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....)