Thursday, November 30, 2006

videoblog: matt loses his door

So this last weekend our flatmate Matt went home for a couple of days, not realising as he did that he had left his keys in his door.

The resulting fun is up on Youtube. Click here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

in support of an overlooked manchester landmark

There are certain iconic images one associates with Manchester: The Urbis building. Hulme Bridge. That stupid place Man United play their home games at. Tramps swearing and kicking cats across the street. Every city has them, and Manchester doesn't seem at all lacking.

There is one Manchester sight though, that I can't help feeling has been overlooked. One that deserves to be up there with those aforementioned greats. I used to pass it in my 2nd year of uni when I was going to or from Asda in Hulme. Yesterday I passed it again for the first time in 20 odd months. It is a beautifully crafted work, that highlights the modern inclusive British culture we have worked hard to cultivate in this country. It is, of course:



The legendary Bingo Jesus sign. It is just there, on the side of a random dilapidated old building, wasting away.

But it doesn't have to be this way. And so, with your help, I'd like to start a campaign here. You know, like The Sun and The Daily Mail do, except with actual worth. And not with the eventual intention of banning asylum seekers from all public places. Or trying to ensure our next Prime Minister is Sarah, 21, from Norwich. No, here is something worth fighting for. We need to install this landmark in the hearts and minds of Manchester's faithful.



Bingo Jesus. We salute you.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

youtube killed the video star

Have any of you gone sharing certain videos of me with the entire population of the internet or something?

I only ask because Teresa brought to my attention the statistics my Youtube videos had received.

Dublin videoblog one: 93 views. Favourited: 0 times.
Dublin videoblog two: 44 views. Favourited: 0 times.
Mark's a girl: 1,261 views. Favourited: 19 times.

What?! Is this as standard for crap ever-so-slightly amusing Youtube videos? Mental.


Leeches. on Eyeballs.


Saw Jackass 2 last night. It's well worth seeing if you enjoyed the original. Suffice to say: they've ramped up the extreme factor yet again.

There are a couple of things that don't work, namely the two big sketches that make up the last 10 minutes (The terrorist skit was slightly cringe worthy, and not in the usual fun Jackass manner). I came out of both it and the original thinking how great they both were, but after the first one I knew straight away that I'd be getting it on DVD too. After this one, I don't know, seeing it once was enough.

But yeah, go see it if it's your kind of thing. Most of it's AAA stuff. It scores 7 and a half pork pies out of 10.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

boring career based pondering

It struck me last night: I've been coming across as far too self-assured in these blogs. What's needed here is a good old dosage of indecision and panic about where life is heading to make me not sound like I'm attempting to squeeze my clearly sizable head up my unnervingly lax arse.

Coincidental thanks must therefore go to two of the people who know me best: My brother and my ex-girlfriend, who have both pointed out within the space of a fortnight that I might have ventured paddle-less up the delightful scenic waters of Shit Creek.

Both of them have advised me recently that maybe I should pursue journalism instead of this marketing lark. My brother going as far as to say that I'd be crap at marketing, as i haven't got the 'creative spark' required.

Gee thanks. Do you reckon i could've been informed of this when I wasn't in the last 8 months of a four year degree on the topic?

Journalism's all well and good, but:

A) I don't reckon I'd actually be good at it.
B) The pay is crap
C) It's ultra competitive

So yeah. Admittedly this isn't a brand new issue per se, as failing to get a placement in the industry probably got things rolling. But still, that was over a year ago, and I thought I might be back on track.

Oh well. I suppose its not exactly unusual to be coming to the end of a degree and not be sure of where's next. Still, all (25 of) my coursemates seem to be sorted out for their post-graduation moves. Admittedly thanks in part to the fact that half of them were offered jobs by their placement companies. Oh wait, self revelation: I'm just jealous of my coursemates. Because they are better than me. The intellectual little parsnip faces.

Hurrah For The Addicts

So last night I watched Trainspotting for the first time. Took my time, I know. It feels like i'm the only person of our generation not to have seen it.

T'was great anyway. Really enjoyed it. Although I'm amazed I didn't go on to have nightmares about baby zombies that night.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

funniest thing i read this morning

From Mediaguardian.co.uk

· The Sun should probably have thought twice about using the headline pervhunt .com on its splash about convicted paedophiles being named on a website. The paper didn't buy the name (the official site's name, www.ceop.gov.uk/wanted, is rather less catchy), so a Popbitch user did it for them. For the next few days visitors to pervhunt.com were then automatically rerouted to a section of the Sun's very own www.page3.com, featuring topless 18 and 19-year-old models.

Monday, November 20, 2006

blog where i post my thoughts on casino royale

So Casino Royale is great. Go see it.

It's weird though. Right from the outset they lay it down for you: they're trying to make the exact opposite film to Die Another Day here. No horrific CGI, no cringe worthy one-liners, no bloody mega laser beam satellites. Obviously, who could blame them. Things needed to change this time round, and straight away you're made aware of it. Even the traditional first three seconds of every bond film is not in place (you know, familiar theme pipes up, gun-eye-view white spot scrolls across the screen...). There's also fewer big action scenes, and at 2hrs 20 minutes it's longer than your average action film.

Although crucially, it never feels like it's too long. If you've always held a distaste for the bond formula, this may well be the film that brings you back in to the fold.

So then, every movie critic and his wife is trumpeting that Daniel Craig is to usher in a new golden era of Bond films. Not so fast you po-faced film buff freak. Pierce Brosnan's apparently so forgettable period as bond started fantastically, with Goldeneye. It wasn't the Sci-fi nonsense that his films gradually descended into.

Once again, people are excited about the future of Bond. Let's hope those in suits have learnt their lesson and keep up this high standard.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

everything is unhealthy

Seriously, you can't eat anything anymore. I just thought what about what I'm going to have for dinner tonight. Tomato Soup perhaps, I thought. Nice can of that lovely stuff. A couple of today's 5-a-day fruit and veg portions.

Who'd have thought that a can would be 50% of your daily guideline amount of salt. And that's before you've dipped some bread in it, which is apparently also a bit of a health risk nowadays. As well as, inexplicably, milk.

I brought a Ceaser Salad from Tesco for dinner on Thursday. 70% of your daily guideline fat amount. Seventy percent! And that was before I'd cooked off some bacon and peppers to add into it. It's mental. And I feel like I'm going to die of a trio of dietary related illnesses.

Anyway, off to see the new Bond film now, which is exciting. Opinions: soon.

And one further thought on food: have you ever got halfway through eating a horse, and thought "you know, I'm not as hungry as I thought I was."

i should be my brother's PA

The level of rubbishness my brother displays these days is getting rather silly. He calls me about the most inanely daft things. "how do I get these mp3s into iTunes, Mark?" "Can you find out when this program is repeated please?" "Help Mark, I'm getting confused between my backside and this knobbly thing half way down my arm..."

I swear he'd collapse in a crumbled heap if he ever couldn't get hold of me. I live 120 miles away for a reason damn it! I swear he's become the most unreliable person on the planet. Last weekend I gave him and his excellent and gorgeous teacher wife extensive telephone help on how to get hold of a DVD recording of that weekend's Planet Earth, and then get it to work properly on their rubbish school TVs, for her class of primary school kids to watch. A couple of days later, and I text David in between lectures to ask if it'd been successful.

No reply. Fair enough, I thought, he could be at work and too busy to respond. Later that night and I was still curious, so I text again. No bloody reply again.

Typical of him. He's flaky replying to texts at the best of times, but when somebody went to all the effort to help, and then can't hear if it went okay or not, it's downright annoying.

Anyway, I'm considering alternative career paths. If he becomes rich (and there's every chance he will, the fat faced adept little goat) then I might be his PA (personal assistant). I'm practically performing the role right now, only unpaid.

It's a job I wouldn't mind doing in general actually. I'd be damn good at it.

It's important to have a Plan B anyway. Anybody know how you get into such a career?

Oh well. Oh, I'm reading a great book at the moment - The History of Glue. Honestly, I can't put it down.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

some things that have been happening in the last few days

None of which a worthy of their own blog.

1) Saw Muse at MEN Arena. And very good they were too I would say. 8/10 good. I was going to do a review, but then realised that there was nothing to really say about it. It was just good, solid gig fun.

2) I pre-ordered one of these Wii videogame console things. Should be fun.

3) Random purchase from ebay:



A hipflask. Feel free to inform me on whether this is awesome or really quite sad.

4) In our thursday lecture there was a competition for everybody to pair off and try and guess where a branch of WH Smiths located in the West Midlands, based on the reams of data they provided. And me and Jenny won, being the only ones to guess the correct answer: Cannock. Couple this with the fact that I often feel like a filthy underachiever on my course, and I was pretty chuffed to be honest.

5) You might recall that I should right now be coming towards the end of a work slog to complete a 1st draft of the proposal for my final project? Well it's getting there, slowly. Here's hoping it's half decent by tomorrow evening, when I have to email it tutor-wards. The speccy faced git.

And that was some things that have been happening in the last few days.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

clearly getting old

Last night (following a classic night out for Helen's birthday, it should be noted) I had a donor kebab. First time in ages. In fact, I can't recall having one at all on my year out, so it might be 20ish months since my last one. Not sure though.

I didn't actually pay for it, mind. I was drunk, and so, for the first time, I used an old trick where I notice Abdul's kebab house is particularly busy, and so go in and stand amongst the people waiting for their orders. And look increasingly impatient as time goes on. Sure enough, I get asked what my order was, and a couple of minutes later a fresh meaty donor kebab is served up to me. Great, I used to love these things. Haven't had one in ages.

And you know what? I hated it. It tasted all greasy and grotty and disgusting. And yet I realised that it was tasting no different to every other kebab I'd ever eaten.

Maybe it's a sign I'm getting old now. Or maybe it just serves me bloody right for getting it free.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

i'm a girl

Conclusive proof. Me and Teresa in battle. Sorry about the quality.

Clicky here

Woo!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

how to fail a degree

Willpower. Most annoying subject in the world.

When it comes to doing a degree it's something I also find I don't possess. You can be sitting down at 7pm for a night's hard work, and then before you know it it'll be 11 o'clock and you'll have done nothing but casually browse the net, talk on MSN, and spending too long picking out tracks to listen to on itunes.

And you know what? It's bloody annoying. I've been gifted with the discipline and willpower of George Best at happy hour.

So your suggestions please. How do/did you knuckle down to work when it needed to be done?

Obviously, things like writing this don't help. To think, this thing was originally started to save time. People who knew me coming to one place to find out what I was up to whilst abroad, instead of me having to tell them individually.

Anyway, the gauntlet has now been well and truly thrown down. By Wednesday night I've got to have written in full and emailed to my project tutor a first version of the proposal. All 3000 words of it.

All this in a week where I'm already going to see gigs from both Muse and The Feeling, out two other nights, and am popping back to Nottingham to see about 7 people I used to go to school with.

Fun fun. Anyway, yes: advice please. How do you avoid the alleyway of distraction to carry on driving down the dual-carriageway of productivity towards the town of graduatingsville?

Monday, November 06, 2006

i was supposed to talk to dave pearce today

So Radio 1 were running a competition this weekend across all it's Dance music shows, to go and see a Moby DJ set, in Valencia, with 3 mates, hotel and flights paid for. All you had to do was name the six Moby tracks that were featured in the 13 second (difficult) clip, fill in the form on Radio 1 Online, and then you might be on Dave Pearce's Dance Anthems Sunday night for the final.

So I entered, and was then bloody excited when I got an email this afternoon from Ben at Radio 1 asking for my phone number so they could call. An hour later, Producer Megan calls and talks for 5 minutes about what'll happen, that they would want me to sound excited on air, and that they might be calling me back about 8.15 for the final. A few hours pass where I don't really know what to do with myself, and I get the phone call from Megan again. I'm told i'm on line 52 out of 100 callers going to be put on hold, and if Dave calls out my line number on air then I've won.

(This, I'm pretty sure, is crap. Think about it, if you were producing a show for Radio 1, would you go to the effort of calling 100 individual people for a competition, or would you just call a few and pretend on air that you had 100 on the lines?)

Anyway, I'm there with Radio 1 playing down my mobile at me, and who should come on the line to talk to me...? Megan again. 'Line 52?' she asks, and I sound excited like I'm air. Because I momentarily think I am. Not so apparently, she's just rechecking i'm still there.

A couple more minutes later, and Dave is talking on air. He's going to go to a line, tension is mounting, and the winner is line... 38.

Bugger. About a minute later my line is cut off. Some hyperactive girl won. Bitch.

You rate my movie film?

To console the loss, we went to see Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan (phew!) tonight. And you should go see it too.

Avoid the hype, avoid the press and the reviews on it, avoid the Youtube videos, and just go see it. It's great.

Friday, November 03, 2006

dan's a girl

Dan is my flatmate. A few other things you should know about him:

1) he's a good person
2) he likes things clean
3) he's a girl.

The last of those three things is a relatively new discovery. Do you recall adverts Nivea and Loreal were running a few months back encouraging men to use anti ageing and anti-wrinkle creams and such other things? Did you settle back comfortablely pondering which guys would actually buy into such blatent corporate crap? Well wonder no more: he's been found.

I mean you practically hear the board room discussions from here:

Director of Sales: Shareholders are getting tetchy folks, where's our growth going to come from this season?
Strategy Director: [bangs hand on table] I've got it! Let's try and flog this bollocks to men now!
Diector of Sales: Brilliant! Break out the cigars, boys!

Anyway, this is Dan's Bathroom window:



And on it we see such delights as:

L'oreal Anti-Tightness Gel
Skin Renovator Clensing Exfoliator Skin Renewer
Hydra Energetic Anti-Fatigue Moisturising Lotion

For a guy. For a 22 year old guy. Mental.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Zero 7 gig review, fun times at new clubs, and name that dance track

Went to Manchester club Satan's Hollow for the first time last night, for their Punk/Ska night. T'was fun.

They played lot's of such music sure, which was fun as always. What was really appreciated though was the token nods to other genres. Just one song from most, but they were all very well picked. Any club is a welcome destination in my book when its playlist includes such choice cuts as these:

Muse - Supermassive Black Hole
Girls Aloud - Biology
Andrew WK - Party Hard
Bombfunk MCs - Freestyler
Decepticon - Le Tigre
All-American Rejects - Dirty Little Secret
Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger

Quality. Their nod to dance was fantastic as well, but unfortunatly I don't know it's name. Which leads me to:


Name That Dance Track

Because I really really want to get a copy of it. And heaven knows I've heard it enough times when out at Stealth and that.

Now it's not as if I can just recount some of the lyrics to you, their isn't any. So instead I've had to do this - record a 15ish second long mp3 of me humming it, then upload it.

First person to tell me what it is can win a prize. I'll email them a photo of me in a thong or something. But if you know do tell me, I'm desperate here.

Stream or right click and save-target-as here

I'm a quality hummer, me.


Gig Review: Zero 7, Manchester Academy

This review's longer than usual, as it was written for The Independant instead of Teletext. Not that they printed it, they plumped for a review of some BBC Opera thing in Milton Keynes instead, the spanners.

Like such similarly melancholic acts as David Gray and Starsailor that won over middle Britain back nearer the turn of the century, Zero 7 followed initial debut success with an unimaginative comeback LP. Then once again mirroring said acts, they returned with superior third efforts, only to discover that the ever-rolling music bandwagon has since moved on, now uninterested by their offerings. However strong they may be.

One would suspect that Zero 7 would typify the style of band that work better on record than live. Anybody who's seen the purveyors of Radio 2 friendly indie music Keane live will understand the phenomenon. Some music just doesn't lend itself well to the live arena. Unlike Keane though, Zero 7 to their credit, have an innate understanding of this issue.

Whether it be the sumptuous three minute guitar solo that sits at the heart of This Fine Social Scene, or the multi layered seven person jam-session feel to Throw It All Away, the first five songs alone seem built to face the aforementioned preconceptions head on.

Such a sensory assault is the opening gambit of tracks, one almost forgets star album contributor Jose Gonzalez is also billed to appear. The let up in pace he brings to proceedings is both entirely necessary and warmly intimate, and yet ultimately short-lived.

Four minute radio friendly slices from the album (ironic, given their absence from radio station playlists) are pulled apart to become upward-swirling epics, no more evident than in the mammoth nine-minute version of album opener Futures, which builds under expert pacing to a romping, hedonistic musical peak. It's typical of a performance that looks to surprise and invigorate its source material wherever it can. Whether by necessity or ambition, the result remains highly effective.

Much of the credit for all this energy should be levelled at long-term collaborator Sia Furler, a naturally endearing front woman thanks to her kooky onstage manner. She's justifiably given chance to spread her wings on her own classic single Breathe Me, an enjoyable surprise for those in the audience familiar with its raw, affecting charm.

It's not flawless; Jose's star appearance enhances, rather than revolutionises, a gig format that would sail with or without him. Meanwhile, any relapsed fans will have been put out by the overwhelming focus on the current album. Tellingly, previous back catalogue stalwart Destiny seems limp when surrounded by its reworked younger brothers. And after the bounding energy of the main set, the 1,500 strong crowd struggles with the entirely down-par, acoustic nature of the encore. It's such an uncertain end to a self-assured night, one wonders what logic could underpin it. It only slightly manages to subtract from a delightful show.