Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Usually, you would expect a new arrival to a league to be cannon-fodder, taking a few good hidings as they adjust to the style of play required to win in the competition.
But not this team. In fact, in all my years involved in football, I've never heard of a team taking a five-a-side works league so seriously.
This team sends scouts to all the other matches in the league. Each night, as the other teams battle it out for the three points, a neutral observer will be standing at the side of the pitch, taking mental notes on future opponents.
It is rumoured that this side also has regular training sessions for its 15-man squad. That's a 15-man squad for five-a-sides. What these training sessions involve, I don't know, but it's enough to mark them out as unusual in the less than professional world of Aberdeen fives.
My training regime involves walking to work and a more leisurely kick-around on Friday afternoons. The prospect of being forced to subject myself to proper training would be enough to put me off. Unless a ball is involved or I'm competing in a sport, I've got little time, patience or enthusiasm for exercise.
I readily expect to get a physical and footballing hiding tonight.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Answers to the ninth challenge are now in the comments on that post.
Here are this week's mystery lyrics. To play, simply identify the songs from the lines given. No Googling.
1: No one else gets high, and I can't sleep cause I got nothing.
2: Oh come all you young fellers so young and so fine, seek not your fortune in a dark dreary mine.
3: I don't believe in everything I see, y'know I'm blind so why d'you disagree?
4: You're workin in bars, ridin in cars, never gonna give it for free.
5: Now courage my boy when they look you in the eye, try not to look too scummy.
* Please ignore Mani's ponytail.
(I would have embeded this video on the page, but it's blocked - thanks Sony/BMG.)
Thursday, April 24, 2008
At the moment, it seems as though all it takes is for some high heid yin to say "Don't Panic".
I ambled along to the local BP garage a few minutes ago to pick up some lunch, and it seems that the world has gone mad. Despite warnings in the media that panic buying of fuel will merely hasten an avoidable crisis, cars were queuing out onto the road in the mad melee to purchase petrol.
The diesel pumps at this garage have already run dry, and it seems that the staff don't know when they will next be refilled.
I'm now wondering if this phenomenon applies only to fuel, or to other consumables? If someone somewhere announced tomorrow that there would be a shortage of milk within the next week, would people start panic-buying cow juice? Could we expect a sudden run on coffee if Colombia and Kenya announced they weren't going to ship any more?
The answer to both of those is probably yes. But what if we were instead told that the world supply of Angel Delight was starting to run short - would Asda and Tesco be stowed out with scrums of consumers fighting over packets of butterscotch and strawberry flavoured stoor?
Or if the suppliers of pickled eggs stopped pickling eggs, would there be sudden stockpiling of these precious resources in kitchen cupboards around the country?
Sounds like a good experiment to me.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Even the charity muggers attempting to part passers-by from their hard-earned cash don't often ask me if I can spare five minutes of my time to help save starving orphaned disabled endangered mice in famine-stricken Bosnia.
Maybe I don't look like I have the money to spare. For work, I wear a cheap Tesco suit, and my shoes have seen better days, thanks in no small part to my daily walk to the train, which involves walking over wet and muddy grass. Actually, my journey doesn't necessarily have to take me along such a route, as there's a perfectly dry concrete pavement on the other side of the road.
But using that pavement would mean my walk to the train would take a minute or two longer each morning. And I'm lazy.
Or maybe the charity muggers avoid me because I tend not to be smiling when I'm pounding the streets of Aberdeen, and my blank face/scowl acts as a deterrent. Or maybe I walk so fast that I seem uninterruptably busy, and the charity mugger decides that I'm unlikely to break my journey to help the starving orphaned mice of Bosnia.
But sometimes, very rarely, I'll arrive on the same part of the planet as some life form that decides I'm worthy of engaging in conversation.
Last Friday, for example, while waiting to be served in an Aberdeen city centre hostelry, a young man who had, I guess, partaken of a refreshment or two, decided to tell me all about his Argentinian mum. I'm not entirely sure why he picked me to be the receiver of such wisdom, nor why he picked that specific topic of conversation. But I can now tell anyone who's interested about the young man's mum's fascination and fervent support for Boca Juniors.
Perhaps the strangest occasion I was accosted by one of these curious souls was in Australia in 2004. Mrs Wife (then known as Miss Girlfriend) and I were at Cape Leeuwin lighthouse in Western Australia, the point at which the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. It was a cold and windy day, and it was bitterly apparent that the wind hailed from the next landmass south of this point, Antarctica.
Having risked being blown south to meet the penguins by climbing the lighthouse, Mrs Wife and I were taking a few photographs and ambling around at ground level, when a young couple came bounding up to us.
The female had an excited look on her face, and she could barely contain this excitement as she engaged us in conversation with the unforgettable opening gambit of: "Oh my god, are you two twins? You look so alike!"
Despite our obvious bemusement, it felt almost cruel to explain to this flustered young creature that, no, we weren't related, and that our relationship was on a slightly different tangent to the one she had imagined.
Nutters - wouldn't want to live with them, but the world would be a darker place without them.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I'm currently watching the first leg of the Champions League Semi-Final from Anfield, and what comes across so far is just how dull the sides are.
The money that Chelsea have been pouring out almost non-stop since 2003 should have bought them the most exciting team on the planet, playing with flair, expression and crackling electricity. Instead we get a team determined not to lose, where defensive solidity is valued over attacking flair.
Liverpool are nearly as bad, except Rafa Benitez has thrown good money after bad, investing in dross like Dirk Kuyt, Jermaine Pennant and Peter Crouch.
As a footballing purist who loves to see the game played on the ground with quick, attack-minded players sparying the ball around with inch-perfect passes, I'm hoping that the winner of the Manchester United v Barcelona triumphs in next month's final.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Today is the day, after several months of waiting, that the world of televisual pleasure afforded to myself and Mrs Wife in the homestead enters a new world.
At some point in the next four hours, a Sky engineer will arrive to upgrade our equipment from bog-standard Sky to Sky+. And, as I've already said, I'm more excited than I really should be at the prospect of this development.
In truth, the only real differences will be the possibility of reocrding whole series of shows at the touch of a single button, instead of manually setting the hard drive recorder for every individual episode, and the fact that Sky+ broadcasts in surround sound where available.
But, in my day-to-day life, these count as exciting developments, so I spent an hour last night disconnecting everything in preparation for the Man From Sky's arrival. Which means I'm now sitting here patiently, waiting for the man in the leopard print van to arrive with a brand new Box of Tricks.
I need to get out more.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Here are this week's mystery tunes. Answers in the comments, no Googling.
1: Bring you a tale from the pastel fields where we ran when we were young.
2: Honey you are a rock upon which I stand, And I come here to talk, I hope you understand.
3: Train I ride, sixteen coaches long.
4: Here comes that panic attack, my heart stops... and then it starts.
5: If you smile then that should set the tone, just be limber.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Mine is and has been ever since I first arrived on the worldwide interweb. If I'd taken up all the offers that have been emailed to me over the years, I'd have a seven-mile penis, thousands of college degrees and would be a multi-millionaire thanks to countless exciting business deals with former African presidents whom I've never met.
But instead of deleting this unwanted electronic detritus, I could be turning it into art just like özi's comix studio, which I found today via Neatorama.
Monday, April 14, 2008
My journey was one of necessity, as I needed to collect my own and Mrs Wife's passports from the Chinese Consulate. An early start meant that I arrived as the mid morning sun was starting to warm up, and my business with the Chinese was concluded in only a few short minutes.
Which meant that the day was at my disposal. When left unattended in cities, I tend to migrate towards shops selling cheap CDs, DVDs, books and clothes. And so it proved today.
In a day of pounding the streets, I managed to pick up Anchorman (which I've never seen), Mallrats and Super Furry Animals' Phantom Power on DVD, as well as Radiohead's Com Lag and We Are Scientists' Crap Attack on CD.
The latter purchase was made less than 24 hours after seeing We Are Scientists perform a fantastic gig at Aberdeen Music Hall. Though their recently-released second album lacks the punch and catchy tunes of their debut, the WAS set was fantastic from beginning to end. Unfortunately, it was preceded by two chronically abysmal support bands and a cack-handed roadie struggling to tune the instruments, but all that was forgotten once WAS had hit their stride.
But I digress. In Edinburgh today, I also managed to pick up The Broons and Oor Wullie 1946-1956: The Golden Years and Hearts - The Diary of An Incredible Season. I'm especially looking forward to reading the latter title, as it was written by Mike Smith, a recent visitor to this far-flung outpost of the worldwide interweb and himself a fellow denizen of the blogosphere.
The drive home took place in glorious sunshine, and even the slow-moving traffic between Edinburgh and the Forth Bridge, and in Dundee, wasn't enough to dampen the spirits.
Roll on work and a chance to mock some Aberdeen fans tomorrow.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
But there are days when all the years of dull as Dido nil-nil draws and all the hours spent shivering in Scotland's concrete stands seems worth it. Today was one of those days.
As a Rangers fan working in an Aberdeen office full of Dons fans, the opportunity to engage in football-related banter presents itself regularly. The joy I took in watching the Pittodrie side lose to lowly Queen of the South in today's Scottish Cup semi-final could only have been greater if it had been Celtic on the receiving end of the embarrasing footballing lesson.
Four times Aberdeen fell behind and three times they equalised. Each time they scored, I was convinced that the Doonhammers' dream was over. But Aberdeen's ineptness was exceeded only by Queens' determination to win.
It's almost enough to make me wish I wasn't on holiday on Monday.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Without a doubt, the most obnoxious person I ever interviewed was Bobby Williamson during his time as Hibs boss. He was a grumpy, ill-natured, torn-faced little neep of a man, and he deserved every single piece of abuse he received from the club's fans.
In stark contrast, his predecessor, Frank Sauzee, was one of the most charming, likeable people I've ever met.
Anyway, this conversation also saw me reminiscing about my days as a music journalist, and the great times I had interviewing bands including The Cooper Temple Clause, Terrorvision and South.
And this thought process reminded me that, for a short period after finishing university, I had my own ramshackle website devoted to reviewing music.
The idea was basically that I would be able to blag free CDs and gig tickets by agreeing to review them. And it worked pretty well.
I presumed that, after I lost interest in the site around five years ago, it would have been deleted.
But it hasn't. To this day, it's still sitting quietly on the dark fringes of the worldwide interweb, showcasing how pretentious I was at the point when I finished university.
And so, for your entertainment, here is a link to the site in all its non-showy glory.
What a shambles!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
1: Eric Cantona
2: Dennis Bergkamp
3: Thierry Henry
4: Henrik Larsson
5: Gianfranco Zola
6: Peter Schmeichel
7: Ossie Ardiles
8: Cristiano Ronaldo
9: Jurgen Klinsmann
10: Patrick Vieira
11: Dwight Yorke
12: Ruud Gullit
13: Jaap Stam
14: Eddie Firmani
15: Paolo di Canio
16: George Robledo
17: Bruce Grobbelaar
18: Ruud van Nistelrooy
19: Robert Pires
20: Brian Laudrup
21: Didier Drogba
22: Claude Makelele
23: David Ginola
24: Andrei Kanchelskis
25: Marcel Desailly
26: Bert Trautmann
27: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
28: Arnold Muhren
29: Frans Thijssen
30: Jan Molby
32: Gianluca Vialli
33: Freddie Ljungberg
34: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
35: Michael Essien
36: Clyde Best
37: Nicolas Anelka
38: Georgi Kinkladze
39: Brad Friedel
40: Petr Cech
41: Lubomir Moravcik
42: Anders Limpar
43: Jay-Jay Okocha
44: Roy Wegerle
45: Sami Hyypia
46: Cesc Fabregas
47: Youri Djorkaeff
48: Kazimierz Deyna
49: Russell Latapy
50: Arthur Wharton
51: Marc Overmars
52: Alexei Mikhailichenko
53: Roland Nilsson
54: Edwin van der Sar
55: Emmanuel Petit
56: Johnny Hubbard
57: Dietmar Hamann
58: Ronny Johnsen
59: Eidur Gudjohnsen
60: Dimitar Berbatov
61: Carlo Cudicini
62: Frank Sauzee
63: Igor Stimac
64: Ricky Villa
65: Mark Viduka
66: Roberto Di Matteo
67: Ivan Golac
68: Craig Johnston
69: Joe Marston
70: Henning Berg
71: Jussi Jaaskelainen
72: Slaven Bilic
73: Albert Johanneson
74: Shaun Goater
75: Gustavo Poyet
76: Harry Kewell
77: Frank Lebouef
78: Benito Carbone
79: Claudio Caniggia
80: Uwe Rosler
81: Mark Bosnich
82: Lucas Radebe
83: Aljosa Asanovic
84: Tore Andre Flo
85: Pierre van Hooijdonk
86: Attilio Lombardo
87: Dan Petrescu
88: Jesper Olsen
89: Antti Niemi
90: Tony Yeboah
91: Nwankwo Kanu
92: Tim Cahill
93: Shunsuke Nakamura
94: Nolberto Solano
95: Paulo Wanchope
96: Aiyegbeni Yakubu
97: Jan Age Fjortoft
98: Phillipe Albert
99: John Harkes
100: Kasey Keller
I certainly can't argue with the top five, as it would probably mirror the selections I would make. But I think that in other parts the list, which excludes all British and Irish players, is flawed.
Brian Laudrup, along with Paul Gascoigne the most gifted player I've ever seen in a Rangers jersey, should be higher than 20th, and though it pains me to say it, Lubo Moravcik and Pierre van Hooijdonk should be higher than 41st and 85th respectively.
Presumably the list is based only on the contributions the players made to British football, otherwise Ruud Gullit would be much higher. But if that is the case, I'd argue that Tony Yeboah, Nwankwo Kanu and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should all be higher.
Meanwhile, the inclusion of Claudio Canniggia over other players to have plied their trade in Scotland is baffling. Nacho Novo has been involved in the Scottish game for longer and has scored more goals; Hans Gillhaus and Theo Snelders were important figures in determining the destination of several trophies in the early 1990s; Jorge Cadete and Andreas Thom were both big figures in the best Celtic team I've ever seen (that didn't win anything).
As for the omissions of Ronald de Boer, Oleg Kuznetsov, Erik Bo Andersen, Peter Van Vossen and Stefan Klos? Those are debates for another day.*
* I'm joking. Except for Klos.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Friday's working day culminated in a leaving night for a fellow employee, and the drink was flowing freely at the start of the evening. My recollections of events are hazy, but I'm told that my Elvis impersonation kept my colleagues amused.
Thankfully, I had the sense to bail out before things got too messy, and instead subjected the passengers on the Aberdeen to Montrose train to a spectacular bout of hiccups that lasted for the duration of the journey. These hiccups were more like sonic booms, and were so loud that I could hear them above Definitely Maybe cranked up full blast on the Magic Tune Box.
Having arrived in Montrose, I decided that food was required, and treated myself to a pizza. The first bite removed removed several layers off the interior lining of my mouth, and in shock I managed to spill molten cheese on both my hands. All in all, a fairly eventful post-pub meal.
After staggering from the pizza shop to Dungroanin', I managed to scare Pepper, Mrs Wife's rabbit, half to death, then retreated to bed.
Unfortunately, Saturday dawned for me at the early hour of 7.30am. Unable to get back to sleep, I settled on the couch, wrapped in a fake fur throw, and allowed my hangover to build up a head of steam.
What I found out later in the day was that a combination of hail, snow, horizontal rain and howling winds, mixed with the standard of football offered up in an end-of-season Angus derby, is enough to shift even the most stubborn of hangovers.
Though the match wasn't dire, the standard of refereeing, in a league renowned for atrocious officials, was honking, and the man in black's performance was enough in itself to deny Montrose a confirmed play-off spot. For a week at least.
And so Saturday night started with me shivering, attempting to restore my core body temperature to something above freezing and preparing for a second consecutive night on the lash.
I believe a good time was had by all, with most of the assembled crowd enjoying their first visit to Roo's Leap. This vast amount of food was washed down with a few civilised drinks....
....Which doesn't really explain how I ended up finally going to bed at 6am, having woken the whole house with an impromptu didgeridoo solo.
My body clock must still be on British Winter Time, because I awoke at 8.30am, unable to do anything but doze fitfully until my lift to Dundee arrived. Why Dundee? To take in the Dundee United v Rangers SPL match, one of the more entertaining games I've been to this season, albeit one in which the final result left a lot to be desired. But no team can expect to go behind three times and still win a match.
A long day at work on Monday was followed by a trip north to Ellon, where Mrs Wife acquired her second rabbit, a bouncing boy now known as Dylan (in tribute to Robert Zimmerman, not The Magic Roundabout).
Introducing Dylan and Pepper has been a high-tension affair. Pepper is no longer in possession of her womanly organs, but Dylan still has a full set of boy bits, and he's eager to use them. So far, as Pepper has investigated this newcomer, she's smacked him around the nose a few times and attempted to give him a warning nibble on the nose. But Dylan seems to take this as foreplay, so there may be testing times ahead.
Yesterday, the 28th anniversary of my arrival on this planet, saw Mrs Wife and I venture south to Edinburgh, with the intention of collecting our Chinese visas. Unfortunately, the Chinese Consulate is an awkward beast, and no amount of discussion or offers of cash would tempt them to process the application in a single day. Which means that I'll have to make a return journey next week.
So, a busy weekend means I'm pretty shattered and looking forward to a few evenings of realxing on the sofa to recuperate.
I must be getting old.
Monday, April 07, 2008
Friday, April 04, 2008
It seems curious that, as I've progressed in age and in weight, my capacity to handle alcohol has dimished almost in direct proportion.
As 17-year-olds, my friends and I would think nothing of drinking a half bottle of vodka each BEFORE going out to the pubs. And then feeling full, fit and mad for it again on Sunday morning, right and ready enough to tackle a game of football.
But, as a 28-year-old weighing two stone more than I did at my fighting weight, it takes substantially less alcohol to send me on the slippery slope to drunkenness and hangover hell.
I'm at a loss as to the reasons for this. I can't now imagine starting a night out with a couple of beers, finishing the best part of a half bottle of vodka and then spending four hours in the pub drinking more vodka. But surely, as I age, my body should be more tolerant of the punishment I inflict upon it?
Anyway, the amount of drink I can handle is beside the point. This weekend, a sociable meal at Roo's Leap in Montrose will be followed by several hours of carnage in Montrose's pubs, with several members of the party new to the excitement of drinking in the town of Gable Enders.
I may report back. If I'm able to write and able to remember what happened.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Here are this week's mystery tunes. Answers in the comments, no Googling.
1: We'll do it all, everything on our own, we don't need anything, or anyone.
2: But you burn me up, you paint my skin in bad designs that ain't even in. I got good lungs, got a good heart, my mind is fit, and my feet can walk.
3: Many times I loved, many times been bitten, many times I've gazed, along the open road.
4: I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss, well a few of the verses well they've got me quite cross.
5: My friend's addicted to cocaine, smokes day and night, drives mom and pop insane.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
I'd imagine some of you will already have seen this video that Mrs Wife sent me a couple of days agao, but it was the first time I'd had the pleasure.
I think I was probably around three years old when I first got into StarWars. I had loads of toys, presumably from the Return of the Jedi series, as the third instalment was released when I was three.
Loads of them are still squirreled away in my garage, awaiting their rediscovery to fight more intergalactic wars on my sitting room and bedroom floors.
Many of them have seen better days - I've got a Gamorrean Guard with only one arm, Darth Vader's lightsaber was lost many many years ago and the C3P0 toy that had removable limbs was never reunited with his arms and legs after an outdoor play session sometime before my seventh birthday.
My StarWars toys are amongst the few surviving figures from my childhood days - my Thundercats and He-Man toys were torched in a bonfire in the mid 1990s shortly before we moved into a much smaller house.
(Incidentally, you've never seen a toxic cloud of smoke like the one generated by a bonfire of plastic toys from the 1980s. I'm surprised that Faither wasn't made to sign the Kyoto Protocol after that incident.)
But, as ever, Ebay comes to the rescue. There are hundreds of people selling vintage Thundercats and He-Man toys.
I wonder what Mrs Wife will think when the postman starts delivering 20-year-old toys to Dungroanin'?
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Birthdays - you get one every year, and once the 21st one is past, they're barely worth celebrating any more.
Therefore, when Mrs Wife completes her 29th trip around the sun, I may be far away from the Scottish homestead, taking my sporting endeavours to a brand new audience.
The ninth World Beard and Moustache Championships.
Unfortunately, a combination of style and inability has restricted my beard and moustache-growing endeavours up until now. But I think that with almost 14 months' notice, I could whip my whiskers into a suitably eye-catching style in an effort to capture the title for the United Kingdom.
I'm open to suggestions - should I be rocking the wild untamed cave man look for the World Championships, or instead spend some time with a tub of warm moustache wax as I twist the flowing locks sprouting from my nose into a fantastic handlebar effort? I'm willing to accept guidance from my readers as to the direction my face fuzz should take.
Though I think some of my fellow competitors will take some beating....