Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sleater-Kinney - live at Bristol Fiddlers

On the last night of my wee Bristol excursion I went to see Sleater-Kinney at a venue called the Fidlers. I had never seen them before and despite owning their last album (the woods) I didn't know much of their material. I had only listened to the album once or twice. I had low expectations.

The support band was pretty sucky. They were called 'help she can't swim' (I think) and they were very young. They shouted and screamed and made noise on their various instruments. I plan to never hear them or see them again.

Sleater-Kinney themselves were an altogether better kettle of fish. They were energetic and aggressive from the start. They have a very fat, muscular guitar sound that reminds me of Zepplein, Sabbath and Hendrix. This is backed up by power-house drumming that reminded me of Keith Moon. I didn't miss bass guitar.

I can't really comment on individual songs because I don't know much of their stuff. I liked a song that I think was called 'my life is like a sunny day' best. I will give their record another listen. It deserves it.

My pals all enjoyed the show too. A good result for 4 people who hadn't heard their music before.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Book review - A tale etched in blood and hard black pencil by Christopher Brookmyre

I was busy on my mini-holiday. I managed to read more books in a weekend than I have in the past few months. A tale etched in blood and hard black pencil is the latest blackly humerous crime novel from Chris Brookmyre. I've read all of his books and I think this is one of his better recent efforts.

Brookmyres work appeals to me for several reasons. Usually, they are a fast, easy read. I can normally get through one in a day with little effort. They are well-paced and read like a modern crime movie. His work is often compared to Carl Hiassen. I think Elmore Leonard is another good reference. I also like these books because I recognise the locations. Past novels have had key scenes in Glasgow and at a local supermarket in East Kilbride. This book is mainly set in Paisley. I often feel that I can imagine exactly what Brookmyre was thinking about when I read his books.

I also relate to Brookmyre on a cultural level. I think he is about 8 or 9 years older than me but the experience of a Scottish education that he describes in A tale..... is very similar to my memories of school. The games are the same, the fights are the same, the relationships are the same. He has captured my primary school experience in early '80s small town Scotland (thankfully my life has been free of murder mysteries).

I better actually tell you a bit about the plot of this book. A double murder takes place and two likely suspects are identified. One ends up in a coma and the other contacts an old school friend (now a rich entertainment lawyer in London) for help. This triggers a series of flashbacks that cast light on the murder. The book is actually better than my bland synopsis.

This might be my favourite Brookmyre book. It's a good place to start. Most of them are good but I would leave boilng a frog till last if you want to read them all.

I better mention sick humour. If you don't like sick humour do not read these books.

If you do, have a party


for more info go to

Book review - Who censored Roger Rabbit by Greg Wolf

I finally finished reading this out of print cult classic on the train down to Bristol the other week. Who censored Roger Rabbit? is the cult classic pulp paperback that the goundbreaking childhood favourite is based on. I tracked down a copy on ebay after years of scouring the internet.

This 1981 novel is full of great ideas that were screaming out for a movie adaption. However, the film and the book are very different. Most of the familiar characters from the film are present although it is obvious that the darker aspects of their personalities were erased by the hand of disney. The basic plot is the same - Roger is involved in a crime- but the end points of the story are very different. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who is motivated to track down the paperback (although I recommend you all to do it). A word of warning - there is a novelisation of the film by some guy called Martin Noble. I haven't read it but I advise you to bear its existence in mind if you are playing with ebay.

For more read

So, in summary - an enjoyable read. Wish it was in print.


Bad Plus and Polar Bear - live at the Bath pavillion

I had never heard either of these bands before I went to see them. I've just spent a weekend visiting friends in Bristol and we were looking for something to do. This gig had been advertised in the local gig-guide magazine. I was aware of the existence of the Bad Plus, a jazz band who played Nirvana, Black Sabbath and Aphex Twin; so I was keen to check them out.

We got the train through to Bath and arrived in the venue just as the first band, Polar Bear, started to play. I don't know much about jazz. I like some John Coltrane and Miles Davis and I've read some books but I don't really understand it. I like some of the music but I'm not totally sure of all the theory that goes with it. The hall was full of professional jazz fans and some right tossers (thank you twat with spikey hair who talked through the Polar Bear set).

Polar bear were OK. They play traditional jazz with some electronic effects over the top. The electronic noises are produced by what appears to be a 12-year old playing Sonic the Hedgehog on an apple laptop. They had two sax players, a drummer and a double bass player. The music was energetic at times and chilled at other times. The drummer doubled up as band leader and songwriter. After every couple of songs he would take the microphone to deliver an uncomfortable monologue that implied a keen interest in contolled narcotics. Jazz cigarettes probably. He looked like a member of the Hair-Bear Bunch.

The music was good so all is forgiven.

The Bad Plus were better. They are an american piano-driven trio. The music is alternating dreaminess and chaos. The drummer is brilliant. He plays like an octopus with the energy of John Bonham or a hardcore punk band. He is grinning from ear-to-ear for most of the set. They played an Aphex Twin cover (flim) and an Ornette Coleman cover (song x) but their own stuff was great. When they finished I wanted to hear more. I will try and find some of their CDS. You can hear them on myspace at


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

100 posts

This is post number 100 on Dr Phunk Opinion. Since July last year I've posted 100 entries of varying quality on this site covering any topics that enter my mind. It's good fun and I'm gonna keep doing it. Blogger is better than Myspace.

I'm going on holiday to Bristol tommorrow. I have 6 days off in a row which is great. No need to think about work.

Anyway, thanks to anyone who reads this (if anyone does)


The Da Vinci Code - film review

This movie wasn't as bad as I thought It would be. I expected it to be unwatchable but I did enjoy it.

I read the book around 18 months ago. I had read The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail years ago so nothing in the story was a big suprise to me. The book is good in a 'mental chewing-gum' way. A good read if you want to empty your mind of any stress.

I felt that Tom Hanks was not the best choice for the main character. Harrison Ford would have been better but that would have made this an Indiana Jones film. Hanks is a bit of a non-entity on screen and the best thing that I can say about him is that he didn't get in the way of the story.

The worst bit about this film are the shoddy flash-back sequences. Hanks enters a lift and wrinkles his face. The camera shakes a bit to represent his mental turmoil. It looks crap and I was trying hard not to laugh in the cinema.

I won't say too much about the story but it is OK. I find the subject matter interesting and I think that many other future viewers will too. The Catholic church wanted a disclaimer to appear before this film reminding viewers that it is fictional. I guess you might be spiritually corrupted if you were to misinterpret the Da Vinci Code as a documentary. You would also be fucking stupid but I guess stranger things happen.

Not totally shit. 6 out of 10.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - live at the Glasgow ABC

This gig was what I expected. Long and unexciting.

I have to admit that I only went because of the freakshow element of the band. Anton 'motherfucker broke my sitar' Newcombe is now a minor anti-hero after his sociopathic diva performance in the DiG! documentary. His random violence, drug abuse and self declared genius are all now the stuff of legend. At a guess I would say that about 800 people were at this gig so I realise freakshows must be popular.

As you might expect The Brian Jonestown Massacre have not sold many records.

I do own a BJM CD. I bought their Tepid Peppermint Wonderland retrospective when it came out a couple of years ago. I tried really hard to like it. Anton and I are into similar music. I like Spacemen 3 and the Byrds and the Stones and the Velvets and psychedelic drone rock. So does he. You can tell because his songs combine elements from most of these bands. Sometimes it works. Most of the time it is just a bit bland.

Tonights show was formless. One psychedelic noise jam blends seemlessly into another. At times 5 people are playing guitar on stage. Temelo pedals, reverb, 12-string electric guitars. Shimery. Very, very shimery.

None of the threatened violence or psychotic drama of DiG! was present tonight. The dancer with the monkey sideburns shook his tambourine and lit a cigarette (ROCK AND ROLL!!!). There was a lot of jamming. The most exciting moment came when the heavy handed Rock Steady security ejected a punter for smoking. I am a commited non-smoker. I hate smoking. I was tempted to light a fag in the hope that I would get thrown out.

I guess I'm being a bit harsh hear but this was just boring. I expected it so I can't really complain. Anton seems like his heart is in the right place even if he has 'issues'. If you have seen DiG! you might argue with me about that. To find out more about BJM please go to You can download a lot of their back-catalogue for free from this site. Form your own opinion. Don't believe me. I won't be going to see them again.

Watch DiG!


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Saver return my arse

Just bought some tickets for a return train journey from Glasgow to Bristol and it cost £120.

Saver return my arse.

I'm paying to save the environment!



I've been a bit busy over the past couple of weeks so I haven't really updated this page much. Last week I had a friend up visiting from Essex. He had never really been to Glasgow before so I was doing the whole tour guide bit. The weather was OK on Saturday and a bit grey on sunday. It had been much better earlier in the week.

I showed him round the university and the Hunterian museum (which has a new medicine in Glasgow display) before walking from Byres Road, down Great Western Road and through Woodlands to the city centre in an attempt to see some of the architecture. Visited a couple of my childhood pubs before sitting in the sun outside Mono on King Street for a while. Then returned to the west end for dinner before meeting people I work with in Vodkawodka (which was loud and expensive) and going on to Bamboo (which is a sht night club). Tried to get into a casino on the way home but luckily failed to get in.

The next day was clouded with hangover. Went to Cafe Andaluz (a tapas restaurant) and ate till we felt like bursting. Went into town and strolled around for a bit. Played pool in a dodgy snooker club. Went to the Stand comedy club and watched some comedians. At the Stand I met a girl who was in the year below me at uni.

A busy weekend. I was knackered after it.

I fell asleep at around 9:30 on monday evening. I was working late on wednesday and I went out again on thursday night. I went to the entertainment complex at braehead for a girls birthday. I had never been there before but it seems pretty cool. Played a couple of games of bowls. They have indoor skiing there which cannot be good for the environment.

that's it for now. enough mundane stuff


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Kevin Smith - why he is cool

Kevin Smith is a hero of mine. I first became aware of him and his work when I was at Glasgow Uni in the mid 1990s. I've always been a media junkie and I was aware of the hype surrounding Clerks on its release in 1994. I can't actually remember the first time that I saw that film but Eddie, one of my hipster nerd pals was a massive fan and he had good taste.

The early films by Kevin Smith appealed because of the pop culture references to comic books and films like Star Wars. The main characters are stoner losers like people I knew. Their lives were not perfect (like everyone). They were bored a lot of the time. Perfect student films.

The other purile star attraction of the films is Jay (and Silent Bob). Jay is a monster. The overgrown adolescent who is 'all about the pussy' and smoking dope. He talks shite like a 14 year old boy and appears to have a similar sex drive. He constantly derides his straight man/partner in crime Silent Bob (played by Smith).

As well as the usual dick/fart jokes his films have tackled serious topics. Chasing Amy is about relationships and sexuality. Dogma is about organised religion and corruption in the catholic church (Smith is a committed catholic and allegedly picketted his own film).

Smith is an actor too. He appears as a recurring character (silent bob) in most of his films and had also had roles in Scary Movie 3 and Daredevil.

Smith also writes comic books. He's actually good at it. He has written several books based on his own films as well as classic characters like Daredevil and Green Arrow. He also writes a blog on his own site and at . The blog on myspace is particularly good with recent entries including 'On the Perils of Strip Clubs' and serials discussing his relationship with Jason Mewes (Jay) and his wife proving to be enjoyable. He also does stand-up comedy/lectures which are entertaining. The DVD 'an audience with Kevin Smith' captures one of these shows and is worth a watch.

Smith has also helped other indie film makers. His biggest success was as producer of oscar winner 'good will hunting' for mates ben affleck and matt damon. Clerks was also made into a cartoon series.

I realise this has been a gushing load of sycophantic bullshit but I do enjoy the mans work. I don't think it's high art but it's entertaining and it makes me laugh. It is good to see the underdog succed and Smith seems to have done that. Clerks II comes out this year and I can't wait to see it.

Newcomers - try Chasing Amy if you are mature. Try Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back iff you are emotionally crippled.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Low - live in Glasgow

I'd been looking forward to this show for some time. The last Low album (the great destroyer - pictured below) was a constant feature on my stereo when it came out at the start of last year. That album was in a new 'not quiet' direction for the band and served as my introduction to Low. I liked it a lot and tracked down a few of their other albums such as Secret Name (pictured below too).

I met my mates (both low fanatics) in Tuts for dinner before heading to the ABC. Support was from My Latest Novel and was distinctly lacklustre. Their music is indie mish-mash borrowing in a magpie like manner from many sources. I won't be making an effort to hear more of their music.

Low were fucking immense. In the past they had a reputation for being very very quiet but tonight they rocked. Four or five songs from the Great Destroyer appeared including Monkey, Silver rider, on the edge of, california and pissing. We also got Starfire from secret name and Canada from Trust (in a rocking version). Guitars were abused in true Fugazi fashion. At one point the singer even played guitar with his teeth/screamed into his pick-ups. This was an intense show.

Vocal harmonies. The interplay between the voices of the 3 members of the band was just beautiful. I was basically awestruck by how good they were tonight. If I ever get the chance I will run out to see this band again. I'm also going to buy things we lost in the fire as soon as I can (a few songs from that album were in the set tonight).

So what do low sound like? Classic, timeless rock. Pure. Like Nirvana but quiet. Like Joy Division. Like what mogwai wish they could be.

Fucking brilliant.

Listen to the great destroyer. If you don't like it write abusive comments below. I think you might like it.


Monday, May 01, 2006

current listening

'holiday' weekend

Another holiday weekend. I had to work today but luckily I was able to get away at lunch time. It was pretty miserable going to work on a bank holiday monday and it wasn't helped by some of my co-workers doing their best to cause problems anyway they could. Some people could start a fight in an empty room.

The rest of the weekend was better. Went to a pals house on Friday night and watched two brand new episodes of south park. One 'a million little fibres' focused on genetically modified towel 'towlie'. This was an extremely surreal episode in which two of the main characters were parts of oprah winfreys body. One body part spoke with an Australian accent whilst the other was Welsh. I could not believe what I was watching. Not the best South Park episode ever but it was surreal. The other episode was 'manbearpig' which was very average.

The weather was great on Saturday. I spent a couple of hours sitting out in the sun drinking iron brew in the beer garden of a local pub. That evening I went to a Spanish restaurant with a bunch of my friends before going to a wedding. I ate myself almost to death in the restaurant so I was a bit tired when we got to the wedding. The real wedding actually took place in Hawaii a few weeks earlier and this was a sort of reception thing. It was a bit different - you could watch the video from the honeymoon while they were walking about in their wedding clothes. Despite the fact that beer was 3 pounds a pint I spent most of Sunday wrestling with a hangover.

Went to Oran Mor on Byres Road for a couple of drinks with my cousin this evening. It was quite nice in there and it made up for having to work this morning. There were some 'interesting' people drinking including one bloke wearing what I can only describe as spice girl shoes. Each to their own.


also go to

for some mad banjo music by a bloke I know