Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stan Lee is 88

Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman, the X-men and the Fantastic Four just turned 88 and he's still on the go.

Random fact for anyone who might be interested.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The iTunes store

I'm not too enthused by the iTunes store or their Ping social networking site. I get the impression that iTunes is mainly used by X-factor fans and people who just buy individual pop songs. It seems to have a limited catalogue and the user interface is a bit shit. I also don't like the fact that they sell limited use music downloads instead of more open access mp3s. I think I will continue to buy CDs and burn them onto my computer instead of pissing about with this horrible download shop.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

20th Century Boys - DVD review

20th Century Boys is a trilogy of Japanese films based on a manga by Naoki Urasawa. The films and the original comic books are ambitious in scope.

The story revolves around a group of friends who make up stories about a disaster in the future where they will become heroes and save the world. Twentty-five years later, a mysterious cult leader called friend appears and begins to bring their childhood fantasies to life.

The plot involves many aspects of Japanese youth culture and social history including giant robots, suicide cults, biological weapons, manga and rock music. The T-Rex song 20th Century Boy features prominently in the film. It reminded me of a lot of Steven King fiction. The original Manga has been described as Japan's answer to Watchmen and if the complexity of the films allegedly simplified plot is a marker this may be true.

The 3 films are long and you have to concentrate to follow the story. The plot is full fo red-herrings and some minor holes. I enjoyed the trilogy but it may not be for everyone. Interesting for nerds with patience.

Strange internet traffic.

Randomly I posted a list of top rated tracks from my new iPod last night and the page has now been viewed by 27 people from all over the world. Odd. Probaly people trying to download stuff.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

christmas iTunes

All Along The Watchtower [2010 mono version] 2:29 Bob Dylan The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings Country & Folk 100 1Bhang, Bhang, I'm A Burnout 2:34 Dum Dum Girls I Will Be Rock 100 1Carousels 4:23 Beirut The Lon Gisland EP Indie Rock 100 1A Century Of Fakers 4:30 Belle & Sebastian Push Barman To Open Old Wounds [Disc 1] Indie Rock 100 3Cherub Rock 4:58 Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream Alternative 100 1Corona 2:26 Minutemen Double Nickels On The Dime Punk 100 2Disarm 3:17 Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream Alternative 100 1Elephant Gun 5:45 Beirut The Lon Gisland EP Indie Rock 100 1Everybody Knows (Except You) 3:48 The Divine Comedy A Secret History - The Best Of The Divine Comedy Indie Rock 100 1Fuck And Run 3:08 Liz Phair Exile In Guyville Alternative 100 1Girls! Girls! Girls! 2:20 Liz Phair Exile In Guyville Alternative 100 1Goodbye Girl 2:56 The Shins Levi's Pioneer Sessions 2010 Revival Recordings Pop 100 2Happy Valentine's Day 5:23 Andre 3000 The Love Below Rap 100 1He's A Whore 2:39 Big Black Songs About Fucking Alternative 100 2Hey Ya! 3:55 Andre 3000 The Love Below Rap 100 1History Lesson - Part II 2:12 Minutemen Double Nickels On The Dime Punk 100 2I Against I 2:51 Bad Brains I Against I Punk 100 1I See A Darkness 4:50 Bonnie "Prince" Billy I See A Darkness Rock 100 1If I Think 3:37 Mudhoney March To Fuzz [Disc 2] Alternative 100 1If You Want Me To Stay 3:01 Sly & The Family Stone The Essential Sly & The Family Stone [Disc 2] R&B 100 1Immigrant Song (2007 Remastered) 2:26 Led Zeppelin Mothership Rock 100 2Instrument 3:44 Fugazi In On The Kill Taker Punk 100 1Into My Arms 4:14 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds The Best Of [Disc 1] Indie Rock 100 1Is It Wicked Not To Care? 3:22 Belle & Sebastian The Boy With The Arab Strap Indie Rock 100 1It Ain't Me Babe [2010 mono version] 3:35 Bob Dylan The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings Country & Folk 100 1Jimmy James 3:15 Beastie Boys Check Your Head Rap 100 1Just Like Honey 3:03 The Jesus & Mary Chain Psychocandy Indie Rock 100 1L Dopa 1:40 Big Black Songs About Fucking Alternative 100 2Lake Of Fire 1:57 Meat Puppets Meat Puppets II [Bonus Tracks] Indie Rock 100 1Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie 3:11 Belle & Sebastian Push Barman To Open Old Wounds [Disc 1] Indie Rock 100 1Like A Rolling Stone [2010 mono version] 5:59 Bob Dylan The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings Country & Folk 100 1London Calling 3:20 The Clash London Calling Punk 100 1Lost 3:26 Meat Puppets Meat Puppets II [Bonus Tracks] Indie Rock 100 1Lust For Life 2:25 Girls Album Indie Rock 100 1Me And The Major 3:52 Belle & Sebastian If You're Feeling Sinister Indie Rock 100 1The Mercy Seat 5:09 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds The Best Of [Disc 1] Indie Rock 100 The Model 2:35 Big Black Songs About Fucking Alternative 100 1Modern Girl 3:01 Sleater-Kinney The Woods Punk 100 The Money Will Roll Right In 2:33 Mudhoney March To Fuzz: Rarities [Disc 2] Alternative 100 Monkey Gone To Heaven 2:57 Pixies Doolittle Indie Rock 100 1Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) 4:48 Arcade Fire Funeral Indie Rock 100 Neighborhood #2 (Laika) 3:32 Arcade Fire Funeral Indie Rock 100 Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) 5:13 Arcade Fire Funeral Indie Rock 100 Nervous Breakdown 1:59 Ryan Adams Rise Above 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three Alternative 100 Never Understand 2:58 The Jesus & Mary Chain Psychocandy Indie Rock 100 No One Knows 4:39 Queens Of The Stone Age Songs For The Deaf [UK] Rock 100 Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth 3:12 The Dandy Warhols Come Down Alternative 100 Pink Maggit 7:33 Deftones White Pony Alternative 100 Ramble On (2007 Remastered) 4:22 Led Zeppelin Mothership Rock 100 2Rebellion (Lies) 5:11 Arcade Fire Funeral Indie Rock 100 Red Right Hand 4:49 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds The Best Of [Disc 1] Indie Rock 100 Reverence 3:41 The Jesus & Mary Chain Honey's Dead Indie Rock 100 Rocket 4:07 Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream Alternative 100 Roses 6:10 Andre 3000 The Love Below Rap 100 Round And Round 5:09 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti Before Today Indie Rock 100 Sacred Love 3:40 Bad Brains I Against I Punk 100 See It In A Boy's Eyes 3:41 Jamelia Thank You R&B 100 Seeing Other People 3:48 Belle & Sebastian If You're Feeling Sinister Indie Rock 100 1So What'cha Want 3:37 Beastie Boys Check Your Head Rap 100 Something For The Weekend 4:20 The Divine Comedy A Secret History - The Best Of The Divine Comedy Indie Rock 100 The State I Am In 4:59 Belle & Sebastian Push Barman To Open Old Wounds [Disc 1] Indie Rock 100 1Sweet Child O' Mine 5:03 Taken By Trees Sweet Child o' Mine Alternative Rock 100 2That's When I Reach For My Revolver 3:53 Mission Of Burma Signals, Calls, And Marches [EP] [Bonus Tracks] Indie Rock 100 1There Is A Light That Never Goes Out 4:03 The Smiths The Queen Is Dead Indie Rock 100 1This Ain't No Picnic 1:58 Minutemen Double Nickels On The Dime Punk 100 1Today 3:20 Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream Alternative 100 Underdog 3:59 Sly & The Family Stone The Essential Sly & The Family Stone R&B 100 Wake Up 5:35 Arcade Fire Funeral Indie Rock 100 Wave Of Mutilation 2:05 Pixies Doolittle Indie Rock 100 1Whole Lotta Love (2007 Remastered) 5:33 Led Zeppelin Mothership Rock 100 1You Stupid Asshole 2:18 Mudhoney March To Fuzz: Rarities [Disc 2] Alternative 100 6'1" 3:07 Liz Phair Exile In Guyville Alternative 100

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Entering the modern era of music consumption

I've had an iPod since 2005. I've acutally had two. Unfortunately I've never had a decent internet connection for iTunes so I always had to type in all the titles myself. As you may imagine my iTunes library was a wee bit patchy. Eventually album titles was about all I could manage.

My old laptop is about to die after 5 years of hard use. I've picked up a new machine and I intend to spend the festive period adding songs to my iTunes library. It all works so smoothly now - I love it.

In 3 hours I have uploaded 280 songs, a total of 1.78GB of music that would take me 16.7 hours to listen to. My work commute is going to get a lot less boring.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Belle and Sebastian christmas show available online

I'm not sure how long it will be available but you can see the whole Belle and Sebastian show I was at online.

Once it disappears from there I'm sure it will be available illegally somewhere. Check out the legal version while you can - it was a great gig. And give some money to charity. They like that stuff.

Belle and Sebastian live at the Glasgow Barrowlands

Tonights gig was a festive occasion, the last show on the Belle and Sebastian world tour and the last of three nights in the Glasgow Barrowlands. It was theatrical.

I managed to miss most of the support band due to the difficult logistics of meeting up with folk from work in the Irish pub next to the venue. They sounded OK.

B&S kicked off at 9PM. The gig was being broadcast live on the internet (and hopefully will be available to download somewhere in the future). They opened with a christmas song that I couldn't name before giving us a fairly rounded set that drew on most of their back catalogue.

Highlights for me included 'the boy with the arab strap', 'me and the major', 'fox in the snow' and 'Lazy line painter jane'. They could alway play more songs that I love but it was a great night.

After 2 hours they left the Barrowlands wanting more.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cold weather in Glasgow

We have freezing fog today. Visibility it probably limited to a couple of hundred metres and everything looks white. Very Victorian. The city is quieter than usual for this time of year. Sensible people are staying inside and keeping warm.

I have to go to work most days. I'm lucky at the moment that I can be a bit late when the weather is bad. I don't have fixed clinical commitments just now as I'm working in a research unit. It's nice not having early clinics or ward rounds. I don't stress myself rushing to work in the ice. I nearly broke my wrist and my arse a couple of weeks back on the sheet ice outside an underground station.

I'm going to see Belle & Sebastian at the barrowlands tomorrow night. I hope they have the heating on. It's difficult to appreciate twee indie bop when your bollocks are about to drop off in the snow.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

RIP Captain Beefheart

Sad to hear that Captain Beefheart, Don Van Vliet, has died from complications related to multiple sclerosis.

He made some good music.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Old memories

I just found the younger brother of an old friend on facebook. The friend died in a tragic accident 12 years ago. He was only 21 when he died. His brother must have been about 6 years younger.

My friend who died was an art student. He studied fine art photography at a famous art school. He was also a musician. He sang in a band. The thing I remember most about him was his energy. He was always doing things, planning things and he would get things done, often through sheer force of will power. He was really alive.

I knew him for about 5 years. I met him through other friends and we hung about in a group. We had common interests in in loud music, alternative culture, comic books and films. We didn't always get on. He sometimes thought that I was an arrogant bastard and that I thought I was smarter than everyone else. I was always a smart arse but I did always value my friends.

He always stood up for his friends. He had a short fuse but he was very loyal and I can remember at least one fist fight he had when he was standing up for friends. He was a good bloke.

When he died in a stupid, stupid accident it really altered my world. I came to realise that life is short, that you only get one shot and that you shouldn't waste it. To see someone with so much energy and so much life just ending after a stupid accident was terrible. The impact on his friends and family was immense.

When I finally got over the shock I got my life together. I decided to stop bumming about and do the best that I could with my life. I decided that I wanted to help other people and do something worthwhile. I worked hard and I went to medical school and I've been a doctor for six years now. I don't know if I would have taken this path without that horrible shock. I sort of thought that if I was ever in that situation again I might be able to do something useful and save a life. Now I don't know that anything could be done in those circumstances.

His younger brother has put a lot of my friends photographs on facebook. Old pictures from art school. I have a few more in an album somewhere that I'll try and copy and give to him.

Life sucks sometimes.


Geeky stats stuff

I've been playing with the blogger stats stuff. Sad, ego-masturbation but intereting for me. Since June 1808 people have visited this page. The most visited posts are a book review and gig reviews for Jerry Sadowitz, Mogwai, Beirut and Mudhoney. A lot of people have been looking at the Arcade Fire review from last night (21 in 15 hours) and various bits of pseudo-political nonsense.

I guess a lot of the hits on this page will be looking for music to download. Not really my bag because I don't want sued by a multi-national company. Hopefully some folk will enjoy the opinionated bullshit.

Enough egotism.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Arcade Fire live in the Glasgow SECC

The SECC isn't the best venue in Glasgow but it works for some bands. Arcade Fire are one of those bands. I caught them at the SECC on the 'neon bible' tour a few years back and I loved it. Their latest album 'the suburbs' is great so I was very keen on seeing again this time.

Support was from Devendra Banhart who I am only vaguely familiar with. I have one of his CDs from a few years back but I have to admit that I don't listen to it regularly. He was playing some late sixties/early seventies style stuff. He reminded me at different times of the Doors, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan and Santana. It was pleasant but not enough to make me buy another CD.

Arcade Fire are now a very successful stadium rock band. Their music is big and their stage show is big. They still manage to retain the intimate and individual parts of their music in front of a large audience. It's great to be in a large crowd singing along with Month of May, Wake Up and Neighbourhood #1. I guess they are the alternative rock Springsteen or U2. Professional and intelligent.

A great show. I want to see them again.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

500 posts

I've just realised that this is the 500th post on this blog. I started writing here in July 2005. It's still fun. 500 posts sounds like a good number.

World's Greatest Dad - DVD review

World's Greatest Dad is an American film starring Robin Williams that wasn't very successful when it was originally released in 2009. I heard about the film in a recent magazine list of under-rated films. I managed to pick up a cheap second-hand copy of the American DVD on Amazon.

Robin Williams is a high school teacher who lives with his son. His son is rather obnoxious and treats Williams like shit. Williams has written several novels, none of which have been published. Everything changes when the son dies in an unfortunate wanking accident (think Michael Hutchence or David Carradine).

Williams decides to conceal the terminal onanism of his son and writes a fake suicide note. The suicide note is beautiful and his son becomes an idol for tortured teens (kinda like Nicky Wire or Kurt Cobain). Much hilarity ensues.

It's a good film. Track it down.

David Cameron and The Smiths

I don't really believe that David Cameron was a fan of The Smiths. I think, as a former marketing twat, he declared his love for them just to hit a target demographic amongst professionals who did not normally vote Tory.

Now Morrissey and Johnny Marr have both come out to say that David Cameron is not allowed to listen to the Smiths. Now, I'm sure that this will not bother him, because I'm sure that he is not really a Smiths fan. However, I would like to think that he is going to bed, trying to sleep, knowing that his musical heroes think he is a wank.

I've also stolen and attached a photograph of a student, wearing a Smiths t-shirt while protesting against the rise in university tuition fees. I don't know who took it but it's a nice photo.

Edit - there was cool photo but it seems to be gone now. Bummer
Second edit - stole it again - please get in touch if you are copyright holder and you want it taken down but it is a fucking great picture and I think lots of people should see it

Political Guilt

I've always voted for the Liberal Democrats because I'm a wooly liberal. I believe in social health care, education, the welfare state and all that warm and fuzzy hippy stuff. All the stuff we aim at.

I always voted for the Liberals because I hate the Tories with a passion. I grew up in Lanarkshire in the '80s and it was nice enough but I remember when we stopped getting our free milk thanks to Thatcher the milk snatcher. Some of my friends used to play a game called 'miner's strike' where they they would fight with each other like the miners and the police. I remember the tories strip-mining our infrastructure and selling off British Gas and British Telecom making the middle class, at least those with money to invest, richer than ever. I remember the adverts for shares in our national resources and the greed is good philosophy of the Conservative government.

I never trusted Labour. I think some of the stuff that they tried to do was good but they were ineffectual in the '80s. Briefly, when the late John Smith was in charge, they may have been a worthwhile party but I never trusted Tony Blair with his New Labour bulllshit. He always seemed to be a bit greasy. As soon as I could vote, I voted for the liberals. After the mess of Iraq and Afghanistan I felt that I'd done the right thing. New Labour also let the bankers get away with murder.

I liked Charlie Kennedy, a Scot who liked a drink. A Glasgow Uni graduate. I could understand him. I also liked Menzies Campbell. Nick Clegg was a bit of an unknown but he seemed to have his heart in the right place. He was a nice, warm, fuzzy liberal who wanted to do the right thing. My vote was safe with the liberals.

Then everything got fucked up. We end up in an economic disaster and a lot of people realise that Labour and the Tories are useless fuckers. In fact, all politicians are useless fuckers. And Nick Clegg is the kingmaker. And he makes a pact with the greater of two evils. He puts his party in Government with the Tories.

In under 7 months we have been hit with a torrent of tory 'I'm all right jack'/'fuck the poor' ideology disguised as 'necessary cuts' to pay off our defecit. Despite the fact that our deficit has often been higher. Despite the fact that large companies like Vodafone get tax-breaks allowing them to keep money that could have helped our society.

So, the Liberal Party has sold me out. I don't know who I'll vote for in the future. A lot of Liberals have decent ideas and a good moral compass. Sadly Nick Clegg is a Tory glove puppet with David Cameron doing the fisting. I hope this coalition splits soon.

Some folk have actually looked at this page

Blogger now lets you know a bit more about people that look at your blog. It's interesting. I seem to have had a few people from America and Europe looking at the page which is nice. It also lets you know which pages have been looked at most. Apparently my most viewed page was a review I wrote about the book 'kill yr friends' by John Niven. I'll have to go back and see if that page is particularly well written.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

Godspeed You Black Emperor live at the Glasgow Barrlowlands

I forgot how good Godspeed! you Black Emperor are. I saw them, over 10 years ago, supported by Sigur Ros at the Glasgow Garage and they blew me away. They mine an instrumental rock vein similar to Mogwai. Mogwai with added anarchy and less commercial potential.

I nearly didn't go to this gig. I'd circled the date in my diary but due to current financial constraints I hadn't bought a ticket in advance. Someone very kindly offered me a spare ticket so I braved the frozen tundra of central Glasgow to make my way to the Barrowlands. I'd already nearly broken my arse and my wrist on the sheet ice outside Bridge Street Underground and the painkillers were helping with the cold.

Support was supplied by RM Hubbert, a local guitar bloke. His music was nice enough.

Godspeed were intense, building and swooping, holding my attention and the attention of the freezing room. I could see my breath in the main hall of the Barrowlands despite being surrounded by around 1800 hipster rock fans. I think the visuals projected behind the band were the same ones they used a decade ago but my memory is fuzzy.

We got 7 songs over 2 hours. The band didn't speak to the room, they focused on each other. The music spoke for the band. Godspeed were used in the soundtrack of the film 28 days later and on a cold Glasgow you can see why. Godspeed would feature on the soundtrack of my zombie holocaust.

Need to catch up with some of their records again.....