Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Something to read

Warren Ellis is kinda cool. He writes comic books. One of the best was called transmetropolitan and was published by vertigo comics. It's about a gonzo journalist modelled on Hunter S. Thompson. It is well written.

To try out an issue go to

This story comes from issue number 8 and can be bought in the collection Transmetropolitan: Lust for life. You could find it on if you want to read more.

Warren Ellis is aware that this is on the net. see for more


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

the smoking ban and the nanny state

I don't smoke. I really don't like it. My granny died of lung cancer when I was 10. I have my reasons. Generally, it fucking mings.

Over the weekend their has been a massive cultural shift in Scotland. It can be seen in the difference between the two gigs that I went to on friday and monday. On friday I went to see max romeo and I nearly choked to death on the second hand smoke from all the roll-up kings (who seemed to be trying to go to a bang). The next day my clothes smelled really bad. On monday I went to see the evens in a smoke free environment and it was pleasant. I didn't smell like a tramp when I got home.

I had a similar experience in the big blue on great western road tonight. Smoke free and pleasant. Going out is much better now.

I was walking around the city centre the other evening and all the smokers were standing outside the pubs in the rain. It was a sad sight. Cold, wet people slowly killing themselves in the rain. Not all pubs are following the letter of the law. People in the western could be seen smoking a fag tonight.

So, should the state be telling people what to do? Should smoking be illegal? Should people have the right to kill themselves with their lifestyle choices?

I don't know. I've had two pints and my ethical reasoning has gone out the window. I guess what I'm thinking about is the dichotomy between individual freedom and the nanny state. Both of which are good left-wing principles.

Fuck knows


Monday, March 27, 2006

The Evens - live at the Riverside Club, Glasgow

It was raining the sort of Glasgow rain that I love as I walked up the hill to my flat this evening. Cool, heavy, large drops of rain that are somehow comforting and cleansing. It was a good rain because it helped to wash away the blood from the random acts of violence that I had just witnessed at Hillhead underground station. Two or three young guys with large head wounds, bleeding heavily. Ten to fifteen more blokes in their early twenties shouting abuse at each other. I kept my head down and walked past. The chaos brought me back to reality a bit after the fucking brilliant concert that I had just been to.

The evens are a two piece alternative rock band featuring ian mackaye of fugazi/minor threat and amy from the warmers. They play protest music and love songs, kinda like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Except different.

Ian Mackaye is a great front man. In fugazi (who I have seen live 3 times) he is hidden behind a wall of noise and he shares the spotlight with Guy (another great frontman). In the evens, Mackaye is naked, exposed without a wall of feedback. The audience at this show contained around 100-150 people and Mackaye made an effort to look everyone in the eye and make everyone interact. The crowd was taught parts of songs and encouraged to sing along. On the last song everyone in the room was forced to whistle. Whistle anything. Birdcalls, even. It was sublime.

The music of the evens is powerful; simple and dramatic. Dynamic with warm, fuzzy tones and reverb on the drums. The songs are pretty too - it's all downhill from here is the refrain of one song that Mackaye explains is about those times in life when you realise that you are in a perfect moment. This show was life-affirming. It reminded me that all the shit, the fucked up relationships and the grind of work is just a part of life. This show reminded me of the beauty of good music and good experiences.

I enjoyed it.

Getting to the gig was a bit of an experience. My mate and I walked down the Broomielaw and all of Clyde street looking for the venue. Our tour almost took us directly into a small group of junkie neds that we managed to avoid. We had a quick look at some of the grubier parts of the city centre that I normally try and avoid.

So tonight has been beautiful and ugly. Like life


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Max Romeo - live at the Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow

This was a great show. Max Romeo is an old Jamaican reggae singer who had a UK number one hit with wet dream in the late 60s. Wet dream was later banned when someone listened to the lyrics. He made several albums with Lee 'Scratch' Perry including war inna babylon which is in some circles considered to be the best record bearing Perrys' name. This album includes the classic chase the devil sampled by the Prodigy on their 'out of space' single.

Max Romeo is very good.

For anyone who does not know, the Renfrew Ferry is a boat permenantly moored on the river Clyde in Glasgow. At some point it has moved from the south bank of the Clyde to the north bank causing a little confusion. It's an interesting venue. I had only been once before, around 8 years ago, for a birthday party.

The warm-up tonight was a comedy 'white ragga' MC who shouted 'selector', 'smoke da ganj' and 'babylon' over some good reggae records. He did all this in a 'reggae voice' which briefly slipped during an equipment malfunction. I didn't catch the baseline accent but he was a white man with ginger hair. He was a bit of a cock, a real-life ali g.

The Max Romeo band was shit hot. Bass/guitar/drums/keyboard/sax/trumpet/female backing vocals. Very tight and well practiced. A fighting reggae rhythmn machine. The band were introduced individually - 'this is sista soulfunk on bass; this is brother jackson on drums' to great applause. Appart from the white, non-rasta trumpet player -'this is mark on trumpet' who didn't get much clapping and looked well pissed off in an unintentional comedy moment.

The band started playing at about 11 and I danced for most of the set. Most of war ina babylon was played which was good for me as it's the album I know best. Most of the songs were about babylon and kicking satans ass which I guess is a good thing. Wet dream wasn't played but it wasn't missed. A version of Redemption Song was a highlight, as was Chase the devil (I'm gonna put on an iron shirt kick satan in da dirt). Uptown babies don't cry was great, as was three blind mice and some snatches of Lennons Give peace a chance. As I said, a fucking great show. At the end the guitarist gave us a quick reggae version of Scotland the brave which was nice.

Here's the bit where I sound like an arse. The crowd was full of tossers, walking dead examples of why cannabis is bad for you. The lights were on for most of the show so you could see the haggard faces of the cannabis zombies staggering around the dance floor while they tried to roll their joints. Smoking cannabis is not good for your skin. The air was practically green with hash smoke. People can do what they want in their own time I guess but when it turns into a life-defining activity it is pretty sad.

It was as if most of the crowd got dressed in the dark in a 'who can look the most adolescent' contest. Hippies. Arrrrggghhh. A comedy moment occured when Romeo shook hands with some guy in the front row who was wearing a sixties style ska hat. A modern-era teen film style stoner tried to get in on the act and have a 'cool-points' handshake with Romeo. Romeo pulled his hand away at the speed of light provoking laughter from several other audience members.

OK, enough bitching. Great show. Crowd - 60% nobbers.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

more ways to waste my time.

I've started to play about with myspace. It seems to be pretty good for stuff like music. You can access tracks from bands like Giant Drag, the Go! team and Gorillaz. These bands sometimes have exclusive material on the site.

Basically, you go about making internet 'friends'. I can now count Alan McGee (of creation) and Warren Ellis (cool as fuck comic writer) among my myspace 'friends'. I'm also using it to keep in touch with some of my real life friends who I have actually met, face-to-face. I've also managed to find a profile for a pal from uni who I'll hopefully get back in touch with. It also seems like a good way to meet people and get to know folk with similar interests. I guess that's a good thing when you spend most of your time at work.

I like blogger better cos it's a bit more creative. I have more time to express myself and mess about with stuff. It seems more permenant. myspace is more like a nice distraction. A way to waste time.

The address is


Monday, March 20, 2006

Geek joy

Playing about with the internet tonight I found two bits of news that made the geek in me smile.

First off a further 26 episodes of futurama are being made! Yay!!!

Secondly a Star Wars TV show is being made and should run for at least 100 episodes! Probable Yay!!!

Source -


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Film review - v for vendetta

I first read the v for vendetta comic in 1990. I quite liked it then although I guess that I may not have fully understood all the issues and themes that were dealt with in the story. The Alan Moore/David Lloyd comic book was originally serialised in the British Warrior comic magazine in the earlier '80s before being finished for DC comics in America after Warrior was cancelled.

The story is very much of its time. It was written during Thatchers conservative government and was inspired by a fear of the erosion of civil liberties in conservative Britain. In the intervening 20 years v for vendetta is still relevant.

V is an anarchist, inspired by Guy Faulks who challenges the fascist British state that has exterminated homosexuals, muslims and political trouble-makers. Eve is a young television assistant who is drawn into his world. Stuff is blown up.

The film captures the spirit of the comic book. The story is as I remember it (although I haven't read it in about 10 years) and the film looks like the comic. David Lloyd was, I believe, asked to provide production design and the film captures the gloomy tones of his art.

I don't think this film will be a commercial success. It is wordy and at times it can feel like a lecture. It has some good action sequences and some worthy ideas. It is not a load of pish like the Matrix films or similar action features. There is an intelligent heart and message beneath the fancy cinematography. I feel that they have made a good film that is a fair adaption of the comic.

What would I change? I would lose the annoying electronic dance music on some of the action sequences. That was the only thing that pissed me off. The script is a bit clunky but I feel that to change the dialogue (especially that of V) would destroy the personality of the story.

The film has had some bad reviews but I would predict that it will find a market on DVD. Recent world events make some scenes uncomfortable viewing but art (if this is art) should not always be comfortable. Comic geeks have bitched and moaned about slight changes to the source material but as a self-confessed geek none of the changes upset me too much. Alan Moore has disowned the film but he hasn't seen it so I am not too worried about that. I love Alan Moore but he has very fixed opinions that do not mix well with Hollywood.

My friends who went to see this film expected it to be shit and came out saying that it was good. It was better than I thought it would be. People should see it.

8 out of 10


Friday, March 17, 2006

Hospital held baby hostage

I find this hard to believe. I was looking at the BBC website this morning and I found this story.

Basically, an israeli woman of arabic descent was pregnant with triplets. The father of the children was not an israeli citizen although the mother was. For this reason the hospital kept one of the babies to guarentee that bills would be paid because they were not sure that the israeli version of the NHS would pay the bill. The israeli government is considering how to punish the hospital.

Mad world.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Scientific disaster

It has been a sad week for medical science. The news today is filled with the story of six men who had volunteered to participate in a clinical trial of a new medicine. This drug has been designed to help people with leukaemia (blood cancer) and auto-immune diseases (where the immune system attacks a persons own body). Unfortunately something has gone wrong and these men have become seriously ill. Two of the men are close to death, with doctors involved in the case saying that it would take 'a miracle' to save them.

This sort of thing should not happen and usually does not happen. The BBC radio 4 news today said that only one death in a drug trial (in america) had occured in recent years. Every new medicine must go through an extensive, formalised series of tests before it will be used on a patient. Initially drugs are tried on human tissue in the laboratory, then animals, before being tested on healthy human volunteers in a Phase One clinical trial like this one. Most of the time toxic effects will be detected in tissue or animal trials. Phase One volunteers usually sit around and get paid a lot of money for doing nothing.

Doing nothing except risking their lives for medicine.

So, what went wrong? Was the estimated drug dose too high? Was the drug contaminated when it was prepared? Was there an unexpected side-effect of the drug that interferred with basic human physiological function? In a more paranoid forum, the suggestion that animal rights protestors would tamper with trial drugs has been made but I would find that to be totally unbelieveable.

I guess time will cast light on this problem. At present spare a thought for these men and their families. I just hope that they get better. I also have some sympathy for the doctors who were involved in these trials. Most of them are probably junior doctors involved in clinical trials as part of their hospital specialist training. Imagine how bad they must feel about themselves just now. They have given healthy young men a drug that may kill them. They would not have expected this to happed. These doctors probably had high hopes for this new medicine that could have improved and potentially saved the lives of thousands of patients in the future.

Science is dangerous.


for more read

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

more neds

My mother finally managed to persuade my father to go to hospital today. He's had a painful foot for the past couple of weeks. He's a teacher at a school in the south side of Glasgow. He and a janitor recently had to split up a fight/stop an assault at school. A group of neds were beating up on one kid and my dad (who is not a young man) had to physically protect him. During the altercation somebody stomped on my dads foot. It has been hurting ever since.

Today, after much discussion, he finally went to hospital and got it x-rayed. He has a fracture (I'm not sure exactly where). That'll be why it hurts then.

Teenage neds - dontcha just luv 'em. Schools need riot police.


Sunday, March 12, 2006


Just got back from Edinburgh. I had been in town for a joint birthday party for two friends. I was also meeting up with some other friends from uni. It was a cool night, chatting to people I hadn't seen in months.

Went to the Bongo Club in the old town. The music was ok, a mix of funk and reggae, although I wasn't too impressed with the DJ. He made a couple of sudden stylistic jumps that were quite jarring. Still I had a bit of a dance and enjoyed myself.

When we left the club it was snowing. We walked along the Royal Mile to Alva Street. It was kinda cold and I looked like a snowman by the end of the walk. I was glad that I had a warm coat and a hat on (I don't have much hair). Loads of girls were walking around wearing tiny mini-skirts. I don't know if they had missed the weather forecasts or they were just insane.

When I woke up on my friends couch this afternoon Edinburgh was white. I was a bit scared that I wouldn't get home but thankfully the trains were still running. Glasgow city centre was like an ice-rink. I nearly went on my arse several times. I liked the snow when I was a kid but I'm not so keen now.

Why can't Scotland be warmer?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

beautiful day

In view of yesterdays negative rant I decided that I should write something a bit more positive today. Thankfully, I have had inspiration because it has been a really nice day.

Glasgow is a beautiful city and if the weather is good it is truly spectacular. As I sat on the bus home tonight even Royston looked like a painting in the bright sunlight. I was listening to some good music (there she goes, my beautiful world by Nick cave) on my iPod and it really made the moment. Life should always be like this.

Work was better today. I had interesting and varied things to do. I was working with different people so it was much more fun.

Some good concerts are coming up in Glasgow soon. I have tickets to see Bonny 'prince' billy and max romeo already. I will be buying tickets to see Low as soon as they are available. The line-up for this years typtych festival looks good. Sun-ra arkestra. Silver jews. Kool Keith.

mmmmmm.....rock bands

that's all for now


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Personality crisis

To quote the New York Dolls

The crisis in question is that some of the people I work with just don't have one. Or rather they have a personality but it isn't a very nice one.

Arrogant, competative, patronising, living saints. Ass-kissers. Always eager to twist the knife and shit on others to make themselves look good. I just sit back and watch them attempt to undermine other staff members with sarcasm and bitchy asides.

I hope to god that other people see it too. I'm sure they do.

Me, I'm counting the days that I have left in this particular department. The next bunch of people I'm working with seem nicer.


Saturday, March 04, 2006

EBAY - the dangers of the internet

I'm a geek. I'm happy to admit it. I write a blog goddamnit. That implies a level of supergeekiness that most people can only aspire to. I am extremely uncool. I am allergic to fresh air and I don't have enough friends.

And I'm addicted to ebay.

I had an initial burst of addiction about a year and a half ago. I took the plunge, got a paypal account and started buying nerd stuff from accross the universe. The nerd-artifact that made me pop my internet cherry was a CD of the first Flipper album which is a classic bit of noise. After that I was hooked - miracleman trade paperbacks, husker du albums, grant morrison comics. All the useless shite my adolescent heart desired.

Then I had to go cold turkey. My paypal account froze. I guess they thought I was an international drug dealer or a terorist. So I had to forget ebay for a while.

Now, in the past month or so, paypal is working for me again. Mega-geek party. I'm buying up old black flag and max romeo albums on CDs. Limited addition hardback Authority comics. Bob Dylan CDs. Graveyard rodeo stuff.

I hope paypal freeze my account again


Unfortunate racist taxi driver

Had a horrible day at work yesterday. Very busy and lots of distressing stuff going on. I was getting a taxi home late in the evening and I was picked up by one of the most ignorant, racist idiots that I have met in a while.

The taxi driver seemed normal at first. But he wasn't. He just suddenly started talking nonsense.

'See these bloody asian taxi drivers we've got here. A lot of them have two jobs.' My response was along the lines of 'I have a lot of respect for anyone who is willing to work two jobs to earn money'. I do not think he expected this response.

He started complaining that many taxi drivers working at the same company as him also owned shops. He felt that this was wrong. I pointed out that if a man is willing to work that hard to support his family he is probably a good man. He then told me that these shop owners often employed young people to work in their shops and didn't pay them very much. I pointed out that you don't normally get paid very much when you work in a shop and that I was paid very little when I worked in somerfield, kwik save and sports division years ago.

This all confused him.

He then went into a strange rant about how the government was importing asylum seekers to steal our jobs. I told him that it was my belief that the government made it illegal for asylum seekers to work (I might be wrong in this - I'm not sure). He stated that he was sure that asylum seekers were working in various improbable places. I encouraged him to report this to the police or the council in the vague hope that he would annoy them enough to be placed on some sort of 'racist looney' watch list.

The guy just seemed to have a lot of trouble thinking. I don't think he was used to having his small minded views challenged by a white guy. It was a weird, uncomfortable situation. I guess I should have asked him to stop the car and phoned for another taxi so I wouldn't have to put up with any more bigoted bullshit but it was a cold night and I was tired. I just hope that by arguing with him a bit he'll think about his caveman like ideas before he annoys someone else with them.

I feel sorry for this asshole. If you decide to hate an entire section of humanity because of the colour of their skin you are a complete fucking numpty. I would imagine that it takes a hell of a lot of time and energy. It probably takes most of his brain-power too.

The taxi driver that drove me to work this morning was much nicer.

Rant over


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Walk the line - film review

Declared interests - I own more than 15 johnny cash albums and I have read his second autobiography. I am a fan.

I'd been looking forward to seeing this film for a while. I was a bit suspicious of the choice of Joaquin Phoenix as Cash. I wasn't sure about how this film would come out. It was OK.

Johnny Cash was such an icon that he meant a lot of different things to different people. I'm sure that he means something different to a redneck in bible-belt america than he does to me as a white liberal in sunny Scotland. I like him for his music and his general 'honesty' (although this film does highlight just how 'showbiz' Cash was). His voice was amazing like dark chocolate or a rock. A good, solid voice.

Johnny Cash is something I have in common with my dad. He had a bunch of his LPs that I stole when I was a kid. 'A boy named sue' is funny when you're 12.

So, the film. Not overly sentimental. Johnny is not made into a saint. There are a few slightly cheezy in jokes about his songs early on in the film (the sign that reads 'RING in case OF FIRE' was just daft). Phoenix and Witherspoon are warm and they imitate the stage presence of Carter and Cash well. The vocals are well done on the performance segments.

Some of the drug abuse sections are unintentionally funny. The scene where Cash smashes up the stage lights in Nashville made me piss myself. This might have been intended as a serious scene but it didn't work like that for me.

Witherspoon was great as June Carter. She showed a lot more depth than I had seen before. Much better than 'legally blonde'. Could it be the hair dye?

The film focused on the religious side of Cash a fair bit. I guess it has managed to capture the dichotomy of Johnny Cash - mad junkie rock star and devout christian. These contradictions make Cash interesting. I'm not religious and I'm not a mad junkie rockstar (ignore the rumours) but it was nice that a commercial film did not try and gloss over any of this detail.

Two episodes of his life were not seen in the film. In one of his autobiographies he describes a time when he went off to a cave and basically lay down to die. There was also an episode where he was nearly killed by his pet ostrich. Both of these scenes would have been cinematic gold although I realise that they may have happened during the '70s (after the end of the film). They could make a sequel.

My conclusion - an entertaining film the tells the world about Johnny Cash. That can only be a good thing. 7 out of 10.

You would be better to try his CDs. 'Live at san quentin' is great, as is 'American III - solitary man' and 'American IV - the man comes around'. Any recent greatest hits CD should fill in the blanks. His second autobiography is good too.