Saturday, June 24, 2006


Back at work this morning after a week on a study course in Manchester. I'd only ever spent one weekend in Manchester before so it was cool to spend some time in a new city although I didn't have much of an opportunity to be a tourist. The course was intense with long hours but generally enjoyable. I might even have learned something. The other people on the course were generally cool although a couple of idiots were in attendance (as always). Basically, I was just happy not to be at work.

I was staying in accommodation at the Manchester Business School which was a bit shit. It was overpriced and the shower in my room was reminicent of the ones in my local swimming pool. It looked like something that would be used as a torture venue in Silence of the lambs.

Despite being busy I did get some time to socialize. I met up with an old school friend and his wife who live nearby. We went to the Trafford centre (which is fucking massive) and ate in an American theme restaurant. The food was actually quite nice. The last time that I had seen them was at their wedding reception so I was glad to have a chance to talk to them in a chilled out atmosphere.

I also met up with another pal who writes a pretty cool blog ( and had a couple of drinks in the Dry Bar on Oldham Street. We chatted about old friends who we miss and she was telling me about a music festival thing she is trying to organise. She (and her mates) are trying to set up a two day event in the Dry Bar to showcase a lot of underground bands from around the country. It sounds really cool and I would urge anyone in the Manchester area to go along and check it out. I'll post more details as I get them.

I was a bit starstruck when I was drinking in the Dry Bar. I'm a music geek and the Dry Bar is integral to the madchester myth. One of the more dramatic scenes in the classic 24 hour party people film shows Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays and legendary drug intake fame waving a gun about in what I can only assume was a misguided tribute to the American gangsta rap theme. Obviously this is fictional but in real life Shaun Ryder and Liam Gallagher (cock) are both banned.

I've never met Shaun Ryder although I admire his music. I have met Bez and he was cool. I've met Tony Wilson and he was a cock. Liam Gallagher has called me (and some of my pals) 'cunts' but I know that does not make me special. it's just another mildly amusing anecdote that I won't bore you with here.

Anyway, that's where I've been all week. I like the place and I want to go back some time. Bristol is a bit nicer though.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Nick Oliveri and his Mondo Generator - live at the Glasgow Barfly

I went to this gig with low expectations and I was plesantly surprised. Oliveri was the naked guy with the beard in the Queens of the Stoneage. He played bass for them. He was also a member of Kyuss and the Dwarves (aka 'the most offensive band on SUB POP'). Mondo Generator is his own band so no-one can kick him out. He has a reputation for wildness so this show could have been a shambolic mess. It was actually OK.

Before I talk about the headliners I'd like to talk about the support band Titus Gein. They were pretty good. Essentially an instrumental act, their music is a mix between early period Metallica and Air. They are a local band. My only reservation is that the drummer looks like a guy who went to school with me who is a cock. Except fatter. If the drummer is 28 and from East Kilbride please boycott this band. If not (as I am sure is the case) check out My mate thought they were ok but a bit Spinal Tap.

Mondo Generator. Generic hardcore punk. Well played. A few choice QOTSA and Kyuss tracks. Lots of fast bits and swearing. Slow, heavy bits. A rather spiffing version of the popular Black Flag hit 'Jealous Again'. Sweaty, heavy metal crowd jumping about punching each other is a mass act of homoerotic bonding. Mildly entertaining but I've seen it all before. I won't buy any of their records but I would go and see them again if I had nothing better to do.

Very metal crowd. Lots of piercings, facial hair and tattoos that may be job oppotunity restricting in years to come. Very hairy but not 100% male. Things have changed since I wur a lad.

all in all, a pleasant diversion


Sunday, June 11, 2006

X-men 3 - film review

I went to see this film last wednesday. I had been looking forward to it but I was a bit disappointed. I was an x-men fan when I was a kid. I have a big crate of the old comics hidden somewhere in my parents house. I enjoyed the first two films. This one looked good.

Sadly the story is a bit duff and the dialogue is appalling. We do get to see some comic favourites in the flesh - the Beast, the Angel, Juggernaut and kitty pride. They all look good but they just seem like cardboard cutouts. Stiff and lifeless.

The classic 'dark phoenix' story from the comics has been used in a throw-away manner. Wolverine is used instead of Cyclops for key story points in a way that just sucks. Generally this film ain't great.

6 outta 10


Monday, June 05, 2006

Film review - Paradise Now

I caught this film when I was in Bristol a couple of weeks ago. It's pretty emotionally intense.

This arabic language film is set in the Palestinian territories in Israel. At the start of the film we meet two friends who work in a car repair garage. They seem like regular guys. Likeable. They meet a pretty girl who seems to like the more intelligent of the two friends.

Then they are met by a terrorist co-ordinator who tells them that they have been picked for an operation in Israel. I won't spoil the end of the film but it is powerful.

I think it is important to remember that killing people is wrong. This film makes you empathize with two suicide bombers. It is a powerful film that is very well made. You see the grim reality of life in the occupied territories and you can almost understand why they would want to attack Israel. The film does try to make the case for non-violent action in the form of a few expositional monologues from the pretty girl. While what she says is sensible and rational the use of her character in the film is clumsy. She doesn't have much depth.

I don't think I really needed to see this film. I know that life is shit if you are a Palestinian in Israel. I read newspapers, listen to Radio 4 and watch documentaries. I don't think that the killing of one person by another person can ever be morally justified. Hell, I don't even think that violence can ever be morally justified (outside sport). Sadly, we don't live in disneyland and the world is a violent place. This film does make some important points but I did feel uncomfortable watching it.

I did feel that the religious element of suicide bombing was played down in this film although this might be my own cultural prejudices. I find it hard to believe that anyone would kill themselves in a suicide bombing without having strong religious beliefs (although I would underline the fact that these beliefs are very unconventional) and the young men in this film do not seem to be very devout. I don't know if the director is implying that these men are not religious and motivated mainly by politics and/or depression. I don't know if we are expected to believe that they have been manipulated into carrying out their actions.

I could have lived happily without seeing this film. I feel sorry for anyone who lives in the occupied areas of Palestine/Israel but I also feel that violence/terrorism/murder/rocket attacks/etc. can never be justified.