Sunday, April 29, 2007

we are today's bbc news

For those of you not already aware of the situation, this is where I am currently taking the final exams of my degree:

BBC NEWS - Students take final exams in tent

Which is currently on the front page of the BBC England News website. And is currently all MMU Business School students are talking about.

A bit of perspective is needed, I can't help but think. Students don't half make a noise when they get a bee in their bonnet about something.

I had my first exam on Thursday, and it is indeed in a big tent right next to a main road. The traffic noise was constant throughout, but that conversely made it easier to ignore after about three minutes. A few sirens were heard throughout the exam, and I requested an extra piece of paper for slipping underneath my desk leg so it didn't wobble as I wrote. The location at Man City's ground is a bit of a trek for students, but hey, I'm on my push-bike so it's no real hassle for me. The University only laying on coaches - when pushed in to it by our student union - first thing in the morning and last thing at night is a bit out of order though. But hey, nothing earth shattering really.

I do, though, dread to think what an exam would be like if it happened to coincide with a period of sporadic rainfall. And really, considering these are our ultra-important final exams, it's a bit rubbish that conditions are anywhere below ideal.

Meh. At least it's a one off for us, the unfortunate Class of 2007.

UPDATE: You can also read the Manchester Evening News's more sensationalist account of the situation here

Friday, April 27, 2007

exposing a primary school scandal

A couple of people have been surprised that I've not been posting about exams and revision on here. There are reasons for this: it's what everybody is talking about on myspace/facebook/real life etc, this blog provides respite from revision (for me, you understand), and it's a deeply dull topic. That said, I was thinking about past exam experiences the other day, and suddenly remembered something I find really quite shocking, that I'd long forgotten.

My earliest memories of exams is being about 11 years old, taking SAT exams a few months before leaving St. Edmund Campion R C Primary School. I can't remember much of them, but I can clearly remember one thing. There was one paper that was basically a spelling test. Now, I wasn't the best speller in the world, which might partly explain why a couple of teachers were intermittently leaning over my shoulder and helping me with the answers!

"No, that one isn't right Mark, try again" I can specifically remember one of them whispering to me.

To make it worse, a year or two later the headteacher at the time Mr. Sweeney had his picture printed in The Times, as the school had been named the 2nd best state Primary School in the country, or something. All of which makes me feel a bit angry at my primary school really, despite it being by-and-large a great organisation that did it's job of raising kids very well.

So yeah, there's a bit of an exclusive for you. I didn't go to the Nottingham Evening Post with it, or the Guardian or something. You guys got it first. Feel special, mmm?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

a very modern romance

Idle Googling one night. I enter the name of this block of flats I live in. One of the results is from someone's Myspace page. Worth checking out I feel. A few things quickly become apparent: a) it's the myspace profile of a girl, b) she's quite pretty, c) she lives in this block of flats I live in, d) she's single, e) she lives in the flat out front. I pass their window every day, smiling hello to whoever may be in there.

Quite the coincidence, I thought. I message her through myspace anyway, say hello. This isn't weird is it? This is exactly the kind of thing myspace was made for, right? My flatmates will probably make stalker jokes when I tell them about this later. Message sent. Time to watch that taped episode of Hollyoaks In The City or something.

Couple of days later: a response! She's being nice! Will message her back after some idle browsing of other regular internet stop-offs. I check the visitor statistics from my blog. Hang on: somebody was Googling the name of this block of flats earlier. They ended up on my blog because of it. They spent 15 minutes browsing the thing. This was a couple of minutes after the girl sent the Myspace message. Wait a minute: who's stalking who here?

A couple more messages fly back and forth that week. My myspace calender says i'm off to see a particular gig soon, she mentions they're all heading there too. Would be good to actually chat in real life.

I agree. Message her back saying as much. That was a month ago. My Myspace outbox informs me she's read the message. No response though. Still smile whenever I walk past the window. Myspace is a bloody stupid way to do this sort of thing anyway.

She looked better in her Myspace photos anyway. I'd bet, I do too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

beware: paedophile round every corner

So the quote on the 10 o'clock News last night was that 8 out of 10 people would like to be able to know if a paedophile was living near them. Leading the march to get the laws changed is, surprise surprise, the News Of The World. And all I want to ask is, why?

I never properly watched Brass Eye, but it seems Chris Morris had a damn good point when he satirised the media's hysteria over the topic. The most unnerving quote I heard on the news yesterday was from a single mother, who was arguing that she wanted access to check whether new boyfriends were convicted paedophiles in order to protect her children.

Now sorry, but what kind of utter paranoia have you got to possess to, upon meeting a new potential boyfriend, actively then have the nagging desire to go off and check if he has a history of paedophilia?

That really is an example of the ridiculous panic over such issues the media whips up amongst us isn't it? It's not safe to let your kids walk to the shops/talk to neighbours/play in the back garden, because the local paedophile is lurking just round the corner waiting to pounce as soon as a parent should they so much as turn their back for a moment.

It's an awful, awful topic, but newspaper's too often use how awful and emotional it is to sell more newspapers just like the day they realised that putting Jordan's breasts on the front page does the same. Stop it media people, it makes me hate you.

Monday, April 09, 2007

further opinions about music

Most listened to album of the last couple of months: Muse - Black Holes and Revelations. I wish I was this much into the album when I saw them live last November.

Last time The Avalanches - Since I Left You was the classic album I'd just brought and was consuming heavily. This time round that honour falls to Air, and their 1998 wonder Moon Safari. Every inch that album is more addictive than marzipan.

I do not understand the appeal of Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Couple of good songs (By The Way, Rollercoaster) and a bunch of entirely average ones. Most overrated band out there, I'd say.

Three years ago, I decided I wanted to own Radiohead albums. So I brought three in one shopping trip: Pablo Honey, The Bends and OK Computer. Given that OK Computer is usually seen as the best, I listened to that for a fair while, but really struggled with it. This put me off listening to Radiohead until just the last couple of months, when I've just really got into The Bends, which has revealed itself to be simply all sorts of awesome.

After last time deciding that Funeral by Arcade Fire was now my favourite album of all time, the so-close-to-being-as-good follow-up Neon Bible means that I've decided they are now also my favourite band, overtaking the never less than excellent Coldplay.

Uncool band of the month: The Little Ones. Their 6 song mini-album 'Sing-Song' writes the manual on good time pop music. Go check them out.

Some awful award ceremonies so far this year have named the worst album released in 2006 as Robbie Williams - Rudebox. Whilst it is by no means his best work, this is utter tosh. There's some great tracks on there, and while there's also some that don't work, I like the fact that as the biggest pop star in the country he's willing to take risks, and not just churn out what everybody knows will sell. This, in my book, makes him infinitely preferable to the Westlifes of the music industry.

Current least favourite song on the radio: Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape. I'm sorry but what happened to this girl's ability to make good radio friendly hits? Every single off her last album (Rich Girl, What You Waiting For and Cool particularly stick out) was a well crafted, happy and original pop hit. The two from this album (this and the utterly dire Wind It Up) have both been awful in comparison.

I'm not sick of hearing Bloc Party - I Still Remember on the radio. It still sounds fantastic after every listen.

The one song everybody must go download after reading this: Liam Frost - The Mourners of St. Paul's. Go on, take a chance on what I named as my favourite song of last year. It's an epic, touching, masterpiece of a song. And I'll tell you what, go download it now from your reputable online music retailer of choice, and if you decide you do not like it, I will personally refund you the 79p it probably cost.

There you are, that's my neck on the line. Go download it now and if you don't like it I'll give you the 79p back. 'mazing deal.

And that was some further opinions about music.

Friday, April 06, 2007

the muldoon guide to fashion: flirtatious t-shirts

Hello, and a happy Good Friday to you all.

It may seem like a weird day for passing on good wishes (imagine it on a greetings card: "Happy Good Friday" with a cartoon of a dog having lost its bone, or Jesus looking despondent or something), but I thought I'd pass on my best regards all the same.

As a seasonal gift to you all, I thought I'd offer up Episode 1 in The Muldoon Guide To Fashion, a series that will definitely (possibly) build in to an essential lasting guide to the potential possibilities, perils and pitfalls of fashion for young people in the 21st Century.

Episode 1 - The cheeky slogan T-Shirt

People, men in particular, should take note. You've probably been wondering around Topman, or Barnardos or wherever on a Saturday afternoon, and pondered whether that T-Shirt with the wry, flirtacious slogan on it would look good on you later that night in your local meat market (sorry, 'club') when you're attempting to get women to take a second glance at you, whilst simultaneously trying to draw attention away from your pig rough face. You know, t-shirts like this, this and of course this classic.

Allow me to simplify the matter for you: all you need do is go look in the mirror. You see, if you are a good looking guy, by all means go and wear such a T-Shirt. You'll look witty, playful and charming.

If however, you're balding, fat and just all round damn ugly, then don't wear one. You'll look like a sleazy, desperate prat.

Magic how such T-shirts work, isn't it? But there you have it. Whether or not you can pull off such t-shirts is entirely dependent on how attractive you are. Except for the last one of those three. No person should ever wear that, unless they're trying to look like a Grade A eijit.

More fashion tips soon on muldoon/blog!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

gig reviews: razorlight, damien rice, little man tate

Razorlight/Manchester MEN Arena

Oh dear. Two years ago Johnny Borrell would give his appendix to ensure his audience enjoyed itself. Tonight he seems happy to discount showmanship duties and only give the bare minimum.

With two stunning albums behind them, it beggers belief that such a band could fall flat on an arena level.

But fall flat they do, and the crowd is left wondering how the band ever gained its previously electric live reputation. 5/10

Damien Rice/Manchester Apollo

If Damien Rice has many skills to his name, brevity certainly isn't one of them.

Over a full 2 hour show, 4 minute album tracks are drawn out to become 13 minute epics. The audience is left to cheer a full 5 minutes for an encore.

The presence of recently departed vocalist Lisa Hannigan is dearly missed, but it doesn't prevent the performance from being an intense, intimate and wildly compelling one. 8/10

Little Man Tate/Manchester Roadhouse

For a band with six singles already under their belt, LMT should be a storming live prospect.

It's unfortunate therefore, that all through the set Jon Windle's voice appears in worrying health.

Throughout there's a consistent feeling of a band not quite living up to their usual gig reputation, and it results in a show that pleases the core fans, but leaves any observing passers-by remaining unconvinced. 7/10

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

the guy who owns 211 keane albums

The internet is a wonderful place. You can find all sorts of people on there.

For example, I friend just pointed out this person to me, on the exciting base of intellectual conversation that is the official Keane forum. Hopefully by clicking this link you'll be able to see the post from some forum member called 'hopes', but if not, allow me to reproduce it here:

A bit of useless info but this is the Keane albums i have in my collection

As Of March 22nd
Hopes And Fears = 94 Copies
Under The Iron Sea = 76 Copies
Live Recordings 2004 = 41 Copies

And i probably won't stop buying copies ever, if i see one in the shop which is half price or really cheap for a limited time, i WILL get it. I know im crazy, but i can always sell copies in the years to come on Ebay or whatever, or i might just keep them forever and ever.

Now by my calculations, that guy has brought 211 Keane albums.

And really I have no further comment to make.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

glastonbury tickets and exploding the myth of radio 1

Wow, that was a crazy few hours this morning guys.

So yeah, we got Glastonbury tickets. Months of planning, pondering and all-round nervousness paid off.

It's all the more a happy occasion when you consider the list of acts confirmed so far, which contains a strong majority of my current favourites: Arcade Fire, Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs, Joanna Newsom, The Killers, Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys, Hot Chip and Editors.

Anyway, so I woke up at 8:30 this morning for the task, and for the first hour it seemed nobody in the world was succeeding. Then the odd report started to trickle through on message boards of people managing to get tickets. About 15 minutes later, my flatmate runs in, says he's got tickets on his rock steady super-fast net connection. Lucky bugger.

What followed was 10 minutes of buying tickets. First for me and my crew, then ringing round our friends to ask if they'd got there's, and them giving us their card details so we could book for them if they hadn't (don't try this at home kids, we're professional trustworthy ticket buyer type people)

Then it was like Welcome to Celebrationsville, population: us. We had booked tickets for 11 people in total. Brilliant times.

As generally happy with the whole event as I was, I decided I'd put a call in to Vernon Kay on Radio 1, who had been talking Glastonbury tickets all morning. Maybe I'd be able to get on the Sunday Shuffle and pick an excellent celebratory tune to top the morning off nicely.

I got through to talk to the very friendly Producer Neil, who asked me a couple of questions about Glastonbury, and weirdly, if I'd ever been on Radio 1 before. He took my number, and that was that.

20 minutes later, I get a call. It's Neil, and they are looking for somebody to have a chat on air, and request Beach Boys - Good Vibrations. The cheek!

So there you have it, Radio 1 ask you to request specific songs. It's not exactly in the same league as the Richard & Judy phone scandal, but thought you'd like to know anyway.

If you just want to hear me sounding over excited on national radio, right click and 'save target as' this:

Top morning anyway. Role on summer, that's what I say.