As seen on another blog that I would link to if it wasn't "members only".
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
The Stone Roses award for Album of The Year: (Nominees: The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love; Manic Street Preachers - Journal For Plague Lovers, Doves - Kingdom of Rust; The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die; Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum)
A few weeks back, I was discussing the year's best albums with a couple of friends. At that time, I was fairly certain it had been a pretty poor year for records. But looking back through the Magic Tune Box, it seems I'd simply forgotten that a number of pretty darn good albums were released this year. Of the five best, I'm torn between The Decemberists' folk concept album, Doves' grandiose indie guitar and The Prodigy's startling return to form. Pushed for a decision, I'd have to go with The Decemberists and their woodlands-based tale of a lady called Margaret.
The Strawberry Fields Forever award for Single of The Year: (Nominees: The Prodigy - Warrior's Dance; Kasabian - Underdog; Gossip - Heavy Cross; Lily Allen - The Fear; Florence and The Machine - You've Got The Love)
Just as The Verve's Love Is Noise soundtracked my summer in 2008, Kasabian's Underdog was my tune of choice for most of this year. Chiming guitars, heavy beats and a sound taking the Madchester sound forward again, no other track inspired me the way that the first glimpse of Kasabian's latest lunacy did.
The Rolling Stones award for Live Act of The Year: (Nominees: Take That, Neil Young, AC/DC, Them Crooked Vultures, Jane's Addiction)
If this was a bumper year for albums, it was a phenomenal year for live music. This was the year I saw Neil Young and AC/DC for the first time, as well as the disappointment of Dylan. Take That's show was head and shoulders the most complex I've ever seen, eclipsing even The Rolling Stones and U2, while AC/DC pulled off stadium rock with the ease of grizzled veterans. But the single greatest performance was Neil Young's at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. A "best of" set that found Mr Young in sparkling form, he was phenomenal from start to finish, climaxing with a howling take on The Beatles' A Day In The Life.
The Goodfellas Award for Movie of the Year: (Nominees: Paranormal Activity; Watchmen; Star Trek; The Boat That Rocked)
Mrs Wife and I haven't been to the cinema as often as normal this year, and we wasted two cinema trips on the disappointing Transformers 2 and Terminator: Salvation. And we still haven't seen Avatar or Sherlock Holmes. My choice for movie of the year would be Paranormal Activity, proving that you don't need a multi-million dollar budget to keep your audience on the edge of their seats.
The Knight Rider award for TV Programme of The Year: (Nominees: Fringe; True Blood; Spooks; Generation Kill; FlashForward)
Another good year for television and justification for owning a Sky+ box. Most of the really good stuff continues to come from across the Atlantic, and it was True Blood, the televised adaptation of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, that led the way. I've always been a sucker for a vampire story set in the modern age, from The Littlest Vampire through The Lost Boys and onwards. True Blood just continued the trend.
The Marilyn Monroe award for Babe of The Year: (Nominees: Salma Hayek; Nadine Coyle; Cheryle Cole; Beyonce Knowles; Michelle Keegan)
Assuming, as always, that Mrs Wife is the genuine winner of this category from now until the end of the Blogosphere, I'd happily take any of the above nominees as runner-up (or all five together with whipped cream and chocolate sauce). But for the sake of handing out the gong, it's Salma Hayek who walks away as the "winner".
The Jet Set Willy Award for Computer Game of The Year: (Nominees: Football Manager 2010; Rock Band)
The only guaranteed shoo-in of all the awards, Football Manager continues to go from strength to strength, this year with an overhaul of its match engine and the ability to create competitions - the Scottish League pyramid system created by one gifted fan is simply amazing.
The Godfather III award for Biggest Disappointment of The Year: (Nominees: The death of Michael Jackson; Bob Dylan live; Transformers 2; Arctic Monkeys' third album)
Bob Dylan was horrendous live. Of all the concerts I saw this year, that was by far the worst. But the biggest disappointment of the year was undoubtedly the passing of the King of Pop, barely weeks before Mrs Wife and I were due to see him perform in London. We still had a great holiday in the Big Smoke, but his demise left a huge gap in our year and in the music world.
The Screamadelica award for Scottish Album of The Year: (Nominee: Miyagi - Scalextro South Americana)
I'm struggling to think of any notable contributions from north of the border, so this year's award goes to Miyagi, even if a four-track EP scarcely counts as an album. An odd mix of instruments harnessed together for a fantastic ensemble sound.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Today's match at Links Park may have been a 0-0 draw, but it was entertaining from start until finish, both sides pressing forwards in the hunt for goals.
Montrose hit the crossbar, Annan twice hit the post, Daryl Nicol sent a shot over the crossbar from six yards out - in short, there was no shortage of chances.
Annan started the match with three former Montrose players in their side, but Greg Kelly, David Cox and Scott Anson went back to the borders with only a point. There were also three ex-Hibs players on show, in the forms of Montrose goalkeeper Andrew McNeil, who was outstanding, pulling off a series of acrobatic saves; Montrose player-manager Steven Tweed, who has looked increasingly confident over the past few weeks; and Derek Townsley, acting as player and assistant manager to Brechin City legend Harry Cairney.
Missing out on a first league win was a disappointment, but a point is still a welcome step forward. Montrose are definitely going to finish bottom of the bottom division this season, so now should be the time for getting a solid and experienced team set up for next season. Positive signs are beginning to show themselves, with a defence that is becoming harder to break down and a midfield with a good blend of grit and class. The attack still needs work, but I'm optimistic that the second half of the season can't possibly be as bad as the first....
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Stevie Crawford has been manager of East Fife since the start of the season, but I'm sure losing a Scottish Cup tie against lowly Montrose won't be terribly high on his list of achievements.
Montrose were the better team throughout and could have had half a dozen goals by half time. Steven Tweed had his best game in a Montrose shirt (or the best I've seen anyway), and the youngsters swarming around him were excellent.
Oddly, the victory arrived in a match in which Marek Tomana was confined to the bench. Maybe Tweed should drop his best player every week....
Bring on Rangers at Links Park.
In my late teens, when it became apparent that I was going to be studying journalism at university, I always assumed that I'd end up working in London.
Life didn't play out that way, and I've been to London less than a dozen times since my first visit in 1999.
I always look forward to heading down to the big smoke - especially when my employer is paying, as was the case this week.
But it's a place that delights and infuriates in equal measure.
The sheer size of the city is something that a life spent mostly in Scotland can't prepare you for. London isn't a single entity, it's a whole series of towns linked by what, in my experience, is the world's greatest underground network.
But the tube, while generally working like clockwork, can be a source of great frustration. It seems that Londoners are adept at avoiding eye contact, instead stampeding impatiently from platform to platform, barrier to exit. One second's hesitance and you're immediately in someone's way, and they're not slow in telling you.
The sheer volume of people takes some getting used to as well, especially for those of us who split their time between Montrose and Aberdeen. But London seems overcrowded even when compared to New York and Shanghai, although perhaps memory serves me incorrectly.
Even with the overcrowding and the sullen faces surrounding me on every side, London is incredible. There are amazing buildings on almost every street. Huge ornate buildings that would be royal residences in any other country are train stations or offices in London.
But it's a tiring place, especially when you're at a conference for the entire time you're there, and even more so when your flight is delayed. I did at least get a meal at Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food restaurant, and it was one of the best meals I've ever had.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
The focus of today's attention was to be Montrose v Berwick, but when I arrived at the ground at 2.20pm it was apparent all was not well. Groups of people huddled in the shelter of the ground's front entrance, and the turnstiles weren't open.
Angus has been bombarded by torrential rain over the past few days, and I assumed that even Montrose's plastic pitch had proven too soggy for football today.
But the club employees inside the stadium informed us that one of the teams was stuck en route due to a road closure between Perth and Dundee.
Now, I would have assumed that the team unable to make it Links Park today would have been Berwick, seeing as how they were coming from England. But the Berwick team bus was parked in front of the ground, and small groups of their fans were wandering around nearby.
No, the team unable to make it to today's fixture was the home side.
It's a funny old game Saint....
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
If you've not been yet, I wouldn't bother. I recommended the site on the basis of a couple of brief instrumental excerpts.
But having listened to the first two tracks (I couldn't bear any more) it's apparent that the "album" is just a poorly-executed mash-up of various post-Beatles solo works.
At least the story was vaguely entertaining.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
They deserved all three. Stranraer are dire, but Montrose have regressed so far over the past few months that even a home match against a team as shite as this can't be regarded as a shoo-in.
It was end-to-end stuff, but neither side created much in the way of genuine chances. Saying that, if Stranraer captain Danny Mitchell could hit the target with his shots, Stranraer could have had half a dozen goals.
The first goal came in the 54th minute, Sean Anderson flicking a Paul Watson free kick in off the far post. The lead only lasted ten minutes though, Michael Moore beating the offside trap (or Montrose's backline standing roughly in a straight line anyway), avoiding a late Tweed lunge and sending a low shot into the bottom corner.
But Montrose should have finished the match, Tweed somehow managing to volley OVER the crossbar from three yards and both Maitland and Nicol missing late chances from inside the box.
Montrose looked much better today than they have of late, with more width and drive in evidence. They need to cut out silly mistakes, with Fraser Milligan in particular guilty of carelessness on a number of occasions. The side is crying out for a goalscorer as well, but I've been saying that all season. I've seen Montrose play four times this season, but only seen them score twice.
Optimism says that the potential is there for the team to start winning - perhaps a first league win will lead to an avalanche. But pragmatism says that the season is going to be a long, long grind.
Today could have been worse though. I could have watched the Scotland match.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Or just barking mad?
Anyway, it's a good story and the music is half decent - is this really unreleased Beatles music from an alternative dimension?
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Monday, November 02, 2009
A comfortable win over Banks O' Dee in the monsoon a week earlier seemed to spark Montrose into life on Saturday, and they played their full time opponents off the park for long spells.
Livingston have few friends in Scottish football and Saturday's match did little to win new buddies in Montrose. Jonathan Brown was sent off for a high, late and dangerous tackle in the 22nd minute, and striker Andrew Halliday appeared to feign injury to get Montrose's Sean Anderson dismissed 13 minutes later.
Despite the hinderances, Montrose played as well as I've seen them this season (albeit that is only three games). Tomana, Nicol, Hegarty and even Tweed looked good, but Montrose still can't score goals. There's a desperate need for someone who can put the ball in the net by any means possible.
(As an aside, I'm reminded of the West Ham fan who sat behind the dugout in a pre-season friendly. He spent the whole first half lambasting whichever lump of meat Harry Redknapp was playing up front at the time. Eventually 'Arry turned round to the fan, told him to put on a Hammers shirt and get on the pitch. He did, he played up front and he scored. I might take my boots to Links Park for the Stranraer game on November 14 and see what happens.)
Did Livi deserve to win 3-0? Did they hell. They were lucky even to win, but the margin exaggerated the result. Sure enough, Halliday scored the second, which effectively decided the match, and was subbed off near the end to a chorus of boos from the home fans.
Sitting amongst said fans was Jamie Buchan, until recently one of the best players at the club. He's still unattached, and it would be a great piece of business if Mo could bring him back to add a bit of experience, cool passing and solid tackling either at the back or behind Tomana in midfield. Here's hoping....
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
And it was utter bedlam. I've just heard on the news that 10,000 people were through the doors in the first hour.
TEN THOUSAND people. 30,000 in the first three hours. To see shops and restaurants that largely already exist in the city.
The big draw though was the shiny new Apple store. They were giving away t-shirts to the first 1,000 people into the shop, and rumour has it that 100 of the boxes also had iPod Nanos in them. But we took one look at the queue and decided to leave instead.
But even that was hard work, fighting against the flow of 10,000 folk milling around, ramraiding others with buggies, stopping dead with no notice and generally infuriating those of us who are perfectly normal.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
This much music means that to listen to it all would take solid weeks. And it also means that there are lots of tracks on the Magic Tune Box that I've never heard. Not even once.
So, a while back I decided that one way to remedy this would be to listen to all the albums on the Magic Tune Box in alphabetical order. As well as allowing me to hear some of the music for the first time, this also enabled me to keep my borderline OCD in check.
At the moment, I've gotten as far as "E". And today, I heard the Rory Gallagher compilation Etched In Blue for the first time.
I was blown away.
Thanks to my odd desire to listen to everything in some pre-defined order, and to the alphabet, I've discovered some new (30-year-old) tunes.
Take your happiness where you can find it folks....
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
A measly two points from the first quarter of the season tells as much of the story as should be necessary - no wins from the opening nine matches.
As is the case with fans of most shite teams, I'm adamant that Montrose are better than this.
Except they're not.
The defence is largely anonymous. Paul Quinn could have stopped and made a cup of tea before scoring Queen's Park's first last night, with the centre backs - Sean Crighton and player/manager/captain/obergrupenfuhrer/king of the world Steven Tweed - nowhere to be seen.
Andrew McNeil was an erratic keeper when he was at Hibs, and presumably that's why he now finds himself slumming it at the foot of Division Three.
And Montrose have no-one who can score goals. All of their attacks were based around long shots from outside or near the edge of the box, or aimlessly lumping the ball into the box and hoping that Tweed or Crighton could connect with their noggins.
It seems a long time since the heady days of Jim Weir, when promotion looked a serious possibility - but it's only been a season and half. Montrose's slide to below mediocrity has been rapid, thanks in no small part to a whole host of managers and a club-wide budget cut.
It's going to be a grim winter.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Sunday, October 04, 2009
If I'm honest, it's a blessing of sorts, as age and illness had slowly and cumulatively stripped her of everything that made her my granny - her memories, her personality, her mobility and, in the end, everything bar her body's refusal to finally surrender.
At the moment, it's hard to put those memories to the side, but I'd much rather remember her for the wonderful woman she was.
She was a woman who loved unconditionally, who was singularly devoted to her husband, children and grandchildren and a woman to whom there was no greater pleasure than spending time surrounded by her loved ones.
I may be biased, but I have never met a better cook, and I would give almost anything to taste her steak pie and roast tatties again.
My memories are all over the place at the moment, but all of them are happy. Images of the whole family clustered around the kitchen table playing Monopoly, my granny always insisting on being the iron; her singing along to Radio 2, always out of tune and always a bar behind the recorded version; roaring with laughter at Some Like It Hot despite having seen it hundreds of times.
I could go on like this forever, but I won't. I'll just sit here with my memories of a wonderful woman.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Because I'm lazy and I was a better writer when I was a 23-year-old layabout than I am now that I'm a 29-year-old layabout, here's an account of when Mrs Wife and I first arrived in Australia in late 2003.
Happy New Year from Perth! Hope everybody had a good Hogmanay despite what I hear were hurricane-like weather conditions on the East of Scotland.
For the record, both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day were scorching here. As this is the start of the Ozzie summer, temperature is steadily rising, so although Xmas Day's 32 degrees seemed pretty darn hot, the temperature is now nudging 40 degrees almost every day, so it can almost seem unbearable - at least until I remember that the alternative is driving home from Aberdeen in the dark during a blizzard - then the ice lollies and sunbathing don't seem as bad....
Anyway, life in Perth is good. It's a lot smaller than I expected, especially after arriving from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, but it's a lot more manageable than those three cities, and a lot more chilled out. We've been here since the 20th of December, and in that short space of time I have already had three different employers.
Finding work hasn't been that easy, our visas restrict us to three months in a single job, so employers tend to shy away from travellers. My first crack at employment was in a small cafe in the middle of Perth run by a psychotic Chinese woman called Nancy (that was what first set the alarm bells ringing, Chinese people aren't called Nancy, they're called Ng and Chan and things). The place was staffed almost exclusively by illegal immigrants, from places as diverse as Yugoslavia (the mysterious and suspicious Dragan - potentially evading war crimes charges I think), Ben from Taiwan (has now overstayed his visa by three years) and assorted other Orientals with all the warmth and endearing qualities of frozen vomit.
After a four-hour trial spent avoiding Nancy's death stare as much as possible, I was offered the job for $12 an hour, which Nancy assured me was a great wage. Which it is in British terms (almost five GBP an hour) but the minimum wage for waiters in Oz is $15ph. I also knew that if I had to work there for two months, there would either be a raid by the Department of Immigration, or I would end up knocking Nancy's head in with a coffee pot, so I politely declined her offer.
My second stab at earning some cash was scrubbing campervans near the airport. Although it sounds like a pretty crappy job, it paid $14ph (about six pounds), was outdoors in the sun, and the people were pretty sound. But there wasn't enough work to last all the employees, so it was a case of last in, first out, but I at least got three days out of this one.
And now we're both working for a telemarketing company, trying to sell mobile phones. There's a base rate to ensure we don't starve, but most of the money is made through commission, so we'll see how it goes. We're both looking for better jobs though. Personally, I'm just waiting for the job advert seeking an immediate vacancy for a roving music journalist on $100,000 a year....
Aside from the jobhunting, we haven't really done very much since we arrived, partly due to having nae cash, and partly because our time here has been interrupted by Xmas and New Year. We spent Xmas in the hostel, with a champagne brekky by the pool and then a full Xmas dinner and Xmas supper.
It was good to spend the day lazing round in the sun, and generally mucking round in the pool. We were out in Perth on Hogmanay, our hostel is in the 'trendy' area of Northbridge (imagine Camden in London or The Grassmarket in Edinburgh, but with more pissed British people and no rain and you're getting close), so we spent the night at the street party there, walking between the stages and through the huge crowds until the fireworks.
So now we've moved into a flat with a couple of Ozzies, business student Tim and Journalism graduate Leah, and we're trying to save a bit of cash to buy a car and keep on moving. Hope everybody is fully recovered from the festivities and glad to be back at work.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
....when the driving instructor grabs the wheel to stop a collision with an oncoming car....
....and when the learner panics and accidentally hits the accelerator instead of the brake....
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I know for a fact that I couldn't run a marathon - my knees are agony after an hour of football, never mind four or more hours of running on concrete.
And there's no way I could be bothered to train for a marathon - I'm just too damned lazy.
Please head across to Kevin's blog and show your support for his madness....
Monday, September 14, 2009
So starts the second half of Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, one of the greatest albums ever made.
As well as having the Small Faces at their peak, mixing mod, musichall and rock stompers together, the second half of the album is a concept piece narrated by one of my stranger heroes, Stanley Unwin.
Unwin famously jabbered in his own language, Unwinese, and his utterances on the second half of Ogden's are wonderful.
I can't accurately annotate his contributions, but this comes from Wikipedia:
Unwinese, also known as "Basic Engly Twentyfido" - probably a reference to Charles Kay Ogden's 1930 work "Basic English", which strips the language down to 8509 words, was a special, ornamented and mangled form of English in which many of the words were corrupted in a playful and humorous way. Unwin’s performances could be hilarious yet disorienting although the meaning and context were always conveyed in a disguised and picturesque style.
Unwinese was very poetic in the way it alluded to its subject – e.g. Elvis Presley and his contemporaries are described as having ‘wasp-waist and swivel-hippy’ – and it was often punctuated with moments of clarity and directness to accentuate the ‘nonsense’ – e.g. ‘Deep joy!’ ‘Oh yes’.
Unwin claimed his gift came from his mother, who once told him that on the way home she had "falolloped over and grazed her kneeclabbers". This phrase eventually turned up in one of Unwin's monologues, Goldiloppers and the Three Bearloders.
I've just purchased Unwin's first album, Rotatey Diskers With Unwin, and it's fabulous. And available from Amazon for less than £3. At that price, it's a steal.
Unwin's website can be seen here.
And my favourite piece of Unwin trivia: He is buried in the churchyard at Long Buckby, with wife Frances, who pre-deceased him. Their gravestone has the epitaph, "Reunitey in the heavenly-bode – Deep Joy".
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Neepheid was the winner on that occasion, correctly identifying two of the tracks. Answers are now on the comments on that post.
So now, here are the five mystery lyrics for you to identify. Simply name the artist and track - answers in the comments, no Googling!
1. Well your railroad gate, you know I just can't jump it.
2. "Look out the left," the captain said, "The lights down there, that's where we'll land."
3. I got the pulsating rhythmical remedy.
4. Temperature's rising, fever is high, can't see no future, can't see no sky.
5. The pack on my back is aching, the straps seem to cut me like a knife.
Rule number 1. You only have room for 25 albums.
Rule number 2. You can only name one album per band.
Rule number 3. They have to be named in order.
Rule number 4. Greatest Hits or compilations are invalid.
So without further ado (or any ado at all) here is the list of 25 records I'd take with me to listen to until the end of my days.
25 - The Cooper Temple Clause - See This Through and Leave
24 - Supergrass - In It For The Money
23 - Gomez - Liquid Skin
22 - Powderfinger - Vulture Street
21 - The Charlatans - The Charlatans
20 - Primal Scream - Exterminator
19 - Michael Jackson - Thriller
18 - The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
17 - The Jam - Sound Affects
16 - Elbow - ASleep In The Back
15 - The Libertines - Up The Bracket
14 - Radiohead - OK Computer
13 - Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
12 - The Doors - The Doors
11 - The Bluetones - Return To The Last Chance Saloon
10 - The Coral - The Coral
9 - Small Faces - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
8 - John Lennon - Imagine
7 - Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
6 - Stereophonics - Word Gets Around
5 - Oasis - Definitely Maybe
4 - The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour
3 - Super Furry Animals - Radiator
2 - Nirvana - Nevermind
1 - The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
This isn't the list of my 25 favourite albums - there would be at least another six Beatles albums, and others by Nirvana, Oasis, The Stone Roses and Radiohead if it was. I couldn't elevate a single Rolling Stones album, or any of the records by Pink Floyd, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience or David Bowie to my top 25, and even Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse, Coldplay and The Verve fail to make the cut.
Now, I throw the challenge open to everyone else - what would be the 25 records you would take with you to a desert island?
Monday, September 07, 2009
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Saturday, September 05, 2009
It's a must-win match - and even a win is no guarantee that we can finish second in a fairly average group.
The team selection hardly fills me with confidence - Stephen McManus hasn't played a game this season, Davie Weir is 39, Graham Alexander isn't international class, Kenny Miller is pish.
There's a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Messrs McFadden and D Fletcher. Whether they can reach the top of their respective games today - wildly exciting attacking play and solid midfield combatism - remains to be seen, but for Scotland to win will require a determined performance from all of the (so far) misfiring team.
Then we just have to beat Holland....
Friday, September 04, 2009
Despite the fact that we're in one of the wettest parts of the world, our rail system can't cope with the water, and all trains are cancelled or severely delayed.
Which means that I'm "working from home" today, which means that I'm working in significantly greater comfort than I'm used to.
For a start, I'm in jeans, a jumper and thick woolly socks. NME TV is on in the background. I can eat what I like when I like.
And I'm realising once again that there's no way I could ever work from home permanently - I just don't have the discipline. I need to be in an air-conditioned office wearing proper work clothes to get me in the work frame of mind.
Still, one day isn't going to hurt.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
To me, and my fellow football-following colleagues, it was an unexpected announcement - none of us could remember hearing about the case before today, and none of us had heard of Gael Kakuta.
(I'd be willing to wager that even most Chelsea "fans" were oblivious to his existence until today.)
It's a brave step by FIFA, banning one of the world's richest (but not necessarily biggest and definitely not most successful) clubs from adding to their already formidable squad for the next 18 months.
It also explains why Chelsea were so quick to secure key players like John Terry and Ashley Cole to new long-term deals in the past week. But it does raise question marks over why they didn't rush out and sign new players ahead of the ban.
None of the players the club was linked with this summer made the move to Stamford Bridge, leaving Carlo Ancelotti with the same squad as that left behind by Guus Hiddink.
That's not necessarily a massive hardship - they're still a formidable force and one of the English game's most powerful clubs.
But all it would take would be a serious injury or loss of form from one or two of the club's key players and they could find themselves on the slide.
Aside from the hardship to Chelsea, I think that FIFA's decision shows that it does at least have some balls. If it won't simply stand by and watch clubs mercilessly plunder others of their homegrown talent, perhaps we'll see gradual shifts in the balance of power.
I'm not expecting Brechin City or Montrose to be up challenging the Old Firm any time soon (even if there have been a few players from the Angus clubs who have made the step up to the Premier League in recent years, including Andy Webster).
But if smaller clubs can nurture their talented players without having to fear that they will be snatched by a bigger club as soon as they show that they're special, maybe we will see those with better youth systems make more progress than they do now.
Amongst the potential beneficiaries are Hibs and Rangers, who have both produced a fair dose of Scottish internationals in recent years.
But no doubt Chelsea will appeal, money will talk and the status quo will remain.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Whether this will take the form of a short story or novel, I haven't decided yet.
It took me around five hours, on and off, to write around 500 words. Which, to someone who writes a 50-page report every week, and who used to fill a whole newspaper single-handedly in three days, seems terribly and painfully slow.
And now that the first 500 words has been committed to paper (or to .doc anyway), I'm pretty much convinced that most of it is utter shit.
I bet Enid Blyton never had it this hard.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
But that's the wrong viewpoint to take. Few companies on Earth have the global marketing reach that Disney does. Fewer still are so well represented across so many media - cartoons, live action shows, movies, comics, toys, computer games, theme parks and every form of merchandising tie-in under the sun.
Marvel can only benefit from having that kind of financial and marketing muscle behind it.
But almost immediately, some sections of the interweb went into overdrive at the prospect of Mickey Mouse joining the X-Men, Spider-Man joining forces with Donald Duck and Goofy facing Hulk.
However, Disney has a history not just with its own core characters, but in branches of popular culture one wouldn't normally associate with Uncle Walt's empire.
Quite aside from Disney's own Pirates of the Carribbean franchise, what a lot of the denizens of the blogosphere appear to have overlooked is that Disney also owns Mirmax Films. A quick scan of the list of films released by Miramax throws up:
Reservoir Dogs (Extended scenes of torture and graphic violence)
Pulp Fiction (Homosexual rape, gimps, violence, drug overdoses and so on)
Trainspotting (Heroin abuse, violence, sex)
Dogma (Alanis Morrissette as God)
The Talented Mr Ripley (Homosexuality, murder)
Bridget Jones's Diary (Sex, and one woman's obsessions with it. Oblique references to anal sex.)
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (Non-PC humour of almost every kind)
Gangs of New York (Violence)
Kill Bill (Yet more violence)
Clerks 2 (Bestiality amongst other attractions)
No Country For Old Men (Crazy serial killer cutting a swathe across America)
There Will Be Blood (Probably nothing too objectional, but hardly standard "Disney" fare)
and so on.
Disney hasn't bought Marvel because it wants to publish comics. And it hasn't bought Marvel so it can mess about with comics. If anything, the additional cash behind Marvel may enable it to publish more comics.
Sure, we might see a Pirates of the Caribbean series appear on Marvel in the future. But a Fantastic Four/Minnie Mouse crossover isn't going to be on the cards.
What the deal will enable Marvel to do is keep on doing what it does - publishing the best comics starring the best characters. Batman and The Joker aside, all of the best characters from the two main comic publishing houses are owned by Marvel. And now they have the financial backing to grow further.
But if Disney hasn't bought Marvel for its comics, why do the deal in the first place?
Because it now has access to 70 years of history - from Stan Lee's original Spider-Man and Fantastic Four comics onwards. The movie versions of Spider-Man and X-Men were huge box office smashes, while Fantastic Four and the Hulk have also performed fairly well.
Disney can add its considerable financial and movie muscle to this vast history (once current movie deals for Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk and Fantastic Four expire).
All in all, it seems to be a good deal for both parties.
And if Wolverine does get to make Bambi into venison with those claws?I'd watch that...
Monday, August 31, 2009
(Some might say I've never written anything worthwhile on this farflung outpost of the worldwide interweb, and they'd probably be right.)
For far too long now, all I've been posting here are links, photographs and videos that amuse or entertain me.
I'm not entirely sure when the rot set in. I've just had no inspiration to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and write anything here for a few months. It's not from lack of potential material - in the last few weeks I've been to London, Bute, Oslo and Inveraray. I've seen a sensational performance of Waiting For Godot starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. I've stood on the roof of St Paul's Cathedral. I've been the to the top of Besseggen. I've sung Elvis songs onstage at a wedding reception and Pulp songs in a Rothesay pub.
But for some reason, none of this has tempted me into adding new posts here. Maybe because I spend a long working week writing, I can't be bothered firing up the laptop and churning out more tripe.
Maybe I'm like Austin Powers and simply missing my mojo. I've long harboured ambitions of writing a novel, but every idea I have seems already to have been done. And if I can't write a couple of hundred words as a blog post, what hope do I have of writing something more substantial?
So I guess that I should start with baby steps - actually writing real posts here instead of simply posting photographs of people taking the piss out of Neil Lennon.
I very much doubt that anyone is still checking in here at all - if I can't be bothered stopping by, I doubt anyone else is. So I may be writing this to myself. But hey, baby steps....
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Rio Ferdinand: going to hit the Amsterdam cafes before the game, who's in?
Gareth Barry likes this
Bobby Zamora rejected Phil Brown's friend request
Fraizer Campbell rejected Phil Brown's friend request
Marc-Antoine Fortune rejected Phil Brown's friend request
Michael Owen rejected Phil Brown's friend request
Arsene Wenger is not worried about his lack of transfers this summer as he has internal solutions 1 hour ago
Alexander Song Billong likes this
Visakri Diaby likes this
Denilson likes this
Joleon Lescott has to go to work tomorrow : ( 13 minutes ago
Craig Bellamy has joined the group Money is ruining football
- Benjani likes this
Alberto Aquilani: Oh no! I've just had my new house robbed!!!
Steven Gerrard, Jerzy Dudek, John-Arne Riise, Lucas Leiva, Dirk Kuyt, Peter Crouch, Jose Reina and Daniel Agger like this
Sat'day random drinks n' antics LOLZ
Ledley King has been tagged
Ashley C can't find his fone, can some1 give it a buzz for us?
Jermaine Jenas likes this
Roque Santa Cruz is looking forward to starting on Saturday
Craig Bellamy is looking forward to starting on Saturday
Carlos Tevez is looking forward to starting on Saturday
Emmanuel Adebayor is looking forward to starting on Saturday
Robinho is looking forward to starting on Saturday
Benjani is looking forward to starting on Saturday
Joleon Lescott became a fan of money.
Gareth Barry likes this
Marcus Bent is hoping to start at Old Trafford - 1 hour ago
Sir Alex Ferguson Likes This.
Andy Goram became friends with Andy Goram
Jamie Redknapp is literally on facebook
Frank Lampard is LOLing at Stevie G - 3 hours ago 3 comments
-Steven Gerrard ****** off Lamps
-Rio Ferdinand oi oi epic banter lads
-Steven Gerrard did he dedicate the banter to his Mum
Mike Ashley My evil plan is almost complete.
Niall Quinn & Peter Reid like this.
Glen Johnson is looking at new toilet seats in B&Q
Tomas Rosisky is fit and loving life! can't wait for the new season 1 week ago
Tomas Rosisky is depressed
3 days ago
Samir Nasri is watching Top Gear on Dave. Cheers Abou
David Moyes is skint
Mark Hughes likes this
Didier Drogba poked Jens Lehmann 3 years ago
Jens Lehmann went down holding his face
Rio Ferdinand feels like a prick after his mistake tonight 10 mins ago
Dirk Kuyt likes this
mark hughes sent jolean lescott invitation to join the group 'Mancity'
invite was rejected
Steven Gerrard has created a group, "Court, it's fucking easy!"
Eric Cantona does not like this
Joey Barton does not like this
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
And, in the space of five days in the capital, we:
- Went to the Comedy Store's improv night, where we were entertained by the hilarious talents of Josie Lawrence, Andy Smart, Lee Simpson, Suki Webster, Richard Vranch and Stephen Frost.
- Dined at the Hard Rock Cafe with Baby Brother and his girlfriend (who had been due to see Jacko's concert with us).
- Visited the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the London Tombs, St Paul's Cathedral, Covent Garden and Camden Market.
- Took a cruise along the Thames from Westminster to Greenwich.
- Saw Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (or Gandalf and Jean Luc Picard or Magneto and Professor Xavier depending on your own personal geek persuasion) in Waiting For Godot at the Theatre Royal.
- Attended, at Mrs Wife's request, We Will Rock You, which wasn't as bad as I had thought it might be.
- Avoided a Biblical downpour by spending £27(!) on cinema tickets for Transformers 2. Which seemed almost identical to the first one, but with more gratuitous shots of Megan Fox's cleavage - ie it was pretty darn good.
- Met up with Mrs Wife's cousin and a friend of mine from my university days that I haven't seen in more than seven years for a boozy afternoon in Theatreland.
All in all, a pretty productive, if tiring, five days.
Friday, July 10, 2009
By my own reckoning, this will be my ninth T In The Park, but my first since 2006. While my brain remains free of the imminent alcoholic fug, here are my thoughts on each of the previous eight I've attended.
1997: My first festival, and T In The Park's first at Balado, near Kinross. My two friends and I take scandalously little drink and are generally unprepared for what awaits us. Highlights include Saturday headliners Kula Shaker and The Charlatans, while the weekend ends with a second tent jam-packed for John Squire's post-Roses band The Seahorses.
1998: Saturday's highlights include Audioweb and Super Furry Animals, who are so good that instead of going to see headliners The Prodigy, I instead go to the CD tent, buy a Super Furry Animals bootleg and return to my tent to listen to it. The rain came in the middle of the night and never stopped. My two friends bailed for home mid-afternoon on the Sunday, but I was determined to stick it out, despite the thigh-high mud, just to see Ian Brown. I cadge a lift home from two girls from school and get home around 2am, having been mesmerised by Brown's fantastic performance.
1999: This was my first year attending with folks from uni, one of whom I'll be sharing a tent with this weekend. I can't actually remember too much about what bands I saw, although I do remember Nicky Wire trashing the stage and giving away James Dean Bradfield's white fender guitar after the Manic Street Preachers' headline set.
2000: Mrs Wife (then known as Miss Girlfriend) and one of her friends accompany me to Balado to see Travis, Moby, Ocean Colour Scene and Beth Orton. I have no recollection of rain, but that line-up is hardly the most rock'n'roll, is it? Although I've just looked up the full line-up online and it seems we chose not to see Muse or The Flaming Lips....
2001: The first year in which the three of attending this year went together. Again, my overall recollections are hazy, but I do remember seeing Paul Weller's acoustic set. Having suffered through the whole of Wheatus' horror show, Weller promptly came on stage and started flexing his ego, playing Style Council songs and little-known solo work. Then Noel Gallagher joined in, they played That's Entertainment and everything was right with the world. Stereo MC's were also among the surprisingly fantastic acts.
2002: I left for T In The Park 2002 immediately after graduating, eschewing a night on the piss with my fellow graduands for a night eating cold food in a muddy field. The sound quality at the main stage was woeful, turning Oasis' headline set into a faint swirling noise. It also had the same effect on Primal Scream. Doves and The Cooper Temple Clause were both brilliant though.
By 2003, Mrs Wife and I were saving hard for a trip around the world. And by 2004, we were in Australia.
So by 2005, having returned from foreign climes, I was ready for a return to T In The Park. A huge group of us from Brechin set off together and turned a large part of the campsite into our own compound, cordoned off with yellow and black police tape. One of the most enjoyable Ts in terms of the pre-festival banter, plus the weather held out, which is always a bonus. Yet again, Super Furry Animals and Ian Brown are amongst the bands I see, although Ian Brown throws a strop early on during his set and storms off, having played a few Stone Roses songs. Still a great weekend though.
2006: Mrs Wife (who by this time is the newly-appointed Mrs Wife) again accompanies me, and I'm lucky enough to have a free press pass this time. Sound quality at the main stage again plays an unwelcome part, ruining the Arctic Monkeys and Hard-Fi sets, but The Who more than make up for it.
And, for a variety of reasons (primarily the £200 cost of a ticket and the number of neds) I've not been since.
Who knows what T In The Park 2009 will bring? I'm hoping to see Nick Cave, Jane's Addiction and Blur, but aside from that, the weekend is a blank canvas.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Friday, July 03, 2009
Returning from a lunchtime game of five-a-side football, myself and five colleagues decided that, instead of climbing the stairs from the basement of our building, we would take the lift to our second floor office.
Upon entering the lift, just as we were about to begin our ascent, one of my colleagues jumped up and down a few times to shake the lift for a laugh. But in doing so it seemed he tripped a brake.
We had only barely started moving when the lift came to an abrupt halt. Pressing the buttons for any of the building's eight floors had no effect. And so it was with some reluctance that we pressed the alarm button.
The gentleman on the other end assured us that help would be on its way imminently. Which left the six of us crammed in the lift with nothing to do except wait.
Having just returned from a strenuous game of football in a hot sports hall, we were all already sweating before entering the lift. But the enclosed space, which had no air conditioning and little ventilation meant that only a short time elapsed before all six of us were sweating buckets. And shortly after that, condensation started pouring down the elevator's mirrored walls.
The banter flowed freely while we were locked in our tiny metal cell. Although when we began to discuss which of us would be eaten first if we were trapped in the lift overnight, and five of us agreed that we'd start with our small Chinese colleague "because he'd be leanest", I could sense that the colleague in question became just a tad more concerned.
Finally, after what seemed a lifetime, but was only really 25 minutes, the engineer prised the doors opne, allowing us to gulp down some fresh air. And bask in a round of applause from our assembled colleagues.
Leaving the office today, I took the stairs.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Neil Young joined by Paul McCartney during his performance of A Day In The Life at Hyde Park two nights ago.
I was at Neil's Aberdeen concert last week, and it was one of the best I've been at in a long time - even without Macca guesting.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Mrs Wife and I were due to see Michael Jackson in concert at the O2 Arena in London in three weeks' time, and I'm absolutely gutted that we'll now never have the chance.
This is the King of Pop's live televised coronation from the Motown 25th birthday party, when he performed the moonwalk for the first time in front of an audience.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Two strange search queries directed punters this way earlier today (click on pictures to make them bigger):
First up, "sniffing sweaty jock cups". Beautiful. Just beautiful. Well man, whatever gets you off...
Then, perhaps even more disturbing:
Seriously, why would anyone want naked pictures of Ian Durrant? This search term has actually popped up here before.
You're a sick bunch....