Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Gig Meme

Another music “meme” going around. In fact this is the first of two I have recently been tagged to undertake. David at itsadadslife has a great blog and has asked me to reveal my gigging past to you.

My First experience of a live gig was in fact Motorhead. Yes, that’s right you read it correctly. Pick yourself up off the floor, its true. At the age of about eleven my incredibly generous uncle took me and my best mate to see the No Sleep til Hammersmith live tour. Lemmy, some other blokes and two thousand greasy heavy metal head-cases going mental and my uncle trying to prevent us rushing down to the front, where to be fair we would probably have died. My ears were ringing for three days afterwards and I’m not sure my hearing has ever been the same.

selected track: Ace of Spades

My Worst gig is a difficult one as I haven’t really been to that many I didn’t really want to be at, if you know what I mean. Would say the one I was most let down by was a Simple Minds gig in the early 90’s. It wasn’t bad, just not as good as I had hoped for. In truth it was a crap night, I was in a bad mood and the support act was uninspiring, so to be fair perhaps it was me and not them. They were one of my favourite bands and made some cracking music in the early eighties.

selected track: Don’t You Forget About Me

My Best gig is without a doubt Oasis at Loch Lomond back in 1996. Truly amazing day out in the most spectacular setting, only spoiled by overpriced burgers and beer. The band at their very best, totally great atmosphere that was absolutely bouncing. Words cannot describe how 40,000 Scots who have been drinking all afternoon can party into the evening. They even had some amazing fireworks at the end of the night just to top it all off. My mate even had his face painted like braveheart (pillock).

selected track: Slide Away

My Last gig was Elbow at Glasgow SECC last March (shows how often I get out these days !). Guy Garvey is without doubt an amazing down to earth bloke, who pens genius lyrics for a band who are musicians through and through, and have five fantastic albums. I so want to pick a track from their earlier albums, but the track should be from the gig, and this isn’t actually my favourite track but on the night the crowd were amazing and it really finished a superb evening.

selected track: One Day Like This

My Dream gig is such a tough one. I like so many great bands and have missed so many great opportunities to see them live. As a teenager U2 were never off my playlist and their concert at Redrocks, outdoor amphitheatre was just the most brilliant setting for a concert. They recorded Under a Blood Red Sky there and I watched the video until it wore out. U2 distance themselves from their early material these days, but hell it’s what made them – and you have got to love Bono’s leather trousers and flag waving.

selected track: The Electric Co (live)

Now to three other music types for them to continue if they wish. Jaille Daddy tagged me in another musical meme which I will complete in due course, so I'll return the favour and tag him. slightlysuburbandad likes a good meme and some good music. Finally Kev is into his music in a big way too.

Edit: I should add this meme was originally doing the rounds courtesy of MusoDad who has since retired from blogging but will put your suggestions on a spotify play list if you twitter him !

Friday, 20 April 2012

The Alternative Zodiac

The signs of the zodiac have been around for many moons, however do they really provide an up to date representation of each star sign?
First off, I am a man of science and do not follow astrology in the mind bendingly dumb sense of belief that everyone on this planet with a similar birthday will all meet a tall dark stranger, get a new job or come onto money on the same day. That’s just absurd. Having said that I once pinned my stars from the newspaper on my wall at work as they said “Those around you underestimate your true value to the world of business and commerce, consider taking your talents elsewhere” which I felt was apt and used as a continuous motivator to myself and my arse of a boss.

Ok, so what can we update? I will start with Taurus. Everyone knows some stubborn, lazy, self-indulgent Taurean, don’t they? The Bull may be quite appropriate with this regard, however from now on I declare “The John McCrirrick” should represent the sign of Taurus.

Moving swiftly on to the Gemini’s of this world. Superficial, devious and indecisive. You know who you are and shall have your Twins identity removed and updated with “The Two Faces”. Cause you are and you know it!

Moody, over-sensitive Cancerians everywhere, I bet you can’t wait to get rid of The Crab. Its bad enough having to say the “C” word let alone being represented by a snippy little creature that doubles as a sexually transmitted infestation. You shall go forth with glory and be represented by “The Sulky Teenager”.

Leo’s have always had a good thing with the king of the jungle, and that’s kind of how most of the pretentious, domineering folks behave. Henceforth they shall keep their mane and be rewarded with the new identity of “The Redfoo” (he’s the front man of LMFAO in case you are wondering)

Virgo’s of the world, hmmm a tough one. You are interfering,
cold (explains the Virgin representation), fussy and hence you shall now be known to me as “The Spinster”. Well if you weren’t so cold and unwelcoming you wouldn’t have been left on the shelf now would you.

Despite being represented by the scales, Libra’s are indecisive and unreliable, and must therefore (as much as it pains me) be deemed “The Man”. I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure.

However, Scorpio’s jealous, suspicious and manipulative nature can only mean they are of course without any doubt “The Woman”.

Sagittarians. Pushy, tactless, blunt and prone to exaggeration must hereby lay down their bows and be known as “The American”. Sorry if this upsets my cross Atlantic readers, but it’s kind of true mostly ;-)

As for all the Capricorn inhibited, distrusting, dictators out there, well you can kiss goodbye to the goat and welcome your new identity of “The Traffic Warden” (or Little Hitler if you prefer). Ooh, you like to be in charge and have things done your way, don’t you?

Aquarians with their sarcastic, unemotional aloofness shall forthwith be known as “The Dr House”. Lets face it your cutting, dry sense of humour may be superior to the other cretins around you, but you’re probably the only one laughing.

Piscean over sensitive, self-pitying wallowers can only be “The Celebrity Rehab”. I just want to say one more thing…. “GET A GRIP OF YOURSELVES”. It had to be said, you’ll thank me for it in the long run.

Aries by nature moody, impulsive and short-tempered shall be represented by “The Firework”, as they are ready to go off at any time. Keep your powder dry folks you don’t have to blow up at everything.

Ok that’s done it. I must have alienated everyone in the world now by choosing the worst traits that some of these star signs have….but none of you believe in that nonsense anyway, right ?

Tongue firmly in cheek.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Demon Drink

I’m sure we all have cringe worthy embarrassing moments tucked away in a box, bolted down and buried under 3000 tonnes of rubble that we don’t ever wish to be reminded of. Usually, I’m guessing these may have happened when we were younger, lets say inexperienced and perhaps as a result of “encouragement” from so called friends or more likely heavily influenced by alcohol.

I was reminded of one of mine the other night, which involved me stripping off in my flat after inviting some friends round after the pub closed. I obviously would not have done this had I not been very drunk. To make matters worse I passed out sometime later and woke up in the morning with absolutely no recollection and unable to find any of my clothes.
I sat puzzling for a while, checked the washing machine, and checked the laundry basket. Nothing. When the others started to wake up, they were all laughing at me and said that I had stripped off on the way home and had been running up and down the street naked. Actually, I hadn’t and they had hidden my clothes for a laugh but they didn’t tell me until later that day. I decided it was probably time to start drinking less at that point. On the positive side, at least they didn’t shave my eyebrows, there was no tiger in the bathroom and I didn’t wake up with a lady of ill repute. Although there were a few other occasions where that may have happened.

Another one I really cringe at was when a group of us were out all day one Sunday and by early evening I was worse for wear. I went on to confess my undying lust for a friends sister in front of everyone, including her and it didn’t go down well at all. It was really one of that “oh no he didn’t” moments and I really wished I hadn’t with retrospect.
One thing that struck me as I got older was actually how many units of alcohol are in drinks. I didn’t think about this when I was young. I just drank without any thought to what I was consuming. It’s only now that I fully appreciate that drinking seven pints of lager, six bottles of lager and a half a dozen vodka’s is more than enough to floor an elephant, and not particularly wise either.

I also didn’t fully understand that drinking different things was like a cocktail of chemicals waiting to unhinge you. Hence the time I once drank lager along with wine chasers. Absolutely do not do this under any circumstances. I think it took me some time to crawl sideways home after that one. Don’t mix your drinks, that’s good advice.
Of course, different brands of the same drink can also range in potency. When I was first introduced to Stella Artois, I thought it was beautifully smooth and had about seven pints one night. I couldn’t get up the next day. I thought I’d been run over by a truck. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I learned that there are three units of alcohol in one pint of Stella.

Similarly, red wine is an accident waiting to happen if you have too much. When you are out having dinner it is very easy to consume several glasses of wine over an hour and a half and fail to realise you’ve just polished off close to nine units of alcohol – and the night is still young and full of further temptations to finish you off.
These days and in fact for the last twelve years or so, I drink far more responsibly than before. My “Withnail and I” days are most definitely over, however I still like a beer and particularly enjoy red wine….no longer at the same time of course.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Easter Holidays

Ok, so it is now almost the middle of the second week of the school holidays and my wife’s sanity is crumbling. This is why I deliberately took two days off last week and two this week; - to avoid becoming involved in the apocalyptic meltdown that encompasses this phase.

This morning I had the “I’m a slave to everyone in this house” speech, which generally comes about following ten days of no school and sends me scurrying to find a reason to leave the house and praying I survive until tomorrow’s sanctuary of work. Ok, my daughter does have a tendency to leave stuff lying around, there is clearly more laundry to be done and son’s bedroom could be tidier but is it really that bad?

When you try to point out the actual facts, such as I have done all the cooking and shopping in the last few days, this is quickly rebuked and trumped with a torrent of “washing, ironing, dusting, floor cleaning, bathroom cleaning, giving birth to your children…” (yes dear it was ten /twelve years ago – I am eternally grateful get over it)

Last night I even got my proverbial’s chewed because I had the audacity to have two pairs of shoes left downstairs. Flog me with a dead horse, go on I must deserve it. Anyway, following this mini rant at about 10’o clock last night, I got up this morning to find two pairs of her boots at the bottom of the stairs along with my son’s trainers. Oh, I see – its do as I say not do as I do!

About half an hour ago, this was also followed up by the classic “there is grass on the floor, you must have taken it in with you” rant. Cue frantic broom sweeping, floor mopping and vacuuming, followed by the “I’m a slave, I do everything round here…..”

Of course when I sensibly suggest, this grass could have come from anyone else’s shoes and was probably a result of walking her dog, I might as well have pushed the button on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

I know she is slightly OCD about crumbs etc on the floor, but surely if you have a dog a bit of debris comes with the territory and I do not have a built in grass detection system. Like everything else in this house, if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time you could be on the wrong end of my wife’s wrath that would put Khan or the Titans to shame.

The funny thing is it swings from her being fed up through the day when the kids are at school, to wanting to eat her young and disembowel her husband after a few days with everyone at home. It doesn’t help that the weather has been poor either, but this is only Easter – there are seven weeks of Summer holidays to come.

I am now taking the sensible precaution of avoiding being in the kitchen with her (too many sharp instruments to hand) in order to preserve my work / life balance.

Oh and I must go now because I have been told to go vacuum the living room, hall and daughters bedroom before she returns from walking the dog or my balls will be served on a silver platter.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Go Put A Record On

The other day we were having a clear out and a discussion about whether to throw out all our old vinyl records started. They are just sitting in an ottoman taking up space and have done for about the last 15 years or so. I think that’s when my old style turntable was finally thrown out. In fact, it definitely was because we bought our house that year and almost all my worldly possessions that served me so well in my bachelor years, were deemed unfit for purpose by she who must be obeyed.

I have always been reluctant to throw out the vinyl collection, for some weird sentimental reason, however, in all honesty there is no point in keeping it.

I had a quick look on e-bay and was surprised to see that some of these records are still selling for about £6 to £10 and quickly calculated I could be on to a good thing here. If they were in Mint condition, you could even get up to £50 for some albums.

I spent the afternoon searching online and came up with a list of “special edition”  records that probably sold in their hundreds of thousands and convinced myself this could be a great money-spinner. U2’s original Boy LP, The Wide awake in America EP with lyrics sleeve, The Joshua Tree first run with pull out poster, Simple Minds Live In The City of Light, with picture book, INXS first run Listen Like Thieves etc etc.

I remembered about my Primal Scream 12” white label promo copy and convinced myself it would be worth even more.

In fact, by the time I realised that my wife also had all of the original Prince albums and a few other bits and pieces I almost started listing them for sale. However, I started looking into this a bit deeper and it really all has to do with the grading of the cover sleeve and the record itself. Minor visible scratches are still okay as long as they play well and are classed as Very Good for example. No problem there, I thought I always looked after my records, didn’t I ?

Well, when I went to take them out of the storage trunk I was horrified. My “well looked after” collection had the remnants of beer stains, coffee cups, torn sleeves and you would have thought a cat had danced across the surface of them with its claws out. Then the penny hit home, and I remembered all that drunken nights back to ours after the pubs closed and trying to select individual tracks while the needle slipped all over the place. I can hear the screeching and scratching now.

Maybe, my wife’s stuff would be in better condition ?
Well, some of the records weren’t actually that bad comparatively speaking, but for some stupid reason she had decided to write her name all over the blooming covers. I’m sure she did love Prince and probably even Andrew Ridgley too, but did she have to draw cupid style hearts with their initials on the front cover of them all ? and furthermore, how could anyone have ever fancied that hairy lipped, purple clad dwarf.

There were some nice discoveries though, I found Hue and Cry, Seduced and Abandoned which is a cracking album from 1987 that I played to death. Think I’ll go and buy that and a few others on MP3.

Sentimentality aside, it’s basically all junk and not worth anything. But then I looked at some of these records and felt like I was fourteen again. It’s funny but a lot of old memories have cropped up with me in the last couple of days and not always good ones either. Maybe that’s why these records were put to bed in the first place, but can I really part company with such a big part of my life or will they still be sitting in a trunk for another 15 years.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Autism Awareness

World Autism Awareness Day is the 2nd April and many of us who have connections to autistic family, friends and professionals all run around promoting it and using it as our mantle for spreading the word.

I’m okay with this, but not so sure about the effectiveness. Awareness is one thing, but what we really want is for people who are perhaps not sure about autism to go and investigate a little bit more about it. Visit the NAS website, read a book, watch a film, search on youtube if you must.

Another point to consider is that people are probably far more aware of autistic disorders now than they ever have been, but perhaps they do not realise it.

Apart from the high profile autism stories about discredited vaccination researchers and famous computer hackers. That’s Andrew Wakefield and Gary Mackinnon for those completely out of the loop, there are countless examples of autistic behaviour being used in the film and television communities.

Some of Lisa Simpson’s odd and awkward social behaviour is believed to be suggestive of high functioning autism. Dr House’s unemotional, self-centred nature and logical arrogance reflects the individualised perspective, where it really doesn’t matter to him that other people could take offence or interpret situations in a different way from him. The young boy in the new series Touch, who literally cannot be touched without being overloaded demonstrates hypersensitivity issues along with his repetitive focus and intense fixation on patterns and in this case numbers. The Middle character Brick’s narrow interests, obsession and compulsion to echo under his breath. Hoffman’s, excellent portrayal of a savant autistic in Rainman speaks for itself. The film Adam is more obviously about the difficulties someone with aspergers syndrome can have forming relationships. Temperance Brennan (Bones) again displays highly specialised and detailed intelligence with very literal, factual, interpretation and lack of ‘normal’ social understanding.

Some of these quirky characters (with the exception of Babbit / Adam) only scrape the surface of autistic traits or offer a hint they may be affected. They rather give a false impression that this condition is somehow cooler than it really is and suggest some magical high intelligence quotient accompanies everyone on the spectrum, which it does not. They don’t represent the full difficulties people with this condition have, you don’t see them having tantrums, meltdowns or being unable to function when everything overwhelms them.

If you want to understand the condition from a true autistic perspective, I would suggest you look at the offerings from the very famous Temple Grandin or read the Luke Jackson penned “Freaks, Geeks and Aspergers Syndrome”. Finally, if you are in the UK and ever have the opportunity to hear Ros Blackburn talk, grab it with both hands or go research her bio.