Saturday, December 03, 2011
I also bought a few mp3s from Amazon. You can't get intolerance on CD at the moment but you can get individual tracks. 2541 is a great track and you should own it.
It's not easy for American musicians to get health care so think about it and pay for some music to perhaps help someone who's down on their luck.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
I'm not sure who the support act was. He sounded like a one-man-band playing the Ramones. It was OK but I don't think I'd rush to hear him again.
Grant came on and he looked terrible. Even from 20 metres away I could see that he is jaundiced. He looked worse later on when I bought a single from him after the show. His teeth are a mess. As a doctor this was sad to see. I've worked in a few Glasgow hospitals and I've seen a lot of people in liver failure and you don't want to see a musical hero like this. I don't know if it's viral hepatitis from when he was injecting drugs or if it's booze or if it's cancer but Grant Hart looks like a very sick man. As a musician in America I don't think he has a health care plan and I strongly suspect he isn't getting much in the way of Husker Du royalties. Poor bloke.
The sound in Mono was not great but Hart shone despite the sonic problems. His voice continues to be great and he ran through his back catalogue playing requests as people shouted them out. He played his songs from Husker Du including She floated away, Books about UFOs, Pink Turns to Blue and Sorry somehow. He played my personal favourite never talking to you again as well as stand-out solo tracks like 2541 and Admiral of the sea by Nova Mob. He kept going for nearly 2 hours. It was great to see.
I am worried about him. He looks very sick and I hope he is getting decent medical attention. I hope his health improves and he keeps going.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Exit wounds is a beautiful book to look at. The art is clean and it flows well. I've been re-reading Tintin recently and the Herge influence is clear. Some people felt that the simplicity of the faces in the book made it difficult to gage the emotions that characters were expressing but generally most people liked the art.
The story proved slightly more problematic for some people. A few expressed the opinion that it didn't really go anywhere while some were struck by the 'kitchen-sink' reality of the story. There is a big hole in the book as we never meet the absent father who is the McGuffin of the book. His absence is a real feature of the book. I have a theory that the titular 'Exit wounds' are the psychic wounds that the father creates as he leaves the lives of the various women he has relationships with.
Again, this is a book that I would recommend to people. It is an easy read if not a great read. It's enjoyable but it's not a masterpiece.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
I think it's a good film, possibly even a great film, but it could be difficult to follow if you don't speak the language. It follows a young boy as he finishes primary school where he has academically excelled and starts secondary school where he falls in with a bad crowd. Outside school he starts to hang out with a bad crowd and get into trouble.
I recognised the characters and situations in this film. I've seen people end up like the characters in this film. It was very real to me and at times very upsetting. On a personal level, I've been threatened with a knife, kicked in the head and I've had my carry out stolen from me. I know how all that feels although I'm lucky that I've gotten away from it. I felt that Peter Mullan and his actors have created a great film that is fairly true.
As I watched the film I was struck by a real feeling that if I have children I would want to avoid them putting up with all that sort of shit. I guess that means moving to the country or something. The events dramatised in this film still go on in Glasgow and other Scottish towns on a weekly basis. Our society is fucked up. If you disagree, read the newspapers or the BBC website.
The film ends ambiguously but it's a good ending. You can pick your own ending. I hope that the main character did well after all of this. Having read other reviews on the internet I know a lot of people didn't like him but I hope he gets a second chance.
This is a story about how your environment fucks you up. Well worth seeing. Use subtitles if you need to.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Despite these misgivings I was keen to see the film. It has a great pedigree, directed by Steven Speilberg with a script by modern British writers such as Edgar Wright, Steven Moffat and Joe Cornish. The voice talent was impressive too with strong turns from Jamie Bell as Tintin and Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock.
The look of the film is consistent with the comics. The CGI motion capture is unobtrusive and not too much like a computer game. The characters look like their comic book ancestors while moving like people.
The story is OK, mixing elements from several of the Tintin books. It works for the most part. I was slightly annoyed by some deviations from the original stories but on the whole I enjoyed it. I might even go and see this again in the cinema.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
He is a coward, a bully, a rapist and a racist. He does several very unpleasant things during the story. As he is the first person narrator of the story you are drawn in by him a bit but generally he is a difficult character to like. The historical detail in the novel is good. This book is based on historical events during the British occupation of Afghanisthan between 1839-1842 and there are certain resonances with current events.
This book can be enjoyed despite the flaws of Flashman. I will probably read some of the other books in the series in due course.
Soylent Green is based in the dystopian future of New York in 2022 (not long now). The world is vastly overpopulated and running out of food. People survive on protein pills made from SOYa and LENTils. The protein pills come in different colours (red, blue, green). Charlton Heston stars as a police detective investigating the death of an executive who works for the Soylent company.
The dystopia is well realised. People litter the streets, living in stairwells. Strawberries cost 150 dollars for a jar. The main character has never seen beef. Rich men live with concubines called 'furniture'. The film immerses you in this world.
Heston investigates the murder and finds out some shocking secrets. The film is crying out for a remake but I don't know if it would works as well. Worth tracking down.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I always like Swedish films because I love the scenery and I love Stockholm. The story is involving enough if you have seen the earlier films or read the books. I have to admit that I did get a bit of an air-punching buzz every time one of the many bad guys met their fates.
A decent film but only if you have watched the first two.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
When I finally started to listen to them I was impressed. I think I got a copy cassette of Bleach with the Vaselines on the b-side first before finally getting Nevermind. Nirvana always seemed more 'real' to me than Pearl Jam. This may have been because the members of Nirvana dressed like I did. It might have been because they referenced bands like Black Flag in interviews. Pearl Jam just reminded me of Guns n Roses.
Nirvana sort of became the biggest band in the world and I watched them closely in the music press. Back then, before the internet, if you wanted to stay up to date with music you had to read the NME and Melody Maker every week. I did it religiously.
Incesticide and In Utero were released. I managed not to see them twice. Once, when they played at the QMU I didn't know who they were and I didn't think I'd get in. The second time, Kurt shot himself and the tour was cancelled. The Kurt Cobain death cult went mental.
The music was still amazing.
More and more music became available over the years, initially on bootlegs and later on official releases. Nirvana shelved some great songs. Nevermind was probably the best recorded set of songs they put out but I enjoyed some of their other tracks more.
My personal favourite Nirvana tracks (in no particular order) are listened below
Been a son
About a girl
Even in his youth
Here she comes now
Opinion (the fragment of a song that we have)
Son of a gun
I think the tracks I've listed above would make a decent album. They certainly make a good iTunes playlist. Now, 20 years later, I'm a rich doctor (somehow) and I've bought a vastly overpriced deluxe edition of Nevermind that I'm looking forward to listening to. Life goes on. I'm now 7 years older than Kurt Cobain was when he died and 10 years older than he was when he recorded that album. At 34 I still feel fairly young and the 20th anniversary of this record is a bit scary.
I am Legend tells the story of the last man on Earth, a man who is immune to strange disease that has turned the population into vampires. He tries to develop a cure for the disease to allow the human race to continue.
The Omega Man was the second version of 'I am legend' to make the big screen in 1971. It has a real '60s vibe to it with clothes, haircuts and attitudes from that time. The 'infected' have a Charles Manson vibe and are referred to as 'the Family'. Charlton Heston manages to get a shag despite being the last man on Earth.
The Omega Man is entertaining but dated. It was good to see it after many years. Modern audiences probably prefer the Will Smith version. There is also another version called I am Omega that I intend to avoid as it sounds a bit dodgy.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
This book by Adam MacQueen is a high quality history arranged in alphabetical order. The bad things that Private Eye has been guilty of over the years are presented in as much details as the good. Homophobia, sexism and public schoolboy-ism are presented as much as crusading investigative journalism and good jokes. The in-fighting amongst the staff is also described in unflinching detail. Hislop appears to have sorted things out and got rid of some of the more unsavoury aspects of the magazine.
Private Eye as a magazine is both anti-establishment and of the establishment. The UK is a better country because of Private Eye and I hope it keeps going for another 50 years.
Private Eye Website - you still need to buy the magazine for the good stuff
Thursday, September 22, 2011
The film seems a bit quaint now. It was never a big critical or commercial hit. Jonny Lee Miller was cast as the lead character, probably off the back of his role in Trainspotting, another drugcentric Scottish film. Interestingly Keeley Hawes, later to find fame in Ashes to Ashes, is the female lead here. In the decade or so since I last watched this film I had managed to forget most of the plot. It's OK, if a bit clunky. I mainly enjoyed playing 'spot the minor Scottish celebrity' and seeing the Highland scenery. I think the book is slightly better although I suspect that it is best enjoyed as an angry adolescent.
The soundtrack sounds a bit dated now. It's a shame the film couldn't afford the Pixies. We were left with some pre-millenium indie rock that doesn't have much bite. The film is OK but it's not a masterpiece.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Crass were long gone by then (1989). Their records were still available in the second-hand sections of Glasgow record shops so I quickly picked up The feeding of the 5000, Best Before and Stations of the Crass. The music had energy although it was obvious that on some records they couldn't really play their instruments. Of more interest were the lyrics which really seemed to speak to me. They told me that everyone was equal. They told me that the government was bad sometimes. Now, 22 years later I know that some of those ideas don't really fit with my day to day life as a doctor but I guess the basic principle of trying to be good still lingers on.
I found a link to a good documentary about Crass in Facebook. It's a well made film and you can watch it on youtube.
This film tells a slightly different story to the normal rock documentaries that I watch. Very much worth watching.
I picked up the remastered Penis Envy CD last week as well, It sounded good.
Friday, September 16, 2011
It's actually a bit better than I thought it would be. The cast is top notch and it's a real indie film. Frank, the central character who becomes the Crimson Bolt, is a bit of a pathetic figure but you do feel sorry for him. He loses his wife (Liv Tyler) to a local drug dealer (Kevin Bacon) and he is inspired by God to become a super hero and fight crime. He does this by hitting people with a wrench.
He then obtains a sidekick (Ellen Paige) from behind the counter at his local comic shop. His sidekick seems to take an unpleasant amount of joy from random violence.
Bits of this film are funny, bits are sad and bits are violent. It's intelligent at times. It is similar to Defendor but it's not a clone. One to see if you are a superhero nerd.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
The story is about a writer who hasn't being doing very much writing. He has been stuck in a rut and his girlfriend leaves him. He runs into an old friend who offers him NZT, a drug that will boost his mental abilities. When he takes the drug his life changes.
This film was entertaining enough. Robert De Niro always lights up the screen. In reality Ritalin is apparently abused by some students to improve exam performance. Worth watching.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Everybody loves our town is an oral history of the Seattle music scene. It's made up of interviews of people involved in that scene in the '80s and '90s. It's a sad story. Lots of people die and lots of people ruin their lives with drugs. It sounds like it was a grim existence and that people had a lot less fun than they should have.
It's difficult to know what went wrong in Seattle but I guess the drugs must have been a big bit of it. Alcohol clearly had a role too. This book is interesting but it's also depressing. I guess part of the value of this book is the way in which divergent opinions and memories are presented side by side. We don't know who is telling the truth (if anyone is actually telling the truth) but we do get a more rounded picture.
Good for fans like me but read it on a sunny day.
Thankfully Troll Hunter is a much better film. The background story is that several students decide to make a documentary about a bear poacher. They follow him about until they have a close encounter with something nasty in the woods. They then learn that he is a government sanctioned troll hunter.
This film is well shot and funny. I'll pick it up on DVD but I'm glad I saw it in the cinema.
I heard the news when my flatmate returned to the flat and told me that terrorists had crashed planes into the World Trade Centre in New York. I found it difficult to believe. I think I listened to Radio 4 for a bit to confirm the news. I made a decision to try and avoid watching the television so I didn't see the horrible scenes in New York. I pretty much managed to do that.
I guess that the events of September the 11th changed the world. Wars started and a lot of people lost their lives. Further terrorist attacks hit Madrid and London over the next few years. Despite all of this my life went on in a fairly unchanged manner.
The media is full of images of 9/11 at the moment. It's really sad. I wish people were less crazy. There is no way to stop stuff like that happening.
My thoughts are with all the victims of 9/11, their families, and everyone who has subsequently died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The story is about life in a castle that was once the home of Sleeping Beauty. The premise is that this is what happens after 'happily ever after', The book starts off with a nice retelling of Sleeping Beauty before it moves onto the story of Jain, a pregnant woman escaping a violent husband.
The book has crisp and clean art with clever story telling. This book is well removed from the average adolescent boy superhero market. It has a feminist theme in story lines dealing with the need to escape from bad relationships and female independence. It isn't preachy but it is good fun.
Castle Waiting is an unexpected joy and I would direct anyone who likes good storytelling to this book. I understand that production is currently on a hiatus in America but hopefully new material will emerge at some point.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
The film is about a failed relationship. A guy meets someone that he thinks is his prefect woman and it turns out that she isn't. The film is OK but it's not amazing. Juno is much better for this sort of stuff.
I am worried that a certain type of nutjob may regard this film as a documentary. It's ok if you regard it as a bit of throwaway nonsense but I think some people believe shit like this.
I'm not spoiling anything by saying that this is a vampire book. Vampire books are ten a penny but this one is not too shit. It's acutally a good read. And, unlike Game of Thrones, it has an ending. Always useful to have a story that ends.
Monday, August 15, 2011
This book is mainly autobiography and the life of Joe Simon is interesting. He was born to a working class family and he initially became an artist and a sports reporter before entering the early comic book scene. He was one of the few artists who paid attention to contracts and copyright which is why his name still appears on Captain America comics and films to this day. He gives a fascinating insight into the work of Jack Kirby and the dodgy practices of publishers.
Simon dictated the book and it's an easy read. Worthwhile for comic book fans.
Friday, August 12, 2011
This story jumps between England in 1976, Belgium in the early days of world war two and Ireland a few months later. It's all a bit plot twisty but in a satisfying sort of way. It's an undemanding read and I worked my way through it on several trains at stupid times of day. I might read another of his books if it falls into my lap.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
If you go to a shit school where everybody treats you badly, people kick your ass regularly, you're surrounded by drugs and a macho-asshole culture and you enter a job market with no qualifications or skills life is difficult. And if you then get your benefits cut the world gets a whole lot worse. At some point there will be an explosion. I went to a fairly shit school but my life has been a lot better than many of those poor fuckers that have been going mental down south.
I'm not making excuses for violence. A criminal is a criminal and a crime is a crime. Most of there people deserve some form of punishment and hopefully they will be brought to justice. I'm just saying that I can perhaps imagine why these people are acting like dicks.
The news coverage and the human stories have been horrifying. It's all bad but the story that got to me the most was that of the three young Muslim men who were randomly murdered with a car as they stood in the streets trying to safeguard their mosque. The father of one of the men ended up trying to resuscitate his son at the roadside. Words cannot express how sorry I feel for that father and the rest of their community. The world is full of fucking idiots.
The idiots appearing on the television have been spectacular. The two feckless, stupid girls admitting to looting because they are 'showing the police we can do what we want'. The subnormal man from Salford who was rioting because of the 'Polish coming over and taking our jobs', King fucktard, Nick Griffin, the snivelling leader of the BNP trying to incriminate people with slightly different skin tones. Britain is full of wankers.
So, what's going to happen now? Are we heading towards a police state? Will things get worse? The government is failing at the moment and I don't see how things can improve without more money for police and society. I don't know where that money will come from. I don't think any of the other parties could improve things.
That's enough moaning.
Before I talk about biafra I need to mention Desalvo, the Glasweigan hardcore band. They are like the Jesus Lizard but more fun. Well worth seeing. Buy their album if you can find it.
Jello Biafra is now 53 years old. While I admire him I think it is safe to say that his body is not a temple. He is not Henry Rollins. He looks like an average 53 year old man. He still managed to put on one of the most energetic stage shows I've seen in a long time. He stage-dived about 10 times. I was worried that he would die.
I was also worried about the rest of the crowd. The average age was over 40. I was younger than average for a change (I'm 34). It was fairly good to see lots of middle aged men going totally mental to hardcore punk.
Biafra has to be one of the best punk frontmen I've seen, He was giving good chat about David Cameron, vodaphone tax evasion, Rupert Murdoch, Obama and everything else. His voice held out for nearly two hours.
The setlist was a dream. California Uber Alles, Forkboy, Police Truck, New Feudalism, Holiday in Cambodia. I haven't checked out the last two albums yet but I will. I enjoyed the new stuff.
Overall this was a great gig. I might never see him live again but I'm glad I made it.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
The root causes of the rioting are diverse. I would guess that poverty, lack of education and a general feeling of hopelessness. Sadly, a lot of racist idiots are trying to take advantage of the situation.
I hope it all gets sorted out soon. Sorting out the causes will take longer.
Sunday, August 07, 2011
Morrison tells his life story in a talking heads format. Again, I enjoy it because he talks about Glasgow and comic books. After reading Supergods this film doesn't really give me any new insights but it's still enjoyable. There are interviews with people like Frank Quietly, Steve Yowell and Dez Skinn. Morrison again has bad stuff to say about Alan Moore.
The voice cast was strong with Will Ferrell voicing Megamind supported by Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross and Brad Pitt. Ferrell is more enjoyable as a disembodied voice in some ways. I often find him a bit annoying in live action films but he is good in this.
This was a 5 quid supermarket purchase and worthwhile for that price.
Saturday, August 06, 2011
The book is well illustrated with archive material from Moore and the artists he has worked with. We get original scripts, sketchbooks, plot charts and pencil artwork. We also get a CD collecting 80 minutes worth of Moore's musical work. It's a great package.
This book may not be the final critical biography of Moore but it is an interesting account of an interesting man.
The film is part of the Avengers sequence, tying in with Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk. Those films have all been good and Captain America does not let the team down. It's well made, funny and heart-warming in places. There are lots of knowing nods to the fanboys (like me) with enough straightforward action for the casual viewer.
The 3D felt a bit tacked on. 3D films really just seem to be an excuse to seperate me from more of my hard earned cash. This film is probably just as good in 2D.
Well worth a watch.
Monday, August 01, 2011
Morrison use to write the Starblazer comic libraries that DC Thompson produced in the '80s as well as toy tie-in Zoids and Zenith. At different points in my childhood I loved all of those books as well as his later work for DC comics and Marvel.
In Supergods Morrison starts with a history of comic books superheroes, initially focusing on Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman before moving on to lesser character such as Green Lantern or the Flash. He also looks at Captain America and the early Marvel characters. He follows the genre through the '50s and the '60s as Lee, Kirby and Ditko created the big Marvel characters like Spiderman before moving on to the darker comics of the '80s and '90s.
Morrison knows his stuff and he is clearly a fan. For the first part of the book he gives us a decent critical history of the evolution of superheroes. An autobiographical element enters the story from the '70s onwards and in a few chapters he is the focal point of the narrative. I enjoy hearing about his life in familiar parts of Glasgow and some of his 'cosmic experiences' and 'rituals' are fairly amusing. I'm not sure that these passages will appeal to everyone.
It is also good to hear what he was trying to achieve in some of his own work. His rivalries with Alan Moore and Mark Millar are also given space. He is also critical of some of the editorial constraints that were put on him at Marvel.
Worth a read if you like comic books. Some of it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.
For more go to his recently updated website.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I cannot say that we got everything right all the time but we did our best and the patient seems to be better. Her partner and her family were very happy. I got a bit embarrassed and slightly teary when they were saying goodbye. As a doctor you don't really expect people to thank you. I'm just there to do a job to the best of my ability and I get paid well for it. People are often unhappy with their doctors and I'm always a bit surprised when they are nice to us.
So, despite being run off my feet and working like a blue-arsed fly it was a good day. We got a good result. We don't always get them.
Monday, July 25, 2011
This Arches show was sold out and they would probably have sold out the Barrowlands on the night if the promoters has not changed venue due to slow ticket sales. The Barrowlands is probably a better venue because of the warmer sound from the wooden walls of the venue. I always feel that the Arches has a bit of a 'cold' sound and I certainly think this was the case at this show. It's also slightly uncomfortable standing on a concrete floor for 3 hours.
RM Hubbert was a good support act, more enjoyable in supra-zero conditions. He tells good stories and plays guitar well. I look forward to seeing him play again. If I ever have a dinner party I would consider hiring him. According to legend he will play at your dinner party for food. I'm not really someone who has dinner parties or someone who has a house where I could host a dinner party but if I were that person I would perhaps offer Hubbert some gainful employment.
GY!BE gave us a 2 hour set. I have trouble remembering all the different song titles for Godspeed stuff but I really enjoyed Sleep and Blaze Bailey. I also liked the unreleased track Armenian. I have heard that they plan to record/release a new album in the near future and I'm interested in hearing it. I probably need to pick up a couple of the older records too.
A good show but it would have been better in the Barras.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
The cast is good and the film is well made. The main character played by Matt Damon is difficult to read. Damon has a real poker face in the film which is probably appropriate for a counter-intelligence boss. A lot of cold decisions are made during the film and it's all a bit morally murky.
It's a decent film.
There is an element of murder mystery to the story as the original biographer employed to co-write the memoir has died in mysterious circumstances. The cast is strong with Ewan McGregor, Olivia Williams and Pierce Brosnan.
I enjoyed this film. It was better than I expected. I only realised that it was directed by Roman Polanski when the end credits began to roll. The film is very much in his style and well worth seeing if you enjoy his work. Polanski has done some bad things in the past (in a life sense, not an artistic sense) but his films are often good.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
I'm not sure why I keep writinng this blog. It's habitual in many ways. It helps me remember what I've thought about things at the time. It serves some diary purposes but it isn't really too personal. I enjoy writing and it gives me a chance to practice it. I do some writing professionally for work and it has been published but technical scientific writing is less fun than just doing my own thing on here. It is nice not to have an editor although that probably means that most of the stuff on this blog is self indulgent shite.
So I guess I'll just take this opportunity to once again laugh at the current plight of Rubert Murdoch and News International before I stop writing.
I think it is important to remember that you can like the music that a person creates without actually liking the person that much. A classic example of this would be Pete Doherty of the Libertines who appears to be a repugnant human being despite having written one or two good songs. Bob Mould has written a very open and honest autobiography and he does not always cast himself in a good light.
Mould treats the former members of Husker Du with contempt although if his version of events is correct they certainly were not angels. The description of Grant Hart trying to seduce the hetrosexual bass player from Sugar is fairly funny. Mould also desribes how badly he dealt with the suicide of one of the administrative team for Husker Du. He seems to have a tendency to walk away from difficult situations and end long term relationships abruptly and permanently. At one point in the book he describes how he learned of the death of his former partner, a man he lived with for several years, on the internet eight years after the event. I guess things like that happen but it is sad.
At times Mould seems to take strange turns in his life. He spent almost a year working as a scriptwriter for a wrestling show that starred Hulk Hogan among others. He also started abusing steroids during that period. Mould was no stranger to substance misuse having abused alcohol from the age of 13 and amphetamines during the early years of Husker Du. Despite this he managed to be unaware of the heroin abuse of Grant Hart despite sharing a room with him on tour for many years.
Towards the end of the book Mould appears to be more comfortable in his own skin as he comes to terms with his homosexuality and becomes more involved in gay culture. He still plays the music of Husker Du and Sugar when he tours but he has moved on. I was lucky enough to see him play an acoustic show in Glasgow 5 years ago and I wouldn't mind seeing him with a live band. I've made a mental note to check out some of his more recent music.
This book is an unflinching portrait of Bob Mould. I don't think he wants us to like him but at least now we probably understand him a bit more. I certainly learned a few things.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Grant Morrison signing and an addendum to the Forbidden Planet Book Group discussion of Final Crisis
The queue at Forbidden Planet was fairly long and I had to wait in line for nearly an hour. Thankfully it wasn't raining and the combination of my iPod and random encounters with a few people I know helped stave off boredom.
Morrison was by all accounts friendly and chatty with everyone. After the Book Group on Monday night I asked him if he managed to achieve everything he wanted with Final Crisis. He said that he had wanted to go further with the ending and make things even more crazy at the end of the book with dialogue breaking down. He pulled back from this after reading some negative feedback on the internet. He seems like the sort of bloke that you could talk about his work with for a long time but that isn't really appropriate at a signing.
So I went home happy with my signed books. I just need to track down Frank Quietly to get my All Star Superman book signed.
The book for discussion was Luchadoras by Peggy Adam. Peggy Adam is a French comic book creator who has been producing comics since 2000. Luchadoras is the first of her books to be translated into English. It was apparently written to raise awareness of the plight of women in the Mexican city of Juarez. Juarez has a population of 1.5 million and according to wikipedia there was a homicide rate of 229 murders per 100,000 people in 2010. There is also a high rate of sexual violence against women with 400 murders (described as sexual homicides on wikipedia) and an additional 400 disappearances in the past 10 years. This occurs on a background of high rates of domestic violence. Several books have been written on the topic but while several people have been arrested the crimes continue.
For local comparison in 2002 Glasgow had a homicide rate of 58.7 people per million of population (approx 6 per 100,000) more than twice the level of the other Scottish cities. If you were to move to Juarez you would 40 times more likely to be murdered. source
Apparently there are 116.000 abandoned homes in the city suggesting that approximately 400,000 people have fled the city. This would suggest to me that it's a bit of a shit place to live.
Additional information about Juarez can be found at the wikipedia page or at a page about the murders.
So Luchadoras is a book with a purpose. It is meant to make people think about Juarez. I guess that by way of this book group it has made me think about it a bit more. However I am not convinced that Peggy Adam has been completely successful in the execution of Luchadoras as I had to do a bit of investigation to learn about Juarez. Without the book group I am not sure that I would have bothered to do much additional reading beyond what I had gleaned from Sunday newspapers and Radio 4 in the past.
The 96 pages of Luchadoras offer a grim slice of life in Juarez. It starts with Alma, the main female character speaking to a counsellor about her violent ex-boyfriend. She is then stabbed in the street by her ex-boyfriend as her sister watches from his car. A tourist, Alma's new boyfriend also watches from across the street. I had to read the book twice to pick up on all the aspects of this scene. The remaining pages continue with an atmosphere of near constant oppressive misery. There are one or two brief moments of respite in a children's party and in the relationship between Alma and the tourist but generally everything is grim. This grim atmosphere may be normal if you lived in Juarez.
People had varying opinions on the book. Some people just didn't like it at all and some people thought it was great. On a personal level I didn't really like any of the characters in the book and I thought they were all bad people. Every adult character does something unpleasant. I found the casual violence and personal betrayal a bit alienating. Despite that I think the book is fairly effective. It's easy to read and it lets us clearly observe the lives of these characters. The art is minimal and at times it is difficult to tell some of the characters apart. Despite that there is some nice use of visual imagery - vultures and owls watching dead bodies, Alma and the tourist connecting as wrestlers, transitions between scenes. I think the book probably would have benefited from colour as this would have enhanced the feeling of passing time but I understand that books like this are produced with a limited budget.
So Luchadoras is a decent comic book but not my favourite. It is readable but depressing. It might make you think. I handed it to a non-comic book reading friend after the meeting and he read it in 30 minutes delivering the verdict that it was 'alright'. I would agree.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The initial book was Final Crisis, a DC comics crossover story written by Glaswegian comic god Grant Morrison with art from JG Jones. I had picked up the individual issues of the comic as they were released a few years back but I had only bought a copy of the trade paperback on Saturday. I quickly re-read the series over a couple of hours before the group started. I didn't get right to the end of the book but I managed to remind myself of the themes of the story and the construction of the book.
Final Crisis is not an entry level comic book. If you had never read a superhero comic before and the first one that you picked up was Final Crisis I suspect that you would be disinclined to ever read another comic book. Final Crisis is not easy for readers and assumes an in depth knowledge of 70 odd years of DC comics. This is great for fanboys, with rich art providing many knowing nods for those in the know. However, a comic book virgin (pun not intended) would find much of this unintelligible. In many ways, DC comics represent one of the greatest soap operas in existence with 75 years of constant publication of comics like Superman and Batman and dedicated readers probably deserve more sophisticated stories but at times Final Crisis is almost unintelligible. While many of the attendees at the Book Group enjoyed Final Crisis nobody seemed to think that it was perfect.
Grant Morrison is a favourite writer of mine. I pick up most of his comic books and I greatly enjoy much of his work. Zenith was one of my favourite stories in 2000ad and it has provided a blueprint for much of his subsequent superhero output. In Final Crisis he returns to many of the themes first seen in Zenith - Nazi superheroes, multiple parallel universes, apocalyptic evil gods. Like a jazz musician Morrison brings out riffs he is comfortable with and deploys them at the right moment. However I don't think that Final Crisis represents his best work.
One of the ideas raised at the group tonight was that Morrison may have been subjected to a certain degree of editorial interference towards the end of the Final Crisis series. I don't know if this is accurate but it may explain the dip in quality and lack of coherence in the final episodes. Several people said that they felt the book went crazy at the end. Opinions varied as to whether this was intentional or not and, irrespective of intentions, whether this was a good feature of the book.
So we had a good discussion about an average book. People appeared to enjoy themselves and I will go again if I get a chance.
Saturday, July 09, 2011
I have dislike NOTW and the Sun for many years. I don't like page 3 girls. I do like naked women, just not when I'm reading a newspaper. Page 3 girls are fucking pointless. Buy a wank mag or use the internet for sucks sake. I don't like braindead bigotry. I don't like the Islamophobia/closet racism that I see in the tabloid press. I don't really give a shit about what an ignorant footballer does with his penis.
I do like investigative journalism. I like to know about bad things that corporations and governments do. I think that is important and that the negative feedback system of a free press keeps our sleazy politicians in line. A good journalist will work for a good newspaper and let us know what we need to know. However, I suspect that a good journalist would not cross a moral line by breaking into the answering machine of the family of a dead soldier or a murdered schoolchild. A good journalist would self regulate and step back. The public does not need to know that much.
Something seems to have been rotten at the heart of the News of the World and the News International corporation. Why would you fire 200 people and end a 168 year old newspaper instead of firing the chief executive who has failed to maintain decent standards? Why would the Prime Minister employ an advisor who appears to have bribed police officers? Will Rupert Murdoch be allowed to gain further media dominance in our country? I don't want anything like the American Fox News in the UK.
I will not miss the News of the World. I would be happy to see the rest of the output of News International follow in its path. We could do with a few less tabloid newspapers. It would be nice if they were replaced by some intelligent journalism.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Tonight, in Glasgow, they were anything but mellow. They sounded amped up and angry. The vocals were overdriven and the beat was fast. I guess they are missing Gerard Smith, their bass player, who sadly died from lung cancer a few months ago. Tonight TVOTR were very alive, paying an appropriate tribute to his memory.
All of my favourite songs were aired as well as some choice cuts from the new album. Sadly the venue was not full. I always feel that TV on the Radio are underappreciated. I wish more people would love their music and buy their records. I think the world would be a nicer place if they were massively successful.
A good show.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Game of Thrones is the first volume in an epic fantasy series by George RR Martin. It's a bit like Lord of the Rings but with sex and more violence. The book is fairly hefty but I managed to read it in 4 days. I'm looking forward to starting the next volume.
The book focuses on the Stark family, a clan of noblemen from the north. The head of the family was a close friend of the king of the country and at the start of the book he is asked to become the 'hand of the king'. The plot develops from there. It's a twisty plot.
It's a bit of a bubblegum read but distracting enough. Good for an on-call room or a beach.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
This is his 14th book now. It's a stronger one and it marks a bit of a change in direction. He has toned down the humour and increased the drama. I stayed up reading till about 3 in the morning last night. I felt a bit rough this morning but the story was fairly compulsive.
I don't want to give much of the story away but it is a murder mystery set in the Glasgow underworld with parts of the action taking place in East Kilbride and Hamilton. Hope they make a film version.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
I mainly remember Frost as a heavyweight current affairs broadcaster and also as the presenter of the daytime TV show 'Through the keyhole'. The contrast between those two roles is somewhat sharp but I don't really remember the media darling playboy that we see in this film.
I've read a few books about Nixon. I know he was a bit of a bad guy. In this film he seems to be treated fairly sympathetically. I felt sorry for the isolated figure we see in this film.
A decent film.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Indirectly this book inspired the Stephen Fry TV series Absolute Power. I believe In the red was filmed by the BBC about 15 years ago but sadly I have not seen it. From what I have read of the TV series I hope it gets a DVD release at some point. The cast is very good. The book is entertaining if not intellectually challenging. I got through the paperback in one day.
I'm not sure if this book is in print at the moment. I found a cheap second-hand copy on amazon. Worth a couple of hours of your time.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Life is strange
Thursday, June 09, 2011
I started using Facebook in 2006 which was probably late in the game. I had already been on this blog for a couple of years at that time. It's strange sometimes to think of the technological and communication developments that have taken place over the last 10 years. I only got a mobile phone in September 2000 when I started medical school at the age of 23. Facebook has had a big impact on my life and on the lives of many people of my generation.
The Social Network is a great film telling the story of how Mark Zuckerberg and a few others created Facebook and made it a success. I didn't really fancy this film before I watched it. It was another supermarket purchase designed to keep me from boredom while I'm stuck in my shitty on-call room. The film was directed by David Fincher, one of my favourite directors, with a script by Aaron Sorkin. It has a soundtrack by Trent Reznor with tracks from the Dead Kennedys, Fucked Up and The Cramps. It held my attention well.
The film may or may not tell the true story of Zuckerberg and Facebook but it is entertaining. I'm guessing that it tells a legally acceptable version of events. It's entertaining and worth watching when you want to see a wordy film.
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
I think a lot of people just land on this page randomly, after a google search for a review of a film or a book. Some people probably end up here looking for music to download (and they will be sadly disappointed).
It's still satisfying on a personal basis to write this blog. It serves as a sort of online diary and it lets me know what I've thought of something at a specific time. I've been writing here for nearly 6 years now and I will probably continue to do it for as long as I can. I'm just glad that some other people look at it.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Dollhouse had a high concept at its core. It tells the story of a sinister agency that has some rather unpleasant technology. They have the ability to implant different personalities and abilities into the minds of 'dolls' who are rented out to serve the whims of rich, morally dubious men. The star of the series is Echo, a 'doll' who begins to overcome her programming.
Dollhouse was a different sort of science fiction series. It isn't space opera on horror fantasy. Thankfully there were no vampires or werewolves. It is more in the spirit of something like The Prisoner. Some of the episodes make you feel generally uneasy - probably because in some ways the show is about prostitution and mind control. Some of the episodes are dud but some of it really worked. The characters are interesting and involving enough for me to care about them. Both the first and second season improve in later episodes so you may need to persevere a bit if you want to check this out but it is probably worthwhile.
The series is wrapped up fairly well in the last episode of season 2. We are left with a few unanswered questions but nothing that will keep me up at night. I wouldn't mind seeing more of this but I know that is unlikely to happen.
A bit of a loss but probably too smart for success.
Sunday, June 05, 2011
The franchise has been given a healthy boot in the arse with this film. The film looks at the young Charles Xavier and Magneto as they first meet in sixties Oxford. Erik (Magneto) is a Jewish survivor of a Nazi concentration camp who uses his mutant superpowers to track down and kill former Nazis. His main target is Sebastian Shaw, leader of the Hellfire Club. Shaw killed Erik's mother and Erik is very intent on killing him.
Shaw is planning to start a nuclear war to allow mutants to become the dominant species on the planet. Xavier and Magneto work with the CIA to stop him.
The film feels a bit like an Austin Powers film. There are a few sneaky cameo appearances from future x-men and some some big explosive action sequences. It's all very entertaining and well worth seeing.
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
In The Death Instinct several apparently separate events occur and finally are found to be linked. The book opens with the bombing of Wall Street in September 1920. This historical event was the greatest act of terrorism in the USA until the bombing of the world trade centre nearly 75 years later. Rubenfeld has tried to be historically accurate here although in reality the real bombers were never caught.
Freud appears again and the plot also reaches the battlefields of the First World War and the anti-Semitic regions of Germany and Austria as the Nazi party rose to power. It is a bit like the Da Vinci Code in a way although this book is probably better written.
An entertaining read. Good for a holiday.
Monday, May 30, 2011
The Amateurs is a comic novel set in Ayrshire. It tells the story of a man who is obsessed by golf despite being very bad at it. The comedy is in broad strokes. It's possibly not as good as his other two novels but I enjoyed it. I grew up in Lanarkshire and I worked in Ayrshire for a while so the setting and characters were real enough for me.
This is a good book to read on a plane (which is where I read it). It's not too demanding.
Monday, May 23, 2011
I was most aware of Hamburg in the context of the Beatles. The Beatles were based in Hamburg for several months before they became famous. They honed their musical skills playing epic sets in the strip-clubs of the red light district.
Hamburg also has an international reputation for sleeze. The Reeperbahn is meant to be one of the most depraved red light areas in the world. When I planned my trip here I wanted to make sure that I stayed in a decent hotel and not some sort of jazzed up knocking shop.
I've actually done pretty well on the hotel front although it is costing me a fair bit. I'm stayiing in the 5 star SIDE hotel in the centre of town. I'm in one of the executive rooms which is rather nice. My room is bigger than several student flats I stayed in. Needless to say, the room is also much more comfortable. Very, very nice.
I was also fairly suprised by the centre of Hamburg. It is full of trendy, upmarket designer shops with all the major labels in attendance. Everything is very clean. The people all look fairly healthy. It is very different from my native Glasgow.
I've also been able to eat good food without breaking the bank. We found a nice wee italian place for dinner tonight and I had lunch in a soup place. All very satisfying.
I had a walk down the Reeperbahn with a colleague. It is full of titty-bars and grime. It contrasts sharply with the new town. Lots of skanky old punks and people sleeping in the streets. We didn't linger.
The conference starts properly tomorrow but I hope to see a bit more of the city. Nicer than I expected anyway. A pleasant surprise
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The Perth Concert Hall is a nice venue. It's been built recently and it is well designed with good views of the stage. The audience were all very posh and well dressed. I was wearing dirty jeans, dirty converse and a Descendents t-shirt. I felt slightly out of place.
I wasn't sure what to expect from McGowan. He is famous for his impressions but he is actually a fairly competent stand-up comedian. His stand-up does revolve around accurate impressions of others but it is also well observed and very slick. He can change persona seemlessly without missing a beat.
He was pretty funny but I think he tries to keep his politics/environmental beliefs out of his comedy. He is one of the most professional comedians I have seen live. He is very popular and he seems to appeal to a more mainstream audience. It would be interesting to see him really kick-back and let out some more cutting stuff. I think he would be really good doing stuff that is closer to the bone.
Monday, May 16, 2011
It was only later on that I got into Creation in a bigger way. I fell in love with Screamadelica initially. Then I heard Loveless which is another brilliant record. I was also lucky enough to see Oasis play in the old Cathouse on John Street in Glasgow just as they released their first single. I also love records by Ride, Teenage Fanclube and Sugar.
Some of the more obscure stuff that came out on Creation was great too. The Loft single 'up the hill and down the slope' was brilliant. They also put out great stuff by Felt, The Pastels, House of Love and the Super Furry Animals.
The documentary is great. Lots of thick Glasweigan accents as Alan McGee and Bobby Gillespie tell their tale supported by Jim Reid and Noel Gallagher among other. Much of the success of the label appears to have been driven by the personality and drug related insanity of McGee. It does look like they had great fun for a fair bit of time and they nurtured some brilliant music.
On a personal level I enjoyed the old footage of East Kilbride and Glasgow but if you love good music this is a documentary for you.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Thursday, May 12, 2011
After being fairly brutal about the music industry in Kill Your Friends, Niven gives organised religion a fairly good kicking in this book. Jesus is portrayed in this book as a good man, the beloved son of God, who is sent down to America in the late twentieth century to save the world from the evils of Christianity. In this story, Jesus loves everyone and his only message is 'Be Nice'.
Lots of bad things happen to Jesus, just as they do in the Bible. Jesus does not conform to the norms of the society he lives in, just as is written in the Bible. However, I can imagine that some Christians will be upset by this book. It is actually a fairly decent story and it's all about being nice to people who are in a bad place and trying to understand other.
I would recommend this book to open-minded readers. In some ways it is a sequel to Kill Your Friends as the character of Steven Stelfox re-occurs. It also continues the tradition of small nods to music that I love (Shellac, Slint, Nirvana).
Niven has been criticised in the past from 'borrowing' dialogue from certain Glasweigan pop groups that are close to my heart but I did enjoy this.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Apparently some fuckwit in Dundee was protesting about the offensive nature of this show but I didn't manage to see any of this media coverage. I hadn't seen many adverts for the show around Dundee although I don't really spend too much time in the city. Apparently some sort of Christian rock band was playing a show that night and the local Minister had tried to promote that as an alternative to the 'puerile' Herring show. I can think of few things that I would find less entertaining than a night of Christian rock.
Anyway, the Whitehall Theatre was probably about half full. I think that is good for Dundee. The show focuses on Jesus Christ and Herrings thoughts about him. Herring points out some of the obvious contradictions in the Bible and talks about his own atheism. He also make lots of jokes about wanking and blowjobs.
It's a fairly funny show and I'm glad I went. Most of the time I have absolutely nothing to do in Dundee. I intend to pick up some more Richard Herring stuff in the future and I was impressed with the free Programme he gave out. Herring also collects money for SCOPE and I urge anyone that reads this to consider making a donation.
Sunday, May 08, 2011
It's a science fiction vampire movie where the human race is on the brink of extinction and vampires are starving to death. It's pretty mad with some odd twists. Not a great work of art but entertaining enough.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Seriously fucking odd.
Anyhow, I'll just try and avoid even thinking about that one.
Monday, May 02, 2011
I was a bit surprised when I heard that they would make a Thor film. It felt like Marvel were scraping the barrel. I understood the desire for a Thor film to help set up an Avengers franchise but I didn't really think it would do well at the box office. Then I heard that some left field decisions had been made in the production of this film. Kenneth Branagh to direct, the decidedly non-Aryan Irdis Elba as a norse god to piss off the American racists. Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins to take on key roles. It was beginning to sound like a good film.
Now that I've seen it I can say that Thor is an OK film. The special effects are good although it is a bit CGI heavy at time. The 3D looks a bit tacked on. The story is acceptable. Thor comes across as a bit 'empty'. The actor playing him is not as good as Samuel L Jackson or Robert Downey Jr. He will probably be lost in the ensemble cast of The Avengers.
Thor is a mildly diverting bit of chewing gum. OK but not amazing.
Friday, April 29, 2011
It's a bit sentimental but I did like it. Sadly, I see a lot of people dying and most of them do not get a chance to do nice stuff before they die. I sometimes suggest that patients with motor neurone disease should make the most of their remaining time but in the real world this is often not possible.
I guess it's probably best to think about what you want to do before you die when you are young. To quote the Butthole Surfers 'it's better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done......'
My life is fairly good and I have few regrets. Hope it stays this way.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Nicholas Cage stars in the new film (subtitled 'Port of Call'). He plays a police officer who is morally conflicted. He injures himself by doing something heroic. For the rest of the film his life is a car crash as he makes bad decision after bad decision. I spent most of the film just waiting for him to die horribly.
Cage is good in this film. Almost as good as he was in Kick-Ass. The film was directed by Werner Herzog and is not really a remake or a sequel to the original film. It's funny at times, violent and visually impressive in places. Not a perfect film and not for everyone but I enjoyed it.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
I've always been a liberal voter in the past but I'm deeply disappointed by the actions of Clegg and his appeasement of the Nu-Thatcher policies of Cameron and his rich-boy chums who are in the process of trying to dismantle the social structure of the UK. It disgusts me how both the Conservatives and the Liberals can stand for election on one platform and then suddenly produce a raft of new right wing policies that they had never even hinted at. It's a shame we can't take them to court for misleading the electorate.
I voted for the Alternate Vote system to be introduced. I think we need more consensus politics in this country and this might be the first step on a long journey to proportional representation. It hasn't done any harm in Scotland and I don't think it'll do much harm in the UK as a whole. It will just make it more difficult for any one party to do anything difficult (e.g. Cameron and his posh-boy pals taking the NHS apart). There is a lot of scaremongering about the BNP getting into Parliament but to be honest they will never be anything more than a minority party and if they do get one MP it will only serve to highlight how fucking stupid they are. Sadly racist idiots have a right to vote but I'm sure that sensible people will just realise that it is their duty to make sure stuff like that does not happen.
Submitting a postal vote is fairly tricky and it took me a while to figure out how to correctly complete the paperwork. I guess it isn't for everyone but I think it's important to make sure that my vote is cast. It gives me a right to complain about the fuckers.
Anyhow, make sure you vote (unless you are a BNP voter - if so fuck off).
Chew tells the story of Tony Chu, an agent of the FDA who gets psychic information for anything he eats. Unfortunately he often works on murder cases and he has to 'taste' the victims to get psychic clues. This all sounds a bit minging but the book is drawn in a beautiful cartoony style that adds humor to the out-there concept that the book is driven by.
When I finished this book I was hungry for more. I can't wait till the next hardcover edition is published. It's a really nice looking book and I want more of it on my shelf.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Worth a try.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
He was only 34.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Fucked up - David's town - This record is really, really cool. Fucked up are an avant-garde punk band from Toronto that stretch the boundaries of punk. They cover C86 bands like the Shop Assistants and they release epic 20 minute tracks as singles. They also have a history of releasing obscure singles. Their next official album is coming out in July and will be called 'David comes to life'. It's going to be a concept album/rock opera about a punk named David who lives in an imaginary English town. Their RSD release is a compilation of imaginary late '70s/early '80s punk bands from this imaginary town. They've also invited some of their friends to add extra vocals to this album. It's well realised and a fucking good effort for an exclusive Record Store Day release.
Foo Fighters - Medium Rare - I'm not a massive fan of the Foo Fighters but I do like Nirvana. I was at the second UK Foo Fighters gig at the Reading Festival in 1995 but their records never really clicked with me. I do like their record collection though. This LP features a cover version of one of my favourite Husker Du tracks (never talking to you again) as well as 'Gas Chamber' by the Angry Samoans. It also includes tracks by Cream and Paul McCartney. Overall, I thought it would be an interesting listen.
Deftones - covers - I do enjoy some Deftones music but the thought of their covers record excited me a wee bit more than their normal releases. On this LP they tackle tracks by the smiths and the cure as well as Duran Duran. Interesting.
Radiohead - supercollider/the butcher 12" - I like the king of limbs so I fancied hearing these out-takes. I've also ordered the expensive 'newspaper record' version of king of limbs so I thought this would go well with it.
Bad Brains - Pay to cum 7" - as I detailed in another post I'm very lucky to have a copy of this. Pay to cum was the first Bad Brains single and in many ways the record that kickstarted DC hardcore (Minor threat, Henry Rollins, etc). I was very happy to get this gold vinyl reissue that is in beautiful packaging. I saw an original copy once, years ago, and it was selling for a couple of hundred quid. I have been sitting and just looking at this one. Well good. It also includes a lyric sheet so I finally know the words after about 20 years!
The Velvet Underground - Foggy Notion 7" - The Velvets have been another favourite band for years and years. Foggy Notion is a great track and this is a nice looking single.
Of Montreal/Casio Kids - split 7" - I like the Elephant 6 scene that Of Montreal are associated with and I wanted to hear their cover of 'expecting to fly' by Buffalo Springfield. Nice cover.
Frightened Rabbit/Twilight Sad - Demo tape. - As I have said elsewhere I don't have much Frightened Rabbit or Twilight Sad stuff but I just really liked the idea of this tape. It looks really authentic, just like the crappy demo tapes I used to make 15 years ago. As a bonus it includes the demo of my favourite Frightened Rabbit track (keep yourself warm). It also includes a download code for mp3s of the tracks. I've stuck it on my iPod.
Overall, a good haul of stuff and a great day. I just need a new record player now.
They played for about 45 minutes delivering a set that included a few of their popular tracks (based on crowd response). They had a fairly decent sound and the tiny Mono cafe was packed with fans. The singer from the Twilight Sad got up to sing a song. I have a newfound liking for the Twilight Sad after seeing them support Mogwai in Edinburgh a few weeks ago. They finished their set with 'keep yourself warm'.
I was knackered after a night in the pub so I went home after the Frightened Rabbit set. It would have been nice to see the Membranes but sadly I was lacking in stamina. I plan to listen to my Frightened Rabbit CD a bit more in the future.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Why Monorail Records in Glasgow is the best record shop in the world - International Record Store Day 2011
I was lucky enough to grow up in the greater Glasgow area. There were a few record shops that I went to in East Kilbride - impulse records, the village record shop, our price, HMV and Fopp (later on). I could always pick up Dead Kennedys records, Jesus and Mary Chain records and Sex Pistols CDs with little trouble.
As a bonus the public library in EK had a great music section with cool stuff from the '60s on. I was able to check out Sonic Youth, the Pixies, Love, Joy Division, the Velvet Underground, the Who and everything else.
Obviously I would go into Glasgow to find more stuff. Missing records on Oswald Street was always a favourite destination. They used to have a second hand section upstairs with new releases downstairs. I was able to pick up most of the SST back catalogue for £2.99 a record. I got my favourite Butthole Surfers album for £2 on tape. Missing was a great shop.
I started at Glasgow University in 1995 and I started going to the record shops in the west end a lot more. The record shop in John Smiths bookshop beside Hillhead Underground station was one of the best. It was run by Stephen, the main bloke in the Pastels. The really nice thing about this shop was that you could ask Stephen which Captain Beefheart record he would recommend and he would give you a good answer.
Byres Road also hosted Lost in Music, Fopp, Echo and another branch of Missing. All of these were great shops. I have spent hundreds of pounds in these shops.
I went down south for 5 years and over that time the record shops of Glasgow changed. Several shops disappeared or shrunk. Monorail opened up in 2002 with Stephen Pastel and Dep from Missing. Monorail is part of the larger Mono venue which includes a vegan restaurant/bar/live music area. It it worth having a look at the Mono webpage. http://www.monocafebar.com/index.php?pid=1 Monorail have consistently been excellent. They have knowledgeable, friendly staff. The prices are good (generally better then HMV). They have a great range of alternative music. They have opening hours that fit in with a 9-5 job (Monorail is open 11-7PM).
The historical sketch above doesn't really tell you why Monorail is the best record shop in the world. I need to tell you another story to explain that.
Earlier this week I popped into Monorail to find out which records they would have in stock for Record Store Day. I specifically asked about the Bad Brains 'Pay to cum' 7" single which was being re-released on gold vinyl. The original version of this single is the holy grail of hardcore punk. Dep, who works in the shop, is a Bad Brains fan himself and I explained that they were probably the second band I ever saw live in 1993.
So I went along to Monorail at about 8:30AM today. I had been out late on Friday night making weak attempts at chatting up an attractive woman. Despite my hangover I managed to drag myself out of bed and stumble onto a bus. When I got there I was greeted by a queue of 50 people. When I made it to the shop counter I was able to get everything I wanted (see seperate post) except the Bad Brains single that was sold out. Dep seemed to be a bit disappointed that I didn't get a copy.
I met one of my pals in the shop. He was very happy with his purchases, especially a limited edition Earth lp and a reissued Neurosis LP. I was a bit sleep deprived so I made my way home. One of my cousins was up visiting from England with his wife and kids so I was entertaining them at my flat for a couple of hours. I had a quick look on ebay and sadly noted that 5 copies of 'pay to cum' were already being sold at inflated prices. I spent an hour or so proudly looking at my new records.
At 5pm I went back to Mono to see Frightened Rabbit perform a free live set.
When I arrived at Mono Dep grabbed me to tell me that he had found an extra copy of the Bad Brains 7" and put it aside for me. I couldn't believe it. He found it after a quick search behind the counter and I happily handed over my cash. I suspect that it may have been his own copy of the record but he said that he wanted me to have it. Top Bloke! i owe him several pints.
In my opinion this anecdote tells you exactly why Monorail is the best record shop in the world. They have excellent staff who know and look after their customers.
Visit Glasgow, go to Monorail and buy stuffMonorail Music, 12 Kings Court, Glasgow, G1 5RB. 0141 552 9458 Opening hours: 11am - 7pm Monday to Saturday. Sunday 12 noon - 7pm.