Archive for January, 2012

I’m going to invite Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe to come to Glasgow to compete in a very special tournament… a Donkey Kong tournament!

The competition will be for pride only and will take place in Nice N Sleazy’s, which is located in Glasgow’s cosmopolitan sauchiehall street.  The tournament will feature the aforementioned former record holders and my good self.  I’m a bit of an avid retro gamer on the sly and between me and you I reckon I’ll win this at a canter.

That said, Mitchell and Wiebe deserve some respect.  They’ve been there and done it.  However, the tournament will be played under strict “Kelvindale Rules”, which are…

What are they you ask? Well, you’ll just have to wait until the big night to find out.

So there you have it.  I don’t see any reason this won’t happen.  I might even do a little interview with the two of them for the blog, I hear there’s this great bar in Falkirk called “Wedges and Walnuts” that does the best swordfish in Scotland.  The menu’s a little pricey, but I’d be splitting it down the middle with the players, so I can’t see any problems there.

Mitchell’s going down like he committed a crime. Wiebe’s going down too, but more gently cause I think he’s kinda cool.


TV Dinner:

Today as I was driving home, in what was a very snowy evening, I saw two gentleman pushing a shopping trolley along the pavement.  In the trolley was a television.  Not a flatscreen or a plasma, but a battered old Grundig type number.  This was a little odd in itself, but even more bizarrely they suddenly decided half way down the street that it would be a good idea to cover up the tv from the rather heavy snow.  One of these “gentleman” took off his hoodie and covered it up.  TV protected from the snow, they continued their journey to who knows where.

I can only assume that there was a reasonable explanation for all this, it would be outrageous to assume that there was any tomfoolery* afoot.

*Tom is my favourite of the foolery family.

The 80’s finished 22 years ago you know:

I was taking part in a pub quiz in Glasgow bar Yang about 13 years ago and was doing rather well.  About 5 rounds in I took a glance to my right (up till then I had been staring only at my answers, my pint, the quiz master and then back at my pint) and saw a young gentleman who was sitting alone at his table.  The unusual thing was that he seemed to have spilled an awful lot of talcum powder on his table.  Stranger still, was that he seemed to be almost sucking up this talcum powder via his nostrils.  Very strange behaviour indeed.  After a few minutes of this, the man jumped (I remember that part vividly, it was a jump) out of his seat, in the process knocking some of the Talc onto the floor.  He then bounded out of the bar.

I’m not sure why someone would bring talcum powder to a bar.  Perhaps he’d been shopping and simply spilled it on the table. I can’t think of any other explanation.

This crutch is more than just a prop you know:

I attended a gala bash in Glasgow hot spot Waxy O’Connors a number of years ago.  Whilst there I met a trampolinist (I am not making that up), who was entertaining me with stories about trampolines and bouncing on them.  He lived in denistoun and said he had a full size one in his flat – must have been a hoot staying under him.  Anyway, he had a bad fall on his trampoline and damaged his knee, and hence was on crutches for about 3-4 months.  About 3 hours into the evening a group of young ladies who’d been enjoying a tipple or 12 from the free bar decided it would be funny to steal his crutches.  They then (against his protests) decided to race each other in said crutches around the bar.  Even though the plucky trampolinist looked close to tears, the important thing was that the fucked-up, moronic, grown-up neds, idiots, stupid heads, waste of space and general wasters had some fun.

I’m sure they weren’t drunk.  As they slurred their apologies later that night I knew that the only explanation could be a bad pint, because no one is that cruel, are they?

Glasgow, city of culture 1990.

You can forget Romeo & Juliet, Mulder & Scully, Elizabeth & Mr Darcy, Wall-E & EVE and Han Solo & Princess Leia. None of these legendary pairings can hold a candle to the beauty, the splendor, the awesomeness that is:

Sheldon Cooper (PHD) & Amy Farrah Fowler (PHD)
(The “Shamy”)

How did they meet?

Rather randomly actually via a dating agency.  Sheldon has no interest in dating and goes along merely out of scientific curiosity.  He immediately takes to Amy though when she reveals that she only came because she made a pact with her mother that she would date once a year in exchange for her mothers silence on the issue of dating forever.

She’s a girl who is my friend, she’s not my girlfriend:

For a very long time Sheldon does not admit to actually going out with Amy.  Whenever quizzed on the matter he will always say that “Amy is a girl who is my friend, she is not my girlfriend”.  It is only after Amy goes out on a date with Stu (the comic store owner) that he finally asks her to be his girlfriend.  It was kind of sweet.  The most awesome part being that after he asked her out (in front of her date Stu) that he immediately heads back to his house and tells Amy and Stu to enjoy the rest of their evening.

The way they talk to each other:

Amy Farrah Fowler: Would you like to come in for a nightcap? 
Sheldon Cooper: If you’re referring to the beverage, you know I don’t drink. If you’re referring to the hat you don with a night shirt and holding a candle, I have one.  


Amy Farrah Fowler: Sheldon, I am not going through menopause! 
Sheldon Cooper: Are you sure? You said that with the testy bark of an old biddy.

But do they love each other?

Of course they do.  It’s just that it’s a love that requires a Sheldon or Amy size IQ to fully comprehend.

Their complete lack of social skills:

It’s awesome.  If something is on either of their minds they say it and not just to each other, but to anyone they talk to.  No second thought to hurt feelings.  Whenever they’re talking to each other and one of them gets bored the other one will simply say bye and get up and leave.  Wouldn’t that be nice sometimes in life, rather than having to abide by social etiquette.

One other couple, also in “The Big Bang Theory”, comes close to rivalling The Shamy, and that is Howard Wolowitz and Berndatte Rostenkowski.

But Amy and Sheldon just edge it.

Watch the Big Bang theory.  If there is a better show on TV right now I’ll eat my hat.

With enough "Talent" this too could be yours

I’ve seen a lot of crap films in my time and a lot of amazing ones too.  The amazing ones tend to get the Oscar, the BAFTA or the Golden globe, with the actors starring in these films almost guaranteed recognition due to the quality of the direction, script, production etc.

But what about an actor giving a great performance in film that was amazing but not oscar worthy, perhaps even a great performance in what was ultimately a bad film.  They don’t tend to get too much recognition do they?  Well tonight I am going to correct that wrong.  I’ve listed below some of my all time favourite acting performances. It’s important to note before reading that I am right and that my choices are unquestionable:

Actor: Bryce Dallas Howard

  Actor rating: 9 out 10

  Film: “The Village”

  Film Rating: Good awful, 2 out 10

Bryce plays this blind lady called Ivy Walker.  The whole story is supposedly set around 1800-1900 (approx) in America, and takes place in a village completely surrounded by a forest that is haunted.  When a villager falls ill they have to venture to the nearest town to acquire medicine, and the only person brave enough to embark on the journey is the blind Bryce Dallas Howard – Why the rest of the town let her, is one of the many reasons this film sucks.  However Bryce is an absolute revelation.  The film is worth watching for her alone.

Actor: Robert De Niro
 Actor Rating: 9 out of 10
 Film: “Ronin”
 Film Rating: 9 out of 10
First of all this movie isn’t exactly thoughtful, but fuck me is it exciting.  It features 3 of the most edge of your seat, wanna rip your hair out, scare the be-jesus out of you, just plain amazing car chase sequences that you will ever see in the history of cinema.  De Niro plays the “Hero” of the film, but as the film is about a bunch of guns for hire doing a job for IRA, they’re aren’t too many real hero’s involved.  No spoilers in this review, just watch this movie. Get a couple of beers, a bag of nuts and sit down and enjoy the best 2 hours of your life.

I'm jude law you know


Actor: Jude Law
 Actor performance: 9 out 10
 Film: “Gattaca”
 Film Rating: 10 out of 10

Gattaca is in every possible respect the perfect film.  It’s pure beauty.  It is set “in the not too distant future” and broadly speaking follows the fortunes of astronaut Vincent Morrow as a genetically inferior man who assumes the identity of a superior one, Jerome (Jude Law) in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.  Jude Law is a former olympic swimmer who discovered that his genetic engineering didn’t deliver everything he was promised.  He’s an alcoholic. He tried to kill himself, and ends up in a wheelchair.  His relationship with Ethan Hawkes character is absolutely out of this world and the way that his personal journey ends is one of the saddest things you will ever witness.  A flawless performance from a usually not great actor. All hail Jude Law… but just in Gattaca.

 Actor: Richard Dawson

 Actor rating: 9 out of 10

 Film: “The Running Man”

 Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Richard Dawson the host of Family Feud plays the villain of the piece, Damon Killian, in the 80’s classic “The Running Man”.  The film is about a futuristic dystopian Earth in which convicted criminals are forced to take part in a game show called “The Running Man”, where the contestants have to battle to the death against some pretty tooled up Gladiators.  Anyway, Richard Dawson plays the moral free host of this show, and he is fucking awesome.  One of his quotes in the movie is “Just give them an evasive answer. Tell them to go fuck themselves.” I mean, you can’t argue with that.

Actor: John Gordon Sinclair
Actor Rating: 9 out of 10
Film: “Gregory’s Girl”
Film Rating: 9 out of 10

Such a lovely movie.  It’s a about a young lad in school, JGS, who falls head over heels in love with a girl who tries out for the school football team.  He’s a bit of loser but she agrees to go out with him.  Anyway, she doesn’t show up, but her friend does, who takes him out for a chippy, and then she paps him off to another friend (Claire Grogan) who has had a crush on Gregory (JGS) for a while, and those too have their first date.  It’s soooo nice.  Very rarely has a film captured what it is like for a young man when he is first properly dating in School, and the just complete uncertainty that surrounds it.  The film also captures the complete joy of Gregory final finding a girlfriend and how happy he is.  It’s just so nice, my silly review isn’t doing it justice. Go and watch. Anyway, the main lead, JGS is amazing as the hapless and loveable Gregory.

So there you have it, a few brilliant performances that you may or may not have seen before. As I said at the top, my review is accurate; I’ve checked.  No, I’m not crazy, my mother had me tested.  So, check out these films, check out the performances, check out life, you’ll like it.

What follows is a made up conversation:

Me: Forget albums, they’ve gone now.
Imaginary Person: But I like albums.
Me: I said they’re done, ok?
Imaginary Person: Ok

Well, that settles that.  So if albums have finally died I guess it’s down to individual songs to save the day.  So here are some tunes that will cream your corn… as they say in Nebraska:

(1) Biffy Clyro: Eradicate the Doubt
Comments: Listen to it for 1 minute and you’ll realise that Biffy Clyro were actually good once upon a time.

(2) Muse: Dead Star
Comments: So good, most other songs look a little boring by comparison. Back when Muse were good.

(3) Sugar: JC Auto
Comments: JC Auto, as in Jesus Christs Autobiography. Bob mould, legend. Also of Husker Du. Need I say more?

(4) PJ Harvey: Long Snake Moan
Comments: I saw her live once.  It was fairly awful to be honest. But this is a tune.

(5) Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Deja Vu
Comments: Lets face it, they’re kind of cool. Like this tune a lot.

So listen to them. What have you got to lose? Apart from your pride, upon learning that my tunes have saved your life. Think about it.

At around 2pm on a Friday in 1999 I awoke from my slumber.  I’d “worked*” quite late the previous night and was up for just sitting on my arse the vast majority of the day.  After having some toast** I decided to chuck on the Playstation.  I played “Risk” for a good 3 hours and had a few more slices of “Toast” while I played.  At around 5pm my other half came home from work and after a little chat and a bit of dinner we decided to watch a film.

After all the “Toast” I was feeling a bit tired and my mind wasn’t functioning at its peak efficiency.  However I did remember an occasion when I was about 12 years old when I watched half of a Planet of the apes film and I remembered it being good.  So, in what was a monumental effort, we left the house to go to Woolworths (only 1 minute from the flat, so it was easy) to try to find said movie.  We were in luck, there was a box set of all 5 Planet of the apes films.  I couldn’t believe my luck. Without thinking about it I purchased them and we headed back to the flat.  I made myself another slice of “Toast” and stuck on the first movie.

Wow!  It was soooo good.  It’s nothing like you might expect.  Unless you were expecting to see an absolutely amazing social parable, that has first class acting, an amazing story and a cool sci-fi slant. In which case it would be exactly what you were expecting.

Where do I begin?  Well, at the start I think.  An astronaut called Taylor (Charlton Heston) is in a spaceship and is talking about his mission (his ship is accelerating faster and faster towards the speed of light as it leaves our solar system).  He and other crew members are going to go into a cryo sleep for the duration of the trip, during which time hundreds of years will pass on earth but the crew won’t have aged at all.  Taylor, you can tell from his first line, clearly has a low opinion of the human race and hopes to find something more evolved and less violent among the stars.  Anyway, he goes to sleep and that’s when this shit gets real.

The ship crash lands on a desert planet (in an ocean); with Taylor, Landon and Dodge (two other crewmates) barely escaping the sinking craft.  They make the shore, but find the world completely devoid on any signs of life.  The supplies they have rescued will only last a matter of days, so they have no choice but to explore.  They head inland, and after days of travel eventually final more fertile ground and eventually forests.  It is there that they meet humans, but very primitive human beings (think not much above caveman status).

Suddenly, clothed gorillas riding horses charge through a field and they have guns! Nets! and all sorts of nastiness, and oh yeah, they can talk!!!!  The astronauts try to run, whilst doing this Dodge is killed, Landon knocked out and Taylor is shot in the throat. Taylor passes out, but when he wakes up he is housed in a cage with other humans, and we are introduced to Nova (Linda Harrison). Taylor also discovers that due to his injury he can’t speak.

Taylor discovers that the apes, who can talk, are in control and are divided into what is a like caste system.  Gorillas are the muscle.  Orangutans the lawyers, religious clerics and the admin.  The Chimpanzees are the brains. Humans, who cannot talk, are considered feral vermin and are hunted for sport and either killed outright, enslaved for manual labor, domesticated as pets, or used for scientific experimentation.

Two nice apes, Zira and her fiancé Cornelius (the always awesome Roddy McDowall) take a liking to Taylor. They can see that Taylor is clearly more intelligent than the average caveman, but he still can’t talk. Taylor attempts to communicate by writing in the dirt, but his writings are hidden by Nova and Cornelius’s boss, an orangutan named Dr Zais (Maurice Evans in his best role). Eventually, Taylor steals paper from Zira and uses it to write messages to her. Zira and Cornelius become convinced that Taylor is intelligent, but upon learning of this, Zaius orders that Taylor be castrated.

Taylor escapes but ultimately he is in Ape city and has no real chance of escape.  When he is finally caught, in his anger he finally regains his voice, and utters one of the best lines in cinema history “Get your hands off me you damn dirty ape!”  The Apes are shocked to say the least.

The apes then put Taylor on trial (just for being intelligent). The trial is a formality as the court has already made up it’s mind. After the tribunal, Dr. Zaius privately threatens to lobotomize Taylor if he doesn’t lie about where he came from. With help from Zira’s socially rebellious nephew Lucius  Zira and Cornelius free Taylor and Nova, taking them to the Forbidden Zone, a region outside of Ape City subject to an ancient taboo that has remained quarantined for centuries. A year earlier, Cornelius led an expedition into the Forbidden zone and found a cave containing artifacts of a previous non-simian civilization. The party then set out for the cave, to answer the questions Taylor has about the evolution of the Ape world and to prove he is not of their world.

When they arrive, Taylor finds human artifacts that date to around the 20th century. Like a pair of spectacles, a child’s doll and a pace maker.  Dr Zais (who followed them there) refuses to believe that human beings were ever intelligent and goes to leave the cave.  As he does so, Taylor drops the human doll and it speaks the word “Mama”.  Taylor asks why any Ape would make a human doll that could talk.

At the beech outside the cave Dr. Zaius admits that he has always known that human civilization existed long before apes ruled the planet. He explains that “the Forbidden Zone was once a paradise and that human beings made a desert of it”.

Taylor and Nova are allowed to leave and head away from the apes along the beach. Taylor still looking for answers.

They eventually stop, and dismount their horses at the bottom of an enormous structure casting a shadow over the beach.

They discover the charred remnants of the Statue of Liberty on the beach.  Thus revealing that this “alien” planet, that previously had a human civilization long before apes ruled, is actually post apocalyptic Earth.

And that’s it.  It fades to the credits and all that can be heard is the waves crashing as the credits roll.  It is one of the most grim endings in hollywood history, perhaps only matched by the 70’s remake of “Invasion of the body snatchers”.  There is no hope. Humans have lost. The world died. I love it!!! There should be far more endings like that. Life is no fairytale after all.

Anyway.  The following nights we watched the other 4 Planet of the apes films, and whilst it’s fair to say they get steadily worse film by film, the whole series is absolutely fantastic and the way the 5th one ends is actually really lovely.

* I wasn’t working
** It wasn’t toast

I’ve seen some fairly amazing shows in my life.  Some notable highlights include “The Manic Street Preachers” at Glastonbury in 1998, “Smashing Pumpkins” in London in 1999 and Faithless at Glastonbury in 2003.   But amongst the best live shows I have ever seen would have to be “The Monotonix” in “Nice n Sleazy” in Glasgow in 2010.

I was told by some good friends that they put on an amazing show and there was nothing quite like it.  I’d heard this kind of thing before, and have often been disappointed, but all the same I rolled up to the venue.  We got there at around 6pm, so there was a couple of hours to kill before the show started.  We got in a round of wheat beers, popped on a few tunes in the jukebox and started playing the arcade (circa 1984) machine that is in the bar.  Four or five drinks later and fingers sore from the 2 hours of button bashing we headed down to the gig.  It was only £5.00 to get in, which I found fairly remarkable to be honest.

Anyway, the place was packed to capacity (first time I’d ever seen that in Sleazy’s) and the band were setting up.  The first thing they did was to move the drum kit into the middle of the floor. The guitarist stood at the stage, and the singer was at the front menacingly looking at the crowd.  Then they started to play…

It was like an explosion of sound.  I’ve honestly never heard anything like it before or since.  The whole place erupted immediately.  Within no time at all the crowd were lifting the drummer into the air, but not just him, his whole kit.  4 guys held up his seat, and him. Someone else had a snare, another a floor tom, 3 other guys and girls the bass drum, and the drummer was playing his kit in mid-air!!!!

The same happened with the singer, when he wasn’t hanging onto the ceiling he was singing on the crowd, and the guitarist was at it too.

Their crazy live act aside, the music was excellent.  Difficult to classify what they played, but I suppose it was Indie, really noisy indie and really fast indie.  But it was just amazing.  I don’t think I could even hum one tune they played that night, but I remember the whole show from start to finish never once being boring, and I enjoyed every song they played.

I have a rule that I try to never see a group more than once, because whilst they may have new songs (which I’m more than happy to listen to in my own time) I have essentially seen everything that band has to offer.  I think this holds true with The Monotonix. It is very unlikely I would enjoy the repeat performance as much as that first time.  Plus it’s more special that way, instead of seeing something over and over again, and dulling the experience, it will always remain perfect for me.

The Monotonix called it a day in 2011, which is a shame.  They were very unique and there are a lot of bands in the world who have a very high opinion of themselves who could learn a lesson from the Monotonix on what it truly means to be innovative and original.