Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Queen's English

Yesterday, whilst watching television, I was subjected to an advertisement for a new movie.

I can't remember what the movie was, but at the very end of the commercial, the voice-over informed the viewers that it would be released on 'Jan Five'.

That's how he said it - Jan as in the woman's name and the number five.

When did January the Fifth become Jan Five? What advantage does the voiceover gain from shortening the date? Admittedly, it might make the commerical one second shorter, which could reduce its cost - but it's a slippery slope folks.

Any more of this shortening and our language will become unintelligable - text speak (not TXT SPK) is already creeping into print and conversation such as with the dreadful LOL, which I believe stands for 'laugh out loud'.

Make a stand people - start speaking your own language as it was intended to be spoken.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Get Me Out Of Here

Yesterday, whilst hunting for those post-Christmas bargains, Mrs Wife and I went our separate ways, she to find clothing bargains and me to seek out those audio-visual deals too good to miss.

Having had my fill of the crowds and the cold, I attempted to find Mrs Wife in a large department store.

So engrossed was I in this task that I wasn't paying too much attention to the departments in which I was wandering, until it was too late.

It seems that whilst attempting to locate the little lady, I had stumbled into the lingerie section of the store. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it).

Which begs the question: Is there a subtle way for a man in his mid 20s, wearing a leather jacket and jeans and absent-mindedly sending a text message to leave the ladies' underwear section of a large high street store?

Should one straighten one's back and stride purposefully out of the area without looking back? Or should one scurry out, casting furtive glances hither and yon, lest someone has seen you?

I think my retreat was a combination of the two - a purposeful stride whilst looking round to see if anyone had noticed.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Over The Counter Culture

The turkey has been stripped of edible meat, the trifle is but a memory and the mince pies are slowly disappearing.

I always find the days following Christmas a bit strange - you spend weeks or even months preparing for it, spend a whole day eating, and then just go back to life as normal.

Well, not quite normal. As early as 9am on boxing day, people were descending on the shops in the hunt for that once-in-a-year bargain.

Even in Brechin, a small town with little in the way of shops, the streets were pretty busy. Hordes of rampaging consumers stampeded from aisle to aisle, barging past their fellow man lest they miss out on that Little Britain DVD reduced in price for one month only.

I dread to think what bigger cities will be like. Mrs Wife and I are to venture to Dundee tomorrow in our own quest for Goods of Reduced Price (like the Holy Grail, only available from Next and HMV).

If there are no further posts to this site, it is because I have been lost in the Bargain Hunter War of 2006.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

As I am likely to spend the next few days in a stupor caused by excessive amounts of meat, chocolate, trifle, Christmas pudding, rubbish television and alcohol, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

World Tour

Never been to Paris? Desperate to see the world-famous Pinnacles in Western Australia? Want to get closer to a bunch of sad Star Wars fans queuing two months in advance to get tickets for Episode III?

If you answered yes to any of the above, check out this website. I don't know how they do it, but it's mighty impressive.

The reason I'm giving you the link to the Pinnacles site is that it is one of the places on the website that I have visited.

Mrs Wife (then known as Miss Girlfriend) and I arrived shortly before nightfall, in the part of the day known as the gloaming. With the light falling and the visitors leaving, I was inspired to dance around the Pinnacles in the style made famous by Billy Connolly.

For those unaware of the great man's work, Mr Connolly has been known to perform a merry dance in several famous world locations, not least the Arctic and at a stone circle on Orkney, as well as the Pinnacles.

The thing that makes Billy's dances so memorable is that he performs them naked. Which is what I did deep in the Australian desert one April evening.

Miss Girlfriend recorded video evidence, which I may be prepared to share with you weird and wonderful people if enough of you are disturbed enough to actually want to see it. And if you give me enough money.....

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Festive funk

I love Christmas music - to me, Christmas is as much about Slade and Wizzard as it is Santa Claus and mince pies.

The growth of the worldwide interweb and the ability to download music now means that I have a sizeable stash of festive music on the magic tunebox.

So at work today I am sharing the delights of some of the best Christmas music with everyone in the office.

And I can't let all you good people miss out, so here is Bootsy Collins' take on Jingle Bellz.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Groanin' Jock's Guide To Christmas

Further to my recent post calling on the government (whether in Britain or Scotland) to make the whole of December a holiday (I still haven't heard from Westminster or Holyrood - must be busy at Christmas parties), I am now proposing some broadcasting rules.

There should be no soap operas on television on Christmas Day. Who really wants to wallow in misery on Albert Square or Coronation Street on the biggest holiday of the year?

Christmas Day's television should be devoted entirely to blockbuster films, comedies, the Queen's speech and re-runs of festive Top Of The Pops.

Sadly, I think this appeal will fall on deaf ears, and that Mrs Wife and Mither will subject me to an afternoon with the soaps on Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mystical ball(s)

The internet is a fantastic place people - where like-minded folks can get together and shoot the breeze about the important topics of the day. (It's also a place for people to find pictures of Britney Spears' front bottom, but that's another issue altogether.)

But the worldwide interweb is also a magical place, where true sorcerers can practise their dark arts in anonymity.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Mystical Ball - be amazed, and just a little afraid.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas in Dundee

A little ditty from my friend Mike dropped onto my virtual doormat this morning by email.

Mistletoe and Wine
Christmas time, valium and wine,
Children indulging in petty crime,
Dad's on the heroin, Mum's oot her tree,
Christmas is great when you live in Dundee.

As I was born in Dundee, it makes me pine for home!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Firm favourites

It's very rare that an Old Firm match has meant so much and little as today's.

Rangers really need a win over Celtic to restore a bit of pride, but even a resounding victory would leave them 13 points adrift of the Bhoys.

If Celtic take the honours, they will be 19 points clear of the Gers before Christmas, a frankly embarrasing situation.

Admittedly, Rangers do have a further two matches against Celtic after today's, which, if all three were won, would reduce the gap to seven points - still needing Celtic to lose three times outwith the Old Firm encounters and Rangers to win all their matches.

But hey, let's just get on with restoring some pride.

Oh, and winning the UEFA Cup as well.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Force is strong in this one

As this is the first weekend when neither Mrs Wife nor I are working, where we have no visitors and no plans to do anything, we will be testing the surround sound system to its limit, with all six Star Wars films back-to-back.

We've loaded up on popcorn, Irn Bru and crisps, the curtains are drawn and I'm all set to press play.

Speak to you all in 15 hours' time

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Say no to sprouts

One thing I've never been able to stomach (literally) about Christmas is Brussel sprouts.

I remember reading once, possibly in FHM, that the sprouts were 'Satan's vomit in bite-sized packages' - I've never yet heard a better description.

With this in mind - and Mither, if you're reading this, no sprouts on my plate on the 25th please - I can recommend this little game.

Smash the sprouts!

Feeling festive?

I can scarcely believe that it is less than a fortnight until Christmas.

As I've grown older, all of the magical ritual associated with Christmas has been stripped away.

Who could forget the buillding excitement we experienced as children as the run-up to Christmas began? Adverts extolling the merits of the latest toys and games, kids TV programmes running Christmas specials and Slade and Wizzard blaring from every radio.

Probably the biggest factor was spending eight hours a day in school with other children, all whipping each other into a frenzy.

Even the little details, like sending Christmas cards, buying Advent calendars and putting up the tree seemed so exciting when we were young.

Now, they are just extra chores to tackle at the end of a long working day. Spending 40 hours a week in an office is no great way to build excitment for Christmas.

So, I am now proposing that December be declared a holiday. I realise that there may be impracticalities to this, but screw it, let the politicians figure out the fine details.

Just give me my month off.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ginger at Christmas time

This is the greatest Irn Bru advert EVER!!! I love it - especially as I have always hated The Snowman with little gay Aled Jones warbling away. Listen carefully to the lyrics on this version - they're great!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Is this aloud?

I've always thought of myself as a pretty cool indie kid - my musical heroes are such bands as The Stone Roses, Oasis, The Beatles and so on.

So is it wrong that I think I'd quite like Girls Aloud's Greatest Hits?

Most of the songs seem to be pretty darn good - plus the girls are pretty easy on the eye (yes, even the ginger one isn't too bad).

Am I getting old? Or is my taste in music shrivelling? Or do Girls Aloud just make super-duper pop music?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Early Christmas present

Great news this morning - Rangers are said to be leading the chase to sign recently-released Hearts captain Steven Pressley.

I've been hoping that David Murray would open his cheque book to bring big Elvis back to Ibrox for a few years now, and it seems circumstances may work in the Gers' favour.

Rangers' defence has been flimsy this season, and Pressley would add a massive chunk of Scottish grit to the back line. He may not be the most gifted footballer in the world, or a replacement for the long-departed Richard Gough, but chances are he would be a damn sight better than the mish-mash of confused foreigners who have filled the centre back slots since the start of Rangers' ramshackle season.

Even if the big man does return to the club where he started as a teenager 15 years ago, he won't be eligible for the UEFA Cup.

But he's still well worth signing.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The 2006 Jock Awards

It's that time of year when every magazine, TV show, cable channel and blog reveals its top performers of the year.

So, ladies, gentlemen and those of you who are neither, I welcome you to the Jocks (like the Oscars, only on a slightly lower budget.)

The Stone Roses award for Album of The Year: (Nominees: Muse - Black Holes and Revelations; Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not; Bob Dylan - Modern Times; Dirty Pretty Things - Waterloo To Anywhere; Driveblind - Driveblind; Wolfmother - Wolfmother)
The first gong at this year's award, and one of the most highly-contested, goes to Arctic Monkeys. After the hype and all the publicity, when all the dust has settled, the Sheffield band's debut stands as a great record of our times. Punky, spunky and lyrically brilliant, this year's most eagerly-awaited album was also its best.

The Strawberry Fields Forever award for Single of The Year: (Nominees: Kasabian - Empire; Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor; Muse - Knights of Cydonia; The Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger; Amy Winehouse - Rehab; Gnarls Barkley - Crazy)
Living in an alternative universe where there is life on Mars and everything is painted in dayglo technicolor, Muse are the anti-Arctic Monkeys. Ridiculously over-the-top, Knights of Cydonia has continent-sized riffs and the tempo of a runaway juggernaut. The track that moved them into the stadium rock bracket.

The Rolling Stones award for Live Act of The Year: (Nominees: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Who, Muse, Arctic Monkeys, The Cooper Temple Clause)
Picking up their second award, Muse beat off stiff competition to win the live act award. Groanin' Jock was fortunate to see the band at Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh in August, where they opened with Knights of Cydonia and never looked back. Very few three-piece bands could pull off a stdium gig - for Muse, it's just a day at the office.

The Goodfellas Award for Movie of the Year: This award has been declared null and void - the judging panel (AKA Groanin' Jock and Mrs Wife) lives too far from the cinema to be able to rule with any authority.

The Knight Rider award for TV Programme of The Year: (Nominees: Lost, Desperate Housewives, Dragons' Den, Hogan Knows Best)
An insane second series and fast-developing third series continues to keep Lost's viewers guessing. Yeah, it may be the biggest shaggy dog story ever told and mean absolutely nothing. Who cares - it's still great TV.

The Marilyn Monroe award for Babe of The Year: (Nominees: Mrs Wife, Evangeline Lily, Katie Holmes, Beyonce, Cameron Diaz, Kate Moss)
In the year that Groanin' Jock tied the knot, there could only be one winner of this award - Mrs Wife. Gorgeous in every way imaginable (she's not watching me write this, honest). Evangeline Lily, AKA Kate 'Freckles' Austin from Lost, is a distant second.

The Jet Set Willy Award for Computer Game of The Year: (Nominee: Football Manager 2007)
This is almost the only game I have played this year. Not so much a computer game (or pretty database) as a way of life. Once you start playing Football Manager 2007, you just can't stop.

The Godfather III award for Biggest Disappointment of The Year: (Nominees: Kasabian - Empire; Primal Scream - Riot City Blues; Razorlight - Razorlight)
Three bands attempting to follow superb albums, and none of them truly cutting the mustard. The biggest disappointment of the three is probably Primal Scream's pastiche of a rock'n'roll record, which came on the back of an unholy trinity of electro-punk noise classics. Most worrying of all, the band think it's great.

The Screamadelica award for Scottish Album of The Year: (Nominees: The Fratellis - Costello Music; Driveblind - Driveblind)
In a one-on-one stand-off, the boys from Aberdeen triumph over the Weegie lads. Drivelind's debut may have been recorded in LA and owe a big debt to classic American rock, but it was conceived in Scotland and recorded by the most exciting Scottish band in a long time.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

New recruit to the Goon Platoon

Whilst over at Lisa W's site at Lemons and Lollipops, I decided to confirm once and for all that I am, as often told by Mrs Wife, a nerd.

I am nerdier than 23% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Except it seems that I'm only a wannabe nerd.

Is that worse than actually being one?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Goo Goo Ga Joob

Today is the 26th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon.

Since I was in my mid-teens, The Beatles have been my favourite band, and Lennon my favourite songwriter.

The colour, imagination and inventiveness of Lennon's work have always intrigued me, especially the way he could go from writing She Loves You to Tomorrow Never Knows in the space of only five years. This is a man who was almost simultaneously working on Dear Prudence, Sexy Sadie and Revolution #9, during a two-year period in which he became the greatest songwriter ever to have lived.

From the end of 1966 until the start of 1969, Lennon and McCartney were simply unassailable - quite a boast when competing with Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Simon and Garfunkel and The Beach Boys. In this short period of time, in which most modern bands would struggle to complete a solitary album, The Beatles released Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour and The White Album.

Lennon's contribution to the band's output in this period was frankly astonishing: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite, I Am The Walrus, All You Need Is Love and The Beatles' two finest moments, A Day In The Life and Strawberry Fields Forever.

True, his solo work never truly recaptured the scope of that recorded with The Beatles - but whose could? Imagine, as an album, is strong, though Phil Spector's over-the-top production does take a little of the lustre away from the songs. A flick through his 'greatest hits', including Instant Karma!, God and Mind Games, shows a gifted songwriter simultaneously carving his own niche whilst attempting to escape his own legcay.

So what would a 66-year-old John Lennon be doing were he alive today? The easiest answer is that no-one knows. Given that he was riddled with contradictions throughout his life, I doubt whether he would have fitted neatly into any of the boxes which he is commonly placed in.

Yes, he may have been at the forefront of campaigns such as Live8 - but suggested wisdom is that he didn't really enjoy performing. Would he simply have lived a quiet life as a house husband, living off royalties from his halcyon days? Maybe, but chances are the simple life would grate after a while. Would he have continued to churn out solo albums as Paul McCartney has done? We will never know.

That Lennon's work continues to have signifigance more than a quarter of a century after his untimely death shows how much he is still missed to this day.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

And the winner is....

....Somebody from Hungary who arrived at Groanin' Jock by searching on Blogger for 'the beatles love'.

So, if you were that Hungarian who stopped only for a second, congratulations, email me to get your prize for being the 2,000th visitor.

And to everyone else - Thank you for your entry. Unfortunately, you have not been successful on this occasion. Please try again later.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I acquired a copy of the latest Beatles album, Love, at the weekend.

For those who don't know, it's a whole host of well-known Beatles classics mashed together - so we get Within You Without You over the top of the drum loop from Tomorrow Never Knows, and other such combinations.

I've been a massive fan of The Beatles since I was 16, and I had doubts over this latest project - could George Martin and his son Giles pull it off without destroying the originals or have the new album become sacriligeous?

In short - they did it. It's clear that a great deal of time and love has gone into Love and I think that the album can stand comfortably beside the rest of The Beatles' recorded output.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Aye - 2K

If traffic here at GJ continues at its usual rate, the 2,000th visitor should stop by within the next 24 hours.

There might be a prize in it for the person(?) who clicks at the right time!

D'ya wanna be a spaceman?

In previous posts, I have alluded to the fact that I like sci-fi. I'll elaborate - since the age of around four, I've wanted to be a spaceman.

So I'm delighted by the news that NASA is going to build a permanently-manned moonbase.

Yeah, so the base is going to 'serve as a science outpost as well as a testbed for technologies needed for future travel to planets'.

But what I want to know is - when can we start taking lunar holidays?

No-one's been to the moon since well before I was born, but hey, bring it on - I'm ready to volunteer.

At least it doesn't rain on the moon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Norse god of Lager vents his fury

Some of you may have noticed that there was no new post on this here website yesterday.

This is because I was ill - with one of those mysterious '24-hour bugs' that affect people who have consumed large quantities of lager the previous evening.

Yes, after about 18 months without a hangover, I finally pushed my body too far.

Thus, my day of rest was largely a washout. Except that I had to play football for my work's five-a-side team. Which meant driving through 80mph gales and horizontal rain for an hour, running around almost non-stop for 40 minutes with a splitting headache, enduring a 13-3 defeat, and driving back again through worsening conditions.

Let's just say I've had better days!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Elephant polo

I've never been to an elephant polo match, but I think it would be quite entertaining. I've ridden elephants in Thailand, and was surprised by how graceful and quiet they are, even when walking uphill through a jungle whilst carrying four passengers.

Anyway, Advocates for Animals is calling for Chivas Brothers to end its sponsorship of elephant polo.

I've met the Duke of Argyll on a few occasions, and my paper has run stories on his Elephant World Cup exploits. From the way he describes it, no harm comes to the elephants, they aren't mistreated, and all money raised goes to charities that care for elephants.

But blinkered do-gooders can't see the benefits, and simply decide that elephant polo must be wrong and that it should end.

In the words of Billy Connolly: "Every time I meet a vegan, I have an overwhelming urge to bite a live pig's arse".

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sound and vision

Yesterday, I drove for three hours to Dundee, where I exchanged the broken surround sound system for a new one (sorry if this seems to be a recurring theme).

I then drove for three hours back to deepest, darkest Argyll, where I unboxed the system and spent more than an hour feeding cables round furniture and through speaker stands.

Just as I finished this complex procedure, I realised something - I hadn't seen a remote control in amongst all the equipment.

There wasn't one.

So, I then had to strip it all back down and pack it back in its box, ready to be transported back to the store. So another long trip ensued this evening, two hours through driving rain to pick up the third surround sound system.

But it's all working fine now. Bring on the blockbusters!