Friday, December 24, 2010

The 2010 Jock Awards

It's Christmas time, there's no need to be's time for the annual trip through my brain to see what's been keeping me entertained this year.
The Stone Roses Award for Album of the Year: (Nominees: Tame Impala - Innerspeaker; Warpaint - Fool; Massive Attack - Heligoland; Arcade Fire - The Suburbs; I Am Kloot - Sky At Night)
In a world where my favourite bands are starting to pack it in for good with frightening regularity, I don't think 2010 has been a vintage year for long players. Of those that have stirred me, Warpaint's Fool is the best, a proggy, bass-driven collage of melodies from four LA rock chicks.
The Strawberry Fields Forever Award for Single of the Year: (Nominees: Plan B - She Said; Mark Ronson & The Business Int'l - Bike Song; Warpaint - Undertow; Scrooge & Marley - I Don't Want It To Be Me)
I've not been entirely blown away by the quality of singles on offer this year either. The Streets' Mike Skinner and The Music's Rob Harvey collaborating on the Christmas track I Don't Want It To Be Me comes close, as does the little hairy oik from The View singing with Mark Ronson's image restoration project on Bike Song. But the catchiest, most soulful and snappiest track of the year is undeniably Plan B's She Said, transforming the man himself from acoustic hip-hop agitator into crooning soul legend.
The Rolling Stones Award for Live Act of the Year: (Nominees: The Black Keys, Black Mountain, Eminem, Paul McCartney, Muse)
I'm going to sound like a right miserable bastard if this continues, but I've not seen a lot of great live music this year. Having seen Dylan, Young, AC/DC, Them Crooked Vultures and Take That last season, 2010 was always going to struggle to keep up. Muse and Macca tower over the others. Another year, Muse might have won. But this was the first time I'd seen a Beatle in the flesh. A slowish start, but when Macca gets into his greatest hits stride, there's not an act on Earth could come close. The setlist is here - look at the run from Band On The Run onwards. Let It Be into Live and Let Die into Hey Jude is probably as good a 15 minutes of live music as I've ever seen.
The Goodfellas Award for Movie of the Year: (Nominees: Inception, Kick Ass, Iron Man 2, The A-Team, Toy Story 3)
Quite a decent year for movies, even if not all of my nominees would necessarily trouble the Oscars judging panel. All of them would be worthy winners, and Inception's maybe slightly pretentious dream-thief plot might have been my choice on another day. But today I'm going for Kick Ass, because I love Mark Millar's work, loved the comics on which it's based and thought the movie made a remarkable job of bringing them to life.
The Knight Rider Award for TV Programme of the Year: (Nominees: The Walking Dead, Spooks, Misfits, The Event)
Another good year in TV, and my favourites all seem to have a sci-fi, action or comic books theme. Misfits is very funny and would be a worthy winner, but the adaptation of The Walking Dead is magnificent (although I'm not sure why Andrew Lincoln got the nod to play an Atlanta policeman). But the interpretation of a zombie-filled southern US is incredible.
The Marilyn Monroe Award for Babe of the Year: (Nominees: Salma Hayek, Cheryl Cole, Michelle Keegan, Holly Willoughby)
As always, Mrs Wife is the hands-down winner of this category, and is looking even more radiant in pregnancy. So the well-deserved runner-up this year is another pregnant beauty, Holly Willoughby. Why? Here's why.
The Jet Set Willy Award for Computer Game of the Year: (Nominees: The Beatles Rock Band, Football Manager 2010, Super Mario Brothers Wii, Goldeneye)
In a shock twist, I haven't actually bought the newest incarnation of Football Manager, as I'm very happily still playing FM10. I've enjoyed The Beatles Rock Band a lot, given that it blends two of my favourite things (jumping about like a prat and singing like a donkey going through a jet engine). I've enjoyed Super Mario Brothers Wii even more, but I'm going to give the award to Goldeneye, which I won't get to play until tomorrow, and only then if Santa thinks I've been good. But I've been waiting for this game for more than a decade. It can't possibly fail....
The Godfather III Award for Biggest Disappointment of the Year: (Nominees: Eminem - Recovery; Tame Impala - Innerspeaker; Beady Eye - Bring The Light)
Nothing too majorly disappointing this year. Although I nominated Tame Impala for album of the year, I also felt that it could have been so much better. The early songs I heard promised a lot, but I thought the album itself had a bit of filler on it. But that was nothing compared with the half-baked gibberish of Recovery, lauded by some as a return to form by Marshall. A couple of good tracks, but nothing more.
The Screamadelica Award for Scottish Album of the Year: (Nominees: Miyagi - Electrosaurus)
One nominee, the deserved winners being my favourite Edinburgh-based acoustic-electric-cello-sax-singing-drummer band. The only band in the country who would ever let me play guiro on stage with them.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Six-Month Countdown

Six months today (according to the best estimates of People Who Know About These Things at the NHS), Mrs Wife and I will have our world thrown into chaos with the arrival of our first Jockling.
It's been a long time happening - we originally planned to increase the size of our family back in 2008, but thanks to wonky genes we discovered that our chances of conceiving naturally were exactly 0%.
Since then we've been through a series of tests and procedures that have variously been invasive, demoralising and depressing.
But the miracles of science have prevailed. Thanks to the wonderful people at Ninewells Hospital's Assisted Conception Unit, Jockling #1 is currently scheduled for arrival on June 11.
Medical science truly is incredible. If we'd been born 30 years earlier, we'd have had no chance of ever having a baby of our own. We might never have found out for sure that there was a problem.
Instead, we are now looking forward to welcoming a child that is half me and half Mrs Wife into the world.
Excited doesn't even begin to cover it. We're past the crucial 12 weeks period and Jockling #1 is the right size. At our 12 week scan it was jumping about like Mario on a particularly good day of coin collecting and mushroom guzzling. It was also sucking its thumb between bounces.
Mrs Wife has still to warm to my suggested name of Laudrup McCoist Hateley Durrant Gascoigne, or John Lennon if it's a boy, but I've got six months to work on that.
And have as many nights out, attend as many gigs and get as much sleep as I can.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Ten: My Ten Favourite Oasis Songs

(Or my ten favourite right this second anyway)
1: Supersonic
2: Acquiesce
3: Live Forever
4: Morning Glory
5: Champagne Supernova
6: Fuckin' In The Bushes
7: The Importance Of Being Idle
8: Talk Tonight
9: D'You Know What I Mean?
10: Whatever

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Movember: Day 30: Mover and Out

30 motastic days are now up. The picture above is the last of my moustache in all its dubious glory.

Moing, mowing....A tribute to Charlie Chaplin (a style also adopted by some other less talented fella).

...gone. The first time in 30 days my face has been clean-shaven. I feel naked without my mouzer.

Thanks to all who have donated and helped me raise almost £500 for prostate cancer research. It's not too late to donate, just follow this link.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Movember: Day 26

And now the end is near....just four more days of moustacheness to go before I can shave it off.

Please support prostate cancer research by sponsoring my disturbing moustache here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Season 2010/2011: Match 9: Montrose v Whitehill Welfare

Montrose got back to winning ways yesterday with a 3-1 win over East of Scotland League side Whitehill Welfare.

The result wasn't anywhere as comfortable as the scoreline suggests, Montrose competing against 10 men from the 38th minute onwards and scoring two of their goals from the penalty spot.

It was a fast-paced game, but Montrose seemed to lack composure throughout, resorting to long punts up the pitch when their numerical advantage should have given them licence to pass the ball around and dictate the pace.

The home side were a goal down inside eight minutes, Daniele Giordano having a rush of blood to the head. The goalkeeper made a mess of a clearance, sending it straight to an unmarked midfielder on the edge of the box and watching helplessly as the ball was sent straight back over his head and into the empty net.

The goal was against the run of play, but Montrose struggled to come back from it. They evantually scored an equaliser when Tosh netted from the spot after he had been tripped in the box by Alan Cornet.

It was deja vu for Whitehill in the 38th minute when Tosh again scored from the spot, this time after Cornet had picked up his second yellow card for handball.

Playing against 10 men, Montrose should have dominated the second half, but it took them until the 75th minute to find the third goal that killed off this Scottish Cup Third Round tie, Gordon Pope volleying home from a Ross McCord corner.

All in all, it was a deserved win that was reached in a more roundabout fashion than was necessary. A couple of injury worries as well, Hugh Davidson again limping off injured in the first half and Giordano swapped for Sandy Wood 15 minutes from the end.

But we're into the Fourth round. Let's hope the draw brings Rangers to Links Park.

Man of the Match: A fast-paced match suited some of Montrose's more attack-minded players, including Aaron Sinclair, Martin Boyle (given a much-deserved starting place) and Paul Tosh. Stephen McNally was also a constant creative hub. But Ross McCord was at the heart of all of Montrose's attacking moves, and was unlucky not to score himself. The youngster is really growing in confidence and should have a good future ahead of him.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Movember: Day 20

At Eric's request - a Movember update. Please support prostate cancer research by sponsoring my facial hair growth at the Movember website.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Genius or Madness?

In this case - 75-year-old William Lyttle has been digging tunnels underneath his Hackney house for 40-odd years - I think the correct term is madness....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Movember: Day 11

Day 11 - at least it looks like I'm TRYING to grow a moustache now....

....please support prostate cancer research by sponsoring my pathetic moustache at the Movember website.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


If any of you odd denizens of the Blogosphere have nothing better to do tomorrow evening (Thursday November 11), you can see my televisual debut on BBC2 at 6pm, when the episode of Eggheads my colleagues and I filmed in January will be broadcast.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Read Or Dead Redemption

A brief overview of what I've been reading over the past few weeks:
New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
I thought that the second instalment of the Twilight saga was better than the first, with a greater range of characters and better development of the existing cast. Two down, two to go....
The Rum Diary - Hunter S. Thompson
Autobiographical novel of a young American journalist who moves to Puerto Rico for a life of work, rum, sex and brushes with the law. An early example of the grandfather of Gonzo at his best.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
The first novel of the Millennium trilogy. A wide-ranging novel of industrial espionage, a decades-old murder mystery case and a whole raft of misfits from the Swedish criminal classes. Almost worth the hype and enough to keep me hooked for the two sequels.
Moab Is My Washpot - Stephen Fry
Autobiography covering the first 20 years of Britain's favourite Oxbridge-educated, gay ex-convict TV presenter. Fry has no hesitation in exploring his many flaws, prime amongst them appearing to be kleptomania. An excellent read containing both humour and pathos.
Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer
The third part of the Twilight quadrilogy and my favourite so far. Much faster-paced than its two prequels, more action and less of Bella's previously incessant pining after Edward. Certain parts actually made me laugh out loud, but I'm not entirely sure they were meant to.
Hitman: My Real Life In The Cartoon World Of Professional Wrestling - Bret "The Hitman" Hart
Fantastic look at the real lives behind the curtain in the World of the WWF/WWE. It would be a cliche to say it was a "no holds barred" account of possibly the world's greatest wrestler's life, but Hart is quick to expose the faults of, amongst others, Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. Humour, anger, despair and revenge all appear in a great read.
Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer
And we're done. A monster of a final instalment in the Twilight 'saga' brought most of the plotlines to a close, although I was a bit disappointed that it ended with a democratic stand-down rather than all-out supernatural warfare. Hopefully Meyer will leave it there....
On The Road - Jack Kerouac
I failed to see what all the fuss is about while reading the defining novel of the beat generation. To be honest, I found On The Road pretty dull, and wasn't inspired by either Sal Paradise or Dean Moriarty. A disappointment.
Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett
The third journey onto the Discworld, and much better than its predecessor The Light Fantastic. It was good to have a change of focus from Rincewind, the star of the first two books. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Season 2010/2011: Match 8: Montrose v Albion Rovers

There are some matches that defy all superlatives, about which it would be possible to wax lyrical for innumerable blog posts.

And there are others, like yesterday's Montrose vs Albion Rovers encounter, that are so forgettable that it's almost possible to actually forget you're at the football while you're watching them.

Yesterday's game was crap, and not just because Montrose slipped to their first defeat in seven games.

Albion scored twice in the first half, both times with the Montrose defence posted missing. The first was from former Montrose striker John Gemmell and the second from Robert Love.

Montrose had the best of the first half hour but couldn't put the ball into the net, then let their concentration slip in the closing 15 minutes of the first half.

They were better in a boring second half but struggled to create chances. The players can have no complaints as yet again they only looked like chasing the game after going behind.

I think I can understand Steven Tweed's rationale behind always starting Martin Boyle on the bench - the young lad has pace to burn and this becomes even more apparent when he's introduced as a second half substitute as others are flagging. But he always looks the most lively player when he comes on, and I think it's about time he was given a chance from the start against the....ahem...."less mobile" Paul Tosh.

Man of the Match: A poor collective performance and no really outstanding candidates. Ross McCord was involved in most of the things Montrose tried to do right, so I'll go with the wee ginger midfielder.

Celtic: Best Fans In The World

There are no depths too low for "The Greatest Fans In The World".

Click on the picture to make it bigger.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Movember: Day Five

Five days without shaving my upper lip and we're beginning to see some progress.

Not progress in the "straight out of a 1970s porn movie" way, but more like a 14-year-old boy trying to get served in an off licence.

Please support my pathetic facial hair-growing efforts by sponsoring me here - all money raised goes to prostate cancer research.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Death Of Print

I studied journalism at university, and between shorthand classes and tutorials on how to write quality news copy, we had numerous discussions over our four-year course debating the future of print journalism.
Broadly speaking, there were two camps - those who felt that print's days were numbered, and those who felt that so long as newspapers were cheap and disposable, they would remain a relevant medium.
Generally, I'm in the second group - newsprint's disposablity is its major draw. If you accidentally leave a newspaper on a train, get it soaked in a rain shower or drop it in the bath, you might be disappointed, but it's not the end of the world. You've lost something worth between 20p and £2.
Drop your Kindle in the bath or leave it on the train and, not only are you an idiot, but you're a few hundred quid worse off.
Ross Dawson expects the UK to be a newspaper-free zone by 2019.
Nine more years of print journalism? I don't see it.
Particularly at a local level, newspapers provide a vital service that hasn't yet been replicated online. While the majority of the population might have internet access, online news platforms don't yet have the same penetration that newspapers do. And people remain loathe to pay for online content.
Maybe I'm wrong, maybe the revolution will be over before I turn 40. The publishing company I work for now provides very few printed products, having moved largely to online delivery or electronic documents. But we're in a high-value niche market where clients are geared towards such methods.
I believe that newspapers will be around for another few decades at least.
Perhaps most importantly of all - you can't wrap your chips in an iPad and you can't dry out wet shoes with a rolled-up Kindle.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Movember: Day One

I don't often post extreme close-up pictures of myself here, but this one has a purpose.

It proves that I'm clean shaven today for the start of Movember.

For the whole of November I'll be growing a moustache to support prostate cancer research.

Prostate cancer kills one man every hour in the UK alone. So I'd be extremely grateful if you could support my fundraising efforts by donating whatever you can at:

I'll be posting regular photographic updates on here so you can keep track of my facial hair. As I've got the fresh face of a teenage boy, the results may be somewhere between comical and spectacular.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Ten - The 10 Most Played Songs On My iPod

1. Some Velvet Morning - Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood - 19 plays

2. Straight Outta Compton - Nina Gordon - 15 plays

3. Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash - 14 plays

4. Israelites - Desmond Dekker - 13 plays

5. What Have You Gone and Done? - The Cooper Temple Clause - 12 plays

6. Here It Comes - Doves - 12 plays

7. Suspicious Minds - Elvis Presley - 12 plays

8. Here Come The Girls - Ernie K. Doe - 12 plays

9. Anything Goes - AC/DC - 11 plays

10. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) - Beyonce - 11 plays

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Bible II: Messiah

Seeing as how religion has popped up on this far-flung outpost of the worldwide interweb over the past few days, let's keep it going with Five Things You Won't Believe Aren't In The Bible, courtesy of
Including the fantastic comment (from more than 1,500 the last time I looked):
Old testament is the first manuscript documenting the actions of the "One God", and the accounts of those who followed and worshipped it.

New testament is what happens when a bunch of people get together and think to themselves "How can we make a sequel, and make it even more awesome and fire-and-brimstoney than the original?"
But the greatest fuck-up is when a ruling body decides to get these works of fiction all together, and join them into a single volume (written by different authors) who clearly can't agree on so very many things....
Imagine if Peter Jackson wanted to make a Lord of the Rings II, The Ring Strikes Back!!! And to do this, he got people from the internet to write parts of the script. Every person got to write ten pages, and could have no contact with the other people writing the rest of the script. The resulting mess (would probably be a box office smash...) would be the equivalent of the New Testament.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Single Issue Politics

More US politics today - Jimmy McMillan of The Rent Is Too Damn High Party....

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why America Disturbs Me

I've posted on several occasions in the past that my favourite place in the world is New York. Given the time and money to do so, I would happily spend years exploring the USA from coast to coast, and I sincerely hope that I get the opportunity to drive across the country before I die.
Despite this love of America, certain aspects of it really disturb me. Lead amongst these is the fact that large numbers of US citizens will decide which candidate to vote for in the next presidential election based on which candidate they think is least likely to be the Antichrist.
I may be wrong, but I'm assuming that the vast majority of these voters will be those not voting for the black Democrat with the "muslimy-sounding name".
Putting the whole world's safety in the balance based on a collection of fairy tales cobbled together over the past 2,000 years....perfectly rational....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Season 2010/2011: Match 7: Montrose v Arbroath

It was deceptively sunny when I left Dungroanin' this afternoon bound for Links Park. I should have known better, as the ground is one of the coldest places on Earth.

Today's match was the second of the season against the smelly fish smokers from Arbroath, Montrose having skelped their visitors 3-0 back in August.

There was little danger of a repeat of that scoreline today, and the match was a scrappy, dirty affair. Arbroath's Josh Falkingham was booked in the first half for a wild lunge at Fraser Milligan after the returning Montrose player clashed with him near the edge of the home box.

Falkingham didn't see out the whole of the match, picking up a second yellow in the second half for attempting to win a penalty by diving in the box.

Stupidity isn't hard to find in the Arbroath ranks, and David Dimalta was also booked for diving nine minutes later.

Although Montrose didn't rattle in three goals this week, they could have scored a few if they'd kept their heads. The goal they did score was well taken, Paul Tosh flicking a Ross McCord corner down in front of goal for Aaron Sinclair to slide in and toe poke across the line.

Arbroath's equaliser came 13 minutes into the second half. Referee Bobby Madden waved play on despite Montrose's protestations that Tosh had been fouled on the edge of the Arbroath box. A long clearance found former Montrose man Steven Doris unmarked, and he lashed an unstoppable shot across new Montrose keeper Daniele Giordano and into the far corner.

It was unfortunate for Giordano, who otherwise had little to do on his debut. The young Italian is on loan from Celtic and seemed confident enough in a worryingly laid back manner.

McCord had a couple of good chances to win the match for Montrose, slamming a shot high over the crossbar when found unmarked in the box from a corner, and sending a free kick over the bar from the edge of the box in the second half.

Tosh had several chances, but none of them was as clear cut as McCord's two, the veteran striker sending several half volleys zipping past the posts, typically from tight angles.

But the best chance of the match fell to Martin Boyle. Confusion between Alan Rattray and Stuart Malcolm allowed the nippy youngster to tear through the middle and find himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. He lacked composure though and Hill was able to make a fairly comfortable save from his low shot.

So Montrose have it all to do again at Gayfield. I don't fancy their chances much, as I suspect Arbroath may be too much for them on a cold autumn evening on the North Sea beach. We can but hope....

Man of the Match: No really outstanding candidates in Montrose colours. Sinclair reacted well to take his goal but was otherwise fairly quiet. Tosh on a better day might have scored a hat trick. Daryl Nicol gets my vote this week for a tireless performance up front against an occasionally brutal Arbroath defence.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Ten - The Ten Coldest Places On Earth

1. Aberdeen
2. Montrose
3. Antarctica
4. Any game of professional football anywhere in the world
5. All Scottish beaches
6. All points in Scotland more than three metres above sea level
7. Actually, just Scotland in general
8. Melbourne in winter
9. The North Pole
10. Siberia

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's Going To Be A Long Winter

Snow in October....fuuuuuuuuuck it's going to be a hard end to the year if it keeps up like this.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Post About Books

As seen at Big Stupid Tommy's.

1. Favorite childhood book?

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl or The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton. I read both of them many, many times and never tired of them.

2. What are you reading right now?
On The Road by Jack Kerouac and Marvel's Planet Hulk/World War Hulk series of comics. I'm not entirely convinced that either is as good as its supposed to be.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None. I've got hundreds of unread books in the house.

4. Bad book habit?
Buying books when I already have hundreds of unread books in the house.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
None. Although I recently returned Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
No. I don't believe in them. Books have a special quality that no electronic device can ever truly recreate.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
Generally I have one main book on the go along with piles of magazines, comics, graphic novels and smaller 'dip in' books that I read in the smallest room in the house.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
I read more online features and articles and more blogs, but I probably read more books as well, as I now travel by train and can read a book a week if it catches my imagination.

9. Least favorite book you read this year?
Either How To Be Idle, which I thought would be funny but wasn't, or The Great Gatsby, which I expected to be entertaining but wasn't.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Possibly The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. There hasn't been much this year that I've thought "wow" - the last time that happened was with Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I try to mix it up by reading fiction then non-fiction. But even then I don't venture out of my comfort zone as often as I should.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Fiction - gangster stories, espionage, WWII fiction, vampire stories, Discworld.

13. Can you read on the bus?
Yep. I can read just about anywhere. Except when watching TV.

14. Favourite place to read?
In bed or on the couch when the house is quiet and the TV isn't on. I can read with music on in the background, but not the TV.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I'll lend books to anyone I know and then worry about them until they're returned. I've got a Bill Bryson compendium loaned to someone just now and would like it back....

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
NO! I always use bookmarks. I try my best to keep books looking like new.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
No, I'd rather write something down in a notebook than ever deface the book itself.

18. Not even with text books?
Nope. Always used to take notes on paper so that I could sell the books afterwards.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English. I can follow the gist of something in German with time and a dictionary and I can recognise a few words in Gaelic and Norwegian. But I can only read fluently in English.

20. What makes you love a book?
An interesting plot if it's fiction or an interesting way of presenting information if it's not.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
Something that makes me laugh (Bill Bryson), something that keeps me entertained (Cloud Atlas) or something interesting (A Short History of Almost Everything).

22. Favorite genre?
Gangster stories - from The Godfather onwards.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
More non-fiction so that I could feel I wasn't just pissing my braincells away on Iron Man and Kick Ass.

24. Favorite biography?
Bret Hart's was the most recent and is high up the list. A fantastic look at the world of professional wrestling. Tony Cascarino's was very absorbing - a great goalscorer who struggled with demons that made him continually doubt himself. Albert Goldman's Elvis really helped deconstruct a legend. As did J Randy Taraborelli's biography of Michael Jackson. But at the moment it's Bret Hart's. I really enjoyed it and keep on foolishly recommending it to non-wrestling fans.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
No. Nor do I ever intend to.

26. Favorite cookbook?
The Cadbury's chocolate cookbook.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or nonfiction)?
Possibly Bret Hart's. He came back to physical and mental strength after a stroke and seems relatively normal despite the insane life he's lived. He understands that when all is said and donee, nothing's more important than your kids.

28. Favorite reading snack?
I don't really eat while reading.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Twilight. I was hoping for a vampire story like True Blood but got a drippy teenage love story.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don't really read book reviews so I don't know.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I'm fine with it - if I've wasted my time with a crappy book, I don't want others to do the same.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
Japanese might be a good shout to read genuine Manga. Otherwise I suppose French.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
The Lord of The Rings. You think the story must be almost over, but it keeps going...and going...and going...

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
I've got a history of the world oil industry that I keep meaning to start for the second time.

35. Favourite poet?
I don't read much poetry. I do like John Lennon's surreal stuff from In His Own Write and A Spaniard In The Works.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
None. I don't really use library much anymore.

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
I haven't done that in a long time. Not since school I don't think.

38. Favourite fictional character?
From literature rather than movies, it would be Forrest Gump as portrayed in Winston Groom's original novel. The book is much funnier than the film.

39. Favourite fictional villain?
The Witches from the Roald Dahl book of the same name. Wonderfully grotesque.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Three or four novels. Nothing too big, something that looks like it will have an interesting plot.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
I'm not sure. I'm always reading magazines, but I've probably gone a few months without reading novels at different times since university.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
I didn't actually finish The Lord of The Rings. It just dragged on too long.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
TV. I struggle to concentrate with the idiot box on in the same room.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Trainspotting. One of the few films that's as good as the book.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. Why ruin the best children's book of all time by making it a musical?

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
About £60 in the Borders closing down sale.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
I'll flick through it but I don't skim read.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Lack of interest. The writer trying too hard. Or not trying hard enough.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Yes, I think I'm borderline autistic when it comes to organising books, CDs, DVDs and so on.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I'm also a hoarder.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
No. I've already read the Twilight books and the first of Stieg Larsson's.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Anger isn't an emotion I often feel when reading a book. Maybe James Kelman's A Disaffection, which was very dull but I'd agreed to read it for my CSYS dissertation at high school.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
The second Twilight book. I was expecting more dull teen gushing, but it moved on a level.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Good idea, poorly executed.

55. Favourite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Comics and graphic novels. I love them but other adults tend to look down their noses.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Apocalypse Is Coming

I have one phobia - I'm shit-scared of birds.
As it's a phobia, I know it's completely irrational and that the chances of me actually being pecked to death by a pigeon are very remote - but it's a phobia that has been with me since I was a wee boy and one that I expect will be with me until I die.
Given a choice between being locked in a cage with a tiger or an ostrich, I'd definitely pick the tiger. I can imagine punching a tiger. I'd be a quivering wreck long before an ostrich was within arm's reach.
This phobia means that I find the prospect of crows that can make tools, disassemble a fire alarm and bend wire to suit their needs quite frankly terrifying.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Season 2010/2011: Match 6: Montrose v Berwick Rangers

Four games unbeaten? Can someone please tell me what's happened to the real Montrose FC?

Yet again today, Montrose practically failed to turn up for the first half of this match. But unlike last week, they didn't find themselves 3-0 down early in the second half.

Berwick are a good side to watch - their passing was fast and neat and with more composure in the final third they could have had a strong lead at half time.

But Montrose were only 1-0 down at half time, and that was enough to give some hope.

Berwick's goal was well deserved, Darren Gribben bursting clear of the defence, waltzing round Scott Bennett in the Montrose goal and shooting into the empty net.

When Martin Boyle was introduced as a replacement for the injured Conor Thomson five minutes before the break, it changed Montrose's game plan. Boyle has pace to burn and was a constant thorn in Berwick's side.

The second half was far more even than the first, and both sides had chances to win it. In a surprise change to the line-ups before the match kicked off, referee Paul Robertson appeared to have been replaced with a 12-year-old boy. He didn't have a good game, making erratic bookings, calling play back unnecessarily and waving play on to no advantage at others.

He missed a clear penalty when Ross McCord was felled in the box in the 68th minute, but made the right call 11 minutes later when Sinclair was pulled down by Guy Kerr. Paul Tosh made no mistakes from the penalty spot, shooting low past former Montrose keeper Mark Peat.

All in all, a draw was a fair result. Hugh Davidson made his return from injury when he was introduced as a substitute in the 54th minute, his introduction perhaps a means of preventing Chris Hegarty picking up a yellow card in a match littered with bookings. But the returning skipper didn't make it to the end of the game, appearing to knacker his previously knackered collar bone while committing a late foul. He didn't look anywhere near match sharpness while on the park and must now be a massive doubt for next week's Scottish Cup derby clash with Arbroath.

Man of the Match: Not a game littered with outstanding individual performances, but Martin Boyle was a constant threat after coming on in the 39th minute. His lightning pace makes him a tough proposition for any defender and on another day could have had a few goals.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Ten - My 10 Favourite Singers

1. Nina Simone

2. Bill Withers

3. Robert Plant

4. Kelly Jones

5. Paul McCartney

6. Aretha Franklin

7. Ozzy Osbourne

8. Kurt Cobain

9. John Lennon

10. Matt Bellamy

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Favourite Albums: Number 4: The Beatles - The Beatles (White Album)

So we've covered my three favourite albums, and we haven't featured my favourite band yet.
I've said numerous times on this blog that The Beatles are my all-time favourite band, and have been since I was 16. They occupy an unassailable summit.
But I genuinely regard The Stone Roses, Nevermind and Radiator as better albums than any single LP released by the Fabs.
Having said that, I could almost fill my top ten with Beatles albums. If I only had my 10 favourite Beatles albums to listen to for the rest of my life, I could cope with that.
Even picking my favourite Beatles album isn't an easy task - it can often change from day to day.
For years it was Sgt Pepper. If Magical Mystery Tour was a genuine studio album rather than a movie soundtrack and a collection of singles, it would be the best album ever made. Abbey Road is a sonic delight from the start and its second side is possibly the most perfect studio creation ever.
But right now, I consider The Beatles (which I'll refer to as The White Album from now on) as the band's high water mark.
It's a Marmite album - people either love it or hate it.
Those in the latter camp frequently cite its sprawling length, its disjointed mix of styles, the ramshackle nature of some of the tracks and the inclusion of Wild Honey Pie, Don't Pass Me By, Piggies and Revolution 9 amongst its songs.
But it's the hotch-potch nature of the album that is the core of its appeal. The opening three shots are stomping barbershop-quartet rock with Macca on vocals and drums (Back In The USSR); initially downbeat psychedelia that turns into a glorious tribute to Mia Farrow's sister, again with Macca on drums (delivering a performance better than anything Ringo ever recorded) (Dear Prudence); and self-referencing humour (Glass Onion).
There are odd little snatches of other songs sitting between the album's 'real' tracks. There's John Lennon yelling "aye up" between The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill and While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles' third greatest song after Strawberry Fields Forever and A Day In The Life).
There's howling rock (Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey), bluesy stompers (Why Don't We Do It In The Road? and Yer Blues), ballads inspired by English parlour music (Martha My Dear), pro-civil rights anthems disguised as lullabies (Blackbird), cod-Reggae (Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da) and Paul McCartney shredding his throat as he invents punk rock (Helter Skelter).
It has a cover bearing only two words (the name of the otherworldly songwriting behemoths who wrote and recorded it), in direct contrast to the kaleidoscopic mash-ups of Sgt Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour. Forget the image - it's what's inside that matters.
This is an album that continues to reveal new secrets and hidden depths with every listen. It's 30 tracks long and contains some of The Beatles' finest moments (and a couple of songs that wouldn't have made it through quality control on a shorter record). 32 years after it was first released, it still sounds exciting, from the jet engines and McCartney's pounding drums as Back In The USSR kicks off to the final swoop of the strings on Good Night.
Perfect? Not even close. But for pushing boundaries, sheer inventiveness, the sense of fun it evokes despite being recorded practically as a series of solo singles by three creative geniuses (and Ringo) and for Dear Prudence, While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Sexy Sadie, it thoroughly deserves its place at number four on my list of favourite albums.
For the best way to hear the album, buy the recent remastered version, get a good CD player, a great pair of headphones, turn out the lights and open your mind....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Raindrops On Roses

These are a few of my favourite things:

Walking around barefoot both indoors and outdoors.

Wearing a new pair of jeans for the first time.

Listening to someone who can really play a harmonica.

The smell of freshly tumble dried clothes.

Waking up on a sunny Saturday morning when I have no plans.

Ginger Baker's drum fills on "The White Room".

Family movies from the 1980s.

The fizz of excitement when the house lights are turned off just before a gig starts.

Scotland scoring a goal in a competitive international football match.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blogmeet 2010

It may be slightly out of focus, but this is the documentary evidence of my latest blogmeet.

On the left is Eric of Straight White Guy fame, the gifted online journalist who serves the additonal role of my blogfather.

We caught up over a pint or three a couple of weeks ago, but I've just been too damn lazy to get the photo online before now.

Pop across to Eric's site, say hello and tell him I sent you.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Best Lesbians In The World?

At 10:09 this morning, someone from Germany arrived at this far-flung outpost of the worldwide interweb having searched on for:

"The name of the best lesbians in the world"

I wonder how one determines what "the best lesbians in the world" are?

And why these lesbians only have one name between them?

If anyone can shed some light on the subject, I'm all ears.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Season 2010/2011: Match 5: Montrose v Stranraer

Strange things are afoot in Angus.

Montrose, habitually the lowest of the low in the unparalleled lowness that is Scottish football, have picked up seven points from their last nine, scoring 13 goals and conceding only five.

Today's match was the second part of a double-header with Stranraer, the Gable Endies having returned from darkest Wigtownshire with all three points last week courtesy of a 2-1 win. This return fixture had originally been scheduled for Boxing Day, but the clubs clearly realised that the chances of getting anyone without a serious mental defect to come to Links Park (or, even more obviously, spend ten hours on the road from Stranraer) on Boxing Day to watch joiners and plumbers not playing football were pretty slim. So instead we got a grey October day.

Montrose, as is their more usual style, were honking in the first half, and Stranraer were 2-0 up going on 10-0 up by the break. The visitors had two key men - nippy wee midfielder Scott Agnew, a product of the same Rangers youth team that produced Alan Hutton and John Fleck, and 6'4" French battering ram Armand One.

The Links Park side struggled to cope with either of them, but it was Agnew who was most lively, his passing and shooting wasted at this level of the Scottish game.

Montrose were a goal down inside eight minutes, but the strike should never have counted, One having crashed into Chris Hegarty during the build up. But it did count, and this was the first indication that referee Brian Colvin should have stayed at home.

Stranraer's second came 10 minutes before the break, Scott Bennett failing to hold a low shot that squirmed under him and wriggled across the goal line.

So, Montrose were 2-0 down at the break and their key men were struggling to have any impact. Every time Montrose were in possession, they chose to lump the ball long, where it inevitably found a Stranraer player.

Worse was to come immediately after the restart, Stranraer moving 3-0 ahead when Montrose failed to clear a free kick.

At that stage, it was apparent to me what the weak link was - Steven Tweed. The player manager was making his first appearance since July, and I don't think he had a positive effect on his team mates. I fail to see the logic in breaking up a winning side just so that an ageing centre back with a Messiah complex can stretch his weary legs.

But somehow, Montrose fought back into the match. Paul Tosh scored the first with a delightful curled finish from the edge of the box, Ross McCord blasted a second into the top corner in the 65th minute and Tosh turned creator in the 75th minute, crossing into the box for McNally to head the equaliser.

It was almost like watching a completely different team in the second half. McNally was dreadful in the first half but commanding in the second, and others including Tosh, Hegarty and Sinclair also seemed to come into the game much more after the break.

So, Montrose remain in fifth place in Division Three, six points off the top. I'd have considered any such hope to be very slim even a month ago, but suddenly there seems to be life in the players once again.

It's still early days, but it's the most optimistic I've felt about the club for a long while.

Man of the Match: There were no candidates from the first half, but a few in the second. Stephen McNally, who has been transformed from a right back to a useful central midfielder, impressed in the last quarter, as did Chris Hegarty. Paul Tosh again led the line well and always looked a threat. But I'd go for Ross McCord, the wee ginger midfielder causing problems for Stranraer every time he moved forward with the ball.

Looking at both teams, the real man of the match was Scott Agnew, who commanded the midfield throughout and could easily have had a hat-trick. Far too good to be wasted at this level.

**Edit** - I just remembered the most interesting thing about today's match - former Scotland internationals Rab Douglas and Lee Wilkie were watching the match in the stand this afternoon. Nothing better to do on a Saturday lads?!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Washed Out

When I started this blog, way back in 2006, I lived in Lochgilphead in Argyll.

At the time, I joked that it rained on two days out of every three.

For the past fortnight, Mrs Wife and I have been on holiday in nearby Inveraray, the town where we married (also in 2006).

And I've realised that my "two days out of every three" joke wasn't a joke.

Barely a day has passed without us being subjected to a torrential downpour. Which has meant that we've spent the majority of our time confined to the static caravan where we're staying.

Which, in truth, hasn't been as bad as it sounds. It's been good to get away from home and work for a while, taking with us piles of books and DVDs. The weather has stayed dry long enough for us to have the occasional walk, we've visited a traditional sweetie shop (twice) and we've caught up with family and friends.

But today we head home to what I expect will be a mountain of mail. And Scotland v Czech Republic on TV (which I haven't actually told Mrs Wife about yet....)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Season 2010/2011: Match 4: Montrose v Clyde

Every so often, you get a football game that defies all logic.

Montrose were the worst team in the Scottish Football League last season. Not only did they finish bottom of the bottom division, but they really were awful for most of the season.

Clyde also had a poor season and found themselves relegated from the Second Division.

In theory, a relegated team should be able to assert itself as one of the top sides in its new division the following season. But Clyde haven't been able to do that, and today's match at Links Park was between the two sides propping up all of Scotland's 'professional' teams.

Not so much clash of the titans as clash of the tits, today's match had ineptitude written all over it before kick-off.

The opening spell of the first half mostly involved Clyde attacking and Montrose defending in their usual haphazard style. Little of note happened until midway through the first half when Clyde's Graham Girvan chopped down Aaron Sinclair on the edge of the box as the young winger was bearing down on goal. The Clyde man was shown a straight red card, but Ross McCord thumped the resultant free kick against the crossbar.

Having a numerical advantage should have counted in Montrose's favour, but those of us who subject ourselves to Links Park on a frequent basis know better than to assume Montrose are capable of making the best of any given situation.

But even the pessimists amongst us were given cause to look on the bright side just two minutes after Girvan's red card when he was joined in the early bath by Ross McMillan.

In one of the strangest episodes I've ever seen in football, McMillan hacked down Paul Tosh as the striker was preparing to shoot from near the penalty spot. Referee Des Roache initially booked Tosh for diving and awarded Clyde a free kick, but after consulting with his linesman decided to rescind the yellow card, show McMillan a red and award a penalty.

Tosh slammed the ball into the bottom corner and Montrose never looked back. McCord added a second with a header 10 minutes later to given Montrose a two-goal lead at the break.

With a two-goal and two-man advantage, Montrose were clearly going to have to implode in fairly spectacular fashion to come away from the match empty-handed. For once, they didn't, and spent the second half ripping into Clyde with clearly gleeful abandon.

Conor Thomson scored a deflected third, his shot looping over John Charles Hutchison's head and over the line. Tosh finished his hat-trick with two goals in as many minutes just after the hour mark, poking home a Watson free kick and slamming a Hegarty corner into the net from inside the box.

Martin Boyle, introduced as a substitute 30 seconds earlier, raced into the box in the 70th minute and cracked a low shot into the goal, then McCord scored an audacious goal in the 72nd minute, picking up the ball on the edge of the area and sending a bullet shot across the box and into the top corner.

Clyde did score a consolation goal in the 81st minute, Neil McGowan scoring a weak header where Montrose goalkeeper Scott Bennett should have done better.

Montrose completed the rout when they scored their eighth in the 83rd minute, Watson blasting a 40-yard shot into the top corner.

So, Montrose 8 (EIGHT) Clyde 1. Montrose move off the bottom of the table and Clyde reach a new low (both on and off the park).

The early sendings off obviously changed the game immeasurably, but Montrose played well while Clyde were horrendous. Their players were guilty all too often of standing and watching as Montrose passed around them, and at least three of the goals could have been prevented by players being alert enough to close down attackers (or mark Montrose's centre forward).

Perhaps most surprisingly, Chris Hegarty didn't pick up even a booking in a match that saw two red cards and six yellows.

Man of the Match: Plenty of candidates in the Montrose ranks. Ross McCord was an attacking livewire throughout and was unlucky not to score a hat-trick. Aaron Sinclair's pace caused problems in the Clyde ranks, particularly after the red cards. Stephen McNally had a great game in central midfield. But the obvious recipient is Paul Tosh, who banged in a hat-trick with composure from the spot and two well taken striker's goals.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Who?

I know I've written (groaned) about this before, but it's becoming increasingly apparent to me that I'm falling further and further out of touch with music.
Today I was filling out a survey for NME, and one of the questions was "What is your favourite band in the world today?".
I assumed that the question meant a band still plying their trade, still recording albums, still touring.
Which immediately ruled out my three favourite bands - The Beatles, The Stone Roses and Oasis.
I could have said The Rolling Stones, but they haven't exactly been prolific in releasing classic albums during my lifetime.
AC/DC might actually count, but they slipped my mind at the time.
In the end I opted for Super Furry Animals. Whose debut album was released in the mid-1990s and whose best album, Radiator, came out in 1997.
I could easily have gone for Doves or Elbow, if I'd remembered them before the Super Furries (the fact that I was listening to a SFA bootleg at the time may have had an impact on my decision.
But for a few minutes I couldn't even think of ONE band I'd regard as my current favourite.
Radiohead? Meh, patchy and a little bit too wanky to be a proper favourite.
The White Stripes? Great singles but average albums.
The Libertines? Are they properly back together again or was Reading/Leeds just a one-off?
And so many of my other favourites have gone - The Cooper Temple Clause, Supergrass, The Doors, The Smiths, The Jam, Black Sabbath.
How many acts in the average issue of NME have I even heard of, let alone do I like? A tiny portion.
Which comes as a great disappointment. I always thought that by now I'd be in a fairly high up position at NME, having made my name as one of the best music writers of my generation. I know there are hundreds or thousands of journalists who can say the same, but I genuinely thought I had a chance. My music reviews while I was at university were good enough to get me onto the shortlist for the 2001 Guardian Student Critic of the Year award.
I assumed that bigger and better things were just around the corner, and that by the time I turned 30 I'd have interviewed Oasis, spent time hanging out with The Cooper Temple Clause and would have written the definitive review of Elbow's mid-career masterpiece.
But now I have an attic full of CDs that never get played because they're on my iPod and I write about boats for a living.
Which is a slightly different path to the one I imagined I'd walk when I was 21.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Note to members of shop staff: if I approach the counter of your emporium holding items and my debit card, this should be taken as a sign that I have decided what to buy and am ready to pay.

I do not require several minutes of "jaunty" banter on the merits of my purchases, nor on the weather or the quality of music on the radio.

Just let me pay for my stuff and leave.

Thank you.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Season 2010/2011: Match 3: Montrose v Annan Athletic

After last week's destruction of Arbroath, it was maybe expecting a bit much that Montrose could continue that form into a match with league leaders Annan today.

Montrose aren't a great side - we know that from last season. But they were unexpectedly brilliant last week, ripping their local rivals apart in a fantastic first half.

There were occasional glimpses of that side again, Steven Tweed having fielded an unchanged starting eleven. But there was none of the ostentatious finishing that destroyed Arbroath a week ago, none of the expolsive finishing and none of the streaking into an unassailable first half lead.

Montrose's goal came from the penalty spot after Fraser Milligan won a pretty soft penalty after a tangle with Jordon Halsman. Paul Tosh stepped up to slam the ball into the bottom corner and bag his third goal of the season.

It was from open play that Montrose were more disappointing, failing to gel the way they had so easily a week ago.

Annan should have taken all three points from a strong second half. Bryan Gilfillan scored from a David Cox corner just after the hour mark and could have added a second in identical circumstances two minutes later. In the last few seconds a Cox corner across the face of goal was begging to be tapped home, but none of the visitors from the Borders was able to add the finishing touch.

So, Montrose have four points from as many matches, which is a considerable improvement on the disaster that was 2009/2010. We're midtable(ish) and back below Arbroath, so this weekend hasn't been entirely productive. But at least we're not bottom....yet....

Man of the Match: No outstanding candidates from Montrose, again contrasting with last week. Scott Bennett had a nerve-wracking flap for all 90 minutes in goal and Milligan couldn't find space to wreak havoc like he did against Arbroath. My vote goes to Chris Hegarty, who looked the most of the Montrose players when he had the ball.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Season 2010/2011: Match 2: Montrose v Arbroath

Having endured the umpteenth circle of hell that was Montrose's horrendous 2009/2010 Division Three campaign, those of us who valiantly venture to Links Park every other Saturday could be forgiven for allowing a cloud of misery to descend upon us as the team lost its first two matches of the season.
Planted firmly at the bottom of the bottom league, having spent almost the entirety of the previous season there, there was little reason to be hopeful ahead of the first league derby with Arbroath in three seasons. Their newly-relegated squad contains players of the calibre of Danny Griffin, Jim Hamilton and former Montrose skipper Keith Gibson. On paper, it was no contest.
But matches aren't played on paper - they're actually played on whatever-it-is-they-call-Astroturf-nowadays.
Greeted by a crowd of 1,012 (I still suspect some creative accounting may have been involved in that figure) that was segregated to stop the less intellectually stable amongst us from battering each other, Montrose ripped into their visitors right from the off. Fraser Milligan gave Mark McCulloch a roasting at left back, and his cross was cut out by one of Arbroath's lumpen centre backs. Aaron Sinclair whipped the corner to the back post where Alan Campbell met it and sent a bullet header across goal. Arbroath's Josh Falkingham claimed to have prevented the ball crossing the line, but if he did it was with his hand. Regardless of his protestations, the linesman awarded the goal.
Displaying a hitherto unknown confidence, Montrose continued to keep the visitors penned in, and it was from another corner that they added a second goal within 10 minutes of the first. Connor Thomson sent a short ball to Chris Hegarty, who had time and space to pick his spot before lashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 25 yards out. He and most of his team-mates then set off on an ill-advised celebratory run round the back of the goal net, much to the chagrin of the Arbroath fans assembled at the beach end. One fine specimen of Arbroath inbreeding jumped the wall to engage Hegarty and Co in a lively debate into the merits of their celebration, but was apprehended by Tayside's finest upon returning to his vantage point. The involvement of the boys in blue (or high-visibility yellow at least) almost threatened to start a melee, but some of the trainee brain surgeons decked out in maroon clearly thought better of spending the remainder of their day in the Montrose cells.
By half time the match was all but over, Montrose adding a third goal just after the half hour mark. Former Arbroath "star" Paul Tosh curled an outrageous shot with the outside of his boot/blootered the ball with his toe* and watched it sail into the top corner.
The second half was less one-sided, Arbroath introducing nippy wee winger David Dimilta at half time. His runs caused a few problems for the home side, but they hung on to claim their first win of the season.
Inspiring stuff, and certainly a performance to remember from a Montrose side that may now be finding its feet after a torrid couple of years. Last season Montrose could and probably would have lost even after taking a three-goal lead into the break, but that never looked likely on Saturday. Onwards and upwards.....
*Delete according to preference
Man of the Match: A few good contenders in the Montrose ranks, including the lively Aaron Sinclair and Connor Thomson. But for me it was Fraser Milligan who stood out the furthest, his constant runs causing headaches in the Arbroath defence for the full 90 minutes.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Boardwalk Empire

A good reason to get Sky this autumn - it's just bought up the rights to all HBO programmes, including Martin  Scorsese's Boardwalk Empire which, without a scrap of evidence, I am willing to be will be one of the greatest TV shows of all time.
Most of my favourite shows of the past few years have originated from across the Atlantic - True Blood, Lost, 24, Fringe, Band of Brothers and The Wire amongst them. And that's discounting The Sopranos, which I own on DVD but have yet to watch.
What is it has made the past few years a golden period for US television, especially when compared to output from the UK? The only home-grown drama series that I can think of that have been up with the best of US programmes are Spooks (on its good days) and The Take. I also like the Australian drama Underbelly, recently shown on STV.
Am I missing any? And can anyone give me an answer? I suppose it comes down to budget constraints, but is there more to it than that?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Ten - My Ten Favourite Movie Characters

1: Darth Vader (Star Wars / The Empire Strikes Back / Return Of The Jedi / Revenge Of The Sith)
2: Tommy DeVito (Goodfellas)
3: Joker (The Dark Knight)
4: Doctor Emmett Brown (Back To The Future / Back To The Future II / Back To The Future III)
5: Walter Sobchak (The Big Lebowski)
6: Doctor Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters / Ghostbusters II)
7: Doctor Henry "Indiana" Jones (Raiders Of The Lost Ark / Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom / Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade / Indiana Jones and The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull)
8: Michael Corleone (The Godfather / The Godfather: Part II / The Godfather: Part III)
9: Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (Full Metal Jacket)
10: Tony Montana (Scarface)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Season 2010/2011: Match 1: Montrose v Livingston

Two days after the World Cup ended with Andres Iniesta's goal and tears from Casillas and Sneijder, I attended what is my first match of the 2010/2011 season.
OK, officially it was a pre-season match, but the important aspect is that this was PRE-season, not POST-season. The season may only just have finished for those Dutch and Spanish internationals, but over here in the Arctic wastelands of Northern Europe, it's once again time to launch ourselves off onto the merry-go-round (or misery-go-round) that is Scottish football.
And so last night I found myself inside the North Sea Nou Camp to watch Montrose's second pre-season match of the summer (they lost 3-1 to Raith Rovers on Saturday, when I was freezing my bollocks off at T In The Park).
The visitors were well-known to Gable Endies fans, having been crowned Division Three champions just two months ago and having ended their campaign with a comprehensive shoeing of Montrose. Montrose named a 20-man squad for yesterday's match, starting with one trialist at left wing and four more on the bench.
Livi deserved their 3-0 win, but Montrose didn't just roll over and let the visitors tickle their bellies. Chris Hegarty came close with a few long-range efforts, making former Mo keeper Tony Bullock work for his money. New signing Terry Masson looked impressive in midfield for the home side, his neat passing working well alongside the combativeness of Hugh "Scoob" Davidson and Chris "Red card magnet" Hegarty.
The trialist on the left wing, whose name I don't know, was completely useless, which no doubt means that Steven Tweed will snap him up immediately. Another one, introduced as a second half sub, looked like Kyle Lafferty and was about as useful (I don't intend that as a compliment).
Aside from Livi's three goals, the personal highlights for me were seeing Sean Crighton almost kill a flying seagull while returning the ball in the warm-up (the bird wobbled a bit before flying on) and seeing Cammy MacDonald continue his progress through the Livingston ranks - we briefly trained together for an Argyll amateur side a few years back when Cammy was just 17. I'm sure I taught him everything he needs to know to make a go of things in the professional game.
I'm sure it goes without saying that by the end of the match it was absolutely freezing. In July. Which bodes well for midweek evening kick-offs in February.