Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 - review of the year

Finished my last 10 hour shift of this year today. It was a bit of a skive so I can't complain. I have 4 whole days off before I have to go back to work. I'm gonna study as much as I can. I already did a bit tonight. Hopefully I'll see a couple of my mates. They might remember me.

'Weren't you that fanny I went to school with?'

Shit. I might even have a beer.

2005 has been an incredibly good year for me. I've had lots of good luck. I live in a city that I love now and I've got a really good job. I've learnt loads. I've made lots of friends. I've met some really cool people and I've done some really cool stuff.

I've seen some good bands. LCD soundsystem. Dinosaur jr. Teenage fanclub. I've heard some great records. Hung out with beautiful women. Not exactly the 'playboy' lifestyle but close. Good enough for me.

2005 was a definite improvement on 2004 which was kinda cool but did have some suckey parts. 2003 sucked big style and was probably one of the worst years of my life (1998 was the worst year) so all in all I am very happy right now. And I think it will get better.

I love Glasgow in the summer. Lying on the grass in the botanic gardens. Playing with the squirrels......

I was watching MTV2 this evening. Lots of modern guitar bands that all sound the same. MIA played one song. Very pretty girl. Very good song. Queens of the stoneage were OK. The streets were funny. Franz ferdinand were good and the arcade fire were spectacular. I hope I get a chance to see them some time.

I actually quite liked a song by Hard Fi. I'm shocked. I expected them to be pish.

All that live music made me dream about being in a band again. I like making music and expressing myself. I like making very loud noises and screaming and pretending that I'm kevin shields or a member of spacemen 3. It's just a shame that no-one likes listening to me do it.

The noises in my head are always much better than the noises everyone else hears. Writing a blog is much easier. I can express myself clearly with the written word.

There was a documentary on BBC Scotland about the Broons. For non-scottish people the Broons is a comic strip about a typical scottish family that has ran in the Sunday Post newspaper for the past 70 years. They live in a parallel scotland where Glasgows' tenemants were never demolished and no-one has heard of smack or buckfast. I loved the comics as a kid. I'm gonna search my parents house this weekend to try and find some of the old books.

Anyway, think I'll wander round the shops tomorrow. I need some clothes.


Monday, December 26, 2005

Perfume by Patrick Suskind

I've finished reading this book after I was given it as a christmas present by someone special yesterday. I quite liked it and I would advise anyone who likes a good read to check it out.

Plot-wise the story is that of a freak of nature, Grenouille, who is gifted with the greatest sense of smell of all time but cursed with no human body odour of his own. The subtitle of the book is the story of a murderer and indeed he does kill. We follow his life from his squalid birth full-circle to his equally unpleasant death. We also learn a lot about the pleasures of scent and the manufacture of perfume in eighteenth century France.

Stylistically the book is a joy. Even though this book is translated (from German) the words leap and fly from the page, wafting your senses and letting us imagine the world of the inhuman Grenouille. It is a quick, easy and satisfying read.

I felt sorry for Grenouille because he is not human. He has no understanding of emotion or other people. He is a genius of scent and nothing else is real for him. People are just tools and objects. He kills, but without emotion or malice. He just does not understand that what he does is wrong. He is a monster. We should hate him.

Yet it is difficult to hate such a pathetic creature. The author paints a vivid picture of his alien life that is led only by his nose (the way many men think only with their dicks). People either actively hate him and try to harm him or ignore him as if he were little more than a snail. He does great things but no-one ever truly appreciates what he does. Imagine shakespeare explaining Hamlet to a monkey. He is not human so it is difficult to apply conventional morality to him.

The girl that gave me this book was surprised when I said that I felt sorry for Grenouille despite his horrific crimes but I do. I guess pity is a luxury afforded us by the author of this interesting work of fiction.

The only note in the book that I felt was not in perfect pitch was Part 4, the epilogue. It felt like an afterthought, an imposition of justice on an unfair world. It didn't add much.

Read the book! If you have already done so tell me what you think about it!


p.s. I've been told that there is a problem with posting comments on this blog sometimes. Don't know why but I will try and fix it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The lion, the witch and the wardrobe

I liked this film. I enjoyed it a fair bit.

Like many people my age I grew up reading C.S.Lewis books. As a kid I really enjoyed some of this series (although I was less keen on others). I also watched the BBC adaptions of some of the books. I never picked up on the religious overtones of the stuff which I guess are more obvious to me now.

I was glad that Disney had kept the English wartime setting for the book. Everything seems to be very 'proper' in a stiff upper lip sort of way. I liked the detail in the evacuation scenes and the blitz/bomb-shelter section that serves as a prelude to the main story. I watched this film with a close friend who is German and she didn't know anything about the evacuation of children from British cities during the war.

In some ways I felt that this film was a better adaptive interpretation of the original book than the recent 'lord of the rings' and 'harry potter' films. I think that 'the lion....' was probably easier to adapt because the original story was less action packed and less detailed than those other childhood fantasy films. LOTR and Harry Potter films are always at risk of giving me a headache because so much happens in them. 'The lion...' moves at a gentiler place allowing for subtle moments of humour and pathos and some tiny scares. (my friend jumped a couple of times cos she hasn't read the books and didn't know when to expect a scary bit)

Some of this film is scary and some of it is sad. The pseudo-christian 'crucifixion' scene is upsetting and I wouldn't let a young child watch it. I think it could cause nightmares. This is a kids film that seems to be aimed at adults.

In summary, I liked this film. It stayed faithful to my 20 years old memories of the book. It wasn't watered down or sugar-coated. It was not obviously evangelical. It did the job in a workman-like manner.

See it if you liked the book. Write a comment if you disagree.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

We jam econo - the story of the minutemen

Just got back from a showing of a low budget documentry - We jam econo - the story of the minutemen. It's a film about the underground band that existed on the american punk scene from 1979 - 1985. I was 8 years old when the band finished.

The minutemen were unique amongst their contemparies. They came into existence in isolation in San Pedro, california. Mike Watt and d.Boon were best friends from the age of 13. d.Boons' mother made them start a band to keep them off the streets. She decided that d. would play guitar and Mike would play bass.

d. was fat. He didn't look like lead singer/guitarist. Teenage girls would never put his poster on their bedroom walls, they would never imagine what it would be like to be his girlfriend. Mike Watt is just..... just different. Uncomfortable in his own body.

They were like peas in a pod, like brothers. They spoke their own language. They would 'jam econo' and spread their 'spiel'. They were 'corndogs from pedro' who would 'drink and pogo'. As somebody says in the film, their songs were didactic. They would preach to their audience about intangible concepts like futurism and dadaism. They tried to identify with the average man on the street, the working man who just worked for the dollar at the end of the week. Killing yourself for no money. They wrote political songs for michael jackson and bob dylan was there hero because they felt that he wrote left wing propaganda.

So how does a teenage boy in Glasgow get into a defunct punk band from america? Basically I just wanted to be cooler than anyone else. You like Nirvana? Corporate whore! Pearl Jam - music industry stooge! You support the military industrial complex you fascist!!! I was a total fanny when I was 14.

I bought my first minutemen cd (post-mersh vol. 1) on boxing day 1990 or 1991 in Tower Records in Glasgow. I didn't like it at first. I picked it up because other bands I like had name-dropped them (the dead kennedys, black flag, fugazi) and because they were on SST records (the ultra-cool record label of black flag) and because no-one else had heard of them. But they were difficult to listen to.

I persisted. I found their more accessible records (Project:Mersh is the best 'in') and I grew to love them. I just couldn't understand where they were coming from. They were different.

Punk for me is about being yourself. I wear a shirt and tie to work. I wear glasses and I have tidy hair. I have a respectable job. But in my head I'm still a punk. I'm myself. I'm not my job. You can be a punk if you are white or black or asian or gay or straight or american or chinese or whatever. Just as long as you are yourself.

The minutemen (like many bands I loved and continue to love) said 'it's ok to be yourself'. You can make music even if you can't play guitar. You can be the singer in a band even if you are fat and ugly. All that matters is that you are true to yourself.

I loved this band. Sadly they finished in 1985 when d.Boon died in a car crash just after the end of a high profile tour with REM.

I loved the film. It made me smile at the beauty of being less than perfect, the glory of being a loser, the joy of being weird.

The film was made privatly by two fans of the band. Fr more info try To hear the band try and to find out what the unique Mike Watt is up to try

For a non-biased non-geeky opinion I asked my German flatmate who I forced to accompany me to the film. She thought it was OK but a bit too long with too much music where you couldn't hear the words properly. She did laugh at bits of it though.

Check it out if you want something different.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas time

Christmas time.

At work. Pretending to like people you vaguely know. Getting drunk and making an arse of yourself. Talking about work because that's all you have in common.

That's the horror of the work night out.

Mine wasn't too bad this year actually. I didn't have anything to drink. I say things I shouldn't even when I'm sober (H, one of my closest friends, reads this and thinks I'm autistic. I think I have frontal lobe damage). I still enjoyed the night with alcohol and it's always fun watching other people making arses of themselves.

There are a few people in my department who seem pretty cool. Work related chat was kept to a minimum although there was an embarrassing discussion about the sexualtiy of a senior depatmental member who is 'a bit camp'. Who really cares? Anyway I made my excuses and left before the workplace incest kicked off bigstyle.

Earlier on, one of my bosses had compared my junior colleague to 'Jessica Rabbit' (from Who framed Roger Rabbit?). I now know that it is possible to laugh and cringe at the same time. I try to look at everyone I work with as androgenous drones. It makes life better for everyone.

Anyway, we just put up a fucking massive tree in the flat. I've bought most of my presents from the internet and I've even written a few cards. I'm almost a grown-up.

I have to work late on x-mas eve but I have a lot of time off over the holiday season. More time to study.

Anyhow, enough yuletide joy

Exit, Stage left (like a cartoon cat - Snagletooth????)


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

my adventures in rock journalism

I started my new job in a new department on monday. It's so much more fun. I just love it. Less boring routine stuff and more cool interesting stuff. I've been ecstatically all week. I danced out of the handover meeting in my old department on monday morning. Politically this may not have been sensible but what the fuck? That job was stressful and, so far, this one is cool.

The title of this post is 'my adventures in rock journalism'. When I was a kid all i wanted to be was a ROCK STAR. Kinda like kurt cobain without the icky blowing your head off bit or like shaun ryder without the pharmaceutical sponsorship. And if I couldn't be an actual rock star (cos face it, i'm not that pretty and the chicks don't dig me that much) i wanted to be a ROCK JOURNALIST. When I thought about maybe the rock stars would give the journalists some of the left-over groupies as a sort of promo thing.

That is how the mind of a fourteen year old guy works.

I actually gave it a shot.

At university, as I have previously mentioned, I wrote for the newspaper. I reviewed CDs and I interviewed a few bands. It kinda sucked.

The first band that I interviewed was an american alt-country band who made a few critically acclaimed CDs. They were called 'horse-sparkle' or something like that. Work it out, anagram fans. They were a bit weird.

The singer guy had problems. He had recently had a near death experience. He allegedly took lots of drugs and then fell over and lay on the floor for a while. His muscles got damaged messing up his kidneys and he had several nasty infections.

During the interview he was trying to freak me out. He had a bottle of perscription drugs (painkillers I think) and he swallowed them by the handful during the interview. He seemed really shy and edgy. He asked me what i studied at uni (biology) then he told me how he used to break into the medical school in his home town and play with the corpses. He may have said something even more disgusting but I can't really remember. He just seemed like a cock.

He only brightened up when I asked him about literature. He liked cormac mccarthy. It was the only thing that he seemed at all interested in. Other then drugs (opiod drugs I think). The cello player was nicer. She liked the butthole surfers whuch impressed me. My finished article gave more column inches to the buttholes than the band I interviewed.

Another group that I was meant to interview was the Beta Band. They just fucked me about for a week setting up meeting times and then cancelling them. They were a bunch of total wankers and their tour manager was king tosser. I'm not bitter. I got two tickets for the gig for free. I sold one of them making a tidy profit. Some of their records were good.

The worst thing I did was interview a close friend of mine who is in a successful noise rock band. I stitched him up. I asked questions like 'don't you think the guy in embrace is a knob?' andhe would agree saying 'talentless bastard. you can't polish a turd!'. When I wrote the interview up I made my questions more innocent - 'what do you think of the current music scene?' - while keeping my mates answers. (This was the interview where I slipped the c-word into the paper regular readers). My pal was told off by his manager. The interview was pretty good though.

I eventually decided against journalism because I don't have the killer instinct. I wouldn't want to publish a story if I thought it would hurt someone. Journalism appealed to me in the truth and justive, investigative watergate way but in reality it seemed to be dirty little men telling dirty little stories.

And the rock stars wouldn't give me any women.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Fantastic Four film

I fell asleep twice while trying to watch this film. Not a good sign......

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Harry Potter & the goblet of fire

I went to see this during the week with my flatmate and my cousin. I couldn't actually remember if I had read the book or not. I enjoyed the first few books until I started reading one of them (book 5 I think) where the prose in the first chapter was so turgid that I just never picked it up again.

I saw the first film in the cinema. I thought it was pish so I didn't go to see any of the others.

This film was kinda fun. Through logical deduction I established that I have probably written the book as I knew about the ending. The special effects were ok and some of the actors were much less annoying than before. Parts of the film were dark and parts of it were funny. It was really nice to see the girl from Motherwell in the film. I chuckled every time she had a line. Unfortunately she never used the term 'ya dancer!' and she was not seen drinking buckfast 'down the park'. I believe if these minor details were covered her performance would have been more authentic.

Anyway, fun film. 6 and a half out of ten. 8 out of ten if they do a special edition where Harry asks Hagrid to 'jump in for ma carry out big man'


The aristocrats - a film I haven't seen yet

I didn't get a chance to see a recent documentary film entitled The aristocrats during its recent limited cinema run. It's a film about the most offensive joke in the world (allegedly). This scatalogical joke is told by comedians when they meet. They try to be more offensive than anyone else.

The joke is about a family of cabaret performers with a unique act that transgresses every known moral boundary. Billy Connelly, the South Park team and a bunch of americans all tell the joke in the film. I think the film was made by Penn Jillete from Penn & Teller.

Basically I haven't seen this film yet and it isn't available on DVD until january. BUT I have been to the website and I have heard a really funny song.
Don't listen to this if you are easily offended.

The main website is interesting too



Friday, December 02, 2005

Easy week

I'm having a good week. It's good to be not at work (although still technically at work) and learning stuff. I feel really relaxed cos I don't have to wear a shirt and tie and I don't have any responsibilities. It's a shame life can't be like this all the time.

Most of the lecturers have been pretty good. It was quite nice today because one of the lecturers was a guy that I had worked with a bit a couple of years ago. He was doing well and he has just had a baby girl so he seemed really happy.

I've been lazily doing my christmas shopping over the internet. I've bought most of what I need to get. I can't really be bothered with shops at this time of year. Far too many people and the weather really sucks.

I've been listening to an interesting CD this week. It's called 'Gibby Haynes & his problem'. Gibby Haynes was the singer in drug-rock monsters the Butthole Surfers. The american magazine SPIN named him as one of the 50 greatest rock frontmen of all time. That means fuck all but I'm just trying to make him sound cool. I find it hard to describe the music of the buttholes to anyone who hasn't heard them. Some of their stuff is really warm, smily chillout music and some of it is possibly the scariest most emotionally damaging music ever. I remember first hearing their song 'jimi' on a mix-tape when I was in first year at secondary school (about 12-13) and being too scared to listen to it in the dark!

I'm a wuss.

Anyway, their music is basically psychadelic noise rock. They take the piss a lot ('sweat loaf' for all you black sabbath fans). They were sampled by orbital on 'satan'. I just like them a lot and they haven't put out a record for a few years. I stumbled across this Gibby Haynes album in Avalanche records and I've been enjoying it a fair bit. Upbeat noise rock songs with a poppy edge. Folky drug addled nonsence with distorted vocals. Something that sounds a little like heartbreaker by led zepplin remixed by the aphex twin. I don't have the linguistic ability to really describe it well. Go to where you will find information and MP3s.

Gibby once made a record with Johnny Depp. Really.