Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Ten: Ten Bands Whose Debut Album Was Better Than Their Second

1. The Stone Roses (The Stone Roses & Second Coming)

2. Oasis (Definitely Maybe & (What's The Story) Morning Glory)

3. Massive Attack (Blue Lines & Protection)

4. The Clash (The Clash & Give 'Em Enough Rope)

5. The Libertines (Up The Bracket & The Libertines)

6. The Coral (The Coral & Magic and Medicine)

7. Doves (Lost Souls & The Last Broadcast)

8. Travis (Good Feeling & The Man Who)

9. Stereophonics (Word Gets Around & Performance and Cocktails)

10. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC & Take Them On On Your Own)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Joe Kinnear

Although it took place almost a month ago, Joe Kinnear's first press conference as Newcastle's interim manager still makes me laugh.

JK: Which one is Simon Bird [Daily Mirror's north-east football writer]?
SB: Me.
JK: You're a cunt.
SB: Thank you.
JK: Which one is Hickman [Niall, football writer for the Express]? You are out of order. Absolutely fucking out of order. If you do it again, I am telling you you can fuck off and go to another ground. I will not come and stand for that fucking crap. No fucking way, lies. Fuck, you're saying I turned up and they [Newcastle's players] fucked off.
SB: No Joe, have you read it, it doesn't actually say that. Have you read it?
JK: I've fucking read it, I've read it.
SB: It doesn't say that. Have you read it?
JK: You are trying to fucking undermine my position already.
SB: Have you read it, it doesn't say that. I knew you knew they were having a day off.
JK: Fuck off. Fuck off. It's your last fucking chance.
SB: You read the copy? It doesn't say that you didn't know.
JK: What about the headline, you think that's a good headline?
SB: I didn't write the headline, you read the copy.
JK: You are negative bastards, the pair of you.
SB: So if I get a new job next week would I take the first day off? No I wouldn't. If I get a new job should I call my boss and tell him I am taking the first day off?
JK: It is none of your fucking business. What the fuck are you going to do? You ain't got the balls to be a fucking manager. Fucking day off. Do I want your opinion. Do I have to listen to you?
SB: No, you can listen to who you want.
JK: I had a 24-hour meeting with the entire staff.
SB: Joe, you are only here six weeks, you could have done that on Sunday, or Saturday night.
JK: No, no, no. I didn't want to do it. I had some other things to do.
SB: What? More important things?
JK: What are you? My personal secretary? Fuck off.
SB: You could have done the meeting Saturday night or Sunday. You could have had them watching videos, you could have organised them.
JK: I was meeting the fucking chairman the owner, everyone else. Talking about things.
SB: It is a valid point that was made in there. A valid point.
JK: I can't trust any of you.
Niall Hickman: Joe, no one could believe that on your first day at your new club, the first-team players were not in. No one could believe it in town. Your first day in the office.
JK: My first day was with the coaches. I made the decision that I wanted to get as much information out of them.
NH: But why Monday, no one could believe it?
JK: I'm not going to tell you anything. I don't understand where you are coming from. You are delighted that Newcastle are getting beat and are in the state they are? Delighted, are you?
NH: Certainly not. No one wants to see them get beaten, why would we?
JK: I have done it before. It is going to my fucking lawyers. So are about three others. If they can find something in it that is a court case it is going to court. I am not fucking about. I don't talk to fucking anybody. It is raking up stories. You are fucking so fucking slimy you are raking up players that I got rid of. Players that I had fallen out with. You are not asking Robbie Earle, because he is sensible. You are not asking Warren Barton? No. Because he is fucking sensible. Anyone who had played for me for 10 years at any level ... [but] you will find some cunt that ...
Other journalist: How long is your contract for Joe?
JK: None of your business.
SB: Well it is actually, because we cover the club. The club say you are here to the end of October, then you say six to eight games which would take it to the end of November. We are trying to clarify these issues. We are getting no straight answers from anyone. How long are you here for. It is a dead simple question. And you don't know ...
JK: I was told the length of contract. Then I was told that possibly the club could be sold in that time. That is as far as I know. That's it finished. I don't know anything else. But I have been ridiculed. He's trying to fucking hide, he's trying to do this or that.

There follows an exchange regarding the circumstances under which Kinnear had met the owner Mike Ashley and executive director (football) Dennis Wise.

Steve Brenner (football writer for the Sun): We are all grown men and can come in here and sit around and talk about football, but coming in here and calling people cunts?
JK: Why? Because I am annoyed. I am not accepting that. If it is libellous, it is going to where I want it to go.
Newcastle press officer: What has been said in here is off the record and doesn't go outside.
Journalist: Well, is that what Joe thinks?
JK: Write what you like. Makes no difference to me. Don't affect me I assure you. It'll be the last time I see you anyway. Won't affect me. See how we go at Everton and Chrissy [Chris Hughton, assistant manager] can do it, someone else can do it. Don't trust any of yous. I will pick two local papers and speak to them and the rest can fuck off. I ain't coming up here to have the piss taken out of me. I have a million pages of crap that has been written about me. I'm ridiculed for no reason. I'm defenceless. I can't get a point in, I can't say nothing, I can't do nothing, but I ain't going to be negative. Then, half of you, most of you are trying to get into the players. I'm not going to tell you what the players think of you, so then you try and get into them in some way or another, so I've got a split camp or something like that, something like that. It's ongoing. It just doesn't stop.
Journalist: It's only been a week.
JK: Exactly. It feels more like a year.
Journalist: It's early days for you to be like this.
JK: No, I'm clearing the air. And this is the last time I'm going to speak to you. You want to know why, I'm telling you. This is the last time. You can do what you like.
Journalist: But this isn't going to do you or us any good.
JK: I'll speak to the supporters. I'm going to tell them what the story is. I'm going to tell them. I don't think they'll interpret it any different, I don't think they'll mix it up, I don't think they'll miss out things. I mean, one of them last week said to me ... I was talking about in that press conference where you were there, I said something like "Well, that's a load of bollocks ..."
Journalist: "Bollocks to that" is what you said.
JK: Bollocks to that. And what goes after that?
Journalist: That was it.
JK: No it wasn't, no it wasn't. What was after it? I don't know if it was your paper, but what went after it?
Journalist: I don't know.
JK: It even had the cheek to say "bollocks to Newcastle".
Journalist: I didn't write that.
JK: That was my first fucking day. What does that tell you? What does that tell you?
Journalist: Where was that? Which paper said that?
JK: I've got it. I can't remember. It was one of the Sundays, not a Saturday. It was a Sunday.
Journalist: But you didn't say that to the Sundays, you said that to us. That was during the Monday press conference.
JK: I'll bring it in and show it to you. Why would I want to say that?
Journalist: Are you saying that someone has reported you saying "bollocks to Newcastle?"
JK: Yes. Lovely.
Journalist: I don't know who's reported that.
JK: I'll tell you what, I'll bring it in.
Journalist: That's obviously going to damage you. That's not a good thing. But I don't think someone's done that. We have to have some sort of relationship with you.
JK: So have I. But I haven't come in here for you lot to take the piss out of me. And if I'm not flavour of the month for you, it don't fucking bother me. I've got a job to do. And I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. I'm not going to spend any more time listening to any crap or reading any crap. Stick to the truth and the facts. And don't twist anything.
Journalist: You know, you know the game ...
JK: Of course I know, but I don't have to like it.
Journalist: Today we'll print the absolute truth, that you think we're cunts, we can all fuck off and we're slimy. Is that fair enough?
JK: Do it. Fine. Fucking print it. Am I going to worry about it? Put in also that it'll be the last time I see you. Put that in as well. Good. Do it.

Much, much later after long discussions over whether Kinnear had promised Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan would be returning to the club

Press officer: Let's get on to football. Let's have an agreement that everything said so far, if anyone has got their tapes on, it's wiped off and we're not discussing it.
Journalist: But that's what Joe has said he thinks of us.
Press officer: I'm saying don't push it. Let's accept what's been said and try and move on.
Journalist: Move on to not doing any more press conferences?
PO: No, to doing something now.
Journalist: What, one press conference only?
Journalist: Any knocks?
PO: Come on, let's go football.
Journalist: What are your plans for training in the next three days? How's the training going?
JK: It's going very well. No problems at all.
Journalist: Enjoyed getting back in the swing of things?
JK: Absolutely. I've loved every moment of it.
As read several times at The Guardian.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 11: Montrose v Huntly

They say a week's a long time in football, and today seemed to prove the point.

After last week's inept performance against Dumbarton, Montrose today eased into the third round of the Scottish Cup with a win over high-scoring Highland League Huntly.

Since last week's match, Montrose have appointed former Dundee United and Celtic defender David Hannah as caretaker player-manager, sent last season's top goalscorer John Baird on loan to Second Division side (and local rivals) Brechin City and taken Calum Smith in the opposite direction.

If last week saw Montrose lacking focus, this week they coped admirably with a feisty Huntly side. Hannah selected himself at the heart of defence, and remained a vocal figure throughout.

But on the day, it was the weather that was the talking point. Montrose played against the gale-force wind in the first half, a wind so strong that one goal kick flew back over goalkeeper Greg Kelly's head and out for a corner. Huntly also tested their luck from long range on several occasions, with three shots from 40 or 50 yards coming close in the first half.

The first half was extended by almost five minutes due to the number of dead balls delayed while the kick takers attempted to get the ball to sit still long enough for them to take the kick.

Referee Mat Northcroft, who spent most of the game behaving in an over-pernickety fashion given the conditions, engaged in a "wind inspection" during the break, finally concluding that abandoning the match wasn't necessary.

And so Montrose, already ahead despite playing against the conditions, saw out the match with the wind at their backs. A 2-0 win over a side scoring for fun in the Highland League was a good result for Hannah's first match in charge of the Links Park size.

The two men who were arguably the biggest influence on Montrose's promotion push last season, manager Jim Weir and goalscorer John Baird, have gone, but the Hannah reign has at least started in a winning way. With the gaffer on the pitch, Montrose seemed more assured of themselves than in recent weeks, and new loanee Calum Smith, signed as part of the deal that took Baird to Glebe Park, looked lively throughout.

Yep, a week's a long time in football.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Ten: Ten Musical Acts I Just Don't Get

In what may be a semi-regular feature, here's a random list of ten things off the top of my head. This week - 10 musical acts that have been critically lauded but that, to varying degrees, I just don't get.

In some cases - The Beach Boys, Strokes and New Order - I can appreciate the odd song here and there. But in others, I just don't see what all the fuss is about.

1. The Beach Boys

2. The Strokes

3. Captain Beefheart

4. Bruce Springsteen

5. Love

6. Joy Division

7. New Order

8. Foals

9. Neutral Milk Hotel

10. Snow Patrol

In which bands and solo artists do you struggle to hear the genius that apparently everyone else immediately gets?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Favourite Books: Number 1: Lanark: A Life In Four Books - Alasdair Gray

Some works of art amuse the viewer, listener or reader for a few minutes - most pop songs last barely five minutes, paintings are generally looked at then passed by.

Even books can have a limited effect on the reader - I've read hundreds if not thousands of books, but I couldn't begin to recount the plotlines of most of them - once read, they're consigned to history, never to be thought of again.

But then there are works of art so sprawling and so absorbing that they command full attention and draw you into their world, demanding repeated revisits and setting a benchmark by which all others must subsequently be judged.Alasdair Gray's debut novel, Lanark, published when I was only a year old, is one such work of art.

Attempting to sum the book up concisely would, I think, prove to be impossible - it's futuristic, almost sci-fi novel, half of which is set in pre-war Glasgow and half in the mysterious town of Unthank, which may be heaven, hell or neither. It's four books in one, where none of the books makes complete sense as an individual entity - but the books are read out of chronological synch (Three-One-Two-Four). There's an epilogue four chapters before the end.

The titular character suffers from a disease called Dragonhide before he is swallowed by the Earth. And in the Epilogue, he meets the author. The novel also draws comparisons with the Bible, for reasons I won't divulge for fear of spoiling it for those of you who haven't yet read it. (And if you've not read it yet, do so now.)

I first read the book, which took more than 20 years to write, on the recommendation of my sixth year English teacher in 1997, and it formed a major part of my CSYS English dissertation that year. I've since read it once again in its entirety and dipped in and out of it on an almost constant basis over the past 10 years.

No other book has ever had the effect on me that Lanark did the first time I read it, and I'd be very surprised if another ever did. Quite simply, it's the greatest book I've ever read.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Awesome Cat

A colleague emailed me this today, and it amused me no end.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Flapping Around

A wee trawl of the referrals that have brought visitors to this here humble website has revealed another corker.

Shortly after midnight on October 19, someone from the USA arrived here having searched on Yahoo for "big pish flaps".

Well, that's just swell.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Meeting Of Minds

As well as having the misfortune of watching Montrose lose their first league match of the season on Saturday, I also enjoyed the company of two of my fellow Scottish bloggers, The Tomahawk Kid and Big Rab of The Ben Lomond Free Press.

Both Rab and TK are Sons of the Rock, and both had made the pilgrimage to Montrose to see Dumbarton continue their push for promotion to Division Two. I worked with The Tomahawk Kid for a year or so when we were both employed by A Major Engineering Company, but Saturday was the first time I'd seen him in a few months.
TK and Rab have known each other since they were just wee boys, but it was the first time I'd had the opportunity to meet Rab.

So, an hour before kick-off, we met in the British Legion adjacent to Links Park for a mini blogmeet.

I believe a good time was had by all, although Rab and TK were more pleased with the result than I was. Oh, and Rab did voice displeasure at cups of Bovril that were described as espresso-sized.

And I thought it was us east coasters who were supposed to be grippit.

Big Rab, Groanin' Jock and The Tomahawk Kid in the Legion before Saturday's match.

Photo courtesy of Tomahawk Kid Junior.

Season 2008/2009: Match 10: Montrose v Dumbarton

What's the best thing an unbeaten side pushing for promotion can do to ensure their season remains on course?

Whatever your answer to the question above, it's probably not "sack the manager who's taken them closer to success than anyone else in the past decade and who got them to the play-offs last season".

For reasons described in this week's match programme as "a non-footballing matter", Montrose parted company with Jim Weir a couple of weeks ago, leaving the side in the temporary care of Steve Adam.

The change in leadership apparently hasn't worked, as Montrose were dire yesterday, struggling to get a foothold in the match and generally failing to create anything of note. Despite that, when Dumbarton took the lead with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, it was against the run of play.

But by the time Paul McLeod ploughed straight through the middle of Montrose's defence to add a second, it seemed that the home side had given up. Stephen Black grabbed a consolation goal in injury time, but it was too little and too late.

Montrose are still sitting in a top four position, but if they play like they did yesterday, that won't remain the case for long.

Monday, October 13, 2008


As of 4.30pm this afternoon, I'm on holiday, and it feels like it's not a moment too soon.

For some reason, I feel knackered, so it'll be good simply to be away from 6.15am wake up calls if nothing else.

Mrs Wife and I are heading to Skegness tomorrow to see her relatives, so a lengthy road trip is in the offing. But at least we'll have a selection of quality tunes to see us down the road, amongst them the latest offerings from Oasis, Glasvegas, Elbow and Santogold, plus whatever Mrs Wife deems necessary for entertainment.

After a few days in sunny Skegness (well, hopefully sunny), we'll head north again, stopping in York for a night to break up the journey and see a bit of culture - if a cathedral and some wax works count as culture anyway.

Then it's back to Montrose to watch the Gable Endies shaft the Sons in the Division Three title race, a match that will also act as a mini blogmeet, with Dumbarton fans The Tomahawk Kid and Big Rab likely to be visiting Links Park.

The same night, I'll be down in Edinburgh for a reunion commemorating the tenth anniversary of starting universary. I can scarcely believe a decade has passed since we first left home in search of education, enlightenment, sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. I predict a messy night in store involving cheap spirits and chicken kebabs, all consumed in the vain hope of recapturing lost youth.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Random Mutterings

Note to McDonald's - I don't know what an M Burger is, but the stupid advert you're showing roughly seventeen times a second is enough to put me off buying one.

I'm pretty sure my right leg is going to fall off before I hit 30. A baldy-headed twat knackered it two minutes into a "friendly" football match last week, and it hasn't been the same since. There may be trouble ahead.

The first five tracks of the new Oasis album are pretty good, but there's a dramatic tail-off until Liam's final track, Soldier On. Better than Heathen Chemistry and Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants, but not up there with their greatest work, not by a long chalk.

Driving to work sucks ass. I've been forced to this week because of the strikes affecting Scotland's railways. I miss reading my book and relaxing on the train to work, especially as the book I'm reading, The Sum of All Fears, is getting REALLY interesting.

How To Lose Friends and Alienate People isn't a great movie. Not horrific, but by no means great. It has its occasional funny moments, but they're few and far between. But any movie that boasts Megan Fox in her underwear can't be all bad.

Think that pretty much sums up the contents of my head at the moment. Roll on Scotland v Norway tomorrow.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

On The Pull

I've just arrived back at Dungroanin' following a visit to Dundee Dental Hospital.

I was sent to the hospital on the recommendation of my dentist, who spotted that one of my wisdom teeth has come through squint and is pushing against the molar in front of it, causing damage and decay.

In truth, I hadn't felt anything, but the dentist thought it best if I get the wisdom tooth checked out by the folks at the dental hospital, so I found myself there today for a preliminary examination.

And it's not good news. The molar has been damaged pretty badly, but nothing can be done to attempt to save it until the wisdom tooth has been removed. And dentists prefer to remove wisdom teeth in pairs, so I'm to find myself back in the chair before too long to have the upper and lower wisdom teeth on one side of my mouth whisked out.

I was offered three options for having the work done - a local anaesthetic injection that will numb my mouth but keep me fully aware during the procedure; a general anaesthetic so that I know nothing about it until I wake up with two gaping holes in my mouth; and a halfway house that would make me pretty groggy but keep me awake during the procedure, albeit leaving me away with the fairies afterwards.

I've had a few fillings in my time and have always managed just fine with the local anaesthetic injections, so I thought I'd brave it out and have the teeth removed while fully aware of what's happening.

Which maybe, on reflection, isn't the best idea - the dentist explained that the problem tooth will be split in two and the two roots removed separately, while the one that is being removed to make a matching set will be ripped out in a single effort.

When I described what was going to happen when I undergo this oral smash'n'grab, Mrs Wife baulked a little and reminded me that she had a general anaesthetic when she had her wisdom teeth removed.

But it's too late now, so I'll just have to remember that it'll all be over in less than an hour and I'll be fit to engage in retail therapy afterwards. And that I should get between two days and a week off work to recover.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Fuel Economy

A recent study conducted by Aberdeen University found that the average Scotsman walks about 900 miles a year.

Another study by the Scottish Medical Association found that Scotsmen drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year.

This means, on average, Scotsmen get about 41 miles to the gallon.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Looney Tunes

My recently-acquired iPod is a hungry little beast.

I've had it since Mrs Wife and I returned from China at the start of June, and it now contains just under 15,000 tracks.

But I've still not finished putting all my albums onto it, let alone started on the singles squirreled away in the spare bedroom wardrobe.

And on top those, I've still to salvage some of the contents of the knackered Magic Tune Box II, which houses some really strange stuff. The Chemical Brothers' Galvanise spliced with the theme tune to The Empire Strikes Back? Check. The Beatles' For No-One, Scissor Sisters' Take Your Mama Out and George Michael's Freedom mashed together? Check again. Devo, Beck, The Doors and The Who slammed together in a musical marriage made in hell? Check mate.

Now, as a result of having descended into the world of Apple, I'm also to be found regularly having a little look around iTunes. And at 79p a track, I can often be found topping up my collection.

In recent months, I've added Desmond Decker's Israelites and Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra's Some Velvet Morning to Magic Tune Box III.

Now, don't New Kids On The Block have a new record out?