Stuff that pops into my head. Innit.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


They have millions of fans, they're widely acclaimed as the best live band in the world, and another blogger once told me Matt Bellamy was an audio god.

I'm going to tell you why I think they're shit.

"You sure you want to go with that look?"

I actually have the first 2 Muse albums, and I still think Showbiz -and the song Uno, in particular- is ok if not brilliant. My wife bought Origin of Symmetry for a reason I've never quite worked out, I think she thought it was ok but I didn't like it mainly because of Bellamy's gaspy vocals ruining "Feeling Good" Actually, while we're on the subject, here's a hint to any band members who might be reading this. If you're thinking of doing a cover version, fine go ahead-but make sure Nina Simone hasn't done it first. You're not the singer she was, you'll sound silly.

Muse are decent musicians -no-one can say they aren't- but using arpeggio and pitch shift effects doesn't make you a great guitarist, just a techincally gifted one. Great guitarists have a feel for their instrument, not just ability. Josh Homme -great gutarist, Herman Li -loaded with skill, but awful. See my point?
A great live band? No. A truly great live band adds something to their songs onstage -and that something isn't a flashy light show- Muse do perfect renditions of their CD cuts, yes, but I might as well sit in the garden listening to my MP3 player whilst shining a torch in my face.

Anyway, Muse have carried on -getting steadily worse as time has passed- until they're at the point where we  are now, and they seem to have turned into a pastiche of their former selves, becoming lazy, unoriginal and worst of all, boring.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


An oxymoron is a phrase that contains an element of self-defeating contradiction. Like "Australian table manners", or "German sense of humour" or "Local Liverpool fan" or "people who use the word 'oxymoron' and who aren't also just a little bit irritating and likely to suddenly dip into the appropriate foreign accent while pronouncing foreign words, as in 'I think I'll have the broos-ketta'".
Another example: "Arsenal goalkeeper".
It's not so much that Arsenal have no goalkeeper, more that the word "keeper" seems wrong here. Perhaps a better alternative would be "Arsenal goal-stander", or "Arsenal goal-curator", or simply a footnote to make it clear that "keeper" is being used in the same sense as "park keeper" or "game keeper", to denote someone who tends and oversees, who puts the towels in the corner and stamps down divots.

Having said that, I've always kind of liked current No1 Manuel Almunia, in particular his mournful facial expression which makes him look at all times like a man who has just been told his budgie has died. This special look was on constant display last Saturday, when Almunia was blamed for at least one of West Brom's goals, most notably the one where his attempt to deflect the ball to safety via a spectacular on-field tribute to the moment in Grease where Danny Zuko drops to his knees while jiving at the Rydell High dance ended up backfiring a little.

Dead budgie alert

Sadly, it's more bad news for Manuel as he is now injured and unable to play in the Arse's Champions League trip to Serbia to play Partizan Belgrade.
"We have Manuel Almunia out," Arsene Wenger said. "He has a problem with his elbow. He caught it when he made the penalty on Saturday." Which was, of course, the only thing he caught on Saturday. Asked if his goalkeeper had been dropped Wenger clenched his fists Scrappy Doo-style while deliberately rolling up a single shirtsleeve and replied: "We win together and we lose together even if people think he made a mistake on the second goal," saying the last bit really quickly and in a quiet voice.

"No, I'm totally happy with Almunia"

Good news, though, for Arsenal fans relieved to be relieved of a flailing goalkeeper with an angular haircut and a habit of waggling his arms about before crumpling in a heap and then sadly retrieving the ball from the back of his own net: Lukasz Fabianski is primed and ready to step in. Oh.

"Hey, they're not allowed to kick it at me are they?"

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Pan's Labyrinth

Following on from Lebowski, this is another film that I love.
And you lot should love it too.

A fairy tale for adults is the best way to summarise Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, childlike, magical and full of dark menace in equal measure, the movie is an incredible experience.
The movie takes place in a post-civil war Spain in 1944, when the 12-year old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) moves from the city to the countryside with her pregnant mother to be with her new stepfather, Captain Vidal (Sergi López). Vidal is trying to eradicate the last of the rebels on behalf of the fascist government, and is cold and merciless, a human embodiment of evil.

"Hmmm, Jam"

A fairy leads Ofelia into an ancient stone labyrinth next to the small village, the centre of which is a spiral staircase cut into the rock which leads to carved plinth and a giant faun (Doug Jones). He tells her that she is the reincarnation of of an ancient princess and gives her three tasks to do before the next full moon. He hands her a blank book, and tells her to read it when she is alone for instructions.
Her first task is to feed a giant toad a handful of stones and pull a key out of its stomach. 
The second task is to enter the lair of the Pale Man (Doug Jones) and use the key to find a hidden dagger. Under no circumstances should she eat from the great feast the Pale Man has laid out before him. But she ignores the advice and eats two grapes awakening the creature, who has a penchant for eating children.


Meanwhile, Vidal is trying to brutally suppress the rebels whilst trying to discover the identity of the informant in the village who is smuggling antibiotics to the wounded freedom fighters hiding in the woods surrounding the Captain's troops.
Ofelia’s mother struggles with a difficult pregnancy, falling in and out of a fever, which is temporarily relieved when Ofelia, on the advice of the faun, puts a mandrake root in a bowl of milk under her mother's bed. As the rebels finally attack the camp, the faun gives Ofelia one final chance to demonstrate that she is the princess of the netherworld.

The strength of del Toro’s work is that it effortlessly fuses the mysterious, surreal and nightmarish world of fairy tales with the brutal, dark and cruel reality of Spain under Franco. The art direction is astonishing, mixing del Toro’s unique vision with Goya, The Brothers Grimm, traditional folklore and hints of Alice in Wonderland.

Ivana Baquero is astonishing as Ofelia, giving an incredibly strong performance, reminiscent of Natalie Portman's portrayal of Mathilda in Luc Besson’s Léon . Sergi López oozes evil from every pore in his role as the heartless captain, although if a criticism could be levelled at the film, it's that Vidal is so relentlessly malevolent that he becomes a cipher, and is not so well rounded as some of the other characters.

But this is a minor point for a film which is so wonderfully fantastical and works on so many levels. This film is designed to be allegorical and different meanings can be stripped from it, such as the perils of fascism and dogma and the loss of innocence for both Ofelia and Spain. The film deals with the difficult choices we all have to make and just as the faun is an ambiguous creature, capable of tenderness and violence, the reality of Ofelia's world is for the audience to decide.

Nice horns

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Soundgarden - Telephantism

Remember way back when Chris Cornell had never met Timbaland, before he'd done possibly the worst cover in history (he murdered Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" -not a great song to begin with), before he'd convinced the 3 members of Rage against the Machine who weren't Zack de la Rocha to join him in AudioSlave and proceed to do the 2nd worst cover in history (a horrible attempt at The Clash's "White Riot" -which was a great song to begin with)
Remember back then? If you do, congratulations, you're quite old.

Looking California, feeling Minnesota, Hair by Alaska

However, being old(ish) has it's advantages, one of them being that you remember things most around you have forgotten, and the thing I'm talking about here is the band Soundgarden.

Having a rougher, more metallic edge to them than their contemporaries from the grunge/Seattle scene and were, -for me at least- only behind Sonic Youth and Alice in Chains for the 10 years or so of the late 80's - mid 90's rock revival.

Much better, Christopher

However, as I noted in the opening paragraph, things change.

Though comprised of some fundamentally great songs, Telephantism inexplicably omits bonafide classics like The Day I Tried To Live. Combined with the fact that there is no better introduction to Soundgarden than their insurmountably impressive 1994 album Superunknown along with the knowledge that 1997’s A-Sides is a better “Greatest hits” collection, why do you want this?

Well, If you’ve never heard them before, I guess it’s ok as an introduction, or if you’re a completist there’s one new song and some live stuff on the deluxe version, aside from that, it’s just an echo of a time long gone.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Short thoughts

The Italians are upset that Tesco's are selling a lasagne sandwich.

Apparently it's just the latest slight on the country's cuisine, other "delights" include polenta from Montenegro, German "salami", Swedish fontina, Californian Chianti and "parmesan" from Romania.
I'm upset that Tesco's are selling a lasagne sandwich too. Mainly because I think it'll be a huge seller. Sadly.

 What's next?

A parrot 'working' for Colombian gangsters has been arrested after police discovered that it had been trained to squawk the words "Run, run, you are going to get caught" if and when the police ever arrived on the scene
Apparently they cops also managed to arrest a couple of men at the same time, but Lorenzo was obviously the real prize. Get your "jail bird" jokes at the ready.

Drunk rescued after getting stuck in recycling bin

It's a great headline isn't it?

A dog walker heard cries of 'help' coming from a clothes recycling bin outside Great Wakering Sports Centre, in Great Wakering, Essex, at 6.30am on Saturday.

The man, believed to be Lithuanian and described as 'drunk', climbed into the metal bin on his way home because he was cold - but got stuck inside.

Described as "drunk"? No shit, really? That's natural selection in action right there

"Drunk? How dare you"

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Big Lebowski

This is the first of a new series of posts where I'm going to tell you about things -movies, music, Tv- that I love and why you should love them too.

The main character of The Big Lebowski seems like a fairly intelligent guy who's wise to the world, but he doesn't really want to do much of anything besides go bowling, smoke pot, and generally relax.

That main character is Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), introduced by the film's rambling narrator (Sam Elliott) as "quite possibly the laziest man in Los Angeles county." The Dude is unemployed, needless to say, and spends most of his time at the bowling alley with his two best friends, Walter (John Goodman), a borderline-psychotic who's in the habit of pulling a gun when he thinks somebody's cheating in a bowling match ("Has the whole world gone CRAZY?!" he shouts at a suspected cheater), and Donny (Steve Buscemi), who's always a few steps behind the conversation and is constantly berated by Walter for it ("Donny, you have no frame of reference here!"). These three seem to more or less live for bowling tournaments, and as the film begins they are anticipating an important match with rival bowler Jesus Quintana (John Turturro), who, when we first meet him, is doing a dance in the bowling lane to accompany a Spanish version of "Hotel California" and, if it's possible, seems to be even more of a head case than Walter.

"Nobody fucks with the Jesus!"

If that doesn't give you a good idea of this film's absurdist tone, then perhaps this will: the entire scenario which drives the story is set in motion by two thugs mistakenly urinating on the Dude's rug. They've mistaken him for a millionaire of the same name who is also known as the "Big" Lebowski (David Huddleston) and whose nymphomaniac wife Bunny (Tara Reid) owes money to porn producer Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara). The Dude goes to the Big Lebowski seeking compensation for his ruined rug; he doesn't have any luck, but when Bunny is apparently kidnapped, the elder Lebowski asks him to deliver the $1 million ransom.

Unfortunately, Walter gets involved and fouls up the drop-off, and before they can try again to get the money to the supposed kidnappers, the Dude's car gets stolen, along with the briefcase containing the money. Soon, the Dude is being harassed not only by the Big Lebowski himself but also by Treehorn and by a group of German "nihilists" who demand the ransom money even though they may not have been involved in the kidnapping in the first place; the Dude and Walter suspect that Bunny may well have kidnapped herself in order to extort money from her husband to repay her debts to Treehorn. Meanwhile, the Big Lebowski's daughter Maude (Julianne Moore), a feminist avant-garde artist who likes to make grand entrances swinging through the air naked, wants to recover the money for her family.

"Mark it zero!

The plot, however, is really just a vehicle for all these bizarre characters to run wild and wreak their own unique forms of havoc. The Coens see Los Angeles as a veritable jungle of oddballs and nutcases, with the sometimes bewildered Dude left to run through it and try to avoid any more trouble (usually unsuccessfully). The film doesn't feature quite as many one-liners and sight gags as the Coens' other comedies (though there are a few hilarious moments of visual humor, particularly in the Dude's dream sequences and acid flashbacks), but it more than makes up for it with the sheer fun of watching these strange characters interact. The film sometimes seems a little disjointed as a result - you get the feeling that the Coens have not only set their characters loose in this "jungle" but are also themselves running crazy through the jungle of their own twisted imaginations - but for the most part the characterizations are interesting enough to overcome the shaky plotting and what turns out to be a somewhat anticlimactic resolution.

There's also a noticeable (but not too heavy-handed) thread of social commentary in TBL, which, incidentally, takes place just as the Gulf War is about to begin; at the beginning, we see George Bush on television making his "This aggression will not stand" speech. The Coens take aim at just about every elite L.A. subculture in the book: the egotistical wealthy businessman ("The bums will always lose!" shouts the Big Lebowski at one point), the porn industry, the overbearing Malibu policeman who berates the Dude for disturbing their "peaceful beach community," and so on. By the end, we really start to admire the Dude, who almost certainly harbors the least "aggression" of anyone in this story; his passive resistance (emphasis on "passive," albeit) to the elite emerges as something more than just another quirky characterization in a film overflowing with quirky characters.
He also turns out to have a pretty well-functioning brain in his head, even if he doesn't like to use it very much; his sarcasm towards Treehorn and the Malibu policeman shows that he knows when he's getting a run around, and he does manage to unravel the kidnapping mystery by the end. The Coens certainly poke fun at the Dude for his laziness, but they don't just treat him as fodder for cheap shots either. I think that, more than anything, is what makes TBL a standout comedy: it manages to approach characters like the Dude and, to some extent, Walter, with genuine affection while still acknowledging that they are pretty scatter-brained. First time viewers may find themselves surprised at how much they like the un-dynamic duo by the end of the movie, given that they seemed like nothing more than the butts of an extended joke at first. "It's good knowin' he's out there, the Dude, takin' it easy," opines the narrator towards the end. I dare say that truer words have seldom been spoken

"That's, like, just your opinion, man"

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Jamie Oliver

Last night everyone's favourite chef who's tongue is slightly too big for his mouth embarked on a new challenge.
The USA. Not all of it -that would be silly- he took on the task of transforming the diets of the children in the (officially) fattest town in America - Huntington, West Virginia, a town where fully half of the population are clinically obese.
No, I've never heard of it either.
From this starting point, he means to transform the American diet from top to bottom, but it won't be easy. At the local radio station where Jamie launches his campaign, they resent his interference on principle. "We don't want to sit around and eat lettuce all day," says the presenter, who appears to be one of those lucky people who makes a living out of being pissed off all the time. Nice work if you can get it.
Jamie's revolution begins at Central City Elementary, where the dinner ladies are serving 450 schoolchildren pizza for breakfast. The kitchen is incredibly well appointed, but the equipment is used exclusively to heat up frozen food.
Hang on a minute, who the hell has pizza for breakfast? And why are the kids having breakfast at school anyway?

"Hmmmm, Breakfast"

If you happen to know the answers to those questions, do let me know.
Anyway, he set up mission control in the kitchen of an elementary school, where the cooks, led by an unpleasant biddy called Alice, looked about as pleased to have him in their midst as they might a Mexican bird-eating spider. As Jamie grew more indignant at the "crap" they were serving the children,  Alice and her gang got crosser and more defensive. Irresistible forces meeting immovable objects usually yield good telly, and so it was here, but it was uncomfortable viewing too, not least when our hero, unused to such antagonism, broke down and sobbed and when Jamie's other project in the town, the Edwards family -who feature a 12 year old the size of a Volkswagen- ceremonially buried their deep fat fryer and all made a salad for dinner.

Oliver often seems tremendously cocky, hugely pleased with himself, and yet remains immensely engaging. That's pretty much the image he projects here, too, but here we're seeing a less familiar vulnerable side, which I fully expect will make him even more popular, adding yet more momentum to the Jamie marketing juggernaut.
Nevertheless, it was brave of him to take on the Americans and their addiction to junk food. Whatever happens in Huntington, it's an unwinnable battle. But it will be fascinating to watch him fight it.

"Huntington?, Yeah, bruvva, it's great"

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Everton v Man Utd

Today is our first big match of the season and given the.....erm......extra curricular activities young Wayne has been hitting the headlines for and his subsequent plea for privacy, I'm hoping his mind won't be fully on the task at hand.
On the off chance that he's reading this, I'd like to show you all (and you Wazza) how I see his future life and career panning out.

2011 - My dog bites Wayne. I’m awarded compensation, Chi undergoes therapy
2012 - Transfers to the newly wealthy Leyton Orient "Working with manager, Haitian President and Deputy Pope Wyclef Jean was too much to ignore" tweets divorcee Rooney.
2013 - Photographed in swimming pool full of Tia Maria by News of the World
2014 - Finds God, transfers to Celtic, Rangers win title. England are beaten by the EU in World Cup quarters.
2015 - Finds different God, transfers to Rangers. Celtic win title. Offends 99.3% of world population with fashionable but obscene forehead tattoo of Picasso's Guernica.
2016 - retires to run gentleman's estalishment in Wycombe. Colleen Rooney-Ferguson appointed first female manager of Manchester United.
2017 - Manchester United go into receivership. Old Trafford burns to the ground following a freak scrambled egg accident.

And to think some people think I'm bitter.

"The horror, the horror"

Friday, 10 September 2010

Weezer - Hurley

The only thing you really need to know about this band is that there is really, really good Weezer...and really, really shitty Weezer. Until now.

Ok… So the good news is that the unfortunately titled, “Hurley”, an album that may be named after the “Lost” character (played by Jorge Garcia, whose face adorns the cover looking like the love child of the late Dom Deluise) is Rivers and the boys’ best effort in a decade.

"It's definitely me on the cover, oh yes!"

The bad news is that it (like every release since the abysmal “Make Believe” album) is touched by cynicism, riddled with pedantic lyrics, and inflated with far too much bombast and far too little of the wistful sentiment that made their first two records so beloved by an adoring and forgiving legion of Weezerheads.

This is not to say that it is a total loss…It’s not by any means. In fact, songwriting-wise (if you can manage to peel away three or four coats of injudiciously slopped on and lacquer-y production) it is a return to the straight ahead pop blazers of the “Blue Album”, albeit a 2010 version, which means no guitar solos, no herky-jerky harmonies and no clever words… and no heart… for the most part.
Those elements that initially made Weezer so exceptional are now replaced with ultra-lush (read over polished) harmonies, headache inducing wall-of-sound guitars and lines like the Post-Beatles-McCartney-esquely pedestrian, “Hang on til I see you again, I’m gonna be more than a friend” a chorus that would’ve never seen daylight in the “Buddy Holly” days.
In short this is fairly lazy music, performed and written by a genius, savant-like songwriter with infinite talent and a professional, studio savvy backing group that are 40+ years old and content with the good life that has been provided for them by a fanbase that’s been expecting their first two albums from them for 16 years and never getting it.
It’s no matter though, because they have, in the interim, picked up enough younger (less discerning) fans on the strength of cash-in singles like “Beverly Hills” and “(If You’re Wondering if I Want You Too) I Want You To)” that it’s become obvious that they don’t feel the need to live up to the weight of those two classics.

Despite all this, there are some really fine moments on the album, particularly the stunning “Unspoken” with its gorgeous flute mellotron, string adornments and strikingly powerful ending and the closing tune; the succinctly philosophical, twelve-string stomper “Time Flies”, maybe their two best compositions since “Pinkerton”. Songs so good, in fact, that they lift the entire album from mediocre to good…. and it’s not coincidental that both sport terrific lyrics, which proves that Rivers still can pump them out when he wants to.

Besides those two gems, the opening trio of tunes (the nostalgic “Memories”, the “Blue”-ish, “Ruling Me” and the acerbic love song “Trainwrecks”) are very solid barn burners. The rest is listenable candy-ish filler that demolishes anything off of “Raditude”, which is saying something.

In the end, the question is will this album be a transition back to the kind of music that they are capable of? I don’t know…maybe.
if you haven’t guessed, I’M one of those sad, adoring and forgiving Weezerheads, who hope beyond hope that one day that the boys will turn it around.
They seem to be on their way to doing just that, and hopefully some of the younger generation will catch on to the band like everyone did in 1994 and save us from Nickelback and Chad Kroegers’ hair.

"Don't diss my hair Fizzee you bitch!"

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


Liechtenstein has had some lows in its time: constantly getting mixed up with Luxembourg; having a pointless "e" as its third letter; and that time back in the early 90s when an epic battle between 100-foot tall mutant firebreathing kestrels laid waste to its wine industry. I may have made that last bit up.

But last night came the mother of all balls-ups as Liechtenstein lost to little-known minnows Scotland in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.
Admittedly Scotland do have some international pedigree, having once scored a good goal against Holland in the 1978 World Cup, but they're also the team responsible for that draw with the Faroe Islands, that other draw with the Faroe Islands, that loss to Costa Rica that Nigel Quashie, and those Andy Gorams.

Understandably, after coming from behind to beat a team that was superior to them for much of the match, Scotland coach Craig Levein was jubilant. "It can be a turning point because there is a big difference between two and four points," cheered Levein, displaying his head for figures. "I am a happy man, the stats show we are top [of our qualifying group] and that is the most important thing."

Meanwhile, Scotland captain Darren Fletcher revealed what it is that makes Liechtenstein such a dangerous force in international football: their use of tactics never seen before on the field of play. "To lose the goal was really disappointing and it was a real battle from then on," bleated Fletcher, whose fans booed the Liechtenstein anthem because it uses the same tune as God Save the Queen. (not the Sex Pistols version, although I can't help but think it would have been greatly improved if it was.)
Battling? Getting men behind the ball? No wonder it took your team until the 354th minute to score the winner. Its the kind of chicanery a guild of thieves would be proud of, Darren. Next time just get the firebreathing kestrels on the Liechtensteiners, they hate that kind of thing.

"Is that a fire breathing Kestrel? "

Terry Jones

Not the little funny dude from Monty Python, but a man who -whilst masquerading as a pastor of a church in Gainesville, Florida- is planning on burning a large stack of the Muslim holy book, the Quran.
On the 11th of september.

The event has been publicised on the church's Facebook page where they have  received over 1,500 messages of support. All from morons, presumably. The church, which boasts over 300 members, is no stranger to controversy having previously spoken out against homosexuality and abortion.
Last year they put up a sign on their grounds that read 'Islam is the Devil'  triggering numerous threats to burn the church down.
US officials are powerless to stop the protest which has been condemned by The National Association of Evangelicals.
How can anyone think these are the actions of a sane man? What sort of Christian promotes hate towards others?
The final irony of course being that Jones wants to rid the world of "radicals". On you go then Tel, start with yourself.

Terry Jones yesterday, being a bit of a dick.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


Winter appears to have returned to northern Scotland today, it's cold, grey and wet-oh joy, only 7 months until the sun comes out again.
Sorry, I digress. Watching the TV earlier an ad caught my attention - it was for a magazine in 572 (or some other unfeasibly large amount) parts......building into a fine collection......first one £2.99......all the others £ know the type, they're usually for awful crockery or the Marie Celeste, that sort of thing -

"You too could own a scale replica of the titanic in only 824 weeks!"

Yeah, sure, and it'd only cost me £4,000.

Anyway, the thing that made me pay attention this time was that it was for the old TV series Bonanza. Yes, the same Bonaza that has been repeated to death on every two-bit satellite channel forever.

Who, I should like to know, is spending £7..99 a week on the part work offering "three full episodes of the TV show Bonanza on DVD, and a companion guide"? And why would you need a companion guide? I seem to remember the show, which ran from 1959 to 1973, as a fairly routine soap opera, which could easily be followed without guidance, even if I mainly viewed it through the wrong side of a balaclava while humming Sweet's latest toe-tapper. Maybe I missed the finer points of the show.

Bonanza was chiefly famous for its theme tune which went "dum da da dum da da dum dum Bonanza" - a sound now exclusive to small engined Korean cars-, and for the fact that, for unspecified reasons, they used to set fire to a map at the start of the show.

It starred Lorne Green, -who went on to star in the original Battlestar Galactica- an actor with a dark brown voice and a silvery grey toupée, as the patriarch of the Ponderosa Ranch, a widower living with his three sons; one obese, a handsome one always dressed in black, and another I have forgotten.
Each week one of them would get into some sort of scrape, but the family would rally round proving that a good, wholesome American family could defeat any kind of evil (code for communism I suspect, although I missed that at the time).

My parents enjoyed the show, ignoring my innuendoes about the boys, who were often to be found in the proximity of pretty girls with pinched waists and neat bosoms, but, like Liberace and Benny Hill, could "never find the right woman to settle down with".

Hmm, I wonder why.

Dum da da dum da da dum dum 

Monday, 6 September 2010

Short musings and thoughts

The earthquake that hit the South Island of New Zealand last week was actually stronger that the one that killed a quarter of a million people and virtually destroyed the entire infrastrucure of Haiti.
Thankfully no-one in NZ was killed, but it shows that if you have the resources and finances to build stuff properly your chances of survival increase massively. The big clean up has started down there already, and although the damage to the country will be measured in billions of dollars, they'll be ok soon enough.

"The bloody ground go shaky"

The US Coastguard has arrested a piece of machinery. A blowout preventer to be precise-the bit of the oil well which is supposed to stop the thing exploding. No, I'm not making this up, Admiral Thad Allen, a retired Coast Guard commander in overall charge of the operation to gather evidence for a possible lawsuit against BP declared that the preventer "will be taken into custody" and become part of the "evidence material that's been required by the joint investigative team. 
I imagine the 350 tonne, 50 ft high lump of steel is on the phone to it's lawyer as we speak.

"Get me Lionel Hutz right now!"

Light sculptures.
Done by Chilean born artist Ivan Navarro, I think these look great.

More here

Finally today, as I was scooting about the web looking for funny, weird, cool or just plain interesting things to tell you about, I came across what may be the single most harrowing picture I've ever seen.
If you want to know about the true cost of the Pakistan floods, look below. 
A warning, this picture is extremely upsetting - and for once I'm not joking. Not even I can joke about this.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

top 10 albums you might not know.

No 1. Placebo - Meds

Let’s face it, Placebo have never been much of an ‘uplifting’ kind of band, and are more a soundtrack to committing suicide than a party anthem heavy outfit, not that that's necessarily a bad thing, as you'll find out when you read on.
Meds a rip-roaring effort packed with cracking moments, yet it was also their most human collection of work. 
The dark themes remain, coupled with the melancholy guitar riffs that made them so addictive. Yet there are also moments of beauty that demonstrate a confident band that is continually striving to evolve.
What’s more, there are a couple of telling collaborations that really do make Meds a downright essential prescription to get hold of.
Alison Mosshart, of The Kills, guests on album opener and title track Meds, adding extra intensity to the tragic tale of fragile souls freaking out because they’ve forgotten to take their medication. I suspect this may be based on real life.
It’s a souped-up, searing introduction to the album that thrives on the vocal chemistry between Brian Molko and Mosshart that eases effortlessly into the adrenaline rush that is Infra-Red, another molten barnstormer.
Again, it dwells on illness and foreboding with lyrics such as ‘someone call the ambulance, there’s going to be an accident’.
Having got off to such a rip-roaring start, however, the album sometimes struggles to maintain such high standards.
Drag is a business-like rocker, while Space Monkey explores the mysterious, haunting side of the band and is only partially successful.
But normal service is resumed during the beautiful, thoughtful ballad Follow The Cops Back Home, which is constructed around some achingly poignant hooks and Molko’s sincere, heartbreaking vocals. It is undoubtedly one of the album’s highlights.
Post Blue contains some provocative guitar riffs to match the emotive lyrics (‘it’s in the water baby, it’s in the way we fuck’), while lead single Because I Want You capably demonstrates the band’s ability to flirt with the mainstream, emerging as an impassioned yet upbeat plea not to give up on love.
The single brings us to two more album highlights, the melancholy Blind which marries some truly addictive guitar hooks with some tender piano chords, and the excellent Broken Promises, the band’s duet with REM’s Michael Stipe, that drips with quality.
Beginning slowly, the track drops Stipe’s atmospheric vocals to haunting effect, before unleashing Molko’s amid a flurry of violent guitars and angry, angry emotions. It’s a rousing, inspiring onslaught that succeeds in raising the hairs on the back of your neck.
In between is the equally magnificent Pierrot The Clown, shifting tones again to more melancholy pastures.

I love Meds, and while I know the album (and the band) are not for everyone, check it out - you might be surprised.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


Don't panic, I'm not about to launch into a Beatles medley (mainly because I've always thought they were crap-but that's a post for another day), but yesterday, in addition to being my birthday (How old? -Very) it was the end of the football transfer window. How exciting.

It was like National Bloke in Car Park Day yesterday, as across the country gentlemen were donning their suits and taking to their nearest tarmaced surface for a full day of not-doing-anything-really thrills.
Sky Sports News, bankrolled as they are by Rupert Murdoch's billions as well as my own £40 a month, went a little over the top and had outside broadcast crews on hand to record evidence that their blokes were indeed in car parks and that they were not doing anything really.
David Craig in Sunderland had a bacon sandwich, a chap in Stoke bumped into Salif Diao, and someone in Liverpool saw Ryan Babel get into a helicopter and fly south, leading to widespread assumptions that the rapping wide-man was heading for "the Midlands, or London somewhere, or the south coast, or Paris, or Lyon, or Libya, just depends how much fuel he's got really, and whether he keeps going in a straight line" and ... hang on ... News just reaching us from Watford General hospital, where a bloke called Jim has arrived with a bunch of flowers and put £2 into the pay-and-display machine! "Incredible scenes here," screams a dull looking man "Jim just pulled in, stormed out of his car and paid up for anything up to two hours. Looks like he could be planning to stay for some time. Back to you Brian."

The one thing of note that did happen was Robinho going from Man City to Milan, for quite a lot less than they paid for him not that long ago.
Did a man stand about looking gormless in the San Siro car park waving his lunch around and shouting about this momentous event? No, of course not, that would have been silly.

Robinho yesterday, sad to be leaving Manchester