Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Peace out (with your piece out) - now on Myspace

As promised my song is now on myspace under the name 'Dr Phunk and the Remnants of Punani'

Check it out at


I want y'all to love one another now


Sunday, May 27, 2007

The decline of western civilisation - a film review

I had been wanting to see this film for years. I eventually obtained a copy from those nice people on ebay and I was well impressed. The decline of western civilisation is a documentary by Penelopee Spheeris who later made her fortune as the director of Waynes World. The documentary examines the Los Angeles hardcore punk subculture of the late '70s/early '80s including one of my adolescent favourite bands Black Flag.

The west coast hardcore scene of the time seems to have been a pretty unpleasant place. Everything I have read about the scene highlights its violence. The punks spent a lot of time kicking the shit out of each other. Some of the punks in the film seem to be un-nice people. Darby Crash, the doomed singer of the Germs, and his girlfriend come across as stupid or immature.

Darby was a Sid Vicious clone who died of a heroin overdose between the end of filming and the release of the documentary. His image is on the cover of the soundtrack CD. The live footage of the Germs in the film is terrible. Darby could not sing and he seemed to have problems walking at times. He would injure himself on stage and fight the crowd. It is not pleasant to watch.

Some of the music that the Germs made was great. Lexicon devil, Media Blitz and Communist Eyes are all hardcore classics and it is worth tracking down. Pat Smear, the guitarist, played in the terminal line up of Nirvana and female rock singer Belinda Carlisle was their original drummer (really).

Black Flag are a much more serious deal in the film. The live footage is tighter that a gnats chuff. This was pre-Rollins Black Flag when they were fast and deadly with Ron Reyes singing. They sound as good as they did on their early seven inches and they look fucking amazing. I was ready to start jumping around my bedroom. If I had this DVD at age 14 I would have injured myself.

The Flag appear to be intelligent in the interview segment. Gregg Ginn and Gary McDaniels (aka Chuck Dukowski) make sense. It is clear that these guys could read. History underlines this impression when you consider the subsequent success of SST and Black Flag.

X are the other outstanding band in the film. They seem intelligent and interesting. Their music is good. Nausea, from their Los Angeles album, plays during the opening credits and creates a suitable atmosphere of unease. I have now been on ebay to pick up some of their other CDs.

Circle Jerks and Fear both give good performances. Fear were very antagonistic towards their audience and nearly started a riot. The other bands in the film were shit although the footage from Slash magazine was interesting.

As I mentioned before, Spheeris went on to direct Waynes World but you should also track down The Decline of Western Civilisation part II - the metal years which has some comedy Ozzy Osbourne footage.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Modest Mouse - live at the ABC in Glasgow

I approach music on a personal level. I associate different music with different times in my life and different people. I also mentally link bands with other bands that I feel are similar. Modest Mouse are sometimes a bit difficult to catagorise. They are angular and funny-shaped and they don't always fit in.

The first guy that told me about Modest Mouse was a bit of a prick. He told me that they sounded a bit like Fugazi (which is good) and that I would like them. However, the guy was so much of a prick that I couldn't listen to the band. They always seemed a bit like a 'too cool for school' band with no real substance. This was around 1996-1998. I soon forgot about them.

Then when I was living in the midlands I picked up the 'Good news for people who like bad news' CD for £5 in Fopp and I was instantly hooked. The band had transformed and had attained a more interesting sound. The lyrics were great. 'Bukowski' is one of my favourite songs.

The Johnny Marr out of the Smiths joined.

Which was weird.

So I got tickets and I went to see them tonight. I was a bit sceptical because I have a live CD of theirs which is not great. In Glasgow they had a six piece band with two drummers (which is normally a good sign). Johnny Marr proved that he can play guitar. Accordians and trumpets were brandished. Isaac Brock shouted a lot and played a banjo.

The set was good and contained a lot of my favourite songs including Bukowski, Float on and Do the Cockroach. The one gripe that I have about the show was the sound. We were in a great position, standing right behind the mixing desk on the balcony in the ABC. We had an excellent view and the sound should be perfect as we were standing next to the sound engineer. Sadly, I do not think that the engineer had ever listened to a Modest Mouse album and the mix was all over the shop. Johnny Marrs guitar was too loud and key trumpet and accordian parts were inaudible which was a bit of a bastard but in general it was agood show.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Apples in stereo live at King Tuts, Glasgow

Yet another fucking amazing gig. This blog must be really boring cos I always say the same stuff. I like Apples in Stereo because their most recent album (new magnetic wonder) is very good and because the main guy, Robert Schneider, produced in an aeroplane over the sea by Neutral Milk Hotel which is one of the greatest albums of all time.

Apples in Stereo should be massive. They right energetic rock music which just makes me happy. They are not massive because they are not photogenic. This is wrong and is a clear example of why the world we live in is fucked. The Apples sound a bit like the Beatles, a bit like glam rock and a bit like something else I can't quite put my finger on.

My friend that attended the gig with me tonight had never heard them before and he was quickly converted. The show started with a keyboard player dressed as Evel Kinevel making some moog like sounds. This soon developed into ecstatic rock wonderment that continued for about an hour. I was able to sing along with most of the tunes.

This band are good. They will make you happy.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

This is how fucked things are

I've written before about how the government is in the process of fucking junior doctors. It's not a topic that instantly attracts support from your average man on the street/taxi driver? I mean who really cares about whether or not a bunch of well-paid posh kids get their ideal job. I probably wouldn't care if I wasn't directly affected.

The past few months have seen the allocation system for junior doctors training positions degenerate into anarchy. The MTAS (medical training application service) website has been shut down when it became apparent that it had less security than your average public park and that it was possible to get in and mess about with other peoples application forms. That is a seperate issue from the page that gave you all the applicants demographic information in one handy spread sheet. Just the basics; name, address, criminal convictions, who they prefer to fuck and what god they support. Nothing that matters. Prejudice made easy.

I might be a paranoid conspiracy theory freak but I think that Nu Labour are trying to break the back of the medical political lobby so that they are unopposed in their attempt to fuck over the NHS. Nu Labour seem to have an anti-intelligence agenda and they don't seem to like anyone who is 'too clever' (look how they sucked up to Noel Gallagher during the cool britannia era). Nu Labour don't like people who think. They don't want people who ask questions. Remember Iraq.

In some ways they have succeded. Morale amongst junior doctors is now at rock bottom. In my hospital we have about 25 SHOs (senior house officers - doctors with between 2 and 7 years of experience). Only 5 have jobs in hospital medicine while 2 have been offered GP training jobs. Around 18 good doctors do not have jobs for August. These doctors help the hospital meet waiting list targets. They do investigations for cardiology, gastroenterology and respiratory medicine. They assess people for cancer and heart disease.

In August their jobs will not exist and GP trainees will be there instead. GP trainees are generally good but they don't have the special skills needed to do echocardiograms, endoscopies and bronchoscopies and they will not have the time to learn how to do them during their 4 month placements. Most of these doctors are talking of 'fucking off' to New Zealand or elsewhere.

The consultants I work for are great but in many ways this problem has caught them sleeping. They have worked to develop a good service for years and they have relied on experienced SHOs to help them. They are already cutting clinics for cancer services and cardiology.

Now, I'm one of the lucky ones. I've already been offered a good job. A training job. The computer has smiled upon me and decided that I am worth some continued educational investment. I will take this job if I do not get offered another one. The good job is a couple of hundred miles away in a city I have never been to. It's in a place where I don't know anyone. I don't know exactly where the job is yet, I just know it exists and that it is mine. I don't know what I'll be doing but I'll do it. I need to get paid. I have debts and I like CDs and comic books. I will make new friends and I'll phone my family regularly. I'll work hard and do my best and try my hardest to get a job closer to home next year. I can't complain.

I have a good job while many of my more experienced colleagues are fucked.

The government wants doctors to be stupid. It wants medical technicians who will tick boxes. It does not want us to think for ourselves. Medical research is now frowned upon. Guidelines are produced by the government to tell us the best way to treat our patients. Guidelines tell us which drugs are the best value for money. Pharmaceutical companies only have to lobby in one place nowadays......

Battles - live at the Glasgow ABC 2

This show was a bit like watching a surgical procedure or some sort of gymnastic display. Battles get a lot of criticism for being cold and clinical. I guess that is partially because of their pedegree (drummer from Helmet, math-rock label) and partially because the music they make is different.

Their sound is hard to describe. It reminds me of LFO, Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin but with guitars. I don't know that much electronic music so my range of references isn't that great. Musically, they are tight. They stretch their instruments to the limit and they all seem to be playing at least two things at once.

ABC 2 was packed out and hot. The whole crowd was soaked in sweat and the place smelled like a sauna. It was a good show.

A bizzare thing. After the show some guy came up to me and chatted to me for a couple of minutes. He knew my name and he chatted away but I just didn't recognise him at all. I really am an ignorant fucker. I can't remember most people I met between 1992 and 1999. Not good.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

old punk CDs in HMV

Just had a splurge on old punk CDs in HMV. These include 'The feeding of the 5000' by Crass which sounds better now than it did when I was 13, MIA by The Germs which contains everything they recorded and generally rocks and the first album by Fear which is also rather good.

Punks not dead. It just smells that way.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The rise and fall of modern medicine by James Le Fanu

This is a great book. It's a great read and I feel that I have learnt a lot from it. Le Fanu is apparently a GP in London and also does freelance journalism for various newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph (I hate the fucking telegraph but he is a good writer).

In this book Le Fanu looks at the scientific development of medicine throughout the 20th century analysing key advances such as antibiotics, steroids and intensive care. He points out how many of these advances have been 'lucky accidents' as opposed to the result of structured scientific research. Millions of lives have been saved by luck (although a lot of hard work has supported that luck).

He also goes on to discuss the blind alleys that medicine has wandered down in the later decades of the 20th century. In particular he singles out the social theory of disease and the empty promise of genetics as dead ends. I have a sneaking suspicion that Le Fanu's assault on the social theory of disease may be motivated by his political views I do agree with some of his opinions on epidemiology. Sociology took up six months of time at my medical school that I feel may have been more usefully spent on pharmacology or something. Most of the sociologists that I had the misfortune to encounter were dogmatic lunatics (although some were nice enough).

He makes interesting points about how genetics has not really paid off in a useful way in day to day medical practice. His discussion of the rising discontent among doctors is echoed in todays headlines. Many junior doctors now regret their choice of medicine as a career. The ranks of the 'worried well' seem to swell every day.

Medicine is stagnant. Drug companies play it safe by repackaging old drugs to increase profits. New research is on the back burner because it is dangerous (think of the men involved in the Northwick Park incident last year). The medical progress that we see is analagous to a 20 mile run on a treadmill. It's going nowhere.

'Genuine progress, optomistic and forward-looking, is always to be welcomed, but progress as an ideological necessity leads to obscurantism, falsehood and corruption'.

Think about it the next time you talk to a drug rep about the latest treatment for osteoporosis.


Sunday, May 20, 2007


Just spent the afternoon writing a song with one of my mates. We used a drum machine, bass, thinline telecaster, effects pedals and handclaps. I wrote the words and some of the music while my mate wrote most of the music and supplied the talent.

The song is called 'Peace out (with your piece out)'. In many ways it is an anti-war song and a plea for cultural integration. Musically it is a rip-off of the Violent Femmes.

It will appear on Myspace soon.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Satan's sodomy baby by Eric Powell

This is an offensive comic. The story revolves around Satan's illegitimate love child who is born after Satan sodomises a hillbilly (who had been interfering with a pig - what goes around comes around). It also takes pot-shots at religion, liberals and right-wingers.

It is very funny. Eric Powell is the creator of the award winning comic series 'the Goon'. He was provoked into making a slightly more controversial comic when he was told that he could not use the word 'sodomy' on the cover of his comic. The book was forced into the adult section. In an interview he said, '"OK, if you want to release it in the adult section, I’m going to give you an adult comic.” I upped the ante on all the innuendo and stuff off-panel.'

It's really funny. Read it if you can find it.

try www.darkhorse.com

Peace out with your piece out


My facebook addiction

One of my mates sent me an invitation to join facebook and I am now addicted to it. I have found friends from school, university, medical school and work and I can send them all offensive messages. It's great. It looks a bit nicer than myspace and I'm using my 'secret identity' on it. I have friends all round the world and tools like this are great to keep in touch.

Check out www.facebook.com

spiderman 3 - film review

I was not sure what to expect when I went to the cinema to see piderman 3 last night. I really liked the first film when it came out. I thought Sam Raimi made an excellent adaption of the comic book. The second film was ok but not so great. I had heard rumours that the third film was really not so good.

The film opens some time after the second movie. Spiderman is more experienced and has become a mascot for New York city. Peter Parker is now in a more serious relationship with Mary Jane and is ready to propose to her. For the film to work, we need to have some bad guys.

Bring on the bad guys! We get Sandman/Flint Marko who looks great although they have added one annoying twist that isn't in the comics. We get Venom who looks really scary and we get Harry Osbourn as Hobgoblin. All good.

The film is long but I wasn't bored. It's too scary for young kids but just right for old comic nerds.

Check it out

8 out of 10

Monday, May 14, 2007

crazy, crazy scientologists

Just watched the BBC panorama documentry on the weirdo religious cult of scientology. They are very odd and their PR man seen on the documentary was disturbing. Bad choice of PR man.

Apparently they stalk people who disagree with them. They are weird.

Fantasy alternative careers

I've just been chatting to one of my best mates about the jobs we could do if we were not able to continue in our current career. The job market in my chosen profession is a bit of a bastard at the moment. If the worst came to the worst I might have to seek work in a different field.

I've had lots of jobs over the years, many of which have been shit. The worst job I ever had was working in a record shop over christmas. It just really pissed me off. I've had other jobs that have been much better than that. I liked stacking shelves, I liked being an auxillary nurse, I liked working on a switchboard. I like being a doctor.

But if I had to pick another job, what would it be?

Obviously I would love to be a writer but you can't just show up at the job centre and say 'give me a job as a writer, please'. It doesn't happen. Also, being a writer for pay sounds like hard work. I think you really have to sell yourself and hustle to get paid. I'm not sure that I have the drive to do that. I prefer an easy life.

I decided that I would like to work in a book shop. Good hours, not much pressure, pleasant working environment, customers can read. It's all good. It would be like a holiday. I would get paid. If the worst came to the worst, I could do it.

I could work in a supermarket again if I had to. You do what you need to do to survive. That's life.

Just don't send me back to Our Price

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Hawk and a Hacksaw - live at the Glasgow Arches

A Hack and a Hacksaw started life as a one-man band, the one man in question being former Neutral Milk Hotel drummer Jeremy Barnes (who has also played with Bright Eyes, the Gerbils and Beirut). I picked up the CD of the most recent album 'the way the wind blows' whilst browsing the Neutral Milk Hotel section in a local quality record store (Avalanche). The album is different to most conventional alternative rock, drawing on eastern European influences and using folk instumentation.

I nearly missed the Glasgow show (because I forgot about it) but I was lucky to see a paragraph in the Sunday Times discussing the show as a 'Scottish cultural highlight'. It was fucking excellent.

The support act was Jim Rose, a beardy American who played some instumental acoustic slide guitar stuff. It was pretty cool but nowhere near the standard of the headliners.

The show started with violinist Heather Trost and a Hungarian percussionist picking out a hypnotic tune. Then, from the back of the room, a drum began to sound and 5 more musicians wearing face masks began to march towards the stage filling out the sound of the song. The effect was electric.

When the full band was positioned on stage the magic continued. They mixed original material from the album such as 'in the river' with traditional Transalvainian music. Instruments that I had never seen before were deployed energetically. People danced.

The crowd was very varied. Middle aged couples had come having bought tickets based only on the Hungarian folk music connection. Everyone in the room seemed to enjoy the gig.

After a short break a second set started with an anti-war song 'portland town' which was beautiful. The music seemed to get better and better with elements of improvisation and a jazz like feel towards the end. Trumpets and saxaphones gave it an ecstatic Mexican feeling. This was a great fucking gig. During the last song Barnes again walked through the crowd banging a bass drum. It was spiritual.

We also got a couple of Hungarian jokes and a short lecture on the similarities between haggis and Hungarian food. (As an aside, I had dinner in the Arches cafe before the show. The fillet of beef special was great)

The bands Jeremy Barnes has played with in the past have been like butterflies; beautiful but short lived. Catch A Hawk and a Hacksaw while you can.




Sunday, May 06, 2007


I made an effort to vote on Thursday. I always feel guilty if I don't vote. I have the vague feeling that thousands of people have died over the centuries for me to have the ability to vote. This may or may not be true but I feel that voting is more of a responsibility than a right.

I love to complain about stuff (if any of my real world friends read this, you know how true my words are). Bitching about the evils of politicians is a hobby of mine and I would not be entitled to do it if I just sat on my fat arse watching the telly instead of taking a gentle stroll to the polling station to carry out my democratic duty.

I really hate politicians. I kind of think that anyone who expresses a desire to be in political power should instantly be disqualified. I have a suspicion that I have held for many years that all politicians are evil. I listened to far too many Dead Kennedys records as a kid.

Right now, I really dislike Patricia Hewitt, the health secretary, as she is in the process of fucking junior doctos. I am of course biased because I am a junior doctor. I saw her on Question Time making some sneering remark about how we all want to be plastic surgeons instead of looking after old people. The people who want to do elderly medicine are getting fucked over as much as everyone else.

You might have guessed that I didn't vote for Labour and I was glad to see them get shat on at the polls. I also hate the Tories and I disapprove of the SNP. I am proud to be Scottish but I do not trust nationalists of any form. I was also distressed to learn that 15,000 people in Scotland voted for the BNP.

15,000 stupid racist idiots in Scotland.

I actually know a couple of politicians. Both work for the Tory party. One is actually a good guy who played drums in my band and listened to a lot of left wing, straight-edge hardcore punk rock. The other was a sleazy wank. Alan B'stard made flesh.

I was a bit sad that the SNP did so well in the polls. I think Scotland benefits from the union and I think we should keep it. Everyone is entitled to an opinion I guess.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

it's sunny!!!

Sun is shining over Glasgow which is brilliant. I was able to sit outside after lunch and enjoy the sun for a bit. I need some vitamin D (made in the skin from sunlight for all you non-science geeks)

I survived my nights which was good. I can now enjoy the summer. I don't even need to study!