Monday, May 26, 2008
Let me introduce myself. I am Rachel, and a friend of Jock's from our time as journalism students in Edinburgh. Our first meeting was Day Two of 'Fresher's Week' which for those outside the UK I shall explain briefly. Your first week as a wide-eyed student at university is spent settling into your Halls of Residence, on the phone to frantic parents assuring them you are eating and washing without reminders, registering for your course, getting lost in a new city, neogitating unfamiliar public transport systems, registering with doctors, calling gas companies to set up bill payments - you know, that sort of thing. Is it though? Is it really? can any of us actually remember doing all those things? No. No we can't as that first week in new territory is spent in the constant quest of getting as drunk as possible with your new 'mates' (most of whom glanced at you once in your shared Halls and you have clung to them ever since) for as little money as possible, and surviving on the bare minimum of sleep. This was a hoot, a challenge we all relished and one that presented no problems whatsoever. The war cry of 'Oh my God! I threw up in that club last night!' is met with 'do you want to go for a pint' and the response was always favourable...
So it comes with grim realisation a mere ten years later that even one day's drinking can ruin the good intentions of man. Last week, I had decided to go for a couple of post-work refreshments with some friends. We staggered from the bar two hours later, having probably only had three glasses of wine, but lunged off in our seperate directions squealing about our love for each other and Raef from The Apprentice. The very next morning was a disaster. I awoke with a thumping head, a sweaty back and my eyes glued shut with last night's mascara. The room was spinning and my legs could barely support the weight of my uncoordinated body. My arms flapped at my sides and the task of getting changed and ready for work reduced me to tears. I had one objective that day and it was to attend a meeting in the afternoon. I failed. That was the moment. How could I, ten years ago, carry out all the necessary tasks of the day and still have the energy for a night out? How far I have fallen, into the pits of late-twenties hangovers, where each feels like another light has gone out in my brain? What will happen with I am 38? 48? I shudder at the thought.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Sorry, should introduce myself. I'm The Tomahawk Kid and I thought I would have a quick nosey round Dungroanin' and see what I could find......but it looks like someone beat me to it.
The drinks cabinet is empty, so is the biscuit tin, and the old sofa Jock keeps in the porch looks like it has been used as a trampoline by a passing rugby team!
Had he been here, Jock would no doubt have posted his thoughts on the footie this week.
First we had a thoroughly enthralling Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea that went all the way to sudden death penalties before United eventually emerged victorious. Glorious stuff and gripping television. I think that Man Utd probably deserved the win following their first half performance but credit to Chelsea for coming back strongly and bossing the second half.
Last night saw Rangers and Celtic vying to win the SPL championship. Both teams were level on points but Rangers were behind on goal difference and were looking to score heavily against Aberdeen whilst hoping that Dundee United would do something against the 'Tic.
Sadly for Rangers (not), Aberdeen once again raised their game and handed out a solid 2-0 beating whilst down the road Celtic just edged past The Arabs.
Funniest moment of the night was when with only 5 minutes left to play the Aberdeen fans started singing en masse to the Rangers fans "Why the f*ck are you still here?"
Whilst I go and find someplace to secrete an Arbroath Smokie, so that the place is nice and fragrant for Jock's return, I will leave you with a hilarious clip of a TV presenter totally losing it..
p.s. What are all these copies of "The Celtic View" doing hidden under the bed?
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Anyhow, I was sitting here at my job thinking to myself, “I really gotta put a post up — but what??,” even though, to channel Langston Hughes, my own blog is beginning to “crust and sugar over — like a syrupy sweet,” but still…no excuses. I need to figure out what to write.
And then, it came to me.
Mark — who I was “introduced” to by Eric, and who is also a fellow newspaper peep (I work for a chain of local weeklies here in Brooklyn, USA) — has the unusual distinction of being only one of two or three other bloggers on my blogroll who are younger than me, and a fine blogger he is, and yet, we both count ourselves among the throngs of young music listeners around the world who deem The Fab Four a favorite music group.
I refer not, of course, to Pete, Roger, John and Keith, the respective members of The Who, my favorite group growing up, nor John and Michelle Phillips, Denny Doherty, and Cass Elliot of The Mamas and the Papas (I have it on good authority that John Phillips was a total dooshbag), but rather I speak of John, Paul, George and Ringo, The Beatles.
And so, sitting here on a rainy deadline day, banging out my myriad mess of photo captions and press announcements for our Southern Brooklyn papers, and trying to keep my sleepyhead from inadvertently slamming down onto the keyboard with a mighty thwack, I try to get through it all by listening to Pandora Radio, “an automated music recommendation and Internet radio service created by the Music Genome Project.”
The entry continues (this figures prominently in my tale): “Users enter a song or artist that they enjoy, and the service responds by playing selections that are musically similar. Users provide feedback on the individual song choices — approval or disapproval — which Pandora takes into account for future selections.”
So say, even if I enter, as an example, “Franz Josef Haydn” into the search box, Pandora will probably play me some early Mozart symphony, and maybe even a little pre-Romantic Beethoven, which is musically somewhat reminiscent of Mozart.
But back to The Fab Four. After having gone on a somewhat lengthy hiatus from them, we’re talking years and years, suddenly I craved The Beatles, which I typed into the “create a new station” search box, and not only have I been able to satisfactorily scratch my niggling Beatles itch, with Pandora providing me with a plethora of awesome classic rock tunage, but I also got to hear lots of other “musically similar” songs, such as John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” Led Zeppelin’s “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” and a buncha stuff by The Hollies, a very cool band; this is one of my favorites from them, though the video is a mite creepy.
As I hinged nearer and nearer to a comatose state at work, barely able to focus, it occurred to me in a rather abrupt, yet lucid, moment, that of all the Beatles songs Pandora has gifted me with over the past few weeks, including “A Day In The Life,” “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight” (the first song[s] I ever got stoned to, back when that was a thing I used to do), and “Paperback Writer,” the one song I have not yet heard — the Holy Grail of Beatles love songs, the modest little ditty which somehow slipped through the cracks of being queued amongst the mélange of other classic rock tunes — was “In My Life.”
WTF? How can such a travesty even be?
I know what you’re thinking: “Geeeeeez, so what?? Get to the friggin’ point already!!” And I will, no need to be tetchy, but anyways, here’s the point to my loooong story, which I thought was really weird and kind of even a little magical: The minute I thought to myself, while listening to “Wild Horses” by The Stones, “Why don’t they ever play ‘In My Life?,’ right after “Wild Horses” ended, guess what song came on? I scheisse youse not.
And since I’m the only person who could A) hear my inner thoughts, and B) hear what’s playing on my headphones, although I am told by coworkers to turn the volume down every once in a while, especially when AC/DC (another of Mark’s faves) or Metallica comes on, I couldn’t exactly SHARE my special private moment with anybody else in the room, ya dig? I mean, yes…technically, I could have, but I could have just as easily made the whole thing up, even though, honest injun I didn’t, but also…would anyone really have cared?
Yannow what, though? I never met Mark, but I have met the aforelinkedto Eric, and they two are good buds (I’m sure the AC/DC video Eric posted, right after he came back from Scotland, had somewhat to do with his falling under Mark’s influence), and one thing us thirty-somethings have in common (wait, Mark…are you even 30 yet? Or did you just turn 29?) is that we take our music very seriously, and I just know Mark would have cared.
And that, children, is only part of why I am a loyal reader of Groanin’ Jock. The other reason being, I just fancy the way the guy looks in a kilt.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Jock has kindly left me the keys to his butt 'n' ben over the next couple of weeks. Something about humanitarian aid to China... Anyway, I'm Misssy from The Misssy Martin Misssives. And while look under the bed for porn and check out if he's left any decent biscuits in the biscuit tin, I thought I'd start off with something that I think is typical Jock fayre.
Some very clever people over at Mensa have complied a list of new words, for a laugh. The game is you take a dictionary word, and alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition..
Here are some of the best ones:
Here are some of the best ones:
1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly
3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.
After reading these, I started to think of some of my own but I wanted to have a go at doing some that are all about this thing we do called blogging.
A Brog: A blog that it is so full of one’s own importance that it may well be considered as bragging. See most celebrity blogs for examples.
Stattering: Clicking on your stats so much that it becomes an affliction.
Going postal: Ever just written the best blog post ever and Blogger posts an error message as you click “Publish”. Well the hysterical acts of violence to your computer as a consequence are known as “going postal”
Schlurking: Not commenting on someone’s blog cos you are a pussy and frightened of the human interaction that might ensue.
Cummenting: What the readers of sex blogs do.
If you can think of any more (they don't have to be blog related) then you know where the comments box is...
See you in a couple of days after I've drained all Jock's booze cabinet.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I couldn't possibly pass on mentioning the Rangers match, disappointing though the result was.
But if anyone had told me at the start of the season that Rangers would play in a European final within the next year, I would have thought them insane.
The better team won last night, but Rangers played to their strengths, defending (fairly) solidly and looking to catch Zenit on the break.
And in the second half, just as it looked as though Rangers might take the lead through their continued pressure, Zenit scored, and the match was over.
So yes, I'm disappointed, but extremely proud of the club for having made it to Manchester in the first place. Now we can turn our attentions to the league....
The next few days are likely to be spent in a blur as I attempt to get all my shit together before flying off to China. But even before then, I'm going to be a busy boy. Tonight, Dungroanin' will be graced by Eric, my Blogfather and everyone's favourite Heterosexual Caucasian Male, and his wife Fiona, who are in these frozen northern climes for a holiday.
So we'll catch up, set the world to rights and share a drink or two, safe in the knowledge that neither of us has to work the next day.
Friday will be spent packing and preparing everything for departure to Shanghai, including delivering Mrs Wife's rabbits, Pepper and Dylan, to a rabbit boarding establishment. Yep, such a thing exists.
That will be followed by the Dirty Pretty Things concert in Dundee, which should be pretty darn good, what with DPT being a Libertines/Cooper Temple Clause indie supergroup. Which will, in turn, be followed by a night in a hotel at Glasgow airport before we jet off.
I'm not sure whether I'll be able to blog while I'm away, so I've arranged for a few kind souls to drop by and keep both my readers amused in the interim. And they're likely to be so good that my presence here will no longer be required.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
As I mentioned previously, I was, for a few of my years, a half-decent sprinter, winning the McGregor Cup as Senior Boys' 100m champion in both of my final two years at school.
Unfortunately, this success didn't translate to other events, and I was never crowned overall champion, although Baby Brother achieved that feat a few years later.
My inability to convert my sprinting prowess to other events reached its peak when I was around 14. At the end of each school sports day, the final event was always the boys' open 1500m race, an event in which every boy in the school was entitled to compete, regardless of age.
Entering the event as a fresh-faced 14-year-old, I had no grasp of the concept of pacing myself. If I did something, I did it flat out, as befitted a sprinter.
Lining up alongside my fellow male pupils, I was one of the younger runners. But, as the gun signalled the start of the race, I flew out in front of the pack, determined to rattle around the track as quickly as possible.
For the watching crowd, comprising every other pupil in the school, all of the teachers and a few bored parents, it must have been some sight. By the end of the first lap, I was 200 metres in front of my nearest challenger, a senior pupil four years older and considerably fitter than I was.
As I crossed the line at the end of the first of my three laps, I received some sterling advice from those congregated at the line:
"You're running too fast!"
"Move into the inside lane!"
True enough, by the midway point of the second lap, my lungs and legs were burning, and the runners behind me were closing in fast. By the end of that lap I was second.
Midway through the third lap, I thought I was going to die, my legs barely willing to carry me any further, my heart dancing to its own private hardcore rave compilation and my lungs wondering what they'd done to deserve the punishment I was inflicting upon them.
Finally, desperately, I stumbled over the finish line in seventh place, staggered to a nearby grassy bank and collapsed.
The world was spinning and I could see spots flashing wildly in front of my eyes. It took me a good 10 minutes to summon the energy to stand up.
The lesson I've learned from that race?
If nature had intended me to travel 1500 metres in one go, he'd have given me wheels instead of legs.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Mornings like that, when the smell of cut grass hangs in air alongside the morning mist, always remind of sports day at high school.
I'm not sure if this situation was replicated at other schools, but at the high school I attended, there were two sports days - an individual sports day and a team sports day.
At the first, the individual sports day, each competitor was out for personal glory, taking part in as many events as he or she saw fit, the person with the most points at the end of the day winning the individual sports trophy for that year.
A week later, the official school sports took place, with the school's three houses competing against each other for the collective bragging rights. And the events couldn't be rigged - no single competitor was allowed to compete in more than two individual events plus the relay race.
In those days, I was a fairly formidable sprinter, at least within the context of our school. And from first year onwards, it became apparent that taking part in the individual sports day was a great way of missing a day's lessons.
I competed every year from first until sixth year, even in the years when Standard Grades and Highers were doing their damndest to suck the will to live from all who cowered in their shadows.
It was a fairly easy decision - a day in a stuffy classroom with algebra, iambic pentameter and the farming habits of Amazon indians, or a day spent running around in the sun.
Those who participated in the individual sports day fell broadly into three camps:
A) The Competitors. These were the individuals who saw, in sports day, a chance to bag some glory through lifting a silver trophy at that year's prize-giving ceremony, their parents beaming happily from the audience. Their ambition would know no bounds - warm-up exercises, knee braces and isotonic sports drinks were all employed as they attempted to get their grubby paws on a trophy.
B) The Skivers: These people were at sports day simply as a way of avoiding the book-based horror within the school's walls. What they lacked in physical prowess and athletic endeavour, they made up for in journies to the sweetie machines or escape bids to smoke a fly fag around the back of the science block.
C) The Complete Bampots: Even at the age of 13, there are some people you can pick out as being a bit special. They may not have a brain cell to call their own, but when they're 6'2" of rippling muscle before most of their classmates' balls have dropped, you know it's best not to point out their shortcomings.
I was somewhere between groups A and B: I turned up half expecting to do well, then remembered that I can't run for more than 200 metres without coughing up semi-vital internal organs.
But, from the age of about 15, I was almost unbeatable over 100m, when limiting the competition solely to other pupils at my school. I say almost, because there is always one....
....Jimmy (I've changed his name to avoid any future repercussions) was a machine. He didn't so much fit into group C as define it. There are people you describe as solid who don't deserve the accolade. Jimmy wasn't one of them.
I'd encountered him on a running track once before, during a relay race. My team was doing well, and I was leading from the front on the final leg.
Then I heard Jimmy.
That's right, I heard him coming.
Snorting like a charging bull, he was closing the gap on me, his arms and legs seemingly replaced by steam engine pistons.
And, in a blur of thunderous gristle, he was past me and through the line.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jimmy, not renowned for his ability to work with calculus, is now in the army. Never mind tanks and guns - just set Jimmy at those Iraqi insurgents. He'll take down the whole of Basra in a day.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
No doubt Mrs Wife has a fun-filled day planned for me tomorrow, what with it being our last weekend at home until the end of May.
I expect that tomorrow's (today's) chores will include cutting the grass, which is a pain in the hole at the best of times but is an especially annoying pain of the whole when it clashes with watching Soccer AM or listening to Rangers v Dundee Utd on the wireless.
(As an aside, my Granny always called the radio the wireless, even though it was always plugged in. Even as a wee boy, that struck me as strange. She also referred to the black stuff on roads as Tarmacadam, which, while it is the correct term, hasn't been used by anyone else since the stuff was invented.)
It seems strange to think that in a week's time, Mrs Wife and I will be en route from Dundee to Glasgow, having just seen Dirty Pretty Things at Fat Sams, and that 24 hours later will be winging our way to Shanghai via Amsterdam.
The extent of my preparation so far has been to pile four new shirts on the spare bed, buy a travel pillow and the Lonely Planet China book and try to find out where in Shanghai I can buy cheap electrical goods and hooky DVDs.
I should really be preparing now, but I'm too busy flicking randomly and distractedly through the hundreds of channels on Sky.
And halfheartedly praying for rain so that I don't have to cut the grass.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Thursday, May 08, 2008
At least I was until yesterday.
Whilst transferring new music onto the Magic Tune Box, its battery died. "Nobig deal," I thought, "I'll just plug it in."
Except, when I did, it started rebuilding its internal library. And when it had completed that task, it had miraculously lost 2,500 tracks. Not whole albums, not tracks in any logical order. Just 2,500 random tracks.
Despite this sudden removal of 20 per cent of its total of its contents, this incredible piece of technology had decided not to free up the disk space previously allocated to the tracks. So I'm left with a machine missing key tracks from most albums, its memory full and no way of resetting.
So, as a permanent solution, I'm going to sell my soul and jump on the IPod band wagon (10 years too late). I've decided to invest in a 160GB IPod Classic, which I'm hoping to pick up fairly cheap in China next week.
(Doesn't that last sentence make me sound like a real global traveller. Worse still, at one point in the past day, I uttered the phrase "Maybe Ican fit it in between Shanghai and Stavanger." Which probably just makes me sound like a wanker.)
Anyway, RIP Magic Tune Box. It's been a pleasure.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
As Mrs Wife will happily tell almost anyone, I frequently talk and wander about in my sleep.
Usually, or so I am told, these midnight disturbances are no more than a few muttered words before I turn over and fall back into a snore-filled slumber.
But occasionally, and usually when I am especially tired, I have been known to set off on mini expeditions, to engage Mrs Wife in lurid conversations or to imagine that I am in an unusual place or that there are unusual things in the bedroom.
For example, I once sat bolt upright in bed and informed Mrs Wife (then known as Miss Girlfriend) that there was a mouse in the room. Having delivered this unwelcome piece of news in a darkened room at 1am, I promptly lay back down and fell back into a deep sleep. From the report Mrs Wife gave me the next morning, it seems she was unable to do likewise for quite some time.
This animal fascination has reared its head again recently, as I now frequently wake in the middle of the night under the impression that Mrs Wife's rabbits, Dylan and Pepper, are scampering about in our bedroom.
At least this nocturnal intermission is based somewhat on facts - Dylan escaped from his cage a couple of weeks ago and feasted merrily on the tangle of wires and cables that lives behind our television. He was not a popular critter the morning that his handiwork was discovered.
But my finest hour in the exciting world of sleepwalking occurred while I was at university in 2002.
Myself and four others shared a five-bedroom flat on Edinburgh's Morningside Road, in a block in which the same person owned the two flats directly across the landing from each other. When we had been in our new home for several months, the owner announced that he would be refurbishing both, and that we would have to move across the hall for a few weeks while work took place in our flat.
For a week or so at the end of the renovations, we retained keys for both properties while we moved back into our own residence. And it is at this point that our story takes place.
After a night out in Edinburgh, I returned to the original flat and headed to bed.
Several hours later, I stirred, and found that I was feeling unusually cold. Opening my eyes, I discovered that I was in the bedroom in the other flat that I had lived in briefly during the renovations. I was lying on top of the brand new mattress on the brand new bed in that room, wrapped only in a plastic protective cover from the mattress and wearing only a pair of boxer shorts.
With my confusion rapidly accelerating, I investigated further. I found that I was, not surprisingly, in the flat on my own, but that more surprisingly, all of the lights were on.
And so, having switched all the lights off, I shut the door behind me and padded across the cold hallway to our own flat. Where I found that the door was locked.
Unfortunately, I had also shut the door behind me as I left flat number two, locking me out of both properties.
I was cold. I was tired. I was confused. I was drunk.
And so, I took the only action left open to me and started banging furiously on the door to the flat, knowing that my four flatmates were inside.
Thankfully, I managed to wake one of my sleeping flatmates before any of the neighbours could call the police.
Bleary-eyed and, like me, wearing only boxers, my friend opened the door and stared in wonder at this vision before him.
"Mate, what are you doing?" he asked.
"I have no idea," was all I could say in response, "I'm going to bed."
And I did.
The next morning, I awoke with a pounding headache. Turning over, I could hear the sound of conversation coming from the sitting room.
"Aye, standing on the doorstep waering just a pair of boxers!"
Not wishing to disappoint my audience, I ventured into the sitting room, where I was greeted with applause, laughter and a barrage of questions.
None of which I have ever been able to answer.
Monday, May 05, 2008
That's especially true when it seems that summer has arrived, as was the case today with barely a cloud in the sky. And so, armed with the Magic Tune Box loaded with the newly-acquired albums by Portishead and The Courteeners, Alexander McCall Smith's fourth No.1 Ladies Detective Agency book and a drink, I spent most of the afternoon baking in the May sunshine.
As a result, my arms are now a lurid lobster pink - which is a progression from corned beef grey, the standard hue of the Scotsman on his own soil.
But now the haar is rolling in and the working week is lumbering in to view. And my arms are stinging a bit.
Still, it was good while it lasted.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
My prediction skills are obviously abysmal, as not only did we not get right royally humped by the hard-training five-a-side team on Tuesday, but we actually beat them, yours truly netting a hat-trick in a 6-3 win that puts us joint top of the league.
That was followed last night by the first leg of the Scottish League Second Division Play-off between Montrose and Stranraer that ended in a 1-1 draw. Montrose should really have won, but scandalous refereeing cost Montrose a victory, and not for the first time this season. Still, there's a second leg, so there's still a chance, even if the Links Park side will be without their now suspended top goalscorer John Baird.
And now it's Fiorentina v Rangers as the Gers attempt to reach a European final for the first time in my lifetime. Expect no further communication this evening.