Thursday, July 31, 2008

Is It Worth It?

At the age of 28, I should be at the peak of my physical and footballing prowess.

But another spanking in the Aberdeen Oil League last night has made a number of us aware that there's little enjoyment in paying almost £30 a month to take a weekly shoeing on the Aberdeen astroturf.

My recent footballing schedule has left me nursing the following injuries: tight calf muscles on both legs that feel as though they'll ping if I attempt anything strenuous like standing up or walking; a sprained wrist from an ill-advised spell in goals a while back; dodgy knees and ankles that have haunted me throughout more than 18 years of football; and what I now suspect may be a fractured bone in my foot from an 11-a-side match more than a month ago.

To be frank, I've been in better shape. And now I'm beginning to weigh up whether dragging my sorry carcass through the hard graft of competitive football is truly worth it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Alastair's Heart Monitor

It's always sad when a fellow blogger hangs up the keyboard and consigns their online missives to history.

But when the blogger bidding the blogosphere farewell is one of the most gifted amongst us, it's a doubly hard blow.

Alastair of Alastair's Heart Monitor is, for understandable reasons, about to call time on what, for me, could be the greatest blog out there.

No other site on the internet has ever held my attention on such a wide range of subjects - from the frequently bizarre world of Scottish football to rare Beatles tracks; from the dangerously barmy natives of North America to the spectacularly entertaining world of the libel courts.

Through Alastair's site, I've often been sent out into the wider world in search of further information - rare soul tracks, classic novels and vintage football footage.

While you still have the chance, I'd urge you all to visit Alastair's site, trawl through his archives and re-emerge into the world around you hours later, a plethora of new knowledge fighting for space in your brain.

With Friends Like These...

...who need enemies?

Weather Or Not

The weather here in deepest, darkest Jockshire can't seem to make its mind up at the moment.

Saturday, which saw Mrs Wife and I host a barbecue for around 50 people, was scorching, and several of those present, myself included, ended the day a more lurid pink than they had started it.

But by the next morning, the debris in the garden was soaked by a constant, core-soaking drizzle that never seemed to depart.

This morning, after Mrs Wife and I made it to bed around midnight following a late evening showing of The Dark Knight, we were awoken around 6am by rumbles of thunder that were, well, thunderous.

And now Dungroanin' is shrouded in a mist that has rolled in, presumably from the North Sea.

Hasn't anyone told the weather that it's meant to be mid-summer?

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Have you got any sweeties?

My Life In Movies

As seen over at Inchy's site - the My Life In Movies meme.

The premise is simple - pick your favourite movie from every year since you were born.

My list is below - feel free to offer your thoughts. As for tagging further players, everyone can play along if they want to.

1980 - The Empire Strikes Back

1981 - Raiders of the Lost Ark

1982 - ET

1983 - Scarface/Return of the Jedi (Tie)

1984 - The Terminator

1985 - Back To The Future

1986 - Aliens

1987 - Full Metal Jacket

1988 - A Fish Called Wanda

1989 - Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

1990 - Goodfellas

1991 - Terminator 2

1992 - Reservoir Dogs

1993 - Groundhog Day

1994 - Forrest Gump/Pulp Fiction (Tie)

1995 - The Usual Suspects (Also nominated - Se7en, Casino)

1996 - Trainspotting

1997 - LA Confidential

1998 - The Big Lebowski

1999 - Fight Club

2000 - Memento

2001 - Donnie Darko

2002 - The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers

2003 - Kill Bill: Volume 1

2004 - Kill Bill: Volume 2

2005 - The Revenge of The Sith

2006 - Casino Royale

2007 - No Country For Old Men

2008 - The Dark Knight (I've not actually seen it yet, but it looks AWESOME)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


This Saturday, Mrs Wife and I are hosting a barbecue.

We did the same last year, and a decent crowd turned out for what eventually amounted to 12 hours of chargrilled meat and cold beer-based fun.

Word has obviously spread, as this year's sequel looks as though it's going to attract 50 hungry punters.

So you'll have to excuse me while I go and mow the carpet, hoover the lawn, marinade the barbecue and scrub the chicken.

Or something like that anyway.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 3: Montrose v Brechin City

Local derbies are known for being tempestuous affairs. But pre-season matches are known for being lacklustre and meaningless.

So where does that leave a pre-season friendly between a pair of near neighbours?

The answer from Montrose's final warm-up match ahead of the big kick-off is somewhere in the middle.

Neither side gave it their all, but the encounter was intriguing nonetheless.

Montrose opened the scoring through a well-taken diving finish from Roddy Hunter, who looked more than capable of assuming the goalscoring duties in place of John Baird, who started on the bench.

But the better finish probably came at the other end, with Steven Thomson expertly flicking the ball into the bottom corner of the net, leaving the goalkeeper helpless.

Unfortunately, he achieved the feat while attempting to defend a cross, and scored the first own goal I've seen this season.

The goals aside, the match was notable for a strong performance from Brechin's new signing Ian Nimmo in midfield - he looks as though he could make a difference to a side that could feasibly finish anywhere between bottom and top of their division in the coming season.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Leave me alone - can't you see I'm wearing my dinner?

Don't Count On Me

Since our employer moved office from the outskirts of Aberdeen's city centre to bang in the middle, myself and a few of my colleagues have begun decamping to the pub on the occasional lunchtime.

This activity might normally be frowned upon, but we are only drinking Coke as we engage ourselves in games of darts to pass the mid-afternoon break.

Our new pastime has revealed two things to me: that I'm not as bad at darts as I thought I would be; and that I'm considerably worse at mental arithmetic than I thought I was.

I had a fairly comfortable relationship with maths through most of my years at school. In fact, up until my fourth year at high school, I pretty much breezed through maths without much hassle.

Laziness got the better of me during that fourth year, but I bucked up my act enough to get the top grade in that year's Standard Grade exam. And that's where the problem started.

Bouyed by false confidence after seeing the words "Mathematics: 1" on my certificate, I decided to enrol on the Higher mathematic course. Which I quickly found was Higher in all respects.

To this day, I have no idea what possible use vectors, algorithms and Calculus can serve in the real world. Arithmetic and fractions I can understand. But proper mathematics makes as much sense to me as Arabic.

Unsurprisingly, I failed Higher maths. And in the intervening 11 years, I've never once been inclined to renew my relationship with the subject.

Apart from when subtracting 54 from 501 in a busy harbour pub.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

God Is A Concept

Following my recent change from car-bound commuter drone to train-bound commuter drone, I've found myself given far more time to read books, and as a result I'm getting through an average of a book a week.
Yesterday, I finished The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. It's a book that's currently in vogue, and it seems to be striking a chord with a sizeable portion of society (in Britain at least).
I don't believe in God. I find the very idea that there's a big bearded dude living in the sky and watching over us pretty laughable, when no evidence points towards His existence. The belief that He is supposed to have created the universe a few thousand years ago, in the face of huge amounts of evidence to the contrary, has never sat right with me, ever since I was old enough to form any views on the subject.
By all means, believe what you want to believe. If you think that God, Jesus, Allah, Buddah, Zeus, Thor or the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists, feel free. But don't feel for a second that your world view is the only truth, or that it should be taught as fact in schools.
I'm not against the Bible being examined as a historical document, and its stories discussed - but in the same way that Greek, Roman, Norse or Egyptian myths and legends are studied - as a means of learning how primitive people understood the world around them.
But if you believe that the Bible is literally the word of God, you're living in cloud cuckoo land.
Perhaps even more inexcusable than the teaching of religion in schools is the weight of influence that religion has on society and politics. Church leaders are still afforded the opportunity to speak directly to the government and to have a say on key policies.
Why? Is it the sheer weight of numbers? According to the 2001 census, less than half of British people believe in a God, yet about 72% told the census that they were Christian. It is believed that 66% of the population have no actual connection to any religion or church, despite what they tend to write down on official forms.
Around 80% of the British population, or 50 million people, are adults old enough to choose their own religion and have a say on which shower of useless bastards runs the country. If less than half of them is Christian, that leaves us with, at most, 25 million people, and probably less. So far, so acceptable. Connected groups of people should have political representation. But the fact that these people share a belief in a non-existant God shouldn't count for more than the societies they live in, their political views and their socio-political needs and wants.
And grouping people together, then giving them the ear of government, because of a shared belief in something is a laughable notion anyway. To date, 4.3 million people have bought Oasis' second album (What's The Story) Morning Glory. Should the 4.3 million people be represented in government due to their sheer weight of numbers? Around 8 million people regularly watch EastEnders - shouldn't their views as a group be conveyed to Gordon Brown?
It's a tad unfortunate that many of this country's, and indeed the world's, finest buildings and artworks were built by and are owned by religious institutions. Hypocritically, Mrs Wife and I were married in a church, by a Church of Scotland minister. But my reasoning was that it was preferable to marry in a picturesque church than a hotel function suite, and to be married by a man I knew better as a member of a local sports club and from social events than I did as minister, rather than by a civil servant who was a stranger to me.
I don't think my argument is coming out in a terribly coherent fashion - Richard Dawkins argues his points with much greater clarity and with more authority than I could ever muster. I heartily recommend The God Delusion to all who feel that God is maybe about as likely to exist as virgin birth, walking on water and raising the dead. And I also recommend checking out Dawkins' website.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happiness Is....

.... A fresh cardboard box at the end of a busy afternoon in the garden.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 2: Montrose v St Johnstone

As a Montrose season ticket holder, I spend most of my football spectating being "entertained" by shite like Forfar and Dumbarton (apologies to Rab and The Tomahawk Kid).

But pre-season tends to bring more illustrious opposition looking for an easy warm-up match against lesser opponents, as has been the case in the past week, when both Dundee and St Johnstone have rolled onto Links Park's plastic pitch.

Dundee's squad was notable for including Rab Douglas, a former Celtic goalkeeper and Scotland international. And St Johnstone's side also included a couple of big names, former Dundee United striker Collin Samuel and erstwhile Chelsea midfielder Jody Morris.

Samuel was hopeless. He looked like he could barely stand up for most the of the match, spending most of it tripping over his own feet and shanking the ball out of play. If St Johnstone are pinning their hopes on him rattling in the goals that will take them back to the Premier League, they're in trouble.

Meanwhile, Morris is one of those players it's easy to dislike. Along with his besht mate John Terry, he was infamously spotted abusing American tourists at Heathrow Airport within hours of the collapse of the Twin Towers; he was previously arrested for sexual assault, though the charges were later dropped; and he received a two-year suspended jail sentence for drunk-driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

Curiously, Morris' off-field profile has grown as his career has floundered - he's moved from Chelsea and the fringes of the England squad to Leeds, Rotherham and Millwall, and now finds himself slumming it in the second tier of Scottish football.

It's very rare that players with European Cup Winners Cup and FA Cup winners medals turn up at Links Park. Did Morris look exceptional against a team containing part-time players who spend more time sawing wood than playing football?

Nope. Once again, it was Montrose's John Baird who caught the eye, the young striker opening the scoring with an audacious 35-yard lob quarter of an hour into the match.

St Johnstone were undeniably the better side for 70-odd minutes, but that is to be expected, given that they're a full-time side. Less expected was the final score of 1-1, a testament to a solid backline that Montrose will hope can push them to promotion in the coming season.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 1: Montrose v Dundee

And so, just over a week after Euro 2008 ended, the Scottish season is underway.

Last night, I attended the Montrose v Dundee friendly match at Links Park, watching the visitors record a 3-0 win.

Dundee lined up with Rab Douglas back in goals, more than ten years after he made his debut for the Dens Park side, his whole Celtic and Scotland careers having passed in the interim.

We don't often see former Scotland internationals strutting their stuff on Montrose's plastic pitch, but Douglas had little to do - which is probably just as well, given how inauspicious his later Celtic and Scotland performances were. It wouldn't do to concede goals to lower level opposition before a new contract's even been agreed.

Aside from Douglas' return to Scottish football, the match was notable for a couple of decent finishes for Dundee's second and third goals - a 25-yard drive from Paul McHale and a sweet finish from Mikael Antoine-Courier. And for the fact that, even in July, it was freezing at the football.

Which bodes well for January....

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Pee-Ah Pee-Ah Pee-Ah-No

Yesterday's post mentioned the Video Games Live concert that Mrs Wife and I went to in Glasgow.

This guy performed this song on a grand piano that night - and did it blindfolded.

Watch in awe.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Soy Un Perdedor

I'm quite concerned that, in the past couple of weeks, my behaviour has shown signs that I am becoming more geeky as time wears on and I edge closer to 30.

I've written in previous posts that I feel the need to have my vast CD collection stored in alphabetical order - but I'd argue that that is chiefly through necessity, otherwise how would I find the CD I was looking for from a library that now runs into the thousands?

And I've never hidden my love of StarWars, Thundercats, He-Man and Transformers - but again, in my defence, I grew up watching the shows and movies and playing with the toys.

But in the past fortnight, I seem to have slipped further towards the point of no return in my geekdom.

The first indicator was the concert that Mrs Wife and I attended in Glasgow two weeks ago - Video Games Live. Held at the Royal Concert Hall, the event saw the Royal Scottish National Orchestra perform music from video games, while a video screen showed footage from the games.

I never thought I'd be in a room with a full orchestra playing the theme tunes from Super Mario World, Sonic The Hedgehog and Tetris, but it was a fantastic concert. Although the audience was formed primarily from men in their mid twenties, many of them wearing video game-related garb.

So, does that count as geeky? Possibly, but it may be redeemed by the novelty of the concert and the fact that the venue and performers are undeniably of the highest standard.

But the next day, with time to kill and most of Glasgow's shops exhausted of entertainment, I took the next step towards giving in completely to my inner geek. I visited Forbidden Planet, the chain of stores that sells, as its primary range of products, comic books (or graphic novels as geeks who pretend they don't read comics call them).

Initially, I only went in for a look and to kill some time. But Mrs Wife offered to buy me something as a present, and I ended up coming out with the "graphic novels" (comic books) of The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Which meant that, at the age of 28, I could be seen sitting on a train later that afternoon reading Batman comics.

Is that a step too far towards geekiness?

The third incident that suggest I may be on an irreversible spiral towards becoming a regular contributor to sci-fi forums came last night, when Mrs Wife, myself and some of my work colleagues attended a performance of Charles Ross' One Man StarWars Trilogy show.

Ross does exactly what the title suggests - single-handedly re-enacting the original StarWars trilogy. Without props. In an hour.

Obviously, a good grasp of the plot of the movies is a pretty essential requirement if you're going to understand One Man StarWars. And, from first glance, it seemed that the audience fitted the bill.

Geeky? Perhaps. But the show was highly amusing, and performed with an obvious affection for the films.

So now, having laid all this before you, I have to ask - am I an irrepairable geek?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Presidential Sweet

As seen over at Big Stupid Tommy's:

1. Take out your iPod (or Zune, I guess...really, who buys a Zune?)

2. Press shuffle songs.

3. Answer the following:
a) How many songs before you come to one that would absolutely disqualify you from being President?
b) What is that song?

4. Leave your answers.

There are a number of things that disqualify me from ever being President of the United States of America:

1. I'm a member of neither the Republican nor Democrat political parties.

2. I don't understand how the US political system works.

3. I don't believe in God, and I'm quite vocal about it.

4. I'm not American.

But hey, supposing that for a moment (or 10 years at least) I was a member of one of the major American political parties, I understood what senate, primaries and the House of Representatives are, I believed in Him and I was a US citizen born and raised on the other side of the Atlantic.

I'm on a private jet with a few reporters, and my iPod is on shuffle in the background. How many songs in would we be before my campaign was in tatters?

Incredibly, on this play, probably one.

First up, Out Of Space by The Prodigy. From their proper rave days. The same period when they released a song entitled Their Law. The opening line of which is "Fuck 'em, and their law".

Out Of Space itself isn't quite as anti-office as that, but I'm guessing it wouldn't endear me to the bible belt voters.

My fellow (non)countrymen, it is with a heavy heart that I have to declare myself out of the 2008 US presidential race, thanks to Liam Howlett and Keith Flint.

(By the by, if The Prodigy didn't kill my election dream, the fifth track shuffled up, Finders Fuckers by Isa and The Filthy Tongues, probably would.)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Whae's Like Us? Revisited

A good while back, I posted a great Scottish put-down that I'd received by email.

Today, I received another big pile of them from a friend, and felt that the Blogosphere should be allowed to share them - these are not for the easily offended.

She had a fanny like a stab wound in a gorilla's back

Look's like she's been dooking for apples in a chip pan

Had more hands up her than Sooty

She's got a face like a dog lickin' pish affa nettle

It looks like she's been set on fire and put out with a golf club

She's got a face that could make an onion cry

I wouldn't ride her into battle

Everyone has a right to be ugly, but she abuses the privilege

Mair chins than a Chinese phone book

She smells like an alkies carpet

She has seen more japseyes than an oriental optician

It's like shaggin a pail of water

It's like shaggin the sleeve off a wizard's cloak

She's killed more cocks than a fowl butcher

Fanny like a ripped out fireplace

Face like a sand blasted tomato

Arse like a bag of washing

She sweats like a dog in a Chinese restaurant

She's seen more helmets than Hitler

Face like a stuntman's knee

She's got a fanny like a badly packed kebab

Like opening the window and shagging the night

She's seen more cockends than weekends

I left her with a face like a painter's radio

Fanny like a clown's pocket

Fanny like a hippo's yawn

Fanny like a burst couch

She's that ugly not even a sniper would take her out

More pricks than a second hand dartboard

Face like a blind joiner's thumb

She's done more lengths than Duncan Goodhew

She's been shot over more times than Sarajevo

Even the tide wouldn't take her out

Got more finger prints on her than Scotland Yard

Handled more balls than Dino Zoff

Pish flaps like John Wayne's saddle bags

She had a pair of flaps on her like a gutted trout

A face like she's been ram raiding on a scooter

She's had more seamen than Saltcoats

She's seen more stiffs than Quincy

Cocked more times than Elmer Fudd's shotgun