungry little beast.

I've had it since Mrs Wife and I returned from China at the start of June, and it now contains just under 15,000 tracks.

But I've still not finished putting all my albums onto it, let alone started on the singles squirreled away in the spare bedroom wardrobe.

And on top those, I've still to salvage some of the contents of the knackered Magic Tune Box II, which houses some really strange stuff. The Chemical Brothers' Galvanise spliced with the theme tune to The Empire Strikes Back? Check. The Beatles' For No-One, Scissor Sisters' Take Your Mama Out and George Michael's Freedom mashed together? Check again. Devo, Beck, The Doors and The Who slammed together in a musical marriage made in hell? Check mate.

Now, as a result of having descended into the world of Apple, I'm also to be found regularly having a little look around iTunes. And at 79p a track, I can often be found topping up my collection.

In recent months, I've added Desmond Decker's Israelites and Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra's Some Velvet Morning to Magic Tune Box III.

Now, don't New Kids On The Block have a new record out?

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Kids Are Alright

I'm knackered.

Over the weekend, Dungroanin' played host to an old schoolfriend of Mrs Wife's, accompanied by her two-year-old son.

It's been the best part of 23 years since I lived with a two-year-old boy, and at that time Baby Brother was more of an apprentice than a hindrance.

I've been up more climbing frames, down more chutes and round more roundabouts in the past two days than in the previous two years.

And our little visitor is at the stage where he needs to know what everything is, why everything is, where everything is and who everyone is.

Mrs Wife's rabbits, Pepper and Dylan, have now been rechristened Paper and Dinnae, and were a source of much excitement. As was the local park, the beach, dogs in the park and a football-shaped bottle opener that emits a crowd noise every time it's used.

But the 5.30am wake-up calls have taken their toll, and I'm now feeling more exhausted than I did at the end of the working week.

Just as well we were able to send him home today....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Answers

Tomorrow night sees my company's second annual employee pub quiz.

Mrs Wife will be accompanying me, a colleague and his wife as we attempt to do better than we fared in last year's event, when we led early on before tailing off later into the event.

So, to get everyone in the mood, here are five random questions. Answers in the comments, no Googling.

1. What is the capital city of Tanzania?

2. In the nursery rhyme, who visited the person with the little nut tree?

3. Who won the Formula 1 Drivers Championship in 2000?

4. What did the Romans call Paris?

5. Which actor plays Ali G and Borat?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Just 17

A friend from my university days came to visit last week, providing us with the first opportunity to catch up with each other since his stag do last year.

While he and his wife were here, we watched Motherwell playing in Europe, a match in which it was brought to our attention that it is 17 years since Motherwell last won a trophy.

I remember the Scottish Cup final of 1991, as I think it was the first in which I'd taken a real interest. The fact that it was an extra time seven-goal thriller helped, as did Ally Maxwell's heroics in goal despite having suffered a broken rib during the match.

But it wasn't the football reminiscing that struck me - it was the idea that the match was more than 17 years ago.

Initially, it seemed impossible that 17 years had passed. But I'm torn between that fact and the fact that ONLY 17 years have passed, given how much has happened in the interim.

Since a Motherwell team containing Davie Cooper, Tom Boyd and Phil O'Donnell lifted the cup, I've finished primary school and been through both high school and university. Britain has had three new Prime Ministers, four if you include Thatcher, whose reign ended in 1991.

I've moved house at least 10 times. Mrs Wife and I have been around the world. Mrs Wife has become Mrs Wife. My grampa has died. My parents have split up. I've endured more hangovers than I care to remember. Princess Diana, George Harrison, the Queen Mother, the Pope and George Best have all died. Dunblane, Columbine, two Iraq wars, the complete collapse of the Soviet Union and September 11 have all come and gone. So too have Euro 92, USA 94, Euro 96, France 98, Euro 2000, Japan & South Korea 2002, Euro 2004, Germany 2006 and Euro 2008.

But I can still remember watching that Scottish Cup final, and recreating its key moments with a seven-year-old Baby Brother in the park afterwards. I remember the excitement at receiving a signed photograph of Ally Maxwell from the SFA. I remember Davie Cooper humiliating Dundee United despite being in his late 30s.

So, has it been 17 long years since Motherwell won a trophy? Or only 17 years? I can't decide.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 9: Montrose v East Stirlingshire

For the first time this season, I missed Montrose scoring a goal at home.

Mrs Wife and I were delayed in leaving a first birthday party in Aberdeen, and by the time I reached Links Park, the Gable Endies were already a goal to the good against the magnificently inept East Stirlingshire.

Thankfully, my journey to the ground wasn't wasted, as I saw Montrose score twice more to remain unbeaten and move up to second in the league. Shire also missed a penalty and had a man sent off, so the afternoon was enjoyable even for those of us watching with a hangover.

But, as is often the case with matches involving the Shire, the most entertaining aspect of the match was the performance of Mad Bill, one of Scottish football's most colourful travelling fans.

I didn't capture any footage of the man himself in action, but here's a link to a post Big Rab made last season that includes a video of him on a previous visit to Links Park.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 8: Aberdeen v Hamilton Academical


Aberdeen: Scottish football's third force (allegedly). Playing at home following a decent, if hardly earth-shattering start to the season.
Hamilton Accies: Playing in Scottish football's top flight for the first two in two decades. The last time they were this high in the national game, Aberdeen were arguably Scottish football's number one side. Many people's favourites to go straight back down to Division One.
On paper, this should have been a walk-over.
Thankfully, football matches aren't played on paper.
I was at Pittodrie today through the kind offer of a spare season ticket. Last season, I visited the stadium to witness the Dons lose to Hearts. And today I saw them lose to a hard-working Hamilton team.
Hamilton were so confident today that they gave Aberdeen a one-goal start, Gary McDonald netting after just seven minutes.
But from there, Accies never looked back.
Sone Aluko, who spent last season on loan at Aberdeen from Birmingham, made his second home debut following his £50,000 transfer. And he looked to be head and shoulders above his team mates. His runs were positive and his crossing looked dangerous. It was a pity, for Aberdeen fans at least, that neither the horrendously poor Darren Mackie nor the ineffective Lee Miller could do anything with them.
The Dons were gash. Hamilton were first to every ball, defended with vigour and more than a little growl, and generally gave Aberdeen a chasing all over the park. It was no surprise when they equalised and even less of a surprise when they went ahead in the second half.
Jimmy Calderwood attempted to shake things up by introducing Dutch hairdresser Jeffrey De Visscher and Scottish gobshite Chris Maguire. Thankfully, for the fans of Rangers and comedy watching from the stands (probably just me), the changes amounted to nothing.
Third force in Scottish football? At this rate, Aberdeen might soon be the third best club in Division One.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Favourite Albums: Number 2: Nirvana - Nevermind


In the 17 years since its release, I'd imagine more has been written about Nirvana, Nevermind and Kurt Cobain than any other combination of band, album and songwriter from the 1990s.

Many of these pieces focus on Cobain himself - his misery, his inability to deal with fame, and his suicide at the age of 27.

What is often overlooked is the music - a tragically small collection of just three studio albums, two live recordings and a rarities compilation.

As a teenage Britpop fan, I was fairly dismissive of Nirvana and their music, and the Grunge v Britpop debate, at least at my school, was akin to a modern retelling of the Mods v Rockers wars of the 1960s, albeit without the scooters, violence and Sting.

I only really gave Nirvana a chance in the few months between leaving school and starting university. And I was immediately enamoured.

As I'm sure is the case with many, perhaps even most, Nirvana fans, my introduction to the band was Nevermind. And the introduction to Nevermind is Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Again, many words have been used to describe the album's lead single - bombastic, thunderous, vitriolic.

But, above all else, Smells Like Teen Spirit is an extraordinary pop song.

Kurt Cobain was an exceptional writer of pop songs and pop hooks, and Nevermind is dripping in them. Smells Like Teen Spirit may be the best known - thanks also to Cobain's nihilistic roar and buzzsaw guitar and Dave Grohl's furious double drum detonations - but the opening half of the record would stand the test of time alongside any other single side of vinyl ever pressed.

In Bloom continues with the thunderous drums and dark imagery, before making way for the more sedate Come As You Are.

Though Nevermind is defined by the growl of its louder tracks, it is on the quieter songs that the other side of Kurt Cobain, as a crafter of mature and thought-provoking lyrics and melodies, shows itself. Polly, narrated by a kidnapper/torturer is a glimpse into its writer's dark side, while closing track Something In The Way puts into music the life of a heroin addict.

Metal, rock, pop - whatever Nevermind is, it stands as one of, if not THE defining album of the 1990s.
Rather than leave you with the obvious Smells Like Teen Spirit, here's the video for In Bloom:


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Kick Your Blogroll Up The Arse

As instigated by Misssy M of the Misssy M Misssives, I'm going to give my blogroll a kick up the arse.

Misssy, inspired by her own laziness, has decided to venture out into the uncharted (by her) regions of the Blogosphere in search of pastures new, and is encouraging everyone else to follow suit.

Here are the handy copy-and-paste rules:

What you do is you go to four of your favourite blogs and pick a blog from their blogroll that you’ve never visited or commented on.

You then add them to your blogroll or feed, read them for at least a month (by which time there should be no turning back) and give them a chance to invade your life.

Then you duplicate the main part of this post with a note on whose blog you got it from. Stick the four new blogs you are going to read up , tell us briefly why you chose them and whose blogroll they came from.

And if you want, coerce others mercilessly into joining in. Then start reading.

Here are the choices I have made:

1: From Misssy's own blogroll, Gorilla Bananas' The Japing Ape. Looks like I've hit gold from the get-go: magnificently surreal in places, pictures of Britney snogging Madonna and a droll dead pan wit. What more could one expect of the world's leading anthropological ape?

2: Eric is, officially, my Blogfather, so I guess his blogroll would be another good place to look. Chosen completely at random, I've alighted at Quality Weenie. Who is, apparently, an Early Explorer, a Daydreamer and a dog lover. All of which sounds much like myself.

3. Big Rab likes good music, good football (and Dumbarton) and a good dram. Hopefully, his taste in bloggers is as refined as his other tastes. And the fact that Helpless Dancer's blog is called The Endless Note and that he describes himself as a music enthusiast suggests I'm in good company here. The Who, Glasvegas, Dr John and football on the front page is a good start.

4. And finally, from Erica's blog roll, Last One Speaks - "Musings of a complicated woman with simple tastes" - who's intrigued by her Oriental neighbours. Hey, now I'm intrigued too.....

No tagging from me - play along if you want to....