Thursday, December 25, 2008


Just found Freakangels. Freakangels is a weekly, free web-comic by Warren Ellis and it seems to be pretty good.

Check it out

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone
Thanks also to who are giving away free MP3 albums on their website. Good one. The offer is just on for christmas day and boxing day. I got the Glasvegas album

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Vaselines live at the Glasgow ABC

I first heard the Vaselines on the B-side of a cassette copy of 'Bleach' by Nirvana. I remember listening to it on a car stereo and thinking 'What the fuck is that?'. I was unaware of the Nirvana connection at that time and I thought that someone was taking the piss.

I was right. The Vaselines were taking the piss. I've gradually managed to understand the joke over the past 16 years. I understand why Kurt Cobain liked them.

The current era is a musical paradise. All my favourite alternative rock bands from the '80s and '90s are reforming and playing in Glasgow. I was keen to see the Vaselines but I thought that they might be shambolic. They were actually rather good.

The support act were a band called Isoceles. I was mildly upset that King Biscuit Time did not appear but Isoceles were a welcome substitute. No-one could accuse them of being original but they were energetic and entertaining in a Franz Ferdinand sort of way.

The Vaselines opened with Son of a Gun and played most of their songs. They had a heavier guitar sound than I expected. Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly paraded their famous comedy double act which was cool. It was a bit freaky to hear Frances McKee (who looks like an old-school Blue Peter presenter) talking about having a 'gang-bang/line up' with the 'attractive young men' in the support band. Disconcerting.

The gig was better than expected.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Recent political comedy moments

I was pissing myself when the list of BNP members was published on the internet. I realise that even political racists have a right to privacy but I still thought it was funny. I do not think that racists should be teachers, policemen, doctors or soldiers. I hope that this event might give some of these short-sighted numpties a kick in the arse if their jobs are in danger. Hopefully they might stop being nasty racists and accept that people are people. That would be nice. It probably won't happen.

The funniest moment was Nick Griffin complaining of 'fascism' while being interviewed by Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Griffin came across as a nasty thug.

Two people have been arrested in connection with the leak. I hope they escape any serious punishment.

I have been sent an email from that says that this blog scored 7.4 and was rated as good.

I'm not sure what that means.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I've been reading Neil Gaiman stuff for about 20 years now. I have a complete run of Sandman comics sitting in my parents house and I've read most of his novels. The Graveyard Book is probably aimed at children but can be appreciated by adults.

The story is about a baby who wanders into a graveyard on the night that his family is murdered. The ghostly inhabitants of the graveyard hide the baby from the murderer and pledge to bring him up and keep him safe. They name him Bod (short for 'Nobody').

Bod grows up in an unusual loving environment and has a few adventures along the way.

The book is readable and entertaining. You feel that you could let youngish children read it without upsetting them too much. I hope that children will still be reading this book in 50 years time. Gaiman has said that he was influenced by The Jungle Book when he was writing this story and that inspiration is tangible.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Graham Lineham

Graham Lineham is the guy who wrote Father Ted and The IT crowd. He is funny and he has a blog.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Zack and Miri make a porno

The new film by Kevin Smith has a title that might scare casual viewers. In some ways that might be a good thing if it keeps the modern Mary Whitehouse brigade out of the cinema but the title is a bit misleading. Zack and Miri make a porno is a modern love story.

The story is about a pair of lifelong friends who are down on their luck. They live together as friends and they are struggling financially. Up to their eyes in debt, without heat or water, they decide to make a pornographic film to earn money.

It sounds like one of those shitty gross-out teen comedy films but the direction of Kevin Smith makes it more than that. There are disgusting moments. Chocolate frosting will never be the same again. However, the heart of the film is tender.

Seth Rogan is great as usual. This is his best film for a while. Elizabeth Banks is much better than she was as Laura Bush in W where she was almost underacting. Jason Mewes is Jay without Silent Bob.

I hope this film makes a lot of money. It's the most enjoyable Kevin Smith film that I've seen for a while. Much better than Clerks 2. Go and see it or wait for the DVD so you can pause bits.

check out

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TV on the Radio live at the Glasgow ABC

The profile of TV on the Radio has increased a fair bit since the last time I saw them and wrote about them a few years back. They have received a lot of media coverage for new album Dear Science and as a result they are playing larger venues. Their last Glasgow gig was at the intimate ABC2 but this was in the much larger main venue. The show was sold out.

The crowd was a lot younger than before. TVOTR have clearly broken into the student market. The set was energetic and tight although I did feel that they looked slightly uncomfortable on the larger stage. Songs had been drawn from throughout their career and the new material stands up well against the older stuff.

My one criticism of the night was that the sound was not perfect. The vocals are key to the music of TVOTR and at times they were quiet or muddy.

A great band. I hope they continue to put out interesting music and that I get the chance to see them again. My friend who had never heard them before enjoyed the show. That counts as a solid recommendation.

Check them out

Thursday, November 13, 2008

W. - film review

An average film about an average president.

I went to see this because of my general dislike of American foreign policy and the Bush administration over the last few years. I guess that my views are not that unusual.

Oliver Stone likes making big important films about significant American Presidents. It seems somehow fitting that he has made a TV-movie style docu-drama about George W Bush who I feel history will remember as the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This isn't a full-on assault on Bush. He is shown in a sympathetuc light. It isn't a great film but it isn't terrible.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Music I like at the moment

OK - stuff I've been listening to

Fucked up - The Chemistry of common life

This is a hardcore album by a band that I hadn't heard much of before. It's noisy but expansive. As well as loud guitars and screaming we get flute, female backing vocals and melody. Interesting if not groundbreaking.

Deerhunter - Microcastle

This album is intriguing. It's a double CD with the main album Microcastle packaged with a second disc called Weird Era cont. which is essentially a solo album by the main band guy, Bradford Cox. It's dreamy, noisy music; a bit like My Bloody Valentine but more poppy. After a couple of listens it's been on my stereo all the time.

Neither of these CDs will sell a million copies but they might make you smile or punch the air or some shit like that. Check them out

Fucked Up don't do the myspace thing

The end of the Wire

I know I'm a bit slow to get round to it but I've just finished watching the last season of The Wire on DVD.

I've written about The Wire before. If you don't know about it The Wire is an American TV series from the HBO channel. It ran for 5 seasons and it was set in Baltimore. It was about poverty, drug dealers, police, murderers, social injustice, politics, schools, unions and newspapers. That probably doesn't cover it. It's a complex programme and it's worth giving up a week or two of your life to become acquainted with it.

The show is gritty and realistic. Heroes do not exist in the world of The Wire. Interesting characters do. At the end of the last episode I was satisfied. They didn't cheat, they didn't fuck up and they didn't break their rules.

A masterpiece.

The DVDs can be found for under 20 quid. I have a copy of the book Homicide by David Simon (the writer) sitting beside my bed waiting to be read. I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Shellac live at the Glasgow ABC

Shellac are Steve Albini's fun band. He's done his best to be outside the music industry. His influence is obvious in a lot of modern rock music but throughout his career Albini has done his best to avoid selling out and playing the corporate rock game.

I got into Big Black when I was about 12 after hearing Bad Penny on a mix tape. I remember buying Songs about fucking and hiding the LP so my parents wouldn't find it. I bought the early Shellac singles as they came out and I first saw Shellac when they played the Phoenix festival in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1994. That was one of the best rock shows that I've ever seen.

When I was in Mono records earlier this year and I noticed that tickets were on sale for an unadvertised Shellac show I bought a pair immediately. I then persuaded one of my pals to come along and see them with me.

Sunday night was freezing. My mate smoked a cigarette before we went into the venue. As we stood outside an American couple walked up to us. I was chatting to my friend and I said 'pretty fucking baltic, eh?'. The American couple suddenly looked scared. They clearly weren't used to Scottish dialect. As we walked upped to the concert hall my friend told me that we had been standing next to Todd Trainer, the drummer. My pal had done some interned research.

Support came from Aidan Moffat, ex-singer of Arab Strap. It wasn't the best musical experience of my life but he's a good guy. Funny.

Shellac took to a stripped down stage. They were loud and extremely tight. I would say that they have improved over the past 14 years. I didn't recognise much of the material although we did get personal favorites like Wingwalker, Prayer to God and End of Radio. The band are almost like a comedy troupe at times with fake mistakes and Bob Weston hitting out with quality one liners.

After the show Albini and Weston sold T-shirts from the stage. I bought one from Albini and managed to speak to him in a few seconds of almost total nerdgasm. A look of disdain filled his eyes.

To make up for my nerd overdose I went to Nice n Sleazys and tried to chat up a few random women. I found a couple of attractive doom metal fans from Birmingham. I failed to get any numbers but did use some good moves. My married friend felt guilty just by hanging out with me.

A good night. See Shellac if you ever can. Buy their records.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dead Set

Dead Set on E4 has been one of my favourite bits of television in a while. If you haven't seen it, the show is a zombie horror set in the Big Brother house. It's written by Charlie Brooker who previously worked on Nathan Barley and Brass Eye. While there are moments of dark humour this is not a comedy. It's full-on brutal zombie horror. I loved it.

The world is hit by a zombie plague and one of the few safe places is the set of Channel 4's Big Brother TV programme. Big Brother is notorious for starring brain donors who are little different from zombies anyway adding an ironic twist to proceedings. We see Davina McCall being eaten by zombies and many previous housemates meeting similar fates.

The zombies are faster than usual and rather scary. The acting is good. The special effects work.

It's an intense show. I can't wait to get it on DVD to watch it again. Highly recommended.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Burn after reading - film review

The latest Coen Brothers film, Burn after reading, has had some rather average reviews but I enjoyed it. It was apparently written as a character piece with specific roles created for the stars of the film who include Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Frances McDormand and John Malkovich (to name but a few). As if to cue, they all overact amazingly.

It's funny. Every character is unpleasant. The plot doesn't go anywhere. It's not the Big Lebowski or Fargo but it is great bubblegum entertainment.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

Bad Science is a great book. It's a book about how the media misrepresents science. It's also about how various quacks exploit public ignorance of science for profit. It's funny and it's clearly written.

Science and the modern media are not really compatible. Science is about trying to understand our world by careful observation and trying to prove that your own preconcieved ideas about the world are wrong. The modern media is about selling newspapers and little else. The press is sensationalist and science is possibly a bit slow and boring.

Over the years scientific research has been misrepresented in the press to create scare stories. Alternative therapists make money by exploiting sick or anxious people with magical explanations for their crafts. Goldacre describes several interesting cases clearly.

I enjoyed this book because I've always been interested in English and the media. When I was a kid I wanted to be a writer or a journalist. I did a BSc in Neuroscience before doing to medical school and I'm currently just starting on a research degree. During my BSc I did a course on 'Science communication' which was about explaining scientific concepts to the general public. At medical school I did a 3 week block on Alternative Therapies which was interesting. It made me realise that some alternative therapies have more in common theoretically with the works of George Lucas than scientific, modern evidence based medicine.

This book is great. I hope a lot of people read it.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pineapple Express

This film was much better than Tropic Thunder. It's a buddy movie about two dope smokers who witness a murder. They get chased by some evil criminals and their friendship deepens.

I laughed a lot. Some of the fight sequences are amazing. See it if you can.

Tropic Thunder

This film was funny but not as funny as I thought it would be. Tom Cruise is good in it. He does his Oprah Winfery act and swears in a creative manner. Catch it on DVD.

No Age live at the Glasgow Art School

This show was part of the Shred Yr Face package tour. It was also a special show by a Scottish music promotion collective called the Tennants Mutual that doesn't charge a booking fee for concert tickets. The other bands that played were Los Campesionos! and Times New Viking, both of whom I was unfamiliar with. I went to see No Age. I've been listening to their two CDs back to back for the past 6 months.

It's been years since I've visited the art school. When I was a student in Glasgow I used to go all the time. I saw Fugazi play there once. I love the place. It's a great venue. I was really looking forward to seeing No Age in such a cool venue.

Times New Viking opened and they were OK. The crowd didn't seem to love them (but the crowd were static for most of the night).

No Age have a great live presence. I describe them as being a bit like the White Stripes playing My Bloody Valentine but that doesn't really cover it. They played most of the songs from Weirdo Rippers and Nouns with at least one new tune. The live sound is good although the vocal mix wasn't great tonight. The sound quality at the gig on the Amoeba Records website is much better.

The crowd didn't seem too into the band which was a shame. When I was a young punk kid going to gigs like this 15 years ago I used to jump about like an idiot. The audience tonight just wanted to look cool. I think this frustrated the band. During the last song the guitarist climbed on top of the speakers and stuck his guitar into the lighting rig above the crowd. He then pulled the guitar cable, dislodging the guitar and sending ti crashing to the ground. A photographer narrowly escaped death. The guitar was not so lucky. It was an expensive Gibson SG model and the headstock was broken right off. Not good.

A good show.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

No Heroics

No Heroics is a superhero sitcom. It's funny - it reminds me of Peep Show or Spaced. It's been hidden on ITV2 which is a shame but it's well worth tracking down. Hope it comes out on DVD.


I think that link is time limited but check it out if you can

Pivot - live at Glasgow Nice n Sleazys

My mate persuaded me to go and see this Austrailian band. I'd never heard of them. They're signed to warp and they sound like battles. I'm totaly skint at the moment (I know I'm a doctor and that shit shouldn't happen but it does) so I was glad it only cost 7.50 on the door.

The support bands were average. Pivot kicked ass. The Battles reference is good. They also sound a bit like vangelis or a john carpenter soundtrack. It was cool.

check out below

I'd go to see them again. Might pick up a record when I have cash

also good

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Back from Vienna

Just got home from the World Stroke Congress in Vienna. It was basically a massive conference of 3000 experts in stroke from around the world. I'd never been to one of these things before but I had a great time. I met doctors from all over the world. I learned a wee bit and I met lots of cool people.

I'd spent a day in Vienna about 20 years ago. I remember visiting the Mozart house and little else. I had more time to soak up the atmosphere of the city this time but I probably spent too much time working.

I did eat in a restraunt in a cellar that was built in the 15th century. I had goulash. I visited the Leopold Museum and looked at some paintings by Gustav Klimt which was cool. Bought a couple of art books. Probably spent too much money.

My hotel was in a dodgy area. It was near a cannabis growing shop and a couple of porn shops. I was shitting myself walking back to the hotel every night but I didn't have any trouble. I was totally ashamed of my lack of language ability but everyone was really friendly and helpful. The local underground system was good too.

I don't really like flying and this was the first time that I had been on a plane for about ten years. I survived which was good. Still don't like planes but the whole trip was a small victory.

Probably bedtime now.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Live sets at Amoeba Records

Amoeba Records is a big record shop in San Francisico. They host a lot of instore shows by bands like No Age, The Shins, TV on the Radio and Flipper. Some of these shows are released on CD.

They have a library of streamed video of some of these shows on their web site.

Check out the No Age show. I have tickets to see them at the Glasgow Art School next month and I can't wait.

Butthole Surfers live CDs

A kind soul has just made me aware of the existence of a live CD from the recent Butthole Surfers UK tour. I've just bought one.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Butthole Surfers in Glasgow

Fast week

In the past week I've turned 31 and bought a flat. I have two weddings to go to this month and a work trip to vienna.

All good.

Metallica free stuff

I used to be a big fan of metallica when I was a kid. '...and justice for all' and 'master of puppets' were two of the first tapes I ever bought and 'ride the lightening' was the first CD I bought.

I went off them with the black album.. I thought they sold out. I don't really listen to them much now but I heard a bit of the new album in Fopp today and it sounded good. I decided to check out their website and I found something cool. They have a section where you can download entire concerts for free. This is great considering their previous anti-download stance.

See for more

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A snowball in hell by Christopher Brookmyre

This is the latest book by Christopher Brookmyre. I've read everything he's published and I love most of it. Having said that I took about a week to read this one and I would usually get through a Brookmyre book in 2 days (instead of eating, sleeping or socializing) so this is not his best. It's still entertaining.

Brookmyre brings back a few of his favourite characters for a greatest hits set. It has a few good riffs on celebrity and reality TV but nothing is amazingly new. I still worship at his feet but start with another book if you are a new reader. A tale etched in blood and hard back pencil is a good place to start.

see for more

31 is worse than 30

fuck me it's true.

6 days.

I'm fucking scared

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hellboy 2:The Golden army - film review

Hellboy has come up in the world since the release of the first movie. The first film almost went straight to DVD in Britain when it was made. The cinema release came almost a year after America. It was a good comic book film and it won a lot of fans.

Hellboy 2 is a much more heralded creature. There has been an aggressive advertising campaign for what is a good film. Guillmero Del Torro has done it again with more style before. Where the first film had to almost introduce Hellboy and friends to the world Del Torro is able to tell a new story.

The plot revolves around a fairy prince who decides to wage war on mankind with an unbeatable Golden Army. There are a few romantic subplots, comedy moments and special effect set-pieces. Everything you need from a comic book blockbuster.

I await Hellboy 3 with eagerness.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Glasgow - world centre of music

Just read this on the NME website

Glasgow has been named a world centre of music by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural orginisation. That's pretty cool.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I found my vaselines CD....

Thank god I didn't buy another. Now just need to buy tickets to see them play in December.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Isaac Hayes - RIP

Isaac Hayes died recently. He was a great musician and his contributuion to South Park was brilliant.


Small Bands at the Barrowlands

I went to the Barrowlands to see some local bands with one of my mates last night. There were 5 bands on the bill but we only caught the last 3.

The first band that we saw were Ketimine Deco - they were a teenage punk band and they played a couple of covers of songs by bands like Rancid, The Ramones and Blink 182. They were Ok but not amazing.

The next band that we saw were older and much more polished. They were called Callan. They were a female fronted 4-piece. They were quite tight but the songwriting wasn't the best. Their stand-out track was a cover of Rocks by Primal Scream. If they write some better songs they might be able to do something.

Finally we saw the band that we had come to see. Jumping Flash are a band from Ayr. My mate teaches at the school they attend and had bought a few tickets from them. They were actually good for a school band although I would describe them as almost being a tribute to the Killers. All of their material was original and they were managing to incorporate electronic sounds into their set which was good. They might be able to do something if they work at it. I think they have a page on myspace somewhere.

The beer in the Barrowlands was overpriced and shite which is nothing new so we fucked off to another pub pretty soon after that.

Monday, August 11, 2008

More chilled out than I ever thought possible

New job is great. I could get used to research. I've just been sitting and reading papers for the past week. Loving it.

I know that this won't last but i'm gonna enjoy it while I can. It gives me more time to play with my wee blog-diary and laugh at people who get upset about it. I'm actually surprised that anyone other than my mates ever reads this thing.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Dark Knight - film review

Dark is a good word for this film. It's very serious and very moody. It's about as serious as you can get about a man who dresses up as a giant bat to beat up evil-doers.

I guess it's a good film although I wasn't totally blown away. A lot of my friends loved it and the media have gone wild for it. Heath Ledger has been canonized for his portrayal of the Joker and while he's better than Jack Nicholson was I'm not sure it was really Oscar-winning.

The film is violent and frentic with big special effects. Some of it is rather nasty, especially the Joker's pencil trick. Something about it just didn't work for me. I felt the same about Batman Begins. Christian Bale is a good Batman but I hate the tough-guy gruff voice that he puts on with the bat-suit.

Batman probably works better in comics or cartoons. I guess we'll see another film and Ledger's Joker will be missed. I'd love to see them attempt the Dark Knight Returns after another few films but that is probably unlikely.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I have escaped.....

Today was my first day in research and it was good. I didn't need to carry a page and I didn't need to run about too much.

I showed up, found my office and had a chat with my boss for a couple of hours. I then went to a departmental meeting and it was nice to find out that a lot of people remembered me from when I had been a student there 5 years earlier.

In the afternoon I had time to do some reading and get my thoughts in order. I also had some time to shadow one of my more experienced co-workers to find out what I should do on an average day.

It's all rather encouraging. I wish I'd got here a while ago.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn - RIP

Alexander Solzhenitsyn has died. He was a great writer. I loved his book 'one day in the life of Ivan Denisovitch' when I read it as a teenager. Everyone should read his books.



Fear and Loathing in Perth - Rock Start super-ego explosion

I was on a stag-night on Saturday night in Perth. Perth does not seem like an obvious choice of venue for a stag night. There are no strip-clubs in Perth. My friends studied this question in great detail.

Due to the strip-club famine we had to amuse ourselves in other ways. We did this with alcohol as it is cheap, legal and widely available. Some of my mates started drinking on Friday but as a responsible adult I only got there on Saturday afternoon just in time to crash a hovercraft and fall out of it. I also got the chance to see my 6 foot tall 15 stone mate walking about a field in a dress.

After that all Perth could offer us was alcohol. I'm not sure exactly how much I drank. I lost count at 10 pints. I wasn't drinking as much as my mates. I've never been to Perth before and I don't think I'll be there again. The town centre is nice and for some reason (possibly alcohol) we saw a lot of attractive women. The place was also full of neddy bams (scum if you don't live in Scotland) who looked a bit violent but we managed to avoid any trouble.

After about 10 hours of drinking in various dodgy night clubs we stumbled back to the hotel bar only to find that we were in the presence of pop stars. Justin Currie from Del Amitri and Edie Reader were having a drink with some other musicians in the bar. One of my mates, who is generally rather polite, went up to say hello to Mr Currie and declare his admiration for the music of Del Amitri. Currie rather rudely told him to 'fuck off'.

There was also a wedding party from Falkirk in the hotel bar. They had a guitar and they were blasting out Oasis songs in the bar. They were about as drunk as us and for the most part they were friendly. Slightly neddy, but friendly.

Apart from Raymo. Raymo (not RaymonD) looks like the result of a pig fucking a gorilla. Raymo is angry. He kept trying to fight folk. His wife kept crying and looking generally distressed. Raymo reminded me of the Incredible Hulk (Raymo Smash!). Only less green. He kept threatening my friends but luckily nothing actually kicked off.

So we kept drinking and playing guitar. Some of us played songs badly whilst drunk. One of the musicians at the Currie table came over and joined in. His name was Stuart Nisbet (I think) and he had played with The Proclaimers, Del Amitri and Pink Floyd. He played a few songs for us - Elvis, Witchita Linesman, Johnny Cash and seemed to be a generally good guy.

Justin Currie however was a monster. He was very drunk and just generally acting like a twat. He managed to knock over tables of beer on two separate occasions, at one point showering a Falkirk bridesmaid with booze. He also seemed to think that he was both more intelligent and more important than anyone else in the room. Everyone is entitled to an opinion I guess. He kept swearing and lecturing people about how they were 'singers' or 'not singers'.

It was kinda funny. My mates have videotaped him and I hope the result will be up on youtube soon.

Currie had a major personality clash with the Falkirk bridesmaid. They kept swearing at each other and generally making lots of noise. This kept us all amused until the inevitable face-off between Raymo and Currie.

Raymo kill!

It's hard to tell what lit the fuse of Raymo. Raymo probably doesn't even know cos Raymo is a cock. But Raymo decided he was going to eat Justin. Justin was also sure that he would be able to take Raymo in a fair fight. Neutral observers felt that Raymo would be triumphant but that both of them were arseholes.

Justin was just about to kick Raymo's ass when he tried to take off his jacket and got his arms stuck. Raymo was restrained by the Falkirk bridesmaid sitting on him. Justin must have had a reality check in a moment of sobriety because he ran away to escape Raymo. Raymo later managed to get himself thrown out of the hotel by threatening to assault the manager.

Raymo thick!

I stumbled to my bed at about six or seven. I had a great night but I'm sure I've damaged myself with alcohol. Don't drink kids, it's bad. If Justin Currie ever reads this page my message to him would be 'be nicer to people'. He was acting like a total cunt. If Raymo reads this page I'd be shocked. I don't think Raymo can read.

In the morning we were talking about taking out an ad in the 'Announcements & Weddings' local newspaper in Falkirk or Bonnybridge saying 'Raymo is a pussy' (with the hotel name and date to help identify him to his friends) but it would probably be too much effort. It would be fucking funny if someone did it though.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Butthole Surfers live at the Glasgow ABC

This is the first time that the Butthole Surfers have played in Glasgow in a very long time. I started listening to them in first year at secondary school (around 1989) when I was given a mix tape by an older kid. The tape started with Jimi and it scared the shit out of me. I was actually afraid of the song. I thought it was bad.

Within a year or two I bought every Butthole Surfers record that I could lay my hands on. Glasgow had lots of good second hand record shops and I was able to pick up most of their LPs in missing records for 3 quid a pop. I loved them.

Somehow I never thought I was doing to see them live. They sold out with Independent Worm Saloon and Electriclarryland so I wasn't too bothered about it. Thye true spirit of the Butthole Surfers was gone.

Recent years have been great for indie rock fans in Glasgow. Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, Slint, My Bloody Valentine and now the Butthole Surfers in their classic '80s line-up.

The ABC is a great venue. I had seen Desalvo, a local noise rock band who sound like the Jesus Lizard play here before. Their set was ok but nothing special.

Things started to get fucked up with the second support band, Paul Green School of Rock. This band is basically a bunch of musically gifted adolescents playing rock classics like Whole Lotta Rosie and Immigrant Song. It was very much like a talent show. They were good but it just seemed really inappropriate for a Butthole Surfers show. Things got worse.

I didn't know what to expect from the crowd. I've not met many other Butthole Surfers fans in the past and after the gig I don't think I have much in common with them. Most of them were greebos for want of a better word. The average age was about 35 to 40. It could have been a Levellers gig.

The Buttholes opened with 22 going on 23 from Locust Abortion Technician. It's a disturbing song but it sounded great. Most of the set was from their earlier albums. We got stuff like I saw an x-ray of a girl passing gas, moving to florida, John E Smoke and human cannonball. They didn't play any of the later, more commercial stuff. My personal favouite bit was a version of Sweat Loaf with extra guitarists from the school of rock high kicking as they played the grinding Sabbath riff. (Sweat Loaf is very similar to Sweet Leaf by Black Sabbath and was sampled by Orbital for their Satan single). They played a version of Jimi and closed with The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave. The set ended with feedback and destruction as the kids from the school of rock trashed the stage and fought with each other. It was anarchic but fun.

The whole night was surreal. My mates had never really listened to the Buttholes but they enjoyed themselves. The visuals for the gig were great with back projected random disturbing video footage (porn, '60s Batman, horror films, buildings collapsing, explosions, Snoopy cartoons) and lots of strobe lighting. The School of Rock just made things even more weird.

See the Butthole Surfers if you like unusual stuff.

Check out

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Harol and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay - film review

I loved the first Harold and Kumar film. I have a soft spot for juvenile comedy and Harold and Kumar certainly hit the mark.

Harold and Kumar are two American university graduates who share a flat. Harold is straight-laced whilst Kumar is an intelligent stoner who leads his friend astray. In the new film (which leads on from the first) the two friends board a plane to Amsterdam to meet the woman of Harolds' dream. Kumar manages to mess things up and they are sent to Guantanamo Bay on terrorism charges.

The jokes are offensive but I liked it. Some good tunes are on the the soundtrack. Check out the link below for Mickey Avalon

Y the Last Man

Y the Last Man is a comic book by Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra. It ran for 60 issues and is available as a series of 10 softcover tradepaperbacks. I'm pretty sure that hardcover bookshelf editions will become available in due course. You can buy it on Amazon or in Waterstones.

Y the Last Man is a comic book that might be interesting for people who are bored by the idea of dayglo superheroes. The story revolves around Yorick who is the last living man on earth. A strange disease has killed every male mammal except Yorrick and Ampersand his pet monkey. Yorrick is the only man on a planet of 3 Billion women. Unfortunately his girlfriend is in Australia, on the other side of the world.

Without men, the world descends into anarchy. Everyone wants a piece of Yorick and he is under pressure to continue the human race. This is not really a good thing for him.

I just finished reading the series last week. It's not the best comic I've ever read but it is pretty good. Well worth picking up, even if you don't usually read comics.

Hancock - film review

I like Will Smith. I used to watch the Fresh Prince of Bel Air after school and Men in Black was a great film. He has been in some shit too. Despite being a fan of boxing I've done my best to avoid Ali. I just think it would make me sad.

I'm glad I saw Hancock in the cinema. In many ways it's a big, dumb action blockbuster. Smith plays Hancock, an angry, alcoholic superhero who is hated by the general public. He is hungover and unkempt but he still tries to save people. Unfortunately his heroics always result in a large amount of collateral damage.

The first part of the film is funny with some great special effects. All you want from a big, stupid summer blockbuster. Then Hancock throws you a curveball about 2/3 of the way through and changes into a different sort of film. The end of the film is a bit like Unbreakable.

I liked it and I'm glad I saw it in the cinema. It might not be as much fun if you're not a comic-book nerd but it's still worth seeing.

Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda is OK. It's not the best animated film I've ever seen but some of the fight sequences are amazing and I laughed at bits of it. Rent the DVD but don't rush to see it in the cinema.

Trailer for the Watchmen movie

I just saw the trailer for the Watchmen movie on the internet and it looks good. Shitty goth music on the soundtrack.


It's also kinda funny that Alan Moore is not mentioned anywhere on the website.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stranger and stranger - The world of Steve Ditko by Blake Bell

Steve Ditko should have been a very rich man. He co-created Spider-Man with Stan Lee. He also did definitive work on Dr Strange at the same time. He created most of the famous villains that have appeared in Spider-Man stories over the past 45 years and he helped shape the character into the interesting and conflicted personality that has made millions of dollars at cinemas world wide.

Sadly, real life has been less kind to Ditko and he spent much of his career working in bad conditions and being ripped off by the comics industry. He has been very principled in his professional life due to his belief in the right-wing philosophy of objectivism created by Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Foutainhead. Ditko seemed to have a very polarised, black and white view of the world and he would not compromise in his artistic work. This meant that he would often walk away from good jobs and fight with fellow artists.

Strange and Stranger by Blake Bell is a great book. It showcases Ditko's art and tells his story. While I don't agree with many of the ideas that Ditko this biography is a great, quick read. I would love to read some of the original comic strips about Mr A, probably Ditko's ultimate creation. The character was basically a fascist vigilante who saw life in term of pure good and pure evil. Alan Moore has been quoted as saying that Mr A was an influence on the character of Rorschach in the Watchmen book. The human element of Ditko's life and his struggle with ill-health dut to TB is also pretty interesting.

Ditko is a private man and rejects media contact. He is over 80 years old and he may even be dead now. Last year Johnathan Ross made an excellent documentary about Ditko for BBC 4 called In Search of Steve Ditko. Ross (in partnership with Neil Gaiman) managed to track Ditko down and talk to him but Ditko refused to be photographed or interviewed. See for more of that story.

Strange and Stranger is a great book for comic nerds. It gives a brief picture of a creative artist but we are left with many unanswered questions.

For more try the following websites -

The original art for the first ever Spider-Man comic was recently donated the the Library of Congess in America

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Read yourself RAW - a website about comics

I just found a pretty good website about the more thought-provoking and interesting comics that are out there.

The address is

worth reading

Thursday, July 03, 2008

My Bloody Valentine live at the Glasgow Barrowlands.

The past couple of years have been heaven for lovers of noise rock. All the big names of my teenage years have got back together to play a few gigs and put the kids through private school. My Bloody Valentine have done very little as a group for the past 15 years or so. Their masterwork Loveless came out in 1991 and apart from a handful of tracks we have heard nothing else.

At the first of two nights at the Barrowlands they were supported by another, albiet smaller, indie legend. The Pastels. Steven Pastel, the singer and band leader runs monorail records in kings court, Glasgow. It's the best record shop in Glasgow and you should all go there. It's aslo a concert venue, vegetarian cafe and bar. See for a bit more about the shop. The Pastels were ok tonight, but not outstanding. They sound a little like the soundtrack to a French art film. The line-up was filled out by Gerry Love from Teenage Fanclub on Guitar but they were never going to compete with the noise monster that is My Bloody Valentine.

The crowd was a mixed bag. The average punter was probably in their mid-30s. There were plenty of old goths and indie kids. Everybody was too-cool-for-school as you would expect at a gig like this.

From the first note MBV were loud. I made use of my free earplugs. The sound was pretty close to that of the vinyl. The set drew from Isn't Anything, Loveless and the Creation eps. My favourite track was probably soon although you made me realise was amazing. They played the one-note bridge for 21 minutes. It may be the loudest thing that I've ever heard. It was a visceral sensation like standing in a waterfall or being blown about by the wind. The sound felt like how you would imagine being on fire in the sun would be. In a good way. I'm sorry, I'm not toogood with words.

The set finished with You Made Me Realise. Most people were smiling during the 'chord of death' and I loved it although my ears were ringing a bit as I walked home. I'd love to see them again, I'll be buying the upcoming remastered editions of the back catalogue and I hope they do some good music. I like to imagine that I can understand Kevin Shields predicament a bit. How would you follow Loveless? How do you improve on perfection?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Wanted - film review

Wanted is an adolescent male revenge fantasy. It has some cool action sequences but the plot is kinda pish. The characters are ok and the cast is good. James McAvoy is always good and I do like to look at Angelina Jolie.

The story is about a bloke called Wesley who is basically at the bottom of the food chain, an omega male. He has a shit job that he hates, he has panic attacks and his best mate is fucking his girlfriend. He meets a beautiful woman who tells him that he has superpowers and that he is the son of the worlds greatest assassin. He is then invited to join the Fraternity, a secret club of assassins. Lots of stuff is blown up and lots of swear-words are used.

I liked the comic so I'm a bit disappointed by the film. The comic was written by Mark Millar who is a good writer and Glaswegian. The comic was pretty extreme and some of the basic plot devices (supervillains and weird powers) were a bit out there but at least the characters had realistic motivations and there was some internal logic to the story.

If you like comics, read the comic first. I'd wait to see the film on TV.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Anywhere I lay my head by Scarlett Johansson

On paper or at least on first thought you would expect an album by a 23 year old movie starlet to be pish. It screams of vanity project like the musical career of Paris Hilton. Albums by actors are usually shite.

Anywhere I lay my head is good which is a surprise. It's good for several reasons. Ms Johansson has made some leftfield choices. There have been signs of her alternative leanings in the past. I didn't really like Lost in translation but I loved the soundtrack. I realise she didn't pick the songs on the soundtrack herself but at least she would have heard them. She also showed amazingly good taste by getting up on stage with East Kilbride musical gods the Jesus and Mary Chain to sing backing vocals on Just like honey.

So now she's made her own album. To be more precise David Andrew Sitek of TV on the Radio has made her an album of Tom Waits songs. It's a good album that sounds like a TVOR record. It also sounds a bit like the Cocteau Twins. My dad even liked it when I played it in the car. David Bowie sings on it. It is a good record.

Listen to it.

Playing with my Ipod shuffle

I was bored a couple of weeks back and I bought myself a new toy - a 2Gb Ipod shuffle. I have a big old 20Gb that has done me no wrong but I wanted something a bit more portable. At 45quid the shuffle doesn't break my bank.

The sound quality seems ok an it's very small. I'm kinda scared that I could step on it or wash it or some shit like that and not notice. It's so light that I can clip it to my belt or to a t-shirt with little trouble.

I don't download much music. I guess that shows my age. I like to buy CDs and look at the boxes. One of my problems is finding enough time to listen to all the CDs I buy. The shuffle is good for that. I just download a bunch of CDs onto it and listen to them at random. It's helped me get into a few albums that I was finding a bit difficult.

There are two main drawbacks with the shuffle. The lack of display makes it impossible to know which song you are listening to and difficult to find a specific song. This can be fun when you are left guessing what a cool song it. Good brain exercise. The other thing that is a major pain in the ass is charging the shuffle. This only seems to be possible when the Ipod is attached to a computer. This can make life difficult if you don't have access to a computer on a daily basis. These flaws are both minor and I can live with them.

I guess I love my Ipod shuffle. It's not perfect and it won't replace my big 20Gb baby but it has its uses.

Thank fuck I'm on holiday

Work sucks. I hope I win the lottery or some shit like that. Can't wait till I start my new job.

The Incredible Hulk - film review

The last Hulk film directed by Ang Lee wass pure pish. He should stick to gay cowboys - Brokeback Mountain was a good film. I wasn't sure what to expect from this new Hulk film. The cast is good but to be honest the Hulk was never the best Marvel comic book character.

Happily The Incredible Hulk is watchable. It's not as cool as Iron Man but I didn't want to tear out my eyes at any point during the film. A short cameo by Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark at the end of the film was a nice teaser for a future Avengers film.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls

A lot of people hate this film. They think that it has spoiled their favourite series of childhood action movies. I think if I was 8 this would have been my favourite Indiana Jones film.

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls is fantastical nonsense but then none of the Indiana Jones films have been strongly grounded in reality. It's good fun and I hope they make more.

Iron Man - Film Review

Due to ongoing exile in a place with little personal internet access I have not been able to update this blog much recently. I'm working in a pretty boring place so I'm not doing much. I have been to the cinema a few times.

Iron Man is one of the best superhero films I have seen. It's not to everyones taste but I thought it was rather good. I did read a few Iron Man comics when I was a kid and I always found the character interesting. The 'Demon in a bottle' storyline in the comicbook was one of the first to show a superhero with a real-life human problem like alcohol abuse.

Part of the appeal of Iron Man is the humanity of the character. Iron Man is just an ordinary bloke in a suit of armour. He doesn't come from Krypton, he isn't a mutant and he has never been bitten by anything radioactive. He isn't as miserable as Batman. Tony Stark has the sort of lifestyle most blokes would enjoy - he's rich, he sleeps with beautiful women and he has an interesting life.

Robert Downey Jr is well cast as Tony Stark. He looks like the original comic book character and he has a suitable bad-boy past. He is charasmatic and pulls off the super-rich playboy persona with ease.

The Iron Man origin story has been updated in a sensible manner. The original strip had Tony Stark as a weapons manufacturer in the Korean War and this has been easily transposed to the modern middle east. The film isn't as jingoistic as I feared it would be and it does highlight the evils of the arms-race.

Rumors are going about that there will be an Avengers movie at some point in the future combining Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America and Thor. If it's as well made as Iron Man it might be worth seeing.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Radiohead live at Glasgow Green

I'm not a massive Radiohead fan. I never have been. I thought Creep was ok and I only started listening to The Bends a couple of years after it came out. I own most of their albums but I have never thought that they are the best or the most original band in the world.

I was keen to see them because my mates all told me they were good live. 40 quid for a ticket is a bit steep but probably standard for a band as big as Radiohead. It was pissing down in Glasgow today and as I sat in the pub before the gig I asked myself if I could really be fucked standing in a cold, wet park to listen to miserable music. Was it worth it?

I bought a cheap raincoat in some shitty clothes shop on Argyll street and girded my loins. I ran into a few old friends which made the drizzle worth it.

Support band Bat for Lashes weren't great which was not a surprise. I didn't like their CD.

Radiohead sounded great and played a good set. Quality songs from all the albums except Pablo Honey. I was surprised at the number of neds at the show. I was not surprised at the number of student with 'difficult' facial hair.

A cold wet day. Wish it was indoors. My Bloody Valentine next week will be much better.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - live at the Glasgow Academy

Nick Cave is someone I always try to see when he's in town. This was the 3rd Nick Cave concert that I've seen. I may even have wrote about the last Glasgow show that I was at somewhere on this site.

It was a slimmed down version of the Bad Seeds that graced the stage of the Carling Academy tonight. The choir that was present on the Abattoir Blues tour was no longer needed. Instead we had the core 7 man band and they were more than enough.

We had seats in the balcony. I had never been up there before and I enjoyed the experience. The view was good and the sound seemed a bit better. The crowd was varied - old goths, yuppies and indie kids.

The set had a fair bit of the new album as well as some old classics like Tupelo and Deanna. We got Into my Arms and Stagger Lee in the encore as well as a cover of Wanted Man by Johnny Cash. The cries for the Mercy Seat were ignored. They didn't play much from the last album which was a shame but it is a testament to the quality of the Nick Cave songbook that he can put on a great show without playing all the hits.

I bought a Mercy Seat tea-towel for my yuppie flat. It makes me happy. I'll be trying to get tickets again the next time Nick Cave is in town.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I bought a random CD that My Bloody Valentine fans might like today

I bought a random CD in Avalanche Records today. It's by a band called Japancakes and it is a cover of all of Loveless by My Bloody Valentine. It's ok but not as good as the original. It's a brave attempt and worth hearing but I'm still looking forward to seeing MBV in July.

Check out for more

Forgetting Sarah Marshall - film review

My mate wanted to see this. It's by the same people who made Knocked up and the 40 year old virgin but it's not really as good. It does have a few laughs in it but not as many as their other films.

It's about a guy who gets dumped and how he gets over it. It has Russel Brand in it. It's basically a chick-flick. Don't rush out to see it.

Pathology - film review

I saw this film a couple of weeks back. I have a thing for cheezy medical horror films, being a doctor and that.

This film is about a trainee pathologist who becomes involved with a group of doctors who kill people for kicks. He joins in and it becomes a bit more crazy after that. All the doctors look like supermodels and take crack while still going to work. And they shag each other next to corpses. It's not really like that at my work.

This film is a rip off of Anatomy which is a much better German film. It was kinda funny but probably not for everyone.

In Bruges - film review

I saw something about this film on the BBC2 Culture Show a couple of months back and I made a mental note to catch it. I'm glad that I did. It's the best film that I've seen in ages.

In Bruges is a black comedy that makes you think. Colin Farrell plays a hitman who has made a mistake. He has been sent to Belgium with another hitman to hide out until the fuss dies down. He does not want to be in Belgium. His character is very similar to that of Dougal in the sitcom Father Ted. He has a fascination with dwarves.

Indeed, dwarf abuse is a recurrent theme in this film.

I was pissing myself with laughter for most of this film but it did raise some serious moral questions and it did make me think. What would you do if you had done something unforgivable? Is redemption possible?

This film is funny and serious. You should see it. It also has quality swearing.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Red tape makes me want to scream

I hate paperwork. I hate pen-pushers. I hate jobsworths. I hate filling in forms.

Thankyou and goodnight

Black Sheep - DVD

This is a low-budget horror film from New Zealand about mutant killer sheep. I enjoyed it. You might too.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Holy Fuck live at Stereo, Glasgow

So my mate called me and asked me if I wanted to go and see Holy Fuck at the new Stereo club. I'd heard of them but I'd never actually heard their music. Neither had my friend. We both expected them to be noise-rock but we were pleasantly surprised.

The new Stereo club is on Renfield lane, just around the corner from Central Station in Glasgow across the road from the Truffle Club. Upstairs is a restraunt which I plan to check out at some point. The customers were all too-cool-for-school indie kids of the sort that always make me smile. I've always thought that I'm exceptionally cool myself.

We managed to get in despite the show being sold out. The first band was Free Blood featuring one of the singers from !!!. Free Bird are a boy girl duo who sing over a programmed backing track. The bass on the first song was so loud that I thought my upper respiratory tract was going to collapse. It might not be a good idea to see this band if you have brittle asthma. Their set was ok.

At that point I braced myself for a brutal noise rock set from Holy Fuck. What I got was a brutal electro-dance set from Holy Fuck which was a surprise but nice all the same. Holy Fuck are four hairy guys - one drummer, one bass player and two keyboard players - who jump about with lots of old Casio keyboards. Their music made me think of Vanishing Point era Primal Scream and one of my friends mentioned Neu! (pronounced 'noi' if you are cool and 'new' if you are from East Kilbride). They played for about 40 minutes and they reminded me of good British dance music from about 15 years ago.

In the end it was a good night. 8 quid well spent. I might check out a Holy Fuck album at some point.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Kill Your Friends by John Niven

John Niven is a Scottish author and this is his second book. Niven was a music industry employee for about 10 years - I believe he used to hang around with Mogwai. In Kill Your Friends he has written about what he knows. This is summed up in a great quote from Hunter S Thompson -

'The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. These is also a negative side.'

I love Thompson and it is clear that Niven does too. Kill your friends is a Gonzo rush through the music business in 1997. The repuganant anti-hero of the book, Steven Stelfox, is an amalgam of every nasty character trait that you could imagine an A&R man having. He hates music but he likes cocaine and prostitutes. He is only interested in the money and he will fuck anyone over to get what he wants.

The prose is easy to read and funny. The thinly-disguised 'musicians' mixed with famous names raise a wry smile. The characters are familiar. I have met a few 'scensters' over the years who are complete cocks (and some who are cool). Niven might be ripping off Irvine Welsh a bit but this is a good read. I'll look out for his next book.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Good times with old friends

Just had a great day at a wedding with my mates from school. One of my friends was getting married at the Glasgow university chapel and it gave us all an excuse to get together and catch up.

I've known some of these guys for nearly 20 years and we're all a lot fatter and balder now but it just feels so good when we all get into a room together. One guy had to come from Amsterdam and another had to come from Bristol so it really was a special occasion.

So I've had a day of getting pissed, talking shit and gossiping. The food was great and the booze was plentiful. Best night out I've had for a while.

Next one is in September - can't wait.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Liberty Meadows by Frank Cho

Liberty Meadows is a comic strip about an animal sanctuary for creatures with psychiatric issues. The medical staff include the beautiful Brandy, an animal psychologist and geeky Frank, a vet. Frank is often struck dumb by his unrequited love for Brandy.

The animal characters include Ralph, a midget circus bear; Dean, a substance-misusing pig and Leslie, a hypochondriac frog.

The strip was initially syndicated in newspapers until creator Frank Cho got sick of censorship and started publishing it as a comic book. It's entertainging although I like the Boondocks more myself. It has been collected into a series of trade paperbacks and you can find out more at

Brandy may be the most attractive comic strip character ever/

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Music Blogs

20 Jazz Funk Greats is a music blog named after a Throbbing Gristle album (DO NOT LISTEN TO IT) and deals with alternative music. Seems cool.

This is a blog that lists albums you can download legally for free. It features John Fuscante of the Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails and the Charlatans. Cool

The Wire - Season 4

I have said this before but The Wire is one of the best TV programmes ever. Season 4 looks at the Baltimore school system, politics, drug gangs, child abuse and murders. It's never black and white. There are no heroes and villains. It's unpredictable just like real life.

Watch it.

In a freak accident I destroyed my DVD of the first 3 episodes while watching it and I had to fork out £30 to buy a new one. It was worth it. I have too much money.

Comic books I've been reading

I've been reading a few good comic books recently.

Fables is one of them. It's Vertigo title and it's written by a guy called Bill Willingham. For any comic nerds out there I'll tell you that it's a Sandman rip off and that will probably tell you much of what you need to know. However it is a good Sandman rip-off which makes it worth reading.

Fables is set in modern New York where there is a ghetto of fairy tale characters like Snow White and Bigby Wolf (the Big Bad Wolf) who have settled there after their fantasy homelands have been over-run by the shadowy Adversary (who is someone you will recognise but I won't say who). The ghetto is called Fabletown and is full of human looking characters while less human 'fables' such as the 3 little pigs and the Jungle Book characters have to live on a farm in upstate New York, away from mundane human eyes.

I know it sounds pish but if you can suspend your disbelief to watch Star Wars or Aliens you can read this. I bet it really fucked disney off.

Another good Vertigo book is The Exterminators, a story of man against insect. It's about a pest control firm who find themselves battling highly evolved cockroaches. The roaches have been given an evolutionary push by some unusual insect-poison. And there is an unusual scientist with a very dodgy past in Cambodia.....

I've heard that The Exterminators has just been cancelled which is a shame.

Finally I've just read the fist two books of Crossing Midnight (Verigo again) a fantasy style book set in modern Japan. It has great art and features characters inspired by Japanese mythology although it is written by Brian K Vaughn, an American writer. It has some new ideas for westen comics and is probably ripping off Manga big style but I like it and plan to read more.

PS = Get Next Wave by Warren Ellis if you don't already have it. 'Fing Fang Foom put you in his pants!'. Classic

Michael Clayton - DVD review

Just watched this film and I really enjoyed it. George Clooney is the eponymous Michael Clayton, a fixer for a big corporate law firm. One of his friends, a fellow lawyer, is defending a big chemical company that has killed 460 people with a dodgy product. Sadly his friend has a manic episode amd removes all his clothes in a legal meeting before trying to expose the evil chemical company. George Clooney is sent to sort things out and hilarity ensues.

Someone in this film won an Oscar. It is pretty good. Watch it and decide yourself.

9 out of 10


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another State of Mind - DVD review

Another State of Mind is a DIY punk documentary that follows two Los Angeles hardcore bands (Youth Brigade and Social Distortion) on an ill-fated tour in 1982. They set out with noble intentions but eventually they are overcome by adverse events and the tour stalls in Washington.

The film is pretty well made and I found it interesting for a number of reasons. Minor Threat and Ian MacKaye are featured heavily later on (which as a massive Fugazi fan I really enjoyed). There is a pretty good story in the documentary and it is funny at times. It's good to see a bunch of young guys having an adventure.

Unlike other similar films like The Decline of Western Civilisation or American Hardcore we see the positive side of early '80s punk and we hear from some intelligent people like Shawn Stern, the leader of Youth Brigade. We also get to see a young Mike Ness (the singer in social distortion) which is eye-opening. Green Day should really be paying this man royalties.

This DVD probably appeals to very few people but I liked it. Punk fans should get something from it.

The Mars Volta live at the Carling Academy, Glasgow

Due to my current exile in a shit place I haven't been able to see many bands recently. This concert coincided with a week of annual leave so I picked up a ticket. I've been listening to The Mars Volta for a few years now. I loved their first album Deloused In the Comatorium (hope I got that right) although I found the later albums more difficult to get into. I was keen to see them live because I heard that they put on a good show. They do.

I was trying to describe The Mars Volta to my Dentist today. It's difficult. Their music is non-linear. Traditional song-stucture has gone out of the window. Miles Davis aound the time of Bitches Brew is a good reference point. Led Zepplin amd Santana are in the mix. The Fugazi sound of At the Drive in (their old band) is still present, nut only a little.

The Mars Volta make music you can't dance to. One female drug casualty did try some hippy freak out moves last night but it wasn't convincing. It was more the sort of show where tou stand and watch and think 'wow'. They played for nearly 3 hours with only a few recognisable songs. It was good but it was almost too much. I guess I need to expand my mind a bit more. One pint of beer is not enough.

So an impressive, athletic musical experience. Probably not for everyone but glad I was there.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Control - DVD review

I've been listening to Joy Division since I was about 13 or 14. I first heard them either on a free tape with vox magazine (featuring the Peel Session version of Transmission) or on a punk documentary showing footage of the band on So it goes (playing Transmission again). Basically, I thought Transmission was a great song and I hunted down as much Joy Division stuff as I could.

I read Touching from a Distance by Deborah Curtis when it came out. It painted a bleak picture of the life of Ian Curtis but it didn't detract from the power of his music. Control is based on that book and it is a very serious film. The black-and-white images of Anton Corbijn create a claustrophobic film which is probably appropriate as it tells the story of a 23 year old man with epiepsy who kills himself leaving a one year old daughter. Pretty fucking bleak.

For a comedy film about the life of Ian Curtis check out 24 hour party people by Michael Winterbottom. I've seen it 20 times and I love it.

Control is a good film. The music scenes are well done. I enjoyed it but please don't watch it when you're in a low mood.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jumper - film review

I thought this film would be rubbish when I saw the trailer. I decided to take a risk and see it after a positive review in Total Film magazine. I'm glad I did cos it was great fun.

The film revolves around a young bloke who finds that he can teleport or 'jump' from one place to another by thinking about it. He then meets Samuel L Jackson who is some sort of religious type who wants to kill him. He also meets Jamie Bell (the former Billy Eliot) who seems to have anger issues and is rather keen to kill Samuel L Jackson. Bell is excellent - it's as if he is taking revenge on everyone who tried to molest him when he played Billy Eliot. Very, very angry.

So, an entertaining piece of science fiction nonsence with some great fight scenes. Worth seeing on DVD.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hallam foe

I'm not sure if this post will work. I'm writing it as an email and trying to email it to blogger because the IT department at my work have banned acces to almost every web page in existence. I'm on nights and I can't use my own computer.

I just watched Hallam Foe on DVD yesterday. I was interested in the film because it is Scottish and because the soyundtrack features Franz Ferdinand and a bunch of other Domino bands. It's an arty film but a good one. The film tells the story of Hallam, an odd lad, who is a peeping tom in rural Scotland. His mother died in unusual circumstances several years ago and he suspects that his step-mother may have killed her. He runs away from home to Edinburgh where he meets a girl who looks like his mum. So he tries to shag her. Of course.

It's entertaining and not depressing which is nice.

ps - had to repost this from email as remote publishing did not work. Email nazi at work has won

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bad Medicine - Doctors doing harm since Hippocrates by David Wooton

In Bad Medicine David Wootton presents an alternative view of the history of medicine. He argues that doctors had no effective treatments before 1865 and that many of the interventions of the medical profession before that date did more harm than good. He is probably right.

Most medical historians present modern medicine as the pinnacle of centuries of steady progress from ancient times. Wootton argues that most of this progress is an illusion and that crucial breakthroughs have often been ignored for hundreds of years wasting millions of lives. Doctors have often been too proud to accept new ideas and have harmed their patients with their pride. Advances have been random and there has never been a single movement of 'progressive' medicine before modern times.

In the modern era of 'evidence-based medicine' we are trying to make sure that our interventions work. As a doctor I am glad of this. Bad Medicine is an interesting read offering an opinion on the times when medicine was more an art than a science.

Cloverfield - film review

I went to see Cloverfield unsure of what to expect. The worst-case scenario would have been a remake of the Blair Witch Project which is one of the most over-hyped films ever. Thankfully Cloverfield is a much better film.

Cloverfield is presented as a camcorder tape that was found at the site of a disaster in New York. The film starts with a home-movie of the hero and his girlfriend having fun. This home-movie is intercut with footage of a farewell party for the hero (his brother has accidently taped over the home movie). During the party New York is attacked by something and the camcorder keeps rolling until the inevitable conclusion.

Unlike Blair Witch the characters are engaging and the story is coherent. There are some moments of humour mixed with pathos and scares. It's pretty good.

One to catch.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

Two simple books about Shakespeare

Out of boredom I've recently read two books about Shakespeare, neither of which were exactly heavyweight material. They were both mildly entertaining.

The first was 'Shakespeare' by Bill Bryson. It's a very short autobiography that basically details how little we actually know about Shakespeare. The plays and sonnets that we have were, for the most part, published after he died. Many people think Shakespeare didn't really exist and was only a pen-name for someone like Francis Bacon. I was aware of all this stuff but Bryson has combined it into a nice easy read that you can manage in an afternoon.

The second book was a Da Vinci Code style throwaway called 'The Shakespeare Secret' by J L Carrell. It reads like a Famous Five novel and it has a ridiculous Scooby Doo ending where the mask is pulled off the bad guy about 20 times. It deals with the possible discovery of a manuscript of Cardinio, a lost Shakespeare play and the mystery of who Shakespeare was. Again it was an easy read that did not make me too angry. Good for a flight or a beach but little more.

Notice that I've not read any actual Shakespeare. That would do my box in.

Aliens vs Predator 2 - Requiem

I went to see this last week and it is, of course, pure pish. It is also mildly entertaining, especially if you were ever a teenage boy. It has big guns, explosions and scary monsters. You don't have to see any of the other related films and it is never made clear who is an alien and who is a predator.

The director has tried to stretch the franchise even further by adding a sort of 'Scream' teen-horror flick sub-plot to the film and including jocks, nerds and attactive blondes to the mix. There is even a romantic sub-plot.

I did enjoy the film. Not the worst 90 minutes of my life.

7 out of ten

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I now have my dream job so today was a good day

Despite the sheer hell and emotional turmoil of the past week or so today was a brilliant day. I had an interview for my perfect job and I was offered it a couple of hours later. This is the sort of job that I wanted to do when I applied to medical school. I'm gonna do research, teaching and interesting clinical work in a good unit. I feel like I'm walking on air.

On top of that I've finished paying the deposit on my yuppie flat. It should be built by the end of the year.

Best of all I get to stay in Glasgow for another couple of years.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

At times being a doctor is the worst job in the world.

Further to my previous posts I have just worked a week of nights as a medical SHO (or should I say a 'speciality registrar'). A week of nights is bad enough but I was working over the new year period which transforms bad into hell on earth.

I had been off for four days over christmas before starting my nights but I was unwell with a bad viral upper respiratory tract infection. I never miss work through illness unless it is unavoidable but I was strongly considering calling in sick on the first day of my week. I couldn't bring myself to do this because it would look bad over the festive season and it would have left the hospital uncovered. It would have been difficult to get a locum at short notice.

I went into work on the first day propped up with paracetamol and ibuprofen. I somehow managed to survive that night and as far as I know I didn't make any mistakes. I was not working as quickly as usual but I was being extra careful.

On the second night I was stuck with a very unwell lady with multiple rare medical problems for around eight hours. I was helped a great deal by the on-call anaesthetist but I still had to spend several hours staring at her heart monitor and hoping that her heart rate would not drop. Luckily she survived the night and she is still alive today although she continues to have serious on-going health problems.

I am starting to think that the festive season should be banned because it makes people miserable. I think that christmas just highlights the things that people believe have gone wrong in their lives. People feel more alone, more depressed and more hopeless over the festive season and they try to kill themselves. We admitted about 20 people every night and a large proportion of them had attempted to commit suicide. We did our best to 'save' them and fix them as much as we could but one or two were very creative and actually managed to kill themselves. When they die you do not feel too good.

The atmosphere in the hospital on these nights was not great. The team of doctors that I was working with were excellent although the nursing staff often do not seem to understand that you have multiple demands on your time. They also often seem to try to undermine the clinical decisions of other doctors by asking me to become involved in the management of particular patients. I tried to avoid being drawn into this and I called the doctor who had been looking after the case to disuss the patient and help with the management. I think it is important to maintain continuity of care for patients in emergencies.

Ultimately we were understaffed and very busy but we worked had and did our best. Even your best may not be good enough in some situations.

My nights finished on Friday and I was exhausted. We work seven 12 and a bit hour shifts in a row. On many nights I did not sit down before 6AM. My body clock was totally reversed and I was near physical collapse all weekend. I was quite nauseated towards the end of my last shift and I had to take an anti-emetic because I was worried that I was developing the viral winter vomiting infection that had been moving around the hospital. Thankfully I did not develop full-blown d&v.

I lost the entire weekend to broken sleep. My sleep-cycle is still disrupted and I woke up at 2AM on Monday morning, unable to sleep again before starting work at 9AM. The icing on the cake was an email that arrived on Monday evening from a girl that I really liked telling me that I had been binned. Two days before an interview for my dream job.


Monday, January 07, 2008

why life sucks

Do you ever get times when things go wrong just when you don't want them to? Things just go bad at the wrong time. Things go bad two days before an important interview.

Life is not fair.

Happy new year by the way