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