Friday, April 29, 2011

The Bucket List - DVD review

The Bucket List is a feelgood movie about two men with terminal cancer. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play the dying men. Nicholson is a billionaire and Freeman is an average bloke. They are told they have a year to live and the decide to create a 'bucket list' of things to do before they die. They procede to have good time and come to terms with their lives and deaths.

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.

Cool Ian Mackaye interview

Found a cool Ian Mackaye interview

Check it out

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bad Lieutenant - DVD review

I think I watched the original Bad Lieutenant years ago. I'm not sure if I watched all of it. I wasn't too bothered about seeing the 2009 version but I borrowed the DVD from my dad. It was actually OK.

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

Postal voting

I sent off my postal votes for the upcoming referendum on the voting system and the Scottish Government elections yesterday. I made a protest vote for the Green Party in the Scottish election because I hate all the other political parties.

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 - Omnivore edition - Book Review

Chew is a great comic book. It's created by Rob Guillory and John Layman and published by Image. I was given the fancy Omnivore edition for my birthday last year but I've only just got round to reading it now.

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


I've just checked out grooveshark and it's pretty good. As Spotify appears to be heading crapwards I think I might use grooveshark to preview music in the future. It seems to be streaming fairly well with decent sound quality. I've not really looked deeply into the variety of stuff that's available. I'm listening to the first Fucked Up album at the moment suggesting that at least some rare stuff is available.

Worth a try.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

RIP - Gerard Smith

I was really sad to hear that Gerard Smith the bass player in TV on the Radio died from lung cancer today. I've been listening to them since their first CD came out and I've seen them play live a few times.

He was only 34.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Record store day 2011 - what I bought

So, I've written a bit about why Monorail is the best record shop in the world. I should probably write a wee bit about the records that I bought

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.

Frightened Rabbit - live at Mono, Glasgow

I only own one Frightened Rabbit album although I really like the song 'keep yourself warm'. I'd never seen them play live so I thought I would check them out at their free Mono show as part of Record Store Day yesterday.

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'm a bit of a music obsessive. I might not be as bad as the characters in the film High Fidelity but I'm not far off. I've been massively into music and buying records since the age of 10. Before I bought my own records I used to play with my parents records all the time (Paul Simon, The Beatles, Johnny Cash).

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. 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 stuff

Monorail Music, 12 Kings Court, Glasgow, G1 5RB. 0141 552 9458 Opening hours: 11am - 7pm Monday to Saturday. Sunday 12 noon - 7pm.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Plan B Books Graphic Novel Book Group

I've been banging on about Plan B Books a fair bit recently. It's a nice shop, a world away from Forbidden Planet. Not that there is anything wrong with Forbidden
Planet but it doesn't really cater to all tastes.

Plan B mainly deal with the artistic and intellectual side of comic books. They don't carry much in the way of superhero comics because Forbidden Planet covers that. Plan B also promote intelligent comics through events like their recent Bryan Talbot signing/talk and tonight's inaugural Graphic Novel Book Group.

The first book chosen for the Book Group was Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Luckily I already owned a copy of the book and I think I read it years ago but I couldn't really remember. I have seen the film in the past couple of years. I started to read the book at about 6PM tonight and gave wikipedia a cursory scan to make sure that I hadn't missed any important plot points.

The venue was Mono, a favourite hangout of mine. About 20 people came along which was probably more than the organiser bloke expected. I had never been to a book group before so I didn't really know what to expect. Everyone had brought a copy of the book with them (apparently this is traditional at book groups).

Persepolis was a good book to start with. It's an easily accessible autobiographical story detailing the childhood and maturation of the author in the revolutionary Iran of the late '70s and early '80s. The book is clearly drawn and covers a lot of Iranian history in a clear and concise manner.

Generally, the Book Group liked the book. There was some discussion about the simplistic nature of the artwork and the fact that Satrapi is not a 'master' of the graphic novel. 'Mastery' of the comic book form is probably a highly subjective concept. The conversation also touched upon the political situation in Iran and the grammar of comic books.

I enjoyed the evening and I met a few interesting people. It was good to have some intelligent conversations about comic books. Several people at the meeting turned out to be prospective comic book creators and it was nice to hear about their approach to the medium. I always wanted to write comic books (i.e. be Alan Moore) when I was a kid and it was great to meet like minded souls. I don't know if I could find the time to write a comic book because doctoring/neurology training/thesis writing takes up most of my life but it could be a good thing to do at some point.

Hopefully I'll be able to make future meetings.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Italian Kitchen - Glasgow

I can't remember if I wrote about this place the last time I went. I was there in the middle of the very cold snap Glasgow experienced before Christmas for a work night out. I enjoyed the food although it was a Christmas menu.

I went back today as a combined birthday/mothers' day treat for my mum. It was very busy for a Monday lunchtime in Glasgow. We had the meat anitpasti to start with. This includes a selection of cold meats with olives, peppers and some cheese. I had tried this before during my previous visit and I was keen to try it again.

We had a special for the main meal. Aberdeen angus beef with onions and mushrooms on toasted bread. Great flavours and very filling.

After all of that we had no room left for a pudding so we settled for a coffee before heading off. Jamie Oliver's is very clearly a commercial venture but it's decent food and a nice environment. Worth a try.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Kobe Steak - Is it worth it?

I've been a doctor for nearly 7 years and for most of that time I've not had much money. I finished medical school with £40,000 of debts that I am still paying off. To compound my financial woes I spent 2 and a half years doing clinical research on a basic wage while paying a very expensive mortgage. I was living on about £200 a month for a long time.

I started a new job in February and I now earn a lot more money. I've bought some new clothes and I have been treating myself to lots of other stuff. I like meat and I wanted to try a Kobe steak.

The Kobe steak that I went for is not a real Kobe steak. It is Wagyū beef which is essentially the same thing but doesn't need to be reared in Japan. The animals that this meat comes from are allegedly massaged and fed beer. So the steak I had (at the Grill on the Corner in Glasgow) was very nice. It had a melt in the mouth quality and it was a good size. It was well cooked although I wasn't too inspired by the chips that came with it. I feel that I got my £55 worth but I am sure that I had equally nice bit of meat in the past.

A good experience but probably not one I will repeat regularly.