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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Timothy Olyphant, sounds like elephant

There's something refreshing about a low budget film. More often than not you'll be watching actors who rarely make A lister status and the lack of funds can sometimes, but not always, push directors to be a bit more creative. "The Crazies" is definitely one of those films, punching well above its weight.
It's hardly ground breaking, being a remake of a 1973 George A. Romero pseudo zombie flick about a small American town that accidentally falls victim to a biological weapon designed to "destabilise a population" by either killing them or turning them into homicidal "zombies".

I loved it, mostly because it's a perfect example of old school 'scary' movies. The frights come thick and fast, aided in no small part by perfect timing and excellent 'jump out of your seat' music.
It's also got a well picked cast, none of whom overwhelm the movie like some big names do, and it's always good to see Timothy Olyphant, an actor who doesn't really get as much work as he should.
Mr Romero, the grandfather of the zombie, would approve.

If you like a good fright now and then, I highly recommend it.

Friday, February 26, 2010


"Hello Meeester Eeeeench" says the consultant audiologist, "I 'ave taken a luuuuk at your resooolts, and you haaave gradual onset chronic deafness".
Suddenly her accent wasn't funny anymore.
"I have what?" says I......
The irony wasn't lost on me.

I have lost 50% of my hearing ability, mostly in the upper frequencies, the ones that speech falls into, which is kinda important. Apparently I have the kind of hearing that someone in their mid to late fifties would be expected to have, and it can only get worse. There's no surgical or medical procedure to sort out my lugs, the only option I have is a hearing aid.

I think I'll pass just now, maybe in another twenty years or so, I'll get back to ya!

I've never considered myself to have a hearing deficiency, but after losing out on a new job last year because I wasn't able to meet the minimum hearing standard, I thought I better get my ears checked out.
Sure, I like loud music, (who doesn't?) and have a long-running love affair with noisy motorbikes, but I never thought that I'd done them any damage by subjecting them to 120 decibels or beats per minute, whichever came first.
As it turns out, I haven't damaged my ears at all, it's the sort of speaker cable in between them and my brain that's degrading.
Not the best news I could have received this week, but at least I'm not nearly forty.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My God, It's Full Of Stars . . .

They get a hard time of it, do the boffins at NASA. Budgets being cut, launch vehicles being retired, continually having to justify themselves to an increasingly introverted home population, but as long as they keep churning out images like this, then they get my vote.

Note how thin the atmosphere is at the edges of the image (click the image for a bigger version), that's all that's keeping us alive folks!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Unforgettable . . .

 . . . is how I'm going to describe the Lostprophets at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange on Friday night.
Unforgettable, but not for the reasons you might think.
Sure, it was a rocking gig. The Lostprophets have been around long enough to know their way around a stage, and around a crowd for that matter. "You guys are much fucking better than (insert previous venue town here) were last night!" etc etc. Don't get me wrong, they can rock alright, and rock good, but that's still not really why it was a memorable gig. No, it will stay with me because it was:

A. The hairiest gig I've ever been to. There were mullets and afros, long hair and strange metrosexual flicks everywhere. And yes, I was jealous.

B.  It was one of the loudest gigs I've ever been to, and I've been to lots. It was so loud that The Demon had her ear plugs in from the first song onwards.

C. It had one of the best mosh pits I've ever seen, which at one point featured a totally spontaneous 10-man human pyrimid! Seriously.

D. Mostly as a result of B and C,  it was fucking stinking of BO, I mean proper 'amateur rugby team changing rooms' type pong.

None of which detracted from a top show by a top band. They even threw a little bit of Welsh pantomime in for free. Top lads.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ripping Yarns

10 days.
That's how long it's taken me to rip my entire CD collection.
10 days of staring blankly at a monitor, 10 days of searching the net for the album art that dBpoweramp can't find, 10 days of "OMG, I can't believe I bought that!", but, as the last few digital notes of the "You And Me Song" by The Wannadies made their way to their new home, it was finally over, 6217 songs and over 187Gb worth of music.

It seems quite strange seeing my musical timeline laid out on my bedroom floor. I bought my first CD  player in 1986 when CDs were all spangly and new, and my first CD was the U2 single "With or Without You". Along with  "Don't Go" by The Hothouse Flowers and "Brothers In Arms" by Dire Straits, it was about the only music available on these strange silver discs that everyone thought you could use instead of toilet paper and they would still work.
As I've been ripping I've been "Rediscovering Music", to quote a catchphrase from the company I work for.
I'd forgotten all about "Megablast" by Bomb The Bass, "Muscle Deep" by Then Jerico or "Connection" by Elastica. Songs from my past that instantly take me back.

I'm thoroughly looking forward to having instant access to my new library, the ability to make playlists and browse my tracks through my PDA and to hear all this wonderful music better than it's ever sounded before.

Vive la digital revolution!

*PS - Bonus points for anyone who can correctly identify all the top CD's in the photo.
No prize, just glory . . . and my respect.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Man Who Fell To Earth

There are some bizarre activities in my non-existent list of 'Things to do before you're 40':

Ride a racehorse very fast.
See whales in the ocean.
Drive an F1 car or MotoGP bike.
Be a passenger in any military fast jet.
Watch Falkirk win the SPL*.

But in a few weeks I'll be fulfilling another, I'm going to do a skydive.
I will be strapped to someone who will actually know what they are doing.
We will clamber into a rickety wee plane.
We will climb to approximately 10,000 feet above the very beautiful but very hard Auchterarder countryside.
At this point, the nice man strapped to my back will shuffle us to a gaping hole in the side of the plane, something I never thought I'd ever see and live to talk about, where we will then leap like heroes, but plummet like stones.
In a few seconds we will be travelling at something like 120mph, because as everyone knows 1g [m/s^2].
If everything goes to plan, our 'chute, as we skydivers call it, will deploy at around 5000 feet, and we will glide like a sycamore leaf  to a pinpoint accurate landing on the unyielding ground below.

.....where I will stop crying and change my pants.

It's all for a good cause of course, a Scottish charity called ENABLE, which is why, dear reader, I'm looking for sponsorship. 
No amount is too small so get clicking HERE! 

*It is a fantasy list after all!