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Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

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Me and the guys I work with would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

What The F**k Are You Looking At?!


It's just after 8 am at the moment and I've just woken from a particularly troubling dream which saw me looking after The Demon's 4 year old nephew only for him to go missing "on my watch".

Every parents worst nightmare, I know, but I think I know the reason for this particular nightmare scenario.
If you've read my blog before or even glanced at my profile pic you'll know that I eat, sleep and breathe mountain bikes. As usual, Sunday saw myself and my friends at Britain's premier mountain biking venue, Glentress forest just outside Peebles. After a wet but enjoyable day which saw me fly over the handlebars just the once, we returned to the car park for a shower, a change of clothes and some of the now famous millionaires shortbread.
As I made my way back from the changing rooms I happened to glance over at a man who was packing his car and getting ready to leave.
"I'm sure I know that guys face" I found myself thinking, but it was only when I saw his wife and realised that I also knew her face too that the penny dropped.
Kate and Gerry McCann enjoying a day out, cycling in the countryside.
I immediately looked away, but then found myself staring, something that I noticed every single person in the car park who passed them also do.
I cannot think of anything worse, to be stared at and spoken about in hushed tones wherever you go. It must be like being a celebrity but for all the wrong reasons.
Whatever you're opinion of the McCanns, and I know that they have their critics, you just cannot help but feel sorry for them. Yes they courted the media in the wake of their daughters abduction, yes there is a case to be argued that they should never have left her alone, but without a doubt Madeleine McCann is easily the most well known, if that's the right term, missing child on the planet right now, proving that their choice to use the media was arguably the correct one.
Anyway, they packed away their kit, started up their little silver Honda, and left.
That's when all four of us turned to each other and said "Was that who I think it was?"


As I said, nightmare.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

3 2 Go

Nearly there now, we're on the home straight.

My company gratiously gifts its employees a whole two days holiday at Christmas, yes that's right, two whole days holiday, followed by another two days off for New Year! Are they mental?!
This leads to machiavelian plotting by me and my fellow colleagues to see who can take the days between Christmas and New Year off using the allocation of annual holidays that we can all elect to take. The company policy is that no more than two people may be off at any one time and this year I'm one of them. The problem has been that I elected to take those three days as holidays way back in January of this year but I used up the rest of my annual allocation at the end of August. This has meant that I have had to drag my sorry arse through the last four months without a day off, focusing solely on the upcoming eleven day Christmas holiday without my 80 mile daily commute to Glasgow, without the 4:30am alarm, without the doom & gloom of the UK manufacturing industry, without Simon Mayo on Radio 5Live and Bryan Burnett on Radio Scotland, without the bio hazzard yellow chicken curry from the staff canteen and without the £60 of diesel that I'd need to enjoy all these little pleasures.

Instead I shall eat enough food to feed a small township in Botswana, I shall drink more alcohol than Jaggy goes through in an average week, I shall, I'm sure, be required to play various games with a couple of small children that I know, I shall endure much dancing and singing and I'll enjoy every second of it.

Three more days to go, three more days to go, three more days to go, three more . . . . . . .

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Come And Have A Go If You Think You're Talented Enough

I don't watch X Factor, never have. I think it's car-crash television that perpetuates the "get rich quick" culture so prevalent in todays youth, but I have been reliably informed that it's been won this year by a highly emotional young lady named Alexandra.


Great.
I'm happy for her, but I'm sure she'll be no more than a memory in 18 months or so.

But . . .

. . . for her first single she, or rather her management, has decided to cover Leonard Cohen's 1984 masterpiece "Hallelujah".
Now having a crack at one of the greatest songs of all time shows either bravery or sheer folly on the part of her and her management team, after all such talents like Allison Crowe, Willie Nelson, John Cale, K.D. Lang, Rufus Wainwright, the late Jeff Buckley, Bon Jovi and even Aled Jones have all had a go, to varying degrees of success.

For me though it's the Jeff Buckley version that is the definitive cover, it's as near to perfection as any song can be, that's why it's at number one in my list of 'Top Ten Cover Versions That Improve On The Original'.

1. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
2. Redemption Song by Chris Cornell
3. I Fought The Law by The Clash
4. Sweet Jane by Cowboy Junkies
5. Common People by William Shatner
6. Tainted Love by Soft Cell
7. Suspicious Minds by Fine Young Cannibals
8. All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix
9. Lost In Music by The Fall
10. Hounds Of Love by The Futureheads

That's right bitches, the Shatner is in there at number 5. Bask in his magnificence.

Actually, I'm not entirely convinced about number 4.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Weather Forecast For Tonight: Dark


Is it just me?
Am I alone?
Am I the only one who thinks that the weather forecasts of, say, the last five years are completely and utterly unreliable?

For example, over the last three days Central Scotland has been gripped in fear of the dreaded "blizzard". Now the name blizzard conjures up images of the Antarctic, polar bears tearing seals asunder, snowdrifts the height of your house.

"Blizzard warning! Blizzard warning!"

Today I awoke to some light drizzle.
Apparently it's chaos theory at work, the overnight temperature being half a degree too warm for the killer snow to form. Small consolation to the people who made and adjusted their plans to account for the mountains of icy precipitation that we were almost certainly guaranteed to have.

Predicting the weather, pah!
Jeremy Paxman was right!

Monday, December 01, 2008

St Andrew's Day

St Andrew.
Patron saint of Scotland, Apostle, brother of Saint Peter, whatever, he's the reason that I decided to make 'tablet' yesterday.
Now for those of you that are new to the world of Scottish confectionary, tablet is basically sugar, more sugar, condensed milk, butter and sweetened with sugar.

Ironically I ended up following an American recipie as the Scottish ones I could find on t'internet went along the lines of "throw all your ingredients in a pan, boil it, that's it done".

The problem seems to be that only old grannies know the timings involved in making this most calorie controlled diet unfriendly of sweets. Pour the mixture too soon and it won't set right, boil it too long and it turns into a substance rivalled only by carbon fibre in it's strength to weight ratio.

Mine ended up SO hard that I could cut diamonds with it.
Tastes nice though, just dont expect to swallow any of it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I Hate People


. . . especially the people who work in the marketing department of Busters Motorcycle Accesories.
I bought something from them about 4 years ago and since then I have received enough unsolicited mail from them, electronic or otherwise, that would fill a bin bag, virtual or real.

I have clicked on the "unsubscribe" button more times than I can remember.
I have left scathing remarks in the "please tell us why you wish to unsubscribe" box.
I have emailed them directly.
I have even phoned them, begging, pleading not to be sent any more junk from them.

The postman has just been at my door, dropping of his usual pile of bills and, lo and behold, the latest Busters Motorcycle Accesories catalogue.

I now see that I have no alternative but to make the long journey to Swansea in Wales and do a Michael Douglas 'Falling Down' reenactment


PS - It's almost the season "to be jolly", and nothing makes me jollier than other people's misfortune, so join with me in enjoying the aquatic antics of those crazy Ukranian ice swimmers.
(It's funnier with the volume turned up.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Heroes (No, not the tv show)

Fit looking South African thespian tottie Charlize Theron is to become a United Nations "messenger for peace".

Great.

I can't think of anything more worthy than yet another celebrity, most famous for being pretty, travelling the planet telling people "hey, can't we all just get along?"

According to Yahoo news "In her new role she will join the nine other UN messengers of peace: Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, American actors George Clooney and Michael Douglas, Nobel Peace Prize winner for literature Elie Wiesel, Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma, British primatologist Jane Goodall, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho and Japanese violinist Midori Goto."

Now I'm sure that like me, you're all accutely aware of the vital work that these personalities have done in . . . erm . . . the important issues that they've . . . er . . . highlighted on . . . eh . . . on the . . .

Well I can't remember all the details, but I'm SURE that they've all been working really, really hard on whatever it is that Ban Ki-Moon says it is that they do.
For example, as soon a someone mentions the name "George Clooney" I immediately think 'humanitarian', and if I see a photo of Michael Douglas I don't think of him banging Glenn Close, oh no, I think of all the charitable pro-am golf tournaments that he and his wife Cathy ZayJay play in solely to raise awareness of . . . . . stuff.

*These poeple aren't celebrities, they're Saints.




*This is called sarcasm. Use it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Under House Arrest

I am currently unwell.
I have a chest and nasal infection and feel thoroughly miserable. I've been coughing my lungs out for the last two days and my nose is running like a leaky tap, it just won't stop.
I decided yesterday that I wouldn't be going in to work today, I really don't feel up to it and don't fancy passing on my misery to my colleagues, therefore I've had the pleasure of daytime television keeping me company today.

This is not a good thing.

I'm not really sure who daytime tv is aimed at, women probably. It's universally terrible, no matter what channel you happen to be on. Be it Phillip and Fern on 'This Morning' or the living hell that is 'The Paul O'Grady Show', it's all complete shite.
Thankfully, Virgin Media and Sky TV are good friends again so Sky News has saved the day.

Nothing like universal doom and gloom to make you feel better.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Top Tottie Tuesday: Nov '08

This months unattainable tantric yoga partner is the lovely Jessica Biel.

I've mentioned my "appreciation" for Miss Biel before, just over a year ago in fact, but she's definitely worth a second look.
A model, a singer, an actress and a woman that looks just as good leaving the gym with no make up and sweaty armpits as she is strolling down the red carpet for a Hollywood première. Is there no end to her talents?

She's been in a good few movies by now and, in my opinion, she's given a good account of herself, but she has also been in two of the worst films of all time, 'Blade:Trinity' in 2004 and 'Stealth' in 2005, stinkers both of the highest order.
She's currently hated by women the world over for being the personal 'squeeze' of Justin Timberlake, but that just shows me that underneath all the manufactured personna he actually has good taste.

Well done young man, I salute you and despise you in equal measure.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Moore's Law

Purely by accident, tonight I caught the Michael Moore documentary 'Sicko'.
If you haven't seen it, it's been out now for just over a year, it's about the American healthcare system and predominantly the HMO companies that have the power, quite literally, of life and death over the citizens of the good ol' US of A.

I know Michael Moore has his critics, and only a fool would believe that his stunts aren't scripted or staged, but you can't argue with the powerful message that he gets across.

He spends time here in the UK to take a look at the NHS and marvels at the concept of free heathcare for all.
Now I spent 7 years working within the NHS and I always considered it to be like an old decrepit dog, lurching from one cash crisis to the next, waiting for someone to put it down, but after watching Mr Moore's Docu-movie, I have to admit, right now I'm feeling the love for the National Health Service.

I, touch wood, don't have much need for it myself, but my father is currently being treated for cancer and I dread to think how much the radiotherapy and chemotherapy that he's receiving would cost across the pond.

I suddenly feel lucky.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Jimmy B.

Well I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Much has been written about the latest instalment of the James Bond franchise, Quantum Of Solace, and a lot of it has been negative, so last night The Demon and I decided to see for ourselves.
I felt that the director wanted the plot to be slightly ambiguous right from the start, leaving you wondering for a good portion of the film where Bond's loyalties really lay. None of this really matters though, as at it's core it's just a good old fashioned thriller.
What it definitely isn't is a James Bond film, not in the traditional sense anyway, although this probably says more about my age and less about the film.
Bond films, like the Carry On films, were stand alone works that didn't rely on the audience having seen the previous film to follow the plot. They featured aristocratic and extrovert villains who almost always intended to take over/destroy the world, they featured gadgetry that, to my mind at least, always seemed pointless, let alone far fetched or futuristic and they always had a dastardly plan that could only ever be thwarted by an undercover spy who everyone knew and whose sole talent seemed to be his ability to get his end away with almost any woman he met.

Fantastic stuff.

Quantum Of Solace on the other hand, like Casino Royale before it, brings Bond bang up to date. The days of fat Chinese butlers with hats that could take your head off, tall men with metal teeth and guns made of precious metal are long gone, as they should be, this is Bond 2.0 after all, but I can't help mourning the loss of the comedy.
James Bond films always had moments that played for laughs, never delivered better than by Roger Moore, but NeoBond has none of this.
Daniel Craig himself is perfect as the agent for the 21st century and certainly does his bit to take Ian Fleming's character to places that no Bond has been before, having a conscience being one, but I can't help feeling sorry for any actress who plays a bond girl, they are instantly forgettable and totally disposable. When the improbably named Strawberry Fields, played by Gemma Arterton, bites the dust, I found myself struggling to remember what she looked like.
The rest of the film has its faults of course. It's quite short at only 106 minutes and product placement by the Ford Group is absolutely rife, but as I said right at the start, I enjoyed Quantum Of Solace, helped in no small measure by watching Casino Royale on Friday afternoon before heading off to the cinema, but lets be clear . . .

Bond is dead.
Long live Bond.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hair

As you can see, I don't have much of it.
In fact, I often consider taking an open bladed razor and getting rid of what's left of it, but The Demon has told me that a separation will swiftly follow. Apparently another tattoo would illicit the same response also.

I digress.
I always had thin hair and started to go bald in my late teens, but once I reached my late twenties the progression of my forehead seemed to stop and I've been the same level of "baldiness" since then, I just cut it shorter now.

It used to be such a big deal, the one thing I hated about myself, that I'd change if I could, but one morning I woke up and realised that I'd been a bit of a tit.
My friends weren't my friends because of my hair, the girls I'd shared 'moments' with didn't warp my fragile little mind because I had a cool hairstyle covering it, no one cared except me, so I immediately bought a set of clippers, stuck the shortest guage on the end of them, and shaved the whole lot off.
The relief was immeasurable.
The only thing worse than going bald is pretending you're not.

Nowadays I love having my hair as short as possible, it's just SO convenient and easy to live with. I wake up in the morning and hay presto, I'm ready to go. No faffing about with product.
A quick once over once a week and the job's done.

But...

In the last two or three years my body has exploded in a hair growing frenzy the likes of which I haven't seen since my plums dropped way back when Bon Jovi were still 'Livin' On A Prayer'.

My ears, the back of my hands, my nostrils, one eyebrow, the mole on the back of my neck, and especially my fucking big toes, all have hairs sprouting from them like something from An American Werewolf In London.
I'm not sure what forces of nature I'm supposed to confront in my late thirties that would necessitate such follicle over production, but it's good to know I'm covered should the event take place. My big toes alone look like Nigel Mansell's eybrows have somehow been grafted onto them.

Damn you pituitary gland, get your house in order!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Cheerio

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye . . .

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Infected With A Poison

Just when you thought it was safe to go into your email . . .

Steve has "kindly" tagged me again for yet another of the memes that are doing the rounds at the moment, although this one is relatively simple.

Name your most embarrassing record/cd/track ever.

Easy.
I ripped all my cd's into iTunes many years ago and it conveniently has a play counter so you can see how many times you've listened to any one track. All I'll say is that the one that I'm cringing over has had 317 moments of glory.

Is it 'What is love' by Haddaway?
No.
Is it 'Human Nature' by Gary Clail and The On-U Sound System?
Not even close.
Is it 'Real Love' by The Time Frequency?
Nope, although having just listened to those three tracks again, I'm wondering what the fuck I was thinking about during my dance phase.

In fact it's 'Out Of Touch' by Daryl Hall & John Oates from their snappily titled 1984 album 'Big Bam Boom'.

I love this song, I'm not sure why, but I have at least 5 versions of it, from vinyl to cd to mp3.
It's still fantastic today, and if I've had a few drinkypoos then I'll happily sing along at the top of my voice, imagining that I'm hirsute Daryl himself, strawberry blond locks flowing on the wind.
Damn, he had good hair!

I never really liked anything else they did, and in fact the rest of Big Bam Boom is utter shite, but Out Of Touch . . . a moment of genius.
Both men still tour and perform together as Hall & Oates, but both have diversified in later life. Daryl Hall now restores and preserves historic buildings and homes, both here in the UK and in America, and John Oates is a midget in the circus.

Enjoy, you can thank me later.


Ok, lets hear it Jaggy, Roman Empress, Misssy and EmmaK

Good vs Evil

Let the games begin!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Rent-A-Ghost

My friends, today I speak to you from the depths of my latest hangover, and it's a very dark place indeed.

Last night saw the Batman costume being wheeled out again for what may be it's last public appearance. It has served me well over the last couple of years, but I think it's time to consider something new.
The party at The Big 5 kicked off around 7:30 last night, with a host of costumed tomfoolery taking place.
We had witches in abundance, a couple of ghouls, John Rambo, a particularly convincing Heath Ledger, a sexy wee fairy and even an Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange, although it had to be explained to most of the party goers who he was.

All in all, my friend Adrenaline Rush and his lovely wife BatClaire threw a top shindig, but if you don't mind I'm going to lie on the couch now for the rest of the day.

Toodle pip.
video

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Intolerable Cruelty

Just when poor Andrew Sachs is starting to get over his current phone abuse trauma, yet another highly respected and well loved celebrity is having their life ruined, yes ruined, by the callous acts of a few others.

*Award winning "actress" Sienna Miller is suffering a "campaign of harassment" by paparazzi photographers that is making her poor wee millionaire lifestyle a misery.
Sienna, who has apparently been in 15 films even though she's most famous for nobbing Jude Law, has told a court in London that she has been caused "substantial alarm, fear and enormous distress" every time she steps out of her house.....immaculately made-up and wearing the very latest cutting edge fashion, or whenever she shows up at première of a new movie. How dare they take photographs of a woman who has devoted her adult life to being in the public eye.

Poor wee lamb.

It's no wonder she wasn't in court for the hearing. She's far better off staying in America for now, where she's filming a movie. If she was in court, some unfeeling swine might snap off a quick photo. The bastards.

*She won the EMA Futures Award, whatever the hell that is, at the 2007 Environmental Media Awards.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Carlsberg Don't Do Stag Nights . . .

My sister will be getting married soon, so that means that The Mighty Stu will be having his stag night. This got me thinking about who I'd like to have on on my own ultimate stag night.
I'll assume that all my male friends, colleagues and relatives would be there, but which 6 personalities, alive or dead, would I love to have along for the ride?

1. Oliver Reed
It's easy to disapprove of his lifestyle, but no one can dispute that Oliver Reed lived his life his way, and had a damn good time doing it. The ultimate Best Man.


2. Dara O'Briain
A good laugh is an essential part of any successful stag/hen night, and who better to deliver them than the Punch It Chewie! comedian of choice, Dara O'Briain.


3. James Hunt
All the chicks love a Formula 1 driver and James Hunt did his best to love them all right back. A well known hell-raiser away from an F1 car, he'd be right at home on my prenuptial celebrations.


4. Robert Burns
Scotland's favourite son and a man who liked his women as much as he liked his drink.
I can only imagine the poem he would write after our night on the tiles.

5. Valentino Rossi
The One True God and without doubt the most gifted motorcycle racer the world has ever, and will ever, see. Is he gay, is he straight? Who cares. In my life he's a living legend.


6. Stuart Adamson
The Big Country front man left this world WAY too early in 2001, so if I could I'd definitely want to share a beer with him. It's the least I could do to say thanks for all the pleasure his songs have brought me.

All in all, I'm pretty sure that this would be a stag night to remember. It almost makes getting married seem worthwhile.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"These Are Not The Droids You're Looking For"

This may well turn out to be a long post because I've been worshipping at the alter of Staropramen all evening.
I have to thank the Jagmeister General for letting me know about a blogpost over on the Ben Lomond Free Press. Big Rab does a much better job of explaining it than me, but the general gist is as follows. The British Humanist Association has recently started an appeal to raise money to fund an ad campaign on London's fleet of bendy buses. These ads would cost approximately £11,000 to fund, but the worlds most famous athiest, Professor Richard Dawkins, has offered to stump up half the cash, leaving the BHA to find their £5,500 through an online appeal.
As I type this, the appeal has raised £106,932.00!

Now I fervently, yes fervently, believe in the rights of anybody to believe in anything.
If you wish to believe that the planet was created in only 6 days by an old man, who may or may not be white, but who is well known for having a penchant for long flowing locks and comfortable clothes and who lives in a large estate on a cloud in the sky, then be my guest.

If you want to believe that cows are sacred, or that mice are "the soldiers of Satan", by all means, knock yourself out.

If you have a hole in your life that can only be filled by an imaginary friend who you share with millions of other people, all of whom would probably be caught out be the Jedi mind trick, don't let me stop you, go for it.

But.

As a card carrying atheist, I think that people like me, who believe that EVERYTHING that is alive is simply part of an organic process, should be allowed to shout about it too. I don't know how or why life started on Earth, and I'm not really sure that I care, but I certainly don't believe that we were spontaneously popped into existence like Mr Claypole from Rentaghost.

If you are a true believer, answer me these questions:
What about all the people who lived before Jesus let everyone know what all the rules were? Are they all in hell for not believing in God?
Amazon tribesmen who've never been exposed to religion? Are they all in hell too?
Is every creature that has ever lived still up there in heaven? Every rabbit? Every cockroach? Every amoeba?
What's the cell count cut-off point for getting into heaven? Is multi-cellular life in and single-celled life out?
If I'm a widower and I re-marry, am I allowed to have two wives up there when I pop my clogs? Is bigamy cool with The Big Man?
What happens to infants who die before they have a chance to learn about the Ten Commandments?

If God made you and me and Grace Jones, then surely he must also have made the Ebola virus, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and ingrown toenails.
Why would he let all these flaws exist, causing pain and suffering to hundreds of thousands of people? Will he be releasing a patch when he's got it all figured out?

Earth Service Pack 1, including Mankind 1.1.
Designed to eradicate cancer, suffering, ginger hair and Lily Allen.

I donated £10 quid to the atheist bus campaign and I feel good about it.
I have faith.

Having said all that, and in the interests of being circumspect, IF there is a God, then I think he probably looks like Paul Teutel Snr, head of the Orange County Choppers empire. Same attitude, just more hair and less tattoos.
Drinking at home. It's never a good idea.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Magnificent Octopus

Due to overwhelming public demand by all three of you, I have decided to post, in it's full unabridged form, the (very) short story wot I did way back in 1977.

First, some background.
I grew up in an area of Falkirk known as Langlees. It was/is universally accepted to be the scummiest area of town and really just sprang up as a sort of dormitory area for the workers at the BA (British Aluminium) factory that at the time was one of the area's biggest employers.
Like so many British firms from the sixties and seventies, it's now nothing more than a memory, but both my father and mother worked there, their eyes meeting across a crowded blast furnace.
In 1977 the factory asked the pupils of my school to "do something" for some sort of celebration they were having, the reason for which now escapes me. Some kids painted pictures, some kids made sculptures from aluminium cans, and I decided to write a story, 'Boxarum'. One of my friends, Steven Cowan, was a dab hand at graphic design, even as a 7 year old, and he kindly supplied the cover art.

Boxarum
By Gordon Inch (Age 7)

The starcruiser with its load of bauxite came to its destination, Boxarum, which was really a space station with the power to produce enough aluminium for the whole universe. Looming ever nearer Boxarum, the starcruiser's captain saw the planet's sun, which was at the port side of the ship. This sun produced all the power the planet needed to operate, it worked on solar energy.
Boxarum was owned by the Galactic Aluminium company, G.A., which many hundreds of years before was called the B.A., British Aluminium. As the starcruiser landed and its retro rockets died down, a group of workers came forward to unload the ship. They came from many planets, fromYanis, Meltoroid, Malgo, Zacar and Accor. They all looked different. The men from Yanis looked like huge moles with smooth black fur and tiny blind eyes. They had feelers which were better than eyes. Melteroid men looked like big gorillas, Malgo men looked like long pipes, Zacar men were like abominable snowmen and Accor men were green and scaled like like snakes. Among these were men from the planet Earth who had two arms, two legs, smooth skin, two eyes, a nose and a mouth.
The planet was one huge foundry with furnaces and huge rollers to press the metal.
There were great fires which made the planet glow like one of the brightest stars.

Fin.


Ok, there's not much in the way of plot development, but at seven years of age a plot was something you grew potatoes in!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Small Window

Steve, the fiscally challenged poetry whore who'll quite happily wax lyrical for only £10, has tagged me with my first meme in ages.

The rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Write six random things about yourself
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

If you're sitting comfortably, then I'll begin.

1. I attended a school for gifted children when I was 12.
We learned languages, science, history, etc and were encouraged to actively search out projects that we wished to learn about and then go ahead and study them.
....Then I got to high school, discovered girls, bmx bikes, Big Country and the Atari console. All thoughts about my project on allied air power during the latter half of the second world war evaporated like morning mist.

2. I have a series of four children's books that were bought and given to me on the day of my birth by my two older cousins, Ann and Elizabeth, and are worth more to me than life itself. Ann has Huntington's disease, a genetic neurological disorder that will eventually kill her. I'd fight a badger with a flick-knife to protect those books.

3. In 1977, at the tender age of 7, I had a short story published in a major quarterly magazine that year. Admittedly, the publication was a trade magazine for the UK aluminium industry, the sci-fi story was based around an aluminium processing planet, and my dad worked at the local aluminium plant which asked everyone at my school to write a short story, but it was mine that won, ok! I was the best! They can never take that away from me!!!
I may well reproduce it in full as my next post.

4. I've broken 7 bones in my body so far, mostly due to bicycles.
Well actually it's mostly due to the ground, but you get the picture.

5. I never have, and never will, knowingly eat a mushroom.
Even the thought of touching one has me feeling queezy.

6. I have two large scars on my back where I was attacked with a knife when I was in my early twenties. I didn't feel a thing (apart from the good kicking I received) and only knew about my back when I started to stick to the couch in my friends living room afterwards.

There.
Done.

I think I'll tag Jaggy, Sky Clearbrook, Roman Empress, Lost Jimmy, Eostre and Downhill Dad.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh My Gok!

Ladies, why do you do it?
Why continually self-flagellate yourselves on television over the way you look?

The Demon is using the pc as I type this, so I'm banished to the couch with the laptop kindly donated by the bronzed Adonis that is Mr Jaggy, where I'm confronted by the conundrum that is Gok Wan and his latest method of getting the tits of Britain out into the open, his beauty contest 'Miss Naked Beauty'.

The premise of the show seems to be that he's looking for a woman, any woman, who can represent the 'woman of today' as some sort of beauty ambassador. She'll be natural, confident, intelligent, and most importantly, she'll be different.
Our Gok, who's name means Noisy Big City incidentally, will have the girlies running and jumping through hoops in order to get them to cry on national tv using all manner of confidence sapping tricks like photographing their body part that they hate the most and then showing it to a few million viewers whist simultaneously criticising them with extreme prejudice. The bastard!

After about 5 minutes of this drivel I switched over to Dave which had Joanna Lumley on an old episode of Top Gear.

Normal service had ben resumed.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

With Mirth And Laughter Let Old Wrinkles Come

I'm now in my 'late thirties'.

That actually sounds worse than saying "It's my 38th birthday today", but given that life expectancy here in the heart disease capital of the world is 69.1, then at least I should only have to worry about how to finance the next 31.1 years.

The birthday festivities kicked off last night when myself and The Demon made the 10 minute walk to meet Fat Albert & Tall Dawn and The Heid & Natalie Cousteau for an excellent meal at Ye Olde Falkirk Towne's newest, and indeed only, contemporary Indian restaurant, D'Yoga.

I must admit that I'd never heard of anything on the menu, but thanks to some inside info from an Indian technician who had visited my work last week I had a rough idea what I was about to eat.
I started with Patta Sheekh Kebab:
"Fine lamb mince seasoned with Indian spices, rolled with chopped fresh coriander and cooked in a charcoal tandoor"
This was light and very tasty and just enough to set me up for my main course.
Tandoori Murg with spicy Kadai sauce, which is colourfully described in the menu as:
"The king of kebabs made from whole chicken marinated in yoghurt, ginger, garlic, chilli and chef’s special tandoori masala and chargrilled"
This was all topped off with Gulab Jamun with ice cream:
"Small dumplings made from thickened milk, deep fried and soaked in cardamom flavoured sugar syrup and served warm"
This was easily the finest Indian meal I've had the pleasure of getting my gob round, and a good time was had by all. It was also a small reminder of how lucky I am. Wonderful food, a few drinks and the company of damn good friends.

I think I'm going to enjoy my late thirties.
Bring on the Big 4-0.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dead Man Walking........Or Running, Depends Who You believe.

I dunno about you, but I find something deeply troubling about the whole sorry Jean Charles de Menezes saga, least of all that an innocent man on his way to work was executed by armed British police officers.
The cover-ups, untruths and blatant lies that have followed the incident at Stockwell tube station on the 22nd of July 2005 make me extremely angry and disappointed at the conduct of people that we rely on for our own freedom and safety, but what makes me livid is that it seems that nobody will ever be brought to book for the fundamental errors that led to Jean Charles taking 8 'hollow point' bullets to his body, 7 in his head and one in his shoulder, that left him "unrecognisable".

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner at the time of the incident, initially blocked the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) from investigating the shooting and wrote a letter to the home office saying:
"the shooting that has just occurred at Stockwell is not to be referred to the IPCC and that they will be given no access to the scene at the present time."

A week after the shooting he rejected a vote of no confidence in his leadership by the London Assembly, an elected body, part of the Greater London Authority, that scrutinises the activities of the Mayor Of London, but thankfully Boris Johnson has finally seen sense and booted him out.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, the officer in command of the operation that led to the shooting of the Brazilian electrician, told the inquest into his death:
"If you are asking me did we do anything wrong or unreasonable then I don’t think we did".
Oh really?
None of her officers either positively or negatively identified an innocent man who was behaving completely normally, yet she still gave them the go ahead to, quite literally, blow his head off.

That could quite easily have been you or me on the floor of that subway train.
I'd say that FUBAR is probably the best way to describe how that operation turned out.

Someone better fucking end up behind bars over this.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spinal Tap

Rol has created a pretty good story from the spines of some of his books so I thought I'd have a go.
It's not the best and I know I've used some creative license, but it was 8 in the morning.

Goldilocks & The Three Bears
Use Of Weapons (Ian M. Banks)
With Nails (Richard E. Grant)
In Cold Blood (Truman Capote)
=
Pretty Dead Things (Barbara Nadel)
&
A Spot Of Bother (Mark Haddon)

Catch Me If You Can! (Frank W. Abagnale)

Think you can do better?
Photos required.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Drink . . .

. . . is not your friend.

I am SOOOOO hungover today.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

*"Laugh while you can, monkey boy!"

There's something special about climbing a tree that takes you straight back to being a kid.
Feeling the tree bark under your fingers, the sway of the tree in the wind, the smell, everything.
That's one of the reasons that myself, The Heid (pictured above), Fireman Steve and Fat Albert thoroughly enjoyed Go Ape at Aberfoyle today.

Go Ape is essentially just climbing trees with the added excitement of aerial walkways, platforms, Tarzan swings, cargo nets and five or six zip slides, two of which are the longest in the UK at almost half a kilometre long and 150 feet from the valley floor.

You're constantly attached to the safety lines that surround everything by two carabiners, one of which is locked on at any one time, and a safety harness, but after an initial safety briefing you're on your own.

Suffice to say it was a great way to spend three or so hours and I can thoroughly recommend it.


*Bonus points for anyone who can name the film that the title of this post is from, the character and the actor who played him.

Friday, October 10, 2008

PalinWatch: Day 42

I think the average American would be safer handing a fully loaded Desert Eagle to a toddler having a tantrum than to have Sarah Palin doing anything in the White House other than vacuuming the carpets, but on the other hand I do realise that some Americans do like her.

Why though?

She hasn't got a clue about the world outside Alaska, she's doing her damnedest to piss off the leaders of Pakistan and Russia, and she thinks dinosaurs were walking around on the earth the same time as mankind was!

This made last night's BBC news all the more interesting. A report by Justin Webb from the fantastically named Strongsville, Ohio featured members of the public being asked:

"Why are you voting for John McCain?"
"Because of Sarah Palin! Woohoo!!"
"Why?"
"Because she's beautiful, she's young, she's a working mom! Woohoo!!"

Hmmmm...not really concerned with the McCain policies then? The environment? The 'War On Terror'? The financial crisis? Her possible abuse of office in the so-called 'Troopergate' scandal? The fact that she's all style and no substance?

No??

Anyone?
Anyone?
Bueller?

I think I'll stop now, I'm getting angry.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Thin White Duke


I don't have much to say today, so until I do you can enjoy one of my heroes, and an honest to goodness living legend, The Thin White Duke himself, Sir David of Bowie.

David Bowie was the first artist I have memories of. My uncle was a big fan and so my first exposure to the world of popular music was to be dropped in at the eccentric end of the pool with his 1974 album 'Diamond Dogs'.

Bowie therefore set the benchmark against which other artists, to this day, are judged.
Part of the reason that I love bands like Placebo and Suede is that you can trace their roots right back to Ziggy Stardust himself.

The strange thing is that even though he's one of the most famous artists ever, I don't think he really gets the recognition that he deserves. He's every bit as important as The Beatles and, in my opinion at least, far superior.

This particular track is one of my favourites, it's 'Oh! You Pretty Things' from the excellent 1971 album 'Hunky Dory'.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Top Tottie Tuesday: October '08

Welcome one and all to yet another in the hugely successful 'Top Tottie' series that I know you all have come to love so much.

Today's delectable pumpkin is US comedienne and actress Tina Fey.
She's probably best known in America for being part of the team behind Saturday Night Live(SNL), a show she joined as a writer in 1997 before becoming a performer in 2000.
She left SNL in 2006 to begin work on her own show, 30 Rock, a comedy show that itself would go on to win multiple awards.

In recent weeks she has made a return to SNL performing in sketches that, quite frankly, take the piss out of Sarah Palin. You can see a couple of examples here and here.

I have to say that although I love comedy, there are few women who really float my comedic boat. Tina Fey is most definitely one of them. Watch this.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Death Race

It was Saturday afternoon.
"Want to catch a movie tonight?" says I.
"Yeah, we could go and see 'Death Race' if you like." says The Demon.
"Erm....ok then." replies yours truly.

That was my first mistake.
The second was thinking that this film would be a decent way to pass 105 minutes of my life.
Oh, how wrong I was. They're gone now, I'll never get them back.

The film, like 'Taken' that I watched last week, follows the traditional Hollywood driving/action rules, in that to make a car go faster you simply change gear again...and again...and again, everyone who crashes and rolls a car survives only to be killed in the resulting explosion, no matter how powerful and fast your sportscar is, it can be caught and passed by a bloody huge pickup truck and the hero, as always, is imprisoned for a crime he most definitely did not commit.

The hero in this particular case is played by Mr Mahogany himself, the great Jason Statham.
You have to admire Mr Statham, taking up acting when he quite clearly suffers from Möbius Syndrome. Only the legend that is Nicolas "Sequoia" Cage can produce 'acting' of the calibre of young Jason.

In truth, it's a wonder that any acting took place at all on the set of this movie, given that people must have been drowning in a huge sea of testosterone.
The plot, for that I believe is what they called it, is quite frankly, dire.
I won't bore you with the details, but I'm sure you can probably make up something that's reasonably close to the real thing.

In summation, this film will appeal to you if you like fighting and stealing cars, or possibly both at the same time.
Anyone else, stay at home and watch Strictly Come Dancing.

1/10 - And it only gets that 1 because Joan Allen says "cocksucker" at one point.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Between Books

I can do this.
I can.
I can make it to Monday without a book to read.
I will follow the sage advice from The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.

Due to an unforeseen shipping error and a bout of mid-week insomnia, I currently find myself 'between books'. Now I'm one of those people who MUST read something whilst I'm in bed before I can get to sleep. If I don't, my brain doesn't really wind down easily, and I end up tossing and turning and lying there all night.

I thought I'd got it covered, I thought that ordering 'Orphanage' by Robert Buettner from Amazon on Wednesday would mean that it would arrive possibly on Saturday, Monday at the latest. Unfortunately I didn't realise that it would be coming from America and wont arrive until mid-week at least.
Also, I thought it would be Monday at the earliest that I'd finish the excellent 'Line War' by Neal Asher, but my insomnia on Thursday night meant that I spent a good four hours or so just lying in bed reading and finished the book ahead of schedule on Friday evening.
I didn't even get a chance to buy a quickie today to tide me over. I ended up driving to Aberdeen and back so I didn't get near a book shop.

All this has left me at around the Olive mark on the stress chart below.

Anyone got a pamphlet I can borrow?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Insomnia

Yes indeed, as Maxi Jazz put it "I can't get no sleep".

I've always suffered from the odd bout of insomnia since childhood and this has carried on into later life. It happens maybe every couple of months or so, and last night/this morning has been one big long day so far for me.
As I type this I've been awake for 27 hours and I'm about to head off to work for the day. All in all it'll probably be around 10 o'clock tonight before I get to bed giving me a potentially 40 hour long day.

It's fascinating to see how fatigue manifests itself on the mind and body.
Right now my spelling has taken a real dip from it's usual low standard to that of a six year old. Thankfully, Firefox's spell checker plugin is here to save my blushes.
I look like I have a hangover, which is fairly accurate up to a point. My eyes hurt and are red and my mouth feels like someone of dubious personal hygiene has slept in it.
Strangely though I will get a second wind. Around 2 o'clock-ish I know I'll feel fine, I always do.
The body is an incredible machine, and the mind only more so.

Wonder if I can go the whole weekend?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Scarface

Ok, I know that it's not on his face, but you have to question the wisdom of a mother allowing a three year old child to get a henna tattoo on his arm.
Yeah, I know it's supposed to fade after two weeks or so, but I still think it's a bit stupid.
Don't get me wrong, I love body art. I have a couple of tattoos myself and am looking at getting another, but this kid now runs the risk of looking like a Muppet for the rest of his days just because his mum thought it'd be cool.

**IMPORTANT MESSAGE**
Parents, your child is not a fashion accessory. Stop treating it as such.

Eejit!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Happiness is . . .

1. Finding out you've been paying too much income tax for the last 7 years and are due a substantial rebate.

2. Winning £250 on Friday's EuroMillions Lottery.

3. Having a long weekend and not having to drag my lazy arse into work tomorrow.

4. Having a great day out today with the Restless Natives on the mountain bike.

It's been a damn good week.


Unfortunately, every silver lining has a cloud, and mine was going to see the movie 'Taken'.
Liam Neeson plays 'Brian', an ex-CIA agent who has retired from the service in order to spend more time with his 17 year old daughter. Whilst on a trip to Paris with a friend, said daughter goes missing when she's 'Taken' by a band of people traffickers. Liam doesn't like this much and sets off to find her.

The film follows the traditional Hollywood action path that leads to bullets missing Liam, cars exploding after a single gunshot, and dead bodies strewn around him like confetti at a wedding.
None of this is bad news however, but as I see it there are two problems with this film.

Problem 1.
The whole of the first 40 minutes or so is given over to showing the cinema audience just how much Brian (Neeson) loves his daughter Kim (played by Maggie Grace). He talks about it, his friends talk about it, even his estranged wife, played by the godess that is Famke Janssen, talks about it, but call me stupid if you will, but he's her dad - she's his daughter, I'd have taken it as read that he loved her and would do anything for her.

Problem 2.
Maggie Grace.
If there was an Oscar for 'Over Acting In The Role Of A 17 Year Old Daughter' then she's made it her own. I was actually glad she was 'Taken', that's how annoying her giggly "daddy, daddy, daddy" character was. I know that in real life she's 25, but running around flat-footed in plimsols and screeching every 2 minutes does not a teenager make.

The rest of the film passes in a blur of bullets and broken necks carried out by a man of 56, leading to a conclusion that was never in doubt.

5/10

Saturday, September 27, 2008

See Below . . .

Juxtaposition

The differences between men and women never cease to amaze me.

Have a look at these two photographs below. One is the bare minimum of equipment that I need on a Saturday morning trip to acquire a new bed*, and the other is the bare minimum that The Demon requires for the same excursion.
Compare & contrast please.
Please bear in mind that everything in the photo above bar the phone is contained INSIDE the wallet.

Also, 99% of my life is spent in jeans, t-shirt and trainers, the other 1% being in a suit or a kilt.
The Demon, on the other hand, has differing ranges of casual clothes for different social scenarios, the rules for which I don't pretend to understand.
Strangely, these clothing selections also have to take into account whether we're likely to bump into somebody we know.

Can anyone enlighten me?

*The bed shop is no more than a 10 minute walk from our house.

Friday, September 26, 2008

*Hello ma baby, hello ma honey, hello ma rag-time gal...

The Demon was off gallivanting again last night. That left me with a whole evening to myself which I decided to spend in the company of an old friend, namely the DVD of Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece, Alien.

There's no question in my mind that this is without doubt one of the greatest films of all time. It works SO well on SO many levels and I never tire of watching it. The Demon on the other hand thinks that it's rubbish, mostly due to it's complete lack of flowers or handbags or nice things.
It's sci-fi, it's horror, it's a thriller, it's just an an amazing piece of work, more so when you consider that it's been almost 30 years since it changed Hollywood forever.
I only ever watch the Alien trilogy of films (don't get me started on Alien Resurrection or the Alien Vs Predator shite) on my own nowadays, mostly because I don't want any interruptions and also because I'm word perfect on Alien and it's sequel, Aliens. This leads to me sitting on the couch mumbling to myself like Rain Man. The Demon finds that quite annoying.
I won't bore you with my review of the film, there are far more eloquent people who have done that, but what I will do is tell you some of the trivia surrounding the film which you may, or may not, know:

The majority of the time the Alien is on screen it's being played by seven foot tall Masai tribesman Bolaji Badejo. He attended Tai Chi classes to make his movements in the suit seem more graceful and fluid.

When Jones the cat hisses at the Alien in the scene where Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) is taken into the ceiling (my favourite scene in the film and the one that's at the top of this post), he's actually hissing at a dog that was hidden behind a screen.

The film was originally going to be called 'Star Beast'. If it had, I suspect we wouldn't be talking about it nowadays.

The blue laser lights that were used in the alien ship's egg chamber were borrowed from The Who. The band was testing out the lasers for their stage show in the soundstage next door.

The slime used on the Alien was K-Y jelly.


*There are 5 bonus points to anyone who can tell me the link between Alien and the title of this post.
(PS - This question isn't open to Andrew Glazebrook as it's like asking other people "what's 2 + 2?")

Answers on a postcard . . .