Sunday, December 30, 2007

my top 10 albums and singles of 2007


1. A Weekend In The City - Bloc Party
2. Neon Bible - Arcade Fire
3. An End Has A Start - Editors
4. We Are The Night - Chemical Brothers
5. Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters - The Twilight Sad
6. Myths of the Near Future - Klaxons
7. Thirst For Romance - Cherry Ghost
8. Hit & Hope - Ormondroyd
9. "Cross" - Justice
10.Between Voices - Anti Atlas


1. Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors - Editors
2. No Cars Go - Arcade Fire
3. Can't Stop Moving - Sonny Jim
4. Sirens - Dizzie Rascal
5. Breakin' Up - Rilo Kiley
6. I Wish I Could Have Loved You More - Candie Payne
7. The Beat That My Heart Skipped - Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip
8. Selfish Jean - Travis
9. Granite - Pendulum
10. Mammoth - Interpol

Friday, December 07, 2007

simon's job interview calamity

So dear friend Simon emailed me with the story of a job interview he'd just been to. We both then agreed that it would make an AWESOME blog post. And so here it is:

went for a job interview the other day, walk to reception they take a picture of me and put it into an open plastic wallet to pin to my suit for ID purposes, bit nervous i pin it on, go to the toilet whilst someone is coming for me from upstairs. go to toilet to have a quick piss and make sure im looking good. have a piss bit yellow, look in the mirror lookin good paronoid about possible piss stain in my suit which i happily avoided, i bend over to flush the toilet.

before i reach the handle to flush i realise i have not properly secured my plastic open wallet to my suit because it is filling up with piss at the bottom of the toilet.

i pick it out straight away think ill get another one, but then think right im on my own i cannot describe what i have done to anyone, start taking the paper of my name and face out of it which luckily still is half dry . i turn upside down the plastic wallet to return the piss back to the toilet. i try to dry all the piss but it is difficult to get out of all the corners, so remembering someone is on there way i put my damp ID on and leave the toilet. at the end of the interview i had to give the damp ID back felt a bit bad.

got a call today that i didnt get the job, which was a bit disappointing

Monday, November 26, 2007

gig reviews: pendulum, cherry ghost, damien rice, foals, air traffic, amy macdonald

I haven't posted any gig reviews up here since Glastonbury, so here: have six at once.

Pendulum, Nottingham Rock City

Always teetering on the edge of fully-fledged mainstream success, with a new band aesthetic Pendulum appear hungrier than ever to achieve it.

The songs previewed here have a new intelligence. It's still drum and bass, but now guitar heavy, seemingly more influenced by the likes of Zeppelin and Muse. That this performance is an all-conquering riot despite only paying brief lip-service to signature-track Slam indicates the strong body of work they have now built up.

It all makes one confident enough to make this prediction: 2008 will be Pendulum's year. 9/10

Cherry Ghost, Nottingham Rescue Rooms

Simon Aldred appears every inch a studio artist.

Throughout his set he speaks only to thank his audience and never veers a note away from his (unquestionably wonderful) source material.
Such an approach then becomes a chore as it is stretched over 80 long minutes.

The crowd never returns favour with more than polite applause, and presumably leave wishing they'd stayed home with their copy of the album. 6/10

Damien Rice, Nottingham Arena

Damien Rice really has no idea how to play arenas. Ignoring several of his best known songs in order to air four b-sides, the casual fan must have started out dumbfounded.

For the obsessive though, it's more a wet dream.

Singing Cannonball unamplified to a pin-drop silent audience, Guillimots-esque reworking and extending of songs, breaking fire regulations and riling the furious stewards by inviting the seated audience to all stand at the stage front...

Afterwards, one thing becomes clear: Damien Rice really knows how to play arenas. 8/10

Foals, Nottingham Rescue Rooms

There is an unprecedented amount of between song chatter amongst the audience for a gig outside of London.

Many have clearly come along to check out the next big thing. Indeed for a band so early in their career headlining the 500 capacity venue seems a tall order.

Aware - and yet slightly fazed by - the challenge, the band power through a raucous 35 minute set that sees most won over. Any longer and their staple dance-punk sound would get tiresome, but in this well sized portion, they're a riot. 8/10

Air Traffic, Nottingham Rescue

Special mention must go to support band The Law, who only turned up 20 minutes before their set time, and put on a similarly botched performance.

For Air Traffic themselves, a dull opening 20 minutes doesn't provide much confidence, but when they belatedly burst into life with Charlotte its as much a relief as a joy.

A storming closing gambit of Empty Space and Shooting Star seals the deal, and if nothing else they're a perfectly amiable way to pass the time waiting for the next Coldplay album. 7/10

Amy MacDonald, Nottingham Social

Amy is doing nothing particularly original with her blend of Radio 2 friendly acoustic pop, but she's doing it better than most purely thanks to the strength of her songs.

Live, she's also helped by a fine line in telling chattering audience members to 'shut the hell up', and a charming stripped down cover of Mr. Brightside which seems purpose built to be played on Jo Whiley's Radio 1 show one day. It all makes for an endearing performance that hints of greater things to come. 8/10

Thursday, November 22, 2007

who'd be england manager?

Christ, can't believe I'm posting a blog about football. It must be a big news day in the sport world.

Seriously though: England, as a competitive force, are permanently screwed. They'll never win a major competition again. Because, realistically who on earth is going to be daft enough to ever take the England Manager's job ever again?

It must rank down there amongst 'traffic warden', 'Blue Peter competition operator' and 'terrorist' for professions where everybody is going scrutinise you and end up hating your guts.

The knives came out for Steve McLaren today, as you might expect. Graham Taylor was Public Enemy #1 after England last failed to qualify for a tournament back in 1993. Other managers have enjoyed relative success then hit a bad patch and had to endure the country turning on them (Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan). Even Sven-Goran Eriksson at the height of his success in the role had to cope with ridiculous amounts of press and public scrutiny into his private life. Only Terry Venables seems to have escaped unscathed from the job in the last 15 years.

So, the question has to be asked: who on earth would be stupid enough to take the England Manager job now? The media scrutiny and willingness to change their opinions as regularly as the wind changes direction means that the best people for the job are going to have the good sense to leave it well alone.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

is this the tipping point for facebook?

Anybody been having problems with Facebook over the last few days and weeks?

Quite possibly. For me it's been the odd error message here and there. Today the site has decided not to send out any email notifications to me, which is odd. Meanwhile my friends' status updates page seems to fill up with people complaining they can't access their message inboxes, or write on people's walls.

And well, it all seems a little too familiar.

Familiar because, we were all here a couple of years ago. When Myspace was at it's peak, and then started to have a few technical difficulties. Bulletins not working, the occasional error screen - nothing too damning, but mildly irritating all the same.

And of course the spam. Mildly forgiveable at first (hey, we're a slightly above average unsigned band, can we be your friend please?), and nowadays taking a more traditional spam format (hey, I'm new to this place, I've got this other site, a webcam and slight nymphomaniac tendencies. Can we be friends please?)

And then it was sold for a ridiculously over-the-odds amount of money to News International, and sat there for a good two years barely receiving any new features, funding, or attention whilst Facebook slowly stole it's limelight.

And so I'm just wondering, when will this all happen for Facebook too?

It's certainly still enjoying the same surge in interest that Myspace had in its heyday. And generating the same stupidly lucrative takeover talk.

I've had friend requests from a couple of organisations irritatingly posing as people. And the site's equivalent of unsigned band spam (hey, we're a local clubnight promoter, please come join our group which will never top 100 members) has been around for a fair while.

So what's next? Increasingly severe breakdowns like the ones we've been getting recently? An invasion of the spambots? Lucrative buyout from a clueless snail-like old-media organisation?

I'm not sure. I'm just hope the organisation is wise enough to learn from the past mistakes of it's competitors.

People inevitably ask whether or not Facebook is just a passing fad, but in all likelihood that's probably only going to be true if a better product comes along to replace it. That's all that's happened to Myspace, and previous flash-pan successes like Friendster. Who knows how Facebook will fare?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

my mum likes spooks

A quick hello to my mum, who's a big fan of returning BBC spy drama Spooks. She rushed in to the lounge to watch the 10:30pm showing of Spooks on BBC3 tonight. She turned it on 4 minutes late, thinking it was a repeat of the BBC1 episode that was shown at 9 o'clock, then proceeded to ponder that they seemed to have jumped straight into the plot a little quicker than usual.

It was only when I got home at 12:30 that I explained how BBC3 often broadcast the following episode of big shows shortly after their terrestrial counterparts have screened the preceding ones, and that she'd actually just watched episode 2 by mistake.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

nottingham city transport axe nightrider services

Here's some news that pretty much nobody else will care about apart from me: Nottingham City Transport are to end their night service buses from the 24th November, so I hear.

The services are to be replaced by buses travelling along the popular Go2 routes after midnight on Friday or Saturday nights only.

It's hardly surprising, the service must have been making a huge loss for months. Barely anybody uses the things. So it's not really their fault if they cancel them, right?

Well, wrong. Plenty of people would use them, but the operation of the services over the last few years has been a joke.

Firstly, the price. It has risen by 50p every year recently. It now stands at either £3 or £3:50 for a single ticket, I can't remember exactly because I've got a bus pass. But either way, that's a ridiculous amount of money. The only people who are going to pay it are customers who regularly get the bus on their own (read: me). If there's two or more of you, you might as well get a taxi at that price, and you'll be home a lot sooner too.

So it's hardly surprising that the amount of people using the service now has completely nosedived. Why wasn't the price kept at a more competitive level, hmm?

Secondly, marketing. Or rather, the lack of it. Hardly anybody has ever known about the existence of the night services. People don't even know of them as an option. It wouldn't have been hard, NCT: put up adverts for each Nightrider service on the applicable daytime bus routes that go to the same areas - so - advertise the 99 Nightrider service along all the daytime busses that go to Clifton, Ruddington and West Bridgford, alongside all your adverts for Skylink services and sex advice clinics.

So, the Save The Nightrider Services campaign starts here. If nothing else, I need them to get home from work during the week or I'll struggle to keep being able to work at Rescue Rooms. Are you listening, Nottingham City Transport?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

dirty thieving asylum seekers

Wow, people really have a problem with the whole immigration thing in this country don't they? It seems like every week somebody's informing me of how this country is now being over-run by foreigners, stealing either our benefits, our jobs, or our wives. Or all three. At once. Whilst grooming our children. With Gangsta rap and Turkey Twizzlers.

Just the other night one of our bouncers at work was sounding off about how this country's lost the plot regarding the whole thing, and I could only reply with "well I disagree, but I don't want to get into it". Mainly because I try not to get involved in big arguments with people who's job role could encompass saving my life one day.

But yeah, why is this opinion so overwhelmingly widespread, mmm? Have people simply been paying too much attention to what the Daily Mail tells them? (Along with the rest of the newspapers, come to think of it)

I thought I'd attempt to douse the situation with some cold hard facts I came across, instead of - you know - scaremongering and distortion and that...

The number of people applying for asylum in the UK is at its lowest level since 1989.
The UK hosts 3% of the world's refugees. Germany hosts 8%, Pakistan 13%.
Asylum seekers supported by the Government receive less financial support than British citizens are entitled to.
Albert Einstein entered Britain as a refugee.
The value that immigrants - including refugees - bring to the economy is that they pay £2.5 billion more in taxes than they take from the country in welfare benefits.

Some of those surprised me. I mean it's not as if you ever hear them from the non-BBC areas of the media is it? They'd rather stoke the fires and sell more copies, turning us into a country of paranoid racists, of course. They know full well that immigration is the one issue that will really get their readership riled up while they're necking their Carling's watching the football on a sunday afternoon.

Even without all those perspective-setting facts, why are the public so paranoid about people seeking asylum in this country anyway? Where's the compassion to say that just because you're not fortunate enough to be born in this country, it means you're less deserving of our help? We're happy to help you out with a few quid to save our conscience when the TV appeals to us to do so, as long as you don't actually come anywhere near where we live, thankyouverymuch.

Am I just being a silly idealist here? Thoughts please.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

tales of an ex-barman

Given that this blog is supposed to be vaguely themed around the struggle to get a career started post-graduation, I suppose I have to make this post: I've kind of had a promotion at work. I'm now apparently a Cellar Supervisor, which is exciting news. (it isn't)

So instead of doing everything customers and managers tell me, I'm now doing everything bar staff and managers tell me. Changing barrels, stock takes, deliveries, that kind of thing. Joy.

Anyway, this is pretty much the dullest subject for a blog post in ages, I think I'll liven it up with the exact, full transcript from the interview for the new job:

"Mark, are you interested in that Cellar Supervisor position going?"
"What are you doing next week?"
"Well, taking some Class A drugs, mainly crack cocaine and heroine"
"Excellent, well that's the interview for Cellar Supervisor. You start Monday"

Saturday, September 08, 2007

job interviews are rubbish

Is it a good idea to mention the fact that you write a blog when you're at job interviews?

I've never been sure. On the one hand, it's a vague example of the creative writing that I list as one of my interests on my CV. But the problem is, recruiters can then go off, find your blog through Google, and know far more about you than any interviewer really should. But then again, if I don't mention it, there seems to be this big gap in my life that they'll no doubt assume I fill with sitting on my arse watching TV, or throwing eggs at pensioners whilst riding a chopper around my estate, or something.

So yeah, I've been struggling with it recently. I'd generally preferred a cautious approach, not mentioning anything up to now, but after something like 9000 failed interviews recently, I was willing to have my mind changed. So last week in an interview for the head office of a famous British high-street retailer I brought it up.

And the next day, I remembered that I'd actually been quite anti-capitalist on this blog in the past. Even, on occasion, quite anti-British retailers. Which might be a problem.

And the next day, I heard I hadn't got the job.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

news international is watching you

This is a bit of a weird one, but because I'm sad, I have often find myself commenting on BBC News articles online. Often the site gives you the chance to have your say, alongside boxes where you enter your name, your email address, and your websites' address - should you have one.

Naturally I enter the address for this here blog.

Now, whenever I have done this, there is an unnerving habit to get a hit on my blog from somebody within a BskyB building (that being the mega-company that owns The Times, The Sun, Sky, Myspace and a fair few other things). They have clicked on the link in that BBC News article to go to my blog. And it happens with quite disturbing regularity. Am I under surveillance here, Mr Rupert Murdoch man? Have you got your binoculars out, peering through my window whilst chomping on a Cornetto? Hmm?

hurrah for klaxons

In a vaguely related note, many congratulations to Klaxons for scooping last night's Mercury Music Prize award. As I detailed elsewhere yesterday afternoon, it more than deserved to win. It was an innovative, trend-setting, and all round accomplished work. Which is really exactly what the Mercury prize should stand for.

Monday, September 03, 2007

the 7 songs i currently can't stop listening to

Elbow - Forget Myself

I always quite liked this song, but over the last month or so I've become really quite obsessed by it. It's a soaring anthem of a track that's sheer epic feel exhausts you by it's end, yet still leaves you wanting to play it again immediately afterwards.

Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip - The Beat That My Heart Skipped

Underground hit Thou Shalt Always Kill was a clever track that got this duo noticed, but which also got annoying after five listens. This offering though is a far more addictive prospect, with a subtler subject matter that still remains as smart as before, over a killer tune that will be knocking around your head days later.

Candie Payne - I Wish I Could Have Loved You More

I wasn't sure when I first heard this classy soul effort, through headphones whilst on the bus into town. but a few days later I was picking some songs to play out on a Saturday night in Main Bar at Rescue Rooms, and I gave this one a go, and man, did it sound glorious thorough our deep, powerful sound system. Could be a bond theme with it's rich, dramatic sound.

Chemical Brothers - Saturate

The understated highlight of their We Are The Night album, here's a track that starts based around an addictive little hook, then keeps building the same idea over 5 minutes until you're forced to dance regardless of whether you're in a club, or walking down a crowded highstreet. Mixes that killer hook with a dizzying euphoria to dynamite effect.

Sonny Jim - Can't Stop Moving

The song I can't stop going on about at the moment, and the sole track that's keeping me going during the horrid wait for The Avalanches to follow up their 2001 album Since I Left You. Seriously, you need this song in your life.

Athlete - Hurricane

Always good for at least one triumphant, rousing pop tune per album (remember Half Light and El Salvador?), here's this album's example. Completely unchallenging, yet simply lovely. The audio equivalent of a particularly gripping game of cricket.

The Courteeners - Cavorting

Widely predicted to be the best thing ever, this song lives up to the considerable hype that already surrounds the Mancunian band. A simple tale of rubbish nightclubs and the overly-indulgent folk that inhabit them.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

thank god it's autumn

If there's one thing I try to avoid blogging about, it's the British clique of writing about the weather. Regardless, though: thank God it's September. Not because I hate hot weather, or like the sight of leaves falling off trees or something, but because of this simple fact: stuff gets good again.

And there's lots of stuff to look forward to now that autumn is finally hear: new album's from The Go! Team and Pendulum are on the way. TV also becomes good again: Spooks will be back in a couple of weeks, along with Never Mind The Buzzcocks around mid-October.

Bands start touring again as well, and I'm somewhat overly excited about upcoming tours from Editors, Bloc Party, Stephen Fretwell, Feist, Foals, Damien Rice and Arcade Fire over the next few months. Along with that it'll be great to have Manchester's Warehouse Project back - I'm already booked in to the opening night Essential Selection Party and the Pendulum gig.

And then there's videogames, where there's Super Mario Galaxy and SingStar PS3 to look forward to. Not that I actually have a Playstation 3, or could remotely afford one, but this is the first game to make me actually want one.

So yeah: hurrah for autumn and that.

Friday, August 31, 2007

5 things i hate about asda

1. Rubbish products. It's all very well battling to have the lowest prices in town, but if those low-priced products are awful quality, I don't care. And it happens too often in Asda's case: Jam Doughnuts with the tiniest amount of jam in their centre, fruit loafs with about 7 sultanas spread miserly throughout, trainers which you only discover two days later are cripplingly uncomfortable...

2. Reducing Choice. In the never-ending rush to sell as many different ranges of products as possible, they save space by reducing - say - how many different sizes of baked beans cans they sell. Sometimes this is okay. But sometimes it is bloody annoying. When I pop in to buy some deodorant, I want to have the choice between the big 250ml can and the smaller 150ml one, not be forced to buy the 150ml one, that you are then going to charge me over the odds for, thanks.

3. The new food labelling guidelines. Now, I was upset when Tesco ignored the Government's wishes to introduce the new traffic light system for food, in favour of their own stupid system, but hey: at least Tesco have done something. I may be wrong, but Asda haven't introduced any system to their own brand products have they? This is shameful.

4. Opening Hours. My local one (Asda West Bridgford, supermarket location fans) is no longer open 24 hours a day. I mean, even if they were making a loss by opening 24 hours, you'd think they'd absorb that loss for the sake of having that perception that they're always there for when their customers need them.

5. The Self-Service checkouts. God they are strict. They moan at me if I put a scanned item anywhere else but the bagging area, like, I don't know, in my own bag or something. And God forbid I should place that bag of mine in the bagging area while I pack it instead. That's against the rules that is, and the machine will scream UNEXPLAINED OBJECT IN BAGGING AREA at you, before setting off a big red flashing light above the till accusing you of being a thief, and then notifying some spotty member of staff to come over and encourage bystanders to point, laugh, and pull down your trousers*.

These, it should be noted, are in addition to my generic gripes about the supermarkets, such as screwing suppliers, using loss-leader and predatory pricing tactics, and destroying competition in the sector.

But of course, I still shop there don't I? So feel free to call me Jimmy Hypocrite.

*may not have actually happened

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

listen to this

Please click this link: and listen to the resulting song.

It's by a chap called Sonny Jim, and since hearing it for the first time last Wednesday, I can't stop playing it now.

Take the following ingredients: The Avalanches, The Go! Team and Lemonjelly, mix, then shake, and serve over ice on a hot summer day. Loooooovely.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

bad toilet habits

Like many young people, I've spent a fair few cash-strapped evenings in Wetherspoons pubs, enjoying their reliable mix of dirt cheap drinks, quiet distraction free atmosphere, fiercely brand loyal staff, and secret lapdancing rooms*.

One other thing you could always be assured of from Wetherspoons pubs though was very well kept toilet facilities. Always clean, well maintained and smelling oddly like a packet of Refreshers.

Except, I haven't been to a Wetherspoons in ages now, so when I briefly popped in to one last night (Nottingham's Roebuck Inn, pub chain fans), I was reminded of how they have introduced one tiny new thing, and completely ruined their long-standing super-toilet reputation.

Right: urinals. Not the most pleasant subject in the world, but has anybody else noticed the stupid plastic things Wetherspoons have in their urinals now? That look like giant white slices of swiss cheese, or something?

And if so, can anybody else testify that it is utterly impossible to pee on the things without getting at least some form of, well, splashback?

It's bloody annoying, Wetherspoons. Every time I'm drinking in one of your pubs girls think I have the world's most reliable incontinence problem. Sort it out please, mmm?

*may be a lie

Monday, August 20, 2007

knife crime on the up

So the big news story today is that knife crime cases are on the up, and are currently double what they were last year.

Which all looks very nice and panic-inducing on the front page of the Mirror, or whatever newspaper you choose to rub over your nipples on a daily basis.

I wonder how many of the news articles covering this story though, also include this related statistic: that knife crime is lower now then it was 6 years ago.

I'm going to assume not many.

Also: I'm going to further assume that those that do have the balls to include this, or any similarly vital quantifying statistic will have it buried towards the back end of the article, which only a few people will actually read, thanks to the fact that they had to turn to page 9 to get the full story because the huge headline THE WORLD IS GOING TO END dominates the front page.

Indeed, it seems you can't move these days without some foaming 47 year old bemoaning how society has broken down over the last couple of years, and that 'it's not safe to walk the streets anymore'.

And I blame the media. Safe in the knowledge that bad news sells more papers than good, somebody has latched on to the fact that if you can make people fearful, they will continue to relentlessly consume your newspaper/program/whatever.

And the only way the problem will ever be rectified? If people stop consuming the offending media. Likely? No.

Depressing stuff.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

RIP newsnight video podcast

Oh man, sorry about this blog post, but I haven't been as upset about losing a TV program since Channel 4 decided to axe Hollyoaks In The City. And some of you will remember what a traumatic blog post THAT was.

But yes: Newsnight had for the past few months been doing a video podcast consisting of some of the weekly highlights of their TV show. And last night I discovered they had stopped doing them, presumably due to the lack of take up, or something.

This is upsetting. You see: I would never bother to actually sit down in front of the TV and watch an edition of Newsnight. But it was a brilliant service having bits of it downloaded to my ipod without even having to think about it, for me to flick through on my regular commutes. I could be on a bus travelling through the Nottingham countryside at 3am, whilst learning about Egypt's police state, or a debate on the conflicts within Islam, or something.

But they're no longer podcasting the thing. Despite the fact that the same highlights show goes out on BBC News 24 every week anyway. Upsetting. If nobody was using the service, it's probably because nobody outside of Newsnight's regular audience knew of it's existence. And at a guess, maybe there isn't much overlap between the group of people that watch Newsnight and the ever-busy group of people that own Video iPods?

Right, this is all getting a bit too highbrow for me. I'm going to go read Nuts magazine, drink some Carling, and discuss the merits of breasts. Whilst watching some football. In the nearest branch of Yates's.

Monday, August 13, 2007

the south park film is possibly my favourite

...despite this, I only realised tonight that the full title of it is a rather blatant penis joke.

I've watched the damn film around ten times.

Point and laugh if you must.

Friday, August 10, 2007

pre-wedding videoblog

So it's my brother's wedding tomorrow. I was down at the reception venue this afternoon helping with all the preparations. Couldn't resist doing a little video blog as well though.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

audio of us on radio 1 six weeks ago

This will probably be of no interest to anybody else but us four, but 6 weeks late, I've got round to editing together the audio of our week on Radio 1 for Glastonbury.

Basically, me, Fraser, Harriet and Lucy were on Edith Bowman's show for four days as we prepared, travelled to, and messed around at, this years Glastonbury Festival.

You can listen to and download it here:

Listen, as I talk of the stag weekend I'd just been on!
Marvel, as Fraser extols the merits of Aqua's Doctor Jones single to 4 million people!
Gape, as Harriet orcastrates the playing of the legendary Divine Comedy's National Express on Radio 1!
Cower, as we sing "The Wheels on The Bus" live on air!
Ponder, as Lucy gets confused as to why Edith sounds like as 26 year old Asian bloke, forgets the name of the song she's supposed to be requesting and then perpetuates discussion of Glastonbury's non-existent sausage obsession!

At 33 minutes it makes for it's own little radio show. Maybe for you to download and listen to on your daily commute, mmm?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

southern discomfort

So it happened for the first time last night. It was bound to eventually.

I was serving somebody behind the bar, and they asked me for a 'SoCo and lemonade'.

NO. It is called 'Southern Comfort' damn it. So Co is a dreadful name from a dreadful marketing campaign.

To be honest I'm surprised it's taken this long for somebody to use the name born from this steaming pile of contrived guff. I thought most Southern Comfort drinkers would've been asking for it by now.

Which is a relief at least. Please nobody else use it. It's rubbish and sounds silly. Thank you.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

i thoroughly enjoyed the simpsons movie

No, really.
Saw it this afternoon.
Thought it was great.
Why are you staring at me like that?
Stop it.
And stop trying to pull my trousers off as well, damn it.

I can only assume that it's been panned because of the stupid amount of hype that was built up around it (I'm partly looking at YOU, 20th Century Fox), meaning that the first critics to see it were expecting not so much a film, but the second coming of Christ, or something.

It's not the second coming. It's an 90 minute long Simpsons episode. After everybody said it was rubbish I didn't go into the cinema expecting much, which might have been a factor. I even hardly ever watch the TV show.

But yeah, blame the makers and promoters for hyping the thing out of all proportion, and then blame the critics for being po-faced in wanting anything more than an extended lighthearted comedy romp through Springfield. And then blame me. Because I am still talking to you despite having lost my trousers.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

i dearly hate psychometric testing

Who on earth invented Psychometric Testing? I would like to throttle them with a dead pigeon should I ever be given the opportunity.

I spent about an hour doing my first ever psychometric test today for some retailer's graduate scheme, which comprised of a verbal reasoning test, numerical reasoning test, a personality questionnaire, and a flash game where I had to protect one of their stores by fighting off evil Government Trading Standards officers.

Okay, I lied about the last one.

However, I now feel they know everything about me. Literally. They know I struggle to answer any question with a straight yes or no answer, they know I took 20 minutes to answer a question where I needed to work out some percentages, they know that I have an inkling of dislike for companies that "ruthlessly pursue profits at whatever cost" (as if this ruthless retailer would ever employ me now), and they know I took about an hour to complete an online exercise that should have taken 35 minutes.

URGH. I had enough difficulty trying to get a job when it was just an interview I had to stumble through, trying not too appear way out of my depth, now I've got to contend with tests designed to find out everything about me before I've even got through the front door?

They've taken the romance out of the recruitment process. Sod this, i'm going to be a barman for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

television is lying to you

Every journalist and his dog seems to be talking about TV and how it misleads us at the moment. With that in mind I went searching for something quite interesting I read a long time ago, that should add something to the whole issue.

Most of you will probably remember a Channel 4 TV show called Faking It. You might even remember this particular edition, where a Choir girl Laura-Jane Foley was challenged to fake being a Rock Chic in the space of four weeks.

Well, the day after the show was broadcast, she popped up on the Channel 4 website's forum putting her side across. The posting has long since disappeared from there, but I found it knocking around thanks to Google Desktop, and so thought I'd put it up here to see what people think...

Well, well, well. I've stumbled upon this forum and thought I'd contribute and clear up a few misconceptions and misunderstandings about me. Before any of you say differently this is Laura-Jane Foley - not someone faking being me (haha!) nor is it one of the many people who have pretended to know me/ be related to me! For my sins... this is me or loathe me! And from what I've read a great many of you seem to loathe me. It's a good job I'm not a depressive kind of person because some of the vile comments some of you have made about me could have sent another person to the brink.

I'm not going to defend myself (those who know and love me know full well that the Laura-Jane Foley on Faking It was not the real me) but I will just point out some issues you may not be aware of.

Out of the many hundreds of hours of filming, Sidra Khan, the director chose to show one hour of the most negative parts of the four weeks. She did not show any of the occasions on which I threw myself wholeheartedly into the project. She did not show me having a tattoo in a tattoo parlour (bet that surprises you!) riding on the back of motorbikes with Nikki, dancing into the night with Harry and various other rockers and getting on with Harry... I never at any stage criticised Harry. The very careful editing and pointed questions made it seem otherwise. And by the way the house wasn't hers (she lives in Ascot... how very rock!)it was rented for the four weeks by channel 4... yet another of the many cons!! And did you know that I spent just as much time with my other mentor singing teacher, Nikki who has become a good friend of mine and with whom I got on really well. Strange that they didn't show any of that or the footage of her lifting me in the air after the final gig? Of course they wouldn't would they because those were positive aspects!

And another bombshell. Did you have any idea that Faking It is scripted? Every single event, movement and reaction by me and my mentors was planned well in advance of even meeting me! So much for spontaneity and life-changing experiences! At the beginning of Week 2 I found the script which Khan carelessly left behind after a days filming and discovered that I was to be reduced to tears the following Friday by the band who were going to tell me I was rubbish - even though I hadn't even met them at this point! and that my first gig was going to be lied about to me and then thrust upon me at the last minute with no preparation time. Nice people eh? When I found this the production nearly stopped and quite frankly I wish it had. From then on it was Khan's intent to portray badly. She'd been told off by her boss, Stephen Lambert and wanted to get her revenge.

Finally to those of you who have asked why did I do it... I didn't know what I was letting myself in for. Khan misled me from the beginning. I was conned into signing a contract by saying that the show would make good use of my classical voice. I was under the impression that I would be performing on the West End stage or something like that... at the beginning of filming I was told I would be transformed into a Blondie-style singer... it was only when I went for my make-over two weeks into the project that the punk rock element was thrust on me.

So there you have it. Faking It is one big fake from start to finish. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if this email gets removed. After all they've already removed me from the list of shows on this website!

Anyway, there's plenty more I could say but I'm really not bothered about it anymore. I am very happy with the REAL life of Laura-Jane Foley!"

Saturday, July 21, 2007

reader's comments 6: live earth

Plenty of responses (6 to be exact), to the Live Earth opinion piece I did last week. All of which arguing the opposite to my silly idealist standpoint. Let's take a look at some of the highlights.

Rachel Bullock, 19, from Derby, wrote:

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the politicians the ones that are telling us about global warming/climate change issues? The outcome of Live Earth has been a lot of people talking about things that we already know about (recycling, carbon footprint etc etc etc) and a lot more people slagging off the whole concept.

I really don't need the likes of Madonna and Al Gore telling me all about the little things I can do to help save the environment. Thank you very much, I already recycle, use public transport and turn the lights off when I leave the room. Maybe if they didn't fly everywhere in private jets that seat about 20 people, I wouldn't find it so hypocritical."

I think there's a big difference between what politicians are telling us about, and what they actually know are the most important issues to their constituents. The issues that the people are raising most are those that they then take back to Parliament and change begins to get lobbied for. If nobody puts on this pressure then nothing changes. This is the process Live Earth taps into: trying to get the people pressurising the politicians.

Well done for being one of those that doesn't need Al Gore and Madonna telling you what you need to be doing. If everybody was in your situation we wouldn't have a problem would we?

This whole "all the artists were flown in private jets" argument is way overblown as well. Performers took the minimal carbon producing forms of transport possible to the event, and backstage, were learning about their worse-than-most contributions to the problem, and how their impacts can be reduced. So Live Earth was partly about lobbying these musicians that everybody says are such major part of the problem.

Amy Harrison, 29, from Sunderland, wrote:

"Many people in Britain already know about climate problems, the people who really need to be educated about it are the Americans, and hardly any of them watched the event, so it was a bit of a flop there."

Again, not enough people in this country understand the issue, so the concert is worthwhile. Things still need to be changed. Once they have been, we can lead by example in convincing the rest of the world. Obviously, nothing is going to change over night, but with small steps like Live Earth, perceptions start to change and actions start to be taken.

Tom Riley, 17, from Gingertown, returns to reply:

"Muldoon Muldoon Muldoon! I was saying its a waste of time, effort and pollution. 31,500 tonnes, it was a waste of time. Why hold 10 concerts, why not 1 televised worldwide live?
Too much for too little mate!"

Well, because you need to go to these countries to put the point across. Or else the global interest would've been even lower. It's all about small steps, Tom. And for arguments already outlined, the ends justify the means.

Richard Stratford, 42, from South Korea, wrote:

"This thing was a waste of time. There will be no positive fallout from the UK concerts, and where raising awareness was a necessary issue, the event was bungled. As was said above, the American leg was a flop, and the even more necessary Shanghai leg was attended by a whopping 3,000 people.
Although i hold nothing against those that attended these concerts, and would even say that the intention of the organisers was noble, someone soon must realise that if you want to bring about real change, the answer is not always to put on a concert. People attend for the performers, and any impetus for change created by their attendance is fleeting and quickly forgotten."

See, I disagree. It's not as if Live Earth is the only thing that's being done to stop climate change, it's just one thing, as part of a wider movement. And as part of that movement, it's been successful. You cannot argue that it hasn't improved the attention given to the issue. And that all helps the process slowly come to the attention of the global community. Again, the perceptions of the local Shanghai population isn't going to be changed overnight by one concert. I admit that. But it still helps give the issue an airing where it needs it.

I think with all the global problems of poverty, climate change and the Iraq war of the last few years, we've created a generation of cynics. People who's instinct is to assume the worst, to critique everything, instead of getting behind movements like Make Poverty History and Live Earth. Everything is a target for a public mauling nowadays.

Meh, thoughts please.

Monday, July 16, 2007

my final harry potter book prediction

Can I make a prediction about this new Harry Potter book please? The one that's being built up around the fact that one of the lead characters dies?

Now, I haven't read any of the books, and only have vague recollections of seeing some of one of the films once, but I still want to be the first to make this prediction about which of the little ones is going to cork it. And that prediction is: none of them.

It's the best plot device in the world to base a book around the fact that at some point, one of the lead characters is going to die. Everybody will be super-tense while they're reading to find out who it is.

This JK Rowling woman will be able to have fun with it, playing with reader's emotions by mixing up who's getting into near-death situations. But the surprise factor won't be there when one of them pops their clogs now. Instead, why not surprise everybody and give them the fairy tale happy ending they'd all secretly love?

There you go, that's my prediction. Either that or all of them end up dying from an Anthrax attack or something. That'd be funny.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

drunken internet stupidity

Many of us will be familiar with the problem: you get home after a night out, drunk, log on to the internet, and send a couple of emails/instant messages/Facebook wall posts you might live to regret when the sobriety of morning arrives. We've all done it before, right?

So Lord knows what was going through my head last night when I got home and instead of logging in for a quick Facebook session, I started posting comments on the BBC News Editors Blog instead...

They haven't published any comments I made, so Lord knows what I wrote, but it can't of made much sense.

My actions scare me sometimes.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

in defence of live earth

Friend, former workmate and ginger person Tom Riley is amongst a few of my friends who disagree with my thoughts on Live Earth. He writes:

"Yeah, I read on the news that the carbon footprint of the event is akin to moving an entire army across the globe...See with Live 8 and Aid it could work cos people could donate, but this had no point apart from being a big knees up. Pointless, could have spent millions of pounds on clean carbon free technology, but no, lets listen to Kanye West and the Pussycat Dolls....hmm!"

Oh Tom, you make me cry inside. Cry like a disabled goat, or something.

Right: putting on the Live Earth events caused some CO2 to be released. True fact. No arguments there.

Most people seem to be arguing that you can't put on a CO2 causing event with the intention of reducing CO2. Right? Well, it's a worthwhile argument to make.

Worthwhile, but also a bit rubbish. Compare it to an event like Comic Relief. I'm assuming it probably costs the BBC some money to put on Comic Relief. Presumably a fair bit of money, yes? But, hang on there BBC, how dare you spend this money when they could instead just give that money straight to charity?

But every couple of years the BBC puts Red Nose Day on. Why? Because the end justifies the means. Far more benefit will come from the money that the event raises than what it cost to hold the event. So, explain to me how Live Earth and CO2 emissions differentiate from this?

What was Live Earth trying to do? Get word out to as many people as possible that they need to a) do the little things that reduce their own carbon footprint, and b) lobby politicians to let them know that this is a matter we care deeply about.

In terms of getting that message out, it's been a spot on success. Everybody certainly knew the event was happening, and it's kept the climate change issue very much top of the news agenda recently, where it otherwise might not have been - what with all this terrorism and stuff going on a the moment. Indeed, the controversy around the whole event has probably helped. Whilst everybody is debating whether it's right or not, very few are arguing that a reduction in CO2 emissions isn't necessary. And all this debate just keeps reminding people of that need.

Above all, this is a situation that desperately requires some action. Somebody needed to do something. The Live Earth organisers have got off their backsides and done something. What thanks do they get? A bunch of Daily Telegraph readers telling them they're pretty much solely responsible for climate change themselves. Which is unfair, and a really quite awful considering the effort they are putting in. If you haven't done anything, then they are better than you. People who are cynical about such things are, in my mind, tossers.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

smoking ban update

Well, that was a bit of a panic over nothing. Having worked the last three nights in a busy city centre bar (i.e. the last night of smoking and the first two nights of the ban) we have in total had to ask one person who was just lighting up not to. At which point they apologised profusely for forgetting. No need for bars to complain about losing trade either, last night was really busy for a Monday night.

Plenty of people seem to be taking it as an opportunity to give up the tobacco as well, which is great. Some people do disagree with the ban sure, but most - smokers included - seem to be all for it.

I'm working all this weekend which should be the first real test of the ban. I imagine it'll be just as much of a non event.

damn all the racists

Okay: is everybody suddenly a racist nowadays? I often chat to my regular bus driver on Nottingham's #99 nightbus home, but I only just found out the other night that he's actually a big awful racist. And would vote for the BNP if there was somebody standing in his area.

After that time the other night at Cookie Club, I made damn sure to challenge him. Queue a 40 minute argument on the topic.

Stupid racists. Of course, his mind wasn't changed one jot by my assertions. Racists seem to be like that. Do me a favour please: if you're thinking about becoming a racist, please don't. It's a really really awful thing. Thank you.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

a conversation i had in cookie club last night

Cookie Club in Nottingham last night, I bump into an old school friend of mine on the dancefloor. Conversation continues well enough for a few minutes, before I come out and ask him straight: "So, are you still a racist?"

Yes, it would appear. Some of his highlights of the following conversation include...

"If I'm on the Underground and I don't like the look of somebody that gets on, I get off and wait for the next train"

"Right then", I replied, "so you are still a racist I take it?"

"Look Mark, I might be a little bit racist, but as I see it, it's better to be racist than dead"

Urgh. URGH. What a tosser. When pushed further for his reasoning he said that as I was brought up in Nottingham I had no appreciation for the situation, that he's well versed in being from Bradford. Even the local papers, he says, report the bare facts of the situation where a lot of non-white people are responsible for a large proportion of the crime (I have yet to investigate whether or not Bradford's local press is owned by the Daily Mail).

Would any of our Yorkshire cousins like to comment on these opinions? At that point in the conversation anyway, I simply had to walk away. But I wish I'd challenged him more, instead of him floating along not thinking his opinions are utterly deplorable.

So yeah, in conclusion: URGH.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

glastonbury 2007: the review

Say what you like about Glastonbury Festival, it's never anything less then a huge event. I was there for the forth time in a row this year, and have now written a review of it. For you to read with your eyes and that.

It all starts at 10:20 in Nottingham Broadmarsh Bus Station with Harriet, and the beginning of a deeply unpleasant coach journey. Before setting out we're warned that the air-conditioning isn't working. No big deal when we're getting nice air flow through windows whilst pelting down the motorway, but just you wait for the 2 hours spent at crawling speed once you get near the festival. Sweltering does not even begin to describe it. Still, we're uncomplaining people, and at least Harriet's got a few links on Radio 1 to do to keep us entertained for a bit (which would include us both singing 'The Wheels On The Bus' to Edith Bowman's 4 million listeners, as well as getting Divine Comedy - National Express played, something I'm particularly proud of).

So 2 hours on the swelterbus pass, and we approach the festival's makeshift bus station. Except, in a momentary confusion our silly coach driver mistakes a warden's 'come on in' hand signal to mean 'go that other way please', and the coach makes it's way in the opposite direction despite passenger protest and another long queue that we are now roaring past. The coach has to go find the nearest roundabout before rejoining the queue, and we have to spend an extra hour and a half rapidly dehydrating aboard that humid hell hole. FTO National Express: please stop subcontracting out lucrative festival operations to idiots. Thank you.

Still, we're there, and the next 36 hours are the expected mix of exploring and drinking, and then it's Friday and time for some bands (for most of us anyway, Jess would be throwing up most of the day and only recover in time to see Fatboy Slim's headline DJ set).

We see promising little bits of The Cribs and Modest Mouse in between ducking off to do more links for Radio 1. This time including a rendition of Busted - Year 3000 - truly we are cool - and Lucy giving a big mention to the fact that we're going to try and play some SingStar in The Q tent later. (Actually, if Lucy had been the DJ giving SingStar such a mention, Sony's PR people would've been so pleased they would've sent round a free PS3 to the radio station within a couple of hours. Get in touch please, Sony people.)

All that done with, it was time to see Bright Eyes, who delivered a perfectly pleasant set, which I now have no other recollection of. Not the most memorable performance then, obviously. Then it was over to see most of The Magic Numbers set, who were hitting all the right sunshine-pop buttons, even if their current album is crap. Perfect mid-afternoon festival entertainment, regardless.

The same, however, can't be said of Bloc Party, who fall flat. A poor sound mix doesn't help, but they fail to grasp the logic of playing to festival crowds, with minimal interaction and a refusal to play two of their singles (I Still Remember and Two More Years), which must amount to festival suicide. They still just about manage to get people moving, but this was a lazy and naive performance.

No such arrogance from The Fratellis, who's party-rock vibe is exactly what needs injecting into proceedings. It's an admirable set from a band on only their first album, they're visibly giving it their all, and everybody enjoys themselves.

Arcade Fire are billed as one of the main events of the weekend, but something is missing. This may be my fault: I'm late entering the crowd and have to contend with knocking about at the back where the crowd is middle-aged and the sound is lacking a satisfying level of volume. Then again, Win Butler's taunting of the apparently sedate crowd would suggest blame might lay elsewhere. Any Arcade Fire show is always something special, but this wasn't close to the legendary performance they're capable of.

On a day of two of my favourite bands underwhelming, thank the Lord himself for Damien Rice. One could happily spend the evening with the embarrassment of riches headlining other stages (Bjork, Hot Chip, Damien Marley, Fatboy Slim, Spiritualized or Arctic Monkeys), but at the Acoustic Tent Rice is performing above even his usual standards. It's a blazing, vitriolic show that is impossible not to get caught up in, and away from the technical difficulties of the main stages every beat of sound is perfect. In short: the best set of Glastonbury 2007.

Saturday comes, and The 'somehow-haven't-found-mainstream-success' Pipettes have an early start on the Pyramid stage. They attract a sparse crowd, but entertain them well with their collection of three-minute pop ditties.

Three-minute pop ditties aren't quite what Guillemots excel at. Instead they play with an added sense of occasion and scale layered on top of their already unique gig proposition. It won't help them gain widespread success, but they are very deserving of their cult status.

CSS play to a huge mid-afternoon crowd on the other stage, and rise to the occasion with balloons floating from everything and anything on stage. Ever-dedicated leadsinger Lovefoxx still suffers from a voice that suggests the record company are working her into the ground, but the energy she brings is remarkable, and as it proves, infectious. They will have made many new fans here.

It's a different kind of energy next from Klaxons, namely: drunk energy. Performing right on the edge for the full hour, it's a gloriously chaotic and haphazard set from three guys who are clearly loving every minute.

It's back to the tent for a bit, as I'd rather eat toenail clippings then stick around for Babyshambles and their unique bout of Kate Moss duetting hyperbole.

Returning for Maximo Park is a necessity though. As Paul Smith himself says: "we haven't got special guests, balloons or cheesy moves, all we've got is some songs we think you might like", which sounds like as perfect a summary of the band as is possible. Indeed, Maximo are in danger of getting lost on a bill as big as Glastonbury's, but they just about have the quality of songs to see them through.

Editors are a band moving away from their previous label of indie also-rans, if their new songs are anything to go by. Given that the audience don't know many of the songs on offer here, and that those songs aren't exactly snappy catchy pop gems, they are a remarkable success.

And then it is to the Pyramid Stage for headliners The Killers, who are the four hundredth band to suffer technical difficulties. At times the sound volume is dire, and the rest of the time just irritatingly quiet. The band are performing well, if failing to make the audience connection the legendary headliners of the past have (Coldplay, Paul McCartney, Radiohead, The Flaming Lips). By no means a disaster, lump it with Oasis's 2004 set as one of missed opportunities.

Sunday arrives, and this hungover and sleep deprived festival goer manages to muster the energy to see The Sunshine Underground, who prove to be well worth the effort. They do nothing different from their usual live show, but that show is so good they don't need to. Well worth checking them out if you're curious.

Then it's back to bed, to recuperate for a heavy evening session, that begins with a phone call from my brother - who announces I've got a 2:1 in my degree - just before seeing The Go! Team on the Other Stage. Needless to say, I'm in the party mood, and Go! Team are the perfect accessory to any party. It's a sparse crowd for an evening slot, but those present lap up new songs and old alike, and they are a real highlight.

Then, one of the real events of this year: Pendulum in the East Dance Tent. New live band, rare live performance, and a feverish level of expectation. Which they subsequently rose to. None of us stop dancing for the full duration, and it's the most enjoyable act of the weekend. Only it's brevity - they played for just 50 of their billed 60 minute show - stopped it being the set of the festival. Quite simply, nobody was yet ready to say goodbye.

Chemical Brothers are left to round off the weekend, which they do with all the slickness you'd expect. The sound was still too quiet, but by then everybody was used to the problem and we didn't let it ruin anything.

Then it was to The Park to further celebrate, followed by a 4am walk across the site in torrential rain wearing just a t-shirt and jeans. A mad predicament, but then, it wouldn't be Glastonbury without it.

Right, that was Glastonbury 2007. Who's joining us for 2008?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

departing manchester's student scene, my new microblog, and amstell recognition

There's nothing quite like a link from a proper well-regarded media website to send traffic to your blog soaring. It's even better when it's actual recognition from the website of your favourite TV show (over on the right hand side there). I also thought: I'd better actually write something is this blog then.

And well. it's all going on at the moment. Hence why I haven't really had time to blog. As some know, I'm no longer either a student, or a resident of Manchester. To that end, it was probably high time I changed the name of this here blog from "postcards from the manchester student scene".

Hope you don't hate the new name, I preferred it to "postcards from the nottingham graduate scene"

Also: there's Glastonbury. We're heading down there on Wednesday. I'll probably do a review posting and videoblog upon my return, but in an effort to be more instantaneous (and because Facebook hasn't bothered to set up Facebook Mobile in the UK yet), I've signed up to Twitter.

Not all that many people know it, so basically: I send text messages (or go on the website, less inventively) whenever I want, saying whatever i'm up to. Think of it as micro-blogging. You people can then keep up with it on my Facebook or Myspace page, on my blog,, or even sign up to receive the updates as texts on your mobile straight away, and totally for free. Perfect if you want or need to keep up with my Glastonbury antics.

Go visit me on if you wish to sign up or owt.

Also on the Glastonbury front, today was our first day of talking about it all this week on Edith Bowman's show.

It was all very good fun, I got to embarrass my brother with a story from his stag weekend, get Pendulum played on daytime national radio, and instigate a debate on how best to humiliate someone in front of 70,000 people.

So: you can listen again on Radio 1 Online, but be sure to listen the rest of this week at 1pm every day to hear us all, and especially on Friday where we hear Edith is going to be coming to find us on site, and spend an hour of the show broadcasting from our tents!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

clearest evidence yet that i am a radio one whore

Anybody listen to Edith Bowman's Radio 1 show? Hope so, because all this coming week, me and my Glastonbury-bound friends are on it.

It's a feature they do called Lunchtime Linkup, where every week they feature a group of people, be it from workplaces, uni coursemates, or whoever, and talk to them for the first hour of each show, between 1 and 2 in the afternoon.

Every day you'll hear at least one of us on there charting our Glastonbury preparation, journey and on-site antics, and i'm starting things off tomorrow with a discussion of stag weekends (given that i'm currently on my brother's one in Cork).

Listen in on air, or listen again at if you're curious!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

happy birthday muldoon/blog

Not that I expect anybody to actually care, but today marks the 2 year anniversary of my first internet blog post.

From very humble (read: awful) beginnings as a MSN Spaces blog through on to more regular blogs on Myspace back when everybody was jumping on it's filthy bandwagon around the start of 2006, to then seeing if I could get anywhere with a proper blog when I was living in Dublin and Tenerife last summer, it's been quite a journey.

Lord knows if I'll still be doing this 2 years from now, somehow I doubt it. I'll probably be sitting in Bermuda sipping a 95% alcohol drink, reflecting on my time serving in the Royal Space Army or something. But here's to those two years anyway. And hey: thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

my simon amstell london embarrassment

You may or may not know that my favourite comedian guy is the popular Never Mind The Buzzcocks host, Simon Amstell.

Well, I'm in London. I came down yesterday on the train (cost: £35) to see Amstell's stand-up show for the first time, with my London friend and fellow Amstell-appreciator Harriet.

Booked the tickets weeks ago, (cost: £6.50. Bargain!) and had been really quite looking forward to it ever since.

The plan was simple: get to London in the afternoon, saunter over to Mile End to find Harriet, saunter about some more, then make our way to Camden's Etcetera Theatre for about 8:30, because doors open at 7:30 and that would be pretty much perfect. We can't afford pricey Camden drinks, after all.

Except: we got to the theatre and are confused about how to get inside. We ask a barmaid, and suddenly it becomes clear: the 7:30 on the ticket wasn't the doors open time, it was the show start time.

Cue general mortified reactions.

We crept upstairs to the theatre anyway, and entered a room with no more than 70 people in it, and Amstell six feet from us, who then proceeded to welcome us in, and explain that he had just told the audience that that was pretty much the end of the show, and asked if anybody had any questions.

Harriet speedily asked if he could provide the gist of the show to us two latecomers, to which he then generously spent three minutes reading out the hundred or so prompt words he had written down, and telling a couple of short jokes he'd missed out along the way.

And then that was it. Show over. And a room of 70 people are laughing at us having been encouraged by our favourite comedian.

Awesome. Both of us know now, not to presume that that time printed on tickets is the time doors open. Important lesson learnt, I think.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

doctor who appreciation blog

Two questions for you on this Sunday evening: Are you watching Doctor Who? and: If not, why not?

Maybe you don't watch that much TV? That's understandable. Us kids these days often don't. But Doctor Who is the TV show that currently occupies that tired "if you only watch one thing, make sure it is this" cliché.

It's just bloody great television. If TV was the city of London, Doctor Who would be that funny shaped gherkin building. It's different, modern, lavish, expensive, and perhaps makes people seeing it for the first time a little jealous that wherever they're from can't make something as good as it.

Those of you that have been watching this series will know what I'm talking about. It's been the best one yet. And did you see last nights? It was the best of this year. And that's no faint praise.

Now I'd never watched any Doctor Who before it's 2005 revival. Bar Red Dwarf, I've never watched any Sci-fi TV. And we all know why don't we? That's right, it's because Sci-fi is crap.

So why then, is Doctor Who so good? It's not rocket science, really. The BBC decided it wanted it to be special program, so they gave it the biggest budget on British TV. With that big budget, it then means that they can attract the best writers on British TV, the best actors, and the best production team.

And it all goes in to producing one brilliant family-friendly TV show. Plus, the format of the show means that it's very rarely about science fiction, it's pretty much just a loose excuse to tell a bunch of short stories every year with a few reoccurring characters splattered throughout.

From tales of Shakespeare being hounded by witches, to being trapped on spaceships that have just 42 minutes before they crash into the sun, just about every episode this year has been a joyful pleasure.

And next Saturday's episode, "Blink", happens to be written by my favourite writer Stephen Moffat (yeah, I know.that's pretty geeky). He wrote the infamous "are you my mummy" episodes from the first series, and the great "The Girl In The Fireplace" one from last year. As well as every episode of the hugely underrated sitcom Coupling. Remember that?

So it should be another classic episode from him. Be sure to watch it, eh?

Friday, June 01, 2007

i heart the glastonbury 2007 lineup

One has to hand it to Glastonbury: they've lined up a stellar list of my favourite bands, and made hardly any of them clash with each other across the three days of the festival.

By far the best place to check out the schedule is over on the Guardian's website, where they've included start times as well. Below I've listed the acts I plan to see, so if you know me and you're going, why not leave comment on which of those you'd like to see as well, and maybe we can meet up and have a little dance, eh?

As I said, the line up features frighteningly few clashes. The worst is Kaiser Chiefs vs Pendulum. They're not on at exactly the same time, so do I see most of Kaiser Chiefs then hot foot it across and get an awful crowd position for the most danceable act on the bill, or shove off Kaiser Chiefs altogether, despite them saying themselves they're aiming to be the most-talked about performance of the weekend?

Missing Pendulum's rare full band performance isn't an option, that's for sure. And the only other line up clash for me? The Pipettes vs The Hours. And The Pipettes win that one hands down.

I'm also unsure who to see close the festival. I've little interest in seeing The Who, so it's stick around to see the I've-barely-heard-of-you Carl Cox, or Chemical Brothers on the Other Stage I guess. Opinions welcome, people!

Right, here's who I'm vaguely planning to see. Hit me back, peeps.

Damien Rice / Arcade Fire / Fratellis / Bloc Party / Bright Eyes / Lisa Hannigan / Joe Driscoll / Amy MacDonald
The Killers / Editors / Maximo Park / Klaxons / CSS / The Hours / The Pipettes
Chemical Brothers (?) / Pendulum / Kaiser Chiefs / The Go! Team / The Little Ones / The Young Knives / The Sunshine Underground / Mark Thomas

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

the muldoon guide to glastonbury: tips and advice and that

If my guesswork is to be believed, on Friday morning the full line-up for this years Glastonbury will finally be revealed. This is probably a time therefore, that people will really start thinking about their plan for the festival. With that in mind, I present this: 8 nice logical tips for enjoying a trip to Glastonbury, that you probably wouldn't have read elsewhere.

  1. See lots but not all. It's a huge festival, and having been three times I still don't feel I've seen all there is on offer. That's not to say you necessarily have to, but it's worthwhile take some time to explore such wonders as the Lost Vagueness and Green Fields.
  2. Toilet-wise, the long-drops are infinitely preferable to portaloos. All you may wish to do is make sure you don't breath through your nose for the duration of your stopoff. Trust me though, they are better toilets. And it makes it worthwhile camping in the northern fields as you won't have to ever wait longer than 60 seconds to use one of them.
  3. Consider buying a 2nd battery for your mobile cheap off ebay or somewhere. It is possible to recharge at the festival, but be prepared to wait ages, or go whilst everybody else is off seeing one of the huge bands. I brought a 2nd battery in 2004, brought both fully charged along to the festival, and it meant my phone easily lasted the duration.
  4. Wine is probably best, alcohol-wise. Red wine makes more sense too, as it doesn't matter if you're drinking it warm. Buy a box of the stuff (glass isn't allowed on site, remember), and maybe pour out a water bottle of the stuff for youself when you're setting off around the site.
  5. Visit the Silent Disco, which is to be a permanent fixture of this year's festival. It's a surreal tent where everybody has a set of radio-headphones, and you're free to tune between either of two DJs, resulting in occasions where half of the crowd is dancing to Eric Prydz, and the other to Sweet Child of Mine or something.
  6. Don't complain the festival isn't as good as it used to be. Glastonbury has always been unique, but how it used to be run simply wasn't sustainable for any longer. The festival has had to modernise a lot over the last 10 years, but it's still a special, magical place. If you're spending it moaning about the good old days, your ethos probably isn't right for the place anyway.
  7. Don't let anybody tell you how to do it. Stupid, pretentious types will gawp at you for not wanting to see The Who headline, whilst even more pretentious types will tell you Glastonbury is not about the music and that you should spend the whole time taking drugs and talking to monkey-keepers in the stone circle or something. Ignore both. Glastonbury is a huge festival, but it's special because it is genuinely something for everyone. If you want to spend all your time watching your favourite bands at the Pyramid stage, from Kaiser Chiefs to The Pipettes, then do. If you want to spend it in the Dance Village or the Circus, Fire or Teepee fields then do as well. And don't let anybody tell you that you shouldn't.
    I made this mistake in 2004, when I watched Paul McCartney headline instead of enjoying Basement Jaxx on the other stage. Whilst McCartney's set was probably quite good, I spent the whole time just bored chatting away, only recognising about four of the songs he played. Wish I'd seen Basement Jaxx now.
  8. That said, see Arcade Fire. I know I've already contradicted myself horribly in this post, but damn, they'll put on an incredible performance. I can't wait!

Monday, May 28, 2007

warehouse project - beneath the streets: the review

Oh man, so this weekend was the Warehouse Project in Manchester. For those not familiar, Warehouse Project take over random iconic spaces in Manchester, convert them into massive clubs, and get some big names down to play. This time round was for the 3 nights of the bank holiday weekend only, and the location was the former air-raid shelter right underneath Piccadilly train station.

Location wise, it was a huge improvement over last year's Boddington's brewery room. It still felt huge, yet intimate, and the acoustics were spot on this time. Right then, here's how the individual nights panned out:

Saturday: Radio Soulwax

Last year at Warehouse Project, whilst an act was playing, the big screens would flash up the name of the act for all to see.

That would have been a nice touch here too. Never having seen any of these acts before, I had no idea when it was 2 Many DJ's playing, or anybody else on the line-up for that matter.

Upon arriving though, it wasn't long (midnight, to be precise) before a live band hit the stage. They (I've since been informed they were 'Boys Noize') were a surprising blast. It was as if they had gone in to a laboratory, and spent years scientifically calculating what the exact most danceable form of music is. Then, upon emerging successfully, hopped on a train straight to Manchester to bang it out for the first time to a baying audience.

Whichever DJs followed them were very enjoyable, although - through no fault of their own - I can't remember much of them to be honest. Then whoever took over around 3 o'clock was left to put in a great crowd pleasing set mixing in inventive mainstream pop choices with traditional club fare. Spot on, really.

Sunday: Ape vs Metropolis

Or, "Pendulum", as I was happy to refer to the night as.

Now, I've passed up three opportunities to see Pendulum in the past, so in the weeks leading up to this I was wired at the prospect of finally attending one of their shows.

First up though, was the discovery of a set list taped to the bar. The previous night's who's-playing-when confusion would not be a problem.

Then it was on to the floor to thoroughly enjoy DJ Yoda, who's work I was entirely unfamiliar with previously, but his willingness to cast his net surprisingly wide genre-wise was appreciated.

Then: Pendulum. And it was a belter of a DJ set. All the expected favourites were there: Blood Sugar, then Slam, then Fasten Your Seatbelt, then Tarantula - spread out across the entirety of their performance. More than anything, it made me really excited by seeing their full live band show headline the Glastonbury dance tent a month from now. That's one of only 2 or 3 full-band shows they are doing before album two's release around Christmas.

The last time I sweated so much at a gig was Glastonbury 2 years ago seeing Mylo in that same tent. This night topped that. Combining these two elements is probably too much for me to even comprehend.

Whoever the DJs and MCs were that followed Pendulum, they were happy to play standard Drum & Bass fare for the remainder of the night. And we were happy to dance along to it until close at 4am. Great night.

Friday: The Essential Selection Party - Now, I didn't attend this, so fellow coursemate and dear friend Rachel has stepped in to guestblog these words about how Friday night's shindig went down...

The Warehouse Project was an exhilarating and totally mind blowing experience. If I could do it every night of the week, I would.
On the Friday night, Pete Tong mixed in some great commercial tracks, which included Gorillaz' Feel Good Inc. and more surprisingly, the song that now defines the weekend: Razorlight's I Can't Stop This Feeling I've Got. We crammed ourselves into the pulsating crowd only a foot or so from the DJ's themselves and danced into the early hours, only stopping for a drink or to hip-check anyone that got in our way.
As the night came to an end, and we raised our hands in the air for the final time, all I could think was that I couldn't wait until the next one.

Cheers Rachel. Here's to the next one, indeed...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

i was always very proud of my a-level results

It's a weird feeling, waiting for exam results. The last big results I received was 5 years ago now, my A-Level results. I was always very proud of what I got then, but not because they were any good (they weren't).

But yes, it's two weeks since my last exam, and about three more until I get the results. And find out how this last ever bit of education has gone.

Picture the scene, five years ago, and it's A-Level results day. Everybody is opening their results, and most are looking at least fairly happy with themselves. I open mine, and am immediately anxious. They're lower than expected, and lower than what my first choice university are asking for (Manchester Met, incidentally).

So, everybody is mingling about asking how each other did, and people are asking me the same. All the comments are very supportive.

"Oh, you'll be fine"
"Give them a ring, they'll probably still let you in"

That kind of thing. Then there was one person, his name was Duncan Eatch, who asked me how I'd done. I told him what I got, and his face lit up, as he excitedly said:

"That spells the word 'dude'!!"

Cheers, Duncan.

Anyway, I did get into my clearly very fussy first choice university, as you're probably aware, and from that day forward I was immensely proud of my A-Level results.

Hope I don't do as badly this time though. Degree marks are rubbish for making funny anagrams out of.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

what i did yesterday

It was very very exciting. I tidied my room. And then videoblogged it here.

Fun fun.

Also: commiserations to Liverpool for losing last night. I was bloody bored throughout the match. I do like though, how the last football match of the season was the first football match I watched this season. (Club) football is so dull.

Monday, May 21, 2007

radio 1's big weekend - the sunday review

Hi there. I'm knackered.

That's not going to stop me jumping forth and shooting my barrel-load of hot, sticky opinions all over your faces though. Look: mini-reviews of all the bands and everything!

So we got to Moor Park in Preston just after 1pm on Sunday afternoon, and upon arriving it was straight over to the Outdoor Arena to see the DJ-off between Zane Lowe - who is as reliable a party DJ as ever - and Mark Ronson, who's forced insertions of average songs from the album he's got out grated from the off. Zane Lowe though was brilliant. Always inventive, never obvious. Perfect. And his final track, Pendulum - Blood Sugar, was hugely appreciated.

Then it was over to the Main Stage to watch most of Just Jack's set. That was surreal: just 3 months ago I saw him playing to just 150 people in Manchester Academy, and now I'm watching him at the back of a 7000 strong crowd. He carries it off though, despite his singles being the only good songs on his album.

Back to the Outdoor Arena after a short break, where Vernon Kay's influence could barely be detected in his DJ battle with Pete Tong. Anybody expecting Tong classics interspersed with Vernon's knack for old-skool cheese would have been disappointed, and it served as a reminder of how difficult it is to enjoy Tong's genre of music without the assistance of alcohol and the absence of sunlight.

First difficult stage clash of the day resulted in seeing Mika on the Main Stage instead of Dizzie Rascal on the In New Music We Trust (INMWT) stage, mainly due to a desire to see more than one act on that stage before the day was out. By all accounts, it was a mistake. Mika wasn't bad, but throughout the remainder of the day we would hear Klaxons, Bloc Party, Zane Lowe, Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley all sing the praises of Rascal's set that we missed. Besides, we left with two songs of Mika's set to go in order to ensure a good position in the crowd for Klaxons.

Kicking off two and a half hours spent in the company of the INMWT stage was Klaxons, who were as energetic as one could hope for. They're a great live band, it's just a shame the audience weren't kicking off enough to make it truly memorable.

No such dangers for Maximo Park. They've got enough singles under their belts to ensure their 45 minute set is a non-stop party. Paul Smith is as reliable a frontman as ever, ensuring they more than hold their own against the prospect of Stereophonics on the Main Stage.

Responsable for my favourite album of 2007 so far (sorry Arcade Fire), Bloc Party were always going to be the most exciting prospect of the day for me. Suffice to say, they lived up to my sky-high expectations. The crowd was clearly big fans of the band, and it was a pleasure to see them in a 2000 person tent ahead of their Arena tour when they'll be playing to venues five times the size.

Then it was a short run over to the Main Stage to see the last 10 minutes of Kaiser Chiefs set, which seemed to be doing well against a tough audience, and a final 45 minutes sitting down shattered whilst Dave Pearce closed the festival with his Dance Anthems.

Great day all round then, very well organised and that. Thanks to Radio 1 and Preston for it, and feel free to rummage through our pictures here.

Right then, role on Glastonbury!

Friday, May 18, 2007

the muldoon guide to alton towers

  • Dear Lord, go on a quiet day. You know: not during the summer holidays, not at a weekend. Book the day off work or something. Why on earth would you wait 120 minutes for one rollercoaster when you could come some other day and never wait longer than 10 minutes?
  • As you've been sensible enough to come on a quiet day, you should then make the effort to queue longer to get in the front row seats on the big rides. I was surprised by how worth the wait it was. Picking a favourite ride is impossible, but the best experience of the day was being front row on Nemesis. Great stuff.
  • It's cheaper out of season too. We paid £18 per person, instead of £34. Well worth it, really.
  • Bring Sandwiches. I can happily report that I got through the entire day without buying one thing inside the park - food, souvenir or otherwise. That'll teach the capitalist heathens!
Also, can I take some the time to thank my dear friends in the 5th Avenue DJ booth for last night? Amongst others, they played these spot on choices of tracks:
  • OPM - Heaven is a Half Pipe
  • The Music - The Truth Is No Words
  • Little Man Tate - Sexy in Latin
  • Muse - Plug In Baby
  • Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)
Keep fighting the good fight, gents.

Also also: Somewhat preposterously my video didn't win the Radio 1 competition for Big Weekend tickets. Despite it being better than at least half the actual winners. It's a fix, I tell you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

highly embarrassing blog post

Regular readers will know that this Sunday I'm off to Radio 1's Big Weekend in Preston. But, that's not good enough for me is it? No, I'm a greedy eijit, so I want to go to the Saturday as well. And hey, maybe bring along a couple more friends to the Sunday too if possible.

To that end, I thought it'd be a fun project to enter the Air Guitar competition the station have been running to win weekend passes. Simple concept: record a 2 minute or less video of yourself playing air guitar (or any other air instrument) and upload it to Youtube or somewhere. The 10 best win weekend passes and will be shown on the big screens between acts at the event.

So, yesterday we filmed an entry. And, erm... I didn't hold back. It's really quite embarrassing.

Watch me air guitar along to Maximo Park on Youtube

yeah so i finished uni

As of last friday, I am no longer a student. Now there's a scary thought.

Somebody asked me how I felt about it, and I had no idea how to respond. There's so many conflicting emotions, some of which I'll attempt to detail now: petrified, jubilated, curious, ambiguous, excited, mournful, relieved.

A major theme seemed to be that this is the defining moment where we all have to now grow up and get real jobs. Personally I refuse to think that that's what finishing finals is about. Fun first, job later, i'm hoping will be how I get to play it.

I realise this is a slightly dull post, but people are surprised I haven't acknowledged the completion of my degree on this here blog. By all accounts, make sure you check back here in a couple of days. The forthcoming blog will scare and arouse you in equal measures.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

reader's comments 5: roy chubby brown and racism

The pro Roy Chubby Brown brigade have been out in force since I posted a rant accusing him of being a horrific racist type person. Funnily enough, most of these comments are from folk known as 'Anonymous'.

"It's obvious you dont know what you're talking about. Chubby Brown and Royston are 2 different people. He has a job to do and people pay to see him do that job. Does that make anyone who goes to see him a rasict? Like he and many always say, "They're ONLY jokes.""

What? The documentary showed two different persona's of the man, BOTH being horribly racist.

I might not grasp the nuances of his act - true - but this point still stands: that as an entertainer you galvanise them, you make them think their opinions are acceptable, and you give them an idol figure to look up to and believe in.

People who go to see him are already likely to be racists really, Chubby Brown just gives some of them more impetuous to go from being inwards racist to pro-actively racist.


You're a d**khead."

Charming. Thank you very much.

"Wonderful stereotyping with the Daily Mail remark.

Welcome to the land of bigotry, ya lil hypocrite."

Oh shut up. The Daily Mail goes hand in hand with Chubby Brown in giving people the impression that their views are acceptable, with its front page headlines designed to insight anger from the smallest morsel of newsworthy information. It's a fair target, as are the people that lap it up.

"chubby brown is a fascist halfwit, as simple as.

We can only wish a painful death on the fat idiot."

Oh you kids do exaggerate. Nice to see somebody on this side of the fence though.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

roy chubby brown, and i'm going to radio 1's big weekend

So. There was already a fair number of fun things planned for the week following my last exam (which itself is only two days away, exam timetable fans). But now the plan has just got a whole lot better with the news this evening that i'm going to Radio 1's Big Weekend in Preston on Sunday the 20th.

Sunday was the day I really wanted tickets for. Line-up highlights for me? Bloc Party, Maximo Park, Klaxons, and a chance to witness Zane Lowe DJing again.

I knew knowing people that come from Preston would pay off one day. But anyway: this adds to the growing list of fun stuff that's penned in for the couple of weeks following finishing university for ever: Alton Towers, the course BBQ, Pendulum and Soulwax @ Warehouse Project, The Graduation Ball, the Singstar/Buzz party, Pete Tong/Annie Mac/Simian Mobile Disco at club PR1, Travis, and Simon Amstell in London.

Fun times. May is going to be an awesome month.

roy chubby brown is an awful racist

Last night, following a thoroughly enjoyable CSS gig at Manchester Ritz, I got home and unusually, put the TV on. On Channel 4 they were halfway through a documentary on Roy Chubby Brown. Now, I knew this man to be a somewhat rude, over the top comedian, but what I didn't realise that he was a hideous racist to boot.

It really was horrific viewing, watching him spit his vile opinions on camera, and trying to defend telling unquestionably racist jokes on stage by saying that he was 'just reflecting this groups views'. No, Chubby: as an entertainer you galvanise them, you make them think their opinions are acceptable, and you give them an idol figure to look up to and believe in whilst they are walking their town, Daily Mail tucked below arm, glaring menacingly at anybody who's skin colour happens to be slightly off-white. Roy Chubby Brown, you are an utterly horrific example of a human being.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

the southern fried chicken song

I've been thinking today about some of the ridiculous and fairly pointless things I've done in the past for no other reason but my own amusement. This led me to remember something pretty embarrassing that goes very much along such lines.

When I was 19ish, working on the grill counter of the customer restaurant at Safeway Gamston (now tragically a Morrisons) in Nottingham, I used to, a few times a night, sell people Southern Fried Chicken meals. Upon customers requesting such damn lovely food, I would offer to sing them the Southern Fried Chicken song. That I made up once. Some would say no thank you, but most would be treated to a quick verse of this song, that I fairly tragically am still able to remember:

"Southern Fried Chicken, so lovely and fresh,
Southern Fried Chicken, only the best!
Southern Fried Chicken, so dainty and true,
Southern Fried Chicken, especially for yoooou..."

Urgh. Not something I'd do nowadays you understand. It's the kind of thing one adopts to amuse themselves whilst trying to get through a 10 hour shift, I think.