Monday, March 21, 2011

Why I feel Like a Sap

Apart from the usual and obvious, I am feeling particularly sap-like today. While browsing facebook I was caught by an ad for a book called The Year The Music Died. I read the advertising copy and it sounded just like a book I'd really enjoy. So I went on-line and bought it. It purported to be about pop music's best years - 1964 to 1972 - and, according to the cover, an irreverent look at the musicians and social movements of the time. What it didn't say is that it is not journalism, as it presents itself to be, but the narrow-minded prejudice of one guy. Not even a musician or industry insider; just a regular mug punter like you and me. What it consists of is a bunch of completely subjective opinions with nothing whatsoever to back them up - not even coherent argument.
Here are some examples: The first section of the book is called The First Tier. It comprises chapters about The Beatles - quote, 'As if they did not have everything else going for them, it is interesting that all three guitarists were the same height (5'11")' and here's a good one: The average song rating on Sgt. Pepper is 2,69 (out of 5). Rated by the author, totally subjectively, just his opinion. Then it goes on to cover John Lennon -The Rolling Stones - The Byrds - The Doors and finally Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
I go on at length about this because of the second section: The Second Tier begins with a long piece about The Beach Boys, then shorter pieces on Buffalo Springfield, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan (I'm not even a Dylan fan and I'd put him right up at or near the top of the first tier), Jimi Hendrix (did you think it could get worse?), The Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkle, The Who and Neil Young. I get the impression that these are in order of (second division) greatness. And that's not to mention the copious number of charts, all based upon, you guessed it, the opinions of the author and absolutely nothing else.
Anyone but a masochist would have bailed at this point. Lord forgive me, but I read this thing right through to the end. I guess I'm like those people in Ballard's Crash who have a fascination for atrocity. And atrocity it is. It has to be self-published, although the publisher, Bridgeway Books, claims to be legit. However, I get the impression from their website that they CO-OPERATE with their authors; I read that as you pay them money and they'll publish it. What they don't give is editorial advice or even copy-editing from the looks of this piece of shhhh.... you know what, to paraphrase an old TV commercial for Ssssh.... you know who.
I would not have written this bitterly critical diatribe (I must look that up - bitterly critical is in the definition, I must be channeling the OED) had the idea of the book not appealed to me on such a gut level. I haven't looked forward to getting a book through the post in so long and I have never been so disappointed. Take a bow Dwight Rounds.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Badge Kissers

As a football fan, I don't think I can take much more of the millionaire players whining that no-one loves them (even the clubs that are going bankrupt to pay their obscene wages). Fernando Torres is probably not the worst of them, but he's the one who attracted my ire this week - well, last week actually but I was away on business and did not have access to a computer (long story). However, he did stir the anti-poet in me and so I offer to you this anti-Haiku:

Badge Kissers
Chasing rainbows,
The superstar kisses his badge

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Poetry Rant

I regularly workshop my fiction with some of my colleagues on the Albedo One editorial team. Recently some of them - you know who you are you **star*s - have brought along poetry. Now, I'm famously broadminded, but my opinion of poetry remains unchanged from school days when Keats and Shelley were rammed down my throat. But I was on a plane a while ago, atempting to sleep in a seat designed by a Spanish Inquisitor with a hatred of anyone above the height of five four. So, not much sleep, then. But I awoke with a poem in my head and it wouldn't go away. So I wrote it down and left it on my desk where, naturally, random papers accumulated on top. This morning I found it and, fairly radiating with a love of all humankind, I decided to sling it out into the void. It doesn't even have a title but what the hell, here goes:

Two monochrome giants bend solicitously over me,
Their huge mouths scream noise at me in a register that only my obsolescent fillings can sense,
As I race heedlessly through my mayfly existence.

If the psychiatrist is in he might just take a look at that.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ungentlemanly Conduct.

I have been watching the World Cup for the past while and become more and more frustrated at the over-paid and over-indulged children who play the game at the top level. I know that the Premier League will argue that it is indeed the top level of the sport as will the Champions League, but despite the continuing erosion of the importance of international football I still believe the World Cup to be the premier competition in World football.
Unfortunately FIFA have allowed the 'beautiful game' to be devalued connstantly by the playground antics of so-called professionals that consistently go unpunished leading our own children to believe that this is the way the game should be played and indeed the way that they should go through life. If our children are allowed to watch sporting superstars, some of their most important role and life models, continuing to act like thugs and get away with it - disrespecting the laws of the game, the officials placed in charge and their fellow players - attempting to cheat to gain an advantage at every hand's turn - feigning injury in order to have a 'colleague' dismissed from the field of play - why are we surprised to see the children's behaviour deteriorating and their respect for authority diminish almost daily.
But more importantly - as I am sure Bill Shankley would have said - it's ruining football.
Rugby has been described as a gurrier's game played by gentlemen (though less so since the arrival of professionalism) and football as a gentleman's game played by gurriers. Certainly the latter is more true now than ever before. Can these guys not see themselves making asses of themselves, the sport, referrees and the viewing public by throwing temselves to the ground feigning injury when the tackler missed by a couple of feet. They watch continuous replays of matches - don't they feel embarrassed in the slightest when the camera proves what a lying, faking cheating wanker they are? I also blame the pundits who think it is reasonable for a forward to drag his foot so that it hits the goalie or the defenders outstretched leg to gain a penalty. I also blame the officials and the interpretation of the laws, Surely there must be intent for a foul to be given. Surely the forward intentionally kicking the goalkeeper is the foul and should be penalised. If referees weren't so afraid of offending players they might more often go with their gut instinct and book the cheating bastard rolling about the penalty area as though he had been reversed into by his WAG's beemer or shot by a sniper in the crowd.
The real question is why has cheating become a way of life for highly paid professional footballers. Why do their own fans not turn on them and demand that they play fairly? Why do their managers not punish them for their on-field indiscretions so that they stop embarrassing us all with their theatrics and their unmitigated cheating and thuggery? The sport may soon become unplayable if a solution is not found. Already the game has become almost non-contact. When there is a tackle the referee seems to assume that the guy who lost, and is naturally writhing about on the floor, was fouled and gives him a free kick. I think the referee should be allowed to give these blokes a good kicking. Stick the boot in. Shout abuse at him. Insult his mother. I know it sounds radical but it might at least give us a good laugh, because there'll be no good football left to watch, merely a series of free kicks advancing a team up the park until they get close enough to attempt a shot from the next free using a ball that refuses to fly true so the goalkeeper can be made to look a prat as often as possible. If it wasn't for the money no child in his right mind would want to play the game. I heard on the radio the other day a group discussing why skills coaching was so essential now that kids no longer kick footballs about in the street endlessly. And why don't they? Because it hurts like f**k if you throw yourself to the ground on tarmac or concrete. Rolling about on the street will get you a kicking from the opposition or even your mates. They know you're faking. Sure you skinned your knee. Big deal. Get up and get on with the game. Act like a man.
Was that last sentence politically incorrect? I don't think it should be. Learning to act like a man was one of the important things football used to teach. Now it's how to act like a gutless, cheating twat.
On a serious note I suggest the introduction of video evidence to be checked by a citing panel after games (like gentlemanly rugby) to deal with incidents where players are suspected of attempting to fool the referee or if they may have got away with cheating. Huge fines and suspensions would soon change their attitude to fair play.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Harbinger Relay Award

Someone put me on a list, so I got an email about the above award. It sounds really interesting and is yet another activity that is passing us Anglophones by. The content of the email is posted on the Albedo One facebook fanpage and is really worth a look.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hicks & Gillette - the best thing to happen Man U - EVER

So, the Yanks have finally succeeded in turning England's most successful football club into a bemused rabble. 'Sir' must be laughing himself sick. And he can probably indulge himself for the next year at least. The papers are full of speculation about who will manage the Reds next, with such luminaries as Roy Hodgson and Martin O'Neill to the forefront. Last time the job came up the board took a huge punt on Rafa Benitez - after all he had only won two Spanish league titles and a EUFA Cup (or whatever it was they were calling it that week). Now they're worried that Liverpool might not be attractive to the like of these? How have the mighty fallen.
Whatever you may think of Benitez, the one thing you can say (pun intended) was that he bled red. No-one ever doubted that he loved the club. So did Rick Parry, and see where that got him. Fernando Torres may be Spanish but I believe his love for the club is genuine - not this ***king badge kissing you see all over the show these days from mercenary tossers who have parked their Ferraris in the players car park for the past fifteen minutes and claim that makes them lifelong fans. How much do you think it will take to pry this irreplacable asset away from Merseyside? I guarantee that it will be twenty million less than he's worth. But don't worry, they doubtless have the irrepressible Bobby Zamora lined up - after all he's just had a (single) good season and that makes him a potential superstar. And they can probably get him for only 25 million (and two signed Torres shirts for Fulhams new owners. What, they haven't been sold this month?)
Then we get to Steven Gerrard, the onle player at any club in Britain that is truly irreplacable. It's not just that he is the best player in his position (or many positions, unfortunately) in.... choose from England/Europe/the world... but that he also encapsulates the spirit of the club and its supporters. But it's not hard to imagine him following Michael Owen's brave trail to Real Madrid (and look how that worked out for his career - and his medal haul). Imagine how that money would look knocked off the clubs debts.
Naturally Jamie Carragher would have to go. Great servant that he has been, they'd let him go on a free to Tranmere Rovers or maye even Stoke City. And there you have it, Liverpool FC gutted. And the problem with this scenario? It's not even all that unlikely.
Fine, sell Torres and Gerrard if you are prepared to spend the money on replacements. The pair could go for 100 million of the board play their cards right (though they are such useless ***kers you could see them letting the pair go for under fifty). 100 million would buy quite a decent team. And might persuade Mascherano to stay put. They could do worse than build a team around him. But you know, I doubt that's going to happen. We'll get a second rate manager (though one of the best of the second-raters) and sell out to another bunch who haven't got the funds to back their bluster and consolidate for a couple of seasons with prospects up from the Championship or the Betfred Premier League (apologies to Jonjo Shalvey).
Then all true Liverpool fans can prepare for trips to Grimsby and Hull with the odd Wembley adventure at the Freight Rover Trophy or the FA Vase.
At least they can't take away the nineteen or the five that will still decorate the flags.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cooking For Blokes

Subtitle: Earn her respect and the key to the bedroom by cooking her a simple meal (with the utmost respect to girls of all ages).
I called to a friend's apartment (they used to be flats when I lived in one) a while ago. He warned me in advance that if I wanted food - the invitation was for casual dining - it was Chicken Korma or nothing, cause that was the jar of sauce he had and he couldn't cook anything else except... one other thing, can't remember what but he didn't have a jar of that anyway.
It got me to thinking about how many blokes go through life handicapped by the inability to cook a decent healthy meal: it is merely a laziness of mind and body. So I thought, stick out some simple recipes that even brain surgeons will be able to cook. It's purely a community service. Why should guys be allowed to stand in front of a cooker and flutter their hands about in front of their faces and claim: "I've no idea how to even boil water." Or some such bo***x (hint - too many letters for botox).
So here goes: Lesson One, Spaghetti Bolognese for morons.
one pound of minced beef (best quality you can afford).
one chopped onion or a pepper (red or green) or both.
one OXO cube - not necessary if you've got good quality meat but nice all the same (in US this might be a problem - it's a sort of stock cube).
a handful of mushrooms
basil leaves - fresh if you have them
salt and pepper to taste
a dollop of Mascarpone cheese or soured cream (optional, takes the edge off the tomato sauce)
one jar of a branded spaghetti sauce like Ragu or Dolmio or Newman's Own - whatever.
You can leave anything out except the minced beef and jar of sauce and you can add anything in the cupboard that you think will enhance the flavour once you've tried the basic recipe and know what flavours you are dealing with. I usually vary the type/brand of sauce every time as this subtly changes the flavour of the dish and prevents your palate from getting bored.
Brown the mince in a heavy saucepan or frying pan. Add the OXO. Season. Add basil. Add onion. Cook until onion begins to soften. Add jar of sauce.
Now, put some pasta on the stove and cook per instuctions on the pack.
Add mushrooms to the meat sauce. When the pasta is ready, serve it all up.
This tastes great the following day. Microwave leftovers with a baked potato (also cooked in the microwave).
The sauce is also great as the base fo a Lasagne.
Cook this for the mot (Dublinese for girlfriend/wife) and amaze her at your culinary skills.
By the way, the cook never washes the dishes. That's a rule.
PS I wrote this from my perspective so I made it a boy/girl thing. But it can just as easily be reversed or changed to boy/boy or girl/girl. Like the recipe, you all can mix and match.